chocolate, friends, Peru, travel

Jumping Through Peru – Cusco

Cusco was the real start of our Gadventures family’s journey as it was the first guided tour day by Gadventures.

At elevation of 3,399m, it was intended for us to stay a day in Cusco in order to acclimatize to be ready for the Inca Trail where the highest point at Dead Woman’s pass is 4,215m. Although most of us already had taken altitude sickness prevention medication, we still eagerly drank the coca tea provided as it is a popular method in the Andes for altitude sickness prevention.  We all made many jokes on how coca tea was a drug because (according to Wiki) they contain alkaloids which when chemically extracted are the source for cocaine base.

I’m not too sure if it works or does not work for me (or even if the medication worked) – but I luckily did not have any altitude sickness except for occasional tingly feeling hands/feet; which many others had at times as well.  We think its likely due to the altitude as it is not a symptom we have regularly – and just too coincidental for us to all have!

Early in the morning we met up with our Cusco guide Miguel who brought us from the airport to our hotel to drop off our bags. He also brought us around to the main Cusco landmarks. I wasn’t sure if the tour was free or not pre-trip so I had made my own itinerary in Cusco. As Cusco is quite small, unsurprisingly, our itinerary were near identical.

Miguel brought us to Cusco’s main square (Plaza de Armas), and the famous Inca Wall (Hatunrumiyoc) where there is a 12 angled stone. I feel like there was a longer story on why this specific stone was important but….to be honest I wasn’t fully paying attention and had hoped that Google would easily advise me later. However all I can find right now is that it is the most perfectly defined stone with so many angles, which is a pride of Peru to showcase their craftsmanship.

See the tile for yourself, and also me being the rebel that I am touching the wall which we are not supposed to :)

Miguel also talked to us about a site that I had originally wanted to visit too, Saksaywaman. AKA Sexywoman per Miguel as many tourists cannot pronounce it properly. Saksaywaman was henceforth only spoken by us as Sexywoman.  At one point on the bus ride we passed by some large rock site and I said to Alicia “is that the sexy woman??” and she replies “oooh, maybe that’s her cavern ;) “. I died.

After lunch the guided tour with Miguel ended and we were free to tour the city on our own. A few of us went to check out the Choco Museum (Alicia and I missed visiting the one in Lima, and we heard it was free…plus, it’s chocolate!).  The museum was lots of fun, we had a sales staff that was extremely friendly and knew how to work with a crowd – giving us lots of free chocolate samples (even chocolate liquor shots!!), and joking with us about coca tea origins.


He was great, except I have to admit I forgot his name :'(

Afterwards only Alicia and I had the energy to continue to tour more and headed towards San Pedro Market – a very local style food and merchandise market. I feel like I should’ve bought my souvenirs and alpacca/llama fur goods here but there were just so many stores and vendors that it was too overwhelming and difficult to choose from.

Overall, I enjoyed Cusco more than Lima. Maybe it was because we weren’t as rushed, and maybe also because we got to travel together as a big group, and that is always fun!

Peru, travel

Jumping Through Peru – Lima

I feel like my trip to Peru deserves a prequel of its own, because I don’t think it is very characteristic of me to embark on such a journey.  The idea of going of going to Peru first started over a year ago when Adrienne and I were trying to plan a vacation together. It has always been a life goal of hers to do the Inca Trail and visit Machu Picchu. At that time, I was kind of impartial. The catalyst that made me change my mind was when she had told me that her parents also wanted to visit Machu Picchu but were unable to do the physical hike any more due to age and body concerns. At that moment, I had realized that this was a trip I should go on despite its difficulty because it is very hard to find a travelling partner who has the same ideal destination and has a matching vacation schedule. I didn’t want to lose out on this opportunity and be unable to do it in the future.

We had tried to book it for October 2014, but unfortunately, all the permits were fully sold out.  Since then I had been determined to accomplish the Inca Trail as I had set my mind on it. Luckily, I managed to rope Alicia in with me and we booked it in March 2015 (for September 2015).

After a half year wait, our trip had finally come!

One of my biggest fears about going to Peru was not the hike, or the dirty water, or potential food contaminations, but it was the horror stories of taxis where people get kidnapped or robbed. The whole week prior to our departure date I read many good and bad taxi reviews and tips on how to “stay safe / choose the right taxi” (I’ll spare you guys the details as I am probably overly paranoid). Thankfully all our taxi rides were all safe although we probably never sat in any of the suggested “official” taxis.

For anyone interested the trip we had booked was Inca Discovery through G Adventures. We spent the first day touring Lima on our own as it was not included within the tour activities itself.

To be completely honest I knew next to nothing about Peru prior to going on this trip, and I still feel like there is lots I need to read about to understand more, especially its history. I planned out some activities purely through using the app Tripomatic and browsing TripAdvisor online.

We started our first day of the trip in Lima, bright and early in Historical Centre of Lima where their main square (Plaza de Armas de Lima) was located. All the main architectural attractions such as the Government Palace, Cathedral of Lima, and Archbishop’s Palace surround the square. Nearby was also the main cathedral,  Monastery of San Francisco.

For lunch we headed towards Surquillo Market which I had read on Tripomatic, and I quote that it is “A new hotspot for foodie tourists”. From that, I was expecting something very up and coming and hipster, but it turned out to be simplay a local food/groceries market. Since we were already there, we decided to just eat lunch there anyway. Unfortunately the restaurants there were not tourist friendly and their entire menu was in Spanish only.  I basically just ordered the macaroni and soup that everyone seemed to have (turns out it is an appetizer) and Alicia ordered a dish that was in an image on the wall. Hands down the cheapest meal ever (only 7 PEN which is about $3 CAD for the both of us). We also got this weird complementary drink that was extremely unappetizing visually as it reminded me of piss, especially since it was in a measuring cup : S  It tasted like some sort of lemon medicine and licorice.

After lunch we headed to the clay pyramid ruins of Huaca Pucllana. We were lucky to be able to join an English guided tour there. Although we spent most of our time taking funny photographs and messing around more than anything. One thing that I had read about prior to going to Peru was that there were some places that will refuse to provide change. It was a huge shock that out of all places, the one that we had experienced this at was at Huaca Pucllana…..a major tourist attraction. The front desk staff refused to let us pretend to be students and also refused to give us change. In the end he gave us a “bargain” deal and put us as one adult and one student…and potentially pocketed the difference himself.

Before attending the first official briefing with our G Adventures group and Lima CEO in the evening, we also went to the beaches in Miraflores where Alicia went paragliding. I kind of regret not going just for the sake of it, but I’m quite afraid of heights so I had declined.

For dinner we headed out with some of our new friends within our tour group to try Peruvian cuisine. Here I got roped into trying a bit of deep fried guinea pig and the popular Peruvian drink – Pisco Sour!

Our day in Lima was quite long but we had successfully managed to accomplish pretty much everything that I had scheduled out :)

friends, life, travel

End of Summer Portage

Summer has once again come and gone, way too quickly in my opinion. I ended off my summer with a portaging trip to Bon Echo over Labour Day long weekend. According to my friend Alicia (one of the fittest people I know), it didn’t really count as back-country or portaging due to the fact that we carried a bunch of “non-essential” gear and also barely portaged much in distance. But hey, it was more than I have ever done, and I think more than quite the number of people I know.

I was initially worried that it would be difficult for us as a group to physically carry all the personal and team gear that we needed at camp, but it turned out completely fine. The walking distance we had from parking lot to canoe docks was about only 10 minutes, and our canoe trek to our camp grounds was about 20 minutes. And we were able to carry everything in one go :)  In a sense we didn’t really “portage” as we had often opted to the full canoeing route. Though several times we did do the canoe and portage mix route – but our portaging distance was quite short….and we mostly just pulled the canoe instead of carrying. And by we, I mean the guys.

The canoeing part was pretty cool as we would travel through different parts of the lake; some sections had lots of lily pads, others were kind of swampy, and of course some just regular open lake. I wish I had a go-pro to document it all. I brought my dragon boat paddle which I think helped me as it was much lighter weight, and the shape of it helps pull more water.  Steering was kind of hard when Matt and I shared a canoe cause the strength disparity between us was too huge…but, throughout the weekend we managed to work it out a bit better. We basically would just have to keep changing our paddling sides to counter balance and make sure our boat was not too slanted.

We were there for 2 nights and 3 days (but mostly just 2 full days), and somehow I feel like we spent most of our time doing chore like activities more than anything. Not that it was not enjoyable, but it was surprising how fast time flew doing simple things such as gathering firewood, collecting clean water, cooking, and cleaning up – all before the sun set. I got to experience some very simple tasks that I didn’t have the opportunity to do before such as lighting a match and chopping wood (which is actually quite strenuous), as silly as it sounds, was a bit of a small camping milestone for me.

One of the activities that I had been looking forward to was canoeing at night as my friends had gone to Bon Echo just a month ago and had told me how beautiful it was under the stars. It was definitely a sight to see, but paddling in the dark was extremely difficult! Especially when you are trying to look for your camp-site. We had gone out to the main camp grounds to use the shower facilities, and the sun had already set by the time we were ready to head back. Using flashlights to guide the way did not help too much as the lights attracted mosquitoes and also made the surrounding areas even darker – rendering it even more difficult to see.  Luckily for us, James stayed back at our camp site and became a light house for us.

The only true “recreational” activity we had done was a mini hike onto the cliffside by Mazinaw Lake where they had several look out points. The hike itself wasn’t too long with many of the checkpoints being relatively close. But with the heat, I was definitely sometimes a bit out of breath which made me worry for my upcoming Peru hike!

I’ve done quite a bit of camping this summer and I am looking forward to more relaxing, staying-in type holidays especially now that the weather is getting chillier. But I got Peru to conquer first next week >:)  I’ll be embarking on the 4 day Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu in exactly one week’s time. Here’s to hoping that it won’t be too cold or rainy, and that I’ll be able to come back with awesome stories, photographs and memories.

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friends, travel


I think I have only gone camping twice in my life prior to this summer. Once with my family and family friends which I don’t remember much of as I was a small child, and once when I was a counsellor for Vision Youth a couple years back where all we did was the mandatory hike (for campers as part of their DoE program), eat and chill.

This summer I had the opportunity to go camping twice. A couple of my friends were surprised that someone like me (kind of princessy) would go camping so often in one season since it obviously isn’t the most comfortable or cleanest of living conditions. While I do agree, I suppose I see it more as a social activity and I never really had a problem of spending a couple days living more basically than I normally do (#slummingit). I have no problems with doing outdoor activities, sleeping in a tent or using a communal washroom for a few days. I think what I dislike most about camping would be the bugs and the fact that sleeping on the ground hurts my back after awhile. But these are sort of things you try to suck up, right?

For my first camping trip this summer, I went to Bruce Peninsula  with a group of my friends from the MAC dragon boat team. Although the trip was not the most organized and had a very much “deal with it as it happens” kind of attitude, I really enjoyed it; and I have to say of the 2 trips, I enjoyed this one more. I like travelling and going on trips/vacation where I can do lots of activities, be adventurous and go exploring, which I find fun – and we got to do all of those things :)  While rainy weather did put a damper on some of our activities, we did manage to go on a midnight hike, swim in The Grotto, and check out Tobermory. My favourite and highlighting moment of the trip would have to be the part during our midnight trek where a couple of us left to go explore The Grotto at night. I wish one of us had a Go Pro to document our adventure because it certainly felt like one at night when we had to hike around looking for the correct path, climb up and down the rocks and hop on some rocks just to reach the entrance of the Grotto. Mind you, this is very late at night and all we had was a few flashlights to work with. It was quite exhilarating although potentially dangerous…

Another very memorable moment of the trip was as we started to climb up from the Grotto after our late morning swim and witnessed huge storm clouds rolling into the area. Our reactions were to hurry back up and head back to camp as our site was a good 15-20 minutes away. But we got caught up admiring the sky because it was just unimaginably epic especially at the clifftop. I remember at one point the sky had a huge divide between more clear skies and an enormous rainstorm cloud…the downpour hit us almost immediately after that. We had underestimated how fast and how close the storm clouds really were, and also how heavy the downpour could be. The 20 minute trek back to camp was quite difficult as we were soaked and also wearing only flip flops, so all the little rocks, dirt and mini tree sticks would prick our feet. But we made it back to camp and luckily the only thing that got ruined from the rain was our firewood. Which we eagerly scavenged for tree branches and leftover firewood from other campsites as a temporary solution.

My second camping trip was to Orillia’s (never heard of this place before, ever) Bass Lake Provincial  Park. I enjoyed this trip as well as it really gave a relaxing, “away from it all” feel.  But it was entirely the opposite of the Tobermory trip which was just one weekend before. Thus, the contrasting camp lifestyle was very stark. I went with Matt, his friend Allen, and 2 of Allen’s friends Wing and Ivan. They were much more organized, hygenic (haha) and just more orderly as a whole especially during times of cooking and clean up. I guess because I am sort of more laissez-faire that although I found their orderliness to be right and proper (since tidying up ensures tools and equipment are all clean and deters animals away from the site more), I found it a teensy bit excessive. This might be also because I’m simply a lazy person who likes to procrastinate tidying up until later. The irony of this is, despite putting all our food away properly, a raccoon still managed to make a hole in a tent’s mesh entrance/storage way to steal marshmallows ; while at Bruce Peninsula we fully had food out in the open but never had any animal issues.

Unfortunately as it rained on only full day so we did not get to do as much as we wanted to outdoors – we ended up playing a 2-3 hour Monopoly game, where I got tied for first. I probably would have lost if we were to have one single winner, but the game had lasted for far too long to continue. I am quite proud of this win because for 90% of the game I only owned Boardwalk and Park Place.  Later in the afternoon when the skies cleared, we went canoeing and fishing. What’s great about Bass Lake is that there are boat and fishing rod rentals, and also a beach. However, the park has a very strict noise policy : S so staying up late and hanging out by the bonfire was basically out of the picture.

Before cleaning up and heading back home, Matt and I went into town to check out their Water Festival. They had a cardboard boat race that I really wanted to check out. This is mostly because my favourite Japanese boyband, Arashi, used to a host a show (D/G no Arashi) where a recurring segment would be their attempt to cross Tokyo Bay on boats made of various weird materials including cardboard!! The other ones they tried from what I recall was salt, lego and also a huge ice block.  Because we got lost on the way there, we only saw the aftermath of a few boats :(  We did however, have a memorable interaction with a local who was extremely curious how we found out about, and came to their local event. Orillia is very predominately Caucasian, so I suppose we stuck out very much.

I didn’t have much photos from either trips as I mostly kept my phone safe in the tent in fear of it getting wet and ruined… But I will be going on my first back country portaging trip during Labour Day long weekend where I will attempt to take more photos to properly document. I’m a bit worried about how strenuous that trip will be as I’m not a physically strong person, so my strategy is to pack extremely light. We’ll see how that goes!


friends, life, toronto, travel


That’s my new single coming this fall.


This is our album cover.

Long weekends are meant for adventures and unfortunately I couldn’t partake on another YOLO trip for this one. However, I finally had the chance to visit Cheltenham Badlands. I didn’t know we had a place like this in Ontario (and so close by to Toronto too!) until last year when my friend Michelle went and I looked it up.  Ever since then, I have been wanting to go.

As the weather has finally started to warm up, hiking season returns.  I think with age, hiking grows on you :’)

This mini trek consisted of myself, Nancy, James and Derek.  I knew Derek would be perfect for this excursion because he knows so much about everything, especially biology haha. So I would not only get to see the landscape and take awesome photos, I could actually learn and understand what it really is.

Things I’ve learned about badlands:

1) It is due to poor farming practices

2) Soil erosion caused the formation

3) The red colour is from iron oxide

4) The green bits are green iron oxide because it got affected by some ground water (??)

I shamelessly used my selfie stick to take pictures. It surprisingly is quite useful at taking regular non-selfie pictures too! Because it has further reach and makes sure your phone is straight and stable.


It would have been much nicer with less people around, but I suppose it was to be expected since it was a holiday. Apparently (says Derek) in a decade or so, the view will change as the erosion continues. Will have to come back again in a couple years (if not earlier) to see how it turns out!

food, friends, harajuku, japan, odaiba, roppongi, Tokyo, travel

Gonpachi and Hot Springs!!!

For our last full day in Tokyo, we decided to tackle 2 must-do-before-we-leave activities – eat at Gonpachi (where they filmed Kill Bill’s fighting scene) and go to an Onsen!! Nico and Juan (totally our new bffs in Tokyo now) were interested in going to Gonpachi too so we all met there for lunch.  The restaurant is much smaller and less glamorous than it appeared to be in the movie, but nonetheless it was exciting to just BE there.  Gonpachi is a soba restaurant, but I think it’s more of a tourist attraction for Kill Bill.  There’s a bunch of pictures of the owner with various celebrities – even Stephen Harper (Prime Minister of Canada) was there. What was funny was someone scribbled fascist on his photo – like….what?

After lunch, we said our goodbyes to Nico and Juan with promises to see each other when we go to each others’ respective countries. I’m really glad that we were able to meet them just by sheer chance because without meeting them our trip would have been totally different!

We then headed ourselves to Odaiba again to visit Oedo Onsen Monogatari Hot Springs, a hot spring “theme park”. The hot spring we wanted to go to was too far away and would require a day trip, so we settled for Monogatari which gives you the feel of one and they claim their facility uses natural hot spring water. My favourite part about the hot spring was being able to dress up in a yukata! And also the outdoors hot spring area where you can sit in little individual wooden basins. It would’ve made an awesome picture especially with us sitting in one, with towels on our heads haha – except cameras are not allowed inside for obvious reasons…

At night we walked around the waterfront of Tokyo Bay and got to see the Giant Gundam and Rainbow Bridge lit up too! Totally did not expect to see a mini Statue of Liberty in Japan.

Our last day in Japan was spent briefly touring Harajuku before heading to the airport.  I couldn’t leave Japan without visiting it for the fashion, and also for their famous crepes!  To my surprise, there were many hip-hop style shops in the district too. Many of the shopkeepers looked like they belonged in a rap MV.   One of my favourite souvenirs that I brought back from Japan is my $3.00 clear plastic umbrella which I had purchased in Harajuku as it suddenly rained.I really wanted one prior to going, so I was more than happy to purchase one. It didn’t rain at all during our 2 week trip, the umbrella was meant to be mine. I still have it and use it to this day!

Going to Japan has always been something that I wanted to do as I was always interested in Japanese culture since I was in high school. Definitely an awesome check on my to-do list. I still definitely have to go back for cherry blossom season though !!!

friends, life, travel


I would like to apologize for telling you all that I went to Vermont for Family Day long weekend….Long story short, I have poor geography and was given wrong information, thus mistaken!! I actually went to Lake Placid, New York  – home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics.

I always complain about the lack of vacation days causing my inability to travel, so when the opportunity arose to join a snowboarding trip at Lake Placid, I took it. I can’t say it is the most impromptu trip I’ve been on (I think I went to New York City once a couple years ago on a whim too), but its on the list as it was a very #YOLO decision, for lack of better words. I was quite indecisive about going for the whole week prior because I didn’t know a majority of the people going, had paranoia of getting lost in the mountain alone without data, and fear of getting left alone because my snowboarding skills would be sub par comparatively.. Luckily I was able to rope Derek in last minute. And he wouldn’t ditch me :D

I snowboarded once during high school but haven’t gone even skiing since. This year however, I made the decision to buy all of my own gear since I finally found people to go snowboarding often with. Having my own gear really was all the motivation I needed to finally learn the sport – despite all the falling, embarrassment, and bruises, I’m improving!  I failed so much at the lifts at Whiteface Mountain that the staff fully knew who I was and would laugh and joke with me each time they saw me. At the end of the day, I managed to get off the lift successfully !!! It was quite a feat, even the employee at the lift gave me a thumbs up. I think I made his day with my wipe outs coming off the lift – especially the one time where I ran into Derek and he nearly fell on me. You’re welcome.

I have to admit, one of my favourite things about travelling or doing any remotely interesting activity, is the photo opps. I follow a lot of landscape photographers on Instagram haha, so I had to give landscape photography a shot while I had the scenery available.

Lake Placid was beautiful. Mountainous scenery was visible everywhere within town, as it is right by Adirondack Mountains. Unfortunately as we went in one of the coldest days, I don’t have as many photos as I would have liked and none of the town at all.

Other than snowboarding we had plans to do other winter activities since many of them were quite readily available, since Lake Placid was an Olympic town and all.  There was dog sledding, tobogganing, snow tubing, skating, and bob-sledding.  We did none of these things in the end though. But that didn’t make the trip any less enjoyable! It was nice just to get away from town and have a mini vacation for the weekend. It gave me time to slow down, relax, and get that “away from real life” feeling which you can only truly get when you’re out of town.

We spent our non-boarding day walking around Lake Placid main street and its neighbouring town, Saranac Lake which had a Winter Carnival going on. Unfortunately there was barely any festivities happening when we arrived, but they had several interactive sculptures and an ice palace which we acted like tourists around.

More landscape shot attempts..

This trip allowed me to make some awesome new friends, improve on my snowboarding (thanks Derek for being a great teacher!) and travel to a place that I have never been….or knew existed :/. All in all I think it was a memorable weekend, and I’m so glad that I made the choice to go :)

I think this impromptu trip was a great start to the new year!