Our cell phone’s SIM cards ran out…No more phone calls, maps or data on our phones…Three days and counting…

See below for details on this cactus. I shot all of today’s photos at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, including the blooms on this cactus.

As it turned out, the T-Mobile SIM cards for our phones with calling and data ended a few days ago. At that point, with only four days remaining until we leave the US, we saw no reason to add more calling or data at the cost of $80 for one more month.

As a result, we used our Skype account to make the multiple calls we needed to handle yesterday. With no charge using our Nevada phone number on Skype ($5 a month), we could make all the calls on my computer at no additional cost because all the calls were to toll-free numbers.

Opuntia pinkavae, common name Bulrush Canyon Prickly-pear is a species of cactus that originated in northern Arizona and southern Utah.

When making calls to non-toll-free numbers, we pay a minimal charge of $.023 per minute and can call any phone number, cell phone, or business anywhere in the world. 

If we talk for 60 minutes, the entire cost is $1.38, and fees are subtracted from funds we prepay into the account as needed.  If we run out of funds, Skype reminds us to add more money to the account. Thus, we don’t get a “bill” in the usual sense.
Of course, if we call another Skype account, there’s no per-minute charge. All Skype to Skype calls are free from anywhere in the world. Only the calls directly to cell phone numbers or landlines result in the $.023 per minute rate. (As an aside…if Skype is installed as an app on a smartphone, free calls may be sent and received using the app if both parties are using Skype).

What a lovely spot to stop and enjoy the views.

Without a working SIM card in our phones, we no longer have “maps” or any driving navigation when we’re away from Richard’s home. While inside the house, we can use the house’s Wi-Fi on our phones for a connection. It’s only when we leave that we no longer have a connection.

This may seem complicated for some world travelers who insist on having a cell phone contract. Our rationale? Why pay $100 to $200 per month or more for US phone contracts for both our phones and data when we can purchase SIM cards in any country, never paying more than about $20 a month?

Mountains are surrounding the entire Las Vegas valley.

In reality, who do we need to call? When we don’t have a rental car, we need SIM cards to contact our driver to pick us up and deliver us back to our vacation home or other locations. It’s not as if we’re calling Dominoes for “pizza to go” or calling family and friends talking for extended periods. We save those conversations for free Skype-to-Skype calls or when using our $5 a month Skype phone number to call phones at $1.38 an hour.

If Tom and I separate for a few hours while we are shopping or run an errand, we can call one another on our respective phones using the appropriate SIM cards installed. 

There’s nothing quite as stunning as water and mountains to create an astounding scene.

Also, we’ve found that using SIM cards prevents us from potentially spending huge sums when calling friends and family members from our phones while utilizing a cell phone contract or using data on our phones. It causes us to be mindful of how we use our SIM cards and how easily we can chat with anyone from our computers.

In most cases, we have a decent Wi-Fi signal that allows for an apparent conversation. In most cases, we find the person to whom we’re speaking having signal issues when they’re out of range, not us. 

Who knew the desert so close to Las Vegas could be so beautiful?

For example, I tried to speak to my friend Chere last night using our Skype number to her cell number. She and her husband were driving to Wisconsin, and the signal was so poor on her end we had to cut the call short until such a time as she’d be able to get a good signal. Even in the US, cell service is yet to be perfect.

Yesterday, having postponed my visit to sister Susan until today, once I upload this post, I took off on a few errands, one to pick up VSL3 Probiotics (in pill form) when a kindly pharmacist at a Smith’s Market agreed to special order them for me. 

I prefer the powdered product, which has a much larger number of bacteria at 450 billion, but he could not get this high dose in the US (on this over-the-counter product) compared to the pills at a paltry 120 billion. Based on this dose, I’ll take a minimum of two capsules per day. 

These two Mallards found rocks on which to stand close to each other.

I have enough pills in my possession to last for the next four months with my current supply. Once we’re settled in Costa Rica, I’ll check and see if I can find more for when we head to Africa in less than seven months. Certain products aren’t available in some countries.

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back tomorrow with more.  Today, I’ll say goodbye to my dear sister Susan which no doubt will be emotional. Tonight, we’re heading out to a movie and dinner on the Las Vegas Strip with Richard and friends, our final night out on “the town.” 

Enjoy your evening wherever you may be! We’ll be thinking of you!

Photo from one year ago today, July 28, 2016:

Check out the size of the fish and steak portions from the groceries we purchased in Phuket, Thailand, at a warehouse-type market. The brats in the bottom right of the photo are gluten, grain, and sugar-free.  Using this app to convert the Thai baht (THB) to 3,803.25, we discovered we’d only spent US $109.38 for all this!  In the US, this much food would have been at least twice as much. For more details, please click here.

First day at sea…Pleasure in abundance!…Photos of our cabin and more…

The cabin contained most of what we needed. We asked our cabin steward for ice twice a day, extra hangers, pillows, and robes which are provided only if requested.

“Sightings on the Cruise in Australia”

Replicas or original marine equipment from long ago.

Firstly, we apologize for the late post. This morning after breakfast in the main dining room, there was a “Meet & Mingle” party for members of CruiseCritic.com at 10:30. After working out in the fitness center and figuring our way around this ship, I encountered a WiFi issue.

We’d signed up for the WiFi package allowing two devices online at any given time. Last night I got online using my phone, thinking when I was done, I’d logged off properly.

By 3:00 pm we were entirely unpacked although we didn’t use every drawer available. Also, we both usually leaves some items in our luggage that wouldn’t be needed during the cruise. There’s enough space under the bed to store the luggage to ensure more floor space.

Wouldn’t you know, I’d hit “disconnect” but was unable to log on with my laptop when an error message indicated I was already logged on another device. Frustrated, after all this morning’s activities, I couldn’t get online for the life of me.

View of the Sydney Opera House as the ship sailed away around 6 pm.

Once we were situated at the Schooner Bar around 1:00 pm I was determined to figure out a solution as to why I couldn’t log on to new and improved ship’s WiFi system, referred to as high speed Voom. It does in fact have a much better signal when I could get online.

Passengers on the deck watching the ship move out of Sydney Harbour.

I’m not one to read “help” sections. In most cases, I riffle through various options and find a solution. In this case, “help” proved to be just what I needed. I’d logged off incorrectly.

A city scene from the port of Sydney.

Instead of selecting “disconnect” on my phone I should have brought up a web page and typed in “logoff.com”.  Dumb me. I should have known this. What was I thinking?

The area where the bridge is located.

I can make excuses for myself and say my brain was foggy from a poor night’s sleep. We didn’t get to bed until midnight after watching the late comedy show in the ship’s theatre and were awake by 5:00 am which really was 6:00 am after a one hour time change.

Instead of excuses, I’m simply stating, we’ve been so busy these past few days, it’s been difficult to find the time to get down to doing what we love to do, writing to all of YOU.

The theatre where we watched the late comedy show last night. There’ll be entertainment here each night.

I was concerned we wouldn’t have enough to share over this 33-night cruise and at times we may wander from cruise related topics as many have come to mind over these past weeks. But, in the interim, we’re excited to share our photos and experiences aboard and off the ship, as we explore a variety of Australian cities.

As we recently discovered, there are only 140 Americans on the ship. This is a long way to fly for a cruise. The majority of the passengers are from Australia, some the UK, and a handful of Europeans. The passenger capacity is 2800 and from what we’ve heard, the ship is fully booked.

As the theatre began to fill in for the entertainment.  There are two or three shows a night.

With 600 passengers on the back-to-back Australian continent circumnavigation, we’ll see about 2200 new passengers boarding when we arrive in Perth when we arrive on November 16th, the day the second 17 night leg commences.

When on a back-to-back cruise there isn’t much for us to do to become a part of the second leg. We’ll get new SeaPass ID cards, go through immigration in a priority line as we re-board, after spending the day with friends Michelle and Carlo sightseeing in Fremantle. It should go smoothly.

Display of nautical knots.

We’ve met so many people its been mind boggling. Neither of is good at remembering names, although we desperately try to recall everyone we’ve met, especially after spending considerable time together.

At the moment, Tom is in the cabin watching the Minnesota Vikings Game on his laptop while I’m sitting at the bar in the Schooner Bar where I’d hoped for a reasonably ergonomic place to sit to avoid bending over my laptop.  So far, so good. Pain it as a minimum. Pleasure is in abundance.

Various knots used at sea.

Tomorrow, we’ll share the perks we’re enjoying as first-time Diamond Club (priority club) members which is “keeping me awake late at night” but is also too much fun! More on that later!

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 1, 2015:

Inside the reception building at Namale Resort & Spa we celebrated our three year anniversary of traveling the world with a tour and lunch at the world renowned resort. For more details, please click here.

We made the right decision…Documents to handle…Difficult to send on slow WiFi…Three days and counting…

This pretty barnacle covered coconut, washed ashore.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

We found that beautiful shell on the beach.

We certainly made the right decision when we left the villa on Monday. With Tom’s driver’s licence renewal application and our absenteeism bulletins, we were unable to process the large attachments to be e-mailed. However, as I continued to work on this position, we were eventually able to get online long enough to send out email and attachments.
Tom’s license renewal is due to arrive no more than 60 days prior to the expiration date according to Nevada’s laws for those out of the state when the renewal is due. Tom’s birthday is December 23rd.

This out-of-state renewal is only permitted every other time you have to renew. Next time, we’ll need to appear in person. I will go through the same process two months from now when mine renews on my birthday, February 20, 2017. 

The view changes dramatically as the tide rolls in.

We would be in a terrible position if for some reason the renewal did not go through. We would not be able to rent cars and be subject to returning to Nevada in person sooner than planned in order to be able to do so. 

It would be quite a dilemma when we rent a car in Tasmania in December and return to the United States in May for over two months. You can only apply for their state, as we do in Nevada.

After we finally got online, we emailed the completed documents to son Richard in Nevada who will in turn snail mail them to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.Hopefully, in doing so within 60 days, we’ll receive the license on time.

This cute little dog is always with the buffaloes when they’re walking along the shore to the river.

This cute little dog is still with the buffaloes when they walk along the bank to the river.

Thus, we’re having it mailed to daughter, Tammy in Minnesota who will then mail it to our mailing service in NV, who in turn will overnight express mail it to us in Tasmania. Once again, it’s the nature of our lives that makes processing required documents cumbersome. 

We’re unable to avoid asking our kids for help from time to time. They’re usually not tasks that require more than a fax, a copy or placing an item into an envelope and mailing it.  We certainly appreciate the assistance.  How else would we do these things? We wonder how other long term travelers or expats handle such tasks. Any comments would be welcome.

Another interesting crab pattern in the sand.  How artistic!

Tonight, we’ll complete our absentee ballots and have that task out of the way as well. Recently, we used the villa’s old printer to print a few copies of my food list for the upcoming cruise (in 10 days!). The ink is running out and copies aren’t as clear as we’d prefer, but for now it will have to do.

We could wait the 10 days until we board the ship or even print them at the hotel in three or four days.  However, our nature and intent is to have everything done up front in plenty of time to avoid thinking about it more than necessary. By the time we arrive in the hotel in Kuta on Monday, we’ll have nothing specific to process.

As we’ve indicated as our slogan, “Wafting Through Our Worldwide Travels with Ease, Joy and Simplicity” we make every effort to keep our lives as uncomplicated as possible; no drama, low stress and no surprises we could have avoided had we been more diligent. 

The government in Bali stocks this contraption with fish to provide sources of income for the locals.

This isn’t always an easy task and at times, avoiding stress requires spending more money, such as in our leaving the villa five days earlier, losing the rent we paid for the remaining days. Had the cost for the hotel been higher than it was, we may have decided otherwise. 

Also, recently booking the hotel in Lovina for the visa extensions was another example of reducing stress again costing additional unplanned expenses. We often stay in hotels for one night (or more, if necessary) to reduce the exhaustion and stress between long and uncomfortable flights and, to avoid missing a cruise departure when a flight may be delayed for one reason or another.

These types of decisions are usually factored into the budget when we establish new line items in the Excel spreadsheet for estimated expenses for a new location. As for the unexpected items as indicated above, we always maintain a “miscellaneous” category which covers most unanticipated expenses. Without doing so, we could end up with many surprises at the end of our stay.

These young boys arrived by motorbike to play with their boat in the river. It always surprises us how 7 and 8 year olds drive motorbikes and hang out alone at the beach, often for hours at a time.

There’s no doubt that avoiding stress is costly, but in doing so we’re more able to maintain our sense of control over those situations we can control as opposed to those beyond our control such as cancelled flights, delays, unexpected layovers, etc. 

Isn’t it ironic that most of our potentially stressful inducing events revolve around flights? If it were possible and if we could afford it, we’d cruise from location to location when generally the only major, potentially stressful events include embarkation and debarkation, each of which may require hours of waiting. 

The boy’s boat brought them hours of entertainment.

After 14 cruises and traveling to 54 countries we’ve become experienced enough to avoid being stressed when having to wait in long queues for cruises and the often lengthy waiting periods at airports for customs and immigration processes.

Today, slightly cooler and less humid (less flies too), we’ll continue to enjoy every last minute at the villa, write the online reviews for the villa (depending on the signal) as we continue to revel in the loving and kind people surrounding us, along with the exquisite scenery.

May your day find you appreciating loving and kind people surrounding you.

Photo from one year ago today, October 21, 2016:

View of the coral reef in Fiji.  For more photos, please click here.

Changes over the remaining 10 days in Sumbersari…Can YOU do this?

Fishing boats handmade out of plastic tubes.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

All family members participate in fishing, including the youngest members of the family.

With the owner’s arrival at their villa next door and their use of the Internet we no longer have the mediocre WiFi signal we’ve had over these past many months. We don’t have much signal. I cannot open my email or prepare for today’s post using the usual online application Blogger.

Instead, at the moment, I’m writing in Live Writer, an offline program that enables me to prepare the post minus photos to upload at a later time when we can get a signal if the owners aren’t online. The system at these two houses isn’t suitable for both houses be online simultaneously. We’ll just have to live with it for the next 10 days. 

Hopefully, over this period, until our departure from the villa we’ll manage to upload a post each day. If you don’t see a post on a certain day, please know we’re trying and will be back online as quickly as possible.

This guy was standing on the beach with a camera waiting the motorcycle club to drive by.

Once I posted each day, I don’t mind being offline. I have plenty of books to read and mindless drivel type games to play on my computer and phone. For Tom, who can easily spend an entire day online, minus walks, talks, pool time and dining, it’s all the more frustrating.

Tom had hoped to call his brother Jerome today on his 88th birthday, but Skype won’t be working with this poor signal. Also, we’d hoped to stream the third presidential debate tomorrow morning, but that, too, may not be possible.

Posting photos will be especially tricky. We’ll do our best hoping to share new photos we’ve been saving for these last days at the villa.  It’s hard not to find myself in a mindset where I have little interest in taking more photos when the prospects of being able to upload them is minimal.

The photographer crouched down when he realized the bikers were approaching.

Our use of the Internet is such a vital element as we travel the world sharing stories and photos each day. It’s unlikely we’d be traveling as we are if it weren’t for the availability of the Internet.  It would be too difficult to plan to travel and live in so many locations utilizing various means of transportation from one country to another.

One may ask, “Are we prisoners to the Internet, more dependent on it than we “should be?” In our minds its as vital to us as our response would be if we were asked, “Are we prisoners to electricity or running water, more dependent on it than we “should be?”

Undoubtedly, we’re sensitive to the fact that many don’t have electricity or running water, many right here in this little village walking distance from the villa. And, our hearts go out to them as we fully appreciate how well they’re managed to thrive without such modern conveniences.

A group stopped to help when one of the bikers motorbikes quit working.

As “they” say, everything is relative. Many of us have been blessed with power and water all of our lives. Based on this fact, does that make us spoiled and uncompromising? Not necessarily. 

We’re all products of our environment. It doesn’t make us any less the people that we are, by having been fortunate enough to have access to modern technology. That doesn’t have a bearing on the empathy we feel for others less fortunate who may never have a cell phone, a computer or a TV. 

We can admire them for their fortitude functioning well in a world where they may feel deprived. In some of the more remote locations throughout the world they may have no concept of what they’re missing.

In my humble opinion, none of this requires us to feel ashamed or guilty for what we have, nor do we feel less compassion for those who do not. It’s the nature of the world we live in.

In no time at all, they make the repairs and the biker was on his way.

Am I attempting to justify our “need” for a good WiFi connection.  Perhaps, yes. Many who do not know or understand our lifestyle would say we’re living a seemingly easy and affluent life of world travel. 

We don’t believe nor have we ever intended to ever make this life on the move appear easy. It’s not. It’s required an enormous sacrifice that few would undertake even if it were affordable. As for affluent? That’s not us. We pinch every last penny, diligently keeping track of everything we spend and how much we can spend in the future totally determined by our income.

Sure, most retirees on social security only, paying for insurance required by Medicare and health care needs, cannot do what we’re doing. It is only through Tom’s 42 years of working on the railroad, saving chunks of money along the way, that has made this possible for us. 

Add the reality of our careful planning, the constant negotiations for better pricing and refusal to spend endless sums on dining out, partaking in pricey tourist attractions and drinking alcohol at home, that makes this possible. 

 This may be this baby buffalo’s first walk on the beach.

Cooking all of our meals, two to three days at a time, saves us huge amounts on groceries. Not paying utilities, cable bills, phone bills, car payments, car and home insurance, property tax and household maintenance have an enormous impact on our ability to travel.

There are locations throughout the world where those who’d like to travel may do so for half as much as we spend, opening up possibilities that may be suitable within their means. But, for those at retirement age or with families, it’s a difficult proposition requiring all the more planning and diligence.

We’ve read numerous stories where expats live in Ecuador, for example, for under IDR 19,537,483, US $1500 a month including rent, utilities, groceries, medical and transportation.

If a traveler is young and fit backpacking and living in hostels may work, occasionally working at odd jobs, living for even less than the above example is possible. Those of us who aren’t affluent must ask themselves this question, “What am I willing to sacrifice to live such a life?” For many, its not even a remote possibility, or even of interest.

Coconut palms growing from abandoned coconuts.

We spend the majority of our days in outrageous heat and humidity; living with insects often crawling on us (I found a slew of ants on my toothbrush a few mornings ago); having no TV in our language or no TV at all; missing family and friends; no access to good medical or dental care; limited availability of foods we like and can eat; a possibility of an uncomfortable bed or furniture every few weeks or months, and never having anything we can all our own other than that which is contained in a few pieces of luggage. It’s not easy.

Then, why do we do it? Because we love the adventure. Because we love the sense of freedom. Because we love the culture, the local people, the vegetation, the scenery, and the wildlife.  Because somehow we fit in, we’re accepted.

If something isn’t working, we discuss it, analyzing our options, discussing it with a positive attitude to those who may be able to assist. But, the most important aspect for us living this peculiar life is simple…don’t complain…not to staff, not to locals, not to people we meet along the way, not to property owners or managers, not to shopkeepers and service providers and…above all, not to one another.

And so, we have lousy Internet? We live with it. We find other ways to entertain ourselves while hoping for a moment when we can get online, upload a post, say hello to family and friends and hopefully stream a show; the debate (tomorrow) and the Minnesota Vikings game (next Monday).

Be well. Be happy.

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

 One year ago, we posted this story. The gentleman on the front right is Tom’s brother, Jerome, who celebrates his 88th birthday today. He’s blind and each day, Tom removes all the photos from our posts and send Jerome only the text which he “hears” on his computer. Tom’s mother, shown in front row center, wrote a book, “Memories of Muggs,” of the family’s history. On the date of the “book signing” the family got together to celebrate the special occasion. This family photo was taken in 1997 by Tom, his mother Mary and his siblings.  From left to right front, seated: Rita, Mary, Jerome; middle row: Mary Ellen, Margie, Patty and Sister Beth. Back row includes Colleen, Tom and Jim. The book is listed at the Minnesota Historical Society. For the rest of this story, please click here.

Patience is a virtue…Watching football and debate with a not-so-hot signal…Tracking a package halfway round the world…

She said, “What are you looking at?” “Your beauty and charm,” we replied.  She smiled and we continued on our way.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Coal barge pulled by a tugboat.

If a traveler was content to read and send email and check out a few local tours, restaurants and attractions, the WiFi signal in this distant area of Bali would be sufficient. For most travelers with the intent of escaping the digital world to some degree while on holiday/vacation, this would be fine.

A pig we hadn’t seen on prior walks.

For us, with our intensive use of WiFi including streaming shows at night or as in the case yesterday’s Minnesota Vikings Football game and the second presidential debate, it was hit and miss.

Patience is really a virtue when it comes to waiting for the signal to recover when half-game, half-debate we have lost the connection repeatedly. In our old lives, Tom would have thrown his hands in the air in complete frustration refusing to wait, instead of turning it off. Now he sits patiently.

Steaming body of water found on a stroll.

In this life, patience becomes a necessary element of who we are, especially when dealing with “island time” which is a reality of daily life in many parts of the world. It is only in the United States and in busy cities throughout the world that we have experienced a constant sense of urgency.

“I want it now!” is the mantra of many customers waiting for their coffee at the local barista or waiting at the supermarket to check out as their darting eyes peruse every line wondering which is shortest or fastest with the least number of items in the trolleys.  Rush, rush, rush.

In most of the quiet places that we have lived in the past few years, there is no sense of urgency.

Not in our lifetime. In most of the quiet places that we have lived in the past few years, there is no sense of urgency. Power off? It’s nothing to worry about. It will come back on soon. WiFi slow or not working? Find something else to do until it improves.

Chaise lounges aren’t ready by 8:00 am? No need to mention.  Wait patiently until they’re done. Dinner ready too early or a bit late? No matter. We’re fine either way.

Waiting for an hour for an immigration check in at the airport?  Nothing can be done. Wait. Patience prevails. Spending several hours waiting to board the ship in Vancouver while multiple cruise ships and passengers were backed up at the busy port? Read a book or play a game using the phone. No point whinging or complaining.

A narrow path we explored.

This same goes for the recent package of supplies, we’re awaiting from the US. Yep, we sent it “priority express” by the US Postal Service (the only means available to this remote location), paying a premium price for this expedited shipment at US $185, IDR 2,400,930. 

Today is the sixth day since the package was picked up at our mail service in Nevada, USA. Here’s the route so far (most recent is at the top):

Date & Time
Status of Item
October 9, 2016 , 10:02 am
Customs Clearance

Your item is being processed by customs in INDONESIA at 10:02 am on October 9, 2016.
October 9, 2016 , 9:32 am
Customs Clearance
October 9, 2016 , 9:32 am
Processed Through Facility
October 8, 2016 , 4:00 pm
October 8, 2016 , 10:35 am
October 8, 2016 , 7:27 am
October 7, 2016 , 12:54 am
October 6, 2016 , 6:38 pm
October 5, 2016 , 6:43 pm
Processed Through Facility
October 5, 2016 , 6:43 pm
Arrived at Facility
October 5, 2016 , 5:25 pm
Departed USPS Facility
October 5, 2016 , 3:53 pm
Arrived at USPS Facility
October 5, 2016 , 4:53 am
Departed USPS Facility
LAS VEGAS, NV 89199 
October 4, 2016 , 10:02 pm
Arrived at USPS Origin Facility
LAS VEGAS, NV 89199 
October 4, 2016 , 9:24 pm
Arrived at USPS Origin Facility
LAS VEGAS, NV 89120 
October 4, 2016 , 2:37 pm
Picked Up
A few white chickens.

Tom gets a kick out following package tracking for our average two shipments a year. Today is the 11th in Indonesia although the one day time difference between the US and Indonesia isn’t illustrated in this tracking process.  

Now the package sits in customs as the officials determine how much tax we’ll be required to pay at the post office when it finally arrives at Malaya Beach, a 10 minute drive from the villa. We’ll see how that rolls out.

A mosque along the highway.

In many ways, living this life of world travel makes us a captive audience. We don’t always have the opportunity to choose “when” and “how” situations transpire. We can only choose to be patient, tolerant and accepting.

Somehow yesterday, we managed to watch the entire football game and the second presidential debate streamed from our laptops to the TV.

Both were broadcast at the same time, so we watched the football game first (go, Vikings!) and found a replay of the debate to stream after the game ended. It all worked out well.

After many days of rain, once again, we’re outside on a clear sunny day. The humidity is lower than usual along with the temperature.  The flies, after days of rain are plentiful. We’re content, grateful and delightfully enjoying our remaining 18 days at the villa until once again, it’s time to go.

May you be content and grateful for this day and always.

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

A glimpse of loveliness, flowers growing under the deck in Fiji. For more photos, please click here.

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

Lilies blooming in a pot in the front yard.

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

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

Garden area inside the gate of the villa.

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

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

House in the neighborhood with gate open.

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

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

Messy yard in the neighborhood.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tall house in the neighborhood.

Otherwise, all is OK here. There have been no new bombings in the last 24 hours, even though security is reinforced everywhere in Thailand, especially in tourist areas. We’ll remain diligent and careful when heading out.

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

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

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

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

Part 3…Final technology story…Tom’s Mother and technology…

Many side streets have offices and building for sale or permanently closed due to poor economic conditions.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

A fisherman on a tiny homemade raft most likely fishing for squid which is caught close to the shore.

Tom’s dear Mother Mary Lyman,  born in 1909, gave birth to 11 children and lived almost until her 99th birthday. If great health, excellent memory, and instant recall are indeed heredity, we may have many good years ahead of us for Tom to continually answer all my endless questions about dates. 

As mentioned earlier, he remembers every date, both past and upcoming while my head is filled with statistics, a fact perhaps due to my heredity with my father, a mathematical whiz, educated at MIT. 

In approximately 1997, Tom’s mother became ill and was placed temporarily in a nursing home for convalescence for a lengthy period of time. Eventually, she was able to return to her home. Totally blind for many years Mary had a keen sense of the world around her.

A highly decorative statue in the village.

While Mary was recuperating in the nursing home for a few months, family members rotated a schedule to be at the facility with her most of the daylight hours Self-employed, I chose the 6:00 am shift when Tom took over before lunch.   

Tom’s siblings covered the remainder of the day after he left for his afternoon shift at work. Out of her home and in unfamiliar surroundings as a blind person, it meant so much to her that her beloved family members were at her side when nursing staff had little time to assist her. 

It meant so much to all of us to be there with her. Mary was one of those special people who never complained and seldom asked for help. In many ways, these special hours I spent alone with her, left me with precious memories I’ll always treasure.

The concept of a Hindu area of worship adorns almost every location whether it’s a private home or a business.

Mary was not only blind but had poor hearing only adding to the difficulty of communication, the one source of pleasure in her life. For some odd reason, she could hear my voice if I sat close to her better ear and spoke in a normal tone.  

Mary and I spent all those mornings chatting and telling each other stories of our lives. When does a daughter-in-law have an opportunity to be alone with her mother-in-law for so many hours and really get to know her? Often those relationships can be complicated and challenging based on what one gleans when everyone is together as a group.

There was nothing complicated or challenging about my or other family member’s relationship with Mary Lyman. She was straightforward, kind, nonjudgmental, generous, and emotionally strong. Would that we all could be so blissfully predictable and dependable in our relationships.

It often surprises us to see current models of cars and trucks, when the cost to import them is so high.

One morning, after breakfast as we sat together in her room, she in a wheelchair, me in a chair at her “good ear” side, our idle banter flowing with ease as always, she asked me, “Jessica, what is email?”

I giggled to myself. Of course, she’d heard snippets from discussions when the word “email” entered into conversation.  After all, by 1997, email was as common as apple pie.

“Ma,” I replied, “Do you want me to explain what the Internet is and tell you about email?” 

We crossed this bridge on the way to and from Negara.

She replied an enthusiastic “Yes!”  Nerd that I was (and still am) I had learned quite a bit about the Internet by this period in time and the prospect of putting into terms a blind person could “visualize” I could hardly wait to begin.

For hours, I told her the “story” of the Internet while she listened attentively, occasionally asking questions and frequently expressing considerable surprise and wonder.

Who would ever think that an 88-year-old blind person would be interested in the technological details I shared with her that day? She grasped it all and was in awe of how the technology worked and communication had changed over her lifetime. She was even more enthusiastic than Tom, her youngest, had ever been.

Small roadside stands sell foodstuffs for the locals. There are many laundry facilities along the highway.

Over the next many days, our conversations continued. When there was no more to tell on this topic, she thanked me profusely. But, I thanked her for the honor of sharing this topic with her leaving me with a memory I’ll always treasure.

We returned to our usual wide array of topics as engaged and interested as we’d been long before our technology talk. But, interspersed on occasion, she’d ask, “How does that work on the Internet?”

More Hindu decorations.

I’d smile from ear to ear, feeling lucky and blessed to know this fine woman and to have shared this special time with her. Ma quietly passed away during the night on May 31, 2008, a few months shy of her 99th birthday. 

Often when an older person passes away well-wishers say, “She/he lived a long life.”  And that’s true. May we all live a long and fulfilling life. But, however old a person may be when their time comes, it doesn’t lessen the sorrow of those of us left behind feel from the absence of them in our daily lives.

The clothing and trinkets for sale at roadside shops contain similar products, many to appeal to tourists.

Instead, we embrace the memories, reliving them over and over in our minds and in conversations with others who also loved them. Life… every day is a gift, one that we keep opening over and over again to revel in its treasured contents contained therein. 

May your gift of life and the gift of life of those you love to be filled with treasured contents.

Photo from one year ago today, June 12, 2015:

One year ago today, the early morning lights of Luna Park, Sydney. Soon, we’d be disembarking the ship to fly to Cairns, Australia where we rented a car for the short drive to Trinity Beach to our new home for three months.  For more photos and the final tally on the cost for the cruise from Honolulu, Hawaii to Sydney, Australia, please click here.

Part 2…A long ago story to tell about technology…Tom’s story…

Tom asleep on the locomotive, early 90’s, while deadheading (being transported to another location while not on duty).
“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”
Buffalo swimming in the river next to the villa.

Using the Internet stretched far beyond shopping and playing games. For both of us, it became an integral part of our work and daily lives. Did it essentially save time? In many ways, it did especially in relation to our careers. 

However, the distractions and diversions of the increasingly interesting online data kept us online longer than either of us ever intended when over time our brains became like sponges hungry for more and more learning and mental stimulation. 

Image result for keypunch card photo
Keypunch card/hickey card used in the railroad as early as the 1950s.

Now, as we travel the world we not only “need” it for research for travel arrangements, banking, and financial matters, but also as a means of communicating with family and friends on a consistent basis. 

At any given moment, time differences provided, we can say hello to any of our family members and friends.  Often, we’re engaged in lengthy “chats” through the private chat module in Facebook, let alone utilizing face time and voice on Skype, all without incurring any cost. 

With a Skype private online phone number in our home state of Nevada at a cost of only US $5, IDR 66,738 a month, we can call phones anywhere in the world for slightly over US $.02, IDR 267, a minute.  By adding a SIM card to one of our unlocked phones, we can easily make local phone calls on the go when we don’t have access to the Internet. Technology.

Tom’s story begins in the 1960s when he was about 10 years old.  His dad, an employee of John Deere had built a new building in Bloomington, Minnesota.  All employees and their families were invited for a tour of the facilities and an “open house” party.

Image result for hanging chad photo
“Hanging chad.”

When Tom entered the massive room filled with floor-to-ceiling Univac machines, tapes behind glass, and teletype machines, he was in awe. Later, when he was 13 years old in the fall of 1966, during the student council election, again, he was intrigued by computer technology when keypunch cards were used for voting. 

Ironically, at that student body election, 34 years prior to the 2000 US election in Florida, there were no “hanging chads.”  Hummm…Working at the railroad, beginning in 1970, his exposure to computer technology increased over his 42.5 years on the job. 

From the use of keypunch cards fed into a teletype machine entered by clerks for system-wide information for all train activities, staff, shippers, classifications, and destinations, to the eventual use of sophisticated computer systems, overall the railroad was on the cutting edge of modern technology.

Old photo railroad mainframe computer, circa the 1960s.

One hot summer afternoon in Minnesota with temperatures in the high 90F’s, high 30C’s, he entered the computer office surprised it was air conditioned. He commented to the clerks, “You guys have it rough in this air-conditioned comfort!”

A clerk replied, “The railroad didn’t put in air conditioning for our benefit. It’s to keep the computers cool from the heat and humidity.”

In 1975, the railroad opened their flagship state-of-the-art computerized Hump/Classification yard, unlike any other in the USA at a cost of US $45,000,000, IDR 600,637,500,000. 

Of course, in this day and age, many of the bugs hadn’t been worked out. As a result, one night in January 1975, Tom and two co-workers were inside the cab of a locomotive, a 100-ton boxcar loaded with steel misrouted into the wrong track, the track in which we were situated. We had no advance warning.

Upon impact, the three of them were knocked off their seats and thrown about the cab of the locomotive. Tom incurred a serious back injury keeping him off work for four and a half months, still persisting to this day.

Yardmaster or Switch Tender workstation, through present day.

In the late 1970s, the company installed PCs to be used by many office personnel. At that time, he was a Yard Master using those computers to issue work to train crews. Over a period of several years, those of us using the computers were trained and retrained in their use as systems were upgraded.

As time progressed, Tom and his co-workers found themselves using more and more sophisticated computer systems on an individual basis and less by office clerks. Hands-on use escalated exponentially as technology moved in the millennium. 

In the last 10 plus years of his career on the railroad, there were no longer engineers on some locomotives when many employees have been required to wear heavy remote control computers attached to an uncomfortable vest. This made Tom and his co-worker’s jobs remaining years until retirement in 2012, painful and uncomfortable. Retirement couldn’t come soon enough.

Remote control operators box (RCO). Required vest not shown.

Amid all of his required work exposure to computers, he went kicking and screaming into the new era of home computing.  I encouraged him to look at home PCs as a device for entertainment and a phenomenal source of information. 

As a history buff, Ancestry.com aficionado, an avid fan of Facebook,  a news junkie (especially now when we have no TV), and a madman with the stock market, over the years he embraced the concept and now he can hardly put it down.

Besides, as we travel the world, as long as we have a decent Internet connection (not necessarily here in Bali) he can continue to watch for a fee, the Minnesota Viking football games on the NFL’s Game Pass, an app only available to watch live to users outside North America. He’s not complaining about that!

As for learning to install and/or use software, repair computers, or the general technical aspects of computing, Tom is oblivious, not because he’s incapable, he’s just not interested. 

He’d prefer computers to work like a TV, turn to it to find what you’re looking for.  He wonders why it’s often so complicated leaving all of that to me which  I find interesting, the nerd that I am.

Have you ever thought the same thing?

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

Our ship pulled into Sydney Harbour for this fabulous view of the Harbour Bridge. For more photos and details of our arrival, please click here.

Part 1…A long ago story to tell…Beginning in 1972 – Jess’s story…Tom’s story follows…

Beautiful colors and scenery at high tide.
“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”
Today, dozens of school kids walked along the beach while on the equivalent of a field trip to celebrate the end of the school year. In the next few days school will be out for a one month holiday. When they return, they’ll enter the next grade as they continue their studies. Wearing school uniforms is required with a color change on different days of the week.
The kids were happy and playful as they chatted with one another on their field trip.

In 1972, as a young mom, I got my first “corporate job” working in a small real estate investment firm in Edina, Minnesota. I’d be hired as an assistant to the president of the company. Within a few months, I became property manager and a few months later I received my real estate license to begin working in the process of acquisition and sale of both residential and commercial real estate. I was 24 years old and was excited to have landed a career.

One day, when the owner was leaving, he asked me to enter the day’s transactions on the computer system. I’d often wondered about the room with the locked door, filled with floor-to-ceiling machines with endless reels of tape, as daunting and untouchable.

“I have no idea how to use that,”  I said in a panic.

“Don’t worry,” he said, “I’ll show you!”

The colors and shadows change in the constant daylight sunshine.

Thirty minutes later he left me with handwritten notes as to how to operate the complicated computer system.  I was the only person remaining in the office. I nervously stared at an extra-wide keyboard with the documents at my side, knowing I had to enter the vital information. 

As a poor typist (still today), I began picking away at the keys frequently referring to the handwritten instructions hoping I wouldn’t make an error. Making corrections in those days wasn’t as easy as it is today. 

My knees were knocking, my heart was pounding. But soon, I realized it wasn’t from fear but excitement. After I’d entered the information, I noticed a file folder labeled “Computer Entry” noting numerous files had yet to be entered. Immediately called home to tell my then-husband to make dinner, put the kids to bed, and expect me home at a very late hour. I was hooked.

This breathtaking view never ceases to amaze us.

At 6:00 am I pulled my car into the driveway, exhausted with bloodshot eyes but excited beyond belief. I was anxious to shower and dress, make the kids breakfast and head back to work to see how my boss reacted to my self-imposed additional project. As soon as the babysitter arrived at 8:00 am, I was out the door, alert and surprisingly awake.

As soon as I walked in the door of the office, he was standing there, obviously waiting for me. He shook my hand as a wide smile spread across his face, “Well, kid,” he said, “You have an even brighter future ahead of you than I thought. I’m impressed.”

Less than 18 months later, I owned my own real estate company, was the youngest broker in the State of Minnesota, and on my way to an interesting and illustrious career as a business owner. 

Each day, we’ve rescued many grasshoppers who are drowning in the pool.  Once we take them out, they dry off for a while and then fly off.  Some appear dead but often come to life after a while.

Unfortunately, the cost of filling a room with computers was outrageous at that time and beyond my reach as a fledgling company. I knew in time it would change, as other technology had been changing in the ’70s and later in the ’80s and ’90s. My first microwave was US $800, IDR 10,640,000. Our first VCR was US $1200, IDR 15,960,000 and it went on and on.

Divorced during this period, my kids and I glommed on to anything to do with technology; movies and video games especially at arcades where we could play pinball machines, more fascinated with the technology than the game itself.

Our first at-home video game, Pong, was pricey when purchasing the complete Atari set.  \My kids and I spent hours together and with each other, staring at the rounded-faced TV screen as we bounced the imaginary ball back and forth. It was all just the beginning. 

This grasshopper was lethargic after I rescued him/her from the pool but soon flew away.

A decade passed as more and more technology became available. In the 1980s I had my first personal DOS-operated IBM computer, more fascinated than ever over the ability to keep valuable records for the business.

It was in 1991, the year Tom and I met, that I purchased my first modem which was the size of a large word processing machine (which I also had) along with a new 100mhz personal computer. 

My friend Brian, married to my dear friend Lisa, was a nerd like me.  \He gave me a phone number I could call telling me to be patient, using the phone handset attached to the modem to gain access to the Internet. I had purchased a designated phone line for this sole purpose. 

Over the past few days, we’ve seen the highest tides since our arrival.

I’d often dial that phone number over and over for many hours in the middle of the night, attempting to “get in.” When I’d finally gain access, I’d often be “kicked off” in minutes. I devoured the “library type” information that popped up on the screen, in awe of how this whole thing worked. I was obsessed, to say the least.

As my and Tom’s relationship developed, eventually, he became interested along with me in an online  BETA game, called Netplay. This was one of the first online interactive multiuser games on the Internet. It took eight hours online to download the game which we did overnight. When updates occurred, it required an all-new eight-hour download.

As the technology improved, we purchased a second 500 MHz PC, giving Tom my older PC, again downloading the game. Subsequently, we installed another designated phone line, spending hours (in our off time) playing that game. We lost an entire summer in 1992 playing that game in the breakfast room at our individual desks/workstations.

The view directly in front of our villa as the tide rapidly washes closer to the edge of the infinity pool. Logs and ocean debris often accompany the incoming tide which later disappears as the tide rolls back out to sea.

The game required the user to snail mail the company, then Broderbund Software, a headshot photo of the player which they scanned on one of the first scanners that were the size of a ping pong table. A week later an avatar popped up in the game with each of our faces atop a cartoon-like character. Wow, this was impressive! We couldn’t help but show it to anyone who came to visit. For the era, it was hard to believe. Today, it’s commonplace.

The game was simple although advanced for its day and age, a place where one’s avatar could play a variety of card games. We choose to play poker in any of a few poker “rooms” which included green felt tables, chairs for eight players, and a picture on the wall of dogs playing cards.  \We were able to communicate with one another via word balloons.  \We were totally hooked.

In a short period, we embraced the Internet, even going as far as in 1997 when each of us purchased new 1998 model cars all online, choosing all the options, negotiating the pricing while awaiting the email notifying us the cars had arrived at the dealership ready for pickup. It was fascinating to both of us.

A praying mantis on the glass door.

I was one of Norwest’s Bank’s (no longer named) first online BILLPAY customers in the early 90s when all the kinks had yet to be worked out. I had no fear of the technology and we continue to use this service today, which is vital to our world travels.

We’ll continue this story tomorrow as we moved into the next technological era, day by day, piece by piece, making every effort to stay abreast of the latest innovations. 

Today, we read about technological advancements online in computing, science, and medicine, finding it helps to keep us informed of what’s transpiring in the field and how and what will be available to us in the future to aid us in our ongoing travels and daily lives.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with Tom’s introduction into the world of computing and how he’s adapted in the process. See you again soon!

Photo from one year ago today, June 10, 2015:

A passenger on the ship became ill and had to be airlifted off the shop.  He was wrapped in exterior covering over the basket with a paramedic holding onto him. Looked scary to us. For more on this story and photos, please click here.

Cambodia visas arrived by email!…Vital passport information, a must see for long term or world travelers! A second passport?

A temple on the busy main street in Negara.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Most mornings we see one of the local workers walking on the beach to a nearby temple with a platter of colorful flower offerings. At first, we thought she was bringing food to a neighbor, but when we asked Gede he explained this ritual. 

Many countries don’t require an actual passport to be sent to a visa procuring company or an embassy. For those in their home countries who must apply for visas, which requires they snail mail their actual passport, and with ample time to do so, (preferably by registered mail) it’s no big deal.

A less crowded road while on the way to Negara.

By snail mailing all the required documents, a week or two later, passports are returned to your mailbox along with the required visas. For us, this prospect is impossible when living outside the US. “Why not?” you may ask? Why not send in our passports as required in ample time requesting a rush return? For us, the answer is clear. 

The closer we got to Negara, the traffic picked up.

What if one of us became ill and had to fly out of the country for more appropriate medical care and, we didn’t have our actual passports in our possession while they were in transit, instead, having only copies? The potential delays in dealing with such a situation could be life-threatening.

Also, if there was political unrest in a country (entirely possible in today’s world) in which we were living and the embassy had to assist us in getting out of the country. Here again, a possible life-threatening situation without the actual passport in our possession.

We’re located in Melaya Beach as shown in western Bali. Negara is south of Melaya with a population of approximately 220,000.

When we first started traveling we had two passports; our main 10-year passports and second two-year passports. This would allow us to feel at ease if we needed to send in the second passports in order to apply for a visa. If an emergency arose, we’d still have the 10-year passport in our possession.

Once we arrive in Negara, the traffic crawls.  

As it turned out during our first few years of travel we never needed to use the second passport for such a purpose. Instead, during the first two years, we used the second passports to get visa stamps at airports, while on cruises, and at cruise ship terminals as opposed to using up pages in our 10-year passports. When the two-year passport expired we began using the 10-year passport.

We thought about continuing to apply for two-year passports, but based on the fact that we never used it for the intended purpose of applying and mailing in documents for visas, we decided against incurring the additional cost of US $340, IDR 4,488,850 every two years for the two of us. 

With only two lanes roads and little to no shoulder, passing could be frightening. But, these drivers on motorbikes, in cars and trucks seem fairly adept at passing on the narrow roads.

Also, if we had the second passports we could use for snail mail, for example through VisaHQ, who just completed our online Cambodia visas (all of which we were able to do online without any snail mail), we’d still have to find post offices, pay for taxi services to and from post offices, and pay for pricey shipping fees both ways. It would still be a “pain-in-the-butt.”

A traditional daytime wedding celebration outdoors at a restaurant.

Based on the fact that we’ve been traveling for almost 44 months and only recently had to address visa issues of any major degree, we’ve accepted the reality of applying for visas at embassies in other countries or, if necessary at immigration offices in the country in which we’re residing at any given time if an extension is required. 

Dozens of trucks were lined up on the highway in the town of Gilimanuk where it required they stop at a weighing station. 

It’s the “nature of the beast.” No one ever said it would be easy.  Then again, no one ever said anything.  Every step of the way in our world travels we’ve been on our own, figuring it out step by step, piece by piece. 

Thank goodness for the Internet. Without it, this amount of travel would have been difficult, if not impossible for us, when quickly our interest would have waned over the challenges of figuring out the endless tasks (and costs) by phone call and snail-mail. 

With as slow as this lineup was moving we imagined the truckers could easily wait all day or overnight for the weigh-in.

We so admire the travelers before us, decades ago, whose sheer determination and desire to see the world took them on a laborious adventure we can only imagine. We’re grateful for our ability to use computers and the Internet with ease which we acquired long before we ever conceived of traveling the world. 

Another decorative archway wishing good fortune to those departing the village.

We have somewhat of an unusual story to share, one we’ve never told here before, of how we developed such an interest in the internet so long ago, for me, beginning in the early 1970s. Please check back tomorrow as we share our story.

Do you have an Internet story to tell? Please share in our comments section at the end of any post. You may do so anonymously if you’d prefer.

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

Beautiful sea and mountain view as our ship sailed away from Fiji, one year ago. For more photos and details, please click here.