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The Best Thing of Spending a Week Vacation @ Cancun

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Spending a Week in Cancun

If you live in Canada and you are willing to have a beach vacation near Canada, there are three Caribbean countries which might be good options and they are Cuba, the Dominican, and Mexico. Since I watched a TV show in China which described tourism in Cancun, Mexico, I made my travel plans to be there for a week during the summer.

I discovered there were huge differences in price for the hotel between downtown, Cancun and the hotel zone and I had a strong desire to spend a few days in those theme parks. That’s why I booked a hotel in the downtown area for the first four nights and then I made reservations for a hotel in the hotel zone during the last three nights. And when I finished the trip, I felt this was a smart way to save money as I participated in three day trips which started from very early onward in the morning and ended quite late at night. I didn’t spend so much time in the hotel; therefore, it was great to book an economical hotel during my day trips. In the last three days, I didn’t make any plans and I preferred to stay in the hotel to enjoy the sunshine beside the beach which was one of the most amazing parts of my Cancun trip. Quite a lot of travelers may say that beautiful beaches always looks similar. But the beaches in Cancun are unique. They have a special atmosphere in the Caribbean countries which are different from many other cities by the sea.

Three-Day Trips: A Must Have

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Chichen Itza and Tulum

The day trip to Chichen Itza and Tulum involved generally visiting the ruins of the Maya Civilization which is the first Seven Wonders in the world. The Chichen Itza historical site is the most amazing place to go in Cancun I guess as it has a bunch of magnificent pyramids. And I think this day trip is the most tiring one as you need to walk a lot under the sunshine and Cancun’s weather is extremely hot during the day so it is better to arrange it in the first day when you are still full of energy. Because both Chichen Itza and Tulum historical sites are located in wild areas, you must prepare lotion for skin protection and spray for mosquitos in preventing sunburn and bites.

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Xcaret

Xcaret theme park is the most amazing park among all others I think as it is the biggest one and it offers so many aquatic activities in the park. One of drawbacks must be the admission ticket as it is not all-inclusive which means you need to pay extra for a certain number of activities. And I participated in one activity which was the Sea trek. Sea trek is an underwater activity and participants are required to wear a helmet which facilitates in getting rid of water meanwhile supplies oxygen for wearers. The participant is allowed to walk through the underwater corridor which is up to six meters under the sea to appreciate the marine lives. The Sea trek gives a chance to people who have barriers of scuba diving. It has thousands of tropical fish and a couple of gigantic turtles who passed around us during the walk. The Sea trek experience made my day and it gave me courage to attend more aquatic activities in the upcoming days. Another highlight of the Xcaret day trip was a signature night show which was offered daily at 7pm. And it is also the biggest show in Mexico about Mexican culture. Although I watched a lot of shows which represented its native culture, this night show was the one I was impressed at the most. The show was attractive for all types of visitors no matter what ages they were and all the actors and actresses were perfect in acting their roles.

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Xel-Ha

Xel-Ha was the second theme park I visited which was also amazing as it had the longest underground waterway and the whole drift lasted for more than one hour. The park is amazing as it was built along the coast so the scenery is fabulous and it enables you to go snorkeling at the bay. And the best thing in Xel-Ha must be the admission ticket which is all-inclusive so you can enjoy the dinning and most of the aquatic activities. However, I highly recommend to pay extra money to do the Dolphin trek as it is such a wonderful experience. Dolphin trek is basically the same as the Sea trek and participants wear the same helmet and are able to touch the bodies of Dolphins. And dolphins are such incredible animals as they are extremely smart and friendly to humans. Participants can hug, shake hands, touch their bodies and teeth which is definitely an unforgettable experience. It was my first time to touch such a huge animal and I felt the skin of a dolphin was completely different than I had expected.  A dolphin’s skin is not smooth but the texture is slippery. Although they always listen to their trainer, I question often if they are overused and abused by the park owners for the purposes of making profit and money. I wondered after this experience whether or not they actually deserved a better life in the wild rather than feeding in an aquatic theme park.

Tips for Traveling in Cancun

Money: you better prepare both U.S dollars & Pesos. Although the U.S dollar is widely used in Mexico, Pesos tend to have a good rate in currency for local expenditures such as dining and shopping.

Skin protection: you must prepare lotions for UV protection to avoid sunburn and mosquito bites.

Money saving in accommodation: it is better to stay in hotels downtown during day trips and then move to the hotels zone for the last few days when staying beside the beach.

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Unexpected Highlight of Jungle Island@Miami Beach-Lemur Experience

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Day 4 at Miami Beach

I have a travel habit in which I always go to visit an aquarium or zoo in solo trips probably because I am a pet lover and I am passionate about animals. It is beneficial to spend a couple hours to stay with animals in a solo trip as you will be totally relaxed and amused by their happy faces. Although Miami has a huge outdoor aquarium which is far away to go to, I decided to visit Jungle Island instead during my second last day at Miami Beach.

A funny thing happened when the Uber driver asked me to confirm if the zoo was open to the public in the main gate as it didn’t have any visitors or even staff there. I felt regret in the beginning of the tour inside the zoo and I particularly had paid almost $50 dollars for the admission ticket to enter the zoo. The zoo looked old and it was pretty small because it only took me half an hour to walk around. I didn’t discover any special animals during my first round tour until I saw the lemur experience program in the gift shop next to the main entrance. Here is the tip: you are able to attend the Lemur experience program without an admission ticket for the zoo as it takes place in the gift shop which is located outside of the zoo. And this is the only Lemur experience in North America so don’t miss the opportunity to spend a while with one of the cutest animals in the world. Lemur is such an adorable species in the world with hairy fur and a long tail and that was why I paid another $50 dollars for the unique Lemur experience without any hesitation.

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15 Minutes of Unique Experience

Since lemur is an endangered species in the world, I have never seen them before and there are so many lemur babies in Jungle Island. The breeder asked us to wash our hands before entering the room. I became very nervous when I was invited to sit on the desk after the feeder opened the door in allowing lemurs to get closer to us. Those lemurs babies became even more active when they were out of the cage. I was so scared in the beginning as they jumped onto my head and arms back and forth. I screamed and the breeder came to me and held them back to the floor.

I was so worried if lemur would bite or scratch but luckily, all of them were babies and they always played with us rather than attacking us. I got along well with those lemur babies after the breeder carried one of them into my arms and it was very calm. The lemur babies really enjoyed massages and we were invited to touch their bellies gently. I got encouraged by the breeder to touch its belly gently and I saw the lemur baby was very relaxed and enjoyed my massage. It was cute with its facial expressions and it even closed both of its eyes. It made me feel so good that the lemur baby trusted me completely. We had a chance to play with a couple of lemur babies and they had too much energy. The breeder told us that lemur was an endangered species and this experience was precious. I highly recommend any travelers who get a chance to visit Jungle Island must participate in this unique lemur experience.

15 minutes is not long enough but they couldn’t stay longer with us. I truly felt the beauty of those lemur babies because they were so friendly to us. Humans are able to do more for them but we didn’t. They deserve a better place to live in and we ought to offer an environmental habitat for any of the endangered species in our world.

 

First Helicopter Experience @ Miami

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Day 1 in Miami

Miami is such an amazing place to spend a week for vacation and it was my second time to come to Florida. I had high expectations in traveling to Miami after I had reserved a hotel in the Miami Beach area. I had a nice brunch near the South Beach and then I walked into the Art Deco visitor information center and a flyer caught my eyesight: Miami Helicopter tour. I had decided to give it a try right away and after that I had asked what the tour was all about although the tour was quite expensive. Then I took an Uber taxi to Opa-locka airport, which was more than 35 kilometers away from Miami Beach. Fortunately, the cheapest activities in Miami was going places by taking Uber. Please do not hesitate to choose Uber as your primary form of transportation in visiting the city as it sometimes is even cheaper than taking a bus. After the forty minutes of my Uber ride, I reached the airport which was pretty cool. The airport was quite big and the Miami Helicopter pad was only a small part of it. And the airport is also part of an American Airbase so I was are able to see a variety of military aircrafts, which was a bonus of the tour. I became so excited after I finished my check-in and the officer told me that since I had come so early I had to wait for another half an hour, which was fine for me. My experience tells me that you don’t need to be in the airport too early as the check-in process is simple and it only takes a few minutes.

I spent half an hour in the waiting room and had nothing to do as the regulations didn’t allow passengers to use any cell phones or tablets in the room. And the officer just walked back and forth to tell me to wait for another fifteen minutes. I saw the helicopter right there out of the room, but I was not able to board. Time ran fast and the moment the officer told us to be ready, I became very nervous and excited. I felt my heartbeat pounding and I prayed in both of my hands. It was so nice that the officer took a couple of pictures for us before we took off. When we walked closer to the helicopter, I could not hear anything except for the noise made by the turbulence created by the blades and we were asked to wear headphones for noise reduction with a microphone for ear protection and better communication with the pilots.

15-Minute Tour: An Amazing Experience

“Are you guys ready?” The pilot asked. I couldn’t recall his name but he did do an excellent job in both taking off and in landing. He even apologized to us that the helicopter would shake a bit due to the weather conditions but we did not feel as much turbulence as we took off, compared to the commercial airplanes we normally take. When our helicopter brought us closer to the beach area, the view was so amazing although it was very cloudy. I looked down to enjoy the beautiful scenery of coastlines and the boundless sea, with the hotels just built along the coastline and I was trying to find the one I was about to live in for the days to come. In the meantime, the pilot introduced us to a couple of famous buildings and historical sites and one of them I liked the most was the Jungle Island which I actually went to visit in a few days. The helicopter experience was totally different from experiences we normally have on a commercial plane. The feeling on a helicopter is incredible and it is extremely hard to explain. You may probably feel like you are flying as a bird rather than just staying in a huge aircraft. When the helicopter rose up to the sky, all of my worries for safety suddenly disappeared and you just couldn’t help capturing every moments of beautiful scenery.

The tour lasted only fifteen minutes but it cost me 150 US dollars; I felt it was really worth it. I felt the helicopter tour was one of the most must-do things in Miami beach. To be honest, I had been planning to have a helicopter tour on my upcoming birthday but I had my dream come true earlier in Miami which boasted the best beach in the world. I took many pictures and videos during the tour but I should have appreciated the amazing views and captured every moment in my mind instead. I am planning to have another helicopter tour in my upcoming birthday in either Toronto or Niagara Falls. You will be very glad to be on a helicopter tour to witness everything in the sky.

First Rail Trip in Canada

Happy Rail Trip

Traveling has been one of the most amazing extracurricular activities in my university life since I moved to Canada a couple years ago. I didn’t have many opportunities to travel during high school until I started to study at the University of Toronto three years ago. Since then, I have taken advantage of every opportunity to travel to a variety of cities in both Canada and America during summer and during winter breaks, particularly when I had a chance to take part in two summer aboard programs in both Hong Kong, China and Oxford, and in England during my freshman year. However, since I went to most of these destinations by plane, I was really hoping to have a rail trip in Canada as a great number of travelers had shared their wonderful experiences with me in traveling by train in North America. Therefore, before the Fall term began, I had achieved the goal in having a rail trip to Quebec City. I took the train of VIA Canada to travel to three major cities in eastern coast Canada which were Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City. This rail trip completely changed my stereotype of traveling by train as I used to have terrible experiences on Chinese rail trips when I was very little. I felt that the rail trip in Canada was an incredible traveling experience as I were able to relax and enjoy the amazing scenery on the way.

img_0698Day 1: Toronto Union Station to Ottawa Station

The journey started in Toronto Union station; since it was my first time to take the VIA Canada train I was so excited. Compared to traveling by air, the rail trip was much more convenient mainly because I didn’t have to arrive at the train station to check in at least two hours prior to departure and ended up spending a long time on boarding. When I walked to the cabin reaching my assigned seat, it really surprised me as the seat offered much more room for passengers than airplanes normally do. You can imagine how comfortable the trip is although it takes approximately four hours to arrive in Ottawa. More importantly, the train offered free Wi-Fi services on board and it was so punctual that I was able to have the opportunity to watch the Northern Light show on Parliament Hill. This bilingual show is normally highly recommended for travelers as it had wonderful audio and visual spectacles of lighting. The forty-minute show vividly demonstrated the formation of Canada from a historical perspective. However, the highlight of the day was not the mere show, but the hotel at which I was going to stay at for the remainder of the night. I booked a hostel which used to be a jail in downtown Ottawa. HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel was the most interesting place I had ever lived in for such a short period of time. I was so shocked when I checked in that I would be locked up there for one night. I was led to a woman jail cell and you couldn’t imagine how tiny the room was as it could only fit a single bed. But it was a good option to spend a night in downtown Ottawa with an economical price and cool experience.

img_0729Day 2: Parliament Hill Guided Tour & Train to Quebec City

I couldn’t believe that I stayed a night with bugs stuck on the walls on the both sides of the bed. And that was why I woke up very early in the morning and checked out as quickly as possible. I missed the jail tour in the morning which was the highlight of the stay as my friend who had attended before told me it was really wonderful. The jail hostel was as cool as I had expected and the only advantage of the hotel was its location which was in the center of downtown Ottawa. The walking distance from the jail hostel to the Parliament Hill was less than two kilometers. It took less than 20 minutes to walk to some hot spots before getting a free ticket in the information center for the guided tour in Parliament Hill. I would recommend backpackers to book this jail hostel if you intend to stay a day or two in Ottawa.

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It was my second time to visit Parliament Hill and last time I came was during winter time so I didn’t have a chance to join the tour. The guided tour in Parliament Hill lasted for around one hour and it was also highly recommended for visitors as they would be able to appreciate the internal part of parliament which was worth walking around in. The most impressive place for me in the tour was the library and I couldn’t help taking pictures and videos in the place until the tour guide asked me to leave. The internal decoration of parliament was magnificent as you could also take the elevator to reach the top of the tower to appreciate the beautiful scenery of the heart of Ottawa. Since I spent only half a day in downtown Ottawa, I just had a quick lunch with my friend before I got on the train to Quebec City.

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I arrived at Quebec City very late at night; however, the train was perfectly on time and old Quebec City was too quiet without any passengers walking on the road. The city was so beautiful at night.

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Day 3: Old Quebec City Tour

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I liked Quebec City the most among the three cities in the trip mainly because this old city has its unique atmosphere in welcoming visitors. Unfortunately, I came on a rainy day, which negatively affected my mood when walking around the city. The last time I went there was during a snowy day and this time it was rainy so I decided to go for the best brunch in town. Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is the best hotel in Quebec City which is located beside the northern part of St. Lawrence River. I spent a morning there for a fabulous brunch enjoying the best view in town. If you don’t have the budget to stay in such a luxurious hotel, you can go for a brunch there and it is worthy for its priceless panoramic view of the entire city. Although old Quebec City is not big, it is worth spending half a day to walk around as there are so many unique boutiques and cafés in town. The city also boasts many fabulous French restaurants in town and I went for dinner in one of the most famous ones in town: Initiale. This restaurant was rated as the No. 2 French fine dining restaurant in Quebec City and it was also my first official French diner experience. There is no doubt that it offered terrific food but I really appreciated its service with attention to details and hospitalities. The waiter and waitress tended not to bother me too much but they approached when I wanted to be served. I think that having good service in a restaurant takes experience and much training.

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The purpose for this trip was to relax at the end of the summer vacation and having a good time in old Quebec City. And it was also very sad for me as this could probably be my second last summer vacation in life before my graduation next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to arrange your pets before a trip

未命名_meitu_1.jpgThe Sweetest Cat in the World

I used to have a variety of meaningful experiences in keeping pets before I came to Canada. Since I lived independently last year, I made a quick decision and I decided to buy a cat. I was so lucky that I adopted a Persian cat in a pet store in Scarborough and we gave him the name Samuel. Samuel officially came into my life on the fifth day of May, 2015 and I was worried about him the most when I was traveling.

Sam is my first adopted cat and I expected that I would have many challenges to take care of him. I am so lucky that he is easygoing with a good temper. He is so nice to everyone who comes to my house. More surprisingly, he is so clam during showers which is not normal for a cat so I am able to wash him on my own and save so much money because there is no need for me to take him outside for a shower. The staff of the pet store told me that Sam was abandoned by his first breeder as he had skin problems. Fortunately, he was brought back to the store and the staff was very kind so they spent so much in taking good care of Sam’s skin problem. And now Sam’s skin problem is completely cured and his fur looks so pretty. I just want to tell all of the pet owners that every life deserves respect and good care. Since Samuel is a perfect cat and he gives me so much happiness, he becomes a barrier for me in traveling as I need to arrange accommodation for him when I am not at home.

Several Feasible Arrangements for A Pet 

Firstly, you can just leave your pets at home if it is a short trip around 3 to 5 days but you need to prepare enough food and water for the whole trip and also arrange someone to actually go your home in every two days to take a look in making sure your pets are good. Secondly, if it is a long trip for a week or two, you can send your pets to someone who is reliable such as your family members or your friends. But the most important thing is that they need to have experiences in taking care of pets so that they know how to feed your pets. Lastly, I think that the best option for your pet is to send them to stay in a pet hotel so that they are able to receive the best care from professional people. I sent Sam once to a pet hotel for three days in Petsmart which I was satisfied with so much. The environment in the hotel was so good as every cat and dog had their private room and the breeder there would ask as much as detail about the pets for the sake of treating them more nicely during their stay. And the hotel also arranges a couple of activities for them daily to make them socialize with others. When your pets check out, the hotel will offer you a report for the stay in describing the details of the stay. So I received one and I was so happy to know that Sam was a party animal and he socialized very much with others. More importantly, the professional breeder in the hotel will provide you their advice on how to take care of them which is valuable for your pets.

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Since I had pets during the first day, my parent told me that I should be fully responsible for their life in taking care of them. All the pet owners should treat their pets the same as their kids with much more patience and love. And that’s why Sam is always the most important person I worried about during a trip. As I had both experiences of having a cat and a dog, I would tell you a series of benefits to live with cat rather than a dog.

6 Benefits to Live with A Cat Rather Than A Dog

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1. Not necessary to walk the cat on a daily basis

2. Spend less money on keeping a cat in terms of grooming and toys

3. No need to stay with a cat all the time; they are very independent

4. More easier to clean up a cat’s toilet

5. Cat normally won’t bite and doesn’t bark

6. Cat normally keeps itself nice and clean

Best moments to live with Sam

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1. Sam sits at the back of the door when I arrive home

2. Sam sits next to the main door to say good bye when I leave home

3.  Sam sleeps beside me during the night

4. Sam lies beside me when I do my homework

5. Sam lies on my shoulder when I do some reading on the sofa

6. Sam comes to me when he needs something to eat

Packing Tutorial

Step Prior to a Journey: Packing

Packing plays an important role in preparation for a trip. The process of packing always makes me have a headache mainly because I have difficulties in making decisions. I have difficulties in deciding between options A and B. And I tend to forget to bring essentials during the trips. For example, I didn’t bring an umbrella in the most recent trip to Quebec City so I spent ten dollars to buy a terrible one which was only used for half a day. However, it made me learn a lesson. Firstly, no matter wherever you go, bring an umbrella or raincoat! Secondly, I’m not price sensitive, so it is better to care of the quality of goods as the ten-dollar umbrella just worked for half a day and it was broken by the wind. The good thing is that as long as you have more and more travel experience, you will spend less and less time on packing and be more prepared for the journey. And you will feel that packing is also a piece of art.

10 Common Things: Must Haves:

 

1. Travel documents (always put them into a passport holder with good quality)

2. Two credit cards (one for primary use and another for back up use; put the backup one together with your travel documents)                                                                                 

3. Wallet (choose one that is the smallest so it is easy to travel with but at the same time it can fit your driver’s license, health card, and a small amount of cash in local currency and/or U.S dollars)

4. A waterproof tote shopping bag (I highly recommend the brand Longchamp because it is easy to store in the luggage)

5. A long-sleeved outwear or a scarf (you never know how cold the weather can get)

6. A pair of slippers (you will appreciate this when you are on a long flight)

7. A carry-on luggage (try not to have checked-in bags as it takes forever to wait for them at the airport)

8. Travel kit (everything should be mini-sized and the total amount of liquid must be

less than 100 ml)

9. Clothes (minimize the outfits)

10. iPhone and iPad with a portable charger

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Travel documents are one of the most important must-haves for a journey as no matter where you go, you require to show valid travel documents such as flight check in or hotel check in. And travel documents must be well-protected as basically you can’t do anything without them. One of my best friends in high school used to have passport issues on her trip to Australia so she had to cancel the trip without any refunds for the bookings. She ended up losing a huge amount of money. There are two dates for travelers that we must care out. First is the expiry date of the passport and the second is the expiry date of the travel visa.

Credit cards play an important role in helping you to deal with money issues for a trip. I always bring two credit cards for trips and one of them with a higher limit. Using credit cards for purchasing things or for paying bills during the journey is convenient with security as you are always able to track back and review the bills afterwards. For example, I had a bad experience when I travelled in Montreal a few years ago. I stayed in Sheraton hotel in downtown Montreal and had a dinner at a bar; however, they overcharged me sixty dollars in tips. I noticed the overcharged payment on my credit card bill when I was back to Toronto so I called the credit card company to report the money issue and eventually I received the money back. It is good to prepare a spare credit card as you never know what happens next in the trip and sometimes a credit card can really save your life. Travelers are encouraged to use credit cards during trips as credit card companies tend to offer a better rate in currency for its users. The receptionist of the bank told me about this tip when I had a hard time deciding how many U.S dollars are needed to buy for my Miami trip.

A wallet is always the primary target for thieves during a trip; therefore, it is extremely significant to keep an eye on its security. I used to bring the long one on trips, however I changed my mind during the China trips this year. I discovered that most of the long wallets won’t fit the internal pocket in backpacks. But in order to secure the wallet, the best way is to put it into the internal pocket with a zipper protected. I had benefits in putting my wallet into the internal pocket in my summer China trip as the thief successfully opened my backpack but he couldn’t reach my wallet in the internal pocket. The thieves nowadays have become more and more smart and you don’t even notice when your belongings have been stolen.

A waterproof shopping tote bag and long sleeves are must have things for a journey. I think that since I have lived in Hong Kong for one month during the summer aboard program a few years ago, I have found out that Hong Kong is called a paradise of shopping and the air conditioning in malls or anywhere else indoors are quite strong. Then a sweater with long sleeves becomes significant as you never know how the weather changes and especially during a long flight. Some airlines don’t provide enough blankets for every passenger so that is better way to prepare yourself.

Although packing always takes up so much time, it becomes an enjoyable moment for me as I am very excited about the upcoming trip and packing is likely to be the first step of a journey. A good beginning helps to make a good end, so enjoy packing for your trips.