Mia goes M.I.A: One Week in Thailand

11065304_10205717431831004_3398585911342487588_n

I did it on a whim. I had always dreamed of exploring Thailand, and so when I found myself with about 10 days off in between jobs, I decided this was my window. After already paying for the flight and hotels I was told by plenty of friends that I was absolutely insane. They told me there was no way I would be able to truly experience, explore, and enjoy such a short trip to such a beautiful place. It was at that point for the first time that I questioned my decision. Two 20-hour travel days left me with just eight days of actual vacation time. It was crazy!

However, after some major time spent planning the exact islands I wanted to see and exactly what I wanted to do, the impossible suddenly seemed slightly more possible. I knew that with such a short time frame I would have to pick either the east or the west side of the Thailand. Ever since I saw the movie ‘The Beach’ I had always wanted to explore Koh Phi Phi, so west side it was. Phi Phi, Phuket, and Krabi in eight days, I wasn’t as crazy as I thought.

Yes, the trip was short, yes I wish I could have seen more of this amazing country, but to be hones this was one of the greatest experiences of my life. By doing so, I also learned a valuable lesson; limited time should never be an excuse to follow your dreams and to explore the world. The truth is all of our time is limited, and who knows if I would ever have a ten-day window to see Thailand again.

Still questioning me? Well how about I help you plan your very own week long trip to Thailand.

10394846_10205717258266665_1651567423943753846_n

 

Phuket

 Day 1: I started my adventure in Phuket. I arrived in the afternoon and saw that our hotel offered Thai food cooking classes. Hungry after my long flight, I decided why not learn how to make my favourite dish, Pad Thai. Let’s just say I won’t be cooking for anyone anytime soon but it was extremely fun to learn the steps and see the professionals in action.

The day then turned into evening and I had heard about the amazing Cabaret shows. The shows have become famous among tourists because of the ladyboy acts, but the show was so much more. The dances truly depicted the Thai culture. The beautiful costumes and music really made you appreciate this foreign world.

I finished my fist day in Thailand exploring the lights of Bangla Road. Basically considered the Vegas of Thailand. The road was filled with clubs, bars, and shopping. Bright lights filled the street. I dipped into Coyote Bar to listen to some amazing live music.

Day 2:  I started the day bright and early with a trip to the Big Buddha, one of Phuket’s top attractions. This 45 meter- high marble clad statue is truly a piece of art. While there, everyone who visits also has an opportunity to be blessed by a monk.

Since I was leaving bright and early the next day for my next destination, I decided to have a quiet evening. I took a “Tuk Tuk” aka the taxi cabs of Thailand up to Baan Rim Pa Patong, one of the best rated restaurants in Thailand. The reason I wanted to eat here, was because it sat atop a hill where you could overlook the entire city. The food was spicy and delicious and the views were breathtaking.

Koh Phi Phi

11038785_10205722154869077_2656006933953654029_n

 Day 3: The ferry right from Phuket to Phi Phi is about 2-hours long. A little sleepy from the ferry ride, I decided instead of any excursions I would spend the rest of the day exploring the Island. I went shopping in the markets, got a fish foot massage  and laughed the entire time), and got some famous Thai rolled ice cream from a small local shop (in fact I ate the ice cream every single day I was on the island.)

Well rested during the day I spent the evening climbing the Andaman View point. The climb is pretty tough, but the views of the sea from the top, particularly at sunset is truly magical.

I then spent the rest of the night visiting a tree ho. The bar is actually up in a tree and overlooks the beach. I watched a fire show with a Singha beer.

Day 4: Today was the day I had been looking forward to since I decided to visit Thailand, a visit to Hat Maya. Ever seen the movie The Beach? Well I am talking about that exact beach. I grabbed a coconut drink and explored the beautiful trees, white sand beach, and turquoise water. The boat then took us to Shark Bay where we went snorkeling with some local black tip sharks.

Back at the hotel I prepared for one of the more famous Thai excursions, a full moon party. Dressed in florescent paint, I was off to Slinky’s Bar. Located right on the beach, I danced the night away and even tried my hand at fire limbo.

11070187_10205738242671262_5807354486231596790_n

Krabi

 Day 5: Day 5 started with a short 90-minute ferry ride from Phi Phi to Krabi. Once I arrived in Krabi I spent the day soaking up the adorable town of Ao Nang. I met with the amazing friendly locals, shopped the markets, and stopped for a drink at Cuckoo’s Nest.

Day 6: Today I woke up nice and early to tackle Tiger Cave Temple. No, there are no tigers here, this is actually one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Krabi. It is a strenuous climb but the view from the top is stunning.

Once back from the tough climb, it was time to relax. I had heard about Rei Lay beach and decided to take a short boat ride over. I cannot recommend this spot enough. Rei Lay was the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. I spent the afternoon relaxing and even got a Thai massage right on the sand. The best part, a Thai massage will only cost you about $10.

Day 7: My last full day in Thailand. I had always wanted to ride an elephant, and after some research I found out that Phang Nga Elephant Park really treats their animals with respect. I decided to visit the park, and had the chance to meet my new fried Pancho. It was such a surreal experience to get a piggy-back ride from such an amazing creature.

11072830_10205737414410556_5721633903613295048_n

The rest of the day was spent heading back to Phuket to prepare for the long flight back to Canada.

My one week and a day trip to Thailand was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I had the chance to explore the beauty, the culture, the landscape, the food, and the breathtaking beaches of this amazing country.

Want to visit Thailand, or any country for that matter but don’t have a lot of time? It can be done, just plan ahead. Decide where you want to go, book the excursions ahead of time, have an open mind, and of course plan to come back. I sure hope I get to explore more of beautiful Thailand in the future, but I will never forget the eight days I spent in this beautiful country.

1901222_10205731973314532_7102799567611713555_n

11070515_10205717261626749_5157240473514403247_n

Until the next time I go M.I.A happy traveling

xo

Mia

 

 

Mia Goes M.I.A: Swimming with Whale Sharks

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 3.00.29 PM.png

IMG_1732

Background 

It had always been a dream of mine to swim with sharks. I had always been addicted to shark week and fascinated by these amazing creatures. Never in a million years however did I think I would get an opportunity as unique as the one I got for my birthday this year.

I had a chance to celebrate the big 2-8 I got the surprise of a life time while in Cabo San Lucas. I was told I was going to go swimming with sharks, but not just any sharks, whale sharks.

The whale shark is a slow moving filter feeding carpet shark and basically the largest known fish species in the world. So large that the largest confirmed whale shark is a whooping 41.5ft long.

From early winter until late spring a large number of teenage whale sharks can be found feeding in the rich waters of the Sea of Cortez in the Bay of La Paz. It was the perfect time of year to have a date with these gentle sea giants.

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 3.00.37 PM

The Experience 

The full day excursion started with a two-hour bus ride from Las Cabos to La Paz. Once there, our group was split into a smaller size and headed out to see. You travel in a small group because too many people in the water at once can scare the whale sharks and force them to disappear into the depths of the water.

Because of the murky water conditions, we were told it would be a little tough to spot the sharks, but to keep our eyes peeled for brown spots in the water.

About 30 minutes into our boat ride, we saw divers in the water. My heart was pounding; the whale sharks had been spotted.

We were told that the boat would get ahead of the whale sharks and then we would be told when to dive underwater. We were also told to swim as fast as we can because despite their size, they can sure move.

I literally thought my heart was going to pound right through my chest when the told me to get into position. Nerves, excitement, anticipation, all of the emotions were going through my head. “1,2,3… go” our tour guide counted down. I froze for a minute before he yelled go again.

The murky water made it hard to see anything, but all of a sudden this giant spotted fish swims right underneath me. I was so mesmerized by it’s size and beauty that I completely forgot the swimming aspect. I just waited there, frozen, amazed.

I got back on the boat and we all just sat there talking about the experience together until our tour guide told us we would get another chance to get in the water with these creatures. This time I was determined to stay with them as long as possible.

I went down as soon as I was told to and kept my eyes peeled. Out of nowhere I saw his face coming right at me, as if he was going to hit me head on. I was so close I could reach out and touch him!  I tried to keep up, but swimming at top speed I was able to catch the end of his tale flying past me. Our tour guide didn’t lie when he said they were fast.

What I Learned 

Swimming with whale sharks was truly the most amazing experience of my life. I got to be so close to these incredible animals. I got to see them in their natural habitat. I got to appreciate their size and their way of life. I got to appreciate the world that is beneath us.  and I highly recommend it for anyone who has an adventure side in them.

We went with Cabo Adventure and the entire experience was unforgettable. They guarantee a sighting or a free trip. The tour guys were knowledgable and fun. I would highly recommend them

What are some of your favourite adventures? I would love to hear them and maybe add them to my own bucket lis! Share them below.

Until we go M.I.A again

Xo

Mia

MIA goes M.I.A: How I caught the travel bug

 

15826145_10211358331329966_453133994250923598_nCuriosity killed the cat, at least that how the saying goes right? Well not in my opinion. In my opinion curiosity helped the cat grow, learn, and evolve. I like to think of myself as a curious person, curious about other countries, cultures, and lifestyles. Curious about what makes different parts and people of the world unique

It is this curiosity that lead to my passion for travel. My passion to explore lands that are so diverse and different from the one I grew up in. To listen to the languages, to enjoy their foods, to take in the beauty of their landscapes.

It is this reason why I decided to start writing about my travel experiences. My whole life I have been the sports girl, the athlete, the sports reporter. But travel has also been a huge part of my life, a quieter part of my life, and now I am using this outlet to share that part of my life with you.

So where did this curiosity come from?  I believe it starts with the fact that I am a first generation Canadian. My parents moved from South Africa the year before I was born to give our family a better life.Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 5.15.17 PM.png

For my first birthday, I took my first trip across seas to visit my family in South Africa. Every other year until I was 16, I would go back. Each time seeing a new part of that society. From safaris, to towns, to the poverty of Zimbabwe, to the dangers of Johannesburg, I experienced it all first hand

Then there is the fact that my father, a cinematographer, is also a photographer. His wildlife and landscapes have been featured in The National Geographic. So as a child I would have the opportunity to travel a lot with him.

No matter where we were in the world, he found beauty. Car rides would seem endless because of all the “photo opp” stops we would have to take. I soon learned to see the beauty through his “lenses” his eyes. The colours of the sun, the beauty of the mountain range, the pureness of the wildlife.12377763_10207676017514422_7198305888946536788_o

As I grew older, my travel adventures changed. Less with my family and more so with my tennis coach as I tried to pursue a professional tennis career. I would still travel to this amazing places, Costa Rica, Panama, you name it, but no longer for leisure, it was no for work.

I no longer had free time to explore the beauty, instead I explored hotel rooms, lobby restaurants, and tennis courts.

I loved being an athlete, but I hated traveling to these amazing places, and not being able to learn, to explore, to experience. The curiosity was still there but it wasn’t fed, it wasn’t satisfied.

And so when professional tennis didn’t work out for me, I made a promise to myself. A promise to never give up that need, that want to travel. I wanted to go back to all of the places I went as an athlete but this time as a student ready to learn about what each and every places I was fortunate enough to visit had to offer. My mind was my new notepad, blank page after blank page just waiting to be filled with experiences.208257_1019401081244_6043_n

I have been so fortunate to have traveled to many different places. There was the Europe back pack trip my best friend that took us through the valleys of Germany to the top of the Eifel Tower in France.  There was the Barcelona to Cannes road trip with mom and pop. There was the solo trip to Thailand. The ski adventure in Whistler, and most recently the first real trip my boyfriend and I took to Cabo as a couple.

206889_1019593446053_3013_n

Each one of these trips offered different experiences, opened my eyes to different cultures, and interestingly taught me something new about myself.

Yes, the job title on my business card is sports reporter with the National Lacrosse League, and yes I love my job and wouldn’t dream of doing anything else as a career, but as a person, I am so much more than just my title.

As a person I am a reporter, a writer, and explorer, an adventurer, a traveler, a student, and a curious cat, and I hope to continue to grow, and learn, and experience until my very last breath.15940908_10211420765530782_4844108439737673929_n

15698108_10211336624867318_1592367325427255175_n

I already have my next adventure planned, and this one is right in my own back yard. Since this is Canada’s 150th birthday and all the National Parks are free, I decided to make a trip to one of the parks this summer. I am going to have the opportunity to explore the Bruce Peninsula and I cannot wait.

So many times I think of all the places I want to go, that I forget the beauty that is right at home. I hope that you will follow along with this adventure and the ones to come in my future.

I also hope, more than anything that you will embrace your true passions in life, whatever they may be, and that you too will be a curious cat.

XOXO

Mia

Mia goes M.I.A: Blue Mountain Resort

img_0693

After living in the Southern United States for seven years, returning to the cold winters of Canada wasn’t an easy task. For the first few years, I decided to hibernate from November until May, however this year I made a pact to myself to get out and enjoy winter, starting off with a weekend getaway to Blue Mountain Village and Resort.

Blue Mountain is just a short two-hour drive from Toronto, making it the perfect weekend destination to escape the city. The ski resort has 42 runs accessible from 16 different chairlifts there are slopes for all different levels. When your legs are tired from the day on the hills, there is an adorable European style village to get some shopping done, or find a spot to sit down for Après. There are also several hotels and cottages in the area to stay and get your zzz’s.

fullsizerender-4

What to do:

On my recent trip to Blue Mountain I arrived bright and early to make sure I would get a full day on the slopes. I really wanted to check out all the sides of the mountains. I even dared myself to go outside my comfort zone and try some double black diamonds.

After one tumble it was time to take a time out. It is a ski tradition of mine to stop a hot chocolate break. I made a stop into Bullwheel Pub. This pub is the only one located on the South end of the mountain and offers a beautiful view of the slopes. The rustic deco makes you feel like you are inside a cabin.  It offers delicious Canadian comfort food. I had the chicken fingers and mac and cheese along with my hot chocolate.fullsizerender-5

After a full day of skiing and some sore muscles, it was then time to relax at my favourite après spot, Rusty’s at Blue. Rusty’s is located right at the base of the slopes in the village. It offers a beautiful view of the mountains and live music in the afternoons and early evenings which offers the perfect atmosphere to unwind with a beer in hand.

Next it was time to shop until I dropped. The Village at Blue Mountain has so many unique stores, boutiques, and even candy shops. My personal favourite spot is Red Devil Sports. They have so many vibrant outfits, that is where I got my favourite ski jacket.

After dropping off all those bags, and a delicious dinner (you can find my favourite spots for food under where to eat) it was time to put the dancing shoes on. I went to check out Twist Martini Lounge Bar and absolutely loved the elegant interior, delicious cocktails, and amazing DJ that had me moving all night long.Screen Shot 2017-02-18 at 6.56.48 PM.png

Day two of the weekend I needed some serious R&R after all the skiing and dancing, and so I made a trip to the Scandinavian Spa. The spa is located just a shot 10-minute drive from the mountains and with big trees surrounding it, it is very secluded and tranquil. I arrived early to make sure I would have a spot in their famous baths. Basically you rotate from hot to cold baths which is meant to cleanse the body and get blood circulation going. I must say I felt surprisingly energized afterwards.

fullsizerender

Where to Eat: 

The Village is packed with amazing restaurants for all taste buds but the following are a few of the spots I really enjoyed on my recent trip.

After a full day of skiing, my legs were exhausted and I didn’t want to venture far from the hotel, so thankfully there was Oliver and Bonacini Café and Grill right in the lobby, and what a teat it was. The restaurant offers a fine dining experience with a beautiful view of the village. The food was delicious to say the least. I absolutely loved the Miso Glazed Salmon.

The following day for lunch I was craving more of a carb loaded meal to say the least, and so I made a stop into Firehall Pizza Co. I absolutely loved the decoration, modelled after a Northern Ontario Firehall. The menu itself was a pizza lover’s dream. They had everything from the Sexy Texy Mexy (a Mexican style pizza) to the Meat Head (self-explanatory) creative and delicious.

For the last supper I decided to go Greek and give Tholos a try. The restaurant was so beautifully put together. It really transforms you to an ancient Greek ruin. I love the interactive experience this restaurant has to offer, from dancing and traditional plate smashing. And of course the food is delicious. I personally love the Stuffed Florina Peppers.

Where to Stay:
Screen Shot 2017-02-18 at 7.03.20 PM.png

If you are looking to stay in a luxury hotel for the weekend, the Westin Trillium is the place to be! I had a beautiful room that overlooked the skating rink, village, and the mountains. There was so much space and a fireplace to warm me up after a day on the slopes. The hotel really payed attention to detail, from their custom made soaps and shampoo, to bed side mist supposed to help you sleep better. The bed was heavenly. In fact, this was probably the most comfortable hotel I have ever stayed at. Besides the incredible lodging, the hotel has so much to offer, including their own mini spa, with two hot tubs and a heated swimming pool, perfect after a long day of skiing.img_0729

I think the whole experience at Blue was an eye opener for me. I realized that Canadian winters can be enjoyable if you embrace it. Secondly I learned that Ontario has so much to offer. Having had the chance to ski at Whistler last year, I was very impressed with what Blue Mountain had to offer, from the ski experience, to their village, to their nightlife. I will definitely be making a trip back there soon, and I hope you will as well!

 

Why Traveling Solo is a Must

10341551_10205701038261175_6285203350443264108_n

Early this year I had the opportunity to write an article for DailyHive about my personal experience of traveling to Thailand all on my own.  As I continue to share travel tips, I feel that this is an important one to pass along because this was honestly one of the most life changing experiences.

So why did I decide to pack my bags and travel half way across the world all by myself? Well in all honesty it was a last minute decision. After making a career as one of the youngest national news anchors in Canada, my station shut down and less than 24 hours alter I was dumped. So I did what any logical single and recently unemployed girl would do, I booked a solo trip to Thailand.

I regretted the decision the moment the ticket was booked. Nerves took  over and I called my dad in tears. He reassured me that everything was going to be ok and that this would be the trip of a life time.

I regretted the decision again after 20 hours on an airplane when I arrived in this foreign land with no luggage (Thankfully 7-Eleven’s carry every thing you could ever need or want).

As soon as I woke up the next morning to the beauty of the mountains and the white sand beaches, the regret washed away with the tide and I was ready for whatever adventure was waiting for me.

My ten-day trip included stops in Phuket, Phi Phi and Krabi. I visited the incredibly beautiful Ao Phang Ngo (aka James Bond Island). I partied at a ladyboy cabaret show. I fed wild monkeys. I swam with sharks. I visited the beach from the movie the Beach (even more beautiful in person). I overcame my fears and rode an elephant. I danced my butt off at a full moon party. I prayed for the first time at the Big Buddha. I ate my weight in Thai food.

But the most important thing I did was find myself again.

Travelling by myself was truly the best thing I ever did. And here are five reasons I think everyone should travel by themselves at some point in their life.

11072830_10205737414410556_5721633903613295048_n

You are the master of your itinerary10455655_10205702136488630_2935447828426095752_n

Sure, traveling with a group can be a blast, but it can also be a pain because you all have to agree on what to do and when. Traveling solo you can do whatever you want whenever you want no permission or compromise needed. I am a morning person, so I could wake up at the crack of dawn and see the sunrise, and I didn’t have to party until 3 am because of peer pressure. You truly get to do you.

You have chance to connect with yourself10953900_10205724079357188_7011318694399846369_n

Maybe this is the trip to the big Buddha talking, but traveling on your own allows you plenty of you time. During that time you can dig deep and figure out what makes you really happy and what you want out of life. There are no distractions.  It is an amazing opportunity to connect with the most important person, you.

You become more independent

I found myself constantly singing that really catchy tune from Kelly Clarkson, you know “Ms. Independent” because that is how I felt.  You have to make your own decisions, you have to solve your own problems, you have to learn how to use a real map, you know, that’s made from paper and you can’t update with every new destination (yes, they still exist and are hella useful when data is like $100/GB). You only have one person to rely on and that person is yourself.11070515_10205717261626749_5157240473514403247_n

You feel more satisfied at the end of the trip

It seems that whenever you travel with a group no matter how close you are there is always some drama, some fights. When you are on your own it is just peace and quiet. The only thing you have to worry about is if your margarita is near the bottom.

You make a ton of new friends

Traveling on your own can be scary. Will you be lonely and miserable the whole time? Only if you want to be. You have the choice to connect with other people, get tips from the locals or learn from like-minded travellers. You may even find a travel buddy for your next adventure!

I know, traveling on your own can seem pretty scary, so I also have a few tips for planing that solo vacation.

10394846_10205717258266665_1651567423943753846_n

 Tips for traveling on your own: 

  • Plan ahead of time. I felt pretty safe on this trip because I had my hotels and transportation booked ahead of time instead of worrying last minute and putting myself in a potential unsafe environment
  • Always carry good identification on you
  • Don’t draw attention to yourself with flashy clothes or jewellery, don’t make yourself a target
  • leave a copy of your itinerary and contact info with a friend so someone knows where you are at all times
  • keep to open and public places especially at night time 984297_10205709531953512_2372907246794993417_n

So what are you waiting for? Grab your passport and go explore the world. It is your oyster after all.