Day #131 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Sightseeing photos from Phuket, Thailand and Saigon, Vietnam in 2014…

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 for 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.  Chalong’s most noticeable feature is its 720-meter 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 harbormaster service to assist visiting vessels, as well as a new marine rescue center.”

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word, “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from the post from August 1, 2016, while in Phuket, Thailand, including some photos from our tour of Saigon, Vietnam. See the link here for more photos.
The tour information and sales building were surrounding the area, a popular tourist location. Life jackets are ready on the sidewalk for the next tour group.

When we aren’t particularly enjoying a region in a country, we tend to feel less interested than usual in heading out sightseeing. Invariably, we force ourselves to jump into the car and venture out, most often with a plan in mind.

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

Of course, there have been many times we’ve headed out without a plan other than to drive to and from a certain point of interest known for great scenery. Often, along the way we’ve found many treasures.

The entrance area for tourists to access the tour boats.

In all, we’ve hardly taken off on a road trip and been disappointed since we both revel not only in the astounding feats of nature but, also in the “small things” which in every country, every city, every region, are in abundance.

Tourists preparing to load the boats.

Thus, the repeat photos we’re sharing today are from a day’s outing in Phuket, Thailand, which in yesterday’s post we explained, we didn’t love as much as many other places we’ve visited over the past many years.

We walked a portion of this long pier.

It would be wonderful if we could get out and walk the streets of Mumbai to search for those special sightings. Instead, we’re left with the photos we posted in February, (after the train tour), and the first half of March while on a portion of our private 55-night night tour which ended abruptly due to COVID-19. See our archives for the photos from those months.

Another pier in Chalong Bay.

Due to the virus, no leisurely walking is allowed in the streets when the city is buttoned down due to the lockdown with many restrictions. Subsequently, we remain trapped in our hotel room for an indefinite period. 

No motorized vehicles were allowed on the pier.

A few readers have written inquiring why we haven’t walked the grounds of the hotel. Based on the way the hotel is situated with an underground parking lot, there’s really nowhere to walk other than the drive-up space in front of the main door. 

At that point in time in 2016, Tom had worn this pair of tennis shoes since we began our journey over 45 months ago. It took them to fall apart to this degree to insprire 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. 

Plus, hotel management prefers staff and guests to stay safely in their rooms to avoid possible contamination. There hasn’t been a single case of COVID-19 in this hotel since we arrived on March 24th, the day the lockdown began.

Tom’s new tennis shoes, most likely knock-offs. At that point, he had no choice but to make a purchase after checking out three stores in Saigon prior to arriving in Thailand. I negotiated these down to VDN $300,000, US $13.45. Surprisingly, the quality seemed good but if they only lasted for a short period.

The only time we’ve left the floor is when we go downstairs to pay our bill, which is upcoming again on August 3rd. I usually handle this task and head downstairs, never sharing the elevator with anyone, wearing a face mask, and maintaining social distancing from the markings on the floor in front of the registration desk, never leaning on or touching the counter space.

The shoe stores appeared to have all knock-offs. Kong, our guide on the Viking Mekong River cruise, advised us to negotiate which we did.

Our room keys and credit card are sanitized in front of me before they are handed back. Once back in the room, I scrub my hands, arms, and Fitbit with soap, along with the two key cards and credit card, tossing my mask for a new one. 

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.

Every few days I use a clean washcloth, covered in hand sanitizer, and clean my phone, its case, and my laptop. Tom does the same. Our door handles, both sides, are sanitized daily by our room attendant who also sanitizes the room phones, TV remote, and all surfaces. It feels clean.

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

Not much new on the agenda today. We finished binge-watching a few excellent series; Reign and Australia’s 800 Words. Now we’re watching season 9 of Suits, and the hysterically funny Catastrophe (Amazon Prime). 

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. 

Otherwise, all is well. No news on international flights resuming. Thanks again, dear readers/friends for all of the supportive email messages!


Stay safe.

_______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, August 1, 2019:

Family of four walking along the road in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.

Day #129 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Grocery shopping in Phuket, Thailand in July 2016…

In Phuket, Thailand, we’d purchased enough food here to last a week. Check out the amazing total cost below!

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word, “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from the post from July 30, 2016, while in Phuket, Thailand. See the link here for more photos.
Check out the size of the fish and steak portions. Tom was craving peanuts and we added a few packages to the stash. The brats in the bottom right of the photo are gluten, grain, and sugar-free.

Again, today’s photos are from four years ago, but this time from Phuket, Thailand, where we stayed from July 23, 2016, until August 31, 2016. For the starting photos in Phuket in our archives, please click here which will lead you to the events of the next 40 days and nights.

 Using this app to convert the Thai baht (THB) $3,803.25, we discovered we’d only spent US $109.38. We were shocked, to say the least. (See the photos of everything we purchased).

Before I was with Tom starting in 1991, I’d visited Phuket, Thailand for my 40th birthday in 1988 with my former husband. This was before the devastation from the tsunami that changed the entire look of the island. 

We purchased so many items, it took several photos to include all of it.

When returning to Phuket with Tom in 2016, 28 years later, I didn’t recognize a thing except for the white sand beaches, the aquamarine seas, and the friendly faces of many of the locals.

Free-range eggs, beef, and celery rounded out our purchases. 

We’d rented a beautiful house with rooms surrounding a large pool, air-con, WiFi, and cleaning staff we paid separately twice a week. We cheaply rented an older car from the property owner and managed to get around the city, amid the crazy traffic to shop and see the various sites.

The fresh produce department is packed with locally caught treasures at reasonable prices.

Unfortunately, we were anxious to leave not long after we’d arrived. Nearby, there was violence in the streets with an eventual bombing, the frequent sounds of sirens, armed military police outside the shops and markets, and a feeling of being more unsafe than we had in most other countries.

Looks like Sam’s or Costco, doesn’t it?

It rained almost every day and we seldom used the pool or lounged outdoors. The mosquitoes were worse than we’d seen in Africa (or even Minnesota for that matter). Instead, we often stayed indoors in air-conditioned comfort, and for the first time in our world travels, we began counting the days until we were scheduled to leave.

Row after row of frozen foods.  We don’t buy much in the way of frozen foods when most contain additives.

Our highlight of the week was grocery shopping in the huge warehouse-type grocery store, comparable to Sam’s Club or Costco. The huge amount of selections and ingredients contributed to making some of our favorite meals.


Although we ventured out sightseeing a few times each week, we never dined out when Thai food doesn’t appeal to Tom due to the spices and often odd ingredients for his tastes. This didn’t bother me when we thoroughly enjoyed cooking our meals in the roomy, well-equipped kitchen.

Littleneck clams. 

In essence, it wasn’t safe to eat out in the evenings when the streets were jammed with motorbikes, tuk-tuks, and fast-moving cars and trucks and an endless stream of troublemakers. Foreigners were frequent targets of crime.


We’ve been to many rough cities throughout the world, but we’d never felt so unsafe as we had in Thailand. Staying inside with several locks on the doors, felt the safest, although we were located in somewhat of a regular residential neighborhood.

We weren’t able to determine which type of seafood this might be.

While living in a country, we write with caution, preferring not to draw attention to ourselves by possible “haters” living nearby. It wouldn’t be hard for local troublemakers to find where we’re living when reading our posts and seeing photos of our location. Americans, especially seniors, are often victims of horrific crimes in some parts of the world.


We were thrilled to leave after the 40 nights to return to Sumbersari, Bali, where we once again stayed in the fantastic beachfront villa, again having a wonderful experience, feeling safe and comfortable in the exquisite location and property.

Squid, yet to be cleaned.

Thailand has many charms, cultures, stunning temples, beaches, and history. It simply worked out that we happened to be in “the wrong place at the wrong time,” which ultimately tainted our view at the time.


Now, in India, we recall the amazing times we spent touring many popular sites in big cities and also remote locations. Never once, did we feel unsafe or in danger, even when we were out walking on our own.


Regardless of this challenging time in lockdown, we’ll always have good memories of our time spent touring in India, a very special country with its kind and gentle people.


Rest easy. Stay safe. Wear a mask. Social distance. Wash your hands. Have hope.

______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, July 30, 2019:

The Glinsk Pier is located near our holiday home in Connemara, Ireland. Fishing has always been big business in this village. For more photos, please click here.


Final expenses for six weeks in Phuket, Thailand…Departure to Bali today…12 hour travel day…Final favorite Phuket photos…

We stumbled upon the scene in Phuket.

By the time you see this post today, we’ll already be at the airport in Phuket awaiting the flight to Singapore with a three hour layover until the final leg of the flight to Denpasar, Bail. 

Colorful shrine in front of a property!  Wow!

Neither of these two flights are very long, the first only 1 hour, 50 minutes; the second under around 2 hours.  These shorter flights shouldn’t be too hard on me.  Once we arrive in Singapore, we’ll get a passcode for the free Wi-Fi, find comfortable seating in a restaurant in the terminal and busy ourselves online while we wait.

Many fruit and coconut stands are found along the road.

Although it will be a long day, expecting to arrive at the hotel in Kutu, Bali around 8:30 pm after departing the house in Phuket at 7:00 am, there is a one hour time difference resulting in a 12 hour travel day.

We’ll always recall the 34 hour travel day from Venice to Kenya in 2013 making this 12 hour travel day seem like “a walk in the park.”  We don’t anticipate too many more lengthy travel days in the immediate future when we only have a few more flights until heading back to the US for a family visit via a cruise embarking in about 8 months.

In rained and was cloudy almost every day for a period of time. 

Once we arrive in Bali we only have a few more flights pending until we head to the US in April, 2017:
1.  Bali to Sydney:  October 30, 2016 (Yuck! A red eye)
2.  Sydney to Hobart:  December 3, 2016
3.  Hobart to Sydney:  February 28, 2017

Well care for wood boat tied to a tree in the bay.

Now for the final Phuket expenses, keeping in mind that these expenses are less than expected and budgeted when we weren’t able to get out to dine and do much sightseeing based on my health condition. 

Colorful shells from the Phuket Seashell Museum.

Most tourists stay in resorts with minimal cooking facilities (if any), dine out for most meals, pay for a more expensive rental cars or multiple taxi rides and go out on a number of tours and sightseeing adventures.


Blue-green water at a distance.  Sandy beach at the shore.  Beautiful!

Here are the total expenses:

Expense
US Dollar
Thai Baht
Vacation Rental  $            2,603.19  $    89,994.51
Airfare   $               830.00  $    28,693.81
Visa  $                 74.14  $      2,563.08
Taxi (inc. tips)  $                115.75  $      4,001.58
Rental Car  $                260.33  $      9,000.00
Wi-Fi  $                    0   $              0                  
Groceries  $                948.60  $     32,793.92
Dining Out  $                     0           $               0                  
Miscellaneous $                    24.12  $           833.85
Tips (for cleaners)  $                  115.50  $        4,000.00
Total  $             4,971.63  $    172,196.91
Average
Monthly Cost
 $             3,688.30  $    127,747.61
Avg Daily
Cost – 41 nights
 $                 121.25  $         4,199.60 

Spikey colorful shells.

In the next few days we’ll be writing an online review for the vacation rental at the owner’s preferred site.  Soon, the cleaners will arrive and we’ll present the four delightful helpers with tips as indicated above.

Had I been feeling well, this 41 nights in Phuket would have been an entirely different experience.  Hopefully, as we go forward and the healing continues, we’ll be able to return to our former more active experiences.

No disrespect intended.  When I spotted Tom posing next to this statue, it was a LMAO experience. He’ll do anything to make me laugh during these challenging months of healing. I couldn’t resist taking a photo.

Thanks to all of our loyal readers for hanging in with us during this very quiet, relatively uninteresting period in Thailand.  I know you may be anticipating that the upcoming two months in Bali won’t be much different.  But, we promise to make every effort to share great new photos and experiences as circumstances will allow. 

Midway through the next two months, we’ll be spending four nights in a hotel in Lovina, Bali in order to acquire the necessary visa extensions.  While there, we should have some new and exciting photos and stories.  Please stay tuned.

Back at you soon!

__________________________________________


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


Clear blue skies contributed to our colorful beach photos on our final days in Trinity Beach.  For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s short haircut in Phuket…Winding down for tomorrow’s departure…Final Phuket expenses tomorrow…



Shorter than he’d normally prefer, Tom’s latest buzz cut will hold him through the 33 night cruise beginning on October 31st.

Tom needed a haircut before we left Phuket.  There’s a little salon at the end of the road where it meets the major highway.  We’d driven passed it many times and he thought that might be a good spot for his much needed haircut.

The plan was to have a buzz cut that would be perfect by the time we were ready to board the 33 night cruise upcoming on October 31st.  Little did we know he’d get the best buzz cut he’s had since the onset of our travels.

When we drove up to the tiny salon we asked if someone was available.  A young woman, named Seven, was ready to get to work on his hair.  We asked for the price of the haircut in advance. Her associate Maw, spoke very little English but she understood when we asked about “how many bahts.”

The exterior of the nearby tiny spa and salon.

Maw explained the cost of a men’s haircut is THB $150, US $4.34.  In Singapore, where he had his last haircut, the cost was considerably higher at US $32.74, THB $1,134 (after a 20% discount for new customers) and the quality of the cut was only a fraction of the quality as compared to yesterday’s meticulous cut. 

The attention to detail was flawless as Seven spent no less than 40 minutes cutting his hair using both scissors and an electric hair trimmer.  She was gracious when he included a 35% tip.  (Tipping isn’t common in Thailand and any amount tendered is appreciated with a hands-pressed-together-bow-of-the-head).

After the haircut we took off for the pharmacy which can be found in Phuket  every five or six blocks when driving along the main roads.  We decided to stop at the same tiny store we’d visited a few times in the past for hydrogen peroxide, Tylenol and contact lens solution.

Tom removed his glasses, closed his eyes and the 40 minute cut began.

This could prevent us from having to make yet another stop (beside the supermarket) on the four or five hour harrowing drive from the hotel in Bali to the villa in Sumbersari. 

Pharmacies in most countries are just that…they carry medicinal items only; no mascara, no shampoo and no razor blades.  Most supermarkets don’t carry most of these items either requiring travelers must be well stocked  with such toiletries and supplies when staying in the more remote areas.

During the cut, I asked him to open his eyes and smile for a photo.

Also, we should mention that pharmacies in many countries do not carry commonly prescribed medications one easily finds in the US, Australia, Europe and other parts of the world.  Its best to bring enough of any necessary medications in one’s carry on bags (along with a copy of prescriptions) in the event of lost luggage.

Having found each of the three items we needed, we made our way back to our villa.  It was raining hard and we saw no reason to be driving any further than necessary with the poorly working windshield wipers in the less-than-stellar rental car. 

Seven analyzes Tom’s hair for his buzz cut.

We giggled over how little fuel we’ve used in the rental car when we filled it upon arrival.  Of course, my desire to stay close to “home” while recovering contributed to this fact.

Today, we’ll finish packing with only a few items we’re still using yet to be added to the bags.  Tom will place everything by the front door so we’ll be ready to head out first thing in the morning. 

The interior of the salon area was no larger than a medium sized RV or caravan.  A massage area was located in a back room we didn’t see.

Hopefully, we’ll both sleep well tonight.  We have a tendency to toss and turn on nights before departure, especially when we have to use an alarm to ensure we’re up on time.  Invariably, I awaken before the alarm goes off.

Tomorrow, the post with our final expenses for the 41 days in Phuket which we’re preparing today will automatically upload in time for your usual viewing.  Please keep in mind that these total expenses are lower than we’d expected when we spent little during my convalescence.  Dining out, boat tours and other tourist activities would have increased the total costs. 

Coconut shells stored on the side of this building near the salon.  Coconut shells may be used to make charcoal which is used as fuel.  See here for details.

When we commence the long drive to the villa another new post will upload.  As a result, no daily posts will be missed during the two day’s of traveling.

We’re looking forward to the dinner the two Katuks which will have waiting for us upon our arrival around 5 or 6 pm.  We’re both anticipating their happy faces, their fine food and again seeing Gede, the house man and Ribud, the pool guy. Of course, seeing the buffaloes walking along the beach during dinner makes us smile as well.

Happy day!

________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, August 31, 2015:

The view of Double Island and Scout Island are a pleasant beginning to any day in Trinity Beach.  For more photos as we began our final week in Australia please click here.
 

Spending idle time…Two days and counting…Favorite Phuket photos begin today…

Boats anchored in shallow waters.  Owners can walk out to the boat.

Although we arise early most days, the thought of setting an alarm is always done so with a bit of dread.  Having retired in 2011, in my old life, there had been few mornings where I had to arise and be out the door in a rush.

Since beginning our travels in October, 2012, there’s been more mornings than we can count where we’ve had to be up and “at ’em” early in the morning in order to begin a travel day.  What time do we consider early? 

Arising by 5 am is considered early by our standards especially when we have to be somewhere.  Most mornings, I’m awake that early but not necessarily preparing to head out.  There’s a big difference, isn’t there?

Chalong Beach.

Why I dread those mornings we have to leave early baffles me. I don’t have any trouble getting out of bed when the alarm goes off.  Is it the prospect of another long travel day?  The heavy bags?  The long lines? Immigration? Customs? Paying for excess baggage fees?  The tight seats on the plane? Perhaps its all of these.

Once we get into the taxi for the ride to the airport, a bit of angst begins to waft away, escalating further after we’ve checked in for our flight disposing of our three heavy bags, left with only a few carry on bags. 

With international airports requiring arrival two hours prior to a flight’s departure, we’re often left with more than 60 minutes until boarding.  In most cases, we find a restaurant, purchase a beverage and get online if the airport has free Wi-Fi, which we find more and more common.  Only a few airports charge for Wi-Fi access.

Boats tied to shore at the beach. Life jackets hanging on a post.

The next issue is our laptop batteries discharging.  For Thursday’s upcoming flight, we’ll have no less than an hour of waiting time at the airport in Phuket and then another three hour layover in Singapore (our third trip to Singapore in these past four months). 

Some airports have recharging stations but we’ve seldom needed to use them.  In this case, it may be necessary when it seems our laptop batteries are losing life after almost two years of use.

My laptop may indicate I have seven or eight hours of a charge when in fact its much less.  Tom has a similar laptop but can function unplugged a few hours less than mine.

Boats in the bay.

These was a time that reading a physical book would have been handy but there’s no way we’re willing to carry books with us. 

Now that Tom doesn’t have a smart phone until our shipment arrives, he won’t be able to read books on his phone. The charge on my phone may last eight hours if I don’t get online.  Good thing, I saved my phone with the rice after dropping it in the toilet, or neither of us would have a working cellphone.

In most cases, I read books on my phone during flights putting the phone in “flight mode” as required.  I usually save the phone for the flight as opposed to reading while waiting in airports.  When a flight has individual video screens, a movie is often ideal as opposed to reading.

Entrance to the long pier at the beach.

I suppose we’re not unlike many others who use electronics to whittle away idle time.  Where are the days when we’d sit quietly in an airport reading a People magazine which now holds no interest whatsoever?  Where are the days when people watching could occupy two hours of idle time?

We’ve trained ourselves in this digital world to need constant stimulation.  Tom and I are no exception.  Sure, in Bali again we’ll spend some idle hours staring out at the beach and its wildly interesting activities, which again we’ll continue sharing in our “Sightings on the Beach in Bali” daily feature on the posts.

But, there again, its all about mental stimulation.  Neither one of us are inclined toward quiet contemplation without any form of activity for the brain.  Maybe to an extent this is good for our aging brains as both of us still possess great memory and recall as we’ve aged. 

Second long pier at the beach.

We can’t believe much of which we read about these topics online when the speculations change week by week.  (We’re talking about adults here, not children, which is an entirely different scenario).

What is one to believe?  I guess we can leave it to our own devices, figuratively and literally.  What’s gives us the greatest sense of engagement with our surroundings, our world and with each other?  What makes us the most fulfilled?

If spending hours online, on our tablets, computers and phones provides us with a sense of accomplishment and pleasure who’s to argue with this?  Then again, perhaps the biggest concern is a lack of physical activity while we’re entertaining ourselves. 

“They” say sitting is bad which may be true.  But which group of seniors (or those younger) spends eight to ten hours a day on their feet?  Few.  Very few.

Fisherman searching for a possible catch.

Off we go in two days, arising at 5:30 am on Thursday to be ready to head out the door by 7 am for our arriving taxi. We’ll arrive at our hotel in Bali around 8:30 pm that evening after a very long travel day.  In the morning, we’ll have breakfast at the hotel and begin the four or five hour harrowing drive with a few stops along the way.

I’m a little concerned over how I’ll do over these two extended periods based on my continuing recovery.  But, with digital equipment in hand, hopefully, I’ll be able to distract myself well enough to maneuver through the lengthy process.

Be well and stay entertained however that works for YOU!

___________________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, August 30, 2015:

We couldn’t resist taking photos of these Flintstone’s character statues in a nearby yard in Trinity Beach, Australia.  For more photos, please click here.








Equipment failure…Shopping for upcoming shipment to Bali…



A variety shop along the highway.

Tom’s smart phone died last night.  Not the battery but the phone itself.  Kaput. Today, I’ll contact Microsoft for a possible fix but the message on the screen appears to indicate it’s all over.  Its almost two years old and although he only uses it for reading, its been an important device for him.

We tried installing my good battery which didn’t help and we were unable to bring up the home screen to reset the phone.  This occurred last night, after coincidentally, we ordered a new battery for it yesterday, thinking that’s all it needed before it went belly-up. 

This is the Palm Breeze apartment rentals.  For prices and information, please click here considering that THB (Thai Baht) $1000 is equal to US $28.85.  To calculate various currency denominations, click here.

Once the error message appeared on the screen, long after placing the battery order and it had already been shipped, we decided a new phone may be on the agenda or, perhaps a Kindle Fire device which we’ll order online.

The new battery will work in my phone so it won’t be a total loss that we ordered it.  It will be good to have a backup battery we can keep charged for travel days and also so I don’t run out of juice in the middle of the night when I’m online for hours when having trouble sleeping.

Restaurants are abundant serving popular local foods.

Over these past few weeks we’ve been in the process of ordering much needed supplies which we’ll have shipped to us in Bali in the upcoming month.  We purchase most items using Amazon Prime with the link on our website receiving free shipping on most items sent to the US.

Our mailing service in Nevada receives all of the purchases, removes all the boxes and packing materials and ships everything to us in one big box.  We usually request a three day shipping option, receiving the package within a week even in even the most remote areas of the world. 

Many signs indicate rooms for rent. There are many affordable places to live in Phuket.  Many young travelers come here for water sports and adventure.

The cost of shipping is high, often hundreds of dollars but what can we do when none of the items we purchase can be found or shipped locally based on the countries we visit?

What do we buy that can’t wait until we arrive in the US in nine months?  We include such items as: Crystal Light Ice Tea; water shoes and underwear for Tom; a special travel sized neck pillow for me; sleep tee shirts and two swimsuits for me; a few vitamins (probiotics and B6 for Tom for kidney stone prevention) and so on.  Today, we’ll add the reading device for Tom to include in this upcoming shipment to Bali.

Certain days, the traffic is light on the highway and others its bumper to bumper.

Ordering supplies such as these are a reality of our lives of travel.  Beside the shipping costs, we’ll have to “negotiate” with customs in Bali over how much we’ll be required to pay in custom fees.  Generally, we’ve been able to keep these costs relatively low.

Our readers and family members occasionally send us links on how to “pack lighter.”  We appreciate their good intentions.  But, traveling with literally every physical item we own, is an entirely different scenario than a traveler packing for a trip. 

A variety of businesses line the highway with many laundry services as shown on the right.

We need the third checked bag to contain items such as the above including all of our shoes (with only four pairs each), although clothing goes into our individual suitcases with electronics packed into Tom’s laptop backpack. 

Surely, we’ll have to toss some old clothes to make room for the new items which by the time we leave Bali won’t be a problem.  Wearing the same items over and over does result in wear and tear, although we’re often surprised on the durability of some of our tee shirts and shorts.

We continue to see family, friends and readers enjoying time at the Minnesota State Fair, posting photos on Facebook.  Thanks to everyone for sharing their photos.  We’re happy to see you’re having a good time at the “Great Minnesota Get Together!”  Tom didn’t like the traffic.  I didn’t eat the food. 

Have a fabulous last weekend in August!

________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, August 28, 2015:


At the Great Barrier Reef, this semi-submersible had seats for 20.  As shown, it was packed as tight as sardines, not good for those who may be claustrophobic. For more photos, please click here.
 
 

The prospect of a scary change in plans?…Five days and counting…Photos at a premium…

Chalong Bay in Phuket.

While living in most locations when we get low on photos its not a problem.  We jump in the rental car for a drive searching for interesting scenes to capture.  If we don’t have a rental car and are using a driver, we get out often enough each week to get all the photos we need for the posts.

Now, down to five days until departure, with my ongoing recovery process and the less-than-stellar rental car, I’ve had little desire to get out to take photos.  With the blurry film on the windows it requires I get out of the low seat in the car to avoid taking photos through the glass which in itself in my current condition feels like an athletic event.

If you’ve ever owned or gone for a ride in a Corvette, it kind of feels like the same thing…not necessary the right vehicle for getting it and out of when suffering from a spinal condition.  Under normal circumstances, this would be less of a challenge.

Its not as if I can’t get in and out of the less-than-stellar rental car.  Its that I don’t want to re-injure myself subsequently staring the healing process all over again.

Boats stored at the shore as opposed to a marina.

Only days away from a full three months of recovering, I’ve only spent half of this period over these past almost six weeks in Phuket actually “working on” getting better, I’ve finally begun to turn the corner.  

On many occasions over these past weeks, I’d mentioned improvement in our posts although it was in such small increments it was barely noticeable.  Frustration easily set in when I’d awaken each day only to find the pain was basically still the same.

A few times, as recently as in the past two weeks, we considered a visit to a hospital. After reading many negative online reviews about local medical care, we decided against it.  Instead, we made a plan that if I didn’t improve close to our scheduled time to leave Phuket, we might head directly to Sydney and drop out of our airfare and booking for Bali. 

As we seriously considered such a plan we had to accept the reality that we’d lose rent for the two month booking in Bali (on such short notice) and also the non-refundable airfare.  This change would ultimately cost us thousands of dollars.  Tom, as worried as he’s been about me, never flinched over this prospect while I cringed over the prospect.

Yard of a house in the neighborhood with motorbikes and clothes drying on a line.

As soon as this possibility came to light, I decided I had to do something different to escalate the healing process to ensure we could continue with our future plans. 

I began reading volumes of books on the topic of healing compression fractures, speeding recovery for back, neck and spinal injuries and came to a few new conclusions:

1.  Started a light exercise program…very light and gentle following recommendations in a great book I read.
2.  Changed the pillow I was sleeping on from flat to slightly fuller, creating an indentation for my head.
3.  Changed from using mostly ice to using mostly heat on and off throughout the day and evening. (Using a microwaveable gel pack).  At bedtime I positioned an ice pack close to my spine using a rolled towel to hold it in place while lying on my side.
4.  Have Tom massage pressure points on my back twice a day.
5.  Only lie down for 10 minutes at a time instead of longer periods during the day.  Spend more time standing and walking around the house.
6.  No bending at all, which seems to be the most harmful at this point.
7.  Sleep with a medium sized pillow between evenly placed bent legs, again lying on my side.
8.  Focus on having perfect posture when walking and sitting.
9.  Using the speech recognition software for better ergonomics when typing.

With only five days until departure I can definitely say I’ve improved by no less than 75% in these past weeks, no longer feeling as if we must change our plans to get me to a major accredited hospital.

Oh, maybe it was “safari luck” and the implementation of the above changes or a combination of both.  That’s the thing about medical care, when one begins implementing multiple modalities, its difficult to determine which measures most contributed to the improvement.

The mix of the old and the new is commonly found in Phuket.

I’ll continue with all of the above even after we arrive in Bali.  With no required cooking, cleaning , laundry or tidying necessary with the daily household staff, I’ll spend more time focusing on continuing to improve on this remaining 25%.

By far, these past three months have been the most challenging since we began our travels on October 31, 2012.  Surely many of our readers can look back over the past four years to recall periods of time when life wasn’t exactly as you might have liked it to be.

Tom comments about how I overall maintained a good attitude through this. Each day I’ve struggled to stay optimistic. I was scared to death, to be honest, scared our travels were over, scared our lives would have to change to accommodate my limited range of motion, my ability to walk long distances and my overall interest in getting out.

Yesterday, I packed my single clothing suitcase which in doing so gave me hope, leaving out clothing for the next few days.  I sat on the bed folding everything and then standing straight I placed them into my open bag which is situated on a tall luggage rack.  The rest will be easy. 

This simple act added to my optimism removing a sense of dread I had about packing.  Tom would happily have packed for me but I needed to know I could do it.

Many homes are raised above ground in the event of flooding.

As we continue over these next few days, we apologize for the lack of interesting photos.  Its the way it is for now.  And, once we arrive in Bali, we may be posting similar photos to those we’d taken during our last stay, although all photos we’ll share in future posts will be new. 

Halfway through our second round in Bali we plan to stay in a hotel in Lovina for five days to complete the every-other-day-three-step required visa extension process.  During that mini vacation/holiday, we’ll explore taking many photos we’ll excitedly share in posts to come. 

Once we leave Bali at the end of October for the 33 night cruise to circumvent Australia, we’ll have many months of exciting cruises and tours, along with the stay in Tasmania at two separate locations for six weeks each and a 40 night stay in the exquisite city of Sydney.

So, loyal readers…on we go to continue in our world travels with a renewed hope for the future, as always striving for good health as we share all of our steps along the way.

Have a healthful, productive day!

________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, August 27, 2015:

The colorful views around us was only a small section of the Great Barrier Reef which we visited by boat one year ago today.  For more photos, please click here.

Earthquakes and after shocks in Italy…Heartbreaking loss of life…Our own earthquake memories from the mountains in Italy…


BBC news photo of earthquake rubble as rescuers search for victims from this week’s 6.2 earthquake.  See details below.

Some of our readers may assume we’re so far away from civilization at times that we don’t hear what happening in other parts of the world.  Without a TV in many locations, we’re still easily aware of world news by online announcements we receive and when reading online news and watching videos each day.

In most cases, we’re aware of news as readily as those in the more populated regions of the world with news available 24/7.  The Internet also provided live video news feeds and broadcasts from around the world.  Many who only watch news on TV may have never utilized online news. 

Its as detailed and up-to-date as any broadcast news, keeping us well informed. However, local news feeds here in Phuket are behind some of the international reporting services throughout the world, as we’ve seen with the recent bombings.

The 300 year old building we lived in during three months in Boveglio is near the clock tower in the top right in this photo.  Certainly, none of these homes were earthquake proofed.

We were shocked and saddened to hear of the earthquakes in Italy that occurred on Wednesday (Thursday here) reported again this morning on BBC news, a source we often use:

“The 6.2-magnitude quake hit in the early hours of Wednesday, 100km (65 miles) north-east of Rome in mountainous central Italy.

The worst affected towns – Amatrice, Arquata, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto – are usually sparsely populated but have been swelled by tourists visiting for summer, making estimates for the precise number missing difficult.

More than 200 people died in Amatrice alone, Ansa news agency reported.”


View from the living room window of other historic homes where we lived in Boveglio, Italy in summer of 2013 where, we experienced a 5.2 earthquake without significant damage.

For today’s ongoing story of the earthquakes and after shocks in Italy including photos and videos, please click here.

We send our heartfelt sympathy and prayers for the families, friends, neighbors and tourists for those who lost their lives, for the rescue and healing of those injured and, for those hundreds, if not thousands of citizens who lost their homes, their livelihood and their sense of history and heritage as many historic buildings crumbled to the ground. 

Also, we pray for safety for the many rescuers who risk their own lives in the process.  Many have traveled from around the globe to assist local rescue services.

In summer of 2013, we lived in a very similar village in Italy, in Boveglio, high in the mountains of Tuscany in a 300 year old stone house as shown in a few of today’s photos.

A short walk in the neighborhood where every building was old and most likely not earthquake proof.

Only four days after we arrived in Boveglio, Italy, we experienced a 5.2 earthquake in the region described as following on our site with seismology statistics we’d discovered at the time.  Please click here for details.

For our story of the experience, please click here for our post of June 21, 2013.  For Tom, it was the first time he’d felt an earthquake as described in that post:

Halfway through writing our blog today, we experienced a 5.2 earthquake as we sat on the veranda.  Having grown up in southern California, this was a familiar sensation for me although  it was Tom’s first experience.  We reminded ourselves as we ran for cover, that we are in an over 300 year old stone house, most likely the safest place to be.  Wow!  The adventures never cease to amaze us!”

Little did we realize at the time that the 300 year old building didn’t provide us with a safe place to be during an earthquake as described in the above BBC news story.  Apparently, many of the historic buildings provided no safety for the residents and tourists of the above listed villages devastated in this week’s 6.2 quake. 

Apparently, many are angry and frustrated that building codes didn’t require “earthquake proofing” of the old buildings.  Sadly, for many of the owners, had such requirements been imposed by regulatory agencies, they’d have been unable to afford the costly upgrades.

It was required we walk up this steep set of stone steps to gain access to the living quarters of the 300 year old stone house in which we lived for three months.  To hang laundry we had to maneuver these steps to the ledge shown on the left to get on the veranda, a very tricky and dangerous proposition.  Can you imagine trying to escape during an earthquake?  Most likely, many of those trapped under rubble were faced with similar scenarios.

This is sad news.  Should one wonder if further investigation isn’t necessary when staying for long periods in historic buildings or in living in high risk areas where crime is rampant or with a high risk of many types of natural disasters?

Good grief, we could go nuts trying to avoid what appears to be transpiring throughout the world.  No place on the planet is exempt from some sort of risk or another.  Undoubtedly, risks may be higher in certain areas which we attempt to avoid.  But many seemingly safe regions present their own versions of risk.

We can only continue to book venues and locations considering many aspects of safety.  Honestly, other than avoiding high risk areas of civil and political unrest, we continue on researching our next leg of our itinerary. 

At this point, booked to March 18, 2018, we’ve decided to wait to add on to our itinerary until we arrive in Tasmania in December, 2016.   While there for three months, we’ll have a good Wi-Fi signal and be able to concentrate on the future.  It is during this research period that we’ll have an opportunity to study a variety of risks for each new location.

From the road below in the mountainous area we took this photo of neighboring houses.

As an aside:  As we prepare today’s post, for the sake of our Minnesota readers, Tom is listening to Garage Logic on KSTP 1500 radio, broadcasting from the Minnesota State Fair which opened yesterday.  Over the remaining five days in Phuket with a good Wi-Fi signal, we’ll be listening to the two hour show (which is on live weekdays only but can be listened to at any time via saved podcasts on the website) including another few hours of Sports Talk.

For our readers who aren’t able to attend their local state fairs, most states and counties broadcast information and stories on similar radio shows that can be found online and listened to via a podcast.  If you need help finding such a broadcast for your state fair, please write to us and we’ll try to help you find the link.

Enjoy the day and be well.

________________________________________
 

Photo from one year ago today, August 25, 2015:

We were shocked to see the reasonable price on this exquisite flower arrangement at only AUD $20, USD $14.20 at the famers market in Cairns, Australia.  For more photos, please click here. 

Two more bombings in Thailand…”I’m not a celebrity but get me outta here!”…Seven days and counting…

Elaborate exterior of oceanfront property.

Yesterday, there were two more bombings in Thailand.  Click on the following link for details.  When I read this article this morning I was reminded of a TV show called, “I’m a celebrity get me out a here” and although we’re certainly not celebrities we’re kind of looking forward to “getting outta here.”

Much of the loss of life has been local people, not the intended tourists in many cases.  In addition to the horrific loss of life and injuries, these incidents have a deleterious effect on tourism, preventing many tourists staying away entirely or ending their vacations/holidays earlier than planned.  The locals pay the price when their many small businesses suffer under these circumstances.  .
 
That’s not to say that Bali is exempt from bombings and a variety of terrorist-type attacks.  And yet as we speak people are being murdered as a result of heinous radical behavior all over the world including in our own USA.

Gated oceanfront property.

We won’t elaborate over this topic today since we covered it in detail over these past week.  Most of us have access to news from a wide array of media outlets that keeps us informed, biased or not, as to what horrific events are transpiring throughout the world.  Its heart wrenching.
 
One week from today will be heading to Phuket International Airport for 10:15 am flight including one layover to return to the capital city of Denpasar to the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. We’ll spend one night in a hotel in Kutu before we commence, the next day, on the four or five hour harrowing drive. 

We weren’t certain of the purpose of this trellis or the plastic bag (sometime used to “catch” grasshoppers or crickets) when it appeared mostly weeds were growing beneath it.

Before we head out from Denpasar we’ll stop at the Carrefore Market to purchase food items that are unavailable anywhere close to the villa in Sumbersari.  At all costs we want to avoid having to return to Denpasar for another long drive during our upcoming two month stint in Bali prior to returning to Australia for a number of cruises, vacation home stays and more.

Between October 31, 2016 and April 22, 2017, we have four cruises booked around Australia, the fourth of which sails from Sydney to Seattle.  It’s hard to believe this is coming up after spending 23 months in the South Pacific having satisfied our curiosity and our interest as to what this part of the world has to offer.

Travelers could easily spend a lifetime exploring many more islands and considerably more of the continent of Australia.  We have no delusions that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.  With visa restrictions allowing us entry into Australia for a continuous period of three months we’re disappointed we never made it to the Outback.


The exterior of many homes are adorned with elaborate decorations, doors and artwork.

We’d investigated the possibility of renting a caravan/motorhome but found the cost prohibitive and the time constraint restrictive.  Although the concept of renting a caravan/motorhome has some appeal for the future when we’ll for the US,  at this point doing so is not a priority.

With only a week until our departure from Thailand we’ve begun to think about our final meals, packing and preparations for our departure.  As always, on the last day, we’ll be posting the final expenses for the six weeks we’ll have spent in Phuket, Thailand.

The expenses will be considerably less than our usual expenses based on the fact that we haven’t done much while we’re here do my current condition;  no restaurants, no tours and few tourist venues. The low cost of the less-than-stellar rental car will be included. Overall, the car has served us well.


Many residential streets are narrow with room for only one car to pass without a bit of maneuvering.

I wish I could say we’ll be heading out to take more interesting photos but right now, it’s simply not on the agenda in light of recent attacks in tourist areas.  We have enough new photos yet to share over this next week and with only one more quick trip to the market we’ve already begun the process of winding down.

Thanks to all of our loyal readers for sticking with us during this quiet time.  Hopefully, as I continue to improve we’ll be able to share more interesting photos and events in our lives.  Much more excitement will begin on October 31st when we board Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas for the 33 day cruise circumventing the Australian continent. 

We’re very excited about this cruise and being back aboard ship.  This will be quite a test for us to see how we feel about long cruises.  The longest cruise we’ve experience to date was the 18 days from Honolulu, Hawaii to Sydney Australia in June 2015. 


Entrance to apartment building under constriction.

Tom says, “One of those days was only two hours long when we crossed the international dateline making that cruise only 17 days.”  The cruise line unfairly referred to it as an 18 day cruise.  Hummm…

Returning to the US in eight months, we’ll recover the lost day for a 24 day (or will be two hours of the 25th day?).  Confusing.  We’ll report back on that as it occurs.

May your day be filled with wonderful surprises that make you smile.

________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, August 24, 2015:

Fresh greens appeared to be a little higher priced than the grocery stores at the farmer’s market in Cairns.  For more photos, please click here.

What is the cost of a typical hotel on the beach in Phuket…Why bother to travel? Astounding pricing!

Prior to entering the grounds of Friendship Beach Waterfront Resort we asked permission to tour the property to take photos.

In light of the recent bombings in Phuket, it may seem ironic that we’re writing about how reasonable it is to stay in Phuket for a holiday/vacation for the cost conscientious traveler.

The entrance to the spa on the opposite side of the parking lot at Friendship Beach Waterfront Resort.

It only takes watching a bit of news to see that murder, terrorism and other heinous crimes are occurring everywhere in the world, not just in Phuket, which statistically has had less murders than many major cities throughout the US.

With this knowledge one can easily say, “Why bother to travel?” 

The resort has a good sized pool and Jacuzzi facing the ocean.

The answer for those with the “travel bug” is clear…no where in the world is free of risk.  If one is to fulfill their dreams of world travel we can only anticipate that now may be better than later.

Alternate view of the pool.  It was a cloudy day but plenty of guests lounged by the pool.

With soaring prices, airline rate and luggage hikes and failing economies worldwide, waiting for some magical period sometime in the future may leave those hungry for the adventure sorry they didn’t push themselves to do it now. Who knows what the future holds in this uncertainty surrounding us? 

When we traveled to certain parts of the world in 2013, 2014, we sensed an element of heightened risk at the time.  We’d never have chosen to visit many of those countries at this time when so much has transpired over these past few years.

An outdoor Thai massage area.

And yet, looking back, we’re grateful for the experiences, many we discovered as life changing and enriching in ways we can hardly describe, having added an element to our world travels like none other that we’ll ever experience in the future.

A waterfall and pond on the grounds of the resort, next to the spa area.

Sure, at the time we were on alert and highly sensitive to the risks we faced, with such situations as a security guard on our bus in Egypt wearing a black Hugo Boss suit with a collapsible Uzi in a holster underneath his jacket.  Now, we’d hardly consider such a trip.

We were excited to see a Koi pond.

Then again, here we are in Phuket, Thailand and the risks may be as many as where we’ve traveled in the past.  Do these facts impact our future travels?  Only in regard to specific areas in countries we’ll visit.  We all know from the media, no place is safe. 

Even the most secluded of country villages fall prey to horrific crime and devastation.  Sure, we felt safer living on an alpaca farm in New Zealand as opposed to riding on a bus in Egypt or Turkey. 

As we approached the pond, the fish swam close , mouths open, hoping for food.

As we’ve mentioned on many occasions, we prefer remote areas away from most big cities with a more  quiet life, reduced traffic and with less outrageous commotion in the streets.  And yet, next March we’ll spend 40 days in Sydney, certainly a big city with little fear. Although even that seemingly safe city has also fallen prey to terrorism over these past years.  We can’t live in a bubble.

Soon, as is the case for this resort guest, we’ll be lounging in a chaise by a pool and the ocean.

As for Phuket, we decided to do a little research about the area for anyone who may consider this location at some point in the future.  The best way to do this was to select a popular resort in the area and check it out which we did a few days ago.

The spa lounge.

We chose what we thought was a midrange resort located directly on the ocean, Friendship Beach Waterfront Resort when most of the more upscale resorts require a reservation and passports to get beyond the guarded gates, neither of which we had at the time.

We easily gained access to the property after we showed our business card and explained to the reception staff we were preparing a story about the property and would be taking photos.  They happily obliged.  Security was at a minimum as we perused the property.  (Had the 11 bombings in Thailand not occurred recently, most likely, we’d never have noticed a lack of security).

Another decorative pool on the property.

The resort was packed when we later learned it was promoted as “Phuket’s lowest waterfront room rates” which after a little online research we discovered starts as low as US $25, THB $868 per night!


An exercise and lounge area by the spa.

Moments ago, I checked the link for Hotels.com on our website to find a rate for
Friendship Beach Waterfront Resort for only US $19, THB $659!  That’s less than the cost of a low priced hostel!  (These rates may be seasonal and higher priced during peak holidays, etc.).

These rates include free Wi-Fi, free parking, air con, daily maid service and more.  Had we not visited the property in person, we’d have thought the online photos were deceiving.  But, after our visit, before we knew the prices, we both admitted we’d happily have stayed at such a property.  It was a surprising experience, one we’re glad we took the time to investigate.


Walkway back to the reception area.

Today, Monday, we’re staying put as I continue in my recovery…some days up, some days down, each day providing us with enjoyment as we live our lives in appreciation for the present and ultimately, for the future.

Happy day to all!

________________________________________


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

The sign outside the huge permanent farmer’s market in downtown Cairns, Rusty’s Markets, a popular tourist attraction as well as a favorite shopping site for locals.  For more photos, please click here.