Author Archives: Ian Yacobucci

About Ian Yacobucci

Traveling the Trans-Siberian, mountaineering the Himalayas, or teaching in Tokyo I'm always trying something new. As a someone who's worked, studied, and traveled to 40+ countries around the world I'm here to share my experiences so you can do the same!

Home / Asia / Cambodia / Cambodia| Get the most out of Phnom Penh

Cambodia| Get the most out of Phnom Penh

Updated: January 11, 2016
By: Ian Yacobucci
dep of justice

Phnom Penh, KH – motorcycle cruises past Department of Justice Phnom Penh Cambodia (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

If you’re coming to Cambodia to experience its world famous temples or natural beautry Phnom Penh you chose the wrong Cambodian city to visit.  Although not the most popular tourist city in Cambodia, as the national capital, Phnom Penh is a valuable starting point for visitors planning to travel this South East Asian country.

Cambodia’s tumultuous history holds much of its modern foundation in Phnom Penh, strongly attributed to the Khmer Rouge take over on the 17th of April 1975.

In order to truly understand Cambodia’s current situation it’s important to learn the basics of the country’s historical context, and Phnom Penh is the perfect place to do this.

As a working city with a few must visit attractions Phnom Penh a great place to recover from jet lag and rest.  Here’s what you should stretch over a day or two if you want to get the most out of your visit to Phnom Penh

 Get a Tuk Tuk

Surprisingly, no one walks in Phnom Penh.  Seriously, scooters, cars, trucks, and tuk tuks dominate the roads and the few sidewalks that exist in the city centre. For tourists and locals alike, Tuk Tuks are the main mode of transportation.

Choosing a tuk tuk to drive you around is a negotiating process and there are tones of websites that will help you gauge a fair price.  What you willing to pay is what its worth but $20 for the day is a good start (you can throw in a lunch for your driver too).  My only advice would be to find a friendly person who speaks relatively good English so you can communicate with them and learn about what life is like in Phnom Penh.

Note: You can also get your driver to take you to a place to purchase bus tickets for the next leg of your trip (Get your tickets a day before).

Tuol Sleng

Phnom Penh, KH – Memorial to Victims of the Democratic Kampuchea Regime at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

 Visit Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

An important first stop for your introductory history lesson to the tragic Khmer Rouge history that left deep national scars on Cambodia.  Tuol Sleng (also called S-21) was one of more than 200 secret prison centres scattered across the country.  In this horrific prison men, women and children were abducted, imprisoned and tortured by the Khmer Rouge.  Of the more than 3 million Cambodians that were killed by the Khmer Rouge between 12, 000 and 20, 000 people were imprisoned here.  Only 12 were confirmed survivors.

If you’re visiting Cambodia, no matter how horrible these atrocities were, it is our international responsibility as global citizens to bare witness to what humans are capable of so that we can stand up against human injustices such as the Cambodian Genocide.

BUY THE AUDIO TOUR $3
ENTRY $3
TIME: 1:30 – 2 hrs

Note: You can pay with large bills (100$) that machines give out and receive more functional change to use on your journey.

Killing Fields Monument

Phnom Penh, KH – Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre Monument (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Visit the Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre (Killing Fields)

The most well known of more than 300 killing fields across Cambodia used by Pol Pot’s Democratic Kampuchea regime to rid the country of enemies of the state (mostly innocent Cambodians), Choeung Ek is the location of where the government killed and disposed of the thousands of prisoners who were captive at S-21.

Visiting this place and witnessing the barbaric and cruel crimes of the Khmer Rouge will help you fully understand what happened to Cambodia during the ultra communist years from 1975-79.  At the killing fields you will literally be walking over the mass graves of thousands of people where bones and clothes can still be seen in the ground before ending up at the memorial stupa filled with the remains (hundreds of sculls and bones) of the victims are reverently preserved.  Bare witness, be respectful, and remind yourself of what you’re taking pictures of and why.

BUY THE AUDIO TOUR $3
ENTRY $3
TIME: 30 min– 1 hr

Note: You can pay with large bills (100$) that machines give out and receive more functional change to use on your journey.

Central Market

If buying counterfeit anything is your thing or you need to pick up an item or two that you’re missing than the massive Central Market is a worthwhile stop.

This is a barter market but remember not to be insulting when trying find a deal.

Number 1 barter rule: What you’re willing to pay is what it’s worth.

rooftop pool

Phnom Penh, KH – relaxing by the rooftop pool (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Relax

Phnom Penh is a massive sprawling city that doen’t have an overwhelming number of tourist things to do so make sure you take advantage of it by staying at a comfortable hotel, preferably with a pool and be sure to relax.

riverside

Phnom Penh, KH – walking along the Mekong riverside in Phnom Penh (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Evening in Sisowath Quay (river side)

After a full day of history, a little shopping, and some relaxation you can end your day by spending the evening along Phnom Penh’s riverside.  Popular for expats and Cambodian’s alike you can enjoy lights, sights, and sounds of the local Cambodians spending time along the Meykong River’s esplanade, which is lined with palm trees and green space, or hit up some of the cities better restaurants and bars.  It’s a great atmosphere to grab a beer or a bite to eat, just be aware that as a touristy area there will be the typical hawkers selling drugs and tuk tuk rides by the plenty.

Happy Travels,

Yak

Home / Europe / Switzerland / Inspire Instagram with pics of Bern’s best viewpoints

Inspire Instagram with pics of Bern’s best viewpoints

Updated: August 5, 2015
By: Ian Yacobucci
Nydeggbrucke bridge

View from Nydeggbrucke bridge Bern, Switzerland (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels

If you’re travelling in Europe there’s little doubt that your friends tired of drunk Instagram selfies, 101 medieval churches, cobble stoned streets, and the exact same pictures as every other tourist who tagged #europe2015.

Be original, make your way to the Swiss capital Bern and take some pictures that will inspire your Instagram followers to travel to Europe too.

Since the early 1400’s Bern’s medieval architecture has remained virtually unchanged.  Since the early 1400’s!  That’s more than 2000 years older than Canada.  It’s so old you can eat at 500-year-old restaurant; with WIFI.

Founded in 1191, Bern is recognized as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site.  The Old City is virtually surrounded by the sapphire Aare river, and in the distance you can see the Swiss Alps.  Yes, there are some viewpoints that will make your friends at home wish they too took a vacation to the Swiss capital.  Oh, and these places are free!

Bern Rose Gardens

The easiest was to visit the Rose Gardens is to take the #10 (Ostermundigen) bus from Kornhausplatz (between Kramgasse and Rathausgasse).  You get picked up at Waldeck and dropped off two stops later at Rosengarten.

At the Rose Gardens there’s a small restaurant where you can grab a coffee or some food after snapping the perfect picture of Bern.  Afterwards you can take the small footpath in front of the restaurant back to Nydeggbrucke bridge.

Bern Rose Gardens

View from atop the Bern Rose Garden (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Nydeggbrücke Bridge, Bern

This bridge is one of the earliest bridges to cross the Aare River.  From the middle of the bridge you get a great view facing back towards the old city of Bern.  It’s also right next to the Bear pits and Altes Tramdepot Bern’s first microbrewery with good food and great beer (the place gets packed on the weekends to make a reservation).

Behind the Bern Bundeshaus (Swiss Parliament)

From behind the Swiss parliament buildings you get one of the best views in Bern.  On a clear day you can see the Swiss Alps in the background with a view of the Bern History Museum as the Aare snakes through the foreground.  After snapping a great picture you can go for a tour of parliament, play chess on one of the giant chessboards, or relax a bench as you take in the best view in Bern.

Bundeshaus view

View from behind Bern Bundeshaus (Swiss Parliament) (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

So save your money.  Don’t go spending 5 CHF to climb to the top of the Cathedral tower.  Go on a little adventure and explore the best viewpoints in Bern.   Take your time, stop off at coffee shops along the way, eat some lunch, and capture some incredible Instagram posts  that will inspire your friends to visit Europe!

Happy Travels!

Yak

 

 

 

 

Home / Asia / Japan / How to buy a cellphone in Japan

How to buy a cellphone in Japan

Updated: April 30, 2015
By: Ian Yacobucci
TOKYO, JAPAN - Buying a prepaid cellphone in Akihabara (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

TOKYO, JAPAN – Buying a prepaid cellphone in Akihabara (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

With wifi and roaming plans it’s easy to keep in contact with family members and friends these days, but what happens when you need a cellphone to stay connected with new friends while you’re working in a new country.

I found it important to buy a prepaid cellphone in Japan because I wanted to be a part of the community I was living in.  The problem was that getting a prepaid cellphone in Japan isn’t as easy as most countries.

I learned the hard way because the last time I was working in Japan I wasn’t able to get a prepaid cellphone.  Back in 2008,  getting a prepaid cellphone wasn’t an option. Back then, even wifi didin’t exist, and I wasn’t interested in buying a several hundred dollar cellphone under contract for a three month work trip.

Today, if you’re needing to get connected with your community in Japan, you can stop wondering “if” you can get a prepaid cellphone in Japan and start the process to getting one.

You can easily get a pre-paid cellphone or a contract if you’re planning on working in Japan. However, if you’re just visiting for a short time it’s easier to either go without a cellphone and use internet services like Skype and Magicjack, or rent a cellphone from a Japanese airport (which you return upon your departure).

As an expat, before you get a cellphone in Japan, there are a few things you need to have with you.

1.  You need to have a residency (alien) card that you’ve already registered with city hall.

2.  You need your passport.

When buying a cellphone there are two options to choose from. The first is a pre-paid option where you buy a phone and add money to a sim card. The second option is to get a cellphone under contract. If you want to get a contract you need to make sure that you’re going to be in the country for two years or more because the minimum contract period is two years, no exceptions, and no cancellations.

If you’re living in Tokyo here’s a breakdown of how to get a cellphone, how much it costs and where you can get it.

SoftBank – Prepaid option

Phone:

The cheapest option is the 2000¥ ($20 USD) option for the phone.   There is also a 5000¥ ($50 USD) option if you’re interested in watching TV on your phone.

Prepaid Card:

There are two prepaid options. The first costs 3000 ¥ ($30 USD) and the second costs 5000 ¥ ($50 USD). There are no deals for buying the more expensive card, it just gives you more money.

What you get:

Unlimited texts – 300 ¥ for 30 days

National calls – 9 ¥ for six seconds (price as listed in the SoftBank cellphone brochure) or 90¥ per minute

Where to get a prepaid cellphone in Tokyo:

If you’re in Tokyo the best place to buy a prepaid cellphone is at “Yotobashi Camera” located in Akihabara

  • To go to Akihabara station
  • Take the Showa-Dori (Akihabara Electric Town) Exit
  • Turn left and you’re there

Happy Travels!

Yak

Home / Travel Photography / Beyond the lens / Travel Photo| India’s election day picture louder than words

Travel Photo| India’s election day picture louder than words

Updated: December 5, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
India Train

AGRA, INDIA – FEBRUARY 2012 – Student holds onto a train seat as he travels home on a four hour train ride from Agra to Delhi for India’s national elections in 2012 (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

India’s future:

Back in 2012 when I was training as a mountaineer with the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute I decided to visit Agra and the Taj Mahal before heading East to West Bengal.  To make a long story short, the Indian airline I was planning to fly with went bankrupt and the day I planned to head back to Delhi was the day everyone was returning to their home cities to vote.

Luckily, with the help from the manager at my hotel, I was able to secure a seat on the overpacked train to Delhi.  Elections are extremely important in the world’s second most populated country with more than 1.2 billion people.  Religious, cultural, historical, economic and ethnic diversity make governing India a huge challenge for any politician and extremely important to the wellbeing of its populace.

Sitting on the train absorbing the chaotic atmosphere, watching people deep in discussion, people sleeping, eating and drinking as the chaiwala called out to the masses.  I captured this quiet thought provoking image in the eye of the human cyclone.  For me it represents the many hands of the country.  It represents men, women, and children who make up a country in transition a country that wants change; that needs change.

What do you see in this image?

Happy travels,

Yak

 

Home / Travel Photography / Beyond the lens / Travel Photo| Iconic Tokyo city landscape

Travel Photo| Iconic Tokyo city landscape

Updated: December 2, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
Tokyo Sepia

TOKYO, JAPAN – DECEMBER 2008 – Shinjuku is one of busiest places in Tokyo. From the main train station bridges, like the one this picture is taken from, features the iconic city scape Tokyo is known for (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Shinjuku Tokyo:

When I first started working overseas iPhones had just come out but were too expensive for a traveler budget, DSLR camera’s were only used by professionals, and I was twenty-four and just out of university.  Armed with my Cannon Powershot I spent three months working in Tokyo, Japan.  It was an exciting time to explore photography and get to know my surroundings.

This picture was taken near the end of my first teaching stint in the city on a December walk to see the Christmas lights and do some shopping in Shinjuku.  I chose to shoot it in sepia because it encapsulates the city as a warm and joyful memory.  Spending those cold autumn and winter evenings getting lost in one of the worlds biggest cities yet feeling at home; I loved it.

Japan is still one of my favourite countries in the world and I think it’s a place everyone should visit if given the chance!

Happy Travels,

Yak

 

Home / South America / Ecuador / Ecuador dentist disaster a lesson in medical tourism dangers

Ecuador dentist disaster a lesson in medical tourism dangers

Updated: November 25, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
Eucador Dentist

GUAYAQUIL, ECUADOR – MARCH 2014 – CNA Dental office where I experienced what it’s like to visit a dentist in Ecuador (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Lying back in the faded green 1970’s dentist chair I looked right and smiled at Laura and her mother, la signora, who were sitting across the room.   Next to them was an old green desk cluttered with a mini city of disorganized paper piles.   The dentists stood up from his desk and walked past them across length of the room. Watching him from my chair I decided there was no freaking way I was going to get any dental work done in this place, but it was already too late.

It all started during a dinner conversation the night before when the cost of medical work came up. Somehow it was mentioned that getting your teeth cleaned in Ecuador costs about thirty American dollars, and filling cavities ranges from twenty to forty dollar per filling.

Now, I’m not a medical tourist and I don’t travel to save money on medical procedures, but to save $200 for a teeth cleaning (the average cost in Canada) I decided to give it a try. It would be my second cleaning overseas, the first being a professional yet disappointing dental cleaning experience in Tokyo, Japan.

Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city with a busy population of about four million people. On the day we set out for the dentist, an early morning rainfall turned to light drizzle leaving the Sunday morning streets quiet and traffic free. Visiting the dentist and barber seemed like a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon so my Couchsurfing host family booked two appointments and brought me to the city centre.

Parked on a street lined with shops and low-rise apartments we walked towards the dentist office. As we walked, I pictured a modern dental office with snazzy new chairs, LCD screens, marble floors, and lavishly decorated with tropical office ferns. But soon after we started walking my pre-conceptions of a first class dentist in Ecuador were shattered when we turned left down a dark alleyway.

As the rain dripped from the decrepit and rusting tin awning above, I tried not to slip on the shadowed alleyway’s rust stained tile we walked along. After a few meters cautiously walking like a high beam acrobat we arrived at a stairwell, buzzed up, and entered the building.

The wooden stairs that lead to the main landing were poorly lit and the light at the top blinked like a dying star’s last flickers of life.   As we walked up I noticed the old brow paint that covered the stairwell walls was peeling to reveal blotches of lime green hues beneath. Optimistically, with a traveler’s spirit, I resolved to at least follow through with the teeth cleaning and consider the cavities after. I mean, la Signora went to a lot of trouble to book my appointment and I didn’t want to be rude.

Dr. Boris met us at the top of the first floor, greeted me with a handshake, and guided us into the waiting room before gesturing us to sit. The tiny waiting area seemed normal with a small mahogany coffee table topped with a few magazines in the centre, and four leather sitting chairs lining the walls. Perhaps I was wrong to judge the alleyway.

As we flipped through the magazines la signora showed me pictures of things I should see in Ecuador by pointing at the images of volcanoes, mountains, and pristine beaches she recognized in a local travel magazine. In no time I was up. Dr. Boris led us from the waiting room and into the dental office as he said goodbye to his last client. Once we entered and the old wooden door closed behind us I finally confirmed my worst fears, this wasn’t Canada and I was not prepared for this.

The first thing I noticed was that there was no visible sterilization equipment. On the right side of the room were two worn out and faded dental chairs that looked like they belonged on episode of the walking dead rather than a dental office. Wishing I could turn around and walk out, Dr. Boris ushered me over to the far right corner of the room and into one of the decrepit dental chairs located next to to a large window that overlooked the street.

Once I was seated and comfortable, Dr. Boris sat down between the chair and the window then looked over at Laura and la signora who were sitting across the room. Not being able to communicate, Laura translated that I was interested in getting my teeth cleaned. Spinning his chair to face the window, underneath which his dental tools were located, I freaked! The lady who finished just before me had left the tooth gunk from her recent work sitting in a little bowl beside the chair I was sitting in. Not only that, but I noticed Dr. Boris had only one set of tools and there was no sterilization equipment in sight.

Calming myself, I realized that I was probably over thinking the situation so I gave Dr. Boris benefit of the doubt and tried to relax in the chair. Turning back around, Dr. Boris laid a piece of brown paper towel across my chest, picked up a water pic, and without any protective eye wear or that suction tube dentists use to get rid of access mouth water, pulled the overhead lamp above my face and started spraying.

Water and plaque sprayed in all directions as he cleaned. Like an innocent bystander standing too close to a street puddle, as an unaware car drives by, I got soaked. Every few minutes the water boarding would stop and I’d get a chance to spit into the bowl beside the chair with everyone’s tooth gunk looking back at me like frog eyes in a swamp..

Finally the torture ended as Dr. Boris walked across the room, giving me a chance to catch my breath and clean myself with the brown elementary school paper towel that absorbed the water like tree bark. Staring at the ceiling I wondered what the heck I had gotten myself into. Now that the he was done with the water pic I figured Dr. Boris was going to get sterilized dental equipment to finish cleaning the hard plaque that the water pic missed. Wrong! Instead he opened a black cabinet located across the room, bent over, and took out a tattered shoe-sized box that looked like it hadn’t been sitting untouched for a decade. Sitting back beside me he opened it and pulled out a giant silver gun that looked like the mini laser weapon Will Smith used in Men in Black.

“Don’t worry, it’s for teeth cleaning,” Laura translated in a thick Spanish accent. Comforting as those kind words were supposed to be I was not at ease. What was I thinking getting strangers to set up a dentist appointment in a country where I couldn’t communicate because I didn’t speak the language or had any idea of the medical standards. But it was to late, loading the gun from beneath he inserted a CO2 cartridge, handed me another paper towel, leaned over, aimed the weapon at my face and pressed the trigger.

A fine dust blasted my teeth dispersing a cloud of particles like a military flashbang into my mouth, nose, and eyes. I closed my eyes tight and held my breath hoping that whatever I was getting a dose of was good for my teeth and free of any long-term side effects.   Eventually, I cracked as the seconds passed and I took in a big breath of the powder that was suffocating me. There was no way of stopping Dr. Boris because I couldn’t communicate with the dust like chemical choking me, so I kept my eyes closed tight, tried to breathe as little as possible, and accepted it.

When it was all over he gave me a chance to brush the scratchy fine particles off my face before grabbing a dental mirror to check my mouth for cavities. When he finished searching Laura translated that I had I had four cavities and that two of them should be addressed immediately. After my traumatic cleaning experience I decided to politely decline any further dental work, paid my thirty dollars for services rendered, and headed off to a wonderfully uneventful haircut.

Back in Canada, first thing I did when I got home was visit the dentist where I paid the $200 for a professional cleaning, had x-rays of my mouth taken, found out that I actually had 10 cavities (5 of which needed to be filled) and that the four cavities Dr. Boris suggested I get filled were just stains.

In the end, I paid $1100 to get everything taken care of in Canada by a professionally licensed Canadian doctor and came out with an important lesson in medical tourism. If you’re planning on going overseas for medical procedures you should probably do some research, know whom you’re working with, and be able to speak the language.

Happy Travels,

Yak

Have you had any crazy medical experiences while overseas??

 

Home / Travel Photography / Beyond the lens / Travel Photo| Incredible view of Prague

Travel Photo| Incredible view of Prague

Updated: November 12, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
Prague hike

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC – SEPTEMBER 2013 – Looking out over Prague with fellow Couchsurfers on a hike meet up (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Couchsurfing in Prague:

While backpacking through Europe with my sister we decided to see if we could find a couch to crash on in Prague.  Reluctantly, we ended up having to book a hostel but discovered that the Prague Couchsurfing community was hosting a series of events during the weekend we visited the city.  Luckily we joined up with a hiking group who took us on a fantastic hike just outside the city, and got the chance to learn a bit about the cities more contemporary history.

After the hike we joined some of the group for a traditional meal at a local brewery, but before heading down we all stopped to take in the view from its surrounding hillsides.  It was a great way to meet some new people, check out a part of the area that most tourists wouldn’t get a chance to explore, and snap a unique photo.

What I used: ISO 200 – 50mm – F/4.8 – Sec 1/2500

Happy shooting,

Yak

Home / South America / Ecuador / Counterfeit money how I schemed my way back to zero

Counterfeit money how I schemed my way back to zero

Updated: November 6, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
Counterfeit American money

MONTANITA, ECUADOR – MARCH 2014 – Back of a counterfeit American twenty-dollar bill I received at a currency exchange (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

To tell you the truth, it wasn’t for lack of trying that I couldn’t get rid of the counterfeit twenty-dollar bill I found amongst my real American cash while traveling in Ecuador. A feat that would consume a good deal of time, and several battles with my conscience, while surfing and partying in Montanita on Ecuador’s Pacific coast.

The quaint surf-town that transforms into the biggest party on the Ecuadorian coast was the last place I thought I’d find a couple fake twenty-dollar bills amongst the American currency tucked secretly away in the dark crevices of my backpack.  Then again, I was a foreigner in a fantasyland of dark clubs and cheap drinks where thousands of people flock when the weekend hits.

It all started on one of those frenetic nights out in the party capital of Ecuador.  Carlos, one of Montanita’s infamous mixologists, spends most nights fancifully flipping out colourful alcohol ridden fruit drinks and snapping picks with visitors along Montanita’s cocktail alley.

Cocktail alley naturally attracts flocks of people who come to start untamed nights out sitting in red and white lawn chairs as they share drinks and conversation with tourists, Ecuadorians, and locals alike.  It’s here that I started my night with Carlos and his devilishly tasty rum saturated fruit bombs.

“Falsa,” he said as he handed back the crisp new twenty-dollar bill I had just given him in exchange for the two drinks my friend and I had consumed.  It’s real I assured him as I handed it back reaffirming that it was a new one from Canada.

Montanita Cocktail Alley

MONTANITA, ECUADOR – MARCH 2014 – Out for a drink on Montanita’s cocktail alley with Carlo’s the mixologist and Columbian friend Jorge (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

I could have sworn I had brought the money directly from my Canadian bank to Ecuador.  That’s when then I remembered that businesses in Ecuador don’t accept fifty-dollar bills and I was forced to change some of it at an exchange booth in Guayaquil.  Guayaquil, being the largest city in Ecuador, is where I figure I unassumingly got duped into taking two freshly minted, incredibly fake, counterfeit twenty-dollar American bills along with a half-dozen real tens.

Counterfeit money is not something new in Ecuador.  In fact, shortly after the Ecuador switched from the sucre to the American dollar in 2000, illegitimate currency started percolating into the country via Columbia.As the story goes, Columbian taxi drivers were bringing in thousands of dollars in fake currency and exchanging it with the real thing through daily transactions and other illegal practices.

The night I discovered I had come by forty-dollars in counterfeits was no big deal, since the club I went to cost $15 and the attendant was collecting money as fast as she could get people in.  By slipping a fake twenty under a real one I was able reinsert the currency back into the system and out of my wallet.  To be honest, the club was absolutely horrible and completely empty, so ironically, I still felt like I had been ripped off.

Happy that I wasn’t completely at a loss over my recently acquired counterfeit money, I realized that there was one problem; I still had another twenty to get rid of. You’d think it’d be easy to get rid of a fake currency when there are hundreds of places to do it. However, in Ecuador this isn’t the case because people know what to look for and no one wants to get ripped off.

Realizing this, my first job was to make the bill look well used and more realistic, since it was in pristine condition and noticeably fake under good light.  With some advice from a friend of mine I decided to take the bill for a swim in the ocean.  When I took the mashed up twenty out of my board short pocket, it certainly looked like the idea had worked.  The bill had gained years of use from just five minutes in the water, but since it was made out of paper (not currency paper) it ripped and looked even more fake than before.

Luckily, a little tape fixed the bill, but making it look real wasn’t the only problem to getting rid of the money.  The other problem was my conscience.  Montanita is a small seaside village, and in a few short weeks I had already begun establishing relationships with the shopkeepers, restaurant staff, and bar owners.  The longer I stayed in Montanita the harder it was to justify tricking one the wonderful people I was meeting into taking the counterfeit money, and so I resolved to hold onto the bill as a souvenir.

Montanita

MONTANITA, ECUADOR – MARCH 2014 – Main street in Montanita at night where artists selling crafts, restaurants, bars, and clubs are located (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Finally, it was time to leave Montanita and head back to Quito before returning home to Canada.  Realizing that I would be taking a late evening taxi from the airport in Quito to my hotel downtown, I resolved to give it one last try and finally rid myself of my last fake twenty-dollar bill.

Duping the taxi was the perfect plan.  It was dark and late, the driver had probably been on the road for a while, and there was a good chance that I could just hand over the money, grab my bags, and head into the hotel without any trouble.  I even planned to get dropped off around the corner so the driver wouldn’t find me and harass the hotel staff.

When the driver picked me up at the airport he quoted my cab fare at twenty-seven dollars, which was perfect amount to go through with my plan.  By placing a real ten-dollar bill over the counterfeit twenty I was hoping that I’d leave right after handing over the money, and that the tip incentive would be enough to distract the driver.  I didn’t feel good about it, but neither did I want to be the one who got ripped off.

Sitting in the front seat of the taxi I went over the scenario in my head and resolved to hand over the money and be done with it.  Why should I be the one that gets screwed, I thought.  The reality was that the money was a real thing, looked relatively realistic, and would probably find its way through the system somehow.

As my conniving came to an end I determined to just do it and move on.  That’s when the taxi driver looked over and started a conversation with me.  After a few minutes of conversation, I noticed that he was a kind looking man and spoke with a gentle voice in his maroon sweater vest and grey tie.

He garnered respect with his outfit and demeanor, liked his job, loved his family, and was genuinely interested in me. On that hour-long ride from the airport to Quito central we became friends.  We talked family, life, sports, love, and politics all in broken Spanish, Italian, and English.  We laughed, we philosophized, we reflected on the world, and when I arrived at the hotel I reached in my wallet and handed him all real American bills (no counterfeit).

In the end, I returned home with my counterfeit twenty-dollars and learned that the kindness and generosity of people is worth more than a few dollars.  Honesty, respect, and loving your neighbors no matter where you are in the world is far more important than ripping someone off for your own benefit.  Ultimately, I learned to always check your change no matter where you are in the world, and that corporations like McDonalds are considered individual people according to law so giving them your fake money is okay in my books.

Lets just say the American McDonalds coffee I had the other day tasted amazing!

Happy Travels,

Yak

Home / Europe / Ireland / Epic Ireland road trip to do before you die

Epic Ireland road trip to do before you die

Updated: November 4, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
Downhill Beach

IRELAND – Downhill Beach Iron Islands location Game of Thrones (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

The ultimate Ireland road trip itinerary: eight unforgettable days exploring the Emerald Isle on a road trip trip to make your Irish friends proud.

Ancient ruins older than the Egyptian pyramids, the most stunning vistas at every turn, Game of Thrones shooting locations, whisky tasting, and driving 100km an hour on winding roads that barely fit two cars and appear to be the inspiration for racing video games are just start of an epic Ireland road trip!

In fact, the least exciting thing about visiting Ireland is drinking Guinness; so yeah, it’s pretty awesome.  With so much to do and so many places to see where do you even start creating the perfect Ireland road trip itinerary? Well fear not fellow travelers!

On a recent trip with Irish travel blogger and friend David M Byrne, we “did” Ireland the way it should be traveled.  No really, this guide has almost every worthwhile stop, creating a complete Ireland road trip itinerary that is guaranteed to make your Irish friends proud.

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary – Day 1

Arrive in Dublin  Overnight in Ballycastle – this small ocean side town is a great stop before you head to the Causeway costal drive of Northern Ireland.  If you’re there in August you can plan your stay for the last Monday and Tuesday in August for the Auld Lammas fair dating back more than 400 years!

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary - Day 2

Giants Causeway

IRELAND – People taking a photo op on the Giants Causeway (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Causeway Coastal Drive – costal drive through Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland

Carick-A-Rede Rope Bridge – walk across the1800s salmon fishing bridge 100ft above the sea.  High winds sometimes close the bridge as I experienced but it’s still worth a visit and a few pictures.

Ballintoy Harbour – stop for a picture at the setting of the Game of Thrones Pike Harbor.

White Park Bay – this picturesque beach is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy an incredible Irish view!

Giants Causeway (for free) – the only UNESCO site in Northern Ireland, this geologic wonder is a must do. You can visit the Giants Causeway for free instead of being suckered into paying like all the other tourists.  What you do is park at the hotel (gets you parked super close to the attraction) then go in for a coffee or a drink.  Afterwards, you walk to the side of the hotel (where the tourist shop is) and take the footpath across the grassy knoll over the visitors center then down the stairs.

Bushmills Distillery – I like learning about whisky so this was a given as the worlds oldest licensed brewer.  The 1608 Bushmills is whisky tour that’s worth a visit.  It’s also my favourite in Irish whisky.

Downhill beach – A great beach with a few surfers and a really cool observatory.  Downhill beach was the shooting location for the Game of Thrones Iron Islands.  If you walk down to the right of the beach there’s a really cool gave worth checking out.

Overnight in Bundorn -  A famous Irish surf spot in the winter Bundorn is a bustling  summer tourist spot with a lot of good places to sleep, eat, and drink.

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary – Day 3

Connemara National Park

IRELAND – Hikers taking in the view from Connemara National Park hiking trail (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Westport – stop off for lunch at this traditional Irish town.  It’s definitely worth a wander around.

Kylemore Abbey – a cool stop for a photo but the 13 Euro ticket to see what’s inside isn’t worth the money.  We skipped it and opted to save our coffee money, took a picture, and moved on.

Connemara National Park – one of a handful of national parks in Ireland Connemara National Park is a great stop with an awesome hike called the diamond loop.  It’s free and takes a couple hours.  It has some fantastic views and exhibits the natural history of this region.

Overnight in Knockcroghery – so you can say you stayed in a place that you can’t even pronounce.

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary -Day 4

Cliffs of Moher

IRELAND – Cliffs of Moher from the main viewing area (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Kilmacduagh Monastery – No tourists visit here but it’s an amazing 6th century monastery with a pristine round tower.  It’s open to explore and walk around and literally in a farmer’s field.  Leave some time here because this place will take you back to the 6th century and won’t be on  many tourist maps!

Ciffs of Moher – You can’t miss this geologic wonder.  The 200m cliffs are one of the most popular tourist sights in Ireland, and for good reason.  If you want to truly see the beauty of the cliffs walk right towards the lookout then walk along the Burren Way.

Killimer Tarbert ferry – save time and get to the Dingle Peninsula with a ferry trip across the mouth of the River Shannon the longest river in Ireland.

Conor Pass – drive the highest mountain pass in Ireland to get to Dingle.  This drive is insane and does not have nearly enough room for two cars, which makes it a pretty exciting drive.

Overnight in Dingle – one of the most famous Irish cultural towns enjoy traditional Irish music and great food.  Don’t forget to snap a pic with the broze statue of Fungie the dolphin.

Ireland Road Trip Itinerary - Day 5

Blasket Island

IRELAND – Blasket Island Lookout overlooking the in Dingle Peninsula (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Drive the Dingle Peninsula – take Sleahead drive and enjoy the scenery.  Make sure to make time for stops because around every bend is a breathtaking vista worth a few pictures.

Blasket Islands Lookout – DON’T MISS THIS because it’s probably the most incredible view in Ireland!

Gallarus Oratory – stop to see one of the oldest examples of ancient monastic architecture.  Built by stacking stones this church is an incredible example of ancient Irish culture and architecture.

Kilmacduagh Church – Really cool stop if you’re not too churched out.  There are no tourists here and it’s great for a few pictures.  Some of the Gallarus Oratory film highlights the churches archeological features.

Drive the Ring Kerry – Much like the Dingle Peninsula the Ring of Kerry is another costal drive that will have you stopping for pictures at every turn.

Night out in Cork City – a great university town with live music, good eats, and a fun nightlife.  This is where you’ll want to take a break to let loose and sleep in a bit!

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary - Day 6

Cohb

IRELAND – View of Cobh from the port with St. Coleman’s Cathedral in the background (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Explore Cobh Cobh is one of the pretties towns in Ireland.  Nestled along a hillside with St. Coleman’s Cathedral stoically perched high above the town, Cobh is a city made for walking.  Tour along the winding hillside streets as you explore the small cafe’s and pubs.  Venture away from the main avenue and get lost in your camera as you visit the last docking point of the Titanic.

Titanic museum – Cobh was the final stop for the Titanic before it embarked on it’s maiden voyage.  With a profile and replica ticket this museum takes you on a journey of what the Titanic was like.  It’s a great museum and worth the money to see.  The museum is interactive and short enough that you don’t get bored.

Blarney castle – Most tourists make the stop here so it’s on the list, but when I arrived and found out it was 12 Euros and an 1hr queue to kiss the blarney stone I said forget it.  There are so many cooler things to see in Ireland, and my friends already complain that I have the gift of the gab (which kissing the blarney stone gives you).

Overnight in Middleton

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary - Day 7

 The Rock of Cashel

IRELAND – View of an ancient abbey from The Rock of Cashel (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Jameson Distillery – Located Middleton Jameson is the world’s most popular whisky.  The tour was pretty good and has a few good photo ops.  The whisky isn’t bad either.

The Rock of Cashel – Close to Middleton in Co. Tipperary the Rock of Cashel is way better than the Blarney Castle and offers in depth tours of it’s royal and monastic past.  The Queen Elizabeth took the time to visit so you should too!

Visit Kilkenny – Another great city with a vibrant night life.  Kilkenny is a great city to watch some traditional Irish sports like Gaelic football or Hurling and crush a few beers.

Overnight in Wicklow

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary - Day 8

Powers Court Gardens

IRELAND – View of Powers Court Gardens with the sugar loaf in the background (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Wicklow – A popular town for visitors to Ireland Wicklow is a short drive from Dublin and has a few of Irelands most famous sites, a really nice beach, and the ancient Black Castle ruins that date back to the Vikings.

Glendalough – this is the location of Ireland’s most famous round tower.

Powers Court Estate and Gardens – rated 3rd most beautiful gardens in the world by National Geographic Powers Court is worth a visit.  You’ll see the colourful Sugar Loaf mountain in the background and can enjoy a hike around the gardens.

Climb Sugar Loaf – Located in Wicklow this small mountain only takes 20 minutes to climb and overlooks Dublin and Wicklow.  Don’t leave anything in the car because the parking lot is prone to theft.

Overnight in Wicklow

View from atop the Sugar Loaf

IRELAND – View of Wicklow’s surrounding area from atop the Sugar Loaf (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Must see highlights of this Ireland Road Trip

Giants Causeway

Connemara National Park

Ciffs of Moher Dingle Peninsula

Blasket islands lookout

Ring Kerry

 

Sláinte,

Yak

Home / Videos / Video| Best stops on California’s Pacific Coast Highway

Video| Best stops on California’s Pacific Coast Highway

Updated: October 29, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci

Trip highlights along the most beautiful costal drive in the world California, USA

Highway 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, is one of the best drives in the world.  Winding along California’s Pacific coast, this top costal drive is a must visit for car enthusiasts, adventurers, and people who love the outdoors; heck, it’s for everyone!  Here you’ll discover the must see stops along Califonia’s costal route, which is the perfect place to road trip.  Some of the must see destinations along Highway 1 include Big Sur, Anthony Molena State Park, Juliet Pfiefer State Park and seeing elephant seals along the costal.   Don’t miss out, get there as soon as you can and get excited with this video

Happy Travels,

Yak