BOLT 2020: Our 5th Year of Travel/Lessons Learned

We had all kinds of plans for this, our fifth year of full time/home free travel. We were going to visit India, Sri Lanka and travel through Thailand.

Welp! The universe had other plans. We came to Da Nang, Vietnam, planning on a 1 month stay. We’ve now been here for almost 10 months!

We are very grateful to have sheltered in such a safe, affordable and beautiful country. We’ve undergone two very strict lockdowns but have also had the opportunity to explore this beautiful city.

Most of all I think this has been a time of reflection and focus on what’s really important.

I’ve learned to take nothing for granted and that plans, expectations and situations can change in a moment.

I’ve learned to let small stuff go. I’ve gotten much better at accepting people as they are.

I’ve really come to appreciate the value of a spiritual routine, of grounding myself with morning quiet time and practicing regular meditation and prayer. I’ve also learned how important regular exercise is to my spirit.

I’ve recommitted myself to finding beauty every day and sharing it with the world.

How about you? What lessons have you learned in 2020? We’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to share in the comments section.

BOLT Travel Memories: Finding Community

If I had to define our third year of home free travel, it would be with one word: COMMUNITY!

Game Night

While we love the RV life, especially our stays in Mexico, the one thing we were really lacking was connection to others. We didn’t really find it until our second visit to southeast Asia, to Thailand.

Amen Corner

Thanks to the efforts of folks like Keidra King and Binkey Tolfree we found Facebook groups in Chiang Mai for expats of color. We attended dinners and other events. We made good friends. Chiang Mai Thailand really became home for us because of the community we found. We have community here in Da Nang Vietnam too because of those initial Chiang Mai connections.

Birthday Celebration in Chiang Mai Thailand

We took classes, went on field trips and I even acted in a play! I hope you will enjoy these pictures of some of our happiest community memories.

Girl Trek 5k
Hot Springs Park Trip Da Nang Vietnam
I even got a new sister and granddaughter!
And Another Grandbaby!
Monologue Class, Chiang Mai Thailand
Museum Trip in Chiang Mai
Road Trip to Chang Dao Thailand
Christmas Party in Chiang Mai
Yi Peng Lantern Festival Chiang Mai
Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens in Chiang Mai
Walk to Doi Suthep Chiang Mai Thailand
I gained a beautiful daughter too!
And a fabulous friend for a lifetime!
Going Away Parties are Always So Much Fun!

I’m so grateful for the community we have found. Especially during the pandemic community has gotten us though!

Our BOLT Journey: 2 Years of RV Life

In 2016 after a year in Asia we returned to the United States. We wanted to participate in what we thought was the election of our first woman president. Welp.. that was a huge disappointment but what wasn’t was our purchase of Winnie.

Winnie is an older Minnie Winnebago Class C RV. She’s 30 feet long with a full kitchen and a queen size bed. She’s got a bathroom with a shower. We bought her from a lovely gentleman in Mobile, Alabama. Once we got her road ready we set out on lots of adventures.

We learned a lot about RV life. It was great seeing how helpful and friendly most RVers are. We traveled all throughout the states and some of Mexico and Canada.

Palm Springs, California
Mexico
Mona Lisa RV Park, Ensenada, Mexico
Detroit, Michigan

We got a dog, Kahlo, who we adore and who was a true RV star.

RV life allowed us to see so many beautiful places. We got membership to RV parks, stayed on public lands, in Walmart parking lots, national parks and in front of friend’s houses.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
San Julian, Mexico
Right on the beach in Baja California, Mexico

Kathy and I look forward to returning to RV life sometime soon. It really is a wonderful way to see North America! If you have any questions or want to share your RV experiences please do so here.

BOLT 5 YEAR TRAVELVERSARY!

It’s been 5 years since Kathy and I left Los Angeles for a life of home free travel. We set out from Seattle, Washington for a 30 day cruise to Southeast Asia.

Seattle, Washington to Singapore in 30 days
Honolulu, Hawaii

The cruise was a great opportunity for relaxing and celebrating our retirement. There were lot of great stops and activities aboard the ship. Since cruising won’t be in our near future, I’m grateful we got to do this one!

Cruise Memories

Disembarking in Singapore everything changed! No longer were we catered to, fed and under the care of the Holland America Cruise Line. We had to make our own travel arrangements, shop for food and plan activities and accomodations. We were excited to do so. Our first year we explored Southeast Asia by visiting many of our dream destinations and staying at each for one to three months. The pictures below are some of my favorites of that first year, in no particular order.

Singapore Botanical Gardens
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Mud, a play about the history of KL)
Borudobor, Indonesia
Yi Peng Lantern Festival, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Hanoi, Vietnam
Hangzhou, China
Beijing, China
Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Ferry to Georgetown, Malaysia
Ogoh Ogoh Festival, Ubud, Bali
Songkran Festival, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Train Travel Throughout Indonesia
Sultan’s Palace Yogakarta, Indonesia
Permuteran, Indonesia
I loved these ladies in the markets of Ubud, Bali!
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Floating Market Bangkok, Thailand
I made a friend in the floating markets of Bangkok, Thailand!
We used lots of public transportation and loved it!
We discovered that animal tourism is just not for us. Tiger Kingdom Chiang Mai, Thailand
One of the highlights of our first year was a visit from our bestie! The Great Wall of China
We visited so many amazing places and festivals. This one honored Lord Murajam just outside of KL, Malaysia
We visited places I’d never heard of like the ancient clan jetties of Georgetown, Malaysia.
We made new friends and met interesting people like these students at Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.
Most of all we grew in our love for one another and for travel!

After a bit more than a year in Southeast Asia we decided to return home to celebrate the election of our first female president. While that didn’t happen (SMDH) we did fulfill another dream and purchase our RV. My next blog will be about our year of travel in Winnie.

The Magical World of Zoom

At dawn today I participated in the opening ceremonies of BLU via zoom. I was able to represent the far east with an altar dedicated to our ancestors, family, friends and community. It was an amazing experience, connecting with my sisters in the U.S. all the way from Da Nang Vietnam!

Later in the morning I had a good time laughing with the fabulous Jazzie Mas at her virtual comedy show, also on Zoom.

Then at noon today the Brothas and Sistahs of Da Nang group got together for a virtual brunch. It was wonderful to see everyone (we haven’t seen each other since lockdown began July 26).

I’ve played games at Zoom meetings and been to Zoom birthday parties. I use my free Zoom account to connect one on one with friends and family. Zoom is a real blessing for those of us in recovery. There are 12 Step Meetings for every fellowship!

This pandemic is awful. I never want to forget all who are suffering. For me, Zoom is one thing I am grateful for. It’s made these difficult times a little easier.

If you have any questions about using Zoom or connecting with any of the groups I mentioned email me at boltraveling@gmail.com

I’d love to hear about your Zoom experiences!

Cookin’ with BOLT

We are on a pretty strict lockdown here in Da Nang, Vietnam. We are instructed to stay home except for trips for food or medical necessity. The restaurants are all closed. No cooked food delivery is available. So Kathy and I are cooking every day. I’m trying to get creative. Today I made a delicious pumpkin and eggplant dish. I steamed the pumpkin to make it easy to peel and slice. I sauteed it in coconut oil along with slices of eggplant, onion and garlic. I seasoned it with lots of dried basil and a few dashes of soy sauce. Served over rice with a side of soy meat it was a delicious vegetarian meal!

Da Nang! BOLT Top 5 Things to See Here!

We are so fortunate to be sheltering in Da Nang during this pandemic. We are able to go places and do things. The virus appears to be under control and with sane precautions we are able to enjoy this part of Vietnam. We’ve been here long enough that we have our top 5 spots.

5. Hoi An Ancient Town

This picturesque town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s touristy with lots of shops and souvenirs. It also has lovely ancient buildings and views of the water. Hoi An is a short. (less than 45 minutes) ride from Da Nang. A highlight for us was the river boat ride.

Hoi An

4. Bana Hills Sun World

This place is amazing! A marvel of engineering and design, it’s set high above the city. To get there you take the world’s longest cable car. After a breathtaking ride you can spend hours exploring the park. There are amusement park rides, arcade games, flower gardens and beautiful buildings. A highlight of Bana Hills for most folks is the amazing Golden Hands Bridge.

Bana Hills

3. Kwan Yin Statue

I love that we are sheltering in a city that is overlooked by Kwan Yin. She is the Buddhist goddess of love and compassion. A short ride up into the hills can take you for a visit. There you can oooh and ahhh at beautiful statues and gardens and even see some monkeys (a highlight for me).

Monkeys at the Kwan Yin Statue

2. Vinpearlland

It’s a water park! It’s a zoo! It’s an amusement park! It’s an awesome place to spend the day! Vinpearlland is the kind of place you have to experience, it’s hard for me to really tell you how much fun can be had there! I’ve been twice and each time I discover more. I especially loved feeding the giraffes on the safari river!

Vinpearlland

1. Hot Springs Park

I LOVE a good soak in a hot springs or even a hot tub. Unlike most hot springs that I have visited, this place has so much more! It’s a fully loaded water park with all the slides and water features you’d expect. There’s a 5D movie theater, an area full of growling, moving dinosaurs and there are lovely gardens. I really enjoyed the mud bath I had and spending time with Kathy and our friends at this lovely place.

Hot Springs Park

We are grateful for our time here in Da Nang. It’s a beautiful big city. We are looking forward to exploring more of Vietnam in the near future and sharing our experiences with you!

BOLT TOP 5: Vietnamese Eats

We came for a month’s stay and are here for 6. I came with negative opinions about Vietnamese food, gratefully they have changed.

I love the freshness of Vietnamese food. Everything is full of vegetables and herbs. Many dishes come with a side plate of fresh herbs and greens. Another thing I love is that most things are served with a variety of delicious sauces.

It’s a lazy Sunday so I thought I’d share my top 5 Vietnamese meals. All of these can be made vegan, vegatarian of with seafood, poultry, beef or pork. So here’s my countdown.

5. Morning Glory!

These savory greens, also called water spinach, remind me of home cooked collards. I serve them with beans and hot water cornbread.

4. Spring Rolls!

Whether fried or fresh you can’t go wrong with spring rolls. Whenever I don’t know what to order these are always my go to.

3. Op La!

There are many varieties of this egg sandwich. I like this deconstructed version served at Rom Coffee Cafe. The eggs are served sunny side up, topped with a delicious spicy sauce. You create your own sandwich on crusty French bread with lettuce and tomato.

2. Bahn Xeo!

You can get versions of this Vietnamese savory crepe all over Da Nang. My favorite is this vegetarian version filled with mushrooms served at The End of the Beach restaurant.

1. Bun Cha!

This is a delicious and unique Vietnamese noodle dish, said to be President Barak Obama’s favorite when he visited Vietnam. It’s traditionally made with pork meatballs but I love the vegan version (below) served at one of my favorite spots, Loving Vegan.

One of the great things about travel is trying new foods. Living life without set favorites and preferences allows me to explore and enjoy new things all the time. I hope you do too!