New adventure on our Green Global Trek ~ Full Tilt to Southeast Asia…

We have lived in Nicaragua (land of the “never boring” and sometimes strange) now for six years, and recently returned for closure on our work here. We have spent the last three months living in Viet Nam and now are ready to return to SE Asia, once again.

We are very ready to move forward with the next chapter of the Green Global Trek, the next chapter of our lives ~ a South East Asian adventure (continued….)

Buddhist sculptures in a Vietnamese temple

Ah, I love new beginnings….
So we close now the chapter/s of our lives in Nicaragua ~ we accomplished what we hoped to accomplish…
We had significant positive social and environmental impact by way of starting a bamboo industry. We trained indigenous communities to treat and build with bamboo, started bamboo plantations both here and in Haiti, and built 160 homes for locals impacted by Hurricane Felix.
All of these experiences and adventures could easily fill a book or two… But for now, we are ready to move on and start anew.

Our bamboo factory in the Northern region of Nicaragua (RAAN). 

An example of our low cost sustainable housing made from bamboo. 

On the right, the former house of a family living in Rosita, Nicaragua and on the left their new bamboo house complete! 

Bamboo nurseries were created both in Nicaragua and in Haiti of the Guadua species of bamboo. Creating bamboo forests for the future! 

“How do you let go of one life that was so good in many ways and keep living this newly created life that is so good in many ways?” (unknown)
This is not MY quote, but I like it and its relevant.  It’s about letting go of the past, not holding onto material things (especially lovely houses), and making space ~ space for the present and space for the future.
Coming back to Nicaragua  for two months has been great in clarifying for us the lifestyle we want and the direction we want our lives to go in….which is forward.
 I think it boils down to the definition one has about success and happiness. Personal life philosophy…
Neither of  us defines success by our net worth on paper, or by how much stuff we have accumulated. We define success and happiness by having as many varied and rich life experiences as we can.
We define it by having positive impact in the environment we find ourselves in.  Success for us is about making and taking the life opportunities to do the things we dream of and are passionate about.
Right now I’m  dreaming about being in Viet Nam on the back of the motorbike, wind in my face, sun on my back… no obligations or commitments, just the bright lush green of the rice paddies, a few water buffaloes and rice farmers to say hi to and the promise of a tasty local dish nearby.

Our friends the water buffaloes, up close and personal in Hoi An, Viet Nam ~ our home for 3 months.. 

Water buffaloes enjoying a mud bath on the side of the road in Cambodia.

We are both passionate about traveling, obviously.  Traveling slowly and  traveling consciously ~ selecting places to “land”, which meet our criteria ( good food and interesting culture), and then see if we resonate with these environments when we get there.
If yes, then we stay…  that is, until we are ready to move on.
This worked out really well with our first pre selected destination of Hoi An, Viet Nam.  Hoi An delivered amazing food, gorgeous architecture, proximity to a beautiful beach and many easy and friendly connections with locals, whose perpetual sense of humor we had not anticipated. (We may well go back and spend more time living there.)

Circles of wet rice paper which have been laid out on racks to dry in the sun. Hoi An, Viet Nam..

Peta with an elder in a rural temple, Northern Viet Nam. 

Our home on an organic farm in Hoi An, Viet Nam for three months. Enjoying time with our good friends who run a restaurant on Tra Que organic farm.

Reflective moment at a rural Buddhist temple. Viet Nam.

For now we are “shopping” for potential places to live ~ sequentially.
In Viet Nam… Hoi An, our first selected location, gets our thumbs up.  More exploring and discovering coming up ~ How fun!
So how do we manage to travel on a shoe string budget?
.Travel does not need to cost a fortune ~ depending on where one goes and how one travels.
For us, it’s about how creative we can get orchestrating solutions that support our travel addiction. The ticket is the most expensive part of our travels, followed by cost for accomodation.
We are huge fans of non-simultaneous home exchanges and have stayed in gorgeous mansions in San Francisco, a pied-a-terre in Paris, a canal home  in Amsterdam and an ultra mod town house in Wahington D.C. with a roof top jacuzzi, to mention a few. Hotels are a rare cost for us, and when we do need one, there are plenty of small guest houses that are high on charm and comfort and are within our budget.
We also choose countries that yield greater value. (Nicaragua being way cheaper than  the U.S. and Asia way cheaper than Nicaragua.) More bang for the dollar
Being highly motivated by good food, we always balance pricier meals with fresh fruit and food cooked at the local market. Our favorite local food is almost always (inexpensive) street food.

One of our favorite street food venders, offering up grilled pork on a stick, wrapped in rice paper and dunked into a sweet and spicy peanut sauce. 

(Mmm my mouth waters just thinking about Banh Xeo in Viet Nam.)


Our house in Granada, Nicaragua is rented and it is also for sale. We have given away as many things as possible before we leave.
Each time we do this it makes us realize how little we really need or want to hold on to. We store a few boxes of photo albums and books in a closet.
As far as luggage, we are down to one small carry on each and one small backpack. Liberation! The joy of traveling through life (not to mention airports),  lightly.
As another nomadic traveller wrote “bye bye stuff, hello freedom!” (unknown.)

I continue to sell my paintings of Stray Dogs in Nicaragua, which brings in some extra cash. How great to have income from work I did over five years ago. Good investment!

I also have two art books for sale on (My book of “100 days in Central Viet Nam ~100 photographs” and “Stray Dogs of Nicaragua” ~ paintings.)

Those of you who want to know if I am painting?

The answer is a resounding “no!”

I have enough paintings in storage, and don’t want to add more to that collection of “stuff.” I am enjoying expressing myself creatively through my travel photography and NOT having to scrub the paint off my hands, legs, face and out of my hair.

Photography is a lot less messy than painting.

We keep reducing our expenses and further simplifying our lives. We have not missed owning a car, nor the insurance one pays on that, for the last five years. Once our house sells we will have no electricity or other bills,  and no further maintenance costs.
.We did “seal the deal” on our little piece of  bliss on  Ometepe island. in Nicaragua. A lakefront 1 acre small property with magnificent views of the volcano, birds, monkeys, trees, organic greens growing and volcanic drinking water. Add to that the best permaculture farm right behind our land and the little farming community of Balgue within walking distance.
Land for the future, land for a simple, sustainable lifestyle immersed in nature, with a source of fresh volcanic water and food source (fruit and greens.)

On Ometepe island in Nicaragua, the view of Volcano Concepcion from Santa Domingo beach..

So here we are, ready for a new beginning….
Where are we off to? Where will we start this time?
We found super low fares for one way ticket from LA to Singapore. (First Nicaragua to Miami, to L.A.)
So where will we go from Singapore?
.After doing a bit of research and quiet pondering we have selected our second (after Hoi An) candidate for a  home base ~
Drum roll ~ we are headed to Ubud, Bali, Indonesia!
What are the criteria which are luring us there?
It is the cultural and artistic center of its region.
It has a plethora of organic food /restaurants, yoga and natural healing.
It has original authentic local cuisine. Aka: variety of  exotic yummy foods.
It is set in lush rice paddies and vegetation and is about an hour to beaches.
It is a place known for its temples, traditional ceremonies and spiritual core.
When we land in Bali, we will have no cost for  over a month of accommodation…  And how is that possible you might ask?
We have arranged three fantastic very different home exchanges lined up one after the other  ~ a traditional yet contemporary house near town, a riverside house in a rural village and an artists cottage set amongst the rice paddies.
We also have a fun job lined up… writing for a luxurious and sustainable Green Award winning hotel ~ three day stay at their beachfront location on the Eastern side of Bali.
Bali, Indonesia, will be our new home for a while ~  and opportunity will dictate how long we stay and where we go.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”
Henry David Thoreau

Simply the BEST ~ Vietnamese coffee: “Sua Da”!

11 thoughts on “New adventure on our Green Global Trek ~ Full Tilt to Southeast Asia…

  1. Nicole

    This last contemplative entry is beautifully written. Lots of life lessons here….
    Loving the ease with which you guys pack up and move on. (I love to travel but I also love to always come home to my “nest” and of course my cats and dogs.)
    Good luck for the next leg of your adventure, may good fortune, happiness, health and joy follow you wherever you go….

  2. Adrienne J

    My beautiful friend Peta,

    I am so very envious! Did I say really how envious I am?? I am so embroiled in the American Capitalist Society ( and not even American)
    I work too hard, to pay more bills than necessary,m to worry endlessly about that all, only to wake up the next day to do the same thing 🙂 A part of me must like it, or else the fear of the unknown blocks me.
    Asia is a destination I dream of, and thanks to your blog, I will know precisely where to go when my time comes. I love the way you reflect on the food, the people, and the sentiments of keeping our earth green.
    My hippie friend – you certainly seem worry free, and in tune with who you are in the world. Sending love to accompany you on your travels, as well as good health and godspeed 🙂

    Adrienne J – Boca Raton

  3. Stanski

    I Love this entry Peta!!!
    Love the lifestyle –
    I have been doing something similar for the past two and half years… For me it started with “stop the world, I want to get off for a while, get off the grid, etc…”
    So this saw me traveling for about a year, back home, more travel; back home and again more travel. Actually it is all travel, since I have no permanent home, living gypsy style even here ‘at home’.
    I am allowing for a huge level of trust to guide me, and Loving it… I am available for anything pretty much and opportunities keep showing up…
    I guess what seems similar to your lifestyle is the level of trust we have….
    You and Ben must be allowing for a lot of trust – you guys are awesome and I love reading of your adventures. They are so full of passion for life, the environment and others!!!
    Keep trucking and allowing life!!!
    Keep spreading your wonderful Love & Light!
    Oh…and your writing itself is wonderful!!

    T’would be awesome to meet up somewhere, sometime!!!
    It’s been a while… LOL!!!
    Ubud is so wonderful – !!!!
    I would love to stay there for a while sometime!
    Maybe I can get there again while you are there!!

    And meanwhile Party On!!!

    Regards and Love,
    Stan Ravinsky

    1. Peta Kaplan and Ben Sandzer-Bell

      So great to hear from you Stan!!! Well you and I were compatible at a very young age, great friends in 4th grade…. so it makes complete sense that we would still be! Yes, trust and being open minded allows for all sorts of opportunities to come along and for us to take them. I agree wholeheartedly. Thanks for all the really nice compliments. Made my day!! Hope to reconnect with you one day in the not too distant future!

  4. Kris

    YOU GUYS ARE F***ING AMAZING!!! So much passion, drive and love for life can be felt throughout everything you undertake and share!! A true inspiration! Love x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *