The Art of the Chinese Sale, also known as The Calculator Game, is actually a lot of fun! I never considered myself much of a bargainer or a haggler – it felt way too pushy – so what happened was a bit surprising. Everyday in Beijing, I went somewhere on my own, but the Xiu Shui Silk Market was my favourite place to shop, and there were hundreds of tiny stalls lined up along alleyways with clothes and other goods hanging 8 feet high on the walls, lining the floors, and piled high on tables. Five levels filled to the … More… →
I didn’t even want to go to China! Too many people for me, I thought, but then I was invited to join a friend who had been there many times on business, so that was it. Two weeks later, I found myself in China. First of all, Beijing was not crowded. I fully expected wall to wall people, being unable to walk easily down the sidewalk, crushed within a crowd of people, panic attacks setting in, as well as pagoda after pagoda, temple after temple, but it was none of that. In fact, it was a big … More… →
It all started quite innocently. We planned a trip to visit T’s adult children in Manitoba: one in Winnipeg, another in Morden. T would travel from Ontario and I would travel from Saskatchewan. About three months ago, we spoke a little about getting married, about how much fun it would be to have a special ceremony on some exotic island, about whether it was easier to just live common-law, the merits of formal comittment for our children and families vs a silly piece of paper. We have been together, so to speak, for over eight years, mostly travelling … More… →
TRAVEL PILLOW – Total Travel Pillow Gone are the days of flying when you could expect to find a pillow and blanket on your seat. Now it’s more of a DIY experience. Functioning as a travel pillow and blanket in one, the Total Travel Pillow claims to keep you warm and reduce next compression. $29.99 A More Practical Solution – buy a suede blow-up neck pillow and wear a cosy hooded sweater that you will also use in your travels. The pillow folds to a tiny flat pack so takes up less precious room in your carry on, and the sweater will serve many purposes, … More… →
SOLAR LAPTOP The world’s first truly solar-powered laptop. It never needs to be plugged in! It “plugs” into the sun. When the sun isn’t there at night you can run it all night long with its powerful battery. With a rugged design & durability, you can take SOL with you to the most remote places on earth. It has free software, too. You don’t need to purchase any more software to get started. There are thousands of free apps available online with UBUNTU. In a world where 1 in 4 people have little or no access to stable electricity, the device … More… →
We both felt the nausea and dizziness of altitude sickness in the giant Andes Mountains, yet somehow enjoyed the incredible experiences we had in Ecuador. In fact, I had forgotten how sick we were until T reminded me long after the trip was over. Amazing that I only remembered the good stuff. Altitude sickness starts at about 8000 ft and we were often up over 10,000 ft. The highest point in the Andes is over 22000 ft. As air density drops, there is less available oxygen and hydrogen, so it feels like having the flu or a bad hangover … More… →
Don’t you just love the rhythm of that name – Inga pirca? I’m not much of a history buff (T is), but the idea that a society existed in the 1600’s and that the buildings are still somewhat in tact amazes both of us. Ingapirca Ruins, Ecuador… On the right is the Inca Road that goes for miles and miles through the Andes Mountains. At very high altitudes of 10,000 feet above sea level in a basin between mountains, the views from Ingapirca Ruins left us standing with our mouths wide open. The … More… →
Courtesy, courtesy, courtesy. Respect, respect, respect. How do you feel when a foreigner criticizes anything in your country? Or if a foreigner is demanding in any way? Think about it. “When in Rome…” You’re in a different country, curb your ethnocentrism and try to fit in. Stop comparing everything to how it is at “home”. No one cares how it is in your home country. Consider that a different way to do things might actually work better in this country. Accept a different culture as it is – new, unique, interesting. Avoid being a typical … More… →
We were in Cuenca, a pretty little city, high in the Andes Mountains of central Ecuador, enjoying the town square. It had a European feel with cobblestone streets, Spanish colonial architecture and lots of brick. Take note of the hats… Sipping some hot chocolate… Wandering over to another square… And then, here was a flower market. I was hoping we had found something I had read about – a dozen roses for $6! Contrary to a romantic nature, some of us do not like red roses, even if they do photograph well. T did find a lovely pale pink bouquet … More… →
The train to the SKY… SKY… SKY… Dennis, at www.guanguiltagua.com, who organized our car and driver for Ecuador, tried to tell us that we should come back to Quito through the mountains. I tried to tell him that I don’t really like mountains, nor windy roads that make me motion sick. Plus, we had read that the Andes are so high that people get altitude sickness. The altitude is extremely high, in the 10,000 ft range. Just what I need – altitude sickness and motion sickness. No thanks I said. Once, twice, maybe half a dozen times, I politely said “No!” … More… →
Usually we rent a car and explore a country on our own. There is such a joyous freedom in being able to stop when you want and where you want, or take that little side road, or stop at that quaint little village. This time though, after a few days in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, a week with an Ecuadorian family in Otavalo, and a week on the Amazon Riverboat, we decided to try renting a car and driver for our last two weeks in Ecuador. Mauricio at www.guanguiltagua.com came highly recommended on Trip Adviser, so we decided to do a … More… →
We love to host people from other countries in our home in Canada, and that’s how we met Fernando and Toa from Ecuador. Nothing tells you as much about a country as a home stay with a local family. Sites like www.hospitalityclub.org, and www.couchsurfing.org and www.globalfreeloaders.com offer free stays of up to 3-4 days for travellers from other countries. You don’t have to provide food, just a bed for a few nights, and maybe some discussion about your part of the world. It’s really your choice how much help you can or want to assist. It’s a wonderful way to … More… →
The Amazon Riverboat was a fantastic week, and it was definitely the highlight of our trip to Ecuador. We went on excursions in the long canoe everyday, but we did not go swimming in the piranha lagoon! Everyone was invited to jump off the canoe and swim in the black piranha-infested water. Ricardo and Luis jumped in. Raoul, the (cute) guide, said the piranhas only bite if they are hungry, and they have lots of food. Later he told us there are sting rays and anacondas, but that they are only in the muddy bottom about six feet … More… →
There were only six guests on the Amazon Riverboat so it was almost like a private cruise, and it was the highlight of our Ecuador trip. We can highly recommend the Manatee Explorer. As we flew high above the clouds from Quito to Coca over the Amazon Jungle , we were astonished to see the mighty Andes Mountains poking their rocky heads up well over the tops of the clouds! At the airport, we were met by a driver who took us to the dock. We had a nice break there watching the river and the boats and … More… →
Well, I have done some crazy things in the past, but this one about tops them all. On a pitch-black night, in the middle of the Amazon Jungle, in Ecuador, we canoed on a swamp searching for crocodiles by flashlight, with a 12-year-old native Quechua Indian navigating. We found one 7 foot female croc and one 8 foot croc, and 3 baby crocodiles. A few of us had flashlights, so beams of light flitted across the black water, occasionally catching some weeds or a tree or some tall reeds. We were very quiet. It was taking a … More… →
Lost luggage is a fact of life for most travellers. It has rarely happened to me but it did once, at the worst possible time. Travel misfortunes are just to be expected. Ireland We had just arrived in Ireland, and I was given assurance that they would find my bags any day, and that they would be delivered to me. We moved on to stay in a perfectly enchanting castle (this is one of very few package deals I like – flight, car, and castle stay package for Ireland). It was bad enough making do with the few … More… →
I wonder what is at the end of that little road?! That question lead us to find some amazing places that tourists seldom get to see. All the way through New Zealand, we slid off the main highway to see what was at the end of “that little road”. Weeks later, we met a local couple and they invited us to their cottage at a famous New Zealand resort. She had gone on ahead and he wanted to show us some places that “tourists seldom get to see”. Turns out we had already seen all of them! He was … More… →
Join us in exploring the world! Each year we travel further and further off the beaten path to little known places. Cure for Boredom: Curiosity Cure for Curiosity: Travel As a writer, counsellor, teacher, immigration officer, corrections worker, probation officer, parole officer, teacher of deaf adults, teacher of the criminally insane, counsellor to new immigrants, mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend, I have a non-stop curiosity about people and places in every part of the world. What about you? Are you curious about other places in the world? Do you long to travel to that one exotic place … More… →
Hello, are you ready to take a few vicarious trips to little known and unusual places? Welcome to Travel To Little Known Places. My reason for starting this blog is just to share our crazy travel stories and misadventures, many compiled from letters home to family and friends while travelling. Our choice of places is almost always a bit off-the-beaten-path. So if that tickles your curiosity, sign up for email notifications of new posts below or to the right. No junk mail. Our style of travel is a little different from most, and after so … More… →
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Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.
— Paul Theroux
Shirley and Mr. T
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