Life’s a Beach [… in California]

I am back from a short, last-minute trip to southwestern United States (Arizona, Nevada and California). While I was vowed by Las Vegas and amazed by the Grand Canyon, my bronze tan is a constant reminder of how much time I spent on beaches in California. Having researched a list of top 10 beaches in California last year, it was a shame I could only hit up three, but that’s definitely better than none. Here are the photo highlights from gorgeous days spent basking in the California sun:

Santa Monica

The Santa Monica Pier is undoubtedly one of the most iconic ones in California. I originally just wanted to go there to snap a picture or two of the famous roller coaster and ferris wheel. However, I was seriously distracted by the Pacific, spending hours battling the waves and putting my new waterproof camera to use. I was immensely jealous of surfers who were riding the majestic waves and made a note to self: add “learn to surf” on bucket list.

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Sandboarding in Peru

When my friend suggested that we could go sandboarding in the Huacachina oasis of Peru, my first thoughts were: “Peru has sand dunes?”

Before my trip this April, I thought I could count the popular Peruvian highlights on one hand: 1Andes, 2Machu Picchu, 3-Amazon, 4-guinea pig and 5-Nazca lines. Since I was already going to experience the first three, not interested in the fourth (note for non-regular readers: I am vegetarian) and couldn’t afford the fifth, I decided to give the lesser-known Peruvian desert a chance. Not to mention, after last year’s embarrassment royale during volcano boarding in Nicaragua, I wanted to prove to myself that I had become better at standing and sitting on planks.

“Sandboarding sounds amazing!” I told my best friend who was living in Peru for a year (read about her Peruvian adventures here). While I was discovering the mystical land of the Incas and realizing that couldn’t be more inaccurate in thinking that Peru only had a handful of major attractions, my friend organized our sandboarding adventure in Huacachina. Continue reading

The bitter-sweet world of travel writing

When I realized that I could write well enough to score As in my grade 8 English assignments, and that The Amazing Race was the best show ever invented in the history of mankind, I decided that I was going to grow up to be a travel writer. Thanks to further pop culture influences by the 1996-TV show Travelers that I religiously watched every Sunday morning, I wanted to grow up to be like Michelle, Pearce and rest of the gang, globe-hopping with a camera following them as they experienced different cultures.

The first step towards achieving that lifelong goal was scoring my internship at Verge: Travel with Purpose magazine. I helped research several destination guides while sitting in my cozy bed, but day-dreaming of the gorgeous landscapes of Patagonia and Amazon. I did travel on my own during the two years of my association with the magazine but no matter how much I kept my eyes and ears open during my trips, none of the stories I brought back were good enough to meet the magazine’s mandate. Talking to my editor, I realized that you couldn’t land in a place and expect to find a story unfolding; I had to find a story, research it, set up everything, and then plan my trip according to the story requirements and not my desire to travel the place. But, then that’s work… not travel, right?

When I was at Daily Planet, Ziya Tong, former host of Island Escapes, told me how you stop enjoying travel when it’s considered work. I expressed my great interest in becoming a travel show host like herself, after which she presented me the realities of how that gig worked out for her: she flew for hours and once she got to the destination, she had to prep for the camera, show up at location and start shooting right away. What I took from that conversation was that she stopped enjoying travelling to these gorgeous places because she never got to experience the beaches, the culture and the scenery; she was always working to put the show on air for others to see these places. Continue reading