December 10, 2015

Scuba Dive Liveaboard – Great Barrier Reef, Australia

What an amazing week! I could have stayed on board for months! Every day was jammed packed with diving, food and more diving. You could choose from 6 dives a day. Starting from the crack of dawn till a night dive at night. Everyone had a limit of four fives a day they could choose from out of the 6 dives open in a day. I wanted to get as much dive time in as much as I could so I really tried to get my four dives in every day. If you are a diver you will know that four dives a day is A LOT and most people (like me) are and will be exhausted by the end of the day. Although I have done 5 dives in a day before but I passed out at like 7pm of exhaustion lol.

The food on board was amazing! Every lunch and dinner I was always blown away, the variety and quality was outstanding and they did it all in such an itty bitty kitchen! The diving was spectacular by the way with lots of marine life, bright and healthy coral and amazing visibility. We saw lots of sea turtles, sharks, barracudas, sting rays and of course the awesome colorful fish everywhere! One afternoon we even saw a whale swimming near our boat. Everyone freaked out as it was such a rare occurrence!

A huge bonus was how great the staff were. They were very accommodating, welcoming and just fun people to be around. I met a couple on board from the USA that were amazing and we dove with them the whole week. We were a little dive buddy group and we looked after one another, eat together, watched movies together late at night, star gazed at night and had some great chats! Meeting them was a great bonus to the trip!

To this day, this little week away on the ocean is something I dream about doing again as I had such a great week on board. If you’re thinking about doing a diving live aboard – DO IT! It is such a great experience! If you’re wondering I went through Cairns Dive Centre and would highly recommend them!

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November 10, 2015

Great Day on Green Island – Great Barrier Reef

One thing I love about living right beside the Great Barrier Reef is the access the most beautiful tropical islands. Only a short boat trip from Cairns and you hit paradise. Recently my partner and I hit up Green Island which was only a 45min boat ride from Cairns. The moment we pulled up to the island we were in awe – green clear water, coral and large fish you could see from the dock. We were in heaven.

We decided to fill our tummies first before we went snorkeling. We grabbed a burger from the Canopy Grill. The burger was ready in a couple minutes and was delicious. We decided to walk off our lunch with the self-guided eco walk around the Island. The walk took approximately an hour and there was information stands with fun facts placed throughout the walk. We enjoyed the walk but we were keen to get in the water! We weren’t 100% sure where to snorkel as there were a few different access points to different beaches. The first beach we tried we didn’t see a lot of coral from the beach and noticed if you wanted to hire an umbrella and beach chair it would cost you $35. We were kind of shocked to be honest and thought it was a major money grab. We then decided to try the beach we first saw when we got off the boat with lots of coral and marine life. We had a great snorkel! During our snorkel we saw lots of clown fish, a sting ray, star fish and more. The water temperature was perfect and comfortable without a wet suit and you could literally stay in there for hours without getting cold.

The day went quicker then we wanted it to and before we knew it was 4:30pm and we were lining up for our boat ride back to cairns. While lining up on the dock we looked over and saw two black tip sharks swimming beneath us. It was unbelievable as we both love sharks! We were smiling from ear to ear after seeing the sharks and then moments later we spotted a massive sting ray hanging in the sand beneath us! The perfect way to end the day in my option! On our way home back to Cairns, Matt and I slept like little babies the entire trip.

We booked our ticket the day before we went to Green Island with Great Adventures. The Tour we did was called the Green Island Eco Adventure and cost us 88$ per person. This covered our boat ride there and back and the time on the Island.

What we liked is that we got to choose the departure time as we had three options (8:30am, 10:30am & 1:00pm). We chose the 10:30am, because we are not early birds and wanted a nice sleep in. We got five hours on the Island which was more than enough time to see the whole island. All in All we had a great day on Green Island and would totally do it again and recommend it to anyone.

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November 9, 2015

Gumtree Success

happy couple holding sold sign and giving thumbs up

In less than 24 hours I just sold 2 bikes, a long board and a surfboard! My partner and I are moving back to Canada in couple months and we wanted to get the ball rolling with selling our stuff! If you haven’t heard of Gumtree before it is a local classified ads and a community site in Australia. Gumtree Australia states that it was designed to connect people who are either planning to move, or have just arrived in a new neighborhood and need help getting started with accommodation, employment and meeting new people. It goes with the simple saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.

My mouth is still hanging on the floor as I am still so socked by how fast we were able to sell everything! We thought it would take a couple days a week maybe but less than 24 hours from when we put up the ads is pretty crazy!

We made – $360 in one day!

We took pictures of the items with a really good camera and the pictures came out pretty good. That may have had something to do with it but we will never really know. Our descriptions were to the point and to be honest were not overly detailed. We went in with no real expectation but were presently surprised. We even made a couple new friends. All the buyers were our age and gave us the amount we asked for without negotiation which was nice. Every buyer seem really happy with our stuff and seemed to be really thankful.

I would definitely recommend Gumtree as a platform to sell your old stuff in Australia. Give it a try you might be surprised who thinks your old dusty stuff is valuable.

Here is some of the pictures we used on Gumtree.

July 14, 2015

Van Life + DAD

vanlife plus dad

Van Life + Dad

When most travelers think of exploring Australia they don’t picture doing it with one of their parents. However, that’s exactly what I have done. I not only travelled, I shared the space of a very small camper van with my father for two months while we drove up the east coast from Sydney to Cairns. So yup, I lived the notorious van life with my father, and to be honest it was Awesome.

My Father and I both share a passion – scuba diving.

Since I was little, I knew all about scuba diving. Before I was born or even thought of, my parents got their scuba diving certifications on their honeymoon and fell in love with the sport together. When I was growing up as a child, my parents were always off on scuba diving trips across the globe. When I was old enough, I got in on all the action myself. At this time, I, unfortunately, was more focused on boys and other silly things that consume a teen’s mind and the beauty and interest of scuba diving got pushed to the background.

Years later I re-entered the scuba diving world and fell in love all over again. The sport has grabbed a hold of me and has taken me to the most beautiful places one cant imagine. Both my father and I are PADI Dive Masters, and we can talk all day about the logistics and beauty of scuba diving.

While at home in Canada for a visit I decided that when I went back to Australia I would make the move to Cairns. I fell in love with Cairns when I backpacked there in 2009 during my first year of university with my best friend, Amanda. I remember being amazed by the Great Barrier Reef, the lagoon, great nightlife and how much adventurous activities there were to do in Cairns. I always had this strong urge to go back and live in Cairns and imagined myself scuba diving all day and chilling with new friends on the lagoon lawn with drinks in hand.

I have called Australia my home for 5 years as I moved from Canada to Australia when I was 18 years old to pursue a career in Nursing where I studied at the University of Wollongong and graduated in 2012. The idea to travel with my father came from our little adventure to Las Vegas together when we attended the DEMA (Diving Equipment Manufacturers Association) trade show. I mentioned to him my thoughts of moving to Cairns and briefly mentioned it would be great for him to come visit and dive with me. Every diver in the history of the world has heard of and dreamt of diving the Great Barrier Reef, so it was no big surprise that he jumped at the chance. My dad had just retired and let’s just say he had a lot of time on his hands. We came up with an idea that we would live the van life together travelling and diving up the coast from Sydney to Cairns, and I would set up camp in my beloved Cairns when we got there.

Our first 10 minutes of driving on the left in Australia was a little rocky as we almost drove into oncoming traffic, but after a little practice we were rock stars on the road. I got the top bunk in the van and as referred to it as “my nook” and my Dad got the huge queen sized bottom bunk fit for a king. We ate pasta most nights because we both can’t cook, and I had to translate Australian slang for my Dad during most conversations with the locals. We walked for miles most days exploring beach town after beach town.

Travelling with my father has been one great adventure. Luckily we get along very well, probably because we were cut from the same cloth. In fact, we are more like the same person both laid back, adventurous and more than happy exploring the world. We both understand the need for individual space when travelling and most importantly when to call it a day. We compromise well, and both don’t let little things like minor travel stresses get us down. During our travelling experience we have dove together as much as we can, rode a Segway, tried stand up paddle boarding, surfing, hiking, sailing and more. We hit all the hot spots on our bucket list such as Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, Fraser Island, Noosa, Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays and more.

I am so blessed I got to do this trip with my Dad and bond over our shared passion. In fact, I wouldn’t have chosen anyone else to accompany me on this adventure. I have learned a lot about myself and my Dad on this journey – mostly how similar we are. Not everyone gets the chance to experience the joys of international travel with their parents, and I feel so blessed to call such a humble, adventurous and kind hearted man my father.

Safe Travels

July 3, 2015

My First Night in Bangkok

A young woman is walking on the street of an asian country on a sunny day

My First Night in Bangkok – A Bittersweet Story 

Two years ago in November 2013, my life was beginning to fall apart. I left my live in boyfriend, and I was beginning to burn out quickly from a job and career I once so dearly loved. I was craving adventure and a new start. I was emotionally and physically exhausted in my life and felt like getting away was my only option.  After work one day I booked my plane ticket to South East Asia and two different tours taking me from Thailand, Laos then to Cambodia. I have always dreamt of running around in hippy pants exploring Thailand’s Buddhist temples, as well as seeing Angkor Watt in Cambodia at sunrise. My dreams were coming true – both were on the itinerary.

As the days creeped sooner to my departure date my travel bug inside me started to grow with excitement. I needed this trip more than I can explain, my life was unraveling right in front of my eyes and I needed space, adventure, and inspiration to feed me till I felt like myself again.  I needed to feel the heat of humidity on my skin, the taste of a new dish, the exploration of a new country and the presence of a new friend.

The day arrived, and I was hopeful and excited. My big blue backpack and I were on our way. Big blue was over stuffed and it took my entire heart and soul to pick it up and throw it on my back. I got to the airport and met up with my tour guide and even met a new friend as talked while in the taxi to the hostel. I got into my room, flung down big blue and before I knew it I was meeting up with my new family for the week.

Everyone on my tour was amazing – and I’m not just saying that. Everyone was approachable, fun loving and comfortable to be around. I gravitated to a young girl named Mikaela who was also a nurse like me. Mikaela was funny, humble and very kind hearted. She had what looked like hundreds of tattoos from her shoulders down to her toes. She was interesting, fun and we got along perfectly.  The first night in Bangkok after we had the traditional meet and greet and while the nerves started to subside we all decided to hit the town – full force. After leaving the hostel the only thing I can really remember after that is dancing with a mechanical robot while my new friends laughed in a Bangkok night club, with loud techno music in the background and strobe lights dancing on face.  I remember dancing up a storm with all my new friends and….. possibly having too much to drink.

The next morning I woke up with an incredible hangover that felt like the world was coming to an end.    I got up, brushed my teeth, put on some clean clothes and struggled once again to pick up my big blue backpack. We were off to our next destination that afternoon and everyone had to have their bags packed and ready to go. As I handed my room key into the nice Thai receptionist with big blue on my back, I stared to feel a bit queasy all of a sudden and nausea started to consume me. I convinced myself that I was just hungry, jet legged and hungover and needed to eat. I sat down with my new friends as we laughed and relived the awesome night we had. I sipped my banana strawberry smoothie hoping the nausea would subside and pretended to laugh and smile while quietly trying not to hurl on my new friends. I pushed the feeling away for as long as I could till midsentence I had to make a run for the nearest bathroom. Running like an Olympic sprinter, I made it to the bathroom.. but, I however did not make it to the toilet. I projectile vomited throughout the whole stall. I was dumfounded that so much could have come from little me and I was horrified at the mess I had made.

Then the thought came back to me from last night. In my silly drunken stupor (Canadian joke) I remember brushing my teeth with the tap water – which is a huge no – no for travelers. I remember jokingly telling my roommate that I will “pray to the health gods” that I’ll be okay, we laughed together and then passing out soon after. “This is Just Great” I thought, alone in my stall “The first real day of my adventure and I’m already sick – this is just fabulous”. I cleaned as much as I could and immediate told my new friend Mikaela of what had happened. She comforted me and offered me an anti-nausea medication from her little first aid kit in her bag. We all walked outside together with everyone in the tour to get on the bus for our next destination. I hesitated – then took the small under the tongue dissolvable medication. What felt like 30 second after taking the medication, I ran to try and hide myself as I vomited again.  I didn’t make it very far as the whole tour turned around and unfortunately witnessed the whole ordeal. Mikaela, being the nice girl that she was held my hair back, took off my big backpack and comforted me.

In 24 hours, I managed to get myself to another country, dance with a robot, consume too many cocktails and chuck my brains out in front of everyone. I was clearly on a roll. Despite the minor mishap and the rejection of foreign water and alcohol in my stomach, I did have an amazing night and I made a lifelong friend. Mikaela and I were inseparable during the whole trip and became really good friends. Regardless of my unlucky start to the trip I managed to have one of the best 3 weeks of my life.

Safe Travels

 

June 26, 2015

Friday I’m in Love – A Kiwi Love Story

Landscape portrait of young beautiful stylish couple sensual and having fun outdoor. Film effect

A Kiwi Love Story

Written by: Mimi McFadden

I walked into the bar with my red coat from New York. It was April and I had just moved to Wellington, New Zealand less than a week ago. I was flustered from an already long day of dropping off resumes and navigating the windy city and biting cold on another rainy day.

The Bruhaus was one of the last bars on my list, as I walked in frantically trying to fix my knotted wet hair and approached the bar. Kendall came around the corner on the other side of the taps, welcoming me with a hello and a chat about our mutual love of craft beer.

That red coat. That’s what he remembered about me that day, he still mentions it whenever I wear that coat.

I knew no one in New Zealand at the time, so I looked to my workmates for a group to get to know and hangout with after work, usually going to beer events around the city or just hanging out at the bar after hours. Kendall was the first good friend I had in New Zealand. It started with drinking at the bar after work when he was closing up every day as the night manager.

I remember a night specifically when I thought it would be a good idea to get into Belgian beers. The only problem is I didn’t quite realize how strong some of those beers can be. When Kendall finished, a group of us went out to one of the late night bars on Courtenay Place and danced to a live band. In my Belgian haze, I showed Kendall how to salsa and he danced with just about everyone in the circle, trying out my salsa moves and swinging people around in glee.

Another night, we invited a bunch of people out on the town and Kendall and I were the only ones to make it out. We shrugged our shoulders, started bar hopping around town, and by the end of the night found ourselves venting about cringeworthy past partners, each with an empathetic ear for our surprisingly similar experiences.  Let me interject by saying although this did turn out to be a love story, we never meant it to be. Both Kendall and I were done with relationships for awhile after our own individual recent pasts, and all we wanted was a friendship from each other.

These hangouts happened over 3 months, whether it was just the two of us or a group of our friends. One night we can both pinpoint as perhaps a bit more special than the others was when we went up to Mt. Victoria. Mt. Victoria is a public park up on a hill on the outskirts of the city and one of my favorite spots in Wellington, especially at night. We started out the night ordinarily enough by grabbing delicious milkshakes from one of my favorite haunts at Sweet Mother’s Kitchen. Once we made it up to the park, we chose to rest for awhile over a tunnel and just sit there talking about life with the odd car zooming past below our feet.

We talked about our past and our regrets, about how we wanted our present to be different. We started exploring more of the park in the dark, and came across a handmade wooden swing on a big tree looking out over the lights of Wellington. We took turns swinging and enjoying the chilly night on the hill. It felt magical and freeing being up there away from the city, but having the ability to look down on it in all of its grandeur.

I felt grateful in that moment that I had someone like Kendall so far away from home to share my inner fears and aspirations with. By the time Kendall’s birthday hit at the beginning of July, all of our workmates constantly teased us that we were in love with each other and inseparable. Kendall and I just rolled our eyes at each other and laughed, still unconvinced that there was anything romantic there.

Then little things begun to change. One weekend before we got together, we were hanging out downtown, and he asked me if we could walk to the waterfront. My pulse quickened and I could feel myself becoming uneasy as to what was to come, not wanting things to change. We sat down by the water and Kendall asked me point blank what my feelings were for him. I played it off and avoided the question but gave him a big hug, still conflicted on how I felt and very much against dating a coworkers as I’d already tried that for the first time in Sydney to a less than stellar end.  We made our way back to town and said our goodbyes. Kendall texted me later that night to make sure I got home okay.

The following weekend is when everything changed. Us and a bunch of friends were heading to the Katchafire concert in Wellington that night and we were all in good spirits. There was this moment in the middle of the concert where everything just felt perfect. I was so completely enjoying myself, the music, and the good company around me. Kendall came up near me and put an arm around my waist. Instead of gently pushing his hand away as I mentally told myself to do, I leaned towards him and brought him closer. In another moment he brought me around to face him and kissed me on the lips.

It was ancient history after that.

Fast forward a bit, and we’re coming up on our 1 year anniversary in August. He moved over to the States with me after my New Zealand visa ended, wanting to pursue his love of craft beer and travel with me. He has since found a job willing to sponsor him in the US for a year or maybe more, and we’re settling into our new lives in Portland, Oregon.

We’ve survived 6 months of working together as managers at the same bar, traveled up the coast of California and Oregon in a hippie van for over two months, and we’re now navigating life in a new city.Our relationship has been anything but ordinary, but it’s exciting and comforting and fills me with happiness every time I look back on our beginning.Most of all, he makes me laugh. He has taught me to not take life too seriously, to just enjoy it while it lasts.

It’s crazy how time flies when everything clicks into place.

Written by: Mimi McFadden

Mimi not only has a wicked love story, she also is the creator and vision behind travel blog The Atlas Heart. She is what I call a true explorer as she has backpacked all through Costa Rica, Europe, South East Asia, Australia and lived in Wellington, New Zealand for 10 months. Mimi is a fantastic and unique  travel writer and an inspiration to all us travel bugs out in the world. Not to mention she also sings and plays guitar!

June 21, 2015

Noosa, Australia – Latest YouTube Video

Check out my latest YouTube Video of my adventure in Noosa, Australia.

Noosa, Australia is one spectacular place. Great real estate, nice people, amazing surfing and fantastic beaches. If you’re looking for a relaxing beautiful beach town then Noosa is where its at! This video was taken at sunset and the views were incredible.

I completely fell in love with Noosa and would do anything just to go back for one more day!

Hope you enjoy the video – Remember to Click Quality 1080p HD!

Don’t forget to subscribe on my YouTube Channel!

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June 18, 2015

Six Things I Learned While Travelling in a Camper Van Around The United States

Red Combi Van

Written By: Anna Johnson Hill

I lived on the road for 3 months out of a camper van as I traveled around 38 of the 50 states in the United States of America. I love the great outdoors but I’m not that much of a camper or campervan-er. I wish that I could say that my love of nature meant that I go camping every weekend but it is just not my idea of a relaxing break. So tripping around the states without access to a shower or toilet, and sleeping in the back of a van in random car parks was definitely outside of my comfort zone.

Thoughts that crossed my mind beforehand: Will I be able to last? How am I going to live without quick access to running water, or a bathroom or fridge? I need to be able to wash my hands, go to the toilet and grab a snack at leisure.

It turns out that these are not things that I ‘need’ just things that I ‘want’.

This put things into perspective.

It is trips like these, outside of your comfort zone that make you grow the most. Six things I learned were:

1. You don’t need heaps of stuff

Just take some clothes that suit the climate and any other incidentals while you’re there. Yeah you have a whole van to store your stuff but every square inch of space is precious.

2. Buy real food, not takeaway

Instead of heading to Waffle House for breakfast every morning (which is very tempting when you’re on the road), head to Wholefoods and stock up on some healthy, wholesome foods. Your body will seriously thank you.

3. Plan a little, not a lot 

Plan your route but you don’t have to plan every detail. Things will come up and you don’t want to say ‘no’ to any experiences because you’re sticking to a made-up schedule. There will be places you love so allow yourself a bit longer and enjoy!

4. Make friends on the road

Most people who are at the attractions are also blissfully away on holidays as well so are more than willing to stop for a chat. You might even be able to meet up with them later on your trip and have a washing machine to use!

5. Find quiet, dark places to sleep

You want to make sure you’re getting proper sleep so you can enjoy your next day full of adventures. There is nothing worse than lacking the energy to fully explore a location when you’re there for such a limited amount of time.

6. Keep a journal

Keep a written diary to compliment the myriad of photos taken on the road. It is the best souvenir you’ll have from your trip. Set aside 20 minutes each evening to jot down the best bits.

Written By; Anna Johnson Hill

Anna and I go way back, we met when I was a O-Week leader in my second year at University. I remember sitting with her at dinner on her first day at Weerona College (Residence) in 2010. Anna is a humble, intelligent, and fun loving girl and I liked her from the moment I met her.

Anna is the vision and creator behind Study Well at annajohnsonhill.com.

Anna is a health wellness activist and study guru and is helping students around the globe live healthier and happier lives. She is an true wellness warrior and an inspiration to all. Keep up the great work Anna.

June 14, 2015

My Little Love Story

Young couple in love on sail boat with champagne at sunset - Happy exclusive alternative lifestye concept - Soft focus due to backlight on vintage nostalgic filter - Fisheye lens and tilted horizon

I have a confession… I’m kind of crazy about a boy! I didn’t know if I was going to share this part of my life but what the hell right! We have an interesting story, and some have even characterized it, how should I say this … Crazy. I met Matt on my Florida Keys Trip; I was training to be a dive master, as I was with the dive shop I worked for at the time. Matt was an Open water student, and I was his dive master. At the start of my trip, I was leaving for Australia in 3 weeks, so I had a lot on my plate… I had to finish quickly my divemaster course and prepare for a great adventure ahead. I was in no way looking for a boy in my life at all; I was a busy girl with places to be!

When I first met Matt as one of my students I didn’t think much of him, sure I thought he was cute but the busy girl running around was my primary focus. Days into the trip Matt and I started talking more and more we were the only people around the same age to one another, and I was working directly with him so naturally we gravitated towards each other. Each day we talked more and more, sat next to one another at dinner with the group and little sparks started to ignite. He was handsome, nice and cool, but I am leaving – I said to myself. One day we talked for what felt like hours about traveling the world, getting out of your comfort zone and how important it is to travel. I mentioned briefly and randomly… you should totally do a year in Australia and come visit/stay with me. I could see the machine works circling in his skull as his eyes widened with inspiration.  Matt explained he hated his job and to me it sounded like he was looking for something more in his life.

On the last night, Matt and I shared our first Kiss on a pier looking out at the Ocean. Matt was like no other guy I had ever met; he made me laugh so hard, he called me beautiful and made me feel special every day, and he was genuinely kind to the people around him and to me. We got along like peas, and carrots and the chemistry between us was profound. I knew there was something really special about him.

My whole way home from Florida (24 hour drive), I thought about Matt and the possibility of him coming to Australia with me and daydreamed like the girl that I am, about us scuba diving and soaking up the Sun in Cairns, Australia. When we both got home from Florida, we got together the first chance we got and within our first date he told me he was serious about the Australia Idea. From the day we got home, we were inseparable. Matt stayed over every night, and we spend every chance we had got with each other before I left. He met my family and friends, and I met his. It was without a doubt a fast tracked love, but we both decided there was something so special between the two of us and that we had to give it a real shot.

Matt has decided to move to Cairns with me and will meet me there in 1 month! I am so excited for him as a traveler and can’t wait for him to see this beautiful country. I am also really excited to see where this opportunity takes us. Just like John Lennon Said – “Life Happens when you’re Busy Making Other Plans”. I met Matt at a time that I least expected love to find me, but it did, and I am so blessed to have Matt in my Life.

June 11, 2015

What is it Like Living the Van Life?

Couple relaxing in chairs in front of camper van

If you don’t know already I began my little camper life on the First of June. I am travelling via a little campervan where I started in Sydney and I am currently moving my way up little by little to Cairns. To be honest… I am loving van life, a lot more than I expected I would. The constant moving from one beautiful place to another feeds the travel bug inside me perfectly.

In my van life days so far, I have defiantly unleashed my inner hippy alter ego and it feels great. I didn’t really know I had this hippy living in me but it’s come out full force.  Here is a little rundown of how van life or should I say hippy life goes for me — If I don’t want to wear a bra I don’t, If I don’t feel like brushing my hair I don’t, Sleep in? For Sure! Make Up? What’s that? Same Clothes as Yesterday? Why Not! And finally, if I really don’t feel like doing anything that particular day I just chill out by the beach and do what I please. It really is the simple life, and I cannot complain one bit. I seriously think I could do it forever . I have already come up with my dream campervan interior and daydream about it most days (VW of course). In my first couple weeks of Van Life I have dropped a couple pounds from all the walking and exercising I have been doing, gone scuba diving in Byron Bay, Rode a Segway, met some great people and have seen some magnificent views and sunsets I will always remember.

I rented my camper van from Travel Wheels and I ended up with the HI- TOP 3 person campervan. I sleep in the top part where call my little nook and I love it! It only takes maybe 2 minutes to set up and I am always super cozy! No need for an alarm as the birds and the heat wakes me right up – which is fine with me! When I get a spot near the beach and I can hear the waves rolling in while I wake up or when I am falling asleep I am one happy camper (literally).

Where have I Been So Far?

First Stop – Port Macquarie

Second Stop – Coffs Harbor

Third Stop – Byron Bay

Forth Stop – Surfers Paradise

Fifth Stop – Brisbane

What Do I have planned next?

Sixth Stop – Noosa

Seventh Stop – Fraser Island

Eighth Stop – Harvey Bay & Lady Elliot Island

Ninth Stop – Airlie Beach – Where I meet up with my best friend!

Tenth Stop – Mission Beach

Eleventh Stop – CAIRNS

June 6, 2015

Perfect Day In Wollongong, New South Wales – My Home for 4 Years

Happy to Say I lived in this Beautiful Town for the best 4 years of my life! Going back for the day brought back large amounts of wonderful memories of my partying days, my relaxed uni life and all my wonderful friends I met along the way!

If you have never heard of  Wollongong (I know, silly name right!) it is just a 1 and a half drive South of Sydney.

Hope you enjoy the video!

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May 30, 2015

Blue Mountains & Jenolan Caves

Check out my latest YouTube Video of my amazing day exploring the Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves!

Enjoy

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May 29, 2015

Sydney Harbour Coastal Walk

Check out my latest YouTube Video – Watch as a Walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens and to the Sydney Opera House on a perfect day.

Enjoy

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May 28, 2015

Perfect Day in The Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves

Caves in Australia

Great Day & Great Day Tour to the Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves! 

Yesterday I had such a great day exploring the Blue Mountains and also the ancient Jenolan Caves with Gray Line Day Tours!

The day Started at 7:10am where a bus picked me pretty much right outside of my hotel( they were very accommodating when picking up around everyones hotel — which was nice).

Next we were off to the Blue Mountains to see the Three Sisters! We were given a hour to check out the look out and photograph our little hearts out of the beautiful views of the Three Sister rock formation and the huge and spectacular Blue Mountains.

Next we were on our way to the amazing Jenolan Caves. This took us about two hours drive from the Blue Mountains — I of course slept the whole time and it was wonderful. Now I would highly recommend seeing the Jenolan Caves — I swear they were absolutely Incredible!  We got about 3 hours to explore! First I got a coffee from a cute little cafe and then I went exploring on a beautiful hike around the outside of the caves. One of the highlights of the day was the Blue Lake, a surreal turquoise blue lake right outside the caves in which strange yet beautiful color forms by the refraction of light upon the limestone deposits and bed-rock from the caves. It is definitely a magical sight to witness. I also saw beautiful waterfalls, wildlife and spectacular views on my hike around the outside of the caves.

After a Hike around the outside of the caves we were then allowed to explore the inside of the caves which was just as beautiful as the outside. The Jenolan Caves is one of the most outstanding cave systems in the world and the most famous in Australia. The Jenolan Caves are truly a natural miracle and a must see, in my option.

This tour was amazing and I would highly recommend it. The tour guides were amazing and very knowledgeable and organized. After the tour they made sure they dropped everyone at their desired hotels around the city so nobody had to travel and or walk at night — which I thought was great for safety concerns as well as convenience for their customers. It really was a perfect day of sightseeing, hiking, and exploring and at the end of the day I fell asleep like a new born baby from a very long but satisfying day.

Safe Travels

 

May 23, 2015

7 Tips on How to Survive a Long Flight on Your Own

young woman is on passenger seat at airplane

Tip 1. Have Options.

You can only watch movies on a tiny screen for so long. After two or even one movie, you start to get freaking bored, and you will find yourself looking around awkwardly trying to find something to do. That is if you don’t come prepared! Don’t rely on being entertained by the provided TVs, bring along with you other means of entertainment such as a good book, magazines you are interested in, your beloved IPod or IPhone, or download your favorite TV show on your tablet or laptop preflight! It’s good to have different ways to entertain yourself to pass the time! When I am preparing for a long flight I like to make sure that I will look forward to the flight. I wait to start a new book or a magazine I have been meaning to read and I also set up some new playlists on my IPod for the trip! Come prepared and make it fun for yourself!

Tip 2. Make Friends.

Yup… I mean actually turning your head and talking to the person next to you.

Well as least try. I know a little daunting… I get it but sometimes you get lucky and sit next to someone awesome, and you make a new friend or connection. I have met some awesome people on my long flights to Australia, and I now make an effort to talk to the people next to me on every flight I am on. However, there are going to be times when people you are sitting next to just don’t want to talk and have time to themselves, and that’s totally fine… Let them be and read their body language! Everyone is different, but I can assure you if you keep trying you will eventually meet someone awesome! I have met at least 5 or more friends on my back and forth flights from Australia to Canada and the friends I met on the flights even stuck around to hang out during my stop overs!  If you don’t know what to say to the person next to you while on a flight I always resort to a simple – “Ready for a 14 (or whatever hour) hour flight? I am “Your Name” it’s nice to meet you” Shake their hand if appropriate and be approachable! This encounter will make you and the other people feel a bit more comfortable about the whole sitting next to a stranger thing! Be bold and make the first move! Remember to smile!

Tips 3. Get off your Butt!

Yup get off your butt and go on a nice little stroll… and it will be little because there are only so many places you can go on a plane! Uhmm.. The bathroom. That’s pretty much it! Sometimes there is a little standing area where the bathrooms are but that’s it! It’s good to get up and go for a stroll every 2-3 hours! Change it up a bit by going to opposite ends of the plane.. Whoa so exciting right lol.

I also recommend doing some leg stenches and or exercises while in your chair to help prevent DVTs and avoid cramps and or swelling!  If you haven’t heard of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis), then you should be aware of the condition! DVTS are swelling and or pools of blood in the legs when siting for too long, and there is a danger when blood clots travel to the heart or lungs! Young people get them too it’s not a age thing!

If you have pain, tenderness or significant swelling in the legs during or after a long flight, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible!

Tip 4. Get yourself some…

Get yourself some flight essentials! First get yourself a flight/ neck pillow! HUGE for traveling in my option! Some people think they are annoying but to me they are a life saver and make sleeping in strange places less awkward! A good pair of the head phone are also a good idea for movie watching as the little cheap ones they give you, or little ear buds can hurt your ears and get uncomfortable after a while. I like to bring tissues, my toothbrush, and some touch up make up for when I arrive. I also always bring little facial or wet wipes with me as after a long flight as I always feel super yucky and want a shower pronto! I use these on my face, neck, hands and arms as this does wonders to make you feel a little better about your hygiene! A portable charger or power bank is always good to have too for when our IPhone, IPod or laptop runs out of juice on the go! It’s also smart to bring a pen as you will be filling out paperwork on the flight, and there is nothing more annoying than being stuck on a flight without a pen!

 Tip 5. Dress appropriately 

I like to dress comfortable… but that’s a no brainer! I always wear my runners on long flights, and I dress for both types of temperatures. I wear long pants (leggings), and I wear a tank top/t-shirt and a zip up sweater over top. Sometimes the flight may be too hot or too cold and being stuck on a plane with a lot of people you can’t change the temperature! Dress so you can cover up and take off easily! Trust me when you are stuck on a flight in the window seat, and you are sitting there shivering you will wish you brought a sweater!

Tip 6. Stay hydrated!

A long flight is actually really hard on the body! 1st you are probably not getting much sleep or at all. 2. You are in a super dry environment for a long period due to being in a pressurized tube at 8000ft (that’s what the cabin is set at). And 3. You are in a cramped space! Every time the stewardess comes around offering drinks take it! Your body is craving water in such a dry environment and by staying hydrated it will make you feel more awake, less jet legged and not like a total zombie after a long flight. Also eat the food provided for you even the snacks! I know it not the tastiest food in the world trust me, but your body needs the energy very badly! If you don’t feel like the little snacks they pass around every once and a while take them anyways and save them for later, you may become hungry later and wish you had them!

Tip 7. Try and get some sleep!

I know… I know it’s hard! You find a comfortable position then your leg goes numb and you have to move, and then you’re uncomfortable again and it’s a never ending circle! I like to use the food tray table and use that as a platform to arch over and sleep on it with my pillow. I find it pretty comfortable, and I tend to get the most amount of sleep this way! The night before I tend to make sure I get sleep but not a lot of sleep like 4 hours or so, this helps me feel more tired on my flight the next day! I find it helps a lot for a long flight. Being sleep deprived is a shitty feeling, and when you’re looking forward to your destination it’s kind of dampens the mood a bit when you should be excited! I do understand that sleeping on a plane is not as easy as it sounds! But be creative and come prepared!

Safe Travels Everybody!

May 11, 2015

Florida Keys Scuba Diving Trip Video

 

Check out this awesome Video of my  Scuba Diving Trip in The Beautiful Florida Keys this April! 

Enjoy

Big Shout out to the Talented Bart Verzijlenberg for the Amazing Footage!

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May 6, 2015

Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Check Out Key Largo in the Florida Keys

diving mask, starfish and necklace by the shore under a flying seagull

1. Amazing Wrecks to Scuba Dive

The biggest reason I visit the Florida Keys is mostly because of the amazing wrecks that are purposefully sunken for diver’s enjoyment as well as for artificial reef formation. If you haven’t noticed by now I am a huge scuba diver and wreck diving is by far my favorite type of diving.  There are many wrecks in the Florida Keys but my favorite wrecks I have dove, which are located in Key Largo (45 min boat ride) are;

  1. USS Spiegel Grove – Old Navy Supply Ship in Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf. Length – 510ft, Depth 50- 130 ft, Beam 85 ft. Date of Sinking June 11 2002. –
  2. Duane – U.S Coast Guard Cutter. Length 327 ft, Depth 90-130ft, Beam 41ft, Date of Sinking November 27th
  3. Eagle – Freighter, Originally used to transport scrap paper between Miami and South America. Length 27 ft, Depth 75-110ft, Beam 40ft.

Side Note – To Dive these wrecks one should have their PADI Advanced Open Water Certificate as these wrecks are very advanced and deep dives and can be dangerous without Advanced scuba diving experience. 

  1. Amazing Reefs and Marine Life

Not only does the Florida Keys and Key Largo have great wrecks for advanced divers but it also has shallow reef dives for beginner divers and snorkelers. In one dive with students I was guiding we saw 2 huge sting ray, 2 turtles, a large moray eel and millions of multicolored fish. As you can see from the pictures the water is perfectly clear and beautiful and very warm I might add. My favorite reef sites off Key Largo to dive were, Molasses Reef, Eagle Ray Ally, Winch Hole and Christmas Tree Cave.

  1. Great Weather

Both Times I have been to The Florida Key the weather has been fantastic with lots of sun. In the two weeks I have been there it only rained one day. That’s pretty good for a tropical place. On a typical day the temperature ranges from 18 to 32 degrees Celsius.

  1. There is a Turtle Hospital you can visit!

Who doesn’t love Sea Turtles! At The Turtle Hospital Located in Marathon (not far from Key Largo) you can take a guided educational tour of the hospital facilities and sea turtle rehabilitation area. Also at the end of the tour you can even feed some of the sea turtles. The tour price is quite cheap ($20 for Adults) and runs pretty much every hour from 9am-4pm. It is definitely a great tour to take the kids on, or an activity for a rainy day for anybody!

  1. SUP Stand Up Paddle Boarding

My first time I tried SUP paddleboarding was in Key Largo and I fell in love! There are a lot of little coves and canals to paddleboard in the Florida Keys and Key Largo and there are lots and lots of options of where you can rent your paddleboard from. A quick google search and you will find plenty shops to rent from at a cheap rate. I chose to paddleboard one afternoon my first time in the Keys when I needed a break from diving 4 dives a day for 5 days straight, I picked up a flyer that had a cheap SUP rental for an hour and decided to try it out. It turned out to be an amazing day and the perfect recipe for a great and relaxing afternoon in the beautiful Keys.

  1. Great Night Life

Now I’m going to focus on Key Largo here as when I stayed in the Keys that is where I did most of my nights out and I can say I had a lot of fun full of great friends, lots of beers and few to many pina coladas.

Some great bars and clubs in the Key Largo Area to check out that I have been to and recommend are;

  1. Sharky’s Beer Co (Cocktail/ Beer Bar) all the local divers go here.
  2. Snooks Bayside Restaurant (Great food and cocktails) Right on the water and every night people gather for the beautiful sunset.
  3. Caribbean Club – Waterfront, Live music

 

April 29, 2015

A Letter From the Past – Insight into the Mind Before the Big Move to Australia

Young woman writes to black diary on a white table

I wrote, at 18 years old in the summer of 2009…

I want this more than anything else in this world. This extreme idea has not left by head for a year now, I think about it every day, I dream about it every night. It’s so close I can feel it. I can’t think of a better way to spend my life, to challenge myself and learn more about myself and the world. I know I deserve this and I have worked so hard just to get here. My dreams of this happening gives me hope every day. The change in myself from this idea has showed me I CAN do this. Common world give me a chance.

As I mentioned in my, About Me page, I ventured to Australia as a young girl at 18 years old to achieve my dream living overseas to obtain my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. Recently, I found this letter I wrote to myself in 2009 while I was in the waiting stage to hear back from the University of Wollongong about whether or not I got accepted. I was obsessed with the idea to move overseas and it consumed my every thought. The waiting game was killing me, not knowing was driving me crazy. I checked my email 8 times a day and I endlessly day-dreamed of the potential adventure ahead. I am sharing this letter I wrote to myself to somehow give you fellow travelers insight and inspiration into the mindset I was in before I made the big move overseas. If you are thinking about making a move, here is a sign… Do it!

If the idea consumes your every minute like it did mine, if you can relate to my past self, then itsofficial, you’re obsessed and your mind and body is hinting at the need to travel, to explore, and to live. If you have caught the travel bug like I did at a young age, or cringe at the thought of living the rest of your life in a predictable world like your hometown, then its time you did what you’re heart and mind longs for. I was told every day I would not succeed, I would come home in a month and that I was crazy. I nodded politely to the negativity, but inside I was screaming “Watch me (insert rude word here)”. Not everyone will understand, but that’s okay, that is what makes you different and in my option you are different in an amazing way. People live and die never able to experience the world, do you ever think they think to themselves in there last days, “Damn I should not have gone travelling for a year around the world that was a waste of time.” Never. Regret will haunt you forever if you don’t do what your heart desires. If you’re looking for a sign well this is it…..trust me… book that ticket!

April 21, 2015

6 Unusual and Funny Places Missbeachykeen has Fallen Asleep While Abroad

 

Woman in hammock on tropical beach at Perhentian islands, Malaysia

I have always been notorious for falling asleep in random places! Since day one actually, in my childhood photo albums you will see endless pictures of me asleep in various positions in different places. No I don’t have narcolepsy, I just can fall asleep very easily. My sleeping ability has made for some funny stories of places I find myself asleep, mostly in abnormal areas. Here are 6 stories from when I’ve woken from some interesting cat naps.

  1. While Pretending to Pray…

I know, random… right? I was in my first year of university, one of my good friends convinced me to come to a Christian lunchtime bible study session in the main lecture hall. I am not very religious, to say the least, but I was bored at lunch in-between classes and my friend didn’t want to go by herself so I accepted her invitation to be a good friend. The bible study session was beginning to go a bit longer than expected and then it was prayer time. In a large and full lecture hall everyone began to close their eyes, bow their heads, and listen; then it happen, I was out like a light, eyes closed, head down, arms crossed… gone. In an unknown amount of time, I got a nudge from my friend, “Dana, you’re asleep.” “Oh, sorry” I said while giggling to myself. She told me that people were noticing. When everyone was done praying and lifted their head, I was visibly asleep. I apologized and came up with some excuse as to why I was so tired. She wasn’t very impressed at the time and I think I actually really embarrassed her, but we still have a good laugh about it when we see each other.

  1. In the movie theater on a date watching The Hobbit.

If you have seen the, The Hobbit, you may or may not remember a scene where the Hobbit people start singing. Yup, a very long hobbit song of hobbits running around singing hobbit songs. In my option, this should put anyone to sleep. It was in the first half an hour of the movie and I was gone. I was supposed to be on a romantic date with my then boyfriend and here I was passed out in a movie theater. The movie theater being a dark room, plus the singing hobbits was a perfect recipe for an inconvenient snooze. Just like the last story I got a, “Dana, You’re asleep” I answered with an, “Oh sorry, the hobbit singing must have put me to sleep”. I now know I cannot watch musicals at the theater. Every time someone mentions this movie I always have a laugh about the little lullaby of the Hobbit song.

  1. In the dentist chair.

Yes, you read that right, I fell asleep while in the dentist chair. I am not talking about the waiting room.  It was mouth open, tools in my mouth cavity and everything. I got a little tap and the hygienist said with a laugh, “Um hello Dana, you were asleep.” Like I haven’t heard those words before right? “Oh sorry” I replied. We both laughed. Supposedly falling asleep in the dentist chair is more common than you would think.

  1. My infamous bar bathroom snooze.

This started when a friend and I would take what we called a, “drunk 10”. We would each get into a stall, obviously and both set our phone alarms for 10 minute and take a wee snooze while sitting on the toilet.  Sometimes when the spins come on all you need is a little cat nap to sober up. It actually doesn’t work very well and I wouldn’t recommend doing it. It makes you feel worse to be honest. In Australia with my friend it was totally a normal thing we did together, but when I got back home to Canada and did it there, my group of friends thought I was absolutely crazy. They make fun of me still to this day.

  1. While at the Hair dressers getting my hair done.

I am really close with my hair dresser in Canada and she’s more like a good friend to me. I had just come back from a massive trip through South East Asia and I was jet legged so much so that I could hardly keep my eyes open during the day. While my foils were in and my hair dresser was in the bathroom, I fell into a peaceful slumber. My head was fully in the downward position and I was passed out and I even remember dreaming. I got a, “DANA you fell asleep.” I woke up and apologized. My hair dresser still picks on me for my little snooze I had in her chair and I am now known as, ‘Dana the blonde girl that fell asleep with her foils on’.

  1. 2 hours from my desired train stop.

I’m sure we have all heard of this one before and probably happens all the time. While I was working in Sydney I had to take the train an hour to get to and from work. On my commute home one day, I woke up 2 hours from my stop after the conductor announced that the train was at its last stop for the night and everyone had to get off. I got off half asleep with squinty eyes and then realized I was 2 hours from home. I shook my head with disbelief and laughed out loud to myself. “Good one Dana,” I thought to myself. After that day, I had to set an alarm 10 minutes before my stop because I did not trust myself.

Safe Snoozes!

Do you have a similar story? Lets hear it!

 

April 3, 2015

True Travel Confession

Traveler woman is waiting for her flight at the airport

So I have a confession…

Okay.. I was naughty I admit it.. Want to know why? Whenever I tell this story to anyone, I always receive a wide-eyed, open mouth expression! Most people are stunned with disbelief on how I managed to hook up with a boy I had never met before, on a plane… That’s right I said it! When I was 19, I met this guy who was on my flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong. Pretty much, I got a smooch from this cutie!

How did this happen?

I had about 30 minutes before my flight boarded, so I decided to sit down at the gate and pull out my laptop and see if I could get some Wi-Fi signals… Around 5 minutes later, I notice a young boy around my age, sitting on the opposite side of me. I looked up and spontaneously made awkward eye contact with him. With embarrassment of being caught staring at him, I quickly looked back down at my laptop screen. For a while, I then realized after failed attempts, that I could not connect to any Wi-Fi signals and became frustrated…. “ I needed to look busy on my laptop. Hello…. Wi-Fi?” After multiple tries, I decided to be bold and ask the beautiful stranger, if his Wi-Fi was working. I looked up, swallowed, took a deep breath and asked, “Hey, is your Wi-Fi working?”

When did the sparks ignite?

He replied with confidence “Hey, no I can’t connect, I was just about to you ask you actually”. He smiled flirtatiously. He closed his laptop immediately and asked me, “What flight are you on?” I thought to myself, “holy shit he’s talking to you, don’t say anything stupid!” I pulled out my boarding pass and stated my flight number and destination. He widened his eyes and replied with a big energetic, “ME TOO, that’s awesome!” I smiled and replied with an “oh cool!” (as in I’m trying to act cool). He started asking me million questions at once like, “Where are you from?”, “Why are you going to Sydney?” and so on. I started to answer his questions simultaneously and bounce those questions back to him. I could feel my palms sweating and my face blushing.  I pause the awkwardly happy question-and-answer session and told him my name, “Oh, by the way, my name is Dana.” He chuckled and replied, “Nice to meet you Dana, my name is Michael.” It turns out that we have the same age. He was going to Sydney for a year of backpacking around Australia. I could tell that he was very interested and super excited about his adventure. He was humble and down to earth enough, and seemed to have the same craving for travel as I did. We started talking, more comfortably, and I told him about my first year at University and gave him a little rundown on what Australia is like, where to visit and what to do in Sydney.

Then we boarded the plane…

While waiting in line, “together”, we constantly are talking each other’s ears off. One of us stopped and asked “Hey, what’s your seat number?” It turns out we were four rows apart from each other as we mentally calculated. He gave me a sad puppy face, displaying his sadness for the fact that we were seated so far from each other. We still had so much to talk about! Once we got on the plane, I sat at my seat, and I waved goodbye saying, “I’ll see you in Hong Kong.” I sat smiling to myself like a little schoolgirl with a crush. Three minutes later the beautiful boy appeared in the aisle with a random middle-aged woman beside him. He looked happily at me and said, “Hey, this nice lady is happy to switch seats with you, so we can sit together”… I looked at the lady and she replied, “Yea, not a problem, I’m happy to make the switch”. My heart melted….

Then the 14 hours in a cramped plane began…

I switched to my new seat, beside him, and our conversation started again! We talked about everything from high school, to our friends, and even to our past relationships. We watched movies together on one TV screen, and we laughed a lot. After about 6 hours of talking and laughing, it was time to have a little snooze as they dimmed the light and everyone around us was sleeping. Obviously it would have been rude to keep talking while everyone was in his or her sleep mode. As we position ourselves to sleep, we leaned against each other and shared the given blanket. After the awkward leaning position, for little a while, he reached out for my hand under the blanket. We fell asleep together, hand in hand. After around three hours of solid sleep and I repositioned my body… he woke up, from my movement and smiled at me. I asked him “Are you comfortable?” he replied… “Very much, thanks” … Then he .. leaned in for a kiss… My 19-year-old self was on cloud 9!!!!! I remembered that the kiss was just perfect. There may or may not have been a little groping under the blanket too… 😉

Arriving in Hong Kong.

We assumed that if we started on the same flight, we would also be on the same flight for our flight to Sydney too. However, his flight was different than mine. I was leaving in 2 hours and his flight to Sydney was another 6 hours after mine. He said he wanted to hang out with me while I waited for my flight so he convinced the airline employee to check in early so he could hang with me before I boarded the flight. We had dinner together and laughed some more. As we waited for my flight to board, we shared one more passionate kiss as we sat in a room with 100s of other strangers. He lined up with me until he could not anymore; we kissed goodbye, and I walked away onto the plane. That was it…

I never saw him again; we spoke on Facebook, but we never got a chance to see each other in Australia.

I am a lot older now but I remember everything about that flight like it was just yesterday. I still remember how awesome he was and how nervous I felt to just be around him. It was such a good experience and had shown me that a simple hello can go a long way..

Do you have your own version of travel confession or a similar story?

Have you met someone awesome at an airport or on a flight?

Let’s hear it! Share it!

 

November 1, 2015

Top Best Documentaries

top vest

For the last couple years I have probably watched close to 200 plus Documentaries. I love learning about the world, various topics and the insights and stories of others. I will be sharing with you guys my favorite documentaries that have empowered and inspired me in some respect. I hope to inspire you all with the power of knowledge.

1. The Bridge – Graphic Images – Caution

2. Theres No 3G in Heaven – ABC Australia – Australia Teen Suicide Epidemic

3. BBC The Truth About Looking Young

4. Dying to Have Known – Gerson Theory

5. VICE – Sensory Deprivation Tanks – Part 1 of 3

6. BBC Horizon – The Nine Months That Made You

7. VICE – Suicide Forest Japan – Graphic Images – Caution

8. Searching For Sugar Man (Only the Trailer Sorry Couldn’t Find Full Version – Amazing Documentary Though)

9. The Day My God Died – Very Sad – Child Sex Trade

10. The Secret Life of The Brain – PBS – Very Long But Good!

Stay Tuned for More….

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