Exploring, learning, eating and relaxing in Thailand

A lot happened in Thailand. As I’m sure is the case for most people who travel to and visit the exotic and slightly mysterious south east asian country. I survived a jelly fish sting, a traditional thai hot coffee spill on my bare legs, and multiple work outs on the beach in 40 degree temperatures. haha!

This man was quick to help me out haha....fresh aloe vera, literally from around the corner, being applied to the burn, and the stinging went down by evening.

One of my best friend’s, Maggie, and I started out in Vietnam (blog on that later) then went on to Phuket, then Koh Samui, then Bangkok.

This order of locations allowed us to party, then relax, then learn and explore which I highly recommend.

PHUKET

The most touristy part of all of Thailand, there are some things I recommend doing just once, to experience it, and there are some activities and places that are not totally expected on such a “party island”.

Photo Left: This man was quick to help me out haha….fresh aloe vera, literally from around the corner, being applied to the burn, and the stinging went down by evening.

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TORONTO

Writing a travel blog about the place you grew up in, is somewhat more difficult than writing about a place you just experienced because of course, you must narrow down a lifetime of living, to your top recommendations.

I don’t live in the city anymore so every time I’m back in the city, I try to get in as much food, drink and play as I can.  I’ve rounded up a good mix of long standing establishments as well as newer hots spots that are sure to add to your time in The 6 (in case you live under a rock – “the six” is the latest nickname for the city, coined by Drake.)

Taking in the sun, and the Toronto skyline.

Taking in the sun, and the Toronto skyline.

To start off, although the city is now pulsing 24/7, all year round, I still recommend coming between April and December. Basically, I’m telling you to avoid the first two to three months of the year when it can be quite cold and “brown” (like the whole eastern part of North America during this time, the trees are without leaves and the ground is grimy). That said, literally all of the things I’m recommending below are still available to you all year round so if your family reunion or work conference or vacation time is January to March, you’ll still have a great time.

 

 

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Winter Travel in Whistler, British Columbia

There are so many positive and intriguing adjectives that can be used to describe the ski/snowboard town of Whistler in British Columbia, Canada – quaint (the village), lively (the atmosphere), breathtaking and sublime (the mountains), heavenly (top of the mountains) and memorable (all of it!). This blog is almost difficult to write because it’s hard to put into words the feelings you get when you spend some time in this magical place. So – the following is a guide to making a fun visit, but you really have to get yourself there in order to truly appreciate what it has to offer (like most places I suppose, but especially so for this one).

This blog features the best things to do in the winter months, however over the years it’s established itself as a great place to adventure all year round. It’s world renowned for it’s mountain biking, and has a bunch of top notch golf courses. Stay tuned for a spring/summer/fall edition of this blog later in the year.

But for now…winter…

My friend and I having fun on Whistler mountain. The three of us were the only ones skiing/snowboarding down this run.

My friend and I having fun on Whistler mountain. The three of us were the only ones skiing/snowboarding down this run.

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The Wanderlust List of Favourite Things

I’m a lover of many things. Herewith a list of some of my favourite restaurants, bars, hotels and other establishments that have stood out while on my travels. With the purpose of keeping current, I’m only listing places that I’ve been to in the last five years but it’s probably best to do a quick online search before you actually head there. Check back often, as I’ll continue to update this list as I travel this beautiful world 🙂

NORTH AMERICA

NYC

The Manhattan Skyline, seen from the boat of Fin Chaser Charters.

The Manhattan Skyline, seen from the boat of Fin Chaser Charters.

Ma Pêche Momofuku & Milk Bar, Ma Pêche is one of David Chang’s original restaurants. Every single dish was super tasty (best to order a bunch of stuff to share). There was even a dish with food that moved! ….and Milk Bar is his dessert line. Buy a few birthday truffles to go. So good they should be illegal.

Clinton St. Baking Co., really good for breakfast/brunch. I especially loved their blueberry pancakes.

Freeman’s, in Lower East Side, down a charmingly lit alleyway. This place is kinda hipster-y, the food is good and the atmosphere is fun…it’s just a bit loud, which I didn’t mind.

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Food or Sports? BOTH can be done well in Oregon.

I went to Oregon expecting to come back with lots of memories of the beautiful landscape and outdoors activities, but what really ended up leaving an impression on me was their food scene. Don’t get me wrong, the road trip from Vancouver to Bend, and then back up north to Portland, was a gorgeous one with a variety of mountains and canyons and farmland BUT a good majority of my time was spent eating, and I was impressed.

Our weekend started out in Bend, Oregon where hipsters and outdoors people (often one and the same) roam the town in search of the best lattes and bike trails. To say the city is a popular one these days, is an understatement. It seemed at every turn there was a new townhouse complex, shopping area, restaurant district or hockey arena being built. It’s no wonder why Bend is rated as one of the best places to live in the United States. Everything is relatively easy to get to, it has some of the best hiking and biking trails, ski areas and bodies of water for fishing (Deschutes is a world class fly fishing river), as well as water sports like paddle boarding and kayaking, and there are all sorts of fun little restaurants, bars and bakeries to indulge in. Oh, and let’s not forget, it has one brewery for every 4,500 people, which means a ton of tasty craft beers to choose from.

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Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T) Canada

I’ve always enjoyed and been excited by films that focus on the outdoors ever since I saw the epic looking and sounding movies produced by the likes of Brain Farm and Warren Miller.  The latter being the same producers who originally brought to us the Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T) in the U.S. So when the opportunity to get involved with the F3T in Canada arose, I immediately took it and was looking forward to seeing how we could help it grow and get even more people to experience it.

Part of my travel lately has been organized around the various Fly Fishing Film Tour Canadian tour dates. I’ll be hosting the Chilliwack, British Columbia show this Saturday and then the Campbellville, Ontario show the following weekend.

Both the west and east coast are filled with enthusiastic anglers so I’m always happy to get to visit with a great group of these people. I also LOVE watching people’s reactions to the films because they never seem to fail to inspire anyone who sees them – from the avid hardcore fly fisher to the casual/beginner angler or weekend warrior. In fact, when we hosted a show back in June, I even witnessed a few of my girlfriends who don’t fish at all, want to get out on the water after taking in the films!

This was taken during our intimate June event we hosted to kick off the tour out east.  Blue skies, clear water - makes you want to get out just looking at this still!

This was taken during our intimate June event we hosted to kick off the tour out east. Blue skies, clear water – makes you want to get out just looking at this still!

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Vancouver: Where Urban Life and the Great Outdoors Intersect

I’ve spent a lot of time in this west coast city lately, and can now confidently say I have some favourites that I would highly recommend. If you’ve ever visited Vancouver, you know what I mean when I say that it truly offers the best of both worlds – city life surrounded by the great outdoors. This is the kind place where you can go snowboarding or skiing on some of the most epic mountains in the world, and take a dip in the ocean, or go fishing – all in the same day. Because there’s so much diversity and wonderful things to do, you’re sure to have fun no matter what you chose to explore, however, I’m a big believer in a curated, tried, true and tested guide….so here it is!

Where to stay – If you are in the position to splurge and enjoy the finer things in life, my new favourite hotel is Rosewood Hotel Georgia, by far. I recently stayed there for a couple of nights and every detail and want was tended to. I’ve spent my whole life staying in hotels around the world and only a few hold a candle to Hotel Georgia when it comes to the overall attention to details, customer satisfaction and overall ambiance (and none of those other few are in Canada).

The little one really liked the Junior Suite too.

The little one really liked the Junior Suite too.

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Michelin Star Extravaganza in Copenhagen

The evening BEFORE our big evening at the Michelin Star restaurant, Kiin Kiin, went like this:

Local Danish friend: Hey guys, where do you want to have dinner tomorrow?

Us: Somewhere delicious, you pick.

Local Danish friend: Ok, how about Thai food? I hear there’s a really good Thai place that I’ve been wanting to try out.

Us: Sounds good.

Cut to THE evening, just a handful of buds heading out for what we assume is a casual night out, sharing some south east asian comfort food…

hhhahaha….boy (girrrrrrrl), were we wrong.

We entered Kiin Kiin, what looked to be a trendy, calming but somewhat traditional Thai restaurant, sat down in a lounge area and waited for a waiter and some menus. However, what really ensued was four and half hours (4 and 1/2 hours!!) of a kind of mindf**k, being served dish after dish of unknown and never before tried ingredients. This description kind of sounds scary, but actually it was amazing!! And interesting, and hilarious at times (hilarious, often because we would be served one of the fanciest dishes we’ve ever laid our eyes on, only to remember that a couple of hours ago, we assumed we’d be eating simple Thai food in a dingy – but awesome – traditional Thai joint).
The evening consisted of 20 dishes in total, along with a wine pairing and took place in two main rooms. These restauranteurs surely deserve their Michelin Star, as it was a unique dining experience unlike any other we’d had, and was full of really delicious dishes. Herewith, a selection of what we ate that night (description in captions):

Oysters, mussels and really pretty seashells from the seashore.

Oysters, mussels and really pretty seashells from the seashore.

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Food, shopping and travel tips from Denmark

The Scandinavian countries had been on my list of places to see and explore for quite some time, and lucky for me I found some enthusiastic participants to come along. My cousins and I managed to coordinate our somewhat opposing schedules so that we had 10 days to skip out on work (i.e. actually still working, but from laptops and iPhones at various coffee shops and apartments). We decided two countries was in our cards and chose Denmark and Sweden, and as soon as we left the airport (we started out in Copenhagen), the stereotypes were in full force: clean architectural lines mixed with old european details, a bunch of lookalikes – light coloured hair, tall, lean build and fashionable without taking too many risks, and pastry shops and furniture design houses in every direction.

A typical street in Copenhagen.

A typical street in Copenhagen…and we just finished scarfing down a bunch of pastries.

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Fishing the Atlantic with Miss Judy Charters

My career has afforded me quite a few encounters with some really special women who are also enthusiastic about the outdoors, and whom I consider friends. However, I don’t think anyone has made me so in awe of their attitude and capabilities as a female charter guide I recently met in Savannah, Georgia.

Her name is Miss Judy and along with her best friend of 30 years, Kathy the mate of the boat, she runs a charter business called Miss Judy Charters. When my producer originally told me who we were fishing with in Savannah, his first comment was “you’re really going to like her”. I took it with a grain of salt, knowing I was going to like her (there are very few fishing guides that I’ve come across that I don’t like), but not thinking it was going to leave a strong impression on me, or that I was going to have one of the best days of my life on the water.

A few ladies, having a time on the water, with our amberjack.

A few ladies, having a time on the water, with our amberjack.

Miss Judy has lived an incredible and unique life. In a nutshell, she was born to her father’s second wife. By the time she was born, her father was in his fifties and had lived an adventurous and mysterious life (he allegedly worked for Al Capone). Judy never knew how he made money and life was full of surprises (he married eight times), but the one thing that was constant was his boat, and the fact that he was always taking family and friends out on the water. When Judy was only five years old, her mother passed away and ever since then, she’d been by her father’s side. As a result of this unusual upbringing, and because fishing runs her in her blood, she’s basically been chartering since she was a pre-teen. Think about that for a minute – most of us are just trying to make sure we make it to school on time or that we finish our homework at that age, meanwhile little Judy was learning how to build relationships with customers and how to man an entire boat from driving it, to setting up fishing gear, all in the unpredictable world of the big vast ocean! I could go on and on about her stories and her life, but needless to say, she’s built a foundation for being a successful charter guide and for living a fulfilling and independent life.

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