Money, Money, Money…A song and also real life!….

Every evening around dusk, prior to Frank and the Mrs. (to his left) go off into the bush to “make their noise” announcing the beginning of the night, they stop by the veranda steps for birdseed which we happily provide for them.  Whatever is left is eaten by either the helmeted guinea fowl or believe it or not, the warthogs.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Every night the bushbabies find their way to their little stand and gobble up the fruity yogurt we place there.  They often tip the cup, occasionally dropping it to the ground.  Tom always picks it up and places it back on the stand for them.

Last night we paid the second big chunk of an installment for the upcoming Kenya tour in February.  It’s an expensive tour and we cringed over the price considering our budget constraints especially when last night we paid well over ZAR 73,437 (US $5,000) for the second of three installments as required by the tour contract.

Elephants on the Crocodile River enjoying their day.

Last week after we returned from Zambia and Botswana we paid rent for three upcoming months in Marloth Park, which is typical when living in rental holiday/vacation homes.  Generally, with popular properties, long-term renters pay large sums at a time, rather than paying monthly.

Most wildlife gravitates to the river for water, cooling off and rich sources of nourishment.

Most often, when having a permanent home, one doesn’t pay three, four or five months in advance.  Plus, when booking tours, vacations/holidays, it may be for only one or two trips a year.


For us, we have to pay so much in advance to secure plans for the future that it’s not surprising we cringe when having to lay out large sums of money well in advance of plans far down the road.

A hornbill and “Frank and the Mrs.” our resident francolins.

We use credit cards to pay for all of our expenses when we can’t use banking’s “bill pay” or send checks (which we consider an antiquated means of paying anyway in these high tech times). We prefer not to use “bank transfers” for security reasons.  


Keeping track of all of these transactions requires a tremendous amount of diligence and record keeping to maintain one’s sanity and sense of where we are financially at any given moment.

Two wildebeests, neither of them Wildebeest Willie, stopped by for treats with Tusker in the background and numerous helmeted guinea fowl who were hoping for a few pellets for themselves.

Every few months, we reviewed every upcoming dollar to be spent for current and future travels, referring to our comprehensive Excel spreadsheets of many pages.  On top of that, we must keep diligent records for tax purposes.


In our old lives, once a month we entered all our bills into our bank’s bill pay feature, never giving it much of a thought until the next month.  In this life, we must constantly stay on top of our current and future expenses, deposits paid, balances due and projected expenses for the future based on historical experience.

A mating pair of ostriches. The female is brown while the males are predominantly black.

Need I say, this is a daunting task that those considering long-term world travel may not consider.  It’s imperative when booking for the future to first consider the budget, above all other interests and desires.  


We don’t mean to sound like “tightwads” but, the future success of continuing the travel the world is entirely predicated by careful financial planning, as well as maintaining good health.  Both of these vital areas could easily “get away from us” if we weren’t a cautious as we’ve chosen to be.

Mom, Auntie, and Tiny Baby who only months ago was the tiniest warthog we’d ever seen.

One can easily imagine when living on a fixed income, how disastrous it could be to find oneself living beyond their means and running it money difficulties.  It would take away all of the joy and adventure of living this peculiar life on the move.

Wildebeest Willie stops by to check out the pellet action.

Instead, we carefully monitor all of our spending to ensure we stay within the confines of our budget.  Special purchases we may have once enjoyed are a thing of the past. 


Every financial move is calculated even to the point that we can’t dine out two or three times a week, nor can we flippantly select preferred rental cars, or even holiday rental homes.  Our most recent tiny, little car was ZAR 14,687 (US $1000) for three months (as mentioned in an earlier post).

Here again, Tusker is in the background awaiting an opportunity to get in on the pellet frenzy.  He visits several times a day while these or other zebras may stop by a few times a week.

And yes, we bounce around on these bumpy dirt roads more than ever in this recent car but it doesn’t keep us from getting out to explore as we have all along.  


As a matter of fact, after we spent most of the morning updating and working on the “money, money, money,” (click here for the Abba song) we’re excited to take off soon for another of those bumpy rides, always providing us with such pleasure to be a part of the magical world surrounding us here in the park.

This is our favorite warthog, Tusker.  He knows his name and turns around in one quick pivot when I call him.  It’s hysterical!  He’s actually very sweet to all of the other animals, politely waiting his turn.

For all of our reader/friends in the US, please have a safe and meaningful Labor Day weekend as you wind down the summer months.  Here in South Africa, we’re ramping us for spring to begin soon on September 21st.


We’re worlds apart in distance but close at hand in our hearts.  Happy day!

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Photo from one year ago today, September 1, 2017:

One year ago, we reviewed September firsts throughout the years of our travels including the above photo and caption here:  The day we arrived in Kenya on September 2, 2013, we were shocked to discover that there was no living room, no salon, no sofa, no chair nor a dining table and chairs on the interior of the house.  In other words, we spent three months living outdoors on this veranda with no screens, venomous insects on the floors, furniture, and walls and outrageous heat and humidity (no AC, no TV).  We adapted spending from 7 am to 11 pm outdoors every day for three months, less the time we went on safari in the Masai Mara.  What a good learning experience this was!  By the time we reached South Africa after leaving Kenya, we had no interest in being indoors in the two air-conditioned living rooms in the Marloth Park house.  Again, we spent every day and night outdoors!  How quickly us humans can adapt! For the one year ago post, please click here.

Cruise to South America comes to an end – Final expenses and favorite photos…Tom’s 65th birthday…

Manta, Ecuador.

“Sightings from the Veranda while Cruising”

Torre De Las Couminicaciones or Antel Tower is a 157 tall meter building
on the shore of the bay in Montevideo, Uruguay.


We apologize for today’s late posting.  Disembarking the ship and getting settled in the hotel in Buenos Aires kept us busy all morning.  Tom is currently taking a short nap while I tackle today’s story.  Here we go!

Here’s our final expenses for the 30-night cruise to South America:

Expense US Dollar Notes
Cruise Fare  $                  8,388.32
Airfare   $                     246.42  Costa Rica to Miami 
Hotel in Miami  $                        18.46  Used credits Hotels.com 
Taxi   $                     130.00
Cabin Credit  $                   (550.00)
Wi-Fi  $                     430.00  inc. on second leg 
Gratuities  $                     405.00  inc. on second leg 
Tours & Restaurant  $                    351.86  inc dining  Miami & Cayman  
Additional Gratuities  $                     255.00
Cruise Bill for Purchases  $                     678.13  inc. camera 
Total  $                10,353.19
Avg Daily Cost – 31 days  $                     333.97  inc. one night in hotel in FL 

Feeling festive on the final night of the 30-night cruise, we stayed up way too late.  From the Cáptain’s Club happy hour party from 5:00 t0 7:00 pm, to the delightful dinner table of eight at the Trellis Restaurant to the fun chatting with our favorite bartender Kadak (from Bali) to visiting with more new friends in the Constellation Bar for the final “silent disco” the evening couldn’t have been more varied and fun.

Panama Canal.

At midnight we fell into bed exhausted. Hours earlier our packed and tagged bags had been taken from outside our cabin door to be stored overnight for morning pickup after the shuttle bus ride at 7:30 am to the port building.

Pisco, Peru.

We were up and about by 6:00 am, a little worn for the wear but anxious to get on our way to the Prodeo Hotel in the popular Palermo district of Buenos Aires.  It proved to be the quickest and most efficient debarkation we’ve had to date after 21 cruises in the past five years.

Arica, Chile.

Then, of course, today is Tom’s 65th birthday which with little merriment on the agenda, we reached the boutique hotel by 8:30 after a 30-minute taxi ride through the busy city.  Luckily, it was Saturday and the traffic was considerably lighter than we heard it could be.

Where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet in Cape Horn, the end of the world.

Buenos Aires is a city of over 12,000,000 people with some of the most harrowing and dangerous traffic in the world. As a result, we plan to do most of our sightseeing on the weekends, when it’s not quite as wild.

The Chilean Fiords.

In an attempt to keep costs to a minimum and to avoid staying in a less-than-desirable neighborhood, we chose this small hotel in the popular and more upscale Palermo district where we should be able to walk or take a short taxi ride for most of our needs.

Glaciers in the Straits of Magellan.

The hotelier has booked a dinner reservation for Tom’s birthday tonight at 6:00 pm not the later seatings at 10:00 or 11:00 pm, we’ve heard so much about as typical in Buenos Aires.  As tired as we are, an early evening will be in order.

Huge statue in Puerto Montt, Chile.

As I finally write here now sitting in our somewhat stylish room, we’re in a quandary about a few things.  The water isn’t potable so we’ll have to go out and purchase bottled water.

The Chilean Fiords.

There’s a virtual laundry list of items we’ll need to be a little more at ease but we’ll report back on these tomorrow once we have a chance to speak to the person in charge, Alessandro, whom we’ll meet with as soon as I upload this post. 

Lizard eating vegetation at the park in Manta, Ecuador.

Tom watched the first of five Minnesota Vikings games he missed while on the cruise, while I unpacked as best as I could with no available drawers and little closet space. We have a few ideas we’ll run by Alessandro hoping for a viable solution.

Sun setting while at sea.

We loved the cruise; the wonderful friends we made; the ports of call and the many days at sea.  Sure, there’s always a few areas one could complain about but we seldom care to spend time whinging about what is wrong when so much is right, the same of which is true here at this affordable hotel.

Us with new friends, Lisa and Barry whom we’ll see again in June.

We’ll be back tomorrow with Buenos Aires photos, our dinner out tonight for Tom’s birthday and more.

Barry, Lisa, Me and Tom at dinner in the private wine room at Tuscan Grill specialty restaurant.

Thanks to all of our dear readers for staying with us during the lengthy cruise including the quiet seas days when we had less to share.  We appreciate each and every one of you.

Typical street with historic buildings in Montevideo, Uruguay,

And, happy birthday to the man of my dreams, who provides me with a life of joyful splendor and perpetual playful anticipation,  I love you with all of my heart.

Produce stand in Montevideo, Uruguay.
____________________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, December 23, 2016:


Mersey Beach bluff in Tasmania, where we dined for Tom’s birthday.  For more details, please click here.

Figuring out the numbers…Outrageous outlay of cash over these next months…Four days and counting…

This pond in the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve was filled with a variety of birds.

Yesterday, after we uploaded the post we decided it was time to review our expenses through January 2018.  With several cruises upcoming including the pricey Antarctica cruise which begins on January 23, 2018, and ends on February 8th we’ve had to be extra frugal this past year.

Once the Antarctica cruise ends and, after we pay approximately $4600 for our two airline tickets from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Mpumalanga Nelspruit, South Africa (with a layover in Johannesburg), we can breathe a sigh of relief that several huge expenses are behind us.

The border of trees along the edge of this pond provides additional habitat for the birds.

Fortunately, living in Africa, which is less costly than many other parts of the world, we’ll have plenty of time to regroup and “lick our wounds” over the outrageous expenses of the prior 12 months or more. 

Also, our final months in Australia were costly followed by two cruises including the 24-night cruise back to the US, followed by the Alaskan cruise and then, the nine weeks we spent in the USA, six of which we stayed in a hotel, dining out for most meals.  Also, during the six weeks in Minnesota we replenished our wardrobes (no sales tax on clothing in MN) along with many of our dwindling supplies.

This pretty duck was paddling at full speed when I took this photo.

We’ve paid down the pricey Antarctica cruise which started at $34,500 (for two) and is now down to a balance of $13,875 which is due in full by October 16th, 80 days from today.

By September 18th we have to pay off the back-to-back South America cruises beginning on November 23rd (Thanksgiving Day in the US) totaling $7,988 on which we’ll embark prior to the Antarctica sailing on January 23, 2018.

One of the smaller of the eight ponds.

In addition to the above, we have yet to book the one-month gap in Buenos Aires between December 23, 2017, to January 23, 2018, which we’ll put together once we’re settled in Costa Rica in the next few weeks. 

On top of all of these, we’ll have monthly living expenses including a few one-night hotel stays, transportation, groceries, tours and miscellaneous.  When we add all of these expenses it’s a daunting number.

By figuring out all of these totals we’ve determined this is all doable over these next six months if we really continue to tighten our belts.  We must add all of these numbers to our anticipated living costs over the next six months, most of which we’re paying in advance.

No doubt, the cloudy day had an impact on the quality of our photos.

When living in a permanent home as opposed to our constant lives of world travel, typically one doesn’t pay their mortgage payment, rent or many other expenses six months or longer in advance. 

Typically, the only pay-as-we-go expenses are groceries, tours, and local transportation (if we aren’t using a rental car which always requires advance payment in full, often for three months or more upon picking up the vehicle).

In each case when renting a vacation home, we must pay good-sized deposits well in advance. In order to book cruises, deposits are required even if they’re booked two years in advance.  However, over this past almost five years of world travel, we’ve become more comfortable waiting to book certain situations.

These two birds were too busy preening to look up as we passed their habitat in the utility vehicle.

When we’re often asked as to how we manage money, it’s always through careful frequent analysis and planning to determine we’re staying within the range of our overall annual budget. 

What’s thrown us off this year has been the Antarctica cruise which once completed leaves us with no outrageously expensive plans for the future, certainly not to this magnitude. 

Why did we stretch ourselves for this cruise? This cruise may not be suitable for some as they age.  It requires a medical certification months in advance (which we’ll handle in Costa Rica) and a certain degree of physical stamina and endurance.  We have no guaranty as hard as we may try that we’ll be in such a position in the next five to ten years. 

I saw a number of Grebes during my tour of the facility.

This particular cruise is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially for us with our strict budget and obviously advancing age.  For us, it may be a now-or-never situation.  We chose to take it on to further enhance our world travel experiences.

When we began our travels, we’d made a list of a few special experiences we wanted to ensure we’d experience;  the Panama Canal (done, with another transit upcoming in November); Africa (done, with more coming beginning in February, 2018) and of course, Antarctica (where we’ll be getting off the ship onto the Zodiac boats to step foot on ice floes and glaciers with thousands of Emperor Penguins and more).

I’d planned to visit Susan today but as it turns out, we have several calls to make to complete some necessary tasks before leaving the US in four days, all of which require weekday calls.  Today is the only logical day to complete these tasks.  As a result, I’ll visit Susan tomorrow, Saturday, for the last time before we leave on Tuesday.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow as we wind down these last few days in the USA.  Please check back!  Have a fabulous weekend wherever you may be!

 _______________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, July 27, 2016:

We rented this car from the property owner.  It was a little rough but served our purposes over the remaining days until we left Thailand.  For more details, please click here.

Cruise final expenses including shopping at port and extras…Finalizing details…Favorite photos…

Mystery Island scene.

Rather than wait until the day we disembark the ship, which is tomorrow, I decided to post the final expenses and favorite photos today.  With today’s packing

Tomorrow, when we disembark by 8:30 am with a 9:00 am shuttle pickup at the Port of Seattle, we’ll have time to post until after we arrive in Vancouver later in the day.

Sun shining on the sea.

Once we’re settle in our hotel, we’ll prepare and upload a post with scenic photos of the three plus hour drive from Seattle to Vancouver which we expect will be stunning.  Neither of us have ever driven this route by car.  It should be interesting.

At 11:30 am now with another time change occuring at noon, we decided to pack earlier than usual and get it all behind us.  Tonight, the staff will collect all of our checked bags, leaving the newer duffel bag and computer backpack behind for us to keep in our possession during the disembarking process.

Mystery Island, Vanuatu beach.

Once we’re off the ship, we’ll find the remainder of our luggage in the cruise terminal and make our way to the pickup area where an SUV driver will be waiting for us for the US $550, AU $744.95 drive over the US border into Canada.

We hedged at this high cost for transportation but after careful consideration decided this was the least stressful means of travel.  We always keep in mind that keeping stress at a minimum has always been our goal and our motto.

A reminder of cannibalism in the South Pacific.

It always falls upon the fact that we can only control that which “we know” in our world travels, not which “we don’t know” which would include unforeseen circumstances over which we have no influence in our diligent planning.

Sometimes, that includes paying a little more, planning ahead and leaving ourselves free and unencumbered to relish in our surroundings and experiences along the way.

Situated in the Diamond Club lounge for the last morning of this 24-night cruise we can relax knowing everything is in place: we’re fully packed with clothing left out for tonight and tomorrow. 

King Neptune poolside celebration after crossing the Equator.

We’ve calculated our total expenses for the cruise, as shown below entering the figures into our main spreadsheet; we’ve reviewed our cruise bill for accuracy, handling any necessary adjustments; we’ve paid cash tips to our fabulous restaurant manager Belic who oversaw meticulous handling of my special meals and, over-the-top cabin steward Mira, the best we’ve ever experienced after 18 cruises.

Here are the final expenses for this 24-night cruise aboard Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas from Sydney to Seattle:

 Expense   US Dollar   Australian Dollar 
 Cruise Fare – 24 nights   $              5,955.26  $                    8,068.18
 Cabin credit   $                (280.00)  $                        379.28
 Airfare    $                                 $                                     
 Taxi    $                    50.20  $                          68.00
 Laundry aboard ship   $                    49.98  $                          67.70
 Ship Shop Purchases   $                    94.78  $                        124.38
 Tips not inc. in fare   $                   188.17  $                        254.87
 Lahaina Gap purchases   $                   106.00  $                        143.57
 Total   $              6,164.39  $                     8,349.44
 Average Daily Cost    $                  256.85  $                        347.89


 We’re please with these totals.  The daily totals are slightly higher than our usual average daily costs.  Using this cruise for transportation back to the US actually saved us money when the airfare alone would have been around US $2,000, AU $2,708.93.

During the 24-day period we would have been paying for a vacation home, groceries, transportation, etc. Adding the pure joy of spending this extended period of time with other passengers, it’s definitely money well spent.  Also, we avoided a horrendously long 14-hour flight from these distant locations.

We’ve made many new friends on this cruise and look forward to hearing from them in the future.  Who knows?  Our paths may cross again sometime in the future.

Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii.

As we enter North America by early tomorrow morning, we’ll no longer include Australian money exchange rates for our expenses.  All expenses, during our time in North America will be posted in US dollars only.  For our Australian readers, as you know for one US dollar it is $1.35 for Australian dollar.

We won’t be posted a foreign exchange rate until August 1st when we enter Costa Rica as we continue on our world journey.

Thanks, dear readers, for your continued love and support during this lengthy cruise.  We’ll continue to post daily during the Alaska cruise beginning in three days when we’ll be visiting many ports of call for a hopefully good signal which has been lacking during this cruise.

Goodbye, Australia, New Zealand, and islands in the South Pacific for the gifts you bestowed upon us in this exquisite and fascinating part of the world.  We’ll remain eternally grateful for the experiences.

Happy Mother’s Day to Moms all over the world!  May your day be as special as YOU!

______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, May 14, 2016:

This dog walked up to our villa in Bali and wandered around the pool.  We stayed seated and didn’t say a word.  Soon, he wandered away.  For more photos, please click here.

Final post from Sumbersari with Bali expenses…Soon, we’ll be on our way on the four or five hour harrowing drive…



We attended the buffalo races.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Balinese people certainly take advantage of using their heads to carry heavy or cumbersome loads.

After nearly four months of living in Sumbersari, Bali today, we’ve uploaded our final post for this location and also for “Sightings on the Beach.”  Perhaps down the road in future posts we’ll be able to have a similar feature depicting special scenes we embrace each and every day.

With an exciting future ahead of us, we certainly have no doubt there will be many of those types of scenes.  We look forward to seeking them out to share with our readers each day.  On the upcoming 33 night cruise embarking a week from today, we’re discussing possible feature photos we’ll include comparable to “Sightings on the Beach in Bali,” of course, related to the cruise experience.

Workers in the rice fields.

I know, you may be thinking…”How in the world will they possibly hold our interest while they’re living on a ship for 33 days and nights?  Won’t it be more and more of the “same old, same old?”

This presents a unique challenge to us, one we’ll adopt with the utmost of enthusiasm to ensure you’ll be intrigued to see what we’ve discovered each day.  As we meet other passengers, we’ll ask for their assistance as well in spotting particularly interesting photo ops.

Nature at its finest on the edge of the infinity pool.  We spent hours watching this praying mantis.

Today, as we’re uploading this final post for the villa in Sumbersari including the final expenses, we’re excited to continue to share the last of the favorite photos during this extended period on the west end of this island.  

It was highly unusual for us to return to Bali after a two month hiatus for the Mekong River cruise through Vietnam and Cambodia, a one week stay in Singapore and six weeks in Phuket, Thailand.  in the future, we only have one country planned for a return visit in 16 months, South Africa as we mentioned in this earlier post.

A working well at a neighboring home.

Unfortunately, from June 1st on, I was suffering with the spinal injury resulting in a considerable portion of this period spent distracted with the discomfort and an amount of concern that it might never heal. 

Alas, here we are almost five months later and once again, I’m my “old” self, pain free and again delighted for the many plans on the horizon as well as reveling in the joys of the moment, reminded to always “Love the One You’re With!”

As you read this post, we’ll already be on the four or five hour harrowing drive from the villa to Denpasar to the hotel we’ve book through the week, departing at 10 pm on Saturday night for the red eye flight to Sydney. 

“Rustic” residence on the beach.

It will be a relatively easy few days as we lounge by the pool, walk the neighborhood and if we feel like it, grab a taxi to check out the area.  But, Tom’s aversion to traffic may prevent us from venturing out when the Kuta area is so congested it takes 30 minutes to get to the airport that’s only a kilometer from the hotel.

Kuta is not necessarily known as an area suitable for sightseeing of any major consequence. In a way, we don’t mind laying low in air conditioned comfort for a few days after six months of scorching heat and humidty, day after day.  The only time we’ve been cool has been at night when we finally headed to bed to turn on the AC.  It may prove to be a welcomed relief.

Frangipani flowers blooming in the yard, aka Plumeria in Hawaii.

As for the expenses for Bali, we’ve decided to keep these last two months from September 2, 2016 to October 24, 2016 separate from the first two months we spent in Bali from April 30, 2016 to June 28, 2016.  

We’ve made the calculations based the 59 night stay although we’re leaving a few days earlier since we’d already paid for 59 nights in full.  (We’re not receiving any compensation for leaving earlier nor do we expect it.  It was entirely our decision).

We considered each of the two stays in Bali as individual stays when the expenses varied for the time we spent at the resort in Lovina.  If you’d like to review our expenses from the earlier stay, please click here.

This appropriately muddy pig posed for our photo. 

Expenses for 59 nights:  US Dollar to IDR Indonesian Rupiah
Vacation Rent:   US $ 4,648.03  IDR   62,330,082.30
Transportation:  US       759.13  IDR    9,909,557.43
Visa Extension:  US         54.63  IDR       713,130.98
Tips/Laundry:    US       389.00  IDR     5,077,941.65
Clothing & Misc. US     1,144.88 IDR    14,945,074.12*

Groceries:         US       947.00  IDR    12,361,981.33
Hotel & Meals:   US       739.49  IDR      9,653,180.12**

Total:                              US $ 8,409.16   IDR 109,771,783.48
Average Monthly Cost:  US $  4,335.23   IDR   56,587,713.48 

Average Daily Cost:       US $    142.53    IDR     1,860,442.65

*The above total includes the pants we purchased in Lovina when long pants were required at the immigration office.
**The above total includes the entire bill for hotel ad meals for four nights in Lovina during the visa extensions process.

Recent photo repeated, nonetheless a favorite with Tom dressed in traditional Balinese/Hindu attire.

Although our previous stay in Bali was less costly, the addition of the shipment we received with many supplies including Tom’s new phone, iced tea, clothing and shoes and, the hotel in Lovina, the average daily/monthly costs increased exponentially.  Another traveler may spend comparable amounts shopping while on such an extended trip.

We’ll post the upcoming hotel stay expenses when that period ends as well.  With the low cost for the hotel room, the included breakfast, with dinner as the only add-on, most likely the total will be reasonable.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back as usual with more photos and updates.  Thanks to all of our loyal readers for hanging in there with us during this relatively quiet time spent in Bali.  We appreciate each and every one of YOU.

Be well!

_________________________________________
 

Photo from one year ago today, October 24, 2015:

It was a cultural day in Fiji one year ago when we visited this modest village.  This structure is used for ceremonial rites and kava drinking.  For more details and photos, please click here.
 

When we arrived at the airport in Bangkok…Final cruise expenses at end of post…More cruise/tour photos…

Tom pointed out this jumble of power lines at an intersection in Saigon.

Yesterday morning, we left the hotel in Saigon at 6:45 for the 30 minute drive to the airport amid rush hour traffic. The previous evening we had our final meal together as a group at a local restaurant after which we hugged goodbye to the many new friends we’d made on the Viking Mekong River Cruise.

 Vietnam is communist society resulting in the government owning all land regardless of its location.  As a result, most structures are narrow such as this property.

Most of all, it was hard to say goodbye to Kong.  He far exceeded any of our expectations as the finest tour manager we’ve worked with since beginning our travels so long ago. 

Based on our late departing flight out of Saigon after a mass of confusion at the overly busy and somewhat disorganized airport, it was unlikely we’d arrive in Phuket at a decent time to be up to be able to post.  As a result, our last post was short.

Kong pointed out the number of motorbikes in the roundabout.  There are over 6 motorbikes in Saigon (Ho Cho Ming City) for a population of 10 million.

At the airport in Bangkok Tom found an ATM getting enough Thai Baht to last a week.  For BHT $10,000, the exchange rate is US $286.  We stopped at McDonald’s for a quick bite to eat figuring it could be late until we have a meal. I had a boring meat-less salad without dressing and Tom had a burger and fries.

Another view of the roundabout.  These photos were taken during a quiet time of the day compared to busier rush hour.

On the way to the villa we made a stop at a market in the village.  We were both exhausted from the prior poor night’s sleep and the long trip, making finding items on our list difficult if not impossible.  

Without a single English speaking person to be found in the market we encountered a kindly young employee with a translation app on his phone with little success in the translation making sense to him.

One business after another in tight spaces.

As it turned out the largest market in the area has no beef for sale.  For protein, they carry fresh chicken, pork and fish sitting atop big chilled tables.  We usually have beef a few meals a week so we’ll have to come up with another plan for those meals.  Nor did we find any roasted chickens.

Many females wear masks and are fully covered.  One would think this was to prevent illness when in act Vietnamese women vehemently avoid darkening skin from the sun.  By their standards, the whiter the skin, the better, according to Kong.

We never had dinner last night. We were so tired, food was the last thing on our minds.  By 8:30 pm, we hunkered down in the air conditioned bedroom on the comfy bed determined to stay awake until 10 pm. 

Refreshed and renewed this morning, we unpacked what we’d use here as we became familiar with our new house in Rawai, Phuket, a cozy little town which appears to be a mix of the old and new. 

Temples are interspersed among more modern areas.

Soon, we’ll get out to see what’s around us. Unfortunately, I still need time to heal my injury with a little less activity.  With all the strenuous tours during the cruise, I never really had time to rest which seems to be the most helpful at this point. 

Amid the historical buildings are skyscrapers such as this newer building.

Yesterday, after the busy travel day at two airports with tons of walking I almost reached 10,000 steps on my FitBit which was way too much.  Today, will be a relaxing day other than preparing our first meal since April 14th. Tom literally waits on me, helping with everything I need.

The house?  Its a lovely as we’d anticipated.  Please free to check out the online listing by clicking here which has some excellent photos without the clutter of our stuff scattered around the house.

Many shops include products appealing to tourists.  Many travel to Vietnam from all over the world to shop.

We’ve yet to take our first Phuket photo.  With the tinted windows on the van on the drive from the airport to the villa, we had no opportunity to take photos.  Nor did we feel up to walking right now.  In the near future we’ll get out to visit points of interest and to share many new photos with our readers.

At an intersection.

For now, as mentioned in a prior post, with hundreds of photos remaining from the cruise in Cambodia and Vietnam, we’ll continue to include photos we hope you’ll find interesting.

These huge clocks could appeal to tourist shoppers.

Here are the expenses from the Viking Mekong cruise/tour:

Expense US Dollar Vietnamese Dong
Cruise fare  $          6,597.00  $  147,068,781.00
Airfare –Singapore to Hanoi  $              830.00  $    18,503,424.00
Hotel in Hanoi  $           2,029.70  $    45,248,674.00
Taxi   $                 98.00  $       2,184,742.00
Laundry  $               140.00  $       3,121,059.00
Wifi   $                      $                   
Groceries  $                      $                 –                        
Dining Out  $                12.00  $           267,519.00
Clothing  $                22.00  $           490,452.00
Tips  $              725.00  $      16,162,629.00
Total  $        10,453.70  $    233,047,280.00
Avg Daily Cost-17 days  $              614.88  $       13,708,664.00


Tomorrow, we continue with Part 2, Cu Chi Tunnel with many more fascinating and informative photos of this historical site.  Now that we’re settled we’ll be posting consistently around the same time each day. 

Kong explained that locals have tougher stomachs to tolerate street food while tourists often become ill.

We’d like to thank all of our loyal worldwide readers for “hanging in there” with us during periods of no Wi-Fi and during my continuing mention of my current condition.  We appreciate each and every one of you, no matter where you may be.

Have a fabulous day!

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Photo from one year ago today, July 23, 2015:

One year ago, in Cairns, Australia we had no trouble finding a shopping mall with only a few turns required off the main highway into town.  For more details, please click here.

Final cruise expenses…Disembarkment day….Off to Bali this morning…

Due to the poor wifi signal, we’re unable to post any photos today which should all be changing in the next few days once we’re on land.  Thanks for your patience!

The cruise has ended!  By the time you see this post, we’ll be disembarking the ship, heading to the Singapore International Airport and boarding our plane which departs at 10:45 am. 

We’re excited to be on our way to Bali. It seems as if we made plans for Bali a very long time ago.  To actually be heading there at long last leaves us with a little trepidation but a lot of excitement to once again be settled in a beautiful location.

Once the long four hour drive to the house is behind us and we’re unpacked and feeling settled with an adequate wifi signal, we’ll be able to catch up on our missing year-ago-photos and conduct research to be more detailed in our information. 

The cost for the cruise itself was as follows:



Total Cruise Costs including all on ship expenses: $4,475.34



Cruise Costs:
 $3,869.10
Total Cruise Bill: $606.24



Cost for Cruise for Balcony Cabin #7618

Cruise Charges (includes port charges)    $ 3,846.00
Senior Rate                                                      – 259.00
Government Taxes                                              282.10
Pre-paid Gratuities                                              336.00
Pre-paid Gratuities                                            – 336.00
Total Cost (US)                                           $ 3,869.10

As for incidentals we spent when off the ship:
FitBit Device for Jess:                                    $     177.47
Insect Repellent for Bali:                                        17.67
Grand Total for Incidentals:                        $   194.14

Total Transportation/Hotel Costs:
Airfare Auckland to Sydney:                           $    377.00
Hotel Sydney                                                      188.00
Taxi Sydney Airport to Hotel                                  68.47
Grand Total for Transportation/Hotel         $  623.47

Breakdown of Cruise Bill by Category
Port Merchant  (toiletries)                              $      8.25
Laundry (2 times)                                               55.00
Beverage Packages (2-10 drinks each)                138.00
Beverages not included in fare                            347.99
Shuttle bus                                                         20.00
Mascara (3)                                                        82.00
Internet                                                            255.00
Cabin credits                                                   – 300.00
Total cruise bill                                            $  606.24

Grand total for all above expenses        US $ 5,292.85 

Due to the poor wifi signal aboard the ship, we’re unable to convert to Australian dollars at this time.

Well, folks, the next time we “see you” here, we’ll be in Bali writing and sharing better photos of our new home for the next two months.  Thanks to all of our loyal friend readers who followed along with us and to our many new friends we’ve met along the way who we hope to see here soon.

Once again no year-ago photo until we get situated with a better signal soon.
Happy day to all.

Filling the last gap in our itinerary…

Sun streaming through a dense cloud cover at sunset.

We prefer to have all gaps filled within a year of traveling to any specific location.  With a gap between two Australian cruises from March 13, 2017 to April 22, 2017,  we’ve been chomping at the bit to find where we’ll stay while in Sydney, Australia.

Unfortunately, if we waited for sunny days, we’d have few photos of the scenery surrounding us.

Sydney is a magical city with much to see and do.  Having been to Sydney three times since June 2015, staying overnight in hotels twice, we easily fell in love with the city, the people and the vast array of interesting things to see and do.

View of lake at Pukekura Park.

On many occasions, we’ve mentioned we aren’t “city people” but from time to time a big city holds a certain amount of appeal that peaks our curiosity and interest.  Sydney is just that type of city.

The very fact of Sydney’s desirability to many tourists worldwide has contributed to the high cost of rentals both in the city and the surrounding areas, making it fall into the category of some of the most expensive vacation homes we’ve researched to date.


The beach in Opunake.

The only way we can justify the higher rents that will surely prove to be the highest we’ll have paid to date, is to use public transportation during this 40 day period to avoid the high cost of a rental car, fuel and parking.  Plus, it appears to be easy to get around the city with considerable low cost transportation options.

It was a cool cloudy evening when we shot these photos of the sea.

Staying in a hotel is not a practical solution although if we can’t pin down a reasonable scenario we may decide to stay in a hotel that has a kitchenette with coffee maker and microwave.  This worked for us when we stayed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in September, 2014 for six days giving us a feel for how we’d do without a full kitchen.

There are many cliffs along the shores in New Zealand.

There’s a big difference between six days and forty days but if we purchase roasted chicken two nights a week as we do now, pick up some  healthy “to go” food another few nights a week, we’d eat out for the remainder.  Its definitely do-able, not unlike how we managed for another 11 days when we were in Honolulu, Hawaii in October, 2014.

Of course, we’d prefer a vacation home, able to do laundry, cook our meals and overall keep the costs down.  Finding a vacation home that works is the challenge in Sydney as we’re now on a mission to wrap something up in the next few weeks before leaving New Zealand.

Visitors walking along the beach on a cool evening.

Its a never ending process, luckily one that we each continue to enjoy although more so when there are more options that stay within our budget.  As we often mention, staying within our monthly/annual budget enables us to continue on as long as our health continues to be good.

The challenge always revolves around matching location, our particular needs and desires, transportation options, availability of wifi and making the financial aspect work within the constraints we’ve established to continue this way of life with the least amount of stress.

As the sun peeked out, we stopped for another view of Mount Taranaki with cows on the hill.

In essence, limited the amount of stress in our lives is not only vital to our long term health and well being but it greatly effects the level of enjoyment and enrichment of each and every experience.

We hope you have a low stress day! 

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Photo from one year ago today, March 19, 2015:

A year ago, a visitor was killed at this beach at the end of Anini Beach, a desirable beach only 15 minutes from Princeville.  This was sad to see.  For more beach photos in Kauai, please click here.
 

The photos ops never cease in New Zealand…Traveling far not always required for maximum enjoyment…

This “piece of art” in New Plymouth is playfully typical of Kiwi’s great sense of humor.

There’s no doubt if we traveled the day’s drive to reach the ferry to  visit the South Island of New Zealand with a 3.5 hour ferry ride, we’d be in for a lot of surprises and amazing scenery.  When we first arrived over five weeks ago, doing so had been a possibility.

We notices ducks swimming in the waterway.

As we researched plans for the future, paying well in advance for upcoming cruises, airfare, hotels and vacation homes, we came to the realization that the cost of traveling to the South Island didn’t fit our current budgetary guidelines.

This waterway runs through downtown New Plymouth with a small waterfall.

Having recently paid  NZ $5730, US $3800 for health insurance with a substantial tax bill upcoming on US income tax day on April 15th, we’ve had to pick and choose what makes most sense at this time.

As the ducks approached the waterway, they began to “go for it.”

We’re not unlike most people deciding on “vacations/holidays” as to when they make the most sense financially.  The round trip cost of the ferry to the South Island  $552, US $300.  Add the cost of fuel, hotels and meals on the road, we’d easily spend upwards of NZ $3011, US $2000 for a five day getaway.

Even taking a minimum of five days with two full days of travel time getting to the South Island and back, leaving us only three days to travel which isn’t in essence enough time to visit the highlights.

It all happened so quickly I had no time to change the camera setting for better shots.

As always in our worldwide travels, we have to pick and choose what makes the most sense.  Living entirely off our monthly income plus saving for pricey future plans such as Antarctica and South America, we aren’t able to do everything we find appealing.

We couldn’t stop laughing as we watched the ducks navigate the waterfall.

A part of the challenge for us is making all of our world travels work financially as well as encompassing our desires for vast experiences.  So far, with as much world as we’ve seen to date, we’ve been confident with our decisions as to where we travel, our experiences and upholding the maintenance of our carefully planned budget.

The area near the waterway.

We have no margin for unplanned/unbudgeted events, only emergencies that may arise from time to time.  Regardless of how good a “deal” we may receive on vacation home rentals, we still continue to have many other expenses in our travels. 

Calm waters out to sea in this area.

The fact that we’re always paying well in advance for future travels in large lump sums has had a bearing on what we choose to do in the interim.  This strict adherence to our budget is the only way we can continue to travel the world.

In a way, its not unlike my strict dietary guidelines.  If I didn’t follow this way of eating, always requiring a certain degree of self control and sacrifice we wouldn’t be able to travel when I’d be subject to poor health. 

Elephant pained on side of building in downtown New Plymouth.

Its not a whole lot different with managing money…a certain degree of self control and sacrifice are necessary.  Often we write that we don’t like to travel far from our current location with a substantial part of those reasons revolving around the fact that traveling costs more money. 

Paying for two places to “rest our heads” at night just doesn’t make a lot of sense to us on a regular basis, although on a rare special occasion we may choose to make an exception.

Walkway along the river in downtown New Plymouth.

As we continue to relish in every aspect of the beautiful expansive Taranaki Region, we feel comfortable being able to continually find interesting and appealing points of interest and experiences we freely embrace.

Thanks to all of our readers for sharing this continuing journey with us wherever we may be.  Have a filled day engaged with the activities that work for you, for your health and well being and your way of life!

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Photo from one year ago today, February 25, 2015:

At first, the tree we saw at the Hawaii National Botanical Garden, one year go, we thought this tree had been painted which would be ridiculous at the tropical garden. Upon closer inspection, I could hardly believe my eyes.  It is a Rainbow Eucalyptus or Eucalyptus DegluptaFor more photos, please click here.

Today’s the day! We’re on the move again! Final expenses for Savusavu…



A worker on the road after a grueling morning’s work headed home for lunch during the heat of the day to return to work later on for another shift in the fields.  He had time to stop for a heartwarming “bula.”

Overall, did we like Savusavu, Fiji?  We did.  The accommodations were good barring a few glitches on our first night with the ants in the bed and the pillows which Mario promptly remedied the next day with a new mattress, pillows and bedding.  We lost one night’s sleep.

The ants continued to present a challenge especially after rain but we learned how to address them with frequent washing of every food surface.  Still they came, only not as many or as often.  We never saw them in the bed again, only a few times in the bathroom. They walked on our laptops and chairs in the living room and often on our arms and legs.  We flicked them off.

What can I say?  This was my favorite photo.  It so bespeaks life in Fiji, the freedom of barnyard animals to roam, to thrive and grow.  The fact that we find barnyard animals so worthy of mention only enhances our experiences throughout the world

The mosquitos were always present requiring I use DEET repellent, the only product that seemed to work anytime I ventured outdoors.  I didn’t go out as often as I’d have liked nor sit on the veranda as much as I’d have liked.  We only saw a few flies, no snakes and few, if any, dangerous insects.  At night, we didn’t carry a flashlight to go to the bathroom in the dark.


Each week we stopped to say “bula” to our favorite vegetable vendor, a kindly lady who always picked out the very best produce for us.

The power was out for eight hours or more for three or four days always coming back on by 6 pm. The fridge quit working once and after a technician’s visit, it too was back on. We lost a few days of food.

We enjoyed visiting the Viodomo waterfall, requiring quite the hike through the rainforest.

It rained at least 40% of the days, if not more.  We didn’t mind especially when it cooled down with the ocean breezes.  The heat and humidity was bearable for us overall, with only a few tough days.  The nights were always comfortable.

Rafts ready for fishing in the bay at the Vuodomo village.

In the beginning of our stay the Internet issues were challenging until we finally purchased the two dongles which has provided us with a relatively good connection most of the time.  We continued to purchase data every week at the Vodafone kiosk in the village. (The cost for the data is listed below).

Buying jewelry and other homemade crafts is popular with the tourists from cruise ships and staying in local hotels and resorts.

The people were amazing, kind, friendly and always warm and helpful wherever we’d go.  The support staff here in Korovesi was wonderful, Usi, Vika and Junior, always quick to smile and help in any manner. 

What a view of Savusavu Bay!

Mario and his wife Tatiana were helpful, gracious and always “Johnny on the spot” with any issues which overall were few.   As usual, we didn’t ask for much, only those items mentioned here today plus a can opener, frying pan, a chaise lounge and few light bulbs, all of which were promptly supplied.

The property was ideal for us; the right size, the right amenities and we easily made it befitting our needs.  The views?  Over the top.  Based on where we sat in the living room we only had to pick up our heads 20 degrees to see the expanse of the ocean, Savusavu Bay, mountains and passing cruise ships, sailboats, barges and the boats of local fishermen.


These handmade rafts were used as income producers for the locals, selling produce, fish and a variety of other products easily transported in the waterways.

We loved the sounds of the roosters crowing, the cows mooing, the baby goats baahing, the birds singing and the screeching of the huge bats at night, referred to as “flying squirrels” in the islands.  The trees, the plants and the flowers were a daily joy to behold ever growing and changing before our eyes.

Shopping each week was a delightful experience as we came to know the vendors in the Farmer’s Market, grocery store and Helen, from Fiji Meats supplying us with the finest organic, chemical free foods the islands have to offer. 

The ferry at the Port of Savusavu ready for vehicles to people to travel to other islands.

We’ll miss the thick cream for our coffee, thick enough to require pushing it off the spoon, the perfect coffee, the streaky bacon (no nitrates) and the mince beef and pork and of course, Helen’s roasted chickens the best we’ve ever had which we’ve had the past two nights as we finished our leftover side dishes and veggies.


These gorgeous flowers are always blooming under the veranda.

As for the expenses for this entire period in Savusavu from September 8th to December 6, 2015, we were pleasantly surprised.  Here’s the breakdown:

Rent:      USD $6,000, FJD $12,832
Airfare:   USD $2,758, FJD $5,899  (This total includes five flights to get us here from Cairns, Australia and back to Sydney, Australia).
Food:      USD $2,293, FJD $4,904  (includes all groceries and household supplies)
Dining:    USD $165, FJD $353
Taxi:       USD $393, FJD $841
Tips:       USD $200, FJD $428
Postage:  USD $213, FJD $456
ATM fees:USD $234 FJD $500
Vodafone USD $495, FJD $1,059

Grand Total*:  USD $12,751, FJD $27,271
Monthly Avg:  USD$  4,250, FJD $  9,090

* This total doesn’t include additional costs we incur for health insurance, prescriptions, luggage insurance, gifts for family, federal taxes, clothing, supplies and digital equipment.  We keep those expenses up-to-date on a separate spreadsheet.

So there it is, folks.  Late this morning, we’ll arrive in Viti Levu after our one hour Sunday morning flight at 9:20 am and we’ll be greeted by a driver with a sign at the airport in Suva who’ll take us to the grocery store in Suva and then on the one hour drive to our final destination in Pacific Harbour. 

Every night, Badal stopped by at dinnertime to check out what’s on the menu.  We never failed to make him a plate with some delectable morsels.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with details of the trip, the shopping and photos of our new home for the next 28 days. 

Be well.  Be happy…

_________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, December 6, 2014:

Numerous power poles located in the path of the lava flow have been covered in fire retardant materials to prevent the flow from destroying the power to the area which had worked well.  As we worried that the lava was flowing in our direction, we continued to be fascinated by this natural event.  Whoever got to see lava flow in a lifetime?  We felt fortunate for the experience as we prayed for the safety of the residents of Pahoa and our own.  Please click here for details.