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7 Month Check-In

September 25, 2015

What Has Been.

It’s official.  We have been abroad for 7 months.  7 months!! That is crazy to me but also very normal.  This whole living abroad bug has bitten us hard and we will continue to do this until we grow tired of it (sorry mom and dad).  As much as we miss family and friends (believe me we REALLY do) we just love living and experiencing other cultures.  I have also come to really love the minimalist lifestyle, it’s very freeing to just be able to go wherever whenever you want with just your backpack.

We have been fortunate enough to see a good amount of Asia.  We have boated an underground river in the Philippines.  Attended the Rugby Sevens in Hong Kong.  Bungee jumped the highest bungee jump in the world in Macau.   Celebrated our 2 year anniversary with a private beach cabana dinner in Malaysia.  Crossed a national border in a taxi going from Malaysia to Singapore.   Explored the cleanest city in the world in Singapore.  Ate bugs on a stick, rode elephants, played with baby tigers, and played frisbee with friends where ‘The Beach’ was filmed in Thailand.  We watched the sun rise at Angkor Wat, learned about a major world tragedy for the first time, and shot a bazooka in Cambodia.  Skydived over the Great Barrier Reef, dove the GBR, rode a natural water slide, fed koalas and kangaroos and re-explored my favorite city in the world (Sydney) all in Australia.  Played in rice terraces, fed monkeys bananas, drank luwak (poop) coffee, hiked an active volcano for sunrise, celebrated America’s birthday from a bean bag on the beach, got surf lessons from a local and overall fell in love with Bali.

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Greg: "want to be friends? Ill give you a treat" #shake #paw #anything? Kangaroo: "no." IMG_6696 Greg 0087

Changes in latitude changes in attitude ✌️ #sunset #nofilter #digitalnomad Had to regram, happy 4th from Bali!! Flags, bonfire, s'mores, fireworks and meeting new American friends... Okay Bali you aren't so bad to celebrate the 4th at! #bali #digitalnomad #happyfourth

Today in Cambodia:: Beautiful sunrise with a strong chance of Buddhist temples. ----- I'd say the 4am wake up call to catch this amazing #sunrise at #angkorwat was 100% worth it #cambodia #digitalnomad Playing with the big cats today! #Thailand #tigers

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Sometimes your elephant gets hot and he decides to spray himself {and you} with mud. Thanks for thinking of us, now that I am thinking about it I was really hot #elephanttrekking #ThailandIMG_7231 IMG_5491 IMG_5283 IMG_5296

In addition to all the amazing experiences we have had, what means the most to us is when we had our best friends come to visit us in Thailand and had the opportunity to show my mom what life was like for us abroad.  Having the ability to experience amazing foreign destinations with friends and show my mom around our favorite place in Asia (so far) is truly immeasurable and we will cherish those moments forever.  To you amazing people who braved the 24+ hours to come see us we are forever grateful, can you come back yet??

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1 part amazing sunset 3 parts best friends. #missyourflight #dontleave #thailand 11272964_832462050135855_2072639453_n IMG_6664

Wishing my mom a safe and sound trip back to America. We had a blast and we are sad to see you go!! See you again in 3 months, stateside ❤️

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Lunch time at monkey forest {on my moms head} #heremonkeymonkey #monkeywantabanana

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What is.

So for the rest of 2015 its pretty well mapped out.  We have loved Bali and been here for a significant amount of time.  Its been a great feeling to get to know the island, connect with some locals, make friends and is making us antsy to get that long-term visa SOMEWHERE for longer than 60 days.  Jungle Scout (the family business Greg started in February) has taken off thanks to the incredible entrepreneur Greg is.  It has become a multi person company employing people from Palestine, the Philippines, San Francisco, Vancouver and two of us who move around a bit. We just got done with an amazing week with the full-time Jungle Scout team members coming to Bali for a big product launch.  It went beautifully.  Everyone is awesome, we had a successful product launch, got to know each other in a real life setting, worked hard, road mapped the next few months, and even played around Bali a bit.  Now those guys have gone back home we will continue to call Bali home until mid October.  After Bali we head to Thailand for a work convention, China for the Canton Fair (a real-life Alibaba experience), a bit of touring through China with Greg’s parents, Vancouver to work with our guys there, family time for Thanksgiving, Europe to see if it will be the next step for us and then back to family time for Christmas.

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What Will Be?

Asia has amazed us and will always hold a special place in our hearts. I also imagine we will continue to come back for vacations each year, it’s too beautiful of a region not to.  For 2016 though we are going to be a bit closer to home and we are both very excited about it.  No update yet on where we are going to live although we have some ideas.  My heart is really set on Spain.  I would love to be able to travel Europe in 2016 the way we were able to travel Asia and Barcelona is a great hub for that.  Not to mention its a beach city and I can learn Spanish {finally}.  We are looking into long-term visa situations, what makes sense financially, what we want out of 2016, and the ease of coming back to visit the states more than we will have done in 2015 (aka less than 10 hour flights).  We are both very much looking forward to unpacking and getting to really know an area.  It has always been a dream of mine to live abroad somewhere long enough to feel like it has been a home.  I think that magic number is 6 months but it is still to be tested, I will keep you updated :)  We will continue to grow the business and I see 2016 being as unpredictable work-wise as 2015 has been.  Greg is an incredible entrepreneur and truly passionate about what he is creating I have no doubt he will continue to do things we have not thought of.

So there you have it our 7 month check-in.  It has been an incredible 7 month journey.  We have had ups, downs, breaking points, learning moments, awe-inspiring experiences and I cannot wait to see what the next 7 months hold.  Thank you to everyone for the prayers, warm wishes, good vibes, and kind words you have no idea how much we hold onto them here where sometimes it feels we are too far away.

Have Fun Do Everything,

Liz

 

Life

Adventure Tour Through Atherton Tablelands in North Australia

August 18, 2015

We recently did a tour through the Atherton Tablelands which are southwest of Cairns.  We had such a great time and met a few awesome people, which is always a bonus on these tours :)

The tour started early, we were picked up at 6:30am by Brett our tour guide from Barefoot tours who checked our names on his clipboard and gave us a hug to wake us up and welcome us onto the bus.  That is certainly a way to wake up in the morning but I must say it does make you feel welcome and a part of the group.  We knew we were in for an experience for the day.  We did a few more rounds to get everyone picked up.  Brett then stopped and allowed us to get coffee (which was much appreciated by the entire bus).

Now that we had some caffeine in our system we jumped back on the bus and started on the journey for our first stop.  We did a few intro questions to get the group chatting and feeling like a group which always start corny but are always awesome convo starters.  These icebreaker questions included age, nationality, what you do for a living, and whether you were are folder or a scruncher (in reference to toilet paper).  A folder or a scruncher is such a funny question at any time of day but 7:30 am its hilariously awkward.  Now this was a new question for Greg but my last time in Australia my group tour asked this same question, so I guess it must be an Aussie thing.

First stop on the trip was to see a pretty incredible tree.  This tree was massive and the roots actually grew for the most part on the outside of the tree instead of into the ground.  It is called a cathedral fig tree and its so large that if 24 people held hands they would not be able to get all the way around it.

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Next up was a pretty incredible volcanic crater lake, lake Eacham.  Absolutely beautiful, but its winter in Australia and while Greg opted for a swim I sat this round out.  We then had some great coffee and tea to warm us up and were on our way.

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The next stop was Mount Hypipamee National Park.  We were able to walk out to see the depth of a pretty insane crater and Brett threw a large rock off the edge to show us what it would sound like if our bodies were to fall into the water.  Spoiler: it is not a soft landing.  We then walked over to a beautiful and FREEZING waterfall that had a cave you could swim into.  Now I did not sit this one out, I am always game for some waterfall jumping and swimming.

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Once we were good, cold and wet we dried off and headed to the next waterfall.  This is the famous Milla Milla falls where the Garnier Fructis commercial was filmed and the girl is doing the wet hair flick.  Everyone was taking their picture doing this hair flick and I must say it was pretty fun.  This waterfall is absolutely breathtaking and you cannot go and not swim up under it.

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Last stop on the waterfall tour was one with a natural water slide.  At this point everyone is freezing and Greg and I have not felt warm in weeks due to traveling through Australia in winter and having zero clothes for warm weather but how do you not go swimming in a natural water slide?  It was pretty awesome and not too cold which was surprising.  I am not sure if the water was warmer than the previous spots or we were just numb.  Either way it was awesome.

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Brett knew everyone was frozen at this point and he heated up some water for coffee, hot chocolate and tea.  He also got us some cookies and sandwiches and taught us how to do a timtam slam.  I will continue to teach anyone around me if I find timtams because this is such a fun thing.  You have a cup of coffee/hot chocolate bite 2 corners of your timtam and use it as a straw for the coffee/hot chocolate.  Just as you think it’s not working and your cookie is melting, quickly eat your cookie.  SO YUMMY.  Greg and I proceeded to slam some timtam slams and may or may not have gotten a little sick from too much chocolate.

Overall this was such a fun tour and I highly recommend it to anyone in the Cairns area!

Life Places

Skydiving in Australia

July 30, 2015

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WE WENT SKYDIVING!!!

As a couple who likes to do adventurous things, skydiving is among the list of things we LOVE.  We tried it for the first time about a year and a half ago for our 1 year anniversary and loved it.  The first time we did it we opted for a small company in Florida.  It was a great experience but we did not get pictures or a video, the best photos we had were of small specs in the sky.  So when we decided to do this trip of skydiving in Cairns Australia we went all in.   Video, photos and skydiving over the ocean with views of the Great Barrier Reef, a rainforest, sugar cane fields and the city of Cairns.  This operation was much more for tourists than our first jump and we had a great group.

We had a beautiful day but it was a bit windy so we waited quite a while.  After roughly 6 hours and getting in and out of gear we boarded the plane for our jump.  The scenery was amazing on this jump but what they say about your first jump being the best is 100% correct.  I think the only feeling that might be able to match it will be if  I learn to jump solo and am solely responsible for pulling my own parachute, who knows if that will ever happen.  I was still excited for this jump but that feeling in your stomach of sheer excitement was not as strong.  Only 2 things in my life have given me that feeling of nervous excitement and happiness, competitive swimming standing on the block waiting to launch off into the water and skydiving.  Odd that swimming as a sport gave me the same feeling as skydiving but I guess that goes to show how much I loved both things and how excited I was that first jump.

There were 9 or so of us in our group and we loaded into the plane super cozy.  The plane is not that large and there are 2 large bench seats that everyone sits very close.  The trip to 14,000 ft is about 15-20 minutes of amazing scenery and my instructor gave me some very cool facts of what we were flying over.

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The plane ride went by super quick and the next thing I knew the door was open and the first jumper was out!  Greg was the second out of the plane so that was crazy to watch your husband jump out of a plane when 2 seconds prior he was sitting next to you.

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4 more tandem teams jumped out and it was my turn.  Feet over the edge, hold your chest straps and roll.  Such an exhilarating feeling right as you fall out and from 14,000 ft you get over a minute of free fall time.  In the beginning you are shocked as to how fast you are falling and the amount of wind in your face but then you are able to gain your wits and look around and just enjoy the amazing experience.  The next part is probably my favorite and thats when the parachute is pulled, your body jerks up but then you can relax your straps a bit and just glide enjoying the scenery.  My instructor allowed me to drive the parachute for a while and corkscrewing is my favorite thing to do.  That simply means you pull on the ropes really hard either left or right and corkscrew down.  You can get some speed up if you do it long enough and it is a blast!

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We then landed and immediately wanted to go back up.  I cannot wait until we do it again!

If you are in the Cairns area we highly recommend skydiving with Skydive Cairns :)

Until next time

Have fun do everything

Liz

Life The Travel Ten

10 Truths About The Digital Nomad Lifestyle

July 13, 2015

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Digital nomadism is a relatively new {amazing} concept.  Truthfully speaking it’s pretty hard for people to wrap their heads around, simply because we have been taught a very specific way of life for generations.  Live a great childhood full of adventures, playgrounds, bicycles and ice cream then grow up go to school, become serious enough to get good grades, get into another great school, graduate said school become super serious and become a real functioning adult “putting in their time” to earn more money to have fun again.  I don’t like this plan, why do we have to become a serious adult with a “real job” in the “real world” just so we can make money so we are able to have fun again?  Can’t we earn money while having fun?  I think we can and my husband and I have chosen the increasingly popular, but still relatively misunderstood lifestyle of the digital nomad.  Working from our laptops and wifi around the world.  For a long time travel has been something for people with time and money and it’s always a vacation.  We now live in a world where you can still have time, money, and travel while working to experience this amazing world we live in.  If you are contemplating this lifestyle or just want to know a bit more about it here are some truths we have discovered from our time as digital nomads.

IMG_59891) Everyone thinks you are always doing cool things and on vacation.  This one is tough because like I said it’s hard for people to understand that while you are experiencing a great new culture or new location you sill have to work to be able to sustain the lifestyle.  You will get a lot of “what are you doing today?” type questions and a lot of the time your answer will be “working”.  Don’t feel bad for working because it’s essential to maintaining this great lifestyle, just try your best to help people understand that this is not a vacation even though it looks like it.  You may be working from your balcony overlooking the ocean or in a coffee shop down the street in Bali and that is still a great day.  Don’t worry it’s pretty cool working from your hammock, going surfing on your lunch break or go for a quick ride to nearby waterfalls to clear your head.

IMG_52482) Long term travel is hard work.  Not only do you have to sustain your income but it’s also very time consuming to book your consistent travel.  Finding flights and accommodations within budget takes time even if there are a ton of really helpful websites out there.  Keep some time open for this sometimes daunting task.

11380800_662906820507893_385595945_n23) Your mindset on locations will change.  It’s hard to change your mindset but you are not vacationing, you are living in another place and there is a difference on your outlook.  The more you travel the more you understand about yourself and what places you want to visit which is different from what places you could live and work for a period of time.  Your view will also be different than the thousands of people online that say place “X” is the best place they have ever been.  Be open to this change, understand what you want and you will make better decisions on locations and be happier in the long run.

IMG_53314) You will not like everywhere you go.  With your changing mindset and understanding what you want out of a location nothing will show you that more than if you arrive in a place and realize there is no AC, after you have been hiking up a hill for 20 minutes in 100+ degree heat.  You have a quick breakdown and realize AC is absolutely essential to living on the road for you.  Maybe it’s not AC thats your breaking point, maybe it’s a hot shower, a normal western toilet or a desk.  Whatever it is you will find out everywhere is not as perfect for everyone and you might not like Thailand as much as everyone else raves about it, and that’s okay.

IMG_53355) Finding strong wifi can be difficult.  So you have researched a location, booked flights and picked a hotel based on a good wifi connection just to arrive and find out that “good” to other travelers was the ability to check instagram or send a few emails and your “good” might mean ability to host a webinar and not cut in and out constantly.  Coffee shops are also notoriously unreliable because you never know who is going to be streaming a full length movie and using a ton of bandwith.  Wifi sometimes will make a location go from a “must visit can’t wait to get there” to a “vacation only” spot just be aware of that and do as much homework on the wifi as you can.

IMG_9621.JPG6) You don’t have to be rich to to be a digital nomad but you can become rich from being a digital nomad.  Digital nomadism can be used as a means to grow your wealth.  This will be mind blowing to most but absolutely true.  We’ve been asked numerous times “How much did you have to save to do this?” or told “I would like to do that but I would have to save up for a long time”.  The truth is, it’s an excellent way to save money and grow your wealth.  Going over the finances could be a whole different blog post, however, there are a few main reasons I say this.  First, if you choose a region like we did (SE Asia), living here is so much cheaper than living in America.  We eat out 90% of the time, often at nice restaurants, stay in some amazing places, usually have daily housekeeping and carelessly spend money on lots of non-materialistic items yet our living expenses are still significantly cheaper than they were stateside.  Stuff here is cheap.  The second reason is due to the fact that entrepreneurship and self employment with a bit of hard work can pay a lot better than a corporate job.  Of course you need to be smart about this, it will take a some ingenuity but after escaping the earning ceiling that corporate America assigns to you, the sky is the limit.  This dangerous duo of lower costs and higher earnings can help lead you to financial freedom.

11232829_635047726625701_661174578_n7) You will miss a flight/bus/boat/train.  If there is one lesson I have learned it’s to be flexible.  You, at some point, will miss something that was vital to your day.  Be flexible, yelling at people who do not speak english or being a jerk never gets you anywhere.  Be nice, stay positive and ask other for help, who knows you might make a friend out of it and it will always turn into a great story down the road.  The best stories never happen when everything goes as planned.

IMG_52708) It can be lonely.  Most people you encounter are on vacation so they come and go or you are moving so quickly you come and go and it’s tough to meet people to form relationships with or experience things with.  Understand that if you are solo traveling you will be dining alone frequently and your constant companion will be your selfie stick {they actually take great photos}.  You will meet amazing people and have great days or nights with them but almost always you leave or they leave.

11351692_1462152677415167_1351650798_n9) You can spend as much or as little as you want.  If you are in a rough month and need to pinch a few pennies you can go to India, the cheapest country in the world to live in and vice versa if you are rolling it in and want to pamper yourself or just blow some cash head to Switzerland alternatively the most expensive country to live in.  Either way you have the ability to spend as much or as little as you want.

11378545_1464003810582191_1310975003_n10) You will grow as a person.  You have heard it time and time again but it is worth mentioning.  Traveling is full of surprises and will teach you many things you cannot learn from staying in your comfort zone.  If you let it, travel can change you forever but mostly in a good way. So even if you go out there and experience things that nobody told you about, it’s because the positives far exceed the risks and challenges. In the end, you take away much more from the experience than you could have imagined.

This lifestyle is vastly different from the one we lived in Alabama and we are absolutely in love with it.  There are positives and negatives and digital nomading as a couple enters you into some uncharted waters but ultimately we have grown closer from it.  If you are thinking about becoming a digital nomad look at yourself and think what you want out of life.  This lifestyle is not for everyone, I know a ton of people who are happy as can be living stateside and that is great! But if you are itching for something more, something difficult but exhilarating and something that stretches you this might be your lifestyle.  Remember if you take the plunge give it time but there is no shame in saying it’s not for you, ultimately the best thing in life is to be HAPPY.

Get out there and experience life,

HFDE,

Liz

Life

The Bali Bucket List

July 10, 2015

So a bit of news on our end, as we love this traveling lifestyle we have grown a bit tired of moving every week and have decided to set some “roots.”  We arrived in Bali absolutely love it and have decided to spend roughly 3 months here with a trip or two thrown in for a visa run.  I know it’s crazy but I am excited to hang a few clothes up, buy a shampoo bottle larger than travel size, make my own coffee in the mornings and make my own bed.  Well the whole make your bed thing is overrated thankfully we still have daily housekeeping.  We found a great little studio villa 10 minutes from the beach complete with espresso machine (we are quite the coffee connoisseurs nowadays), a juicer (added bonus we didn’t know we would love so much), work space, pool, loungers, and kitchen.  I am happy because Bali is amazing and Greg is happy because the wifi is fast and his work station is pretty great.  Here’s to hoping his business continues to grow while we are living in paradise.

If you have heard of Bali you are probably aware it’s an island in Indonesia with a ton of activities to offer.  Activities are our favorite and the fact that everyone speaks english (thanks to the hoards of Aussie vacationers), the place is full of western amenities, incredible beaches, rice terraces, temples makes me believe we will have enough to keep us busy and happy here.  Someone once said that Bali is Southeast Asia for grown-ups and I have found that to be completely correct.  So since I fully feel I will be a tourist for some time my mindset is always on what cool things can we do in each location.  Usually I have to limit this list a bit I am going all out with this one since we are here for such a long time.  I will write a post after we leave Bali to say a quick word on each activity and attraction but for now this is my Bali Bucket List!

–Surfing lessons– Bali is known for surfing so I have to give this one a go

–Waterbom Waterpark — According to TA this is the #1 attraction in Bali, and who doesnt love a water park

–Scuba diving in Amed and the Liberty Ship

–Visit all the amazing waterfalls — Nungnung, Sekumpul, Tengenungan, Jembong, Git Git, Munduk, Blahmantung, Singsing, Aling Aling.

–Explore the island south of Bali where Uluwatu beach, Bangadang beach and the huge waves are.

–Explore the temples– Uluwatu, Pura Besakih, Gunung Kawi, Tirta Empul, Luhur Empuyang, Goa Gajah, Tanah Lot, Taman Ayun, Danu Bratan, Goa Lawah.

–Camphihan Ridge Walk

–Monkey Forest

–Bali theatre/dancing

–Shopping in Seminyak

–Kintamani Overlook

–Tegallalang Rice Terraces

–Shopping in Ubud

–Visit the John Hardy factory

— Make our own curry at Go!Curry

–Dine in a rice padi

–Visit gate 88– a shopping mall built surrounding a plane, what?

–Try Luwak coffee — Coffee from the beans an animal poops out

–Visit Pod Chocolate Factory eat the chocolate and hug a honey bear

–Drive through the hole in Bunut Bolong Tree

–Atlas pearl farm

–See the Gala Gala underground house

–Underwater temple of Pemeturan

–Get an exotic healing from a traditional Balinese healer

–El Kabron for a cliffside sunset and gin and tonics

–Bali Treetop Adventure Park

— 3D Museum Trick Art

So this is my list and I am hoping to accomplish all of them! Have you ever been to Bali?  Is there something I missed that you recommend?? Let me know in the comments below :)

HFDE,

Liz

Life

Lets Talk Southeast Asian Beverages

May 30, 2015

I have always loved beverages and to my surprise SEA has a ton of amazing types which is wonderful because it is HOT here this time of year (well always I think) and if you can not find aircon a cold beverage has got to do the trick.  Here is my take on a few of the most common ones.

Instant Coffee — it is pretty hard to find a brewed coffee around these parts.  If you ask for coffee or someone states they have coffee its going to be instant.  Even if they are excited when you ask “do you have coffee?” and answer “yes” with a huge smile that makes you feel like the fantastic caffeinated beverage is headed your way, its going to be instant.  Womp womp womp, they will say they have brewed coffee or espresso if they have it so be sure to ask.  We can’t jump on this bandwagon just quite yet and I don’t think we will be able to get on it either, we drink tea when instant is the only thing available.

Tea— where SEA lacks in coffee they make up for it in tea.  You can find SO many varieties of tea, hot or cold.  So drink up and if a cold beverage is your fancy don’t worry about the ice we have been gone for roughly 40 days and not once gotten sick from the ice, knock on wood.

Bobo Tea— This lovely beverage has made its way stateside and for good reason, its delicious.  Milky sweet tea with fun “pearls” here but “bobos” in the states and they are just tapioca pearls.  They have a ton of varieties and with everything being so cheap in SEA try whatever you want, worse case scenario you hate it and buy another flavor and you’re out $1 USD.  No biggie.  I would however avoid drinks that contain grass jelly and red beans, still unsure of grass jelly but red beans are most absolutely red beans, like the ones you find typically served with rice in Louisiana, they put them in drinks here (and ice cream but thats another story).

White Coffee— Penang’s coffee type and its sweet and doesn’t come black (which I guess should have been indicated by the name but we didn’t get that the first go round).  Greg is not a fan but I found it wonderful, even if it does have a ton of sugar in it.

Lassi— blended fruit and yogurt, yum!  They come in tons of flavors but mango is the most common and the most delicious.  Found in most Indian restaurants or Indian pockets of cities at food stalls.

Shakes— Fruit shakes are like smoothies without all the processed crap America puts in theirs.  Fruit, ice and condensed milk, you can ask for it without the milk you like and save some calories.  YUM and these are everywhere.

Fresh Coconut Juice— This I was dying to try straight off the beach in El Nido and while it is good I was expecting a cool and refreshing drink and that’s not what it is.  The coconut is typically sitting out in the sun waiting to be cut open for the juice so its a warm drink.  But once you get through the fact that its not the cool refreshing beverage you imagine it is nice. BONUS you are able to eat some yummy coconut from the shell with a sweet coconut spoon that the vendors give you.

Red Horse Beer— The strongest and most popular beer from the Philippines, at double the normal amount of alcohol in a typical USA beer it will definitely get the party started.

San Miguel— Popular around a lot of SEA and is my favorite beer we have found.  Light beer with flavor.

Chang— A great Thai beer

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Juice—  What’s fresh, delicious and would cost $10 in the States but $1 in Malaysia?  Fresh fruit and vegetable juices!  Along most of the roads in Malaysia there are at least 5 fruit stands that have amazing cut fruit and even better fruit juices made straight from the fruit they are selling, put in a juicer and into a sweet to-go bag for you.  This bag is also genius!  How many times have you had food and a drink in hand and needed to actually use your hands, like a million?  Me too, insert amazing Asian idea for a to go cup which is just a bag with a strap, a strap people, for when you need to use your hands but don’t have a table to put your drink on, like when you need to pay the man for your amazing treat in a bag.

I cant wait to see what other beverages we stumble on!  Are there any you have seen that we must try?  Let me know in the comments below :)

HFDE,
Liz

Life The Travel Ten

Ten Things I am loving About Being Abroad

April 19, 2015

So we have been gone for almost 2 months now and they have been an amazing 2 months at that.  We have seen so much and done so much that I thought I would share the 10 best things about being abroad, this list is likely to change at least a little with each passing month but here is the first go round…

1) New cultures– We as Americans do not see the world the way the rest of the world does.  Its easy to live in the States, where we don’t travel as a culture very frequently or very long distances.  In general it seems we don’t and know a lot about other cultures and I definitely fall in that category.  I am loving learning and seeing and experiencing new cultures, history, world wide happenings and all things that affect this huge world we live in.

2) New food options — I love to eat, and I love to eat new things.  I find myself saying asking what a locals favorite is and ordering it asking other questions.  A dish called bee hoon?  Sure sounds nice.  Chee Cheong Fun?  Absolutely, fun is in the name for Pete’s sake.

3) Being warm — We chose southeast Asia for a reason, we love the sun and I do love being warm.  The option to have a pool or beach day ranks high up there on what makes me happy in life.  Its the days when I am carrying my heavy backpack around a scorching city that I have to remind myself, I chose this.   If I suffer through sweating through all my clothes and looking like I just swam across a river because it’s so hot and I am carrying a 30 lb pack I can reward myself with a day on the beach tomorrow.

4) Meeting new people — I love this so much, you learn so many amazing things when you chat with new people.  Traveling makes you open up and be much more transparent because everyone is after the same thing, a good conversation with someone new.  There are always bad seeds in this as with everything but all in all if you become more open and put yourself out there, you will reap the benefits beyond imagine.

5) Less structured days — If I want to work for 2 hours in the morning, take a break for a swim and lunch then get back at it I can do that, no one is telling me that I have to eat at my desk today to finish a project.

6) Having nothing to tie me down — How liberating it is to just have the items on your back.  It’s hard to put into words but for the first time ever I really feel we can go anywhere we want, the only thing holding us back is ourselves.  How many times I have heard that and said yea whatever but now FINALLY I feel it, and I don’t want to let go of that feeling.

7) Ease of travel between countries — The states is such a huge place traveling from one state to the other is like going from one country to another in SEA and its incredibly easy.  Buses, trains, planes, ferries all are easy options and you see such a vast difference from one to another.

8) Trying out new accommodations — I love the ability to stay in so many different types of places.  From hostels, motels, beach front bungalows, urban city condos, super western hotel chains, a locals spare couch you name it it’s out there on a website somewhere for you to stay a few nights.  It’s so much fun to try not only new places but new accommodations and lodging and the internet makes it so easy these days.

9) Change of mindset — Traveling and watching Greg create a business while on the road has opened my eyes.  Its amazing how much you really can do if you let go of what society tells you we need to be doing and just do what you want to be doing.  We are very fortunate that his first idea has done well but really when you want to keep going like we do failure isn’t an option, make changes until it works.  This lifestyle is too good to give up on.

10) Learning how big the world is and how little I know about it– Man the world is a huge place and there are so many amazing places to go see and boy oh boy am I learning.   When we started I thought we are going the whole world in the 10 months and now when I envision the end of our journey coming I cant help but think we are going to miss so many places we want to see.  I find also the more places you see and travel to the more places you hear about and want to see and travel to.  Just as we cross one country or city off our list 5 more pop on from recommendations or places nearby that we had not thought of before.  It’s an ever growing list and I can see how people travel on end for years.

This is such an amazing experience that I am so glad we have embarked on and bit the bullet now instead of later.  I am looking forward to see how this list changes and how my outlook changes in the future, it has already changed on so many things and we have only been gone for 2 months.  2 months and 9 cities down, no clue how many more to go!

If you are thinking about going abroad short term or long term just go.  There is no time like the present and travel is the only thing that costs money but makes you richer.  Experiences are worth more at the end of the day than the dollar.

I hope you have fun and do everything,

Liz

Life

What I learned in My First 30 Days Abroad

March 26, 2015

So the Philippines was our first stop on our year abroad and boy did we learn some things.  About traveling, local customs, each other, ourselves, working while traveling and about life out of a backpack.

On traveling and local customs:

We learned that day one in each and every location we were shell-shocked.  It takes us about 24 hours of time in a city to understand how it works.  Every time we got to a new place we needed to check in, put our bags down and explore the city on foot.  We would watch the locals maneuver the city, learned by how they hailed a taxi, crossed the street, what they ordered off a menu, how they ate their food and just day to day activities are so different from how we are used to them.  For example most locals do not get taxis they board jeepneys.  They also do not cross the street at cross walks you simply walk out into traffic, hold your hand out and the cars will stop for you, we joined in on others at the beginning to get the hang of it.  What they ordered simply helped us order foods that were popular so we didn’t end up with chicken that had been sitting for days.  Eating is even different.  Filipinos eat with fork and oversized spoon, they use the fork to push the food onto the spoon and eat off the spoon.  They never eat off the fork and use the side of the spoon to cut their food.  I have not mastered this yet because I still do not understand why you would eat noodles with a spoon but I am still trying.

Some things I noticed while we were walking around were security is everywhere, I always felt safe, the people are friendly and the universal language is a smile.  You can’t ever go wrong with smiling at someone if you notice they are staring at you or you get caught staring at them smile and it makes everything less uncomfortable. Traffic rules are just a suggestion, mopeds can drive wherever they want, helmets are optional, trikes (a 150 cc bike with a sidecar) are the main mode of transportation outside the city and can fit 5 westerners and 7 locals.  They will also haul anything from rice, chicken, pigs you name it they put it on a trike.

On ourselves:

I have learned to be honest with myself and make reservations for what I know I need to be happy.   Cleanliness is the most important thing to me.  I can do with just a fan although A/C is magical, I can handle the cold showers (just shower in the middle of the day when its the hottest, turn off the fan and the cold water feels great), but what I can’t get over is not feeling clean in the area I live in.  Now that I know this I ask more questions and read lots of reviews before booking accommodation and am much happier with the end result.  Oh and pay special attention to reviews of someone from your home country, a “spacious room” is different depending on who you talk to, an American version of lots of space is definitely not the same as a Filipino version.  Now with that said if I know we’re going into a place thats probably going to not be the cleanest or nicest hotel I just book a nice place afterwards and I am fine.  Its all about knowing what you’re getting yourself into.  Typically the amazing beautiful places are not the best accommodation but they make up for it in the surroundings.

Where I have to have clean living spaces Greg has to have fast and reliable wifi.  This is what makes the world go round for us.  Working is essential everyday for an entrepreneur and remote worker and we have got to have it.  We have learned not all wifi is created equal either, just because a place says they have wifi does not mean it is fast wifi.  Gone are the days of wifi that is always capable of streaming videos, downloading pretty much anything from songs to tv shows even apps are incredibly slow and loading instagram even takes a few minutes.  However the globe tattoo wifi hotspot has been a lifesaver for us.  Globe is one of the cell providers here, we just picked up the hotspot and prepaid cards at a mall in Manila and it has helped us both work quickly.

On working while traveling:

We have also learned we need a system of work and play.  Yes we now live in amazing places with tons to do all the time but if we play and get no work done we will have to end our journey MUCH sooner than we want.  So we decide on work days and play days and split up on our work days.   This is so when we do get back in each other’s company we have something to talk about.  Theres not much to talk about when you sit next to one another all day every day.  Oh hey what did you do today?  Well you were next to me so you did the same thing.  Not the most interesting dinner conversation.  Now it’s much better :)

On life out of a backpack:

Plain and simple I over packed.  You really can do it with less and although I minimized my pack multiple times before we left I still could have done with less.  I could have ditched one of my 2 sweaters, 1 or 2 of my 4 swim suits, and probably one less of about everything in my pack, well except for the medicine bring as much medicine as you can fit.  The last thing you want to be doing while abroad is fumbling around sick as a dog looking for a pharmacy.   Living out of a backpack has taught me I have got to really love something before I buy it because it means I have to haul it everywhere.  There’s no closet for me to leave it in for that one day it might be perfect.  Love it and be willing to wear it every day or don’t get it.  This is a great lesson for me to learn as I used to just buy anything because I liked it at that moment.  I like this version of my shopping self much more and so does my bank account.

As cliche as it is theres a reason everyone says you learn about yourself when you travel.  Pushing your limits teaches you about yourself and the world around you.  I really like this path we have chosen and it has completely increased our quality of life.  We are overall happier, stressed out less, exercise more, spend more time together and have the ability to explore the beautiful world and all the cultures within it.  Christopher Columbus once said you can never cross the ocean if you don’t have the courage to lose sight of the shore and boy was he right.  So get out there lose sight of the shore and see what your future holds.

HFDE,

Liz

Life Places

Couples Trip To Napa Valley

January 21, 2015

In true travelers’ fashion we are not spending our last month or so in the USA just hanging around home.  We want to see as many friends and family that we can in the next few weeks!  Are we busy?  Yes but it’s worth it as we are not going to see much of anyone familiar for 12 months and we can sleep when we are dead.  We had a few things to do before we could go out and have fun, such as Greg quitting his job to start the 100% full-fledged entrepreneurial adventures.  After that was done we jumped on a plane to go to Napa Valley, California.  We had the greatest time with 4 amazing friends and the weather was beautiful!  We stayed at an air bnb close to downtown, not within walking distance although we seriously debated walking after a few full days of wine tasting.  This house was “unplugged” and did not have Wi-Fi (which was hard for Greg) nor TV but it actually made for a really fun trip where we substituted talking to each other (shocking) where we would have normally just put on the TV.   During the day we went to a few awesome vineyards and wineries.  Our favorite was Stag’s Leap, be careful there are 2 that are similar, Stag’s Leap which was ours, and Stags’ Leap which is up the road.  We loved this one!! We had a tour with the best tour guide, Ned, through the caves that hold the wine barrels.  What we noticed most was their attention to detail, every aspect of this place is incredibly thought out, it’s insane!  We had so much fun here!  After we ended the tour we had a great wine tasting and pairing in a room that overlooked the vineyards and it was beautiful, even with the fog.  Check it out!

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Before Stag’s Leap we went to Chateau Domaine Carneros and while we weren’t super impressed by the grounds it did make for some great photos!!

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Then on the last day we went to Pine Ridge Vineyard did a tasting bought a bottle of wine and ate the lunch we made.  They had tables on their property which made for an absolutely wonderful lunch and we also listened to the Seattle/Green Bay game which got really intense as lunch came to a close.  It was beautiful.  Check out these photos!  We obviously had a great time!

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We also loved Hill Family Estate winery and it is in Yountville.  They had a chardonnay that was to die for! The personal attention here and the fact that the family came in while we were tasting sold us on this place… and that chardonnay, it’s the only wine I can’t stop thinking about after we have left.  Fun fact: they are really into marketing and are friends with the producer of The Voice and they have a voice chair in the store, obviously we had to take a picture with it!  Adam Levine I am coming for ya!

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We stayed in Napa for 3 nights, then San Jose and then to San Francisco.  We were able to see a whole lot of northern California thanks to some friends that drove us through Berkeley, Alameda, Santa Cruz, and hosted us in San Jose and San Francisco.    HUGE shout out to them without y’all we would have been stuck doing boring things!!  Berkeley is unique to itself I have never been to a place like it and we got some bobo tea drinks and had brunch while walking around.  We then went to Alameda and it was fun and had low tide so naturally we all walked out to the water.

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San Jose and Santa Cruz were awesome.  San Jose has a Whole Foods with a brewery in it which was cool and the next day our awesome friend drove us up to Santa Cruz for a quick morning tour and we saw some great waves, cool hippie town and surfers living in their car, we felt super Cali, haha.

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Then we boarded the Caltrain to San Francisco and walked to my friend’s apartment.  Google said it wouldn’t be far, about a 30 minute walk so we decided to try it.  2 hours later and after hiking through parks (thanks Google) we arrived.  I actually can’t be too upset about this we got some exercise and were able to see a lot of San Francisco, not to mention this is how we will get around on a normal basis in a month.

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My friend lives in an amazing apartment with a great view we wish we could have stayed longer and visited but we had a lot to get back to.  We still had to pack up our house and get the renters in.  More on that escapade later, there are a lot of notes on how to pack up your life and leave the country I have to compile into an upcoming post so stay tuned!

So how did we do for our first time touring northern California??  What should we do next time we go back?  I can already tell I am going to miss the food already :)

HFDE,

Liz

About Life

We Travel Not To Escape Life— But for Life Not To Escape Us

December 13, 2014

How fitting this quote is for my newest update.

2015 is going to be a big year for Greg and me!  A time for us to chase a dream to create a location independent lifestyle.  A time for us to live an adventure and see if we can make a lifestyle we dream about a reality.  We are packing everything we can fit in 2 bags, leaving the rest behind, and traveling to Southeast Asia.  We plan on spending 12 months in different locations ranging from 2-6 weeks at a time.  We don’t have every area ironed out because we want to stay loose with destinations but we do have our first 3 identified; Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.  We will start in the Philippines, stay in a few different cities and islands, then to Indonesia with the same plan then to Phuket Thailand and finally Chiang Mai.  After that we are unsure and just want to go where the wind takes us.  We are so excited to be going somewhere unknown for the sheer factor of adventure, not letting life pass us by and living out my motto in life; to have fun and do everything.

Yes I know you probably skimmed over that thinking wait what?  So we have answered a few FAQ… please see below…

Wait, what?  **a few seconds pass by as the facts sink in** Why Asia?

Its beautiful, great culture, even better food, low cost of living and we have never been.

So you’re quitting your jobs?

Yes, well the ones that keep us location dependent.   We will be working remotely, I for Just Health Shops and Greg will continue with his ever-growing entrepreneur endeavors.

So Greg will no longer be an engineer?

To quote him directly “I will forever hold an engineering degree and hope to never have to use it again.  Engineering is boring and doesn’t give enough vacation time.”

What about your dog?

Maple will stay with my amazing parents who will be spoiling her and letting her live at the beach and get lots of love from visitors.  Here’s a few pics just because we love her so much!

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What if you don’t like it there?

We will leave and choose a new destination, it’s as simple as that.

What are you bringing?

2 backpacks a piece filled with swim suits, t-shirts, dresses and laptops.

Is this for real?

Absolutely. Go out and do something awesome, life is too short.

Stay tuned for updates on how we chose the countries we did, the islands/cities within those countries, what to pack, what to pack all of it in, our timeline of events, and when we get there I will post about our many adventures of a new culture, a new lifestyle, beautiful islands and so much more.  Please stay tuned! And if you have advice, suggestions of places to see, things to do, or want to come visit (you know you do!) PLEASE let us know in the comments below!

In the meantime here are some photos of our first stop!  We will fly into Manila Philippines stay for a week and head out to the island of Palawan.  Below are some pics!

Manila, Philippines is the capital of the country and with 12 million people it’s a busy city!

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Palawan, Philippines is one island of the over 7,000 the Philippines has to offer.  It is our first destination that we will stay for a few weeks at and here are a few pics!

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If you are curious what we read/listened to that sparked this whole new chapter check out tropicalMBA.com and screwtheninetofive.com southeastasiabackpacker.com for a few fun facts!  Also check out lonelyplanet.com , www.travelfish.org and www.tripadvisor.com  for some great info on the area.

HFDE,
Liz