Tag Archives: RTW

Back on the Road

I know we’ve only been back for two weeks, but it’s long enough to know that the normal life is not for us.

We’ve had an amazing time catching up with friends and family and now that that’s done, we’re taking off again.

We tried our best, but we’re meant for the open road. The nomadic life. The chaos of travel.

Our worn out travel clothes and shoes have been traded for new ones.

Southeast Asia is our first destination, where our dollar can stretch the furthest until we figure out some sort of online income.

Our flight leaves on April 9th, so we’ll try catch up with as many people as we can before then.



Oh, and April Fools’.

7 Minutes In My Traveling Mind

It feels like we just got here, and now we are already leaving. I can’t believe we are on another airplane. How long is this flight and when are we expected to land?  I wonder how far this airport is from town and how late the public transport runs?

Another airplane and their amazing airline food.
Another airplane and their amazing airline food.

Oh, I hope we can just jump on a bus or train into town and avoid aggressive touts. I really hate being mauled by the mob of taxi drivers, following us around, shouting out ridiculously high prices, and refusing to use their meters. Or agreeing to use their meters, but still trying to charge much more than the meter requires.

Continue reading 7 Minutes In My Traveling Mind

Thanksgiving in Cambodia

This thanksgiving I was out of sorts, I hadn’t any typical or even standard clues suggesting its approaching arrival. There was no fall leaves changing colors, no football games to watch, no apple cider to drink, no freshly baked apple pie to eat, no end of the season bonfire to attend, no cold nights to snuggle under a blanket, not even a single snowflake to help mentally prepare me.

I have experienced four distinct seasons my entire life, and now the only four seasons that I can think of experiencing this year have been a combination of hot, humid, rainy, and sweltering.

It is sad to say, but Thanksgiving just came and went, without much anticipation. There was no day off of work, as I do not have a job. There were no other Americans to celebrate with as we have literally met less than seven this entire year of traveling. There was no family get together to attend, as we were a world away. There was no home cooked turkey feast, as we do not have a home nor a turkey.

There were no typical traditions done this year by the Andersons. No, this Thanksgiving day was different.

It wasn’t until after our Thanksgiving day started, as we toured around the killing fields and the genocide museum in Phenom Pehn, Cambodia, that I started giving my thanks.

I am so thankful to not have lived or gone through something as horrible as the genocide in Cambodia, under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, that tortured and killed a third of the country’s population.

I am thankful for our American freedoms, something I now realize that I have always taken for granted. I am thankful for the right of personal choice in almost every aspect of life, from my beliefs to my education to even my career.

I am thankful to be alive, for my husband, especially on this crazy adventure, and for my large perfectly chaotic family and friend support group.

I am very thankful for all our technology: steripen to clean our water, GPS to find our way as well as to keep the tuk tuk’s honest, apps to distinguish between different currency and languages, facetime or skype to keep up with loved ones, kindle/audio books to read and learn, MacBook Air to make EVERYTHING easier (as well as to not add much weight to my pack), and our cameras that have currently captured over 30,000 of our memories.

I am thankful for food and clean water, and that I do not know what hunger nor thirst is. For vaccinations and medicine that we have gotten prior or have with us to keep us healthy.

I am so thankful that even being jobless and homeless, I still feel so rich in comparison to the extreme poverty and difficult lifestyles that some are born into and face.

I am thankful for the ability to travel the world and to expand my mind, as my little box is challenged every single day.

I am thankful for friends we have met along our journey, and that our Thanksgiving dinner was celebrated with a few German friends, trying out tarantula at a restaurant that takes street kids in, to offer them a chance of a better life through training and employment.

I am thankful for air conditioning in this 100% humidity and 95 degree maddening tropical heat, that I am not sure my body could survive for very long, without.

Although possibly inappropriate, I feel the need to add that I am very thankful for (and very much miss) western toilet facilities that maintain a clean and dry environment, keep the shower heads and toilet separate, furnish the bowl with a seat, and provide amazingly soft, yet durable toilet paper.

As we finished up our Thanksgiving day in an overnight ‘sleeper’ bus to Siem Reap, I am thankful for the very affordable means of traveling around Cambodia, even though it was a miserable, bumpy ride that offered zero sleep to either of us.

This Thanksgiving day was unlike any in my past, as I realize how much I have previously taken for granted, and how much more I have to be thankful for.

Almost Deported

We booked our flight from Tel Aviv, Israel to Hanoi, Vietnam 26 hours prior to our departure.

This required four different flights: Tel Aviv, Israel –> Istanbul, Turkey –> Rome, Italy –> Bangkok, Thailand –> Hanoi, Vietnam.

The security at the Tel Aviv airport in Israel was the strictest we have seen thus far, and took a long time, as nothing seemed very efficient. The lady at the desk, for whatever reason, didn’t like the fact that we had a backpack and a small book bag that we wanted to board the plane with, even though both fit the carry on/purse ‘size and weight’ limits. She told us that we were allowed only one bag each, as the planes were all full, and there would not be enough room on the plane. This was a frustrating bit of  bogus info as we were flying on all different carriers, and she didn’t have access to other carrier’s flight information.

After some persuading, she agreed to let us keep one of our “bigger” bags, as long as we checked the other one, reassuring us that the checked bag would be waiting for us at our end destination. Since this was the first time in all ten months of traveling that we have had to check a bag, we weren’t prepared and didn’t have much time to think through how to redistribute our stuff.

Our first flight out of Tel Aviv, Israel was only two hours, arriving in Istanbul, Turkey at three am. We crashed on airport benches for a few hours before catching our next flight to Rome early that morning.

These four flights turned into a blur as we were tired from traveling, sleeping in airports, eating airline food, and adjusting to a six hour time difference that was introduced while in flight.

It wasn’t until we were about to board our last flight out of Bangkok, Thailand, that I remembered that we hadn’t checked the visa requirements for Vietnam, as we weren’t sure if we were even going to this country prior to booking the ticket.

Admittedly, booking our flight the previous day was a little too last minute, not allowing room for much of anything… It was at that moment that I realized we needed a pre-approval letter prior to landing in the country of Vietnam.

I asked a lady at the desk in Bangkok about the letter, and after she realized what I was asking, almost denied us access on that flight. It wasn’t until we showed her that we started applying for the same day pre-approval letter online, that she allowed us to continue to board. Thad literally finished the online application five minutes before they shut the gate.

Upon arrival in Hanoi, Vietnam, Thad walked around trying to find a wifi access point to check the approval letter status, to no avail. We were stuck in a small area, with no way to connect to wifi to see if our application went through or not.

The bag that Thad checked four flights ago, back in Israel, was supposedly going to meet us in Hanoi, Vietnam. In that bag we later remembered that we forgot to grab Thad’s passport-sized ID photos and currency from previous countries, including his stash of USD.

So there we were, a sad case to say the least, as we were experiencing some jet lag, no wifi to check the status of the letter, no bag, limited cash supply, and only my ID photos. We knew we were looking pretty rough, as if we had never traveled before, but we had to face the visa desk eventually.

We approached the visa desk, and tried to communicate that the flight we booked was extremely last minute and that the approval letter process was started but not confirmed. In the end, we had no letter. The visa man took our passports, other detailed paperwork that we filled out, and disappeared for a while.

After a considerable amount of time, another man came to meet us to discuss the options of either deporting us back to Bangkok or having us pay $320 USD for a third party to come and write the approval letter to move things along.

Again, we tried to explain that we applied earlier, but needed wifi to get the confirmation. At the end of our conversation, we agreed to pay the fee rather than discover the full costs of deportation.

A lady eventually came to get the paperwork started, asked more questions, and requested to see confirmation of our flight out of the country. This was yet another item that we did not have, as we are planning this trip as we went, proved by our last minute flight decision into Vietnam not so long ago. We told her that we were planning on taking overland transportation into Cambodia, but could book something if needed to prove our exit, but again would need internet to book it.

She eventually left, to either talk to someone or make a few phone calls, came back and finally accepted a written itinerary of our plans out of Vietnam.

After getting over that hurdle, she then requested the $320 USD processing fee. We asked if we could run to the baggage claim to get Thad’s bag to retrieve the extra cash from inside it or if there was an ATM that we could use, as our current cash stash was limited.

Since we were not supposed to leave that restricted area, she took Thad’s luggage tags and left to go track down his bag. It was quite a while later that she returned with news that Thad’s bag was nowhere to be found.

Thad and I knew from the start that the chances of his bag making all four flights, across a couple of continents, was not high, so we were not surprised by this news. This hiccup in the process proceeded to keep the application lady busy long enough for a different man from the visa desk to hand us back our passports, and usher us to the other side, to pay the normal visa fee.

From what we gathered, or are assuming, our last-minute application that was tied to our passport numbers finally went through into their computer system.

We didn’t want to get our hopes up too high, but things were looking up as we had our passports in hand, with the Vietnam visa stamp, and were in the final line to pay. This whole four-hour-long process went from nothing going right, to instantly approved.

Once we made it to the front of the line, we found out that the total cost for our visas into this country was $90 USD, which was the EXACT amount of cash that I had on me… not a cent more. I couldn’t believe it, and I had Thad count it again to double check, as it was too good to be true.

I am still confused as to how we got through without Thad having his passport sized photos, as everyone we watched go through that morning had to give the visa desk two copies. This is still a mystery, but for whatever reason they did not request these photos from us.

Walking outside of that airport felt pretty good after our first self-induced, challenging country entry. I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face, knowing that someone was looking out for these two poor, sleep-deprived, spontaneous (almost to a fault) travelers.

The only thing that could have possibly made that moment any better, would have been walking out of that airport with Thad’s bag in hand. But I guess that will be another story.