Annie and Jon left corporate America to do some world traveling. This blog chronicles their unconventional path and hopefully provides a little inspiration along the way.

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Entries in Lifestyle (11)


kindness without boundaries

The Principles of Thai Cookery from Jon Carr on Vimeo.

Chef McDang and I first met at the California Culinary Academy (CCA) two years ago. The Royal Thai Consulate General in Los Angeles contacted CCA about an opportunity to have a Thai chef come for a week to conduct lectures and demos about Thai cookery. At the end of the week, the students participated in a competition cooking Pad Thai where the winners won a one-week all expenses paid culinary trip hosted by the Thai chef compliments of the Royal Thai Consulate General office. How can any school turn down that kind of an offer?!

I didn’t know what to expect of the Thai chef and just hoped he spoke English well enough for our students to understand him. He showed up promptly at 9am on the first day with his entourage of four sous chefs and said with a British-American twang something along the lines of, “show me my kitchen and I’ll take care of everything else.” From that moment I knew he was going to be a lot of fun.

Click to read more ...


dazed and confused

When we arrived in Ubud, Suma, our host at the home stay picked us up at the bus stop. It was a quick ten minute drive to our home stay through the center of town. We then drove up an unpaved driveway and Suma told us we would need to walk the rest of the way. The rest of the path is not big enough for a car. Both Jon and I looked at each other with uncertainty. A guy came on his motorcycle to take our suitcases. He was trying to balance both suitcases and looked as if he was going to tip over. He didn't say a word to us and off he went. Suma said he had to park the car and we should go on ahead and follow the path. It should take us only five minutes to reach our home stay. Without another word Suma also took off leaving Jon and I dazed and confused about what was happening. Where are we?!

We followed the narrow footpath as instructed and not before long we were among acres of rice paddies. There were no signs indicating where our home stay was or that we were even in the right place. We kept walking until we came across an art studio. The artist must see the same confused facial expression everyday. Actually we later noticed that there is a sign for Sawah at the junction. It is small and a bit faded with an arrow pointing right. He asked if we were staying at the Sawah Sunrise Bed and Breakfast. We nodded our heads and he told us where to go. We saw a traditional Balinese house that was really nicely kept. I remember saying to Jon that’s a pretty place. After a few more meters we saw the man who had our suitcases and we were pleasantly surprised the house we just saw was our home stay. We walked in and were shown to our room.

There are a total of four rooms and we were staying on the top floor. The window in our room overlooked the rice paddies and we could see a farmer working. He was literally right next door to us. We put our stuff down and plopped on the bed with a big sigh. We made it!

A few minutes later the guy who carried our suitcases brought us a refreshing lime juice. We found out his name is Nyoman (because he’s the third child in his family) and he’s a bit shy but once you start probing him with questions he’s happy to talk. His English is pretty good and everyday he learns a new word in the dictionary. He is honest and straightforward with his answers. One day we asked him about arak, which is a hard liquor Balinese men drink (women aren’t supposed to drink since it’s considered unlady). He told us to be careful because people have gone blind from it though I think it’s probably from over consumption. Nonetheless he gave us all the warnings of arak. We have come to really like Nyoman and become good friends with him.

Over the next few days while we have been at Sawah we noticed that everyone first walks in with the same dazed expression. They are not quite sure where they are. We have greeted many of them while relaxing at the bamboo gazebo on the front lawn. I have realized all that we are looking for sometimes is that reassurance that we are in the right place. Especially if you have never visited an area such as Bali you are just not sure what is happening. You are warned that you should never leave your luggage with someone else. Rationally we know that nothing is going to happen but just to have a nod and smile from another tourist allows you to relax your shoulders and exhale. And then you come to realize what an amazing place Sawah is.

We have really enjoyed our first home stay experience. Suma, his wife, and Nyoman made every effort to ensure our stay was relaxing and enjoyable. Sawah was small and quaint and the scenery was beautiful. You open your window in the morning to the sounds of rooster croaking and see rice paddies, rows and rows of coconut trees, and ducks swimming in the paddies. You can’t believe how far away from home you are and what you are experiencing. You try to take it all in.


new australian vocabulary

I have been working on perfecting my Australian accent over the last month. I am getting better and even had a bartender in a pub tell me I had an Australian accent. This has been an activity I have been working on from my early days of enjoying many late night Crocodile Hunter marathons. Cricky!

Here is a list of our favorite words and phrases we have picked up on our Australian travels. Remember when using them to embrace your inner Paul Hogan. 

  • Boot - in Australia this is what they call the trunk of the car.
  • Good on ya - meaning well done, good for you.
  • How ya going? - one of my favorites, the translation is how are you doing?
  • Good as gold - this would translate to “that is classic.”
  • No worries - this has gained increasing popularity in the US over the years but is claimed by Australia. The translation is don’t worry about it.
  • Brekky - breakfast in Australia. 
  • Take the piss out of someone - this is to make fun of your mate. 
  • Budgie smugglers - a speedo swimsuit.
  • Bogan - redneck without guns.
  • Bush - dry wilderness.
  • Woop Woop - out in the bush. “It is out in the woop woop.”
  • Esky - ice cooler.
  • Bugger/Stuffed up - this means you missed up.
  • Hey - they use this instead of “what”, when something isn’t heard. 
  • Bikkie - cookie or biscuit.
  • Smoko - morning tea.
  • Arbo - afternoon.
  • Winger(winja) - complainer. 
  • Rangar - this one is a little mean but I am told pretty common. It refers to a red head like a orangoutang.
  • Pisser - to get drunk.
  • Tracky Dacs - sweat pants.
  • Thongs/pluggers/jandels - flip flops.
  • Ta - thanks. 
  • Jumper - sweater.
  • Singlet - tank top.
  • Crook - feeling sick. 
  • Heaps - this is the most common and we have started using it quite a bit. You substitute heaps for a lot. For instance, Annie and I are spending heaps of money on this trip.

We have many others but we are trying to keep things PG rated. We hope you enjoy and incorporate a few into your daily conversations. 


*top ten reasons for traveling the world

We have to put an asterisk next to this list because we didn’t actually write it. Before we left, we had a wonderful going away party and two of our long time friends gave us some T-shirts with the top ten reasons we were traveling the world. We thought we would share this list with everyone because it is pretty funny. A lot of the comments were inside jokes and so I have included a brief explanation as well. Thanks Greg Mihon and John Ragunas.

10 - Cow Hollow just doesn’t feel “exotic” anymore (Cow Hollow is the neighborhood of San Francisco Jon and Annie lived in.)

9 - Annie is sooo tired of those annual trips to Michigan to visit Jon’s mom (Annie confirms this just isn’t true, sorry Mary!)

8 - Jon won a bowling scholarship to the University of Katmandu - by sending a picture of all his trophies (Jon did win a few bowling titles with the Golden Gate Sport and Social Club, he is not ashamed to admit it.)

7 - Due to favorable time change, 5:00am bootcamp actually meets at 4:00pm in India (Jon was a bootcamp instructor for the past year and they met at 6:00am each morning.)

6 - Annie’s tap dancing career never truly panned out (Annie was looking for a hobby in ’09 and gave tap dancing a try with a few friends, she has since moved on to bigger and better things.)

5 - To start up a GGSSC tennis league in Rangoon - Jon figures to have a better chance of winning his long sought-after tennis title against malnourished locals in rural southeast Asia (Jon is still seeking his first Golden Gate Sport and Social tennis title after many seasons.)

4 - Jon wants to show off his new physique to the young girls of Bangkok (Jon did lose a good amount of weight in ’09 only to put most of it back on due to the stress leading up to the departure of this trip.)

3 - Italians want a slice of Jon’s pizza pie! (Jon spent the last four years working for Grande Cheese, the company specialized in manufacturing the best mozzarella in the US and was favored by many high end pizzerias.)

2 - Jon hopes change of scenery will distract Annie from those silly notions about “marriage” and “children” (Need I say more)

1 - Selling cheese for a living sucks! (Not true, I really enjoyed my time with Grande)

Feel free to add anything they missed in the comments section.


our routine

Even while traveling we have settled into a routine. Jon usually gets up when there’s light out. We don’t have a watch so it’s hard to tell what time it is. It’s nice to have him wake up first because that leaves me to stretch out on our camper bed, which is a full size bed. We’ll have breakfast consisting mostly of cereal and toast with peanut butter or nutella (my favorite) though Jon has made an occasional egg and cheese bagel sandwich, which is a real treat. Our camper is pretty well equipped with a toaster, kettle, single burning stove, refrigerator, and pump sink. 

We take turns showering so someone can always watch the camper though we now have gotten less paranoid and usually there’s not many campers around. We aren’t sure why but our normal time of heading the road is 10:00am. We are working on leaving by 9:00am. We try to map out our road in the morning and what town we like to end the day in so we have an idea how far we have to drive. We try not to drive more than 200km a day since it starts weary on us to be in the car for so long. But sometimes we get side tracked because someone tells us a cool spot to check out or we are too tired of driving so we’ll find the closest campsite.

Jon drives in the morning and when he starts feeling tired usually after lunch I’ll take over the car. We have found these great salad packets that come with lentils, sprout beans, and peas, which are delicious and filling for lunch. Or we’ll make sandwiches. 

We usually try to get to a campsite by 5:00 or 6:00pm so we can set up shop for dinner. We have eaten out only a few times. Our home cooked meals have been pretty simple but nutritious: pasta, stir fry, tacos, grilled chicken, etc. The fridge is big enough where we can store about 2-3 days of food so we are always getting fresh produce. 

All of the campsites have power sites so we can plug in our camper to recharge the fridge and anything else we need like our laptop. They also have a community kitchen, sometimes with an outdoor grill, hot showers, laundry facilities, and other amenities so it’s quite convenient. Most of the sites we have been to are very clean and well equipped since they are cleaned daily. And the campers also do a good job in maintaining their own area so you never see any trash around. Jon also bought a screen mesh to put on our car window so we can open the window without bugs invading our camper since it can get pretty stuffy at night.

After dinner we get ready for bed and are in the camper bed by 8:30pm or so. We’ll read, play scrabble, look at videos/pictures from the day, or check email. And it’s off to bed by 10:00pm.  

Pretty hard life.


hitting a speed bump

It had been 17 days and 13 hours when Jon and I hit our first bump in the road. We were leaving Taihape after visiting Gumboot Day, which only comes around every two years. Since it was getting close to dinner time we were looking for a campsite to stay for the night. I was driving and the winds were really picking up. When a big truck would pass us on the opposite side of the road, our hippie van would rock back and forth as if we were going to tip over. I was a little nervous about the wind but also anxious to get to a site for some dinner so I was driving pretty aggressively. 

We had been driving 200 - 300 kilometers each day, which can be quite a bit considering you are doing it day in and day out. We had enough. I was stressed and tired from the drive since I can’t reach the pedal comfortably and my shoulders get tense. Jon was feeling queasy from my crazy driving and exhausted from being cooped up in the van.

To make matters worse, we played scrabble that night to pass the time and it didn’t go so well. Jon had been winning all the games while we were in Fiji but New Zealand was my territory. Needless to say, we went to bed that night in our cozy full-size bed feeling each other’s cold shoulder.

The next morning when we woke up I told Jon we just passed our first bump. He laughed and asked if that was what it was. We agreed for our sanity that we would stay in a hotel that night in Wellington before we boarded the ferry to the south island.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to have cold and hot water coming out of the same pipe in the sink and to not have to carry my clothes and shampoo when I showered. Plus, Jon got to use the internet for free and they had unlimited usage! You can bet we were downloading stuff all night. It’s really the little comforts of life that we miss.

I’m glad we passed our first but certainly not last speed bump and now know what to look out for on our path. I think next time we’ll just go around the speed bump and stay at a hotel. We’ve also switched to reading more and playing cards.

Speed limit: you define it as you go along.


hippie camper

Hippie Camper from Jon Carr on Vimeo.

A quick behind the scenes tour of our wheels and accommodations in New Zealand.


fiji time

It is our last day in Fiji. I am currently watching the sunrise from the beach, which is only a few feet away from our bure. Fiji is the first stop in our unmapped adventure and it is a bit surreal. I feel like I will be returning from vacation and back to work shortly. Instead, we are off to New Zealand tonight for our 18-day camper van excursion. 

Fiji is a beautiful place. The people are incredible, always smiling. Bula is Fijian for hello and whenever you encounter a Fijian they give you a warm welcome and a big smile. Things move pretty slowly around here and it can be attributed to "Fiji time." Annie and I definitely feel it. It is probably a combination of humidity and an influence from the natives but we are moving very leisurely these days. My day consists of three meals, three naps, and a little poolside scrabble. 

I think Fiji was an important first stop for us to unplug after a grueling February of boxing up our lives. I initially had the urge to check email every half hour but Comcast solved that problem. Since I am no longer a paying customer, I lost my primary Comcast email address. It feels a little strange being so unplugged with my phone number shut off and losing my email but also a little empowering at the same time. 

One of the main things I will take away from Fiji is something we learned when we attended the Fijian history talk at our resort, Treasure Island. In Fiji, the natives have a practice of letting everything go from the day every sunset. If something happened or someone wronged them on any level, they forgive and forget by sunset. At sunrise, it's a fresh start each day. It think it is a great philosophy and something I will work to put into practice a little more in my own life. The people are always smiling and so friendly and I'm sure this can be partly attributed to their sunrise philosophy. 

On a final note, we have had a really positive response to the blog and we encourage and appreciate everyone's comments. It makes us feel connected to friends and family. I am sure there will be a little homesickness on the trip so keep the comments coming. 

All for now. I am headed back to our bure. The very short walk will probably take much longer than expected. "Fiji Time."


we heart sf

It was a mad dash to wrap things up on Sunday. We didn't have the chance to process we were leaving our San Francisco. Not forever but at least for a good little while.  We feel fortunate to be living and working in the city as it has become our home. We have our weekend routine of lining up at the Whole Foods parking lot vying for a coveted parking spot, ordering take out from our closest Chinese restaurant, Hunan Empire, which I have been trying to cultivate a friendship with for the last year and they have yet to recognize me as a regular, and walking to Le Boulange on Union Street.

We are not sure where we will move to when we return to the states but San Francisco is certainly one of the top choices. It is expensive to live there but that 7x7 piece of land has all the charm and class we are looking for.

tbc sf...we'll see you soon. 


the real housewife of san francisco

This past week I got a little taste of what it was like to be a housewife. My last day at my job was last Friday so I have officially been out of a job for a week and one day. I chose to quit my job so I guess there's a bit of a difference. Jon is wrapping up some video projects so I've been busy packing up our apartment and prepping for our trip. This housewife stuff isn't all fun and games. I have found that it's easy to wear the same clothes day in and day out and then all of a sudden realize you haven't showered. My excuse is that I'm getting mentally prepared for our trip since we are each only taking two carry-ons. But it might be due to fact that I have packed up all my clothes already and left very little to be worn. I have my glasses on rather than contacts and my hair is in pigtails, which Jon says makes me look like Pocahontas.  

Also the days just fly by. I am up by 7:30am everyday and before I know it lunchtime is here. We've had sandwiches all last week since I'm trying to use up everything in our fridge. And then it's 5pm so I better start thinking about dinner. I lose track of what day it is and hardly talk to anyone since everyone is at work. I do miss the people interaction so I'm glued to my email and facebook. Now I know what Jon means when he says he gets a little stir crazy when he works from home all day and doesn't leave the house.

When I told Jon I might not be cut out for being a housewife he was glad to hear that we will continue to be a DIF (double income family). I guess I have to put things in perspective considering it's only been one week and technically I'm not even really a housewife. My version of a housewife could be distorted.

For all the housewives out there, I have a new found respect for what you do so don't ever let anyone tell you being a housewife isn't a full-time job. Looking back, helping a student reenter is a piece of cake.