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.