Dropped my phone in the toilet…Oh, oh!…Stuff happens…

Colorful shrine in front of a private villa in our area.

We were getting ready to go out. I’d put my Windows smartphone in the back pocket of my jean shorts. As we often do before we head out in many countries, us old-timers make sure we’ve “checked the tire pressure” (peed) before we leave the house.

Both of us guzzle iced tea all day, especially in hot climates. With two cups of coffee and a mug of iced tea before heading out the door and, with the state of toilets in public areas often being set flush (no pun intended) into the floor, requiring some serious crouching, which I can hardly do at this time, I’d made sure to go “potty” before leaving the house.

As I stood after doing my thing, my orange Windows Blu smartphone dropped into the toilet bowl.  As quickly as I could fish it out, the power had shut off and I knew I had a problem.

Papaya, commonly found in many tropical climates.

It’s not as if we can stop at Costco or a phone store to purchase another unlocked smartphone here in Phuket. We’d pay an outrageous price if we could find a current model and most likely the charger and settings would be geared to this part of the world.

If we don’t use our phones for calls without a local SIM card, what do we use them for? Actually, quite a bit, not unlike many users from all over the world;  reading news, reading books, searching online, playing games, making grocery and other lists and taking photos when a camera isn’t handy. 

Most days when I need to recharge my laptop and I’m hungry for some sort of mental stimulation, I use my phone. With a lack of extension cords and outlets here and in most vacation homes, in most cases we have to set our equipment close to an outlet for it to charge at least a few times each day.

Another papaya tree.

Its during these charging periods when I can’t get close enough to the laptop to use it (it’s the same case for Tom as well) so instead I use my phone. At night, I read myself to sleep and if during the night I’m awakened, I read. 

Sure, it’s probably not good “sleep hygiene” to read in the middle of the night but honestly, it works for me. Besides, I consider bathing and washing to being “hygienic” not sleep. Tom often reads his phone during the night as well.

My first worry during those two seconds my phone was at the bottom of the toilet bowl was, “How will I sleep without my phone?” My next worry was some notes I’d made on the phone and hadn’t backed up lately, notes about travel and miscellaneous. Lesson learned.

Colorful plumeria flowers.

After I’d pulled my phone from the toilet bowl, I used an antibacterial wipe we keep handy for such occasions, took the cover off the phone and began carefully drying every part inside and out with a dry paper towel.

Recently, I’d read that if a phone is dropped in water, don’t use a hair dryer or any type of heating or blowing tool to dry it off. We’d all heard the stories about plain uncooked white rice being the “go to” on such occasions.

Since we were on our way to grocery shop, and my grocery list was on my now dead phone, I made a mental note to remember to buy rice at the market. As for the remainder of the grocery list, between us we remembered every single item since we’d already planned our upcoming week’s meals in advance.

From the car, we spotted this white shrine in front of a house.

Oddly, once we began shopping we couldn’t a small package of rice, like one would find in the US, a little box of Uncle Ben’s converted rice or a small plastic bag containing white rice. Nope, no such thing in Phuket. The smallest size available was 5 kg, 11 pound bags of Thai rice. 

What we’d do with 11 pounds of rice was baffling. But at a cost US $2.43, THB 84, it was worth buying, even though I had little hope it would work. In the interim, I’d taken the SIM card, data card and battery out of the phone leaving it open in the bedroom which had the least humidity of any room in the house.

Of course, once back at the villa, I couldn’t resist trying to turn it on. After putting everything back together, it failed miserably, a flash of light on the opening screen but nothing else. Nada. Done.  Kaput.

We’d seen these huge palm frond trees in Belize in early 2013.

Using a stainless steel bowl we filled it to the top with the uncooked white rice, placing the phone and battery in the uncooked rice ensuring every interior area was well covered. Now the waiting game.

I may be a relatively patient person in many circumstance but when it comes to technology, I’m a beast, unable to wait to attempt a fix. The online recommendations for this method all stated to wait 24 hours before attempting to turn it back on. That was hard for me. I have no self control. 

After dinner, I removed the phone from the bowl of rice, shook out all the grains, reinstalled the card and battery and gave it a try. At this point, the tiles  for my apps on the home screen made a short appearance, although the date appeared as November, 2011. Momentarily, they were gone as the phone shut itself off. Patience. I needed patience. 

Tom can get “overly grumpy” with me in cases such as this insisting I wait per the instructions for a remedy. Then again, he’s not always the most patient guy on the planet for which I reminded him.  Through this entire process I made every effort to stay calm and hopeful, not necessarily my usual “overly bubbly” self but a close optimistic second.

We weren’t familiar with these red flowers.  Comments?

The night was fitful and restless. I awoke numerous times, longing to read my phone. Morning couldn’t come quickly enough. Finally, I drifted off awakening at 6:00 am ready to check it out. It hadn’t been anywhere near 24 hours but in the air conditioned room with a lack of humidity, maybe I’d be in luck.

Again putting it back together, I held my breath as I turned it back on. Would it be working again?  Or, would it have a number of features that wouldn’t be working which could set me into a tailspin, perpetually trying to fix the issues. I’m relentless.

Alas, after what appeared to be a “sputtery” start (again no pun intended), the colorful tiles on my home screen popped up. After several minutes of trying each app, checking the date and time, reviewing my last and current batch of email messages, it was fully functional. Yippee. How’d I get so lucky?

I was relieved that the white rice solution did indeed work on my Windows phone although, it doesn’t work on every brand of smartphone, I settled back into my easy routine of using my laptop and then my phone, alternating during the day as needed to keep me entertained and amused.

May this little story and your day keep you entertained and amused!

Photo from one year ago today, August 20, 2015:

Parasitic plants growing on trees is a fascinating way nature provides for a plant that must “borrow” nutrients from thriving trees of many varieties.  For more details, please click here.

Martial arts in Thailand…Right in our neighborhood…Who knew?…Great new photos and video…

Adam, a martial arts trainee from the UK, tells his story of visiting the Kingka Supa Muay Thai, training and performance facility located down the road from us. Click here for the interview.
Each time we’ve traveled down the bumpy road in the less-than-stellar rental car we’ve both been preoccupied in observing the depth of the potholes in the road. 

While I hold on for dear life, Tom navigates each rut in the road with the greatest of care.  While in this process, until we reach the smoother main highway, neither of us has paid as much attention to the neighborhood as we would under different circumstances.

Having shot a few photos along the way as we maneuvered down the road, I’d noticed a few points of interest. I hadn’t asked Tom to stop to investigate, until yesterday, preferring to stay on course to get the bumpy road out of the way.

This martial arts ring reminded us of the facility shown in the excellent Showtime series, Ray Donovan, which we’ve been watching lately (season 4). 

Yesterday, on our return drive from shopping, I asked him to stop so we could get out of the car to check out a particular scene I’d noticed during a few of our comings and goings over this past month. More on that in a moment.

With only one more shopping trip required before we depart Phuket on September 1st and based on my slight improvement in mobility, yesterday was an ideal day to get out of the car to scope out some scenery for photos to post on the upcoming days in Thailand.

With beefed up security at the supermarket, we felt safe while shopping but with the recent 11 bombings in Thailand, some nearby, we stayed on alert as much as one could in the circumstances.  We knew with certainty, there was no reason to visit any highly populated tourist areas.

Having never been to a match, this was all new to us.

Not surprisingly, we noticed a considerable reduction in traffic on the highway. Could it be a result of the fact that many tourists had decided to end their holiday/vacations earlier than planned, as was reported on the local news subsequent to the horrific bombings? And, were the locals being more prudent in getting out, only when absolutely necessary? 

We left the house around 11:30 am, usually a busy time of day. It was Friday here in this part of the world which is often a busier day on the roads. We stopped at the Seven Eleven for a few toiletries that aren’t available at supermarkets. 

According to this site, “taking part in a real Muay Thai bout is just about the most dangerous thing you can do without holding guns.” Click here for more details.

Once we arrived at the Makro superstore which doesn’t accept credit cards (nor do many of the other markets we’ve visited in this past month) Tom stopped at the ATM for cash. 

With lower prices than we’d experienced while living on most tropical islands (Hawaii is the exception) most shops refuse to pay the credit card fees and only accept cash for payment. 

While in Fiji, we paid a 2.5% surcharge at the markets when using a credit card. During that period we determined which was more cost effective; paying fees at ATMs or paying the surcharge. In Fiji, the surcharge was the lower cost option. 

Gloves are lined up at the edge of the ring.

Here in Phuket, we don’t have that option to choose when cash is required at most locations. Each time we’ve used the ATM we’ve paid a flat fee of US $5.77, THB 200, regardless of the amount of the withdrawal, charged by the local banks providing the machines (not our bank in the US). 

Also, most ATMs restrict how much cash you can withdraw at any given time requiring the user to have to get cash more frequently paying the fees over and over again. Its the nature of the beast. 

After spending US $154, THB 5323 at the grocery store and US $3.44, THB 119, at the Seven Eleven for toiletries we were content with the “bang for the buck.” 

Heavy punching bags.  Living quarters on the premises in the background.

We purchased all the food items needed for the upcoming week; tons of organic vegetables, full fat dairy including a variety of gourmet cheeses, baby back ribs enough for two nights, ground steak (mince) enough for two nights, and yellow fin tuna for two nights. 

Included in the above total were the three delicious gluten free roasted chickens, which although small, (free range chickens are usually small) would see us through two evenings. 

Anyway, back to the photo taking on yesterday’s outing. We stopped at a few locations where we both got out of the car and walked for a bit, seeing an exquisite local beach and a lovely resort. 

More heavy punching bags.

Then when closer to our villa, we visited the scene I’d noticed on the road where we live, a local martial arts facility, as we’ve bounced along the bumpy road on several occasions.

Tom parked the car while we got out gingerly walking on uneven terrain to make our way to the martial arts boxing ring with equipment scattered about, on the grounds of the Kingka Supa Muay Thai

The site is not only is a training and performance facility but also a clean, well appointed camp for the participants many who travel from all parts of the world to train as described in the above video.

The buildings on the premises at Kingka Supa Muay Thai appear to be well maintained and spacious which are used by those in training  and participating in the dangerous sport from all parts of the world.

Today, we’re including our photos from the Kingka Supa Muay Thai. There’s a match tonight. If I were able to sit on bleachers (not quite yet) it might be interesting to attend but the degree of violence is off-putting.

We have many more new photos to share over the next several days. Please check back!

Photo from one year ago today, August 20, 2015:

Sunrise over Trinity Beach, Australia. One year ago today, we wrote about a negative comment from a reader. Please click here for details. 

Water pipe broke…Minor inconveniences in the realm of things…

This morning, a few hours after we were up and about, the flexible cold water connection under the bathroom sink fell apart and water was spewing everywhere.

Immediately, we called Lee, who called Boo, the maintenance guy, and within 5 minutes he arrived by motorcycle, tools in hand to shut off the water after there was over 2″, 5 cm, of water on the bathroom floor which luckily had a drain in the floor. Tom had grabbed the travel scale off the bathroom floor before it was ruined.

Now, as I write here, a plumber has arrived and is in the process of repairing the broken water line while a few of the cleaners followed behind to clean up the mess when he’s done.

In the realm of things, this minor incident, responded to quickly, reminded us of the insignificance of our rapidly spewing water when people all over the world are suffering in recent flooding from storms. 

As quickly as the water flooded the bathroom floor, we could barely imagine the horror of the residents in many parts of the world where fast flowing water has caused such devastation and loss of lives.

It’s hard to grasp the magnitude of the horror experienced in many parts of the world including the horrific flooding and loss of life in Louisiana in the US with 1000s of residents living in shelters after their homes were destroyed by fast moving water as a result of relentless storms.

For today’s news on this storm and others, please click here.

Are natural disasters on the rise? Or, are we hearing about them more due to 24 hour news cycles from around the globe having become more readily broadcast over these past three decades?

Its hard to say. When attempting to research this topic, “Are natural disasters on the rise?” one will find thousands of varying “opinions” on the topic from a wide array of “news” related sources and agencies. 

This morning as I researched this topic (which I’ve done before) I was shocked by how statistics are skewed based on the intent of the source of information. What are we to believe?

I supposed its not unlike other “theories” in today’s world. Everyone has an opinion they’d like to express and would like to be revered for their views. In reality, if the focus stayed on providing relief and support to the victims of natural disasters and finding solutions to lessen the impact in future events, the sensationalism in the news could be lessened.

That won’t ever happen. As the news escalates to entice and titillate the public to read and watch more and more, we often get the perception that the world is on its way to total collapse as a result of natural disasters, let alone the effects of human intervention, wars and disharmony.

But, what do I know? Whom am I to speculate? I can only observe, pray for the future and hope along with the rest of us, that our planet is here to stay. 

With news of meteorites heading our way, black holes gobbling up our planet, and gloom and doom for the future, our little lives become insignificant and meaningless.

What can we do in the interim, if anything? Oh, I’d like to say if we all treated one another with love and kindness, an altruist view and subsequent behavior could change the world. 

But, we’re past the ability to do that on a worldwide scope. We can only do it within the small framework in which we live. And perhaps, those bite sized pieces can eventually unblur the lines and we can see beyond our often narrow views of what’s right and what’s wrong.

We can’t live in fear. Fear has the ability to incite anger and dangerous behavior. Exercising caution, sensible reactions and thoughtful personal introspection are some of the tools we’ve been provided as humans. If only we all could use these tools to make the world a safer and better place.

In the interim, us two grains of sands on the vast beach of Life, attempt to keep everything in perspective, a broken pipe, a small household flood, a recovery from an injury, in the realm of things, it’s but a minor inconvenience. 

We remain grateful for the gifts bestowed upon us as we continue on our path of experience and knowledge, as we pray for the well-being of those suffering in the world.

Photo from one year ago today, August 18, 2015:

One year ago we walked into this park for awhile eventually turning back when we realized the trails weren’t as suitable for walking as opposed to use by fast moving mountain bikers. Ironically, in our post one year ago today, we mentioned bombings in Thailand. Please see here for details.

Finding joy in small things…Life doesn’t have to be “big” to be rewarding…More exquisite seashell photos…

At times, over these past 46 months we’ve posted photos of “small things” we’ve spotted along the way, mostly tiny creatures and plants. Not every environment is the ideal in finding such miniature items of interest inspiring us to take photos to post here under a “small things” category.

Please click here to see one of our “small things” posts.

We haven’t been out enough here in Phuket to search for “small things” nor have they been readily available in the tiny gated yard of this property.

Small things are most prevalent in wildlife rich areas which of late hasn’t been the basis of our travels. Of course, as all of our regular readers are aware, I have a one track mind about wildlife rich areas, looking forward to the upcoming countries we’ll be visiting in the next few years which undoubtedly will provide such opportunities.

For now and over the next few months, the only “wild” life we’ll see are barnyard animals, which we do enjoy, including chickens, cows, goats and of course, buffaloes. 

These are also determined to be 400 million year old fossils.
These are 400 million year old fossils.

In three and a half months we’ll arrive in Tasmania where we’ll spend three months living in two distinct areas; in the town of Penguin, across the street from the ocean not too far from Hobart and the other, in the Huon Valley directly on the river.

Certainly these two locations will once again provide us with plenty of scenery, wildlife and vegetation photo ops we anticipate with enthusiasm. Hopefully, by that time, I’ll be feeling like my “old self” once again and we’ll easily be able to get out and explore. 

We’ll be renting a car as soon as we arrive in Tasmania (after a flight from Sydney) to begin the drive from the airport to the first of our two properties where we’ll spend six weeks at each location, each diverse and interesting in its own way.

For now, we focus on the small things that don’t include nature-like curiosities, those small things that make life special each day, regardless of where we may be living at any given time; communication with family and friends; the laughter and playfulness we experience together; and a good meal we’ve prepared and appreciated as we dine each evening. and a good movie or series.

Its the small things that bring us joy during these somewhat restricted circumstances we find ourselves at the moment including a hesitancy to venture out to popular tourist areas with the recent bombings. Even the upcoming grocery shopping trip in the next few days gives us pause. 

We read in the local news that many tourists decided to cut their trips short and head back to their home base rather than finish their remaining booked vacations/holidays they’d planned in Thailand, uncomfortable with the prospect of more attacks. 

For us, without a home base, we stay put feeling fortunate to be staying in a private home as opposed to a resort or hotel where it seems the risks are greater.

Shall we go out on a weekday or a weekend day, we ask ourselves? Is there a specific day of the week that would be considered safer? There seems to be no rhyme or reason to such horrific events other than the fact that they generally occur where many tourists gather.

Today, as everyday, we focus on the “small things” that matter in our daily lives, while looking forward to some of the “big things” that await us on the horizon.

Have a day filled with “small things” that bring you joy.

Photo from one year ago today, August 17, 2015:

We’ve never used the hot tub in Trinity Beach, Australia for a few reasons; one neither of us cares to use hot tubs especially in a hot climate and secondly, the cost to heat the hot tub and to keep it heated would be outrageous for the owner who pays all the utilities. For more details, please click here.

Counting down the days earlier than usual…Has boredom set in?…More photos from Phuket Seashell Museum…

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this vacation home. It’s clean, well organized, properly managed, secure, in excellent condition and has most of the amenities we find useful when we’re staying for a month or more.

For any travelers preferring a home as opposed to a hotel, this villa is ideal.  Although it’s a short drive to the beach, it has a lovely pool kept meticulous, cleaned three-times-a-week by the pool staff. 

The owner whom we’ve yet to meet remains quietly in the background answering any questions we may have in a prompt and efficient manner. The four person cleaning crew arriving Wednesdays and Saturdays are equally helpful with one speaking good English.

But, I’m anxious to continue on, a feeling I’ve only had a few times in our world travels. Why is that? Tom says it’s been due to the fact that I haven’t been feeling like myself and I’m associating it with this location. 

I suppose, in part, I agree with him. In carefully analyzing other possible reasons I’m looking forward to moving on, I can only add that I’m feeling a bit like a caged animal when I don’t have access to views of scenery and wildlife from inside the house. There’s literally no view behind the stone walls of our “compound.”

Tom is perfectly content as he often is when he’ll easily entertain himself on his laptop for an entire day. Once I’ve completed the daily post, worked with our photos, completed any necessary research, record keeping and banking, I can easily put down my laptop except perhaps for watching a few favorite shows we’ve downloaded.

Lately, I’ve even downloaded a few shows Tom may not care to watch to entertain myself during the day, something I’ve never done in these past 46 months. Oh, I guess it sounds as if I’m a bit bored.

It’s a rare occasion for me to be bored.  As a generally active person with many interests its always been easy to entertain myself. Take away my ability to be flitting about the house engaged in a wide array of activities, unable to stop and enjoy the view, unable to go out whenever I’d like and in this case to explore the area to take endless photos, I find myself at a loss.

How many books can I read? As a speed reader, I can easily consume a book in a day. But, over these past years I’ve reserved my reading for bedtime or for mornings when I awake too early to get up, reading becomes my go-to activity. 

During the day, I have little interest in reading a book, a habit I never took time to develop after I retired. I’ve always kept myself so busy during daylight hours I rarely considered sitting down with a book. 

Another important aspect affecting my sense of boredom is my inability to go out for a walk in the neighborhood. The dirt road to the right is uneven, with many potholes making walking too much of a risk at this point. 

The dirt road to the left has a huge hole covering the entire roadway which is always completely filled with water from frequent rains. Also, I’m not sure I’m ready for long walks quite yet.

I must clarify that by no means am I feeling sad or depressed. That’s not me. Even with my recent injury, now heading into the third month, I still remain my “overly bubbly” self, hopeful for the future and optimistic that in time I will fully recover. 

However, a sense of boredom doesn’t necessarily connote sadness or a feeling of malcontent. For me, its almost as if a few times a day, I find myself in a room, asking myself with a flippant air, “What shall I do now?”

Pestering Tom in hopes of him alleviating my peculiar-to-me feeling is not something I’d do. It’s my own thing. He’s perfectly content managing our investments, reading online, checking Facebook, watching short videos and researching for the future. 

I’ve never seen Tom exhibit a moment of boredom, not in the past 46 months nor at anytime in the 25 years we’ve been together. In our old lives, he could spend an entire Sunday reading the newspaper from cover to cover. I often teased him that he even read the page numbers!

Why will Bali be any different than here if I’m still recovering when we arrive? A few things come to mind; one, the ocean view; two, the smooth level road outside the door where I’ll be able to begin taking walks; three, the daily flurry of activity at the house with the wonderful staff in and out; four, the ability to go out and about with a driver whenever we’d like; five, the endless interesting activity on the beach with the buffaloes, the dogs, the colorful boats, and the fascinating array of people. 

Never once, was I bored in Bali even after I’d injured myself. Somehow, I was distracted enough to remain engaged in our daily lives even though we didn’t cook, clean or grocery shop.

Of course, prior to Bali we lived on the alpaca farm in New Zealand and I’d only need to walk outdoors or look out the window for a dose of paradise. We’ve learned a valuable lesson for future bookings, I need a view, plain and simple. Or, at least the ability to walk outside and find myself in somewhat of a wonderland of one sort or another.

As we continue on, there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t accomplish this as we book future vacation homes. It’s ironic that after all this time we’re still learning what matters the most. Of course, good health and safety will always be at the top of our list. Might a great view follow?

Have a healthy and safe day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 16, 2015:

Cockatoos visited us daily in our yard in Trinity Beach, wasting no time in announcing their arrival. For more details, please click here.

Sightseeing venue in Phuket…Visit to the Phuket Sea Shell Museum…A rare treasure

Most sightseeing activities in Phuket revolve around the ocean in one way or another, including snorkeling, scuba diving, speed boating and visiting various islands all of which are out of the question for me.

The Phuket Sea Shell Museum is easy to spot from the highway.

Getting on and off boats and bouncing in rough waters is definitely not logical at this point as I continue to heal from the spinal injury of June 1 in Bali. Even the slightest movements can send me into a tailspin as I diligently avoid bending at the waist.

The entrance to the museum.

Yesterday, when I was feeling considerably better in the morning, I  mindlessly did a little more around the house only to find myself struggling from 4 pm well into the night. Today, I’ll proceed with more caution.

Based on what I’ve described, our readers can easily see how sightseeing has not been foremost in our minds with most of it requiring activities I don’t dare undertake at this time. 

How I ever got through the river cruise tours baffles me. I guess it was the case where many of us just “bite the bullet” and carry on when we have chronic pain or conditions. I have no doubt many of you have done the same on many occasions.

When I think back to the cruise, I realize some of what we may have done further exacerbated my condition extending the recovery time which I’m paying for now. In any case, this is the way it is for now.

When we were running low on photos of Phuket to post each day, we decided to embark on the easiest possible outing, a trip to the Phuket Sea Shell Museum as described here at this site:

“The Sea Shell Museum near Evason Resort in Rawai contains and displays valuable seashells from all over the world. Many are among the most sought-after by collectors and are from Phuket and Thai waters. It’s a perfect attraction to keep kids and adults entertained on a rainy day. 

The museum is very well put together and is located in the basement of the large building. It has four main exhibitions, all information in both English and Thai. The entry fee is reasonable.”

The entrance fee for both of us was US $11.50, THB 400. It certainly was worth this reasonable cost when we easily spent a few hours perusing the enormous displays, reputed to be one of the largest and most comprehensive seashell displays in the world. 

With rave reviews at TripAdvisor we knew we were in for a treat finding the collective opinions of many tourists generally as “spot on.” The only challenging aspect to the venue was walking down a few flights of stairs and standing on my feet for so long. 

We were the only tourists on site during the entire period we spent in the air conditioned facility. We thoroughly enjoyed chatting with one another as we perused the breathtaking displays as we shot many photos. Tom, with his good eye, often spotted photo ops I may have missed making the experience all the more meaningful.

I apologize for not explaining the source and technical descriptions of each type of the shells of the photos we’d taken.  Although there were detailed descriptions on signs near most of the shells, the time it would have taken to take double the photos would have been difficult when I knew I could only stand for so long. As a result, we haven’t included captions on the photos.

All of the displays were encased in clear glass making photo taking challenging when reflecting light made it nearly impossible for a good shot. None the less, we took over 100 photos saving the best to share here over the next few days.

Little did we know, as we wandered about the facility that only hours earlier 11 bombings had occurred in Thailand, two of which were nearby, especially when after the museum we headed to the Makro superstore to shop for the upcoming week. 

It was only after we’d returned home, put everything away and sat down to relax and read news on our laptops, did we see what had tragically transpired here in Thailand in the prior 24 hours. 

So far today, thank goodness, everything is quiet. Yesterday, (Sunday) three un-exploded bombs were found in shopping areas in Phuket. See the news story here.

We remain cautious in everything we do and everywhere we go during our remaining 18 days in Phuket never foolishly putting ourselves in public arenas that may be targeted.

You stay safe as well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 15, 2015:

There were several bodies of water along the edges of the rain forest we visited in Queensland, Australia. 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.

We live in frightening times…Bombings in Phuket…

Not our photo. Police and investigators searched for clues after victims were taken to area hospitals.  See this link for details.

Having relocated to the bedroom to stay cool, as shown in a post of a few days ago, we hadn’t turned on the news in the days with the TV located in the living room. We had no idea about the 11 bomb blasts in Thailand, including several in Patong, Phuket about 30 minutes from us.

Yesterday morning, hours after the blasts, I was busy preparing the post while Tom was researching on his laptop.  Neither of us had checked the online news. By 11:00 am, we were out the door on our way to a sightseeing venue, details of which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

After taking over 100 photos, we headed back down the highway toward the Makro store where we’ve been grocery shopping these past several weeks.  Being out like this for several hours is hard for me at this point, especially when riding so low in the seat  and on bumpy roads in the less-than-stellar rental car. But I don’t complain, especially when Tom is always at my side to help in any way he can.

With the grocery list on the app on my phone within 45 minutes we were on our way out the door, loaded with enough groceries to last at least for the next week. 

Based on our departure in 19 days, most likely we’ll only shop two more times if we carefully plan upcoming meals, as we always do, to avoid running back to the store for forgotten ingredients. 

Once we returned “home” Tom carried everything indoors while I put away all the items that didn’t require bending while he put away the remainder. In no time at all, we were settled in for the evening, content with our sightseeing outing and shopping.

As we both sat down to begin some research for future travel, almost simultaneously, we discovered the news regarding 11 bombing incidents in Thailand, many in Phuket, some not too far from us. 

Within moments, we each spotted numerous email messages (and a few comments on our site) from friends and family inquiring as to our safety. Appreciative of all the thoughtful inquiries, we quickly responded to let everyone know we were OK, we searched multiple news sources to fill us in on the details.

Thailand has been entrenched in political unrest for many years as described here from this site where the story continues:

HAVING launched more than a dozen coups in the past 80 years, Thailand’s generals were not friends of democracy. So it has been jarring to watch the country’s ruling junta praise Thais for approving an army-backed constitution in a heavily-controlled “referendum”, which took place on August 7th. Prayuth Chan-Ocha, an irascible former army chief who became prime minister after a military takeover in 2014, insists the new charter will end a decade of political instability and allow for fresh elections next year. In fact, it will not heal Thailand’s deep divisions, but make them worse. 

The constitution, Thailand’s twentieth, will keep soldiers in charge for years to come. New election rules will produce weak coalition governments that can be bossed around by bodies stacked with the junta’s friends. The generals will hand pick a 250-member senate, tasked with ensuring governments do not deviate from a 20-year program of “reforms”. They will need to convince only a quarter of the legislators in the lower house to back their choice of prime minister, who need not be an MP. Barriers to amending the constitution are prohibitive.”

The 11 bombings are described in this news story. At this point, officials aren’t certain as to the motivation of the terror attacks other than the fact that tourists were targeted. We’ll continue to watch the news for updates.

Not our photo.  Hospitals were filled with bombing victims in Thailand. See this link for details.

In the interim, we’ve decided, we won’t be heading out to any popular tourist attractions in our remaining time in Phuket. Often nightclubs and disco type bars are targeted in terror attacks, which, of course, we old-timers tend to avoid. 

But, that doesn’t negate the possibility of danger in other areas tourists may visit. Certainly now, the US Department of State will issue a travel warning to citizens considering travel to Thailand, at least for the time being. Then again, other countries have issued travel warnings to their citizens planning to visit the US.

Are we frightened? Probably no more than in any other country we’ve visited in our world travels.  In 2013, there was a terror attack at a mall in Nairobi, Kenya while we were living in Diani Beach. 

Many of our families, friends and readers contacted us regarding our safety.  We were quite a distance from Nairobi at the time, although we had a layover at the airport a short time later. Of course, we thought about the potential risk of being at the airport, especially when airports are often targeted. Click here for our comments regarding this terror attack here at this link.

After leaving Kenya, a favorite restaurant at a local resort where we dined on many occasions was bombed a month after we’d left for South Africa. Oh, the list could go on and on with attacks in Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and many other countries we’ve visited.

And now, only months away from returning to the US for a family visit, we sadly think of the loss of lives in many US states as a result of terrorist attacks, political unrest and racially motivated attacks. The list goes on and on.

Yes, traveling the world increases these risks. But, no place on this earth is free from tragedy, natural disasters and attacks motivated for a variety of reasons. We can choose to live our lives to the fullest or we can hold back with fear and apprehension.

Based on the current attacks here in Thailand, we choose to be cautious and avoid public venues as much as we can.  In only 19 days, we’ll be on our way back to Bali for another 60 days, where many terror attacks have occurred over these past years. 

We can’t live our lives in constant fear, none of us can. We sadly mourn the loss of lives and pray for the well being of tourists and citizens who’ve fallen prey in the hands of radicals. And, we continue on with hope and prayers for the safety of those we love, for ourselves and the people of the lands we visit in our worldwide journey.

Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who inquired as to our safety. Your concern means the world to us both.

Stay safe.

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

This parasitic plant appears to be a face looking up to the sky with leaves in its mouth and throat. For more photos, please click here.

Defining new goals for future travel…More interesting Thai art…

No disrespect intended here when Tom wanted to illustrate the size of this statue while also making me laugh at his copycat antics.

After 46 months of travel, we’ve come to a number of conclusions as to what makes this life altering experience most meaningful with the utmost of flow, most realistic expense-wise, and most readily maneuverable as we age.

Foremost in our minds, which we’d hoped to accomplish all along, has been to cruise to as many locations as possible, avoiding airports with excess luggage fees, hours of waiting and travel time, long lines and a usual amount of frustration.

With our objective to see as much of the world as we can, staying in fabulous vacation homes and cruising as often as possible within our itinerary, we’ve done well so far. 

This precious statue in the front yard reminds us the sweet, gentle nature of the Thai people.

Good grief, we’ve been to every continent in the world except Antarctica, which we’ll visit in slightly over 17 months. Having accomplished each continent to some extent, we’ll now need to begin retracing some of our steps to see those fabulous countries and locations we may have missed the first time around, those that appeal to us the most.

Our future decisions will be entirely predicated by these three factors:
1.  An intense interest and desire in visiting a new location
2.  Convenience we can create through using cruises more than we have as a means of transportation thus avoiding flying as much as we have in the past
3.  Affordability – Are we at a point where we may be willing to pay a little more for cruises we may have avoided in the past?

Here again, another heartwarming rendition of the Thai people.

This is not to say we’d like to be cruising all the time. We don’t. The idea of spending three months or more on a cruise ship doesn’t appeal to us. The upcoming 33-night back-to-back cruise beginning on October 31st is about as long as we’d ever desire to be at sea, although we anticipate this cruise with considerable enthusiasm.

In these past 46 months we’ve been on 14 cruises (includes the recent river cruise) averaging one cruise every 3.2 months. This doesn’t mean we want to cruise more often. We just want cruises to become even more efficient in getting us to locations where we’d like to stay for one to three months in between.

This piece is above the bed in the master bedroom.

When a new reader from Houston, Texas wrote to us yesterday in a much appreciated personal email, she mentioned a trip she and her husband thoroughly enjoyed traveling on the Trans-Siberian train from Mongolia to Moscow. This appeals to us. There’s so much more world for us to experience.

Have you checked our map on the right side of the homepage under the main photo of us taken in front of the Treasury in Petra, Jordan? When looking at this map, it’s obvious we have many parts of the world yet to visit. 

Large pots such as this located in the living room are popular in Thailand.

Actually, we’ve only been to 54 countries of the world’s 196 which translates to slightly less than 28% of the world’s countries. Considering there are a number of countries we’ll never visit due to political unrest, wars, visa restrictions and danger for tourists, we still have plenty of countries remaining to visit.

For us, this is not the Amazing Race, with a clock ticking to accomplish as many feats as possible in a designated period of time. This is our lives and we’d merely like to do what appeals to us as each year we strive to expand our horizons, our experiences and our knowledge of the world, its people, its cultures, its wildlife and its vast beauty.

More textured Thai art in the master bedroom.

For me, if I was the only person deciding, I’d park myself in Africa for years to come to further explore my love of wildlife. For Tom, he’s totally content to continue as we have. We compromise.

But, within that framework, we both know, health providing, we’ll return to Africa sometime in the next several years where, he, too, has a lot more he’d like to see such as Victoria Falls, the gorillas in Rwanda and many more safari adventures.

Within 16 months, we’ll cruise to South America where we have an entire continent to explore with never ending opportunities in fulfilling many more dreams of seeing that which appeals to us the most.

This exquisite piece is located outside on a wall near the pool.

With current bookings extending to March 4, 2018, ending on March 18, 2018, 19 months from now, we have plenty of time for research in extending our itinerary and further fulfilling our more defined criteria as we’ve stated above.

Today, we’re heading out for an easy sightseeing venue and grocery shopping. We’ll be back tomorrow with new photos. We look forward to seeing you again soon!

Please, keep those wonderful email messages and comments coming! We’re loving hearing from YOU!

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

This parasitic plant in our yard in Trinity Beach, Australia appears to be a face looking up to the sky with leaves in its mouth and throat.  Vegetation is another fascinating aspect our lives. For more, please click here.

Part 2…An inquiry from an old friend and long time reader…Artwork in Phuket house…

This is my favorite piece of Thai art. It’s quite large placed above the TV in the living room.

In yesterday’s post we answered the first question posed by longtime friend and reader, Cathy in Minnesota as shown in a statement as below which she’d asked in a private message in Facebook.

With Cathy’s permission I posted her questions as follows:

Cathy wrote:
“So this is my question for you two. Honestly, have you ever gone someplace and after about a couple of weeks wish the stay was shorter? With your back hurting the way it does sometimes do you wish you were closer to a doctor. I just know how painful back problems are from experience.  I read your blog every day.”

As a result, yesterday’s post addressed the first question in detail, particularly as it applies in our current location: “Honestly, have you ever gone someplace and after about a couple of weeks wish the stay was shorter?”

Some of the art work is lopsided on the wall, but we didn’t want to straighten them for fear they’d fall off.

Today, we’re addressing the second question in Cathy’s inquiry: “With your back hurting the way it does sometimes do you wish you were closer to a doctor.”

We chose to break up these two questions, especially since this second question requires a certain amount of comment and reflection that we wanted to share with our readers, many of whom are in our age bracket subsequently more likely to require medical care.

Our reality when we began our travels was the fact that I have a serious spinal condition that is exacerbated by inflammation triggered by certain foods and chemicals. By changing my diet five years ago this month, within a period of three months I was pain free although I still have the condition.

Plus, I was pre-diabetic within months of requiring medication when I started this way of eating and now my blood sugar is normal with these dietary changes. Two major problems were solved by a change in diet. 

Many of these works of art consist of design and texture.

It was these massive improvements in my health that inspired us to travel the world, when prior to the change in diet, the possibility of travel was very limited when I couldn’t sit on a plane for two hours. In these past 46 months, we’ve experienced as much as a 34 hour travel period and though tired at the end as anyone would be, I did fine, pain free.

In the early part of June, slightly over two months ago, I injured my spine in the swimming pool in Bali while walking backwards in a particular exercise feeling fine and pain free. I was using the pool each day as a form of exercise with no health club in the area. 

In June, I accidentally walked into the sharp stone edge where the end of the steps meets the main part of the pool. The second I did this, I knew I was in trouble.  The impact hit me from my neck down to my tailbone. It felt as if I’d been in a car accident.

There is a pair of these, each slightly different.

At first I didn’t say anything to Tom hoping the pain would subside. I didn’t want to worry him. But, by the next day I knew was in big trouble when the pain was awful running from my neck down to my tailbone. 

Having heard stories of horrible medical treatment in the remote area of Bali, I decided to wait it out knowing it could be months until the injury would heal. My arms and legs were working fine convincing me I hadn’t injured my spinal cord itself. 

In time, the pain reminded me of when about eight years ago I had a compression fracture, compounding the pain I already had at the time. It took several months to heal. 

Recently with a lack of good medical care nearby, I made the assumption that again I had a compression fracture which is a very common condition for seniors, even those with less precarious vertebrae than mine.

This style of Buddhist statue is commonly seen in Thailand.

This statement is from a document at the following site from American Family Physicians :

“Vertebral compression fractures affect approximately 25 percent of all postmenopausal women in the United States. The prevalence of this condition steadily increases with advancing age, reaching 40 percent in women 80 years of age. Women diagnosed with a compression fracture of the vertebra have a 15 percent higher mortality rate than those who do not experience fractures. Although less common in older men, compression fractures also are a major health concern in this group. Because the age group of those older than 65 years is now the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, the incidence of this age-specific fracture is likely to increase.”

Based on the fact that there was no need for surgery, I self treated doing the best I could. What would a doctor do, when only in very rare cases, there’s an impingement on the spinal column (which I didn’t seem to have) during which surgery may be required. 

Rest, hot and cold packs, limited movement with no bending, not spending days laying in bed and the fractures would eventually heal without further incident. Many times I had read that the pain could last for three months or longer in typical cases. I guess I’m a typical case. Had I not experienced this type of injury in the past, I may have been more intent on having x-rays, MRI or CAT scan.

Plus, I determined, that if the fracture was spotted in a scan, what would a doctor do anyway?  Prescribe narcotic pain meds? Not only did I not want to take narcotics for such an extended period I didn’t want to be hauling narcotic meds in our luggage as we travel in a variety of countries. 

This larger statue is located in the kitchen and dining area.

I had one old bottle of painkillers in my luggage with 30 pills (I’d never used any of them) in case of an emergency. During this two plus months I used 10 of the pills when I couldn’t seem to get the pain under control, especially when we were in Singapore and then on the Mekong River cruise, going out on tours. 

Tylenol, Paracetamol, Aleve, Motrin and aspirin haven’t helped at all, even after trying them for weeks. I take nothing now, instead finding a new way to sit, stand and rest using the ice and heat packs to relieve more painful periods. It’s getting better, now only painful during the second half of the day when I may have sat too long, bent over too much or walked too far. It’s a balancing act.

Back to Cathy’s question, “With your back hurting the way it does sometimes do you wish you were closer to a doctor.” 

My answer is clear.  Had we been living in the US I may have gone for an x-ray or MRI, but the ultimate treatment would have been the same except with the addition of pain relieving medications I’d surely have been prescribed of one sort or another. 

Interesting rendition.

Most likely physical therapy would have been prescribed once it healed, which is often postponed until after several months to avoid further injury. After years of experience with a variety of spine related physical therapy modalities, I feel confident once the pain is gone, I can begin walking more once again and incorporate light physical therapy type moves as I progress.

Once we arrived in Phuket I considered going to the local hospital for an x-ray but after reading many poor reviews about the local private hospitals, I decided against it. Finally, over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a subtle improvement each day and feel confident that it will continue over time. 

Since the injury, I’ve managed the following:
1.  The four to five hour harrowing drive from Sumbersari, Bali to Denpasar Airport
2.  The flight from Denpasar to Singapore with considerable walking at both terminals
3.  The week in Singapore with several trips to immigration offices to acquire  the two visas
4.  The flight to Hanoi, the flight to Siem Reap, 18 days total touring Cambodia and Vietnam, including rides on non-motorized tuk tuk, motorized tuk tuk and a rickshaw along with many tours requiring lots of walking and stairs.
5.  Flight from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) with a layover in Bangkok, then another flight to Phuket.
6.  One hour van ride from Phuket Airport to vacation rental
7.  Lots of bouncing around in the less-than-stellar rental car over the past three weeks since our arrival.  Three weeks from today we depart Phuket.

This statue is located on the marble kitchen counter.

Over the next few months, we only have to get back to the airport in Phuket, with a layover in Singapore, then on to another flight back to Denpasar, an overnight in a hotel and then, the next day, the four to five hour harrowing drive to the villa. For sure, these next few months will be easier than the past two months.

I’m anticipating by the time we board the back-to-back cruise in Sydney, Australia after a seven hour flight from Denpasar (after one more four to five hour harrowing drive), on October 31st (our four year travel anniversary), I’ll be back to my “old self.” If not, we’ll carry on with our plans. I’ve proven to myself, I can do this.

Many people suffer with chronic conditions and maintain active and fulfilling lifestyles. Until such time as either of us cannot travel as such in the above listed points, we’ll continue to live life to the fullest, enjoying each and every day while dreaming and planning for the future.

May you do the same.

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

It seems we awaken every morning at 5 am.  Tom gets up and I read in bed until I fall back asleep, usually until 7:00 am. Up so early he has an opportunity to capture these amazing sunrises. For more photos, please click here.