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.

Creating our own good news…Planning for the future…

A fishing boat tied to tree at the beach.

In yesterday’s post our heads read, “Bad news keeps coming and coming… How do we handle the risks?”

After rethinking this negative heading and after watching more bad news on TV, we turned off the news and started thinking positive thoughts as to how we can reframe our thinking during this difficult period in our country, in our world’s history?

It’s easy to get caught up in all the negative press much of which is often over reported, over dramatized and over exaggerated to enhance viewership. How easily we can become entrapped into this cycle!

The way out? Don’t let it get inside our heads! This is not easy, but it’s doable, just like everything else we choose in our lives. We can find joy within the framework of our lives or we can allow ourselves to let outside influences have a profound effect on our daily lives.

The ocean is extremely shallow in this area.

I suppose in part, I’ve become engrossed in the negative news since our arrival in Phuket two weeks ago when we discovered we had English speaking news the TV which we’ve had on all day while we’ve stayed indoors as I continue to recover. That’s easy to do when one is housebound after an illness, injury or surgery.

Although I remain somewhat housebound, in an attempt to avoid the outrageously bumpy roads we must travel to get to the highway, yesterday we had no choice but to get out when our food supply had dwindled down to a completely empty refrigerator.

Tom could probably grocery shop without me, but it’s important for me to get out and besides getting out is uplifting. I’d brought along the camera hoping to take a few photos, but again it was cloudy and rainy. I never took a single shot.

A fisherman looking for a possible catch.

Once inside the huge market, Tom pushes the trolley as we both become engrossed in the shopping mode ending up having a good time selecting from the array of fresh, organic, non GMO foods, free range eggs, grass fed meats and wild caught fish.

During this outing, I started thinking of the last place we lived where we grocery shopped on a regular basis which was the three months we spent in New Zealand living on the alpaca farm from January 19 to April 15, 2016.

We arrived in Bali on April 30th after a cruise.  One month later I was injured, somewhere around June 1st.  Here we are over two months later, while I’m still focusing on recovering. 

How we ever managed all the tours on the Mekong River cruise baffles me when now I gingerly maneuver through each day desperately avoiding bending, twisting and sitting too long. I continue to feel confident that my limited level of activity is contributing toward my attaining a full recovery in months to come.

Close to the shore, this fisherman may be looking for squid.  Fried calamari is a popular dish in Thailand, especially for tourists. These circles are fishing pools.

In time, light exercise and more walking will be appropriate but for now, easy movement combined with rest seems to be most effective. I suppose all the activity on the river cruise may have been detrimental to my condition when there were days that my Fitbit showed over 10,000 steps. 

For now, I stay under 3000 steps a day frequently getting up and down engaging in light household activities that don’t include any bending or lifting. It would be great to get outside to walk the neighborhood, but the ruts in the road are so many and so deep, even the most surefooted of walkers is taking a risk.  Falling would not be good.

Back to yesterday, when we returned from shopping Tom put all the refrigerator items away while I sat at the dining table cutting veggies for our salad and side dishes. 

Island across the bay where numerous boats stop to enjoy the sandy beach.

We purchased two roasted chickens, deliciously seasoned with cinnamon and lemon grass (a Thai thing), one for each of two nights. Adding a huge salad and two side vegetables, fresh green beans and asparagus, rounds out the meal. 

As I chopped, I was thinking about getting my thoughts outside of this news related state of mind.It was time to turn off the TV and start planning again.  Tom loaded his favorite radio podcast on his computer, Garage Logic (from KSTP 1500, Minneapolis, Minnesota), that often has us howling with laughter.

We were able to tune out the limited discussions of negative news to make a point of listening to the endless chatter that easily elicits rounds of hearty laughter from both of us. 

A short time later, sitting at my computer, (the day’s post was uploaded hours earlier) the research began and the first thing I tackled was booking tickets for the Sydney Opera House for March 19, 2017. It’s a good thing we’d booked tickets now. Based on leftover available dates there wouldn’t have been tickets remaining if we waited any longer.

The water is barely ankle deep at low tide.

The tickets and great seats we chose are for a Sunday at 5:00 pm. The day of the week was irrelevant to us. Us retirees find days of the week for activities less significant as when we were working when Fridays or Saturday nights were preferred for most social events. It doesn’t matter now.

Let’s face it, opera is not Tom’s first choice of entertainment although I’ve always been a  huge fan. However, the idea of spending a few hours at the famous opera house is an experience neither of us wanted to miss during the 40 days we’ll spend in Sydney from March 13 to April 22, 2017, while awaiting the 24-night cruise from Sydney to Seattle.

Its this very cruise on April 22, 2017, in exactly 8 months 17 days, that will take us back toward the US. After an Alaskan cruise ending on May 26, 2017 we” fly to Minnesota where we’ll stay seeing family and friends for six weeks. Later we’ll be heading to Nevada to see more family for another three weeks. Then, we’ll be off “for the world” once again!

Phuket consists of hundreds of smaller islands.  For more information, please click here.

The simple process of booking the tickets for the Sydney Opera House reminded me of how much the future holds, especially seeing family and friends for a total of nine weeks and then, the journey continues on.

We can choose to create positive news in our lives, news that can take us away if only for awhile to live life to the fullest in the best way we can.  

Now, we’re back to researching for the future! May you find ways to incorporate good news into your daily lives!

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

Boats docked at the marina in Port Douglas, Australia. For more photos, please click here.

New beach photos of Phuket!…Shopping for shoes in Vietnam…Good deals!…

We arrived at the pier and main entrance area to Chalong Beach.  Here’s information about this bay from this site: “Chalong’s muddy East Coast shoreline makes it rather unsuitable for swimming, but it’s an ideal and natural spot for yacht mooring. As well as the Boat Lagoon, Yacht Haven and Royal Phuket Marina, Chalong is a center of intense boating activity. Early mornings and late afternoons are the busiest times at Chalong, when diving and day trip groups are bundled on and off boats. The Ao Chalong Yacht Club, which organizes regular sailing races, makes its base here, and its bar is a favorite spot for sailors to swap yarns and party.  Challenge’s most noticeable feature is its 720-metre long, seven-meter wide jetty, which replaced the rickety old wooden pier in 2001. A parking area and a number of restaurants, shops, tourist information kiosks and open-air waiting areas have been built to serve the many visitors passing through. There’s also a one-stop customs, immigration and harbor master service to assist visiting vessels, as well as a new marine rescue centre.”

It’s been hot in Phuket, much more so than it was in Bali.  In an attempt to avoid using air con, by mid afternoon we begin to fade a little, feeling we need an escape from the heat and humidity for a while.

Tour information and sales building surrounded the area, a popular tourist location. Life jackets are ready on the sidewalk for the next tour group.

With the master bedroom’s ceiling lower than the ceilings in the main living areas, it’s more economical to use the AC in the bedroom. By 3:00 pm each day we’ve been turning on the overhead fan and AC in the bedroom to spend 90 minutes watching mindless drivel on my laptop while we cool off before heading to the kitchen to make dinner.

Tourists dining, shopping and staying undercover while awaiting their boat tours.

Not only does this cool us down before we begin preparing dinner in the hot kitchen (too many mozzies to eat outdoors) but it gives me a chance to get into a prone position for a while to straighten my spine. Sitting and standing for extended periods seems to have a negative effect. 

Entrance area for tourists to access the tour boats.

In Bali, we did the same, even prior to the injury, to take a break from being so hot. Having dinner at 5:00 pm is definitely early, but eating only one meal a day makes dining at the early hour more appealing. While on cruise ships, we tend to dine after 7:00 pm since we’ll have had another meal earlier in the day.

Tourists preparing to load the boats.

Each morning when it’s cooler, we do all the meal prep. Now, instead of leaning over the short countertops, I use the cutting board while seated at the dining room table as Tom brings me everything needed for the meal and then putting everything back into the fridge. Bending over, pulling food out of the refrigerator is impossible at this time.

Under usual circumstances we’d have walked this pier.  I wasn’t ready for such a long walk.

Once I’ve washed the veggies in a large bowl of bottled water, I dry and chop them as needed for the upcoming meal. This may include as many as 10 items when each night we have salad with lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, onions and celery plus a cooked vegetable or two on the side, plus whatever veg may be included in the main course.

Another pier in Chalong Bay.

Having everything prepped keeps the actual cooking time down to about 30 minutes preparing the main course, to tossing the salad with homemade dressing, to cooking the side vegetables. By the time we sit down to eat, we’re both hot and sweaty.

No motorized vehicles are allowed on the pier.

Note:  Bali is located 957 km from the equator at 8 degrees south, while Phuket is 872 km from the equator at 8 degrees north, making it hotter in Phuket than Bali.

Photos from Vietnam continue from this point in today’s post

Tom had worn this pair of tennis shoes since we began our journey over 45 months ago. It took them falling apart to this degree to get him to purchase a new pair. It was less about  being frugal and more about his lack of interest in shopping. Thank goodness, he gave these the heave ho at the shoe store. 

I don’t know if we could live long term in such a hot climate only using AC at night. No doubt, the majority of the world’s population that live in hot climates don’t have access to AC and many are without electricity and running water as we’ve seen in our worldwide travels.

Tom’s new tennis shoes, most likely knockoffs. At that point he had no choice but to make a purchase after checking out three stores in Saigon. I negotiated these down to VDN 300,000, US $13.45.  Surprisingly, the quality seemed good, but if they only last a while, no big deal at this price.

None of our vacation home landlords have prohibited us from using the available units located throughout the houses we rent.  That’s why they’re available, for example, in each room of this lovely house in Phuket. 

The shoe stores appeared to have all knock-offs.  Kong advised us to negotiate.

But, due to a sense of responsibility for our energy consumption, we try to use air con as little as possible in the same manner we frugally use other sources of power and utilities as we travel the world. 

On our last day in Saigon, on a bus tour with the cruise passengers, we stopped at the lacquer factory.  Since we have no home there was no point in making a purchase although many passengers did so.  These are popular items travelers often bring or ship home after visiting Southeast Asia.

Yesterday, after we uploaded the post we decided to head to the beach for photos on the sunny day. Also, the idea of being in the AC in the less-than-stellar rental car was somewhat appealing. 

Although reasonably priced and nice looking I had no interest in buying jewelry.

By 12:30 pm we were out the door returning a few hours later in time for our 3:00 pm bedroom cool down. We enjoyed the drive more than we’d anticipated. Once we were off the bumpy road and on the highway, the drive was tolerable for me although there was a fair amount of traffic for a Sunday afternoon. 

The craftsmanship appeared to be of high quality if one could use such décor in their homes.

Tom stayed cheerful amid the wild traffic with tuk-tuks, motorbikes and cars running amok and helpful as always after we parked the car and walked at the beach taking photos as he carefully hung onto me. After many weeks of lessened activity, he’s assuming I’m not as steady on my feet as I’d been before the injury.

Interesting use of color and design.

Tourists were everywhere at the beach, shopping, eating and spending money at a variety of shops, venues and tours. More than once we were approached by boat ride “sellers” asking if we wanted to go out on a boat.  I doubt we’ll be able to do so while in Phuket as I continue to exercise great caution in everything I do. Bouncing on a boat would hardly be suitable at this point. 

We wondered if these pretty plates were suitable for serving food or merely decorative. One never knows when purchasing products such as this, if lead based paints are used in production. 

In any case, we thoroughly enjoyed the time out and about. In a few days, we’ll head out again to explore other beaches and points of interest in the area as we’ll continue to share new photos during our remaining month in Thailand.

Pretty colors.

Continuing on, as we wind down to the final stories from the Cambodia and Vietnam cruise/tour, we have a few fun shopping photos to share.

Have an pleasant last day in July or first day in August depending on which side of the International Dateline you reside!

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

This was the first time since we’d arrived Queensland that we saw this many sunbathers at a beach in Australia. The sun was very strong resulting in the use of rental umbrellas and many beach-goers staying in the shade. For more photos, please click here.