We enjoy gardens and parks (here’s a post we did a while back about some of the local ones we enjoy around San Jose). In general, they’re a nice place to just go for a stroll – so when we explored Google maps to check out what was around us and found Jevremovac Botanical Garden we decided to give it a go.
After a little research we also found that these gardens are allegedly actually one of the most visited natural monuments in Serbia despite not showing up on any “Things to do in Belgrade” type lists we found. If you are limited on time in Serbia you probably won’t get to it but if you’re there a while (we were there over a month) or nearby, it’s a nice place to go wander around for a little bit. In general, and this is the vibe we get from Belgrade as a whole – we found the area to be peaceful and pleasant.
Altogether the park contains over 2,500 plant species spread over 12 acres. Some have labels to help you identify them.
There are benches throughout certain areas of the park for anyone who gets tired or just feels like taking in the scenery and sounds of birds.
Now, I’m sure the garden may appear different at different times of year, but also keep in mind that it’s not open year-round (info at the bottom).
Anyway, you can wander about and enjoy the general park/forest garden, but there are also a few specific places within Jevremovac worth mentioning:
The Japanese Garden
We really enjoy the aesthetic of Japanese Gardens. Of course, as far as I can recall we’ve only been to two others – the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Jose and the Japanese Garden on Margaret Island in Budapest (both impressive). We thought about visiting one in Vancouver which is supposed to be great but it was closed the day we planned to visit Vancouver (and prices were a bit high for us). This one was a little smaller than the other two but also very pretty.
Not far from it there’s also this little bamboo area you can walk through which is neat.
The greenhouse on the property was built in Victorian-style (which we enjoyed) in 1892 (and reconstructed again in 1970, 2005, and 2014) and contains over 1,000 species.
Inside there are all kinds of different intriguing plants, succulents, and cacti.
When we first made it to the greenhouse we also saw a couple cats and fortunately we had cat treats with us so we sat and enjoyed the company of one of them (the other one was scared).
There is also a 150-year-old oak tree inside which is a natural monument itself. (Sorry, don’t have a pic of it.)
Now for a little history: the garden was created in 1874 by the Ministry of Education of Serbia. The first manager (Josif Pancic) is said to be the “father of Serbian botany”. So this place is pretty significant in Serbia in terms of plants. About a decade after its creation, the king (Jevrem Obrenovic) donated the garden to the Great School in Belgrade and named it Jevremovac in honor of his grandfather.
And here’s some basic info for a visit: Cost: 250 Serbian Dinar (~$2/person) Address: Takovska 43, Beograd, Serbia Hours: 9am-7pm May 1 – Nov 1 Note: Keep in mind that this attraction is only open from May through November
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.
Getting around Bangkok is not too difficult a feat to accomplish. It’s a large metropolitan area however, so you’re not going to be able to just walk around to get where you need. It’s not as easy or extensive as Seoul – though it’s less daunting; but it’s also far more convenient than Kuala Lumpur or Vietnam. There is a wide variety of ways to manage getting around.
In this entry, I’ll also include motorbike taxis or Xe Oms. They’re easy to discover, they tend to wear orange vests that display their license (which is nice). The motorbikes are not likely able to carry multiple people or with large packs, but can be great for a short distance.
Tuk tuks are the pretty much the same as throughout the rest of Southeast Asia. They can be convenient, and if you find a reputable driver – nice. But it’s very easy to get ripped off, scammed, and just generally fed up with them. We don’t like using them, but it’s up to you if you want to use them. We wouldn’t recommend using them if you’re traveling a long distance, but for a short distance, it may be ok if you agree to a price before hopping on.
As with most other cities, taxis are the first and most obvious mode of transportation that you’ll take. They’ll overcharge you if you come from the airport (don’t they always?), but elsewhere, the rates are pretty reasonable. We only took a taxi a few times – but they were usually quite straightforward. Our first taxi didn’t quite seem to know where he was going, but figured it out rather quickly. The second taxi didn’t really speak English, but I showed him the address and a map and he got us there for 100 Baht (~$2.50). Our final taxi took us to the bus stop quite easily as well for around 150 Baht.
Grabbing a taxi is very simple as well, we never bothered to call for one – we simply walked out to the street and waved one down. There always seemed to be a taxi no matter where we were. It literally took me 30 seconds to flag down a taxi each time. One thing to keep in mind, is that traffic is awful in Bangkok, so the taxi will ask you if you want to take a toll road (highway) to get where you’re going, which you’ll have to pay for. We didn’t do it the first time, and it cost us overan hour’s drive – we took it the second time, paid 70 baht, and got where we were going within 20 minutes.
Be sure to use a metered taxi though! It will be cheaper, despite what the driver may say, but generally if you say use the meter, they will do it without complaint.
If you find yourself anywhere along the river, you can take boat taxis. In fact, if you want to get to some temples, you may need to use these (Temple of Dawn). We never did end up using them, mainly because we just didn’t have it in our itinerary, but if you do there are a few things to keep in mind.
There are three main waterways: Chao Phraya River (the main river), Klong Saen Saeb (cuts across Bangkok), and Klongs of Thonburi (networks of canals throughout the city.
There are 6 boat types: River Taxis, Long Tails (tuk tuks on water), Ferry, Canal Boats, Private Cruises, and Hotel Shuttles. These are pretty self-explanatory and unless a tour or hotel has already arranged these for you, you will only be bothering with River Taxis, Long Tails, and Ferries.
There are 5 types of River Boat, indicated by the flags, and these will be how you decide which you want to take:
No flag(local line) – Stops at every Pier
Blue flag(tourist boat) – Stops when you want. Will cost more, but may be more convenient.
Orange flag – Stops at main piers
Yellow flag – Large express boat for commuters
Green flag – Express boat for commuters
If you want to take one, it is easiest to access the Sathorn Central Pier, located in front of BTS Skytrain Station Saphan Taksin.
City buses are a convenient way to get around as well (though we never did use them). Generally quite cheap, with fares ranging from 7 to 20 Baht. They run 24/7, so they may be your go-to if you find yourself out after the metro has shut down. There are 12 lines of service, and most will have a stop near the main hotels.
Buses with blue signs in the window will run normal routes and stop at all bus stops, while yellow sign buses use expressways and have a limited locations. You purchase your ticket on the bus itself. Be sure to search a map beforehand though, to know which route you want to take.
Or arrange for a bus across international borders, such as we did for entering Cambodia. You read more about that here.
Van / Minibus / Truck:
You may notice throughout Bangkok what appears to be vans or trucks, with open backs and benches along the back. These are like buses, and tend to run some of the same routes, and some of the smaller routes that normal buses won’t frequent. You can simply hop on and pay the attendant a small fee (5 – 20 baht) and simply ride until you get where you need to go. Just let the driver or attendant know when you want to get off and you can simply walk off the back.
Metro / Subway / MRT:
Our primary method of getting around Bangkok was via the Metro, Skytrain, BTS Rail. It is not a streamlined as Seoul by any means – but they aren’t too difficult to manage. There are numerous stations that you can enter. When you come into the station, you will have your bags checked for bombs/contraband, but it’s pretty simple, and nothing at all like the airport (just open your backpack and you’re good).
Once in, you’ll usually find a small assortment of stalls selling food or drink. Ticket vending machines, which conveniently run in Thai and English, stand throughout. Simply tell the kiosk which station you want to go, then feed in the bills or coins. This makes for wonderful way to get rid of excess coins you’ll undoubtably collect. Once purchased, you will receive either plastic coins or cards to swipe to get to the platform. If you would prefer to talk to a person, there are regular kiosk operators as well (great if you have large bills to break).
Trains tend to arrive every 10 minutes, and can be a little crowded. We didn’t make it in once and had to wait for the next train, but usually it’s not a problem.
When you arrive at the station you will either leave completely or transfer to the next station. The stations are not as seamlessly integrated as Seoul. This means possibly needing to leave your current station and entering a new one, especially when changing from Skytrain to Subway. It’s not too difficult to manage, but it can throw you for a loop the first time you ride. You will need to purchase a new ticket at each station though.
If you are going to be in Bangkok for a while, you can purchase a longterm rechargeable card for a more streamlined process. Keep in mind, that there seem to be no bathrooms within the metro system – so take care of business before you travel!
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.
The roundup is later than normal not because it took me longer to write it but because I forgot to post it (it’s actually been sitting here ready to be posted for several days-oops). Anyway, back in the last roundup in October I mentioned that we weren’t really sure what was going to happen in the following few months and it could have gone many different ways but in the end Kyle was offered the job in California and now here we are sitting in our very own apartment in San Jose. I haven’t decided if I’ll be continuing the roundups after this but if I do they’ll be a little different because we are no longer traveling full time. I originally wrote this to be very long with the full format for both November and December but I changed it to November and an abbreviated version for December. I hardly got on my computer the first few weeks in December which is why the November roundup didn’t get up then. We kept ourselves busy both months and, as per normal, there are various of things I will probably leave out of the post simply because it’s already going to be long and I have to use some discretion.
Where We’ve Been
31 days in Budapest (part day plus a flight with a short layover in Oslo before arriving in Orlando to be picked up and brought to Jacksonville)
8 days in Florida (specifically: Fleming Island, Niceville, and Destin)
3 days on the road including a night in San Antonio and a night in Tucson
19 days in San Jose, CA
Distance Traveled by..
November Foot Over 100 miles
December Plane 5,525 miles Car ~3,000 miles
November: 1. The Christmas Markets! They’ll get their own post but we went to multiple Christmas markets within Budapest and we went to the one in Vorosmarty Ter three times. I really enjoyed everything about them, especially the mulled wine! 2. The Baths. We tried to go to a different, cheaper public bath but it didn’t work out (we’ll write about that later) so we thought, you know what, let’s just splurge and do Szechenyi. It’s iconic Budapest (at least for tourists) and we already wanted to at least see it (which itself costs money) so we went there. We had a great time! 3. Margaret Island. I am sure this place is nice year-round but it was just lovely in the Fall. There is a bunch of different stuff to see/do there, but this too will get its own post. 4. Gellert Hill Outing. Before we went to Budapest I saw a picture of a place in the city on Pinterest and thought ‘I want to go there!’ so I asked my mom to ask Jutid where it was and she said it was Gellert Hill. It was just as beautiful in person and luckily I feel we were able to capture that with our camera. 5. Pinball Museum. My favorites games there were actually the non-pinball games like shooting and bowling but we both had fun. 6. The Great Market Hall. 7. Trash day, also known as lomtalanítás. This was unexpected and interesting. 8. Ice skating. Okay, another slight splurge, but where else are we going to get a chance to ice-skate in front of a castle?? 9. Sweets. Everything from the grocery store bakery section sweets, to candy, to ice cream, to the market desserts, to a Tiramisu coffee, we enjoyed many different sweets this month. 10. Panineria. We ate here the night before we left and Kyle just raved about his sandwich. Mine was also good and I especially liked the dessert.
December: Our highlights included seeing people and pets, Christmas celebrations and Christmas decorations/displays, nice gifts, heated seats, good views on our drive, finding a place (and one with a washer and dryer and a dishwasher), having our things, food and drink, knitting and playing instruments, the mountains, making a couple travel videos (did you see our spin video and follow video?) because it’s fun for me, and Kyle liking his job so far.
November was fun, but various things (see lowlights) also interfered with plans at times. They’re not in chronological order. 1. Sick/Virus. Look up norovirus. I don’t know for sure if it’s what we had but basically those symptoms. First Kyle got it and then after a few days I contracted it from him. It was just terrible. You pretty much don’t stop throwing up for the first 12-24 hours and it’s just exhausting. I think Kyle stopped throwing up after his initial time period but I continued beyond this, just with longer intervals in between. Between us we were out for a week and it took longer than that to feel all the way better. 2. Workers Outside. Really not a big deal but the workers outside could be kind of loud in the morning which would wake us up. A couple days they also actually blocked our door painting or something so we were not able to leave. 3. Planning Stress. First there was the wait to see if he really had the job and then we were waiting on a finalized start date while also trying to plan our time in Florida and getting across country while not knowing just what awaited us in terms of how much stuff we would need to do in each place (Kyle’s parents’, my mom’s, my dad’s, and my grandma’s), what my parents’ work schedules might require, etc. We were also trying to figure out whether or not a stop in Orlando was realistic, decide if Kyle was trading his car with his parents, decide if we were or were not going to take both cars and cats on our initial drive across country and the implications for which hotels we could stay at, figure out if we could tow one car, and estimate how long we should book a place/how long we’d be apartment hunting. We were also trying to look at apartments online but the rents changing by hundreds per month from day to day (at the same places) and we were trying to figure out if we really could live alone or needed roommates especially not knowing what exactly the wage would be at that time, and so on. 3. Knocked Down. When we decided we were done ice-skating Kyle said he wanted to go one more time around so I said that’s fine but I am tired and went and sat down. After he was done he told me I needed to do the same. I said I didn’t want to but he said I must so fine I went on the rink and within about fifteen seconds this little girl flies out of nowhere into my legs and knocks me hard to the ground. It hurt and my hand bled and I experienced pain in my hand for many days and a mark for a couple weeks. And that was just a couple hours before I got sick. 4. Not Getting In. The first time we went to the Pinball Museum it was closed for an event (not disclosed on their website or any of their social media because we checked) which was pretty upsetting because we planned our whole day around it but we did end up going back on a day it was open. Then there was the NY Cafe, the most beautiful cafe in the world. We tried to go in one night and wow, we felt so out of place and underdressed we had to leave immediately. We were really in the mood for ice cream, though, so we searched Maps for another ice cream place but saw it had already closed so then we searched for another but when we arrived it was closed too. So then we went to Burger King and got ice cream there which was pretty good. 5. Souvenirs. Just all the cool stuff we didn’t or couldn’t get for ourselves or others (like the item in the cover photo) because they were too big, too fragile, etc.
December: Our lowlights for December included not having as much time as we wanted with family and friends, not having enough time to go through all my stuff or the room for all of it, getting sick again (me)- I had a cold in Niceville and pretty much literally did not stop blowing my nose on the entire car ride across country, Kyle’s wage being lower than he was originally told (though it was balanced by cheaper insurance and better benefits but was initially a concern), moving expenses, us planning our schedules around a particular work date and then arriving to California only for his work to tell him they changed it meaning not only could we have done things a little differently (though it did work out well) but he also was not getting paid for those two days which we were sort of counting on, not getting holiday pay for two four day weekends and one three day weekend because he had not been in the system long enough, finding out he won’t get paid at all until mid-January, and finding out that we are missing a bunch of stuff (such as most of our tupperware, our crock pots, some mugs, our ladle, a few small souvenirs from Budapest we had in the car, and some things I hope are somewhere at my parents’ places but that I didn’t come across).
First time having mulled wine.
Kyle’s first Christmas market.
Kyle first time ice skating in a foreign country (it might have been mine too but I don’t remember). What is crazy is that he never went ice-skating at all until he was in college!
Kyle’s first time having a curly mustache. December
Farthest north we’ve been together (Oslo).
First time with our own place that we are renting long-term while married (lol).
First time seeing Augustine lights (me).
Kyle first time donating his hair.
Interestingly NOT our first time driving across country from FL to CA nor our first time moving to San Jose.
November cost $1085.56. Accommodation The cost of our place for the month was $530. Yes, one of our more expensive places, but worth it. We didn’t actually pay that this month and instead paid our final payment of $180 towards it which brings our actual spendings down to $738.56 this month. Food Wow, so uh, we spent $181.96 on groceries this month. We were pretty amazed last month when we only spent $235 and this month we significantly cut that! And everywhere (including the market near us) took cards so there were only a couple time we had to use cash so we can see our spendings online. I don’t really understand how we spent so little but I think a few things played a role. Kyle barely ate at all for like a week (when we were sick). Illness has never been able to keep me from eating so I did eat (especially kiwis which I was craving like crazy) in between throwing up but I also ate less for a few days. Another idea: I wouldn’t have thought this would have played a role but we literally went to the store like every day so maybe that somehow helped us keep our costs down too. We also shopped around- for example, the avocados were way cheaper at the market than at the grocery store. There were like five to seven different grocery stores we went to based on what we wanted/needed and prices. The specific dishes we were making may also have been playing a role. I mean, we do try to be careful with our spendings but I feel we used a similar level of care in each location. Maybe groceries are just cheaper in Serbia and Hungary than we realized. I mean we look at the prices of everything when we buy it but with us moving locations and the currencies and exchange rates changing everywhere it can be confusing. I think certain currencies make us more frugal than others for whatever reason. Of course, that was not all we spent on food. We also spent $55.68 on food out including 9 ice creams, 2 donuts, a chimney cake, langos, coffee, mulled wine, a pita, a piece of pizza, a kebab, fisherman’s soup in a bread bowl, a burger, 3 sandwiches, 2 fries, a salad, and another dessert. So we spent $237.64 total on food. Entertainment/Outings We tend to like to keep this pretty low due to the number of free and cheap activities available in many regions but in Budapest more activities require fees (there are even parks which require you to pay to enter there) and some activities are expensive. We chose not to do a couple things we were interested in due to price but we weren’t going to go there to not do things. We ended up spending $87.83. If we hadn’t got sick and had the construction workers blocking our door it would have been higher though because we had several more things we really wanted to do which cost money such as the Bear Sanctuary and a couple of caves close to Obuda. We just didn’t get a chance before we left. Regular stuff$141.44 for storage, Netflix, Google Storage, Dropbox, and Adobe Creative Cloud. Miscellaneous$75.77 on souvenirs, gifts, and developing a little bit of film. Fees$12.88
Now for December. Because we are no longer traveling, even if I continue the roundups I will no longer be disclosing these relatively full, informative financial reports because it would probably be weird. If we are able to travel I might talk about the cost of trips, though and I will still note things of significance like wow we only spent so much on this or wow this was so much.
The December budget was pretty significant. WE SPENT MORE MONEY THAN WE HAVE EVER SPENT IN A SINGLE MONTH EVER (I have been tracking our spendings for years but even if I hadn’t this would be obvious). That amount of money would have lasted us months traveling (UGH). And we basically couldn’t work the entire month, though we both got paid a very small bit for things we did last month. Costs included everything from the apartment stuff (application fee, deposit, rent for December, rent for January), transportation stuff (driving across country, renting a uHaul, the smog test, registration, a new license, etc.), a place to stay while looking for a place (less than a week at one of the cheapest Airbnbs we could find still came close to what we were often paying for a place per month abroad in Asia), bills for electricity and internet already coming in, all of our regular expenses, food, and more.
Kyle: Work for me over these past two months has been a little weird, but then it always seems to be a little weird. I finished up a large project in November and began another large project which has just wrapped up now after the holidays. I’m happy to report that both ultimately went off without a hitch, although there was some last minute understandings on the first project that did get taken care of. As well I had some work from one of my regular clients that I was able to finish up as we left Budapest and took care of packing in Florida. I’m happy to report that I have been hired as an artist at the University of California Santa Cruz and the role itself is great, but I will miss the regular travel. Briana: I don’t feel like writing a lot more just to say the same things I’ve said most other months. Pretty much things were the same for November. I was unable to work in December, especially at the beginning. If I had chosen to work I couldn’t have taken care of the things I needed to do and I would have had to basically ignore our families to earn a low wage so I lost my clients. I can still do my flashcards though and I did one set at the end of the month. I can also still log onto a tutor site and wait to see if anyone needs help with something within my knowledge base. I tried to find some community college teaching jobs which I’d be qualified for which would be starting the Spring semester but I only found one which I did not get. Obviously we were busy with all kinds of other stuff this month and I also worked on the travel videos and other things.
Health and Fitness
As I said above, we walked well over 100 miles in November alone in Budapest. We did our first hike back in California on the day after Christmas. Since we have gotten settled Kyle has started working out a little bit everyday and I have been trying to stretch a little everyday. It was fairly rare for us to do any exercising, stretching, yoga, etc. on our travels because of many reasons which varied by time and place but now we can more easily get back into doing these things. It helps that we have carpet. In terms of food we have been making more Mexican food but we are still eating pretty healthy.
Next Month/Next year
What’s in store for next month? We will continue to get back into the swing of the ‘normal’ life, though I think we’re pretty much already there. We both have so much more time than we did while traveling which is really nice. I’ll explain the reasons in another post. We’ll be further organizing and decorating our place and doing our regular hikes. Hopefully my car and our furry friends will be arriving. In terms of the blog, I will probably be working on articles about the year, maybe a “year roundup” and/or travel superlatives (our favorite cities, food, etc. from the past year), possibly one on our overall travel budget, things we’d do differently, and so on. Of course, there are lots of other articles Kyle has been wanting me to write that I have been putting off for many months ago, such as the Batu Caves, Angkor Wat, and so on. So we’ll see. Kyle will probably be writing more on Serbia and Hungary.
In the same way we reviewed ice cream bars in Korea and Malaysia, and soju and other alcoholic beverages in Korea, we also reviewed some of the new fruits we tried in Southeast Asia! Oh how I could go for some of these fruits now! Of course, I am a big fan of fruit but even Kyle who is not usually big on fruit found himself eating it often when we were in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, and (especially) Vietnam. Many of these were packed with nutrients, keeping us healthy while we worked and traveled.
We had actually already tried a couple of these (I’ll mention it) in the U.S., but there were others we hadn’t even heard of until we saw them! Not all of these fruits are native to Asia. Some, like dragonfruit and rambutan actually originate in regions in the Americas but they have all come to be common in parts of SE Asia. Because of the weather, many are available year-round. With the growth of supermarkets like Whole Foods, some are bound to be available in the U.S. more frequently now as well, though. Once we are back in San Jose we plan to return to the big Asian grocery stores there in hopes of finding some of them. Unfortunately, there is no way most (if any) of it will be as cheap as it was in Asia, but we’ll see!
For each fruit I’ll note the name we used and other names it may go by, where we tried it first, a little bit about our experience with it, our initial reviews, and variations we encountered. At the end I will also mention some fruits we didn’t get to try and our experiences with some other fruits across our travels.
Dragonfruit Also known as: pitaya/pitahaya We first tried it in: Saigon, Vietnam (District 1) Story: Due to our circumstances, Vietnam was a sort of last minute decision (I believe we bought tickets less than a week in advance) and we found ourselves a little preoccupied our last few days in Kuala Lumpur so we didn’t have time to do a lot of research on the country before we arrived in Ho Chi Minh. That actually made it even more fun! Really! We actually got to experience a little shock. Anyway, once we arrived in Ho Chi Minh, as per usual, we found ourselves to be hungry. We went wandering but all we found was people selling food in little stands on the street and we had trouble discerning what might be vegetarian (or really what any of the food was in general). Exhausted due to the day’s journey there, we returned to our place and Kyle went out looking for groceries. He returned with a bunch of fruit (including dragonfruit) he had bought in what he said had appeared to be someone’s living room to give us energy to figure things out. Dragonfruit was one of these fruits. We were both pretty excited about it because of how crazy it looked.
We actually weren’t wild about the taste at first, but over time it really grew on both of us. (We also prefer it refrigerated.) As Kyle says below, you expect it to have some crazy flavor because of the outside, but it is really a rather mild (yet refreshing) fruit. We ate tons of it throughout our time in SE Asia. Initial Reviews: Kyle: “Very visually appealing, but misleading because the flesh is actually a lot milder than you’d be led to believe. The flesh itself is kind of um.. sort of fibrous, but it has a nice crunch to it from the seeds which is kind of similar to a softer kiwi and the flavor is like a more mellowed out kiwi but with a little more sweetness than sourness.” Briana: “My initial reaction was that it definitely wasn’t bad. As I eat more I find that it is quite good. The flavor is mild, not strong (like Kyle said). There is a crisp crunch to it which sort of makes me think of a melon or even an apple but it is much softer. It is quite soft. There is a hint of sourness but it is not sour.” Variations: On Bali we also tried red dragonfruit and really enjoyed it. The taste is a little sweeter but watch out because it stains!
Rambutan Also known as: chôm chôm We first tried it in: Dallas, Texas. Story: I don’t think we reviewed it in Texas (where we found it at the store) but it had been a couple years by the time we tried it again in Vietnam so it felt fairly new again. This was also among the first fruits we tried in Ho Chi Minh. This was a favorite of Kyle’s. Reviews: Kyle: “Initially, I’d say that the rambutan looks like a red gum ball tree but honestly it tastes really sweet to me, very similar to a cherry. It has the texture of a cherry but the flavor of a coconut.” Briana: “The texture is really something different. When you take off the outer layer and eat it, it kind of reminds me of grape without the skin on it but a little bit chewier. It is juicy and sweet.”
Star Apple Also known as: milk fruit, cainito, vú sữa (milky breast in Vietnamese), estrella We first tried it in: Saigon, Vietnam (District 1) Story: Our first place in Ho Chi Minh was actually a studio to ourselves but the owner still sent a maid to bring us a nice fruit gift basket with a card for Tet (the Vietnamese New Year). This fruit, among others, was in the basket. Initial Reviews: Briana: “Soft, sugary. Reminds me a bit of an apple, sort of in between a baked apple and applesauce. I like the firmer part of it. It’s different.” Kyle: “It’s very sweet. It’s got a very light, kind of off texture. Tastes very sugary. Kind of tastes like its own thing.”
Papaya Also known as: papaw, pawpaw, tree melon We first tried it in: Orlando, Florida Story: We tried this together in Orlando and thought it tasted terrible. We wondered if it was over-ripe or just bad but I think we tried it again and also didn’t like it. It’s possible that we had it before this too but if we did we don’t remember. We tried it again in Ho Chi Minh because it was in our fruit basket. Reviews (from HCM): Briana: “Ohh ewghl. Not for me. It seriously reminds me of spaghetti with tomato sauce on it and it just doesn’t seem right for a fruit but that is definitely what it tastes like to me. I do like the aftertaste which is weird to say but it’s more fruit-like. It appears really good and refreshing so I keep wanting to give it more tries but I don’t like the taste, at least for a fruit.” Kyle: “Well it tastes better than I remember. It’s got a decent aftertaste but the initial taste is.. kind of weird. It’s almost got like a burnt flavor.”
Custard Apple Also known as: Sugar apple, Buddha’s head, many more We first tried it in: Saigon, Vietnam (District 1) Story: We don’t remember. Initial reviews:
1st try: Kyle: “Tough, but it doesn’t taste bad.” Briana: “Looks weird. First taste, not so good. I know it’s fruit but it makes me think of chicken. Maybe I will try another one when it’s ripe.”
2nd try: Kyle: “It’s definitely sweet. The seeds are certainly a pain in the ass to get out. It kind of reminds me of like what an avocado would be like if it tasted like a pineapple.” Briana: “It tastes better but I am still bothered by the flesh. I think it would be good for people who like chicken. It is also hard to eat because there are so many big seeds. It also sometimes feels like I can literally taste grains of sugar in it or something.”
Water Apple Also known as: Java apple, wax jambu We first tried it in: Saigon, Vietnam (District 1) Story: I was a bit more fond of these than Kyle and thought they made nice light snacks. Kyle eventually (in Hanoi) tried making it into a spicy fruit salad with mango, water apple and pepper which was good (but spicy). Initial Reviews: Briana: “There is a crispness like a regular apple. It also kind of reminds me a little bit of a potato. It is a little juicy, a little sweet. It’s different, but like many things. It’s good.” Kyle: “It’s honestly kind of tasteless. It’s definitely got that texture of a raw potato. Tastes like a very mild plum. It’s a very mild fruit. I could see this going well with a salsa.”
Jackfruit Also known as: jak We first tried it in: Saigon, Vietnam (Go Vap District) Story: Kyle went downstairs to clean a couple plates and make our lunch one day when he found the mother and uncle of our host laying down on the kitchen floor staring at the ceiling. They took the plates and handed him a plate of jackfruit. We thought it was nice of them and enjoyed the jackfruit, but we were even bigger fans of jackfruit chips. They were one of our favorite snack foods in our place in Hanoi that didn’t really have a kitchen (but we ate them throughout SE Asia). At one point my friend Jessica mentioned that she has seen people eat it in the states so it must be available in some areas there. I have seen it listed as a meat substitute some places as well. Initial Reviews: Kyle: “Got a nice solid texture and flesh. The flavor is kind of mild but what does it remind you of? It kind of has the taste of a slightly unripe mango but crunchier and more mild and slightly nutty. It’s also got a taste almost similar to banana-ish- it doesn’t taste like banana to me but there’s something like it.” Briana: “We had the jackfruit chips here first (a Vietnamese speciality) so were somewhat familiar with the taste. It also kind of reminds me of the milk teas I have been having down at a local cafe. It’s pretty good. I agree somewhat about the comparison to a mango. It almost has a somewhat artificial taste to it.”
Asian Guava Also known as: not sure (Note: the stuff below the dragonfruit is guava. We can’t find a pic of our own of the outside but here is a link to someone else’s pick.) We first tried it in: Hanoi, Vietnam (we think) Story: We picked up one when we first arrived in Hanoi and ate it before it had ripened. It seems that the fruit is always a little hard but it smells and tastes nice. Later, in Weligama, Sri Lanka we tried a guava smoothie, yum! I actually did get paranoid about the seeds for a little bit when I read something about them and appendicitis, though. Initial Reviews: Briana: First try- “Hard and the seeds are hard but good taste. Difficult to bite.”
After ripened (different guava)- “Very good. Strong smell. Would make a great juice. Seeds are just a slight annoyance.” Kyle: “Very pungent aroma that actually reminds me of durian but without the acrid overtones. The taste is very sweet, kind of creamy, very unique to itself and the flesh reminds me of a moderately ripe pear though there are many very hard seeds that can’t be easily chewed but are easily eaten.”
Passion Fruit Also known as: maracuya We first tried it in: Hanoi, Vietnam or Siem Reap, Cambodia Story: Our first taste of passionfruit was in a drink our host Dai made for us in Ho Chi Minh. We can’t remember if we first tried the fruit itself in Hanoi or Cambodia (I didn’t note it by the review) but this was another fruit that, while we liked it at first, our fondness for the taste grew even more over time. In Galle, Sri Lanka (not SE Asia) I tried passionfruit ice cream which was delicious as well. Initial Reviews: Briana: I first had this in a smoothie. I really like it. It’s tart, sour, and sweet. There’s crunchy little black seeds. A little bit slimy, but good. Makes a good juice or smoothie, but it’s also good alone. Kyle: The skin is far more difficult to cut through than you would expect, but once through, a very vibrant and sweet aroma disperses. The interior doesn’t look very appealing, it almost looks rotten, but the slimy appearance is fine because the taste is very good. Tart and sweet with a nice crunch from the seeds. Variations: Bali decided to be different again. At first when we got passion fruit here I thought it had gone bad because the coloring was very different inside. I was hesitant to eat it at first but it turns out it was just a different kind of passionfruit. I would describe the taste as similar but a little more mild/less tart (still tasty). We also tried a slightly different looking one in Sri Lanka.
Longan Also known as: not sure We first tried it in: Siem Reap, Cambodia Story: We just found them at the grocery store and tried them. Initial Reviews: Briana: Less sweet than other fruits. It’s nice that the seed doesn’t stick to the flesh like rambutan. Texture is similar to rambutan, gel-like. Not a strong taste. Kyle: Tastes like a slightly less sweet rambutan. The flesh is thinner than rambutan and has a much larger, but easier to eat around pit.
Snake Fruit Also known as: salak We first tried it in: Siem Reap, Cambodia Story: Same as above. Initial Reviews: Kyle: Very sharp, sour taste. There is a slight caramel after-taste. Kind of a citrus taste. The flesh is decent, though the inner-skin is weird. Very big pit inside. Briana: Soft, sweet, kind of citrusy. There is a skin on the outside that I don’t like, the texture of the flesh is a little weird, but I like the taste.
Mangosteen Also known as: the “Queen of fruit” We first tried it in: Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Story: The elusive mangosteen! We expressed to our friend in Kuala Lumpur that we weren’t fond of the durian smell and he told us that everyone loves mangosteen and we should try it and so we (Kyle in particular) were on the lookout for this fruit for a long time before we finally found it. Part of the reason we had trouble finding it was because Mangosteen has a distinct season. It was May when we finally laid eyes on it. I obviously wasn’t in a mood to review fruit when I first tried it as you see my review is a bit simple but this fruit is yummy! I prefer the parts of the fruit that can come out of the shell properly (so good) than to eat around the seeds, though. We were able to find it in Bali (also Indonesia) as well. Initial Reviews: Kyle: “It’s very sweet. The flesh reminds me of a very ripe peach. Its taste kind of reminds me of a cross between a rambutan and an orange but without the citrusy bit to it.” Briana: “Sweet, tart, soft texture, pretty good.”
Pepino Also known as: sweet cucumber We first tried it in: Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Story: While we were in Yogyakarta proper, we saw it at the store one day and decided to give it a try! We don’t remember seeing it elsewhere. Reviews: Kyle: “Tastes very familiar. It kind of reminds me of a cucumber, but something else as well. Like
cucumber and melon basically. Oh wow, the seeds are sour. It’s a light and cucumber-y kind of fruit. Very refreshing. It’s got the texture of watermelon rind. This could probably be a good replacement for anything that requires cucumber.” Briana: “Immediately reminds me of a cucumber. I agree with Kyle’s cucumber melon combo. Smells and tastes fresh. Could be the new big lotion scent.”
Here are some of the fruits we didn’t try that are available in this region: Durian We did have durian ice cream and we saw durian all over the place but it was so acrid we couldn’t bring ourselves to try the actual fruit. We do regret that in a way but, well, have you ever smelt durian? It’s banned in many public places in Asia. Soursop
We bought this fruit in Yogyakarta but it never ripened. Instead, it just began molding. We were pretty disappointed because it’s supposed to be really good. Pomelo We actually tried this in San Jose but we saw it in Asia but don’t remember trying it again. It’s good, though. Wood apple We asked our host in Sri Lanka about this because wood apple juice was common in the stores there but he said that you don’t really eat it. We tried the juice and it was fine. Pulasan This fruit looks very similar to the rambutan. There is a small chance we could have eaten it thinking it was rambutan but we don’t think so.
There are also a number of fruits that are allegedly available in this region that we didn’t eat because we weren’t as aware of/weren’t looking for and/or don’t remember seeing (or some other reason) including: yangmei, breadfruit, longsat, noni, and sapodilla.
Other fruits from our travels that we have anything to say about (but did not review): Mango
Oh, mangos! We had many different types of mango in Asia. We enjoyed eating them fresh, in smoothies (love those <$1 Vietnamese smoothies) and in cooking. In Kuala Lumpur and Siem Reap I tried mango sticky rice (so good). In Thailand, Kyle started making mango salads. In Indonesia Kyle figured out a method for eating them that many people reading this may already be familiar with but it was exciting for us as it made it a little less messy (see above). We were eating mangos in just about every country until we got to Europe where they got a little more expensive and/or less available. Coconut
Kyle loves coconuts and I didn’t hear the end of it while we were in Asia. I like shaved coconut but I’m not as big on coconut water/drinking out of the coconut. I no longer remember just how many we had but we had quite a few across Asia, including the golden coconut in Sri Lanka. Star Fruit
We enjoy this in the states when we can find it and the same was true in Asia. Lychee
In Petaling Jaya (Kuala Lumpur) we had a lychee juice which meant water with lychees and sugar in it. We also bought lychee drinks from the store in Vietnam. We never did find it to try it on its own though. Kiwi
I’ve always been a fan of kiwi but don’t often get it. In Korea we could sometimes get lots of kiwis for a good deal. That was nice. They aren’t bad here in Budapest, either. Pomegranate
This was the other fruit which we sometimes found good deals on in Korea (and somewhere else). We took advantage of it when we saw them because we both really like them and they are more rare and expensive elsewhere. Bananas
In Vietnam Kyle finally found a banana he liked! We fried up lots of little green bananas as snacks while in Hanoi and Bangkok. In addition to dried jackfruit, I also enjoyed dried bananas as a snack in Vietnam and Cambodia. When we couldn’t find regular bananas I’d always be a little upset though because I like them as a nice filling snack as well. Lime
We didn’t really see lemons much abroad but we did see limes (which were sometimes called lemons). We like to put lime in our drinks and Kyle will sometimes cook with them. In Vietnam and Thailand we had kaffir limes. Berries
Serbia had great deals on frozen berries, especially raspberries and blackberries. The deals on frozen berries in Budapest aren’t bad either. Here I have bought boxes of frozen berries (albeit not large boxes) a couple times (blackberries, strawberries, cranberries) for around $2. In Serbia I had my fair share on oatmeal and in crepes we made. We did not really have any strawberries in Asia because wow can they get expensive! I’m talking $20-$100 for a regular package in the SE Asia countries we visited. I have to wonder who can afford them. They must be for special occasions for the rich or something. I think we did find an alright deal in Korea a couple times, though. Apples
I do enjoy my granny smiths (others too, but those are my go-to). Across the world, if possible, I like to eat at least one a day. They have been available pretty much everywhere but the quality is not always good. Many places I can only find apples covered in bruises, with wormholes, etc. Cherries
We talked about our experiences with cherries in Bcharre in other posts but we also had cherries in Cyprus because there were good deals the first few weeks. Watermelon
Aside from coconut, this is one of Kyle’s favorites. In Sri Lanka our hosts would often serve us watermelon with our morning tea. I have to note that there was variation in taste from the north to south, though. We also ate it in Cyprus when Kyle’s parents bought a large one at a stand on the side of the road. Grapes
Grapes grew above our hot tub in Cyprus which was pretty neat! We ate some of them and also bought some at the store. Jujubes
We almost forgot all about these! We picked up some dried jujubes early on in Korea as a snack food and would eat them anytime either one of us thought we might not be feeling our best because they are supposed to be really good for you. The taste was not bad but there is a seed in the middle.
Across our travels (some in Europe) at some (or multiple) points in time, we also found: pineapples, oranges, melon, plums, and apricots. There is a chance I’ve forgotten something but I think I’ve covered a lot of fruit! Technically avocado, tomato, cucumber are also fruits and we found those as well. Obviously we weren’t able to find all of these fruits in one place at one time. Each place has a little something different to offer. It’s been a great culinary adventure and we are grateful for this healthy part of it.
How do you climb the wrong mountain (or hill)? I will tell you. We only recently discovered just where we went! If you are curious because you’d like to do the same (not climb the wrong mountain, but do the same hike) we think we went right here. After a quick search, I managed to find one person who did the same hike as us and their photo had a link to these coordinates.
Kyle had really been set on the idea of climbing Mount Merapi while we were on Java, but unfortunately we found it to be unrealistic due to a mix of cost, time (which also factors into cost- as we had to allot working time), difficulty, and danger. Okay, only I was worried about difficulty and danger but I read a TripAdvisor review where someone said that their legs were jello for days after the hike and Mount Merapi is an active volcano! We had hoped that it was something we could do without a guide so we wouldn’t have to pay, but after listening to a few horror stories from our hosts about others who had given this a try, we decided it wasn’t a good idea. Still, we were really in the mood for doing some kind of hike.
After a little research, I decided Kendil Mountain/Kendil Rock would be a good place for us to go. The actual hike I was looking at did not seem too difficult and I even had a second hike just past it (Suroloyo Peak) planned for afterwards if that one went well. Our hosts at the homestay recommended that we take a guide but we just wanted to do some independent exploring, and for us this takes away some of the fun because we no longer have freedom to go at our own pace, do little side explorations, etc. Plus, obviously, guides cost money and we already spent a lot of our activity budget on Borobudur. There also didn’t seem to be any specific major risks associated with doing these hikes solo like there was with Mt Merapi so we asked for directions, hopped on a motorbike, and off we went.
Well, the first problem was that Kyle could not hear me shouting directions at him from the back of the motorbike. He took a few wrong turns and we got a little lost. We got a bit off the path. We stopped to ask a couple random people we encountered for directions but it didn’t quite work out due to language barriers. The maps didn’t seem to completely match up with what we thought we were looking at and Kyle and I had different ideas about which direction we should go. Kyle is more stubborn than me and he was driving so I eventually conceded and allowed him to just take us wherever he seemed to feel like going. He took us on what he thought (though I wasn’t quite sure about it) was the right path but then we came to a closed road on this path. We asked the two men guarding the road for directions but their English was extremely limited.
Well, Kyle thought we must be in the right place and that we should just hike up from there! I said something along the lines of, “Are you serious?! This is nowhere near the mountain we are supposed to be climbing! Even if we could somehow find the way, which I highly doubt we could, it would take a very long time to hike all the way to Kendil from here and there is no way we could make it to Suryolo Peak!” And he said something like, “This’ll take us there.”
Fine. So we parked the bike near these men and began to head up straight but the men pointed us to the right. We asked them again and they seemed to be telling us this was the right direction (only I knew better). We thought about motorbiking up this road but it would have been very dangerous because it was ridiculously steep. That actually would have been terrifying. Even walking up I felt worried about falling backwards. As we began our ascension, I hesitated because Kyle would be mad at the implications of such an assumption, as he often is in when I ask something like this, but I asked anyway: “You have the key for the motorbike, right? You didn’t leave it in the bike.. right…?” Kyle: “Of course n- oh, whoops!”
Well Kyle went and grabbed the key which he left in the ignition and we began up this road. Slowly it became more and more interesting.
We saw butterflies fluttering all over. We examined large colorful beetles. We stopped to look at interesting plants and flowers.
We also came across a couple pretty big spiders (you can’t tell from the photo, but this spider was as big as our hands).
There were also some mosquitos. We had some lengthy discussions about our (mostly my) concerns about dengue, Zika, and malaria on the way up. We kind of felt like we were going exploring a jungle (we kind of were?) so it seemed warranted.
As we climbed higher, we found some pretty great views looking off the side of the mountain. It was also pretty hot. I believe it was somewhere around 100 degrees so we got a little sweaty!
Through our climb we encountered a variety of paths- including road, stone, dirt, stairs, stone steps, mud, etc. We didn’t really know where we were going (reality: I didn’t think I knew where we were going and Kyle thought we were headed toward our original destination and I’m only mentioning this because I found it extremely frustrating during our hike that he maintained this idea) but we were on the right path to a peak for a while. Eventually, though, as we do, we got off the trail to the place-we-ended-up-going-but-to-which-we-didn’t-know-we-were-going-and-hadn’t-intended-to-go-as-we-didn’t-really-know-about-it (though once there, we thought we thought we knew about it because of the name but it wasn’t the same place we were thinking of anyway). Anyway, at some point we reached a more level area which appeared to be inhabited and weren’t really sure where to go.
We ended up going on this dirt path. We were kind of just exploring, but were also hoping the path would lead up to a peak. We took lots of turns and forks and took pictures on our phone and camera which we hoped would be helpful if we got lost.
I also took lead navigation for a while because I feel a strength of mine is my hyperawareness of my surroundings which allows me to better watch out for looming spider webs in front of us and gaps in land on the ground. I was pretty convinced a giant spider was going to get us.
The path got extremely narrow at times but I don’t have any photos to show it well, though, probably because those places were not the best to go around taking photos! At times, I also said things like “Kyle, I don’t think this is a well-traveled path. I really don’t think this is even a hiking trail! I think animals made some of these paths!” Still, we were both pushing to go just a little further, taking different paths in hopes we’d eventually see that a path that was leading to a peak.
After it began to sprinkle, though, it was time to turn around as I was getting worried that we would slip on these narrow muddy paths. This entire way was devoid of people, aside from a person near a single path we found somewhere in the middle which led to someone’s home. We saw they had constructed pipes to their house that went along the mountain and found it pretty interesting.
We navigated our way back to the area from which we found this path and found a man. Either we asked him something or he just looked at us and pointed. I don’t really remember, but anyway, we then began our way up this cobbled road. We encountered a few friendly roosters and as we made our way we up, we saw a sign! A sign! It read: “Menoreh Hill.”
That was a name I knew. It turns out, the whole thing is not as straightforward as you’d think, though. The map our hosts had provided with showed something called the Menoreh Hills (plural) but it appeared far on the map and I when I had looked into it online it also looked like it was an unrealistically far distance for us to go to which is why we had nixed the idea of going there. So this couldn’t be that, right? We could see our place from the top of the hill and weren’t far at all. I had also researched other hikes in the area and come across Menoreh Hill (singular), but everyone’s photos involved going and standing/sitting on this tall platform which you could reach via ladder (like this one, though this blog states Menoreh Hills plural, also). This advertised tour for a Menoreh Hill trek also does not resemble the trail we took. We definitely did not go to Kendill Rock or Suryolo Peak either. After some further research, expanding now to social media, I did find a couple other people (again, pretty sure locals) on Instagram who did get to this same place and they tagged their photos #menorehhills. (The other person I found through a quick google search- from which I got the coordinates in the intro, was from another site.) For this hashtag I found a variety of different views, a few which displayed photos from the path we took and some which clearly did not. My conclusion is that there are a bunch of Menoreh Hills. I mean Menoreh Hills is plural, but what then, is the Menoreh Hill or do they just call each of them Menoreh Hill? From our past hikes we are used to different peaks and hikes being given different names even if they are a part of the same mountain range which is part of what made it confusing for us. Also, when I try typing in Menoreh Hill or Menoreh Hills on Googlemaps, I’m not given anything.
Anyway, we continued up and came to this area which appeared to have a couple houses. This made us question if we were in the right place. We walked around and encountered a very sweet and friendly dog. It looked like it wanted to play with us.
We also saw a young boy and then we heard a family inside their house as we looked around. Soon we found another sign leading up.
We climbed up some final muddy stairs and reached the top and I have to say, I ended up being quite happy with this alternative route we took.
The view was amazing. I think I may even have preferred to do this hike had I only known. Who knew our essentially random wanderings would lead up to this?
We took some time to just stay there and really enjoy our view. We were the only ones around and there was a little hut for us to sit in which I enjoyed until I saw a big spider weaving around the wood pole next to me. I also noticed one sitting on the backpack. How long was it there??
We pointed out various landmarks visible beneath the light fog and enjoyed some snacks. We had a nice view of Amanjiwo Resorts throughout most of our hike. At somewhere between $600 and $1600/night, the hotel was out of our price range (lol!) but it does look pretty impressive. It offers a number of suites, including one which offers you your own private pool and garden! There are some other nice hotels there, too, though, including one inside the Borobudur area (Manohara) where we had meals a couple times.
We rested our legs while watching as the dark clouds rolled closer.
I said to Kyle (or something like this), “We need to get going or we are going to be slipping and sliding down those stairs until we are both a muddy mess!” He agreed and we took just a couple more minutes to enjoy our view before heading down.
It began sprinkling just as we finished our way down the muddy stairs and it rained on and off on our way back. It did make us more cautious on the way down as a whole, though but it was also quite lovely!
Kyle also picked up a couple more snacks for himself on the way back. (I did not partake.)
We saw very few people through the entire hike, and didn’t see any other hikers. Aside from the man who pointed us in the right direction and the boy with the dog, we saw some people working on a building to the right of the trail at the very beginning of our journey and then a woman hauling up groceries. On our way down we saw a woman and her child.
Once we made our way back to the motorbike we hopped back on, headed back, and then we each took a shower! Later we realized we were able to see the peak and platform from our place. While it started out a bit rocky, this turned out to be one of our favorite hikes we’ve done!
We are happy to say that we made it to Budapest! I had been looking forward to the idea of coming here for a long time and it lives up to expectations. We had a nice time finishing out our stay in Belgrade even though we found ourselves on an unconventional sleep schedule and were stressed out wondering if we were going to need to fly back to the US at the drop of a hat for a job for Kyle. I personally have decided to mostly forget the whole thing exists so I don’t have to think about it. Fall has made itself apparent in both locations and we are relishing it. We found ourselves to be very comfortable in Belgrade and we feel similar in Budapest. The biggest downside to Budapest so far is discovering the cost of many of the popular activities but as a whole, Budapest is obviously still well-priced for a European city. We are still getting used to not standing out anymore like we did in Asia. In Asia, on account of us not being Asian, it was obvious to locals that we weren’t from the area and probably didn’t know the language well. In Serbia and Hungary locals sometimes try to talk to us in their local language- whether it’s yelling at us at the supermarket for not putting away our groceries properly (this was in Budapest), or commenting something friendly to us on the street (also seems to occur more frequently in Budapest, but has happened in both places). We must look pretty comfortable though because in Serbia we even had tourists come up to us asking if we could we give them directions and in Hungary I watched as the ticket person at a museum gave directions to the people in front of us in English and proceeded to tell me instructions in Hungarian.
Where We’ve Been this Month:
20 days in Belgrade Serbia
11 days in Budapest, Hungary
Distance Traveled by Bus: 378km
Highlights: 1. Final Outings in Belgrade. The first fun thing (October 1st) we did was go to the Ballet which was really neat. It was so grand-looking and the performance was also great. One cold, rainy evening we finally crossed the Sava in Belgrade and wandered around and saw an old concentration camp. We also visited a large cemetery, saw more street art, re-visited the fortress area, Saint Sava, and Saint Marks and went to a few other places. We also enjoyed doing some aimless exploring. 2. 3am Walks. Due to our schedules we went on several of these and even did entire activity outings in the middle of the night! My favorite was a visit to Zvezdara Park Forest (this was intentional, not aimless exploring as we tried to get here multiple times before succeeding). When we went on late-night walks in Belgrade we usually encountered a quiet city with a nice mist and streets almost entirely to ourselves. It was really quite pleasant to wander the quiet city and we actually felt quite safe. 3. OTC Birth Control. There only seem to be a couple countries which allow you to get birth control over the counter and we’ve happened to be in one each time I’ve needed to re-stock! That worked out well! I only got 3 packets even after 2 visits because we waited until the end to do this and the pharmacies weren’t well stocked but it’ll do for now. Now I am just going to take a second and compare this to the process of getting birth control in the U.S. I remember one of the times in Orlando I was trying to get more birth control I first called the doctor and looked at my busy schedule to figure out a time which worked for me which was open. Once at the appointment, I asked for birth control. No, sorry, you are due for a pap smear, I will not give it to you until you have a pap smear. Fine, schedule me for the thing. Then I ask for it again. No, sorry, we need to make sure your results are fine. Wait two weeks or whatever. You know what? It looks like it is not a perfect pap smear, you have to go to a gynecologist for further treatment and we still won’t give you birth control even though you’ve needed it for over a month. Now we are going to do an invasive procedure and never tell you the purpose or results and then we’ll think about giving you your birth control. Ok, now can I have it? Yes, but you can’t have that one. I don’t like that one so I won’t prescribe it to you. Annoying AF. Finally they do give me the prescription and I have to make time in my day to go to pharmacy and ask to get it filled, wait around, etc. Seriously, what are they doing during the 30 minutes that I have to sit and wait for them to hand over my prescription?? And I have to do the same thing every month because they won’t give me more than one at a time! Meanwhile in Korea and Serbia I just show up to the pharmacy and ask if I can have some and they *gasp* give it to me! I don’t even have to wait. And if I ask for more, they give me as much as they have! Korea is all about efficiency which we really appreciated during out time there. I was somewhat surprised that Serbia was progressive in this area but I appreciated it as well. If we’re going to talk about some of the reasons that I have read that doctors need to prescribe it- it’s like ‘they need to tell you about the side effects.’ No doctor has taken the time to tell me about any side effects and I don’t see why the pharmacy person can’t do that anyway. 4. Weather/Fall. We are loving the cool weather. We spent a good portion of the year in 100 degree temps and it’s nice to cool down a little and for fall to feel like fall. We thought we would have trouble adjusting but we are doing just fine with temperatures in the 30s-50s so long as it’s not too windy. Our heat works great here in Budapest so we get to feel super cozy. We are also enjoying watching the leaves change colors! It’s weird to think it was a year ago that we were doing the same thing in Korea! 5. Fairly Smooth Transition. I probably wouldn’t have put this under the highlights but Kyle requested it. After our last experience on a train and reading a few too many horror stories about the train ride from Belgrade to Budapest, we decided to look into other options. Buses travel faster than trains (because they stop so often) and this particular one was extra convenient because it picked us up near our Belgrade Airbnb and dropped us off at our Budapest one so we could avoid taxis and hauling our stuff around more. There was a long queue at the border which we were told was abnormal and we had to get out of the bus and have all of our things checked and I had to pee the majority of the time but other than that, it went well. 6. Our New Airbnb. I have to say, it is so worth it to have a place to ourselves and to be in the city center and that is what we have been able to do/have both in Belgrade and Budapest. We are currently staying in a loft in the Jewish Quarter and I am very pleased with it. We have a great bathroom with a shower/bath that actually plugs and reliably provides hot water! We really wanted to know what it was like to live in a loft and now we are learning what it’s like! 7. Outings in Budapest. We’ve had a fun time beginning to explore the city. Every outing could be its own highlight but then we wouldn’t have room for other highlights. We’ve been more places so far but I will only touch on where we went in October since this is the October roundup. We explored some of the Jewish quarter where we are staying including checking out a few synagogues and churches. We went to the House of Terror, visited Heroe’s Square and the City Park, saw Vajdahunyad Castle, went to Vorosmarty Square, climbed to the top of St. Stephen’s Basilica, walked along the Danube and saw the Shoes on the Danube, visited the (outside of the) Parliament building, crossed the river and saw Buda Castle, the Fisherman’s Bastion, and Matthias Church, went to a cat cafe, walked down Andrassy a couple times, got a few desserts and a little bit of food out, and did a little bit of general wandering. 8. Groceries! I know, weird, but there are a few things to be excited about in this area. Aside from the 7/11s in the Korea, the only other time we had access to any sort of store 24/7 was in Bangkok. We have that again here, though. There are a few such places within walking distance of us and it is extremely convenient, especially for when we are keeping strange hours. In addition to the 24/7 stores, we are directly across the street from a big (though allegedly one of the smallest in the city) sort of farmer’s market with a great selection of produce and there are like 10 other little grocery type stores within walking distance of us. It’s kind of crazy because normally we are used to having to walk a mile just to get to one! 9. Food. As you will see in the budget section we tried out some local (though not necessarily all local) food. In Serbia we shared a giant delicious crepe, tried out lots of bakeries, and found a good Mexican place (we really appreciate a good Mexican place). In Budapest we enjoyed chimney cakes filled with ice cream and cake from one of the oldest bakeries in Budapest, among other things. Kyle has also begun to cook with sour cream and paprika, just like the locals (or so it appears based on what’s available and what the internet tells us). 10. The Buildings. I just love looking at all the buildings. This was true in Belgrade but it’s even moreso the case in Budapest. They are so beautiful and decorative and multi-colored. I could just wander around looking at buildings all day. Honorary Mentions: My phone can connect to the internet in Budapest (it couldn’t connect in Belgrade for some reason), I enjoyed getting up early while it was our schedule (it’s still somewhat early but probably won’t be for long), and we had a little bit of rain in both places.
I can only manage to think of five this month. I could probably make it 6 or 7 by dividing aspects of the lowlights below into multiple lowlights but five is a nice number. I will also add an honorary mention which is that the top of one of our umbrellas blew away in the wind while I was holding it. The reason we couldn’t retrieve it was because it flew into busy traffic. While Kyle didn’t seem to agree, I thought it was funny and we had another so it was fine. 1. Weird Sleep Schedule. Not sure how it happened, but we ended up having a bedtime of about 4-6am. We just stayed up a bit later every night until it came to that. We both got rather bad insomnia at times. I think it was partially stress. While we are both night owls, but I’d say it was more Kyle pushing this schedule. It’s not that we didn’t try to fix it either. Sometimes we’d try to go to bed at midnight, only to lay in bed for a few hours wide awake before getting up. Then our bus ride to Budapest was early morning which meant we did not sleep and then I couldn’t really sleep when we arrived. Kyle and I ended up on slightly different sleep schedules. Kyle was sleeping extra and I was sleeping very little. For the first few days I was trying to get on a normal schedule and ended up trying to keep myself awake as long as possible before dropping and then only sleeping for like four hours before I was wide awake again. It was all strange and eventually I got to a bed time of about 5:30pm but now it’s more normal and we’ll probably push it to a late schedule again! *sigh* For me, it’s just that I always feel I haven’t accomplished as much as I hoped during the day so I need to stay up and do more. There’s also always issues like when I am not able to sleep in the night because I’m up with a headache. One night in Belgrade I think I had a reaction to a salad Kyle made me and was sick and throwing up during the night. 2. No Daytrips. I really wanted to make some day trips outside of Belgrade using buses or trains and even spent a good bit of time creating entire itineraries for multiple places but we didn’t end up going to any of them due to a mix of 1) our sleep schedule, 2) hesitancy to spend money, and 3) the whole job thing. I was particularly looking forward to the idea of going to Novi Sad or Vukovar. Novi Sad had previously been a consideration for a location to stop for a while in between Belgrade and Budapest. 3. Which brings me to: Not Knowing. I feel like we are always living in limbo and it’s a little frustrating. There is almost always something, usually multiple somethings that are in the air for us and we are just waiting for someone to get back to us about some potentially life-direction-altering thing. Right now it is the potential job for Kyle in California. 4. Apartment Scam. Kyle hasn’t even been offered the job and we aren’t even back in the US yet and yet we are already dealing with scams! We were researching housing in the bay area in anticipation of the job when it seemed like Kyle definitely had it (though we do still think he will get it) and encountered a somewhat elaborate scam. The person even sent us their ID to verify themselves as a real person. I informed them the real person their information was being used for these purposes but they already knew. I actually did tell Kyle it was a scam early on but he didn’t believe me. 5. Joint Pain. Doesn’t really bother me compared to my headaches and I have gotten joint pain occasionally since I was like 12 so it is nothing new but it seems to sometimes get worse, such as this month (maybe the cold?) It also seems to come and go rather quickly sometimes. Example: On our way out one time in Belgrade I really struggled to walk down the stairs because my knees ached so much but by the time we came back they were fine.
First time staying in a loft.
We don’t normally put ones on here that are more like ‘duh’ or ‘okay’ but I will add a couple anyway: first time in Hungary, first time in Budapest, first time eating at a restaurant with umbrellas above us, Kyle’s first bus ride in Europe (I used to live in Europe and would take the bus to school- lol! and I took others), first time meeting a fellow self-identifying digital nomad while in transit to a new country (literally discovered each others’ status at the border).
The total cost of October was $1131.51 which seems to be a little bit better (less), but fairly on par with our usual average spendings. We spent less than that this month of course because we purchased our accommodation in advance. Now, when renting for longer periods it seems Airbnb does not charge all at once so we did have a payment (about 1 weeks worth) taken out during this month but the majority of the payment was made in August. Now, for the breakdown: Accommodation. As I said last month, our nightly cost in Belgrade came out to about $13.91/night. At 20 nights for October, this amounts to $278.20. In Budapest the cost was a little higher at $189.61 for the 11 nights we were here in October. The total cost of accommodation for the month comes out to $467.81. I spent a good bit of time finding what I determined to be the perfect place for us in each city and we have been happy with both. We did spend a tiny bit more than we wanted to in Budapest but the place is worth the price. The two primary reasons we chose to come to Budapest in late October rather than directly after Cyprus were 1) we could not find any housing which fell in our budget range for the initial time period and 2) the Christmas markets start earliest in Budapest (like out of all of Europe). Food. Now I am a bit baffled that we managed to only spend $235.83 on groceries this month but everything seems to match up! The groceries in Serbia were cheap (and in Budapest as well), but the groceries have been cheap most places we’ve been! I think it may be partly because some of the things that typically really eat into our food budget if we buy them, like cheese, was pretty cheap in Serbia. We also may have been eating cheaper things at home. For example, we started every morning with toast and coffee. A big fresh loaf of bread there is less than a dollar. Also, my favorite thing to eat which I probably ate more days than not was spaghetti with butter and beli sir (the local cheese) which was quite an affordable dish to make there. The sweets were also pretty cheap. Maybe our sleep schedule somehow played into it all as well. I’d like to keep it down there if we can, though! We did spoil ourselves a tiny bit by eating out but obviously it worked out fine. We do have to try a few things out in each country as we need to experience a little local cuisine and there is no way we could get as much food per cost out back in the U.S. as we are able to in some other countries. We spent $30.31 on desserts out. This number includes 3 pieces of cake, 5 ice creams, 1 crepe, 7 pastries (from bakeries), and 2 coffees out. This doesn’t include the pastries we got at the grocery stores which have bakeries (this goes under groceries). We spent $59.78 on food out which includes dinner at a nice traditional Serbia restaurant, lunch at a Hungarian restaurant (and tips for both of these places), a pretzel for Kyle, 5 meat things out for Kyle (burger/chicken burger/sausage burger/whatever), 4 burritos plus 1 bag of chips, a large pizza, and over-priced Indian to go (Kyle did not listen to me when I said to not get it if it was pricey- I was too tired to go with him- but whatever). The total cost of food this month for both of us was $325.92. Transportation. Our bus ride from Belgrade to Budapest cost $56.18 for both of us. We were able to minimize our transportation cost this month by 1) not having any big/major flights this month which was one of the (many) reasons we had chosen Belgrade as a destination to precede Budapest, 2) avoiding taking any taxis (which the bus made possible) 3) walking everywhere (made possible by choosing an Airbnb in a good location) and 4) not doing any day trips, even though I think they may have been worth it if we had. Activities. We spent $9.25 on activities this month which includes the cost to climb up to the top of St. Stephen’s Basilica which we deemed ‘worth it’ and the cost of coffee at the Budapest cat cafe. I could have put the cat cafe cost under sweets out but I thought I’d put it under activities. Now, Budapest is a city where most things seem to cost money and many things are rather expensive (at least compared to what we’re used to and for people on a budget). We are currently trying to decide how we want to allot our activity spendings for the rest of our time here. We did manage to make it into one museum for free on a national holiday (to celebrate the 1956 revolution) but it’s unlikely we’ll be able to manage something of the sort with other activities. So far we’ve managed to see a fair bit (mostly the outsides of buildings) without spending much, though. Regular.$210.28 for storage, car insurance (twice-again Kyle pays weird), Google Drive storage, Netflix, Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, and Dropbox. Miscellaneous. Kyle had to pay to use the toilet once, I got a few more months of birth control, we picked up a couple small souvenirs and some extra chocolate, and then there was a little bit of spendings recorded which we couldn’t place (no, it does not look like this was groceries, I’ll probably figure it out after I publish this article). The total was $44.33. Fees. $17.74
Work/Productivity: Kyle: Work this month for me was almost non-existent. Luckily, my large animation project I had been working on for months paid the final payment. I had no projects at the beginning of the month to work on and spent some of my time my working on personal projects, and scoping out possible living accommodations for if the California job came through. I know on the previous round-up I had said that I would know if I had got the job by now, but – I don’t. I’ve yet to receive any real feedback, other than that they were busy, various technical jargon stuff, and that they would get back to me; but they did like me apparently. So now, I’m still sitting here feeling a little anxious about whether this will go through or not, starting to feel like it won’t. Considering that I had an interview with them, they said they liked me, and they asked me to do a little extra after the interview, I would think they would get back to me to at least tell me yes or no – but today’s job market and hiring culture doesn’t seem to put much consideration to potential hires, so I won’t be surprised if I never hear back either. Towards the end of the month, I suddenly (partly due to Briana finding me jobs) managed to get a few projects on my plate and one of my old clients came back and has been keeping me busy. So coming into the new month, I should be kept busy which is good. Briana:
I am going to change it to work/productivity because I already sort of generally address not only the work we did, but also things that interfered with productivity and simply the other things we were doing with our time. I put myself second because I usually have more to say.
A little into the month one person told me they don’t need anything else from me until after the holidays which is a little unfortunate but fine (it’s not my only work but it was the easiest).
I also had this flashcard reviewer for a few of my sets that was so extremely annoying to the point that I plan to avoid sets on that subject until it becomes necessary to take them. To make the cards I am to use lessons as guides but she thought that the lessons were all wrong so my cards were wrong. She was very nit-picky about things like the location of emphasis in pronunciation guides (again I am just following the lesson and would assume this would actually vary depending on where you are from so it seems a little over-the-top to me). Additionally, the first time I created my cards in a certain manner (I had done it before- just the first time she reviewed such a set) she praised it as creative and the second time I did it she told me to delete all the cards and find a better way. I mean I understand that there would be some differences between different reviewers, but this was the same reviewer. I don’t get paid by the hour, only by the set, so when I have to spend a lot of time fixing the set, that really sort of eats into my wage. I feel like I really deal with a lack of consistent feedback in general, though. Between this and being busy with other things, I didn’t get a ton of sets done.
Other than that things have been pretty status quo. Even though I get low pay, what I enjoy about all of my work is that I am always learning new things. I feel like I am getting paid to learn random subjects which allows me to look at it with a more positive perspective. One of the interesting subjects I learned more about this month was economics. I mean I took AP macro in high school but that was the last, and probably only time I learned anything about this subject aside from now. Creating the flashcards I am able to learn and review a little bit too. If you didn’t guess from what I said above, I was mostly doing Spanish language flashcards but now I’m moving onto other subjects.
By the end of the month I had resumed looking for jobs and advertising for Kyle. He didn’t look or advertise at all for something like a month and was doing so sparingly before and wasn’t getting any new work so, of course, it became necessary that I take over for him again. He simply doesn’t have the motivation to do it though he suddenly started to look a little more himself as well when I started helping him again. I also did something I do every few months which is review his work and internet profile. I discovered that all of his reels, resume, etc. all display an email to which he no longer has access. I also advised him on a few other matters.
I would say I had as many as three full days which were basically useless due to me being immobilized by a headache and/or fatigue and sickness. Some of my headaches are very difficult to treat. In regards to the fatigue and nausea- I am usually just fine but I occasionally get hit with this extreme amount of both that I simply cannot do anything but lie down and it is truly a struggle just to get up to go to the bathroom or something along those lines. The next day I could be perfectly fine though so it is quite strange.
We have both been doing the blog but nowhere near as much as normal. I told Kyle I was no longer making the blog a priority some time ago but he wanted to develop it more. He hasn’t really been doing it, though. We are both still posting and will continue to post but we will probably continue to make less posts than we did previously. We are making posts which combine things which we normally would have separated into several different posts, though, such as the churches in Serbia post and the Paphos post. I doubt much else will actually change except that I plan to do some more general travel posts. I am using the blog as a way to learn a little more about social media, though. I have grown our twitter following to over 750 and am continuing to attempt to grow it more. I am also beginning to look into growing our Instagram following more as well. It’s currently around 170 followers. I am also learning to use Pinterest as a way to drive traffic to the blog. I occasionally advertise myself as willing to manage a company’s social media for an affordable price but haven’t gotten any takers yet. Perhaps when I have more to show for it.
Now, there were some other things taking up our time too and most of these were associated with the job for Kyle. One of these things was apartment hunting. They initially made it sound as if we would need to come over at the drop of the hat so we began looking at apartments, creating documents with price, location, features, availabilities etc., contacting some places and so on. Kyle was actually doing more of this but I spent some time checking things out as well. Well, eventually we didn’t hear back so after a while we just stopped.
The other big thing which was almost entirely me, was the making of plans. I looked at policies on changing flights, checked out flights back to the U.S. from Belgrade and Budapest, flights from other cities within a day’s train ride, and so on. Because we thought we’d be heading back to the US soon, I began planning a short trip up to Budapest since we really wanted to go and looking into Airbnbs for that time period. Obviously it was all unnecessary. Somewhat irrespective of the California plans I also made plans to other cities and did the regular activity outings planning.
Health and Fitness:
Everything is pretty standard. Bad posture while working continues to be a problem for us. We are still doing a lot of walking and mostly cooking at home. Berries were affordable in Belgrade which was nice. I do always seem to fill myself with less healthy sugar too, though!
Kyle continued reading TheIlliad and finished reading The Assassin’s Village. We didn’t really consume much media in general, though. We listened to one podcast episode by Extra Pack of Peanuts and one on Budapest by someone else. We tried the show Haters Back Off but couldn’t quite manage to finish the first episode. I thought it could have potential but it just seemed a bit too over-the-top for us. I also watched a couple episodes of a show called Good Witch on Netflix (I like it, Kyle thinks it’s boring) while I packed for Budapest. I also, of course, watched the new Gilmore Girls trailer a couple times. We intended to watch lots of Halloween movies but somehow it didn’t happen! I did also download several free books onto the Kindle and hope to read at least one this coming month. I tried to download more but suddenly Amazon knew we were in a different country and didn’t want me to download anymore. Our VPN expired recently and we don’t currently have plans to renew it since we don’t know what we’re doing with our lives after next month.
We will be spending all of November in Hungary. We are really excited to see the Christmas markets in Budapest. The first one begins November 11 and we have plans to get chimney cakes and mulled wine and stroll around and enjoy the holiday decorations. Hopefully we will get to see Jutid and Larry (family friends) sometime during the month. We also plan to explore the city more and possibly make a trip or two to areas just outside Budapest. We hope to know if Kyle has the job or not. We’ll see. We do kind of need to know so we can figure out what we’re doing with… the rest of our lives! We will be flying back back to the states (into Orlando) on December 1st, so just after the close of next month.