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Showing posts from January, 2018

Norway: Mountains, Tunnels, Ferries and Fjords

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Norway was one of those places that we had never really thought about going to, especially not in the middle of the winter. Be that as it may, the combination of the timing of our trip, and the presence of a school friend who would be visiting home in Volda, Norway, meant a trip there in February became a reality. So we booked a two week trip to Norway, half of which we would spend in and around Volda, and the second half where we would spend in the slightly larger city of Bergen.



We flew in from rainy London to Oslo, where we were met with the frigid view of a white blanket of snow draping across the landscape like frosting on a cake. While not unexpected, we had after all, made the effort of purchasing a few warmer inner and outer layers prior to coming on this trip, it was still a sight that made us dread heading off the plane. We could only imagine what lay in store for us at our final destination, Alesund, a small town on the west coast even further north than Oslo. However, as w…

A few things I learned about driving in the UK

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I think Phil was a bit hesitant to let me drive in the UK. To be fair, I was feeling a bit hesitant to drive there too. So here are a few things I learned while driving around for the few days we were in the UK.

1. Most obviously, they drive on the opposite side
This was mostly ok, but always caused us confusion on which side to get in the car. It also meant we weren't quite used to how much space we had on the far side while driving. In my case that means I went over a few curbs.. good thing the curbs aren't very high. This reversal also meant my entire career of driving manual had to be flipped opposite. Turns out it's not such a difficult transition as the pedal situation is all the same, but my ability to shift gears using my left hand does leave a little to be desired. Finally, we had a hard time getting used to which side the windshield wiper and which side is the turning signals when we drove in Australia. Good thing that muscle memory seems to have held on somehow…

Welcome to our Van!

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As many of you are probably waiting for the tour of our van, wait no longer! Here it is!

Our Vauxhill Vivaro was purchased from a fellow who lived on the coast of the UK, named Adam. He converted the entire vehicle himself and had a professional electrician do the wiring (including the solar panel set up) for his own Eurotrip that just ended recently. He definitely did a much better job than anything Phil or I could do (as you can see from our own Element conversion haha).


Some of the pros and cons to our new home so far:

Pros:
- SO MUCH SPACE
- has a working fridge
- has a working hand pump sink
- tons of counter space
- has a porta potty
- can convert from sofa to bed
- can sit up comfortably

Cons:
- sink drainage hasn't been sorted yet, it's currently using a bucket
- need to convert the bed every day (I'm sortof lazy)
- somewhat limited storage space
- can't stand up to cook
- no ventilation unit

Overall we're very happy with our purchase, and it will definitel…

How to buy a campervan in the UK as a foreigner

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As always, purchasing a vehicle in a place that you are not from is always an adventure. Here, I'll try to hit on the big points of how we made our purchase across the pond.

To begin, we did do our fair share of research before deciding we should purchase our camper in the UK. (We had seriously considered shipping our beloved Element over, but the import taxes and shipping made this idea prohibitive as an option). At the end of the day, it seemed that the process of purchasing, registering and insuring the vehicle would be easiest done for us in the UK. Generally this was because a) we would be purchasing and dealing with all paperwork in English, b) we have an excellent friend who is letting us use their local address for our car registration, c) we found via another website, an insurance company who cover americans or australians campervan touring around europe.

Step 1: Finding your campervan

We used gumtree primarily to find our campervan. Phil had be religiously searching for …

The first 4 days... the hunt for the campervan

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Well, we're nearing the end of our first 4 days in the UK. Interestingly enough, we still haven't gone to London! We flew in on the 18th to Gatwick (which is about an hour south of London, picked up our tiny red Fiat rental car, and spent the entire first day looking at campervans. It was all pretty much a blur of driving, naps and campervan viewings. Since then, we've been based out of Ashtead's at a friend's place and doing all the car type things. The rainy/snowy weather hasn't been helping with our desire to do anything toursity this time around. Check out our latest video below:



Our homes for 5 months. Europe edition.

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Here we go again. While this time our trip won't be quite as long as our last, we'll still be off for a few months, trying to travel around as much of Europe as we possibly can.

Once again, we've taken a photo of all we're bringing with us. Phil's managed to stuff it all in a 40L Gregory backpack and a 20L Peak Design bag. I'm bringing my 46L Osprey Porter and my 22L Osprey Talon. This time, we're also actually taking one additional check in luggage.. gasp! And it's entirely full of climbing gear.

One factor that's made packing a little more difficult this time around, is the accounting for cold weather. We've already decided we'll be visiting a friend up in Norway, so cold weather gear is a must. However, it's incredibly bulky. Hard to deal with when you're trying to pack light. So we've decided to go with as many layers as we can and hope we'll be able to handle the cold. Though honestly, our last couple weeks in Calgary an…

2018 Europe Camper Van Search Update + What To Look For When Buying A Ca...

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Hellooo!! We're back! It's been a crazy last few weeks. We've finally completed the rounds of visiting all our friends and family in their various cities, and we thought a little update might be in order. We've been in the midst of searching for our new home on wheels, and it's so far been encouraging. However, we're pretty excited to actually get to the UK so we can start seeing some of these vans in person! Check out our latest video with updates on us and questions to ask yourself when you're looking for a camper yourself! We're starting to get excited about Europe!!!

My Morning Routine After Van Life || Easy Simple Healthy Breakfast

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I tried to tell phil that van life without a van is just... well... life. Anyway, hope you enjoy his interesting breakfast choices. I've never had it before and I don't know where he finds these recipes.. haha

Van Life || Best Places To Cook Meals When Living In A Smaller Vehicle

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We realize that though we don't actually have the van yet, we still wanted to put some content out... so here was one of the topics we'd discussed for a while, but never put up.. until now!

Van Life || 7 Tips On How To Sell (Buy) A Camper Van

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It's the sad truth... we have been putting up our beloved Element for sale. It's always a rough time when we have to say goodbye to our faithful friends, but she deserved to be taken care of by someone else rather than sit outside, unused and unloved for the next three years. If you're ever in this situation, here are a few tips on how to sell your campervan.

Honda Element Life Is Over In California || Next: Van Life In Europe?

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This is always the saddest part. Emptying the van. Especially one in which you've poured your heart and soul into. A picture is worth a thousand words, so a video must be worth more. I think you'll get the idea.

Canon 80D || Las Vegas || Cinematic Travel Film

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While we love doing tutorial type videos, it sometimes is just more fun to edit a video purely for cinema. We were headed to Vegas/Red Rocks one last time for thanksgiving and Phil wanted to experiment with the new camera anyway. We hope you enjoy it!

Van Life Kitchen || Simple Homemade Sushi Rolls On The Road

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Phil loves making recipes that require no cooking. I love making sushi. It's a match made in heaven. Anyway, people love cooking videos so we thought we'd make one on sushi rolls! Of course, we're by no means any kind of professionals at this, so pardon if we didn't do everything exactly right :)

How We Urban Stealth Camp In The City Part 2 || San Fransisco || Van Life

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Round 2. We thought it might be nice to show a regular vlog on how we stealth camp. We had planned a trip up to the city (SF) anyway, so we figured it was a great chance to do it. We've done it a few times here so we already had our bathroom situation figured out. Campervanning definitely makes meeting friends in the touristy parts of SF a lot easier!

Owens River Gorge || A Weekend Break From Van Life...Again

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It seems living in our car has made us a bit lazy... we seem to have gotten into the habit of renting air bnb's with groups of friends. :D It was a good excuse that it was both a friend's birthday AND halloween! Amazing climbing in the nearby Owen's River Gorge made it all the better :D

Van Life Married Couple Relationship Issues & Work Around Living In A 35...

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Married life is never easy, and married life in a van can make certain aspects more or less challenging. Here we talk a bit about some things that we found to be particularly challenging, or less challenging than we thought. 

Van Life Kitchen || Cooking A Simple Healthy Meal On The Road

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Yay! More cooking videos! Phil likes it when meals only require a minimal amount of ingredients and prep time. Here he's making a deliciously healthy shrimp and veggie salad. Slurp.

Van Life || Bathroom Options in Normal Off Business Hours

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Bathroom, washroom, water closet, toilet, restroom, etc. You learn to ask for this everywhere you go. While it may be inconvenent not having one on hand at any time, it's interesting how well you adapt to making sure you do your business before you leave a place (just ask our friends haha). Here are our top go to bathroom places!

How to Live the Van Life and Be a Full Time Student

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Student life can be expensive. Especially in the Bay Area. While this wasn't how we started out living in San Jose, we ended up in the car because it made so much sense. Student life actually makes it a lot easier due to the availability of facilities most schools offer. Shower? Bathroom? Study space? It's all there, and usually with good hours too!

How we Urban Stealth Camp In the City Part 1 || DIY Window Covers || Van...

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It all started with the trouble that making proper window covers gave us. Ask any van dweller, it's always an adventure and breeds some incredibly creative solutions. We've seen poster board, duct tape, curtains and felt. Here's our take on how to be as stealth as possible.

Top 4 Van Life Obstacles and Racist Comments

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It's an interesting thing when people have the power to write anything they want to you over the anonymity of the internet. It's also fascinating to read negative commments, sometimes purely because the content doesn't make much sense or it completely misses the point. Anyway, it's something we've slowly had to deal with, though it doesn't bother us too much.

Yellowstone NP || Glad to come back to our own bed

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Another whirlwind roller coaster of a vacation. We spent 4 days in Yellowstone, mostly to see the sights and the bison! We even had bison burgers... does that make us bad people? It was amazing and became much more of a photography trip than anything else. I'm sure you can see why.

Honda Element Life || His & Hers: Top 5 Full Time Van Life Essentials

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This one was a bit of a fun idea for us, as we'd been living so long in the car now, it would stand to reason we had formed our own opinions on what was most important to us. We didn't talk about it beforehand, so check out what our thoughts were!

Another Break From VanLife || Vanessa's Surprise Birthday Weekend

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I had no idea, though I did have guesses. And I supposed I was pretty close too. It was an excellent way to spend a pretty big milestone of a birthday :D

Australia Campervan Tour // Our First Experience With Van Life

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Throwback time! We sometimes miss our old Mazda E2000 in Australia, even though it wasn't Here's a mini tour of our first ever van life home.

你好! Honda Element Custom Camper Tour in Cantonese

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We were featured in the LA division of a big Hong Kong newspaper!! Wowee, in honor of that, we decided to make a little tour in Cantonese, our 2nd language. Though we are far from fluent, and it was really, really, really, really (I mean we were pretty much ready to give up), really, really hard to do it, we hope you enjoyed it!

Honda Element Life - Live Stream || Nate from Element Van Life

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Our second ever live stream, and it just so happened while Nate was with us! For followers of both our channels, it ended up being a mini interview for all of us! Enjoy :)

Honda Element Life || Cooking with Nate from Element Van Life

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Oh my goodness, it's the OG Element Van Lifer!! Welcome to our crossover episode with Nate from Element Van Life!! It was a great time, with dinner and mini golf. (check out Nate's version here) Nate also did a little comparison which you can check out here. All in all, it was a memorable afternoon/evening spent with a fellow Element soul :)

Honda Element Life || Not the usual van life vlog.

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As most of you know, Phil and I are pretty into rock climbing. So here we go on another Element adventure to the south west corner of Lake Tahoe, Eagle Lake! We've been learning to do a little bit of trad climbing, so Phil found a great place called Eagle Lake Buttress, a 5.5 multipitch climb that only took us about 3 hours to hike to the base (we got.. quite lost). Regardless of the ridiculous hike in and out, it was pretty awesome!

Honda Element Life || One Year of Vanlife || San Diego Comic Con 2017 vlog

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It's been a full year in the Element already! This anniversary just so happened to coincide with one of our most anticipated events of the year... San Diego Comic Con!!! We'd been waiting to make this a reality while living in the bay area, and we were super stoked when we got in the lottery to buy tickets for it!

Honda Element Life || Washing Dishes Efficiently While Living the Van Life

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One of the things we definitely took for granted while living in our old house was a constant source of warm water! There certainly was a learning curve when washing dishes out in the wild when it's below freezing and you're running out of water. Here are a few tips we picked up.

Honda Element Life || We Took A Break From Van Life

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Everyone needs a break sometimes, and we decided to stop by in Summerland and stay at a timeshare for an evening. I always miss using an oven so I try to make the most of it whenever I can, hence, spaghetti squash!! and wayyyy too much food! Yum!

Honda Element Life || Cooking On the Road || Simple Vegetarian Thai Curry

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Nomnomnom. We love food. Here's a great way to cook when you're on the road: Thermal cooker! We also love curry, though sometimes it's better to use it when you're cooking for more than 2 people! This pot of curry lasted us quite a few meals!

Honda Element (Van) Life || Our Minimalist Kitchen Tour

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Seeing the interest of our audience in what we had in our closet, made us think that doing a mini tour of our kitchen might be a good idea too. Do we have too little? too much? more than you thought? Let us know!

Honda Element Life: First Ever Q&A Live Stream Hang Out!! 6/13/2017

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If you've got (a lot of) time on your hands, join us in this repost of our first ever live stream! It was an awesome experience getting to interact with all of you directly, and it definitely was funny getting used to the lag time.

Honda Element Life Morning Routine || Vanessa's Gone || Weekend To Myself

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This is what Phil does when I'm gone... Randomness.

Honda Element Life: First Knock At Walmart || Vanessa Gets Annoyed || Ro...

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Usually Walmarts are a safe haven for those of us urban boondockers. However, this time, while we did sleep there, we did get a knocking in the morning.

Honda Element (Van) Life: Our Minimalist Wardrobe || What's In Our Cabinet?

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Whenever we show people the Element, they are always surprised that we're able to fit all our clothes in our tiny "closet". So we decided to show you exactly what's in our closet! Yahoo!

Q & A || How much money do we save & What does our Asian family think of...

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Money, money, money. This is always an interesting topic. Of course one of the biggest upsides to vanlife living is saving on rent! Here we discuss a few topics concerning our financials and what our traditional (ish) Asian parents think about it all.

A DAY IN HONDA ELEMENT LIFE || BEST CAR/RV CAMPGROUND- ALABAMA HILLS, CA

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As some serious weekend warriors, we've been around the block in California. This is one of our favorite places. Incredibly scenic, very few people, free, AND has climbing. What more can you ask for?

Honda Element Q & A || How Do We Shower While Living In A Car?

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Check out Phil's version of "The Beach".. you know, the whole Leo standing under the tropical waterfall.. except Phil's in his boxers, in a desert (still sand right?), using a plastic portable shower pump we bought off Amazon. Sexy.

Honda Element Life Q & A || How Do We Stay Warm?

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Living in California means we only really need to deal with snow when we want to. However, it can get pretty chilly when we do go up to the Sierra's, so how do we deal with it? Here are our 5 tips!

A Day in Honda Element Life (Not really) || Vlog #3 Winter Camping Survival

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Our first non-element related vidoe. Our original plan to snowshoe all the way to Lake Aloha fell apart, which resulted in an afternoon of carrying out a childhood dream... to dig a giant ice cave! We had to make it big enough to house 6 of us too, so it did take the better part of the entire afternoon. The end result was pretty amazing though!

Honda Element Camper: Making Dinner || Cauliflower Rice

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Sometimes people ask what kind of food we make in the car. Phil came home one day extremely excited about buying a new Ninja chopper and was even more excited to find out we could run it off our inverter!

Honda Element Camper: DIY Cabinet Build Details

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Here we have an explanation on how we put together the cabinet that we have inside the element. Due to the awkward shape of the window well, it made it a bit of a process trying to figure it all out. Also since we're not exactly carpenters and we only had a jigsaw and an electric screw, we had to be creative and make the best of it! You can't tell everything is actually crooked right?

A Day in Honda Element Life || Vlog #2 Burbank, CA

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Vlog #2! This time we had a bit of a trip down to LA planned, visiting some friends and hitting up the WB studios. We also snuck a movie in cuz why not?

A Day in Honda Element Life || Vlog #1 Carrizo Plain National Monument

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Our first Vlog! Phil randomly chose this area to camp this weekend, just because it looked nice in pictures. We only almost got stuck in the mud overnight once haha. But yeah, clay mud that adds 10lbs to the bottoms of your shoes is really not very fun. Despite all that, it was super relaxing and extremely photogenic!

Honda Element Camper Life Q&A #2

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A brand new set of answers to all your questions! Hopefully we're not just repeating ourselves haha.

1st creepy moment in 7 months "I'm so sorry" & Police Encounter

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I suppose we've been pretty lucky all things considered. One of our parents main concerns was for our safety when we told them we're living in our Element. But as it is, our negative encounters have been few and far between.

Honda Element Camper Battery Setup

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Many also have asked about our battery set up. We ended up buying a Yeti 150 from REI, which is perfectly sufficient for us to power up our phones, cameras, and tablets.

Honda Element DIY Bug Screen

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Our first few nights in the Element were pretty memorable, mostly due to the zillions of mosquitos that we had no idea lived in the bush we parked next to. As such, mozzie nets were a must. Phil bought the mesh off of Amazon, black fabric from a fabric store and magnets from Lowes and I had the joy of sewing it all together!

How & Why We Decided to Live in our Element

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The two most common questions we get asked... answered right here in this video!

Washburn Point Yosemite: Cross Country ski 21 Miles. UGGGHH

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Not exactly sure how this trip happened. Especially when Phil is constantly complaining about hating snow. We also somehow got together 10 completely newbie cross country skiiers to go 21 miles and camp in the snow ... We must have really good friends. 

Honda Element Camper Life Q&A #1

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Van Life Tour || Our Custom DIY Honda Element Conversion

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Welcome to our Honda Element! Lots of people ask us how it came to be that we decided to live in the Honda specifically, and honestly, it was only because we had already purchased the vehicle for our weekend adventures. We'd seen some pretty sweet set ups and builds in elements and thought, why not? We initially only made the platform for weekend adventures, but after using it a few times, we felt like it would really be feasible to live in it full time. So here we are, fully converted, living in it full time and showing it off like proud parents :D