Tom’s excited…He watched the first Vikings pre-season game…



Lilies blooming in pot in front yard.

With a good Wi-Fi signal in the house in Phuket, we’ve been able to stream a few Showtime series we’ve enjoy, Ray Donovan and The Affair, both gripping and entertaining which we watch in the evenings after dinner.

We signed up for Showtime at Amazon for US $8.95, THB $311 as a adjunct to our Prime membership which we’ll cancel when we’re done with both series, most likely by the time we leave here in a few weeks.


Garden area inside the gate of the villa.

As football season approached, Tom renewed his membership for NFL GamePass, for only US $99, THB $3442 per season which now, as opposed to in the past, includes all the team’s games, playoff games and Super Bowl games. 

To use this app one must watch the games outside the US or use a VPN showing an outside-the-US Wi-Fi connection.  As a result, Tom doesn’t need to use our VPN (Hotspot Shield) while watching since it our point of entry will show we’re outside the US anyway.


House in the neighborhood with gate open.

We often giggle over how we ever figured out all these things.  Many of these apps are complicated to use and don’t work as readily as one expects.  Even impatient Tom has learned to make it all work without any prompting from me.

As a note, using Hotspot Shield provides us with an added layer of protection against hackers as well as showing we’re entering a site from the US.  Some shopping sites we may use for buying gifts for family members show different prices if we aren’t in the US.  Using Hotspot Shield ensures we get the US generated webpage and pricing.


Messy yard in the neighborhood.

All of the above is only relevant if one is living outside the US or their home country.  It can be very confusing.  Honestly, it took us a year or so to get it all figured out and working properly during which time the technology improved as it all became easier to use.

Thus, yesterday afternoon Tom plugged in the HDMI cord  from his laptop to the flat screen TV in the living room, activated NFL GamePass and within minutes was watching the Minnesota Vikings football game which had aired four hours earlier rather than watch it live which when doing so would result in pauses for commercials and half time.

By waiting until after the game is over, he can watch the entire game commercial and halftime free.  Instead of it taking over 3 hours to broadcast each game, he can watch it in its entirety in around 90 minutes. 


We pass by this house on our way to the highway.  Many motorbikes have attached carts such as shown here.

Of course, a decent signal is required to watch an uninterrupted game.  When we return to Bali in a few weeks with its poor signal, there will be numerous pauses during the game as it attempts to stream the contents. 

We had to deal with these frustrating streaming delays when we attempted to stream a few shows while we were in Bali a few months ago.  That’s the way it is.  There’s nothing we can do about it and Tom will deal with it while watching the games in September and October.


Tall house in the neighborhood.

Otherwise, all is OK here.  There’s been no new bombings in the past 24 hours although security is beefed up everywhere in Thailand, especially in tourist areas.  We’ll remain diligent and careful when heading out.

Tomorrow, we’ll begin to share photos from our sightseeing outing from a few days ago as we wind down our remaining 18 days in Thailand. 

Have a blissful Saturday or Sunday, whichever it is, wherever you may be.

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Photo from one year ago today, August 14, 2015:

Nothing is more exciting for us than spotting wildlife in its natural habitat as was the case in Trinity Beach, Australia when we spotted this pelican.  For more photos, please click here.

Transportation…Another long day without power…VPN tip…Five days until departure…

There are many sailboats in the islands, a choice location for avid sailors.

Three months is a long time in one location without a car. Oh, I’m not complaining. We’re thrilled with the savings. Not paying upwards of USD $1500, FJD $3239 per month (as an example in Fiji), USD $4500, FJD $9719 for three months of a rental car plus fuel as opposed to the under USD $300, FJD $648 total we’ll have spent for a driver for the full three months in Fiji provides a huge savings on an annualized basis.

This amount of savings by not renting a car in Fiji was enough to pay for our upcoming cruise in January for both of us, selecting a balcony cabin (as always). Each time we opt for a driver as opposed to a rental car the savings are generally in this range ultimately paying for most upcoming cruises. 

In 2016, we’ve scheduled five cruises; four ocean going, one river cruise. With our love of cruising and the ability to see so much at one time, choosing a driver over a rental car is a small sacrifice for us.

In other countries such as upcoming New Zealand in January, a rental car is a must with our intentions to tour the two islands. We’ve found the cost in NZ is much more affordable than in Fiji as is the case in more populated countries.

A sandy beach along the quiet road we traveled.

As we move to the next island of Fiji for 28 days again we’ll use a driver. The company that we’ve arranged to pick us up at the Suva Airport will also serve as our drivers once we arrive in Pacific Harbour, an hour’s drive from the airport. 

In the new location, we’ll have the freedom (and luxury) of walking to nearby shops and restaurants according to the owner. I can hardly wait to be able to walk when there. Although lovely overall in Savusavu, it’s been impossible to go for a walk on the steep dirt road up the mountain. 

We can barely maneuver getting into Rasnesh’s vehicle, the incline is so steep. Invariably, the car door is so heavy on the incline, that in itself, it’s a challenge to close once inside, the incline creating a darned weird obstacle, dangerous and unwieldy. Level ground at this point is rather appealing.

Living in Savusavu hasn’t been easy in some ways, certainly not anyone’s fault. Mario has been the perfect host in a relatively perfect little house overlooking the sea. The support staff has been ideal; Junior, Usi and Vika, all of whom we adore. 

We highly recommend this resort if the ability to prepare one’s food and the desire to be away from the hotel environment in a more private location is on one’s radar.  In many ways, it’s been ideal for us.

As for the ants, that’s only been a result of our constant need to cook. Had we only been preparing light meals as most, shorter-term travelers do, we may not have had so many ants. It was certainly a result of the constant preparation of food that attracted them no matter how well we cleaned up after we were done. 

A canopy of trees crossed over the road creates a pretty scene.

The refrigerator handle fell prey to the ants if a smidgeon of food was on my hand when I opened the door. The next day we’d have ants on the handle and the door. In time, I learned my lesson, washing my hands every time I opened a cupboard or appliance including the microwave, portable oven, the coffee or tea pots or even the kitchen sponge which I sterilized with a minute in the microwave each day. And still, they came…just less of them for a day or two. 

I have no doubt we’ve eaten some ants regardless of how hard we’ve tried not to. Then again, there are populations throughout the world that eat ants and other insects so I guess we fit in. Not necessarily by design.

As for yesterday’s unannounced power outage, I suppose not knowing saved us a bit of anticipation, although we weren’t prepared with lots of ice on hand as we had the week earlier with advance notice. Two of out the past eight days, we’ve had no power, and a third day the refrigerator didn’t work for 24 hours. 

My biggest concern is always the food in the refrigerator. The freezer seems to stay cold for eight or nine hours without defrosting providing we don’t open the door. Yesterday’s power outage beginning at 9:17 am was a total surprise. 

Waiting 30 minutes after the power went off, I called the power company when this time the Internet still worked enabling me to look up their number online. I was told it was a result of another day’s tree trimming near the power lines as hurricane season approaches. They estimated we’d have power by 4:30 pm.

Aside from many rocky beaches, there are many sandy beaches in Fiji.

We had a decision to make; do we open the freezer, empty all four of our ice cubes trays into a container to place in the refrigerator or do we avoid opening either door?  We opted to quickly open both doors, remove the ice, fill the plastic container and our mugs with ice placing the plastic container on top of the pan of the uncooked Italian meatballs I planned to cook for dinner. 

We were concerned about meatballs made with beef and pork mince going bad in the refrigerator in seven or more hours. But our plan worked. When the power came back on at 5:30 pm, the ice was hardly melted in the fridge, the contents were cold and the meatballs were as cold as they would have been with power. 

We had a lovely dinner with the meatballs slathered in homemade red pasta sauce topped with hand-grated mozzarella cheese, a side of mushroom casserole (which stayed frozen in the freezer during the outage) and fresh steamed veggies.

The next challenge of the day was Tom’s ability to watch the Minnesota Vikings football game on his laptop.  He’s a member of NFL Game Pass, an app only available to viewers outside the US for an annual fee of USD $130, FJD $281 when Tom only watches the Vikings games. The fees are higher for full access to all games, playoff and Super Bowl games which he can add on later, if the Vikings are in the playoffs and Super Bowl. 

The games are available live with commercials or a few hours later without commercials reducing the view time to less than two hours. For some odd reason, last night, when the Internet signal was appeared strong enough to watch, Tom wasn’t able to download the game no matter how hard he tried. He’d been able to watch prior games while in Fiji. We had no idea as to the problem.

We can easily envision a life at sea, definitely not a lifestyle that would appeal to us for years.

Frustrated for him, I made what sounded like a hair-brained suggestion that he use the VPN on my computer, Hotspot Shield, to show our entry to the Internet wasn’t Fiji but another country we could select in the app. We couldn’t use the US as the selection with the Game Pass app unavailable for use while in the US.

I started the app, selected the UK as our entry point and he opened to the program for success. Immediately, the game popped up on the screen of my laptop. 

Not much of a football fan, plus with his preference of keeping the laptop on his lap during the game, I decided to head to bed at 9 pm to continue reading a good mystery novel instead of attempting to watch along with him.

By 10:30, I nodded off, loud game and all, managing eight hours of sleep, a first in many moons, only awakening a few times to the sound of pounding rain on the roof, a nightly occurrence of late.

The sun is shining at the moment. The ants are under control. I’m feeling especially good after a full night’s rest.  Tom’s still grinning from ear to ear over the Vikings win. Life is good.


Photo from one year ago today, December 1, 2014:

On our final day in Maui before heading to the Big Island for the upcoming family visit, we boarded a whale watching boat in Maalaea Bay, the harbor with some of the roughest seas in the world. (Yes, it was! rough)! We never saw a whale and once again, we were disappointed on yet another unfulfilling whale watching outing. Safari luck only seems to prevail on land.  For more details and photos of the scenery, please click here.