Monthly Archives: September 2013

“Capture the Colour” Contest

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Yep, it’s contest time folks!

I was so excited when Natalia from the awesome blog Always Trekking nominated my blog to enter into the “Capture the Colour” contest put on by Travel Supermarket. I love traveling, photos, and I am always up for a fun contest.

What you have to do is this:

1. Publish a “Capture the Colour” post on your blog with your favorite travel photos for each color: Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, and White.

2. Spread the word by nominating 5 other blogs to enter in the contest 🙂

3. Let Travel Supermarket know that you have entered in the contest by emailing or tweeting.

4. Keep an eye on this twitter account: TravelSupermarket to see who wins.

Click here for the full details and contest rules.

HERE are my favorite travel photos representin’ red, blue, green, yellow, and white:

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RED:Strollin’ the streets of the famous Gaya Street Market in Kota Kinabalu. Do you remember the name of this crazy lookin (and delicious) fruit?

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BLUE: Geumodo Island, South Korea. Just a quick hop, skip, and a jump away from our home!

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GREEN: Exploring a hidden Haitian village in the Dominican Republic.

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YELLOW: Jumping for joy at the most beautiful sunset in all of Korea. Bijindo Island, South Korea.

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WHITE: The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur- Malaysia. A stunning sight at night.

My 6 nominations go to (because I couldn’t pick just 5):

Hedger’s from Hedger’s abroad

Katie from Daily Cup of Kate

Alyssa from Mad to Live

Lisa from Taking a Big Leap of Faith

Caitlyn from Adventurers at Heart

Christine from GRRRL Traveler

Ready…set…GO!!!

Jirisan Mountain AND Bijindo Island- Chuseok break

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I’ll admit it… Ever since we moved to Korea I have had it in my head that we should be “traveling” every chance we get (while this is something Tom and I both want to do) for whatever reason when I think of “travel” I think of airplane, leaving the country, and discovering a new country that I haven’t been to.

We have been really lucky to have had three 4 day (or 5 day) weekends since we started in April with another 4 day weekend coming up the first week of October…along with 10 days of vacation in August when we went to Malaysia, and also a really big 21 day winter vacation coming up in less than 100 days!!! Why is it that EVERY single time I find out we have days off or vacation days coming up that I feel the need to leave Korea when Korea still feels new to us? We have certainly not explored all that Korea has to offer, and I would even go as far to say that we haven’t even discovered 1/8 of it!!! Without fail, though, as soon as I hear we have vacation I am frantically checking AIR ASIA’s page to find the cheapest deals to travel Southeast Asia.

What I am getting at is simple: Some of the BEST vacations we have had have been ones where we stayed in Korea to explore and travel. Like Jeju island, Discovering the Shinan Islands, and this one- the one I am about to tell ya about! I’ve learned it’s the simple things that make me happy… AND that can happen just as easily (if not easier) while we discover more about Korea. Tom and I have a list started on the things we want to do in Korea that include things like: The tour of the DMZ, Making it to all 20 of the National Parks to hike (and hopefully more then once), Visiting all 33 of these beautiful islands, Staying in a traditional temple overnight, skiing with friends in the winter, and attending various festivals around Korea such as the famous Mud festival, Jinju lantern festival, and the tea festival that takes place not to far from where we live…just to name a FEW!

Korea has SO much to offer and I imagine our list will continue to grow the more we discover. For Korean Thanksgiving which fell September 18- 22 this year… First, Tom and I decided to hike in Jirisan National park. It was in Jirisan over the Korean Thankgiving that we hiked the second highest peak in Korea after tackling the highest peak in Korea at Halla Mountain on Jeju island in June. We spent two days camping in Jirisan National park before we packed up our stuff and headed to meet 6 of our friends for 2 more days of camping on Bijindo (Bijin island.) The city we first drove to was called Tongyong (about 2 hours from our city of Yeosu)  where we boarded the ferry. We did a lot of relaxing, a bit of hiking, sunbathing, swimming, and even snuck in some marshmallow roasting n’ s’more making. YUM. CNN wrote about this slice of paradise here where we first became intrigued with the thought of visiting Bijindo.

Don’t get me wrong… I am always excited when we decide to visit other countries (and I am so pumped to tell ya what our winter vacation plans are when we have 21 vacation days in January/ February this year!!!!) but it was such a great lesson for me to learn that we can still “travel” when we are traveling Korea.

Below are my FAVORITE pictures from our 5 days off (excluding the big hike as I know Tom will document the hike very soon):

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Exploring near the camp site in Jirisan

Exploring near the camp site in Jirisan

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Nothing like fresh mountain water...

Nothing like fresh mountain water…

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Goodbye Jirisan National Park and Hello Bijindo Island :)

Goodbye Jirisan National Park and Hello Bijindo Island 🙂

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Hiking Bijindo

Hiking Bijindo

Casual workout during our hike :)

Casual workout during our hike 🙂

Love this guy, this view, and hiking.

Love this guy, this view, and hiking.

The view from the top of the hike. STUNNING!

The view from the top of the hike. STUNNING!

Sunny and 80 all weekend. My favorite weather.

Sunny and 80 all weekend. My favorite weather.

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4 tents. 8 friends.

4 tents. 8 friends.

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The most beautiful sunsets I have seen in ALL of Korea.

The most beautiful sunsets I have seen in ALL of Korea.

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Sometimes the greatest adventures are just outside of our doorstep.

Hahwado- a little slice of heaven! (Hahwa island)

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Before our Chuseok weekend ( Korean Thanksgiving) where we had 5 awesome days of camping, hiking, and island life…

We visited two islands by the names of Sado and Hahwado. I documented Sado here if you missed it. With last week being a two day work week I was only able to squeeze in enough time for two blog posts. SO, I will wrap up our island hopping weekend from September 14th before I plunge into posting about our Chuseok adventures. Just like the last post on Sado…some of the pictures are from Cory and Michelle’s camera while the first 4 are from my iphone.

Hahwado was about 45 minutes away from our city of Yeosu by ferry, and marks our third island we have visited off of Yeosu. It was a fabulous island where we did a 5km (easy) hike around the island after first exploring Sado. I loved Hahwado because it had the tiny island feel but also had people out and about, it had a small shop/restaurant that was open, and we met some pretty cool Koreans along the stroll around the island.

“Beautiful cliffs with panoramic views of islands along the horizon” is the best way to sum up Hahwado island in one sentence, but (as always) I will let you see for yourself!

There is something I just ADORE about pictures of Korean fishing boats, the water, and the islands in the background.

There is something I just ADORE about pictures of Korean fishing boats, the water, and the islands in the background.

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A sleepy little town…

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Trekkin’ along the island path.

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What a VIEW!

4 friends. An incredible day of island hopping. What more can I ask for?

I read this the other day from a dear lady and I couldn’t agree with her more:

“Looking back through pictures these last few months I was thinking, dang, I so want to be me! And I get to be me- whoop! And I get to have the coolest life ever……filled with gratitude for everything and everyone in my life. Don’t be jealous, come and visit me so you can have the same.”

There is just ONE thing I would like to add to the above quote…and that is this: it is ALL about perspective. You may look at your life, and think that it doesn’t compare to the adventures that the next person is having. If your “adventure” looks different then mine right now it doesn’t mean that one is better then the other. YOUR adventure could be getting out for a walk around your neighborhood, exploring a nearby city, a trip to the zoo, or making cookies with your kids.

Whatever your life looks like right NOW I hope today you find peace knowing that your adventure is an amazing one. If it isn’t amazing get out there and make stuff happen.. I believe in YOU!

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Enjoy a new journey today! Your journey may mean walking instead of running around, taking the time to appreciate the little things, or sending a message to a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile.

Love love love,

e

My favorite moment of our day: This kind Korean family we met along our journey.

My favorite moment of our day: This kind Korean family we met along our journey.

5 things I LOVED about Sado (Sa island)

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Since fall is lurking around the corner… this past weekend Tom and I along with our friends Cory and Michelle hit the islands for some island exploration. Since Yeosu is a coastal town it provides TONS of opportunities for us to get out and explore islands by ferry. This past weekend we headed to not one, but TWO islands in the same day. We loved exploring, relaxing, and discovering Sado. Here are my top 5 reasons why I loved Sado!

– Side note. Most of the pictures were taken with Cory and Michelle’s amazing camera!!! Although, a few are from my iphone 😉

1. Dinosaurs. Sado is known for it’s dinosaur fossil tracks- and also the massive dino replicas that are scattered throughout the island.

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2. These beautiful stone wall walk ways. The island was pretty vacant besides a few “adjumma’s” also known as korean older woman. There are a few people who live on this itty bitty island, but what the island lacks in size it makes up in beauty! – Which brings me to my next point.

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3. The gorgeous beaches (Sado has two) and the clarity of it’s water was stunning.

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Storm rolling in. We got lucky and just a few sprinkles for 10 minutes or so. Made for some awesome photos.

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4. Spending time together AND with our friends.

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5. Simplicity. Sado had no other tourists on the island except US! We actually only saw a handful of people. It was just the simple island life for us, and only an hour by boat from Yeosu. One of the 14,985,830 reasons I love Jeollanamdo province (the province we live in) more on that later though!

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This will be my last post of the week as we only worked a 2 day week!!! It’s Korean Thanksgiving here this week known to Korean’s as Chuseok. We will be off hiking, island exploring, and relaxing with friends. Next week I will share our journey to Hwado (another island we visited this past weekend) AND our 5 day hiking/island trip we are about to embark on.

Enjoy life and create a journey this week.

-elicia

linking up with Bonnie for Travel Tuesday!

Faith in Korea

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Being a Christian in Korea. Wow, It’s been a journey. The hardest part for me in the beginning was missing our church from Wisconsin…the bible study, the fellowship, Sunday mornings at church. God has continued to remind me that he is every where, and not just America. I see it everyday in the people I meet, the life/jobs we are so lucky to have, the beauty of the country, the kids I teach, and the incredible friends we have made in Korea. Since arriving in Korea I feel like it took time to get settled…Time to find our “groove” if you will. I mean, we just got our apartment decorated for goodness sake. Ya know? It takes time. Time. I feel like God taught me patience in moving to Korea. Just to slow down and take time to continue to grow our faith in him. Time to set up and establish ourselves here at church, and now a new bible study we were invited to join. My faith in humanity has also been restored from the people we have met in Korea, and also those we have met while traveling. It’s crazy how visiting temples and mosques in Malaysia has strengthened my faith in God, but, it really has. I think back to us standing on the stairs of the famous Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur and closing my eyes and just praying that the people of the world would some how feel in some way feel God’s love.

In Korea, we are free to worship freely- so often something that I take for granted. Upon arriving at my new job people blatantly asked “what religion are you?” ,and my kids have seen my cross necklace that’s resulted in stumbling through conversations on being a christian, but what I really want people to know is this:

I want people to notice something different about me and ask what makes me different. I want to show the world that a christian can be someone who just loves them regardless of who they were or the mistakes they have made. That I am not going to judge them or disrespect them because they have different beliefs. I want to show them that God is (just like my grandma once told me) Love and Forgiveness. I want to love people from their darkest moments of despair. I want to love people so I can tell them that it isn’t me… it’s God. I want to love them so they see Jesus. When I say I am blessed I mean that God has blessed me incredibly beyond what I deserve.

Have you felt God’s love in a certain way as of lately?

There is so much I want to say I just haven’t decided how I want to say it.

For now though my faith in Korea has been a journey, but a blessed one. One that has brought me closer to my husband. One that’s made me absolutely cherish our amazing friends we have made in Korea. One that’s made me want to love love love and also to forgive. Korea has been a place where I have been able to see God in big ways, and each day… I just want to show people what faith in God can do.

I want to be love and forgiveness just like my grandma once told me. I’ll never forget that.

 

Love and Forgive.

Our life as of lately.

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The past few weekends have consisted of a half marathon, saying goodbye to friends whose time in Korea is complete, drinking wine, spending time on the gorgeous beach just 2 miles from our apartment (just let me brag one more time! I have never lived by the ocean) catching an awesome FREE jazz concert, new bible study, and getting the classroom ready for another semester of school.

The Weather: Has cooled down quite a bit, and is now comparable to summer in Wisconsin/ Minnesota. This week has been low 80’s and the humidity has vanished quite a bit! We can hike again-after taking a 2 month break due to insane humidity. We are excited to get back to enjoyable hiking, biking, AND running!

Our Schools: Both of our schools are back in full swing of second semester! We are loving being able to commute to work together, and having a car makes our commute to work about 15 minutes. NO complaints there. Two out of my three Korean co teachers have changed at semester. I am so lucky to have two new awesome co teacher’s who help me teach the English classes. They ROCK!

Our Apartment: We finally have a couch, and our apartment is finally decorated. It took 5 months, but it is cozy. We have had friends come visit, and the apartment has crammed fit 4 guests-6 total adults! If only you knew how small it is with 6 adults in there!! BUT we are thankful (it’s paid housing) … it’s new… AND we don’t live in a huge apartment complex like many of the Korean apartment buildings. Ours is maybe 15 apartments total in a small building vs. the 30+ story apartments that are scattered around our city (and much of Korea.)

After 5 months in Korea: We are falling more in love with our city-Yeosu. The view from my school (on the mountain) over looking the bay are second to none. We have the sweetest landlords who bend over backwards for us. We aren’t taking a second for granted. We are SO incredibly thankful for the opportunity to live, teach, and travel Korea (and also all over Asia!). I think it’s safe to say that we will be in Korea (granted our jobs will have us again) for longer than a year. Life here is so amazing. It’s easy. It’s stress free. It’s incredible to me that we can travel… AND pay off my university debt…AND SAVE- all while loving our day to day life/jobs!

The view from my school- it really never EVER gets old. So stunning.

The view from my school- it really never EVER gets old. So stunning.

Getting ready to change the desks in my classroom into groups. I don't miss this typical "korean style" of desks in rows. Ick!

Getting ready to change the desks in my classroom into groups. I don’t miss this typical “Korean style” of desks in rows. I much prefer groups of four.

We love live music.

We love live music.

4 friends. A road trip to the middle of Korea. A half marathon AND 18 pounds of grapes.

4 friends. A road trip to the middle of Korea. A half marathon AND 18 pounds of grapes for finishing!

Saying goodbye to my dear friend Alyssa. Her pictures of Korea were a huge inspiration to us moving to Korea...and we have spent lots of time camping/exploring Korea with her and Pat (pictured left) Alyssa is off traveling for the next 8 months and Pat will join her for some traveling in November when his teaching contract is up!

Saying goodbye to my dear friend Alyssa. Her experiences in Korea were a huge inspiration to us moving to Korea…and we have spent lots of time camping/exploring Korea with her and Pat (pictured left) Alyssa is off traveling for the next 8 months, and Pat will join her for some traveling in November when his teaching contract is up!

Wine/Apples/ Wisconsin cheese a special treat for us on a school night. ;)

Wine/Apples/ Wisconsin cheese a special treat for us on a school night. 😉

New bible study in Yeosu we were invited to.

New bible study in Yeosu we were invited to.

Darren and Rozanne- off to live in Thailand! So happy to have met this dynamic duo through our friend Melody. They spent 5 years in Korea, and Tom and I really enjoyed getting to spend some time with them at the tail end of their Korean journey.

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Ungcheon beach- just 2 miles from our apartment 🙂

Geumodo Island Exploration

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This past weekend we headed to Geumodo Island just off of our city- Yeosu. Tom documented this island day trip here, but I couldn’t resist posting my favorite pictures of our day! I know I keep saying this, but I feel incredibly blessed to live in such an amazing city on the ocean that we can do these day trips to islands nearby. We hiked around 10 miles of this beautiful island on the west coast with our new friends from South Africa Brennan and Victoria.

Eat your heart out island lovers!

Arriving in Geumodo Island.

Arriving in Geumodo Island.

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New friends from South Africa Brennan and Victoria.

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Our 8 Travel MUST haves…

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I would like think that that this isn’t my first rodeo when it comes to travelin. I felt like I have done a fair amount of traveling, but I am still learning new stuff about it every time we travel. Big trips out of South Korea or the small weekend trips exploring this beautiful country. Here is our compiled list of things we learned (sometimes the hard way) we won’t travel without.

#1. PLENTY of cash.

This seems like a no brainer, right? BUT how do you know how much money to carry when traveling? We didn’t want to carry a massive wad of cash in case it got stolen. We already feel like walking targets since we stick out incredibly. Tom and I also completely take for granted the massive amount of ATM’S here in Korea. We have it so easy when we need to take money out. Go a few blocks and you’ll find an ATM. Most of the time you can even find your specific bank. We had grown so accustomed to easy ATM access. WELL, panic set in a little when we were shocked to find out that an ATM was no where within 10 miles- and it was known to not have “money” most of the time… we were forced with no other choice, but to take a taxi even further in search of a workable ATM. Let’s just say after many failed attemps the ATM decided to spit out some moola at us. Just in the knick of time as we didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay the taxi driver for the ride out to the ATM, and we owed our accomodation facility some dough. WHEW! It was a close call that we won’t take again. SO, lesson learned. More cash.

Malaysian currency.
photo from stockpro.com

#2. Hiking shoes.

We love hiking. We love staying active. I forsee many more incredible summits in our future whether in Korea or out our hiking shoes are a definite travel MUST have.

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#3. My E-reader.

I can’t tell you how much I love reading. When Tom bought me the Barnes and Noble E-reader (the Nook Color) as a gift it was love at first sight 😉 I had almost ANY book I wanted right at my finger tips. I love it for traveling as I am often reading more than one book at a time, and it is compact/lightweight. This past trip I finished the book The Boy In The Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and The Fault In Our Stars  by John Green (loved them both!) Currently reading: A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving.

photo from engadget.com

#4. Toilet paper!

So.Yeah. This one. I should have known since many places in Korea there is none. BUT how annoying is it to pack a roll of toilet paper when you have limited space in your backpack? Next time, small tissue packs will do..please and thank ya.

#5.HAND SOAP.

Finding hand soap in Malaysia was just about as easy as finding a needle in a haystack. Again, shouldn’t have been a surprise. For a gal who wears contacts which requires touching my eyes to take the contacts in and out… let’s just leave it at- hand soap is a must have for all the contact wearers’ of the world. 

#6.Our awesome (and new!) backpacks. We are totally official backpackers. They are the real deal.

Here is Tom’s:

Tom's new hiking backpack- name TBD

Tom’s new hiking backpack- name TBD

Mine is very similar only smaller and it’s red. Her name is Rosita.

#7. Plastic Bags

One of my favorite things we travel with AND oh so amazingly handy. For wet clothes, stinky clothes, to keep things dry like our cell phones or a map, to store bathroom cosmetics. Seriously, amazing. Tom thought of this one. We had and used quite a number of them this past trip. It’s important to note that we don’t buy new ones we save bags/reuse bags.

#8. BATTERIES.

Again sounds simple. This one we learned the hard way. There was no small shop in sight when we got to the river for our safari. We learned that our last safari trip on the river would be one where we would have a non working camera since our nikon runs on 4 double A batteries. SHOOT! I told myself that we would never be “those people” who ran out of batteries on a trip. Luckily, we met a Malaysia native who was on a business trip, and she SO kindly gave us her spare batteries. She mentioned she could go buy more later. After thanking her over and over we made a mental note to always have a spare set or two of batteries. I am so glad we found her because the next safari Tom spotted the wild orangutans!!!!

photo from drivesouthafrica.co.nz

What are your travel must haves? Do you travel with plastic bags too or are we just that weird?!

How we traveled Malaysia on a budget…and still had an amazing time!

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Wow!

It’s been quite the week as all of my kiddos returned to school for the second semester. I have been running around like a mad woman trying to get used to my busy busy schedule of teaching again. The kids will go from September to December before they take 2 1/2 months off, and start a new school year in March. I really wanted to blog this week, but it got pushed back as lesson planning took the front seat. Have I mentioned before that time flies here?!? The weeks turn into days and then months. It’s crazy to think we have been here 5 months already.

I wanted to share a bit more on our trip to Malaysia and how we kept it relatively low cost while still doing everything we wanted to do while there (Kuala Lumpur, Climbing Mt. Kinabalu, River safaris, orangutan sanctuary, and kota kinabalu island exploration!)

1. The biggest cost of savings for our trip was simply (or not so simply): AVOIDING tour companies like the plague.

Tom and I soon discovered the things we wanted to do were about 3x the price if we went with a tour company rather then doing it ourselves. I strongly feel as if the money would not stay in the local economy if we had booked with a large tour group (although that is not always the case!) Yes, the convenience is there if you want to have your trips all planned out. There were more downsides for us to go with a tour company such as: being on a time crunch & a bit over priced. We found that we could see sights ourselves while being much more cost effective. There are (I am sure) tour groups that are awesome. My point is that this trip they weren’t right for us. For example: A trip to the pouring hot springs was MUCH cheaper if we found a way to the place, and paid a small fee to get in. Ok, yeah. So we had to hitch a few rides (don’t tell our moms! hehe) which brings me to my next point.

2. Hitchhiking!

We had NO idea if it was common in Malaysia. BUT when the bus dropped us off 15km from where we needed to be with not a taxi, car, or phone in sight -hitch hiking was our only option. We met two awesome Malaysian fellas who picked us up and took us the almost 9 miles we needed to go. They wouldn’t take our money, but offered up some great conversation, and tips on how to get back to our lodge for cheap. Let’s just say it ended with more hitch hiking where an awesome Chinese family and a retired American couple picked us up and took us where we needed to be. I don’t recommend always hitch hiking, and I sure wouldn’t do it in the USA, but man it was pretty awesome AND we met some crazy cool people along the way.

Just a hitch hikin' ;)

Just a hitch hikin’ 😉

and lots of this...

and lots of this…

and more walkin... :)

and more walkin… 🙂

3. Unique places to stay.

We stayed in some incredible places. I wish I could tell you that it was my awesome planning that lead us to these incredible places we stayed at BUT that is not  the case. We used hostelworld.com quite a bit to book cheap/safe places that we could get our own room, borrowed a lonely planet book from a guy on a bus, and sometimes just searching around online . Another way we cut cost even further when it came to lodging was booking private rooms with a shared bathroom.

Lavender Lodge in Kota Kinabalu. We used the hostel world app to find this gem! AND only a 15 min walk to the ocean :)

Lavender Lodge in Kota Kinabalu. We used the hostel world app to find this gem! AND only a 15 min walk to the ocean 🙂

Eco friendly and 20 min walk from Mt. Kinabalu's headquarters- Mt. Kinabalu Lodge!

Eco friendly and 20 min walk from Mt. Kinabalu’s headquarters- Mt. Kinabalu Lodge!

My favorite place we stayed at- Paganakan Dii Tropical Resort. (found this gem in the lonely planet book we borrowed from a random guy on a bus!)

My favorite place we stayed at- Paganakan Dii Tropical Resort. (found this gem in the lonely planet book we borrowed from a random guy on a bus.) Made from recycled materials. We learned if they don’t have available rooms (during busy season) you can camp here for FREE!

Paganakan Dii Tropical Resort

Paganakan Dii Tropical Resort

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Enjoying our morning tea.

Enjoying our morning tea. Paganakan Dii Tropical Resort.

Hangin in the main lodge area. Paganakan Dii Tropical Resort,

Hangin in the main lodge area. Paganakan Dii Tropical Resort,

Sukau Greenview B&B- our last night in the rainforest!

Sukau Greenview B&B- our last night in the rainforest!

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Sukau Greenview B&B

Morning breakfast view! Sukau Greenview B&B

Morning breakfast view! Sukau Greenview B&B

4. Eating as the locals. Enough said!

Chinese for lunch! Porridge with chicken :)

Chinese for lunch! Porridge with chicken 🙂

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5. Keepin’ it local.

We shopped at markets and when we DID do a “safari tour” we decided to go with a local guy where we knew the money would go right into the local economy.

Exploring Central market in Kuala Lumpur and the market in Kota Kinabalu

Exploring Central market in Kuala Lumpur and the market in Kota Kinabalu

Do you have any tips on how to keep a budget while still doing all the things you want to see/do while traveling?