Saturday, March 2, 2013

Budget 2 months travel Thailand Family of 5

For those of you wondering how much and how we did it (basically, for people curious like myself)... The total came to $13,500 Which included RT tickets from LAX to Bangkok, two one way flights in Thailand, all food, hotels, allowances, trinkets for 63 days, elephant riding and an 11 day sailing trip plus a very expensive hotel in Beijing! RT tickets were purchased back in July after a better than normal house flip, in country flights were used with frequent flyer miles and the rest we paid for out of our monthly income from rentals since we don't have any bills at home currently. We sometimes were kinda broke traveling and other times ate well. We always had an air con room which is more than we did the last time in Thailand. Our hotels were on average about $33/night and only two cockroaches were seen (thank you cute little geckos). Would I do it again, for sure. It was phenominal.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sailing the Adaman Sea

I truly believe that every person has a talent. Some can play music and some can negotiate peace treaties or memorize the periodic table. I am not one of those people with very noticeable talents except one and only a handful would think this be a skill worthwhile...and I got it from my Mom. I grew up watching her make deals from trading ride sharing to trading houses and boats. She is an opportunist and has honed her skills to lead a very interesting life filled with adventurous opportunities. I think I have learned to simply take this somewhat odd talent to the next level. Hence, I dedicate the next blog entry to my Mom and personally thank her for teaching me how to lead a life through opportunity...It has been a dream of mine for a few years to go on a sailing trip somewhere exotic. Knowing how expensive it is and overwhelming to actually figure out how to pull it off, I filed it in the back of my head as ONE DAY. While driving around on Langkawi Island in Malaysia, we stopped at the Kuah Yacht club to check out sailboats. While there using their free internet and the free infiniti pool, I met this crazy looking Ozzy named Brett Steele (not kidding, that is his awesome name) and he is only crazy looking, quite tame in actuality. He showed me pictures of his sailboat moored out in the bay and gave me his email address. A few days later I asked if we could come out and visit his boat and chat about his lifestyle. He was kind enough to meet us at the jetty and bring us all out for a swim and chat. He is super easy going, very generous with his time and quite adventurous himself. We got along so well I decided to take the plunge and ask him if he would take us back to Thailand on his boat. He waited a week to answer but then he said in proper Aussie style, lets meet for beers and discuss. So began 11 days on his boat visitng six different islands, some with nobody on them. It is something I cannot actually describe very well as we were simply charmed by Brett's endless patience with our children, exotic locals with coral reefs, untouched tropical forests, beaches with sand soft as flour, sunsets, sunrises, lively conversations in the moonlight and seeing things very few have been privileged enough to see. I am deeply grateful to Brett and his willingness to open his life to us and deeply grateful for my children and their beautiful curiosity about everyting from small blue fish to garbage rafts. These are the moments you remember during those last breaths of life, happy we tried, happy to have them embedded in the memory card. Dave joined us with his Swiss girlfriend at the end to catch up on our two months worth of adventures and say good-bye to Thailand for now. It's been a blast, it has been moving and it has been fantastic to see my kids growing into their own adventurous souls filled with a zest for life and compassion for people of the world. We'll be back sometime in the next year, living in a stick house, planning another adventure possibly on a sailboat. Until then, peace to y'all! OlfzHsI/AAAAAAAACf8/hyW7ef9zFBw/s1600/Diana's+Photos+003.jpg" imageanchor="1" >

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013

Homeschool Biology Langkawi, Malaysia

We got bored last week sitting on the beach for a few many days in a row so we rented a car to do a little tour. The island is fairly small, about the size of Oahu so it can all be seen in a day really. We skipped all the touristy places and simply drove around for awhile. Without trying very hard, we soon found monkeys on the side of the road kind of like deer back home. They are always just chilling and eating some bananas the locals throw out for them. If you pull over they will scream at you and then I remember that monkeys are mean and we drive on.
This is a monitor lizard. Yeah, they are all over the island and swim. They are about four feet long and blow your mind when you see them. Our first one was walking down a little street kinda chillin> and in the car we were like "KIDS, OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL IS THAT, KIDS KIDS KIDS!!!!!!!"
There are so many jellyfish around the islands that there are Beware Signs around as well. They are no joke my friend. They come in sizes from I can barely see to holy shit, that is as big as Casey. We carry Benadryl and vinegar with us in case of a bad sting, which will require a trip to the hospital. They kinda scare us since this happened the first time Phelan swam in the ocean.
First, this photo is not mine. Hornbills are hard to find and I certainly didn't take this photo. Since arriving in SE Asia, I have wanted to see a Giant Hornbill. We actually went to a National Park just to find one but instead stared up in the canopy 30 feet above our heads listening to parrots and monkeys, not seeing a one of them through the dense foliage. But, on this particular day while buying bananas from a street stall, I saw one flying down the street. I screamed, screamed again and ran towards it. I kept yelling for Steve to look over before it flew back into the forest. It was big, like an osprey and with long tail feathers it sat in that tree until Steve walked over and it flew away back into the forest. It was a fantastic moment for me. I remember seeing the back of a Quetzal once in Costa Rica as it flew away from me, green long feathers hanging downs its back and an Andean Condor flew over me in the Colca Canyon in Peru with an eight foot wide wingspan. I still remember the sound the feathers made and the shadow it made over me. I will add this to those moments in my life, no need for a camera. Me running down a street in Malaysia, screaming and staring up into the trees. The best part, when I came back to the car, all the kids were thumbs up and so excited for me. But then we saw these little guys. We were playing a game of find the weirdest thing for the day with the boys in the car (they were getting bored) when we stopped at a pier for shrimp fisherman and Ryder found a group of these things! Steve and I think we saw them once while getting off of a ferry in Africa but we didn't have kids that force you to notice the little things in life. We sat and watched these "mudpuppies" for about half an hour do everything from climb trees, to hop like crickets and chase each other around. Check out the spine that pops out his back when he's chasing the others. All of this in one day of just driving around. Hell to the yes.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Little Thing called a Yacht

A few years ago, I went through a short lived yachting phase. This means that on a trip somewhere in the world, I talked Steve's ear off as well as cousins and friends about the possibility of learning to sail. Well, the bug has hit again. The newfound lust stems from a blog I found back then about a family living on a boat around the world. I had written the family asking questions and exchanging traveling tales. Somewhere in the back of my bizarre brain, I filed the info away that they were in Malaysia. Well, they are actually in Thailand. Yahoo! They have a wonderful blog you can get lost in for days describing everything from their finances to food storage on their boat. So for all of you full-timers following along (you know who you are), how about trying a catamaran on for size? We plan to visit the couple in Phuket in the coming weeks and ask questions til they feel like they were caught by a CIA agent trying to swap recipes with Michelle Obama (I have been reading entirely too many cheap spy novels). We also plan to tie signs around our children's necks that say "Thailand" and park them at the yacht club here in Malaysia and see what happens.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Langkawi, Malaysia...boredom

I am a big believer that out of boredom comes creativity. My friend Diana and I used to spend hours and hours and hours with our kids doing nothing but walking around near a river or downtown. The kids would find some rocks and make a throwing game or find some flowers and pick them apart. It is what makes kids kids actually. Their ability to make something out of a stick or a leaf is mesmerizing to me. We have moved our clan via a taxi, airplane, taxi, bus, taxi, boat and taxi to Langkawi, an island in northern Malaysia. The moving day was epic to say the least. It was a clear example of how kids will do anything for food and how kind locals are when you are kind to them. We barely made it to our boat from Thailand to Malaysia and wouldn't have if it wasn't for our bus driver that drove crazy at about 60 miles per hour down a tiny street to get us there before the ferry left. Ryder was laughing the entire drive and shaking his head at our crazy lives. With our three kids running to border check with their backpacks on and all of us laughing and screaming, they held the last ferry for us and we were off to Malaysia with two new stamps in our passports (you travelers know what that means:) We have arrived for phase two of our trip, beach time. We found a hotel room on the beach for $33 that has air conditioner, two double beds, bath and three channels that sometimes plays American movies but plays a ton of Malaysia soap operas with English subtitles that I have fallen in love with. They are awesome. Every problem is resolved by reading from the koran and praying at the end of the day. The kids have also watched some Bollywood movies, ridiculous Asian game shows where people will do anything for cash prizes and the equivalent of America's got talent but with scary clowns that act like dogs eating garbage. Since none of them are in English we make up the words as we go. We also do a lot of this...
This is the view from our room in the morning and in the evening. Our room is $33 but it is cheap for a reason and not something I would recommend to all of my friends. Steve had to clean the air conditioner's filter to get it to work better and it could use some paint. But, the location is phenomenal.
I had to throw this one in because Casey made this hat using a mcDonald's happy meal box and some rubber bands he found. He was so proud of it and it was quite cute. He wore it for an entire evening and the next day wanted to start selling them. Boredom, it works.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Doi Fang Hot Springs National Park

We took a small weekend excursion from Chiang Mai up to a National Park with so many names, I am calling it Doi Fang instead. It is a lot like Yellowstone but smaller with lots of hot springs and water and beautiful farms with terracing.
So the locals were fishing in a river in the park using fire crackers. They would drop them in the water, the blast would stun the fish and then the people would scoop them up for dinner. We were immediately enthralled with it and the kids had to join in the collecting. Then we had to explain to them how we will probably never see that again and why.
We have a long standing tradition of having ice cream every Sunday as a family. Fortunately there was an ice cream vendor in the park on this Sunday - and they had Magnums! Hell yes. Ryder loves to get the weirdest ice cream he can find, Phelan is into the local traditional and Casey just wants the biggest ice cream.