Wednesday, March 26, 2014

12 Things You Must Do In Bali

In 2011, I went to Bali for two weeks and absolutely loved it. The people are amazing, the beaches are beautiful, the food is delicious and it's all super cheap. Here are some tips for the things we loved. All the photos are mine unless noted underneath. For the full photo album from Bali, click here. 

Tanah Lot Temple at Sunset 

A gorgeous temple that is located in the ocean, close enough so you can walk there when the tide is low. When tide is high, it is surrounded by water. We visited at sunset and it was just beaitiful. There are quite a few tourist shops around so you can buy snacks, drinks, etc. More info: Tanah Lot Wiki Site

Monkey Forest
You can find Monkey Forest in Ubud. This area of Bali is far from any beaches and home to lush forests and rice fields. It is a spiritual place and was where she stayed in "Eat, Pray, Love". Monkey Forest is free to visit and you can walk around see tons of monkeys. Just be careful, they do like to grab things! More info: Monkey Forest Website

Seafood Dinner on the Beach in Jimbaran Bay
There are tons of restaurants located along the sand that are set up for dinner at sunset. You will be so close to the ocean, that you will have the water sweeping over your feet at you eat. We did this twice and paid waaaay too much the first time. Then we learned the best spot was Menega Cafe which offered amazing seafood and was really cheap. You can actually see the seafood all lined up and pick what you want! Full seafood meal for 2 people (incl Lobster) was about $20 USD. Unreal. More info: Jimbaran Wiki Site

Photos from:
There are TONS of beaches for surfing in Bali and they offer everything from beginner waves to ridiculous pro surfing quality waves. You can either walk to the waves, rent a scooter for the day or hire a driver. All the options are very cheap.

Visit the Rice Fields

We actually tried to find these rice fields for an entire day. We probably should have stopped to ask someone.... but we didn't. We want to find something that looked like the photo on the front of our guide book for Bali (we are dorks!). We rented a scooter in Ubud and finally found them at the end of the day. There was even a local man there who charged $1 for photos with him... it was worth it. More info: Trip Advisor Rice Terraces

Echo Beach Sunday Night

Every Sunday at Echo Beach they have a live band and a seafood BBQ. This means you can walk up a huge layout of fresh-caught seafood and pick what you want them to grill for you. Then you get to devour this fresh seafood with amazing cocktails (try the ) and listen to a great band as the sunsets. Not much is better than that. More info: Echo Beach Website 

Rent a Scooter
We were VERY apprehensive to do this at first because of the craziness of the Bali streets. It is very scary. But after a few days we decided it would be the best bet to get around. They change less than $5 USD/day for the rental. Just remember to always get a good helmet and be VERY careful.

Rock Bar at Sunset

I celebrated my birthday in Bali and we decided to try out The Rock Bar for birthday drinks and apps. It is situated on the edge of a cliff with ocean views all around it. The only thing to remember for this place is that it isn't cheap. The drinks and food is pricey but definitely worth it to splurge on this one. Call ahead to see if you can reserve a table and make sure to stay for an unbelievable sunset. More info: Rock Bar Website

Try the Local Cuisine 
I absolutely LOVED the food in Bali. Here are some of my favourites: Nasi Goreng (pictured above) - Fried Rice topped with an egg, Chicken Satay - marinated chicken on a stick with peanut sauce, TONS of fresh seafood, pancakes - more like crepes with bananas or mangos, Fruit drinks - fresh fruit mixed with ice and some sugar (my favs were watermelon and pineapple) and of course fresh coconuts with a straw!

Temple at Uluwatu 
This temple is located on the edge of a cliff and offers amazing views. You have to wear a traditional sarong when entering the temple, so it's a bit more traditional than some of the other tourists spots. Watch out for the monkey's here! They like to steal your cold drinks and cameras if you aren't careful. Close by you will find Padang-Padang Beach which is gorgeous white sand and clear water, a must do as well! More info: Trip Advisor Uluwatu

Get A Beach Massage
I am a sucker for a good massage. In Bali they are unbelievably cheap. In town, you can get a full hour massage for $5 USD. We did that a few times! Also, on the beach, they come right up to your beach chair and offer you massages. (you don't even need to move!) These ones run about $5 for 20 minutes but you can always barter with them. Oh man, I miss this SO much :)

Drinks at Ku De Ta
Photos from
One of my biggest regrets is that we didn't get to check out this beach front restaurant. We were headed there one night but were too tired and didn't make it. We will definitely have to check it out next time we are in Bali! More info: Ku De Ta Website

Monday, March 24, 2014

25 Incredible Documentaries on Netflix

"There is NEVER anything good on Netflix" is something I hear people say all the time. I have to disagree. While they are lacking in new releases, they make up for it in older movies, classic TV series' and documentaries. I am a huge fan of biographies, documentaries and pretty much any true stories. Below I have listed 25 documentaries that I have watched in the last few years on Netflix. Since the movie rights have certain limitations per region and year, they may not all be available to you right now. (but I'm sure most will if you are in Canada)

I have put a few of my favourite ones at the top of the list and as you move down, you will find that there are some that are more 'light'. Save those for the nights where you don't want to watch something as heavy. With this list, you can watch a new movie almost every night for a month. Not bad Netflix.

25 Documentaries on Netflix:
  • God Grew Tired of Us - Story of the "Lost Boys" who fled villages, formed surrogate families and sought refuge from war in Sudan. 
  • Exit Through The Gift Shop - An inside look at 'street art', vandalism and a really famous guy with a secret identity named Banksy. 
  • No Impact Man - A family in New York City attempt a full year in an apartment while making no impact on the environment. This means no power, no fridge, no toilet paper. 
  • Big River Man - The story of an endurance swimmer from Slovenia who make's an insane attempt at swimming the entire length of the amazon river. The best part is, he is overweight, in his 50's and drinks 2 bottles of red wine a day... even when swimming.  I seriously thought this was a mockumentary after watching, but it is real, he is real. A must watch.
  • Blackfish - A controversial movie about how whales are treated at Seaworld. Not sure if it's still available but check out the website to find out more info. Very sad for animal lovers.
  • Gasland - The movie focuses on communities in the US impacted by natural gas drilling, specifically 'fracking'.   
  • Bobby Fisher Against the World - The story of his life from a troubled childhood to his rock star status as a world chess champion to his life as a fugitive.   
  • We Live in Public - The crazy story of Josh Harris who started a live audio and video webcasting website in 1993. His ideas were pretty much the first ever reality TV/Web shows.
  • Young at Heart - Heartwarming story of a group of senior citizens who have formed a choir and sing covers of Jimi Hendrix, Coldplay, Sonic Youth and many other unexpected artists. 
  • Craigslist Joe - Follows Joe as he tries to live for one month where everything in his life has to come from the Craigslist website. All he starts with is a laptop, cell phone, toothbrush and clothes on his back.   
  • Vegucated - The story follows 3 meat loving New Yorkers who attempt to go Vegan for 6 weeks. A real eye opener for anyone concerned about weight and health.
  • Life 2.0 - Takes you behind the scenes of the virtual world Second Life to see how people get addicted to the 'game' and how it affects their lives. 
  • Teenage Paparazzo - Chronicles the relationship of a 14 yr old paparazzo and actor Adrian Grenier (Vinnie from Entourage)
  • Sons of Perdition - Behind the scenes look into the lives of teenagers exiled from their families and community by Warren Jeffs and the FLDS Church (aka cult)    
  • Hungary for Change - Exposes secrets the diet, weight loss and food industries don't want you to know about strategies designed to keep you coming back for more.  
  • The Whale - True story of a young, wild killer whale who lost contact with his family on the coast of BC and turned up alone in a narrow stretch of sea called Nootka Sound.  
  • Waiting for Superman - The film analyses the failures of the American public education system by following several students trying to get into a charter school.    
  • Being Elmo - Follower Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind Elmo, the Sesame Street character. (after I saw this, news came out about Kevin's private life that was very shocking)    
  • Short Game - An in-depth look at the best 7 year old golfers in the world and how they handle the pressure and lifestyle. 
  • Venus & Serena - An inside look at the lives of the sisters from birth as their father groomed them to become the best in the world. 
  • Usain Bolt - Shot over 7 months, the doc takes a unique look at the Olympic champion from his hometown to his life on the road.   
  • Woody Allen - Follows the notoriously private film legend for over a year and a half and shares his life story. Including how he has made a film almost every single year since 1965. 
  • Becoming Chaz - Documents Chaz's (Cher's son) journey through gender transition and how his family and friends are dealing with the changes.  
  • Never Say Never - Yes, this is a Justin Bieber story, but I think it is a lot more than that. It showcases how Scooter Braun found Justin on YouTube at age 13 and used social media to help propel him to be one of the biggest pop stars on the planet. Anyone interested in marketing and digital media should watch this movie. 
If you have any suggestions for me, list them in the comments and I will add!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Cuddling Koalas in Australia

Last week I was lucky to be given a chance to visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and cuddle with one of the cutest animals on earth. I was able to see them being fed, go inside the enclosure to take photos and also cuddle with one for a photo!

Here are some facts about koalas:

  • Koala's aren't actually bears. They are called Koala Bears since they look like Teddy Bears, they are actually a marsupial mammal.
  • There are only 2,000-8,000 koalas left in the wild
  • Koala's can sleep for up to 19 hours a day!
  • They live, sleep and eat in Eucalyptus trees
  • They eat up to 1KG of Eucalyptus leaves each day, this doesn't provide much energy, so that is why they sleep so much
  • There are over 800 different species of Eucalyptus leaves but Koala's will only eat 50 of them

The setting at Lone Pine is perfect for learning about and seeing all the animals. It's a smaller sanctuary so it doesn't take as long to get around and doesn't have an many tourists to fight through. I went at the very beginning of the day so there was hardly anyone there. Midday on the weekends can be busier but weekdays are great if you like a quieter experience.

Here are some facts about the Koala's at Lone Pine:
  • They have approx 130 koala's
  • They are split up into Boys (teenaged), Kindergarten (toddlers) and Retirement (older ones)
  • Lone Pine has 4 eucalyptus plantations around Brisbane. Each day 2 leaf cutters visit one of them and cut 3/4 of a tonne of leaves for the koalas
  • They have a strict policy about how long each koala works (pose in photos with people) They aren't allowed to work longer than 3 hours a day and no more than 3 days a week.
  • Queensland is the only state in Australia that let's you cuddle koala's. You won't be able to experience this in Melborne or Sydney!
  • There were photos on the wall of all the celebrities that have come and held koala's here. They included: Pope John Paul II, John Travolta, Queen Mother, Janet Jackson, Eric Clapton, Taylor Swift, Marilyn Manson and many more.

Special thanks to Lone Pine & Tourism Queensland for this awesome experience!

Check out their sites here:

Here are some more photos from Lone Pine:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Top 10 Things To Do in Bocas Del Toro

I spent 6 weeks in Bocas Del Toro this year and wanted to write a post of my favourite things we did there. Since we had quite a bit of time there, I think that this list will help you when deciding what to do. Please let me know if you have any questions!


I put this one first because we decided on going to Bocas due to the fact that my boyfriend wanted to find good waves. Whether you are a beginner, a pro or somewhere in between, you should really be surfing in Bocas. For beginners, you should definitely sign up for a surf lesson at one of the local spots. I would recommend Taco Surf (and they also have amazing tacos), Pukalani Hostel or Grand Kahuna Hostel. All these spots offer great beginner lessons and board rentals. If you are a beginner, you shouldn't venture out on your own... there are dangerous rips in the ocean, shallow reefs and sharp sea urchins to watch out for. It is best to hire an instructor. For the more advanced surfers, check out this post that my boyfriend help me write on the best spots. (blog post not finished yet)

Zapatillas Island
Zapatillas Island is one of those places that looks like you are in a postcard. It has crystal clear water, gorgeous white sand and beautiful fish for snorkelling. It is an uninhabited island so no accommodation, no stores and no restaurants. You need to bring everything you need for the day with you, especially sunscreen. We took a full day boat trip there for $30 that included a brief stop at 'Dolphin Bay', a stop at a little seafood restaurant for lunch and a quick snorkelling stop. This gave us about 2.5 hours on Zapatillas. This definitely wasn't enough time. I would recommend getting a group together and hiring a boat for the day to take you there and stay there. Pack a lunch, bring plenty of water and ensure your camera has lots of battery left! It is about 30 minutes from Bocas by boat. (closer to Bastimentos)

Cruiser Bike around the Island
One of my favourite parts of our trip was how much biking we got to do. The views were amazing, the roads were mostly flat and I felt as if I was burning off some of those Pina Coladas. You can rent the bikes in Bocas Town for $7 a day or $40 a week. We were there for awhile so we decided on the weekly rate. This way we could get to beaches early for surfing (6:30am) and head into town later for dinner with no time limit. The road from Bocas Town (where you rent the bikes) to Bluff Beach takes about 45 minutes. I will go into more detail on a blog post about this trip here: (blog post not done yet)

Starfish Beach
Starfish Beach is a photographers dream. Clear water, gorgeous beach and lots of colourful starfish dotting the shallow water. You can get there from Bocas Town many different ways: Bike (best workout), Bus (cheapest option), Taxi (fastest option), or water taxi (more scenic option). The beach has tons of little seafood restaurants lining the sand with delicious fish, lobster and crab. Beers are $1.50 and meals are around $12-$20. You can also treat yourself and rent out a beach chair to lounge on for $5 a day. I have a more details blog post about it here: Starfish Beach

Red Frog Beach
You can probably tell by now that one of my favourite things to do is hang out on beautiful beaches. Red Frog is a great beach to do just that. It is on Bastimentos Island which is just a $5 water taxi from Bocas Town and then there is a $3 entry fee since it is a National Park. There is a beach restaurant located here that serves lunch and cocktails all day which can be a nice break from the scorching sun. A great lunch option is the 'fish of the day' that comes with coconut rice and salad ($12). There is also another bar located on the beach by the 'Tent Lodge' that has drinks and a small bbq for quick lunches. Keep an eye out for the tiny Red Frogs that live in the jungle on this island.

Oreba Chocolate Farm Tour
One of the days we didn't spend at the beach, was spent at the Oreba Chocolate Farm. You sign up for the tour in Bocas Town ($25 & includes lunch + chocolate). You have to take a 25 min water taxi to the main land to the town of Almirante and then they pick you up from there. The entire thing runs about 5 hours. (8am-1pm or 12pm to 5pm). The best part is that the tour is run by an indigenous tribe who keep the profits to help in their community. You will see how cacao plants are grown, processed and turned into the chocolate we enjoy everyday. (they supply to several large companies including Lindt). More details here: Chocolate Farm Blog Post.

Walk around Carnero Island
Carnero Island is located right next to Bocas Town. You could literally swim there if you really wanted to... but the water taxi is $1 per person so I don't suggest it. The island is really really small, you can walk around it in about 1-2 hours. We only did this once and we were attacked by little sand flies called 'Chitras'. It is a really beautiful island but make sure you bring LOTS of bug repellant with you (coconut oil works the best since they drown in it). For cheap eats, try the hostel Grand Kahuna or for a awesome seafood meal, check out Bibi's on the Beach. There is great beginner surfing here if you feel like taking a lesson.

Jungle Hike to Wizard Beach
The hike to Wizard Beach will definitely ruin your new running shoes. The 30 min hike is wet, muddy and sometimes challenging. Your best bet is to take a water taxi to Bastimentos Island (Old Bank dock - $3) then walk up the hill to a little cafe appropriately named "Up on the Hill". This is an adorable cafe that is also a small chocolate farm with a cafe that offers breakfast goodies and amazing coffee and hot chocolate. After your delicious breaky, you can follow the path over the hill to Wizard Beach. They have had some muggings along this path (teenagers looking for phones, cameras and cash) so it's best to leave the SLR and iphones at home. We walked this path several times and NEVER had any trouble. When you get to Wizard Beach it is beautiful and secluded! It is such a messy hike that not many people do it. Nathan had some amazing surf days here as well. There are no stores or bars so bring your own lunch. On the way home, you can take the path that goes directly back to Old Bank but make sure to stop in at the little hut along the path. A Rasta man serves up Jack Fruit Smoothies for $4 and they are AMAZING. Keep walking into Old Bank and take the water taxi back to Bocas from here. More details coming in a blog post soon!

Kayak/Snorkel/Stand-Up Paddleboard
A few things that I really enjoyed were playing in the ocean on boards, kayaks and snorkelling of course. You can rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards at a few different places around Bocas Town and the other islands. A few hotels and hostels rent them for free so ask around. We had a free kayak rental at Tio Tom's hostel and we took it out to Hospital Point for the afternoon. There was great snorkelling there and only a few other people. We also found good snorkelling at Starfish Beach and the boat trip to Zapatilla Island.

Happy Hour Tour in Bocas Town
The best part of Bocas Del Toro (ok, I know I've said that a lot) is the drink prices.... beers are $1.50 and cocktails $2-4. But, it get's even better at happy hour. Since we were in town for 6 weeks, we hit a lot of different spots and found some favs. The first was the hostel pictured above called Casa Verde. They have hammocks lining the dock, live music and an amazing sunset view. The next was Hotel Bocas Del Toro which was a bit higher end but the drink prices were a steal from 4-6pm. Beers $1 and cocktails $2.50. This includes the most amazing passionfruit daiquiri you could ever imagine. I also liked the rooftop view from Dave's Wave (run by Canadian Dave) and the atmosphere on the boat-turned-into-bar called Riptide. I will do a full blog post on happy hour in Bocas really soon!

Other stuff
Things that we didn't do but you can do! :)
- Tour of the Bat Caves (I was a little too scared to go into a dark cave)
- Scuba Diving
- Sailing (you can sail to the San Blas islands from here too)
- Horseback riding
- Costa Rica is close by so that is an option for a weekend trip too

Full iPhone Flickr album is here: