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Journey to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, or The Old Mountain in the traditional Quechua language, is one of the most sought-after bucket list destinations in the world. If you're reading this, there's a good chance it's on your list too.

Surprisingly, however, very little is actually known about this historic site. The Incas did not keep written records of their empire, so all we know is that this site was abandoned around 1572, in fear that the Spanish would conquer and destroy it. However, the Spanish never came, and instead, the site sat empty for nearly five hundred years.

There have always been rumours about a lost city of gold in South America, so when the site was rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, many suspected it to be the legendary city. However, instead, they found a stone city covered in thick jungle and – assuming the same insect life that was there when I visited – around a trillion hungry mosquitoes.

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The Magicks of Maestro Presbiterio Cemetery

There are four types of magicks in Peru: black, white, red, and green, all of which can be found within The Maestro Presbíterio Cemetery.

When I started this article, I wanted to write about the history of The Maestro Presbíterio Cemetery in Lima. The cemetery is not only the oldest cemetery in Peru, but also in South America, dating back to 1808. It was an alternative to the stifling catacombs that sprawl beneath the city's streets. Since its inception, there have been many controversies about the cemetery, starting with the first burial of Archbishop Juan Domingo Gonzales de la Reguera in 1808 and continuing when Norka Rouskaya “profanated” the cemetery with her nude performance of Chopin's Funeral March in 1917.

But in the spirit of Halloween, I didn't want to write an essay about a cemetery's history. That will come at a later time when I have more chance to dig into the names and places of people whom I am still learning about. There are over 250,000 bodies interned in The Maestro Presbíterio Cemetery and to only share a handful of half-researched stories would be a disservice.

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Huacachina: The Oasis of America

Remote Year has two, separate weekend packages to experience Huacachina. The first was a direct, one-day trip. It involved leaving Lima early in the morning, taking the bus about five hours south, enjoying the day, and taking the bus back. Although fun, it would be an exhausting day on the bus.

The other option was a two-day trip, starting in Lima, going to Paracas for the night, and then heading to Huacachina. This was the option I chose. A few people wanted to do the single-day option, but the cost associated with driving only two or three people a collective ten hours wasn't really worth it. Instead, they changed their mind and joined the two-day tour.

So, although this article is about Huacachina, it actually starts off in Paracas, where the last article ended.

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Fun, Sun & Sand in Paracas

Our second weekend trip in Peru with Remote Year took us to Paracas and Huacachina.

Technically, the entire weekend was about Huacachina, but the first day was all about getting to and enjoying the natural beauty of Paracas.

The town of Paracas, with a population of around 4,500 people, is about three hours from Lima, so the day began with an early morning on the bus. Unlike the earlier trip to the Amazon, this trip consisted of the majority of the people in the Remote Year program. There were a few exceptions, as some of the members had contracted COVID-19 and had to isolate themselves, but for the most part, the entire group was able to make it on this trip.

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Welcome to the Amazon: Meeting The Locals

It was an early start to our last day in the Amazon Rainforest.

After a very broken sleep – thanks to dreams of insects, due to yesterday's flashlight excursion – I did not mind an early morning. The plan for this morning was to wake up early, meet up at The Dolphin Lodge, and head out onto the water to watch the sunrise. 

We had been in the Amazon for two days, and the skies were almost always clear and blue. It was the dry season, so there wasn't much rain. However, between the dreams of creepy crawlies last night, I am sure I heard the pitter-patter of rain on the roof. That, or it was a plethora of who-knows-what matter of insect bumbling around out there. 

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Welcome to the Amazon: Watch Your Step!

Our second day in the Amazon Rainforest was our only "full" day there. It was also our busiest. While yesterday's highlights were all about getting to Iquitos and experiencing La Isla de Los Monos, today was about seeing the plethora of flora and fauna the Amazon has to offer.

The day started with a delicious breakfast cooked by the folks at The Dolphin Lodge. It was here that Allen and Luis of Amazon Wonder Expeditions told us what the plan was for the day. The previous day, they told us not to wear bug repellent or sunscreen as we would have to wash it off before spending time with the monkeys. This time, though, since we'll be venturing deep into the rainforest, we were told to apply plenty of both.

After breakfast, we headed back down the path to the water and got on our boat. About thirty minutes later, we docked and walked into a small fishing village.

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Trending Articles About Canada


5 Weekend Destinations In Saskatchewan

The past few weeks have been really busy for me, with a lot more time at the office and a lot less time travelling. Thankfully, the weekend is just around the corner and with it comes the possibility of a two day vacation. Having traveled to Lac La Ronge earlier this month, I've been thinking more and more about these short trips and how rejuvenating they can be.

Unfortunately, I haven't done as much travelling around Saskatchewan as I'd like, so I wasn't sure what the best places to visit were. There were of course the obvious choices such as Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw, but I wanted someplace remote, yet somewhat close. For this project I approached some of my fellow travel bloggers and I got some ideas of what to go do and see for a weekend. I went through their ideas and came up with this short list of 5 weekend destinations in Saskatchewan.

Thanks to TELUS' incredible network, sections of Saskatchewan that once never had coverage can now be fully explored while still being connected to your mobile device. No matter where you travel in Saskatchewan -- or even in Canada -- this summer, you can rely on TELUS' mobile network to keep you connected.

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Birthday Freebies in Regina

As of last week, I am officially in the final year of my 20s. That has me a little worried because they say it is the 30s when you are forced to finally grow-up... and I really do not want to do that. So, with that sense of impending doom in mind, I decided to embrace my inner child and find some birthday "freebies" around Regina.

There was just a pesky little pandemic in the way.

Because of this, I didn't feel it was right (or safe) to visit a dozen stores around the city, many of them restaurants, asking for free things. A lot of small businesses are hurting right now and asking for free things "just because" doesn't help them at all.

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8 Places to Visit in Quebec City

I was recently asked if I preferred my time in Montreal or Quebec City more, and while Montreal is a gorgeous city, decorated with thousands of green copper spires, hosts incredible festivals, has some of the most fantastic food I have ever tasted, and is spotted with beautiful parks, there was just something about Quebec City that spoke to me. Being over four hundred years old, Quebec City is one of the last remaining "walled cities" in North America, and is the only one north of Mexico.  Quebec City was the location of some of the greatest conflicts in Canadian history, including the Siege of Quebec by the British.

Belonging to three very different countries (France, England, and Canada) in its four hundred year existence, Quebec City is a mixing pot of old traditions, new ideas, cobblestone streets and modern architecture. Since there is so much to see in Quebec City, I figured I would narrow it down to a couple and let you discover the rest! Here is "8 Places to Visit in Quebec City".

(Looking for more things to do in Quebec City? Check out Lonely Planet's guide to Quebec City and Montreal!)

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Trending Articles About the United States


Journey to Ted Bundy’s Cellar

There are three things Salt Lake City is known for: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ted Bundy and skiing. Since we talked about the former already, and I'm no good at the latter, you can probably guess what this article is about.

From 1974 to 1978 Ted Bundy kidnapped, murdered and raped young women and girls across the United States. Between 1974 and 1975, he spent much of his time killing in Idaho, Utah, and Colorado, with his base being in Salt Lake City.

Bundy moved to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah Law School, and left his girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer in Seattle, Washington. However, he was not faithful to Kloepfer (besides the raping part) and would date at least a dozen other women while in Salt Lake City.

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What To Do in Historic Philadelphia

A few months ago I entered a contest for a trip for two to visit Philadelphia on Two Bad Tourists. Normally contests like this are limited to United States residents so when I saw this one was open to Canadians I jumped at the chance. I've never won something like this before, so I actually forgot about it until I got the emailing saying I had won. Two Bad Tourists then worked alongside Visit Philly to organise the trip for me and my mother to explore Philadelphia for three days. Visit Philly paid for our flights, hotels and gave us a VIP Pass to experience the city to our heart's content. It is thanks to them that this trip is possible.

Several movies and television shows have tried to capture the essence of Philadelphia over the years – from the boxing Blockbuster Rocky, to the paranormal thriller The Sixth Sense, to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and even Boy Meets World – but each described the city differently. There is no easy way to approach a city as dynamic as The City of Brotherly Love. With countless layers of art, history, religion and the paranormal, Philadelphia is a city unlike any other throughout the United States. 

One thing that surprised me the most about Philadelphia was the history. The city was founded and designed by William Penn, who is also the state of Pennsylvania's namesake. Born in London, England in 1644 he lived through The Great Fire of 1666 and The Great Plague of London from 1665-1666. Both events shaped Penn's life so he designed the city to be strictly stone buildings (to stop fires from spreading) and to have plenty of space between the buildings (as to prevent illness from spreading). This led to the older areas of the city to have winding corridors between old stone walls.

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The Haunting of Kay's Cross

If you're looking to visit the notorious Kay's Cross in Kaysville, Utah, you might be tempted to just wander down into the hollow and see it for yourself. However, the cross is on private property and the owners aren't a fan of trespassers. Legend says that the owners will shoot you if they catch you, but they told me they would just call the police instead.

Either way, access to the cross is $20 USD, or $28 CAD, and they only take cash. It's a much cheaper option than a trespassing fine or a trip to the hospital so I recommend this approach.

However, a lot of people still take the risk and visit the cross without permission. Kay's Cross – or the remains of Kay's Cross after it was mysteriously destroyed in 1992 – has become a beacon for the paranormal, both for investigators and for practicers alike. My guide told me that Satanists often visit the cross and perform rituals. Once, he even said he encountered a dark entity while down there.

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Trending Articles About Europe


Visiting Auschwitz

They say hope was the last thing to die in Auschwitz.

It's been just over 70 years since the Allies liberated the death camp and the horrors of the "Final Solution" were revealed to the world. Prior to their arrival, Auschwitz was the most effective death camp ever created, having taken the lives of over 1.1 million Jews.

Block 4 of Auschwitz holds the museum, explaining the best it can about what happened seven decades past. The museum explains what Auschwitz was originally built for – a camp for Polish prisoners of war – and how it became key to the Nazi's "Final Solution". The museum goes over the construction of Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II (Birkenau) and Auschwitz III (Monowitz), the increased sizes and effectiveness of gas chambers and the factories of death that stood and smoked over the camp during its operation.

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Lucerne

I am writing this from a jail-cell in Lucerne, Switzerland.

But don't worry; I'm not in trouble or anything. Tonight we get to sleep in the Jailhotel. Jailhotel is a hotel that was made out of an old jail (if you hadn't already guessed that). The rooms are small, cramped and have wooden, creaky floors. The only furniture in the room is two beds, a sink, and a single wooden chair. Behind me is a small barred window, high up on the wall. My writing light is one single lone bulb hanging from the ceiling. The illusion of sleeping in a jail cell would be complete, except for the portable bathroom over in the corner, with white towels, a shower and a toilet. Ignore that, however, and you feel like you're actually in jail.

We left the Flower City at quarter to 8 this morning. Flip told us to sit in the front of the coach if we wanted a good view as we entered the Swiss Alps. It wouldn't have really mattered though, because an hour into the drive everybody on the coach was fast asleep -- including me.

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St. Goar

We have arrived in Germany and St. Goar! Flip told us that German's have the lowest cultural pride in the world -- and I believe this. However, in my opinion, Germany is kind of like that weird kid at school that gets picked on for doing nothing (World War I and the Treaty of Versailles) and finally snaps (World War II), but is still found responsible for his actions.

Flip also told us how and why Hitler came to power, what happened to Berlin after the war, why the wall was built and why it fell in 1989. I learned all about this in history class and I know the majority of people lived through the falling of the Berlin Wall, so I don't think another history lesson is needed. After yesterday's rant, I don't think you'll want another lesson for a while.

Flip went over what we were doing the next few days in St. Goar, Munich and Innsbruck, Austria. We also got a copy of all he optional tours. The website didn't say anything about the group photo in Venice, nor the Venetian dinner we can have. We can also get our own t-shirts!

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Trending Articles About Peru


How (And Why) I Spent A Month in Peru

A week ago I returned to Canada after spending a month in Lima, Peru. I realized I did a terrible job explaining to people what I was doing down there for so long. A lot of people have asked about my "holiday" or "vacation", but I wouldn't call it either of those because it wasn't all that relaxing. 

As you know, in recent years, for a variety of reasons, working remotely has become very popular. In fact, I haven't had an office since 2018. Back then I was freelancing, and then in 2019, I was picked up to work remotely for a web development company. Although I am fully employed, my nine-to-five grind is from my apartment, not from an office.

But, it doesn't have to be. As long as I have a stable internet connection and get my work done, I can do my work just about anywhere in the world. In fact, last autumn I had to work out of both Dawson City and Whitehorse, Yukon. The mentality is that as long as I hit my deadlines and I can support my team, I can work anywhere. 

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Welcome to the Amazon: Monkey Island

During my recent trip to Peru, I had the opportunity to spend three days in the Amazon Rainforest.

This was the first trip of the program so the majority of people decided to opt-out and stay back in Lima. I understand that, as Lima is a beautiful city and most of us had just flown into it less than a week ago, but I wasn't willing to miss out on an opportunity of a lifetime. Although granted, the entire month was an opportunity of a lifetime.

Because only a few of us were on this trip, I ended up being the only male. I mention this because there was a bit of a mixup with the rooms and I was supposed to share a room with a woman. She wasn't totally cool with that, so I was upgraded to a single room. If you plan to make this trip, I recommend the single room over a shared room since the rooms are pretty small. (More on that later.)

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Welcome to the Amazon: Watch Your Step!

Our second day in the Amazon Rainforest was our only "full" day there. It was also our busiest. While yesterday's highlights were all about getting to Iquitos and experiencing La Isla de Los Monos, today was about seeing the plethora of flora and fauna the Amazon has to offer.

The day started with a delicious breakfast cooked by the folks at The Dolphin Lodge. It was here that Allen and Luis of Amazon Wonder Expeditions told us what the plan was for the day. The previous day, they told us not to wear bug repellent or sunscreen as we would have to wash it off before spending time with the monkeys. This time, though, since we'll be venturing deep into the rainforest, we were told to apply plenty of both.

After breakfast, we headed back down the path to the water and got on our boat. About thirty minutes later, we docked and walked into a small fishing village.

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Trending Articles About Asia


A Halloween Unboxing From Tokyo Treat

In celebration of Halloween, Jessica and I decided to continue last year's tradition and unbox a package from Tokyo Treat. For those unfamiliar, Tokyo Treat is a subscription box service that sends you Japanese candy every month to try at home. We have unboxed several of their packages in previous articles, including one from last Halloween, so we thought it would be fun to do it again.

This article, and companion video, is not sponsored by Tokyo Treat. We just like trying their handy and reviewing foreign food. They do have an affiliate program, but I chose not to join it as it isn't very lucrative – and I like being subjective and honest about my reviews.

This year they had another wide variety of Halloween-themed candy, from gum to chocolate to corn sticks. There were a few duplicates in the box this year when compared to the 2020s box, so while it was still good, I didn't like it as good as last year's box.

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Himeji

Today I woke up, and skipped the shower. I normally don't do that, but the lodge didn't have any warm water, except for the bath water from last night which, but that had long been drained.

I brushed up, did my hair and went down to the morning meditation service. During the service, each member of the group would ring an iron cauldron with a metal hammer. Then each person sprinkled some scented dust into the smoldering incense and asked Buddha for enlightenment.

After the service, we excited the lodge and walked a building down the street and participated in the fire ceremony. Unlike the calm chanting of the first service, this one involved an ever growing fire, with much louder chanting. But like the first service, we participated in this one as well. Each member of the group was given a piece of wood and we were to write one thing we wanted to improve on in our lives on it. We then handed it to the monks, and they burned them all together, sending our wishes into the universe.

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Hiroshima

Hiroshima did not disappoint.

(Editor's Note: If you wish to sign a petition to help make the future nuclear free, please check out The Atom Project. Thank you.)

After a quick, non-complimentary breakfast, we boarded the train from our hotel and rode it for about 20 minutes, arriving at the A-Bomb (as in Atomic Bomb) Dome. It was so incredible to see. Back in 1945, the building was a landmark of the city. It was a famous dance hall, where performances and shows would often take place. Now it's a landmark for a completely different reason. Now there are no cries of joys or folk music coming from the structure. There is nothing but a haunting quiet that hangs around the burnt, dilapidated stone structure. The structure demanded silence; as if speaking too loud would cause it to finally collapse.

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Must See Things for Your Toronto Bucket List

Toronto is one of the most vibrant cities in the world and is home to a mix of cultures unlike anywhere else in Canada. It is the personification of Canada's proverbial mixing-pot. Toronto is comprised of six different districts, each its own unique neighbourhood. Much like the people who live in Toronto, the areas of Toronto are just as diverse.

With so much to do and see, many travellers are overwhelmed. If you're in town or passing through, here are some sights near Toronto that should be on your bucket list:

Toronto is proud of its arts and has one of the most progressive music scenes in the world. In fact, it's impossible to visit the city without sampling this iconic music scene. If you are a musicophile and you want to take in a live music performance or opera in Toronto, you will want to visit the Roy Thomson Hall.

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My 2019 In Review

With the twilight of 2019 upon us, I thought I'd recap a year of ups, downs, achievements, failures and lots and lots of blogging. To start things off, when I entered this year, I had the goal of making "Kenton de Jong Travel" my own personal version of Tourism Regina. After Tourism Regina and I broke ties in 2018, I thought I would take the opportunity to cover more local events and festivals without worrying about stepping on their toes.  

But, going forward into 2020 I think I will dial that back a bit. It wasn't received as well as I had hoped so I'll be looking at what to do different next year. For those who missed them, some of the local events I covered this year included:

I really wanted to cover The Trial of Louis Riel and Mosaic: A Festival of Cultures too, but both of those fell through this year. My trip to Coleman, Alberta also fell through, which is too bad, but hopefully, I can go next year.

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Journey to Ted Bundy’s Cellar

There are three things Salt Lake City is known for: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ted Bundy and skiing. Since we talked about the former already, and I'm no good at the latter, you can probably guess what this article is about.

From 1974 to 1978 Ted Bundy kidnapped, murdered and raped young women and girls across the United States. Between 1974 and 1975, he spent much of his time killing in Idaho, Utah, and Colorado, with his base being in Salt Lake City.

Bundy moved to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah Law School, and left his girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer in Seattle, Washington. However, he was not faithful to Kloepfer (besides the raping part) and would date at least a dozen other women while in Salt Lake City.

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