Soon after learning about this traditional art special to Vietnam- I put it on my must-do list for the country. We knew we would have multiple opportunities to catch a water puppet show so we put it off in Ho Ch Minh while we did other activities which could only be found there such as the War Remnants Museum, the Cu Chi Tunnels, and so on. Our first glimpse of a water puppet theater stage occurred there, though, in the Museum of Vietnamese History. There was a room with a stage and seating off to the side of one of the museum rooms where you could catch shows at certain times. This show, while on a smaller “stage” than the show we ended up seeing, is allegedly quite good! We might have gone except that it was starting as we arrived so we didn’t have much time to debate the extra little cost (we were on quite a budget at that time). There were other options in Ho Chi Minh as well, but ultimately we ended up going to the famous Thang Long Water Puppet Theater after making it to Hanoi.
One special thing about seeing the show there is that water puppetry actually originated in north Vietnam (specifically in the Red Delta River area in the north) back in the 11th century. Apparently this was a form of entertainment used by villagers when their rice fields were flooded. They were sometimes used to celebrate the end of the season (and possibly on other special occasions). In the old days, they would build pagodas in the rice fields which could hide the puppeteers who would stand in the (waist to chest deep) water controlling the puppets. The water hid the puppet controls and served as a stage. Back then, they would also often be dealing with cold water which could have leeches and water-borne diseases in order to put on these shows.
The Thang Long Water Puppet Theater was established in 1969 as a way to preserve tradition and increase tourism. The puppets they use are carved from wood and are controlled with bamboo rods and string. Scenes and skits performed in the show address aspects of daily life for rural farmers like fishing and farming, as well as performances relating to folklore, festivals, and more. Water puppet performers from this theater have toured 40 countries to put on shows as well. If you’d like to get a glimpse of what to expect, you can check out some videos on youtube.
Anyway, this was one of the first things we did our first time in Hanoi. Our last 10 days or so in HCM was spent away from District 1 (location of a lot of the touristy stuff) and was during the period of Tet so we had plenty of time to get work done and were able to go out and sight-see pretty immediately once we got to Hanoi. On our first day out we walked quite a bit but I believe it was the next day we chose to walk to the theater. It’s located near Hoan Kiem Lake and lots of other neat activities in the Old Quarter, but was quite a long walk from our Airbnb at the time.
When we got to the theater, they were sold out! Be aware that this could happen to you due to its popularity.
We did not find tickets available online at the time and it seems it may be fairly common for them to sell out early for the day and sometimes even the next day or two. So- we bought tickets for the next day, got some coffee (for Kyle) and tea (for me) and then wandered around the area proceeding to get quite lost, making our journey back hours longer.
The next day we were so exhausted we decided to just get a taxi down to the theater for our show time. The funny thing is that all of this could have been avoided because after our 10 days on Cat Ba we ended up staying at a place just around the corner from the theater! That’s how things go I guess! Fortunately, like everything else, transportation is pretty cheap there and our taxi ride only cost us about $2 and we walked the way back (pretty sure we got lost again).
Overall, we really enjoyed the show. I noticed from online reviews that it’s not everyone’s thing- but it was our’s! We weren’t entirely sure what to expect but here are some of the things we liked: 1. It was educational. I felt like I learned a little bit about the history of the area and even a little bit about current life for rural villagers in Vietnam. There were scenes of fishing, festival events, etc. 2. It was entertaining. The show even made me laugh out loud a couple times. 3. It was slightly interactive (like smoke for certain parts and dragons spraying out water- though not really at you per se). 4. The music. A traditional Vietnamese orchestra including a Dan bau, bamboo flutes, drums, and more plays as an accompaniment/accent to the show. There is also some Cheo (a type of opera) singing.
The only thing that sort of got in the way for us was that we couldn’t understand what the puppets were saying (their “voice actors” spoke in Vietnamese). We didn’t mind because we were in Vietnam, but do feel we might have missed a few things or could have learned more if it was in English or we knew Vietnamese. Still, with many parts the music, tone, and actions of the puppets helped communicate things to us.
Here is the info: Address: 57B Dinh Tien Hoang – Hanoi – Vietnam Cost: 100k dong (~$5) Times: I see varying things online so I would just check in person. Show times are mostly in the afternoon/evening, I believe, though. Website: www.thanglongwaterpuppet.org Other info: Shows last for one hour.
The roundup is later than normal not because it took me longer to write it but because I forgot to post it (it’s actually been sitting here ready to be posted for several days-oops). Anyway, back in the last roundup in October I mentioned that we weren’t really sure what was going to happen in the following few months and it could have gone many different ways but in the end Kyle was offered the job in California and now here we are sitting in our very own apartment in San Jose. I haven’t decided if I’ll be continuing the roundups after this but if I do they’ll be a little different because we are no longer traveling full time. I originally wrote this to be very long with the full format for both November and December but I changed it to November and an abbreviated version for December. I hardly got on my computer the first few weeks in December which is why the November roundup didn’t get up then. We kept ourselves busy both months and, as per normal, there are various of things I will probably leave out of the post simply because it’s already going to be long and I have to use some discretion.
Where We’ve Been
31 days in Budapest (part day plus a flight with a short layover in Oslo before arriving in Orlando to be picked up and brought to Jacksonville)
8 days in Florida (specifically: Fleming Island, Niceville, and Destin)
3 days on the road including a night in San Antonio and a night in Tucson
19 days in San Jose, CA
Distance Traveled by..
November Foot Over 100 miles
December Plane 5,525 miles Car ~3,000 miles
November: 1. The Christmas Markets! They’ll get their own post but we went to multiple Christmas markets within Budapest and we went to the one in Vorosmarty Ter three times. I really enjoyed everything about them, especially the mulled wine! 2. The Baths. We tried to go to a different, cheaper public bath but it didn’t work out (we’ll write about that later) so we thought, you know what, let’s just splurge and do Szechenyi. It’s iconic Budapest (at least for tourists) and we already wanted to at least see it (which itself costs money) so we went there. We had a great time! 3. Margaret Island. I am sure this place is nice year-round but it was just lovely in the Fall. There is a bunch of different stuff to see/do there, but this too will get its own post. 4. Gellert Hill Outing. Before we went to Budapest I saw a picture of a place in the city on Pinterest and thought ‘I want to go there!’ so I asked my mom to ask Jutid where it was and she said it was Gellert Hill. It was just as beautiful in person and luckily I feel we were able to capture that with our camera. 5. Pinball Museum. My favorites games there were actually the non-pinball games like shooting and bowling but we both had fun. 6. The Great Market Hall. 7. Trash day, also known as lomtalanítás. This was unexpected and interesting. 8. Ice skating. Okay, another slight splurge, but where else are we going to get a chance to ice-skate in front of a castle?? 9. Sweets. Everything from the grocery store bakery section sweets, to candy, to ice cream, to the market desserts, to a Tiramisu coffee, we enjoyed many different sweets this month. 10. Panineria. We ate here the night before we left and Kyle just raved about his sandwich. Mine was also good and I especially liked the dessert.
December: Our highlights included seeing people and pets, Christmas celebrations and Christmas decorations/displays, nice gifts, heated seats, good views on our drive, finding a place (and one with a washer and dryer and a dishwasher), having our things, food and drink, knitting and playing instruments, the mountains, making a couple travel videos (did you see our spin video and follow video?) because it’s fun for me, and Kyle liking his job so far.
November was fun, but various things (see lowlights) also interfered with plans at times. They’re not in chronological order. 1. Sick/Virus. Look up norovirus. I don’t know for sure if it’s what we had but basically those symptoms. First Kyle got it and then after a few days I contracted it from him. It was just terrible. You pretty much don’t stop throwing up for the first 12-24 hours and it’s just exhausting. I think Kyle stopped throwing up after his initial time period but I continued beyond this, just with longer intervals in between. Between us we were out for a week and it took longer than that to feel all the way better. 2. Workers Outside. Really not a big deal but the workers outside could be kind of loud in the morning which would wake us up. A couple days they also actually blocked our door painting or something so we were not able to leave. 3. Planning Stress. First there was the wait to see if he really had the job and then we were waiting on a finalized start date while also trying to plan our time in Florida and getting across country while not knowing just what awaited us in terms of how much stuff we would need to do in each place (Kyle’s parents’, my mom’s, my dad’s, and my grandma’s), what my parents’ work schedules might require, etc. We were also trying to figure out whether or not a stop in Orlando was realistic, decide if Kyle was trading his car with his parents, decide if we were or were not going to take both cars and cats on our initial drive across country and the implications for which hotels we could stay at, figure out if we could tow one car, and estimate how long we should book a place/how long we’d be apartment hunting. We were also trying to look at apartments online but the rents changing by hundreds per month from day to day (at the same places) and we were trying to figure out if we really could live alone or needed roommates especially not knowing what exactly the wage would be at that time, and so on. 3. Knocked Down. When we decided we were done ice-skating Kyle said he wanted to go one more time around so I said that’s fine but I am tired and went and sat down. After he was done he told me I needed to do the same. I said I didn’t want to but he said I must so fine I went on the rink and within about fifteen seconds this little girl flies out of nowhere into my legs and knocks me hard to the ground. It hurt and my hand bled and I experienced pain in my hand for many days and a mark for a couple weeks. And that was just a couple hours before I got sick. 4. Not Getting In. The first time we went to the Pinball Museum it was closed for an event (not disclosed on their website or any of their social media because we checked) which was pretty upsetting because we planned our whole day around it but we did end up going back on a day it was open. Then there was the NY Cafe, the most beautiful cafe in the world. We tried to go in one night and wow, we felt so out of place and underdressed we had to leave immediately. We were really in the mood for ice cream, though, so we searched Maps for another ice cream place but saw it had already closed so then we searched for another but when we arrived it was closed too. So then we went to Burger King and got ice cream there which was pretty good. 5. Souvenirs. Just all the cool stuff we didn’t or couldn’t get for ourselves or others (like the item in the cover photo) because they were too big, too fragile, etc.
December: Our lowlights for December included not having as much time as we wanted with family and friends, not having enough time to go through all my stuff or the room for all of it, getting sick again (me)- I had a cold in Niceville and pretty much literally did not stop blowing my nose on the entire car ride across country, Kyle’s wage being lower than he was originally told (though it was balanced by cheaper insurance and better benefits but was initially a concern), moving expenses, us planning our schedules around a particular work date and then arriving to California only for his work to tell him they changed it meaning not only could we have done things a little differently (though it did work out well) but he also was not getting paid for those two days which we were sort of counting on, not getting holiday pay for two four day weekends and one three day weekend because he had not been in the system long enough, finding out he won’t get paid at all until mid-January, and finding out that we are missing a bunch of stuff (such as most of our tupperware, our crock pots, some mugs, our ladle, a few small souvenirs from Budapest we had in the car, and some things I hope are somewhere at my parents’ places but that I didn’t come across).
First time having mulled wine.
Kyle’s first Christmas market.
Kyle first time ice skating in a foreign country (it might have been mine too but I don’t remember). What is crazy is that he never went ice-skating at all until he was in college!
Kyle’s first time having a curly mustache. December
Farthest north we’ve been together (Oslo).
First time with our own place that we are renting long-term while married (lol).
First time seeing Augustine lights (me).
Kyle first time donating his hair.
Interestingly NOT our first time driving across country from FL to CA nor our first time moving to San Jose.
November cost $1085.56. Accommodation The cost of our place for the month was $530. Yes, one of our more expensive places, but worth it. We didn’t actually pay that this month and instead paid our final payment of $180 towards it which brings our actual spendings down to $738.56 this month. Food Wow, so uh, we spent $181.96 on groceries this month. We were pretty amazed last month when we only spent $235 and this month we significantly cut that! And everywhere (including the market near us) took cards so there were only a couple time we had to use cash so we can see our spendings online. I don’t really understand how we spent so little but I think a few things played a role. Kyle barely ate at all for like a week (when we were sick). Illness has never been able to keep me from eating so I did eat (especially kiwis which I was craving like crazy) in between throwing up but I also ate less for a few days. Another idea: I wouldn’t have thought this would have played a role but we literally went to the store like every day so maybe that somehow helped us keep our costs down too. We also shopped around- for example, the avocados were way cheaper at the market than at the grocery store. There were like five to seven different grocery stores we went to based on what we wanted/needed and prices. The specific dishes we were making may also have been playing a role. I mean, we do try to be careful with our spendings but I feel we used a similar level of care in each location. Maybe groceries are just cheaper in Serbia and Hungary than we realized. I mean we look at the prices of everything when we buy it but with us moving locations and the currencies and exchange rates changing everywhere it can be confusing. I think certain currencies make us more frugal than others for whatever reason. Of course, that was not all we spent on food. We also spent $55.68 on food out including 9 ice creams, 2 donuts, a chimney cake, langos, coffee, mulled wine, a pita, a piece of pizza, a kebab, fisherman’s soup in a bread bowl, a burger, 3 sandwiches, 2 fries, a salad, and another dessert. So we spent $237.64 total on food. Entertainment/Outings We tend to like to keep this pretty low due to the number of free and cheap activities available in many regions but in Budapest more activities require fees (there are even parks which require you to pay to enter there) and some activities are expensive. We chose not to do a couple things we were interested in due to price but we weren’t going to go there to not do things. We ended up spending $87.83. If we hadn’t got sick and had the construction workers blocking our door it would have been higher though because we had several more things we really wanted to do which cost money such as the Bear Sanctuary and a couple of caves close to Obuda. We just didn’t get a chance before we left. Regular stuff$141.44 for storage, Netflix, Google Storage, Dropbox, and Adobe Creative Cloud. Miscellaneous$75.77 on souvenirs, gifts, and developing a little bit of film. Fees$12.88
Now for December. Because we are no longer traveling, even if I continue the roundups I will no longer be disclosing these relatively full, informative financial reports because it would probably be weird. If we are able to travel I might talk about the cost of trips, though and I will still note things of significance like wow we only spent so much on this or wow this was so much.
The December budget was pretty significant. WE SPENT MORE MONEY THAN WE HAVE EVER SPENT IN A SINGLE MONTH EVER (I have been tracking our spendings for years but even if I hadn’t this would be obvious). That amount of money would have lasted us months traveling (UGH). And we basically couldn’t work the entire month, though we both got paid a very small bit for things we did last month. Costs included everything from the apartment stuff (application fee, deposit, rent for December, rent for January), transportation stuff (driving across country, renting a uHaul, the smog test, registration, a new license, etc.), a place to stay while looking for a place (less than a week at one of the cheapest Airbnbs we could find still came close to what we were often paying for a place per month abroad in Asia), bills for electricity and internet already coming in, all of our regular expenses, food, and more.
Kyle: Work for me over these past two months has been a little weird, but then it always seems to be a little weird. I finished up a large project in November and began another large project which has just wrapped up now after the holidays. I’m happy to report that both ultimately went off without a hitch, although there was some last minute understandings on the first project that did get taken care of. As well I had some work from one of my regular clients that I was able to finish up as we left Budapest and took care of packing in Florida. I’m happy to report that I have been hired as an artist at the University of California Santa Cruz and the role itself is great, but I will miss the regular travel. Briana: I don’t feel like writing a lot more just to say the same things I’ve said most other months. Pretty much things were the same for November. I was unable to work in December, especially at the beginning. If I had chosen to work I couldn’t have taken care of the things I needed to do and I would have had to basically ignore our families to earn a low wage so I lost my clients. I can still do my flashcards though and I did one set at the end of the month. I can also still log onto a tutor site and wait to see if anyone needs help with something within my knowledge base. I tried to find some community college teaching jobs which I’d be qualified for which would be starting the Spring semester but I only found one which I did not get. Obviously we were busy with all kinds of other stuff this month and I also worked on the travel videos and other things.
Health and Fitness
As I said above, we walked well over 100 miles in November alone in Budapest. We did our first hike back in California on the day after Christmas. Since we have gotten settled Kyle has started working out a little bit everyday and I have been trying to stretch a little everyday. It was fairly rare for us to do any exercising, stretching, yoga, etc. on our travels because of many reasons which varied by time and place but now we can more easily get back into doing these things. It helps that we have carpet. In terms of food we have been making more Mexican food but we are still eating pretty healthy.
Next Month/Next year
What’s in store for next month? We will continue to get back into the swing of the ‘normal’ life, though I think we’re pretty much already there. We both have so much more time than we did while traveling which is really nice. I’ll explain the reasons in another post. We’ll be further organizing and decorating our place and doing our regular hikes. Hopefully my car and our furry friends will be arriving. In terms of the blog, I will probably be working on articles about the year, maybe a “year roundup” and/or travel superlatives (our favorite cities, food, etc. from the past year), possibly one on our overall travel budget, things we’d do differently, and so on. Of course, there are lots of other articles Kyle has been wanting me to write that I have been putting off for many months ago, such as the Batu Caves, Angkor Wat, and so on. So we’ll see. Kyle will probably be writing more on Serbia and Hungary.
We are happy to say that we made it to Budapest! I had been looking forward to the idea of coming here for a long time and it lives up to expectations. We had a nice time finishing out our stay in Belgrade even though we found ourselves on an unconventional sleep schedule and were stressed out wondering if we were going to need to fly back to the US at the drop of a hat for a job for Kyle. I personally have decided to mostly forget the whole thing exists so I don’t have to think about it. Fall has made itself apparent in both locations and we are relishing it. We found ourselves to be very comfortable in Belgrade and we feel similar in Budapest. The biggest downside to Budapest so far is discovering the cost of many of the popular activities but as a whole, Budapest is obviously still well-priced for a European city. We are still getting used to not standing out anymore like we did in Asia. In Asia, on account of us not being Asian, it was obvious to locals that we weren’t from the area and probably didn’t know the language well. In Serbia and Hungary locals sometimes try to talk to us in their local language- whether it’s yelling at us at the supermarket for not putting away our groceries properly (this was in Budapest), or commenting something friendly to us on the street (also seems to occur more frequently in Budapest, but has happened in both places). We must look pretty comfortable though because in Serbia we even had tourists come up to us asking if we could we give them directions and in Hungary I watched as the ticket person at a museum gave directions to the people in front of us in English and proceeded to tell me instructions in Hungarian.
Where We’ve Been this Month:
20 days in Belgrade Serbia
11 days in Budapest, Hungary
Distance Traveled by Bus: 378km
Highlights: 1. Final Outings in Belgrade. The first fun thing (October 1st) we did was go to the Ballet which was really neat. It was so grand-looking and the performance was also great. One cold, rainy evening we finally crossed the Sava in Belgrade and wandered around and saw an old concentration camp. We also visited a large cemetery, saw more street art, re-visited the fortress area, Saint Sava, and Saint Marks and went to a few other places. We also enjoyed doing some aimless exploring. 2. 3am Walks. Due to our schedules we went on several of these and even did entire activity outings in the middle of the night! My favorite was a visit to Zvezdara Park Forest (this was intentional, not aimless exploring as we tried to get here multiple times before succeeding). When we went on late-night walks in Belgrade we usually encountered a quiet city with a nice mist and streets almost entirely to ourselves. It was really quite pleasant to wander the quiet city and we actually felt quite safe. 3. OTC Birth Control. There only seem to be a couple countries which allow you to get birth control over the counter and we’ve happened to be in one each time I’ve needed to re-stock! That worked out well! I only got 3 packets even after 2 visits because we waited until the end to do this and the pharmacies weren’t well stocked but it’ll do for now. Now I am just going to take a second and compare this to the process of getting birth control in the U.S. I remember one of the times in Orlando I was trying to get more birth control I first called the doctor and looked at my busy schedule to figure out a time which worked for me which was open. Once at the appointment, I asked for birth control. No, sorry, you are due for a pap smear, I will not give it to you until you have a pap smear. Fine, schedule me for the thing. Then I ask for it again. No, sorry, we need to make sure your results are fine. Wait two weeks or whatever. You know what? It looks like it is not a perfect pap smear, you have to go to a gynecologist for further treatment and we still won’t give you birth control even though you’ve needed it for over a month. Now we are going to do an invasive procedure and never tell you the purpose or results and then we’ll think about giving you your birth control. Ok, now can I have it? Yes, but you can’t have that one. I don’t like that one so I won’t prescribe it to you. Annoying AF. Finally they do give me the prescription and I have to make time in my day to go to pharmacy and ask to get it filled, wait around, etc. Seriously, what are they doing during the 30 minutes that I have to sit and wait for them to hand over my prescription?? And I have to do the same thing every month because they won’t give me more than one at a time! Meanwhile in Korea and Serbia I just show up to the pharmacy and ask if I can have some and they *gasp* give it to me! I don’t even have to wait. And if I ask for more, they give me as much as they have! Korea is all about efficiency which we really appreciated during out time there. I was somewhat surprised that Serbia was progressive in this area but I appreciated it as well. If we’re going to talk about some of the reasons that I have read that doctors need to prescribe it- it’s like ‘they need to tell you about the side effects.’ No doctor has taken the time to tell me about any side effects and I don’t see why the pharmacy person can’t do that anyway. 4. Weather/Fall. We are loving the cool weather. We spent a good portion of the year in 100 degree temps and it’s nice to cool down a little and for fall to feel like fall. We thought we would have trouble adjusting but we are doing just fine with temperatures in the 30s-50s so long as it’s not too windy. Our heat works great here in Budapest so we get to feel super cozy. We are also enjoying watching the leaves change colors! It’s weird to think it was a year ago that we were doing the same thing in Korea! 5. Fairly Smooth Transition. I probably wouldn’t have put this under the highlights but Kyle requested it. After our last experience on a train and reading a few too many horror stories about the train ride from Belgrade to Budapest, we decided to look into other options. Buses travel faster than trains (because they stop so often) and this particular one was extra convenient because it picked us up near our Belgrade Airbnb and dropped us off at our Budapest one so we could avoid taxis and hauling our stuff around more. There was a long queue at the border which we were told was abnormal and we had to get out of the bus and have all of our things checked and I had to pee the majority of the time but other than that, it went well. 6. Our New Airbnb. I have to say, it is so worth it to have a place to ourselves and to be in the city center and that is what we have been able to do/have both in Belgrade and Budapest. We are currently staying in a loft in the Jewish Quarter and I am very pleased with it. We have a great bathroom with a shower/bath that actually plugs and reliably provides hot water! We really wanted to know what it was like to live in a loft and now we are learning what it’s like! 7. Outings in Budapest. We’ve had a fun time beginning to explore the city. Every outing could be its own highlight but then we wouldn’t have room for other highlights. We’ve been more places so far but I will only touch on where we went in October since this is the October roundup. We explored some of the Jewish quarter where we are staying including checking out a few synagogues and churches. We went to the House of Terror, visited Heroe’s Square and the City Park, saw Vajdahunyad Castle, went to Vorosmarty Square, climbed to the top of St. Stephen’s Basilica, walked along the Danube and saw the Shoes on the Danube, visited the (outside of the) Parliament building, crossed the river and saw Buda Castle, the Fisherman’s Bastion, and Matthias Church, went to a cat cafe, walked down Andrassy a couple times, got a few desserts and a little bit of food out, and did a little bit of general wandering. 8. Groceries! I know, weird, but there are a few things to be excited about in this area. Aside from the 7/11s in the Korea, the only other time we had access to any sort of store 24/7 was in Bangkok. We have that again here, though. There are a few such places within walking distance of us and it is extremely convenient, especially for when we are keeping strange hours. In addition to the 24/7 stores, we are directly across the street from a big (though allegedly one of the smallest in the city) sort of farmer’s market with a great selection of produce and there are like 10 other little grocery type stores within walking distance of us. It’s kind of crazy because normally we are used to having to walk a mile just to get to one! 9. Food. As you will see in the budget section we tried out some local (though not necessarily all local) food. In Serbia we shared a giant delicious crepe, tried out lots of bakeries, and found a good Mexican place (we really appreciate a good Mexican place). In Budapest we enjoyed chimney cakes filled with ice cream and cake from one of the oldest bakeries in Budapest, among other things. Kyle has also begun to cook with sour cream and paprika, just like the locals (or so it appears based on what’s available and what the internet tells us). 10. The Buildings. I just love looking at all the buildings. This was true in Belgrade but it’s even moreso the case in Budapest. They are so beautiful and decorative and multi-colored. I could just wander around looking at buildings all day. Honorary Mentions: My phone can connect to the internet in Budapest (it couldn’t connect in Belgrade for some reason), I enjoyed getting up early while it was our schedule (it’s still somewhat early but probably won’t be for long), and we had a little bit of rain in both places.
I can only manage to think of five this month. I could probably make it 6 or 7 by dividing aspects of the lowlights below into multiple lowlights but five is a nice number. I will also add an honorary mention which is that the top of one of our umbrellas blew away in the wind while I was holding it. The reason we couldn’t retrieve it was because it flew into busy traffic. While Kyle didn’t seem to agree, I thought it was funny and we had another so it was fine. 1. Weird Sleep Schedule. Not sure how it happened, but we ended up having a bedtime of about 4-6am. We just stayed up a bit later every night until it came to that. We both got rather bad insomnia at times. I think it was partially stress. While we are both night owls, but I’d say it was more Kyle pushing this schedule. It’s not that we didn’t try to fix it either. Sometimes we’d try to go to bed at midnight, only to lay in bed for a few hours wide awake before getting up. Then our bus ride to Budapest was early morning which meant we did not sleep and then I couldn’t really sleep when we arrived. Kyle and I ended up on slightly different sleep schedules. Kyle was sleeping extra and I was sleeping very little. For the first few days I was trying to get on a normal schedule and ended up trying to keep myself awake as long as possible before dropping and then only sleeping for like four hours before I was wide awake again. It was all strange and eventually I got to a bed time of about 5:30pm but now it’s more normal and we’ll probably push it to a late schedule again! *sigh* For me, it’s just that I always feel I haven’t accomplished as much as I hoped during the day so I need to stay up and do more. There’s also always issues like when I am not able to sleep in the night because I’m up with a headache. One night in Belgrade I think I had a reaction to a salad Kyle made me and was sick and throwing up during the night. 2. No Daytrips. I really wanted to make some day trips outside of Belgrade using buses or trains and even spent a good bit of time creating entire itineraries for multiple places but we didn’t end up going to any of them due to a mix of 1) our sleep schedule, 2) hesitancy to spend money, and 3) the whole job thing. I was particularly looking forward to the idea of going to Novi Sad or Vukovar. Novi Sad had previously been a consideration for a location to stop for a while in between Belgrade and Budapest. 3. Which brings me to: Not Knowing. I feel like we are always living in limbo and it’s a little frustrating. There is almost always something, usually multiple somethings that are in the air for us and we are just waiting for someone to get back to us about some potentially life-direction-altering thing. Right now it is the potential job for Kyle in California. 4. Apartment Scam. Kyle hasn’t even been offered the job and we aren’t even back in the US yet and yet we are already dealing with scams! We were researching housing in the bay area in anticipation of the job when it seemed like Kyle definitely had it (though we do still think he will get it) and encountered a somewhat elaborate scam. The person even sent us their ID to verify themselves as a real person. I informed them the real person their information was being used for these purposes but they already knew. I actually did tell Kyle it was a scam early on but he didn’t believe me. 5. Joint Pain. Doesn’t really bother me compared to my headaches and I have gotten joint pain occasionally since I was like 12 so it is nothing new but it seems to sometimes get worse, such as this month (maybe the cold?) It also seems to come and go rather quickly sometimes. Example: On our way out one time in Belgrade I really struggled to walk down the stairs because my knees ached so much but by the time we came back they were fine.
First time staying in a loft.
We don’t normally put ones on here that are more like ‘duh’ or ‘okay’ but I will add a couple anyway: first time in Hungary, first time in Budapest, first time eating at a restaurant with umbrellas above us, Kyle’s first bus ride in Europe (I used to live in Europe and would take the bus to school- lol! and I took others), first time meeting a fellow self-identifying digital nomad while in transit to a new country (literally discovered each others’ status at the border).
The total cost of October was $1131.51 which seems to be a little bit better (less), but fairly on par with our usual average spendings. We spent less than that this month of course because we purchased our accommodation in advance. Now, when renting for longer periods it seems Airbnb does not charge all at once so we did have a payment (about 1 weeks worth) taken out during this month but the majority of the payment was made in August. Now, for the breakdown: Accommodation. As I said last month, our nightly cost in Belgrade came out to about $13.91/night. At 20 nights for October, this amounts to $278.20. In Budapest the cost was a little higher at $189.61 for the 11 nights we were here in October. The total cost of accommodation for the month comes out to $467.81. I spent a good bit of time finding what I determined to be the perfect place for us in each city and we have been happy with both. We did spend a tiny bit more than we wanted to in Budapest but the place is worth the price. The two primary reasons we chose to come to Budapest in late October rather than directly after Cyprus were 1) we could not find any housing which fell in our budget range for the initial time period and 2) the Christmas markets start earliest in Budapest (like out of all of Europe). Food. Now I am a bit baffled that we managed to only spend $235.83 on groceries this month but everything seems to match up! The groceries in Serbia were cheap (and in Budapest as well), but the groceries have been cheap most places we’ve been! I think it may be partly because some of the things that typically really eat into our food budget if we buy them, like cheese, was pretty cheap in Serbia. We also may have been eating cheaper things at home. For example, we started every morning with toast and coffee. A big fresh loaf of bread there is less than a dollar. Also, my favorite thing to eat which I probably ate more days than not was spaghetti with butter and beli sir (the local cheese) which was quite an affordable dish to make there. The sweets were also pretty cheap. Maybe our sleep schedule somehow played into it all as well. I’d like to keep it down there if we can, though! We did spoil ourselves a tiny bit by eating out but obviously it worked out fine. We do have to try a few things out in each country as we need to experience a little local cuisine and there is no way we could get as much food per cost out back in the U.S. as we are able to in some other countries. We spent $30.31 on desserts out. This number includes 3 pieces of cake, 5 ice creams, 1 crepe, 7 pastries (from bakeries), and 2 coffees out. This doesn’t include the pastries we got at the grocery stores which have bakeries (this goes under groceries). We spent $59.78 on food out which includes dinner at a nice traditional Serbia restaurant, lunch at a Hungarian restaurant (and tips for both of these places), a pretzel for Kyle, 5 meat things out for Kyle (burger/chicken burger/sausage burger/whatever), 4 burritos plus 1 bag of chips, a large pizza, and over-priced Indian to go (Kyle did not listen to me when I said to not get it if it was pricey- I was too tired to go with him- but whatever). The total cost of food this month for both of us was $325.92. Transportation. Our bus ride from Belgrade to Budapest cost $56.18 for both of us. We were able to minimize our transportation cost this month by 1) not having any big/major flights this month which was one of the (many) reasons we had chosen Belgrade as a destination to precede Budapest, 2) avoiding taking any taxis (which the bus made possible) 3) walking everywhere (made possible by choosing an Airbnb in a good location) and 4) not doing any day trips, even though I think they may have been worth it if we had. Activities. We spent $9.25 on activities this month which includes the cost to climb up to the top of St. Stephen’s Basilica which we deemed ‘worth it’ and the cost of coffee at the Budapest cat cafe. I could have put the cat cafe cost under sweets out but I thought I’d put it under activities. Now, Budapest is a city where most things seem to cost money and many things are rather expensive (at least compared to what we’re used to and for people on a budget). We are currently trying to decide how we want to allot our activity spendings for the rest of our time here. We did manage to make it into one museum for free on a national holiday (to celebrate the 1956 revolution) but it’s unlikely we’ll be able to manage something of the sort with other activities. So far we’ve managed to see a fair bit (mostly the outsides of buildings) without spending much, though. Regular.$210.28 for storage, car insurance (twice-again Kyle pays weird), Google Drive storage, Netflix, Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, and Dropbox. Miscellaneous. Kyle had to pay to use the toilet once, I got a few more months of birth control, we picked up a couple small souvenirs and some extra chocolate, and then there was a little bit of spendings recorded which we couldn’t place (no, it does not look like this was groceries, I’ll probably figure it out after I publish this article). The total was $44.33. Fees. $17.74
Work/Productivity: Kyle: Work this month for me was almost non-existent. Luckily, my large animation project I had been working on for months paid the final payment. I had no projects at the beginning of the month to work on and spent some of my time my working on personal projects, and scoping out possible living accommodations for if the California job came through. I know on the previous round-up I had said that I would know if I had got the job by now, but – I don’t. I’ve yet to receive any real feedback, other than that they were busy, various technical jargon stuff, and that they would get back to me; but they did like me apparently. So now, I’m still sitting here feeling a little anxious about whether this will go through or not, starting to feel like it won’t. Considering that I had an interview with them, they said they liked me, and they asked me to do a little extra after the interview, I would think they would get back to me to at least tell me yes or no – but today’s job market and hiring culture doesn’t seem to put much consideration to potential hires, so I won’t be surprised if I never hear back either. Towards the end of the month, I suddenly (partly due to Briana finding me jobs) managed to get a few projects on my plate and one of my old clients came back and has been keeping me busy. So coming into the new month, I should be kept busy which is good. Briana:
I am going to change it to work/productivity because I already sort of generally address not only the work we did, but also things that interfered with productivity and simply the other things we were doing with our time. I put myself second because I usually have more to say.
A little into the month one person told me they don’t need anything else from me until after the holidays which is a little unfortunate but fine (it’s not my only work but it was the easiest).
I also had this flashcard reviewer for a few of my sets that was so extremely annoying to the point that I plan to avoid sets on that subject until it becomes necessary to take them. To make the cards I am to use lessons as guides but she thought that the lessons were all wrong so my cards were wrong. She was very nit-picky about things like the location of emphasis in pronunciation guides (again I am just following the lesson and would assume this would actually vary depending on where you are from so it seems a little over-the-top to me). Additionally, the first time I created my cards in a certain manner (I had done it before- just the first time she reviewed such a set) she praised it as creative and the second time I did it she told me to delete all the cards and find a better way. I mean I understand that there would be some differences between different reviewers, but this was the same reviewer. I don’t get paid by the hour, only by the set, so when I have to spend a lot of time fixing the set, that really sort of eats into my wage. I feel like I really deal with a lack of consistent feedback in general, though. Between this and being busy with other things, I didn’t get a ton of sets done.
Other than that things have been pretty status quo. Even though I get low pay, what I enjoy about all of my work is that I am always learning new things. I feel like I am getting paid to learn random subjects which allows me to look at it with a more positive perspective. One of the interesting subjects I learned more about this month was economics. I mean I took AP macro in high school but that was the last, and probably only time I learned anything about this subject aside from now. Creating the flashcards I am able to learn and review a little bit too. If you didn’t guess from what I said above, I was mostly doing Spanish language flashcards but now I’m moving onto other subjects.
By the end of the month I had resumed looking for jobs and advertising for Kyle. He didn’t look or advertise at all for something like a month and was doing so sparingly before and wasn’t getting any new work so, of course, it became necessary that I take over for him again. He simply doesn’t have the motivation to do it though he suddenly started to look a little more himself as well when I started helping him again. I also did something I do every few months which is review his work and internet profile. I discovered that all of his reels, resume, etc. all display an email to which he no longer has access. I also advised him on a few other matters.
I would say I had as many as three full days which were basically useless due to me being immobilized by a headache and/or fatigue and sickness. Some of my headaches are very difficult to treat. In regards to the fatigue and nausea- I am usually just fine but I occasionally get hit with this extreme amount of both that I simply cannot do anything but lie down and it is truly a struggle just to get up to go to the bathroom or something along those lines. The next day I could be perfectly fine though so it is quite strange.
We have both been doing the blog but nowhere near as much as normal. I told Kyle I was no longer making the blog a priority some time ago but he wanted to develop it more. He hasn’t really been doing it, though. We are both still posting and will continue to post but we will probably continue to make less posts than we did previously. We are making posts which combine things which we normally would have separated into several different posts, though, such as the churches in Serbia post and the Paphos post. I doubt much else will actually change except that I plan to do some more general travel posts. I am using the blog as a way to learn a little more about social media, though. I have grown our twitter following to over 750 and am continuing to attempt to grow it more. I am also beginning to look into growing our Instagram following more as well. It’s currently around 170 followers. I am also learning to use Pinterest as a way to drive traffic to the blog. I occasionally advertise myself as willing to manage a company’s social media for an affordable price but haven’t gotten any takers yet. Perhaps when I have more to show for it.
Now, there were some other things taking up our time too and most of these were associated with the job for Kyle. One of these things was apartment hunting. They initially made it sound as if we would need to come over at the drop of the hat so we began looking at apartments, creating documents with price, location, features, availabilities etc., contacting some places and so on. Kyle was actually doing more of this but I spent some time checking things out as well. Well, eventually we didn’t hear back so after a while we just stopped.
The other big thing which was almost entirely me, was the making of plans. I looked at policies on changing flights, checked out flights back to the U.S. from Belgrade and Budapest, flights from other cities within a day’s train ride, and so on. Because we thought we’d be heading back to the US soon, I began planning a short trip up to Budapest since we really wanted to go and looking into Airbnbs for that time period. Obviously it was all unnecessary. Somewhat irrespective of the California plans I also made plans to other cities and did the regular activity outings planning.
Health and Fitness:
Everything is pretty standard. Bad posture while working continues to be a problem for us. We are still doing a lot of walking and mostly cooking at home. Berries were affordable in Belgrade which was nice. I do always seem to fill myself with less healthy sugar too, though!
Kyle continued reading TheIlliad and finished reading The Assassin’s Village. We didn’t really consume much media in general, though. We listened to one podcast episode by Extra Pack of Peanuts and one on Budapest by someone else. We tried the show Haters Back Off but couldn’t quite manage to finish the first episode. I thought it could have potential but it just seemed a bit too over-the-top for us. I also watched a couple episodes of a show called Good Witch on Netflix (I like it, Kyle thinks it’s boring) while I packed for Budapest. I also, of course, watched the new Gilmore Girls trailer a couple times. We intended to watch lots of Halloween movies but somehow it didn’t happen! I did also download several free books onto the Kindle and hope to read at least one this coming month. I tried to download more but suddenly Amazon knew we were in a different country and didn’t want me to download anymore. Our VPN expired recently and we don’t currently have plans to renew it since we don’t know what we’re doing with our lives after next month.
We will be spending all of November in Hungary. We are really excited to see the Christmas markets in Budapest. The first one begins November 11 and we have plans to get chimney cakes and mulled wine and stroll around and enjoy the holiday decorations. Hopefully we will get to see Jutid and Larry (family friends) sometime during the month. We also plan to explore the city more and possibly make a trip or two to areas just outside Budapest. We hope to know if Kyle has the job or not. We’ll see. We do kind of need to know so we can figure out what we’re doing with… the rest of our lives! We will be flying back back to the states (into Orlando) on December 1st, so just after the close of next month.
Our digital nomad/travel monthly roundup was a little easier to write this month due to us staying in one place. I left out the “distance traveled by” section because we have just been driving in a car (which has been nice) and haven’t recorded the number of miles we’ve driven. I also skipped the weird/interesting section. Aka, you might actually make it through this month! I know the past couple were particularly long. Anyway, watching seven sweet kitties, a nice house, and a beautiful garden in Cyprus is still going well. We are spoiled! The month as a whole was far more relaxed than last month. We spent the beginning of the month mostly just enjoying it all and working, and towards the end of the month we had some visitors (parents) and got out of the house and saw more of the sites in Cyprus.
Where We’ve Been this Month:
Normally I list the various cities/towns and countries but because we have stayed put in Dhoros, Kyle made this nice map showing you some of the place we visited within Cyprus this month.
1. General Situation. We mentioned aspects of our current situation in the highlights last month so we won’t make these separate points but we are just happy to be staying at a nice house in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains watching 7 cats and taking care of a beautiful garden by ourselves. We have a car, a big kitchen, a washing machine, and even a dishwasher! 2. Visitors. Kyle’s parents already had plans for a River Cruise in Europe during July so they decided to visit us after their cruise was over. They were here for 5 days (2 were partial). My dad had not had a vacation in a while (probably a few years) and also decided to take advantage of the opportunity of us being in one place for a while. He arrived a couple days after Kyle’s parents left. 3. Presents! Kyle’s parents brought us some (birthday/Christmas and more) presents both from their travels and back home. Kyle’s dad got a new iPhone and gave his other one (still fairly new) to Kyle! Kyle’s old phone was his dad’s last old phone (not an iPhone) and it was not doing so well but this new one works great. They brought me new clothes and shoes (really nice) and they brought chocolate and cheese from Switzerland and Germany for everyone to share. My mom also sent some things with them including Kyle’s bday present, a cute shirt for me, a bunch more film, random other things such as itch cream for bug bites (which has been useful) and some other things I had asked to be brought. My dad also brought some cute shoes from my grandma I could elaborate more and talk about individual things but I’ll just do one of them. 4. New Camera! Each present really deserved its own highlight (for example, you may know from a post last month that I really like clothes) but I am just going to separate one to leave room for other highlights. Kyle’s parents gave us a new DSLR, two lens, a tripod, lens cap attachments, and a device which allows us to upload photos via wifi. Get ready to see some higher quality photos! My other digital camera is a few years old and was having issues (pictures weren’t always recording, sometimes it did not want to turn on, battery life was diminishing, etc.) so this came at a great time. It will also allow me to experiment more and will help me if I decide to delve further into photography. 5. Getting Cards. As you may remember, all of Kyle’s cards (credit/debit) were stolen last month. Mine either expired or stopped working (because they sent out new ones with the chip) just before this time so we literally did not have any way to get or spend money except using the cash we already had on us for a while (the end of Sri Lanka, through Lebanon and up until Kyle’s parents brought them). Maybe this explains some of our frugality! The homeowners of the place we are staying did help us out, though. I transferred some money to them via Paypal and they gave it to me in cash. They also left a little extra “just in case” which we were to replace if we needed it. We ended up using some of it and replacing it. Anyway, it’s nice to have easier access to our money again. The cards were sent to our parents’ homes in Florida since we don’t really have a stable location/home. 6. Cute Villages. We love the villages here. We’ve made several trips/walks/drives to Lania and Monagri to walk around because they are very close, and made a couple visits to Koilani. We also just made it out to Pano Lefkara, a village with cobblestone roads which is famous for its lace and silver handicrafts. Each village is charming and unique in its own way and we will touch on each more in their own posts. We also enjoy walking around Dhoros. 7. Other Activities with Kyle’s Parents. Aside from the villages, we visited Kykkos Monastery, the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos, Kolossi Castle, Kourion Ruins, Kourion Beach, Larnaca Salt Lake, Hala Sultan Tekke (an old mosque), tried out a winery down the street, and visited the Church and tomb of Saint Lazarus. 8. Other Activities with my dad. In July we did a couple hikes, explored different ruins, and saw a little more of Limmasol (in addition to the villages). 9. Food in Koilani. One day when Kyle’s parents were here, we decided to get food in Koilani. We found one restaurant open and decided to give it a try. After asking for a menu and having difficulties ordering, we asked them to just bring us whatever they thought would be best (to accommodate 3 meat-eaters and a vegetarian). They brought out a village salad (typical on a Cyprus menu), pita with tzatziki, tahini, and one other sauce, grilled haloumi cheese, fries, and a meat platter. After we were stuffed and asked for a box, they surprised us with some ice cream. We returned there with my dad for ice cream and they gave us large helpings. 10. Little Things with the Cats We’re Watching. Esso and Titch both sat on my lap, Blanca finally let us pet her, etc.
Honestly, most of these are a bit more of a stretch for lowlights, but I just thought I’d still try to fill up this section if I could manage. 1. Water Issue 1. The water went out for a few days at the beginning of the month. We saw people outside the house digging up the road outside the house fixing some pipes. This meant that for a few days not only did we not have water, but we could not get out because the construction was blocking the driveway. It really wasn’t a big deal but with the right/wrong circumstances it could have been an issue. 2. Water Issue 2. One day I thought I heard something in the laundry room. I asked Kyle and he shrugged it off and made up some explanation. I ended up checking it anyway and noticed a drip/leak. The drip became heavier and heavier rather quickly. Though I did not yet know it, the pipe was designed to do this to warn us about water pressure. I followed the pipe and we tried turning each of the little levers/faucets/I don’t know what to call them. I looked at it and saw that the pipe continued outside into this shed and determined we needed to go in there. I asked Kyle to remove the bricks from the top and I got a flashlight and we began trying things out in there. Eventually, we found one which, when turned, stopped the drip. This whole thing was honestly pretty fun for me because I love problem-solving. Anyway, the problem with this solution was that it made it so we didn’t have water at all. I let the homeowners know about the situation and they guided Kyle through a solution via Skype (changing to a different the water pump). 3. Water Issue 3. Ever since changing to the other pump, the water has been a little more sporadic for us. Some days we have it, some days we don’t. Unfortunately for my dad, it has been out some of his time here. We usually have at least a small amount of water (not enough for a shower, laundry, or dishes) but enough to feed the cats and ourselves. It’s always a happy time when it comes back, though! 4. Implications of water issues. Dirty laundry, dishes, and people. We also worry about the plants. The water-drip system to the garden no longer works due to the lower amount of pressure (just means we water them ourselves, though this is difficult when the water is not working properly). 5. Bug bites. Certainly getting a little bit up by those no-see-ums. I also got stung by a thing which Kyle told me is a hornet but I’m not entirely sure. I have such a fear of that type of thing and I have to say, if that’s what it was, it wasn’t too bad! 6. My Knee. The hikes and walking are really getting to my knee. It recovers, though. 7. My Fingers. The door to our room requires a latch. Normally we keep it open, but while we’ve had visitors, we’ve kept it closed. This latch is very difficult for me to open. Thus, when I get up in the night to use the bathroom or get up in the morning and open it, it hurts my fingers to open. One morning I woke up and saw that my finger was covered in blood and I realized it was from opening the latch. Kyle has absolutely no issues opening it, he just presses on the door first but I guess he has more weight with which to do so. 8. Sun/heat. I’ve gotten a couple more little sunburns. I also sweat a lot. I mean, it’s summer so it’s fine. While we don’t have A/C (just one room), we do have fans and it does get a little cooler at night. 9. Nowhere to Develop. I have one roll that dates back to Bali which I haven’t gotten to develop yet and my mom just send me more film but there doesn’t appear to be anywhere on this side of the island where I can develop film. I even messaged several film photographers on the island but no one got back to me. Hopefully in our next location. 10. Ice cream is more expensive here. It was hard to think of a tenth!
First time hosting guests in a place of our own. So, it’s not technically our place, but we still got to try out the whole hosting thing! (Yes, we had complete approval from the homeowners). We probably haven’t been the best hosts due to having to work some of the time, but it has been kind of fun.
Kyle’s first month (at least in quite some time) making $0!! Not exactly a good one lol!
First iPhone for Kyle and DSLR for us
This month we spent….*drumroll*… $636.28! Nice, right? We didn’t purchase anything in advance for this month, nor did we purchase anything for future months, so the cost of the month is equal to the amount we spent. This month we did not have any visa fees and I will explain other categories below: Accommodation: In terms of accommodation, we were housesitting all month so no rent! Though, in a sense, we did pay a little rent. Our housesitting subscription expired this month and we decided it was worth renewing. That cost $99 and will last until July of next year. Food: We ourselves did not purchase any food out this month (only groceries). We did go out a few times with Kyle’s parents and had ice cream with my dad but they paid for these food outings. Both my dad and Kyle’s parents also purchased some groceries during their visits and Kyle’s parents brought us some sweets and cheese they had picked up (and made) in Germany and Switzerland. We spent $294.66 on groceries. Transportation: The other big item missing from this month is plane tickets! It was so nice to stay in one place for an entire month. Gas and (airport) parking were our only transportation expenses. We spent $54.54. Gas is rather expensive in Cyprus (particularly relevant to the gas prices in our most recent countries) and we drove around a bit, but the parents also helped out in this area. (Some of the time we payed but then Kyle’s parents payed us for it which I then credited it towards the directed areas- activities, gas, etc.) Activities/Entertainment: I normally put Netflix in “regular expenses” but this month I’ll throw it here again. Inconsistent, I know. It’s difficult to decide. Anyway, there was just that and the Choirokoitia Ruins. Our parents assisted with other activity costs in which they participated. Total: $13.58 Fees:$10.95 on ATM (only one visit) and transaction fees (2 uses of a card). Miscellaneous:$28.55 which included getting a large envelope (basically fifty cents) to forward mail to the homeowners of the place we are sitting, and $28 for our domain renewal for our blog for the next year. Standard:$135 for our storage for our things (which has gone up $10/month) and our work/regular expenses (Creative cloud, Google Drive, and Dropbox).
Kyle: My work this month has not been exactly as expected. Disappointingly, I have not made any money at all this month. That is not to say that I have not had any work, though. I am currently finishing up a medical animation for Wake Forest University that should pay out at the beginning of the month – but the time table for this job forced me to push back my current animation which I was expecting to finish. As well, a small graphic design job is wrapping up, but the client has been slow to respond. I expect to finish that up soon. I have also been interviewing with HSN in Florida, I at least made it through the first round of interviews, but seeing as it is an on-call position and I am not already in the area, the outlook for the prospect is not particularly high. Meanwhile, I have been on the continued hunt for a good, stable, remote job. Briana: Fortunately I made enough to cover our expenses this month. I had a deadline during the time Kyle’s parents were here which meant we were both up pretty late a couple times finishing up work. That particular client will not need anything else until the end of August and I avoided/am avoiding taking on any other work which will have a deadline during our time with visitors. At this moment, I am avoiding taking on any work in general until it’s just us again. Meanwhile, Kyle has a deadline coming up which he really needs to meet (can’t really control such things).
Then there is the job-search stuff. I usually advertise for Kyle every other day and find jobs for him everyday but this month I decided I would spend less time on him and more on myself. What I did do was send him lists I had created in the past of studios all over the world so he could check them out and apply if they were hiring. I only advertised for him once and only sent him 15 jobs (otherwise). I myself applied to nearly twenty jobs which I thought I might have a shot at but haven’t heard from any of them. It’s pretty annoying because many require cover letters, filling out forms, etc. only to not be given any sort of response. I also applied to 15 “gigs” and a number of other short-term freelance opportunities. I heard back from a couple people at firs,t but none of it really panned out. I advertised for myself 4 times and I cold-call-emailed a couple places to see if they’d be interested in some of my services but haven’t heard from them.
In terms of the blog I kept up social media (Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook), though Kyle has been posting on the Married with Maps Facebook now as well. I tried out IFFT and it’s pretty fun and useful (I think). We both continued to post, though perhaps just a tiny bit less. Kyle also created our logo. We had been discussing a design for a while but I am not as good at creating this type of thing as him so I had to wait for him to have time to make it. We also have been weighing the pros and cons of switching over from wordpress.com to wordpress.org.
Then there is also other non-income work. Every week I send the home-owners for whom we are sitting a report with details about their cats, house, garden, car, pool, etc. along with a photo of each cat and their mail. I created a website and social media for photography and Kyle created a logo for me (I made the initial design but he made it happen). I usually use Buffer for Married with Maps for twitter but decided to try out Hootsuite this time. I think I prefer Buffer. Previous to receiving my DSLR I also submitted a few film photos to film photo competitions I knew I probably wouldn’t win but thought I might get more active in these types of communities. I also have another idea for a business I want to create and began thinking about this more and did a little market research for demand. I may continue to do more but some things my dad said gave me an idea of another market I could potentially tap into but would need to probably wait until we are back in the US. I am still trying to figure exactly what I want to offer and how I would like to run things. I was hoping to get started on writing a book but it didn’t happen.
Health and Fitness:
I think we are doing better in this area this month due to staying in one place, having a kitchen, etc. We are certainly eating better than we were in Sri Lanka by far. As a whole, we are probably getting a little less activity because we don’t have to walk to do literally anything (eat, go to the store, go to an activity, etc.) like pretty much everywhere else, but walking around the villages, ruins, etc. has certainly provided us with some activity! It’s all just a little more intentional (but pleasant). We also went on our first hikes (both in 1 day) in a while at the end of the month: one in Koilani and one to Millomeris Falls.
At the beginning of the month, while we worked (at least when I did not require greater concentration) we alternated between NPR, Netflix, and travel/nomad podcasts. In Cyprus, we are limited to what shows are available on Netflix for Cyprus (the US has more options) because Netflix blocks the VPN. We cycled through a few shows to avoid binge-watching. I’m pretty sure we tried a movie or two as well but I haven’t been tracking this too closely. Unfortunately, we did not get much reading done. This next month I hope to read the book by the woman we are sitting for which I downloaded as well as maybe one or two more. We’ll see!
I experimented with a different way of writing the summary to give you a better idea of the month but then it turned out to be VERY long (not unlike last month’s summary) but if I think it was too long for the monthly roundup, than it was too long for the monthly roundup. I’m just going to let the rest of the roundup summarize June for us. Despite how long it remains, I am actually leaving out lots of interesting experiences because I would like the roundup to be just a little more readable. I am also going to link to our Liebster award here because that was fun and exciting for us!
Where We’ve Been this Month (Pic credit: Kyle)
3 days Ja-Ela, Sri Lanka
14 days Weligama, Sri Lanka
1 day Negambo, Sri Lanka
1 day transit/the Colombo Airport/Dubai Airport/Beirut Airport
3 days Bcharre, Lebanon
2 days Beirut, Lebanon
6 days Dhoros, Cyprus
Distance Traveled by:
Plane: 3503 miles Train: 193 miles Bus: 134 miles Motorbike: 225+ miles
1. Cyprus! We are now housesitting 7 cats in Cyprus! The house is lovely and so are the cats. So far we’ve gone to the beach, checked out Paphos a little bit, including their Archaeological Park, and explored our current town in the foothills of the Troodos mountains. 2. Yala Safari. We went on our first safari this month in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka. We saw elephants, water buffalo, a sloth bear, a sleeping leopard, and more. 3. Surfing. While he found it exhausting, Kyle had a fun time surfing in Weligama and did pretty well! 4. Exploring in Sri Lanka. We really enjoyed walking along the coast and up various little streets in Weligama. We also had fun exploring some of the south (such as Galle and Mirissa) by motorbike. 5. Exploring in Lebanon. In Bcharre we walked through the Cedars of God, explored the Qadisha Grotto, and wandered through the town. In Beirut we checked out Nijmeh Square and a little bit of the area in which our Airbnb was located (Achrafieh). 5. Privacy and Accommodation. In our place in Weligama we were somewhat separate (though in the same house) from the living space of the owners which was nice. In Negambo, Bcharre, and Beirut, we had the entire places to ourselves (and the place in Bcharre was nice.) Now we have a big beautiful house to ourselves in Cyprus. 6. Friendly Hosts. We really got to know our first Airbnb host (and his daughter) in Sri Lanka. We had discussions on topics such as politics, religion, film, and even freemasonry over local food and beer. Our second host was also welcoming and generous and our third was nice. Both of our hosts in Lebanon were also very generous with both of them offering us warm welcomes and food. 7. Carpet/rugs. In Bcharre, the living room had a carpet. Well actually, a huge soft rug. I know I judged Kyle before for complaining about dirty feet and it did not bother me at all for a while but after months of places in Asia which does not seem to know about carpet and is full of hard dirty floors, I was so happy to walk, sit and lay on the very soft carpet in Bcharre. There are also some nice rugs here in Cyprus. 8. Hot Water! We didn’t have it at all in Sri Lanka until our last place but have had it everywhere since! It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to get hot water reliably and it’s quite nice! 9. Food. We had some pretty good Indian food in Ja-Ela and Negambo and some delicious food in Lebanon. We finally got access to cheese in both of these places. We were able to cook with paneer while in Ja-Ela (though we didn’t have access to an equipped kitchen in Weligama- which was most of our time in Sri Lanka.) When we couldn’t find the restaurant we were looking for the first night in Lebanon, we went to the store and bought some yoghurt and hummus to have with the bread and cheese our host gave us and it was soo good, as was the meal we tried out the next day (fried cheese rolls and garlic yoghurt soaked fried eggplant.) And now in Cyprus we have a full equipped kitchen! First time on our travels. I am talking a full stove, oven, microwave, etc. Ovens are rare/pretty much non-existent in Asia so this is a pretty big deal. 10. Did I mention we are watching 7 kitties??
1. Getting pick-pocketed in Sri Lanka.Kyle had his wallet stolen out of his pocket on the train from Weligama to Colombo Fort. This was annoying in many ways. Because of the whole thing throwing time off, we had to take a tuk tuk which was more expensive and then our Airbnb host was not at the proper location to pick us up. Kyle also had to cancel his cards to things which were on autopay and we lost some cash. Luckily most of our cash was stored elsewhere. It must be commonplace there, though because on our original ride from Fort to Weligama, the only other foreign couple on the train (I think they were British) had all of their things (bags, wallet, phone, etc.) stolen. 2. Road Hazards in Sri Lanka. While out motorbiking one day, we/Kyle hit a pig. We escaped pretty much unscathed but it’s certainly still a lowlight. I cannot comment on the state of the pig, partly because I never actually saw it. The important thing is that we are fine. Anyway, though, while the roads themselves are actually in good condition in Sri Lanka, we found them to be the most hazardous between the drivers who drink, the drivers who think think they can drive on any side of the road and constantly switch between them- especially the big buses, and all of the stray animals and wildlife. I chose to not drive the motorbike myself and would rather not ride one there again, at least in the south- perhaps conditions are better in Kandy. We might not have used the bike at all had the alternatives for transportation (taxis/tuk tuks) not been considerably more for some of the distances we were traveling. I can’t deny that a motorbike is a fun way to see the beauty of the country and it was, but it was also stressful and perhaps it should not be done much in places like Sri Lanka. Though I must say I think anyone on the road there is not safe, no matter the type of vehicle. 3. My pains. Skip if you think talking about this is TMI because I go on a bit. Anyway, each of these could be a lowlight of their own but I will just throw them all together.
The worst pain was in my upper abdomen (above the belly button and to the left). Towards the end of Sri Lanka I started getting some pains in my upper back which interrupted my sleep. This area on my back was also extremely painful to touch for just a little while. I think I may have somehow injured it with the backpack. I am not sure. Then the pains started getting quite bad in the front/all the way around in the day (after like 2 nights). I especially noticed it when lying down and after eating. The pain was the worst on the plane ride to Dubai and then Beirut and also the bus ride to Bcharre and caused me to feel quite ill. It has slowly been subsiding. I think it was a very mild form of pancreatitis because symptoms match up best but sometimes I think it could be my kidneys. It is pretty much clearing up now, but still gives me a little pain either at times. I am trying to avoid sweets/alcohol/coffee in case it is the pancreas but am not very good at avoiding sweets. I have also gotten other abdominal pains but that is just normal for me.
The next pain is my gums. They have really only bothered me a few days but I do worry that one of my wisdom teeth may not be coming in correctly. There is one that has been coming up and is doing just fine and rarely gives me pain but it appears a new one is trying to come in and the gums in that area became little swollen for a couple days. There is plenty of space in that area and it hasn’t bothered me at all the last few days, though.
My knee. I have hit my knee several times. My knees have a tendency to hurt all on their own but I knocked one pretty hard into the bed trying to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and could not sit/squat/bend it for days and now I have hit my knee a few times on the table in Cyprus.
Head. I don’t get them as often as I used to but I had a few pretty bad headaches this month.
Now, back to my toes. While my right toe is now perfectly fine, I am now sometimes experiencing pain in my left big toe. It is nowhere near as bad as the pain in my right toe was for some time and even goes away entirely at times but can sometimes be a nuisance. 4. Sunburns, Allergies, Mosquitos and other bugs. We have enough lowlights than I can combine lots of them. We got light sunburns a few times this month (yes we used sunscreen) and I had allergies to varying degrees just about everywhere. I got over 100 mosquito bites at our place in Ja-Ela. That was not fun. Spiders and ants were both abundant in all but our last place in Sri Lanka. I would put up my leg to shave it in the shower, oh look there is a spider next to my foot. I would look up at the shower, oh look there is one on the shower head which is just above my head. Oh look there are five on that wall. Oh look there is one on the door handle to leave the bathroom. I am sure you get the point. It’s all fine. At least we had a mosquito net at our second place and also the spiders eat mosquitos. The most annoying thing was spending over an hour getting all the ants off and out of my lap top in Ja-Ela. I don’t know why they liked it but it was so annoying dealing with that and trying to figure out where to keep it. 5. Power and Internet. Neither of these are reliable in Sri Lanka. It made it harder to work, hotter, etc. One time my mom said she got worried because she didn’t see me on Facebook messenger for 16 hours. LOL. 6. Enduring the Heat/No A/C. It wasn’t such a big deal and we knew before we came but we didn’t have A/C during most of our stay in Sri Lanka. There were fans and they mostly sufficed. The other super annoying thing was that I had to wear pants in the Colombo area (Ja-Ela, at Fort, etc.) While every other tourist (of which there were few) I saw in that area was definitely wearing shorts/short skirts/rompers, etc. I tried once and got such terribly dirty looks from everyone that I felt I had to wear pants even in the heat. I actually was still not pleased with many of the looks I got when I dressed according to their standards but I think they were not as bad. I may write a ranting post about this later because I have some opinions on the matter. In Weligama I chose to wear shorter things some of the time and it did not seem to be such a problem. I think it was more acceptable because we were by the beach. 7. Various things about Sri Lanka. First of all, and I suppose this is my own fault, I stupidly thought the country was a little more developed/modern. When I say “developed” I am referring to how we tend to think about the word as westerners. Anyway, it was, by our standards, the least developed country we have been to so far (including Indonesia). Additionally, while our hosts were hospitable and nice and we met some other kind strangers, Sri Lanka is most certainly where people made us feel most uncomfortable. Pretty much the second we arrived I was ready to hop on a plane somewhere else. I tried to convince Kyle that we should just get a new flight to Eastern Europe and skip the rest of Sri Lanka and Lebanon but he reminded me that not only did we have flights purchased but our next flight was Emirates. Dang it. It really made me wish that we hadn’t gotten all of our tickets in advance but it was necessary because of the housesit. The last thing we didn’t like (aside from other things mentioned- like the way people drove and the bugs) was most of the food in the south. The one good thing about the Colombo area was that it had some good Indian food. We can’t say the same of the south (or at least we didn’t find it). The food was fine, if you were in the mood for it. We were rarely in the mood for it. It also did not seem very varied. Honestly, even their watermelon was somehow not very good! I thought the roti and the daal were decent but not memorable. Because we did not have a full kitchen, this meant for food we would have our breakfast (I could write a bit about this but won’t, at least here), wait as long as we could but before it got dark and go to a more western place (meaning it had other options- like pasta, pizza, etc.), eat a meal there, and then snack the rest of the night on chocolate bars, fruit, and peanut butter. The western places were a bit more expensive so we could only have one meal at them per day. We could have just sucked it up and eaten Sri Lankan food which was very cheap but we just weren’t that fond of it. As much as it sounds like it Sri Lanka was not all bad. In the end we did have some great experiences there (see some of the highlights). I also might have enjoyed it more had I been more prepared and had we gone at a time I felt like going to the country. Also, probably if we had more money to spend there. 8. Activity Planning and Stress. Calling Kyle out a little. I made 3 economically similar-in-terms-of- flights-routes from Bangkok To Cyprus (necessary because of our housesit). I was happy with 2 of them. I had anxiety about one of the plans- I was concerned about the internet in Indonesia and Sri Lanka (for work) among a few other things, I was fearful about the idea of going to Lebanon- but it was the plan Kyle wanted. We both threw fits about getting our plans but he did a better job. Or perhaps he is just immune to mine. He said he would plan the activities for every location after this point (we were in Bangkok). I was rather tired of doing all the activity planning for us at this point. I mean, I like it, but I had been doing it for about 6 months at this time and it really takes away from my time for, you know, actually doing work. I very much wanted to take a break so while I did not want to do that plan, I agreed.
Now, once we began on his route I found that at times, Kyle’s idea of activity planning can be searching the name of the city, seeing the first couple things that pop up and then wandering around and hoping both that he/we eventually stumble upon these things and that they happen to be open at whatever time we arrive. And here is a spoiler: sometimes we never even find the activities he plans (though we may end up seeing something we wouldn’t have otherwise which is nice) and other times he chooses to go somewhere on the only day an activity is closed and it is a long walk there! Of course this meant I did not get my route, had to move often, and in the end still had to have a large hand in most of the activity-planning, aside from finding him jobs which leaves very little time for myself!! I will give him credit for his successful days of planning, including our Temple route in Bangkok and some activities in Yogyakarta. He did contribute some, but not in the way he originally agreed. Needless to say, I will not be taking any more of his bargains and I intend to make all of the travel decisions for the rest of the year (with Kyle’s approval). It is not that things did not work out fine, it is that I had to deal with more anxiety/stress and work than I would have preferred. 9. Airbnbs Canceling on Us. First an Airbnb in Beirut cancelled on us. Then our Airbnb in Bcharre was removed from the website. I told Kyle, this is a sign! We are not meant to go! And started showing him the most affordable alternatives. Instead, he thought it would be best to book 2 new ones. Well one of these almost had to cancel on us too! It all worked out but I have to say it was stressful because I did not want to get stuck having to find a random hotel there considering both safety issues and the fact that Lebanon was the most expensive country we had visited at this point (Cyprus is probably comparable). 10. People taking our window seats! On our flight from Dubai to Beirut we noticed that as we walked down the isles there were a number of arguments going on related to people taking seats. Well, when we arrived to our seats, there was a woman sitting in Kyle’s window seat. Then, on our flight from Beirut to Larnaca, there was a man in mine. I tried talking loudly about how angry I was that he was in my seat but it did no good. I made Kyle sit by him. It would have been a very nice scenic view had I had my proper seat. Honorable mentions: stepping on cow poop, losing hairbands, mold covering all of our bags in Weligama, the Colombo place smelled a little bit like paint, the bus to did not bring us to our Airbnb, I was feeling sick when arrived in Cyprus, and more.
I won’t elaborate on most of them, but here are some of the random things we encountered/experienced this month. 1. A Surprise. Someone accidentally shoveled concrete into the bathroom window while I was peeing. 2. Just don’t offer it, then. A man on the train to Weligama repeatedly offered me his seat on the train only to stand and constantly sigh and act tired until I offered it back to him. 3. Engagement. Our host in Weligama told Kyle one night that he would be getting engaged the next day. The next day some of his family came over. When we asked where his fiance was he said she would be down from somewhere in a few months. We couldn’t find much information on the internet about how the whole thing works. They offered us some cake. 4. Doorbells. At our place in Bcharre, there were buttons for the doorbell just about everywhere. I got a little irritated a couple times because Kyle enjoys pressing every button and trying every switch he sees and here a lot of things made the doorbell ring. I have strayed away from such behavior ever since I got shocked in Hanoi looking for the wifi router. I, myself did accidentally pressed a doorbell button a couple times, though (one was near the bathroom light switch and appeared as though it could have been the light switch.) 5. Maybe all that time in Asia rubbed off on us? Someone in Lebanon asked if we were from Japan. When we said no, they asked if we were from the UK. Closer. 6. A Trend. At first we thought this was a random occurrence, but now we have noticed it a few times. At at least a couple of the airports we’ve been to we have seen large groups of Chinese people doing last minute packing. It usually looks as though they did just a little too much last-minute shopping and are trying to do some re-arranging. In Sri Lanka they pretty much covered the floor area around us with their suitcases. It was really more entertaining than bothersome. 7. Men Wearing Skirts Sarongs. Somewhat interesting as a westerner. Many of the men in Sri Lanka (and we also noticed this rather often in Indonesia- particularly on Java) seem to wear sarongs as casual clothing. 8. Cows. Everywhere. I mean, that’s pretty much all there is to it. We saw cows everywhere in Sri Lanka. At the beach, near the houses, and just wandering the streets. 9. Cats Eating Things. Our first Airbnb host in Sri Lanka seemed devastated when Kyle told him his cat brought in and ate a squirrel (I told him he shouldn’t have told him!). Kyle has also seen one of the cats in Cyprus bring in a bird (which upset him- I didn’t see it happen) and a dragonfly. Did you know that cats are actually responsible for the extinction of multiple species and sometimes catch endangered creatures? I will just note that it is really one reason (among many) to keep cats indoors, or at least get them fixed so they do not produce more kitties which depend on food outside. Now, it is healthy for them to have meat but you can also feed it to them.
Now, keeping a cat indoors is not always very reasonable or possible and we acknowledge this as well. The cats at our current place originate as feral cats, the house has a more open style, and there are seven of them. The house in Sri Lanka was also pretty open and it was necessary to keep doors and windows open to let in a breeze. It is good and helpful that these kitties are being offered food and shelter and probably do less hunting because of it. All of these cats (and the one in Sri Lanka) are also fixed which helps keep down the feral population. They also probably get more exercise than the average house cat and may help prevent snakes from getting in (though I do worry about the kitties getting hurt too!) 10. American Politics. People are talking about it everywhere. You will actually find some interesting variation in preference among international people because they don’t feel the need to stick to a party. For example, our host in Ja-Ela loves Reagan, Bush Sr, and Hillary Clinton, hates Bush Jr., and doesn’t like Trump. Our host in Beirut said he thought Trump was funny. I won’t write more in case we decide to do a post on this topic.
First time getting pickpocketed
First time filing police report
Our first time in a country US department advises against
First motorbike accident/First time hitting a pig
First time with no A/C since traveling
Kyle’s first time in Europe
Kyle’s first time in the Mediterranean
First time negotiating a lower Airbnb price
It was yet another slightly more costly month (or is this just standard now?) at $1944.41. It’s really because all of the constant moving, though. Take away our transportation costs and the total would have been $1281. (Also note: we actually did pay for the plane tickets and most of the Airbnb costs a previous month so that second number is actually a little closer to describing what we actually spent this month). Anyway, when we were in Korea we were actually able to get by on about $850/month which was nice and only about $50 of that was spent on transportation per month. The benefits of both house-sitting and staying in one place (as well as staying in cheap places- look at our roundups from Vietnam/Malaysia) certainly have their benefits. Accommodation: This was a somewhat interesting month for accommodation. We had our most expensive nightly stay and our cheapest (tied with one or two others). We spent one night at the airport/airports so we didn’t book anything that day/night and also spent the last week of the month housesitting. All costs listed include the added Airbnb fees. We started off the month in the place we ended it in May- Ja-Ela (2 nights at $20/night), then moved to Weligama (14 nights at $10.92/night- it was $10 before fees), headed back up to the Colombo area where we had found a nice place to ourselves for $15 for the night, stayed at the airport the next day (free), made it to Bcharre ($37 a night for 3 nights), then to Beirut ($27/night for 2 nights) and finally, spent the last week of June in Cyprus (free).
Now, when we initially looked at Lebanon, I thought it was on the expensive side and it was (for us), but we did find a place in Bcharre for $20/night and a place in Beirut for somewhere around $23/night. It was more than we usually pay but it would be for a short time and we would be housesitting for the last week which would help balance costs. Because they both cancelled (see lowlights) I was thinking it seemed a bit financially (aside from the other reasons) unreasonable for us to go there because at this point we had trouble finding anything below $50/night. I had recently been talking about the idea of negotiating with Airbnbs for prices in the future and Kyle decided this was a good time. He managed to make a compromise with one of our hosts. I have to say, while we couldn’t have afforded it, once we arrived we decided it was definitely worth it’s original price, if not more. Anyway, so the total amount we spent on accommodation for the month was $374. It definitely helped that our place in Weligama was affordable (which was one of many factors which led us there) and that we spent 1 week of the month house-sitting. Food: We spent a total of $411 on food this month. That is exactly the same as last month. We were not able too cook for about half the month and also had a couple more expensive meals out but were also provided with some food for free: breakfast in Ja-Ela and Weligama, various foods in Lebanon, and a few meals in Cyprus. Transportation: We spent $663 on transportation for the month (also nearly exactly the same as last month) which was made up of $331 ($165/person) for the flight from Colombo to Beirut (with a layover in Dubai), $167 for the flight from Beirut to Larnaca, $110 on taxis and tuk tuks, $6.41 on 3 train rides for 2, $12.30 on a couple days of renting a motorbike, $18.60 on bus rides, and $17.84 on gas. While we won’t have any flights, taxis, etc. during our time in Cyprus, we will still have to be careful because gas here is expensive. Activity: A large percentage of our activity total comes from our safari. It was a big activity which we discussed a great deal before deciding yes. I will discuss more reasons for our choice once I/we write about the safari but we think it was worth it. Other activities we did this month (which cost money) included renting a surf board in Sri Lanka, visiting the Cedars of God, going to the Kadisha Grotto, and visiting the Archaeological Park in Paphos. The total cost was $101.46
Miscellaneous: This was a pretty big section this month. We lost money when Kyle was pickpocketed, spent some money on gifts (Father’s Day, parent’s bdays, etc.- though used a little bit of a gift card which I’m not counting), bought more postcard credits, bought a new pair of sunglasses (mine flew away- the replacement was about $6), needed more ibuprofen, paid for new paint for the motorbike we rented which got a little scratched (also something like $6), had a small fee for storage for our packs in the train station when we were walking around in Colombo, were charged a fee for the re-issuing one of Kyle’s stolen cards, etc. The total was $217.84. Regular Expenses:$171 for Kyle’s car insurance, Creative Cloud subscription, Google Drive Storage, Netflix, Storage back home, etc. Fees:$6.11 for ATM fees (we only used the ATM once) and transaction fees for the cards.
Kyle: My work this month has not gone as well as I’d hoped. It was actually my worst month ever for income. My large animation project has dragged on a bit longer than intended (though I am happy to say it is nearing completion and should be delivered this upcoming month) and thus no payment from that client. I did manage to complete two projects: a band logo and a t-shirt design. Unfortunately, that is all that I got paid for this month. Other clients have been an issue. One did not like the design I provided and has requested a redraw which has left me at a creative dead-end, but thankfully is not time sensitive. One client has been dragging me along, asking for redesign, after redesign but providing no feedback aside from providing me the Oprah logo and saying they like that – 7 designs in and I’ve told them they need to provide actual feedback before I do anything more for them. Another client has gotten busy themselves and has kept me in limbo for nearly a month after I provided them an initial animation that they didn’t quite like – I’ve sent in storyboards for a new idea but have yet to receive feedback on that. One potential client that did not work out, brought me through an extensive interview process, and then asked that I “audition” by creating a 15 second lip-synch animation and create a character from scratch – I politely declined as the “audition” would have required over 40 hours of work, been unpaid, and still not guaranteed the job that did not pay a large amount to begin with. And a final potential client has brought me through a long interview process, but has not yet gotten back to me after an initial design consult. So this month has for me, been a lot of work that has resulted in pretty much nothing – quite aggravating to say the least. Briana: Thankfully, my own work/projects went alright this month (but always could have been much better) but I think it’s also worth mentioning that Kyle took a break from work for a week and a half and I only semi- took part in this break. Kyle planned for a “vacation” in Lebanon because our time there would be limited (and we thought we wouldn’t have internet), but between our time prior being so busy and then not really being able to work the first few days in Cyprus, this got extended. He also really needs a full set up to work for his drawing pad, laptop, etc. whereas I just need my lap and wifi (and not even always) so I can work more easily at places like the airport (which I did for 10 hrs). Kyle also contributed a lot more to the blog, putting up all of his own posts. Also, it was very hard to work this month between the power outages, dealing with various problems (like the wallet), being consumed with the Orlando tragedy (where we went to college), etc. I did try to relax a little as well in Lebanon, if you can call it that (and really out of necessity from exhaustion) but still did work.
Health and Fitness
I mentioned my various pains in the lowlights so I’ll just mention nutrition and activity. Nutrition: Particularly in Weligama, we did not eat the best. We did have a fair bit of tea and fruit, but by the end I was almost getting tired of sugar. Yes, me! I almost have to wonder if the poor diet is at all responsible for some of my abdominal pains. We could get small chocolate bars for about $0.20 and regular-sized ones for about $0.68 so we tended to stock up on those as meal supplements (along with fruit). The meals we did have out were fairly decent but not as well-rounded as when we cook for ourselves. I often found myself getting meals like the toast and fries which doesn’t provide a whole lot of nutritional value. We finally got dairy in Lebanon and took our fair share of it in the form of yoghurt and cheese. We are not sure if the yoghurt in Lebanon was really delicious or if we were just in dire need of some of the nutrients in it but we could not stop eating it! Now that we are in Cyprus and have a full kitchen and place to ourselves we’re able to eat a more rounded diet. Activity: We did get quite a bit of activity! We did a lot of walking/hiking carrying all of our stuff (2 large backpacks, 2 medium packs/bags, a ukulele, sometimes food bags, etc.) and even more without it. We walked a couple miles (there and back) to get food and look at the coast (the restaurants were pretty much on the beach) pretty much every day in Weligama in addition to all the walking we did exploring the town (and others). We walked/hiked over 20km (total) during our few days in Bcharre and also did a fair bit of walking in Beirut. So far we’ve only done a little bit of walking/exploring in Cyprus but we plan to do more.
Tv shows/movies/podcasts: Because the internet is limited in Sri Lanka (I’ll elaborate on this in a later post) and because we were busy outdoors during most of our time in Lebanon (and the internet was also not perfectly reliable), we were not really able to watch any shows. We did watch two episodes of the John Oliver show (Kyle particularly wanted to and at least 1 of these occasions was in Cyprus) and listened to 1 podcast episode. Books: We both read Sandstorm in my Heart (a fairly short read) by Faith Mortimer on the Kindle. We are housesitting for her so we had to try out one of her books! We started with the free one but may try out some more books of her’s as well. She writes in a few genres including mystery, psychological thriller, and romance. In addition to this, Kyle finished up The Time Machine and I finished The Secret Garden (both on the Kindle). I also just got started on another book.
May was a long month. I had to look at my calendar to see where it began. May 1st we were in Kuala Lumpur. We have now been to Kuala Lumpur 3 times! Who would have thought? We have noticed some similarities with our both of our stays there: 1) Hosts with interesting backgrounds: the first was a Protestant Malaysian of Chinese descent living with his mother and working in insurance sales, and the second was a Catholic Pakistani man of Indian decent who was living with his wife (who was away at the time) and working in banking. 2) Both of our hosts wanted to drink beer with us. 3) Both of our hosts tried to convince us to move to the area and did a pretty good job at it.
Onto to Yogyakarta. In the time after KL, I generally found myself covered in bug bites, bruises, blisters, dirt, and sweat. I usually felt a bit gross. It’s funny how things work because after we visited Kuala Lumpur the first time, all we wanted was to be out in nature and away from the cities. And where did we go? Ho Chi Minh, a city of over 8 million people. Eventually, Cat Ba island and Siem Reap got us away from the huge cities for a little bit. This time in KL (though I am not sure if Kyle felt the same), I just wanted to stay there and be in a modern developed area. Would I appreciate a visit to the countryside? Sure, but I would have been content just staying in KL with our beautiful city skyline and malls galore. And it’s not like the area is expensive. So, of course, this is when we make our venture to the most rural area we have been, and also the least developed. Truly, I can’t really complain because everything has been an amazing experience, but when we initially got to Yogyakarta, I just took a deep breath and nodded to myself because I thought “this place is not for me.” It has turned out to be Kyle’s favorite place so far and it did grow on me quite a bit as well. When we first drove through the actual city part I had not realized all of the graffiti was due partly to the city being the art/culture capital of the island. Plenty of it is not very artistic though… Anyway, we spent time in the countryside and the city which offered very different experiences. They both have their own charm and I actually do very much recommend the area in general. We both would have liked to enjoy the area without working at all. Bali was Bali. It would have been nice to stay longer. If we go back, we’ll stay in a different area, though because the island is quite large. And, now we’re in Sri Lanka.
Likely due to many of the lowlights of the month, after our 13 hour layover in KL I started to fantasize a little bit about living there. Previous to our long layover, I was not so fond of the airport because they make us go through security like five times but now I think about staying there a little bit- it would not be so bad! I have always loved airports and the KL airport is clean, has internet (it’s limited but then you can go buy food in the lounge area of the hotel and get more), you can just live as you please/not answer to anyone, there are tables to work on, places to charge things, it’s easy to get work done, there is food, water, plenty of coffee options, etc. The benches are not so much more uncomfortable than many Asian beds and they are dry and feel clean. Already we have found most beds a little too short for us, so again, no problem there. There is a hotel inside and the price isn’t too bad so if we wanted to stay there every few nights, one night every 3 days would be less than 3 nights in the places we have been staying. If we wanted to go out, we could store our luggage. We could go down to Malacca or up to KL. Kyle does not desire this because he is quite content already as he is just a happy go lucky person. His always-positive attitude while sometimes helpful, can also be excruciating at times simply because he has no understanding of my troubles. I know I may sound dramatic but I feel like I have essentially been out camping with strangers for the past month which is not exactly my thing. I also do not like changing locations every week. It’s just too often.
I also have a new place I want to go. I have heard a lot about the country of Singapore. In most of SE Asia people talk quite badly about Singapore because it’s expensive and they have so many rules. Our current host told us they call it “Fine country” (meaning you get fined for everything.) They also have lots of surveillance. So, Singapore: modern, clean, lots of rules which are actually enforced, no bribing to get out of things, lots of surveillance to catch criminals, women are treated well (our Sri Lankan host said that women are queens there and if you so much as brush by a woman there you can get caned- thus he felt comfortable sending his daughter there), people are unfriendly as they are all stressed out from working so much. That sounds like a place for me!! I am going to have to start looking for jobs for us in Singapore! We haven’t made it there yet because it is too expensive for our current income/budget.
Where We’ve Been this Month:
6 days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (plus a 13 hour layover)
7 days near Borobudur in the countryside of the Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia
7 days in the city of Yogyakarta, Indonesia
7 days in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
5 days in Ja-Ela, Sri Lanka
Distance traveled by air: 4012 miles
1. Rain. We experienced a few glorious thunderstorms in Kuala Lumpur, and many refreshing and beautiful showers in Yogyakarta. 2. Animals. We had dinner with a friendly cat in Yogyakarta, met the most playful dog in the mountains in Java, had a dalmatian come up to us on the beach and start licking us in Bali, and our host in Ja-Ela had both a sweet cat named Jello who purred for us and enjoyed our company, and a nice dog named Benji. There were a number of other neighborhood dogs as well. Unfortunately, we also came upon a terribly depressed dog in Bali. We bought it food one day which made the tail go from down and between the legs to just down. It wasn’t there on our last day. We hope it’s okay. 3. Souvenirs. We actually got a couple souvenirs in May! When we went to learn about Batik, we bought a couple as well. The nice thing about batik is that it can be rolled which allows us to fit them in our backpacks. In Sri Lanka we picked up a shawl/scarf/table thing/whatever we envision for it at a market. I chose a dark green one so we can always use it but it can also look Christmas-y. These were our first souvenirs besides a picture of a cat we picked up in Hanoi and a couple little things we mailed home from Korea. We just usually don’t have the room or the funds for the items which appear most interesting to us. 4. Borobudur.We visited the largest Buddhist temple in the world! 5. Motorbikes. Both on Java and Bali we were able to zoom around on one of our favorite methods on transportation. 6. Menoreh Hill. We didn’t intend to climb Menoreh Hill but we were quite pleased with the accidental change of plans anyway. We had a fun time wandering through the forest and exploring, and the view from the top was spectacular. 7. Food. This month we had access to vegetarian food and a kitchen everywhere and had hosts that were happy to let us use their kitchens how we pleased. Our host in Sri Lanka even brought us a yummy local vegetarian dish to try. 8. The Beach! We had only spent about an hour at the beach prior to Indonesia since we have been abroad! (Back in Cat Ba, but it was a little chilly.) Thus, we made a couple beach outings in Bali and on both occasions spent a few hours and watched the sunset. 9. Getting Film Developed. Always a highlight for me. 10. The Elusive Mangosteen. Kyle has been talking about mangosteen since Saigon, maybe prior. He/we have been on the hunt for it, but we never quite managed to find it (likely due to the season) until we arrived in Yogyakarta. We have since found it in Bali and Sri Lanka as well. Part of it’s a little hard to eat but it’s quite delicious. Honorable mentions: I FINALLY FIGURED OUT SNAPCHAT FILTERS (if you want to add me my name on there is brianaarachel.) It couldn’t get it to work for me for the longest time. My sister told me how to do it and didn’t know why it didn’t work but I just had to re-download snapchat. Now I can be a dog, cat, a koala, whatever. Also, Taman Sari/the water castle and the underground mosque were pretty neat. Also, for the first time, we had Airbnbs (3) which provided us with breakfast!
1. No places to ourselves. To put it lightly, I am not terribly fond of living with people. I would not mind living in a house full of cats/pets but people stress me out. I cannot tell you how nice it was for me last month having studios in Bangkok. Even in Siem Reap we sort of felt like we had the place to ourselves. Having a place to myself is related to my stress levels and is also positively correlated with my happiness and productivity, or at least the potential for it. Interestingly, I tend to prefer to live with lots of people- like 10-15 as opposed to 1 or 2 (as long as I have my own bedroom and bathroom.) That is just a personal preference and probably one that is less common. I am also a person who prefers large parties to small gatherings. Kyle is the opposite which is probably a more normal preference. Thus, it was best in our first place in Yogyakarta when there were lots of other guests there. When there were more people, the attention of the hosts was not solely on us and we had a greater variety of people to choose from to socialize with and an easier time telling them that we are too busy to talk when we need to work when that was the case. When there were not other people there, the hosts (and there were somehow like five of them) wanted to chat us up constantly. Often they were trying to sell us something while being discrete about it. 2. Smelly shoes. My moccasins, which are the most comfortable shoes for my feet, have walked through a number of enormous puddles and also have been soaked at night on multiple occasions (you generally must leave your shoes outside in Asia.) The wetness lasts a few days each time and the shoes are left quite smelly. It fades slightly until the next time but can get quite bad. 3. My Feet. I have always had problems with my feet but lately it has mostly just been from shoes. The flip flops we picked up in Cambodia for $3 have on multiple occasions given me huge blisters between my toes, and scabs and blisters on my actual feet where the straps go down. It’s not a problem with the flip flops really- my feet must adjust every time I go back to wearing flip flops or break in new shoes, but breaking them in is a problem because we pretty much only ever walk long distances so I can’t try them out on short outings. It is rare that we go out for a walk somewhere that ends up being under 2 miles. In addition to my flip flops, my black flats are now giving me problems as well. They didn’t bother me at all in Korea (maybe because I sometimes wore them with socks?) but they are suddenly giving me quite a bit of pain on the back of my foot (and also blood.) My toe does still hurt on and off as well. 4. BUGS. *sigh* I thought I was doing pretty good in KL the first time we were there as I was pretty chill about ants always crawling on me, navigating all the daddy long legs in the bathroom, etc (note: there were absolutely no bugs at our second place in KL, though) but jeez, KL had nothing on Yogya. Mosquitos, bees, flies, many types of spiders, ants, roaches, etc. everywhere, all around our first place. In our second place it was mostly just ants and spiders but boy, were there a lot of both. I did okay with it because sometimes Kyle brushed something off me and I would say “What was that?” “A spider.” “Whatever!” Yep.
I am actually a person who finds bugs quite fascinating. I really like to look at them, especially spiders and beetles and dragonflies, up close. I just prefer that they not be on me. I always felt like there was something crawling on me and there pretty much always was something crawling on me. In Sri Lanka, while there were not bees flying through the house, man did I get bit up by mosquitos! I’ve probably gotten over 100 here. I find so many like four inch sections of my body where i’ll find over 10 so yeah, I’m thinking that’s right. Maybe a little less. I am always slapping myself too because I find them on me. Flies bother us a little while we work and like other area, we often find ants on us but it’s okay. The cricket hopping on the bed? Okay. What I do not like so much is when I reach for my toilet paper and there is an enormous spider on it and it’s right next to me!! And then I reach for the toilet paper another time and there is a spider right under it! That is scary! Also, the bugs were so big in Indonesia! We saw enormous bees and spiders larger than our hands. Constantly, I was running around the house with bees chasing me. In general, I think it is okay that there are bugs because these are places that are just very open. You generally won’t find these sort of house designs in the US but I think they are nice and it’s nice to experience these different things/places. I also don’t like bug sprays/deterrents because of all the chemicals which are bad for both humans and can also kill animals if they ingest them. So, the bugs are fine, but I am still going to count them as a lowlight. 6. No sink in Yogyakarta. (At our first place.) This turned out to be not as much of a problem as I anticipated. I did not know there was no sink until we arrived. I did not think this was a question I would need to ask a host. It mostly bothered me because it was something on top of other things which I did not anticipate, but in the end spitting toothpaste onto the bathroom floor and bending down and washing my hands with a little faucet was not too big a deal. 7. Sound/sleep. Our first place in Yogya was also just loud all the time. The roosters there don’t just crow in the morning, they crow incessantly through the night. One rooster: cock-a-doodle-dooo! Another rooster: cock-a-doodle-dooo! The first rooster again: Cock-a-doodle-dooo! And so on. All night. The goats were not as loud but sometimes added some noise on top. There were also these bugs that made this high pitched electrical sound for long periods of time. Add on the occasional mosquito buzzing in your ear, ants crawling on you when you already feel dirty due to only cold water, and it makes it pretty hard to sleep. The whole mess gave me quite a few headaches. In the day, added sounds include bees buzzing around (as I said, including in the house), and the call to prayer which seems to last the whole day (really it just goes on for hours at a time, multiple times a day.) I didn’t mind the call to prayer, though. Despite the lowlights, the place was also quite nice in many ways. I loved stepping outside on the porch, enjoying my morning coffee and watching the shower on the countryside, the chickens hiding in the gazebo, a person taking in their laundry because of the rain, etc. I mean the place is an experience. I would still recommend it but just know what you are getting into, you know? I did not really know. 8. Wood Lacquer Smell. Our second room in Yogya, though beautiful and spacious, smelled very strongly of wood lacquer. I am somewhat sensitive to smell and get headaches easily so this wasn’t great. 9. Bali Review. So far we have only had positive reviews on Airbnb but our host in Bali left us a review basically saying we are too busy working and don’t talk with them enough. The review was still positive as they said had no problems with us but still, I am angry that she wrote this for a review. I state in my profile that we will be working and prefer to keep to ourselves but she is mad because it’s true? Kyle spent at least a couple hours every single day talking to them!! That is not enough?? I did not know we had this responsibility as guests. We have to work to be able to stay here!Meanwhile, another couple there took the key with them back to the US (specifically Minnesota), making it so they could no longer rent out that room but they give them a super positive review. And honestly that couple was pissing me off too. Every time the guy saw us, he said “Having a good day?” or something along those lines. But it was not a sincere or friendly question, it was like, patronizing. My day was fine until I saw you two. Also, the host was an Indonesian woman in her 30s and is married to a rich elderly Australian man (who has quite the beer belly) if you get my drift. I would not have mentioned this if she had only said pleasant things. Anyway, I think that couple and the Minnesotan couple get along because they are both so fake (on that note, the Minnesotan woman, who was actually from Taiwan, was also quite fake physically as well if you know what I mean.) I think we did learn a little bit more about Australians though as it was mostly the husband whom chatted with Kyle. 9. Internet. We had some issues everywhere but the biggest problem was in Bali, even though we were assured we would have fibre optic internet at 25mbps which would be able to stream video as well. Instead, we often didn’t have internet at all. We were rather surprised at how good the internet was in Yogyakarta, out in the countryside. Once we were in the city in Yogyakarta, it sometimes slowed a bit, but was fine. In general, almost everywhere we go, we find the internet slows down considerably at night. We haven’t actually faced too many issues as a result except that it really slows down everything we do/makes us far less efficient. Sometimes I have to start the same upload like 10 different times because the internet cuts out and something that might take like a 30 seconds in Korea will take like 8 hrs somewhere else. 10. Lack of hot water. KL: hot water Yogya 1: maybe one time for me? I think Kyle got it hot for himself a couple times Yogya 2: Same deal. Bali: Same. At this point Kyle didn’t believe that it only comes out hot for him but cold for me but he went to test it found it to be true. Sri Lanka: only cold but at least I expected it this time. Additional:A lowlight I forgot to mention last month was that after one of our very long bike rides in Siem Reap I thought I was going to die. The second we got off the bikes my throat suddenly just started squeezing and it kept doing this a while I don’t remember the rest because it’s so long ago now. It went away eventually and I think we determined that it was probably angina or something along those lines. It was just too much work riding so much in that over 100 degree Fahrenheit weather. I told him I am not as fit as him but he refuses to believe it.
1.Pictures. So many people wanted their photos taken with us in Indonesia! Our host in Yogya told us that students who go to Borobudur like to get their photo with foreigners if they can find them and then they post it on social media and pretend that they have new foreign friends. We also had students interview us on multiple occasions (I also had this happen to me in Korea.) This occurred all around Yogyakarta. We thought it was over after that but then people wanted their photos taken with us in Bali as well. My assumption is that they were other tourists (perhaps coming from other parts of Indonesia) because I would think people in Bali see foreigners all the time. In Yogyakarta we rarely saw another foreigner. Except in KL and Bali, we have seen very few white people this month. One group of Indonesian students who interviewed Kyle in Yogya were very nervous. They said they had never met a foreigner before and when one of them found out he was an animator, he just gasped and tried to talk but couldn’t because he was so excited. 2. Couples in Yogya. We met a couple other couples (or so we thought) at our first place in Yogya. One was a couple that was allegedly honeymooning! If you read some of the above, you might see why I think that would not be the most ideal spot, though if you don’t mind a sort of camping-like atmosphere then I think it could be nice. I forget where they came from but I think they were either French or Dutch. Then there was a man and a woman who we thought were our age and appeared as a couple. We talked to them a bit and I hid in the room and worked while Kyle talked to them more on other occasions. Thank goodness I have him to socialize with others to learn things about them. The only downside is I cringe a bit when I am able to listen in (while being otherwise productive) and he says something that is not quite right or they say something I don’t like and I can’t just emerge from the room and tell strangers, “Actually, you are incorrect.” That is me, the secret creeper. This was a case where I couldn’t really hear, though so I just let him brief me later. Anyway, we learned that they were actually 19 (makes us feel so old! they really looked older) and had recently broken up but already had these plans so they went anyway. They said it allowed them to remain friends. Still, pretty different. Can you imagine breaking up with someone and then traveling with them for months? Also, we were talking about the place and mentioned airbnb and they said the booked through another place. They thought Airbnb only existed in Europe. Really? That is kind of stupid ignorant because it was invented in San Francisco. 3. Sharing food with a Gecko. If you go to SE Asia, you will find that geckos are part of the mix. We have rarely found a place that did not have geckos running around inside. It doesn’t bother us and we rather like their company. Well, I had these chocolate wafer bars I had been eating. One time I went to take out a wafer and it seemed to be missing the top layer but I was just like whatever! and ate it. The next day, I heard something rustling in our food bag. A gecko was in my wafers. I noticed that the next wafer looked like the other one I had eaten. My assumption is that the gecko ate off the top layer both times. As far as I am aware there have not been any major repercussions to sharing food with the lizard. 4. Blessed in Bali. This was actually so neat! Bali really makes you feel like you’re in Bali. To go to Tanah Lot, we had to get blessed with holy water and then get rice on our foreheads and a flower behind our ears. 5. Statues in Bali. To say the statues at the Monkey Sanctuary are weird would be an understatement. What is weird, though, is that we can’t find mention or photos of them anywhere on the internet!! Is everyone just so distracted by the monkeys that they don’t notice the creepy statues and carvings? Post and pics to come but you can see one at the head of this section (no pun intended.) 6. Naked man in the Bali Airport. There we were at 3am in the Bali airport, just waiting for them to open the gates so we could go through the scanners and check in, me working on organizing my desktop and Kyle playing his ukulele, when I saw an Australian man walking around shirtless shouting strange things about delays and conspiracies and things. Kyle was pretty much in his own world but I got him to look. I also noted that his pants appeared to not be staying up very well. He starts being more dramatic as he circles the airport and security looks a little annoyed but decides to follow him at a distance. 20 minutes later and I spot him coming up our way again, this time naked. Again, it’s a little hard to get Kyle’s attention but I do. Honestly, the things he would miss without me. Of course we giggle and I would like to have videoed him more but he looked at us, started talking about electronic devices and things and I did not want him to come up to us. A few Muslim men laughed and said he really should not be doing this in a Muslim country. Another Asian woman looked shocked, and the Australians: completely ignored the whole thing. Must be a regular occurrence there. That was actually pretty much all of us at the airport, though aside from some people sleeping on random chairs/benches. 7. Our Serenading Pilot. Towards the end of our flight from Bali to KLIA2 (where we had our layover), the pilot just comes out and starts singing and playing a ukulele. He talks a bit, sings several more songs. The guy was pretty good and ended up singing for quite a while, mostly popular western songs. He kept saying “this is the last song” and then would do like 3 more before saying it again.
First time in the southern hemisphere
First time getting kisses from a random stray dog
First time having red dragonfruit and mangosteen
First time using a plant as a straw (lemon grass, pretty neat)
The total amount spent for this month (again, for both of us/2 people) was $2044. That is similar to last month. Only last month we actually spent a decent bit more than this, whereas this month we spent less ($1312). I will remind you that I am reverting to primarily talking about what the month costs, rather than what we spent during the month as we often will buy in advance or whatever. For example, we actually did not purchase any plane tickets this month, but we did use them, so I count the used plane tickets into costs for the month. Our income was a little higher than our actual spendings but was less than the cost of the month of May. One thing that can get a little annoying in doing the budget is that typically I record the amount we spend in the local currency. I write all of this down, compare things that were on card to the bank, and then add up the amount spent in cash and compare it to the amount withdrawn from the ATM. This works fine to ensure accuracy but I do have one problem with the cash spent: when we withdraw the money from the ATM, currency conversion is at a particular level. At the end of the month, when I convert the cash into dollars, the conversion rate may be different. Often this is just a few cents per item, but it probably adds up a little bit. I don’t worry about this with things spent on the card because I just take the already converted number from the bank statements. Of course I convert the other number first to compare and make sure it’s the same purchase (and I notice it will often be a few cents off) but if I wanted to be really accurate with cash I would need to go determine the conversion rate at the time that we withdrew the money from the ATM and then apply that to all purchases with cash. I just don’t really feel like doing that right now because then I can’t use a converter and have to do more math. I like math but constantly doing the same problem gets a little old, the differences would usually not be very large, and the budget already takes long enough.
Accommodation. The total we spent on the accommodation we actually stayed in this month was $564.57. This is a little bit more than normal but it was the best we could find and these places also offered more than many our our past places. Our places in Yogya and our place in Sri Lanka offered breakfast each morning as well as unlimited tea and coffee, we were provided with water for free in most of the places, and in our first place in Yogya, we were able to use bicycles and motorbikes to get around for free. Food. We did a little better in this area this month, back to our standard, mostly because we were in cheap areas because we certainly felt like we splurged a few too many times on food and desserts. I also think it is not in our budget to buy beer but Kyle does not agree. We spent $193.30 on groceries which also includes some water, beer, laundry detergent, and toilet paper. We spent $12.65 total on ice cream out (we had ice cream out 6 times) and spent a similar amount ($12.52) at bakeries which we visited 6 times as well. On food out/restaurants we spent $192.62. All of this adds up to $411.09 Transportation. For local transportation we spent a total of $110.75. This includes 6 taxis ($100), 2 days renting a motorbike in Bali ($7.34), gas ($2.16), 1 tuk tuk ride in Yogyakarta ($1.10), and parking ($0.15). While we purchased the plane tickets last month, the cost for the plane tickets used this month was $529.42. KL to Yogya was $139.50 after fees (around $70 each), Yogya to Bali was $74.59 after fees (~$37/each, though it was likely more like $20 before baggage fees and things), and Bali to Colombo was $315.43 ($150 each.) To make it to Cyprus (for our housesit in June) using the route which involved staying in SE Asia first and doing Indonesia, we needed to chose either India, Nepal, or Sri Lanka as an intermediary location. Total transportation costs for the month: $640.17 Activities: If you add up the cost for the Monkey Sanctuary, Tanah Lot Temple, the Water Castle, a tour guide at the water castle, Kraton palace, the camera house, and going to the movies, the total is $26.41. Borobudur alone cost us $38, though (but we couldn’t miss it!) so our total for activities this month is $64.61. Visa: It cost us $80 for our Sri Lanka visa! We were sure we saw it for lower online so we were not so happy but whatever. Fees:$29.90 in transaction and ATM fees. Miscellaneous:$83.46 includes souvenirs, electrical tape, purchasing more postcard credits, using restrooms, leftover currency, contact solution, developing film, and a few unknown items. Standard: $171 The standard storage, software subscriptions, insurance, cloud storage, and Netflix.
Get ready to read because this section is quite a bit longer this time.
Kyle:Work for me has been a little bit stressful. My large project was pushed back due to changes and add-ons. Luckily, the clients are good, and have offered additional pay for the increased work as well as another partial payment which is easing the stress. It is looking like the project may possibly get done while in Sri Lanka, but there is the chance it may not get finalized until we hit Cyprus. A few other clients have come back for some work, though they have wanted small projects which only help to pad the wallet a little and aren’t helping tremendously. I have four new clients as well. One is great and knows exactly what he wants and has paid quickly, with a small order of 3 illustrations and a possible short animation. I have another, who has been a little bit more difficult, but provides a fun project overall involving 3D graphics for a Youtube channel (payment should be coming through the coming month). A third has a logo animation that is midway through the project, but is not very responsive. And a fourth is just about wrapped for a t-shirt illustration. Frustratingly, most of the projects are small, and not paying much. More worryingly, is that there aren’t any big projects lined up for the coming month – but we’ll see how that plays out next month. Additionally, I have been assisting a lot more with the blog. I have taken on managing the blog posts that I have written. So now my duties have included writing, image editing, uploading, and posting. As well, I have been playing around with new methods of navigation such as the Places page. Briana edit: This is true, Kyle has been helping by doing all the work for his own posts and looking into changes for the blog and it has been very helpful. Briana: Though I make very little, I thought I was going to make more than Kyle this month (it has happened a couple times before) as we had nearly reached the end of the month and he had only made $100, but then he got another larger payment and a couple additional smaller ones as the month was closing. Of course he had been doing work but just hadn’t been paid by many people yet.
At the beginning of the month I attended a Webinar for a new job. The webinar was really for people who had been doing this work for a while and had deeper questions when I didn’t even know how the whole thing worked so it was semi-useless to me. After I messaged a couple people I finally got my login info. They had provided an FAQ document and some guides which were very helpful, but it would have been nice just to see a simple demonstration for a beginner. Basically, I am given keywords and then I need to do all these things with them and some of them require a little research and a bit of thought. There are lots of rules and some words don’t seem to be a right fit for any category (one thing you do with it is categorize) so you must make some decisions yourself. Well, I initially had 10 words. Alright. So I do my first few words and as I get more into the process I realized I messed a couple things up on these words. I finish my 10 and try to find more words but they don’t show up. It’s supposed to be an open queue so I should be able to just grab words. I should also be getting feedback on my words. I email them to let them know about my issues with the first few and also ask how I can get more words. Over the span of a couple weeks I email them a couple more times. One time I got an email saying: go now! there are some words there! Well, I did not see the email until a couple hours after it was sent and I don’t know if it just doesn’t show me the words or they just hired too many people. I log in all the time and refresh it, go to every possible tab/thing I can click on, etc. I earned $1.50 for my 10 words and did get paid but I just wish I could do more.
In general, this month I have been focusing on trying to get a remote job more than anything else. I would say a good deal of my writing has been cover letters! My time has been fruitless, though. There were a few positions I really hoped for, but nothing I really expected to come through. I had one annoying interview. The position I was looking at was a social media management and online marketing position. The pictures showed a person vaping and a forest or something like that so I am not sure about the details of the company. It just offered a small monthly stipend, but it allowed for remote and I thought it would be good to get more experience doing something along those lines. I am already managing the social media for the blog and have been learning more about this subject.
Here is how the “interview” went:
Person called me, told me who they were, etc. and we started talking about the job. The second I heard the voice, I thought “Ughh” because I hate the guy’s voice. It’s just terrible. He is a terrible guy. The job is a scam and I already want to be done. Sure, I don’t know this guy, but I do know that voice. And I don’t like it. After I am done on the phone I tell Kyle and he says, as he always does, “Really Briana? That is kind of harsh. It’s not possible to tell things like that only from a person’s voice.” I think it is soo incredibly obvious and I would think that most other people would immediately get this as well but now I just have no idea because Kyle is the only person I am around anymore and he does not ever seem to be able to tell these things. I guess it’s reasonable to doubt it if you cannot do it but I don’t really like it when people say that I cannot know something like this because that is a lack of confidence in me and it makes me question myself even though I never turn out to be wrong. Usually I’ll make far more specific judgements which can then be checked but in this case you’ll just have to trust me on it. Can I accurately judge every person? No. But if I do make a judgement, it’s generally correct.If I think there is the possibility I am wrong, I generally note it. I know, yet another tangent. Just know that I am holding myself back, it could have gone much longer.
Anyway, I bring up the original ad on my computer to consult and ask the man a couple questions to clarify things about the position. Phone cuts out, likely due to our poor internet connection (I was wifi calling.) I call back a couple times. No answer.
I start brushing my teeth (it’s 1:30am) and the phone starts ringing. I realize and spit out the toothpaste just as it stops. It’s a different number but I assume it’s still him. I don’t really get phone calls these days. I call the number back. No answer.
I call again and a person picks up. It is the same guy but he sounds COMPLETELY different, like takes on a different tone, etc. He says “Hi, I just missed a call from this number, who is this?”Are you flipping serious? He doesn’t even know who I am.
Now, I have realized this man has terrible business/organizational/etc. skills and I am really not interested in working with him but I say, “You called me actually, we were talking just a few minutes ago.”
“He says, are you calling about khkdhilj?” (I couldn’t quite understand so I said “what??” several times.) It sounded like casting and I am thinking this guy probably runs some stupid side thing. I say, “No, I am calling about the digital marketing position.” “Ohh.” Then he starts talking to me again about it and explaining that it is commissioned based and I will get a percentage of money I bring in without explaining how I would know if that is happening (ew.) Then he says, “I am about to go pick up a friend, can I call you in just a few?” “Umm…” (We will be getting in a taxi to go to the airport in like 3 minutes.) “OK great bye!” *Insert Michelle from Full House voice* “How rude!” (Inside my head.) I looked at my phone and hung up. Kyle asked, “Why did you hang up?!” “Really, Kyle? I’m the judgmental one? He hung up on me.” The guy did call back a couple times later but I was not available and I am not interested in either the position or working for the person so I did not return the calls.
Now that I have wrote this I will research this guy and post my results:
It’s a wonder that I hadn’t researched him previous to writing the roundup because I really enjoy researching people. This time it was not quite as fun because it was so easy. To note: I did tell Kyle my more specific judgement in advance and it was correct. I didn’t think he had to be something specifically but was in this sort of business (in addition to his “professional” one.) Anyway, after researching him, I have found that he runs an escort agency, a sugar daddy dating service, and a “three-way” dating club among other things. Several prostitutes complained about him on a forum. All I had to do was google the numbers he called me from- and yes, it was him. The business websites listed these numbers. That is actually what I expected because I have found these types of people are actually often ridiculously indiscrete. If you look at his linked in profile, it says none of this: he is an “e-commerce” principal and “business consultant”, of course. It is really of no concern, though. It actually is not so atypical of my experiences job-hunting to the extent that I don’t even really find the whole thing noteworthy but I thought I’d include it here, anyway as this is just how things go when you try to get a job sometimes. I didn’t mean for it to be so long.
I am only upset that I did not know before putting in the effort to apply and talk on the phone. In this case, there really were not any indicators in the posting that I was dealing with some type of scam artist (which yes, he was a scam artist because he was going to try to get me to do work and believe me, he wasn’t going to pay me anything- again, just trust me.) It was from Craigslist but I can’t ignore Craigslist because nearly every successful job outcome I have had originated from there as well. Now, it was CL Tampa which, honestly, I think that perhaps should have been the indicator. I don’t trust that town. Don’t trust it at all. I was kind of excited to have an interview at all. Maybe I should have known better simply because I actually got an interview!!
Now you may think, as Kyle thought, that this is not a normal experience but I had to remind him that even he has had such experiences. I say to Kyle, recall this: Kyle messaged someone about a job. They talked on the phone, emailed back and forth quite a bit and decided to set up an interview. The guy even had a legit looking website. When it was getting time for the interview, I told him, “Don’t go.” Why? I just knew. Kyle said, “No, I am going. This is a job. It could turn out really well.” “It will not turn out well, Kyle. I know. Listen to me. I have a sixth sense.” Kyle usually refuses to listen to my sixth sense which really annoys me. I think I may have inherited it from my Native American roots. I also am good at naturally making connections in my head and sometimes they happen without me realizing it. So, of course, I have to go research the guy to find some info to convince him. I find that not only is he planning to conduct the interview in his apartment, but he is also a convicted sex offender, several times over and he likes boys. Kyle was still quite young-looking at the time, could barely grow facial hair etc. Even after this I had a slightly hard time convincing him not to go. Jeez, Kyle! On another occasion, he had a similar experience that I had except it was with a freelance client. I also predicted problems with specific clients of his in the past. Ask him, it is true.
Back to current work. I have an semi-annoying potential client. He emailed me a few months back asking if I could help him out with some essays. We set a rate and everything was agreed upon. Then he stops talking to me, even after a couple follow ups. He emails me again a month later asking if I can still help him. I say yes, just send me the details and I will start now! He doesn’t respond. This month he messages me again telling me that he went with someone else but he doesn’t “like their attitude.” Can I still help him? Again, I say yes, please just send me the details and I’ll get started. No response. It’s just kind of a waste of time. Kyle actually has to deal with things like this all the time. So many people don’t care about wasting a freelancer’s time. I may have a person returning for essays, though which is good.
On another note I am somewhat interested in pursuing photography so I have been trying to make some progress in that area. I wanted to do this in California and I actually had a few things set up for the end of the year, including a budget wedding in November but then Kyle was laid off and we left the area. So I thought, we will be back at the end of the year, I will start seeking potential opportunities and advertising now because obviously people plan in advance for these things. Well now, of course I actually do get some messages (which makes me happy) but they are people who want things done “this weekend,” or even “tomorrow.” I guess people in Florida procrastinate or don’t plan as much as people in the bay area. Or maybe they experience more cancellations. I don’t know. I have also realized that real estate photography is also a big field because I get messages about that (I also realized that in California) but that is not happening with my film camera because 1) it usually wouldn’t be worth it in terms of cost of film and development 2) it wouldn’t give them the fast turnaround they want.
There are many other things I would like to work on but it just hasn’t been possible with us moving so much! I am quite stressed! I have also been in such a mood lately to just work, but there is just not enough time. I just want to sit down at a desk in a nice area by myself and work/try to find work until I drop. Is that so much to ask?? When we are in these places for short periods of time, the first/second day we unpack, get settled, find the grocery store, etc. We want to go out and do things at least a couple days because we don’t know if we’ll get a chance to be these places again and then the last day is packing up, getting all the info and transportation figured out for the next place and that doesn’t include planning the activities or working on the blog. Add in the Airbnb hosts demanding we socialize and it’s a wonder how we get any work done at all. I will be happy when we can finally stay in one place (in Cyprus) by ourselves for a couple months. In Ja-Ela we were able to work a little more because there was not much around us to do so we mostly just took walks as a nice de-stressor and way to see the area.
Health and Fitness:
Fortunately we did a little hiking and, of course, a lot of walking with month. We have not made any directed efforts towards exercising, though.
We frequented bakeries as per normal but also kept up our intake of fruits and veggies. Balance.
TV: We finished up Season 2 of Kimmy Schmidt and watched Last Week Tonight. Documentary: I watched Twinsters on Netflix. It was a sweet show. Podcasts: We listened to a few episodes, mostly Extra Pack of Peanuts. Books: I started reading the Secret Garden and Kyle attempted to read the Illiad and Don Quixote but couldn’t get through them and started Time Machine.