Southern Manitoba: Part 1 – Sites & Attractions

Having grown up in Manitoba, it’s very easy to take for granted what the province has to offer. Fields are common place, local attractions aren’t a big deal because you can go any time, and you have no idea what you have there unless you travel and see what other places lack.  After 3 years stranded in China, without the opportunity to go home, I got to see Manitoba with new eyes.  I’ve been planning this post for a long time, so I think it’s time I finally write about the place where I grew up.

Manitoba is located in Central Canada.  I grew up about 3 hours from Fargo, North Dakota.

Manitoba is known for harsh winters, mosquitoes and construction, but if you visit at the right time of year, there’s actually plenty to do!  Here’s a list of some of my favourite things to do when visiting home!

Take a Drive

I’ll start with the simple beauty of the province. Located in the prairies of Canada, Manitoba is the perfect place to visit if you want to see huge skies, beautiful fields and stunning sunsets. 

Pull over down a service road and just take in the beauty!

We bought an old 1981 Honda motorcycle years ago, and one of our favourite pastimes is cruising around and just enjoying the views.  Taking the back roads and smaller highways can be a great way to take in lots of natural beauty, and this was honestly one of the things I missed the most in my years away.

Dave and I, traveling in style!

Sunsets are especially beautiful in Manitoba. The days are long in summer, and if you go out from 9:30 to 10pm, you’ll see the most beautiful sights. The whole sky becomes colourful, and the prairies make the skies look endless, with no buildings or mountains to hide the view.

Assiniboine Zoo

No trip to Winnipeg is complete without a trip to Winnipeg’s Zoo. I have seen zoos all over the world, and I’ve grown to be very weary of them because, too often, the animals are given cramped spaces that are very different from their natural habitats.

They even have a beautiful butterfly garden!

Assiniboine Zoo is wonderful. The animals are given plenty of space and the zoo is involved with helping many injured species of birds. The polar bear exhibit is stunning and if you’re lucky enough to be there when they’re swimming, you can even watch them swim by overhead, from an underground tunnel.

You also need to stop by the bison enclosure…truely Manitoban!

The park around the zoo is the perfect place for a summer picnic as well. It’s a great place to bring kids and spent time with the family. Going to the zoo with my nieces and nephews is always a must-do for me when we are home. Some locals complain about the prices since the zoo was renovated a few years back, but maintaining these large enclosures and giving the animals a reasonable place to live costs money. For me, $20 for an adult tickets is peanuts when you consider these things, and all the fun to be had while you’re there.

Winnipeg Forks

The Winnipeg Forks is an important place historically.  The Red and Assiniboine rivers meet there, making it a perfect place for trade between indigenous tribes, and later on, fur traders.  Now, it’s a cool little place to walk around and take in the sights.

There are plenty of pretty paths to walk, and beautiful art is found throughout the site.

You can go antique shopping, grab some craft beer, get some food and shop for local specialties.  My favorite thing to do at The Forks though, is to walk the river path.  There are always geese, ducks, chipmunks and squirrels to see, and if you’re lucky you might even see a raccoon! 

If you’ve got time, you can also visit the Human Rights Museum, where you can learn about all sorts of social issues, both past and present.  It’s a huge museum, and you can easily spend a few hours, learning about everything from Indigenous Rights, to Refugee crices.  It’s been a few years since we were there, but we were really impressed when we visited!

The tall building in the back is the museum.  It is quite an iconic building, and most people either love it or hate it.  Since my husband pointed out that it looks like sky and wheat fields in architecture form, I’ve definitely grown to appreciate it more!

Finally, if you find yourself at The Forks in winter, rent some ice skates and skate down the longest ice rink in the world!  There are little shacks along the way, where you can rest and warm up. It’s a great way to spend some time during the winter!

I haven’t been to Winnipeg in winter for nearly 10 years now, so I had to borrow this photo from the Winnipeg Fork’s website

Visit a Lake

Manitoba is home to over 100,000 lakes.  In fact, 16% of this massive province is covered in fresh water. Lake Winnipeg is our biggest, and the southern tip is less than an hour away from the province’s capital. 

Many of the province’s lakes exist due to massive Lake Agassiz, which covered most of the area during the last ice age.  We also have a crater lake, Westhawk, which was caused by a meteor.  It’s quite deep and even a popular place for scuba diving!

Historical lake Aggasiz, covering most of Manitoba during the last ice age.
West Hawk Lake is near the Ontario boarder.

It’s no surprise that plenty of people have boats and cabins in Manitoba, and this year we were lucky enough to spend time cruising around these beautiful lakes with family and friends. Most of our time was spent on beautiful Falcon Lake, named after a Metis poet.  It only takes about an hour and a half to get there from Winnipeg, and it’s located in a beautiful provincial park.  Campsites book up quickly, and it’s easy to see why!

We saw loons, deer and ducks, and my uncle even recently saw a bear!  If you’re lucky enough to know someone with a boat, it’s a gorgeous way to spend a sunny afternoon in July!

Winnipeg Festivals

I can’t end this post without at least mentioning some of Winnipeg’s many summer festivals. The Pride festival takes place at the end of May or beginning of June every year, and is celebrated in Downtown and The Forks. Canada Day is another big one, with celebrations moving around the city. We have celebrated our country’s birthday in Osbourne village, The Forks and this past year it was at Assiniboina Downs.

My two favourite festivals are Fringe Fest & Folklorama. Winnipeg’s Fringe is always HUGE, with performers travelling from all over the continent to take part. We made it to one Fringe show this year, performed by a group that had travelled all the way from Portland, in the USA!

Folklorama began after we left this year, so sadly we didn’t make it, but we go any time we can! Winnipeg is an extremely diverse place culturally, and Folklorama gives people a chance to learn about all the different cultures represented in our great city. You can try different food and drinks, enjoy a dance or music show and generally just sit back and have a good time, learning while you do it!

Ellie and I enjoying ourselves at the Slovanian pavilion a few years ago

So there you have it: my favourite things to do in and around Winnipeg!  You might be tempted to drive through on your way to Alberta or Ontario, but don’t be shy about spending a few days in this beautiful province on your way through!  I’m proud to call it home.

As always, feel free to leave your comments below!  I’ll be back soon with Part 2 if my Manitoba posts!  That one will include some of my favourite places to eat!!

Island Hopping in Indonesia

There are more than 17,000 islands in the country of Indonesia.  In total, we were able to visit just 9 of them, but each provided us with new adventure.  From the architecture on Java, to the volcanoes of Sumatra, each area of the country was different and interesting in its own way.

One of my favourite Sumatran moments

Though many people travel to Indonesia for a particularly beautiful island called Bali, our last 10 days in Indonesia were split up between 3 lesser known islands:  Flores, Gili Trawangan and Lombok.   Here’s a little about each.


Flores is a beautiful island south of the equator.

Our time in Flores was short, but it served a very important purpose:  it where we flew in to see Komodo National Park.  Although there is more to see on the island than just Labuan Bajo, it’s all we had time for.  We spent the day before and the day after our trip cruising around LB and the surrounding area, enjoying the scenery and sunsets.

We rented a motorbike while we were there so we could make the most of the short time we had.  There are several great places to see sunsets, so we definitely did our best to check them out.  I’m glad we did.


We also spent Valentines day cruising around the countryside.  I can’t say the day was particularly eventful, but we met some very nice people and ate some beautiful and fresh avocados while we waited for a monsoon to pass.


Lombok is only a short boatride away from Bali.  It isn’t quite as touristy as Bali, but it’s quickly rising in popularity.

Our next stop was Lombok, though the first time we were on this island, it was just to transfer to Gili.  Unlike Flores, which was primarily Christian (we actually saw people leaving church on Ash Wednesday while we were there), Lombok is predominantly Muslim.  When we took a daytrip onto the island, we drove out to see this beautiful mosque in Mataram city.

Other than our trip to the mosque, we spent the day driving around, picking up final souvenirs for people back home and then had back to Gili island, where we were actually staying.  It was a nice day trip to break up the week of relaxation we were enjoying on Gili T.

Of course, we did have to go back one more time, because we flew back to Shanghai (via Malaysia) from Lombok airport.  Our final moments in Indonesia were spent on that pretty little island.

Gili Trawangan

There are 3 Gili Islands in total, and they’re all off the coast of Lombok.  They’re very small islands, without any cars or transportation aside from bicycles and horses.

Of the 3 Gili Islands, Gili T is the most popular and busy.  We chose this island because we thought there would be more to do there, and although our goal for Gili T was to relax….we knew we’d get stir crazy before long.

We did a few things on Gili T, like silver making, and our trip to Lombok, but mostly, we just relaxed.  We stayed at a beautiful little hotel called Marigio, which is owned by an Italian woman named Alessandra.  Her hotel was impecably clean and each day we ate an incredible Italian breakfast.  I spent a lot of time by that pool, working on my tan, finishing several books, and catching up on my journal.

Of course, sunsets on the Gili Islands are world famous.  There are a series of swings set up around the island where tourists can get pictures.  Dave and I aren’t big into selfies, but I loved the way the swings looked in the fading light.

The night market was also a pretty cool experience.  It was packed with people (a good sign) and all the vendors seemed to make a lot of the same stuff, but we could have probably eaten there every night we stayed on the island and tried something new each day.  The selection was great, and from what we saw, it was pretty clean!

My favourite experience on Gili T however, was not the sunsets or the food.  My favourite moments spent on Gili were spent in the ocean, ‘stalking’ sea turtles.  There is a sanctuary on Gili T and the turtles are protected in this part of the country.  So, if you are patient, you can often find these giant creatures chewing on seagrass near the beach of Gili T.

Sea turtles are very endangered at the moment, so sanctuaries and protected zones like this are extremely important to the ocean’s health.  After all, sea turtles keep reefs healthy and are an important part of the ocean eco system!

Dave even got this really cool video where you can see how close we were and how big this guy was!  We watched him for close to an hour.  What amazed me most was how he could stay underwater for so long without air!


So, this is how we spent our last 10 days in Indonesia.  We saw some beautiful sunsets, enjoyed some great food and had fun with local wild life.  I can’t think of a better way to finish a holiday!

I’ll be back soon with an overview of our experience in Indonesia, as well as tips for anyone looking to travel there soon!

Day 21 – Sunsets & Selfies

The Gili Islands are famous for their instagram-worthy sunsets. We missed our first couple because of rain, but today was clear so we rented a couple of bikes and head down to the beach.

Today’s sunset from our hotel pool

The problem with Instagram-worthy sunsets though, is that everyone wants them… And everyone wants to be in them. Asia is a very populated place… And everywhere we go, we struggle with getting pictures that don’t have a tonne of people standing around in them.

Spotted here… The common photo-ruiner

Of course, you can always get creative with your photos, like I tend to:

Can you spot him??

But sometimes you just need to give up and move on… Which is what I decided to do after waiting more than 5 minutes for this guy to realize he was in my shot…

As I turned to leave, so did he… While 5 other tourists simultaniously moved into my shot. So…I took one last angry photo(that accidently turned out REALLY well!!!