6 Things I Learned Solo Backpacking Thailand and Vietnam

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This past winter I set off for 42 days with a 10kg back pack, some books, and some granola bars. I had never been out of the Western world for longer than a week, so this was big. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and experience new cultures, and so Thailand and Vietnam were the destinations of choice. The trip was a total BLAST.

While solo backpacking, I learned some key lessons along the way:

1. Everyday is an Adventure – You don’t have a lot of routine when backpacking which keeps life very interesting. You wake up every morning with a hunger for adventure that day

2. Just Go With It – Buses, taxi’s, and ferry’s run late, you just have to adapt. I was in Vietnam on a 8 hour bus ride which turned into 12 hours because the A/C broke down on the bus

3. Say Yes – Within reason of course, saying yes when travelling is what it’s all about. Say yes to the food, to the excursions, the conversations. You may be scared at first but you will be thankful you did

4. Just Show Up – You don’t need to reserve tickets or passes or rooms weeks before. In some cases yes, but the vast majority you can just show up and get your ticket or room on the spot.

5. Pack Less – I brought 6 shirts and regretted bringing 5 of them. Whatever you need you can buy once you get there. You don’t want to be carrying a heavy pack around.

6. Things Don’t Make You Happy – The people I met in Vietnam were the poorest people I’ve met in my life, but they also had the biggest smiles. Happiness does not equal what you own. The more things you own the more you have to keep track of. Keep things simple and stop collecting stuff.

What lessons have you learned in your travels? Would like to hear from you!

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3 Benefits of Travelling

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Travelling to different countries can really change your life in a positive way. This past year I was able to travel to Thailand and Vietnam. There are many benefits to travelling but I wanted to focus on three:

  1. Comfort Zone – Travelling to a different country will get you out of your comfort zone. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone and travelling will help you in this. Travelling will change up your regular daily routine and that is a good thing because it’s uncomfortable. We grow as a person when we are uncomfortable

2. New Cultures – Your horizons expand as you see more in this world. Experiencing new cultures will open your eyes to the variety and beauty in the world. Meeting locals, eating local food, and experiencing local transportation is part of the full experience

3. Gratitude – After travelling to a developing country you will be more appreciative for the life you have been given and what you have been blessed with. Local people are smiling, friendly, and a joy to be around. You would not meet these awesome people if you did not travel.

What do you think are other benefits of travelling?

30 Days in Thailand in 16 Pictures

I bought a used backpack, a plane ticket, and flew into Bangkok, Thailand. I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t know the language. All I had booked was my first 2 nights in a hotel. The rest of the journey was an absolute adventure.

The opportunities for adventure in Thailand are unlimited.

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Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai is a must visit. For $13 you get to go into a cage with Siberian tigers, and who wouldn’t want to do that?

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Have you ever fed a 6 month old elephant? There are ethical elephant farms in Chiang Mai where you can bathe and feed elephants bananas.

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Chiang Mai, Thailand is a unique mixture of old versus new. Thailand loves 711’s, and with 300 Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai, Buddhist monks are everywhere

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Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi is some of the greenest water you have ever seen. This is a popular tourist destination so prepare for crowds. The snorkelling here is awesome and you can swim up close with all kinds of cool fish.

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Travelling with a long tail boat is pretty common on the islands in Thailand. A lot of these tours even bring lunch and drinks for you so all you have to do hop on board. Be sure to chat up the drivers of these boats as they have some awesome stories.

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One of the coolest things about travelling abroad is all the locals that you get to meet. Everyone has a unique story and making new friends is all part of the adventure.

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The countryside in Phuket is beautiful. There are many bike tours in Phuket that take you through the city and out to the countryside to see some of the sites

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Adventures on the beach and sunset:

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Elite Painting 2015 Update

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Wow, what a busy year it has been! We are in August already, the sun is shining and we are dealing with all the joys and stresses of running a painting business.

In 6 years of running this painting business, I can honestly say 2015 has been the year we have had the best staff. We currently have 9 full time painters on 5-6 different teams across Langley and Surrey. Graham, Tim, Ben, Caleb, Erik, JP, Aidan, Mike, Kyle, and our Sales assistant Esther are doing excellent work.

At the time of writing this, we have completed 86 painting projects year to date. We are so pleased to be helping out homeowners in Surrey and Langley with all of their painting needs. Our most recent client Kelly wrote us,  The individual assigned to the interior painting, Ben, was motivated, kind, highly conscientious, accommodating, and he did an outstanding job with the painting and all of the accompanying tasks. At the end of his 4.5 days of work, we went around the home to look for any possible remaining areas to touch up … tough task as the work was outstanding. Ben clearly paid careful attention as he worked in each room. We are just so pleased!”

We have 40 more projects booked in for this year and are looking to add AWESOME people to our team for full time work. IF you know of anyone interested, reach out to us:

1. elitepaintersoffice@gmail.com

2. facebook.com/elitetradepainters

We would love to talk

How I Lived 30 Days in Thailand for $2,800

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Travelling to a developing country is totally worth it. Everyone asks, “How much does it cost?” Truth be told, outside of your flight you are living cheaper in a tropical paradise than you are at home. For the future travellers, I wanted to break down my cost in nice, easy to understand, whole numbers.

Note – It’s definitely possible to do this trip cheaper than I did, and if so I would suggest more hostels, and eating less food.

1. Flight – $980

Flying out on Tuesday’s are often cheaper. I flew from Vancouver to Bangkok with a short layover in Guangzhou, China.

2. Accommodations – $520

$15-20 per night depending where you stay. I usually opted for a guest room which is a hotel room and usually included breakfast. I mixed a few hostels in there. If you think about it, $525 is a month’s rent back home.

3. Food – $450

$15 per day is pretty normal if you like to eat. This on the generous side. Breakfast was generally included with accommodation. Honestly $4 can get you a decent meal in Thailand. Also tasty local beer (Leo, Singha, Chang) is $1-1.50 depending where you are. Spring rolls, pad thai chicken, pineapple rice are all necessary. Thai food is honestly delicious.

4. Adventures / Tours – $450

I budged about $15 per day for day tours. This included island tours, shooting hand guns, visiting an elephant farm, going to see tigers, snorkelling, boat tours, the list goes on. You want to have some fun while you’re on your trip.

5. Transportation – $200

If you’re not going to hitch hike everywhere, $7 per day will get you by, although some days you don’t need to spend anything. Thailand is a series of islands that require ferry rides if you’re going to fully experience the country. In addition to ferries, tuk-tuk’s, hiring scooters and taxi’s all require a few bucks.

6. Shots – $200

It’s worth getting your shots/vaccines before your trip so you don’t come back with dengue fever or something worse

Are You Single?

As the Facebook feed fills up with engagements and marriages, it’s not hard to wish for what other people have. Everyone is on a different path and statistically speaking 97% of people will be married, so if that’s not you yet, don’t stress. If you’re currently not married, now is the time to turn it up to 100 degrees and live your life. If you’re not happy as a single person, you won’t be happy in a relationship.

pic meYour capacity to live life as a single person is absolutely limitless. If you want to go travel the world, stay out until 2AM with your friends, or buy a dog you can do it. No discussion. No waiting period. And no checking in. If you want to do something, just make it happen. You don’t need a reason or an explanation. You’re not tied to anything or anyone.

I’m grateful for my friends who are in fulfilling, loving relationships. I really am. To see two people encourage each other and make one another better is awesome to see. Don’t look at your married friends and be envious of what they have. If you’re confident in yourself, you should be happy for your friends that they found an awesome partner and a team player.

If it is your desire to be married one day, I really believe God has someone for you. Having said this, nothing great comes without hard work. A great job, great fitness, and great friends all take hard work and dedication. A great relationship is no different. It’s not hard to have a “good enough” relationship. To find a dynamite relationship on the next level takes hard work. If you want it, go get it.

Your 20’s: The Decade You’re Never Getting Back

Live in the moment. You’ve heard it before. Straight up though, your 20’s are a pivotal and arguably most fun decade of your life.

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  1. Get Healthy – If you can’t get serious about your health in your 20’s while you’re young and single it’s unlikely it’s going to happen. Eat well and get exercising. Get in the gym, play sports and stay active. You’ll experience an energy boost and you will set up healthy patterns for your life.
  2. Travel – Yes, it takes some money and time. Everything worth doing in life takes money and time. It’s never been easier in the history of the world to book a flight and see the other side of the world. I’d recommend travelling solo as you’ll learn more about yourself and meet lots of great people.
  3. Find what you love to do – Try a bunch of different jobs. The risk is low when you’re young. Keep trying jobs until you find something you love to do. You’ll know you love your job when you’re looking at the clock wishing there was extra hours in the work day rather than counting down the hours to 5pm
  4. Get out of your comfort zone – Life begins outside of your comfort zone. If you start doing the things that scare you, you will become a more confident person. These things could include: solo travel, going to a movie by yourself, going to a party where you don’t know anybody. It’s scary at the time but once you did it you’ll be proud of yourself.
  5. Read – Successful people read at least 30 minutes per day. Work this into your daily routine to expand your mind. Set aside a monthly budget to buy books, way more valuable than a monthly budget to go to the movies.
  6. Don’t be afraid to fail – Failing in life is key to growing in life. Typically people who don’t fail live really safe boring lives. If you’re scared to fail fear will rule your life.
  7. Don’t compare yourself to others – Don’t worry about what others are doing. Compare yourself to the person you were yesterday. Once you stop caring what other people think of you, life gets a lot better.
  8. Don’t settle – Do not settle. Ever. Don’t settle for “good enough” in relationships, career, or friendships. If you are continually growing those around you will grow with you
  9. Give back – Time is way more valuable than money. Give your time to organizations helping out. Giving your time helping others will allow you to experience joy. As it says in Acts 20:35 – “It is more blessed to give than to receive” Work giving into the very fabric of your everyday life so you don’t have to wait until you’re 65 to retire and start giving it away.
  10. Be a relationship builder – Make friends with different people. Everyone you meet can teach you something and you can help them as well. Friendship is a gift from God. Don’t go through life alone. Build relationships and go through life with people. It is way better that way.
  11. Experiences trump possessions – Once you have experiences you see they are way more valuable than collecting more stuff. More clothes, electronics, home décor is a waste. I’d rather go golfing, go carting, or hiking. You remember these moments your whole life. Materials end up wasting away amounting to nothing.

7 Things I Learned On the Way to 26

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I’m turning 26.5 in a month. Yeah that’s right, that’s just over 1000 days until I’m 30. Scary thought? Not really. 26 is awesome. 30 will be awesome when I get there.

I’ve learned some key things this past year:

1. Life is all about embracing seasons – Don’t try to be older or younger than you are. It comes off weird and people don’t like it. Don’t be reaching too far into the future; it’s not worth overwhelming yourself.

2. Life doesn’t start when you get X – “My life begins when I’m married” “I’ll be happy when I lose 20 pounds” “I’ll be happy when I get a raise” Yes there is a temporary boost in happiness (dopamine) but this doesn’t last long term. I’m not saying don’t go for your goals. All I’m saying is to enjoy the process. Love where you are at and don’t put the expectation of life starting when you get there

3. Read books – I like talking to people but truth be told I find my daily wisdom in books. Some of my personal favourites: Proverbs in the Bible, Adam Braun’s, “Promise of a Pencil”, “Start something that matters” by Blake Mycoskie and anything written by John Wooden

4. Keep things simple – There is beauty in simplicity. Fewer options is the way to go. The less decisions you have to make everyday is advantageous. I eat the same thing for breakfast every morning and because I only own 2 pairs of pants choosing what to wear is not difficult.

5. Find alone time – Taking yourself out to dinner or to a movie is not weird. Find time everyday where you are not interacting with people. If this is exercising, going for a drive, reading a book, whatever it is, find what works for you and do it. It’s easy to constantly surround yourself with people. It’s difficult to find time in solitude.

6. Don’t compare yourself to others – This is so difficult. Why do you go on Facebook and Instagram? Is it to be inspired or is it to be jealous of what your friends are doing? Try take a month and only be better than the person you were yesterday. 1% better in relationships, 1% more productive, and 1% more gracious with people.

7. Be grateful – At the end of everyday verbalize your thankful thoughts. I like to choose 3 thankful thoughts and say them out loud. It’s easy to take things for granted and if we don’t stop and reflect the days just move too quickly