Celebrating 2016

2016 has been a year full amazing travel experiences and adventures.   We thought we would share some of our favourite personal travel moments with you.   This is such an amazing world we live in and we are so happy that we get to share it with you!

Karen’s Visit to Club Villain at Walt Disney World

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“The one thing I have learned about Disney from my past trips is to never pass up a special ticket event. My favorite that I have been to so far is Club Villain. There is themed food and cocktails. A Dj and his dancers entertained us throughout the evening. We were given an opportunity to socialize with several diva Villains. There were no lines awaiting you to meet up with Maleficent, the Queen of Hearts, Cruela De Vil and the Evil Queen.  This is an event not to miss!”

Amanda’s Jamaican Vacation

“Beautiful water and great weather.  The Jamaican people are the friendliest and most accommodating I’ve ever been around.”

Correna’s Search for Charlie Brown in Hong Kong

“My great adventure in Hong Kong began when I tried to locate this Charlie Brown Café in downtown Hong Kong.  One piece of advice, do not think you can get by with land marks in Hong Kong.  There just happens to be a Rolex store on every block!   It was well worth the search!”

Casie’s Trip to Puerto Vallarta

“It’s fabulous”

Joanne’s Blue Lagoon Plunge in Iceland

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“Iceland is the perfect destination or people looking for the unexpected.  It has something for everybody.  I was lucky enough to experience the Aurora Borealis, take in geysers and glaciers and bath in the Blue Lagoon.”

Jamie’s Family Vacation to Kauai

“Kauai Hawaii. Land of flowers, sunny beaches and Jurassic Park movies. Poipu had perfect weather and we loved the quiet, laid back feel of this Island. “

Elena’s Romantic European River Cruise

“Life on the ship is amazing.  They say food fills the soul, well your belly will be happy also.  I went on the galley tour while on board. For a kitchen so small the meals are impressive. No soup or dressings are made from powders or pre-made starters, everything is from whole natural foods, it’s evident in every bite.

The cabins are comfortable and take your breath away.  I highly recommend paying the extra to upgrade your cabin from the lead in category. You may not think you’ll spend time in your cabin but when the sun comes up around 5am or you’re leaving port then you can just draw back the curtains and doze off and on while watching the views as you sail by.  Sailing past countless Vineyards and castle is great way to start your morning if you ask me.”

Kyra’s Family Camping Trip to Banff

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“I went to the beautiful Moraine Lake and Lake Louise.  I had never been to either of those lakes before and I just fell in love with how pretty they are!”

Heather’s Destination Wedding Travels

“In 2016 I was lucky enough to travel not once but twice for amazing, beautiful destination weddings.   My brother was married in Puerto Vallarta and a dear high school friend was married in Ucluelet, British Columbia.  The first trip was another amazing family vacation but even more special.  The second a bit of a high school reunion and a road trip with two of my very best friends.”

Stephanie’s Costa Rican’ Adventure

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“Kayak and paddle boarding on Lake Arenal in Costa Rica, with beautiful views of the Arenal Volcano is one of my favorite travel memories in 2016. “

Colleen’s Bucket List trip to Newfoundland

“Ales, Whales and Newfie Tales is what is waiting for you in Newfoundland and so much more.  We went for 2 weeks but could have stayed for a month.  The people, the hiking, the music, the scenery even their own winery are just some of the things that are waiting for  you.  From Iceberg Beer which you can only get in Newfoundland to the East Coast music heard at every pub it’s a must return destination.  Oh, yes don’t forget the Puffins. “

It has certainly been a memorable year.   We can’t wait to see where 2017 takes us and hope to share it all with you along the way.    If you would like any help planning your own amazing vacation please feel free to call our office at 306-242-TRIP (8747).   We would love to help you have amazing travel experiences too.

*If you enjoyed this blog and would like to continue to follow our team as they have amazing travel experiences check out our Instagram @UniglobeCarefreeTravel
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Correna’s Asian Adventure – Final Blog

Hong Kong, WOW!

This what an amazing city, I have pretty much been in awe the whole time I have been here.  I tried to find some awesome pictures to attach but when I look back on my phone I don’t have any.  I really don’t want to experience my time in Hong Kong through my camera as I might miss something.  Wednesday the 14th I joined the Deluxe Hong Kong Island tour.  This was by far my most busiest day.  Up and gone from the Pentahotel by 9 am as the tour started at 10:30 am.  The tour covered a lot of ground and did include Dim Sum at the Jumbo Floating restaurant.  Before lunch we made the steep trip up on the tram to the Peak to see the view of Hong Kong.  We then took a little tour of the Aberdeen Fishing village before stopping for lunch.  After our meal we headed for a jewellery factory and then onto Stanley Market.  We were finished our tour around 5 pm and then we’re dropped off at our pickup locations.

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As I was already downtown I decided that it was time to checkout Temple Street Market.  Now try to find the place.  I knew the general direction as I had been lost a couple of time in the TST area a few times already. So I did what any tourist does and just follow the crowd!  The market is about a 15 minute walk from the craziness of the core area.  I was totally overwhelmed and didn’t end up buying a whole lot of anything.  I am going to head back today to scope out the Ladies Market and then this evening back to Temple Street if need be.
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My flight back home is for tomorrow, I will for sure be coming back to Hong Kong!  How about a ladies shopping tour, who’s with me?????

Correna’s Asian Adventure – Part 2

I have been in Thailand a few days now and have been fairly busy or sleeping, I know that sounds weird but the jetlag is kicking my butt.  I go hard and then bam, time to go right to bed or I am going to fall asleep where ever I am at the moment.  My first three nights I spent at the Grand Centara Krabi, the only way to reach the resort is by water or you can walk the monkey trail.  With it being sooooo hot I took the speed boat transfer.  The Centara is a very nice resort in a protected park so you can imagine all the mosquitos lol.  Repellant is a must as I am covered with bites and so was everyone else. The resort is geared to couples and families so pretty low key and since you have to take the shuttle back and forth it is not a place if you are looking for night life.  You do have to prepare book the shuttle as they do have limited space and hours.  While I was at the Centara I did go on the James Bond tour which was a highlight for me.  I am a James Bond freak so I was looking for Roger Moore, Tattoo and a Junk Boat.  I know this tour may not be for everyone but if you were a kid in the 70’s I’m pretty sure you would have watched this movie a few times as we only had three or four tv channels and you had to watch what was on.

Yesterday when I was packing up to head into Aonang Beach I was visited by Monkeys.  They were everywhere!!!!  I was able to snap a few pictures and also a video.

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I transferred to my new hotel, the Pakasai Resort.  It is in a great location close to the beach and shopping.  I also was able the find the Massage Corner and have my first Thai massage!  I sure didn’t know that my body could be twisted and cracked so much.  They are in the middle of construction in Aonang, right now it looks like a bulldozer has pretty much come in and tried to remove the whole block.  They have started to rebuild in some areas of the street and looks like it will be amazing when they have everything finished.

Well I think it is time to try and get a little sleep.  I have to be wide awake for my Thai cooking class tomorrow!

 

Correna’s Asian Adventure – Part 1

My day started off fairly early – set my alarm for 0330, boy that hurt.  I am going to have a very long travel day and a half.  Flying from Saskatoon to Krabi via Vancouver and Hong Kong.  I am flying with Air Canada and Hong Hong Kong airlines.  My first flight with Air Canada was on a Jazz flight but I was extremely lucky and was upgraded to business class!  This never happens to me so I was pumped, they did put me in a window/aisle seat as the plane is 1 and 2.  I loved the leg room and service but pretty much froze, for people who know me this NEVER happens.  I ended up having to put on my sweater, scarf and then the flight attended gave me a blanket and hot cup of tea.  If I am ever lucky enough to be upgraded again on this flight I will make sure to make a quick trip to the bathroom  to put more clothes on. We were fed breakfast on the flight so when I arrived in Vancouver and checked into the Maple Leaf lounge I sure didn’t need their scrambled eggs, sausage and toast. It was fairly busy in the lounge so I just grabbed a chair and here I sit trying to make this entertaining, if I have failed just humor me and tell me I did a good job 😓.

My flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong was alright, I am not the best long haul flyer as I can never sleep. This flight was a lot easier as I was flying in Premium Economy with Air Canada. Only a short 13 hours and 5 minutes later we arrived in Hong Kong, woohoo I made it!  I can’t believe how much they feed you on this flight, we were served three meals and snacks!  I know you get bored on a flight by holy who can eat all that food?!


Onto Hong Kong airport! Since my next flight was with Hong Kong Airlines and I was not able to check my bags all the way through, I then had to clear customs and pick up my baggage.  I have never been through this airport before and was a little intimidated by the size.  We are not in Saskatoon anymore Toto!

I had booked myself time at the Plaza Premium lounge before I left home and since I had been awake since 3 am, all I cared about was finding the lounge, having a shower, and catching a nap.  When I travel I always ask for directions, so I stopped at the first information desk I came across to ask for directions.  To make sure I was still on the right track, I stopped again at the second one. Yes, I know overkill.  I finally found the lounge, which just happened to be under renovations so it took a little longer for my turn to shower. At that moment, the best part of my trip has been the shower.  You did have to be careful where you stood because of the reno’s but oh my it was amazing 😂.


I didn’t try much of the food at the lounge as I was still full from all the plane food, but I was able to nap a little in their big comfy chairs.  The arrivals lounge is a lot smaller and quieter than the international departure Plaza lounge, I took a quick peek while I was walking by and can pretty much guarantee that no one would have been able to nap in that place. They have a lot for food and drink options, but I was looking for some thing a lot lower key.

Once I got checked in and through security I couldn’t believe the size of the airport.  My gate was 524, yes, five hundred and twenty four. On my way to find my gat,e I was surrounded by wealth. Chanel, Gucci, Hermes and Rolex just to name a few.  I wish that these stores were in line with my travel budget!

So onto Krabi!  My flight was for 2 am, everyone just jumped in line before they even told us they were boarding and bam on the bus to make the transfer and we are on our way.  The Hong Kong Airline flight was on a smaller plane, I would compare it to an Enerjet flight that we used to have out of Saskatoon. The flight was just over 3 hours and my transfer was already waiting for me when we arrived.  That is pretty much my travel day and a half.

Stephanie’s Asian Adventure – Final Blog

Day nine is a free day in Vang Vieng, and my birthday, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a quiet one. We have already arranged to start the day out with a caving and kayaking adventure, which is about 30 minutes out of town by tuk-tuk. We have to hike through a small village and field to get to the caves, but once there it was so much fun. We each get an inner tube and a head lamp, and off into the cave we go. We guide ourselves by a rope, and once in the cave you can’t see anything without the lamp. Once we make it to the end, we all turn off our lamps and hang out in complete darkness for a few moments before some of the other travellers start to get a bit nervous and want their lights back on.

After the cave, we head to another spot on the river for some kayaking. The kayaks are doubles, so of course I team up with my husband (it also means I don’t have to feel bad for making him do most of the work). Since it’s dry season and the river is quite low, we have to be careful to follow the guide so we don’t get stuck in any shallow spots, or any sneaky rocks. The river is beautiful, and at the start is dotted with a bunch of rivers bars. Vang Vieng used to be very popular with river tubing and bar hopping, but quite a few travelers have died in the past, so it’s not at common anymore. Once we are out of the busy part of the river, it’s so quiet and peaceful. I let my husband take over and take a minute to just enjoy one of my favorite activities on my birthday.

The rest of the day is a little more relaxing, but still pretty full. We have lunch at an Irish Bar with some of our new Australian friends, and then we take a tuk-tuk to the Blue Lagoon, which is a beautiful lagoon just outside of town. Since it rained early this morning, the water isn’t as blue as it usually is, but it was still pretty amazing. There are a few different platforms to jump from, as well as a few rope swings. I already had my fill of tree jumping from Kuang Si Waterfalls a few days ago, so I passed this time and just enjoyed the cool waters. We finish up the evening with a massage, and a pretty early night to bed, as being in the sun all day was pretty draining.

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Day ten is our last full day in Laos as we head to the capital of Vientiane. The drive is just under 4 hours, and we have one quick break along the way. Once we arrive, we jump right into our tour.  We stop at Pha That Luang, a beautiful Buddhist temple with an amazing golden stupa. The original structure is over 2000 years old, though over the years has been raided for the gems and gold. The current stupa is about 450 years old, and just layered with gold rather than being solid. We also make a stop at Patuxai, or the “Victory Gate” and it resembles the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It was built in 1962 with cement donated by the USA intended for the construction of a new airport, so it has been nicknamed” the vertical runway”. A climb to the top gives some great panoramic views over Vientiane.

Our last stop of the afternoon is the COPE Center (Cooperative Orthotic & Prosthetic Enterprise). Not many people know (including myself until this trip), but there was a secret war in Laos during the Vietnam War. From 1964 to 1973, the USA was trying to stop traffic along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. They dropped over 260 million cluster bombs on Laos during 580,000 bombing missions—equal to a planeload of bombs every 8 minutes, 24-hours a day, for 9 years – making Laos the most heavily bombed country per capita in history. The bombings destroyed many villages and affected hundreds of thousands of Laotians. However, approximately 1/3 of the bombs didn’t explode on impact, and are still located throughout the country today. Up to 100 people per year are injured or killed by a UXO (unexploded ordnance). This is where the COPE Center comes in – they help with prosthetics, therapy and rehabilitation for anyone who has been affected by a UXO. All assistance they provide is complimentary to the patient, and many people require treatment for several weeks. As a group, we all pitch in to make a donation to the center, and we manage to put together over 5 Million Kip (about 800 CAD or 625 USD), which is just a small dent in our lives, but could mean the world to someone here. The bus back to the hotel this afternoon is a lot quieter than usual, as we all take some time to appreciate how lucky we are to have safe, normal lives.

Day eleven we say goodbye to Laos and hello to Cambodia. We take a flight with Cambodia Angkor Air from Vientiane to Phnom Penh, which is 90 minutes. Upon arrival we all notice Cambodia is quite different from Laos – there are a lot more people, and it looks a little rougher and dirtier. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a corrupt country, and much of the money intended for infrastructure doesn’t make it that far. Many roads and buildings are incomplete, and there is a lot of garbage on roads and empty lots.

We were supposed to make 2 stops today, but unfortunately we were stuck in traffic an hour longer than planned, so we had to cut things short. It’s another heavy hearted day as we have a group tour of Choeung Ek, a killing field located just outside of Phnom Penh. More than a million people were killed and buried in genocide by the Communist Khmer Rouge regime, during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979. This particular killing field was not found until 1980, and was discovered to have over 129 mass graves, with over 8900 victims, though it’s estimated that over 20,000 people were killed here as not all graves have been uncovered. Our local tour guide shares with us that his family was affected by the genocide, as he lost many aunts and uncles, as well the entire side of his father’s family. Our Contiki tour manager also shares with us that his father was in one of the prisons, but managed to escape when he was 15. We have another somber bus ride back to the hotel as we all take time to appreciate living in peaceful countries.

Tonight there is an included Contiki dinner, at Veiyo Tonle. It’s a Cambodia owned and run restaurant that puts its profits back into the community to help keep kids off the streets. After dinner we all heading to a bar called Top Banana for some dancing and drinks. We all needed a break from the heavy emotions of the last 2 days.

Day twelve is our last travel day as we head to our last stop – Siem Reap. We take a quick 45 minute flight, which of course was delayed, before we arrive is scorching 36 degree heat. We start out with a visit to Tonle Sap Lake and the floating villages. Being right in the middle of dry season, the lake is very small and water levels are quite low. The lake can be as small as 250 km sq., and as big as 12,000 km sq. in raining season. The people who live in the floating villages have all they need with them – schools, shops, and even churches. Since no part of the lake is owned by any one village or person, they move as they see fit, which can be up to 6 or 7 times a year.

The rest of this evening is free, so we take a 15 minute walk to Pub Street where a lot of great restaurants are located. We finish off with a little shopping at the night market, before heading back to the hotel for an early bedtime – tomorrow is a very early start.

Day thirteen is our final full day together, and its starts with a 5 am departure from the hotel to see sunrise at Angkor Wat. This is the largest religious site in the world, constructed in the 12th century and it took more than 37 years to build. It was originally a Hindu temple, but was converted to Buddhism in the 16th century. When the Khmer empire fell, the site was abandoned and lost to the jungle for over 400 years before being rediscovered by the French in the 1860’s.

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In the afternoon we visited Angkor Thom, which includes Bayon Temple and Ta Prohm, also known as the Tomb Raider temple. Bayon is right in the center of Angkor Thom, and originally had 54 towers with 4 faces on each side, though only 37 towers remain standing today. Ta Prohm is where the movie Tomb Raider was filmed, and is still covered by some of the jungle. The trees have worked their way into the stone, and now support parts of the temple.

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On our final night together, we all have dinner at Red Piano on Pub Street. The food was fantastic (some of my favorite spring rolls all trip), but it was an open air establishment and so hot that I was quite uncomfortable. We all hurried through our meals so we could carry on to a nearby bar for our final party. We call came wearing white shirts with markers and highlighters in tow, so we can leave goodbye messages for each other. Now I have a great memento of all the friends I made along the way. I couldn’t think of a better way to say goodbye.

As I think back at all that we did in 2 short weeks, I couldn’t have done it all without Contiki. I would have never made as many friends, seen as many sites, and felt so safe and comfortable if I tried to do it all on my own.  Contiki says it best – One Life, One Shot, No Regrets!

Stephanie’s Asian Adventure – Part 2

Day one we met with our Contiki group at the hotel in Bangkok. The group consists of 31 people, which is actually oversold, so we jumped right into orientation. Our tour manager’s name is Soki, and he is from New Zealand. He gave us the rundown of how the week will work, and we finalized some paperwork. To help us get to know each other better we headed down to Khao San Road (popular for restaurants, bars and shopping) for a group dinner at one of his favorite Thai restaurants, My Darling. The food was excellent, and it was a great way to break the ice with the group. We had an early start for the next day, so we headed back to the hotel to pack up and get some sleep.

Day two was a jam packed day. Right after breakfast we headed to the Royal Palace with our local guide. Since it’s a temple and palace, proper attire is required – pants or floor length skirt and covered shoulders – which makes for a hot, sweaty day. The palace is beautiful. Every thing is so old and ornate. Our tour lasted around 2 hours, and then we headed to the river for a boat tour and catfish feeding.

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There was about 2 hours left for free time when finished, which gave us enough time for lunch before we had to get ready to head to the train station for the overnight train to Chiang Mai.

The train ride was about 14 hours, and we had sleeping berths for the night. You can buy a meal, or bring your own. It’s a comfortable enough journey, and by morning we were at our next stop.

Day three we woke up just outside Chiang Mai. Another busy day was ahead of us, starting with a quick stop at the hotel for breakfast. Our rooms weren’t ready, so we headed right to Wat Phra That temple, which is on the mountain side overlooking the city. It’s such a spiritual culture here, and we all received a blessing by a monk.

When finished, we have 3 hours for free time. A bunch of the group planned on heading to Tiger Kingdom to interact with tigers, so we decided to definitely tagging along. It was absolutely amazing to be so close to such a powerful animal!

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There was just enough time left to get back to the hotel to meet the group for the optional Thai cooking class ($30 USD pp). Its starts at the market with the chef, where he explains the different ingredients. Then we were off to the cooking center, which is in a rice field. We made tom yum soup, chicken with cashew, pad thai, and panang curry. It was such a great group bonding experience where we were able to laugh, joke, and really brought us together.

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The night ended with some of us heading to a traditional Muay Thai fight. It finished pretty late, and was after midnight before we get to the hotel. I can’t believe we’ve packed so many activities already, and how much more is left. I’m looking forward to the rest of the tour, and sharing it all with you!

Stephanie’s Asian Adventure – Part 1

What a change from simple, quiet Saskatoon – After 3 flights, many airline meals, and 30 long hours, my husband and I have finally made it to Bangkok. By time we made it to our hotel, our brains were pretty fried but the journey was well worth it. We’re now in an amazing city full of color and culture. Our first night spent at Nuovo City Hotel Bangkok didn’t consist of much more than a shower and sleep, but now that we are well rested the adventure begins.

The morning starts with us heading out in whatever direction our hearts take us. We end up on a street corner talking to a friendly Thai gentleman (everyone is very friendly I might add) who helps us get a tuk-tuk to get around. For only 40 Baht we are driven around the city to various temples, a custom suit store, and Golden Mountain, which is a beautiful temple where you can get great views of the city. For lunch we stop at Patong Go, a cute little cafe, and both of us eat for only 144 Baht, which is just over $6 CAD.

After lunch, the heat is starting to get to us so we head back to the hotel for some air conditioning and a dip in the pool. Tonight we will meet up with our Contiki group to start an amazing Asian Adventure.

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