Tag: Travel

VanLife in Ontario - Weekend Spent Organising Freddy....

Weekend Spent Organising Freddy….

It’s Sunday night, and we are sitting in the Walmart Parking lot after a weekend spent organising Freddy.  Hotel California from the Eagles playing in the background, enjoying a beer and Michelle is working on her corner.  This post may end up being mostly about her, but once you see the designs she has come with you will understand what I mean.  I am pretty sure up until she came to Canada, she never knew what a motorhome was, or even what you could do with one.  Not long after moving in, she says to me, “Hun we need to get some peg board, I want to do something with it.”  Do something with it?  Really, what could you possibly do with peg board?

Time Spent Organising and Repairing

VanLife Ontario
Weekend Spent Organising Freddy….

I completed Michelle’s peg board install last night, and she went to town organising and ensuring everything had its own spot.  I have to admit she has done a fantastic job.  The past two weeks has seen a large amount of rain, with cooler than comfortable temperatures.  We have had our challenges for sure, but there have also been some fantastic victories!  We went down to the Flying J to fill our domestic tank and see if we could get some good old fashioned pump fed water so we could stop living out of 4 to 8 water jugs.

The fresh water taps will not be back into operation until the 15th of May at the earliest, so we started a bucket brigade.  After what we figure was twenty-two 4L jugs we were ready to test out the water pump.  The time of truth was upon us, would the pump work, or was this going to be our first real problem?  Sure enough, though the pumped started up right away, we could not get the water to flow.  While living in Nova Scotia, my place was on a well, and there were many times that I had pump problems.  My first thought was figuring out how to prime the pump.  Ok, my first thought was where was the pump, then how do I prime it.

Priming the Pump

VanLife Ontario
Weekend Spent Organising Freddy….

I have to admit, I was not sure the easiest way to prime this tiny little pump.  Do I take the pickup hose off the pump, and fill it with water? Should I take the hose off the tap, and fill it?  I would not be able to open the pump to prime it that way, so how would or how should I do it?  Yes, you guessed it, I turned to Google.  I read a number of articles, and blog posts, but one stood out to me, and I have to say, it had crossed my mind but I thought it a little too crazy even for me. After trying a couple of different options, I decided to go crazy and try the simple but what turns out to be the most effective way to prime the pump.

As it turns out, simply switch on the pump, and in the kitchen sink, give a good hard suck on the facette, and you have enough suction to get that water to flow.  Strange possibly, did it work, it certainly did!  As the pressure built I kept a close look on the various water fittings in the bathroom, because if you remember, I have this wet spot under the driver’s seat.  At first, I never saw a leak, but the next day Michelle found it, and as it turns out (I hope) there is a small leak on the hot water connection and I can see the floorboards of the van directly below the facette, so I am hoping this is the culprit for the water leak.  It’s still early but after the addition of some plumbers tape and a couple of extra turns to the fitting and done.

Weeks Passing By

It was important the time we spent organising Freddy for our future.  It is an ongoing chore we will need to do every few weeks.  You spend your time cutting the lawn or doing renovations we spend the same amount of time organising and perfecting.  I think the only difference is we can move whenever and where ever we want.  Sadly though it would appear there are many people out there who will judge us as we make our travels.  A perfect example is believe it or not the Service Person I was speaking with at Sicard RV in Smithville.  At first, she was helpful, almost even friendly, but as soon as she found out we were living in Freddy full-time, she quickly changed her tone and helpfulness.  Our next purchase for Freddy is a Solar charging system, and I will make sure our money is well spent elsewhere.

What’s up next for us?  We are working on our Tour video so you can come and check Freddy out.  I am organising a photo shoot and the theme is “Ontario Yours to Discover”  It’s not what you’re thinking so be sure to check back and see what we are up too!!

 

A Diamond in the Ruff!

A Diamond in the Ruff

A Diamond in the Ruff!
A Diamond in the Ruff!

Camper Van Update; this week has been pretty stressful, trying to find a camper van, and decide how to deal with CRA.  I discovered on Monday it’s looking like I owe CRA an additional $6000.00 for 2016 taxes.  This will certainly cut into the budget we have for getting a camper van.  We have done a lot of soul-searching, do we or don’t we buy.  In the end, we have decided to go forward with moving into a van and following the Van Life.  We may have found our van! It’s certainly a Diamond in the Ruff, but we are hopeful!

A Diamond in the Ruff

A Diamond in the Ruff!
A Diamond in the Ruff!

This van was built in 1990, and there are some 143K kilometres on her to date. Our diamond is sitting at a body shop as we speak, awaiting a final painting.  The pictures do not show a beautiful move condition van.  But Michelle and I figure if everything is in working condition, then we can add the TLC that is needed to turn a van into our home for an extended stay!  The bed is in the back of the van, which is something we are wanting.  There are the other important items such as a toilet, fridge and stove.  We will need to install a Solar System, and shower if there is not one.

A Diamond in the Ruff!
A Diamond in the Ruff!

We will be going to see the Camper Van on Saturday afternoon after Michelle is finished working.  I think if we purchase the van we should name “A Diamond in the Ruff!”  The other option we have is a 10-year-old Airporter bus that is for sale at Niagara Air Bus.  She is a 20 seater and around 25 feet in length.  I have a couple of concerns.  First one is, that is a little long to try and stealth camp in an area where it is certainly not welcomed.  The second concern is how much money will it cost to convert to a livable camper.

Keep your fingers crossed and be sure to check back for our updates!

The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines

The Kookoo's Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines - Cere's Terminal
The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines – Cere’s Terminal

So the gang got together this month in Bacolod City and dediced we should head down to The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines, and boy was it an adventure as always.  The countryside on Negros Occidental Negros Oriental always is picturesque, to say the least.   With all the beautiful Rice Paddies and the fields of Sugar Cane, to the Mountainous regions and back down to the Ocean, I could travel around forever as my eyes are always hungry for the beauty of the Philippines.

As with any trip, we seem to take, it begins at the Cere’s Bus Terminal and for this trip we headed to the South Terminal, which is pretty rugged compared to the Northern Terminal so, do come prepared.  The cost of the “Aircon bus” was 377 Peso’s which is very reasonable for the distance we need to travel.  Be sure to come early as at this point you are not able to purchase your tickets before hand, so it comes down to first come first serve, and you purchase your tickets from the Conductor on your bus, he arrives maybe 1 hour prior to your departure time.  Michelle, my wife is very wise, and she was able to find out which bus we were taking, and got on board with the kids, and got seats while I waited in line to purchase tickets.  Smart cookie eh!

En route to The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines

The bus trip was advertised as a 6-hour trip but we were able to do it in less than 5 hours and I figure that was due to the fact we were on the Night bus and there was very little traffic which is very unusual here in the Philippines.  We arrived in Dumaguete at about 4 am, wich was 3 hours early from the time we said we would be there, so it was a need to wait once again.  Being use to this kind of travel it was simple for us, but I know Becca was getting a little tired of the waiting.  In a world of instant everything, it can get very trying for those who are not used to it.

The Kookoo's Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines - Beach Front
The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines – Beach Front

We had the option of taking a second bus that would let us off near the road we needed to get to the Resort, and there would be a need of taking a Tricycle or Moto to the Resort which would be very exciting for those who are not used to this form of travel, but with a group of 5, two younger children, I figured we would pay the extra for a pick up at the bus terminal and boy was it worth the amount it cost us.  We were in a van, and it took us easily `1 hour to reach the road that Nest was on, and then another 40 minutes down a road filled with construction.  Our driver was fantastic navigating all the obstacles and got us there safe and sound around 8 :30 am, about 3 hours before we could get into our rooms, but we were able to get breakfast and the girls were quick to head down to the ocean.

The Resort

I have to say the resort was beautiful!  Rustic, clean with plenty of things to do.  Everyone headed off into the ocean for some swimming, and snorkelling though this happened to be the first time for the girls to go into the ocean, and Michelle was so very

The Kookoo's Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines
The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines

excited to introduce the girls to joys of snorkelling, and seeing all the wonderful critters in the sea.  Me being a former PADI Course Director, it was like finally coming home to the water where life for me makes sense.   I had an opportunity to speak with Jamie and Nikki Ingram the owners of the resort.  Both people are very friendly and they go out of their way to make sure your stay at the Resort is a pleasurable one.  They offer Snorkelling rental sets, scuba diving if you are certified as well as Diving courses, which would be amazing to learn in such a beautiful place compared to where I learned how to dive.  There are also a couple of Kayaks so if you would like to tour the beach front and coast, plus some pretty cool nature walks.  Plus for me, some spectacular areas for shooting pictures and some amazing sunsets for sure!!

The Driftwood Cottage

Michelle and I decided on the Driftwood Cottage mostly for the space and the number of beds.  We had three adults and two

The Kookoo's Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines
The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines

children and needless to say the number of beds was very important.  The cost of the Cottage was $1,500 peso’s, which I felt was very reasonable.  Our view was the ocean and we were just feet away.  There are no words that can describe how beautiful the area was!

Every evening we were treated to a huge congregation of Hermit Crabs coming into the Restaurant Area, as well the various walkways and walls.  All you could here was the little clicking sounds of them walking around catching up with all the other crabs.  I know I should have taken a few minutes to shoot some macro pictures of the little guys, after all, I had off camera flash with me, but as is the case on some occasions, I just never did.  Speaking of the restaurant, the menu was had many different selections, some local, some Thai food, and a selection of western food, which was a godsend since Becca was having problems with the local foods.  I found the costs were really quite reasonable, and the dishes were a good size but not so big that you could not eat them.

The Kookoo's Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines
The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines

As with any trip we seem to take, it’s always difficult to leave.  We wanted to stay for a couple of more days if it was possible, however, the kids started school on Monday so we had no choice but to gather everything up and head back to Bacolod City.  The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines will be on the top of our list for a return visit.  Definitely another opportunity to enjoy more photography, and maybe the next trip will have some diving it in for me.  If you are interested in visiting The Kookoo’s Nest you can reach James and Nikki through this link or by calling +63 919 695 8085.  Also if you are interested in seeing more pictures be sure to visit the gallery found here.

 

 

Thanks to Ken Dunlop Photography for the use of their images!

 

 

Circle Inn

To be honest I was tired of the heat, and need to find a place to stay for a couple of days that had aircon so I could get some sleep.  I was thinking of returning to the Bacolod Pension House, and though the place was ok…I wanted a little more.  So I thought I would give the Circle Inn and try, and I was very pleased with the two days I spent there.

Front Desk
Front Desk

Aircon and the Circle Inn

My main purpose behind finding a place to say was needing a couple of cool evening so I could catch up with some very much needed sleep.  I was exhausted from not sleeping in the heat, and with how hot it was during the day, I found it even more difficult to deal with the days with the loss of sleep.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the heat.  But since I am kind of land locked here in Bacolod City, and not teaching diving every day and missing being in the water every day, I find the heat of all the concrete in the city very difficult to deal with everyday.

The Circle Inn was chosen on a simple Google Search and a list of about 10 hotels came up.  When I checked out the website on my phone, that room cost was listed for the deluxe room as PhP1480, and of course Expedia had it listed as less expensive,  which was not true, since Expedia listed the room before taxes and once you added those in it was the same price that was being offered through the hotel itself.  I find it interesting how misleading the cheap websites are, and I know now in Canada, its against the law when you do not advertise the real price.  Just a thought.

Part of Town

Pool
Pool

I have just recently ventured into the part of town where the Circle Inn is located.  It took me a few minutes to work out the Jeepneys needed in order to get downtown which by the way Shopping La Salle Libertad will do it, and it was very easy to make it to Lacson street so I could do my daily coffee at Starbucks.  I would certainly decide to stay at the Circle Inn again since the rooms were very clean, the Front Desk staff polite and very helpful.  The Restaurant on site had good food and not too badly priced compared to other places I have stayed.  The pool though cool, very clean and refreshing.  There are rooms that open directly onto the pool which would have been very very cool, though all of those were booked.

Circle Inn

If you are in town, and in need of a place to stay, I would select this hotel in a heart beat.  I really have nothing negative to say about the place.

Have a Great day!!

 

Buenos Aires

Drying Rice
Drying Rice

On Monday, Michelle and I traveled to mountains above Buenos Aires, to see what was described as beautiful waterfalls.  I have been wanting to shoot as many waterfalls pictures as possible so bang I am in.  We travelled on a bus to Mao Mao, and then grabbed a tricycle for the afternoon which Michelle was able to talk down to PhP700, which is bargin.  The driver we had was a really nice guy, so much so, I took his name and number and I plan on using him again very soon.

Buenos Aires is a beautiful resort area right on the river which is cascading down from the mountains. Though, other than stopping there for lunch, I never really had an opportunity to see as I was far more keen on traveling up the mountain.  The area was breath taking, very clean and everyone seemed very helpful and friendly.  Some of the road is rocky and gravel and other areas is paved, it depends on where you are planning on heading.  We turned back earlier than I had planned, but I had a mishap when I slide into the river with camera and all, which ended up being a pretty expensive day trip, but I was able to save some pictures.

Rice Fields in the Mountains
Rice Fields in the Mountains

I forget the name of the one village we travelled through, but I was very impressed with a bunch of signs that had been placed on the side of the road, asking locals as well as tourists to help preserve the planet, to recycle, don’t smoke, save nature, it was very refreshing to see.  I plan on returning again to the Buenos Aires area to explore more of the countryside, more waterfalls, and villages as well as nature.  If you are in the area and have a day, I would definitely recommend you going to the Buenos Aires area, it’s about 1 hour or so from Bacolod City.

 

 

The Lagoon

The Lagoon, Bacolod City
The Lagoon, Bacolod City

The Lagoon here in Bacolod City is easily one of the busiest places in the whole city.  I was there the other day at 7:30 am, and there were people jogging around the lagoon, kids playing on the swings, and some skateboarders.  The Lagoon, is a beautiful area, though I would not call it peaceful, it is still a must see.  I shot a couple of night/sunset images of the area, which is well worth the time.

I am working on a Hyper/timelapse video on the City and The Lagoon will definitely be a part of the video.  If you are there for the afternoon, you are well within walking distances of the 7-11, Chowking, Jollybee and the McDonalds, plus the locals with various food carts.  Hope to see you down there.