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Photo by Michael Jordan, enjoying a meal at sunset, Zangskar Valley, India

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Michael Jordan
enjoying a meal at sunset,
Zangskar Valley, India



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  #1921  
Old 17 May 2018
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Yaw and Hélène introduced us to their Chiang Mai social circle: other digital nomads and assorted ex-pats

The digital nomad lifestyle is not all milk and honey though.

It makes sound economic sense, and there are lots of people rushing to Thailand (specifically Chiang Mai because it's so cheap) trying to set up a business here and reap the rewards of a luxurious, low-cost lifestyle. However, you also have to possess a skill that's marketable that you can perform on-line... programmers are able to do it. I've also met accountants, translators, writers, illustrators and graphic artists succeeding at the digital nomad thing.

But the Facebook DN groups are abuzz with horror stories and cautionary tales of Digital-Nomad-wannabes who arrive in Chiang Mai with no marketable, location-independent skills. And because their tourist visa prevents them from getting a legitimate job, they end up working in hostels and bars for under-the-table pay, barely able to even afford the Thai low cost-of-living.

Unable to return to their home country because they can't afford a plane ticket, they dodge immigration officials because their tourist visas have run out. These people are also prey to pyramid schemes. A popular one is the "How to become a Digital Nomad" course you can purchase online. It advertises that after taking the course, with very little technical skill, you too can become a successful Internet marketer.

In reality, the course merely teaches you how to create your own "How to become a Digital Nomad" video and curriculum and how to sell it to the next Greater Fool willing to part with their money... Keywords: "Crushing it!" Visuals: Hire women in bikinis to pose next to you to prove that you are indeed, "Crushing it". Sell the lifestyle. Sell the course.

We've traveled the world to experience different cultures. Sometimes there are some interesting ones that lurk just beneath the surface of geography.
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  #1922  
Old 15 Jun 2018
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Happy Anniversary!

It's become a yearly tradition to celebrate with chocolate cake and candles. Today we're marking Six Years (!) on the road. Big hello to everyone following our trip. We've taken a little break from the blog, but we'll be back soon with more stories and pictures!

Thanks for all the comments and encouragement, we really appreciate it!

Neda & Gene

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  #1923  
Old 21 Jun 2018
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/390.html



It's a sad day today. After spending a month with us in Chiang Mai, Yaw and Hélène are heading to their next Digital Nomadic destination: Indonesia!

In all of our travels, we've always been the ones to leave. Now the tables are turned, and we are the ones waving good-bye to friends. So excited for them, but sad for us.

Does this mean we are ready to continue motorcycle traveling? Nope. Nothing has changed on that front. Still travel-fatigued. Still enjoying the sedentary, scheduled lifestyle in Chiang Mai.


At least *somebody* still loves us

This is our neighbour's dog. Every day when I am walking back from the co-working space, or when Neda comes back from yoga, this little guy runs up to greet us, tail wagging happily behind him. It's kind of nice being spotted as a regular in the neighbourhood, even if it's by a dog. There's a hole in the gate that he slips through every day after his owner leaves for work and he always makes sure he slips back in before his owner returns. So funny.

We don't know his name and he wears a different colour bandana every day, so we call him "Bandana". I suggested "Antonio Bandana", but Neda didn't like that one.

One day, he followed us all the way to the mall. I was a bit concerned because I didn't know if he could find his way back home. But the next day, Bandana re-appeared where he always was, outside his house, tail wagging and everything.

We did meet his owner one day. Bandana has a Thai name. We couldn't pronounce it. So we kept on calling him Bandana. Despite Bandana being advanced in age, he was still very well loved and taken care of. I'm so glad, because so many dogs are abandoned after they cease being cute and cuddly toys.

This is an especially bad problem in Thailand. Puppy-breeding is a thriving industry. There's big business in selling fluffy puppies to Thai owners, who then promptly abandon them without a thought on the streets or at the closest temple when they grow out of their cute phase.
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Last edited by lightcycle; 21 Jun 2018 at 18:58.
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  #1924  
Old 21 Jun 2018
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Neda volunteers at a dog shelter called Care For Dogs

Thankfully, there are organizations that take in these stray dogs, house and feed them, and also spay and neuter them to keep the stray population down. Three times a week, Neda rides 20 minutes out of the city to the dog shelter to help take care of the strays housed there.


Hard not to fall in love with a face like that. The puppy is cute too...


OMG! Cuteness overload!!!
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  #1925  
Old 21 Jun 2018
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More volunteers at Care for Dogs

You know those beautiful Instagram pictures of the girl in the pretty dress leading the guy by the hand in exotic locations all over the world? If not, you can Google: "Murad Osmann Follow Me"


Well, this is my version...

The main duty of a volunteer at the dog shelter is to help the dogs burn off excess energy. You need to play with and also take them out for walks. The day I visited, I was allowed to take a couple of the more tamer dogs out. You need to undergo special training to handle the larger, more rambunctious dogs. In fact, just the other day, Neda was taking a couple of boisterous canines out and they yanked on her leash so violently that she tripped and sprained her ankle.

Yep, she messed up the other one now, so it was back to physiotherapy for two sprained ankles... *SMH*


The reward for volunteering. Playing with the puppies!

We talked about the kind of dog we want to get when we settle down and hearing about all these problems with abandoned older dogs in Thailand, we're totally amenable to adopting a senior dog from a shelter. As a first dog, they are easier to take care of, most times they are already house broken and they don't require as much walking.

Neda can't wait! She loves dogs so much.

Here's more information about Care for Dogs in Chiang Mai, if you feel like helping out.
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  #1926  
Old 21 Jun 2018
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Presenting "The Kiss" by Klimt. It's a birthday present for Neda's sister in Italy.

Neda finally finished her cross-stitch. This one took a whole year because we've been traveling so often, there was little time to work on it.


Well underway on her newest cross-stitch project


We're no longer doing a lot of riding, so Neda has retired Ellie, her baby elephant keychain mascot. She's been promoted to pincushion duties now!

I copy our blog entries to a few motorcycle forums on the Internet. On one of them, ADVRider, I received a PM: "Hey, were you guys at Kad Suan Kaew mall in Chiang Mai?!? I could have sworn I just saw you guys there!"

LOL! What a small world!
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  #1927  
Old 21 Jun 2018
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We made plans to meet up with Cleaver for drinks later on, and he brought his friend and business partner Millie along. Turns out they are both Digital Nomads too! *AND* they're both from Toronto as well! Small world, indeed!

Since Yaw and Hélène left, my blog writing efforts have stalled. I still go to Maya, but without people sitting beside me working hard, I just default to watching cat videos on YouTube. So after awhile I just gave up on going to the co-working space. I can watch cat videos in our apartment...


Digital Nomading with Cleaver and Millie. Because I invited myself to their co-working space. The blog is back on track!

We go to Maya sometimes, but they prefer going to a whole bunch of different Internet cafes around the city. I don't mind. I'm getting lots of work done!

Cleaver's also a biker and after this stint in Thailand, he's off to Taiwan to do a scooter tour of the island. Cool!


Our time in Chiang Mai is coming to an end. We are cleaning up the bikes to sell them and getting ready to say good-bye to Thailand and SE Asia

We end up selling the bikes to one of the local rental agencies. No mess, no fuss. If you see them on the road around Chiang Mai, e-mail us and let us know!
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  #1928  
Old 21 Jun 2018
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The countdown has started, ticking down towards the expiry dates on our tourist visas and then we'll have to leave Thailand yet again. We don't know when we'll be back, so it's best to get rid of the bikes now, and if we ever return we can always pick up another couple of bikes for fairly cheap.

So... after three months of rest we do another group huddle: What's the verdict? Go home (wherever that is) or continue motorcycling?

We both agree. I think we're done.

Are we sad? Not really. We've been on the road since 2012 - that's quite a long time. I think when we started out, we had visions of ourselves conquering countries and continents, our rear wheel painting an imaginary red line behind us, blazing a confident path across the globe from north pole to south, lines of longitude falling fast in our wake.

In reality, rather than a smooth, efficient and flowing path, our plotted travels look like they were left by a drunken sailor trying to execute a football play in the middle of a line-dance... and falling asleep a couple of times along the way. The line goes back and forth, doubling back on itself as if that drunken sailor forgot his wallet at the last bar, even criss-crossing itself oh so many times...! Then it skips ahead a continent, then returns and does another weird loop-de-doo...



We often tell people that we have no plan and they never believe us. Then when we show them our route on the map, they tell us, "Wow, you guys have no idea where you're going, do you?"

(I feel it's worked out quite well!)

With that said, we have settled on a plan: after a half-decade on the road, we're finally going to end this motorcycle trip and return to Toronto. But it's still snowing there. It'd be nice to wait out the North American winter somewhere a bit warmer.

"Where's the one place you had really wanted to go on this trip, but we never made it?", I asked Neda. I already knew the answer...
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  #1929  
Old 25 Jun 2018
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I shall miss the moments of glee when an email arrives with your latest blog update notification and sitting down with a coffee and reading of your adventures.

Thank you for spending so much time creating a record of your journey together and for letting us share it vicariously with you. It's introduced me to new places and people and also allowed me to remember my own visits to some of the places you've been.

I hope you'll still occasionally blog with your next adventure in life but I wish you both the very, very best of luck with whatever comes next.


Justin.
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  #1930  
Old 26 Jun 2018
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Thanks both for a doing a great trip and sharing it with us its been inspirational
Enjoy your last few stops before home.
Wishing you both all the best for your future and when is the book and film coming out?





Dave
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  #1931  
Old 3 Jul 2018
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Thanks guys!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benson-1215 View Post
Wishing you both all the best for your future and when is the book and film coming out?
We've been shopping our story to a few networks, Discovery, HBO, Netflix.

Only one has gotten back to us so far...

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  #1932  
Old 7 Jul 2018
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Done too! Know how you feel. It was 6 years since we left Kamloops June 22, 2012! We arrived to the last country of the WWR today in Brunei. We ship from Sabah to KL and then JFK. Maybe you will be in TO when we roll thru on the way to Kamloops? Neda I have even almost finished my cross stitch that I started in May last year! Cheers Sara
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  #1933  
Old 10 Jul 2018
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Updated from Mar 10 2017: Tokyo: Robots, Sushi and... Elvis?



Our flight lines up on its final approach when we see the bright lights of Tokyo gleaming below us. It's 7C outside (OMG COLD!) when we touch down at Haneda International Airport. Ha-Neda. Ha ha! Neda! All throughout the flight I was ribbing Neda whenever the attendant mentioned Ha-Neda. She found it funny the first seven or eight times, but the Ha's quickly FADED away from Ha-Neda...

We're so excited to be in Japan! It's been at the top of our bucket lists since the very beginning of our trip and now we're finally here!

Neda's #1 item on her list was, "See Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan". We are arriving at the tail end of winter, so perfect timing for that!

I'm a bit of a Japanophile, but not in the manga/anime way. I remember watching a Michael Keaton film in the 80s called "Gung Ho" about a Japanese car company executive who is sent to America to help turn around a failing auto company. It was a comedy and the humour was based on the cultural differences between Americans and Japanese.

Ever since then, I've been fascinated with how different Japanese culture is to the west. Everything from their food, their entertainment and their way of thinking. I'm looking forward to seeing and experiencing all these strange, weird and wonderful things first-hand!

I was prepared for Tokyo to be very expensive, but Neda managed to find an AirBnB apartment for $40! And it's surprisingly quite spacious as well! We thought we'd be sleeping in cramped tubes in Japan! LOL!

We're making our temporary home in a north-eastern suburb of Tokyo called Sumida. It looks to be an older neighbourhood, very quiet, about 15 minutes train ride from the downtown core.


Our place is on the fourth floor of a building right next to the Tokyo Skytree tower

In the morning we were awoken to some kind of alarm: PRM-PRM-PRM-PRM-PRM...

What the heck?!? Fire alarm? No, it's coming from outside. I step out onto the balcony. Our apartment is right next to the train crossing. The "alarm" was the warning signal when the barrier comes down to stop traffic from crossing the tracks.

The signal goes off every 15-30 minutes: PRM-PRM-PRM-PRM-PRM.

This is what it sounds like:

<audio controls>
<source src="crossing.mp3" type="audio/mpeg">
Your browser does not support the audio element. Browse to source
</audio>

Hmmm, perhaps this is why it's only $40/night...?[/COLOR]
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  #1934  
Old 10 Jul 2018
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Still, it's a great place! This is our living room. There's also a kitchen/dining room the same size, and a bedroom, also the same size

We've gone from the blistering heat of Thailand to the still-shivering thaw of early spring in Japan. It's sooo cold, we need to crank up the heat in our apartment, even during the days.


Uh oh. All the appliances and remotes are in Japanese!

Fortunately the AirBnB host left us a manual with English translations! Also, there doesn't seem to be a shower, just a really deep tub for one person to sit cross-legged in. Is it just our apartment or do they only take baths in Japan?

Unfortunately, there are no manuals for the toilet! There are a million buttons on the side of the bowl! Which one is the flush button?!?

It's then that I realize that I can actually read a bit of Japanese! I know the Chinese characters for "big" and "small" and Japanese uses the same Kanji characters. Neat! So I quickly locate the buttons for "big flush" and "small flush". Now what do the rest of the other buttons do...?

I press another one and instantly get surprised by a stream of warm water squirting up in my face. Oh.

Somewhere outside, the train crossing laughs at me: PRM-PRM-PRM-PRM-PRM


Yoshinoya! Our new favorite restaurant in Japan!

We want our stay in Japan to be as non-touristy as possible, so I did some digging on where the locals go to shop and eat. Yoshinoya is one of the most popular fast-food chains in the country. It seems like there's one on every street corner, like McDonalds, except that the food is actually healthy. Lots of rice and fish dishes. Delicious and cheap!

Also, you know tourists don't go to Yoshinoya because - no English menu. We spent a long while with the waiter as he translated all the items for us. Also thankful that the menu is all pictures! We're going to have to commit them to memory because I have a feeling we're going to come back to this place over and over again!
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  #1935  
Old 10 Jul 2018
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One thing I read about is Natto. It's a very popular Japanese breakfast dish

Natto is fermented soy beans. My first impressions were: OMG, it smells horrible! Like yeasty old sneakers... And the texture looks like the slime coming out of the creature's mouth in Aliens... and it has a really sharp, fermenty taste. *BLECH*

Japanese people are weird!

But then a funny thing happened. We go to Yoshinoya the next morning and I order natto again. Just to confirm that I really don't like it. This time, I mix in the soya sauce and hot mustard that it comes with.

It's not that bad. We make Yoshinoya our default breakfast place and the next day, I find myself actually looking forward to eating Natto. And shortly after that, we go to the grocery store and pick up a 5-pack of Natto so I can eat it at home as well.

I love natto now!

Japanese people have really good taste in food...

Neda is not so easily convinced. Until I show her all the vitamins and nutrients that are found in fermented soyabeans. Natto is actually a superfood! Very high in Vitamin K.

After hearing that, Neda starts eating natto begrudgingly. She'll do anything if it's healthy...

Neda is weird.


We got ourselves a Pasmo train card! Living like a local!

Everyone wears face masks in Tokyo. At first, I thought it was because of flu season, but after some reading, I found out that they wear these masks year-round. And it's not because they're afraid of *catching* germs. They're all wearing face masks as a courtesy, so they don't spread their *own* germs to other people on the subway or at work.

This was our first important insight into Japanese culture. That all their behaviour is governed by being courteous and thoughtful to the people around them. Tokyo is one of the most crowded cities on Earth. It just makes sense to make the extra effort to try to co-exist and make life easier for your (cramped and close-quarters) neighbour.

How very un-Western like... I like it!


Girls in pretty kimonos on the subway

We're finding a lot of the traditional mixed with the new in Tokyo. There are many women, young and old, wearing the traditional kimono out in public. It's nice to see. We're both liking Japan very much!

Oh, another misconception we had about Tokyo: the subway is not crowded at all. At least not during non-rush hours and outside of the business district. Those videos and pictures of subway attendants shoving people into cars like cattle are only in specific stations in the downtown during peak times.

We never had a problem finding seats on the Tokyo subway station!
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