Meet the brokers who traveled South East Asia for a year: Ansel & Josie

December 3, 2019

“We will take the trip when things calm down a little” - a statement we are all guilty of saying with our hectic schedules. For two Windermere Kirkland brokers, Ansel and Josie, knowing things would never calm down helped push them to take the adventure of a lifetime. With a desire to expand their cultural horizons, the couple decided to travel to South East Asia for the year.

Now upon their return, we cannot wait to hear about their experiences and everything they learned along the way. Read more about their experience and how you can impact the lives of the incredible people they met along the way in our interview below:

What inspired you two to take this trip? 

Ansel: On our first date we talked about traveling and one thing that we were super interested in was spending time in other countries.

Josie: Learning about other countries and their culture, that’s why we chose South East Asia. It was somewhere that neither of us had ever traveled to, and it was part of the world where there was the most unknown and things we wanted to explore culturally.

Ansel: We hit a point in adulthood where,  if we didn’t do something like this before we have kids, we wouldn’t do it until we were 60.

Where did you visit?

Josie: We started in Thailand and visited a friend there, from Thailand we went to Vietnam, 

Ansel: Then went back to Thailand to Chang Mai in Northern Thailand, which is sort of a hub for people who work remotely and want to live cheaply.

Josie: Then after Thailand we went to Hangzhou China which is a bit outside of Shanghai. We were there for about 6 months, and we taught English to help pay some of the bills. We were hoping that by living there, we would get  a deeper culture dive into the culture.

A: We thought we were going to stay in Hangzhou for a full year. Going in we thought it was going to be smaller than Shanghaiand not as much pollution, and it turned out that it was not our favorite place.

J: It was the place where we were challenged the most. We had to learn Chinese to navigate daily life. It was the place that was the most different than the US. We then left China and went to Cambodia.


A: I grew up on a blueberry farm, and we hired Cambodian refugees to work on the farm. So Cambodia has a big place in my heart and I wanted to go and learn about the people I had known since I was a kid.

J: After Cambodia we went to Bali to meet up with some friends, then we circled back to Cambodia to reconnect with the kids we met the first time to learn more about what they are doing and offering to help before doing another quick trip to Vietnam and back to Bali, where we are currently!

When are you planning on returning? 

J: We are heading to Jakarta, Indonesia and a few days then Singapore before we head back to Seattle.

A: We are sad to be leaving but it is time to head back home.


What did you have to do to prepare for this journey? 

J: Things like automatic payments or bills that you either have to set up or take down because you won't be using some services. Because we were going to be gone the whole year, we had to push pause on some things.

A: Our business was one of them, we set up a referral network to take care of our clients while we were gone.

J: We had a lot of conversations about goals or lack thereof and expectations and definitely a lot of mind setting in terms of how open we wanted to be and how planned we wanted the trip to be. I am more of a planner than Ansel, so we had a lot of compromises along the way.

A: I just wanted to buy tickets and go!

J: I wanted to make sure we had Visas. We also had to get certified to teach English abroad, TESOL certified. It was about a 3-month process to get everything prepared.

A: We also realized how much stuff we accumulated in such a short amount of time, we did multiple garage sales and got rid of a lot of our stuff and we still have so much.

J: It was a great way of simplifying our lives for when we get back. We got rid of about ⅓ of our household items. It has been a refreshing minimalist mindset.

Is there anything you would do differently? 

A: Less planning!

J: That’s always Ansel’s answer. We would do the China leg of our trip differently. We stayed there for shorter than we thought we would. Part of that was the teaching part which did not allow us to do a deep culture dive, especially during key hours of the day. If we still wanted to have income we would probably set up remote kind of jobs where we could pick up and work remotely rather than in one place.

A: Knowing the countries we went to, I would have spent a lot more time in Vietnam and more time here in Bali.

What is the best memory you have of the trip so far? 

J: We have talked about what our favorite experiences have been and I think the most lasting and emotional memory has been around meeting the students at Liger Leadership Academy.

A: You know like the movie Napoleon Dynamite, they named their school after the movie. It’s a forward thinking school.

J: Meeting them and learning about the history of Cambodia and where they have grown up and seeing the boldness which they are taking action was so life-giving in a huge way.

A: We loved it! I have had several“is this real life?” moments on this trip. The first being in Bali and going to the beach every day you pinch yourself. Second was visiting Angkor Wat, in the Siem Reap  in Cambodia . You feel like you are in the Indiana Jones movie. And meeting these kids and seeing how incredibly innovative they are.

Do you have travel plans anytime in the near future? 

J: We are definitely going to make travel a part of our life regularly so we can keep learning and understanding the world better and growing in our perspectives. Maybe a European tour next!

A: I am actually really excited about getting back and helping people buy and sell houses. We have so many new and creative ways to help people, I can’t wait to start putting those into play. I also wrote a book while we were here about starting a real estate business so I am excited to work towards getting that published and starting a blog.

You mentioned a Kickstarter campaign, can you explain what your goal is? 


J: The students at Liger Leadership Academy, learn by projects so it is very hands on and experiential and a super deep dive into problem solving. So the students often come up with these projects, and  a group of high school seniors have decided they want to be the first Cambodians to build and launch a satellite. There is no NASA equivalent or space program in Cambodia.

A: There is no FEC equivalent, even radio communications. All of that has to go through outside sources and has to get ministry level approval. These kids have overcome so many hurdles, getting this all approved to finding mentors. These kids have reached out to University professors in other countries.

J: And while it is cool that these students want to be the first, their main goal for the project is to also build radio receiver kits because the satellite itself will have cameras on it so it will be able to capture large scale images of the Earth.

A: They are going to distribute these kits to 50 high schools around Cambodia so that thousands of kids in the next generation can have the belief that they can go to space- a bigger dream than these kids had themselves.

J: And so they can have the opportunity to learn in an experience based way. Cambodian schools are very limited in their resources. To have the opportunity to learn by building is super rare. These students are both trying to give a learning opportunity and not be limited.

A: When you look at Windermere and the most basic training that you get, it's really about how can you help other people and that is something that we value very highly in anything that we do. These kids call themselves change agents and they are actually backing it up, and we want to support them on this journey.

J: We want to encourage and support this group to be leaders to make a major impact on their communities. These students need $20,000 by Dec 15th to build their satellite and impact 50+ secondary schools, will you join us?

Click here to learn more about the students at Liger Leadership Academy or to donate to the campaign to help them reach their goal!

And learn more by watching their 2-minute video below!

Our goal at Windermere Kirkland is to be a resource for the community. Aside from helping you buy or sell your home, our team is dedicated to adding value to our city. Every other Tuesday we will be posting a blog post highlighting different people, businesses, communities, and more throughout Kirkland. Stay tuned!