Here in Bodrum in Turkey we are officially in Asia and apart from a brief foray back into Europe next week (our airbnb in Istanbul is on the European side) the remainder of the journey is largely in (South East) Asia.

Even the guest houses have had their surprises, here in Bodrum the
Even the guest houses have had their surprises, here in Bodrum the “breakfast room” is on the roof with spectacular 360 degree views over the town.

It seemed like a reasonable point in our travels to review how well we are “wearing” relative to our expectations. We did get a bit of comment that we would need a holiday by the time we returned given the busy nature of our itinerary. If I have learned one thing since leaving work, it is that “lists” (and the itinerary was a long list) can make anything look far more daunting than it really is.

Our bags all ready to go the morning we left Kerikeri. We had no spare space at departure which meant anything acquired along the way had to be sent home
Our bags all ready to go the morning we left Kerikeri. We had no spare space at departure which meant anything acquired along the way had to be sent home

Generally, we are “wearing” very well. The only stress we encountered was in the planning phase back in NZ when I was trying to juggle a stressful job, long commutes and planning and booking all at the same time. The effort that you put into the planning is a huge element in making the travels enjoyable. Once into our travels we have not had to rush around trying to arrange transport or accommodation and by booking early we got what we wanted, not what was available.

We find the travel days we are happy to get behind us. Getting between transport terminals and accommodation can have its hassles but again, route planning has taken out a lot of the stress. Unless the distance is too great, we tend to drag our cases on foot, helps to orientate you to your new surroundings and keep our exercise up, they are also the days you look forward to stretching the legs.

Our first bag drag in San Francisco was a chalkenge, unfit and uphill, now Ruth virtually jogs along the road, I expect it to be on her shoulder soon.
Our first bag drag in San Francisco was a challenge, unfit and uphill, now Ruth virtually jogs along the road, I expect it to be on her shoulder soon.
Heat had not been a major problem until Athens. The day we had to make our wat to Pireaus to catch the ferry the heat was intense (around 40c). Grabbing a bit of shade along the way made sense.
Heat had not been a major problem until Athens. The day we had to make our way to Pireaus to catch the ferry the heat was intense (around 40c). Grabbing a bit of shade along the way made sense.

There have been specific “pain points” such as; getting lost in the fog and rain on Cleeve Hill, falling off my bike (mostly physical pain), driving in Crete (terror), equipment failures or loss (Cliff only again), spending an hour and a half trying to send parcels home (Ruth), but with overall stress levels so low these become minor irritants which you can usually end up having a chuckle about.

The
The “pain point” in this case was the rain and low cloud which got progressively worse as the day progressed. We have a “chuckle” about it now but at the time it was not quite so amusing.

We were concerned about living out of a suitcase for such a long period of time. Investing time into deciding what we packed and how we packed it has been invaluable.

Our bags are a very manageable weight (around 11kg for each of our main bags), we have small backpacks as carry-on which double as day packs when on longer hikes. Ruth enjoys browsing the shops and picking up bits and pieces. The length of our trip and our limited bag space has meant that we have had to send parcels home rather than carry it along.

Using packing cells for our clothing has been great, it saves endless hassle trying to repack for each onward journey, it is the best packing invention ever. We did not pack many clothes but had to cover the possibilities of cooler weather in the UK plus biking and hiking. Even so, we were severe on how many individual items of clothing we packed and despite having used every item in the bag, we probably still have more than needed. We have been amazed at how little we can get by on.

The airbnbs often provide most of the comforts of home.
The airbnbs often provide most of the comforts of home.
Enjoying a Rose from the family vineyard across the road from our very relaxing airbnb house in Siva Crete
Enjoying a Rose from the family vineyard across the road from our very relaxing airbnb house in Siva Crete

Traveling with your own private nurse is recommended. It does mean that we are carrying a mobile pharmacy with us (which is another form of travel insurance). On many occasions, Ruth’s attention to likely emergency needs have saved us a bit of grief. She is also rapidly becoming an expert on local laws related to the sale of restricted medicines, what can only be obtained by a visit to a doctor in one country can be purchased “over the counter” at a pharmacy in another, you just need to keep asking, don’t assume universal rules apply.

Budgeting is always a hassle but again, a little planning has helped make that a pretty painless experience. Excel for iPad has been great, we put a detailed budget together before leaving and  check in regularly to see how we are tracking.

On both days we have been in Bodrum we have heard loud music, yesterday a bride was being led along on a donkey, today there was not bride but a camel laden with gifts and a procession of people behind all bearing gifts, some carrying them on their heads, they are wedding processions. They are the moments you don't expect.
On both days we have been in Bodrum we have heard loud music, yesterday a bride was being led along on a donkey, today there was no bride but a camel laden with gifts and a procession of people behind all bearing gifts, some carrying them on their heads. We figured out that these are wedding processions. They are the moments you don’t expect.

Our belief was that for a large part of our trip costs would be similar to NZ give or take a little while South East Asia would be quite a bit cheaper. Where the impact of a falling NZ dollar would have the most impact on the cost of the trip we locked in our costs by prepaying accommodation and, purchased currency which was stored in debit cards. So the bulk of the cost of our trip was fixed before we left. Sure that means we miss out on any currency appreciation but with the NZ dollar being at record high levels at the time we planned, that was unlikely. Besides, we were extremely happy with the exchange rate, if we had not been we probably would not have come away.

Not a tourist attraction but Ruth could not help but take a picture of people getting fish treatment - you put your legs in the tank and they nibble away all that dead skin. Saw them all through the Greek islands.
Not a tourist attraction but Ruth could not help but take a picture of people getting fish treatment – you put your legs in the tank and they nibble away all that dead skin. Saw them all through the Greek islands.

We don’t try to keep track of every purchase, that would drive us insane from spending far too much time “counting the pennies” and not enough enjoying the trip. We set a daily budget for food and incidental costs and draw cash to cover a few days. We keep tabs on our budget tracking by what is left in the wallet compared to what there should be. The credit card only gets used for the larger items such as accommodation. Again, trying to keep track of multiple daily credit card transactions would be stress inducing. If we overshoot our cash spend one day we make up for it over the next few days. If we undershoot, Ruth gets to go shopping.

We have learned to slow down and relax more. You cannot see everything a destination has to offer and that was not really the point of our travels. Experiencing a country and culture rather than seeing things has been our primary goal. A lot of books are getting read despite having clocked up more that 1,200km of walking and over 500km of cycling as well as keeping blog updates going and editing and sorting the many photos that get snapped every day. Unless you keep on top of those your digital photo collection will be more of a shambles that it already is.

This has resulted in fitness levels we have not known for too long. Alas, the weight has been far more determined to stick around and our vision of pencil thin bodies is still just that. The good news is that the weight has not gone up.

It is all very well shooting 15 sunset shots but you need to cull them down to 1. It does take time.
It is all very well shooting 15 sunset shots but you need to cull them down to 1. It does take time and I am not as Ruthless (pun intended) as I should be.

Using airbnb and self catering accommodation is also great for relaxing as you tend to have many of the comforts of home and, it also forces you to go out and shop with the locals, that in itself is an adventure. We have booked mostly hotel accommodation through Asia because it was so cheap, we may come to regret that.

Ruth catches up with some photograph organisation on the terrace of our Pensione in Bodrum
Ruth catches up with some photograph organisation on the terrace of our pension in Bodrum

The destinations themselves have mostly exceeded expectations. We have especially enjoyed the biking and walking adventures but Ruth especially enjoys the shopping adventures. She is getting the hang of sussing out the pricing range  for her preferred purchases from each country so that she does not simply buy the first item viewed only to find it cheaper down the road. Today she was haggling and got the price down by more than 50% which is a promising start for haggling portion of the trip.

This rather delicious shop in Bodrum provides plenty of compliments for our Turkish tea
This rather delicious shop in Bodrum provides plenty of compliments for our Turkish tea. Not good for the pencil like body ambitions though.

But with time moving on we are starting to think about our return to New Zealand. The last 14 weeks have flown by so it won’t be long until we make that final leg to Auckland in December.

When we planned the trip we started softly by slowly moving a little further out of our comfort zone as we tracked east. It is pretty much working out that way. Perhaps the remainder of the trip will see a little more stress as we move onto more challenging destinations. Ruth is our linguist, she converses with anyone in any language. It can look a bit like an albatross on take off but it seems to work. For me, I can understand Greeks or Turks easier than Scots but then I usually have little idea of what anyone is saying to me.

We got to relax in some very special places and meet some of the locals as well
We got to relax in some very special places and meet some of the locals as well
We have enjoyed the ability to relax even after a long day on foot. This time it was in
We have enjoyed the ability to relax even after a long day on foot. This time it was in “Cold Ashton”

6 comments

  1. Cliff thanks so much for this travel log, have I missed any other ones!! You are very talented and clever with writing! and I feel part of the journey. Ruth is the biggest treasure isn’t she! xxx love steph

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    1. Hi Steph
      There are plenty there if you go to the home page of the blog. Ruth is very brave, we have just stumbled through Istanbul in the dark to find our airbnb. She is the best.

      Cheers
      Cliff & Ruth

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  2. Cliff & Ruth. You are having a great adventure, Loving your blog. We both have fond memories of Turkey. Travel safe. Best wishes Peter & Jenny.

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    1. Peter
      Great hear from you, we don’t have a lot of time in Turkey, really more of a stopover, enjoyed Bodrum and spending the rest of the week in Istanbul. We are coming through Aus for a couple of weeks on the way home, Ruth’s son is getting married in Melbourne.

      All the best to you both.

      Cheers
      Cliff & Ruth

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  3. We really enjoyed getting the details of expectations vs reality. Somewhere we read that most of a trip’s enjoyment comes in the planning. Would we go that far? Maybe not, but great planning for what you want to see and do on a trip, combined with enough knowledge to know you’ve chosen well, and planning for the money to cover it all wrap up to a great start. And since you managed to accomplish all of those (very well indeed) in your planning – then taking the trip has little stress and a lot of enjoyment! Bravo for a job well done in the planning – and knowing wisely to savor all the good and fine little moments of the trip. You both look like a traveling life agrees with you.

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    1. Even a well documented plan can have it’s hic-cups. I reviewed my plan after the first round of bookings and found a couple of gltches, easily fixed and I could rest being assured that it was bullet proof. We were sitting at Bodrum airport yesterday and Ruth asked how long are we in Istanbul (she likes it all to be a surprise). Five nights I said, checked the airbnb booking to confirm that, depart on Saturday! Hang on I am syre our flight to Bangkok leaves on Friday night. I had “Istanbul” as our location for the night rather than a “transit”. Fortunately it did not effect any other bookings, annoying that I had not picked it up earlier but at least we clarified which activity is correct and will be in the right place at the right time.

      Liked by 1 person

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