findhorn, scotland

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PLACE: Findhorn
LOCATION: Scotland
NOTORIOUS: Ecovillage & Retreat Centre
NEAREST AIRPORT: Inverness, Scotland  (INV)
COORDINATES: 57° 39′ 32.4″ N, 3° 36′ 39.6″ W
CURRENCY: Pound Sterling (£) / local currency

I first heard about Findhorn from a dear friend of mine who told me that a carbon neutral village actually already exists. My jaw almost dropped and hit the table we were eating at. It’s called the Findhorn Ecovillage and the project was formed in 1962. Now it houses people from over 40 countries and hosts educational classes through their foundation of the same name.  Yes, you can attend one.

Beyond valuing sustainability, the community is focused on inner listening, self-development, and intentional living. It’s a place to explore yourself and the wicked problem of co-creating with nature. With over 100 ecologically-benign buildings, the village is run off of four wind turbines alongside a comprehensive recycling system and car-sharing electric vehicle program. It even has its own local currency. I think I’ll end up doing one of their programs sometime very soon.

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There’s something absolutely wild about this National Park. The rock formations and sandstone cliffs stand majestically amongst the dusty desert landscape. Unlike many of the parks in this region, hikers walk on the ground looking up at the towering cliffs versus standing on the cliff rims looking down. I love that you can hike around all the nooks and crannies of this maze of a canyon without seeing anyone for miles.

Apparently there’s an amazing drive from the east to west gates on Highway 9 if you don’t feel like hiking. Some blogs say that the Angel’s Landing is one of the most exciting hikes in America (woah…) so I definitely feel like that’s a must do if you’re in the area. Also, the Zion Narrows looks like a beautiful photo opportunity to integrate the desert sandstone with a shallow water scape. Mmmm… I can smell the fresh air now.

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zion national park, utah

mu cang chai, vietnam

Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam

PLACE: Mu Cang Chai District, Yen Bai Province
LOCATION: North Vietnam
NOTORIOUS: Rice Terraces
NEAREST AIRPORT: take the train from NoiBai International Airport (NIA)
COORDINATES21° 49′ 58.8″ N, 104° 10′ 1.2″ E
CURRENCY: Vietnamese Dong

I’m a sucker for rice terraces. You may already know that considering this post. What’s interesting about this rural area is that you need to book in advance because the hotels and guest houses are often fully booked! This is popular local tourist destination in Vietnam due to its peaceful landscape and friendly inhabitants, the H’mong.

Apparently the mosquitoes are vicious so come prepared. Also, you need to try the Tu Le sticky rice and you need to swim in the hot Tu Le stream. The best time to visit and see all of the amazing colours is mid-September through to the end of October. If you want to see it when it’s lush and green, head on over from May to July. If you need a good resource for hotels and motorbike tours, this one seems legit. This trip seems like an absolute must for SE Asian backpackers or motor bikers!

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Mu Cang Chai, vietnam

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Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam

 

 

tepoztlán, mexico

Tepoztlan, Mexico

 

PLACE: Tepoztlán
LOCATION: Mexico
NOTORIOUS: Good Vibrations
NEAREST AIRPORT: you’ve got options
COORDINATES: 18° 59′ 7″ N, 99° 5′ 59″ W
CURRENCY: Mexican Peso

The town of Tepoztlán is famous for its “Good Vibrations.” It has many spas, retreat centres, temples, alternative medicine clinics and, apparently, it has some wicked ice cream famous for the exotic flavours. Legend has it that 1200 years ago Quetzalcoatl, a serpent god with feathers, was born here. Quetzalcoatl is a Mesoamerican deity of merchants, arts, crafts and knowledge that has taken many shapes and forms throughout Mayan history.

Just over 14,000 people live here full time. It feels like the perfect quiet village to soak in some beautiful Mayan/Mexican history. I feel so disconnected from Central American traditions that the idea of writing this post felt so exciting. My boyfriend went and this was his first destination suggestion for Collecting Wonder, ever. I think that means it’s gonna be a good one!

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Been? Share any insight below!

as catedrais, galicia, spain

cathedral beach, spain

PLACE: Playa de las Catedrales or Beach of the Cathedrals
LOCATION: Spain
NOTORIOUS: Rock formations on the beach
NEAREST AIRPORT: you’ve got options
COORDINATES: 43.5539° N, 7.1572° W
CURRENCY: Euro

I’d probably do this trip if I was going to go to Bilbao and I’d also probably visit this place I posted about at the same time. I try not to post about a country twice, but Spain is filled with little gems that I can’t deny. I mean, this beach was apparently awarded the best beach in Europe because of its stunning rock formations and quirky little twists and turns.

To have the full experience, make sure you plan your visit around attending at low tide. The beach is only about 300 meters so the best thing to bring is your camera. See you there in 2015?

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cinque terre, italy

cinque terre, italy

PLACE: Cinque Terre
LOCATION: Italy
NOTORIOUS: five oceanside towns in the Italian Riviera (“fiat-free Italy”)
NEAREST AIRPORT: MXP, Milano Malpensa airport (then take the train)
COORDINATES: 44.1000° N, 9.7500° E
CURRENCY: Euro

So I’ve now heard about this place more than twice which means I absolutely need to feature it. Five towns all in a row: Riomaggiore (the colourful and most substantial town), Manarola (tiny town with amazing pesto), Corniglia (small and not directly on the water), Monterosso (only resort town, has a decent night life, and a big beach) and Vernazza (the jewel of Cinque Terre — featured last in my pictures!).

Not only should we eat (olive oil!) and drink (dry white wine!)… it’s apparently essential that we check out the the trail from Vernazza to Monterosso. Apparently it’s a steep climb but taking the day to do it is well worth the effort. I’m headed to Italy this year – I hope it will be a pit stop!

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guilin (桂林市), china

guilin, china
PLACE: Guilin/Yangshuo
LOCATION: China
NOTORIOUS: fable-making mountains
NEAREST AIRPORT: KWL, Guilin Liangjiang International Airport
COORDINATES: 25.2667° N, 110.2833° E
CURRENCY: Chinese Yuan (¥)

You guys. This is Guilin. It is not a fairy tale – I’ve been. Had to share it with you all. This is a well-known Chinese destination – so much so that a scene from the Lijiang River is featured on the 20¥ note. Introduced to me by my friend Charlie Wu, I visited in 2011 with my dad’s friend from Shanghai. Together we toured Guilin and Yangshuo for four days and I literally couldn’t believe my eyes.

I knew it was famous but… I have never seen such a landscape again in my life. Highlights: Take a river tour on bamboo rafts and meet the local fisherman and their families. Visit the vast, beautiful Reed Flute caves – they are completely lit up and magical.

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goa, india

goa, india
PLACE: Palolem Beach, Goa
LOCATION: India
NOTORIOUS: beach-side escape
NEAREST AIRPORT: GOI, Darbolim Airport
COORDINATES15°00′36″N 74°01′24″E
CURRENCY: Indian Rupee

Goa. 63 miles of coastline along the Arabian Sea. India. You might think hippies, hedonism and all-night dance parties – I think yoga retreats, quaint beaches, lush jungle and concealed ancient temples. We’d both agree: magic.

The best way to get here is to fly into Mumbai and switch to a domestic airline. Apparently the hardest part of trip planning is deciding to go North or South. I say South, because it’s less developed (obviously). Either way, Palolem, Agonda and Patnem in the south, and Arambol, Mandrem and Anjuna in the north, are the hubs for yoga and Ayurveda retreats. This one in Patnem made The Guardian’s top 10 yoga retreats in the world. Although, this one on the Mandrem river in the North looks pretty epic as well.Can’t wait to visit.

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the school of life, london

The School of Life, London

PLACE: The School of Life
LOCATION: 70 Marchmont St  London WC1N 1AB, United Kingdom
NOTORIOUS: Lifestyle Workshop Boutique
NEAREST AIRPORT: London Heathrow Airport (LHR)
COORDINATES:  51.524584, -0.126046
CURRENCY: English Pound

With classes like “How to Face Death” and “How to Make Love Last” and “How to Be Creative”, I immediately found myself enthralled by the “good ideas for everyday life” offered at The School of Life in London, England. When I first discovered the school in a book I was reading, my first thought was fuck, how did I not think of this. After noticing they have franchises open in Melbourne and Brazil, I started making some phone calls. Maybe someone will run with it because this would be perfect for Vancouver.

Nothing excites me like real thinkers taking self-help seriously. The branding is also extremely interesting. I wonder who picked yellow. I can’t wait to get to London and sit in my first class.

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Have you taken a class? Tell us about it!!

beachy head, england

dover cliffs, england

PLACE: Beachy Head / White Cliffs of Dover
LOCATION:  East Sussex, England
NOTORIOUS: White Chalk Cliffs / Suicide Spot
NEAREST AIRPORT: LHR, London Heathrow Airport (just under 2 hour drive)
COORDINATES: 50.7374° N, 0.2477° E
CURRENCY: English Pound

I first found out about the White Cliffs of Dover after doing some research for the poem Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold in University (this beach is actually not even near the White Cliffs of Dover). I later found out that this stretch of white coastline has served as a value protective shield throughout history. It faces continental Europe at the narrowest part of the channel and stands tall against foreign invaders. Composed of chalk and streaks of black flint, the White Cliffs of Dover denote a specific area of this white coastline near the town of Dover.

Oddly enough, these pictures are actually of a place called “Beachy Head” which is the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain, a tad  south of the White Cliffs of Dover. The lighthouse’s red and white stripes reminds me so much of nautical nostalgia – find me a St. James stripe shirt immediately. The most depressing part about Beachy Head is that it is one of the most notorious suicide spots on earth. Is it weird that I’d like to see it anyway?

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dover cliffs, england

beachy head, white cliffs of dover, england

dover cliffs, englandWhat does this place remind you of? Anyone heard any crazy stories about it? Sounds pretty notorious.