BOLT Reviews: Playa Bonita Beach Club

Just a short 3o minutes away from Mérida, Mexico is the city of Chelem. This sleepy little pueblo is home to the perfect spot for a getaway.

Playa Bonita Beach Club is the perfect spot for a day trip. For only 100 pesos (about $5 usd) you can spend all day on a comfortable beach lounge.

There is a lovely little pool, changing rooms and very clean restrooms.

I was especially delighted by how good, I mean really good the food and drinks were. There is a full, moderately priced menu. The waiters were attentive and friendly. You can have your food brought to your oceanside lounge or table.

I enjoyed a lovely walk along the beach and several people were actually enjoying time in the waves. All in all I spent a perfect day at Playa Bonita Beach Club. I can’t wait to go back!

If you have a special getaway spot in the Yucatan or wherever you are, we’d love to hear about it. Comment here or write us at BOLTraveling@gmail.com

Nuestras Primeras Dos Semanas en Mérida

Tomorrow will be 2 weeks since our arrival in Merida. Because of Covid concerns we haven’t done much exploring yet, outside of getting to know our new neighborhood. Here is a summary of our first two weeks in pictures.

First off, We love our little orange house and the small compound in which we are living.
There is a lovely park one block away with walking trails. I am really enjoying my morning walks an seeing my neighbors and their dogs.
There is a GREAT BIG mall within walking distance too. It has EVERYTHING including an enormous supermarket (Soriana).
There are all kinds of restaurants in the area including a pretty good pizza place (yes, they deliver).
Equally close is another, smaller, mall with a fully stocked Walmart.
There is a beautiful community of Black folks here. They had a gathering in the park on Sunday which included a toy drive. Kathy enjoyed meeting some new folks and seeing some old friend and dropping off some toys.
We have a tortilleria right across the street from us, which is wonderful.
The place I was most excited to discover was right next door! There is a wonderful little tienda that sells fresh fruits and veggies, and egg. They even have a butcher!

So, our new life in Merida is comfortable, quiet and beautiful…all we could ask for during these difficult times. We look forward to exploring and sharing more as the weeks progress. Stay safe! Love and light to all!

?!Merida!?

My friend, Olivia, gave me the inspiration for this week’s blog post. She asked some great questions which I will answer here.

The value of questions!

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.

Beautiful Da Nang!

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.

Yep!

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.

In or out of a pandemic Merida is very safe!

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.

Covid Testing, Family Hospital, Da Nang

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!

Ho Chi Minh City International Airport
All Nippon Airways Ticketing Desk
Vietjet Travel Lounge (only 3 people there, including us)

Thank you Olivia for helping me to clarify what I wanted to share today, our 5th day in beautiful Merida.

Casa Dulce Casa

BOLT: Reflecting Gratitude

As I walked along the beach this morning in Da Nang, Vietnam I was reflecting on how grateful I am for our time here. We planned on a month but it’s almost a year, thanks to Covid.

I’m grateful for sheltering in a place that took the virus seriously, where everyone wears masks and respects social distancing rules when in effect.

I’m grateful that I am here with my beloved, Kathy, and that we both remained physically healthy and mentally well.

I’m grateful for time with family. While we may not be related by blood I have truly found family here.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to do something I always wanted to do: support another woman in birthing a baby. I’m a doula y’all! Look for a blog soon about this experience.

I’m grateful for some amazing sunrises, wonderful adventures and beautiful sights to see. As our time here is winding down (we leave in early December, details soon) I wanted to express my gratitude to Da Nang for helping me to #findbeautyeveryday

Thank you for allowing me to share my gratefulness. I’d love to hear what you are grateful for.

Morning Miracle Tumeric Drink

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.

I love this container for storing the drink base.

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 buy all the ingredients at our local market for about 50 cents.

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.

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!

THANK YOU VIETNAM!

Kathy and I feel very safe here in DaNang Vietnam. We have good reason for this. Vietnam has one of the lowest incidences of Covid 19 in the world. This is amazing when you consider that we share a border with China and are a mere 1200 miles away from Wuhan (where the virus first was documented).

There are many reasons for the low number of cases and the fact that there have been no deaths. This NPR article gives some details as to why this is so. The Vietnamese government was very proactive from the start. When we got off the plane in February we were carefully screened including our temperatures being taken. Masks have been worn for months, hand washing and social distancing have been stressed and for the most part respected.

I feel that in addition to a respect for governmental authority (say what you want, this is a Communist country), there is also a real level of concern for the well being of others. Masks are worn, not just to protect the wearer but for the protection of others. There has been no hoarding or panic buying of food or home goods. To alleviate food insecurity rice ATMs have been installed. While I have heard about some xenophobia, it is my understanding that it is not sanctioned by the government.

So BOLT intends to remain in DaNang until the pandemic is over, maybe even until a vaccine is created. We are practicing social distancing, eating well and enjoying our time together. We know we are extremely privileged during these times. We hold all those who are sick and are affected negatively by the pandemic in our prayers and meditations.

A Hidden Gem in Chiang Mai!

Horizon Village and Resort is a wonderful place to spend a relaxing day in Chiang Mai. It’s not on the usual list of tourist spots and even many long time residents don’t know of it.

Thanks to my friend, Keidra, who is a tour guide here in Chiang Mai, I discovered this hidden gem.

For an inexpensive fee of 85 baht (less than$3) you can enter the resort and spend the whole day exploring. There are waterfalls, a botanical garden, petting zoo, labyrinth, and more.

You can rent a bike for 75 baht for all day, which was a great way to explore the massive grounds. You can also rent a golf card or take a tram ride.

There are several restaurants and a coffee shop. We enjoyed a delicious, moderately priced lunch.

After a day of bike riding a visit to the resort pool (100 baht admission) was a perfect way to end the day!

There are all sorts of hidden gems and special ways to spend a day or longer in Chiang Mai. Contact Keidra for some great ideas or to book a tour.

Our Colorful Chiang Rai Trip

Chiang Rai is known for its colorful edifices. Our lovely group of 10 set off from Chiang Mai to explore the Blue and White Temples and the Black House. We left at 6 am for the 4 hour drive to Chiang Rai in a comfortable air conditioned van. Our driver, Pituk, was friendly and helpful. We made one stop half way there at a local hot springs. There we had a restroom break and were able to purchase some local fruits, goodies and clothes.

Arriving in Chiang Rai our first stop was Baan Dam. Commonly known as the Black House it’s a park containing a diverse and sprawling series of buildings, displays, sculptures and installations. The park and highly eclectic contents are the life’s work of local and nationally renowned artist Thawan Duchanee. We spent a delightful hour exploring the grounds and exhibits.Our next stop was for lunch. Lesson learned: don’t ask your driver for restaurant recommendations. Leelawadee was overpriced with not very good service. The food was delicious though and we had a nice view of the river.Full from lunch, we ventured on to the Blue Temple. For me this breathtaking temple was the highlight of our trip! I understand that this is a fairly new temple. It is built at the site of a ruin of an temple abandoned 80 to 100 years ago. In 1996, the villagers decided to rebuild a temple here. The construction started in October 2005, the White Buddha was completed in 2008 while the main hall was only completed on 22th January 2016. There are so many intricate carvings and paintings to enjoy!Our last stop was the White Temple which is the most famous temple in the Chiang Rai area. I’m sorry to say that the temple was closing when we arrived. It turns out there is a special event there right now where they illuminate the temple in the evenings. As we only had our van until 10 pm we had to leave for the 4 hour drive back to Chiang Mai before the illumination began. We did get some good photos, both of our own and a very kind Thai lady who shared hers with us.Overall our trip was wonderful. I especially enjoyed the time spent with members of our beautiful Chiang Mai community and visitors!

BOLT REVIEWS: Huay Kaew Arboretum

One of the big advantages to living long term in a variety of places is that you get to explore some of the less touristy attractions. The urban forest at Huay Kaew Arboretum was just such a find!

Kathy and I spent a lovely hour walking around the peaceful and shady grounds.

It was kind of a whimsical place too, with lots of apparatus for children to play on.

I especially enjoyed the signs on the many trees, telling us their names, ages and reminding us to not forget their importance.

There were lots of informative signs too.

Arboretum admission is free and very close to an the busy Nimman area. So if you are in Chiang Mai and want a place to get a good walk in, visit the Huay Kaew Arboretum.