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!

Good Morning Vietnam!

I love mornings here in Da Nang. No matter how early I’m up there are folks up ahead of me. The markets are bustling at 6am.

The coffee shops and bahn mi stands are also up and ready for business by 6.

But the thing I love most are mornings at the beach. I went today for the 5:18 sunrise, enjoying the beauty of the path leading to our local beach.

The beach was already crowded. The sights of families swimming, elders exercising and crowds of people briskly walking bring me joy.

Perhaps this is not scientific but I think that the Vietnamese commitment to community and wellness has contributed to the low Covid numbers. As beloved and frequently used as the beaches are when ordered everyone respected the closing of the beaches and following the rules was the norm.

Kathy and I are so grateful to be in such a safe and beautiful place during these difficult times. We hold all in our prayers and meditations. We surround you all with love and light. We pray for an end to this pandemic. We pray for the dismantling of systemic racism and injustice. We trust and affirm that healing is happening and change is coming!

Please visit, like, subscribe and share Kathy’s YouTube Channel. She is offering excellent tools for dealing with these time. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGchxaPN1j9p0PjVDyu2a_A

BOLT Dong Budget

Dong is the currency here in Vietnam. We get lots of questions about the strength of the American dollar here and the cost of living. Of course, Covid 19 has affected prices, bringing them down. This post reflects our current budget for life in Da Nang.

RENT: 7 Million Vietnamese Dong ($300) for our spacious studio apartment, with rooftop pool and twice a week maid service

FOOD and SUPPLIES: 9 million VND ($386) This includes groceries, eating out and all household supplies.

ELECTRICITY AND WATER: 2 million VND ($85) we try to be mindful about our air con useage but it’s really hot right now in Da Nang. This amount includes our monthly electric and tap water bill as well as delivered drinking water.

TRANSPORTATION: 1 million VND ($43) Kathy rents a motorbike when she wants to go out for a solo ride. I prefer the local ride .service called Grab (like Uber in the states). I have a favorite driver who i call for any longer distance trips. We are fortunate that we are able to walk to the local market, etc so we rarely use all of this budget allotment.

ENTERTAINMENT: 4 Million VND ($170) There is lots to see and do here in Da Nang so we have a generous budget for sightseeing. I don’t think we have ever exceeded the 4 million.

Life is really good, affordable and easy here in Da Nang. We could never afford life in a U.S. beach city on our retirement income. We are very grateful to have landed in this safe spot during these difficult times.

Da Nang: Under Construction! Always?

Da Nang is a beautiful city and we are enjoying it. However, anyone who has spent any amount of time here will mention one drawback. There is constant noise, debris and dust from seemingly never ending construction!

Don’t get me wrong, this city has much to offer. There are pristine beaches, great tourists attractions, lovely apartments and amazing bridges.

Kathy and I were living in the An Thoung area of the city. The majority of the construction seems to be happening here. When we moved in to our apartment there was an occupied, intact building right next door. A few days later they started tearing it down. There was jackhammer, bulldozer and other construction cacaphony starting daily at 7 am!

We decided to move to a much quieter areas and are keeping our fingers crossed that no new construction begins.

Da Nang truly is a lovely city and we are grateful to be here. The truth is that cities don’t spring up by magic and I guess construction inconveniences are the price one pays.