A warm and sultry day in the bush….Before we know it, winter will end…Baby zebra…

What an adorable visitor, a baby zebra!

Winter is short in South Africa. It begins on June 21 and ends on September 21. Then, the heat, humidity, and the insects return with fervor.  The mozzies come with warmer weather, rain, and moisture, while every puddle becomes a breeding ground for more.

Zebras and Lollie share pellets peacefully.

Lately, I have still been using insect repellent to keep the chiggers, sand fleas, and other minuscule winter insects from biting me. Finally, I have got it under control. I have fewer bites right now than I’ve had since we arrived almost two months ago. Every evening, while we are on the veranda, Tom sprays the bedroom and bathroom, alternating three different products daily; Doom, Peaceful Sleep, and a dust mite spray. We don’t enter the room for several hours after he sprays.

An adult zebra was walking around to the veranda edge for pellets.

We have an automatic Doom sprayer that shoots a burst every 35 minutes. This alone won’t work. It takes all the products, plus wearing Tabard roll-on repellent before bed to keep me from getting bit.  Also, I am wearing a long-sleeved cotton hoodie and long pajama bottoms to have as much skin covered as possible.

The baby hovers close to his mom.

During the day, I use Tabard on all exposed skin and repeat the application every six to eight hours, more often on my hands which I wash frequently. Itchy bites on my knuckles can keep me awake at night.  The past four or five nights, I’ve slept through the night now that we have this under control. Hopefully, these same precautions will work when the mosquitoes appear soon.

It’s always delightful to see the little ones. They are often shy and skittish.

Yes, we are exposed to several chemicals, but for now, the concern over malaria and other insect-borne diseases is the bigger concern. Our friend Jim (married to Carrie, US citizens who came here from reading our posts) ended up getting Tick Bite Fever which can become a severe illness without proper treatment. But even with appropriate treatment, he suffered dearly for a few weeks. Even during the winter months, there are risks from insects and snakes.

Today, the high will be 81F, 27C. The humidity is 61%, and there’s a cloud cover. The holidaymakers are still in the park, but the school holidays are ending this coming Sunday. The number of animals we’re seeing is considerably less than we’ll see next week. We’re looking forward to that! With as many animals as we’ve seen during the holiday, we can only anticipate many more will be coming.

Notice the little one close to his mom at the end of the splash pool.

Load shedding continues an average of three times per day for 7½ hours without power. As I write here, it has been out for two hours and should be returning soon. Sometimes, it goes back on in slightly less than two hours. I plan on doing laundry today, but I must wait until the power is restored. It’s such an inconvenience with no end in sight.

But, for us, the inconvenience of load shedding is considerably less than it is for others. We have WiFi during those periods and pay little attention to it while outside on the veranda, where we spend most of our days and evenings. Once it’s hot again, it will be tough without aircon for those 2½ hours in the bedroom at night. We have a fan we can use via the inverter during those periods, but the heat can be unbearable at night.

Zebras stop by and eat and then head out. They aren’t like many other species who will hang around to beg for more pellets.

We’ll be staying put today. This evening we’ll cook on the braai and enjoy more quality time on the veranda. Oh, the power just returned a few minutes earlier than expected. I can do the laundry and prep some of the food for tonight’s dinner. All is good. We try not to open the refrigerator when the power is out.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 13, 2021:

We couldn’t believe our eyes on this date in 2018 in Kruger National Park when we spotted this elephant digging a hole to access water in the ground below.  For more photos, please click here.

Hot today!!!…103F, 39C…Fantastic dinner for eight at Amazing Kruger View…Seven days and counting…

The view from Amazing Kruger View, where eight of us gathered to say goodbye to Rita and Gerhard for dinner.

Once in a while, we dine at other restaurants besides Jabula, where we dine every Friday night and will do so as long as we’re in Marloth Park. We feel it’s essential to support the business of our friends, Dawn and Leon, owners of the popular, loved restaurant for its great food, playful ambiance, and exemplary service.

Last night, eight of us gathered at Amazing Kruger View (formerly known as Aamazing River View) as Rita and Gerhard’s previous dinner out in the bush before they depart for the USA tomorrow. They won’t be returning to Marloth Park until after we’ve left on January 23, 2022. Of course, we will miss them but will stay in touch via Whatsapp until we meet again.

Including in the group of eight beside us and Rita and Gerhard were Kathy and Don and Louise and Danie. What a perfect group we are. As always, the conversation flowed with ease. The food was quite good, and we may go there again on any day but a Friday.

It was sweltering last night as it is today. While we were at the restaurant dining outdoors, they used water misting pipes which helped keep it much cooler. Once we were situated at our table, we never gave the heat another thought. But today, it’s different and already darned uncomfortable already at 10:49 am. It’s 94F, 34C, and it’s expected to rise to over 100F, 38C, by 2:00 pm, 1400 hrs.

The glare of the sun made it challenging to identify these birds. They may have been some bee-eater.

We have our central air conditioning running, cooling the entire house, a huge expense in the summer months in our old lives. The only aircon is in the bedrooms and is very expensive to run, although it quickly cools the room with the door closed. Last night, we kept it on all night except when we had load shedding between 1:00 am and 3:30 am, during which I never slept a wink.

Supposedly, load shedding is suspended for an unknown period as of today. But, with this heat, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s instituted again in the next few days when considerable power is utilized during heat spells. Often, as described by local property owners/managers of holiday houses, some holidaymakers leave on the aircon in their rental, on full blast, while they spend the day in Kruger. It’s frustrating to hear about this since it impacts all of us when Eskom decides to stop power “to catch up” (So they say).

Ah, it’s the nature of the beast. Yesterday it was almost as hot as today, and we did fine all day. It’s much cooler inside, so we may sit on the sofa in the living room with the veranda door open, allowing us to see if any visitors come easily. If our wildlife friends come to call on such hot days, we certainly don’t ignore them. We have fresh water in both levels of the bird feeder, water in a bit of cup for Frank and The Misses and the chicks, and food it offered freely.

This morning I got up early to use the oven to bake chicken breasts for tonight’s dinner, hoping the house would cool off a little before the worst of the heat kicked in. Now, as I sit here next to Tom on the sofa, while we listen to Garage Logic, his favorite podcast from Minnesota, Frank and The Misses are eating the seeds and drinking the water. It always makes us smile to see them.

Three birds on a branch over the Crocodile River.

Yesterday morning when I got up, I noticed Frank was in the house once again. He loves coming inside to see what’s going on. He scurried under this sofa when he saw me and headed out the door, which was still ajar from when he entered. We never stop laughing over Frank coming indoors.

The only other time we had a bird walk into our house was in Australia when a magpie loved walking around the kitchen, looking for morsels of food that may have dropped onto the floor when we last cooked a meal.  We call such activity “crumb patrol.” In many countries, windows and doors are left wide open without screens, as is often the case here in Africa. Whereby in the US, if our kids left the door open, we’d holler, “Shut the door!”

You’d think that where there are many insects, both harmless and venomous, there would be screens on windows and doors in most countries. But both in Africa and Australia, where we have had the most insects, it would be different. Even In Italy, there were no screens, and we constantly were fighting off biting flies and horseflies. A bite from one of those flies lasted for days.

Geese in flight on the river.

Oddly, we don’t see a lot of flies here in Marloth Park. You’d think with all the animals and their dung, flies, would be prevalent. Instead, its bees, hornets, and other flying insects, along with multitudes of crawling, walking, and slithering creatures, more so as we rapidly approach summer in Africa.

We’re used to all of this. That doesn’t mean we don’t get hot and sweaty. We do, but the more hot days we experience, the less we notice them. It’s the same with insects. In our old lives, I’d scream if I saw a “bug.” Now, I hardly pay any attention unless it’s venomous and needs to be removed from the house. We’ll do what we can to get it safely outdoors if we can.

In one week from today, we’ll be on our way to Zambia, and we’re looking forward to a pleasant trip. On Wednesday, we’ll go to Komati to get a PCR test and have the results the following day, before we leave. Louise will print a copy for us along with a copy of our rental agreement when we re-enter, which is also a required document.

That’s it for today, folks! Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 14, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day#205. Unable to get as close as we’d like due to the rough terrain in the Serengeti in 2013, we did our best to zoom in for this and other photos on the remaining wildebeests at the tail end of the Great Migration. For more, please click here.

Part 1…Exotic foods and shopping in Cambodia and Vietnam…Did we eat insects? An issue in Phuket?

Kong took this photo of Tom and a tarantula!

First, we begin our post with a few points regarding our stay in Phuket.  With 37 remaining days on the island, we want to make the very best of our time here considering my current circumstances. 

After analyzing the higher cost of taxi service here, we reconsidered the possibility of renting a car. As it turns out a short trip for shopping will cost approximately THB (Thai Baht) 700, US $20 with more for sightseeing and dining out.

The kitchen is spacious and relatively well equipped. We certainly appreciated the size of the refrigerator, the drip coffee pot and the double sinks.

As a result, the kindly local owner of this house, well aware of high taxi fares, offered us a rental car for the balance of our stay for a total of THB 9000, US $256. Gregory will deliver the car on Thursday morning, the first day we’ll need to use it.

It’s an older car, but has AC, seat belts and works well which is fine. For our local exploration and shopping this will be fine regardless of how old or worn this car may be.

As for our past day, we were a little worried when there was no running water yesterday afternoon.  Within minutes of reporting this to Gregory, two workers arrived at the house, spending several hours repairing the issue. This reminded us of similar issues we’ve encountered without water and electricity in less developed countries throughout the world.

We dine at this table.

There’s a bottled water dispenser here, which would have seen us through the night if necessary. Unfortunately, the water quit while Tom was in the shower after soaping up. 

When he appeared in the living room, covered in soap, I suggested he take some bottled water to get the soap off until we had water again. He did so, but felt dirty and sticky until hours later when the water was working and he was able to finish his shower. 

We won’t be using this sofa, preferring to spend time in the living room. Photos will follow tomorrow.

We postponed dinner when the workers were attempting to resolve the issue right outside the dining room door. Finally, they were done. The water was running again and we were able to quietly enjoy our meal, most of which we’d prepared earlier in the day. 

Here are a few more photos of the house taken from the listing here.  We’ll be back with Phuket photos as soon as we get out and about later this week. Thanks for your patience.

Back to the Mekong River Cruise: With all the heart wrenching photos we’ve shared over the past many days, we decided to lighten it up a bit and share some food photos we’d taken over the 17 days we spent in both Cambodia and Vietnam.
First off, I must espouse the virtues of the popular Vietnamese soup, known as “pho” which is pronounced as “fuuuuur” in Southeast Asia not the commonly pronounce “Foe” in Vietnamese restaurants in the US and other countries throughout the world.
Delicious pho without noodles.

In my old life before my special diet, pho was a favorite Vietnamese soup which I often enjoyed with son Greg at a local Minneapolis Vietnamese Restaurant. At that time I was able to have the wide noodles added to the delicious broth along with the vegetables and basil. 

In Cambodia, they don’t use basil but other types of greens. In Vietnam, depending on the region, basil is an available option to be added to the delicious soup at one’s option. 
Everywhere we traveled in the 17 days, I tried the pho, (without noodles) often for breakfast instead of eggs or as a first course with dinner. I was never disappointed although the flavor of the broth varied from region to region. Many other passengers raved about the pho along with me anxious to try it at each new location in our journey.
The server passed this plate of appetizers…tarantulas, tiny whole frogs and crickets.
One night at dinner on the cruise, we were served insects as a first course.  Unfortunately, to add to the less than desirable taste, we discovered that such creatures are usually marinated in a sugary broth to enhance the flavor and/or dipped in flour before frying. Had this not been the case, I’d have happily tried any of these.
Tom, on the other hand, took a few small bites making some awful faces after doing so. Many passengers opted for the full experience eating some of each of the items presented. 
Eating a variety of insects including grasshoppers, crickets and small frogs is an inexpensive source of protein for citizens throughout the world. Of course, it was the tarantulas that captured our attention the most.  We were only served these items on one occasion on board the ship during our travels.
I made up this plate for this photo although I never took a bite since they’re soaked in sugar to make them more palatable.

The remainder of the meals on both on the ship and at a number of restaurants included in the cruise/tour were varied and overall excellent. Most of my meals were good, especially on the ship although, a few restaurants had a more difficult time often presenting me with overcooked steak, boiled fish and steamed bok choy for a bland and unseasoned meal. 

We had such a great time dining with our co-passengers, food became of little importance to me. Tom, on the other hand, fully enjoyed most of his meals, especially when they included bread, potatoes and sweet desserts.
Tom took a few small bites.

Tom gained back 10 of his recently lost 20 pounds in Bali but now since our arrival in Phuket he’s already rapidly dropping those pounds by eating homemade meals befitting my way of eating based on what we were able to find at a local market.

Even I had gained a few pounds since I wasn’t used to eating three times a day. I’m feeling good to be back to my regular intermittent fasting regime, no longer hungry all the time from eating too much, too often, although I totally stayed on track of acceptable foods during the 17 day period. I’ve since lost the few pounds.
Food is a huge appeal for travelers, many who dine two to three times each day. Most parts of the world offer their own unique style of cuisine that makes dining out irresistible. 
A tarantula leg was resting on my tooth making me look like I was missing a tooth in this goofy photo.
Being able to experience tastes of the spices and methods of cooking becomes appealing and interesting for me as well. Southeast Asia provided a number of options that fit my criteria at times with some adjustments by conscientious chefs and cooks who made considerable efforts to enhance my dining experience. Kong took personal responsibility for each of my meals to ensure they were properly prepared.
Tom ate his fair share of local meals along with “western” options found on many menus. With warnings from Kong about street food, we stayed with the foods offered on the ship, the three hotels and the several restaurants where we dined.
Overall, it was a great dining experience and look forward to our readers enjoying the many photos we’ll share over the next few days. Our list of future stories and photos will continue in days to come as an adjunct to our daily quips on life in Phuket, Thailand.
Be well. Be happy. Eat insects when available. I guess.
Photo from one year ago today, July 26, 2015:
A beautiful bouquet already made by nature at the Cairns Botanical Garden in Australia. For more photos, please click here.

Attempting to avoid “whinging”…A tiny annoyance…

Ants carrying off a dead gecko.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Last night’s sunset.

Chere Bork, a dear friend of mine from Minnesota with whom I’ve stayed in touch by email on almost a daily basis over these past 44 months of travel, reads our daily posts reveling in our travels along with us. 

As a busy and much sought-after full-time registered dietician, national speaker, life coach, consultant, and blogger, Chere has all-encompassing experience and knowledge in the field of health and well-being. 

Our online conversations are lively and animated not only centered around our mutual beliefs in living a healthy life to the fullest, each with quality of life and husbands/family we love and adore. And, also we share in the challenges we all face regardless of any degree of joy we experience in everyday living.

Dragonfly on our chaise lounge.  These eat mosquitoes. 

Regardless of the gorgeous beaches, exquisite scenery, the interesting worldwide environment we explore and embrace, some days are better than others, some experiences not worth repeating, and others that grip our hearts and minds longing for more.

From time to time, my friend Chere suggests a subject for a story that we take seriously following suit within a few days on her suggestion. Other readers have suggested content through an email or a comment at the end of a post. 

We welcome such suggestions and if befitting our site we look forward to the next opportunity to incorporate their ideas into a post. Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and suggestions with us at any time.

Snake run over by a car or motorbike.

A few days ago, after a comment I made to Chere in an email, she suggested I be more explicit on this topic in a story for our readers. “Hogwash,” I said. Our readers don’t want to hear us whine (“whinge” in Aussie or British speak) anymore on this topic.

Chere went on to explain, that our readers may prefer to “Hear it like it is, the good, the bad and the ugly.” And, folks, at times, I’ll admit to avoiding mentioning a lot of the ugly because, a) I’m “overly bubbly” attempting to look on the bright side and, b) We’d prefer our site not to become a deterrent for future renters for our thoughtful landlords and property managers who make every effort to create as perfect an environment as possible during our often lengthy stays.

Chere‘s preferred topic for today? Ants. Yep, ants. Those measly annoying, crawling relentless worldwide buggers…ants. They’re everywhere, especially here in Bali. (We’ve included no photos of ants today. Everyone knows what they look like).

Some type of cocoon we spotted in the ceiling of the cabana. 

Perhaps you aren’t interested in hearing about ants. We had enough ants in Fiji to last a lifetime when on the first night of our arrival, zillions were living in the mattress and bedding.  Yikes! What a night that was!  Read here for details. There have been no ants in the bed in Bali, just everywhere else.

Its not as if we didn’t write about ants earlier.  However, we’ve been avoiding too much discussion on ants since our arrival in Bali, feeling as if our loyal readers may have had their “fill” during our four months in Fiji.

OK, Chere. Here’s our Bali ant story and then we’re done with ants until the next ant-infested society in which we’ll live. For easy reading of Bali ant experiences, I’m listing a few here in bullet points for your perusal, or not, whichever you prefer.  Here goes:

  • Although we don’t cook, nightly I toss our coleslaw salad with dressing I’ve made. When tossing the salad using the cut-up veggies the two Ketuts have prepared, I have to hurry to avoid ants crawling into the bowl. They don’t like cabbage and carrots but they love dressing. While I’m tossing the salad hundreds of ants are running all over the granite countertops. They crawl up my arms.   don’t scream.
  • When showering in the very clean en suite master bath, there are hundreds of ants running up and down the shower walls. Tom can’t see them when he’s showering while not wearing his glasses. I can and I do.   don’t scream.
  • Last night, when I opened my contact lens case there was a red ant inside. I didn’t scream although a little moan escaped my lips. I must have left the lid slightly ajar during the day. That won’t happen again.
  • On numerous occasions, while lounging in the chaises by the pool, it’s not uncommon for either of us to jump up and start brushing hundreds of ants off our legs. They crawl up the legs of the chaises and for some reason love nibbling on dead skin on our legs. Yuck. We don’t scream.
  • Ants on our keyboards and monitors which we clean daily.  They still come to call.
  • Ants crawling up the side of our plates while we’re eating (lots of flies too). Ants on our food. Flies on our food. If there’s more than one ant in on my food, I don’t eat that bite. We no longer comment during these incidences.
  • Red ants crawling around the cabana and the cushions.  Each day, we ask Ribud to spray the area but, by the time we use it in the afternoon after time in the pool, they’re back. 
  • Ribud cleans the pool six days a week. It’s impeccable. By the time we go swimming each day, there are lots of ants gathered along the edges and in the corners. We rescue the drowning grasshoppers but not the ants.

You get the drift, right?  Chere, here’s your ant story. Oh, there’s probably more we can tell but I need to get the disgusting scowl off my face and get back to staring at today’s high surf, blue sky, warm weather, pristine infinity pool, and the cool guy at my side, who for the moment is enjoying an ant-free zone.

We save several grasshoppers from drowning in the pool each day.

May your day not include ants and other such annoyances!

Photo from one year ago today, June 13, 2015:

As we settled into our new home in Trinity Beach, Australia, we were thrilled to see the pool.  For more photos of our first home in Australia, please click here.