#OurNewNormal | Randi Delano of Prague, Czech Republic

Image contains two equal panels. In the right-hand panel, there is a photo of a woman in a video conference. Just a little to the left of the woman, there is a small photo of a man with a white border around it. In the left-hand panel, there is white text on a pastel red background that says “T.O.F.U. Talks #OurNewNormal Episode 02 With Randi Delano of Prague, Czech Republic”.

In the second episode of the T.O.F.U. Talks limited series, Randi Delano shares her experience while living in Prague, Czech Republic during the COVID-19 pandemic. From a personal scare with no certain diagnosis to the trials and tribulations of sourdough starters, check out the episode below to find out what her new normal looks like.

To read more about Randi’s experience, visit her blog here.

Find Randi online here:

Instagram | Website

For more on Randi’s travels, please check out the T.O.F.U. Talks episode I hosted with her and Mostly Amélie here.


Although the interview was originally done as a video chat, you can now listen to it in an audio-only format available on most podcast platforms, as well as below.


Ryan: Okay. Well, thank you so much for joining me. As I may or may not have mentioned by this point, I’m not sure the order I’m gonna post these. Basically, I’m just trying to do sort of a limited series of talks with people around the world to give other people an idea of what’s happening because obviously this is sort of a global thing. And I also, hopefully, want people to be able to connect with each other around the world. So, thank you for joining me. First and foremost, could you maybe just give a little introduction of yourself?

Randi: Yeah, sure. Thanks for having me. So, my name is Randi. I have two travel websites. One is called “Veggie Visa”, it’s a vegan lifestyle and travel website, and the other is called “Just a Pack”, which is a more general travel website.

Ryan: And so where are you right now in the world?

Randi: So, I’m in Prague, Czech Republic. I actually live here. I’ve lived here for a couple of years. Thankfully, I’m legal here. So, being stuck here isn’t really a problem, but, yeah, like the borders are totally closed and I couldn’t leave if I wanted to. I guess unless there’s some kind of emergency. I don’t know, but yeah, that’s where I am, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

Ryan: I think, yeah, I mean, I think we’ll get into the details a little bit more, but, in general, like, you feel, like, you’re okay there? Like, I mean you say you’re stuck, but it was with a laugh, so I guess it’s not like…

Randi: Yeah, no. I’m really happy because like I am not in this weird space of like applying for a new visa or anything like that. Everything is settled as far as that goes, like, I’m not nervous about anything. The government is doing a pretty good job here, I think. And they’re acting really quickly, which is kind of surprising for me to see since I’m from the States and our government does not act at all or act quickly at all. So, it’s really impressive to see them, like, meeting and making decisions kind of the same day and moving everything along really quickly. So, I’m really happy to be here. I’m also happy to be here because I have health insurance, and, like, state health insurance, so I know if anything happens to me, like if I got sick or whatever, I would be taken care of. So, yes, I am totally content here.

Ryan: Okay, yeah. I’ve had a few people ask me, like, “why aren’t you going home?”, and I mean Mr Trudeau was, like, “every Canadian should come home”, like, I think in the beginning of March maybe and I was sitting here in Vietnam, like, looking at our numbers and how things have been going and I just like “no, I think I’ll stay here”. Thankfully, like, I’m not house sitting. I’m staying at my partner’s place and, like, I had planned on being here for three months. So my visa’s good until, like, early June. I don’t know what the state of things will be by then, but, like, the government’s already, at least this month, they’re extending people’s tourist visas and everything at least for a month because the understanding is that most people can’t even go anywhere they want to and in some cases it would put them in a worse situation. So, I mean, similar to you, I don’t, I don’t have healthcare here, but, like, if I did get sick, it’s relatively cheap. The testing I think is free, and they have been putting people in quarantine facilities. So, that also is free, like, the the boarding and the food. I’m guessing it’s not, like, you know, five star resort, but they have actually, they’ve offered the option for upgrades if you want to. Which is an interesting sort of help with the tourism industry, I think. Like, I’m not sure how it works, but you could, like in the North, you could end up in, like, a resort, if you wanted to be. You would just have to pay, like, a certain rate, which I haven’t heard anywhere else doing that. Yeah, so I feel pretty good here, and that’s why I wanted to check. I figured you were probably feeling okay to be where you were. So, since you’ve been there for awhile, what has changed? I mean I know you mentioned in your blog that the first case was like last month. So, I guess maybe it’s the last month or so that things have really turned around or upside down or something.

Randi: Yeah, I mean, kind of life in general has changed a lot. Obviously, I think almost everyone’s dealing with it, but yeah. It’s just gotten kind of lonely, eerie and weird. Like, going out with, you know, not so many people in the street, like, we’re not supposed to be taking walks unless you are going actually to a part or whatever. We’re supposed to be kind of self quarantining. We’re of course allowed to go to the grocery store or to pharmacy or whatever. But you’re not really supposed to be socializing on the streets. We’re all, like, mandated to wear masks. So, I think that’s something that’s a little different than a lot of countries. We can get fined pretty heavily if we’re not wearing a mask in public, which that in and of itself is very strange, like, it’s so weird. I used to think I wanted to be a doctor, like, “oh, I regret not going to medical school and becoming doctor”, but after this experience of having to wear a mask now. I’m glad I don’t work in this field, but, yeah, super weird. It seems like a totally different, time period, like, something in the future where everyone’s wearing masks because there’s some massive threat, but here we are, like, suddenly in our own time period. It’s very strange. That said, in the last weekend, people have, I guess gotten a little tired of the quarantinings because as I said to you before we started the call, the weather was really nice here and warmed up. So, people were really kind of breaking rules and going out to public spaces and, you know, having drinks on the sidewalk, which is normal here. Not Wearing masks as much as they should. So, yeah, I think people have reached the point where they’ve had enough. Actually yesterday, the government announced kind of a rollout plan to start reopening certain businesses from, I think, next week. Yeah, next week they’re going to start opening things like a farmers’ markets and some other other businesses all the way up until June eight, I think is when the last kind of rollout of opening museums and, you know, mass gatherings and things like that allowed to take place. So, it feels like we’re kind of at the end of this very strict quarantine or the beginning of the end. But, yeah, I’m not sure how it’s going to go because it also feels like a little early to start making these changes, so I wonder if in a few weeks we start seeing, like, this huge increase of cases of coronavirus. So, we’ll see. But, yeah, to answer your question in one word: it’s weird.

Ryan: I think. Yeah I think a lot of people could relate to you with that one. Yeah we just got. The decision came like I don’t know maybe in the last couple of hours. That they’re extending the “not a lockdown” lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi and a few other places within the country. So we’re pretty much under like fairly strict social distancing. The mask thing, you know, in most of Asia is not like a massive change. There have been some fights between people, mostly I think, drunk people and the police. Not so much, at least the two cases I’ve read about in the news are not foreigners, they were locals, but they were just, I think they had been drinking and they just felt they were untouchable and one of them ended up punching a police officer in the face. So, now they’re gonna possibly end up in prison. There have definitely been fines. Hanoi has fined a fair number of people, I think. Tn general, like, you know gatherings of no more than two people, a lot of establishments are closed. It’s interesting that you said the farmers’ markets because here those are, like, very much still open, which is funny to me because I feel like if the situation was worse, like, if we had more cases, those would be the kind of places that, like, just in general, I mean, there’s ninety five million people in this country, we’re kind of all squished together and, if it really did come in, I feel like it would just blow up because there’s so many people on top of each other. You know, you have all these markets and, like, just the general sort of cleanliness of everything isn’t exactly, like, super strict. So, I’m happy that it at least seems like most of it’s kind of been kept, like, when people, it’s to the point now where when people come in, although pretty much the borders closed to everyone I think now, but for the last while, like, if you flew in here or drove in here on a bus whatever you went to quarantine facility for two weeks. Straight up. So, a lot of the new cases over the last couple of weeks have been, like, within facilities and stuff haven’t been, like, sort of community pockets. So, I think that’s kind of helped. But, yeah, right now they, the decision was today. It was, the first lockdown was only until today, so now we’ve got another week. I don’t know what’s gonna happen after that. I suspect it’ll be another week, and then. I hadn’t heard that there, I mean I haven’t heard a lot about the Czech Republic like I told you, but most of the places are still trying to figure out “what the hell are we going to do when we say ‘okay, let’s start going back’?” So, it’s interesting that they’re, like, already kind of having a plan because a lot of places I’m hearing about are, like, “we don’t know”.

Randi: Yeah, I mean there have been a couple of reports from, or about the Minister of Health saying basically “we need to have herd immunity”. I don’t know, there’s a little back and forth about, like, is this what the goal is of kind of rolling these things out or do they really think it’s safe for us to go back to normal life? So, I don’t know. I think they may just be wanting us all to kind of be exposed to it. Otherwise, like, well not just being exposed to it, but also, like, we can’t continue to live in this kind of lockdown situation. You know, like, small businesses are closed, and even though the government has done a lot of things to help small businesses and people that have been out of work, like, you can’t continue to defend these kinds of things. So, I think they’re just trying to figure out what the best route is to take.

Ryan: Yeah, for sure. So, in terms of that herd immunity thing, I know and I’m going to include a link to your blog post when I do put this up so people can kind of get, you know, anything we don’t touch on here, but you mentioned that you had sort of a scare leading up, well in this March sort of period when things were kind of getting a little more heated, I guess. So, can you kind of explain what happened there?

Randi: Yeah, sure. I mean, obviously it’s been in the news for since January about coronavirus and what’s going on, but we didn’t really have any confirmed cases until March and just when the first cases were coming in I started to feel sick, but I wasn’t, it wasn’t the time period where they were actually testing people unless they had been to Italy or China or some other, you know, high risk country or if they had been knowingly exposed to someone that had the virus. So, I was in this weird place where I was obviously very sick. I was going to the doctor even though I was like “oh should I really come to, like, how am I gonna get to the doctor? I’m not going in the Metro”, and they were like “just take a taxi, it’s fine” and I was, like, “are you sure?” And she’s like “yeah, yeah, come in”. So, I went to the doctor and I had, you know, I had all the kind of symptoms that you are reading about, which the first night that I had them it was pretty scary because it was very intense, like, my, at one point my whole body was shaking because I just had, like, such a, like, chills and aches and pains. I was really kind of scared to go to sleep because of all the stories that I had read about. But, anyway, I eventually went to the doctor and she was like “you definitely have some virus. Flu, coronavirus, we don’t know. We have no way of knowing which one it is because we can’t test you.” I was like “awesome, that’s great.” And she was like “but you know the cases here in this country have not really been, like, as deadly or lethal or whatever as we’re seeing in other places. So, you should be fine. Take these take medications. Take these supplements and just stay in bed for like a week or whatever. Come back if you don’t feel better”. Actually didn’t feel better a week later, so I went back to her because I was also having some other, like, breathing problems, like, pressure in my chest, which I read about could be an issue, could be a sign of having it and I also worried because I have, like, some allergy asthma issues. And I was kind of panicking. Like I wish I just knew or whatever. So, I went back to her and she’s like “okay. Well, now you have an infection. So, we’re gonna give you antibiotics” and once I got home and started taking antibiotics and then I really just started getting better almost immediately. So, thankfully, like, I’m totally better. It did take a couple of weeks to, like, feel completely healthy and not be coughing and just kind of feeling miserable all the time. But yeah, it was really weird and then, you know, I’ll never know if that’s what I had, if I really need to be careful to, like, you know avoid touching things, touching my face or whatever, like, I have no idea and yeah, it kind of sucks. I wish I knew just to have kind of peace of mind or to know now I still need to be really careful about this.

Ryan: Although, I mean, I’ve heard that the test isn’t the most comfortable thing, so I don’t know. I’m kind of trying to avoid it because, well my partner and I both, like, she’s actually in a different city now. So, we’re kind of stuck, like, social distancing because the buses and everything are shutdown. But when she was here, like, last month, you know if either one of us coughed or sneezed or anything just, like, “what are you doing? You coughed twice, like, what does that mean?” And I mean I’ve had issues here just because of the air pollution, like, if it’s really bad, like, I have those sort of the general symptoms. And, you know, off and on for the last month and a half I’ve been like “oh, I don’t feel so great today” and in the back of my mind I’m like “is this it? Is it, is it happening now?” And when I went out this morning just to the street market here, like, I had the mask on an everything, but I needed the sneeze at one point. And I’m, like, and the thing is, I mean that’s bad enough. Plus, I had my hands handful, so I couldn’t take the mask off to seize, so I would’ve just sneezed in the mask, which is just a whole bunch of horrible things about to happen. But I’m also, like, the neighbourhood that I’m in, like, I’m the only foreigner, like, I haven’t seen another foreigner in about probably at least two to three weeks. Thankfully, like, some of the vendors and everything they, like, they know me and they see me around, but I still, like, if I was going to sneeze at that point I was just, like “you cannot, no. You can’t be the only foreigner here who’s going to sneeze in this crowded sort of area”, but it passed thankfully.

Randi: There is some social anxiety about looking contagious, right? Or looking like your infected or something. I’ve had the same thing, like, I have allergies, which have just kicked in the last week and I’m walking down the street, mask on, and I feel a sneeze coming, and I’m like “Oh my God, no, no, no, no, don’t, don’t do it. I don’t want people look at me like ‘oh, you have the plague or whatever'”.

Ryan: I’m like that’s something that I’ve kind of been wondering, I mean. Obviously, a lot of people are talking about like “what’s going to happen after?” and everything and a part of me, I know, like, I’ve heard some people talking about how maybe this sort of progression to open things up might involve determining who’s already immune and who’s not. I mean there’s talks now of cases kind of re-starting, like, from South Korea there’s been, like, one hundred cases of possibly people getting, like, testing positive again, which is a whole other sort of maybe kink in the plan. We’ll see what happens with the data and everything because it’s all sort of still new, but there have been talks about okay maybe they’ll end up doing sort of like an immunity passport so those people who have it and have tested positive then they can kind of go out and start in the workforce and everything. You know, they’ll be safe, but a part of me has been wondering, and maybe it’s just too many, like, zombie movies, that now we have this other sort of division, like, I wrote a piece on Medium about how, like, we have to be conscious of the fact that there are so many, like, ways so much, like, more sort of encouragement to discriminate now. Like, I mean here I feel it as a foreigner. Obviously, around the world a lot of Chinese people have dealt with just bullshit, like, ever since it started, and I’ve heard stories now in China, like, people, like, from Africa and everything getting treated incredibly poorly. But it’s just, like, this partially, like, what you’re saying, but the sort of, like, all of us social distancing and I mean now, like, when I go out, I’m getting anxious about the idea of going outside because someone out there could be sick and they can make me sick, like, it’s me versus the whole world now, which I think just fuels, like, you know this bullshit about immigration and everything especially say in the States. And now we’re all like “our borders are closed, hooray!” Whereas, you know, two months ago we were like “no, don’t close the borders, like, people should be allowed to come and out”. So, I don’t know that’s something I’ve been thinking about in terms of, like “what the hell is going to happen down the road?” because, like, there was a zombie movie, I think it was called “The Cured”, and it plays like after the whole thing happens. So, the idea is that there was basically the people who had been infected and the people who weren’t and they were trying to kind of reintegrate everybody, and that’s been in the back of my mind now because in, like, will are people going to be, because in some countries, like, they’re putting it all out there, like “okay, this person with this name lives here, who went there”, you know, in some other countries it’s just like “okay, patient fifty seven”. So, I’m just wondering, is that going to lead to, like, people, like, what’s happening in the Czech Republic when they report everything, is it super vague or, because some countries, here they’re, like, tracing everybody and giving all the information online so you can tell, like, where they’ve been and everything.

Randi: I’m not sure. I read an article about an app being produced to let you know if you had been in contact with somebody. I don’t know if it was, or I don’t know if it would be anonymous or if it would have details, but I know, like, every news report when they’re talking about a person who has died or, like, in the initial reports they were just describing the person as “an American who had traveled to Italy”, like, they’re not naming any names really. So, it seems to be pretty anonymous right now. But it’s funny, like, when you mentioned you know, like, the id or whatever passport saying “you were clear” or whatever I instantly started thinking “oh my god, there’s going to be a black market for that”, like, where you go and you buy your stamped “I am immune” or whatever. All kinds of, like, strange scenarios could come out of this for sure.

Ryan: I’ve actually said to a few people that, like. I mean I want people to stay inside and everything, but, on the other side, if there are any, like, filmmakers and everything, I hope some people are getting some amazing footage right now for, like, a post-apocalyptic movie because there’s so many cities that are empty and you can’t budget that, like, you can’t shut down a street in London and film it. But now, you know, like, some of the stuff I’ve seen coming out of China like in Wuhan and everything, like, drone footage is just seriously creepy. But I don’t know. Maybe I’m just kinda trying to think of a silver lining of, like, when this is sort of a part of history, like, what’s gonna come out of it, and I mean there’s totally some sci-fi stories there with that idea of, like, the immunity passport and everything. That’s some, like, weird stuff and If I read it in a book I’d be like “that’d never happen” and then, I mean, here we are talking about what are we gonna do when we can go outside again.

Randi: Yeah, it’s true. Well, I know from the aspect of, like, documenting what things are like during these times, you probably saw some of the photos on that article that I wrote my website partner went to, like, old town and took pictures of old town square, totally empty, Charles Bridge, totally empty, like, you’ll never see these things unless you maybe get up at like five in the morning and go visit them, but it’s pretty incredible. I haven’t gone myself, but it’s pretty incredible to see the photos of just like these empty places that are normally there are just, like, throngs of tourists there. It’s really crazy.

Ryan: Well I mean, like here, it hasn’t happened as quick here because, like, our first case was in January, and I feel like restrictions sorta started slowly but surely along that way, but, so let me see, the end of January was, like, the Vietnamese New Year, Tet, so for at least a week, if not longer, everything shuts down and it’s a ghost town. I left, I think in early February to do a house sit in Chiang Mai and when I came back again on March 3rd, I felt like it was that holiday again. Like, I got to the airport, I left, Chiang Mai Airport for one thing was empty, like, when I got there there was no one bothering me, like “oh where, where are you going? Where you going? I’ll take you”, no one, like, I had one guy, I think here in Saigon, like, follow me for a couple of minutes just, like, constantly being like “hey, where are you going, like, let me take you” and everything because they’re just, like, there’s no one at the airports right now. So I got here and I hopped on a scooter to get to my partner’s place here, and there’s just, like, to see the streets of Saigon relatively empty, I mean there are still some people, but, like, to be able to go say sixty kilometres an hour on a scooter down street in Saigon?

Randi: Yeah, that’s incredible.

Ryan: And, I mean, even this morning when I went out, I mean, the market was still pretty busy and ,like, it’s on the streets, so basically people are driving their scooters and, like, if they see vegetables or something they want they just pull over and go “em oi, em oi” and they just get it, and they drive another little bit, and they’re on the wrong side of the road and, like, whatever, but I guess it was less hectic, like, I didn’t feel like I was going to get hit as much. So, I mean if someone got dropped down here for the first time, they’d probably be like “is anybody at home?” But if you’ve been here before, then you’re like “oh my God, where is everybody? This is empty”. So, yeah, it’s been super creepy. I mean I don’t know what it’s like at home, back in Canada, most parts of it, there’s still sorta snow and whatever, like, my home province had a big snowstorm, I think, over the last weekend or so. So, people were generally kinda inside anyway. But now they’re dealing with Easter break, and so, I don’t know what, it’s a weird thing, but the virus seems to be hitting places around a holiday, like, here was the new year and then it hit Canada, like, seriously around, like, spring break and same in the states so, like, all the university students were off, like, you know what, in Daytona Beach and everything and now Easter break is happening and, like, a bunch of Canadians are going off to the cabin and stuff, and everyone’s like “no, stay home. Don’t go running around and everything”. It’s going to be, I don’t know, I’m interested to see what’s Gonna come out of artistically. I’ve definitely seen some people doing some interesting things to adapt to it. Lots of live concerts online, and all that stuff, but I would like to see more footage to get an idea ’cause I mean, apparently the skies clear in a lot of places that haven’t been clear before. And the Earth seems to be doing a bit better and the air pollution…

Randi: How are, like, climate deniers going to deny that? Like how are they going to say that we do not have problems with our, you know, with pollution and the climate being messed up after seeing that. This is some real evidence, right?

Ryan: I mean, I’m really hoping that, I mean, I guess it depends on the government in the country, but, like, all this time that so many things we pushed for change and governments were like “we can’t do that, like, no” and then when this happened, they were like “alright. You know, we’re gonna reform this, we’re gonna change that, student loan debt, we’re going to hold off on that” and, like, all these different things and, like. Yeah now I’m like “well, let’s see maybe we don’t have to return everything to normal. Maybe some of these things can stay the way they are.

Randi: I think our normal is what caused this to happen, right?

Ryan: Yeah, there’s definitely a few issues that could be addressed. But, so, in terms of, like, for you, I mean obviously, I know we kind of connected as, like, travel bloggers sort of thing. I terribly timed my attempt to get into the eBook world of full-time travel and everything, like, in February before the industry shutdown. But I mean obviously, like, this has led to a pretty big change for, like, sort of your general blogging because you sorta stayed still for a little bit, right? I think you’ve been doing kind of trips every now and then or, like, you’re not, like, doing the whole nomad thing, right?

Randi: Yeah, no. I haven’t done that. Pretty much based here and just taking trips to different places in Europe. But, so far, like, I’ve had to cancel two trips already. Like when I got sick I was actually supposed to go to Berlin because I wanted to do the whole house sitting thing for the time, so it was my first house sit and the guy cancelled, but it was actually really lucky that I got sick at that time because the day before I was supposed to come back is when they shut the borders here. So I would have had a really hard time, like, I can’t exactly leave the cat alone and come back a day early, right? And how am I going to get back into the country or whatever? And then I was actually supposed to go to Copenhagen tomorrow for another house sit so both of these have been cancelled. Yeah, so it’s definitely disrupting my travel plans. But, it’s also, like, really, I think anyone who has a travel blog knows that it’s kind of destroyed our business right now. You know? There’s nobody obviously is trying to plan travel, so nobody is searching for travel articles, so our website traffic has just died. Like it really so sad to see. I hope that it bounces back, one, because that’s how I make money and how I make my income, so it’s really scary from that standpoint, but also, like, I put years into both of these websites and I don’t want to see them die because it feels like a part of me. I wouldn’t know what kind of life to live if they don’t exist. So, yeah, it’s really had a big impact on me personally for my job stance and I’m sure anybody else, like, in the travel industry, obviously, like, anyone in the, like, tourism industry in Prague has been hit super hard. Because there’s just nothing going on from that aspect. So, yeah. I think a lot of people are in bad shape, but as I said before the government here is kind of doing some good things to take care of people right now. How long that will last? I don’t know, like, it can’t go on forever, so really hope things can get back to normal, but, I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if, you know, a year from now it wasn’t totally back to normal.

Ryan: I mean, plus, like, especially in terms of the travel thing, it’s not just one country, right? Like, I mean, you gotta, like, for me, even just for me to go home, like, I’m not just leaving Ho Chi Minh City and, like, flying to St. John’s, like, I’ve got to be able to hop through a few different places and hopefully not risk, you know, getting infected or having some flight cancelled. So, like, I mean, I need most of the world’s travel industry to be up and running in order for me to get back over there. And I mean right now, I think Canada’s thinking, I think they’re looking at least until June, if not longer, you know, it all kind of depends on, like, no one’s giving set dates because it’s all, I mean I trust the science, but, like, on the other end, we also don’t know a lot about this thing. They’re learning it all as we go.

Randi: Yeah, and plus, like, we’re involved as humans, so you can’t predict, like, human behaviour and how that’s going to affect everything, right?

Ryan: It’s true. In terms of you, like, how I mean, obviously with all these changes, I mean, some people, like for me, it hasn’t changed sort of my day to day ’cause I’ve been generally working at home and I’m kind of introverted, so besides getting anxious when I go to get some groceries now, otherwise it’s generally okay, but the income thing is definitely sort of weird, but, I mean, like, how’re you kinda coping, like, have you got a new sort of, I mean, I guess like working from home you kinda already know, like, routine’s pretty important, and you kinda have, like, maybe a bit of routine, but is there something like new you’ve had to start doing to kind of be able to do it?

Randi: Sorry, while you were asking that question, there was a little bug just crawling up the wall the whole time. So, beware. There’s something up there. I don’t know. It look like a cricket or something, but anyway.

Ryan: As long as it’s little.

Randi: No, it was tiny.

Ryan: Okay, yeah. Because, I mean, they can get pretty big around these parts.

Randi: Yeah, I know. So scary. Yeah, things have definitely changed. In the beginning, I got into kind of a bad routine of just, like, waking up, being sucked into the news, like, reading, like, kind of consuming everything that I could about it, just, like, being in a really bad mindset of, you know, not being productive, not doing anything else, just one hundred percent devoted to finding out what was going on, which I guess is normal in the beginning. After a while, I realized “this is really depressing and I cannot continue to do this. I cannot continue to just, like, be consumed by it all”, so I decided “okay. I’m not looking at the news anymore today. I don’t want anything to do with this. I am totally shutting off. I’m going to think about, you know, things that I want to do to be more productive during this time. So, I made kind of a list of what I have been wanting to learn about or wanting to work on that I haven’t had the time to in the past. So, I came up with three things. I decided that I wanted to work on photography because I actually have a really nice camera and I’m kind of just starting to learn how to use it and I wanted to get a lot better at it. I also wanted to get better at taking photos of myself for, like, when I’m traveling alone ’cause it’s such a weird thing, like, it’s not natural, I think, for most people to wanna photograph themselves and it seems very…

Ryan: Oh, I don’t have any.

Randi: Yeah, well, I don’t know, for, like, my purposes, my website and Instagram, it’s kind of relevant, so I need to learn how to do it. So, I started taking a lot of skill share. Is that what it’s called? Skill share, share skill. Yeah, skill share classes and courses on photography and also videography because I wanted to start doing videos as well to compliment the website, and then I just started, like, baking bread and learning how to, like, make a sour dough starter, which takes seven days, mind you. Seven days to make a starter.

Ryan: You have time.

Randi: Yeah, now I have time. I have no excuse that I don’t have time. The only challenging thing is here in the Czech Republic, they have all these different kinds of flours that are nothing like, you know, it’s not all-purpose flour, it’s not bread flour, it’s not whatever like we have in the States or Canada. So, there was this whole learning process of “okay, what is this one for? What works best for this?” or whatever, so I think I figured that out, which is great. And yeah, so I got my starter and I made it past the seven days. It’s alive. It smells gross, but it made some really nice bread, so I’m very proud. I’ve made two massive sourdough beads or whatever they’re called and also some, like, really nice fermented baguette, which sounds terrible, but it’s so nice, like really good bread. So, I’m super surprised because bread is not easy to make. So, yeah this extra time going kind of well for me in the kitchen.

Ryan: I think, I mean talking about, like, the the sort of travel blog thing kind of shifting, I think bread blogs are, like, the quarantine thing. You’re the second person today, like, in the three interviews, two out of three have taken to bread baking. Although, no, the other person said they hadn’t gone to bread yet, but I know it’s definitely been a shift. People posting bread shots and stuff, and apparently flour is hard to come by back home. So, you’ve got it lucky because you have choices.

Randi: A lot of different flours to choose from. The thing that’s hard to find here is yeast. People, like, all the regular grocery stores are out of yeast, so that’s the challenging part, but with sourdough you don’t need it. So, yeah. But I’m part of a couple, like, sourdough Facebook groups and the moderators are like “oh my God! I’m suddenly getting so many messages from people, like new members, people learning how to make sourdough, like it’s trending now, I think. Yeah, I could be like a sourdough Instagram superstar, if I wanted to.

Ryan: I don’t understand what happened, like, I mean I guess, I don’t quite, I kinda get the toilet paper thing, but the, like, shift to bread all of a sudden because it’s not, like, it’s not the best thing to preserve. I guess you could freeze it. But you think it’d be all about, like, pickling things and, like, preserves and stuff, like, that sort of “we could be in this for a long time” mindset, but somehow, like, yeah, people turn to bread.

Randi: Bread is just like a really therapeutic thing to make, like, with the kneading, and the attention and folding and everything. It really is kind of meditative, it takes you out of your space, like, you can’t really think about anything else.

Ryan: Yeah and it’s also, it’s damn tasty when it works.

Randi: Yes, it is. It’s disappointing when it doesn’t and you spent nine days on it, but when it does work, it’s really, like, you feel accomplished.

Ryan: A former partner and myself, we had, like, a bread maker and we lived in, like, a little basement bachelor apartment, so, like, basically, like, we both worked at a record store. So, basically, in the morning, like, we’d set it all up, put everything in and set it to, like, start mixing in the afternoon or whatever, so when we came home the place would smell amazing because it was just, like, low ceiling, so, like, just the whole place would fill with the bread smell and we’d like peek over the bread maker into the little window to see and, like, sometimes it’d be a terrible disappointment, and you’d just be like “what happened?” and other times it’d be like pushing to the top of it and you’d be like “yes!” I remember one time I did everything, I put it all in together and maybe we left it overnight or something to do it and went to bed and the next morning. we got up and looked in and it didn’t do anything. I had forgotten to put the paddle in. So, it effectively, like, all the ingredients just sat there and then got baked and then didn’t get mixed at all.

Randi: I bet that was fun to get out.

Ryan: Oh yeah, I think there was definitely some, like, tipping and just, like, maybe a knife. I think, well we got that one at a yard sale because someone just never used it. I mean I guess they needed a quarantine and they would’ve like probably went to town. I mean I remember we bought my grandmother one because she used to do the kneading right and, like, she got to the point where, like, she could just know, like you know, years and years of doing it and my mom or her sister bought her a bread maker and she used it for a little bit and then she was just like “it’s not the same”. I think because she kinda missed, like you were saying, like, she missed being able to knead it and actually feel it and know, like, when it was ready. So, yeah, I think you should do the bread blog thing. You should transition over to it, just you know, make that sourdough a star.

Randi: Devote my life to sourdough? I’ll think about it.

Ryan: On a side note, if you haven’t read the Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, he kinda pushes vegetarianism to side in a chapter, but it’s a really interesting kind of deep dive into, like, food and the origins and everything, and he has this whole thing about yeast. And I’m gonna hate myself for saying this, but I only read the headline of an article recently. I didn’t read the article where a microbiologist or something was saying how he doesn’t understand why people are saying there’s no, like, you can’t get yeast, because it’s actually fairly readily available, like, in Michael Pollen’s book, he basically just puts out, like, a bucket, like, outside or something and it kinda catches stuff. And then he actually, I don’t know, I don’t think he made a sour dough from it, but he used that to make a bread. Around here, I wouldn’t do it because there’s other crap floating in the air. But, you know, if times get tough and you can’t get yeast at the grocery store, you might wanna look up, like, how to catch yeast and other stuff running around.

Randi: And then I can sell it on the black market here.

Ryan: It could become the next gold. You don’t know.

Randi: You’d be rich. I’m way too lazy for that.

Ryan: You’re gonna get PR companies writing you about, like, bread knifes and all this ridiculous stuff now.

Randi: Oh, I would love that. That would be awesome.

Ryan: Free sourdough starters and apron kits.

Randi: Yeah, so bring it to me. Anyone who wants to contact me, feel free. I’m happy and open for sponsorships.

Ryan: You haven’t been doing travel blogging, really? You’re still okay with random PR contacts? I barely started this and they piss me off already.

Randi: I mean I just delete them mostly. It’s like, you know, they say in one sentence “I want to work with you”. What price? Like, please. I’m not going to respond to that. But, yeah, sometimes it works out. Sometimes it’s good.

Ryan: Yeah, I mean, I’ve found, like, it’s mainly through the magazine for me. I’ve had a couple of interesting things, like, I’ll offer to do a review or whatever and then some writer of mine will get a free thing. One of my friends got a tofu press years ago that now I’m jealous of. I wish I had got it.

Randi: Nice.

Ryan: Yeah, because she, like, I was, like “what? Tofu press? I don’t need that. I don’t usually eat a lot of tofu” and she used it and she said “it’s amazing” and now, I’m just like “oh man”, I’m like squeezing it with my hands like an amateur, and I’m like “damn, I should’ve taken that tofu press.

Randi: Two things: you don’t eat a lot of tofu, what?

Ryan: I mean I do now because I can get it, like, literally, at the end of the street, like, fresh, but, in general, like, back in Canada and stuff usually no, it was more like beans and rice, and, I don’t know, I lived in Costa Rica for a few months and that was it. I was set.

Randi: But yeah, tofu press is the way to go for sure. Otherwise, it’s just, it’s not easy.

Ryan: Okay, well then I guess I’m putting it out there if a PR company wants to send me another tofu press, I don’t know how reliable the Vietnamese posters right now at this moment, but whatever I’ll just put it out there, if it wants to be manifested or whatever we call it these days. So, otherwise in terms of putting thoughts out there of better things to come, when this is all over and you get, you know, maybe the Czech Republic rolls everything out by June. What’s your first day gonna involve? Where are you going? What are you eating? Who are you hanging out with?

Randi: Well, this sounds very strange, and not, like, anything to do with my work or whatever, but the first thing I’m doing is going to the gym because I am so, like, I’m so tired. of not, like, working out and not really taking walks, like, moving at all. I mean, I have, you know, weekly yoga sessions. Thankfully, my yoga instructor started doing video courses, like, interactive video classes. So, that’s great, but yes, I’m definitely going to the gym because I was going, like, five or four or five times a week and going from there to absolutely nothing is just really horrible. So, that’s the first thing I’m doing. Secondly, I’m gonna try and go back to the house sitting thing and organize some trips with that just to do some more traveling. Yeah, but I think that’s a way off unfortunately.

Ryan: Yeah, I mean, my last question was, like, what about a month from the time, which, maybe ideally, by then planes will be flying and trains will be running and the world could be your oyster again. So, where or it depends on the sit?

Randi: Yeah, it would be, it would be really nice. The last sit that I had to cancel that I was supposed to go on tomorrow for Copenhagen, I would like for that to happen. The woman actually wants to re-plan it whenever everything is over because she wants to go visit her family, so hopefully that will work out. I kind of had this idea of going from Copenhagen back to the Czech Republic by train through Germany and going to a couple of cities along the way. So, I would love to make that trip happen for sure.

Ryan: Yeah, I’m hoping to talk to the couple from Alternative Travelers, like, I think Friday, maybe? I can’t remember. We scheduled one of these things, and they actually, they were kind of in the middle of a house sit in the States when this all hit, so, like, thankfully, I wasn’t. I was already, like, I had planned the three months here to be able to spend with my partner cause most of the time, like, she’s been gone somewhere or I’ve been gone. So, I was, like “alright, three months Saigon no house sits, I mean, if something cool comes up, maybe, but otherwise”. So, like, I, you know, because if I was still in my house sitting mode, like, that’s what I was depending on for, like, three years, like, I didn’t have another place. They ended up, like, with, I think, the homeowner’s came home early, but thankfully, I’m going to get more info from them when I talk with them, but, I think, thankfully the homeowners actually had, like, an airbnb, like, a basement no one was renting, so they were able to just be, like “well, no one’s renting it right now, so you can hang out here”. But I think after they were supposed to have, like, a three-month sit that got canceled. So yeah like they they suddenly were, like, and I mean right now Trusted Housesitters, they were sending out, like, daily notices, and now they’re down to, like, once a week, and I got the email…

Randi: Yeah, I was wondering. Who are these people still asking for house sits?

Ryan: Well, like, a few weeks ago or whatever, there were so many, there were a bunch of listings, and things were locking down all over South East Asia and, like, right now, I’m only getting listings for, like, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, like, the general area, and there’s still, like, a bunch of listings for Thailand, and I was like “are these people just not cancelling their sits? ‘Cause, like, people can’t even fly in to do the sit, and they’re probably not going to go wherever they’re planning on going”, but today I got the email and there is one sit listed for Thailand. I think it’s like the middle of June until July. So, they’re being kind of optimistic. But yeah, ’cause I was, like, I was hoping to come here, and maybe even get some paid sits because a friend of mine runs like a dog hotel sorta thing and he’s had people like “hey, do you know any sitters?” So, he was gonna work with me to do that, and so I came here and I wrote him like “hey, if you’ve got any, let me know” and he’s never written me back because everything just went to hell. And that was my plan when I went home, like, ’cause my sister’s doing it at home and getting paid, and so I was like “cool, I’ll go back in the summer, I’ll be able to make a little bit of money while I’m home so I can afford to buy all the things there that I wanna eat” and then that was part of why I was like “there’s no point in me going back now, like, because no one’s travelling, so I’m not going to be able to make money. I was hoping to, like, do an event or two, like, around the book launch and stuff and, like, planning an event now and hoping that more than two people show up just seems like a bad idea.

Randi: Yeah. I mean, I’m kind of, I think it’s nice to, if you can do, like a virtual event, you know because people, like, we have more time on our hands. We need to, like, interact. Even if it’s just like we’re doing now. It might be nice to do something like that.

Ryan: I mean that was part of why I wanted to do this. I mean, I don’t know maybe, if I can figure it out, I might livestream some of these. I wanna do, like, I want to do some live stream on my own, but the problem is where I am. Most of my audience is based in the West. So, it’s, like, I don’t wanna get up at two in the morning to livestream, and when it’s like twelve o’clock here in the afternoon, everyone at home is asleep. So, I’m like live streaming to like a couple of people, but, whatever, yeah, I mean the thing is, like, at least we have the options right, like, with the technology and everything, so I mean because otherwise, you know, not being able to, like, check-in with my family would be pretty terrible at this point. I don’t know if I’d have travelled as much as I have. Or if I’d be on the other side of the world right now, but it sure makes it easier. So, on that note, I’m going to say thank you so much for joining me to do this, and taking part in it, and if you got anything else to add, you can feel free. But I’m quite happy. My list of questions is covered, and it’s getting kind of late here, so I’m looking forward to doing the introvert thing and just relaxing and chilling out. I’ve heard that, you know, there’s some stuff on Netflix. I don’t know if you’ve heard about Netflix? Some people are watching it lately.

Randi: Yeah, I think it’s kind of popular now during this time. Yeah, I was hitting the Netflix hard also. I haven’t as much, but there’s a good series, I don’t know if it’s available where you are, but it’s called “Unorthodox” and it’s like a four-part series about a girl who was a member of this extreme orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg and she escaped and she went to Berlin and it’s kind of the story about what happened. I think the part about her life, when she escaped and went to Berlin, is fictional, like they made a different timeline for her. But nevertheless, it’s a really interesting show, and it’s well-made and nice. So, it’s a good one.

Ryan: Okay, cool. “Unorthodox”?

Randi: Yeah.

Ryan: Okay, cool. Is there, do you know if there’s anything coming out from the Czech Republic? I know Netflix has kind of broadened their content, but I don’t know if I’ve seen any, like, Czech content as of yet.

Randi: Not sure. I think, from what I’ve heard, Czech television is not very good. It’s, like, the quality is not very good.

Ryan: Oh, okay.

Randi: But I haven’t seen any movies. I mean, there maybe, but I haven’t really noticed any new movies, Czech movies on Netflix.

Ryan: I’ve just, I’ve been kinda excited, like, I’ll see the trailers on YouTube for different countries like “ooh, I’m, like, that’s, I’m kind of happy about that”. I mean I end up forgetting about it and not watching a lot because there’s so much, but I’m like “well, that’s cool. I can watch, like, a cop drama from Mexico or something”.

Randi: Yeah.

Ryan: Interesting, interesting world we’re living in, but, yeah, I’m so, I guess, you’re still, you’re in the middle of your day now, right? So you’ve still got…

Randi: Yeah, it’s like 3:30 now.

Ryan: Okay, cool. Well then, I hope the rest of your day is productive. Mine’s over and done with now. I’m calling it a night. Thank you and I will include the link to the blog so that people can read more about your experience because I think you kind of covered most of what we talked about and definitely go into a bit more detail, so that’ll be good. And I believe you also wrote a blog about where you want to travel next, like you and your partner, or is it someone that you work with?

Randi: Yeah, he’s my business, well, my website partner. We started traveling together in 2014 and started that website then at the time. So, yeah, we also published that article. Today, he published an article about virtual travel, which sounds awful, like, I would never want to do something like that, but it’s actually a really interesting article about, like, museums that have published, like, virtual tours, and, like, even just, you know, travel shows that you can watch to kind of feel like you’re travelling a little bit or be inspired for when you can travel. So, yeah, there’s those two articles.

Ryan: Cool. Okay, well, hopefully people will check that out, and I think that’s about it, so I’m gonna wave goodbye,

Randi: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Ryan: And when the world’s in a better place maybe we’ll cross paths somewhere.

Randi: Alright, take care.

Ryan: Same to you.

Randi: Bye.

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