Confessions of a nomad: memories worth keeping (part II)

My list of good and bad experiences for the books will only get longer with time and that’s a really exciting thought. I’m only sad that one day I’ll probably have trouble remembering all this. For now, here is part two of my confessions (read part one here):

The most overrated: the pyramids in Egypt. I still think a visit to these is worth the bucket list check but I didn’t find them nearly as impressive or mysterious as I’d expected. Maybe if I’d read up on the construction theories/history before going, it would have been more exciting to be in their presence.

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They still make for a great picture!

The most underrated: Ghana, as a country, is beautiful, and safe, and largely English speaking (there are so many local languages that English is used to bring communities together). Its a great place to visit if you want a real taste of Africa and are looking for a cultural experience. This was my first time in a third world country and I had a great time! Also, the culture shock experience prepared me for every second/third world country that I’ve been to since.

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The majority of my time in Ghana was spent with these adorable kids.

The worst accident: falling off my bicycle into a ditch in Myanmar. I tried to stop to let a large truck pass and missed the curb with my foot falling straight down into a deep ditch. Luckily a tree caught my fall, the bicycle was fine and other than being shaken up, my biggest problem was looking like I’d rolled in the dirt. I’ve seen worse things happen to others on the road so I’m thankful this is my worst story.

The best sunrise: cycling out before dawn to climb a pagoda in Bagan, Myanmar for the most magical sunrise. You can see pagodas glistening in the morning sun as far as the eye can see as hot air balloons drift by on the horizon. I woke up early again and again to see this for good reason.

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So peaceful.

The best sunset: Otres beach in Cambodia treated me to the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen and I sadly didn’t get a picture. Since I don’t have a picture to compare, it will probably always remain the best in my memories. Read more about my experience here.

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Not bad, but definitely not Cambodia's best showing.

The most breathtaking: the views while driving along New Zealand’s coastline on the South Island. When New Zealand offers you a scenic route, they are not kidding! It took a lot of restraint on my part to not stop every five minutes for a picture. I’m so glad I decided to drive instead of taking a tour bus.

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Only $5 for a campsite with a view!

The stupidest: buying a bucket (bucket of alcohol) from the wrong stand at the full moon party on Koh Phangan island in Thailand. The warnings about spiked buckets are no joke and even though I knew to buy a bucket in a real store instead of on the street, I was just tipsy enough to forget and make that mistake. I’m lucky I was with friends and no harm came from it.

The silliest: partying all night on a club on Hvar island (where i was staying with friends) in Croatia and barely making our ferry to the mainland the next morning. It was an amazing night and I totally forgot that parties in Europe can go all night. It was only after the music stopped and the sun started to lighten the sky that we realized how little time we had to make the ferry.

The smartest: being brave enough to travel alone. The thing about traveling alone is that you quickly realize you are never truly alone. It’s beautiful and amazing and I think everyone should try it once.

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You're never alone in a hostel!

Hike your city: Auckland edition

I’ve been living and working in Auckland for a few months now. Long enough to feel like more than a tourist but short enough to still feel new and sometimes lost. I’ve really enjoyed my job in health insurance here and my office recently had a Fitbit challenge where the competition for the most steps got pretty fierce. My team was stellar from the start with daily steps averaging over 20,000! I was always under average compared to my team’s scores and so when it came to the final week when our scores really mattered, I knew I had to step up (sorry) and show that I was a winner too.

Having noticed that people tend to walk the most when they are on vacation, I figured it was time to plan a tourist day in Auckland. Raise your hand if you’ve heard of someone who lost a lot of weight on vacation cause they spent their days walking the streets in beautiful European cities. (I’m sure I’ve heard of a few.) I built up a plan of touristy things that I still hadn’t yet checked off on my list of must-dos in Auckland which included a few must-try restaurants.

From my flat in the Kohimarama neighborhood I started with breakfast at a recommended cafe in my area, Cafe on Kohi, only a 30 min walk from home. I added walking to the top of Mt Eden which is an amazing lookout point of the whole city on top of an old volcano- coast to coast views! I planned for lunch at a recommended burger place, Burger Burger, and a visit to the Auckland War Memorial Museum. All told, the trip was 24km with a projected 33,000 steps door to door. (That step estimate turned out to be pretty accurate.)

My plans were exciting enough to entice two of my Fitbit challenge teammates to join me. It felt right to use this day of walking as an excuse to wear activewear all day, which lead to some fun activewear poses all along the walk. See this funny activewear video for our inspiration. We had a great time on a lovely day out and I hope you enjoy these photos from our walk as much as we enjoyed taking them.

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Breakfast to start the day right

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First activewear pose of the day: we're just getting started

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The funky bridge at Mission Bay

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Couldn't have asked for a better day!

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Just stopping for a quick stretch on Tamaki Dr

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A city for sailors

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The crew on top on Mt Eden #squad

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Contemplating how far we've come on top of Mt Eden


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Amazing views of Auckland from the Mt Eden crater.

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Stretching? or pointing to One Tree Hill?

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Delicious lunch at Burger Burger in Newmarket.

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Can't miss the Auckland museum!

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Penguin pose in the Auckland museum

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The last few kilometres are the hardest.

The moral of this story is that keeping active doesn’t always have to feel like work. Take advantage of great weather, take advantage of what your city has to offer and at least walk to brunch cause you’ll enjoy your bacon that much more. Also, wearing activewear all day is kind of the best!

P.S. Together, our team set a hard pace to beat on the weekend and we managed to hold the lead all week to win the challenge. We won with a six day steps average of over 33,000!