A visit to Kruger National Park with many special sightings!…

Today, Ken took this playful elephant baby photo.  What a fantastic shot!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Ken’s photo:  A Southern Carmine Bee-Eater they spotted today in Kruger National Park, the first sighting for him and Linda.

Today, my plan had been an entirely different topic than our visit to Kruger this morning.  Not only did we take off for the park now that the holidaymakers have mostly left the area, but Linda and Ken and Rita and Gerhard had also done the same.

The baby elephant at play with family members.

We prefer to go into the park on our own since its never easy taking photos from the back seat of a standard car.  Besides, experienced self-drive enthusiasts each has their own particular way of searching for wildlife and routes they prefer to take.


As it turned out we met Rita and Gerhard for lunch at the Mugg & Bean for a delightful lunch and conversation, as always.  By the time we returned to the house, Linda and Ken were already sitting on the veranda working on their photos from the day’s self-drive and offered to include several of their photos for today’s post.

There were six giraffes in this particular tower.

With company coming for dinner (friends of Linda and Ken’s) at 1700 hours, (5:00 pm), the two of them are preparing and cooking the meal, I was left with 90 minutes in which to complete today’s post, about one-third of the time I usually spend.


I’d taken over 100 photos today and the time required to go through all of them would occupy the entire 90 minutes I had allowed to get this uploaded.  Thus, in my haste, I’m doing the best I can and apologize for any brevity and errors.

Elephant family crossing the road with a few babies protected by the parade.

With only 27 days remaining until we leave Marloth Park, we may only visit Kruger National Park a few more times.  Today, proved to be a special day with several good sightings and also, the lack of tourists in the park.  

Unfortunately, obstructed by vegetation, it was challenging to get good photos of the five lions we spotted near the entrance to Crocodile Bridge.  This may have been five of the notorious Verhami Pride.

Although there would be three or four vehicles jockeying for position at special sightings, overall traveling through the park was easy.  After stopping and staying so long at the lion sighting toward the end of the day, we realized we needed to get the show on the road and get back.


The dinner guests will arrive in less than 30 minutes and I need to shower again (another hot, sweaty day) and make myself presentable for the evening on the veranda.

In a hurry to get back to the house to do today’s post, these were the best we could get of this pride of lions.

Over the past 48 hours, we’ve been bombarded by biting flies.  I can’t type more than a few words and I have to stop to swat flies, hornets, and wasps away from my sweaty face.  But, as they say, TIA, aka “This is Africa” and that’s the price we pay to enjoy such wonders as we’re showing here today in our photos.


In the next several days, we’ll include more photos from today’s trip to Kruger and an especially interesting story for tomorrow when I’ll have more time to be more detail oriented.


Have a spectacular day and evening, wherever you may be.

_________________________________________



Photo from one year ago today, January 18, 2018:

Tom is quite a history buff and is particularly fascinated with older structures. For more photos of Recoleta, please click here.

Ten days and counting…Phones…contemplating technology for the USA…A kindly and thoughtful expression…

We loved this area of the Manly Scenic Walk.

This morning, we created our grocery list for meals for the remaining days until we depart on April 22nd. Unfortunately, I’d uploaded a suitable grocery app on my Android phone when I could not find the same apps I’d used in years past.

Pelican in North Harbour Reef Bay.

After the new phone arrived in the “missing” box a week ago, I’ve spent considerable time setting up apps I like to use. My last phone was a Windows device which overall I prefer over Android. 

When I ordered the new unlocked phone online, I was willing to sacrifice Windows over Android when prices for purchasing an unlocked phone were high, primarily when they’re not associated with a service contract. 
Exciting trees and vegetation line the walkway to the park.
Having paid around AU 173, US $130 for the unlocked smartphone with options for two SIM cards and suitable storage for my needs without a contract, I didn’t complain.
When it first arrived, and I began loading my “stuff,” I was concerned I’d be dissatisfied with the operating system. Now a week later, with all my preferred apps loaded, I’m pretty content. I’m one of those geeky types that obsess over learning every aspect of a device by monkeying with it for days.
The playground at the park is often busy.

The only part I’ve yet to learn is making phone calls. Ha! That’s ironic…we have phones and don’t make calls.  However, once we arrive in Minnesota on May 25th, one of the first things we’ll do is purchase US SIM cards for each of our phones to be in touch with family and each other as we plan activities with family members and friends. That’s a must!

Boats are moored throughout the inlets of North Harbour Reef Bay.
Tom’s new laptop is set up, and he’s learning the nuances of Windows 10 over the previous Windows 8.1.  The differences are many, but he’s figuring it all out. I’m impressed by how little he’s asked for assistance over this past week. Perhaps, he’s becoming computer savvy after all this time.
Kookaburras are found everywhere. 
Yesterday, we paid the balance for the hotel in Minnesota, AU 4,818.60, US $3,615.88, after we’d already paid a 25% deposit almost a year ago. So the total for the six weeks is AU 6,424.25, US $4,820.76, not bad for a lovely hotel in a convenient and safe area that includes two pools, free WiFi, daily breakfast, and a free shuttle to specific regions.

It’s hard to believe how quickly the time has flown since we began planning the family visits to Minnesota and Nevada. We’ll arrive in Minnesota in 43 days and Nevada in 87 days.
The lush green lawn in the park.
In the interim, we’re continuing to thoroughly enjoy our time in this beautiful area, greatly enhanced by our kindly and thoughtful landlord Bob. He wrote an email to us in the past few days, which we’ve posted below.
Homes, apartments, and condos are tightly packed into hillsides to take advantage of exquisite views.
It appears that most of our readers prefer to avoid using the sign-up feature on our web page to receive a daily email containing each day’s posts (no spam, no solicitation, no ads of any type when signing up). 
All public areas we’ve visited in Australia are meticulously maintained.
As was the case with Bob when he started to post a comment at the end of a post but found he preferred to write directly to us, although we see him in person several times a day.

Please feel free to email us directly if you’d prefer not to post a comment on the site. If we post your email message in a future post, we’ll ask your permission before we do so and exclude your email address and name (if you’d prefer). However, posting a comment is easy.  We love hearing from our readers!

Locals take advantage of the sunny day.
Bob wrote the following, which he was happy to share here today:
“I am overwhelmed by your excellent website as you travel all over the world to the most fantastic destinations that most of us only dream about visiting.

The daily updates on where you are presently residing, and the exciting photos give us readers an insight into places that we can only dream of visiting one day.
Reading back over your daily blog since you first started your worldwide journey inspires us to see the place you have already visited from a much bigger perspective.

As you travel the world, may you continue to keep all those who loyally follow you informed of where you are, and may good health be your companion along the way?

Kindest regards

Bob Reed – Fairlight NSW Australia”
An exciting plant we found at the park.  Last time we saw one of these was in Kenya in 2013.
Thank you, Bob…for your kind words, for all your diligent attention in ensuring we have an exceptional experience in your property, your charming town, and the many beautiful areas of Fairlight, Manly, and Sydney.  

No doubt, it’s been more memorable than we ever expected based on the generosity and love you’ve shared with us every day. We’ll certainly miss you!

Happy day to all!
Photo from one year ago today, April 12, 2016:
Ah, bull in the road. We stayed in the car while I took the photo through the windshield. For more photos, please click here.

Its a small world after all…Aloha!…Our video history…Tom’s last night sunset photos!

This was our favorite sunset photo of the evening, taken last evening from our veranda in Fairlight. But, of course, I’m also partial to the Kookaburra sunset photo below.
Last night, I happened to check my email before heading to bed. Much to my surprise and delight, there was a message from YouTube stating there was a new comment on one of the many videos we’ve posted over these past years of travel.  


For all of our travel videos, please click here. Some are rather funny, which our newer readers may enjoy. We’ve received lots of “likes” on many of the videos. Please keep in mind; I’m not the best at taking videos, so we ask for your patience in viewing ours.

Quite a view of the sky during sunset last night.

The message we received last night read as follows, including my response:

Thx for videoing Sio and me, the quicker guy; I had the tree that you have to keep adjusting your gear because of the diameter of the truck. The climbing gear is called a Swiss tree gripper. We both got caught by our uncles and dad’s families to help provide its tough work, Aloha.
 
Wow! Great to hear from you. Your efforts attributed to one more story for our 5 years blog of traveling the world. Click here for the full story and more photos and…for being safe in your hard work. Here’s the link to our story on your hard-working day: https://www.worldwidewaftage.com/2014/11/high-in-treesobserving-unusal-tasklife.html 
Kindest regards, Jess & Tom.”

We couldn’t help but be thrilled to hear from one of the brave coconut tree trimmers we’d videotaped over two years ago in a post we’d uploaded while in Maui, Hawaii, from October 15 to December 1 2014.

Here are two videos we’d posted during that period and the link associated with that post dated November 22, 2014:

Video #1, coconut tree trimming in Maui

Video #2, coconut tree trimming in Maui

These two videos precipitated the above commenter writing to us when he must have stumbled across them while searching YouTube for coconut tree trimming videos.  Ha!  Small world, eh?
It’s the magic of technology that brings readers and viewers to us over the years that continues to enhance the quality of our own personal experiences. Whether we meet a future reader in person while living in distant places who later connect with us online or, in the case of most of our reader email and comments, it’s a result of their own perusal online when they stumble upon us.
The sun’s bright array rims these clouds on the horizon.
We do little online marketing and promotion for our site and over 1700 posts to date that we have well over 528,000 readers to date on our site.  
In the realm of the Internet, it’s a paltry number. In our world, it’s more than we ever imagined. We’re grateful for the opportunity to share even a morsel of our worldwide experiences with readers from all over the world as our site continues to grow year after year.
The sun’s ray peeking through the clouds creates quite a photo op.
If we intended to make a lot of money from our site, we’d approach it differently. But, that is not our goal. If we did so, it would change the nature of what we do exponentially.  

And, it’s the simplicity and ease with which we write to YOU each day that enhances our personal experiences in many ways. But, of course, this is greatly increased when we hear from our readers by commenting at the end of any day’s post or writing to us via email. We love it all.
We’re always looking for these sunset shots which Tom captured last night.
Yesterday, we took off on the bus to Manly to walk the long distance to the end of the outdoor mall, the Corso, to have a look and take photos of beautiful Shelly Beach.  
By the end of the day, my new Fitbit, the warranty replacement that arrived in the current shipment from the US, received on Tuesday, read a little over 10,000 steps. I was thrilled, to say the least. But, unfortunately, Tom, not an enthusiastic walker, didn’t give it much of a thought.
We don’t have a clear shot of the sun going down, but the sky offers quite a show.
We took tons of photos which we’ll share over the next several days. But, right now, we have more photos than we’ll be able to share during our remaining two weeks (as of today) in Fairlight.  
And yet, we’ll continue to explore and share the photos as we go. Today, we’re attending a viewing for the eventual auction on April 22nd for the multi-million dollar house next door. We’ll take plenty of photos which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.  You’ll be shocked by pricing in Australia! Please check back.
Kookaburra on the power line while Tom took sunset photos.
Thanks to “AucklandHard” (whatever that means for a guy in Hawaii) for writing a comment on our video, and please, no matter what, stay safe climbing those tall coconut trees in Maui.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, April 8, 2016:

This post from one year ago today is the first leg of the “back to back” cruise on the Celebrity Infinity, which we’ll board after leaving Costa Rica (Central America) on November 22, 2017 (19 months from now). Then, we’ll fly to Fort Lauderdale, where we’ll spend one night boarding the cruise the next day. This will be our first foray into South America. We’re enthused about going through the Panama Canal a second time from the opposite direction, seeing the new locks for the first time. For more details, please click here.

An inside peek on the joy of meeting people along the way…Smiling and blushing at the same time…


Bob explained this single red bloom, a type of lily, is growing out of season.  The photo was taken on a cloudy day.

There’s no doubt our hearts are filled with appreciation and joy from the kindness and love we receive from people we meet along the way, whether it’s in a town, a quaint village, or on a cruise.

The curiosity and interest in our lifestyle are often coupled with an abundance of warmth and friendship we can hardly believe comes our way with such ease. We often ask one another, “How did we get so lucky to meet so many fine people?”
Now 11 days since the last cruise ended, we have received emails from passengers we met during the 12 days at sea. Again, we were asked for our web address prompting us to hand our business cards more times on this shorter cruise than when we sailed on the 33-night cruise when we’d attached ourselves to the same two fine couples for happy hour and dinner every night. 
We had a lot of fun with Lois and Tom and Cheryl and Stan, remaining in touch since the cruises ended on December 3rd via Facebook. It was a memorable experience during the lengthy cruise, which circumvented the entire Australian continent, which we’ll always remember fondly.
With the steep drop in the yard of the holiday home, there’s a protective fence, as shown with this pretty succulent leaning against it.
However, we learned a valuable lesson…mingle. The depth of the meaning of our world travels enhanced by having a wide array of experiences; meeting people from all walks of life, meeting people from many parts of the world, while hearing their often exciting and unique experiences of not only travel but of life itself.
Mingling with many people provides us with the added opportunity to learn even more about human nature, a process that hopefully will continue through the balance of our lives regardless of where we may be at any given time. 
We’ll never delude ourselves in stating, “We’ve seen and done it all.” But, in many ways, we’ve just begun with so much more of the world to see ahead of us. If we continued to travel for 10 to 20 years or more, we’d barely have touched the surface of what this world has to offer. 
We remind ourselves daily to remain humble and in awe of the world and our opportunity to live this life, often through challenging and difficult times, which to date have not deterred our enthusiasm in any manner.
Tom took this photo of the center of the above succulent.  Simple beauty with dewdrops.
When we receive an email such as the message we’ve included below, we share it not to “toot our own horn” or to “brag” about people “liking us.” That’s not us, as those of you who have followed our candid and vulnerable story for any length of time is most assuredly aware.
We share this email with our readers to join us in the pleasure we glean from meeting wonderful people along the way. After all, our loyal readers seem to empathize with our trials and tribulations as well as in the memorable happy events we encounter day by day.
While aboard the recent 12-night cruise ending on March 13th, we met a lovely couple, Christina and Harold (whom we’d mentioned on a few prior posts) on the third day of the cruise during Cruise Critic’s “cabin crawl,” an event where various members volunteer to show their cabins in other categories.

In this particular case, Christina and Harold kindly hosted a lovely event with food and drinks in their penthouse cabin, which even we’d never seen after 17 cruises in the past four-plus years. 

Coleus, an excellent shady area plant.

Little did we know we’d hit it off so well with this special newly engaged couple, considerably younger than us (by about 25 years), world travelers in their own right, with Harold having visited many of the exciting countries we’ve stayed in our travels.

It wasn’t just the commonality of our experience that connected us. It was the warmth and kindness we all exuded in one another’s company.  
Yesterday, we received this beautiful message from Christina that warmed our hearts, prompting us to ask if they’d mind if we share it here today. Christina wrote back promptly saying they love for us to share it, and thus, here it is, presented with a bit of modesty and surely a blush on our faces:  
“Hello from sunny Florida!!!
Harold and I went to Christchurch, Auckland, Vegas, and Houston before my return home to Tampa last night – It’s been a fantastic adventure!! 

You were the most memorable couple we had the pleasure of meeting – We looked for you in your designated spot on the last day, went to the lounge, called your room a few times, and didn’t get you – you were like beautiful angels who had now disappeared. 

Harold is a world traveler (I’m brand new to his adventures). He has never met anyone who traveled for pleasure more than he did until he met you, and he’s been raving about you ever since – We’re honored to have met you!!!! 
We want to say THANK YOU for being so kind and open, telling us about your lives, giving the great life lessons and advice you gave (we kept looking at each other in shock because you were honestly speaking to us), your travels, your healthy eating lifestyle (as I’m trying to convince Harold that that’s the way to go.) and inviting us to meet you someday out on your adventures. These excellent chapters of your life have genuinely impacted us!! 

I finally got a chance to look at your website and the fun memories you share!! We love what you’re doing in your retirement and look forward to seeing you again someday, hopefully sooner than later. 

We will keep you in our prayers for safe travels and excellent health throughout, and we’ll be watching with admiration and love!!

It’s back to reality here on the home front – work, work, work – However, now the plan is to fund a perfect retirement, vacation more, and enjoy life!! 

You’re our heroes!!!!

With love,
Christina”
Unknown variety of red berries.

We wrote back expressing the appreciation we feel for having met them, the time we spent together (including dinner served by butlers in their suite) and at various times throughout the ship and, the hope that our paths will cross again someday. Thank you, Christina and Harold, for sharing a part of your lives with us and for your heartfelt, meaningful message.

It’s not only a breathtaking scene, an exquisite animal in the wild, or a blissfully colorful flower we encounter in our travels that fills us with an appreciation for this magical world… it’s the people we meet who open their hearts to welcome us for a moment, for a day, or a lifetime…
P.S. I couldn’t resist including contact information for Christina’s real estate business in Tampa, Florida, USA.  We have no doubt she is a highly competent real estate professional.  Please contact Christina at this link
Thanks, dear readers and friends, for sharing another day in our lives!
Photo from one year ago today, March 23, 2016:
When seeing these fish prices in New Zealand one year ago, we felt they were quite reasonable. For example, one TV guru Gordon Ramsey’s favorite, is the John Dorey and red snapper (which we purchased).  At the NZ price of 37.50, the US $25.33 for a kilo is 2.2 pounds! What a great price! For more details of our visit to the seafood market, please click here.

A meaningful and heartbreaking story from a loyal reader…Tomorrow, Tom’s birthday, a special but scary story with photos…

All of today’s photos were taken yesterday on a drive to the countryside surrounding Penguin, Tasmania.

After a lazy start of the day, finally I opened my laptop to begin today’s post. Each morning, before starting I check my email for comments that we may have received overnight. 

At times, there are many email messages from readers and some comments posted on the site. Rarely is there a day when we don’t hear from our readers. With the commitment to respond to all email messages and comments within a day, on most occasions we respond within 12 hours

Poppies, Permethrin flowers and the hills.

This morning, there was only one message and it read as follows with this word in the subject line:

“Inspiration

Dear Jess,  I came to your talks on Radiance (of the Seas)and now follow with great interest your blog. I wish both you and Tom continuing health and happiness. You are both so inspirational. Happy holidays!”

Immediately, I wrote back thanking the thoughtful sender for writing to us. Each message we receive, short or detailed, is truly a gift.  As Christmas approaches we’re reminded that we have no need for decorations, a tree, presents to unwrap, cards to open, cookies to bake and yet… the gifts keep coming and coming.

What are those gifts? Simply put, the gifts of words, written by readers, family and friends when they share their love, their experiences and their heartfelt expressions over the holiday season and throughout the year. 

Beautiful farm land with hay rolls (bales) at a distance.

Sometimes, we receive a comment or message that touches us in immeasurable ways; with compassion, empathy and appreciation for a reader opening their heart to reveal their innermost struggles and losses. 

Today, I share this story that came to us via a comment at the end of a post of a few days ago. Had the reader chosen to be anonymous, he could easily have done so. Instead, he used his name and location both of which we’re excluding today with the utmost of appreciation for his privacy. 

We share his story with respect and sympathy over his tragic loss.  Had it not been the holiday season, which inspired our story of a few days ago of the sorrow and loss many suffer over the holidays, our dear reader may not have been inspired to write. 

Bordering trees.

Perhaps in doing so, it may have provided him with a moment of relief from the grief which some of us may feel when we put thoughts into the written word. “They” (whomever “they” are) often say expressing ourselves in writing may provide clarity. 

His message had a powerful and lingering effect, one we’ll carry with us long after the holiday season comes to a close. As sad as his experience, he so kindly wrote to us to share his life changing experience. 

For us, in a way, his message became a gift, one we’ll always treasure. Not all gifts in life bring a smile to our faces. Some are a message from which we learn and grow. Isn’t that the message of Christmas, after all? And, long after a “happy” gift has worn out and withered away, the gift of learning and growing lingers with us for the remainder of our lives.

Thank you, dear reader, for sharing this sorrowful, yet powerful story, for being a part of our lives in your own special way as you work  through the grief and healing you’ll experience for many years to come.

A creek running through farmland.

Here’s his story as written to us in a comment a few days ago:

“Hi Jessica and Tom. I have written you a couple of times during your travels and my wife and I have followed you since you left Minnesota, where we lived nearby.  I love your adventure and we were using you as inspiration to perhaps do something similar. I had to write today because your words of grief are so true and enlightened. I lost my wonderful companion and wife in July this year. Without going into details she hid her depression from everyone and developed psychosis late in life, very unusual (age 66). She took her own life. And it has been very daunting. But myself and our daughters are forging ahead and I treasure your wise words about filling our hearts with the blessings we’ve been gifted (I feel very fortunate for the 33 amazing and wonderful years my  wife and I had together) and this Christmas time we will tell joyful stories about her. So just wanted to say I find your words many times inspiring and wise, always interesting, and look forward to reading every post. Thank You. You and Tom have a wonderful Christmas.”

We wrote the following response to his comment:

“Dear Reader, we hesitated in responding to your comment on our site as quickly as usual. We were at a loss for words, our hearts aching so, for the loss of your beloved wife. Its kind and generous of you to share the story of your devastating loss of your love and companion of 33 years.

No words we or anyone can express can lighten the load of the sorrow you must carry with you each and every day. The typical, “I’m sorry for your loss” is meaningless and shallow, an easy attempt to deflect the responsibility of saying something more revealing and heartfelt when we try to imagine the depth of your loss. None of us who haven’t experienced such a loss can even comprehend.

We are grateful to hear your daughters have rallied at your side while together you try to make some sense of it all. We commend you and admire you for your determination and hope for the future.  (Continued below).

A peek between the trees to the sea.

Reading your comment has had a profound effect on both Tom and I, especially in light of our discussion of loss in the prior post. We are honored and grateful to know you have found even a morsel of distraction in reading our posts and thank you with all of our hearts for reaching out to us.

If you don’t mind, we’d like to make mention of your comment on tomorrow’s post. We will do so anonymously, using no names, no city or any specific identifying references. We all have a lot to learn from you which is all the more vital during the holiday season and year end, as we all reflect upon our own lives.

May healing and comfort find their way into your hearts as you work your way through the painful grieving process.

Much love and blessings always,
Jess & Tom”

One of Mother Nature’s bountiful gifts.

Photo from one year ago today, December 22, 2015:

One year ago in Fiji, we noticed there were no poinsettias or Christmas cactus plants in the stores, only colorful flowers blooming year round.  For more in Fiji, please click here.

Day 12…Circumnavigating the Australian continent….Answering a loyal reader’s questions in an email…Remembrance Day observation aboard ship

View of the deck where the navigation of the vessel is provided by the master and his crew.

“Sighting on the Ship in Australia”

Stone sculpture/artwork in the lobby near the Cascades dining area.

In yesterday’s post we discussed an email we’d received from a loyal reader, Elaine, who with her husband decided to travel the world influenced in part by reading our site over these past few years.

It meant so much that we may have played a small role in inspiring them to be willing to sell their home to become unencumbered with stuff to enhance the affordability and enjoyment of the experience for a two year period. 

However, long one may choose to travel, without homes, cars and belongings in their home country, many find traveling to be a life- changing and enriching experience.

Tender boats which are actually the ship’s lifeboats were taking passengers to Benoa, Bali for sightseeing. After spending four months in Bali, we see no point in getting off the ship today.

In her email, Elaine had a number of questions, a group of which we decided to require and deserved a little more time and space than we’d provided in yesterday’s post.

Elaine wrote:

“One more question for you.  Which are your favorite booking sites?  Vacations to Go?  For cruises…VRBO for bookings (have you had any bad experiences with bookings?)  Favorite Airlines (sometimes a necessary evil)?   Any favorite ways to save money…ie Airline Miles plans etc.”

For ease in reading our responses to each of Elaine’s questions, we’ll address each one separately as indicated below:

What are our favorite booking sites?
Long ago in 2012 when we built our site, we began using our favorite booking websites, some of which are listed as advertisers on our home page. We selected these companies to fulfill our travel needs after considerable research as to:  quality of service, pricing, response time, reliability of website, length of experience and user reviews. 

Each company/website provides its own unique service which continues to serve us well with few, if any, issues over these past almost five years since the onset of our bookings which we began long before we actually left the US. Please see our list below with details.

Some passengers had booked outdoor activities on this rainy day in Bali.

Cruises:  Vacations to Go, rep Brooklyn Earnhardt. Exemplary service, quick response, best pricing possible on every cruise. Plus, if cruise’s price is reduced prior to final payment, all we do is notify our rep and she’ll lower the price accordingly, but it’s our responsibility to continually check for price reductions which Tom does daily.  We’ve saved several thousand dollars on this feature. (Price increases do not have any bearing on our pricing once the initial deposit is paid at time of booking).

Hotels: Almost in every case, we use this link on our site to Hotels.com. With a rewards program that includes “one free night after spending 10 nights” this has worked well for us. Their pricing is highly competitive and we’ve been very happy with the results. For our upcoming hotel stay in Minnesota for six weeks, they gave us an excellent corporate rate discount (based on long stay).

Vacation/Holiday Home Rentals: Since our first vacation rental booking in 2012, we’ve been primarily using this link on our site to HomeAway.com. On a few occasions we’ve used other sites such as VRBO.com but have found the most listings on HomeAway

Their easy to use site seems to have better priced listings than many other such sites. Also, on HomeAway it’s possible to pay a deposit to hold the property, whereas on Airbnb, which often includes shared rentals, (we’re not interested in sharing a house), they require payment in full at time of booking for the entire rental period. 

Benoa, Bail as seen from the ship.

We aren’t willing to pay three months of rent in advance, often as much as 18 months out, to a stranger. Note: DO NOT PAY RENTS OR DEPOSITS FOR VACATION HOMES VIA A BANK TRANFER. THERE’S NO WAY TO RECOVER LOST FUNDS IF ANY ISSUE ARISES. USING A CREDIT CARD THROUGH A BOOKING SERVICE, SUCH AS STAYZ (IN SOUTH PACIFIC), HOMEAWAY OR OTHER BOOKING SITES OR, PAYPAL (USE CREDIT CARD PAYMENT OPTION, NOT BANK ACCOUNT WITHDRAWAL) RESULTS IN SOME FORM OF RECOURSE IN THE EVENT OF FRAUD. CREDIT CARD COMPANIES WILL ASSIST IN RECOVERING FROM FRAUDULENT TRANSACTIONS.

How do save money using these sites? Simple, negotiate property owners/manager, if possible. If you have special circumstances such as only two people staying in large property or are requesting a long term stay (anything over two weeks), don’t hesitate to ask for a discount. Best way to accomplish this? Suggest an alternate price for the entire period. Don’t ask the seller to suggest a price unless you’re willing to wonder if you could have booked it for even less.

Bad experience? Yes! Our first vacation home rental outside the US was a beach house in Belize. It didn’t have regular running water, no insect screens and was unlivable for us.

We left in a week, losing our first month’s rent. The experience was awful considering it was our first international rental, but we learned a lot. Luckily, we found another property (more expensive) but ultimately fabulous and enjoyed the remaining period of our stay. See this link to begin this story which continues over a period of several posts.

Local tender awaiting passenger’s boarding for tours.

Flights:  As little as we like the necessity of flying, it’s difficult to see the world by cruise ship, train, car or other modes of transportation.  We’ve seen many options for cruises that we could use for further transportation to and from various continents in an attempt to avoid flying, but the cruise fares are often out of reach financially over the long haul. Instead, we bite the bullet and fly only when necessary on an average of four to six flights per year. 

Do we use one particular airline? No, it’s not possible. We check this site for an airline’s safety rating, and then choose  those with the best ratings based on best times and prices suitable for our needs.  Yes, we do sign up to become rewards members, but based on our travels to date, we’ve yet to accumulate enough worthwhile points since we keep changing airlines. 

Close up of local tender boats taking passengers to the shore when the port of Benoa is too small to accommodate the ship.

As for booking airline tickets, we exclusively use this link on our site to Expedia.com. One can accumulate rewards points, but they aren’t significant, but after considerable time and research, we’ve been happy with the efficiency, ease of talking to a “human” if necessary, and pricing. The site is easy to use and understand for even the most inexperienced traveler. One can shop for days for a flight in an attempt to save a few dollars and may in fact be able to save a little in doing so. But, if one researches carefully, you may find, as we have, that there’s always a tradeoff of one sort or another for even the smallest of discounts.

Saving money in general?  We’re always searching for ways to reduce our costs. Whether it’s the cost of a rental car, a trip to a farmers market or a hotel stay, we never hesitate to kindly ask for an upgrade and/or a better price when the situation calls for it. Only you can use your best judgment. We choose diplomacy and kindness when asking and a high degree of gratefulness whether they’ve been able to comply or not. Coupons, discount codes, special promos are often available at the above websites and other which are readily found on a simple google search.

The contraptions are “davits” described as:  “Any of various crane-like devices used on a ship for supporting, raising and lowering boats and anchors on a ship.”

Today, with time and space running out once again, we’ve left out a vital aspect of our travels: rental cars. In tomorrow’s post, we’ll discuss how to book and save huge sums on rental cars throughout the world and a variety of nuances to consider when selecting a vehicle. 

This morning, aboard the ship at 6:00 am, a Remembrance Day Sunrise Service (same a Veterans Day in the US) was held poolside.  A few minutes ago at 11:00 am today on November 11, 2016, the entire ship observed a few moments of silence by ringing of the ship’s bell at the beginning and end. Every person, including all staff and ourselves, stood and bowed our heads in respect for the fallen soldiers of World War I and other wars.  

Please check back tomorrow on how we’ve saved on both costs and time in renting cars over these past four years. 

Photo from one year ago today, November 11, 2015:

The special clothing in this shop window is often purchased for Diwali celebrations which was celebrating one year ago on this date.  For more details, please click here.

Day 11…Circumnavigation the Australian continent…Quite a day in US politics…Interesting email from a loyal reader…Medical emergency one year ago!…

A small rescue boat anchored to the side of the ship.

“Sightings on the Ship in Australia”

Not sure what this display is about… footballs of some sort?

With the election behind us, we can now return our focus to life aboard ship. That’s not to imply that our focus has diverted from having a great time. But it has been on the minds of most Americans and others worldwide for some time, and often the topic of conversation among our fellow passengers, both Americans, and Australians.

I’m looking forward to being able to read the posts and see photos of family, friends and readers on Facebook without the toxic vitriol espoused by those expressing their personal views of either candidate. 

At times over this past year, I’d considered giving up on FB, but its also been a great means of seeing family and friends photos and staying in touch across the miles of sea between us. 

Clothing for sale in one of the ship’s shops.

Hopefully, now and in the future, opinions will be focused on our own efforts to make the US and the world a better place with love, understanding and compassion in the forefront. Amid that, supporting our new President’s efforts will surely unite our country whether we agree with his plans and ideas at this time. Time will tell.

Speaking of our readers, yesterday we received this letter from a long time loyal reader Tom met long ago on another cruise. Of course, I asked her permission to post her letter to which she happily agreed. I’ve also included my response.

Please see below:

“Jessica, you and Tom have been our inspiration. 
 
We just sold our house and our things are about to be given away/stored for now. We have taken a severance package from our employer. 
 
Our plan is a 2 year adventure for now. I have been reading your blog since we briefly met Tom on Brilliance of the Seas TA (I have written before) a few years ago now. We begin in January. Our plan is similar to yours, avoiding flying, cruising to destinations and AirBnb etc., monthly stays in cities we like, along the cruise repositioning routes.  (Continued below).
Men’s clothing.
have learned a lot from your site. I still have not decided which direction we are going yet. I couldn’t plan as this all happened rather suddenly (sold our house while cruising to Australia lol). Any advice about direction?  Follow the sun in warm weather.. (Australia, New Zealand first, then Singapore to Dubai, then Suez canal to Europe) or do
 
South America followed with a Transatlantic with summer in Europe?
 
I hope you enjoy your Transpacific on Explorer of the Seas in April. We have done it both ways this year. If you ever make it to Pt Vila Vanuatu you must tour with Atmosphere tours and ask for a guide named Alfred – he is passionate about his culture and a fabulous guide. Best guide, we have ever had.
 
In closing, I wish you and Tom all the best and continued happy and healthy travel. The memories of the life you are leading mean more than all the “stuff” people have.
 
I hope we run into each other on a future cruise. Would love to chat.
Elaine”
Logo wear.
We replied as follows in bold type:
“Elaine, how excited we both were to see your message. We’re so excited for both of you embarking on your own adventure.
 
It’s not easy answering your questions when so much is predicated by what appeals to you both to see over the next two years. Our desires may be entirely different than yours.
 
We both believe your best guide is to make a list of where you’d like to visit and then using the world map, map it out so you don’t waste time and money jumping all over the globe.  (Continued below).
Perfume and cologne shop.

We don’t like big cities but you may. We no longer care if the weather is ideal. We’re looking for the experience.  We don’t care to live in apartments.  You may find this works for you.

 
Since our focus is wildlife and nature, you may find historic buildings more interesting. If we never enter another old building, we’ll be fine. But, Africa is calling us for another visit in 15 months.  Antarctica in on the schedule for 14 months. 
 
You see, how it’s so hard to say where and when to go. Our tastes are all so diverse and unique. But, I will say we’ve loved NZ and AU. By the time we leave the South Pacific for a 9 week family visit, we’ll have spent almost two years in this part of the world.
 
Thank you so much for reading our site. You have no idea how much it means to us if we’ve inspired you even one iota. We’d love to hear what you decided to do and wish we could be more helpful.
 
May I copy and paste your email to our site. We won’t use your names, but what a great story to share!
Warmest regards,
Jess & Tom
Tourist trinkets.

Then, Elaine responded again:
“Sure, go ahead and post my email Jess and Tom. Thank you for your responses. They actually do help a lot. We want to do Antarctica too, and the Northwest passage. We must see the pyramids in Egypt.   wo years probably won’t be enough, but as long as finances hold and we don’t get tired of travelling (not likely for us) we probably keep going. 

One more question for you.  Which are your favorite booking sites?  Vacations to Go?  For cruises…VRBO for bookings (have you had any bad experiences with bookings?)  Favorite Airlines (sometimes a necessary evil)?   Any favorite ways to save money…ie Airline Miles plans etc.  Diamond status is lovely isn’t it.  We just hit it on our last cruise and I expect it’ll be great.
 
Quote “You have no idea how much it means to us if we’ve inspired you even one iota”  (Continued  below)
Bargain tables with handbags.
Our whole idea for doing this began with the posts by Tom made on Cruise Critic which led us to your website, talking briefly to him and reading your words each morning before I go to work. We always intended to travel, as we do already now, but not to just cut loose and go. That cutting loose is what is enabling us to finance this trip by investing our money. 
 
The next 7 weeks are going to be crazy! We love Australia too, but have never been to New Zealand. I’m not sure what our focus is yet. We’ve seen many historic buildings already.  I love art and sculpture. My husband loves history. Wasn’t Petra amazing, but I could do without that walk in the heat!  I think we just want to go everywhere and see and experience as much as we can, while we can, make memories for when health fails us and have no regrets. So exciting to see all the wonders of the world we’ve heard about all our lives.
 
I’ll email our choices once I figure them out! Wish I had more time to plan, but what a wonderful conundrum to have!
 
So, Thank you both once again. You are changing our lives.
 
 Elaine”
Scuba, beach and snorkeling products.
Our dear reader posed some excellent questions as shown in blue above from her most recent response. Due to space and time limitations today, we’ll answer the above questions in blue in tomorrow’s post. Please check back.
Have a beautiful day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 10, 2015:
One year ago, we visited the dentist in Fiji when Tom developed an abscessed tooth. The bill for the dentist visit was surprising at FJD 6, USD $2.76, AU 3.60. The two antibiotic prescriptions were “free’ when we walked across the parking lot in the local hospital’s pharmacy. For the full story and photos, please click here.

A potentially life saving tool for yourself and others in the event….

This morning’s view as I sit at my new ergonomically correct spot under a cabana by the pool.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

This morning, three dogs running and playing on the beach.

Today’s story is about saving your life, the lives of your loved ones and the lives of others in the event of a disaster when a fresh water supply isn’t available. But first, a little background on how Tom (and eventually me) came to a point of following Bob Rinear’s daily posts, not unlike how many have many readers throughout the world have been following our posts.

Tom has been reading Bob Rinear’s financial newsletters, Invest Yourself, for the past eight years.  The first few years Tom only read the free edition and later, convinced it was well worth the expense, signed up for the for a lifetime membership for access to the full site and more in depth newsletters. It’s served us well. 

Bob’s newsletters not only discuss financial issues in the US and the world, but also includes topics relevant to many of us far beyond the scope of financial matters.

Although Bob is not a stock broker or a licensed financial planner, he shares with his 1000’s of readers “what he does” not what “we should do.” Thus, there’s no pressure to buy investments from him. He doesn’t sell them, nor give advice. However, his wisdom is vast, and we’ve learned a lot from Bob continuing to do so over time. 

The first view of the ocean of the four to five hour harrowing drive.

Today’s post is not intended to advise our readers to pay for a website. That’s entirely up to you and we reap no financial or other gain should you eventually decide to do so.

You may or may not agree with some of Bob’s philosophies, although his well thought out, researched concepts and opinions make for some interesting dinner table conversation. You can decide on that.

What makes us excited about Bob are the truisms he espouses that at many times can easily be incorporated into our lives of travelers.  On August 24th, he posted a story about how to save lives in the event of a disaster when fresh water supplies are unavailable.

In reading his post, we were literally in awe of the wealth of information and we encourage our readers to read his post as we’ve shown below, quoted directly from his site, the post entitled:  The Water Story.

Next view of the ocean during the long drive to the villa.

Here’s Bob’s post (although very long), is well worth reading in its entirety:
“8.24.2016 – Financial Intelligence Report Bookmark

Here it is, late August and the West coast of Africa is tossing off a line of unsettled weather, that crosses the lower Atlantic and ends up as a depression, Tropical storm or hurricane on our shores. I’m pretty darned familiar with such things as living through Super Storm, Sandy was the ultimate teacher of Preparedness.
 
I mentioned the other day that I think some form of “event” is going to take place over the next 6 months. Whether that’s a war, an economic disaster, a political assassination, etc., it just has a creepy feeling to it. So, with Hurricane season on us, the insane flooding in Louisiana, the fires out west…I figured it was time to do some articles about self preservation, both physical and financial. Let’s start with the most important life force….water.

Water is the most amazing fluid on earth, and yet we take it for such granted that no one gives it a moment’s thought. It isn’t just the “cool” facts about water that make it intriguing; such as the fact it is one of the only substances that exists in three states, being liquid, solid and gas without needing extreme temperatures to create each state. Water, for instance, is the only natural substance found in all three physical states at the temperatures that naturally occur on Earth.

 
But water is much more than “some wet stuff” we use to drink, cook and bathe. Studies have shown that water actually has a form of memory. Water can dissolve more substances in it than any other material known to man. Water is somewhat unique as it is one of the very few materials that increases in volume as it freezes. By expanding in volume by up to 9%, the density of water in its solid state is lower than it is in its liquid state. This gives ice the ability to float. Water has even been found to have “memory” something scientists are working with. (Continues below photo).
During the long drive, we crossed over many rivers, streams and waterways.

I could go on and on about the mystery that is indeed plain simple water, but for today I want to focus on the importance of it when we’re faced with a situation where there doesn’t seem to be any. Imagine for a moment if you will, a power outage that stops the town pumps from operating or your well from operating. Or maybe a disaster situation such as a flood, or Hurricane, or tornado.

While we take for granted the availability of water; when something ugly happens, water soon becomes a very serious focal point in your immediate life

Not to get terribly graphic, but even such things as personal hygiene become an issue when there’s no water around. Not only can’t you brush your teeth or bathe, the act of “going to the bathroom” becomes a major problem. If the toilets can’t flush, it won’t be more than a matter of a single day for a family to find out that they’ve got a serious sanitation problem. So, not only do we need water to survive, as the medical folks tell us that we can only last about 5 -7 days without water… We need it for much more than simply drinking.
 
So here’s the question. If something ugly happened… Say some natural disaster did knock out the power in your area for several weeks, and you were faced with the fact that the faucets weren’t going to work for quite a while, what would you do? Standard disaster preparing suggests that you have a gallon of water per person per day stored up, and you should have at least 3 days worth. Well, that’s fine if the disaster only lasts 3 days and all you’re doing is drinking it. Again, I’ll ask… How do you flush the toilets???
 
(Note… A lot of folks don’t know this, but you can flush your toilet simply by dumping a gallon and a half or so of water quickly -right into the bowl from a bucket. The toilet doesn’t care where the water comes from to flush, it works by water pressure in the bowl).  (Continues below photo).
A stream we crossed on the long drive.

If your home is secure, meaning you can live there, then, any old water will do as far as flushing the toilets. Get a 5 gallon bucket and fill it from the pool, a stream, a retention pond, a creek, a lake, Rain water you’ve collected etc. It doesn’t matter, you’re simply dumping it to flush the toilet. While certainly not convenient, just about everyone lives within a short walk of “some” body of water. Be creative in your thinking. When Sandy hit in NJ, and knocked my house down, my son and I had to move into an RV we had in a local campground. We had to take turns carting water from a small lake nearby, to keep the toilets functioning. It sucked… But it works. 

But what about drinking water? What about that morning cup of coffee or mixing up a can of soup? (Yes, I know this will require “cooking” and we’ll explore that in another issue. We’ll talk about easy ways to boil water and cook in the future) If you don’t have a store of water built up, are you destined to dry up and blow away? Not at all. But here’s why it is called “prepping” folks. You have to prepare ahead of time and have what you need on hand for when the disaster, outage, etc., hits. Once the power is down, once the water isn’t flowing, it is too late. You’re stuck.
 
I am certainly not against storing up gallons of water in your garage (again, remember seasonal temps …frozen water is a real problem if your house is just as cold as it is outside) or basement or what have you. The problem is of course that it is bulky stuff. It’s heavy and takes up a lot of space. You can easily store up enough to get you through a few days. But after that?? Now what? So what you need to do is have the tools on hand that allows you to “make” drinkable water from unlikely sources.
 
One of the remarkable things about our advancements in technology is that things that were impossible just 100 years ago, are very possible now. In the field of water purification, that is very evident. So let me ask you something. Did you know that there’s a water filter so advanced, that you can take stagnant creek water, and in ten seconds, produce clean clear drinkable water? Well, there is. In fact, there’s several ways to do this and we’re not talking about some thousand dollar giant set up here folks. I’m talking under 200 bucks. Later I’ll show you how to cut that to under 20. (Continues below photo).
This morning as the tide rises.

Some people have heard of the “life straw”, but many haven’t. While not the ultimate solution, this thing is cheap, works incredibly well and will keep you alive in ugly situations. It is a filter used by one person, to get a drink out of creeks, lakes, ravines, you name it. For 20 bucks a pop, it is something that everyone should have a few of. But they also make bigger units for filtering enough water for families to use.

http://www.vestergaard.com/our-products/lifestrawThe unit they call the “Lifestraw family 1,” will produce enough clean water for a family of 5 for 2 years. Yet it costs just 80 bucks. So “technically” you could go to a rain puddle, scoop up a couple quarts of dirty water, pour it through this thing, and end up with a quart and a half of clean drinking water. I quotation marked “technically “ simply because I’d take it one step further and boil the water that comes out, to make 100% sure it is sterilized and completely healthy. 
These units are used all around the world in humanitarian situations where they’re trying to help folks in Africa and other far off places with no clean drinking water, and it works. Is it perfect? No. It takes quite a while for 2 quarts of water to filter and although 99.99999 % effective, I’d want the last step of boiling or at least adding a drop of chlorine bleach just to kill that last chance something got through.
 
There’s another choice in the “portable” water filtering arena that bears mention for sure. This is called the Lifesaver Bottle. And it costs considerably more. It is 169 bucks for the personal version. But, I quote from the front page…
 
The LIFESAVER® bottle is the world’s first portable water bottle to remove all bacteria, viruses, cysts, parasites, fungi and all other microbiological waterborne pathogens without the aid of any chemicals (like iodine or chlorine) or the need for any power or UV light. Filtering down to 15 nanometers, that is 0.015 microns. With the smallest virus known being Polio at 25 nanometers, you are safe in the knowledge that LIFESAVER® filters all bacteria, viruses, cysts and all waterborne pathogens from your water.  (Continues below photo).
Ocean view when we stopped for one break during the drive.

On the site, they show the inventor drinking out of a polluted tank that they’ve tossed garbage in, rabbit poop in, you name it. He puts the bottle in, pumps the handle and drinks the clean water. It is quite amazing and yes,they have a larger version for more than personal use. It costs 209 dollars, and holds 18 quarts at a time. It too comes with the guarantee of removing virtually everything that can hurt you from a supply as ugly as swamp water. Amazing technology. Find it here…

www.lifesaverusa.com
Now for the more “handy man” of you out there, you can actually build something fairly similar to the Lifestraw family 1, for about 40 bucks. All you need is two food grade 5 gallon buckets, and a couple of these filters…
 
http://www.amazon.com/Doulton-Sterasyl-Ceramic-W9121715-W9121709/dp/B003VT5TEY/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8
What you do is take one 5 gallon bucket and drill two holes in the bottom. Take these filters, and “stand them up” so the black plastic flange goes through the holes you just made and use the nut that comes with them to hold them in place. Take that bucket and place it on top of the other bucket. Pour your dirty water in the top bucket, and it will be forced by water pressure through the filters and drip into the bottom bucket. While certainly not as well as the lifestyle or lifesaver, if you started with relatively clean water, all you’d need to do is boil the cleaned water for 3 minutes and you’d have perfectly drinkable water.
 
For those of you with a few extra dollars to spend, you can make that same sort of bucket to bucket filter system with Berkey’s integrated filters. They cost about 107 dollars for two, but they are indeed state of the art. They not only get rid of parasites and bacteria, they remove like 70 different chemicals to “undetectable amounts”. You can find them here…
 
http://www.directive21.com/products/black-berkey-elements/
If you really want state of the art filtering, then you want one of the true life savers like the “big Berkey”. It will filter out the chlorine and other chemicals you don’t want to be drinking. They’re expensive units, but pretty attractive and work very well. Many people buy them just to run their household water through to get rid of fluoride and chlorine, etc. This is my favorite system, especially for a family.
 
http://www.berkeyfilters.com/
So obviously here’s my point folks. Yes, you should have some bottled water on hand for an emergency. But if the emergency outlasts your supply, you have to have some way to make water for hygiene and drinking/cooking. Those methods exist and they’re what I’d consider dirt cheap.
 
As far as finding water, again, most of you live at least “nearby” a stream, lake, pond, creek, retention pond, storm run-off pond, etc. From there you can get creative. Do you know how much water falls on your roof during even a small rain shower? It’s hundreds of gallons. Take one of your downspouts and run it into a food grade barrel or even buckets. Use one of the filters I mentioned to clean it up and then finally boil it for a few minutes for absolute safety.
 
I mention boiling because I’m paranoid. Yes, these filters are amazing, but I don’t want that one lone “tough guy” bacteria getting past it and infecting me. Science says boiling won’t reduce chemical pollution, but it kills viruses and bacteria. So if I can find what I might consider chemical free water, such as rain run off, then all I have to do is filter and boil and I’m good to go.
 
As you can see, the technology exists to take virtually any fresh water source and turn it into life saving, life sustaining drinkable water. It isn’t as convenient as turning on your tap, of course, but when the taps don’t work, it’s a true life saver. For the prices we’re talking, how could you not want a few of these things on hand?   (Continues below photo).
The river created by high tide waters next to the villa which is filled at low tide as well.

So here’s an action plan for you all. Get one lifestraw for each member of your family.They’re 20 bucks a piece. Keep them in your glove compartment or your kids backpack or whatever. They’re for emergency use only, of course, and not the most elegant way of getting water. But if you were stranded somewhere, it could keep you alive.

 
Buy either the lifestraw family 1, or the Lifesaver “Jerry jug”, or the Big Berkey for your family. The Lifestraw family 1 is 80 bucks, the Jerry jug, about 200, Big berkey about 230. They’ll all work well, I just give the edge to the Berkey.Then get yourself some food grade 5 gallon pails with lids. I get mine from the local “firehouse subs” joint. They’re the ones they get their pickles and other stuff in. They charge 2 bucks for them.
 
Look around your immediate block for sources of water. Because you usually view a little creek or pond as “icky” you probably didn’t pay attention to how many of them there really are. Find the closest one to you and then figure out the best way to transport water from it to your house. You might use a pull along wagon, your car if it has gas, a wheelbarrow, etc. Get yourselves a few larger food grade barrels, and figure out how to divert rainwater into it. You can grab it coming off a shed, your house roof, etc. If you only need it to flush toilets, toss a bunch of bleach in it, and it will stay for a long long time.
 
As you can see, there is now NO reason to not be able to produce drinking water for washing, bathing, drinking and cooking. A few simple steps now could mean a big difference in your quality of life in a bad situation. So, do some research on the things I’ve presented and get “prepared”.”
 

Tom reads Bob’s newsletters aloud to me a few times each day. After reading this newsletter about water we, along with many of his other readers, were appreciative of having this invaluable information.

Today, continuing our time in Bali, water surrounding us more than ever we find ourselves grateful for this useful and meaningful information. As a result, today’s new photos are all about water since we arrived in Bali a mere four days ago.

You can easily sign up (without any spam) for Bob’s free newsletter, if you’d like by clicking here.

Have a safe and refreshing day with ready access to a fresh water supply at your fingertips.

Photo from one year ago today, September 5, 2015:

The sun rising over Yorkeys Knob, photo taken from our veranda as we wound down our time in Trinity Beach. For more photos, please click here.

Another comment from a reader in the Southwest, USA…Wow!…How’d we get so lucky?

A coconut stand. Neither of us care for the liquid, but the meat is delicious.

This morning at 3 am (when I often wake up for no reason whatsoever), I checked my phone as I often do hoping that reading will lull me back to sleep. With no cell contract or a SIM card for Thailand, I use the house’s WiFi connection to log on. 

This isn’t always possible at every vacation home, especially when the signal is poor, but here in Rawai, Phuket we have a relatively good signal with few interruptions. Posting each day has been so much easier than in Bali and, on the Mekong River cruise, which was by far the worst signal we’ve experienced on a ship to date.

As is the case in most tourist locations, there’s a variety of ethnic restaurants.

Most of us have a routine when we check our phones, don’t we? We take a peek at email, Facebook, news or any other active apps we may frequently use. Then, if we choose to stay online, we settle on an app where we may spend hours keeping us entertained and engaged. 

Gosh, I wonder what we did with our free time decades ago, before technology took over our lives to some extent. Don’t get me wrong, I have no qualms about being online during quiet times. 

What else would we do if we’ve already been out and about perusing the area having taken enough photos for the time being? It’s not as if I can spend half the day in the kitchen cooking a great meal for dinner guests. Nor, can Tom head down to the basement to work on his latest fix-it project.

Phuket consists of hundreds of islands, most unpopulated.

On Sundays, there’s no newspaper to read which used to occupy several hours of the day after making a big breakfast for us or for family stopping by. Is there an upcoming trip to Home Depot on the  day’s agenda to buy more flowers for the one remaining sparse garden in the yard?  Hardly.

As glamorous as many assume our lives may be, there are simple realities of living this life of travel that have included a tremendous amount of sacrifice. But, wouldn’t anyone desiring a expand their horizons to experience an alternate lifestyle find themselves making sacrifices of one sort or another? An athlete? A mountain climber? An app developer? 

We’re no different. We gave up some things to acquire others.As many of our loyal readers know, we have no regrets. We never question our decision, regardless of how hard it may become at times. 

A local resort, The Villa.

Perhaps, recently has been one of those hard times as I continue to slowly recover, seemingly one millimeter at a time. We just haven’t been able to get out to do much lately.

The combination of the bumpy roads in the less-than-stellar rental car, my difficulty of getting in and out of the very low-to-the-floor passenger seat and the continuing discomfort while riding simply makes getting out not much fun.

Instead, our days consist of posting here (easily keeping me busy for half a day), sitting at the kitchen table chopping and dicing (Tom brings everything to me and puts it all away helping to make the meal at dinnertime) and watching a movie and/or a few favorite shows on my laptop while staying cool in the bedroom. 

Modest living quarters in the area, nestled in the trees.

Frequently, I get up from a sitting position to move about, but at this point, I’m finding that resting while by alternating the ice and heat packs seems to be the most beneficial.

Oddly, we’re cheerful and optimistic as we could be under these restrictive circumstances. But, isn’t that how life is? Don’t we all have periods of time when we aren’t feeling 100%, or recovering from a surgery or illness where we aren’t quite able to conduct our preferred daily routines interspersed with a wide array of activities? 

Certainly, under these circumstances most of us carry on, hopeful for the future, diligent in our efforts to get back to “normal” (whatever normal may be) while striving to maintain a positive attitude. 

There are many gated houses in our area, as in the case for our villa.

Then, there’s those special moments that make us smile or laugh, whether its the action or words from a loved one, an unexpected windfall or as simple as a colorful bird landing on a branch outside the window. Day brighteners. Hope perpetrators. Fodder for happiness. 

To make a long story short, during the night when I saw this message on my phone posted as a comment at the end of yesterday’s post, my heart did a flip flop at 3:00 am as it had also done the prior day when a reader from Minnesota expressed the same interest in meeting us. It read:

“Jessica and Tom,
I am a loyal reader (every morning) who would love to meet up with you when you are in Nevada next year (we live in Arizona). I’ll keep reading if and when such a meeting is planned for your loyal readers in the Southwest. Sounds like your back continues to improve, and very happy to read that. All the best to you two for continued “happy trails.”

Small cabins for rent in the area.

As soon as Tom awoke this morning, I read the message to him, as I’d done the prior day and again, he too, felt the same as me, grateful, appreciative and lucky to have reader/friends all over the world who travel along with us, through the good times and adventures and through the mundane times, (such a now), where exciting activities are hardly on the agenda.

Not only are we humbled by the world around us as we travel. Not only are we in awe of the culture we experience in each country we visit. Not only do we feel fortunate for the fine people we are honored to meet along the way. But, we feel so lucky to have our readers travel with us on this journey and we look forward to meeting more of you soon.

In August, 2014 our dear friend/reader Liz from Bristol, England, whom we’d never met took a train for a three hour round trip to meet us in South Kensington. (For the story of Liz’s visit, please click here). It was a day we’ll both always treasure, a friendship we’ll never forget.

Life is good.  We hope yours is as well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 9, 2015:

A mailman on a motorbike in Trinity Beach stopped to chat with us! For more photos, please click here.

An interesting question posed by a friend and reader…What do citizens of the world think of America?…More new sightseeing photos…

We stopped along the drive on the Hibiscus Highway, a 70 mile stretch along some of the most exquisite scenery in the South Pacific, to check out the fisherman using nets to catch the day’s bounty.

A co-worker/friend of Tom’s from his 42 years on the railroad, apparently has been reading our posts. A few days ago, he posed a question in the comments section at the end of a post as follows:

“Jess & Tom: If possible, could you give your perspective of what the citizens of the world think of America. From the most uplifting conversations you’ve had to the most bizarre perspective, you’ve encountered. I know that in your writings you stay away from politics so if you prefer not to answer that’s fine. Rick”

I responded to Rick explaining that over the next several days, we’d respond to his query in the best way we can. We wrote back, his comment below, the following:

On a small island, it’s not unusual to spot abandoned boats, cars, and other vehicles when the cost to dispose of them otherwise could be prohibitive.

“Rick, great to hear from you. We do appreciate that you’re following along with us. It means so much to us both. You posed an interesting point that is definitely fodder for a post. How we’ll do this without imposing our personal political views will be tricky. But, we both feel it’s worth and try and worth a challenge we both would like to pursue. I assure you, Tom will be chiming in during the process. Our response will be online in the next week for sure. Warmest regards, Jess & Tom”

Rick, you are so right. We make a concerted effort to avoid expressing our political views in our posts. Based on the overall content of our site and the nature of our lives, politics don’t play a role of any consequence.

But, the essence of your question is not how we feel about politics in the US, which takes us off the hook in our response, but how America/Americans are perceived by the other citizens of the world.

The fishermen sell whole fish at a section of the Farmer’s Market. Without a good filet knife, it makes no sense for us to purchase an entire fish. Next time Mario fishes, he said he’d save some for us.

Overall, citizens of other countries’ perceptions are that America is still the land of endless opportunity and freedom. But others we’ve met have expressed their concerns for the political and financial climate in the USA. 

Their opinions are purely based on what they hear on the news and from vacations/holidays they take to the US often away from the trials and tribulations of daily life one rarely experiences when staying in a hotel or visiting with friends and family. 

For many, not all, it’s not unlike Americans traveling to Mexico, staying in a nice hotel and never leaving the area, for example, Cancun, a “metropolis of a sort” whereby a traveler never needs leave the area to see how people really live.

This boat was tied to a tree onshore.

We’ve found that perceptions of America are often predicated by their own country’s experiences with America in past wars, conflicts, and economic interaction as to whether their opinions are favorable or unfavorable.

Many countries we’ve visited have been a part of the old European empires. As these countries have gained their independence, including Fiji, our current location, the citizens maintain a negative perception based on the way their ancestors were treated over the generations.

We’ve found that America’s alliances with many of these formerly empire nations have “rubbed off” into the perceptions many citizens perception of the USA. Does this have an effect on us?

Enormous tree roots growing on the beach.

In a way, yes.  Often, their perceptions are tempered based on the fact that many US citizens bring dollars spent during travel into their countries providing jobs and revenue for their businesses. We see this in our daily lives as we are diligently fussed over and cared for by locals wherever we go. There has yet to be an exception to this.

However, the kindness and generosity of time and spirit don’t go unnoticed. We attribute this to the nature of the citizens ingrained in them once again over generations.

The most vehement attitude we’ve experienced over these past three years has been by other travelers. Let’s face it, we all carry certain opinions about citizens of various countries besides our own. These are often difficult to hide. Based on our lives of travel, we strive, every single day to avoid preconceived notions, perceptions, and stereotyping of a race, a country, or a group of people.

Ratnesh explained that there had been a fire on this boat and it has been on blocks in this spot for some time.

Those on vacation/holiday or a cruise may choose not to hold back their opinions. At times, we encounter a rare situation whereby they express many negative comments about the US, its citizens, its politics, and its lifestyle. Often, this occurs when on a cruise, mixed together with citizens of many countries.

Are we ever rejected due to our American status? I wish we could quote specific situations in response to Rick’s questions. However, when we’re privy to such negative comments, we tend to sit back and listen, rather than engage in a negative interaction, presenting ourselves as the “ugly American. At times, quiet and dignity are our best defense. 

For a specific example, which has a tendency to become politically charged, we find a certain area of the world having negative perceptions of US citizens based on the fact that generally, and I stress generally, we choose to speak only one language when many citizens of other parts of the world speak two or more languages, at times as high as five.

A creek running beneath the road we traveled to the sea.

On the flip side, many citizens of the world have a perception that moving to the US would solve all their problems, lighten their political frustrations, and open doors for great medical care, affordable housing, and living costs.

Later, when they travel to the US to find how expensive it can be, they may change their opinions as to the affordability of living in the US. For example, tipping is common in the US, albeit often expected in many service-related industries. 

We’ve found that tips we may offer, (out of habit) are either turned down or expressed as being too generous.  For example, here in Fiji, we will leave tips for our service staff and driver with recommendations from our landlord to avoid setting an unrealistic precedent. We’ve heard this over and over again. At times, we’ve been told, not to tip at all.

The marina is used by many part-time and year-round residents. From our veranda, we saw these sailboats wafting by.

Some citizens of the world have a perception that Americans are “rolling in dough.” This perception can result in our paying higher prices for products and services unless specific prices are posted. Neither of us is naïve enough to fall prey to these scenarios. Negotiation for services in one thing. Refusing to pay a certain price with an argument, is another. We tread carefully to avoid offending anyone or engaging in confrontation.

We must “qualify” today’s comments to a degree. Our observations may be skewed based on the fact that we rarely live in or near large cities. The perceptions of America/Americans in rural areas can be dramatically different than those in large metro areas. The only times we’re around crowds of citizens of the world is on cruise ships and in the hustle and bustle of tourist attractions.

No, America isn’t loved and revered everywhere we travel. However, overall we are treated with kindness and respect, whether or not we are making a purchase or benefitting the party in any manner. Generally, and I stress generally, we’re accepted wherever we may go.

Driving along the Hibiscus Highway is a worthwhile way to spend a day. More new photos tomorrow.

Rick, thank you for your inquiry and we hope in part we’ve answered your questions. If we haven’t, please feel free to email or comment further. We welcome your and other readers’ comments, questions, and opinions and always strive to answer them as promptly and comprehensively as possible.

Please don’t hesitate to request a specific topic you’d like to see us address in our posts.

Have a fabulous weekend as we roll further into October, the fall season in the Northern Hemisphere and spring in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Photo from one year ago today, October 3, 2014:

Once we arrived in Kona, it was necessary to take a “tender” to shore. Along the way, we spotted this cute little island. For more details of our time in Kona, Big Island, Hawaii, please click here.