Whether by plane, cruise ship, RV, train or car Kathy and I love to travel! This month we look back over our 14 years of travel. We hope you enjoy these pictures of some of the places we’ve visited.
My friend, Olivia, gave me the inspiration for this week’s blog post. She asked some great questions which I will answer here.
How was your time in Vietnam? It was wonderful! Vietnam handled the Covid crisis very well. It was very safe. Da Nang is beautiful and affordable. However, we came for a month and ended up staying for 10. We were concerned about having to review our visas every month and the strong possibility that we would eventually be denied.
Will you ever return to Asia? We hope so. We love Asia, especially Thailand and Malaysia. Plus there are several countries we still want to visit (India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia for sure). But if 2020 has taught me anything it’s that nothing is for certain.
What was your impetus to move to Mexico, in the middle of a pandemic? How did you choose Merida? Merida is one of the safest cities, not just in Mexico but the world. While the pandemic is of course a concern, we chose Merida because of it’s relatively low Covid numbers, thriving black ex pat community, affordable housing and proximity to family and friends in the U.S.
How are you feeling today? We traveled for 2 days, 4 planes plus all the packing and preparation. We are exhausted and jet lagged but grateful to have arrived safely. We tested for coronavirus before leaving Vietnam and were both negative. We plan to isolate for the recccomended 10 days and will wear masks and practice social distancing until further notice.
One question Olivia didn’t ask but I wanted to share on briefly is: What was traveling like during a pandemic? It was really surreal and a bit anxiety producing. Most of the airports were REALLY empty until we got to Houston. We treated ourselves to better seats, lounges and a hotel stay during our Houston layover. We wore masks at all times and my hands are so dry from all the washing and hand sanitizer. Overall our travel was a positive experience, for which we are very grateful!
Thank you Olivia for helping me to clarify what I wanted to share today, our 5th day in beautiful Merida.
I used to have a LOT of joint pain, especially in my knees. Some days I could barely walk. Then I discovered tumeric and how it helps with inflammation, arthritis and joint pain. I started experimenting with different ways of talking it.
There are lots of ways to take this miracle spice, including capsules or packaged teas. I like making this drink from scratch, it’s a lot more affordable. Also, I believe using fresh ingredients are more potent. My recipe has fresh ginger, another very healthy root.
For the past 3 years I’ve been drinking this 7 item tumeric drink daily and have been almost completely joint pain free. I call it my morning miracle drink. It’s a lovely way to break my fast and start my day.
I make a base drink weekly of 4 ingredients. This recipe makes enough for a week’s worth of morning miracle base. I store it in the fridge and pour out a cupful every morning.
Morning Miracle Base:
1/2 cup of tumeric root (chopped)
1/2 cup of ginger root (chopped)
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1/8 cup of black peppercorns or 2 heaping table spoons of ground black pepper (black pepper is said to make the tumeric more effective)
Add 4 cups of water
Bring to a boil these 4 ingredients and then simmer for 30 minutes
I add these ingredients daily to the base drink:
The juice of one lemon or 2 limes
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (also very beneficial to your health)
You can drink Miracle Morning hot or cold. I prefer it room temperature.
There are lots of different recipes for tumeric tea. Let me know if you have a favorite.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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!
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!
A friend asked me about how Kathy and I began to consider prepare for and experience BOLT (Black Old Lesbians Traveling) life. As I answered her, I decided to also share my answers in this post.
Kathy and I have talked about a life of travel from the moment we met. It was something we always considered. We traveled a lot even while working. We found we travel well together.
In 2014, after years of caring for my mom (an ancestor now) and being at my job for 32 years, Kathy and I set our intention to be”home free” travelers by the time I turned 60 in September 2015.
It took us about a year of preparation and letting go of stuff, property, etc to be ready to hit the road:
- We had yard sales, donated stuff, gifted things to friends. We sold our house and cars.
- We made living wills as well as traditional wills.
- We got bank accounts with no ATM fees (Charles Schwab is good).
- We digitized all our important documents and keep them in the”cloud”.
A few guidelines and agreements we made:
- We could each have one rolling bag, one backpack and one purse which must hold everything we need.
- We limited ourselves to one bin of stuff to save: pictures, mementos from my kids, etc. These are in Kathy’s mom’s garage.
- We made budgets and savings plans.
We talked a lot about what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go.
Then we set out. The 30 day cruise was the perfect way to begin world travel. We went to over 10 new destinations and traveled from Seattle to Singapore with no jet lag.
I still had too much stuff, broke our 1 rolling bag rule and had to give a bunch more stuff away while traveling. It worked out ok because the the cruise and hotel staff benefited.
After a year in Asia we decided to pursue another dream: RV travel. I love road trips and seeing beautiful North America has been wonderful. But full time RV life is not for me. I like mixing it up with long term stays in foreign countries. I have not found the same connections to community with RV life.
Somethings I’ve learned about myself are:
- I don’t like fast travel. In the beginning we would stay places a week or less and they became a blur.
- I like staying in places long enough to get to know folks, find meetings, activities etc.
- Kathy and I get along well in small spaces but it’s important for us to have solitary time daily. I have quiet time in the morning and I take a solo walk daily.
- I’ve always been a neat freak but in RV life it’s super important. A place for everything and everything in it’s place!
- I’ve learned I don’t need as much stuff or variety of stuff as I thought… cosmetics, vitamins, hair care stuff, jewelry are some of the many things I carry only small quantities of.
I’m not sure if I answered my friend’s questions but these reflections have been rewarding to me and I hope helpful to someone. If you have any questions about a life of home free travel, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m too tired and jet lagged to write much but the BOLTs have arrived safely in Ensenada, Baja California Norte, Mexico.
We are reunited with the BOLT dog, Kahlo.
And are back in the cozy Winnie.
The trip was grueling with a 5 hour layover in Bangkok and a 12 hour one in Tokyo. We ventured out from Narita Airport, by bus, into Tokyo. I don’t recommend this. The bus ride is 3 hours round trip and all we saw was the big, bustling, business part of Tokyo. We will definitely visit Japan when we have time to explore and enjoy.
We arrived safely in San Diego after a 10 hour flight. From San Diego we enjoyed the Blue Line Trolley which took us right to the Mexican border.
Crossing the border was easy, the Mexican immigration folks are lovely and friendly.
We took a taxi from the border to Ensenada, less than 2 hours, for $80. There are cheaper ways to go (by bus) but we were very tired. We arrived safely at the Mona Lisa RV park. And are enjoying the Pacific Ocean Views.
I love a good road trip and yesterday was the perfect one! We set out in the morning from Inthakin Green Village in Mae Teang. We headed north, destination Chang Dao, just a few kilometers from the Myanmar border.
Most of the drive was along the Ping River which was lovely in itself. We traveled through small villages and lots of lush greenery.
Our first stop in Chang Dao was the temple /home of a local monk. It was wonderful to see him again, he had given us a special blessing a few months ago. We also got to see our friend, Pi Oi, who lives near the monk.
No road trip is complete without delicious food. The gyoza at this small restaurant is amazing!
After our bellies were full, we headed up to this amazing wat (temple) . Called Wat Tam Mung Na, it’s building it built onto a cave. There’s an easy trip up several levels of ramps to the top where you find the cave and are surrounded by soothing chanting and can join in sitting meditation.
Many people come to spend the night or several days in meditation and chanting. There were tents everywhere.
These are the views from the top of the temple.
The temple grounds were very beautiful with lots of amazing statues.
There’s even a cute little coffee shop, which also offered amazing views.
Kathy and I had a truly fabulous day, made even more special because we spent it with people we love. Thank you Wanvisa, Jen and Ajan Sai for a perfect day!
“Living that Chiang Mai life!” is a favorite expression of our dear friend, Ken. Kathy and I are truly doing that and it’s a great life!
Folks ask us all the time, where do all these Black folks in Chiang Mai come from?
The answer is the answer that is true for Black folks everywhere…from all across the diaspora.
Many of us are from the U.S. as evidenced by this election watch party, but even then there was a Canadian in the bunch.
We are from South Africa as well as other countries in the Motherland. Some of us are from Europe.
No matter where we come from, we find a lot of joy and community in Chiang Mai.
We participate in community theater; we work as teachers, digital nomads or entrepreneurs. We volunteer and we are students.
We are tourists and residents. Some come for medical care or spiritual growth. Like Kathy and I, many are retired. Some of us stay briefly and some are here for life.
I really wish everyone reading this post could come and experience the beauty of living that Chiang Mai life! Kathy and I are happy to help.
Just about an hour outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand there is a place of healing and power. I don’t know (or care) about the scientific explanation of hot springs or mineral water soaks, I only know I feel great after I visit such places. San Kamphaeng Hot Springs is no exception. It is a delightful space, actually a large park with lovely grounds for strolling as well as many options for soaking. Both times I have gone with groups and that really adds to the experience. There is a large room with a communal tub. Enjoying that tub with girlfriends was a great experience. There is a really good restaurant as well as many food stall vendors. One thing everyone remembers about the hot springs is that the water is so hot in spots that you can boil eggs in it! There are baskets of eggs available as long with instructions for how long to cook them. I hope you will enjoy these pictures and if you are in Chiang Mai, please consider a visit to the springs!