Tag Archives: married with maps

Bcharre

Lebanon Travel Videos

~B~

I tried making a Lebanon travel video but it didn’t feel right so I made the Bcharre and Beirut videos separate. I did not add music to these videos because 1) they are short and 2) it’s always a struggle so I just avoided spending the time on it this time. The videos can also only be monetized (not that we make more than a penny like every few months) if they don’t have copyrighted music so there’s that too. I used the original sound (mostly) for the Bcharre video and no sound for the Beirut video. I would have used sound but I didn’t decide that was a good idea until I began making the Bcharre video (I made the Beirut one first). The Beirut video is also very shaky, practically hurts my head, but we didn’t have much stable footage (you should see how much I don’t include at all each time- we need to use tripods more) and I can’t stabilize video which has been sped up. Kyle recently told me I could pre-render and add stabilization, but I am not completely thrilled with the stabilization tools anyway. Even if I tell them only stabilize- don’t stabilize and crop- they still often do crop! Well, whatever. I’ll work on it. Here are the videos for now.

Additionally, you may remember that the last specific-area video I did was in SE Asia (Bali, Kl, plus bits of others combined) so sequentially Sri Lanka should be next, but Kyle claimed it long ago. I’m sure he’ll do it eventually. The next videos will be Cyprus, Belgrade, and Budapest.

Monthly Roundup 14: April 2016

~B~

Summary of April 2016:
On our placemats

In April  we took taxis, tuk tuks, and the subway, rode bicycles, flew on an airplane, and took our first inter-country bus ride. We chilled out a little more in Bangkok, spent 3 days at the largest religious monument in the world in Siem Reap, and welcomed our return back to Kuala Lumpur (and the stormy weather.) In general, we found Bangkok to be different than we have seen it portrayed in the media. We did not have a Hangover Part II Experience but instead found the city to be rather pleasant. Of course, we also avoided the infamous sex tourism areas like Pattaya and didn’t really have the money to spend on rooftop bars. If you’re curious about another stereotype of the city, there did in fact seem to be ladyboys everywhere we turned our head. Siem Reap was a nice getaway from the big city life and Kuala Lumpur was a nice welcome back to everything the big cities can offer. While we try to take advantage of our time in each place we stay, there was a lot to do in Bangkok and we really needed to get more work done. We are learning to accept that we can’t do everything in each place we visit (plus this gives us reasons to come back!) and that it’s okay if most of the things we want to do are not the top tourist activities for the area. I think it’s best to do things that we personally enjoy and it’s a big priority that we also have plenty of time for work because work is the reason we can travel at all. We are grateful that we are able to live this lifestyle that we could not have previously imagined.

And ok, I know this is soo long. If you as a reader have any advice on sections I ought to remove or change, let me know. I could make the highlights and lowlights 10 instead of 5 next time? Another option is that I could post certain portions as their own posts, or even maybe each section as its own post.

Where We’ve Been this Month:
Temple Exploring

14 days in Bangkok
14 days in Siem Reap
2 days in Kuala Lumpur

Distance traveled by: bus- 250 miles, plane- 745 miles, bicycle- 80-100 miles

Highlights:
Sunset on the lake near Angkor Wat

We have so many highlights this month! It’s difficult to choose just 10 but I’m going to keep it even and add some honorable mentions. Highlights are in sequential order.
1. Lumpini Park. Lumpini Park is a nice little green sanctuary in Bangkok. Some of our highlights within Lumpini Park included seeing water monitors and using our feet to paddle ourselves around in a duck boat. I made it a priority to ride in one of those duck boats after I read about them and the price (a little over a dollar for a half hour) and it was just so fun!
2. Exciting News. We will be house-sitting in Cyprus for a couple months starting in June. We will be watching 7 cats in a house on a beautiful island! Purrfect!
3. Temples in Bangkok. While we did check out one of the more popular temples, we primarily stuck to ones we found ourselves. We found many of the temples which weren’t listed as tourist activities to be very beautiful, and at times, even more grand. They were also quiet. At a few it was just us, the monks, and the temple cats and dogs.
4. Riding Bicycles in Cambodia. The morning after we arrived in Siem Reap we walked to a local hotel and rented bicycles which we used to get around the entire time we were in Siem Reap (everything from getting food and groceries to going to the temples.) It was a cheaper option than the alternatives (at least long-term) and also gave us more freedom. We had little baskets in the front which were helpful on a number of occasions and the money for renting the bicycles goes to a charity.
5. Angkor Wat (plus Angkor Thom, Preah Kahn, etc.) Kyle and I had both been dreaming of going here for years and this UNESCO World Heritage site did not let us down. The temple complex was even larger and more impressive than I had imagined and we didn’t encounter almost any of big things we see people complain about: crowds, ants, and little children trying to sell you things. Kyle got bit by an ant once but we had entire huge temples to ourselves and didn’t even see the children! Maybe it’s because we went during the hottest month of the year and were often out at the hottest time of the day. I will leave more details for a full post.
6. The Food in Cambodia. If you follow me on instagram, you might have already guessed that this would be a highlight. While we have been enjoying our culinary journey in general, it was nice to have some more semi-familiar food. For so long I have been wondering, where is all the breakfast food? In Cambodia they have it- oats, yogurt, cereal, crepes, pancakes, etc. and they are delicious. There are tons of vegetarian options. We had Indian food, Khmer food, Mexican food, pizza, and more. It may be because this area caters to tourists more but whatever, it was nice after pretty much eating only stereo-typical Asian dishes. We have several recommendations if you are hoping to eat out in Cambodia and will get to making a post soon.
7. Learning about Cambodia. I didn’t know very much about Cambodia but in our time there I learned a little more about both recent and ancient history. The country/area and its history are fairly interesting and I still hope to pick up a couple books to learn more about it.
8. Bangkok Malls. We went to the 9th, 12th, and 73rd largest malls in the world! (In addition to a few other malls.) They are also clean, modern, and make us feel at home.
9. Back in KL! We had debated just turning our time in Kuala Lumpur into a long layover (with two separate flights) but ultimately I decided we would stay a week here on our way to Indonesia. Great decision! We are quite happy to be back in a familiar place which is english-speaking and has fast wifi, more nice malls, cheap food, and rain.
10. Our AMAZING view. It’s so beautiful! City skylines (especially at night) are one of my favorite things and we have such a great view of the KL skyline from our 27th floor condo Airbnb in downtown Kuala Lumpur! We get to watch the storms, lean out and feel the rain, watch people swim below, look at the city lights and also at the forest. It’s quite wonderful.
Honorable mentions: Watching street racing in Bangkok, experiencing the Thai and Khmer New Years, smooth transitions, the red sun and green moon in Siem Reap, meeting new people, and we finally seeing Zooptopia (it was great.) Oh, and my toe is (mostly) better.

Lowlights:
Carvings

1. Unstable Internet Connection. Bangkok was an area we did not expect to run into issues with the internet but so it goes. We didn’t have much of a problem in Vietnam, but in Bangkok we had issues with the internet in both Airbnbs. It was decent at times but it would unpredictably get extremely slow at times. Skype was not always possible, nor was uploading even smaller files. Luckily, this would generally pass. And ok, it was a little predictable because it tended to happen late at night. Too bad that is usually when we are up working and talking to people! We had the same issue occasionally in Cambodia, but that we predicted.
2. Carrying groceries a long way. So it’s not that big of a deal but in Bangkok the grocery store was just over 1 km away meaning we had to walk there in the heat, crossing a few semi-busy roads and walk back lugging all of our food. Our grocery store was farther at one point in Saigon but it seemed like more of an issue in Bangkok, probably because we bought more groceries. My shoulder muscles ached for days after our first trip. Kyle carried more of the bags on the second trip, though. It probably would have been better if we had something like the large reusable bags we used in Korea.
3. Movie Fail. We tried to see Zootopia 3 times while in Bangkok. The first time, when we arrived, there were either no more showings or the remaining ones were full (I forget which), the second time there were no showings in English, and the third time, the movie theater was not playing it. You have already seen in our highlight honorable mentions that we finally saw it in Kuala Lumpur. I recommend it.
4. Messed up film. I had read a bad review about the place we went but I thought it would be okay. Not really, though. It was the only place I could find that would put it on a usb drive for me rather than a CD (or at least that responded that they would) that was within walking distance of the metro (it was also conveniently nearby other activities.) They messed up two rolls partially and I didn’t get back an entire roll. No Cat Ba pictures, barely any of Hanoi, lower quality of Saigon, and nothing from Bangkok is the result.
5. Sweltering heat. We thought Bangkok, which sometimes reached 100 degrees, was hot. Then we went to Cambodia. Did you know April is their hottest month? We spent quite a bit of time outside, so we found ourselves pretty exhausted at times. While we loved the temples, we probably could have enjoyed them just a teensy bit more if it was a little cooler outside.
6. Our First (and second) Tuk Tuk Experience. When we arrived on the bus in Siem Reap we (and other arriving tourists) found it rather difficult to get a tuk tuk. This was partly because there were many people arriving and partly because the tuk tuks didn’t want to take people! What are you doing there, then?? We finally convinced one driver to take us and showed him the address. He looked unhappy and didn’t know it. We gave our Airbnb host’s number to him and he called her. Later when we arrived, she said he was quite rude on the phone. Well halfway through the journey he just stops and says he is busy so we have to get off. Yes, he literally just stops in the middle of the road somewhere and decides he is done driving us. We pay him anyway for this part of the journey and then have to get on another tuk tuk who ripped us off (says our Airbnb host.) Many tuk tuk drivers here are what you might call sleazy but there are also some quality drivers (or so I’ve heard.) The one two took us to the airport (ordered by our Airbnb host) was alright.
7. Yellow water in Cambodia. I hadn’t noticed that our water was not clear until I was filling up the sink one night to wash some clothes. This didn’t bother me too much but I decided I would throw it here anyway as other people would potentially view it as such seeing as we were showering with this water. We did decide to use bottled water on our toothbrushes after this point.
8. Other aspects of Cambodia. Maybe it’s because we just had just come from Thailand, the “land of smiles” where people are nice and friendly, but many Cambodians just seemed rather cold. It could also be expectations as I had previously gotten the impression (from online) that Cambodians were warm and welcoming. Instead, we received many bad (angry/annoyed/hateful, depending) looks from locals during our time there. Albeit, many of these were tuk tuk drivers and we were only there for 2 weeks. At times, we thought it may have been because we were riding bikes instead of taking tuk tuks but I noticed that it didn’t seem to matter if we were on a bike or not. And it seemed intentionally directed at us. I didn’t feel like this was true really anywhere else so far, or at least it was nowhere near as often. Some people were friendly, but even when people were nice, I sometimes doubted their sincerity. Luckily, this did not stop us from greatly enjoying Siem Reap and Cambodia. The prices in general were a bit higher there than we anticipated and were also higher than other regions we have visited so far. And yes, I understand reasons they may be unhappy, I just don’t understand why the negativity was directed at us.
9. Kyle’s ailments. Kyle was walking in the temple talking about how ‘of course it is fine to wear flip flops walking around out here.’ He had read about someone who had went to the temples wearing flip flops and cut their toe and was about to call them an idiot when he did the same thing himself. His toe bled a decent bit and we poured water over it. We took the first aid kit for the following days. Kyle also had a painful infected hangnail which caused him problems longer than his toe.
10. Scary dogs. Our Airbnb was down an unlit bumpy dirt road ( when coming back we would need to go a ways down one dirt road and then a turn onto another, similar road before reaching the place.) During the day, there were sometimes dogs out which were nice, tails in happy position, those little smiles on their faces, or maybe they were sleeping. Well, at night, all these Dr. Jekylls (but a little friendlier, probably) turned into Mr. Hydes. Not only did they bark at us (which Kyle only ever interprets as friendly, even if this is not the case), they would also growl and bear their teeth. Sometimes the owners would restrain them but after we turned in our bikes  the last night and had to walk down the road (rather than ride our bicycles) one really tried to bite me. It kept nipping at my legs. I guess we weren’t passing by their territory fast enough. It was a slightly frightening experience. At least they were not chained like many dogs we saw in Vietnam, but I would note this if you plant to stay in a similar spot that local dogs get very territorial at night and you will want to be on a motorbike, bicycle, or not go out after dark.

Firsts:
Bike riding in Siem Reap

Us:
First Tuk Tuk ride. We keep getting asked (mostly by my dad) if we have ridden a tuk tuk yet. Well, now we have ridden in a tuk tuk. It’s a nice way to get around if you only have a nice driver.
First bus ride crossing an international border. We had to get out of the bus to cross the border, but you know what I mean.
Kyle:
First time crossing a land border. Before we began our travels, Kyle had actually only crossed borders via boat! (Or plane, of course, though he had actually never even done that until we began our travels.)
Briana:
First time biking 23 miles in a day/over 20 miles in a day. We actually probably biked over 80 miles total over our time in Siem Reap. If you are the rest of the world (not American), those numbers are 40km, 32km, and 128km. I mean I bicycled around in my youth but I really don’t think I ever biked that long or this much! Kyle claims he biked over 20 miles a day growing up with his entire family sometimes.

New obsession:
Having pearls in my tea. (Those little chewy bubble things.)

Budget
Cute persian at Caturday

I am going to do the budget a little differently on the blog this month simply because I think it warrants it. I know some other travel bloggers and digital nomads (and potential digital nomads) may be curious about the cost of this lifestyle and I think I am putting too many potentially confusing numbers out there. This month especially it could be problematic because we booked our flights for the next couple months and also a bit of future accommodation. While I will do my personal budget/our family budget based on actual spendings, this will reflect what the actual month costs as opposed to what this month, and maybe some of next month costs.
That being said, this month cost $1948 this month. $1948?? Ahh! You would think we are back in California! Not really, though because it still cost us more to live there. Hmm, what would it be in FL? Let’s say for both of us $850 rent for a studio or 1 bedroom (it’s harder to find anything for we wouldn’t be sharing for even that these days), $200 utilities and internet, $120 for car insurance (2), $500 for food,  $100 for gas, $30 entertainment, $100 for our regular work expenses, $100 for miscellaneous. That’s not including a phone bill or health insurance and it’s still a little higher which is reassuring (that we are spending less.) But the bad part is that we actually spent more because we purchased some future things. Though maybe not so bad because it probably helped us save money. Last month we spent only about a hundred less than this but that was including like $400 of future purchases so it was really closer to our standard $1350 or whatever if you did it the same way we did this post. This is for two people, though, so you could say it’s $974/person for the month (compared to $675.) So, did our spendings exceed our income? Yes. We really wanted to go to Cambodia, though. That was a big thing that made everything more expensive. We were so close and we probably would have regretted not going. We’re here after all and I think over time more and more tourists are going to flock there. The other problem is that I personally think we are moving too often. We did spend time in 3 countries this month. It’s hard and it’s more expensive to move so often. Did you know if you book monthly you can often get a cheaper deal? Unfortunately, we will be moving fast until we get to Cyprus due to Kyle’s preferred route. I do hope we can calm down a little with spendings in May.
Accommodation: The cost for the accommodation we stayed in this month was $537. This number reflects our two weeks in a studio to ourselves in Bangkok, 2 weeks in a nice house (which was actually semi-separate from the owners) in Siem Reap, and a night in a room in a condo in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. It’s a little higher than the other months. Why? I don’t know, it’s just what has been available that meets our needs. Prices differ by location, how far in advance (or not in advance) you book, time of year, etc. I think this is still pretty reasonable as it’s less than what we pay in the US. And guess what? We will be rent free for a little while again come the end of June. Hooray!
Food: We spent more than any other month so far in this category as well. Oops! Cambodia was more expensive in terms of food, both at the grocery stores and certainly eating out. Of course it’s still cheaper than the US. It’s a little more comparable to Korea. We also had a limited kitchen in that we did not have a stove top and we did lots of activities so we were really hungry (see: health and fitness.) We spent $283 on groceries this month and $224 on food out for a total of $507. We spent more but we also enjoyed every cent of it.
Transportation: $45 on the bus ride from Bangkok to Siem Reap, $33 on taxis to our places in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, $22 on the metro (getting around Bangkok), $18 on tuk tuks to and from the airport in Siem Reap, $56 for renting 2 bicycles for 2 weeks (our transportation around Siem Reap), and finally, $142 for our flight from Siem Reap to Bangkok for a total of $316. So literally every category is highest (since traveling), even neglecting our purchases for next month. We so desperately did not want to take the bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap but we couldn’t justify the difference in cost if we were to fly. It wasn’t so bad and I’m certainly glad we opted for the cheaper option there or this number would be even higher. In terms of flying to KL from Siem Reap, it was cheaper than taking the bus back to Bangkok and then either flying to Kuala Lumpur or, our next destination, Yogyakarta (though I played around with many other options and still this made the most sense) so we were also just doing what was reasonable there.
Entertainment/Activities: Anndd it doesn’t stop there because we spent $111 on activities this month. Most of that was taken up by the big one: Angkor Wat. There are 3 options: 1 day tickets at $20/person, 3 day tickets at $40/person, and $60/person for a week. The total area of the park is around 150 square miles and we knew we would want extra time because of the heat so we opted for the 3 day tickets. Our other activities (that cost money) included the Snake Farm, visiting a couple temples (most were free), our little boat ride in Lumpini Park, a cat cafe in Bangkok (the cost actually being for the required food and drink purchase, but I’d call it entertainment), and seeing a movie.
Visas: $70 (for Cambodia)
General/Fixed Expenses: $188 and it’s a little higher because it was time to renew our VPN subscription which we occasionally find necessary. (Also includes storage, basic car insurance for Kyle’s car, google storage, and Netflix.)
Miscellaneous: $135 which includes ibuprofen, paying to use the bathroom at the bus station, printing our bus tickets and future flights at a printing center, a small USB stick which we used to get my film and to print these documents, developing my film, contact solution, eyeliner, a pair of flip flops for me ($2.50) because I am getting quite the tan line on my feet from wearing only closed shoes, several unknown things I had written down (I labeled one “last fought” and one “cucumber” even though I know we didn’t just go get a cucumber and it wasn’t that price but I don’t remember each purchase- it’s because I’m bad at swype), a gift for Kyle’s brother’s birthday, and a gift for each of our mothers. We purchased a couple additional gifts using a gift card we have on Amazon.
Fees: The worst section. $84. I was so disappointed to find high transaction fees for buying all of our airline tickets because I had these specific numbers in my head for our total air transportation for the next couple months and then they went up. Anyway, that was a lot of it but we also had the normal transaction fees for using the card and extracting money from the ATM, etc.

Work
Fixing the bike

Mostly, Kyle has been working on a larger project which he has had for a little while (at least a couple months.) this month but it’s not finished yet. We were both hoping it would get finished by the end of April. He did have a number of smaller projects including some graphic design work, a logo animation, and another short animation. He spoke with many other potential clients but none of them have turned out to actually employ his services just yet.
While I still had some writing work, I have not yet found another client to replace the one I left who was taking up most of my time. In addition to my work, I also pretty much manage this blog. As of yet, all Kyle really does is write some of the articles. (He said he will try to help more, I will let you know in the next roundup if that occurs.) I think right now he has the potential to make more money than me though and he also does the cooking which I am grateful for so I will try to leave him alone. Anyway, I will let you in on the process because it probably takes longer than you think. After he writes an article I must look through it and do a light edit of any obvious issues. I usually add relevant information and may fact-check some things. Then I must find the photos of this subject/activity/whatever. They may be on my phone, camera, and Kyle’s phone so I must find them and upload them to the computer and organize them (sometimes I’ve already done that part.) Then I go through and choose the photos that are good/relevant. I may add sections of writing based on the photos. Then I go through and edit them all to be a smaller size. Then I upload them to flickr and name them. Then I take the code from the photo and find where I ought to put it in the article. Then I remove the section of the code which shows up when I preview it. Then I look at the article and resize photos, move them around, etc. I may need to add or whatever in the code because I don’t like the pictures and text right next to each other (or I could just make a line of space between them in the code area.) Then I resize a photo to be appropriate for the cover photo and upload it if it doesn’t look good I try again. Then I add tags. Then I preview and see if there are any issues. I add any links to past posts or the Airbnb affiliate link. Then I post it. Then I add it to the appropriate area on the blog (travel info, a country, etc.), post it on Facebook, share a couple photos on Pinterest. And sometimes I write the posts as well (like this one.) I also pretty much run all of the social media (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram) and create all of the videos you see.
In addition to this, I also do most of the travel planning including transportation, accommodation, and activities. I could not tell you the amount of time doing just this, especially lately. Due to us getting the house sit I spent a few entire days planning out our possible routes to Cyprus. I ultimately decided on two very different itineraries of a similar price. Each of these involved a few different legs and countries (and we have already begun on that journey), but were also cheaper than just flying straight there. I had to research all potential areas for price, internet, and more which meant confirming certain information with at least a couple people in each potential location and also mess around with dates, cities, airlines, etc. Many areas and options were ruled out, new things considered, etc. Maybe it was cheapest to fly from Place A to Place B but Place B was too expensive accommodation-wise or didn’t have adequate internet. Place C could be an option but then it was too expensive to fly anywhere from there, etc. I also had some issues once I started booking and had to go through four different airlines for one leg. I do the web-checkins, I make sure we have the address of the next place we need to go, sometimes written in multiple languages on phone and paper. I determine how we will get around, and also keep the numbers of our hosts. And so on.
In terms of planning activities this can also be a little difficult because the days and times some activities are open, or during which special activities occur may not be standard. For example we find many things to be closed on Mondays, and sometimes Tuesdays (also sometimes Sundays, but this makes more sense.) I have to try to find activities near one another and coordinate days, transportation, etc. Kyle has started to help some because I told him he has to because of the two routes to Cyprus I made, he chose the one I didn’t prefer. Of course I would be excited for either but I would feel a little better about the other one.
I also do most of the job searching for both of us, and advertise for both of us. I also research Kyle’s field and available jobs and often make recommendations to him in terms of new things to learn, things to change, etc.
Anyway, I also have a number of other projects/ideas I have been working on/putting in effort in many other ways to make money (aside from my writing, but also including other ways to use writing) but, in general, I mostly have been failing so far. Occasionally I make a little money from some of these, but many are longer-term ideas that I need to expand and require quite a bit more work. Either I need to put in more effort into a specific project, or use different approaches, or switch to new projects. I am looking forward to being in one place for a while when we get to Cyprus. I hope it will help. Additionally, though I have been slacking in this area lately, I am also trying to learn some new skills and expand my options. Sometimes just trying to stay organized takes up the time I’d like to devote there.

Health and Fitness
Chillin

From carrying our groceries in Bangkok to biking around in Cambodia to climbing up all of the temple stairs, to just walking around each city, I think we got a fair bit of exercise this month. Kyle even went to the gym at our place in Bangkok a couple times. I stretched a few times but still have been slacking with yoga, stretching and intentional activity.
We mostly cooked in Bangkok, and had lots of healthy options in Cambodia so I would say we are doing alright there as well. On that note, I think I had more peanut butter sandwiches than I ever have in my life while we were in Cambodia. Sometimes I added banana which was nice. Generally I had 2 per day but a sometimes had more. In general, we would have one meal out, one meal in, and lots of snacks.

Media Consumed:
Gelato in a waffle cone

We didn’t watch/listen to a whole lot this month, partly because we were so busy but largely because our internet connection often did not allow for it. We watched a few new episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a couple new episodes of Better Call Saul, and listened to a few podcasts. Fortunately, we did read a little bit this month, mostly during transit. I re-read White Oleander (I found a free download online) and Kyle read the Jungle Book and began reading Don Quixote on the Kindle.

Whew! Right? See you next month!