We are Paul and Vicki Terhorst. We retired young and are now perpetual travelers.
This page lets you know our whereabouts, how to contact us, and what's going on in our lives.
We updated this page from Kunming, China on February 6, 2015.
Happy Valentine's Day
Happy Spring Festival/Lunar New Year
(What we have always called Chinese New Year celebrated this year on February 19th, 2015)
Living And Learning Overseas
A short, free version of Paul's Overseas Retirement Living yearly predictions:
*Email us if you'd like the full version of Paul's predictions and/or a copy of an article Paul wrote for the Simon Letter:
"Inside the Chinese Dragon: 2015."
The Simon Letter and Overseas Retirement Living are subscription newsletters published by Live and Invest Overseas.
To read older articles by us in Live and Invest Overseas scroll down to TIMELESS and click on their titles.
Find the Contemplation Photos at the bottom of this page.
This commentary comes from our/Paul's published piece 'Inside China' plus I've added a few extra notes here and there (in parenthesis).
The photos are exclusive to our homepage:
Vicki and I are living in Kunming, China for two months. We want to get a good feel for the city. Maybe Kunming will become a new base for us in SE Asia. With the new ten-year China visas, Americans can stay in China for up to two months each visit.
We live in the center of Kunming and spend our days exploring parks, markets, restaurants, malls, supermarkets and far-flung neighborhoods. We walk, take buses, and ride the new metro.
(Museums and special exhibits too)
Parks make a perfect spot for people watching. In parks locals play cards, exercise, feed fish, and play badminton. Woodwinds and strings accompany opera singers and their loud vibratos. Children practice on scooters while their moms dance. Old people drink tea and smoke.
(Every young girl in Kunming wants to wear a pink veil. We first observed this phenomena in Green Lake Park.)
In one of the larger parks in Kunming, five or six men fly kites with maybe a dozen onlookers. These human-sized high-tech kites are made of space-age materials. Flyers reel in their kites with devices that look like a cross between big fishing reels and small bike wheels, maybe a foot in diameter. The reels hold a couple of miles of strong nylon line, and have ball bearings along with levers, clamps, and supports to make flying easy.
I take the kite flyers as a metaphor for China. Apply high-tech to traditional hobbies. Play in a group, at appointed times. Stick to the rules, help each other out, and enjoy the process rather than the result.
chickens, although they'll prepare them for cooking if asked. Others sell fruit and vegetables, some unrecognizable, especially the medicinal plants. In another section of the market one can buy dresses, baby clothes, cell phones and accessories, shoes, and fabric. Food stalls sell donuts, dumplings, noodles, and ham. In the midst of it all we saw a dentist working on a patient's teeth. Both dentist and patient seemed calm and unhurried, ignoring the chaos all around.
If we need a dentist we'll go to one of the many modern dental clinics in our downtown neighborhood.
Our favorite restaurant serves up two dozen or so different dishes from a steam table. Vicki and I just point: meat here, vegetables there. They serve it up, always with rice and warm vegetable broth on the side. We're not allowed to skip the watered-down broth. If we don't pick up a bowl, one of the helpful staff rushes over to our table with bowls in hand.
With so much time here we've found several favorite restaurants and food stalls. Our problem is naming them. These places have Chinese names, Chinese addresses, I suppose, but Vicki and I must come up with our own code. We have the Alley Cafeteria, referred to above, across from Alley Soup, and around the corner from Alley Cafeteria Two. We have Spicy Soup KFC, a soup stall below a Kentucky Fried Chicken. We have Helen Dumplings, a dumpling place around the corner from where our friend Helen took us last year. We have Food Court, Taiwan Food Court, and The Hump, in a youth hostel with the same name. We even have O'Reilly's Pub; the name says it all.
For supermarkets we have a giant New Supermarket, recently opened next door, and a ritzy Parkson's across the plaza. Metro, a short subway ride away, has the best selection of imported goods. We even have Carrefour and Walmart, always crowded and frenetic, our least favorites.
Kunming's streets come alive every day with locals rushing around, young lovers talking on cell phones, and families with young children everywhere. We saw a toddler fall, pick himself up, dust off, and get going again without so much as a glance at Grandma. Why look over there? She only helps out in a pinch.
We read about Tiger Moms, who pressure their children to succeed. We read about competition. Yet around town we see so many people having so much fun.
We see police everywhere, but at least on streets they seem to rule with a light touch. We especially appreciate the traffic police doing their job. Chinese pay little attention to traffic rules. We've seen way too many accidents during our visit. I read somewhere that Chinese traffic accidents approach ten times the norm.
Kunming has special traffic lanes set aside for motorcycles and bicycles. Still, sidewalks are viewed as just another lane of traffic, in many ways preferred to roads. After all, sidewalks accommodate two-way traffic. Pedestrians come so far down the food chain that we (Vicki and I and others) can safely be ignored. I'm used to it; jumping out of the way of a motorcycle on sidewalks or crosswalks has become routine.
parking, motorcycle repair, pop-up shops, and food-cart vendors. Vicki's favorite cart serves up fried potatoes tossed with pungent spices.
Everywhere Kunming bursts with activity. Merchants buy and sell, builders tear down and rebuild. A recent study of cities ranked Kunming the world's sixth most growing economy.
We find Kunming's altitude (1,900 metres/6,234 feet above sea level), restricted internet, and lack of English speakers to be the major drawbacks. On the other hand, Paul has lots of opportunity to practice his limited Mandarin. Connecting to the Internet with a VPN gives us access to blocked Internet sites, including Live and Invest Overseas. Adjusting to the altitude is just a matter of time.
Kunming: so far, so good. We like it here.
We started our China visit in Mengla, a few hours north of Luang Namtha, Laos. The van dropped us off at the new bus station about two miles outside of downtown Mengla. Rather then schlep our bags to downtown we found a modern, new hotel next to the bus station. The hotel's only drawback was traditional squat toilets; luckily we can still manage. We stayed five days and enjoyed daily walks to downtown with it's outstanding local market, what we call "old China." The scenic ten-hour bus ride from Mengla to Kunming inspired awe for its beauty and incredible engineering up, down, around, and through the mountains.
last few days of 2014 and rang in 2015. Our room, at the Day Waterfront Hotel, had an exemplary view of the Mekong. Here's a reflection of Vicki taking photos of the first morning light plus a few favorite Mekong photos.
We celebrated Christmas in Chiang Mai. Click here "Let It Snow" to read Paul's article on an expat Christmas in Thailand.
And speaking of snow, a small shopping plaza in Chiang Mai offered a snow festival.
I'm not sure if the Thai children knew that the snow was actually salt as a couple of them were trying their hardest to build a snowman!
Now, back in Luang Namtha, we see signs of a construction boom. Even the basket bridge that floods destroyed a couple of years ago has been rebuilt. The hilltop monastery has enough donations to build a new temple and renovate its stupa, a sure sign of local prosperity.
After a couple of months in China and a short stay in Bangkok, we'll fly to Los Angeles to visit family and friends in California, Nevada, Oregon and Texas. In early May we'll fly to Europe. So far we have no planned itinerary for Europe and only one commitment, to meet one of Paul's brothers in Spain in June.
Republished July 13, 2014 (see comment below about the Huffington Post blogs)
Kathleen Peddicord, publisher of Live and Invest Overseas, asked Paul for a bit of research and editing support for her blog on the Huffington Post's Post50 blogs. Later the articles are often published in Live and Invest Overseas.
Click on articles by Paul and Vicki to read more published articles about their travels and reflections.
We wrote Cashing In on the American Dream, published by what is now Bantam Doubleday Dell, in 1988. Even though the book is out of date and out of print, it is still considered a classic read for anyone considering early retirement.
Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.