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A travel blogger documents his travels to various international destinations including countries that are not frequently visited such as North Korea and Lebanon.
Related URL: Cayman Islands Travel Blog

Documents the writers experience in the Cayman Islands, a country he now lives in.
Related URL: Volunteering with leatherback sea turtles

The writer documents his experience volunteering with tagging and assisting endangered leatherback sea turtles.
Blog Added: January 08, 2017 08:47:41 AM
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Arches National Park

Arches National Park is the most famous of the National Parks in Utah. We came here after visiting the sensational Zion National Park, and the equally beautiful Capitol Reef National Park. To visit you can stay anywhere in the town of Moab which is only 8 kms (5 miles) away from the park. While people...

Arches National Park is the most famous of the National Parks in Utah. We came here after visiting the sensational Zion National Park, and the equally beautiful Capitol Reef National Park.

To visit you can stay anywhere in the town of Moab which is only 8 kms (5 miles) away from the park.

While people flock here for the arches, there’s a lot more than arches to see. There’s some phenomenal hiking trails to take. Unlike Zion National Park, you can drive yourself all over the park.

I found that two full days in the park was more than sufficient, as you’ll be covering the same ground multiple times.

The Double O Arch trail is the best of these hiking trails. It’s a 6.8 Km (4.5 miles) round-trip hike, and while the destination is beautiful to see, the actual trail is much more impressive than the arch at the end. You’ll occasionally have to climb up and down on some rocks, but the views are simply incredible.

Below is the Double O Arch.

On route to the Double O Arch you’ll find other arches such as the following:

While these arches are great, they are nothing compared to some of the views.

While this was a great trail, we basically stopped at every opportunity while exploring the park. Below are some pictures from our trip.

I would absolutely recommend not only Arches National Park, but the entire state of Utah. The people were friendlier than I expected, and the state was well taken care of. It exceeded my expectations and actually ended up being one of my favorite states.



Capitol Reef National Park, a Must Visit in Utah

I had just spent 2 full days at Zion national Park, which was the adventure I was most anticipating on my trip to Utah. I expected the best to be behind me, and on this day I was simply planning on driving onward to Arches National Park. After researching Google Maps, we chose to drive...

I had just spent 2 full days at Zion national Park, which was the adventure I was most anticipating on my trip to Utah. I expected the best to be behind me, and on this day I was simply planning on driving onward to Arches National Park.

After researching Google Maps, we chose to drive a slightly longer route in order to hit Capitol Reef National Park. This is a park I had never researched or given much thought to.

The route consisted of 4.5 hours of driving, but of course ended up taking much longer due to the many stops.

Once I arrived at Capitol Reef I was amazed. I kept having to pull over to take in all of the majestic beauty that surrounded us. This park is simply stunning and should be on your radar. If you visit Utah, it’s a must to take this drive. It’s a tiny park and you can do it all in one day. There’s a small hike, but most of it can be enjoyed by driving.

Below are pictures from our various stops. I would absolutely recommend that you leave early if you are driving through this area in order for you to see it all before the sun goes down.

After we finished our drive we continued on to stay in the town of Moab, which is next to Arches National Park.



Zion National Park, in Utah

The best way to access Zion National Park, is to fly into Las Vegas, Nevada and to then drive to Springdale, Utah. This is what we did, and it’s an easy three hour drive.  Springdale is the town that borders the National Park. Springdale was a pleasant surprise with some nice cafes and restaurants. Completely...

The best way to access Zion National Park, is to fly into Las Vegas, Nevada and to then drive to Springdale, Utah. This is what we did, and it’s an easy three hour drive.  Springdale is the town that borders the National Park.

Springdale was a pleasant surprise with some nice cafes and restaurants. Completely by accident we ended up staying next to the best cafe in town, and we returned there three times, on three separate days. This was Cafe Soleil and they had everything that I want in a cafe, a nice selection of drinks, as well as healthy and tasty food options.

We stayed at the Cliffrose Lodge & Gardens, this hotel was well appointed, had fair prices, and best of all was in the best location. This hotel was next to Cafe Soleil, but most importantly was a five minute walk to the entrance of Zion National Park. The benefits of being this close are numerous.

During high season it is prohibited to drive your vehicle inside the park. What you need to do is take a hop-on and hop-off shuttle at different points in the park. The shuttles are frequent, and once you get used to the system are actually quite convenient. With these shuttles you can easily plan one-way hikes, and start hikes at one drop off point, to get picked up at another.

If you stay close enough to the border of the park to walk to it, you can avoid the high parking fees, and in some cases we were told that during high season it can become a chore to even find parking. This is why I recommend you save yourself the hassle and stay at the Cliffrose. More hotels are in the process of being built, but with the bulk of them you will need to drive to the park, and hence worry about parking.

I had seen pictures of Zion before but nothing prepared me for the beauty. The park was smaller than I expected, but everywhere I looked was eye candy. We stayed here two full-days and that gave us enough time to do several hikes and see most of the park. If you are the type of person that likes to do everything, you could probably do all of the major hikes in a four day period.

We started with the Emeralds Pool Trail which is fairly easy but offers stunning scenery and this hike is absolutely recommended. Another notable hike was the Observation Point hike which is a bit more strenuous but highly rewarding. I actually ended up doing less hiking than I wanted to as I was fighting a cold, what I missed and would have loved to see is the Angels Landing.

As you can see it’s difficult not to be mesmerized by the scenery. This was the start of our stay in Utah, where we hit three amazing National Parks. After this, we drove to Capitol Reef National Park and afterwards Arches National Park shortly.

 

 



Great Wall of China – Jinshanling Section

I had the pleasure of visiting 3 sections of the Great Wall of China. Jinshanling was by far my favorite, I was also blessed with perfect weather, and almost no tourists to share the wall with. This wall is located 130 kilometers (80 miles) North-East of Beijing. It took approximately 1.5 hours to drive to from our...

I had the pleasure of visiting 3 sections of the Great Wall of China. Jinshanling was by far my favorite, I was also blessed with perfect weather, and almost no tourists to share the wall with.

This wall is located 130 kilometers (80 miles) North-East of Beijing. It took approximately 1.5 hours to drive to from our hotel, but the effort to get here was rewarding.

The majority of tourists that visit Beijing flock to Mutianyu, the section of the wall that is closest to the city, but this section is overcrowded. I cannot imagine it is very enjoyable. Meanwhile Jinshanling is stunning, in some sections there were no humans to be seen.

Out of all the hikes, temples, and activities that I saw in China, this was my favorite.

It was a life long dream to hike the wall, and I can promise that it is absolutely worthwhile to visit.

The one-way hike from Jinshanling to Simatai west is approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles) which under normal circumstances is not that much… but there are a lot of stairs here.

My personal favorite picture is below.

        I hope you enjoy the remaining pictures, I look forward to returning to China.



Discovering Monaco

I recently spent a week in Monaco, and prior to visiting everyone I had spoken to raved about the country. Since the goal of my visit was to learn about Monaco as I intended to potentially relocate there, I really dug in to try and get a feel for life in the most densely populated country in...

I recently spent a week in Monaco, and prior to visiting everyone I had spoken to raved about the country. Since the goal of my visit was to learn about Monaco as I intended to potentially relocate there, I really dug in to try and get a feel for life in the most densely populated country in the world.

Monaco is shockingly small, to walk from the Western border to the Eastern border takes approximately 45 minutes, and that’s if you are taking your time. While the country is tiny it can be awkward to navigate as the city is built on a mountain and you need to go up and down different levels of the streets to access anything. On our first day we used Google Maps which caused us problems, as Google Maps could not locate elevators, and often the only way to get anywhere by foot was to take an elevator.

Once we figured out the elevators it was quite simple to navigate. Monaco is shockingly clean, it’s even cleaner than Singapore.  Unfortunately, the reason it was so clean is that everything felt very controlled.

While I quite enjoyed Monaco, it had vibes of a dystopian society. I have never seen so many cameras monitoring my every movement. Everywhere you go there are cameras, and I was told by locals that all the cameras are monitored 24/7. Also, I have never seen so many police officers in such a small space. The police officers routinely pull people over. My friend who lives in Monaco told me that after he moved there he kept getting pulled over until the police knew who he was. We also spotted some racial profiling when a vehicle with dark occupants was pulled over when they were driving the speed limit and not doing anything wrong.

Some other strange things, the wealth is quite crazy and it’s like nothing that I have ever witnessed. I live Grand Cayman which is a very wealthy country, and even here there are no crazy displays of wealth like you will see in Monaco. Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s are a dime a dozen, and after a while it’s the new norm to see them, as that is what everyone drives. What I found distasteful were dogs with diamond collars which looked like they cost more than a house. Is that really necessary?

The cost of homes is also a bit outrageous. If you want to live by the beach be prepared to spend anywhere from $20 000 to $180 000 a month in rent.

Surprisingly, the cost of restaurants was fairly reasonable, and groceries were less than what I pay at home, and even cheaper than in North America. It’s nice to see that in this dystopian society people can afford to eat.

Even after all this strangeness, I still feel like I want to move to Monaco. The reason is the location is impeccable. It’s located in the middle of France, with easy access to all of Europe, especially Italy and Switzerland. I feel like living in Europe for 1 or 2 years would be an amazing experience. Monaco is also a nice walking city, something that I miss from living in the Caribbean.

Monaco was not perfect but it has a lot to offer. The restaurants are decent, the scenery is stunning, the people were friendly for the most part, and as stated earlier the location cannot be beat. I did one of the local hikes and it was a beautiful hike, and I was told there’s a huge number of hiking trails within easy access. I can’t wait to live somewhere where I can go on regular hikes, something that I loved when I lived in Vancouver, BC.

I also fell in love with the weather, it was the perfect temperature, as it never gets too cold and rarely gets too hot.

 



Visiting a Tribe in Embera Village – Panama

Panama is renowned for its ancient tribes living in pristine jungles. The problem is to visit these tribes you need to take a tour, as finding them on your own can be difficult. I completely avoid tours when possibly, but luckily I found a tour company that was founded and operated by Anne Gorden, an...

Panama is renowned for its ancient tribes living in pristine jungles. The problem is to visit these tribes you need to take a tour, as finding them on your own can be difficult.

I completely avoid tours when possibly, but luckily I found a tour company that was founded and operated by Anne Gorden, an American woman who is married to an Embera Villager. This meant she had inside access to the culture.

Embera village, is far enough away from Panama City that it’s not flooded with tourists. To reach this village is a one hour drive from Panama City, followed by a one hour canoe ride. The village is located inside the protected Chagres National Park. Considering it’s only 2 hours away from civilization it feels very secluded.

The entire tour was designed to financially assist the Embera people. Our canoe was piloted by two men from this tribe and part of our tour fee was donated to the tribe.

As soon as the village came into view it was a magical moment. The tribe stood there to greet us and were extremely welcoming.

I was smitten with how social the tribe members were. Families were the core dynamic here, and teenagers took care of young children, and in turn those younger children helped with the babies. All this while having fun, the children were laughing, and playing, something that is rarely seen in today’s technology obsessed society.

It was a welcome journey into a simpler time, when people were not distracted by the latest toys, or by trying to “get ahead”. Here people helped one another, and everyone was a true equal.

I loved how happy everyone was. One young boy was completely distracted by a soccer ball and was having a blast by himself.

This is one of those tours that should absolutely be done when visiting Panama. Going to see the Panama canal was underwhelming compared to this experience.

 



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