House & Pet Sitting Stats ... What we get up to!
I have just updated our House and Pet Sitting statistics again and am amazed at where it has taken us. As we enter our 7th year I find it interesting to look back at what we have been up to and trust you will find it informative and maybe inspirational as well.
Updates ... What we do when not House & Pet Sitting
While International House and Pet Sitting is our lifestyle, part of that lifestyle is travel and undertaking other experiences. This expands our world view and helps us gain an appreciation for other ways of life and cultural perceptions.
So where has this lifestyle taken us?
Camino De Santiago - France & Spain - We recently walked the Camino De Santiago a 900+kms pilgrimage over the Pyrenees in France, then across north Spain to the coast of the North Atlantic Ocean. It was a 55 day journey with rest days in the major towns to explore and appreciate their cultural and architectural beauty.
They say the Camino Frances has three parts, the first third for body, the second for the mind and the last third for the soul. We found it to be a walk full of amazing beauty and people, physically demanding and many lessons in letting go of perceptions and expectations. It was for us a journey into Liven what's Given, letting go and allowing life.
Touring The South and North Island Of New Zealand - Even though we undertook some House and Pet Sitting assignments in New Zealand, (Tips for Travelling, House Pet Sitting New Zealand (Pt 1)) and ( Tips For Travelling, House Pet Sitting New Zealand (Pt 2)), we took the time to explore as well. To see the South Island we hired a campervan for a month and had a ball. This Island is all about natural beauty, mountains and fiords. Our top tip here is do it by campervan and leave yourself enough time to immerse yourself in the beauty.
The North Island is very different, as this Island is all about culture, geothermal and movies. Yep they have made some great movies here and if you find yourself in Wellington take the time to go see how. We found traveling by bus was the best option for this Island and some must sees are White Island Volcano, Whakatane, Bay of Islands, Lake Taupo etc.
Traveling Asia - The first leg of our Asian adventure started with a quick stop in KL Malaysia before heading to the Phillipines. We spent time in Manilla, Dumagette, Cebu, Coron, Siquijor, Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and passed through a number of other small towns. It was a great country to visit but we would not want to live there.
Next was Singapore where we spent 5 days. The highlights being Gardens by the bay, which included Cloudland, the Flower dome and a night light show, as well as the harbor lights at night.
Moving around so much, along with the heat and humidity left us depleted so we headed to Phuket Thailand for a rest. We spent a week in a luxurious 5* resort (@75% off) just chilling out, in their rainy season. Having decided to slow down and reduce our travel plans, we settled on only 3 places to stay in Thailand. So after Phuket we went to Chiang Mai and saw many temples and places of historical and cultural interest, but the highlight was the elephant rescue reserve where they provide a beautiful place for elephants who have been mistreated and injured. Our final stop in Thailand was Bangkok where we visited the floating markets, grand palace and the big Buddha. By this stage we started to realise that this part of Asia may not be for us at all.
This caused a drastic back to the drawing board moment and we set about replanning our trip as our original plan which included Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos with the same heat and humidity. Then as usually happens when we make a decision a two month House & Pet Sitting opportunity arrived for Penang Malaysia, and we immediately accepted it.
This is where we completed the trip and enjoyed exploring Penang National park, Penang Hill and Georgetown as well as spending time in the local area of Tanjung Bungah.
Asia was an interesting travel experience and a lot of lessons were learned. The main one being yes its cheap to travel and live like a local but make sure that is really what you want to do :-)
Touring Europe - Now when we say tour Europe it might be a tad different than what you think. You see we had been invited to travel Europe assisting a modern day mystic with her talks, seminars and workshops.
Along with others we were invited to stay in locals homes while running events in their areas. For us it was a great way to meet and immerse ourselves in the local culture, while providing audio, visual and spiritual support. This particular tour took us through the the major cities and regional towns throughout the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg.
In addition to the tour we took time out to work in a "pay as you feel" coffee shop in Amsterdam. The focus being on taking every day activities and using them to release any blocks to being in the moment or what we call Liven what's Given.
During this time we met amazing people, had wonderful and heart felt connections, while living in some of the best parts of Europe, and appreciating the great scenery and history of each area.
Volunteering In South Africa Lions and Tigers - When we discovered a volunteering project that would allow us to spend time with lions and tigers in a breeding park in South Africa we were very excited. It was a unique and amazing experience where we were hands on with feeding, cleaning and playing with lion and tiger cubs from 1 week to 7 months old.
The original plan here was to just be two of the volunteers. However after two days the owner had decided that with our experience and knowledge, we would make good candidates to manage the place while she and half the volunteers went to inspect some white lions at a park a few days away.
So here in began our Relief Management experience. It was a unique and amazing experience where we were hands on with managing the park, running the park tours for local and international visitors, organising volunteers and running new volunteer orientation.
Additionally we were involved in the activities of caring for the rest of the park, which consisted of 150 bigger lions and tigers of varying ages.
This was definitely one on those once in a life time opportunities and we had a blast. If you ever get the opportunity then we suggest you jump at it!
Volunteering In Tanzania - So on a high from our Lion and Tiger experience we made our way to Tanzania where we had volunteered to teach English to the local school kids. In addition to that we had agreed to undertake some after school programs, then go on a few African safaris.
The teaching English is one experience we will never forget. It consisted of teaching pre-school kids, aged between 2 and 5 years old. There were 2 classes with 75 kids each, two full time local teachers and very primitive facilities. To say this was a challenging experience would be a total understatement, however It was an interesting experience and a total insight into another culture and perception of the world.
After school we spent time at the local orphanages, playing with the children and singing songs. In addition to that we used our business and coaching experience to teach business and life principles at an afternoon class for the local Masai. This in many ways was a rewarding experience as they were very enthusiastic to practice their English and put into practice any business and life principles we passed on.
After our time teaching we thoroughly enjoyed a two week African safari. Now this was a WOW experience. We glamped on the banks of Lake Rukwa watching the wild life over dinner drinks, recuperating from a hard day sightseeing, and getting ready to sleep in our 5* Tents. Then we made our way to the Serengeti National Park to find the "Big 5" and we ended it with a week lazing around the beaches and towns of Zanzibar.
'Well thats about it.
The stats and highlights of our International House and Pet sitting lifestyle. Thank you for sharing our experience.
Just Liven what's Given
Gavin and Jill
PS. If you have any questions or just wish to share one of your experiences please use the comments section below.
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Great post and very informative! We're about to head over to Malaysia, will stay in Melaka for a couple of days with friends then move on to Penang for 2-3 weeks. I'll take a look at your Malaysia blog posts to get your views and pointers. Also plan to stay on in South East Asia for a few months and hoping that our life in sub-tropical Australia means we can cope with the humidity.
Thanks Sue. If you like heat and humidty then SE Asia is a place to be enjoyed. We found Penang a nice place to Sit, especially around Tanjung Bungah. I have a written a few blogs on Penang about some places we found great and a little of the beaten track as well as a few on Asia. There should have been more but I ran out of time :-). Enjoy your trip
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