To whom it may concern the blogs will be intermittent at best while we await a country with reasonable internet. That being said, here’s to catching up!
WAIT!! I see a break!!
Ok. A breaking point. We have landed in Thailand and after 2 weeks on the ground we have decided as a team that we love it (and the affordability factor) enough to hunker down for a month. We’re all hungry for a semblance of reality and routine again but no one wants to turn back.
It’s been 12 weeks on the road today. We’ve enjoyed; planes, trains and automobiles….taxis and Ubers…..tuk tuks…. ok, if it moves we’ve boarded it. Lessons we’re learning about transportation include but aren’t limited to: if it gets you there it’s good, if it gets you there with air conditioning it’s great and if it gets you there with all of that AND it’s reasonably affordable than it is priceless.
The best car deals by far come from Uber when you are overseas. Although, the more research we do the less pleased we are with the management style of Uber. We recommend that if you have options available in your location you first utilize your local Lyft or taxi company. Alas, there are rarely opportunities for us to follow that algorithm out “here.” While there are taxis available, on average, they run you double the cost. So, we utilize the local tuk tuks, have the locals call a friend that they know who is looking for work and use local transport before caving to Uber usage.
We have found that when booking flights we can generally rely on the use of the Skyscanner application on our phones for the most cost effective and rapid booking of a flight. This works especially well when we have no certain next destination and we can utilize the fly everywhere search. One notable exception to this is when you are making a small local jump , say from island to island, then it is always best to check your local flight agencies as their prices are very rarely listed. There are lots of sites that we are being driven toward that will alert you when there is a breaking or accidentally listed flight special although those have not been particularly useful to us thus far. We will of course direct you to those as we seem them become useful. We have also benefited from the added benefit of three of us being able to use the Space-available for flights assuming that we are in the right quadrant for access.
We’ve stayed in: Airbnb, friend’s homes, with family, in DOD lodging and of course in hotels. We have had experiences where the house was literally alive with ants and reptiles. We have experienced hotel suites that have redefined both luxury and skyline view. Lately we are relying heavily on the http://www.alltherooms.com site for a compilation of our favorite room types to include; Airbnb, booking, couchsurfing, expedia, jetsetter, hostileworld, hotwire, priceline, and BRBO. With the availability of DOD lodging for the four of us when needed we do find ourselves utilizing those resources when we are backed into a last minute corner. Those have proven to be definite cost savers when we are in the right countries. The only consistent thing is that our definition of home has most definitely morphed. The cliche of, “home is where the heart is,” has a very real meaning to this pack. No matter how many homes, how many beds (or even if the home is missing something as essential as toilet paper,) when we all snuggle up at the end of the day THAT FEELING is HOME.
We have visited just about every kind of; street market, river market and grocery set up that you can imagine and so many more that you probably can’t imagine. We’ve seen live fish in water bottles and baskets. We’ve seen HUGE bugs eaten as a main dish. Grapes are the size of a child’s rubber ball that you’d exchange a quarter for in the United States. And we’ve eaten it ALL. Our family rule is that we all try at least one bite of every strange thing as a team. We’ve had drinks with Chilli powder, with rotted fruited and (my personal favorite) drinks from cooked off animal droppings.
We’ve officially seen more countries than my children have seen years on this earth. We have visited; Indonesia for over a month, Singapore, Japan (for almost a month,) the Philippines and Thailand now for a month. They have both also visited Mexico and Costa Rica. And let us not forget where this all kicked off, the great United States of America (New York.) Totaling 8 countries in their short 5 and 6 years. When I ask about this travel excess Betababy responds: “This is SO COOL!! Let’s NEVER stop!” And BetaBear says: “I just LOVE this so so so so much!!! I can’t wait to SEE more! There are so many more places than I ever knew! Even when we find a forever home can we still keep traveling?!” I think it’s safe to say that we are ALL equally enamored with the prospects, tastes and sights that are inundating us everyday.
We do a morning Bible study and worship daily and have (almost forcibly) grown so much closer as a team. My cohort and I place equal emphasis on staying healthy which makes food choices on the road a bit easier but the perpetual roaming means we are always without a gym and find ourselves coming up with creative at “home” and on the road workouts. The adults however are learning that we are both independent alphas. Traveling with a team mate is an unbelievable blessing BUT we are both so used to having time with our “other” friends and this travel has placed us in each other’s metaphorical laps for four months. Luckily we both have amazing teams outside of ourselves that have served us well reminding us of that fact and encouraging us to create space breaks for one another as well. With each day that passes we; laugh, grow, struggle and experience our way into a stronger bond than I think either of us has experienced or had anticipated. I won’t speak for him but I am learning about something deeper than that “I love you” that comes a couple months into dating and instead leaning into the type of partnership that roots its self in the promise of a friendship and an “I’ve got you.” There are certainly days that I’m the weaker (and more emotional) of the two of us. But his patience always astounds and his leadership never ceases to surprise me. He receives my angst and meets it with an empathy instead of acceptance and encourages me into growth without demanding my compliance for his happiness. We are both learning to be extremely flexible and compromising. Not in the, “fine let’s eat pizza,” kind of way rather in the, “this IS my sleep routine. I DO take this many pictures and I DO think this is a good monetary decision,” type of ways.
On this topic we are constantly learning and readdressing how to live on our new budget. Sure, we traded our “western bills” for travel but the travel definitely comes at a very real cost. And just because you take your budget into consideration doesn’t always mean that there isn’t a trade off. For instance; we chose to hover in Thailand for its beautiful weather and affordable housing/dining opportunities HOWEVER the house we are renting (through Airbnb) will also be charging us for the water and electricity bill upon our departure, the nearest grocery store is a 20 min round trip drive and the internet doesn’t work without first purchasing a SIM card and internet service. Even the purchased internet doesn’t work consistently enough to be productive at work unless you intend to camp out at a coffee shop or restaurant all day, and I do mean ALL day. All of these excess utilities (that you don’t usually consider while traveling) sure add up fast and almost exchange exactly for having pressed through to a more Western civilization. Don’t get me wrong, we all love it here and have no complaints about the 2 minute walk to the beach and beach view bars. We aren’t complaining about the condo with a pool view to splash in when we aren’t feeling the mess of sandy beach play. We ARE NOT complaining about the DELICIOUS hamburger and drink joint right on the corner. We just want to draw the random travelers attention to the potential budget hazards of the Vagabond’s wallet hassles.
So there you have it. A quick run down of where we stand and what we’re experiencing as we get settled. I hope to write you more but as I mentioned earlier we’re up against some poor internet out here in Asia. I’ll do my best but know that I am not disappearing even in my silences. We love you all! Moving forward you all know how much I love your feedback and direction. I look forward to the continued shares, likes and emails! Thanks for journeying with us!!