We arrived in Istanbul this morning after leaving our hotel in Nairobi at 2 a.m. It seems that every flight we had in Africa was in the middle of the night or required us to lose sleep somehow. As if that wasn’t bad enough, dealing with the morons at the airport was exhausting. Explaining that we were not going to the U.S. via Istanbul and that Istanbul was our final destination just didn’t seem to register with them. Trying to explain that we were traveling for 8 more months didn’t help. As a matter of fact, we’re pretty sure that only brings out the green monster of envy. Airport officials just kept asking for our onward ticket, but we don’t have one since we haven’t decided how we’re leaving yet.
Our entry into Kenya was equally frustrating, trying to reason with immigration officials who wouldn’t correct an easy mistake that ended up costing us an extra $29. Dealing with African airports and airlines makes leaving that continent a welcome departure. Even with all the turmoil happening there, we couldn’t wait to get to Turkey. Continue reading
It’s said that it takes a month to make something a normal part of your routine, but in the case of travel, it has definitely taken longer for us to adjust to our new normal. Perhaps it’s because our routine is not so routine. Each day brings something new that we have not yet encountered and that has become a normal part of our lives too.
Our typical day is filled with many mundane chores and isn’t nearly as glamorous and exciting as my Facebook photos and other blog posts would suggest. Our days fall into different categories: travel day, down day, tourist day. Depending on the quality of the internet connection, here’s what we do with our days (not always in this order): Continue reading
I really don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, but after a couple of months on the road, I begin to notice things that are sometimes just a bit annoying. Sure, things are different in other countries, and I get that. But that certainly doesn’t mean it’s better (or worse), just different, and yet, it annoys me. Alright, maybe I am complaining, hence the title of my post.
I traveled through Asia about 15 years ago, and the last time I was in China was about 10 years ago. One thing still hasn’t changed in all that time. Hotels don’t believe in wash cloths. I know this because I have to bring my own. Now this would be fine if the soap they provided would actually lather, but it doesn’t. And it’s not a matter of the price level of the hotel, even the high-end resorts don’t provide wash cloths. Yes, it’s not a big deal, but I’m just wondering, why? Continue reading
If you’ve been following my Facebook posts, you know I collect Hard Rock Cafe pins. I have pins from 33 Hard Rock Cafes from around the world that I have personally visited. The last one was at Hard Rock Angkor in Cambodia which I wasn’t even aware of its existence. It isn’t a criteria for visiting a place, but if there’s one where I’m going, I try to get to it and pick up a couple of pins.
I usually have internet access available on my phone, but Vietnam is one of the place that my cellular plan doesn’t include in their coverage. Since we’re on a budget, I don’t feel the need to pay extra just to have that connectivity. I just use the WiFi in the hotel. Normally, I would look up the Hard Rock when I have internet access, but somehow it slipped my mind (old age) and I didn’t think of it until we saw a Starbucks in the expensive part of town. I couldn’t get a Hanoi coffee mug (too difficult to pack or ship), but it reminded Sheri that we should see if there’s a Hard Rock in Hanoi. Continue reading
Our new friends at the local hotel (we discovered that hotels are actually taverns and motels are places to sleep) eagerly welcomed us like long lost cousins to the family. Pretty soon, Shona, behind the bar, and her daughter, Kalani, were trying to get us to sing karaoke and everyone was telling us off-color jokes. It was all good-natured fun and felt like we had stepped onto the set of a Crocodile Dundee movie. Some people went by a nickname and they’ve had the nickname so long, people don’t even remember their real name. There was Shakespeare, Winky (Peter), and Grub (Grub). Sheri became besties with Ona (Fiona), who owned the store and petrol station next door. Soon she was joking with Sheri and urging us to go see a sheep shearing, because that’s where Grub was working tomorrow. Everyone was fairly drunk, so we took it all as pleasant banter brought about by alcohol. Continue reading
When we left the coast of Queensland, I had no idea that we would be going on the most memorable part of our road trip in Australia. You might want to read about the driving challenges we faced, as that would be a good preface to this story. Our road trip was fairly uneventful until we left Townsville after returning from Magnetic Island. Google maps had been taking us on scenic routes, often taking us on circuitous secondary or residential streets when a more direct route existed. More often than not, this resulted in more traffic congestion and longer travel times. Sometimes, it would be costly when Google would direct me onto a tollway. Continue reading
Driving a camper van around Australia is a great way to see more of the country, meet new friends and have a great road trip adventure. Once you choose the right camper van rental company, half the battle is done. Sheri did it before and really loved it. Of course, she wasn’t doing the driving and has a very different perspective. As a driver, I also thought it would be lots of fun, but I wasn’t fully prepared for all the challenges that I faced. Continue reading
Traveling around the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand by camper van is becoming increasingly popular. We just spent three weeks driving 8,164 kilometers around Australia by camper van. I found that the company you select for your vehicle can really make or break your self-driving adventure. There are lots of companies in Australia that rent camper vans and what I failed to do was read some reviews on the company I selected. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have used the place we did. We rented from Hippie and received an Apollo camper van. Apollo is just one of several brands from the same company, including, Star, Cheapa Cheapa, Hippie and their manufacturing and sales brand Talvor. All of these companies have received more complaints than good reviews on web various sites except their own. It began with the whole process of picking up the camper. Continue reading