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    Chapter Five - My Great Nieces & Nephews

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    When I was a little girl, maybe as young as four, my aunt and uncle lived for a short time in Hawaii.  Hawaii seemed incredibly exotic to me, even as young as I was – not much more than a toddler.  When my aunt came home she brought a grass skirt and bikini top for me and my sister.  I was smitten for Hawaii right then and still am to this day.  I never forgot that first love for exotic travel.

    Looking at the map with my great niece Elsa and great nephew Isaiah.

    Looking at the map with my great niece Elsa and Her Mom Nichole.

    I have a total of thirteen great nieces and nephews.  Seven of them are in early grade school.  An age when kids are inquisitive and impressionable.  I want to use our travels in a positive way, and I think I can help my younger nieces and nephews learn a bit about the world through my Grand Adventure. And in turn, maybe they will have lifelong memories like my experience with my aunt.

    My great nephew Landon and great niece Lily

    My great nephew Landon and great niece Lily

    So for my grade school age nieces and nephews I have given each family (three) a world map for their wall. As we travel in the years ahead I will stay in touch with these fast growing little ones by sending them post cards and from time to time small gifts and books. I hope to encourage them to find us on their map as well as research online

    Cards I bought today to send.

    Cards I bought today to send from Thailand

    about the places we are. They will follow our travels, learn about far off places, new cultures and people.  And perhaps be inspired to be a world citizen in a country that too often lives in a bubble.

    And hopefully not forget me and my husband as they grow so quickly.

     

    Travel Around the World

    Hello Good Bye Dubai

    Day One Chapter Five

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    Such an unexpected surprise. Dubai. A big shiny toy. It’s like the Emerald City. It’s like the brand new bicycle under the Christmas tree. It’s like Las Vegas times ten – without the alcohol.

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    Burj Al Arab Hotel.

    Our twenty-two hour layover in Dubai was not enough. As we sit here in Dubai International Airport waiting for our flight to Bangkok we are plotting  how we can swing back through this city again. And stay a little longer.

    Tomorrow, December 2nd, the United Arab Emirates celebrates it’s 45th birthday. Only 20 years ago Dubai, one of seven emirates that make up the UAE, was a very different place. The bright shiny city that rises out of the brown desert barely existed a few decades ago.

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    This is a photo of a photo showing Dubai in the 1950’s.

    Our short visit was made educational and spectacular thanks to our guide Ute Koestle, who we hired to show us around through Tours by Locals https://www.toursbylocals.com/(if you come here, hire this woman!).  Ute, a German woman living in Dubai for more than two decades, is proud of her adopted home and a wealth of information. We learned so much from her!

    I was expecting  to enjoy the old town the most, as is normal for me in most cities, but not here. Instead I found the sparkling city, beautiful skyline, ingenious manmade islands, spectacular architecture and interesting cultural makeup unlike anywhere I have ever been.

    Dubai is home to millions of people not from here. Emirati citizens are only a small portion of the population and are provided financial privileges that expats do not receive. A huge variety of world citizens live in Dubai, like our tour guide. She explained the class system to us, from the ruling class and their gorgeous palaces placed through out the city, to the low wage construction workers brought in from India.

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    Mosque at sunset.

    Ute also answered our question from where do they get their water and food in this dry barren land (seven de-salination plants turn sea water to drinking water and the majority of food items are imported) to crime and unemployment (there is zero unemployment as Emiratis who want to work are given a job and non-citizens who lose their job are deported and crime is nearly non-existent because the punishment is prison followed by deportation).

    We will come back so we can enjoy the beaches, maybe go indoor snow skiing, see the famous fountain show, go to the top of the world’s tallest building (2700 feet), explore the 100’s of shopping malls, take a boat tour on the Persian Gulf, and stay in one of the five-star hotels.

    But until that happens, hello and goodbye Dubai.  Thanks for opening our eyes.

     

    And All the Rest

    Just Go Already

    Chapter Five Begins

    © Laureen Lund, My Fab Fifties Life

    Are you as sick and tired of me talking about going on this world tour as I am sick and tired of me talking about going on this world tour?

    Just go already.

    Okay.  We are off.

    Doctor cleared me for travel and all our final details and tasks have been completed.  I feel bad that, due to my illness, I was unable to say goodbye, in person to many people I love.  But you all know I love you.

    And so we go!  Chapter Five will begin with an overnight stop in Dubai, before landing in Thailand on December 1st.  We will spend five weeks in Thailand, then a week in Cambodia, then back to Thailand for another three weeks.  Chapter Five will continue with a month in Vietnam and 9 days in Laos.  And a great deal of this time with my boys!

    That will wrap up Chapter Five and our SE Asia tour.  From there it’s on to New Zealand (Chapter Six).

    Thank you for following our journey.  It’s not a vacation, it’s our life and the fact that anyone finds it unique or interesting makes me happy.  If we can inspire anybody out there to shed the anchors that make you unhappy and Go Be Fabulous – then we have accomplished our dream.

    Have No Fear.  Dream Big. Take Charge of Your Destiny. And most of all – Go Be Fabulous!

     

    Family and Friends

    In Sickness and in Health

    Celebrating 34 Years

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    Thinking about 34 years. It’s weird. How in the world has so much time passed? It’s like a balloon, that keeps adding air…bigger and more interesting to look at every year.

    I’ve written about my sweet husband before. But I’ve never written about the vow “in sickness and in health”. My darling husband has taken this vow seriously and has unselfishly cared for me through thick and thin. I have only had to care for him on very rare occasions. The weight of this vow has fallen very lopsided in our marriage.

    He has held my hand, my hair and my heart through food poisoning and cramps. Through flu and colds and sinus infections. Through motion sickness, altitude sickness and migraine. Through respiratory infections, heart palpitations, diverticulitis, breast biopsies, spinal surgeries, gall-bladder bursts, hysterectomy, miscarriage and births.

    And shingles. This past week he has held my hand when I cried, got me a bucket when I thought the meds were gonna make me puke, peeled off my shoes, socks and jeans when I collapsed in bed, cooked and cleaned and ran errands.

    He is my rock. I love him.

    So today we quietly celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary as I continue to convalesce. It’s the first anniversary we haven’t celebrated in a big way. We were supposed to go out to dinner last night but we cancelled that reservation. We had discussed theatre or Seahawks tickets, in hindsight I’m glad we didn’t.

    So today we stay home. Making final preparations for our hopeful departure on Tuesday. Being thankful it wasn’t worse than it is. Enjoying and appreciating each other.

    Satisfied and optimistic and in love with the best man I have ever known.

    Happy Anniversary Mr. Lund. Thank you for taking your vows so seriously.

    Countdown two days.

    Stay tuned….

    Health, Fitness & Fashion

    Blindsided By Shingles

    It's out of my hands.

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    Curveball

    Detour

    Roadblock

    Blindside. No matter how you say it I got hit and hit hard.

    Shingles.  Out of nowhere shingles found me.  To my surprise, it found me.

    No matter how much planning, organizing, and researching I’ve done, I can’t control this. Here it is.

    It’s been several days now.  I’ve spent most of it in bed. I’m on antiviral and pain meds.  Had to clear my calendar of all my final farewell parties and events.

    But now the farewell itself is in question.  I’m pretty sick.  But even though I’m pretty sick that damn brain of mine keeps turning.  Shingles is just another problem to solve.

    I won’t let it stop me.  Granted, it definitely has slowed me down. But I won’t let it stop me.  Might need to delay my departure. But it will not stop me.

    I just need a few days more to figure it out.  That’s the hardest part.  I like to cross things off the list and move on. I do not procrastinate I just get it done. But with this it’s out of my hands.  And so I wait.  Wait for the shingles to tell me what it plans to do.

    Meanwhile, all around me people are focused on holidays and family. For me, I must focus on getting well, and doing so quickly.

    I recommend if you are in your fabulous fifties, insist that your doctor give you the shingles vaccine.  Don’t wait until you’re 60. Take it from me, do it today.

    Stay tuned…

     

     

     

    Travel Around the World

    The Toilet Paper Totem

    Chapter Five

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    Last July when we were on Chapter Two of the Grand Adventure (our 400 mile bike ride), we pilfered a roll of toilet paper from a hotel room.

    I thought we might need a roll of toilet paper on our bike ride, so just in case I took a roll – about half a roll actually.

    We never ended up needing it.

    When we were packing for Chapter Three (Ireland, Scotland, England and Norway) we tossed the TP into the suitcase just in case. Never used it.

    In  September, as we were packing for the road trip with Betty, I asked Arne “Should we bring this”?  He said “Well, it’s kinda a good luck charm now”.  So it went on the 9800 mile  road trip with us. Never used it.

    Of course it now is our totem. A talisman. Our survivor immunity reward. Once again I have it packed. Our T.P. Totem.

    I’ll  take good luck in whatever form it comes!

    Chapter five begins in 8 days.

    And All the Rest  --  Travel Around the World

    It’s In The Details

    Preparing for Chapter Five - The Big One

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    “How exactly do you prepare to leave the country and travel full time?”

    As our departure day grows near, this is the recurring question.  People are interested, surprised, envious, confused but most of all curious.

    So over the past couple of weeks I have been pulling together some details (list below).  A lot of details.  In fact, I would answer the above question with a simple sentence.  “It’s in the details.”

    For us it has been a long process.  A younger person, like my son, can prepare more quickly, in a matter of months.  But for Fab Fifty rock stars like me and my husband, it takes more time.

    For us about three years.IMG_0326

    When the idea first sprouted, I knew immediately we would do it.  Without a question I knew it was right for us.  All while knowing it isn’t something for everyone.

    In fact, making a major life change like this should take some serious soul searching – are you cut out for a life of travel? What is your tolerance level?  Consider everything from beds to cultural customs when considering your personal tolerance for living outside of the United States.

    Once you know your tolerance level that in-turn will help you determine your budget.  Because if you are only willing to stay in upscale American style hotels, then your budget will need to look very different from ours.  Our travels will have us staying in primarily Airbnb’s that average about $70.

    We have set a daily budget of $200 all inclusive IMG_3702(transportation, lodging, food and misc).  This will be plenty for most places and not enough for a few places, but we hope to be frugal and have it all even out.  Because the reality is if we can’t stay within our designated budget then the Grand Adventure will be over the first year.

    Speaking of timeline – we don’t have one.  This of course would not work for everyone, but for us it fits.  We will continue the vagabond life as long as we are having fun.  As soon as it becomes anything other than fun, we are done.  That may be in six months or it may be in six years.  Of course our plans might also change down the road if things change for our family back home or our sons wherever they are. Staying flexible is part of the plan.

    So listed below are some “details”.  Most of these things we have had to learn on our own – so if this list can alleviate any work for someone else considering traveling abroad in retirement, use it well.IMG_4306

    PURGE – we started our purge process more than two years ago as we let go of nearly every bit of fluff we owned, including house, cars, trailer, furniture and more.  We have a 10×12 storage unit now that is holding what remains of our stationary lifestyle and life’s memories.

    DOCUMENTS – we updated our passports even though they were not expired, so we would not have any issues with needing to do that from abroad.  We also updated our Washington State Drivers License.  We will carry a copy of our marriage certificate with us but not our birth certificates because the passport is sufficient.  We have researched every possible country we think we might visit to learn the entry/visa requirements. We are carrying extra passport photos because some countries require obtaining a visa on entry with photo.

    SPREADSHEET – we created a spread sheet, which is evolving constantly and we can access via Google Drive, to track all of our travel including air and ground transportation and lodging.  This spreadsheet includes notes regarding entry rules for countries.

    MAIL – we are using a PO Box that belongs to my IMG_4570Mother-in-law, but we are trying hard not to receive any mail.  We have notified our friends and family not to snail mail us, we have contacted magazines and catalogs to eliminate junk (not very successful however) and we have changed all of our banking, retirement and property related mail to online only. I canceled my 35 year subscription to Bon Apetit.

    TECHNOLOGY – we have new smart phones, an iPad and my MacBook Air that will travel with us.  In addition we will bring our old flip phone.  For our smartphones (we each have an iPhone) we will purchase a sim card in each country we are in to enable our phones to have a local phone number and data.  We will then also use our iPhones with wifi for things like blogging, Facebook and Instagram.  The flip phone will be programmed with our old verizon phone number from the states.  Although we don’t plan to use that number often, it keeps it active for emergency.

    We also have, in addition to our Bose headphones a Bose SoundLink Mini speaker that measures about 6 in x 3 in.  We carry this with us and it allows us to listen to music using Spotify and also listen to Audible or other books.

    APPS – We have a few travel apps we like especially Airbnb, Expedia and Google Maps.  We also have a Google translate which is really cool.  You can point your phone at a sign or menu item in another language and it will show you what it says in English.  Love it.  I have recently downloaded WhatsApp, an app that allows you to make overseas calls via the internet.  We also use Kindle, Yelp, Uber  and Trip Advisor.IMG_0563

    CORDS AND CHARGERS – I honestly don’t understand why there can’t be a universal cord for all electronics, but alas wishful thinking.  So we have organized and sorted all our cords, charges and adaptors to travel along.

    CREDIT CARDS – don’t you hate it when your credit card company announces suddenly that you are being mailed a new credit card because your card has been compromised?  Well that would really screw us up if that happens.  So we now have FOUR credit cards.  One is our primary and three are backups.  Three cards have no foreign transaction fees (which can be a killer).  We also have multiple ATM cards. All credit and debit cards are chipped.  VERY IMPORTANT is that we do not carry all these cards together in one place.  That way, if our wallet or purse is lost or stolen, we will have back up cards available in a different location.  We have contacted all of the card companies for both credit and debit and let them know we will be traveling abroad for an extended period.  We have put a reminder on our calendar to do this again periodically.

    PRESCRIPTIONS – I take three prescriptions regularly.  It’s been a challenge to get enough of my meds stocked up.  My insurance company will allow, with a special doctor’s note, 2 90 day vacation overrides.  I have been stocking up in other ways too, but it’s not going to be enough.  I will need to find access to these meds to fill the rest of the time, because we won’t be back in the US for a visit for 20 months.  Shipping prescription abroad is illegal. I am confident I can find the meds or an equivalent.  I will need to pay cash for those at the time.  I have also 18 months worth of contact lenses and we each have our glasses plus a back up pair.

    DOCTORS – during this three week period between Chapter Four and Chapter Five we have had a ton of appointments; family physician for preventive travel sickness meds, eye doctor for new contacts and glasses, dermatologist for annual check up, dentist for cleaning and some work, gynecologist for check up, and annual mammogram.  We will see all these doctors again when we visit the US in 20 months.

    MEDIVAC INSURANCE – considering our age, we felt there was value in purchasing evacuation insurance.  This insurance covers expenses to transport us back to the US in case of a medical emergency that can’t be handled locally.

    EXPEDIA AND AIRBNB – we love how these two IMG_6848online websites allow you to keep files of all your bookings.  This eliminates the paper trail and gives us easy access to our bookings.  We use them both frequently.

    DECIDING WHERE TO GO – this is a big one.  We learned early in our planning about something called the Schengen group of countries, which we had never heard of.  It significantly impacted our itinerary for the first year.  Schengen group rules allow you to only spend 90 days in any 180 day period in Schengen countries.  Most countries in the European Union are Schengen, but not all.  I don’t really understand the reason for the rule, other than perhaps they are fearful of immigrants, but because we plan to spend 5-6 weeks hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain next Fall, we had to really carefully plan our itinerary.  During our second year abroad we will have more freedom within the Schengen countries.  Learn more about the Schengen rules here.

    So our itinerary puts us in non-Schengen countries for the first eight months; Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, New Zealand, Seychelles Islands, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Croatia.  Then the Schengen clock begins ticking as we travel to Slovenia, Portugal, and Spain before we move out of the Schengen again to finish our first year in Morocco, South Africa and Namibia.

    That said we are only booking flights and lodging six months in advance, except when we know we might have high season competition.  This way we can keep some freedom to change our minds.

    GIRL STUFF – I’ve spent a year growing my hair out so I can not be bothered with hair cuts and just put a scrunchy in and be done.  It’s not pretty but it’s easy.   I’ve also, reluctantly, given up the gel manicures and now am doing regular manicures to make my nail care easier and do-it-yourself.  I’ve stocked up on a few beauty products that I love and simplified my makeup routine and products.  I’ve chosen a half dozen pair of earrings and three necklaces.  I’ve cleaned and polished them all and packed them in a hard eyeglass case that I will carry in my handbag.IMG_2825

    Speaking of handbag I have an over the shoulder secure handbag.  It’s not pretty but it is very functional.  I have a smaller handbag that I can use for day use, but the travel bag is a must when on the go.  Safety first.

    PACKING – this topic is by far the one most people ask about, and indeed one of the hardest.  How to decide what to bring? Last year before our trip to Burkina Faso we purchased two large rolling suitcases from REI.  And a few months ago before leaving on our month in Hawaii we purchased new small backpacks from REI.  This is all we have for packing.  One roller bag and one backpack.  It helps that we are traveling, for the most part, to warm climates or to areas during their warm season.  We may see rain in New Zealand and on the Camino de Santiago but mostly we are only bringing spring/summer clothing.  Honestly the clothing choice has been easier than the shoes.  And the bulkiest items are not clothes or shoes its toiletries and medicines.

    Without a doubt I am bringing twice the clothes

    End of a career means the start of something new and exciting.

    (maybe more) than my husband is bringing, but I have actually edited it down really well.  It has helped ALOT to have had these practice trips (Chapter 1-4) over the past several months.  I have learned a lot about what I own that is easiest, most comfortable, most versatile and packs well.

    So here is the list for two years:

    ME

    • 4 short sleeve cotton t-shirts and two short sleeve blouses
    • 2 cardigans (one long one short)
    • 5 long sleeve t-shirts and blouses
    • 4 tanks and two sleeveless blouses
    • 1 skirt
    • 2 nice dresses, 4 sundresses/coverups
    • 6 long pants (2 linen drawstring, one black slacks, black leggings, white cropped pants and army green touring pants)
    • 4 shorts
    • Hiking clothes (2 shirts, one long pant one short pant)
    • Running clothes (1 tank, one shirt, one shorts one long pants)
    • Coats (raincoat, down scrunch coat, poncho)
    • Warm things just in case (hat, gloves, scarf, long underwear top, yoga pants, lightweight sweatshirt)
    • 2 swimsuits
    • 1 pajamas
    • 4 hats (sunhat, hiking hat, running hat and one I just like)
    • 2 long scarfs
    • 6 shoes (black low heel, Keens sandle, flip-flops, hiking shoe, running shoe and green Chuck’s)
    • undies (quick dry)

    MY HUSBAND

    • 4 pants (jeans, 2 zip off hiking pants, dockers)
    • 2 shorts
    • 2 long sleeve shirts
    • 5 nice short sleeve shirts
    • 4 wicking short sleeve shirts
    • Running gear (shorts and long pants, 1 tank and 1 T shirt)
    • Warm things just in case (lightweight sweatshirt, rain shell, poncho, down vest, hat, gloves, scarf)
    • 2 swimsuits
    • 2 hats (hiking and running)
    • 4 shoes (Keens sandles, flip flops, hiking shoes, running shoes)
    • undies (quick dry)

    In addition we have our electronics and documents and toiletries, first aid and meds, a small travel towel and a couple of books.  We have torn chapters out of our travel guide books and are only carrying the chapters we nIMG_8765eed. I am also bringing two knives because we have been told knives for cooking abroad, especially in SE Asia, are terrible.  I have a new cross stitch project I am bringing and we will bring our scrabble game and some playing cards. I’ve thrown in some pens and pencils, cloths pens, plastic bags (multiple sizes) our headlamps and some extra batteries.  Of course I don’t leave home without my WSU flag, my Seahawks flag and THE MUG.

    Two of my friends have gifted me good luck talismans – a wooden cross and a silver sand dollar.  I have them tucked in my wallet. Of course I also have my charm bracelet with its growing collection of charms.

    So there you have it.  The details.  I’ve probably forgotten something.  Feel free to ask me questions if you have them.  It’s been a labor of love and I am ready to board that plane and get on with it.

    Ready to launch! T minus 14 days

    Fabulous!