Tag Archives: featured

Liverpool F.C. Supporters Sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at Anfield

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It’s been a whirlwind 6 weeks living in the United Kindom.

To quickly summarize, I’ve toured London, Edinburgh, Dundee, Liverpool, Manchester, and will be sitting on a train to Chester for a day trip as this post is being published. I’ve also been on a quick weekend trip to Copenhagen, Demark (Thank you Ryanair) and have plans to fly over to Dublin, Ireland in the near future, as well as tavel through mainland Europe towards the end of May.

Of course, my primary purpose for being in the U.K. is for university, meaning that writing posts on here falls to the back burner. I’ve been compiling some of my trips into writing, but in the meantime I wanted to share a quick video of one of the highlights of my time here thus far.

On February 10th, I was lucky enough to grab a ticket to the Liverpool F.C. vs. Leicester City match at Anfield. It’s been a huge bucket-list item of mine to watch a match at Anfield, for reasons on and off the pitch. Liverpool won the match 2-0, but the most memorable moment of the night was when the stadium erupted into life prior to kickoff to sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

I’ve included the video I took below. It was such an incredible atmosphere, and I can’t wait to experience it again. Until then, keep checking back here for more posts coming in the near future.


Thanks for reading! If you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming material! If you’re looking to connect, make sure to follow me on YouTube, InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

*This blog was originally posted on seekingsaudades.com*

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27-Hour Travel Day (Arriving in the United Kingdom)

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Travel days tend to turn into one giant blur, filled with excitment, confusion, and exhaustion; my journey from Toronto to London was no exception.

It all started with a 10:30 a.m. wake up call to do the last of the laundry and packing, as well as to get all of the necessary documents and affairs in order needed when leaving for a 5-month trip abroad. A ride to the airport, a starbucks coffee, and a few emotional goodbyes later and I found myself sitting in front of gate E70 at Pearson International Airport waiting to board my Air Canada Boeing 787-9 to London Heathrow at 8:30 p.m. Of course, the one time I decided to be a responsible adult and not buy overpriced snacks for the plane, there was a problem with the aircraft’s auxillary power unit meaning the pilots were unable to get the engines started. As a result of this misfortune, I sat in snackless agony for almost 2 hours while mechanics assessed the situation and fixed the problem.

Air Canada Boeing 787-9
Sitting at the gate, Pearson International Airport
Sunsrise over the Atlantic Ocean

Fortunately, I had an entire row to myself which allowed me to sprall out and get comfy. While I never managed to get some sleep, this was the first time I’d been able to lie flat on an airplane, and lord was it glorious. After just over 6 hours in the air, the flight touched down in England at 10 a.m. local time. While the delay was a tad frustrating, in the end it worked out for the better as we arrived inbetween peak arrival times, meaning customs and immigration took a mere 10 minutes from deplaning to luggage collection.

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This meant plenty of time to activate my sim card, buy train tickets into the city centre, and even get a Covid test at the airport. (I tested negative) The downside? I wasn’t due to check into my Airbnb until 2 p.m. so I had a lot of time to kill. I decided to take the short walk from London Paddington Station to Hyde Park, and spent the late morning and early afternoon people watching and hanging out in nature.

London Paddington Station
London Paddington Station
Streets of London
Hyde Park
Hyde Park

Hours later, after checking in and taking a much needed hot shower and a quick rest I made the 45 minute walk to Buckingham Palace. I’ve been twice before, and both times were in peak season with large crowds of people so it was an interesting contrast seeing this major tourist destination relatively free of crowds.

Aside from a quick stop for groceries and dinner, the trek back consisted of my body screaming in full revolt after just over 21 km of walking on little to no sleep in the past 27 hours. I’m looking forward to getting some rest, but excited for the next few days spent in London before journeying elsewhere in the week before I begin my studies in Liverpool later this month.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
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Queen Victoria Memorial
Queen Victoria Memorial
Kensington Gardens
Kensington Gardens
Wellington Arch
Wellington Arch

Thanks for reading! If you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming material! If you’re looking to connect, make sure to follow me on YouTube, InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

*This blog was originally posted on seekingsaudades.com*

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What to Expect in 2022 (University Exchange Update)

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Last year, I announced that I was going on a student exchange to Melbourne, Australia for the 2022 winter term. Unfortunately, this is no longer happening. Local travel restrictions, varying vaccination rollouts, and most importantly the increasing case counts due to the rise of the Omicron variant have squashed any hopes of studying in Australia.

While I’m disappointed, it’s not all bad news because a shift in travel plans and applications means that at the end of January, I will instead be moving to the United Kingdom to study at the University of Liverpool for 5 months! While the plans are concrete now, this wasn’t always a guarrantee. After I was informed that my university was cancelling my exchange to Australia, I was offered to apply to a new host school. After some deliberation, I decided that my best chance to study abroad would be in the U.K. Of course, this was before the Omicron variant was discovered which threw everything into jeopardy.

Gatwick International Airport (ca. 2019)

In part due to my own university’s pandemic policy and the Government of Canada’s official travel reccomendations, my exchange with the University of Liverpool has been cancelled and reinstated almost 3 times. Thankfully, after some deliberation I was given the opportunity to continue with my semester abroad as long as I gave the powers at be my informed consent and proved that my health insurance would cover any possible complications due to Covid-19.

And so, after a couple months of planning I’ve found myself in the final few weeks before setting off for England. Flights are booked, accomodation is lined up, courses are chosen, and new travel accessories have been purchased. (Several of which I will be making a review of)

While the main focus of this adventure will be on completing courses required to obtain my degree, I’m obviously going to be doing as much travelling and cultural immersion as possible. As the pandemic still leaves a cloud of uncertainty, the amount I will be able to do remains to be seen but I’m hopeful I’ll be able to make the most of this experience. (and write about it!) If you have any reccomendation for things to do, or places to see in the U.K. or the rest of Europe for that matter, please leave a comment below and let me know!

Durham, England (ca. 2019)
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Now, I realize that many people who have had the chance to study abroad tend to pick non-english speaking countries or distant exotic locations. I considered this, but chose England for a few reasons. First, the United Kingdom is one of my favourite countries. I’ve been twice before: once in 2006, which to be fair I don’t remember too well, and then again in 2019 when my family did a whirlwind tour of the country from the northern tip of England diagonally across the midlands before finishing in London. The pubs, the architecture, the football, and more all strike a chord with me.

Secondly, in order to obtain my university degree my program presents the opportunity to partake in a 8-month work term in a developing nation as part of my final year. This means I’ll have the opportunity to immerse myself in a more foreign culutre and lanuage down the road. Studying in England allows me to live abroad and experience a different country, but in a more or less familiar setting to Canada. This exchange semsester will serve as a way to ease into life away from home in preparation for what’s to come.

Finally, I chose the United Kingdom because of the uncertainty of the pandemic. Aside from being somewhere that’s still accepting foreign students, the U.K. has a strong healthcare system, speaks the same language, and the British and Canadian governments have a close relationship. All of this is in place in the event that I get sick. (Fun fact, it’s written in every Canadian passport to visit a British embassy/consulate in the event you need help somewhere a Canadian embassy isn’t available) While health considerations aren’t the driving reason for studying in England, it’s nice to have that peace of mind.

Alnwick Castle, England (ca. 2019)

I’m both incredibly excited and very anxious to get started, and happy that after all the uncertainty my exchange term is actually happening. I’ll be writing about my time in the Liverpool as regularly as I can so keep checking in to follow along.

In terms of the second half of 2022, my plans remain wide open. I’d like to return to work in Algonquin Park for the third straight year, and I’ve started to throw around the idea of working in western Canada this summer, but some things need to fall in place before either of those happen. Regardless, I’m excited to get back out there and continue exploring the wilderness, go camping and do lots more hiking. My goals for Seeking Saudades include posting here at least once a week and creating new content for my YouTube channel. I’m excited for 2022 and I hope you’ll follow along with me!


Thanks for reading! If you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming material! If you’re looking to connect, make sure to follow me on YouTube, InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

*This blog was originally posted on seekingsaudades.com*

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2021: Year In Review

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Despite constantly evolving regional and international pandemic restrictions, 2021 was a satisfying year for both my travels and for Seeking Saudades. To mark the start of a new year, I put together a brief overview of 2021: what I did, where I went, my top posts, and the overall statistics of the website and blog. You’ll also find a list of my favourite YouTube channels and creators of the year, and links to their respective pages. As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by.


| Travel Recap

2021 was marked by driving, and a lot of it. I worked in Algonquin Provincial Park again this summer, and spent a large amount of time commuting back and forth, as well as doing a little exploring on the side. I also went on a western Canadian road-trip which involved an incredible amount of time and distance behind the wheel. Here’s to more flying, and less driving in 2022!

1. Western Canada Road-Trip

In Septemeber, my friend Sam and I went on a 9-day road trip through 5 provinces to western Canada. There’s a lot to unpack on this journey, and as such I’ve procrastinated actually writing about it. However to summarize, it was a long, yet rewarding journey full of stunning landscapes, good company, and expensive auto-repair bills. Stay tuned for a full write-up in the future, but for now here’s some highlights of the journey:

Hwy 17, Lake Superior, ON
Kakabeka Falls, ON
Manitoba Welcome Sign
The Badlands, Alberta
Banff National Park
Lake Louise, Banff National Park
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2. Algonquin Provincial Park

2021 was my second year working in Algonquin park which meant plenty of time for hiking, camping, seeing wildlife, and photography. I managed to walk every trail in the park except 1 this summer, which means lots of trail guides incoming. Algonquin Park has become a special place to me, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to explore so much of it again this year, and yet I’ve only scratched the surface. Among the many highlights were the 52 moose I encountered. Further into this post you’ll find a YouTube video of one of these encounters.

Centennial Ridges Trail
Lake of Two Rivers
Booth’s Rock Trail
Track and Tower Trail
3. Niagara Falls

I listed Niagara Falls as one of my must see travel destinations in 2021 and I stayed true to my own advise, visiting twice over the course of the year. One of the highlights this time around was the Journey Behind the Falls experience, where I was able to walk the tunnels behind the Canadian Horseshoe falls, and stand within a stones throw of the water crashing down below. I’ve still yet to explore the American side of Niagara Falls, so maybe next year I’ll change things up a little and finally cross over.

Canadian Horsehoe Falls
The Niagara River
Journey Behind the Falls Tour
Below Niagara Falls
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4. BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario
Outside BMO Field

Home of Major League Soccer’s Toronto F.C. and the unofficial national stadium for Canada’s men’s national soccer team, BMO Field was the lifegiving force for me this year. Pandemic restrictions in Ontario were finally eased in July, meaning for the first time in almost 2 years we were all able to gather to watch live sports again. The first Toronto F.C. game back was special and although the team was absolutely awful this year I was happy to have the chance to finally voice my displeasure in person again.

Canada’s national soccer team was also in the midst of attempting to qualify for our first World Cup since 1986, and I was lucky enough to attend their qualifying match against Panama. Behind a near-capacity crowd, Canada rallied to a 4-1 win, strengthing our chance at finally making back to a World Cup. The highlight of the night was an Alphonso Davies wondergoal, which I’ve included a clip of below. The roar of the crowd and the energy that night was extremely theraputic and a semblance of normalcy finally begining to return.

Canadian Supporters
Toronto FC Pregame
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| Overall Website Statistics

As I will dicuss later, search engine optimization was definitely my friend this year. A large percentage of the views came from just a select few posts and contributed to a more than tripling of total views, almost 5x the unique visitors and a doubling of followers as compared to 2020. While I’m very grateful and happy for these numbers, I know that with more commitment to creating content and regular posting, 2022 can be even more successful.


Where You’re Reading:

In 2021, Seeking Saudades was viewed in 76 countries and territories from around the world. This just blows my mind, and it’s amazing to see the kind of reach the content on here has had over the last year. Here is a map and list of where you’re all from, and a breakdown of each location’s total views.

1. Breakdown by Map
Shaded countries represent where Seeking Saudades was viewed
2. Breakdown by List
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Most Viewed Post:
The Kayak’s Maiden Voyage (Evoke Algonquin Kayak Review)

This post was by far the most viewed of the year, gaining a lot of attention from being highly ranked in Google search results. It’s a concise kayak review, but it also includes some pictures from a short paddle around the lake on a spring day.

Most Liked Post:
What’s the Luckiest You’ve Ever Been While Travelling?

In this post I recall the incredibly lucky fortune my brother and I had on a trip to Japan in September of 2019 which involved narrowly missing an earthquake, and dodging 2 typhoons.

Personal Favourite Post:
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower – Kitchener, Ontario

This post was one of the first of 2021, and took the most amount of time and effort to write. In it, I explore the Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower in Kitchener, Ontario and discuss the landmark’s significance and history. This article is a good example of the type of writing I’d like to do more of on this blog, so check it out and let me know what you think!


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| YouTube Statistics

I only posted 3 videos to YouTube this year, and while they’re obviously not going to be up for any Streamy Awards, I was happy to get the ball rolling on setting things up. Video creation is definitely an avenue I’d like to pursue so I have big hopes for my YouTube channel in the future. Here’s 2 of the videos I posted this year:

Stunning Views from Moraine Lake, Banff National Park
Algonquin Park Moose Encounter
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| Favourite Travel Channels

1. Kara and Nate

Kara and Nate are from Tennessee, USA, but have spent very little time in their home state over the course of the last 6 years as they’ve been travelling almost non-stop to 100 countries around the world. What started off as a 1 year break from regular life, quickly turned into one of the most successful travel channels on YouTube. I basically spent the last year binge-watching over 4 years of their travel videos and highly recommend checking them out if you haven’t already. Here’s their 100th country documentary which outlines all of their travels to 100 countries from 2016-2020:

2. Gabriel Traveler

I’ve been watching Gabriel’s videos for a while now, and for good reason: his videos are authentic, raw and generally show the sides of travel that other, more highly-produced YouTubers like to gloss over. Gabriel has been travelling the world since the 90s but has been vlogging his experiences since 2009. As mentioned, his videos aren’t very flashy; it’s just a man and his action-camera. However, I feel that this makes his content very relateable and gives you the feeling of being on the journey with him, rather than watching a highlight reel of someone’s vacation. I especially enjoy his Himalayan trekking videos:

3. Eamon and Bec

While Eamon and Bec are generally known as vanlife YouTubers, I discovered their channel through their Canadian cabin renovation series which they began during the height of the pandemic. Eamon and Bec are incredibly down to earth and positive people, and in my opinion that directly translates to what makes their content so enjoyable. Recently, they’ve gotten back into international travel and have been touring around Morroco in a converted sprinter van. Here’s their final cabin renovation tour:

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| Looking to 2022

While there was growth, I fell short of my own goals and expectations in 2021. This year, I am recommiting and as such there are big plans in place that I intend to capitalize on. Stay tuned for next week’s post which will outline my travel plans, overall goals for Seeking Saudades and what you can expect to see from me in 2022.

I appreciate all those who have taken the time to read and watch, and thank all of you for the support in 2021. Happy new year, and cheers to a successful, happy, and healthy 2022!


Thank you for reading, and if you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming content! And don’t forget to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

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Thailand Travel Journal – Day 1: In Transit

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*This post was originally published on November 14th, 2020, and is being re-published today as the next installments in this series will be coming shortly. I wanted to refresh the memory of those who have already read it, and give some context to everyone else who may be new to Seeking Saudades since it’s original posting date. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!*


In February of 2020, I went on a family vacation to Thailand. As most of you know, this was shortly prior to the global shutdown to limit the spread of COVID-19. Although the virus was on our minds, we were luckily able to experience the beauty of Thailand relatively without issue. Aside from the early implementation of health measures in airports, and a few more people wearing masks out in public, it was pretty much life as usual.

Still in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, and with little signs of global travel returning to normal, I thought it would be a good idea to take a trip down memory lane and recount my 7 days of travel; my first to Thailand, and Southeast Asia.

Day 1: In Transit Toronto, Ontario (YYZ) to Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) via Seoul, South Korea (ICN)

I remember this being a very long travel day. The entire trip would consist of 2 different flights: one 14 hour 20 minute leg from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to Seoul’s Incheon International Airport, and one 6 hour leg from Seoul to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. There was one 3 hour layover in-between flights and by the end of the journey a total of 20 hours would be spent in the air.

I arrived at Pearson 3 hours early for my 1:35 p.m. flight. It was my first solo flight, and the longest one of my life at that. This trip was a family vacation that took place during my reading week at University, and unfortunately I had an exam the day our flight was supposed to leave. I couldn’t get my exam moved so we had to push my flight back by a day. My parents decided that they would continue on and make sure our Airbnb didn’t go to waste, and as such I was left to traverse halfway around the world on my lonesome.

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While I had done quite a fair bit of travelling growing up, I always had someone else to rely on to make sure that the correct documents were in order, we got where to we needed to be on time, and that I didn’t forget to pack anything.

So when my brother’s car pulled away from the curb and left me at the departures gate, I had a moment of minor panic. It was brief, but it all started to feel very real to me, and the task of the long day ahead of me really set in.

I checked in for my flight, fumbled with the baggage drop off, and went through security fairly quickly. At this point in the pandemic nothing had really changed in terms of air travel, at least in Canada, so all I really noticed were a few more staff members wearing masks, and a couple more complementary bottles of hand sanitizer than usual. I headed to my gate, sat down, and began the process of killing time. I charged my electronics, watched some TV, bought some snacks, ate lunch, and watched the planes out the window take off and land.

Just before boarding, I changed into my sweatpants and hoodie, took a sleeping pill (which never came even remotely close to working) and messaged my family group chat that I was boarding the plane. This would be the last contact I would have with the outside world until landing in South Korea.

Killing time before my flight at Toronto’s Pearson International

Once on the aircraft, an Air Canada Boeing 787-9, I made my way to my seat. I had booked an exit row about halfway down the cabin, and to my delight the middle seat was empty. That feeling when the doors close, and nobody is sitting next to you is a magical feeling. The gentleman sitting in the far left seat of the row put the tray table down beside us and we used the middle seat as an extra storage area and buffer for the duration of the flight. It was wonderful. Two armrests AND the window? Boy what a day.

We taxied onto the runway and took off right on time. Within a matter of minutes we were flying over the Muskoka region in central Ontario, and were treated to a view of frozen lakes and snow covered forests.

Lakes and forests locked in winter, somewhere over central Ontario
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In no time, we reached cruising altitude and the cabin crew were hastily handing out the in-flight service. I’ve yet to have a delicious meal on an airplane, so all I’ll say is that the ice cream desert was an effective way to clear the palate.

The lights dimmed, the window shades darkened, and I managed to fall asleep for the rest of the flight… Well, at least that’s what I wish I could say. I have quite the love-hate relationship with airplanes; I marvel at their engineering, yet I’m constantly terrified that something is going to go very wrong at any moment. This, in combination with the upright seating position and the noise of the jet engines mean that it’s nearly impossible for me to sleep on a plane.

While if given the choice I prefer to fly long-haul, it doesn’t mean that the experience is necessarily enjoyable for me.

Snow capped mountain ranges, Siberia / Northern China

So how did I spent the next 14 hours you ask?

Several movies, a couple of TV shows, and an unforgivable amount of virtual Poker. Being in the exit row helped though. I was able to stretch my legs all the way out, get up and move around every couple hours, and use the bathroom whenever I wanted. Naturally though, seeing as I woke up around 8 a.m. to make it to the airport on time, and then proceeded to spend 14 hours without sleep on the plane all while jumping through several time zones, I was absolutely mentally, physically, and emotionally destroyed on arrival. I actually felt pretty refreshed when we landed in Seoul, but by the time I boarded my next flight I was disoriented, confused, and ready to pass out.

Before the second leg could begin however, I had a layover to attend to.

A view fresh off the plane of the tarmac at Seoul Incheon International Airport
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Getting off the plane in South Korea came with a wakeup call: COVID-19 was serious, and the Koreans weren’t going to take any chances.

There were temperature sensors, questionnaires, and most jarring of all, the airport staff dressed in head to toe hazmat gear. They would check passports, and funnel arriving Chinese passport holders and travellers into their own respective line with another set of barriers to pass. Up to this point, I hadn’t been wearing a mask, and neither was most of my flight. But the second we saw all this commotion, most of us reached into our carry-ons and pulled out a mask to wear.

It felt like something out of a dystopian novel and quite frankly was kind of scary. Although we know a lot more about this virus now: who it affects, how deadly it is, how transmittable it may be, in February of 2020 it was a mystery still being unraveled in real time. It certainly changed my mindset about the possibility of this going global, however this thinking would be relatively short lived as my time in Thailand would come to give me a false sense of security.

But more on that later.

The moving sidewalks became very helpful in my sleepy daze

It was 4:30 pm when I cleared health inspection and security and besides a trip to the bathroom, my priority was to head to my gate to check up on social media and touch base with my parents. They had been in Bangkok now for almost a full day and were sending pictures of them out and about exploring the city. I was excited to join them, but dreaded the 6 hour flight that would be needed to get me there.

Waiting to board my next flight to Bangkok

It was after this point that most of my time at Seoul Incheon became a haze. I walked around for a little while to pass the time, but spent most of the layover sitting at the gate dozing in and out of sleep hoping I wouldn’t miss the flight. When it was finally time to board, it turned out that there was some sort of problem with my luggage and so I was pulled aside.

Between the language barrier and sleep deprivation I had no idea what was going on, and lucky for me they sorted it out without really needing my help. I figure I must have forgotten to put one of the baggage tracking stickers on my luggage, but I’ll never know.

The flight from Seoul to Bangkok was fairly empty, enough so that the two men sitting beside me got bumped up to first class and I had the row to myself. Finally able to stretch out into a somewhat comfortable position, and at the end of my brain function, I passed out just before take off.

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One of my favourite parts about travelling are those times when you’re fully immersed, and consciously take a moment realize where you are and what you’re doing. I was treated to one of those moments when I awoke from my sleep on the flight from Korea to Thailand.

I looked out my window and saw a point of land sticking out into the darkness of the South China Sea. There were at least a hundred lights dotting the inky blackness below, what could only be fishing boats trawling the open waters. I glanced back towards the plane’s infotainment screen in front of me and realized that I was flying over the city of Da Nang, Vietnam.

To see Vietnam from the air for myself was a huge moment.

I created Seeking Saudades to document my journeys, tell a few stories, and to inspire others to seek out and act on their own feelings of Saudades — the things you long for and yearn to do in your life.

For me, that’s travel.

In the moment that I realized I was flying over Vietnam, and consciously immersed myself in that reality, I felt like I had actually found my Saudades.

Da Nang, Vietnam from the window of my flight

The rest of the flight was relatively routine.

The cabin crew was kind enough to leave me some snacks and water while I slept, and later gave me Thai immigration forms to fill out. This was also a point of stress for me as I had always just copied what my parents had written down, and the last thing I wanted to do was get this far and run into trouble at the immigration booth.

It wasn’t long before we landed in Bangkok, and with a renewed energy I was excited to get off the plane. Unlike South Korea, there was an absence of COVID-19 checkpoints, and health inspection were based primarily on the honour system. Thailand was less serious about the virus at this point, and that would continue to be a theme throughout my time in the country. In hindsight, they probably should have been more vigilant, but I’m kind of glad they weren’t because it would turn out to be the last time life would be “normal” for the foreseeable future, as we would all come to discover

The city lights of Bangkok on approach to BKK
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Walking towards immigration, Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok Thailand

It was about 1 o’clock a.m. when I got through Thai immigration and met up with the driver that my parents had set up for me.

I was so excited to finally be in Thailand that I forgot to properly read the laminated sign that he was holding up. My brain was distracted, on autopilot, and apparently decided that this guy’s sign looked close enough to my last name so it had to be my driver. He grabbed my luggage and we headed to the parking garage, and it wasn’t until we were on the highway that I had the sudden realization that I screwed up and could be in for trouble. By this point it was too late to do anything about it as the driver didn’t speak a word of English, and the only Thai I could remember was “thank you”.

Other than thinking about how to explain to my parents that I got kidnapped within 5 minutes of being in the country, I couldn’t help but notice the blast of heat hitting my face when I stepped outside the airport for the first time.

It was -13 degrees Celsius (9 F) in Toronto when I left, and it was 27 degrees Celsius (80 F) in Bangkok when I arrived for a total temperature swing of 40 degrees. Talk about a shock to the body.

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Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram to see pictures from my travels!

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After about an hours journey, I was driven into the basement parking garage of a building and dropped off next to an elevator. I grabbed my stuff, said thank you to the driver and watched as he vanished into the night.

There would be no kidnappings tonight.

I went up the elevator, found the right apartment, and was greeted by my parents after an incredibly long day of travel. We exchanged stories, I made some food (Ham & Cheese), toured the apartment, and went up to the roof for my first look at the Bangkok skyline.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit I didn’t really do that much research on Bangkok before I arrived, and so I was surprised by the sheer amount of skyscrapers I saw. The city smelled clean, the noise wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be, and it was far more developed than I originally gave it credit for. The trip was off to a great start.

I was antsy to get out and explore what this metropolis had to offer, but for now , it was time to get some well needed sleep in a proper bed.

Thanks to my exam the day prior, I only had one full day in Bangkok and I wanted to ensure I would be fully rested in order to make the most out of my limited time. And so, I had a quick shower before getting under the covers, and fell asleep almost instantly to the rumbling sound of the overhead air conditioner.

The night time view that greeted me on arrival out the window of our Airbnb

In the next edition of this series, Thailand Travel Journal – Day 2: Bangkok, I explore the city of Bangkok. This day includes a guided tour, a river cruise, multiple Buddhist shrines and temples, and the world famous backpacker hub, Khaosan Road.


Thank you so much for reading, and if you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming material! And don’t forget to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

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The Kayak’s Maiden Voyage (Evoke Algonquin Kayak Review)

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Earlier this year, my parents and I split the cost of a new kayak, something we’ve been thinking of purchasing for a few years now. We bought it from our local Canadian Tire for around CAD $999. After accessorizing paddles, roof mounts, and other various items the final total was bumped up towards CAD $1200. We decided on the Evoke Algonquin 12-ft. *Edit: Be sure to read to the end for a 6-month update*

We’ve had a canoe up at the lake for years, but it’s extremely heavy, hard to maneuver, and a pain to take out for longer trips. After spending a significant amount of time in Algonquin Provincial Park last year, I aspired to find more time to spend outdoors, and so I felt it was finally time to bite the bullet and look for a boat that could both be used at the cottage for a good workout, and something that could potentially be taken out into the backcountry on weekend portage camping trips. Seeing as most new lightweight canoes will set you back upwards of CAD $5000, the next best option for us was to look for a kayak which could check off the same wish list as a canoe, but at a more reasonable price, resulting in the purchase of the Evoke Algonquin 12-ft.

Fast forward to this past weekend, and the water was finally warm enough (46 ℉) to feel confident that I could attempt to take it out for a spin without risking death if I fell overboard. I had been in a kayak once before at my buddy Alex’s cottage, and I came pretty close to going for an unwanted swim several times, so I was skeptical about my chances of staying dry this time around.

evoke 12 ft kayak

In the end, the new kayak proved to be extremely roomy, stable, and tracked in the water like a dream. It took some thinking, but I was also able to get in and out of the kayak pretty easy. It’s still a bit of a heavier boat at 56 pounds, but I didn’t really feel it during the paddle, and it was easy enough to carry. Some of the features include an adjustable seat and foot rests, 2 storage compartments, 2 rod holders, and a removable front dash. I’m yet to try and stash any overnight gear in it yet, but it looks like there’s plenty of room for some potential camping trips later this summer. (Update: it was a little tight and took some thinking, but I was able to fit several days worth of gear into the boat with limited effect on comfort and manuverability)

evoke 12 ft kayak

The total length of the maiden voyage ended up being around 4 km, and took about an hour, the most of which was used up getting a feel for paddling, fiddling with things, and stopping to take some pictures. After about a week straight of rain, it turned out to be a calm, warm, and overall really nice day for a trip out on to the lake.

evoke 12 ft kayak
evoke 12 ft kayak
evoke 12 ft kayak

Despite being 10 days into May, the tree’s have yet to show their leaves. I didn’t take a picture of it, but there was actually a large pile of snow and ice still holding on for dear life a little ways back into the forest. I figure there’s still another week or so until the leaves start to appear, and while it looks dreary at the moment, it means that the blackflies and mosquitos are still yet to arrive, so it’s not all bad.

evoke 12 ft kayak

Overall, the kayak’s maiden voyage turned out to be a great success, and I’ve got big plans for it in the coming months, most of which involve Algonquin Park in some respect. However, before I do that I figure the kayak should have a name, because you know, all proper boats do.

So if you’ve got a suggestion for a name, or have any questions about the kayak itself, let me know in the comments below!


*6 Month Update*:

In my opinions, the Algonquin Evoke 12-ft kayak has turned out to be a very good purchase, and I recommend it if your in the market for a kayak. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment! Here’s a quick summary of the boat’s pros and cons thus far:

Pros:

  • I still find it easy to carry and transport
  • It withstood an entire summer of admittedly pretty rough use with only a few scratches
  • The color held up flawlessly despite being in the sun 24/7
  • It tracks very well in the water and feels incredibly stable, even under light chop
  • Enough storage for overnight camping trips
  • The centre-console is fantastic
  • The hull rarely warped, but quickly bounced back when it did
  • The seat is fairly comfortable and never became an issue while paddling

Cons:

  • The adhesive/glue on the knee padding started to peel on very hot days, but I was able to get it to restick
  • The seat-back adjustment is very weak and will fold under pressure if fully extended. You’re best to either keep it at the lowest position or brace it with something to remedy this.

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*This blog was originally posted on seekingsaudades.com*

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A Detour to the Scottish Border

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Scotland-England Border
The view across the A1 towards the Scottish border marker

In May of 2019, I was in the middle of a whirlwind week-long tour of England, crammed in the back of a light blue Hyundai hatchback with my family. We had just picked up our car rental in the town of Durham, England, before beginning the journey north. Along the way, we would stop in Newcastle to watch a Liverpool F.C. vs. Newcastle United F.C. football match at a local pub, and then in Alnwick to rest for the night and to visit the spectacular Alnwick Castle.

Newcastle United, St. James' Park
St. James’ Park, home of Newcastle United F.C.
Alnwick Castle, England
Alnwick Castle, England

Our final destination on the journey north was to be Bamburgh Castle; one that was entirely inspired by our time watching the BBC/Netflix show, The Last Kingdom. Bamburgh Castle is spectacular, and was well worth the visit. After spending a few hours exploring, it was time to get back on the road.

While this should have been the time to turn around and begin driving south to the city of York, I had a different itinerary in mind, one that I had been pushing for from the moment we booked our flights: Scotland.

Bamburgh Castle, England
Bamburgh Castle, England
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If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that once I get my mind set on something, I’m hard pressed to let it go. And so when I saw that the Scottish-English border was a mere 37 kilometres (23 mi) away from Bamburgh Castle, I just had to try and and get there. When would I ever be back to this part of England? Would we ever get the chance to drive across the Scottish border again? I think some things should never be left to chance.

It took some convincing, but eventually my family agreed to take the 1-hour detour towards Scotland. I’m glad we did too, because the drive along the North Sea coastline made for some stunning views.

Scotland-England Border
The North Sea
Scotland-England Border
Farmland straddling the border

On arrival at the border, there was a short spillway off of the highway, and some limited parking available. We got out, and headed towards the stone marker and flag which denoted the exact boundary line between the two countries. Of course, we had to take pictures to prove our Scottish adventure.

Scotland-England Border
The spillway leading to the border
Scotland-England Border
The “Welcome to Scotland” sign
Scotland-England Border
Scottish stone border marker and flag posts
Scotland-England Border
One last look before turning around to head back to England

While we were only there for a grand total of 5 minutes, I’m glad we took the time to make this stop. I knew that if we hadn’t made this trip, I would have regretted it. I mean, technically it’s one more country to add to the list.

When we had seen everything that was to be seen, we got back on to the highway, and after a quick stop on the English side of the border, we headed back down the A1 towards the medieval city of York, where we would be staying for the next 3 days.


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Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower – Kitchener, Ontario

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The Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower is an 18.9 m (62 ft.) tall stone tower constructed in 1925 to commemorate the original Pennsylvanian-German pioneer settlers who arrived in what is now Waterloo Region between 1800 and 1803. It is located along the banks of the Grand River in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, just over a 1-hour drive from Toronto, and lies on what was originally the territory of the Six Nations of the Grand River.


Quick Look

Name: Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower

Location: 300 Lookout Ln, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Maintained By: Parks Canada

Features & Points of Interest: Stone tower, scenic lookout, historical sites, natural area, hiking trails, community park.

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Although the Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower used to be surrounded by farmers fields and forests, the structure now lies at the back of a recently constructed subdivision. To get to the tower, simply follow the Parks Canada signs that begin to appear once you turn off of King St. and onto Deer Ridge Rd. On arrival, there is a small, and free parking lot available.

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Parks Canada directions sign
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower parking lot
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower

The tower is located within steps to the parking lot, and sits in the centre of a small clearing. At the site, there are a couple of informational plaques that recount the history of the area, and the historical significance of tower itself, of which I will briefly cover before continuing on to what else this destination has to offer.

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Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Parks Canada historical plaque

In 1784, nearly 240,000 hectares of land, including that of which the Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower now sits on, was given as a gift to the Six Nations Confederacy for their allegiance and support to the British Crown during the American Revolutionary War. In the years to come, some 38,000 hectares of this land was then purchased and sold again, this time by German Mennonite Settlers from Pennsylvania, who were looking to escape the persecution and high land prices they faced in the United States.

As time passed, more and more German pioneer settlers travelled to what would eventually become Waterloo County. They established homesteads and farms, and began cultivating and developing the land; the first of which was located on this site, where the Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower now lies, in present day Kitchener, Ontario.

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower

While today the city is known as Kitchener, Ontario, this wasn’t always the case. In the past, the city went by a different name; Berlin, Ontario. Beginning with the arrival of the original German Pioneer settlers, who established Berlin in the early 1800s, this area has maintained a prominent German cultural presence. Even today, the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany takes place here every year, attracting over 700,000 visitors annually.

However, in 1916 this heritage wasn’t as keenly celebrated. In response to the growing local anti-German sentiments caused by the outbreak of World War I, the city voted to change its name in support of the British Empire, and thus was renamed to Kitchener, Ontario, after Herbert Kitchener, a prominent Irish-born officer who served in the British Army from 1871 to 1916.

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower

Following the conclusion of the first world war, to make amends for the damage done by the anti-German sentiments, and subsequent city name change, a petition was put forth to the local government to construct a monument to represent the historical significance of the original pioneer settlers, and German heritage. Thus, the Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower was built. It cost $4,500 to build, and was eventually designated as a historical site in 1989. While there have been some refurbishments to the original structure over the years, its exterior appearance has remained relatively unchanged since.

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
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While at one point the interior of the tower was open to the public, today the front entrance is locked. However, if you’re interested in seeing the inside, you can contact Parks Canada ahead of time to gain access and schedule an official tour.

Nearby the tower there is also a small cemetery, inside of which you’ll find the headstones of some of those original German pioneers, including Joseph and Elizabeth Sherk, parents of David Sherk, who is reputed to be the first non-indigenous person born in what would become Waterloo County.

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Dedication Plaque located on the side of the tower

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Inner staircase leading to the top of the tower
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Nearby pioneer cemetery

When you’re finished taking in the Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower, I recommend going for a short walk down Joseph Schoerg Crescent to explore the ruins of the Betzner Barn, and the Schoerg (Sherk) farmstead, the first permanent European settlement in inland Upper Canada. There are also several informational plaques which talk about the the history of the pioneers, and the local area which I described above.

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
The remaining structure of the Betzner barn
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Joseph Schoerg Crescent (ruins at left, tower down the road)

The Betzner Barn is also the location of Clarica Lookout, which offers a view of the nearby Pioneer Tower Natural Area. This greenspace was created to protect the winter habitat of the king of the skies, the Bald Eagle. Since the 1700s, the local population of this majestic bird has been decimated due to hunting and habitat loss, and so this natural area remains one of the few refuges in the region.

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower, Pioneer Tower Natural Area
The view from Clarica Lookout
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower, Pioneer Tower Natural Area
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower, Pioneer Tower Natural Area
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While the Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower and surrounding structures offer a glimpse back into history, this area also features Kuntz Park, the Walter Bean Grand River Trail, and the Pioneer Tower Natural Area, as I mentioned above. These locations are great places to go for a nature walk, and while I only had time to walk the Pioneer Tower Natural Area section of the trail, there are more than 17 km (10.5 mi) of pathways to explore, stretching all the way from Cambridge, Ontario, through the City of Kitchener along the Grand River, and then further more on to Waterloo, Ontario.

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower, Pioneer Tower Natural Area, Grand River Trail
Walter Bean Grand River Trail Map
Pioneer Tower Natural Area, Grand River Trail
Path leading into the Pioneer Tower Natural Area
Pioneer Tower Natural Area, Grand River Trail
Pioneer Tower Natural Area, Grand River Trail

The Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower, in combination with the Pioneer Tower Natural Area, and the Walter Bean Grand River Trail makes this destination well worth the visit. Whether it be the history, the nature, or simply being a great place to go for a walk, there is something here for everyone to enjoy.


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Lookout Trail Guide – Algonquin Provincial Park

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Quick Look:

Name: Lookout Trail

Location: Km marker 39.7, Highway 60, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Length: 2.1 km (1.3 mi)

Elevation Gain: 71 m (233 ft)

Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult

Features & Points of Interest: Scenic lookout, large rock outcrop, sheer cliff, well maintained forested path

Algonquin Lookout Trail Map
Algonquin Lookout Trail Map (Source: alltrails.com)

Overview

The Lookout Trail, located in Algonquin Provincial Park, is a moderate to difficult 2.1 km loop that features a sweeping scenic lookout, large rock outcrop, and well-maintained forested path. Despite its relatively short length, this trail can pose a challenge for some due to its steep incline, and elevation gain. At a moderate pace, the hike can be completed in less than 1 hour.

Lookout Trail Algonquin Park
Flat, forested section of the path, just past the trailhead
Lookout Trail Algonquin Park
Shortly past this point, the trail gives way to a relatively steep incline

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What do you need to know?

Hikers will be rewarded with one of the best views in the entire area and a fantastic place to stop, catch your breath, and take an unhealthy amount of photos. Just be warned though, this trail is one of the most accessible in Algonquin Park, and as such will be one of the busiest. It’s best to hike the Lookout Trail earlier in the morning, or later in the afternoon to avoid the lunchtime and evening rushes.

If you’re planning on visiting during the Fall colours season, particularly on the weekend, know that the parking lot reaches over-capacity quickly, and the path becomes nearly unusable due to the congestion. To maximize your enjoyment, consider coming during the week, or visiting the park at a time of year when the crowds aren’t as numerous.

Algonquin Lookout Trail
A bench at the top is the perfect place rest, or take photos
Lookout Trail Algonquin
A small lake is visible in the distance
Algonquin Lookout Trail

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How to get here:

  • From Toronto:
    • Hwy 400 –> Hwy 11 –> Hwy 60 –> Algonquin Park West Gate –> km marker 39.7
    • *Be sure to stop in at the West Gate to pick up your day pass*

Thank you so much for reading, and if you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming material! And don’t forget to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

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Tales From a Lost Water Bottle

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One of the things that intrigues me the most about travelling is the brief encounters you have with people all over the world. Every single person you come across has their own life, memories, and experiences different from your own. I often think about those brief moments in time in which you cross paths with others, and about all of the things you will never know about them, or their story.

One such materialization of these thoughts came last year in the form of my university roommate’s water bottle. Right from the time I moved in, it caught my eye. It was covered from head to toe by stickers from several national and provincial parks, the flags from a multitude of provinces, and a bunch of outdoor brands’ logos. One day I finally asked him about it, and it turned out that the water bottle wasn’t even originally his. The curiosity, and the mystery of who it belonged to ate at me for months. Who was this person? What was their story?

One day, as it was getting closer to Christmas, we were waiting for our lecture to start. My roomate pulled out the mystery bottle to take a drink and I re-sparked the conversation of who its’ owner might be. This time, we took special notice of sticker on it’s side that said “CKCU”. When I googled it, a student run radio station in Ottawa, Ontario came up.

Finally a lead.

We both got excited and decided that the bottle must belong to a DJ or an avid listener of the station. Seeing how niche a student run radio station is, we figured that contacting them might just get this mystery solved. My roommate Alex got to work, drafted up an email, and hit send.

What follows is that exact email:

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Greetings,

I found this green Nalgene water bottle in Hearst, ON while tree planting this past spring. When I saw it in town on a day off, and I thought it might have belonged to one of my crew members so I grabbed it. No one from my crew claimed it and for the last 6 months, I have been in the possession of someone else’s water bottle. There are at least three tree planting companies that operate out of Hearst and the bottle likely belonged to one of their planters.

Based on the wear, and the vast amount of stickers, I imagine that it’s pretty special to them and they miss it very much. This beautiful bottle may even have a name, but if it does, it’s a name I do not know. Seeing as this isn’t my bottle I’d like to get it back to its rightful owner and I think that there is a possibility that you guys may be able to help. The most identifiable and significant sticker on the bottle is a CKCU sticker.

Do you know who the owner of this bottle is? Do you have any way of finding out? If you do, I’d love to send it home for Christmas.

– Alex “

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We waited and waited until one day we finally got a response.

Unfortunately, the radio station told us, nobody recognized the water bottle. We were devastated.

However, they agreed that they would help us in our quest to find the bottle’s owner, and possibly send it home. They posted Alex’s email and photo on their website with the hopes that one of their listeners might see it.

As of writing this in November of 2020, the bottle’s rightful owner has still not been found. Although my roommate continues to take care of it like it were his own, I can’t help but wonder what stories it would tell if it could. Where its’ been, what its owner has done, and the people they’ve come across together in their travels. It may just be a water bottle, but behind it is a person who I will likely never know. The stickers give me a small glimpse into their life, memories, experiences and story.

In my lifetime, it’s certain that there will be a number of people, stories and experiences that I will never have the fortune of knowing. The water bottle, and its’ owner, is just another example of this.

So when I do get to meet someone new, have a fresh experience, or get a glimpse of a previously unknown story, even if just for the briefest of moments, I’m just glad that I was given the opportunity to do so.


Thank you so much for reading, and if you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming material! And don’t forget to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

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