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Day 910: Keep your laptop safe when joining the mile-high (work) club

When I was flying home yesterday I wanted to be productive, and decided to whip the laptop out.

I just about managed to squeeze it onto the tray in front of me, with it poking into my belly a little bit.

The height of the laptop screen tucked just nicely underneath the lip of the space that the tray folded out of; a perfect fit!

Being an observant kind of person I had noticed before the elegance of how the open tray table stays level when the chair moves into the reclined position.

I worked for a few minutes snugly tucked under, but then just couldn’t shake the worry that maybe the height of the space could shrink a bit during reclining, damaging the laptop.

In the end I pulled the screen out of the lip of the seat, and just looked down on it in an awkward angle, with the screen almost at an L shape under my nose.

Well, it seems like I was wise to be cautious, because that very evening the algorithm gods read my mind and showed me this tweet:

And it’s not the first time this type of thing has happened:

Yes, it seems that inviting space for your laptop definitely does shrink, and can destroy your screen quite easily.

From reading these threads it seems that the airline will likely not reimburse you, but people have successfully for claimed it under Applecare.

If you don’t have quick access to an external monitor (and the cables), or a quality repair service at your destination it could put quite a dent in your business.

So be careful if you decide to join the mile-high (work) club!

Review

Day 908: Twostay Coworking Munich x Holzkranich, Munich, Germany

My second trip to a Twostay coworking space. I thought I would try out a different one on my last day in Munich.

Like the other one this is a restaurant in the evening and coworking space in the day. It had a nice entrance area with tables looking out of huge window so I sat there for the first two hours.

The tables are extra-solo in that area. The laptop had to hang over one side and just a third of the mousemat fitted onto the table. After the morning spent in Lost Weekend and the bad ergonomics I was a bit sensitive and the table to chair ratio in the front windows was starting to give me cramps.

There was a mid level section of the restaurant up a few steps with a range of large tables and better seats which I spent the second half of the afternoon on.

Also in the front are there was a small “front-room” style section with low tables and sofa seats to lounge on. The Space Captain worked from it for a bit, (which is the space manager). It’s not a super productive spot but it is good if you need to relax and brainstorm for a minute or two.

Like yesterday’s visit it was a quiet space, but there was one other guy working there.

Filter coffee and water is provided as standard. They also had flasks of hot water as well, which is surprisingly popular out of people I’ve met while travelling.

WiFi was sufficient, clocking in at 45mb/9mb.

Had quiet music playing in the background, a nice blend of soul / classic rub songs which kept pricking my ears up because many of my favourite hip hop songs sampled heavily from that era.

I highly recommend checking these spaces out if you find yourself looking for some sensibly priced coworking in Munich. Most spaces charge around 30 EUR a day and are only open office hours.

The Twostay places close around the same time as well but the big difference is that the price is already more reasonable for the entire day, and you can buy a half day instead. This gives you the freedom to check out a cafe in the morning, and settle in for some serious undisturbed work in the afternoon.

Review

Day 907: Twostay Coworking Munich x Nudo, Munich, Germany

Nomad friendly? Yes!

Twostay is an interesting coworking concept that I found dotted around locations in Munich. They partner with restaurants that are normally only open in the evening and convert them into pop up coworking spots during the day.

The branch I tried out was Twostay Coworking Munich x Nudo, in the student friendly Odeonsplatz area of Munich.

You pay for your ticket online and a QR code is emailed to you. I didn’t need to use the code though as they have a concept called the Space Captain and I was greeted by a nice woman who got me settled in quickly with a seat, drinks and WiFi. Actually, I realised after that she is one of the founders, Dorothea.

Unlimited coffee and water is provided.

WiFi was strong 60mb/30mb.

This branch is open from 8:30am to 5pm, Mon-Fri. There is some small variation between venues so check their site for full details.

I got seated in the window at the front, looking out on to the passers by. There were additional seats further back.

Tables where individual solo style. Small, but big enough for the laptop and half a mouse pad, with simple victorian school style seats. Perfect for me.

Totally silent working space except for the tippety tapping of keys, with a little bit of light background music later in the afternoon.

Pricing was 6 EUR for half day (4 hours), 12 EUR for a day (8 hours) and 96 EUR for a full month, where you can move around to any of the branches.

This was a perfect match for me because the rest of the spaces are 25-40 EUR for a one day pass, and open a strict 8-6 office hours. I try my best, I really do, but I don’t manage to get to bed before 1-2am and I’m just not ready in the mornings to get full value of this kind of time window. I was also only in Munich for 1 week so having the fluidity to move around multiple spaces in one day was actually really great. Am I convincing you? No? OK fine, I just love a bargain!

Also, bonus, there is some entertaining graffiti in the toilets:

Review

Day 904: Lost Weekend, Munich, Germany

Nomad friendly? Yes!

  • Range of group tables
  • No plugs on main tables but there was some sockets on the truck
  • Very popular with uni students
  • Americano coffee was 2.5EUR
  • Got a delicious falafel sandwich for 5.7EUR
  • Wifi speed test was 38.77Mbps / 11.15Mbps 
  • Wifi had a bit of a wobble, seemed to disconnect sometimes on my first visit, no trouble on second visit
  • Played a range of music in the background from trip hop / lo-fi / deep house music
  • I didn’t see any signs for a toilet

Despite the entire place being crammed with laptops, I decided to check their website to see if they mentioned being laptop-friendly. You never know if it’s been invaded or if its by the cafe’s design. In this case they do list themselves as a “coworking space and vegan coffeeshop”. I guess the lack of power supplies is a natural barrier for people overstaying their welcome.

My first visit was just a social one, but I went back and worked from it a few days later. Without the plugs it meant my time was limited but I’m quite glad of this because for me the ergonomics of the tables / chairs was off. The chairs were a little too low for the table which meant to type properly you had to hunch your shoulders up. After a few hours of that it was getting pretty uncomfortable.

If you can work with your laptop on your knees then there are a range of window ledge seats around the outside. There are maybe two or three different types of table throughout.

They also have a nice centerpiece with a big old 60s style flatback delivery truck parked in one corner. You can climb up and sit on tables on the back of it, or on the steps to the side. At weekends they turn the venue into a nightclub, so I suspect this might be where the dj goes.

Despite the ergonomics I would have gone back, because the place had a nice vibe. I guess maybe it’s the fact that all of the students are there and all diligently working away on their laptop; it has a kind of productive feel to it. Some places make me not want to get caught slacking and that is one of them. With Twostay x Nudo just around the corner it’s easy to push the ejector button if it gets too much.

Review

Day 903: Coffee Fellows, Munich, Germany

Nomad friendly? Yes, but only 1 hour of free WiFi per purchase

It was my first day in Munich and I wanted to hit the ground running so I looked around the local area and found this laptop-friendly location.

They have branches all over Munich, the one I was the Schützenstraße branch, but they are on almost every corner in the city center.

They seem to be a variety of sizes and layouts, so be aware that you might not get a suitable table when if you’re just heading to your nearest branch. The one near my second hotel was just a tiny little place with round tables.

  • Coffee was €3.20 for latte.
  • Water was €2.50 for small bottle.
  • Wifi just 25mb/5mb on speed test.
  • Lots of different types of tables.
  • Starbucks style food available.
  • WiFi code isn’t given by default, you have to ask, but it’s free.
  • Code lasts 1hr.
  • Open from 7am/8am to 10pm every day

I worked from a group table which had good space and chairs. It’s upstairs and to the left / back of the area.

Some tables have power supplies, the group one didn’t seem to, but I was only there an hour so I just ran on battery and didn’t investigate that deeply.

While I was there several other laptops were in use, scattered around the area. Two guys were even abusing the area, bringing their own food and talking about how they were just going to eat it anyway and use their own WiFi tether. I don’t recommend that you do things like that, but it is an indicator that it’s more of a big chain type place where people just flow through, rather than some places, where you feel you’re really taking up space.

Actually, I forgot to take photos so I was just sourcing some on their website and it seems that the banner over the door says “coffee + internet” and they feature people on their laptops on their own photos.

Schützenstraße is right next to the main train station, Hauptbahnhof. You can go down the subway steps right outside the front door of the cafe. Underneath there are many healthy fast food places like salads, couscous, vegetarian, asian, etc. And some bakeries if you’re feeling naughty.

The toilet has a password on it, which is printed on your receipt. One to remember, because I cleverly threw out all my waste, and then tried to use the toilets
on the way out.

Review

Day 902: Meininger Hotel Muenchen City Center, Munich, Germany

As accomodation

Nomad friendly? Yes, if you get a good locker.

  • Comfy beds
  • 6-bed and 12-bed dorms available for good price (6-bed was about 20 EUR a night)
  • All you can eat breakfast available for about 7.5 EUR
  • Snacks and water available in reception around 2 EUR
  • Big beer bottle of local beer is 3.3 EUR
  • Heating is very powerful… too hot sometimes and the radiator knobs are behind beds so if it’s late then it’s too late to change the temp.
  • Bar area with ok seating, very deep sets so not really got back support
  • Games room with pool table and darts
  • Lock rental 5 EUR deposit only.
  • Good quality shower and bathroom facilities.
  • Towels available from reception.
  • Good location, plenty of facilities around and train stations within short walking distances.
  • Next to a main road. Noise doesn’t disturb me but traffic can be heard. I was staying on level 1 though.

Security in my room was very bad – lockers are just under bed slide out drawers. They require a medium, fixed boom lock. Can hire one from reception but most of them in my room were broken and can just be easily twisted open. Maybe other rooms might be ok. I’ve stated in this chain before and had a variety of experiences but usually they have metal lockers. There’s no way around it, it’s a risky way of travel.

Your room is secured to just the six people that are staying in the dorm but its a fast moving spot and in the 4 nights I stayed, there was people coming and going, and some arriving in the middle of the night and leaving before I awoke. I’ve hardly ever actually had any issues in any hostels over the years but I’m always on security watch so this wasn’t a good situation for me, especially with it being the first outing of my new Macbook.  I walked everywhere with my laptop on my back, even going out for the evening meal, but sleeping I was exposed to it being taken from right under my nose. In the end I decided to finish off the week in Dolomit Hotel which was the first cheap hotel I found, just for a sense of security for my things.

As a coworking space

Nomad friendly? Yes, but only proper desk space for 1 person

  • Coffee available in entrance from 2EUR, espresso based machine.
  • Internet speed is only about 15mb after an initial 35mb burst, with 3mb up.
  • Good chill / communal area, I worked from the sofas one evening.
  • 3 internet terminals, two with macs available for free use, one empty bay, perfect for a pop-up office. Plug socket, privacy, desk space.
  • Terminal areas are tucked away and pretty low light areas
  • Can get a bit busy / loud during the day
  • Reception chill area with ok seating, no back support though
  • Worked from bed ok, during two evenings

The spot that I got set up with was perfect for me. They had a decent chair and desk area which looked out over the. Espresso style coffee was on hand for a few euros and with my noise cancelling headphones on I melted away into my own world.

Daily Life

Day 549: Nyepi, Bali’s Day Of Silence

Pray for me. We are now entering into the Nyepi, the Balinese “Day of Silence”.

For the next 38-hours the country will gradually go quiet. The official time is 6 am Thursday to 6 am on Friday but they are already busy shutting down now at 3 pm, ready for travelling home to their families.

DPS is the only airport in the world which shuts down for a full 24 hours every year.

All alone in the world for 38 hours.

The WiFi will be turned off. You are not allowed to cook on flames. You are not allowed to work. You are not allowed to move off your property – the roads are closed and you will be in trouble if you are caught out and about. You are not allowed any entertainment. You are not allowed to turn on the lights. Did I say the WiFi will be turned OFF?

For the curious, here is the Wikipedia entry which explains it in better detail than I can:

The letter from our guest house

A local we spoke to last night is actually looking forward to this. It’s “a chance to relax and do nothing”, and “it will be good,” he said.

But the WiFi will still be turned off.

We have our clutch of snacks, fruit and water. I got some extra pillows from reception for a fort, and we grabbed a copy of Canngu Weekly on the way home. This will be rationed out page by page over the coming hours.

Tomorrow I am introducing Giang to the great British cultural icon that is “the crisp sandwich”.

The vital ingredients for a good crisp sandwich

🌌 One thing I am looking forward to is the prospect of seeing the Milky Way. With the entire country switched off, Bali will become the worlds biggest dark site (I have not researched if this is true). A dark site is a place where your view of the starts isn’t blocked by light pollution from Earth. Catching a glimpse of the Milky Way / galactic core has been on my bucket list for many years. The sky season is not great for this though, we are right on the edge of when it is visible to the night sky, so it may or may not pan out.

The sun sets on a WiFi-less world

Fingers crossed for clear skies, and for the WiFi for us to be returned to us post-haste. 😬

Daily Life

Day 501: 500 days as a digital nomad

It’s now been 500 days since I first got on a plane and became a digital nomad.

In that time I’ve learned a lot about myself, about different cultures and about what truly motivates me in life.

I’m back home for Xmas and my birthday at the moment but I could not be more excited for what lies ahead in 2019.

The tough part is leaving your family and friends behind each time, but in a way, they are always in my backpack.

I see the world through the lens of which friend would enjoy this park, which one I would go drinking with at this bar, and how much my parents would enjoy a city I’m in.

Over the last 500 days, I’ve added new people from around the globe to this backpack and day by day the world feels more and more connected.

Becoming a digital nomad has given me a new sense of direction and a new lease of life; just at the point when I thought it was going to start winding down.

And for the next 500 days? I’m planning to embrace what the world has in store for me, and continue to find out what I’m really capable of.

Daily Life

Day 405: Do you want a hug?

We were walking home and it was almost 1 am. There’s no denying we were both tipsy and lost. What Google maps had claimed was a 23-minute walk was now pushing 45 minutes.

In fact, our tipsiness was probably waning after burning it off on the long walk we had taken (there may have been a long loop of a lake that wasn’t intended).

As we reached one of the busier main roads a moped pulled up next to us and said something to Giang in Vietnamese. She said something back to him and then translated for me, “He just asked, did I want to hug him?”

Here we go, I thought. It was Saturday night, pub chucking out time. Giang was looking amazing and we were attracting the chancers. But nope, I was wrong. She started laughing and then explained the full story.

Moped taxis are a popular service here in Vietnam. The local name for them is apparently “Xe ôm” or a “hug taxi” because as he takes you to your destination you hug the driver to stay on tight. When the drivers are looking for new fares they go around asking people if they want to hug.

After realising I was being tricked by Giang we reluctantly turned him down, although it was tempting after walking for so long. The bikes don’t fit two passengers comfortably or safely and I’m sure my mother wouldn’t approve of such dangerous riding, so it was a no.

About 15 minutes later, after one more incorrect detour, we finally collapsed through the door and onto the bed for a well-earned sleep.

There is a happy ending though because as you can see from the cover photo, the next day Giang got her hug when she went off to visit family while I stayed behind here at Clickspace.

Travel Tip

Day 404: Photograph your clothes before you give them to the laundrette

One of the great benefits of living in many parts of the world is that laundry services are the standard way people get their clothes washed. This means the businesses are plentiful and cheap. For me, back home, it’s a luxury to get something like this done.

You either need a mummy on-hand or you take it to a laundrette and end up paying more to get it cleaned than you paid for the item in the first place! So of course, I eagerly take advantage of these services when I can.

However, it’s easy for your laundry to get mixed up when you send it off to get cleaned. I’ve lost a few pairs of boxers and other people I’ve travelled with have lost bras and tops.

When you only have a few pieces to your name – and you probably brought quality items from home – it can be heartbreaking to lose them.

But what can you do to minimise this? I’m glad you asked!

Before you bag up your laundry, spread it out on the bed and take a few photos. It’s quick and easy but it gives you peace of mind when you are wondering if you got everything back.

Also, having a photo to show them gives you a better chance to get it back if it has been misplaced. It can be hard to describe it if anything goes missing and a photo sidesteps any language barriers.

Worse, sometimes it doesn’t occur to you until later on. You might have already left the area, or the other person might. One time we lost a bra but gained one as well. The laundry was returned in the morning but we didn’t notice the mistake until the evening.

We went down to the front desk and found out that the other person that had done their laundry at the same time had already checked out and left the city with our bra swapped into theirs.

A photo check could have saved the day and got these items back to their correct owners!

Pro tip: When using the laundrettes, in Asia at least, they often use cold water. The clothes are cleaned but not cleaned.

If you are one of those people that does a sniff-test it and thinks “I’ve got a few more days” then bear in mind you should be washing them before they get too rank. You will end up with a stinky suitcase as well if you try to play this game.

Review

Day 357: Kokogreen Kafe Review, Da Nang, Vietnam

Nomad friendly? Yes!

After looking at my spreadsheet (yes I track this kind of thing) I realised that I had logged 99 unique #officeoftheday setups since I had started this journey. I should pick somewhere special for tomorrow, I mused.

A slow to start the morning and pressing deadlines had left me stressed, hungry and pushing up close to midday. It was time to spring into action. I searched for healthy eating on TripAdvisor and found a shortlist of cafes. I can’t say exactly what made me pick this one but it was chosen and we got into the Grab.

Wow. I’m so happy I selected it. They have really healthy options, pretty much across the board but they also have a separate low carb meals section. Each of these low carb options has an enticing photo, and also something very rare for Southeast Asia: a calorie count next to them!

They have a video running on a loop which shows a happy gym user running on a treadmill, with perfect hair and not a drop of sweat. Later she is in the cafe, smiling and laughing as her boyfriend lovingly spoons some greens into her mouth. Classic marketing maybe but while we were there a buff, gym-using looking guy did actually pull up on his moped, sit down for a healthy meal and then went on his way again. A vote of confidence for the quality of the food here.

Visually, the place has got some nice stylings. There are bookshelves in the background adding a nice intellectual ambience. Upon closer inspection, Giang tells me they are mostly old law books. They have also got a sprinkling of old film cameras laying about giving it a slight hipster vibe. Some greenery and interesting lighting finishes off the look of the place – one of the windows, for example, has tea cups and saucers hanging upside down as the light shades.

Temperature

As we spent the afternoon there it did get a bit hot. They had fans in the roof and a row of four air conditioning units but only two were running. There was also some ground level, floor standing fans but the one next to the table we picked wasn’t working.

You might think that because I’m out here travelling the world that I’m a super confident person. That I can do anything and not even flinch.

That is not the case.

As a fine, upstanding British person I just sat there getting hotter by the passing hours. I tried the fan again in case it magically worked but that’s as far as I got. Sure I could have just gone and asked the waitresses if they could do anything but I was busy running scenarios in my head instead.

Had I spent enough money to still be here? Was I being cheeky asking them to give me more free electricity when I was already entrenched in the corner, powering my laptop and phone? Would the request be understood or cause confusion?

Finally I ventured to Giang, “It’s a bit warm in here isn’t it?” Translation: there was sweat dripping down my face.

She looked up from her laptop, “Yes” she said, more in comfort than in agreement. We decided to order another round of drinks and she would use the opportunity to ask about the fan situation.

A minute or two later a fan started spinning up behind me.

“Oh. I guess the fan wasn’t broken after all”, I said, cringing internally at my inability to simply plug something in.

“No”, she replied, “its a different one”.

I looked around and saw the waitress was, in fact, swapping over the units and taking away the broken one.

My embarrassment was already melting away as the cool air massaged my back with each twist of its oscillation.

Sample menu items

I guess the shop isn’t aimed at tourists because the prices are sooo low. My main cost 49k VND which is £1.64. For this:

Low Carb Menu – Brown Rice, BBQ Chicken, Salad – 326kCal, Protein 40g – 49k VND

I really can’t get over the price of this place. I’m used to a cheap meal, but that usually comes with turning a blind eye to the amount of oil used, some grime here and there, or breathing in the air pollution from eating next to a main road.

This place is spotlessly clean, has everything focused on health, and is courting a local clientele so the prices are perfect.

Some other meals we have eaten in the last few days:

Cheapest menu item: Low Carb Tofu Meal 39k VND

Average main menu item: 89k VND

Smoothies: 49k VND for a range of very tasty smoothies

Coffee: 25k VND for Vietnamese coffee

Ahh, the coffee. This is really the undoing of this place. It’s such a shame they don’t offer a nice filtered Americano. I’m not a huge fan of the Vietnamese coffee. I’m double not a fan of what they served here. It was super strong which I guess is good but it flooded my mouth like an army invading my taste buds.

I decided to take it down in two gulps and quickly reached for the water.

A few minutes later Giang picked her cup up and went in for a sip, not having seen my reaction. A noise rooted somewhere in shock came from her. Yeah, its a bit strong isn’t it I said. She ended up topping it up three times with the free service water. She likes her coffee cold so diluting it down this way was a good solution for her.

The second day, however, we went back and agreed that it was just for lunch and a few hours of productivity. We still plugged in but when the energy levels started flagging we got back into the Grab and went on our way.

Nomad friendly?

As you may have gathered, this is a nomad friendly place. The tables are all square, good for the wrists. Later in the day, I saw one other westerner come in. A girl that quickly unpacked her computer and sat there flipping between her delicious looking meal and typing on her computer. The next day some locals were gathered around a laptop. Today I’m sat behind somebody who looks busy on their laptop.

Power socket wise this is a bit of a weakness. The sockets are all on the tables down the right-hand side of the building, as you face it from the street. This gives you the option of a few tables, a longer 8 person group table and four solo-ish counter-top style seats pointing out the window into the lane down the side.

The rest of the tables are laptop friendly but the clock starts ticking on your battery life when you sit down.

When we first arrived somebody was eating at the table we wanted. We started ordering the food and snagged the table after the other person finished. The second day that table was gone again but we got another power-enabled table easily. The third day I have snagged the corner seat which is my personal favourite.

Recommended?

Yes! It’s not perfect but definitely go for the healthy food and stay for a few hours – until you need a power socket or a coffee.

#officeoftheday

Day 325: High rise #officeoftheday at San Marino Sky Bar

If the difference between a sky bar and a rooftop bar is how high you are then this definitely feels like a sky bar as I’m getting productive 17 floors up today. I’m sat here on the 17th floor peering out over Da Nang, Vietnam at the San Marino Sky Bar.

It’s just for residents but it features an infinity pool, a bar and a wall of floor to ceiling windows with laptop sized desks peering out over the landscape.

#officeoftheday

Day 318: Staying safe from the rain in Lamenda Cafe #officeoftheday

Today we moved out of our respective hotels/hostels and met up in the closest laptop friendly cafe, Lamenda Cafe.

It got off to a rough start because the cafe exists in the bottom of several AE Hotel buildings and somebody had moved the map marker from another branch which resulted in a wasted taxi fare for my friend. We got set up quickly though in the plush surroundings and opened her laptop to plan the next location. In the end, we booked flights for that evening to take us up to Nha Trang, got an amazing apartment and had lunch and dinner there before heading off to the airport.

It was a good day, even including the knockdown, drag-out that the Vietnamese family had behind us over a defaulted family loan. Prices are on the high side but the WiFi was good and the tables had great seating.

Also, I got to share my table with three funky jazz dudes.

#officeoftheday

Day 317: Solo #officeoftheday in the hotel room at Ace Hotel Ben Thanth

After leaving it to the last minute to extend my stay at my last hotel, I ended up having to pick another one. Ace Hotel was just around the corner, priced right, had a desk in the images and… well that was the entire criteria I was looking for.

I spent the day sat on the bed working with this wallpaper in the background which genuinely span my eyes out. I think I might have spent a few hours just locked in a transcendental gaze with it. I went on a journey with that wallpaper.

WiFi was strong though and the bed was comfy. Didn’t even end up using the desk that drew me in there in the first place.

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