The village of Ducaj near Boge, Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Tirana Airport, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Porto, Portugal on June 25th!

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.