Sunday, 12 August 2012

Cambodia's Trauma - Too confronting for some.

Traveling in South East Asia can be a lot of things: fun, beautiful, delicious. But sometimes, it can also be a very dark place. The latter half of the twentieth century was not so kind to mainland South East Asia, and it’s impossible to ignore the repercussions of this.
Over the past few months I’ve learned a lot about the American War in Vietnam, and the Secret War in Laos but nothing was able to prepare me for the carnage associated with Cambodia. In just a 4 year span between 1975 and 1979 over 1.5 million Cambodians (a quarter of the countries population) were killed by their own tyrannical government. The ultra-communist Khmer Rouge, sought to destroy everything modern and turn Cambodia into a giant agrarian collective. They killed every intellectual, person of wealth or political official, evacuated all cities and basically propelled the country back to the Stone Age until they were overthrown by the Vietnamese.
Should I go ?
Aside from watching the movie The Killing Fields, in high school, I knew very little about this dark chapter of history. I think it’s impossible to visit Cambodia and not be informed about this, however I'm torn as to whether I want to go visit these places myself.
The more I read and learn about what went on inside S21 for example, I get anxious and fearful, I feel  overwhelmed and confronted by death. I feel the grief to my core. I have shed many a tear while in Cambodia. The saddness is everywhere. Men and women, young and old without limbs, without a means to support themelseves or their families. They beg, they sell odd 'tourist' junk in a hope of making enough money to eat that day. Then there are the children. The orphans, or even those fortunate enough to have living parents, roam the streets begging for money or some food.  You can not avoid the trauma and suffering, but to visit the places where so many deaths occured ? I'm just not sure I can do it. I hope this does not come off as selfish - I'm calling it self preservation, for now at least I can not visit or bear witness to these horrific events.
I will continue to read and educate those around me on the countries history in the hope that we can inspire more people to come visit all this beautiful country has to offer. The people here rely so heavily on tourism, it seems the only way I can really help them on a greater scale. By spreading the word if you like.
The Killing Fields
There are a number of sites in Cambodia known as the Killing Fields. They are all mass graveyards where thousands of people were executed- usually beaten to death to save valuable bullets. The most famous of these fields is Choeung Elk, about 17km outside of Phnom Penh, which is now a memorial site.
There is the Buddhist stupa which towers over the field. This monument is filled to the top with human skulls. Many of the skulls have been damaged or smashed in. They stare out, eyelessly bearing witness.
What is left now in the killing fields are a series of mass graves, some have been excavated, others are merely labeled pits. After heavy rains bone fragments and teeth are known to rise up out of the dead land but even after months of no rain, dozens of scraps of clothing are visible, reaching out of the earth like disembodied hands.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, or S-21, was once a high school, haphazardly converted into a Khmer Rouge prison. It’s new role was primarily the gruesome torture and execution of political prisoners. The government’s idea of what constituted a political prisoner was pretty liberal- men, women, children and even babies were imprisoned here, over 20,000 people total. Of all of the people who entered the prison only seven walked out alive. Yes, that is correct, seven. Most others met their ends in the killing fields.
I believe the Killing Fields would be heartbreaking, but I consider S-21 to be absolutely horrifying, a place of nightmares. The buildings have been preserved basically as they were in 1979. Large classrooms with metal beds and torture instruments made up one building. Another has been subdivided into prison cells the size of coat closets, dark and claustrophobic. Barbed wire lined the outside, a sign tells how it was to prevent prisoners from committing suicide.
It’s hard to even conceive of the amount of misery that occurred inside these walls, but there are pictures to help. The Khmer Rouge took mug shots of every person who was incarcerated here, these blown up shots are now posted on chalkboards all through the museum. Walls and walls of faces, young and old, thin and beautiful, scared and tough. It adds a heartbreaking touch of humanity to his harsh place. I simply could not cope with this.

I know it's essential to be aware of the world around you, the experience the context of every country you visit- and you can’t just get it from Wikipedia entries or photos. However staring at those forgotten scraps of cloth, tearing their way out of the ground, or the picture board of victims even in photograph only I think I better understand the Cambodia of today- a place that is troubled but very optimistic. I’ve never seen more smiling people than I have in this country. And, in the same way that knowing someone's secrets makes you feel closer to them, I think I now love Cambodia a little more.  I hope this is the case for you too.

Your Thoughts ?
Would love to hear what you think of this article. Education is a huge reason I write, I hope even one person has learnt a new fact, albeit sad and dark, about Cambodia.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

60 days in - How are we traveling ?

Let's start by recapping where we have been in the first stage of this adventure. WOW what a whirlwind two months it has been.

  • Bali - Legian and Ubud
  • Vietnam - Hoi An, Hanoi and SaPa
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Cambodia - Otres Beach, Sihoukville and Siem Reap.

The day we left Australia - miss u guys !

There certainly have been days that either of us could have happily packed up and headed for home. But the problems would still be there. Being back home would not change a thing.

The reason we opted for an extended trip with our young family was to reset our lives, to find our mojo again if you like. To heal and recover. We have yet to do that, the first 60 days have been a total rollercoaster of emotions and juggling act with the kids. Working out what works and what definately does not.

We have learned some valuable lessons, the hard way !

  • We need to slow down. Four countries in the first 6 weeks was way too much.
  • Regardless of the size, hotel rooms are not suitable for us. Apartments work best for us.
  • A fridge and kitchenette are essential.
  • The baby NEEDS to be in a cot, everyone sleeps better.

We have meet some amazing and inspirational people and families.

In the past 60 days we have connected with so many like-minded people who just seem to accept us and understand what it is we are trying to do. They have done it themselves and are full of encouragement. They see the struggles we have with small children and tell us stories of when they traveled with young children or even just the early days of travel as a family. This has helped us greatly.

We now have some help.

After losing our friend Nai after our time in Bali, we struggled to get a break. We longed for the opportunity to have a quiet dinner together or just to be able to debrief and plan for the next step of this journey. Once we reached Siem Reap, another traveling family introduced us to a wonderful, caring polish women who started spending time with us and the kids. She soon captured the kids imagination with art and activities. She is now the childrens 'teacher', spending a few hours each days, reading, singing, creating master pieces with playdough or paint. They love it, and so do mum and dad.

We miss family and friends.

More than we can say. It's a long time to not see or hug the ones you love. This is something that you just do not get use to. Talking on skype is great but so not the same. Coming home for christmas will be truly special.

This is so you don't forget what we look like LOL !

So that is a quick run down on the first 60 days abroad. Thank you for following our journey so far and we look forward to getting to know you all better as we continue with this blog.

Any questions ?

If you have any questions about us, travel in general, or you want to know more about a particular place in south east asia, please ask and we will be happy to do a post to answer your question.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Top 10 fun things to with kids in Bali

Sure, for children (as for adults) Bali’s principle attraction is the beach but there’s plenty more to keep them entertained in the island paradise. From exciting rides at Waterbom Park to exotic wildlife at the Bali Zoo here’s our pick of 10 fun things to do with your kids.
1. Sea Walking: Club Aqua Bali (For ages 9 to 12)

This relatively new activity called sea walking, involves literally walking on the sea bed. Conducted at a depth of 15 ft for 20 minutes per session, participants get the opportunity to come face-to-face with underwater marine life. Easy to spot here are fire corals, Anglerfish and occasionally the Mola-Mola (Sunfish). An instructor is present at all times making it a safe, fun activity for the entire family to indulge in. You’ll be happy to hear knowing how to swim is not a requirement for sea walking.
Sekar Menuh Bldg, By Pass Ngurah Rai #5, Padang Galak,  Sanur, Denpasar, Bali (+62 361 281408; Ticket from: Rs 3,135 (Children) and Rs 3,985 (adults)
2. Adventure Time: Bali Treetop (For ages 4 to 17)

Situated in Eka Karya or the Bali Botanical Garden, Bedugul, this adventure park is a great destination for fun activities with kids as young as four. They can suspend from the sky or swing from the treetops like Tarzan at any of the seven Adventure Circuits. One of the circuits called the Squirrel Yellow Circuit is designed especially for younger children (from ages 4 to 8). It comes with complete supervision at all times and has an easy-to-complete obstacle course (footbridge, monkey track, fishing net) and a mini Flying-Fox. As you progress from one circuit to the other the level of difficulty increases. The ultimate challenge here is the Adrenaline Black Circuit. Supervised at all times, it features adrenalin pumping 20m jumps and a 160m-long Tarzan Flying Fox. It’s open only to teens over the age of 14.
Bali Botanical Garden, Candikuning, Bali (+62 361 852 0680; Open: 8.30am to 6pm. Tickets from: Rs 744 (children) and Rs 1,116 (adults)
3. Up Close with the wildlife: Bali Zoo (For ages 2 to 14)

A huge display of Indonesian wildlife can be seen at the Bali Zoo. Visitors are taken on a virtual jungle tour of the zoo that features a petting area where kids can touch domesticated animals such as horses, baby deer and rabbits; Gibbon Island’s where the famous primates can be swinging from tree to tree. There’s also an area where kids can themselves feed wallabies, sun bear and orang-utans. Children as young as two, accompanied by an adult,can have a go at feeding some of the more wilder animals such as crocodiles, tigers and lions, with the help of their keepers of course.
Jl. Raya Singapadu, Sukawati, Gianyar, Bali (+62 361 294357; Open daily from 9am to 6pm. Ticket from: Rs 637 (children) and Rs 1,275 (adults)

4. White water rafting: Bali SOBEK and Bali Adventure Tours (For ages 7 to 15)

The two popular rivers here, ideal for white water rafting are the Ayung River and Telaga Waja River. Both offer varying levels of difficulty so choose a stretch of rapids based on the age of your child. Home to some of the more challenging rapids, with breath-taking scenery to boot, is the Telaga Waja River. The Ayung River in contrast provides calmer rapids making it more suitable for younger children. Bali SOBEK and Bali Adventure Tours (both adventure companies) organise thrilling rafting experiences. Bali SOBEK offers rafting experiences for kids above seven years of age, on both Ayung River and Telaga Waja River. Rafting with Bali Adventure Tours is limited to the Ayung River and minimum age required is five years.
Pt. SOBEK Bali Utama, Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai 100X Simpang Siur Kuta, Bali (+62 361 768050; www.balisobek.comRafting duration is 1.5 to 2 hours. Tickets from: Rs 2,765 (children) and Rs 4,201 (adults)
Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai, Pesanggaran, Bali (+62 361 721480;
) Rafting duration is 1.5 hours. Tickets from: Rs 2,331(children) and Rs 3,542 (adults)
5. A natural education: Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary (For ages 3 to 12)

Take your kids to the Mandala Wisata Wenara Wana or simply the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary for a wonderful experience amidst Bali’s exotic flora and fauna. The idea behind this sanctuary is to educate children on the importance of conserving our natural resources. Well-trained guides take you around the Sanctuary that has many temples that are considered sacred by Balinese Hindus. Home to about 340 Balinese long-tailed macaques and 115 separate species of trees the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary promises to be an informative place to visit with your kids.
Jalan Monkey Forest, Padangtegal, Ubud, Bali (+62 361 971304; Open daily from 8am to 6pm. Ticket from: Rs 57 (children) and Rs 115 (adults)

6. Feathers aplenty: Bali Bird Park (For ages 2 to 12)

Some of Indonesia, Africa and South America’s rare tropical birds are to be found here. The park is home to almost 1,000 birds of 250 different species. It features giant walk-through aviaries that are designed to replicate actual rainforests. At this park kids can pet a number of birds and witness a show featuring eagles, owls and macaws. Visit the bird nursery to see how they are bred. You children can feed the parrots, cockatoos and hornbills and have them sit on their shoulders. Bird handlers supervise this and do their best to ensure the birds behave themselves.
Jl. Serma Cok Ngurah Gambir Singapadu, Batubulan, Gianyar, Bali (+62 361 299352; Opening daily from 9am to 5.30pm. Ticket from: Rs 624 (children) and Rs 1,248 (adults)

7. Water sports and more: Waterbom Park (For ages 2 to 12)

Opened in 1993, Waterbom Park houses more than 17 exciting water rides making it an ideal destination for fun and entertainment for multiple age groups. The park is located on the Kuta stretch and features slides like the Smashdown, an eight storey-high slide that’s built at 60 degree incline. This means you can reach speeds of up to 70 km per hour. Then there’s the Boomerang that slides you down 20m and pulls you back up before you can even blink an eye. Parents can feel safe about the rides at the Kiddy Park, which is always supervised and is specially designed to make it child-friendly with easy slides and fun games such as water cannons and jets.
Jl. Kartika PO BOX 1055 Tuban, Kuta, Bali (+62 361 755 676; Open: 9am to 6pm. Tickets from: Rs 850 (children) and Rs 1,382 (adults)

8. Animals and more: Bali Safari and Marine Park (For all age groups)
See the rarest of animals such as the Sumatran elephant (one of three recognized subspecies of the Asian Elephant), white tiger, and Komodo dragon at the Bali Safari and Marine Park. You can take a guided elephant ride to see these animals up close. The Marine Park here houses the Fresh Water Aquarium, which is home to almost 40 species of fresh water fish, including the white tip shark. Don’t miss witnessing the park keeper feed the 10ft-long-piranha. In addition to all this the Dolphin Encounter attraction is scheduled to open soon.
Jl. Bypass Prof. Dr. Ida Bagus Mantra, Golden Line of Bali, Gianyar, Indonesia (+62 361 950 000; Open: 9am to 5pm. Ticket from: Rs 1,845

9. Go dive: Blue Season Bali (For ages 8 and above)
Kids as young as eight can learn how to scuba dive with the PADI Bubblemaker course offered at Blue Season Bali, where basic techniques to experience the underwater world are taught in a pool no deeper than 6ft. A full range of diving courses are available here for those above 10 years of age, from Discover Scuba Diving for beginners to the more advanced Open Water Diver. The Liberty wreck in Tulamben, where the American ship, The Liberty was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine during World War II, is Bali's most famous and accessible dive. This is one of the safest wreck sites and amongst the top 15 dive sites in the world. Rich in underwater flora and fauna, it makes for a superb diving destination for the entire family.
PADI 5 Star Career Development Center, PT Bali Ocean Adventure, Jalan Danau Tamblingan 69x Sanur, Bali (+62 361 282574; Courses start from Rs 3,190 per day
10. Burst of culture: Devdan Show Bali(For ages 4 to 12)

Take you kids to the Devdan Show at Bali Nusa Dua Theatre where they can enjoy a fantastic recreation of the history of Indonesia's culture and diversity through theatrical performances. The show is called Devdan Treasure of the Archipelago and features traditional Indonesian dances, thrilling aerial acrobatics and spectacular special effects. The show takes place four times a week at the famous theatrical complex, Bali Nusa Dua Theatre. Nestled in the heart of Bali’s touristic enclave and next to the Bali Collection Shopping center this top tourist attraction is a must-visit with your kids.
Bali Nusa Dua Theatre (Ex. Amphitheatre Nusa Dua), Kawasan Pariwisata Nusa Dua, Komplek BTDC, Nusa Dua (+62 361 770 197; Show timing is 7pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Ticket from: Rs 1,541 (children) and Rs 2391 (adults)

Friday, 3 August 2012

Some Interesting Facts About Cambodia

Cambodia-lotus-Tonle-SapWhen you hear the word “Cambodia”, what comes to your mind? 
I used to draw a blank or in the best of cases I thought it was a far east land, of oriental-looking people who… probably had a lot of wars?

It wasn’t until I started looking for places to visit near Thailand for our extended trip that I got to learn more about this fascinating country.
Let me share with you four things I learned:

1. A bit of the history of Cambodia

From Wikipedia:
“Cambodia is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. With a total landmass of 181,035 square kilometers (69,898 sq mi), it is bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Vietnam to the east, and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest.”
Cambodia is one of those countries that made me think: “Exotic!”. But how little did I know about its tragic recent past:
From Wikipedia:
“The Khmer Rouge … literally translated as Red Cambodians was the name given to the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, who were the ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, led by Pol Pot and others. The regime led by the Khmer Rouge was known as the Democratic Kampuchea.
This organization is remembered primarily for its policy of social engineering, which resulted in genocide. Its attempts at agricultural reform led to widespread famine, while its insistence on absolute self-sufficiency, even in the supply of medicine, led to the deaths of thousands from treatable diseases (such as malaria). Brutal and arbitrary executions and torture carried out by its cadres against perceived subversive elements, or during purges of its own ranks between 1976 and 1978, are considered to have constituted a genocide.
Today, examples of the torture methods used by the Khmer Rouge can be seen at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. The museum occupies the former grounds of a high school turned prison camp. Some 17,000 people passed through this centre before they were taken to sites (also known as The Killing Fields), outside Phnom Penh such as Choeung Ek where most were executed (mainly by pickaxes to save bullets) and buried in mass graves. Of the thousands who entered the Tuol Sleng Centre (also known as S-21), only twelve are known to have survived.”
Sure I had heard of the Khmer Rouge, but I had no idea about these horrific events and when I did learn about them, it made me the more curious about today’s Cambodia.

2. Busy and noisy

Cambodia is not at all how you imagine it. Despite their recent history, Cambodians are not at all sad or resentful. In fact, they are working hard to build up their country again and to catch up with progress.
People are always on the streets, lively, happy people, they are always on the run to get somewhere, thousands or motorbikes and bicycles, wrecking havoc and in the midst of all the chaos, there is an inherent order.
Thousands of stalls and food stands, offering you all kinds of exotic and delicious food, people calling you out to try them. Commerce happens on the streets.
Even though there’s still poverty, there is also great development, places where you go Wow! at the buildings and the infrastructure.
To think this country has been rebuilt from the ground up in my lifetime. WOW. Imagine what this great nation can achieve in the next 10-20 years.

3. Shiny happy people

People are at peace for the most part, everything but sad and instead vivacious and cheerful, people who seem to compete for who has the loudest speakers to play their music, right outside, on the street, where it all happens.
Even pagodas, where people go to pray and meditate, blast their speakers with sacred chants. Some say that living next to a pagoda can be very noisy, they can start chanting at 5 am!
Even though some people literally live on one dollar a day, everybody has a cell phone. Some are illiterate, so they remember which keys to push when they want to call someone. A bit timid when you first approach them, they are kind-hearted people.

4. Angkor

If Cambodia’s recent history is tragic, their more “ancient” history is just amazing. Near the city of Siem Reap, the second largest city of the country, and the Tonle Sap lake (tonle = lake) there is a temple complex from the 12th century, Angkor Wat being its main and most preserved temple.
Angkor Wat is the main attraction for visitors and you can reach it by bus, six hours from Phnom Penh or from Thailand from the north, or reach the city directly by plane.
From Wikipedia:
“The initial design and construction of the temple took place in the first half of the 12th century, during the reign of Suryavarman II (ruled 1113 – c. 1150). Dedicated to Vishnu, it was built as the king’s state temple and capital city. As neither the foundation stela nor any contemporary inscriptions referring to the temple have been found, its original name is unknown, but it may have been known as Vrah Vishnulok after the presiding deity.”
But there is just so much to say about Angkor Complex, that I’ll leave it for a later post. Suffice it to say that it has been considered one of the wonders of the world and it is included in the World Heritage Site list of UNESCO. We owe it to ourselves to go visit the temples and visit this wonderful exotic country and meet its kind people not only for the richness of their culture and their magnificent forests and wildlife, but to be multipliers of it, and never forgetting the horrors of the past, so that we don’t repeat them in the future.
Have you ever been to Cambodia or are you planning a trip there?
What was your experience?
Tell us about it here in the comments field and if you liked this post, don’t forget to hit the sharing buttons below!

Sandan - Creative Cambodian Cuisine

Cambodian cuisine is a little known highlight of the region.

Yes, everyone knows that thai food is amazing but have you had Cambodian cuisine? Hands down the most amazing food we have tasted so far in Cambodia was from a gem of a restaurant named, Sandan.

Sandan is a training restaurant run by former street youths and their teachers from the local organisation M'lop Tapang.

The goal at Sandan is to give these hospitality students the practical experience and confidence necessary to gain safe employment in Sihanoukville's growing tourist industry.

M'lop Tapang has been working with the street children of Sikanoukville since 2003. They currently work with over 3000 children and youths and over 1000 families at nine specialist centres in the Sikanoukville area. They provide safe shelter, medical care, family reintegration, sports and arts, education and training, counseling, family support and protect from all types of abuse.

All profits from Sandan restaurant are reinvested into M'lop Tapang programs.

This restaurant impressed us from the start. It's beautiful entrance and smiling staff welcomed us and showed the children to a nearby pagoda where an array of books, puzzles and toys awaited them. The menu was extensive with meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes to choose from. Then the kids menu was nothing short of awesome. Creative dishes with cool names that had the kids pondering for ages which they would choose.

The children played while waiting for our food to arrive which gave Joel and I a chance to speak with the staff and teachers. They were able to give us some background on the students. The opportunity provided to these men and women is nothing short of a miracle. It truly is a dream come true for many of them to be taugh a skill that will give them a better chance of gaining employment to provide a life and income for themselves and their families.

Then the food came, oh my god. It was exquisite. I enjoyed a traditional dish called Amok with seafood and Joel savoured over the Khmer muslin beef and peanut curry. The kids did not waste any time eating up their honey soy chicken skewers with rice and dipping sauce.

While the kids enjoyed one last play in the pagoda, Joel and I enjoy a delicious dessert, cashew nut crusted banana fritters with kaffir lime syrup and coconut chili gelato - absolutely devine !

We enjoyed this restaurant so much and believe that the service they are providing is so wonderful we wanted to share this with all of you. So if you ever find yourself in sunny Sihanoukville please please go support this wonderful program and enjoy some of the best Cambodian cuisine money can buy.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Secret Garden, Otres Beach Cambodia

Cindy and I have travelled a fair bit around Asia however never to Cambodia. We were so excited to get there and as usual Cindy done her thorough research for our accommodation.  Our first stop was to arrive in Phnom Penh via Kuala Lumpur. We then took a 3-hour car trip to Cambodia’s best beach town, Sihanouk Ville. With several locations to choose from we chose the secluded area of Otres Beach. A 3-kilometre stretch of beach, which offers various hut style bungalows and bars. This area is less developed than other nearby tourist locations however offers an even more relaxed atmosphere.

We chose The Secret Garden for our week stay. This newly built resort and bar offers 10 bungalows, pool, beach bar and restaurant. The Secret Garden is located at the secluded end of Otres Beach and offers the only pool amongst the strip of nearby properties. I have to admit the drive into the resort I was thinking my wife has gone nuts and may have got this one wrong. Remember we have three boys 4 & under with us. I thought this might be a check in – check out situation. How wrong was I!!!!!

The bungalows are fresh and modern. Our room had a double bed, fold out trundle for the boys, ensuite with and outdoor shower which was really cool. The large pool situated at the front of property was maintained every morning. The bar and restaurant is located right on the sands edge.  The Secret Garden is only a 15 minute Tuk Tuk ride back into the main town centre and costs around $5 one way.

The menu was small but the quality of the food was high – go the Texas burger!!! Breakfast was included and had a great simple choice. Again the standard was high and Cindy and I were most impressed with the food (Cindy had a double serving of pancakes every morning!) . The nature of Sihanouke Ville is that nothing is a problem and if you cants become relaxed at Otres then you had better seek medical attention. As I type this I can hardly move my fingers I’m that relaxed – sitting under the thatched roof of the bar, listening to the ocean….. it goes on and on. Day six and we are relaxed –even with 3 active boys.

This is the view from our breakfast table - pretty nice !

The Secret Garden Bar and Restaurant - right on the beach...

Would only be fitting to have this sunset on our last night

Finally the staff here was absolutely fantastic. Firstly the owners are hands on and the small amount of staff they have to assist is so friendly and helpful which is unique and makes the stay even more relaxing. We highly recommend this property. For further information you can contact The Secret Garden at

Introducing the Family Travel Community aka 'Vagabond Families'

Did you know that there are a whole cast of families traveling the world with their children in tow. We had no idea until a few months ago and this knowledge changed our lives.

This adventure evolved from an invitation from friends to travel to Bali in June with our children.  It was proposed that 3 weeks in Bali would be a great ‘testing’ ground for travel with children in tow. The flight was an easy 5 hours. We were hopeful that all would go well so we could consider a trip to our beloved Thailand later in the year.

We had been thinking of heading to Thailand in September, just before the high season room rate rises. We thought we were being adventurous and brave by even considering to travel  abroad with 3 small children with some of our friends and family saying as much.  Our passion for travel,  the need to redefine ourselves and re-start our lives were so strong that we were prepared to give it a go.

We had nothing to loose and everything to gain.

We expected travel with the children to be different to what we were use to and even difficult at times, so that in mind we wanted to travel slowly, allowing for ample rest days if required for the children.
So after a few days of thinking ‘yeah, we can do that’ - a trip to Bali in June, then a trip to Thailand in September I had a crazy idea. 

Why come home in between ?  We would be half way to Thailand when in Indonesia after all.

So our initial thoughts of 6 -8 weeks in Thailand quickly jumped to 4 months of travel starting in Bali then going to Thailand and Vietnam, perhaps even to Cambodia. We needed to do some research to decide if Cambodia was kid friendly and safe.

It was during that research that I stumbled upon a website dedicated to families travelling with their children, some indefinately. Finding  was like a light bulb moment for me.

To think that others thought and dreamt like us.

It was reassuring, inspiring and validating all at the same time. I quickly registered as a member (which happens to be free) and received access to other members who were in varying stages of family travel. Some were planning and working towards saving for their big adventure, others had been on the road for a few months through to a few years.

Each member could list their contact details. This is how I learnt about travel blogs, in particular family travel blogs. I had hit the jackpot. 

I had found what I had been looking for.

I spent most nights for the next few weeks reading and researching what others had done or were planning on doing. It was awe inspiring. I was reading of families with not only more children than I had but some of whom were traveling with a disability. Surely if they found a way to make it work, we could.

This shed a light of hope into Joel and I. Our lives had been somewhat stagnant for the past few years, neither of us having much direction in what to do or where to go next in our professional lives.

Maybe this could be our new life.

Maybe just maybe we could live life to the fullest and love life again. The thought of being truly happy again was exciting. It was like our life dream was becoming a reality right before our eyes, yet we couldn’t believe it was really happening.

There were a number of families that were either currently in South East Asia or had travelled to destinations that were of interest to us. I made contact with a few of the families either via their website, blog or email. I was taken aback by how generous and helpful people were to us. The common thread I was finding was encouragement, positive reassurance that it had been the best decision of their lives and that the misconceptions about travelling with children were just that. Misconceptions.

There was so much about a nomadic lifestyle that appealed to us.

We were happy to be considering a lifestyle that encouraged openness to other cultures and belief systems.

We loved the thought of our children learning about the world in such a hands on way.

We also loved the thought of showing our children just how very lucky we are to be Australian and to have all that we do.

The thought of escaping the materialistic world, full of media tactics to entice you into thinking you NEED something that in fact you have no use for at all.

Then there is the news media. That is definitely something that I could do without.

So that 4 months of travel soon expended into being on the road for the remainder of 2012. So six months of adventure was now in the planning. After a few speed bumps, the plans were falling into place. The first leg of the adventure was set, but after that we were free to explore where and when we wanted. We were wanting to be open to the advice and direction we received from other travellers whilst on the road.

So we are now coming to the end of that first leg and fast approaching the winging it part. We have had the pleasure of meeting four of the vagabond families already. A King's Life , Travel with Bender , Bohemian Traveler's and Going Anyway. Each one of them have inspired us and shown us how travel has changed their life for the better in more ways then we even thought possible. 

We have been exposed to a whole new world of options in relation to financing a life of travel.  Our options are endless. Yes we have a blog and a facebook page but we have so much to learn and so much to work towards. 

The future is excitingly bright.