Nice sunset view as we pass over London, England, on our way to Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Shkodra, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Hiking the Peaks of the Balkans, June 13-24!

Thursday, June 13, 2024

This is the last time you'll hear from us for a while!

Today is the official start of our hiking trip! No hiking involved, but a hotel in town is part of the trip, so we have moved there. Then tomorrow morning they supply breakfast and then they drive us up into the mountains at 8:30am where they have a 19.8 km (12.3 mile) day planned for us!

And the long term weather forecast looks fabulous! Sunny, with highs of around 25C (77F), except for a couple of days where it's supposed to get up to 30C (86F). Gonna be sweating on those days!

Motorhome Trips in America’s Wild West

The freedom of the open road has always been a major attraction for us and we have been lucky enough to experience the great outdoors across a variety of continents. But a road trip that is on many people’s bucket list is one taking in the wild west of the United States.
 
Generations have grown up on old western films and even more modern stories depicting this fascinating region of the world. Those long straight roads were built for motorhomes to explore and we thought we would share with you a trip that would allow you to take in the stunning scenery and sights – as well as a chance to check out all the Las Vegas betting online sites.

Albania has become a tourism hotspot

We slept in a little after arriving at Tirana Airport so late. Made it down for breakfast just before 10:00am. Pretty refreshing to see the prices, after having spent almost six weeks in England! 

Although, things are more expensive than the last time we were here, just like everywhere else in the world.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Arrived in Albania - a little later than planned!

Tuesday was a travel day! We had to make our way from Birmingham, England to Tirana, Albania.

We left the hotel just before 9:00am and did the twenty minute walk to Birmingham Coach Station where we caught the bus towards London's Luton Airport. We had to transfer half way to another bus, and arrived at the airport right on time at 12:15pm. Cost for the buses was £21.85 ($27.85 USD, $38.25 CAD) each.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Major change of plans.

I mentioned the other day that there's a lot going on behind the scenes here at Travel with Kevin and Ruth, and that is proving to be totally true.

Our original plan for July was to continue through the Balkans, with quite a lot of time spent in Serbia, a country that we have never been to. Then perhaps Georgia for August, before heading back to Canada in September.

Well, all that has changed.

4 Affordable Ski Resorts in Europe for Holidays on a Budget

Excitement is high when you decide to go on a ski holiday, but it plummets when people check the prices. You won’t have to go through that if you search for deals at affordable ski resorts in Europe. Chances are that you haven’t heard much about such budget-friendly establishments, but there are many out there. In this article, you’ll discover four of them, which are characterised by amazing prices and excellent services, so that you can enjoy the exhilarating experiences offered at the best ski resorts in the world without breaking the bank. 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Hiking in Peak District National Park... day 2

Unknown to most who have never been, the name "Peak District" has nothing to do with mountains or the landscape. And to be honest, we didn't know that either. In fact the terrain in Lake District National Park has more mountains than Peak District does. In fact, the highest point in Peak District is only 636 metres (2,087 ft) above sea level.

But Peak District is not quite as busy as Lake District, and the scenery is just as good. And there seemed to be a lot of walking trails in just about any direction.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

I'm not gonna lie, we were pretty much done!

We had done Friday overnight at the Ravenstor Hostel in Peak District National Park. We had met our friends Antoinette and Ki there, and we all had breakfast together and then headed out. They do a lot of hiking in this park, and they had planned the route for us. 42 kms (26 miles) over two days!

We set off day one at 9:30am...

Saturday, June 8, 2024

We have arrived in Peak District National Park!

We said goodbye to Aly and Martin this morning. Thanks again for putting up with, and looking after us! We wonder where in the world we shall meet again.

And we headed into the city of Sheffield. This is the city where my grandfather went to work in the steel mills when he was 13 years old!

Friday, June 7, 2024

It is so frustrating!

While we have been quietly meandering our way through the English countryside, there is a lot going on behind the scenes here at Travel with Kevin and Ruth. Let me explain...

Although we've been enjoying ourselves doing this "senior backpacking" style of travel, as we call it, we are missing our favorite method of travel... motorhome.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

The area where some of my relatives came from

A bit of a dismal morning, so we just stayed indoors until things cleared up. It ended up being a decent afternoon, but with a cool breeze.

Aly and Martin took us for a drive through some of the smaller towns. My grandfather (my mother's father) was born in nearby Wakefield. He started working in a steel mill there when he was 13 years old.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Funny story...

We fly to Albania on Tuesday evening for our 11 day hike in the Albanian Alps. We're so excited!

In preparation, we've been trying to do some walking every day, but it's tough to get in any hilly areas to work the legs. So we've booked a walk in Peak District National Park this coming weekend.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

A nice walk to the next village

Monday was a dull morning, and we had some computer work to get caught up on. Aly and Martin went to do some work on an investment property they bought, and they did not make it back until dinner time.

The skies cleared mid afternoon though and so we went out for a 10 km (6.2 mile) walk to the next village and back.

Monday, June 3, 2024

Beautiful day in York, and more photo matching

The forecast was for a gorgeous Sunday with sunshine and a high of about 21C (70F), and that's exactly what happened. It was a perfect day.

We set off just after 9:30am along with Aly and Martin and the four of us drove about 45 minutes north to the ancient city of York.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

May Expenses - thanks easyJet!

Well, we had a budget of $2,750 CAD  for the month, and we ended up spending $3,097 CAD ($2,275 USD). Not bad, considering we always make our budget purposely at the low end of the scale to give us something to strive towards, So it's actually pretty rare that we meet our budget. But considering Ruth bought new hiking boots, that's really the item that put us over the top. Having said that, I should have budgeted for them in the first place.

Technically, we spent far more than that, but we were lucky that our easyJet flight had been late and they compensated us £880. We also used some credit card points to pay for our flights from Antalya to Paris on the 1st of May.

The pubs in old town Hull, England

Saturday morning we went for a walk in the center of Hull. They call the area "Old Town". 

Hull has a lot of history, dating back to the 12th century, and next to London, it was the most bombed city in the UK during the blitzes of WWII when 95% of the city's buildings were damaged or destroyed. 

Saturday, June 1, 2024

We're lucky nobody was hurt!

We took a rare blogging day off yesterday! But we're back on track now, and so I'll combine Thursday and Friday together in this post.

On Thursday, we spent the day running some errands with friends Glen and Steve.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Almost bought another motorhome!

Yesterday we drove down to Manchester airport and picked up our housesitting host. Again, ridiculously expensive parking charges, just like the other day when we dropped her off at Liverpool airport where they had a £5 ($6.35 USD, $8.70 CAD) fee just to drop someone off close to the terminal. 

We were picking up this time, not dropping off. But at Manchester airport, there is no free pickup outside the terminal. So I figured out a place where we could wait for free five minutes away, and when she made her way through immigration to the baggage she sent a message. Then we could drive to the short term parking area where it cost £6 ($7.60 USD, $10.50 CAD) per half hour.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

It was a good week house sitting

Despite the regularly overcast skies, we had a good eight days here in Preston. It seemed to pass by really quickly, even though two of those days had wet enough weather that we never left the house!

We need to try to do more house sitting. I actually applied for one next week, but when the host doesn't respond after 24 hours, I withdraw my application, explaining why. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

England has so many scenic walking areas!

It was another wet drizzly morning, however the forecast called for clearing around lunchtime, and that's exactly what happened. 

We made a plan to have lunch, and then head forty minutes north toward the town of Arnside where there are a couple of National Trust properties with a lot of walking trails.

Monday, May 27, 2024

I came across an eSIM data plan that never expires!

When we were in Turkiye for most of the month of April, I had bought an eSIM for the phone. This was my first experience using an eSIM.

Usually we stop in and pick up a local SIM card for whatever country we happen to be traveling to. It's not as convenient as an eSIM, but its often quite a bit cheaper.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Fantastic hike in Lake District National Park

We woke up Saturday morning, and we were happy to see the sunshine through the bedroom curtains. We planned to meet up with friends David and Mirsie in Lake District National Park, so to have nice weather would make for a perfect day!

We hit the road at 7:45am for the hour and fifteen minute drive to the village of Coniston located in Lake District National Park.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

These boots are made for walking...

We packed a lunch and set off to the Forest of Bowland National Landscape about 40 minutes drive east of Preston. 

Still overcast and misty even though there was no actual rain in the forecast. High of 12C (54F).

Friday, May 24, 2024

The rain finally slowed down enough to get out for some exercise

Another wet cold miserable day yesterday here in northwest England. We stayed inside until the rain slowed down after lunch, but the unappealing weather doesn't change the fact that we're trying to be in shape for our upcoming 10 day Albania hike.

So we bundled up and set out on an 8 km (5 mile) urban hike leaving directly from our doorstep here in Preston.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Wandering around Liverpool, and new hiking boots!

We were up just before 5:00am Wednesday morning to take Jane down to Liverpool airport. It was about an hour drive, mostly on the motorway. Of course the highway is not very busy at that hour, and with sunrise in this area at 5:00am it was already light outside.

Arrived at the airport to find they have an odd way of dropping off and picking up people. You have to pay £5 for "express" drop off at the terminal where you have five minutes to say goodbye or you pay another £5!

Easy tips for hiking on a budget

Hiking is an activity that is typically very affordable as it’s very accessible. For the most simple hikes, all you need is a basic set of equipment and then you can simply start walking through the terrain and set off on your adventure - then, as you begin having bigger budgets to play with, you can look into hiking holidays, which are based over a few days or weeks (depending on the duration you would like to do). 

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Cat sitting, but that doesn't mean we'll be sitting still!

We did the last bit of our drive from the Dairy Farm to Preston yesterday. 

Arrived in Preston around 3:00pm, and stopped in at a Lidl grocery store to pick up a few things we knew we would use, of course not knowing what our host Jane might have in the fridge that might need using up. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

We sure put on the steps!

The step counter on the phone read 24,365 by the end of the day.

We had checked out of our room but left our bags in the storage area so that we could make our way to pick up our car rental on the other side of Birmingham. Then, I found a little breakfast and lunch restaurant in a nearby industrial area. That turned out to be a great choice!

Monday, May 20, 2024

On the road again!

We had an enjoyable couple of weeks with Helen and Tony. Thank you both for having us. Always lots of laughs when we get together, and we look forward to the next time. Hopefully this coming November in Mexico!

We got packed up and our ride arrived at just after 6:00pm. Tony's Uncle John had come down for the wedding, and they live north of Birmingham so were able to drop us here on their way home. 

Sunday, May 19, 2024

And then the skies opened up...

Other than feeling a little tired this morning, we all survived wedding day. We had arrived at the venue yesterday around noon, and had an hour and a half or so to get ourselves cleaned up and into our fancy dress clothes.

Obviously Ruth and I don't carry around fancy dress clothes! However, when we went to the wedding in Ireland last year,  we had Max the motorhome with us and we were able to transport our clothes to Helen and Tony's where they were stored until we needed them yesterday.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Steaks on the grill

So, we've decided to keep the rental car as we had it arranged with pickup in Birmingham on Monday. We probably would have saved a few dollars by taking our house sitting host up on her offer of letting us use her car for next week, however the logistics became difficult. 

Anyway, we decided that the extra cost was worth the extra convenience. 

Friday, May 17, 2024

Getting ready for the wedding

We have a car rental booked for this coming Monday in Birmingham, but yesterday evening I received a note from our house sitting host that she has an older car we can use if we want to. Which is very nice of her!

And I can cancel our car rental at no charge, but before I do that I need to check out just how much we'll save to see if it's worthwhile. 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Nice day trip down to Wareham, Dorset

We packed a lunch and set off for an hour drive towards the riverside town of Wareham, Dorset. But along the way we stopped in at the village of Moreton. Helen and Tony knew of an interesting little church in the village.

Moreton is also the resting place of  Lawrence of Arabia!

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

House sitting booked, and a preview of next month's adventure!

I mentioned the other day that we had applied for a house sit up in Preston, England and we found out that we were accepted. So we'll be looking after Stripey the cat for 8 days from May 21st to the 29th.

We're also renting a car, but we don't pick it up until we get to Birmingham on the 20th. It looks like we may be getting a ride up there from one of the other wedding guests. With a car rental, we'll be able to do lots of day trips from Preston, including some time in Lake District National Park which is about an hour north of Preston.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Off to the doctor... again!

Boy, it seems like we've been in a lot of doctors offices the last while! 

I wasn't even going to tell this story because it may be nothing... but as travelers, it's always interesting to hear how the medical system works in other countries. So, here it is...

Monday, May 13, 2024

Day trip down to the Jurassic Coast

We were all up at 6:00am Sunday morning. We had made a plan that we would drive down to England's southern Jurassic Coast and arrive there before the crowds. It was supposed to be a beautiful day, and based on the weather forecast it might be the last one for quite some time!

Our thinking was that we would then be able to head back later that morning while most of the traffic would be in the opposite direction.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

I told her she would never be bored.

Saturday afternoon we took a trip over to a nature reserve just west of Glastonbury. It's run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and sure enough there were a lot of birding people there with the big zoom lenses and birding scopes.

It's times like this that I miss having the big camera with the fantastic zoom lens, but to be honest, I don't miss it enough to go back to carrying something like that around. Totally happy with the camera on my smartphone.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

What's on the agenda for the rest of the month?

We've been really lucky with the weather this week, but it looks like we're in for some more typical "British" weather next week. Overcast with rain and a high of between 15c to 18c (60f to 65f). Oh well, it is only May after all, so we've had it pretty good.

Yesterday morning, we took Lindsey and Sadie over to the Castle Cary train station for their ride back to London's Gatwick airport.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Last day with Lindsey and Sadie

Yesterday morning, I received a notification from our Wise currency account that £880 ($1,103 USD, $1,509 CAD) had been deposited by easyJet. If you missed it, this is related to the compensation for the late arrival of our flight from Paris to Bristol. 

They said it would show up within 7 days, and it did! Did I mention we love easyJet?

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Out for a hike above Cheddar Gorge!

We've done a lot of walking in the past couple of months, but it's been mostly flat city walking, not an actual trail hike that includes some climbing. And with our big ten day Albania hike coming up in just over a month, we need to get our legs in better shape.

So yesterday we went up to Cheddar Gorge to do their 5 km (3 mile) Gorge Top Walk.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The smallest city in England

We never did get any rain, but it was after lunch by the time some blue sky arrived. It turned out to be a nice afternoon, with high around 20C (68F).

Tony drove us over to the city of Wells... the smallest city in England based on the fact that it has both a cathedral and only 12,000 residents. We had gone through on the bus the other day and Lindsey had said she would like to go back and wander around. Helen stayed home... she has a bad foot and is trying to give it some rest.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Made it back to Helen and Tony's

On Monday, we walked almost 2 kms to the Bristol Bus Station and took the 10:55am bus from Bristol to Glastonbury. 

The bus was right on time, and it cost an amazingly cheap £2 ($2.50 USD, $3.40 CAD) per adult, and half that for Sadie.

April Expenses

We've been busy since the end of April, and just haven't had time to post our monthly expense report!

We started the month of April by arriving in Kuwait City on April 1st and had two flights throughout the month as we made our way to Istanbul and Antalya, Turkiye. 

Our budget called for $3,115 CAD ($2,300 USD) for the month, but we knew we had some medical things to get looked at, and ended up spending $3,512 CAD ($2,566 USD) in total.

Monday, May 6, 2024

Fantastic news!

Well, the "maybe some good news" from yesterday unexpectedly turned into fantastic news today!

I had mentioned yesterday that because our easyJet flight from Paris to Bristol was late arriving that we may be entitled to compensation. The European Union (EU) has some strict regulations governing the airlines and their commitments to their passengers, and if your arriving flight is more than three hours late, you can submit a claim to the airline.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Arrived in Bristol, England... and maybe some good news!

Yesterday's blog was posted late, so if you missed The view from the Eiffel Tower you might want to go back.

We were up at 5:45am to catch the bus to Paris airport for our 9:00am easyJet flight to Bristol, England. The bus outside the hotel arrived right on time, but we didn't have any small bills to pay for the bus. Only a €20 note. It was supposed to cost €2.50 each for the adults, but when I went to pay, the driver just waived us on through! So the ten minute bus ride to the terminal was totally free.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

View from the Eiffel Tower

Friday was a bit of a hectic day! We had to be out of our apartment by 11:00am, but had arranged to be able to leave our bags behind, provided we were back to pick them up by 1:00pm.

So we headed out to return to the Eiffel Tower in the hopes of getting up there to match up another photo or two.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Busy day touring Paris matching my father's photos

For whatever reason, Paris has never been on our "to do" list. I guess that's why it took 62 years for us to get here!

We've only got a day and a half to explore the city, so we were pretty much planning on sticking to the highlights. But with lots of walking, we would see other stuff along the way.

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Welcome to Paris!

France is not a new country for us. However we have never been to the actual city of Paris, despite having flown in and out of Paris airport a couple of times.

So when our granddaughter Sadie said that she wanted to see Paris as part of her trip across the pond, we decided that now is a good time!

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Next blog post coming to you from Paris, France!

Our daughter Lindsey and granddaughter Sadie arrived in London, England yesterday morning after doing the overnight flight from Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

They spent the day exploring London, and then the evening and overnight at Ruth's aunt who lives in the city.  Today, they plan to go to a theater show, among other things. Then tomorrow afternoon they will take the chunnel train from London to Paris.

Road Trip Savings: 5 Top Tips for Economical Car Hire Deals

No one can deny that cars are among the technological advances that have made everyday life much easier. An additional and extremely important benefit is that travelling has become much less tiring and much more fun. Brits know how great road trips are, as they’re their favourite getaway holiday plan. In doing so, they not only experience something out of the ordinary but also get to know their own country better. However, not all of them know how to save money when looking for a car. You can avoid pitfalls by following our top tips for economical car hire deals in the UK.

Liverpool’s Concealed Delights: A Day to Discover the City’s Hidden Charms

London is the top destination in the South of England, but in the North, the elegant Liverpool is a city that takes everyone’s breath away. Its musical legacy, its maritime heritage, and the urban beauty make it stand out. You may have read articles about the special character of this English city before. However, this one can be the first to reveal Liverpool’s concealed delights. Spend one day of your holidays going to the underrated attractions mentioned below, and you’ll get to know Liverpool in more depth.

Monday, April 29, 2024

Exploring the Unforgettable Journey of Kevin and Ruth: A Tale of Wanderlust and Adventure

So I was wasting time on the internet, and playing with the free ChatGTP Artificial Intelligence program.

Just for fun, I asked it to come up with a blog post about the history of Kevin and Ruth from Travel with Kevin and Ruth. And literally less than two seconds later, it came up with the text. It's quite amazing... and almost a little spooky! Here it is...

Sunday, April 28, 2024

More photo matching coming up!

Saturday afternoon, we walked down to the beach. 

Even though the property where we are staying is billed as being a beach stay, it's still a 2 km (1.3 mile) walk to actually get to the beach. There is a big open "forest" area between us and the beach with a lot of walking tracks, but none of them appear to actually lead to the beach. So we had to go along the road.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Moving day

We chose our new place east of the city of Antalya at Lara Beach. Somehow we had to go almost 16 kms (10 miles) with all of our worldly belongings.

I checked the price of a taxi, but that was going to cost over 400 lira ($12.30 USD, $16.80 CAD). Not really that expensive, but we had lots of time so I checked into taking the bus. The problem of course was carrying all of our "stuff".

Friday, April 26, 2024

This is our third time in Antalya

The first time we were here was back in December of 2020, during Covid. At the time, we had an inexpensive rental car, and that convenience enabled us to get an inexpensive apartment on the outskirts of the city so that we could do a lot of day trips.

The second time we were here was in late February of 2022 when we were here with our motorhome Max

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Lots to look forward to, and it's coming up quickly!

We've proven to ourselves again that two weeks in one spot is enough for us. 

Even when we like where we are, we get itchy feet after a maximum of two weeks and it's time for a change of scenery. And sometimes that's all it takes, is a change of scenery... and some different areas where we can go walking and explore.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Fun to watch the Turkish Stars aerobatic team

We didn't leave the apartment until 3:00pm Tuesday afternoon! Not sure exactly where the day went, but the time does seem to pass quickly, even when we are doing nothing. Neither one of us seem to have any problem wasting away a few hours on the internet. Wasting is perhaps the wrong word, as I am generally researching either future travel or something to do with our investments in the gold market, and Ruth spends a lot of time labeling and organizing our photos.

And speaking of photos, I sure took a lot yesterday!

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Booked another flight!

2024 is turning into the year of flying! We've already been on 10 different airplanes so far this year.

Still, it's a long way off from the 21 different airplanes we were on in 2019. We keep track of all of our flights since 2012 at this website... https://my.flightradar24.com/karead7/. You can use the drop down box in the bottom right corner to see the flights by year.

Monday, April 22, 2024

We heard the very loud noise of low flying jet engines overhead!

I've started doing our tax returns. We always have to pay each year, so I never file until the last minute. The Canadian filing date is April 30th, so I've got a few days yet. I find it easier to do a little bit each day.

But because our income isn't very high by Canadian standards (in fact, we are considered poor!) we really don't pay very much in taxes. Most of what we end up paying is the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions because our income is considered self employed, so we have to pay both employer and employee portions. 

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Windy day in Antalya

For several days they had been forecasting deteriorating weather conditions here in Antalya that were supposed to culminate in a big storm on Saturday. They said there would be 100% chance of heavy rain on Saturday morning.

Well... Friday had that odd fog that sort of hung around all day. And when we woke up Saturday morning, it had been spitting with rain and the roads were wet. 

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Exciting plan during the month of June!

Back in October of 2022, we were in the small city of Peja, Kosovo. 

Peja is located on the north eastern edge of the Accursed Mountains, also known as the Albanian Alps. It's an absolutely gorgeous area, and is still virtually unknown to the masses. While we were there, we did some day hikes in the area, specifically on part of what is called the Peaks of the Balkans trail.

Friday, April 19, 2024

We went for a long urban hike here in Antalya

We headed out at 10:30am to walk down to the Duden Waterfall. It's a long 9 km (5.6 mile) one way walk through the city of Antalya. But from the central area most of it follows the coastline, so it's really quite scenic.

Temperature was a pleasant 23C (73F), but it was a bit muggy with an odd fog in the air.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Keeping expenses down

Our original plan was to come to Antalya to get the doctor stuff looked after, and then head north outside the city to some of the smaller towns and explore some of the countryside. However, current car rental prices here are not what they were during Covid! 

One of the reasons we love the motorhome form of travel... we can go where we want and when we want and it's easy to stay in the countryside where we can enjoy the fresh air and get out hiking.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Finished at the eye doctor, and a little walking tour of old town

Yesterday was our 10:00am appointment with our ophthalmologist. We had intraocular lens replacement surgery in December of 2020, and we totally trust the doctor who did it and so we like to return to him every now and then to get our eyes tested. Plus, coming back to Antalya is really not a hardship!

Ruth had been diagnosed with a minor tear in one retina, and she needs to have it checked regularly. My eyes are fine, but I've got a few floaters in one eye. Doesn't really bother me though.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Doctor visit results

We don't normally talk about our health issues, unless they directly affect our travels. First of all, we really don't have any to speak of, other than the ones we've already written about and our regular readers know all about them. Ruth's gluten allergy (which isn't really an issue), my heart health, and our eye surgery back in December of 2020.

What brought us back to Antalya is a checkup with our ophthalmologist, but Ruth had another issue she wanted looked at.

Monday, April 15, 2024

This is pretty tough to take!

Sunday's plan was to walk up to a gluten free cafe and shop north of the old harbor to see if they have any decent bread. We had found this little place last time we were here in Antalya, and they also have lots of bakery treats... all gluten free!

So we headed out and up through the old harbor area.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Kind of a funny story, actually

We don't have much planned for our time here in Antalya. That's one of the reasons we chose to pay a little extra for a central location, because at least there is a lot of walking to be done. Antalya has some beautiful coastal walks right here in the center of the city.

The other reason we have no plans is because Ruth has a medical issue she wants an opinion on. I won't get into the details yet, until we know for sure what the problem and solution is. Don't worry, it's not life threatening!

Saturday, April 13, 2024

A situation like that could get out of control

We were up at 5:45am Friday morning and out of the apartment by 6:00am in order to get to Istanbul's SAW airport in time for our 9:50am flight to Antalya.

It was a 15 minute walk to the metro station, and then almost an hour on the subway, running the full line from Kadikoy to the airport.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Someday we will have a rematch!

Cheryl is still on holiday, so on Thursday, she and her boyfriend Ahmet, took off for the day, and we didn't mind looking after Gus again. We've been so lucky with the weather, and yes, it was another gorgeous day. It's spring in Istanbul, and you can tell by the people out in the park that they've been looking forward to this kind of weather!

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Lunch with fellow full time travelers

On Wednesday, we took the ferries to the Istanbul neighborhood of Fener to meet fellow full time travelers Ken and Mary for lunch. This is one of the couples we had met the day we arrived back in Istanbul a week ago.

Our friend Cheryl had recommended the Fener area because of the old and colorful houses built onto the hillside.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

We love going to the local Turkish market

There are a lot of nice fruit and veggie shops in the area that we are staying here in the Kadikoy area of Istanbul, however it's always cheapest to get your supply at the local market. Unfortunately the nearest one is 2.5 kms (1.2 miles) away, and the main market only takes place on Tuesday... but yesterday was Tuesday!

So we walked over there to pick some things up.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The spring tulips in Istanbul are really pretty

We figured we should get out and do some exploring, so we hopped on the ferry to Eminonu which is the main historical district. We have been there before, but we wanted to go back to Gulhane Park to see if the spring tulips were still in bloom. 

Another beautiful day, but with a cooler high of about 18C (64F) and a strong breeze. Lots of sunshine though!

Monday, April 8, 2024

Our second eSIM experience was much better!

The day wore on yesterday without ever hearing back from Maya Mobile. Really terrible customer service, and I will leave a review in that regard. Eventually, 24 hours after buying their eSIM, I sent a new email to customer service asking for a refund. Ten minutes later, the refund was granted... no questions asked.

So at least there is that.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Not a good first eSIM experience

The last time we spent any length of time here in Turkiye, we had no problem getting an inexpensive data plan on my phone. However, things have changed!

The local providers only have expensive "tourist" plans available for non residents. And there is only one choice... and it costs 1,100 lira ($34.50 USD, $46.75 CAD) for 20GB of data over 30 days.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Scammed on our first day in Istanbul!

I mentioned the other day that we had a story to tell, but I didn't want to tell it until I knew the end of the story. And I tell the story as a warning to others so hopefully it won't happen to you!

We arrived in Istanbul at SAW airport in the eastern end of the city. From there, it is an easy ride on the underground metro system to the ferry terminals at Kadikoy.

Friday, April 5, 2024

We did something a little different yesterday!

This is our third time in Istanbul. As far as big cities go, we kinda like it. Especially the Kadikoy area where our friend Cheryl lives. Lots going on, a 15 minute walk to all ferries and public transit, and really nice park space nearby. 

We are going to enjoy the next week looking after Gus the dog. Especially with the perfect weather forecast!

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Return to Istanbul

We've been pretty busy the last couple of days! With more than a few stories to tell, but some of them we don't know the ending to yet, so they'll have to wait. 

But I'll give you a condensed version of what we've been up to the last couple of days. It's all a bit of a blur!

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

A fun evening out in Kuwait City

One of the reasons we came to Kuwait City is because two of the women in our Mauritania train ride group last year are from Kuwait. And they had said that "if you are ever in Kuwait, look us up!".

So we did!

They offered to pick us up at our hotel at 7:30pm and take us out for a Kuwaiti dinner!

Monday, April 1, 2024

Welcome to Kuwait... country #72 for us!

We were up at 4:45am to take a taxi to Abu Dhabi International Airport in order to catch our 8:10am flight to Kuwait City.

I had received an email from Wizz Air saying to be sure to arrive at the airport 4 hours in advance of our flight to ensure sufficient time to get through check-in and security. We've done enough flying to know that this is ridiculous. 

March Expenses... we had budgeted for an expensive month!

We were on four different airplanes during the month of March, and spent the latter part of the month in some fairly high end places... so we had planned in advance for an expensive month.

So although it was certainly at the high end of what we usually spend in a month, it wasn't unexpected.

In our last budget update at the end of February, I mentioned that we had a planned budget of $3,837 CAD ($2,826 USD) for the month of March. We came in at $4,082 CAD ($3,017 USD) in total.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Last day in Abu Dhabi... the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Most things in Abu Dhabi cost a fair bit of money. There are quite a few theme parks... Ferarri World, Warner Bros, Yas Island Waterworld, etc. And while they would be fun (and fairly expensive!) for a day, that's not what we came here for. 

But probably the most popular attraction in the city is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. And it's totally free to visit!

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Men to the back of the bus...

Our hotel has a free shuttle bus that leaves at 10:00am to the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque. This mosque is a major tourist attraction in Abu Dhabi, and it boasts of 64 million visitors since it opened in 2007.

So after our filling all you can eat breakfast buffet, we hopped on the free bus to go check it out.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Day one in Abu Dhabi

I know many people love Abu Dhabi and especially the nearby neighbor Dubai. But neither of these places have ever been very high on our to do list, and the only reason we are here is because of the flight routes that made our "hop skip and jump" journey from Bangkok to Istanbul a little more interesting.

The displays of opulence and wealth in Abu Dhabi and more so in Dubai can be interesting though

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Welcome to United Arab Emirates (UAE)... country #71 for us!

Last you heard from us, we were waiting at Male Airport for our flight to Abu Dhabi. 

Things didn't really go according to plan for us in Male. We took the public ferry at 6:30am from the island of Dhiffushi, and the two and a half hour trip went by quickly. So we arrived at the Male ferry terminal at about 9:00am. Problem is, our flight wasn't until 7:00pm, so we had more than a few hours to waste.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Last day in the Maldives, and some things we want to tell you about.

Writing this at Male Airport while waiting for our evening flight to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

We had a lazy last day on Dhiffushi Island. So lazy that it didn't even occur to us that we never did a blog post on that last day! And by the time we realized that, I just figured it could wait. Besides, we didn't do very much, although there are certainly some things we want to tell you about.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Swimming with the sharks

While we could spend our three full days here on the island of Dhiffushi just lazing about, the Maldives are one of the top locations in the world for snorkeling and diving. We are not divers, but we are quite happy to do some world class snorkeling!

Especially when our host told us that we could be swimming with the sharks as well!

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Day one of island life

So, we are staying on the island of Dhiffushi in the Maldives. The island itself is about 1 km long, by 200 meters wide. At a slow pace, it takes about 30 minutes to walk around the circumference of the island. About 1,300 people live here full time. Dhiffushi is the most eastern inhabited island in the Maldives and is the first to witness sunrise every morning.

From the Visit Dhiffushi website... Dhiffushi was one of the first non-resort islands in the Maldives to commence offering holiday accommodation and was the leader from which all other islands followed. It's two main areas of commerce are fishing & of course, tourism. Affordable luxury, sprinkled with a wide variety of activities such as jet ski's, snorkeling with turtles, kite surfing and much much more. Proving visitors don't need to pay out for an expensive all inclusive resort to experience an amazing holiday in the Maldives. 

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Welcome to the Maldives... country #70 for us!

We were up early again Saturday morning in order to catch our 9:15am flight to the Maldives. We purposely had our accommodation so that it was walking distance to Bangkok's Don Muang Airport and in ten minutes or so we were in the terminal.

Through immigration quickly, as well as security and waiting at our gate with an hour and a half to spare.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Travel day!

Well, our time in Hua Hin is up, and this morning we were up at 5:15am in order to catch or 6:40am train back to Bangkok.

Everything went smoothly, except that the train was a half hour late arriving. Apparently Thai trains are notorious for this, however our experience to date with the Thai train system has been really good.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

What it cost for our two weeks in Hua Hin, Thailand

Thailand has a reputation of being a cheap place to visit, and while that is still totally true, costs have gone up here just as they have everywhere else in the world. 

Anyhow, we wanted to prove to ourselves that Thailand can still be done on the cheap. Because if you want to live like a tourist and eat "western" style food in higher end restaurants, it's still going add up to more than what you think it should.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

We would go nuts here

While this two weeks at Hua Hin has been some good downtime, and we've got a lot accomplished on the internet, we are just about done.

Heck, even when we're in a place that we like we're ready to move on after two weeks. 

Monday, March 18, 2024

A few details about our upcoming trip to the Maldives!

We will be in Istanbul, Turkiye early next month, and when I was looking at flight prices and doing the route planning between Bangkok and Istanbul, I figured out that we could break the trip up with a few different destinations and it would cost about the same.

One of the choices along the way was to head to the Maldives... a group of islands in the Indian Ocean that is well known for their very expensive resorts and crystal clear blue water.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Cheapest day yet!

On Sunday, we hopped on the local transportation as far south as it goes. It only costs 15 baht ($0.42 USD, $0.57 CAD) per person no matter how far you go. 

So we went right to the end of the line, and walked down to the beach. There is small "island" at the end. Not really an island, but when the tide is all the way in, it looks like it is.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Kind of glad we've had all this down time

First thing I did Saturday morning was to check our online banking to see if the credit card problem was fixed. This time, it showed that my "available credit" was back to normal, instead of being a big negative number. With that confidence, I proceeded to book the Pegasus Airlines flight from Antalya to Paris and it went through with no problems at all!

So at least that is fixed, although with no explanation from Scotiabank at all. 

Friday, March 15, 2024

Well, that was a frustrating day!

It started off with an email from Turkish Airlines saying that they had cancelled and rescheduled our Kuwait to Istanbul flight originally on April 4th, to exactly the same time on April 5th.

I looked at all the options, including keeping it at April 5th, but we decided we were actually better off  changing it to April 3rd. So I did all the changes online, and it seemed to accept everything. 

Until I looked a little closer.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Paris is expensive!

So we're going to be spending a couple of nights in Paris with our daughter Lindsey and granddaughter Sadie at the beginning of May. And we knew in advance that Paris is expensive. But I figured that I'd be able to find some accommodation that is at least reasonably priced. 

Nope!

We got sidetracked!

Spending two weeks in one place means that we will have a few days with not much going on, and yesterday was one of those days. 

When we went out for lunch, we went to a new place on the other side of the tracks. Not the wrong side of the tracks... just the other side!

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

We've got a ton of exciting travel coming up!

Spent the morning researching various flight options to arrange meeting up with our daughter Lindsey and granddaughter Sadie in Paris. And the plan is starting to come together!

We've got her flights booked now. She's going to arrive in London a bit earlier and spend a couple of days with Ruth's aunt. Then they are going to hop on the chunnel train and take the train to Paris on May 1st. We will fly May 1st from Antalya, and meet them in Paris.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Good thing we all like different things!

We took the local transportation up to the central area yesterday. Not much to see, really. Hua Hin is a beach resort area and the beach is why people come here. 

The central area doesn't have much worthwhile. We wandered down to the beach, and then through some of the seedier bar and massage areas, but there isn't much going on there during the day.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Down to the beach!

It's too hot during the day to get a decent walk in, so we tried getting out early. But even before 8:00am, it's not early enough. You still end up drenched in sweat. Of course that would probably happen in the middle of the night as well, since the overnight lows are still around 27C (81F).

Our condo is only a ten minute walk from the beach, so we figured we might head that way just to check it out and walk along the beach.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Foreign exchange costs

First on the agenda here in Hua Hin was to get some more Thai baht cash. We had made an agreement with our host here to pay him for our accommodation in cash, and in exchange we got a healthy discount. But that discount is partially offset by the fact that it actually cost us money to get that cash.

Almost all Thai banks charge a fee of 220 baht ($6.20 USD, $8.40 CAD) for the privilege of using their ATM.

Friday, March 8, 2024

This will do for a couple of weeks!

It was a nice little guesthouse we stayed at near Bangkok's DMK airport. Really nice friendly people, and we've booked another night in there when we return to that airport to fly to Maldives on March 22nd.

Also, it's located a 15 minute walk from the terminal itself, and the commuter rail line to Bangkok's main train station. So it's really convenient as well.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Moving day today!

Didn't do anything yesterday! We were tired, and it was baking hot out, so other than getting out for some food, all we did for exercise was to walk with all of our worldly belongings from one cheap hotel room to another one.

But, we did a lot of internet research sitting in our air conditioned room, and got our condo and train tickets booked for our trip to Hua Hin today.

Change of plans!

We would have preferred to remain in Vietnam until March 22, but because of the screw up with the dates on our Vietnam visa, we had to leave the country by March 7th. Yes, we could have gone through the hassle and expense of getting an extension, but we didn't think it was worth it. In hindsight, maybe we should have, but of course hindsight is never useful, except as a learning experience!

Then we thought about going into Laos for a couple of weeks, but that was also going to involve visas, and the flights weren't cheap, and the route over land wasn't easy. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Exploring Hanoi, Vietnam

On Monday, we spent a few hours wandering around Hanoi. Our hotel is located right in the center of the old quarter, and there is enough to see just walking about watching daily life that we didn't need to go very far. Still, we put on a lot of steps!

It is most fascinating watching the traffic. I took a couple of videos for you further down.

Monday, March 4, 2024

Out for a bike ride, then off to the big city of Hanoi

On Monday, our train to Hanoi didn't leave until just after 4:00pm, so we had most of the day to do some more exploring.

We rented a couple of bicycles and decided to ride up to the tourist boat port of Trang An just to see some different scenery and check out the area.

Sunday, March 3, 2024

The right place, at the right time!

The highlight of the Ninh Binh area are the various boat tours that take you through the scenery and caves. There are quite a few options to sort through, and various routes to choose from. 

I did a lot of research, and we had made our choice and planned on doing a boat tour on Monday morning when it would be less busy. But it didn't turn out that way, and we're glad that we were in the right place at the right time to do things a little differently!

Saturday, March 2, 2024

There's a reason it's busy here

There's not much to see in the actual town of Ninh Binh itself. But that's what people use as the transportation hub. Most of the hotels and restaurants are in the popular area at the town of Tam Coc, about 6 kms (3.7 miles) away.

And the reason Tam Coc is popular is because of the scenic geography with small rives flowing through three cave systems. The big attraction is a boat trip through the caves, although we are saving that for Monday when it will be less busy.

Friday, March 1, 2024

We found all the tourists!

And they are here in Ninh Binh. Every last one of them, apparently!

We woke up to another drizzly day in Vinh. You could tell it had rained quite a lot overnight, but fortunately we missed that and it was just drizzling a bit when we left for the train station.

February Expenses

Our expenses did pretty well in February, all things considered.

We had a budget of $2,385 CAD, and we spent $2,457 CAD ($1,810 USD) for the month. And the extra was solely related to our decision to fly from Da Lat to Vinh instead of taking buses. Without that, we actually would have been under budget. So we're really pleased with that.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

One of the best meals we've had in Vietnam!

On Thursday, we took the minivan back to the city of Vinh. We simply went and stood on the main street. We were actually waiting for the number 31 bus that runs between Con Cuong and Vinh, but there are also the same system of minivans that we took to get to Con Cuong in the first place. And we were only at the stop for five minutes before one came along, so we hopped in it.

It was quite a bit quicker going back. We must have got in the "express" van, because it didn't make nearly as many stops as the one we took going up, and it was a little more expensive, at 120,000 dong ($4.90 USD, $6.60 CAD) per person for the two hour and twenty minute ride.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Last day in Con Cuong, Vietnam

Well, we haven't seen another westerner for five days... since we left the airport in Da Lat. 

And we also haven't seen any sunshine, at all! It hasn't really rained, it's just been foggy and overcast, with some occasional drizzle. Temperatures have been nice though, with highs around 20C (68F). 

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 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.