Tea growing near Pu Mat National Park at Con Cuong, Vietnam.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Con Cuong (Pu Mat National Park), Vietnam.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Ninh Binh, Vietnam.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

We had the waterfall all to ourselves!

We did a little better for our included breakfast, as they brought us a big plate of chicken and egg fried rice and vegetables. Not fantastic, but at least we started the day with full stomachs!

Once again, the sun never made an appearance. The temperature is fine, nice and cool with a high of about 20C, but it drizzled with rain on and off. Not enough to stop us from going out exploring on our rented scooter!

Monday, February 26, 2024

Beautiful scenery in this rarely visited part of Vietnam

Our fancy hotel room is supposed to be "breakfast included". But of course nowhere does it say exactly what you'll get for breakfast. 

There were no guests in the dining room when we went down about 8:30am. As I mentioned yesterday, the place is very quiet. But there are a lot of staff around, and they are all very pleasant and cheerful.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

If you are going to splurge, it's best to do so in a cheap country!

We had arranged with a "limousine service" to take us from Vinh to Con Cuong. I already knew that the word limousine here in Vietnam doesn't describe the same type of vehicle that we might envision in North America. Here, it is simply a minibus. 

We had been told to phone in at 8:00am, to confirm pickup at 8:30am right at our hotel. Which we did, but then it didn't show up until almost 9:00am, which didn't surprise us.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

We've been on the move, so just playing catch up with you a little bit...

Writing this from our very basic, but relatively clean, 287,000 dong ($11.75 USD, $15.75 CAD) per night hotel room near the Vinh Airport which we flew into this (Saturday) morning.

We had to leave the hotel in Da Lat early this morning, and I had no time to write a blog post. So I'll update you on the past two days, because I'm not sure when you'll hear from us again!

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Playing tourist in Da Lat, Vietnam

We hopped in a Grab taxi again on Thursday. A little further this time, as our drop off point was the Da Lat Cable Car. We had met a guy during our hike the day before who suggested this outing... the Da Lat Cable Car, followed by the Datanla Waterfall.

Cable Car rides are always fun, but we find them way overpriced in most situations. This one was not bad, at 120,000 dong ($4.95 USD, $6.60 CAD) each for the round trip ride.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

We are overdue for an adventure!

On Wednesday, we hopped in another Grab taxi, this time to the center of the city. We really hadn't seen the city, other than driving by the outskirts on our way to our guesthouse the other day, so we figured we had better go check it out since many comments have been from people saying how much they like Da Lat. 

It cost about 80,000 dong ($3.25 USD, $4.40 CAD) for the 6.5 km (4 mile) one way trip.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Finally made it out for a hike... temperatures are perfect!

My original thinking was to rent a scooter here in Da Lat, which many tourists do, even though it's technically illegal in Vietnam unless you go through a local licensing procedure which most do not. But it's not the illegality that stops me... I'm just not that comfortable with the crazy traffic, even though it's far less busy here than it was in the big city.

So we are relegated to using Grab taxis, which are not as convenient, and slightly more expensive depending on where we want to go. But that's our choice, so we'll make it work.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Mixed first impressions of Da Lat area

We had arrived at Da Lat airport after dark on Sunday night, so we didn't get any idea of what our hotel or  the surrounding area looked like until we woke up Monday morning.

And we were pleasantly surprised!

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Here's a rare treat for you!

We met up with Susan and Blair just in front of the Saigon Opera House just after 9:30am in order to do the Hop on Hop off bus tour. 

We normally find these types of tours too expensive, but we figured in a cheap country it might be more reasonable. And it was, compared to most other cities around the world, but still not good value for us.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

A quick walk around the downtown of Ho Chi Minh City... and taking a last minute flight!

First order of business was to get some breakfast. While we like Vietnamese food, we don't so much like it for breakfast. But we managed to find a place that did omelets and smoothies down on the main tourist street.

There was a western looking guy sitting beside us, and it turned out he's a Canadian from Northern Alberta. Been coming here to SE Asia every winter for 19 years, other than two years during Covid.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Good morning, Vietnam! Country number 69 for us!

But before we talk about our entry into Vietnam, we have to back up a day or two. 

On Thursday, we were waiting for our Vietnam eVisas to be processed. I checked around 11:00am, and mine was still listed as "in processing". I had sent the applications in on February 3rd, but that was a Saturday and it said that processing time was three business days. So that meant that they should have been processed by the end of the day Wednesday February 7th. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Kayaking in Kampot

The first place we stayed here in Kampot had an advertisement in the lobby for river kayaking. It included pick up and delivery and a cocktail afterwards, but at $25 USD each, our first thought was that it was pretty expensive.

Then when we were out looking at accommodation options the other day, we had walked by a place that had a sign up saying kayak rental $5. That sounds like a better deal to us!

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Thinking we're going to stay an extra day

Didn't sleep well the night before, so I had to have a morning nap instead of an afternoon nap! Only problem with that is that you kind of waste away the cooler morning, and by the time you get out to do something, it's baking hot.

But, we needed some exercise, and they have a couple of old bicycles here at the resort. They are junk, and not comfortable to ride, and the gears don't work properly... but we set off anyhow to a waterfall about 5 kms (3 miles) away.

Monday, February 12, 2024

More travel planning, and an afternoon by the pool

I spent a couple more hours planning onward travel yesterday. While it would have been much easier to only have to book one direct flight from Bangkok to Istanbul, it's going to be a lot more interesting doing the four flights from Bangkok to Maldives to Abu Dhabi to Kuwait to Istanbul!

So I booked the remaining two flights yesterday. In total, it is costing $513 USD ($691 CAD) each for the four flights, which is actually a few dollars cheaper than it would have cost for the one direct flight.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

This is MUCH better... and, some exciting news!

We moved yesterday... to a much nicer spot. 

Before we left though, we walked into town to do some stocking up. The new place isn't walking distance to any worthwhile shops, and we knew we were going to have a fridge in the room at the new place, so we could do our own breakfast. And keep some beer cold!

Saturday, February 10, 2024

We needed to do better!

If we wanted to stay at our current accommodation, we had to change rooms. The host offered us an interior room with no windows, for only $9 USD ($12 CAD), compared to the $12 USD, ($16 CAD) we had paid for the first night.

For that price, we would give it a shot for a night. It's not really the type of place that we'd like to spend more than a couple of nights, and in all honesty I'm not enjoying the heat, and without air conditioning it's pretty darn warm. On the other hand, the price is very attractive!

Friday, February 9, 2024

I wanted to leave our options open

We finally made it out of Phnom Penh. 

Even when we're in a place that we really like, we feel the need to move on after two weeks or so. So when we're in a place that we don't like, five days is about four days too many! And so it was with Phnom Penh.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Still in Phnom Penh!

We got up Thursday morning to find that Ruth had a bad stomach. There was no way she was prepared to sit in a minibus for three hours! So I went down to the front desk to make sure we were able to stay another night, which was no problem... so we are still in Phnom Penh!

Ruth never left the room all day. I went out for a half hour power walk just to get some exercise.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

I guess we're going with plan B

Well, it's Thursday morning here in Phnom Penh, and our eVisas to Vietnam still show as "in processing". Due to Chinese New Year celebrations, their office is now closed until the 14th, so we're stuck here in Cambodia until then.

So, plan "B' it is!

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Stuck in Phnom Penh

We're here in Phnom Penh waiting for our Vietnam eVisas to be approved. A bit frustrating because Phnom Penh was never on our "go to" list in the first place. But, totally my fault for not planning the eVisas in advance.

And the secondary problem is that the visa department is closed February 8-14 because of Chinese New Year. They did say standard approval time is within three working days, but they probably have a rush of applications prior to the closing. Anyhow, two days have passed, and the website still says "in processing".

Monday, February 5, 2024

Phnom Penh Red Light District

Yesterday, we spent a couple of hours wandering Phnom Penh in the baking heat. It never really cools off here. When the overnight low only goes to 27C (81F), it doesn't take long for things to bake as soon as the sun rises.

And yet, over 2 million people call this home. And there are quite a few expats here. We don't get it, but once again, it's good that we don't all like the same things.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Arrived in Phnom Penh

We said goodbye to our host Manel at Manel Guesthouse in Senmonorom. We had a really good stay there. Manel and his family treated us really well. He even gave us each a hug when we left. Can't recommend them enough. We can tell already that this will be our best memory of Cambodia. 

The minivan was there to pick us up at 9:15am for our six hour drive to Phnom Penh. 

Saturday, February 3, 2024

A few things to talk about...

After we got back from the elephant visit and jungle trekking, we just hung out at the guesthouse and relaxed here in Senmonorom the last couple of days. We had a lot of onward travel planning research to do, and some decisions to make, and really... we just needed to take a couple of days and do nothing!

But with that done, there's a lot to tell you about!

Friday, February 2, 2024

January Expenses

Not bad, all things considered, but still more expensive than we thought it would be given that we are in "cheap" countries. Also considering we spent almost a week with our friends Han and Michelle and they hardly let us pay for anything! (Thanks again!)

And of course I had my heart health tests done during the month, which added a lot, however even taking that amount off it was more expensive than we planned.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Jungle trekking in Cambodia

We woke up from a poor nights sleep in the indigenous homestay hut. The bed itself was comfortable enough, and we weren't bothered by bugs... it was the dogs barking! No idea how everyone sleeps around there. Like in Mexico, they must have an afternoon siesta!

But... we had some hiking to do! 

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

A day learning about the elephants!

On Tuesday, we did the first part of a two day tour here in eastern Cambodia. Day one was a visit to an elephant sanctuary. It's actually called The Elephant Community Project. 

Interesting story behind how it all works. The guy running it was hired in 2015 to do a study about how many "domestic" elephants there were in Mondulkiri province. He visited all of the small towns and villages and farms and at the time of his research, the final tally was 64 elephants. 

Monday, January 29, 2024

Cambodia's highest waterfall

The guesthouse where we are staying has scooters for rent. So we paid the $10 USD ($13.40 CAD) daily rental fee and hopped on a scooter for the 35 km (22 mile) ride to Cambodia's highest waterfall.

And our host Manel gave us a list of things to see along the way.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Our first day exploring the area...

Senmonorom is known as an "off the beaten path" destination for tourism. There sure are a lot of guest houses and hotels here, although they seem to be mostly empty. The guest house where we are staying has 10 rooms, but we were the only ones here last night. 

Our host Manel says that tourism here hasn't yet recovered from Covid. And because Cambodia charges a visa fee, most tourists who like SE Asia flocked to Thailand first. 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

We think we're going to like it here!

We were up at 6:00am Friday morning, and quickly packed up and headed down for breakfast. 

When we bought the tickets, we were surprised that they asked which hotel we were staying at so the tuk-tuk could pick us up. We had assumed that we would have to make our own way to the bus station. But sure enough, the guy was there right at 7:00am.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Visit to Cambodia's stilt houses

Well that was an interesting day. 

The tuk-tuk driver we had met the evening before at dinner picked us up right on schedule at 10:30am Friday morning. The plan was to drive us out to the local village of Kampong Phluk on Tonle Sap Lake.

Tonle Sap Lake is part of the Mekong River system, and is the largest freshwater lake in SE Asia.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Decision made!

We haven't done very much the last couple of days, but we had some computer stuff to catch up on, and some onward travel planning. And, we had to make a decision regarding the Koh Ker Temple that we wanted to visit.

The problem is that the Koh Ker site is located 113 kms (70 miles) from here, and there are no public transportation options.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Angkor Wat Temple Complex Part 2...the highlight, and final thoughts

Continuing on with our day tour to Angkor Wat. If you missed part 1, you can go back to it here.

We actually enjoyed the second half of the day better than the first half.

It included the Ta Prohm Temple... also often called "The Tomb Raider Temple", due to its depiction in the 2001 film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. It was this film that originally caused visitor numbers at Angkor Wat to skyrocket.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Angkor Wat Temple Complex Part 1

The complex is huge... it's over 400 acres in size. Pretty much impossible to do in a one day visit, so they sell 3 day and 7 day packages as well. But, it's also pricey. A one day pass costs $37 USD ($50 CAD). And, you need to be able to get around the complex. We hired a tuk tuk driver to spend the day ferrying us around the various temples for a cost of $20 USD ($27 CAD) including tip. So for two people, $94 USD ($127 CAD). An expensive day out.

We got an early start to try and beat the crowds, and to a certain extent, it worked. We left the hotel just before 8am, and by the time we bought our tickets and walked to the entrance of the main temple, it was 8:30am.

Something different to do in Siem Reap

The United States carpet bombed eastern Cambodia between 1970 and 1973, leaving thousands of unexploded weapons that would maim and kill for decades to come. Then Cambodia suffered through a brutal civil war in the 1970's and a legacy of that civil war is the number of landmines buried in the country that have claimed many civilian lives since then. 

There has been land mine clearing operations going on since 1992. There was estimated to be between 4 to 6 million landmines and other unexploded ordinance buried in rural Cambodia. 

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Pretty impressed with the food so far!

First on the agenda was to find some breakfast. We're quickly learning that Siem Reap has a big variety of quality restaurants at decent prices. Gluten free, vegetarian, Italian, Indian... whatever you want. As well as the more local and cheaper Cambodian street food stalls. While we we enjoyed Malaysia, our first impression of Cambodia is that we are going to like the food more.

So, we found a place that advertised "all day breakfast". Our plan was to go for a filling late breakfast, then skip lunch, and have a somewhat early dinner. 

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Welcome to Cambodia... country number 68

Long travel night, with very little sleep.

Our one hour flight from Langkawi to Kuala Lumpur actually departed and arrived early. Then we had a six hour layover at Kuala Lumpur airport (KUL). It was after midnight when we arrived. But we hadn't had much for dinner, so we were hungry. 

Friday, January 19, 2024

One last look around the island

Well, we've actually really enjoyed our 8 days here on Langkawi Island. 

Despite the fact that it's really been too hot for our liking! But, plus 30C is better than minus 30C any day of the week. We were watching most of Canada in the deep freeze over the past week, and we were quite happy to be baking here.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Tough hike with stunning views at the top!

Early start Thursday morning as we made our way from the east side of the island to the west side. About a forty minute drive to get to the parking area for the 7 Wells Waterfall. Most people who come here come for the waterfall and the swimming holes associated with it, but we are there to continue further... up the trail to Machinchang Peak!

We had read that this is  a tough hike, and especially in the heat of the day. So we wanted to get as early a start as possible. 

Langkawi Boat Tour...

There are two really popular tourist activities here on the island of Langkawi. One is to take the cable car up the mountain, and the other is to do a boat tour.

We won't be doing the cable car because 1) it's expensive and 2) we are going to hike up a nearby mountain for a similar view. However we decided to spend the money on a boat tour.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Island touring... and monkeys!

With a car rental and eight days, you can definitely see the whole island of Langkawi! We did a couple more drives yesterday and made it to the highest point that you can drive to, then to a waterfall, then to see some monkeys.

It was a little windy yesterday morning, and when we made it to the top of Gunung Raya at 800 meters (2,650') it was also quite cloudy.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Day at the beach

We have checked out all the beach possibilities during our touring of the island, and decided to go back to Tanjung Rhu Beach to relax and go for a swim.

It was relatively busy when we had been there on Friday, so we arrived early to make sure we got a decent spot in the shade.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

More touring Langkawi, and met some fellow nomads

We belong to a facebook group called "Senior Nomads" that has about 8,000 members, and Ruth had posted asking if there were any other nomads in Langkawi who wanted to meet up. Jim and Laura responded, so we got together for a coffee yesterday morning.

They are a little younger than us, and are from Devon, England. 

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Beach time in Langkawi

Continuing our exploration of the island of Langkawi, we headed over to the tourist beach south of the airport... Chenang Beach. 

Oh, but first... some laundry! Our host here at the budget hotel pointed us towards a budget place to do laundry. And we found a nice breakfast spot a short walk from the laundromat.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Into our rental car, and off to do some exploring!

Our host here at the cheap hotel set us up with a cheap car rental. With an all inclusive cost of RM50 ($10.75 USD, $14.50 CAD) per day, we decided to take the car for a full week. 

No papers to sign, and pay cash in advance. Gotta love the island way of doing things! 

Thursday, January 11, 2024

On holiday!

Yesterday was a busy travel day as we made our way from Georgetown, Penang Island to Kuah, Langkawi Island.

Penang Island and Langkawi Island are two totally different types of places, despite only being 110 kms (68 miles) away from each other. Langkawi Island is more of  relaxed vibe, and more touristy. Also, Langkawi Island is totally duty free, so it's much cheaper. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Thursday is a travel day!

Thursday is a travel day for us! So we're going to get up and pack, have breakfast and get out the door! We're headed to Langkawi Island for 8 days. Most people would probably take the direct 30 minute flight from Penang Island to Langkawi Island, but it's actually kind of expensive for such a short flight. 

Besides, we're not most people!

Too hot for hiking

We did come to this part of Penang Island to get some hiking in, so that is what we have been doing... every day.

And we've been doing it... but I have to say it's not as enjoyable for me. Ruth doesn't seem to mind it as much, but with the 30C (86C) temperatures and the humidity, it's too hot. Dripping with sweat.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Penang Waterfall hike with a fellow Canadian

Down for breakfast at 8:00am with our host couple Summer and CB. They are maybe a bit younger than us. Breakfast is included in our homestay, and summer was making porridge... salted egg porridge!

We've been eating a lot of different foods here!

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Moving day, and out for a hike

We were up just after 6:00am to say goodbye and thanks to Han and Michelle. We had so much fun with them, and it will be interesting to see where in the world we will meet up again! 

Then we were downstairs ourselves after saying goodbye and thanks to Michelle's brother Peng and his wife MooiKuan. We got another Grab taxi, and of course being a Sunday morning at that hour there was hardly any traffic.

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Hospital verdict, historic Georgetown, and an unfortunate change of plans.

We were back at the Penang Gleneagles hospital at 9:00am Saturday morning to finish the other two tests that we didn't have time for on Friday. 

Once again, very efficient, and we got the results almost right away and had another consultation with the cardiologist.

Friday, January 5, 2024

Spent half the day at the hospital!

Just some background... the male side of my (Kevin's) family does not have good genetics when it comes to heart health. So when I got the laser eye repair done in Tashkent in October and the cardiologist there said that both my blood pressure and my cholesterol were too high, I was a little concerned. 

And, the doctor had said to give it a couple of months and get my blood numbers checked again. So here we are in Malaysia where these tests can be done at a reasonable price. And I wanted to get some more tests done just to satisfy myself that there is not something more serious on the go.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Visit to a mansion, and lots of different food!

Yesterday, Han and Michelle took us up to the Georgetown area to visit the Pinang Peranakan Mansion Museum. It was built in 1896, but spent many decades in neglect before being fully restored in 2002. 

Really quite spectacular, as you'll see in the photos...

Busy day with a lot of stops between Kuala Lumpur and Penang Island

We were downstairs at 7:30am Wednesday morning waiting for Han and Michelle to pick us up. 

We originally met Han and Michelle in May 2019 in Singapore when we were on our way to Australia. They are originally from Malaysia, but live in Singapore. We kept in touch, and then we bumped into them again in Kosovo where we went out to dinner.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Wandering around Kuala Lumpur

On Tuesday, we decided to stay in the central area and try to scratch some things off our "to do" list. 

When I bought this Honor Magic 5 Pro phone, it came with a very flimsy protective case and I wanted something a little more heavy duty. But because the phone itself isn't readily available in North America, options were limited as to accessories. Here in Asia though, choices are better.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

December Expenses and 2023 Expenses Review

Well, 2023 was our most expensive year yet since we started out in 2007. We knew that we were going to spend more in 2023 than we did in 2022, so it's not surprising. We just didn't plan on it being that much more!

For December, we had a planned budget of $2,400 CAD ($1,780 USD). However that was before we decided to come to Malaysia, and the flights and accommodation here added to that. Also, we did some things in Thailand that were unplanned, like flying from Ubon to Chiang Mai.

Monday, January 1, 2024

Another one of those big lizards!

We slept in a bit after our late night on New Year's Eve, and just coasted through the morning. Not the most logical choice though, since the morning tends to be a couple of degrees cooler than the afternoon and we had some exploring to do!

Kuala Lumpur has a fair bit of park space, and one in particular showed a lot of different trails.