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Spending Recap: October 21-27, 2013

Monday 21st – Lyon, France
No Spend Day!

Tuesday 22nd – Lyon, France
No Spend Day!

Wednesday 23rd – Lyon France
No Spend Day!

Thursday 24th – Casablanca, Morocco
+ $177.71 freelance income
$11.27 (€8) lunch
$2.82 (€2) water
$5.03 (40 Dh) train from airport to Casablanca
$1 (8 Dh) water
$6.28 (50 Dh) taxi ride to hotel

Friday 25th – Marrakech, Morocco
$2.26 (18 Dh) taxi ride to train station
$11.29 (90 Dh) train to Marrakech
$0.89 (7 Dh) water
$3.14 (25 Dh) taxi ride to hotel
$5.03 (40 Dh) dinner at market
$2.89 (23 Dh) henna tattoo

Saturday 26th – Marrakech, Morocco
$0.25 (2 Dh) tip to snake charmer
$3.77 (30 Dh) breakfast
$1.76 (14 Dh) mint tea
$37.66 (300 Dh) painting
$0.50 (4 Dh) bus
$8.79 (70 Dh) dinner at market

Sunday 27th – Aremd, Morocco
$8.79 (70 Dh) mule ride
$1.88 (15 Dh) mint tea & snack

Freelance Income: + $177.71
Expenses- $112.16

TOTAL: + $65.55

Whew, what a crazy few weeks. Sorry for abandoning this blog while I was gone – internet was limited while traveling through Morocco, and I didn’t have much spare time either when I did find a connection. I’ll have a proper write-up about my trip sometime this week or early next week, but just wanted to say that it was a lot of fun. Morocco was everything I had always hoped it would be, and while I’m not sure I’d ever go back (there’s just so much more to see of the world), it was definitely an amazing time. I met some fantastic people, ate great food, and had experiences that I will never forget. :)

I’m glad that almost of my expenses in France were paid for, because I’m surprised how much Morocco broke my budget. It was partially to do with the group mentality of being on a tour, and also because I ended up buying a few things that I didn’t think I would. Including The Perfect Leather Jacket. :| But more on that later.

Hope everyone has been doing well! I missed writing here, and am glad to be home. :)

Trip Recap: Morocco

This trip was amazing. I had such a great time exploring Morocco. The country is so diverse, and we covered so much ground in such a short amount of time. It will take me a while to really reflect back on everything that I saw, but it’s definitely one of my most memorable trips ever. I think it was a combination of the changing landscape, the people I met… and of course the delicious food that I ate that made it so great.

Speaking of food, I was pleasantly surprised at how many pescetarian food choices there were. I had assumed I would have to eat meat, but that just wasn’t the case. And granted, some of the dishes I ate were prepared with chicken stock (our guide said it was unavoidable, especially in the small villages)… but I did my best. And I had some amazing vegetable tagines (with couscous), Berber omelettes, beautiful salads, and when we were at the coast… so.much.good.fish. Seriously. I would go back to Morocco just for the cheap, amazing seafood. :)

Many friends told me that they hated Morocco because of all the harassment they received. One woman even told me she traveled with bodyguards the entire time. Yes, it’s true. I did get harassed a lot. Not only was I traveling solo for the first two days of my trip, but being Asian, I got a lot of comments and stares. Some of then acceptable, but most of them offensive. It was fine though, and I just ignored it all and focused on taking in all that Morocco had to offer.

I’ll post some photos here, but I also shared a bunch of photos I took on the GMBMFB Facebook page, so make sure to check it out if you have the time! :)

Tour vs. Independent Travel

This was the first tour I’ve ever been on before. It was small (12 people), but I was still hesitant that being part of a group would hinder how I like to travel. I also wondered how I would get along with the other people on the tour – if I didn’t get along with anyone, would I feel incredibly alone and isolated?

I was pleasantly surprised with the kind of people I met on the tour, and ended up hanging out with 4 of them on a regular basis while traveling. They were all single females, and it was nice to hang out with other people who were quite similar to myself. I ended up spending most of my time with one other girl (hi, Lizzie!), and it was like hanging out with a younger Australian version of myself. It was really weird. She has the same hopes and dreams and personality that I had 6 years ago when I started this blog, so it was really interesting to travel and interact with someone like that. Hopefully we will see each other again in the future. :)

The positives of a tour are:

  • The ability to access remote places
  • The confidence to be where there are no other tourists
  • A guide who can speak the local language
  • Built-in friends
  • It is a hassle-free way to travel

The negatives of a tour are:

  • You don’t get to travel at your own pace
  • 95% of the time, you eat at restaurants picked out by the tour leader
  • Not enough free time to explore
  • Some of the tour you might not find interesting
  • It’s more expensive than going solo

While I’m glad that I went on this trip as part of Intrepid, I probably wouldn’t travel with a tour group again. I think I’m too independent, and too fussy to deal with a set schedule. I want to feel free, and I want to do what I want, when I want. :) I would just have to do a lot more research and trust my instincts a lot more. This tour was great because we had access to remote villages that I otherwise would have never gone to myself. Plus, spending the night in the Sahara was just amazing… but those are things I could do on my own (or with a partner or a friend) if I had taken the time to really, really do my research.

Purchases

I bought a beautiful leather jacket, ballet flats, a weekend bag, plus gobs of argan oil products (so cheap compared to prices here in Canada!) … 4 bowls, a silver necklace, and a silver ring… and some spices. That all adds up!

Budget Breakdown

Well, I had intended to spend $2,150 based on this budget I had come up with before my trip. What I ended up spending was $2,501 – meaning I was over budget by $351. Not bad! I mean, it’s not good. I hadn’t really intended on spending money on any souvenirs for myself… but with all of the beautiful things to buy, I couldn’t resist. :) And I didn’t exactly break the bank, so I’m okay with this.

I also made a few errors and last-minute changes. My intention was to stay for 2 nights in hostels, but ended up staying for 3 nights in hotels. I did this for the convenience of having my own room, wifi connection, and feeling a bit more comfortable. In retrospect, I feel like I should have stayed in hostels for 2 of the nights. I also decided to fly roundtrip from Lyon, which made my airfare more expensive… and for some reason I didn’t even factor in transportation while traveling. I guess I figured I’d walk everywhere… but I still needed to take the train to and from the airports, there were miscellaneous taxi expenses (granted, they were very cheap), and I took the bus. :|

Morocco 2013 Budget

Spending Recap: October 14-20, 2013

Monday 14th
+ $32.33 Great Canadian Rebates
$15.50 ferry

Tuesday 15th
+ $530.15 freelance income
+ $129.78 GST rebate
$37.50 dinner

Wednesday 16th
+ $28.96 freelance income
$9.56 lunch

Thursday 17th – Lyon, France
No Spend Day!

Friday 18th – Strasbourg, France
$11.34 (€8.05) personal care items

Saturday 19th – Lyon, France
No Spend Day!

Sunday 20th – Lyon, France
No Spend Day!

Freelance Income: + $559.11 ( + $162.11)
Expenses- $73.90

TOTAL: + $647.32

The great thing about traveling for work is that the majority of my expenses are covered. :) In fact, the only thing I’ve paid for so far this trip is some personal care items that I forgot to pack.

It was also my birthday this week (Tuesday), and was lucky enough to get tickets to see Jack Johnson in concert on Monday, then went out for dinner with a friend on Tuesday. Low-key birthday celebration – just how I like it. :)

As for bringing in extra income, I got paid out by a couple of advertisers, and randomly found a GST cheque I had misplaced earlier this summer, so that was a nice surprise!

This is my 5th day in France so far, and it’s been pretty fun. I’ve had enough free time to explore Lyon, as well as head out to Strasbourg for a work event (and a bit of exploration in a city I’m familiar with). It was a bit weird being back in Strasbourg, and it doesn’t seem like that long ago Nic and I were there on a trip from Stuttgart. I’ve got  3 more days here in Lyon, and am thinking about taking a day trip out to Dijon later this week.

How was your week of spending?

Spending Recap: October 7-13, 2013

Monday 7th
$18.01 dinner

Tuesday 8th
+ $200 ING Direct referrals
$12.58 groceries
$12.50 dinner

Wednesday 9th
No Spend Day!

Thursday 10th
$14 VIFF ticket

Friday 11th
$12.65 dinner

Saturday 12th – Victoria, BC
$40 parking
$15.50 ferry
$10 groceries
$18.04 dinner

Sunday 13th – Victoria, BC
No Spend Day!

Freelance Income: + $200
Expenses- $153.28

TOTAL: + $46.72

Well, I went out for dinner a lot this week. Monday I went for hot pot with a few girlfriends, Thursday I went to see a film at the VIFF, Friday I had dinner with a neighbour, and then over the weekend I was home in Victoria. Even though I did go out for food a lot, my weekly expenses still stayed relatively low – with the exception of the outrageous amount I had to pay for parking. :| Usually I would pay about $25 to park my car at a lot close to the ferry terminal, but because it was the Thanksgiving long weekend, they raised their rates. And by that time? I had no choice but to pay it – unless I wanted to turn around and drive home, then take transit back out.

The weekend at home was also relatively quiet in terms of spending. I hung out with family, went to a hockey game, and ran the half marathon. It was relaxing, and the weather was beautiful. I’m always reminded of how much I love Victoria whenever I’m there. Maybe that’s a sign I should go home more often. :)

How was your week of spending?

Finished my first half marathon!

Over the weekend I ran in the GoodLife Fitness Half Marathon in Victoria. A few people have been asking how it went, so I thought I should write a short recap of the race! If you’re not into running, well, then… just skip this post I guess. :)

Most of you know that I have been training for this run since April (aside from the month of July, which I had to take off for medical reasons). About 6 weeks ago, I injured my foot during field hockey practice. It was quite uncomfortable to run distances or play field hockey with so many quick side-to-side movements, so I had been taking it easy. And that made me preeeeeetty nervous for this race.

Publicly, my goal was to run the 21.1km in less than 2 hours, but secretly my goal (before injuring my foot) was around 1:52 or 1:53.

2013 Victoria Goodlife The morning of the race, I was out the door by 6:30am and in my corral by 7am for the 7:30am start time. It was cold, and I was even more nervous than before. My parents came to watch the beginning of the race. It was nice to have them there, since I was running solo – and my dad seemed really happy. It has been a long time since he’s been able to run (due to health issues), but he used to be a marathoner… and he’s one of the main reasons why I decided to start running this year. :)

I strategically positioned myself in the middle of the 2:00 and 2:15 corrals, thinking that 1) I would get more motivation by passing a ton of people during the first 20-30 minutes of the race, and 2) I wasn’t even sure how fast I could run. This was a dumb move. It was so crowded that it was really hard to pass people during the first few kilometers, and as a result my first few kilometres were a slog – running 25-30 seconds slower per km than my race pace.

Once I got going though, I clipped through the first hour and felt great. I was running at a pretty fast pace compared to my long training runs (the first 10km clocked in at 54:02), but I wasn’t tired so I kept going.

2013-10-13 09.48.27Then I died at the 17km mark. In my head, I was cursing myself for not training more (and not running faster during the times I did train). The next 2 km were really difficult, and I ran them close to 20 seconds slower than my previous pace. But once I hit the 19km mark, I knew I had to go for it. I would hate myself if I didn’t give it all that I had. So I pushed for the finish.

The next two kilometres were slightly slower than my earlier race pace, but still faster than the last difficult ones – and my final kilometre was my fastest of the race – proving that I either have a really good finishing kick, or I have no idea how to pace myself. :| Something to work on, for sure.

Overall, I was pleased with my final time of 1:54:31 (5’26” km pace), but I know I could have run faster. There were four very clear kilometres where I faltered (1, 2, 17, 18). Had I run those at race pace, I would have hit my secret goal time. This gives me a solid goal to work towards.

2013-10-13 09.56.17Running has always been a secondary activity for me; something to help me get better at field hockey, or something I randomly did on a treadmill at the gym. But now? I can’t believe that I actually enjoy it – the long runs, especially. It’s calming and competitive at the same time.

This race cost me $65, plus $31 in ferry costs and countless hours of my time over the past 4 months. But it was worth every penny, and I can’t wait for my next half marathon in 5 weeks. And as for next year’s GoodLife race? Bring on the marathon. :)