Thursday, June 27, 2013

What Really Matters

As we get older, we realize that the only things that we need in life, are those that we love. The relationships that we build, the memories that we share – nothing else really matters.


I woke up the other morning and picked up my cell phone and went through the usual routine: check emails, read texts, scroll through my news feed on Facebook... I read that my wonderful friend Gabriela's mother passed away. It's times like that when you wish that you were closer to your loved ones. You want to be able to hold them and tell them that you love them. No beautiful beach, or incredible hike can replace the ache that you feel when you're so far away. Lucky for us, technology makes the distance a little less painful and I was able to call her and tell her I loved her. Just hearing the sound of her voice made me feel just a little bit closer.


Kurt's first blog post was explaining why he decided to quit his job and move across the world. We share the same vision in that we really believe that life is too short not to take chances. We didn't want to wake up one day and say "I wish I had.....". I am really proud of the two of us for making the change and following through. I dedicate this post to Gabriela and her family to always help remind us what really matters. Spend time with the ones that you love, tell them that you love them and never take any time you have for granted.

I have a great partner. Traveling with someone is never easy. Moving across the world with someone is never easy. Language barriers, culture shock, the humidity, heat exhaustion are just some things that we face every day. I am thankful for the man who shows me so much patience day in and day out. There have been some very stressful times during this move and it is nice to know that I have Kurt to figure things out with. I wanted everyone to know that he is adapting to this "life" with so much grace and humility that it inspires me. It isn't easy to be the one who doesn't speak the language but he manages to always stay positive.

The reason for the post is to express that no matter how exciting this adventure is, and how many great things we are experiencing - we keep in mind what really matters. We think of our friends and families back home and remind ourselves that we couldn't do this forever. That ultimately, our relationships are the only "real" things in this life. In Kurt's nature, i'll put a positive spin on this and share some fun pictures from this past week.

One of the perks of quitting your corporate job? You dont have to shave! We're talking about Kurt here - not me. This is right after he shaved off his chops. Yes, he had sideburns, but we decided they had to go. Mustache and goatee are still in the running, so we will have to wait and see who makes it to the finals.

(KURT EXPERIMENTS HIS WITH FACIAL HAIR)

Below is a photo of a worker sleeping in the luggage compartment of a travel bus. Please note that we are traveling on the FREEWAY. Yes - we are fully aware that Indonesia has no rules, that are followed at least.
(WORKER TAKING A SNOOZE ON THE FREEWAY)
All of my friends and family know that i am quite the workout junkie. My main drug of choice is CrossFit. I have been extremely lucky because the only box (CrossFit lingo for gym) is owned by an old friend of mine from middle school! This photo was taken after an exceptionally tough "WOD" (workout of the day). I feel very fortunate that my partner shares the same passion for fitness and health as i do. Some may call us crazy, but im OK with that as long as we're crazy together :)

(US AFTER A REALLY, REALLY TOUGH WORKOUT!)

This last picture i have posted is of my friend Gabriela Cadena and I in Seattle last year. I wanted to share a little story about how i met this lovely lady. Sometimes i feel that we are able to detach ourselves from a story because we dont know or cant relate to the face. I wanted to share a little bit about our friendship so that it becomes real for you.When i first moved to the US, i worked at "The Mix" ice cream store in the University area. One lovely night, a beautiful girl and her siblings and some friends came in. I was so love struck by their genuine friendliness that i gave them all free ice cream! That was 8 years ago. I have always felt a close connection to Gabriela because of her free spirit and the closeness she shares with her family. I have been lucky enough to get to know siblings Jacob, Carlos and Elena throughout the years we've been friends. The closeness they share is something that i have always admired. I cant count the times this girl has moved cities, apartments and houses - but we've always managed to keep in contact. I just wanted to put a face to a name so that you can pray for her Mama and send her all the love she needs to get through this hard time. Love you Gubs! <3
                                       
(GABRIELA & I IN SEATTLE, WA 2012)

Keep those that you love close to you.

All my love,

Estelle



Monday, June 24, 2013

Hey, Give Me My Money!

An Inconvenient Challenge…
Estelle asked me what my next blog was going to be about and I thought about it for a moment and then it came to me. I really needed to share my issues that I experienced while trying to access MY cash to pay for rent. I know that this may not be as exciting as sharing our experiences about learning how to ride scooters or our new hangouts, etc. But for me this became not only uber frustrating but actually quite hilarious.

A Little Bit About Renting a House in Bali
It is no secret that one of the major reasons we came to Bali was for the affordable living. Renting a decent place for a few thousand USD dollars a year was possible. It is also quite possible to pay tens of thousands of dollars or more! With that said, instead of paying monthly and paying a damage deposit here - you pay for an entire year... UP FRONT.  After spending several days trying to locate a house (e.g. looking online, calling agents, etc.) I found that the methods of back home just don’t work here. In Bali, it’s all about asking locals because someone knows someone that knows someone that is renting a house. Oh, and of course literally driving through neighborhoods and looking for “House for Rent” signs. Somehow, some way we scored a nice, modern, gated house, in a very nice part of town with clean streets and is actually quiet…SCORE!

The Deal
The house ended up costing more than we had budgeted for but we were both glad to have found a pad so central. Next came paying for it. Estelle was smart and brought a bit of cash with her and so she was able to stop at one of the million “ Money Changers” here to exchange her share of rent for the year in Rupiah. And Mr. Kurt, well I thought that I could do a simple transfer from Capital 360 or Bank of America directly to the owners account. Oops…

And Now It Begins
Okay, got the owners account information, now I just need to go to a cafĂ© and do an online bank transfer. 
  • That’s not good…I login and realize that I can’t do a simple transfer from my Capital 360 since our landlord doesn't have a US bank account.
  • Okay, well how about B of A ? I login and see that there is a way to do it but I need this “Safe Pass”- so I attempt to get this but realize it needs to text me some code. Unfortunately I don’t have a US Phone number anymore - so I can’t. I try to call the bank but of course they are closed (it’s like 2AM their time). However, I do see that I can wire $1,000, so I decide to at least do that so i can give the landlord some cash!
  • Transaction complete…then I realized that it just cost me $45 to wire that. Ouch. I definitely don’t want to do that a few more times if I can help it!
  • Next day - we see the landlord and we agree to pay him daily via cash that i would pull out from the ATM. Over the next 6 days, I would go to ATM and max out what I was allowed with my Capital 360 card since they are kind enough to not charge me a transaction fee. (Note: There was no way I was going to use BofA – they charged me ridiculous fees).
(THESE ARE SOME OF THE PAPER DEPOSIT SLIPS I GOT FOR MY MANY TRIPS TO THE LANDLORDS OFFICE. NOTE THE ONE ON AN ACTUAL ENVELOPE)

  • You think that was bad - hear this. Along the way, my cards (both bank accounts) were suspended at least a couple of times, my online banking account was frozen for a few days, oh and my Capital 360 card got used so much it actually stopped working. Thank goodness I was able to shine it up a little bit and it now works just fine! Apparently sticking it in an ATM machine 5 times a day will wear out your card. (Each ATM has a limit to withdraw per transaction of about 1-3 million Rupiah. This meant that i was sticking my card into the ATM at least 4 times a day, for 6 days straight. Once I would get the money, I would stuff my board shorts with up to RP.10 Mil which can take up quite a bit of space. Estelle and I would then have to navigate through the craziness of downtown Kuta traffic to got to the landlords business office. He has a sprawling business (all in one big building) filled with a silver store, a general store, a pharmacy, a doctor's office, and a hostel! It became routine to go upstairs and hand over the cash to the accountants and they would literally triple count the money. I would then receive a receipt of what i had paid and what the remaining balance was. I really felt like a drug dealer going to my mafia boss to pay my dues or something…it was pretty cool J


I have never been in a situation like that before where I was in debt to someone and even though I had the means to pay them, I couldn’t. It was a very frustrating experience, but a good lesson learned when traveling abroad!

But I’ll tell ya - it felt great to finally make that last payment!

Cheers!

Kurt “The White Shaq”
(my new nickname at the gym)

  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Always Hydrate.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! We were warned by many friends here in Bali that we must hydrate three times more than we would normally back home. Those of you who know me well, know that i am HORRIBLE at drinking enough water. In order to save myself from passing out on the side of the street, i have created a little game for Kurt and i. If you come and visit us - you are more than welcome to join in! Chugging cold water is not as easy as it may seem :) Here is a video of our first game - we hope to post more in the future where we are able to finish a whole bottle in 30 seconds ;) The things we do when we are unemployed. ENJOY!



             
                     (KURT AND ESTELLE COMPETE IN WATER CHUGGING COMPETITION)

No need to worry about us folks! We are keeping ourselves extremely hydrated :)

More soon. Love, Stel

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Cari Rumah! (House Hunting!)

Welcome to paradise! Or Mexico city. I might have made a booboo and booked our first hotel in the armpit of Bali - Denpasar. In my defense, our main priority was that the hotel had a gym and we didn't have many options! This wasn't exactly the "peaceful island living" we had hoped for - but we made it work :) Kurt, being the great sport that he is, held my hand in the chaos that is Denpasar.
We have a video to show you how ridiculous the street was infront of our hotel. Thanks to Kurt for risking his life aimlessly for the purpose of your entertainment.



We booked our hotel for 7 nights with the mad notion that we would be able to move across the world, find potential housing, look at them all and rent one out. Well, turns out we aren't that crazy! We have officially moved into a place! After living out of a suitcase for almost two months now, i am so happy to have a place to call home. Lucky for me, it just happens to be in paradise :)

Now, just because we were able to rent a house in one week does not mean that it was a piece of cake. It was actually the biggest pain in the ass i've ever experienced! We found a very patient Balinese driver to drive us down every single gang (street) in southern Bali. You see, renting a house here isn't as easy as jumping on Craigstlist and making a few calls. You literally have to drive down every road and look for these chicken-scratch signs that might as well be freeway markers in Vancouver, B.C! (For those of you who havent experienced the poor signage in Vancouver - the Canadians apparently have superior eye sight to those across the border.

We explored Nusa Dua, Canggu, Seminyak, Denpasar, Uluwatu, Bukit, Umalas and landed in Petitenget (Puh - Tee - Tung - Et). Unfortunately for Kurt, the area we settled in is the hardest to pronounce. We have decided to just call it P Town. The battle between "small, expensive housing in an awesome area" and "too big of a house for two people but damn it's cool to live like a King" began. I remember sitting in the car with Kurt and he was muttering "location, location, location" to himself as he debated which was more important. We decided that location trumps. We now live in the heart of the action where we can walk to anything and everything you could ever want. I am close to a CrossFit box and Kurt is down the street from the beach - a great compromise.

Below is a photo of us with some of our money we paid to our landlord! Kurt loves to say "im just going to pull out a couple mil (one mil is $100) when we stop at the ATM. My little millionaire.

(EXCITED TO BE RUPIAH MILLIONAIRES FOR ABOUT 20 MINUTES)

Here are some photos from the move! The house came furnished but lucky for us, our landlord happens to own some hostels and a hotel and had some "extra" stuff we could borrow!

(OUR FURNITURE BEING DROPPED OFF BY OUR LANDLORD'S HELPERS)

(OUR KITCHEN - WE HAVE YET TO COOK IN HERE YET!)

(EXHAUSTED FROM MANY, MANY HOURS OF SEARCHING FOR A HOUSE)

(OUR LIVING ROOM)


We feel like we are almost settled with a few things left to sort out. We do not have internet at home yet (much more complicated than calling Comcast - if that is even possible) and we need to find a good water delivery service so that we can have drinking water at home :)

But it is 11AM in paradise, and that means it is time to hit the beach!

All my love,

Stel

Initial Adventures Abroad!

This has been quite a ride for me...As someone that grew up, went to school in, and worked for 9 years in the same state and general area, I knew that this was going to be a big change for me.

After the flight over here (Seattle > Vancouver, BC > Hong Kong > Bali) all of my expectations collided with reality. I had been to Thailand in the past but it was quite a shock for my system - that's for sure!

So this is Bali? Hello Denpasar.
We stayed the first week in Denpasar, which is the most populous city in Bali and absolutely nuts (from my Seattle perspective) - there was so much traffic that you literally needed a security guard to cross the street (think crossing guard for school - but less formal and across bustling streets). Riding in a cab, I couldn't believe how close they would get to the other cars and scooters (which are everywhere!). As far as lanes go...they are just for decoration. A 2 lane road has at least 4 vehicles inclusive of other cars and scooters.

But for all of the craziness of Denpasar - it has a lot of restaurants, shops, and oh yes...Massage Spas! Within the first week I may have received 3 full body massages, 1 pedicure,  a foot massage, and 1 ear candle massage! The best part is nothing cost over $9 USD! Now that's what I call living!


(HAD THE "EAR CANDLE" TO GET THAT EAR WAX OUT! IT WAS... INTERESTING.)


Getting out of Denpasar...

We cabbed it out of Denpasar further in land to Ubud, which is known to be a more spiritual/hippy type place. Which we obviously loved! There were so many awesome restaurants, cafes, shops, and oh yes, a Monkey Forest! 

Literally a forest that is filled with Monkeys! It was honestly a little freaky - you kind of got the sense that all of these monkeys would do whatever they damned well pleased. We just walked to the entrance and took some photos and that was it...


(Monkey King in Ubud)

In Ubud , we also checked out a Kecak Dance...they call it the Monkey Chant. Here is a video to give you an idea. Quite an experience.



Back in Kuta (next to Denpasar) one of the highlights was that we found this "all you can eat and drink" BBQ for $5! And it was good too! 

($5 FOR ALL YOU CAN EAT AND DRINK = AWESOME)


Okay, well gotta run! More updates to follow!

Cheers,
Kurt

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Countdown Till Departure

Okay, Kauai was a truly amazing experience and I am so very glad and fortunate that I was able to spend the 10 days in paradise. But, I gotta say...I paid for it dearly.

Dearest family and friends, you know how I roll. I love to wait to the absolute last minute for most things and packing for a one year "vacation" gives me no reason to alter my behavior ;)

I wanted to let you into the craziness, and so I put together this little timeline of the 36 or so hours once I got back from Hawaii and then left for Bali. Brace yourself.


June 2nd, 2013
  • 10pm: Arrive in Seattle from Kaua'i
  • 10:30 pm - Midnight: Spend time with Estelle's Mom Ami, sister Riani, friend Andy, and sifted through our stuff.
June 3rd, 2013: THE MAD SCRAMBLE BEGINS...
  • 8am - 9am: Last workout at 24 hour fitness :( I had to cancel my membership since they don't have any locations in Bali.
  • 10am - 10:30am: Went to my Post Office and closed down my PO Box and returned my key; sprinted to Fred Meyers to grab some key chains and moisture absorbents for our storage unit.
  • 10:30am-11am: Ate breakfast with Estelle and her mom
  • 11am - 2pm: Packed all the rest of the items that we weren't taking with us in Estelle's van (my girlfriend happens to drive a 12 passenger van for those who dont know!) drove from Seattle to Bothell to my storage unit and played the ultimate game of storage tetris...took a few tries but we finally made it all fit one way or another; FOUND my roomate Ian's box that was accidentally taken on the last storage trip (oops...); dropped off some things for my buddy Dan at his house in Edmonds; went back to Estelle's and grabbed my car.
  • 2pm - 3:30pm: Stopped at my old house and returned Ian's box (he was most grateful!); grabbed several bags of trash that I had left at house and put them in my car; caught up with the old roomies for a moment
  • 3:30 - 4:30pm: operation clean car and trash drop. Took my car to one of those you clean yourself establishments. $15 later it was washed and vacuumed. Oh,  on the way there found a dumpster to throw those 7 bags of trash from my old room.
  • 4:30 - 7pm. Oh crap, I needed to go to my new PO Box in Renton to pick up a couple packages but there was no way to get there by 5pm before they closed. BUT, my awesome sister came to the rescue! She was able to stop by before our dinner - love u Stephy!
    • Dinner at Mexican Restaurant. Met my sis, her son Malakai, and my step dad Pat for a going away meal. Awesome.
  • 7PM - 8:30PM: Had to see my Grandma! Made impromptu trip to my grandma Hynes - truly one of those awesome heart to heart moments that reinforced why I love my grandmama so much! (I didn't shed too many tears)
  • 9PM - 10:30PM: Impromptu visit to see my buddy Kevin. How lucky am I that my friend Kevin just happened to be in the area! He is in the military and lives in San Diego. Again, great visit and another heart-to-heart session! He is headed to Afghanistan so I feel so fortunate to have seen him before he leaves.
(My buddy Kevin and his 2 beautiful daughters)

  • 11pm - LATE! Crap it's late and I am not done packing! Get back to Estelle's moms and its now on to knock out this packing! Spent the rest of night packing and weighing the bags as best we could...wow. Here is a lovely photo of me at 1 am the night before we leave....
(Approximately 1 AM the night before our flight to Bali)
JUNE 4th.. GAME TIME!

  • 6am - 9am: 
  • Wake up - judgment day is here!
  • Quick shower, last bit of packing - then load time! How is this all going to fit exactly? Somehow it all worked.
  • We are running late! We hustle to my dads and transfer all our luggage into my dads truck. Wonderful step mom, Laurie offered to drive us to the airport!
(Full car load!) 

  • Get to the airport, checked in and then spent the next 30 minutes transferring things from bag to bag so that all 5 of our checked bags were under 50lbs. Somehow we made it work! Awesome!
  • Grab some food and then I hear a "Kurt!" And see my old buddy Con! How's that for a good omen! 
  • (My good friend, Con at SeaTac airport)
  • Then before we know it - on the plane and on our way flying across the Pacific! 


Im out of breath from writing all that - so more later!

Cheers,

Kurt



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

We Embark To Jurrasic Park!

You're going where before Bali? Hawaii. We convinced ourselves that if we showed up in Bali as brown as the locals - we'd be saving money on getting ripped off. It was merely a sound financial decision. Well, that and its sunny, Kurt's dad and step mom have an awesome place only steps away from the beach and it's HAWAII! 

Kurt's father has been celebrating his birthday in Hawaii for a decade and we both decided that it was important for us to be there before we left for Asia. It was my first time to Kaua'i and i was blown away by the beauty of the island. I truly felt that i had walked into Jurrasic Park. If you havent been - go.  

Our nine days were filled with boogie boarding, hikes up to beautiful waterfalls, home cooked gourmet meals, endless hours of reading and just some great family time. Kurt's parents had wonderful friends in town (The Pattersons) who were a delight to spend time with. It was a constant reminder of what is important in life. Your friends and your family. We kept saying: "It just doesn't get any better than this".

(L TO R: KURT, ESTELLE, JEFF, LORI, LAURIE-MARIE (KURT'S STEPMOM) & RANDY (KURT'S DAD)

On our journey to Waimeya Canyon, we found one of the wettest spots on earth! Being Seattleites, we were quite happy to know that we aren't the only ones being drowned in rain. Waimeya Canyon is actually one of the biggest canyons in the world. It is absolutely spectacular. I didn't place a photo because photos don't do justice to the magical wonders of this view. It is just one of those things you can't appreciate unless you see it with your own eyes. I couldn't believe it was real.

(WE FOUND ONE OF THE WETTEST PLACES ON EARTH! AND IT'S NOT  SEATTLE!)
I am not sure if many of you are aware of this, but Kurt is actually a master weaver. He specializes in warrior-princess head garments. Yes, i did wear this on our hike - and yes, people did stare. We figured that you only live once and who cares if no one else is playing warrior kingdom games! The hike took about two hours and we were rewarded with a plunge into a grand waterfall. The water felt cool and crisp, like the first sip of a beer in the summertime. We found out that day that jumping under waterfalls was one of our favorite things to do together.

(ME WITH MY NEW HEAD GARMENT AND MY MASTER WEAVER!)
Some of you may know that Kurt and his father put on a fitness challenge every year. The tradition is that they do a photo shoot at the end of the challenge and have people vote on who made the biggest transformation. If you want to take a look at their before and afters (should be up in the next week or so) go to: hynesfitnesschallenge.com. It was such a wonderful experience for me to watch these two together. To celebrate their health and their hard work is such a beautiful thing and something i admire them both for. Kurt and I can only hope to be as healthy as Randy is when we are in our fifties.

(BOYS LOOKIN' GOOD AT THE ANNUAL HYNES PHOTO SHOOT - KAUA'I, HAWAII)
The tradition is that they have coffee at Java Kai, stop at the Kilauea bakery (so Randy can grab a macadamia nut cookie) and dinner at the Beach House. The food was delish, the view grand and most importantly, good company.

(SUNSET AT THE BEACH HOUSE FOR KURT'S FATHERS BIRTHDAY)
We had to speed up the island life and head back to Seattle where the next few days were absolutely insane. We packed, said our goodbyes and possibly crammed 32 hours into 24! Then we were off on our journey! We hope to be back in Kaua'i next year for Randy's birthday again!

More later.

All my love,

Estelle


End of one era...start of another!

As we get closer to our grand departure on June 4th...Many people (okay, EVERYONE) wants to  know..."Why are you doing this?" "Why Bali?" Why would you want to walk away from a good job, your friends and family? Everything that you have worked so hard to obtain...is already here in Seattle. I can't speak for Estelle - but I can tell you that our motives aren't much different (I think...) but for me it boiled down to a few things. 

  • If Not Now, When? I saw this quote some where and promptly wrote it on my huge white board in my room to remind myself of the power of NOW!
  • Why Not? Seriously. Great weather, low cost of living, $7 massages...perfect.
  • YOLO. Truly great song...and its also our official theme song.  (Just in case you need to be caught up) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYDKK95cpfM
  • It's What I Have Wanted To Do For Over 5 Years Now.... For a long time now, I have felt this urge to take a "time out" from life and travel the world...I was originally planning on doing this in South America but then the universe redirected me to Bali and South East Asia, which makes more sense anyways. Thanks universe!
There are many more reasons why but I will save that for another time. The truth is that this is going to be a truly EPIC adventure and I can't wait for it. At the same time, it is not easy to leave all of your loved ones (family and friends) in pursuit of those adventures. SO...that is why it was important for us to create a blog and share our adventures with you and we hope that you actively engage back with us on this blog. So don't hesitate to write your witty remarks, jokes, whatever...the more the merrier!

Cheers! 
Kurt

P.S. Enjoy this poem that my awesome step dad wrote.


(POEM WE RECEIVED FROM KURT'S STEP DAD, PAT. THANK YOU!)