Tag Archives: nomads

Pretty City

Budapest Video

~B~

Here is a brief video showing off some of our time in Budapest, Hungary. It seems that in Europe (Cyprus, Serbia, Hungary) we focused a lot more on taking pictures and follow/spin videos than taking other video. There were quite a few of these (follow and spin videos) from these countries which I did not find until after I made those video or did not include for some reason. Therefore, despite the fact that we spent a substantial amount of time in each of these locations, we just don’t have a ton of video footage. As per normal I also had to get rid of all the videos that were just too shaky, bad angles, too short, etc. which is typically well over half of them. The video does show many of the top touristy spots, though.

Kadisha Grotto, Lebanon

Qadisha Grotto

~B~

The taxi driver who found us on our walk to the Cedars of God offered to take us to our next destination: Qadisha Grotto.

Kadisha Grotto Switchbacks

Due to construction, our driver was not able to get very far so we decided to walk down the mountain ourselves (it’s not terribly far and this was my preference anyway).

Briana Overlooking Bcharre

While it was hot, it was downhill and the we had a constant view down into Qadisha Valley.

Picture Comparison Kadisha Valley
Kyle and Briana On The Way To Kadisha
Kadisha Grotto Thistle

After a little bit we rounded a corner and saw signs pointing in the direction of the caves.

Hotel By Kadisha Grotto Path Entrance

We followed them and found ourselves walking cliffside among lots of yellow flowers.

Kadisha Path Overlook
Kadisha Grotto Cliff PathMore Kadisha Grotto Flowers
Kadisha Grotto Flowers

When we reached a gate going into a cave, we thought we had made it, but not quite. The entrance to this area was filled with noisy flies so we ran through. We exited, walked further, and found another little cave to walk through. Then, we walked through a more man-made tunnel.

Entrance To Tunnel Towards Kadisha
Kadisha Grotto
Kadisha Tunnel
Briana On The Way To Kadisha Grotto

Eventually, we came to what appeared to be the Qadisha Grotto. The water here serves many of the nearby villages and also produces electricity for Tripoli City. It looked like there was a small restaurant just outside of the caves, but we couldn’t tell if it was operating. A man asked us for our tickets. We didn’t have any so we bought them. He told us they cost 10,000LBP/person even though we read that they cost 5,000 online. His English wasn’t good, and I wasn’t positive if that was what I had read so we didn’t feel like trying to negotiate. We also didn’t want to turn around at that point so we decided to pay the 20,000LBP ($13.20). He asked us if we had a light (we forgot one, but Kyle had a flashlight app on his phone) because the electricity (to the lamps/lights which guide/show you) sometimes would go out.

Kadisha Grotto Waterfall
Flowing Water
Water Treatment Kadisha Grotto

I have always liked caves: the smell, the chill (sweet relief in summer), the dampness. One of my favorite park attractions: Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney has it down and it always made me want to live in a cave.

Inside Cave
Briana Inside Kadisha Grotto
Inside Cave
Kyle Inside Kadisha Grotto
Kadisha Grotto StalagtiteKyle Inside Kadisha Grotto

We made our way through and were able to explore it pretty much by ourselves. I believe we passed one other couple who was exiting as we were making our way inward, but that was it.

Stairs in cave
Kyle in the Cave
Kadisha Grotto
Red Room Kadisha Grotto

We admired the limestone formations in the cave and took our time. I think it was all a bit more dazzling (and sparkly!) in person. While we enjoyed our tour at the Natural Bridge Caverns in Texas, it was also nice to explore independently and at our own pace.

More Rock Formations Kadisha Grotto
Rock Formations Kadisha Grotto
Kadisha Cave Walk
Walking in Cave

We had a nice (long) walk down, as well.

Mountain on the way down

We had read that the Jeita Grotto outside of Beirut is far more grand but unfortunately we were not in Lebanon long enough to venture there as well.

Info:
Hours: The caves are closed from mid-December to mid-May. The rest of the time it’s open from 9:30am until sunset (though I’ve read the hours can be a little irregular).
Cost: It’s supposed to be 5,000 LBP/person (but they may try to charge you more). It’s also supposed to be cheaper for children.
How to get there: Follow signs to L’Aiglon Hotel (or look up its location on GoogleMaps and find it) and you will see signs directing you to the grotto from there (about 1.5km away).

 

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If you enjoyed this post, check out these posts we picked out for you!

Lan Ha And Ha Long Bay Vietnam

Ansan Trail Seoul South Korea

Pottery Village Yogyakarta

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!

Digital Nomad-ing in Gilmore Girl Gifs

  1. You get to set your own schedule. 

Sleep Schedule

2. Except when the only bus/plane is at 5am.

Coffee early mornings

3. You have a general sense of freedom.

Freedom

4. Some of your friends and family may have doubts about your lifestyle. (Though my family is pretty supportive.) 

Not crazy

5. A few may wonder when you will get a “real job.”

Wasting things

6. Oftentimes you don’t know where you’re going to be in 3 months, or sometimes even 3 days.

Plans

7. You’re an expert at finding good travel deals.

Good at finding deals

8. Visiting all these places, you find new and delicious foods, sometimes for very cheap. 

Food

9. There are also plenty of new delicious drinks. (Drip coffee, egg coffee, coconut coffee yum!) 

Coffee!

10.  But sometimes, you miss some of your comfort foods. Or foods you just can’t get in whatever country you happen to be in at the time.

Want tacos

11. It’s also hard having to pack so light, but it’s necessary when you move constantly. 

No clothes

12. But at least you’re on an adventure. 

YOLO

13. And you get to say things like, “Maybe I’ll go to Bali next month.”

Food

Our First International Housesit

~K + B~

A few months under a year ago, we were sitting in our recently packed up apartment in San Jose, Kyle having been laid off and starting to get into freelancing, but really we were trying to figure out what to do when we were confirmed for our first international housesit. We really wanted to go abroad and had considered teaching english but when we got this housesit in Korea we were very grateful. We had cared for the pets and houses of friends, family, and friends of family in the past, but this felt a lot more significant. It would be 3 months in country we had never been to with 2 dogs and a turtle we hadn’t met. 

When we arrived in October of last year, we felt very lucky. Our transition to South Korea was easier than we thought and we loved the town, having our own place (it had been a long time, despite being a couple and married) and just being somewhere new. We had done a lot of research about Korea before we moved to California because we were considering teaching English even long before this and had gotten very excited over the years about the idea of going there at all. While we did local hikes and outings in the beautiful bay area which we really enjoyed, we really had no ability to travel further because of our work and finances up until this point. Though we didn’t know what would be next at the time, this housesit was really the kickstart to our travels and a big enabler for us. It was a wonderful starting place and so far, as a result of the country and our experiences there, Korea is probably our favorite place so far. It’s funny because now when we run into any sort of potential problem, one of our first thoughts is, let’s go back to Korea. Even though we were only there a few months, it’s almost like a new second home. The country is cheaper than the US, and in some ways more modern as well. It’s also beautiful and interesting with lots of different things to do. I (Briana- we both wrote this article) love that it has seasons. 

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Our travels may seem like just vacationing around the globe, and to an extent that is something we’d like to accomplish (who wouldn’t?) But don’t be fooled, we work quite a lot. Aside from maintaining an income through freelancing (our work), our stay in South Korea was a bit of work too (like snuggling with dogs hehe, just kidding, there is a little more to it than that.) 

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While we now often use AirBNB, and it certainly offers a different type of experience, our preferred method of stay is through House Sitting. It is exactly what it sounds like – we watch someone’s house while they are away. Often times, there are pets that need to be watched and taken care of in the mean time too (though not always). So the trade-off is we take care of the house and pets in exchange for “free” room and board. Our preferences for this method are pretty obvious: free rent, a private home with use of facilities, and some nice animals to spend time with. I think it’s good for house-owners too because usually it costs a bit of money to pay someone to come and feed their pets and give them walks and even then, they don’t get the same amount of attention that they would from a house-sitter. If you are curious, the site we used to find this house sit is called Trusted Housesitters. If you sign up with this link, you can get a 20% discount joining. 

Our first international house sit was in Songtan, South Korea – roughly an hour and half south of Seoul by train.

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We took care of a small apartment, two dogs: Oliver and Muffin, and a turtle named Shelly. Oliver and Muffin were pretty lovable dogs, very easy to want to pet and play with, and Oliver especially was full of energy. Of course, they each had their own personalities and demands, and could get quite jealous of each other. Solution: keep them in your lap. Sometimes we would each take one but there were also times that one would get in Kyle’s lap and then the other one would also demand his lap so they would sit on top of each other. They could get a little distracting at times from work, but it’s hard to complain too much with a nice warm dog in your lap to keep you company. 

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The dogs also, of course, demanded a walk three times a day, and considering that Oliver was a very energetic dachshund, he needed a thorough walk, and he loved the snow which meant a little extra care bundling up for the walks.

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Sometimes, the dogs would get dirty so a bath would be needed but Oliver especially did quite well with the baths. 

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Oliver was also  shameless with food, though, so we had to be careful about him pulling against his harness and grabbing literally everything off the street while we took him for a walk. And if we went out for a long day excursion, we could unfortunately expect to come home to an accident on the floor to clean up. We used potty pads, but sometimes they.. missed a little. 

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But we did enjoy them sleeping with us and providing a little extra warmth through the cold nights. Oliver enjoyed burrowing under the covers while muffin enjoyed laying next to us or by our feet. And also, the company of dogs can always bring you joy.  Both dogs required eye drops, which was not as big a chore as I expected, but still something to consider.

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Oliver also liked to keep our feet warm when we were standing or sitting.

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Shelley was pretty easy to care for though (and pretty to look at), she just needed to have food when she was in the water every other day, a light cleaning of the tank, and making sure it was warm. Unfortunately her platform kept falling in the water, so we had to fix that constantly, but other than that she was easy. We also researched her kind more (Chinese Golden Threat Turtle) and learned a little more about turtles in the process. We tried feeding her foods that turtles like such as lettuce and grapes but she rejected them all in preference of her dry turtle food. We thought about adding a little more decoration to her tank but often forgot to look when we were out and weren’t sure what would be okay. 

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The apartment, while small, also required maintenance – like any residence – and it certainly opened our eyes to living as a local in Korea. Humidity is high in Korea, and the Ondol heating system doesn’t dry out the air the way heating units in the US do, so we had to open windows to allow moisture and clean the windows as needed. Mold can be a problem in Korea, so we had to really stay on top of our game to make sure that everything was kept clean. Plus Oliver sheds a bit. In general, we felt highly motivated to keep everything in order, both because it was our first house-sit through this website, and also simply because someone had entrusted all of us in our care and allowed us to stay there. 

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And of course, we had to learn to live with all the little things that go with living in a different country. The bathroom was a little chilly in the winter – so we opted to take the occasional baths in a tub in the kitchen, adding a little boiling water to heat the water just right.

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With only a washing machine and no dryer, we had to hang dry laundry throughout the apartment. Personally I (Briana) don’t mind this at all and have a little more experience with it but hang drying was a pretty new phenomenon to Kyle (even though they do it in most of the world it seems). 

The Ondol (heating system) broke once while we were there, resulting in us living a couple very cold days while we got it fixed. Luckily the landlord did bring a small space heater that helped in the meantime. Overall, not a big deal though it would have been moreso later in the winter.  A light went out in the bathroom, so I/Kyle spent an afternoon figuring out where to buy a spare light and then installing it. The keypad that serves as the door-lock started running out of batteries and acting up, which required a quick fix from us as well.

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The kitchen required some innovative thinking for preparing full meals in a timely manner. Not to mention, we had to figure out how to make do with available food ingredients from the grocer down the street. That was actually pretty fun as we were able to try out some new foods and explore a foreign grocery store (though there were plenty of familiar items). 

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While we certainly ran into a few hiccups here and there, it was truly an amazing experience, and the work we put in to maintain the apartment and pets was totally worth it for the opportunity to see and live in Korea as a local. We had plenty of upsides: close proximity to several parks, ready access to the Metro system, and even got to experience snow during the holidays.

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We enjoyed our house sit, and though we were ready to experience a new place (and warmth at the time), we certainly miss our time house sitting in Songtan and those little furballs (and turtle). Staying here and watching them made Korea feel almost like a new second home to us.

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And in a little over 2 months we will have another international housesit: Cyprus with 7 cats!! We’re pretty excited.

Monthly Roundup 13: March 2016

Summary of March 2016:
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March was a pretty big month. We celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary and five years of being together, my parents (back in FL) sold their house, one of my wisdom teeth started coming in,and of course, we did plenty more activities and traveling including a day cruise in Ha Long Bay, motorbiking around Cat Ba, wandering the streets of Hanoi, and flying to Bangkok. We developed a new skill as well. After our time in Vietnam, I think we can probably cross pretty much any road.

Where We’ve Been this Month:
Hanoi heart

7 days in Cat Ba Island, Vietnam
14 days in Hanoi, Vietnam
10 days in Bangkok, Thailand

Distance Traveled by airplane: 613 miles

Highlights:
Thai temple

1. 1 year married! We didn’t sleep the night before/the morning of, then went to the airport, I got a muffin, we both got sandwiches and we flew to Bangkok! Soo that was the day but it went well (especially once we arrived) and we had been married for one year.
2. Ha Long Bay Day Cruise. Ha Long Bay is a place that brings many travelers to Vietnam. We had looked at 2 and 3 day cruises but decided we would go to Cat Ba Island and do a day cruise from there instead due to costs. It was the right decision. We loved Cat Ba and the day cruise was good for us. We went through the floating villages, Lan Ha Bay (a less crowded area), and Ha Long Bay. We stopped to kayak in the bay which was a great experience and also had the opportunity to visit a private beach but it was too cold for all of us. Unfortunately, my film that was dedicated to Cat Ba and Ha Long (and Hanoi) was destroyed.
3. Motorbiking Cat Ba more (and to the National Park). This was such a fun experience. The island is beautiful and 2 wheels are the best way to see it. Cat Ba National Park had breath-taking views. Finally, we found the nature we had been looking for in Vietnam! The hike was a little hard for us as we hadn’t done any hiking since 2 months earlier in Korea but overall it was not a difficult hike. We climbed the mountain to Ngu Lam Peak. We had intended to climb to a different area but got lost. It was possibly a better alternative. Our time there was very enjoyable.
4. A Beach to Ourselves in Cat Ba. Yes, you read that right. When we finally made it to the beach, we got the whole thing to ourselves! At least for a little while. Then a couple (European?) tourists came out and started waving what I think was the flag of their country while wading in the cold water. Then a group of (other Asian?) tourists came and were waving scarfs around and takings lots of selfies. One of them took the flag from the first tourist (I assume the exchange was amicable but did not notice it) and started waving it themselves. Pretty odd/interesting.
5. Back to Hanoi. I have to say, I like Hanoi, especially in February and March. It’s cloudy, dreary, full of lakes, temples, and art galleries, and has a sort of romantic vibe to it. At least to me. I like the style of the buildings and enjoy just walking around Hanoi. We stayed in two different parts of Hanoi on separate occasions and while neither Airbnb was perfect and people were far less friendly than in Saigon, I thought the surrounding areas were nice. It felt more laid back (funny to call it that though because Vietnam is just chaos) than Saigon. It even rained a couple times which was great! It’s weird because the whole time we were there I just kept saying, “I really like Hanoi.” Kyle probably got tired of it.
6. Tacos Fresh and More!!! We discovered a Mexican place within walking distance of our place in Hanoi and went a few times. Prices were comparable to other food in the area and it was so good. I want to go back. On that note, Hanoi was super-vegetarian friendly. Maybe that also drew me in. Plus the bakeries. I guess just everything. It’s interesting because when I read/research it seems more people tend to have more bad experiences in Hanoi than in Ho Chi Minh.
7. Coffee. We simply cannot get enough of Vietnamese coffee! It’s so good in all of it’s forms. Our last evening in Hanoi was spent enjoying some coconut coffee from the second floor balcony of Cong Caphe.
8. Having a studio to ourselves in Bangkok! Complete with kitchen, desks, and a normal bathroom door. We were thrilled to arrive here on our anniversary. This was the first place we had on the first floor which meant we didn’t have to lug our baggage up five stories of narrow stair ways with stairs which were too small for our American-sized feet (Cat Ba). There was a pool literally right outside our back door, and the grocery store was in the complex and open 24 hours! Doesn’t get much better than that!
9. Wat Wachiratham Sathit Worawihan, or “the temple that was really close to us.” This place was so beautiful and ornate and we pretty much got the place to ourselves to explore. There is this positivity to the atmosphere that just being there made us feel happy and enriched. We visited twice, walked around, and pet the cows and stray cats.
10. The Malls (and prices) in Bangkok. We visited the two malls within walking distance: Seacon Square and Paradise Park. The malls (at least so far) in SE Asia are so great! They are large, clean, modern, and make us feel at home. We also went to this place in between called “Haha.” It is literally called that and it kind of like a mall. We picked up a few things here (mentioned later) which were highlights of their own. Also, everything is cheap! It’s soo nice being able to go to the mall and see a special pearl tea drink and being able to just get it!

Lowlights and disappointments :
Dragon

1. Bugs in the food. Number one thing!!! I am so tired of having bugs in my food! Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Cat Ba, Hanoi again. All bugs. I did not find bugs in my food at any specifically vegetarian place, though. This is good to note if you are traveling. Go to the vegetarian restaurants. If you are curious, the bugs are mostly ants and flies but I have read about other people finding cockroaches. I think many people may not notice the bugs, but I notice because I am always closely inspecting my food.
2. Those small stairs I mentioned earlier. I scraped my heel pretty bad going down them one time. It bled.
3. Lack of hot water. So, technically there was hot water and Kyle got it but I think I got one maybe one hot shower before we got to Bangkok. In Cat Ba I could usually get about 45 seconds of hot water so I would quickly wash my hair during this time. In Hanoi, the water was lukewarm, which would be okay if it were not cold in the room.
4. No kitchen in Hanoi. Honestly, the Airbnb (our 2nd in Hanoi) was not as advertised correctly at all. We were very disappointed and gave our first non-five star rating. It was a hostel, not a house, we could not use the kitchen, the washer was not accessible to us, the room was not as pictured, and it was just tiny. We were stuck there for 2 weeks. Luckily, it was a great location within Hanoi.
5. My toe. One morning, I woke up and got out of bed to find out that ahh! My toe! What happened while I was sleeping?? I have no idea. I thought, “Hmm, this hurts pretty bad but it will probably be better by tomorrow or the next day.” I limped around blah blah blah. Well, it’s been about a month now and it is just starting to heal from the invisible person damaging it in the night. The point that it’s at right now is that if I step on it, I do not get pain so much, but rather shooting tingles. For now, I am still only able to wear my soft moccasins.
6. No special nature outings in Hanoi. We wanted to go so many places in north Vietnam like the beautiful landscapes of Sapa, Ha Giang, and Ninh Binh as well as Ban Gioc Falls, among several others. It’s funny (well, maybe not) because going to Vietnam, I was mildly interested in Hanoi and but had little interest in Saigon. I really wanted to see the middle of Vietnam like Hue and Da Nang. After we decided we weren’t going to go to that area I wanted to do Da Lat, and then when we didn’t go there, I said number one place I want to go most is Ninh Binh. We also didn’t go there. It was simply circumstances. We were going to do some of these outings from Hanoi but our places in Hanoi were not super. We didn’t even have a lock on our first bedroom door and then on the next one we had people try to get in a couple times (we think, which is a lowlight in itself). I also could not walk properly the second the time we were in Hanoi. All in all, though, we had a nice time in Vietnam and I was glad we did end up seeing both of the major cities in Vietnam but we are a little sad we missed out on some of the most beautiful areas.
7. Fighting in Vietnam! We saw and heard many fights during our time in Vietnam. At one time in one of our hotels we also heard what we think was domestic violence.
8. The ATM fees. I really wish we had gotten that card I was trying to get before we left. I knew it would be a problem (though of course Kyle being his normal self had no worries) and it really is ridiculous.
9. Phone stuff. There are a few apps which we have found we tend to need while traveling. Uber is one of them. It would have been difficult to get around in Malaysia without it. WhatsApp is another because it is the way we generally communicate with our Airbnb hosts. Well, Kyle’s phone is too outdated now for just about any app period and while my phone doesn’t have these issues, I can’t seem to get the data to work (we should have data in Thailand, Malaysia, many other countries, though not Vietnam) which can be problematic because if I don’t have wifi I can’t use them. It’s not like we don’t figure things out. It just makes everything a lot harder. Kyle’s phone also racked up a bill when he had to call the bank about the new card and also when we had to call the IRS to get our special pin numbers. He said his phone was set only to wifi calling but who knows really (I asked him to check but of course he didn’t). So paying for that is his (early) birthday present from his parents.
10. General lack of mobility. Due to the difficulty with renting a motorbike near us, not having a place to park it at our place, and my toe hurting we were not able to travel as far. We really hoped to return to the delicious vegetarian place up by our original Airbnb in Hanoi but were not able to make it. Not such a bad lowlight, just a little disappointing.
(Dis)honorable mentions: not sleeping the night before our anniversary due to an early plane ride (early for us), the Ailu Cat cafe in Hanoi (we did not think the cats were treated well enough here and were not as healthy but we did enjoy giving them pets), Kyle burning himself with hot water (no lasting burn).

Funny or Weird:
Railroad in Hanoi

1. So skinny! Everywhere I go (at least in Malaysia and Vietnam), and often as soon as I meet people they say to me “You are sooo thin!” And after they see me eat “How are you so skinny?” They will mention something to Kyle like “You are thin too but she is just really skinny.” I don’t know if it’s because we are Americans and they expect us to be fat or if it’s just because many Asian people tend to be more open/blunt about these things. People used to tell me these things in the US but more recently people tell me that I “look healthy.” I have definitely gained a little weight but I think it is interesting that people in one of the most underweight countries in the world more often tell me that I look thin.
2. Strange couple. After our day cruise to Ha Long Bay, we were walking back towards our hotel looking for dinner. A couple noticed us looking at menus and said “We know this great place that is also cheap” so we said “Okay” and followed them. Well, we sat down at a table and they sat down there but with a space in between us. They then proceeded to talk to each other in a couple different languages, none of which were English, basically ignoring us. They were an 18 year old Dutch couple. So weird. I don’t know if it is the generation or the nationality or if they specifically are just weird.
2. Green Tea Kit Kats. We have been seeing green (and pretty much only green) Kit Kats all over Asia. Once we arrived in Bangkok we decided to try them. I can only describe the flavor as “interesting.” I mean, it tastes like a green tea Kit Kat.
3. Little dinosaurs. Okay, they are not actual little dinosaurs but rather little lizards that made our way into every single place we stayed at in Vietnam. They were cute and we enjoyed their company but there were several times in Cat Ba where they would just start making these little dinosaur sounds above our heads in the middle of the night.
4. Loving Hut, as an upscale restaurant. I like loving hut and have been to a few. They are typically nice but more casual restaurants. If you don’t know about Loving Hut it’s a vegan restaurant with locations worldwide. When I used to feed the homeless regularly in Orlando, Loving Hut would often donate some food to contribute (so I would often pick food up there on the way.) It’s really good, too. We went to one in Hanoi during our first time there but thought it was the only location in Hanoi. One day after returning to Hanoi and after finishing our visit at the Vietnamese Women’s Museum we stumbled across another. At first we could not figure out how to get inside but after asking someone about it we got a security escort to the door, an escort to the elevator, several well-dressed people bringing us into this restaurant, etc. We did not realize what we were getting ourselves into. While the prices were higher than we generally care to pay, they weren’t too bad  (200,000VND, or about $9 for our meal including an appetizer, 2 meals, and a drink).

Firsts:
Loving Hut Hanoi

Us:
It’s a little harder to find firsts this month somehow!                                                                                       The Loving Hut was the first time we had someone bring our food out on a special tray with another person there to carefully take the food off the tray and set it in front of us.
On our travels, going back to Hanoi was our first time sort of backtracking.
The first cat cafe we weren’t entirely thrilled about.
First time walking across six lanes of busy traffic and feeling pretty comfortable.

Budget:
Ha Long

So the main downside to this month was taxes. While everyone else is out rejoicing over their refunds, all the freelancers are paying taxes. Kyle was only employed regularly for January through March of 2015 (he was laid off in early April) with a couple weeks of that being taken up by the wedding and honeymoon. I was working part-time. After this, we both did independent contract work. In case you are not aware, federal and state income taxes are not just taken out of the paychecks of people doing this type of work. They have to pay at the end of the year. I don’t think we made enough for much (if any) to really be taken out in this area. The thing with independent contractor work, though, is that even if you were to get back all of your federal and state income taxes, you still have to pay the 15% independent contractor tax on your income regardless of how much you made (as long as it was over $600). If you have a regular job, your employer covers half of this but if you are freelancing, you pay all of it. Some of this may have been offset by any return on whatever we would have gotten back had we only been regular workers, but we still paid taxes. This was our first year (a partial year) as freelancers. We are thinking of trying to pay quarterly this year but for us things are a little difficult in general because we can never quite predict how much we will make. This month, had we not had to pay taxes, our income would have been about on par with our spendings.
Ok, let’s get to the spendings breakdown. If you don’t count the taxes we paid, we spent $1880 this month. Yes, that is the most we have spent in a month since being abroad. There are reasons the spendings were higher which I will explain and detail below, though. It was actually a little more than this, also still, not counting the taxes we paid (around $2000) but I did it a little differently and the details will bore you if the first paragraph didn’t already. In terms of the most we have ever paid in a month, just for comparison, last year we had a few months that were about double this due to moving across country and our initial plane tickets, among a number of other things.
Accommodation: So, our “rent” for this month was $456. Rent = the amount paid for the accommodation we stayed at in March. The amount we spent on accommodation, though, was $866. During March, we paid for nearly half of March and the entire month of April (minus 1 day). Our most expensive accommodation during March was our 2 weeks in Hanoi. It was also our worst accommodation (funny how that works). Our main problem was not planning in advance. You plan in advance and then you don’t leave yourself open to opportunities that arise. You don’t plan ahead you get stuck with problems and paying more money. We do a mix but are just starting to plan ahead a little more. Of our future accommodations that we paid for, Cambodia was most expensive. At $19 a night after fees/cleaning, it was the cheapest place we could find in Siem Reap that offered us a private (not shared) room in someone’s house with internet, and a lock on our door (we didn’t realize that was something we had to specifically search for prior to our first place in Hanoi). We are really excited to see Cambodia, though.
Food: So, I may have said this before but food includes actual food, water (which we have to buy), toilet paper, paper towels, any alcohol we purchase, etc. We spent a total of $469 on food this month with $238 spent on groceries and $231 spent on food out. We thought we were going to be able to cook in Hanoi but there was no kitchen so we ate out and bought things like fruit, dried fruit, and bread to munch on in our small room. We tend to be hungry sort of constantly and stay up really late so when everything was closed outside, we needed to have some food accessible in our room.
Transportation: One international plane ride (for both of us), 2 bus-boat-bus rides, several taxis, and renting a motorbike plus gas and parking came out to $276.
Entertainment/Activities: We spent $20 total on entrance to a park, entrance to a National Park, 2 museums, a cat cafe, a temple, and our visit to the Temple of Literature.
General/fixed-ish: $130 (storage, work stuff, etc. car insurance was paid twice last month, not this month so it’s less.)
Laundry: $9 At our place in Hanoi where we should have been able to do it for free, we were charged per kg and then in Bangkok where we didn’t know we’d be able to do it at all (so this was nice), we used the (coin) machines in the first condo complex (and bought a little detergent).
ATM Fees, plus foreign transaction fees: $40 Don’t even want to talk about it.
Miscellaneous: This month, this section included public restrooms, tips, currency that didn’t get used, something Kyle had to replace, and other things. I will detail the items not mentioned. The total for everything was $70.
Item 1: We bought our first souvenir! (Aside from a couple things we sent back from Korea). We were at the Vietnamese Women’s Museum and saw these cat paintings/prints made by a Vietnamese artist for 90,000VND (~$4) and decided to buy one. It can fit into a folder so it’s something we can carry. We feel pretty good about it. If we ever start a cat cafe we may hang it there. We really wish we could have gotten some of the beautiful artwork we saw in Hanoi but it was not realistic to carry around or ship it home.
Item 2/3: Every day Kyle talks about how he wishes he had an instrument to play. We did not exchange Christmas presents so we decided his Christmas present could be a $28 ukulele and the $6 case. It’s a pretty cheap ukulele but it plays fine and he can bring it wherever and now he won’t complain anymore.
Item 4: I had brought at least 2 pair of nail clippers but somehow both got misplaced. They are obviously very necessary, though on that note, only for me. Kyle, who tends to let his nails grow too long to begin with IMO, simply tears them away with his hands! It’s so strange! My nails are strong so I could not do this (and wouldn’t want to) but is anyone else like this?
Item 5: Clothes! I barely brought any summer tops (meanwhile Kyle has like a million t-shirts) so we decided I could get a couple. I ended up getting a dress which cost $2.81 and a shirt for $5.80 (the equivalent prices) and am pretty happy with them.
Also on the note of budget, my parents gave us a nice anniversary gift of money. We did buy the clothes and ukulele after this but they said to use it on activities we would not have otherwise done. If you notice, we tend to like to limit ourselves to activities that are under $10, and often under $5. Here are some of the activities we are thinking about now (we are also open to suggestions):
Bangkok- The Grand Palace: $11.50/person. The reason we are not sure about this one is because there is so much else to do here that costs less and because we think it is likely crowded.
Siem Reap- Phare, the Cambodian Circus: $18/person. This is a human circus. Some of the performers are recruited for Cirque du Soleil.
We were thinking about looking into activities in India next until we looked more into Visa things and also got this message from a potential Airbnb host: “Chennai will be quite hot at the time you plan to visit and so would be many more places in India as its summer here. You can only go out in early mornings and maybe evenings due to the heat. Do you really want to spend so many days in Chennai? If you need help to find out better cooler places, let me know, I will be more than happy to help.” When your Airbnb host tells you not to come, maybe you shouldn’t come? We were also having difficulty finding places which didn’t have a fixed amount of internet per month which we found a little confusing and potentially problematic. We will sill make it to India at some point just maybe not right now.
Now we are re-looking into the idea of Sri Lanka.
One big activity we have thought about there is a Safari ($30-$40). That one we are most interested in is in Yala National Park so we are not sure if we will be able to make it over there, though.

Work:
Fish painting

Kyle had a return client from like 8 months ago which is great! It was just a small project but still nice. He also did several t-shirt designs for another client which look so good! In addition to these he finished up a project he had been doing and got the final deposit and also had a “test” for a client which took up a bit of time and then they only paid him half of what they said they would for the test. Allegedly they may have work for him some time, eventually, though. For another test which did not work out he did not get paid anything.
I continued writing but at the end I broke up with my primary client as the pay is simply too low and takes up too much of my time (for the pay) so I am giving myself time now to seek out other opportunities.

Health and Fitness:
Bakery in Hanoi

When we arrived at our second place in Bangkok on the 31st we had to walk to the grocery store and carry back tons of groceries from a mile away, crossing many streets along the way. This was quite the work out and my shoulder and arm muscles ached for a couple days. Despite this, and lots of walking, I think we need to work out more. We would both like to do more yoga, acro-yoga, and general stretching. We also want to do more hikes. My feet just hurt all the time, though.                                                                                                                                                                         While we are getting a lot more fruit, we definitely took advantage of the cheap bakeries in Vietnam on the daily. Starting later in California, I think we also eat too much fried food. In general, we probably still eat healthier and get more activity than your average person/American but we could certainly do better. In terms of mental health, my parents selling their house made me ponder the concept of “home” more but both of us have good mental health as well aside from worrying about having enough work sometimes.

Media consumed:
Art

This month we discovered podcasts! It’s not that we didn’t know about them before but we started getting really into podcasts on the subjects of travel, entrepreneurship, and being a digital nomad. We also listened to NPR sometimes which I have been doing for years but not normally from my computer. We were able to watch Netflix more when we had a good internet connection and watched (while working) the entire season of Fuller House (watch it! it’s a good show and funnier than Full House- though just as cheesy) and re-watched Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt which we both love and you should watch. We also watched a couple episodes of the John Oliver show and the newest episodes of Better Call Saul.

Food missed:
Kyle: Avocados would be nice. And pitas.
Briana: Oatmeal with fruit. Popcorn. I want to eat a lot of cheese. And butter. Toast. Tater tots. And I want more guac!!!