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.

Reflections…

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 boltraveling@gmail.com.

Descanso, BOLT Style

Descanso means rest in Spanish. After 7 lovely days on the road in Baja California, Mexico we crossed over into the mainland. We are currently in the Mexican State of Sonora in the town of Puerto Peñasco.


Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point, is a Mexican fishing and resort city on the Gulf of California. It’s known for dune-backed Sandy Beach and Bahía la Choya’s tidal pools.

For BOLT, Puerto Penasco will be a place of rest. We have found a lovely RV park, just blocks from the beach, and plan to stay a month.

Sunset RV park has a beautiful salt water swimming pool, an area for barbeques, laundry facilities and everything else we need.

Kathy and I are looking forward to a wonderful month of descanso and exploration of this part of Mexico. We are very close to the U.S. so please come visit!

Thailand Road Trip!

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!

“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.

Traditional Thai Medicine

I recently was privileged to attend a lecture by Wanvisa Inthep. Wanvisa is the owner of Inthakin Green Village. She is a healer, a practitioner of Traditional Thai Medicine and a highly educated women in both modern and ancient practices. She is also a dear friend, the daughter of my heart.

I learned so much at her lecture and, with her permission, I am sharing the pertinent points with you.

What is Traditional Thai Medicine?

TARDS?

Diagnosis and Treatment

I recognize that this is a most basic of presentations for practices that are ancient, revered and highly complex. Wanvisa is in the process of the development of programs where this knowledge can be passed down and preserved. I promise to keep you updated. In the meantime, if you are in the Chiang Mai area, consider a visit to Inthakin Green Village…healing happens there!