Frank and his wife Francien decided a few years ago to make the big step and embark on an early retirement life. This blog is about their journey to find new meaning in a mindful lifestyle, opposed to a global corporate working lifestyle driven by frenetic timelines and obligations.
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Francien and I have developed into 'new experience' collectors. So what made our venture to Mongolia matter more to us? Our 4000 km journey through this most sparsely populated nation in the world started at the Erlian border crossing. We had boarded the Trans-Mongolia train in Beijing 12 hours earlier
With few expectations and an open mind-set, Francien and I started our trip to Tibet in Xining, the capital of Qinghai province in central China. We boarded the train after our passports and Tibet travel permits were thoroughly validated by the staff at the station. This 2000 kilometer train journey to Lhasa took us from a 2200 meters elevation to 3650 meters, crossing
I definitely knew I was fit enough to climb this mountain without trouble, but what happened with my lungs? Climbing the highest mountain in Borneo, 4095 meters above sea level? Climbing the highest mountain in Borneo, 4095 meters above sea level? The highest point on earth I have been was in Colorado, USA, driving across the 3700-meter Independence pass, in a car! In Java, Indonesia, I hiked up the 1900-meters high Merapi volcano, my highest climb ever. But this was different……
Francien and I traveled to Ha Noi, the capital city of Vietnam, leaving any expectations behind. As this was our first time in Ha Noi, we checked into a hotel in the Old Quarter. Here we were spoiled for choice for taking those arch typical pictures of Asian street life. The narrow streets are lined with traditional shop-houses mixed with colonial type French architecture………..
What better way to celebrate New Year on the tropical island of Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia, close to the port city of Sihanoukville! The island turned out to be the get-away place we were looking for, but what we saw in the port city took us by surprise…..
‘Do not forget your bullet proof vest’ people said when we told them about our upcoming trip. This country is being associated with civil war and Hezbollah. That didn’t deter Francien and myself to go and we decided it would be nice to have the freedom to visit the places we wanted to on our own time, so we rented a car……….
Please turn a deaf ear to the cliché, “the world is getting smaller”.
In my career spanning 35 years during which I lived and worked in nine different countries on four different continents, Francien I gained a close and personal behind-the-scenes view of diverse local communities, societies and workplaces…..
Not Seasickness – Landsickness!
With three German friends I boarded a 49-foot sailing yacht on the Island of Tioman, off the Malaysian peninsula in the South China Sea. Our destination: the city of Port Dickson, on the west coast of Malaysia, my first multi-day cruising experience. After bunkering diesel and plenty of drinking water as well as food for at least 10 days, we set off in southern direction……..
We were taken by surprise to see in Western Europe still people living in fear for each other, separated by walls and metal gates.
We visited Ireland to meet up with a few friends we had met many years ago in South Africa and Saudi Arabia, taking us to Waterford on the Irish south coast and Londonderry in Northern Ireland. Francien and I started our journey in Dublin ……………..
Swimming with whale sharks in the open ocean has been on our bucket list since many years. So we traveled to the Philippines to find out if this is really such an incredible experience. Our plane from Kuala Lumpur approached Manila crossing Manila Bay. From the air this city looks like ……..
Twenty years ago,
I ran my first ever Half-Marathon in Berlin, Germany. It all started with a bet during a Christmas party in Leipzig in 1996. ‘Are you fit enough to run a full Marathon?’ friends challenged me. ‘Yes, of course!’ I replied with bravado..........
When hearing Australia you most probably picture a Kangaroo hopping through the hot outback under a blue sky. Hold that thought for a moment. Forget about sunshine, as for the first few days we had rain and cold wind instead. A tropical storm crashed into a South Western cold front and Francien and I scrambled for warm rain coats. We arrived in the middle of it: rain and below 15 C temperatures!!! The coldest summer in recorded history. Throw in flooded roads and you can get the picture.
But the story does not end here.
After a 35 year hiatus Francien and I returned to Johannesburg for a few days to reconnect with old friends and see familiar places. We once called the north-eastern suburbs home and for the sake of trying to find out how much had changed, we rented a car and explored the area.......
I sat at my computer writing this blog, but there was a hitch: there was too much to write about our travel to Southern Africa. Therefore, I decided not write about all that spectacular wildlife Africa is known for. Much has already been written about these animals, but trust me: words cannot describe the sensation of experiencing this wildlife close-by in the raw nature of Africa. But don’t worry, keep reading…..