Category: Daily Life

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.

Daily Life

Day 315: Weight up!

In other news, I was gifted the lovely experience of being the 7th person in a 9 person rated elevator today and I set the weight limit alarm off.

I’d already dashed for it, only to miss it by a hairs-breadth. Luckily one of the riders pressed the door open button and gave me a second chance at travelling up with them.

After sliding in we all stood there for a moment looking at each other before we realised in unison that the beeping noise was because I was too heavy to ride.

Cue me shuffling out again backwards with an awkward smile and my new friends taking to the skies without me.

Daily Life

Day 314: Celebrating my digital nomad Pi day

I was going to hold off until my first year before writing another “I’ve been a nomad for X days” posts. Then I realised today was my Pi day and threw my reservations out the window.

Today is my digital nomad Pi day, which is not something I just made up, it’s totally a real celebration.

I took this screenshot and spoke about it a bit with my friends but didn’t get any further than that on the actual day. Even when I had planned to post this I was still just thinking that would be all I had to write about.

But it’s not going to be.

I went back to that day to look at my photos. This was only 5 days ago and it already feels like a lifetime ago.

I am always ready to tell people that “I’m not actually on holiday all the time, I just live there”. Taking a look back at this random day though it’s hard to deny I’m not cramming a lot of fun into life.

The day started off optimistically, with an attempt to convince you I had a healthy breakfast and a photo that was to be my “digital memory” later on:

The photo of the packets was the snacks that I had started devouring when I arrived at my hotel. I was excited to find a basket of snacks and a fridge full of beer. There was no price list anywhere so I concluded it was the same as the coffee and water; free welcome gifts. I had already chomped through three of them before I spoke to Giang (pronounced Yann), my Vietnamese friend. She told me this was a standard trick by the hotels and they would have the price list down in the reception. Don’t forget, she cautioned, I was staying in the tourist district of Saigon.

I had seen some of the snacks in the local shop so I planned to replace them before the hotel got involved. I ended up forgetting all about it though and when I arrived back that evening the snack bar was already refilled – it was too late to cover up my food crimes.

In the end, they charged me 30k a snack which I thought was good/acceptable/small enough to not care (1GBP each). And I really didn’t care, until I got to the next hotel and they had the price list in the room with a lot more reasonable 12k per snack (about 40p).

Deep breath. Breathe out and let it go Matthew. Moving on.

After that, the day was beginning. So far we had been heading to local spots on foot. Today, Giang had ideas to take me a short taxi ride away over the Saigon river, to the posher District 2. We went to The Snap Cafe, a place she had worked from regularly before when she was remotely working for a company. Desks, WiFi, smoothies were good. I also randomly ordered myself a pint of Craft Ale and got my buzz on from that for a while.

You can see from the photos that it has some nice styles to it with plenty of greenery bursting forth from every angle. All of the desks had their own style to them and it was both spread out and kind of set up as private mini-areas at the same time.

There was also a pool table that you could unwind on, and there is a kids area over on the other side. Upon arriving you are given the choice between the kids play area or the quiet area. The kids play area had some really cool looking custom built kid-sized buildings. Stuff like a shop and house, with stairs to get on the roof. I was jealous, but I was also about 25 years too old to go play.

The risotto was either awful if they intended to do it that way, or just embarrassing if they forgot to put the cream into it. Seriously, look at it in the gallery above, it was a brown oily mess, not a white creamy dish like the rest of the world knows it.

We also had a friend-of-a-friend meet up with us for lunch while we were there. We had an interesting conversation about rent, locations, startups and travel – she had previously spent two years in Chiang Mai working for a company that has a base over there.

The night before we had met some of Giangs climbing buddies. During the conversations we had agreed to meet them today at the climbing gym, so after a productive day we got in a Grab and headed over to their location. The taxi got more than a little bit lost as this gym was tucked away in an essentially hidden location but we got there in the end and spent a few hours climbing:

Conclusion: I really like climbing! After some introductory tips from a local expert, I was ready to tackle my first climb.

They have colour-coded tags at the bottom which tell you how hard each one will be. I started off with the simplest and rocked up the wall so fast I felt like a superhero. The coloured rubber bits are called holds. You have to dangle from the top hold for 3 seconds to officially complete that route, then you can come down using any hold you want. Moving left to the next wall, I was again to the top before anyone could stop me.

I’m amazing! World-class! A natural, I said to myself.

Then I got to the one in the pictures above.

The combination of some long stretches and being tipped backwards quickly and very permanently brought me back down to earth. Over the next hour, I slowly exhausted myself taking runs at this course. I wanted to do it so bad and made it a little bit higher a few times but at the end of the day, my weakling little computer arms and rapidly deteriorating grip strength were not going to see me through this challenge.

Even though I spent the next 3 days with sore arms, I’ve been through that initial period of starting a gym many times and know that would quickly fade. I would go back another time for a climbing session somewhere for sure. New hobby!

After that, the night was still just getting started. I jokingly said I could do with a beer now and Giang was like “yep” straight away. Normally I am used to being told no when want to get some random drinks so I felt a bit spoiled that she is up for this sort of thing as well as being a great daytime motivation partner!

We said bye to our climbing friends and took a taxi back to District 1. This time we went under the river through the tunnel and got dropped off at drinking spot she is particularly fond of, Pasteur Street Brewing Co.

They do a taste testing option on the menu. You get 6 drinks of your choice, and as soon as we saw it, it was ordered without hesitation. They were all quite nice except for the dragons salty nutsack or something like that – the pink one in the middle above. Not recommended.

The rest? Recommended. The spring rolls – recommended. The company? She is also recommended, but limited edition. Spending 10 minutes trying to eat the bar nuts with chopsticks? Well YMMV but I enjoyed it.

We were definitely tipsy by the time we barrelled out of this bar but also starting to feel the rumble of tummies, so the journey wasn’t over. This time we weren’t going to miss out on the food court near her hostel. It shut at a, quite frankly, unreasonable 10pm each night so we had already missed it before.

This time we were there in time to order something, and that something was the abso-fricken-lutely huge Vietnamese Pancake pictured above. It was filled with bean sprouts, vegetables, shrimp and other interesting things. Next to it, there was a huge plate of green leaves which were for two things – the large tasteless ones to use as wraps, and the others to use as seasoning. Then sweet chilli sauce on the side.

I’m typing this and realising how grateful I am to my guide, I wouldn’t have figured out so many things on this trip without having her by my side (if you read this thank youuuuu!)

Despite her going into a serious food coma after our food, the night still wasn’t over. I walked her back to her hostel to drop her off. On the way, she went really spaced out for the first part of the journey, but then she rallied at the last minute and took me up to the roof bar on the top of the hostel.

In fact, she got back into it so much that she tried to order more drinks after last orders and started brainstorming somewhere else we could go before I sent her to bed!

So here I am 314 days deep into this journey. Life is still very new and exciting most days. I am really happy that I have found this opportunity to direct my energies into.

I guess people can end up having different digital nomad experiences. There are many different types of business. Peoples skill sets are developed at different levels. Their businesses are more or less stable. They are more or less disciplined.

I have been lucky that my 314 days have been pretty smooth sailing business wise and I have been free to concentrate on the experience itself.

If you can figure out a way to, and it interests you, I would recommend trying out this lifestyle to anyone that can come up with a way to make money remotely.

Daily Life

Day 301: Street market scorpion attack

Close call in the night market this evening. So far I’ve seen cockroaches, rats, soi dogs, and even snakes. It’s day 301 though, and I did not know I was supposed to be on the lookout for scorpions as well!

We were just casually browsing some of the standard clothes when this little bad boy came barrelling out from under the rails and caused quite a kerfuffle.

The photo doesn’t have any post-processing on it, we were just nervous to get to close to its little snippers! Nobody knew how dangerous it was and even the locals were exercising caution, so I snapped this one and retreated quickly.

Eventually, it was captured in a plastic bag by a stallholder and taken off at arms-length. No fatalities.

Daily Life

Day 286: Beautiful wats are all around Chiang Mai

When I first came to Thailand I was on a mission to capture everything exotic and “Thailandy”. Since I’ve returned it has not been such a focus.

It’s amazing how quickly something so beautiful can blend into the background.

Today, in between going to the hospital and renewing my sim card I took a few moments to stop off at a few of the temples scattered around the edge of Old City.

Daily Life

Day 271: Kittens in need

Met a kitty by the side of the road 😻.

Got speaking to a nearby shop owner and turned out there was four kitties plus a mommy and they were all really hungry.

It’s a tough time for a smol kitty at the moment as it’s low season here in Koh Lanta. The ladies shop was one of the only ones open. Everywhere else had their shutters down and wouldn’t be raising them for several more months.

The nice lady had taken to feeding them in the morning, but couldn’t leave her shop until it closed at 7pm so they were all super hungry little meow boxes when we arrived on the scene.

Obviously, as soon as we heard this we turned around, went straight over the road to the supermarket and picked up a bag of kitten nibbles. It drew quite the kitty crowd. That little grey furball must have eaten about twice its weight in nibblets!

We left the lady in charge of the rest of the bag so these kitties have a few days of good eating ahead, hopefully, more kitty fans will come along to keep things going…

Bonus selfies:

Daily Life

Day 253: Back In Bangkok

I have travelled back to the other side of the world again. This was always loosely planned but what got me on the plane is that two of my friends from my hometown will be meeting me here in just over a week.

I got off the plane this time feeling a lot more at home than I did when I first touched down last September. So much so that I strolled straight past the mobile SIM card stalls in the Airport, hopped on the train and navigated to my hostel without needing any maps or Internet assistance. I’m going to head down to Central Mall today or tomorrow and get one from the official AIS shop.

Last night I tried to head straight back to my favourite pad thai restaurant in Bangkok, Boom Boom, but it wasn’t open. Not sure if it was because it was Sunday or if it was the eve of a national holiday here in Thailand (Royal Ploughing Day). Really hoping it hasn’t shut down, it always seemed busy when I was here last and they have decorated it some more since I last saw it so I don’t think it has closed.

I am loving this hostel so far. It was created by an interior design company based in Bangkok as a flagship of their skills and it definitely impresses.

I’ve come back to Asia the second time with a more western mindset. This time instead of going out of my way to save every baht I’m going to treat myself more and just enjoy the buying power that pounds sterling gives me over here.

The first step of this new approach was booking into MovyLodge hostel. It was a hostel that I’d walked past many times before but it was “out of my price range” when I was still paying rent in the UK. I guess it was just a game I was playing to see just how cheap life could be in Asia because this luxury works out to 450bt a night… About £11 in my hometown money.

The difference between the ~£6-a-night hostels and this is stark. This place is spotlessly clean, stylish and has a great vibe to it. It’s also overflowing with extras.

You get a capsule style bed which gives you the privacy of a room at the price of a dorm, there is a cool bean bag chill out mezzanine which I spent the evening on and look at that spread for breakfast!

I hit the breakfast up at 8 am… Could very much see me going for second-breakfast just before they close up shop at 11 😀

I have just stuffed myself with eggs, sausage, ham, salad, toast and OJ. Then I went back for toast with two jams, and one of those muesli & yoghurt cups you can see hiding at the back with the milk.

Didn’t even make it to the cereal stage today but I did finish up with a free refill of my coffee cup that I had first bought at 6 am this morning.

My jet lag has been gentle with me so far and despite waking so early I feel well rested. I think by the time I go to bed tonight I will have adjusted to the Asian time zone.

Update: Snuck back in at 10:45 am, just before they finished serving and had a second breakfast haha.

Daily Life

Day 252: Spicy Singapore

Well, I arrived for a transfer at Singapore Airport and forgot just how much of a kick dishes have this side of the world.

Ordered the spicy beef noodle soup and spent the next 15 minutes coughing, spluttering and crying my way through this dish, much to the amusement of the exclusively local crowd around me.

S$11, 1 Singapore dollar is 55p

#gotwhatiaskedfor

Daily Life

Day 247: Found another switchblade

Just found another switchblade at the next hostel. Have I been walking past switchblades all my life and never noticed them before? Is this a Greek thing?

Maybe I should stop touching all of them because if the police get involved there is going to be a trail of switchblades all across Athens with my fingerprints on them.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Read about my first switchblade encounter.

Daily Life

Day 222: Arriving in Alicante

After leaving Cologne I travelled all night and arrived in Alicante at about 9 am feeling very tired. I was a lot more confident in getting the bus this time after making quite a mess of the Berlin transfer.

I hopped on without knowing the route it was going to take, just that I was supposed to get off at Plaza de Los Luceros 17. I was watching on my sat nav on my phone as I got closer to the spot. But then instead of turning up the street like the directions said the drive carried on driving along the waterfront and started moving further and further away from where I wanted to be.

It was time to make a decision. In my sleep-deprived state, I was feeling quite exposed and it was tough to make the call. Despite every muscle in my body screaming “panic! panic! immediately panic!” I decided no, the bus would go around in some loop and not end up 5 miles up the coast leaving me with a taxi or long walk back. My faith was validated when a few minutes later we went in a big swooping motion around a corner and started heading back towards the roundabout on my map.

In the end, for some reason, I did bottle it a little bit. When the bus stopped at the stop before I leapt to my feet, grabbed my case and stumbled out into the morning sun. Squinting a bit (my sunglasses had remained packed away in my suitcase so far into this trip) I took in the sight around me. You can see what I saw actually in photo two in the gallery below. This was about 5 meters from where I got off the bus.

Why did I panic? Well, the voice was telling me to panic and it suggested to me that we were technically close enough and that what if, hear me out, this whole street was Plaza de Los Luceros and my sat nav wasn’t showing me the exact spot I would have got off. I wasn’t able to stand strong against a second thought of overshooting it and I decided I had been lucky enough so far that day.

It turned out that getting off the bus was a great idea. The weather was nice, the people were calm and in a morning mood.

It also later turned out that the bus would have dropped me off exactly where the spot on the map was flashing.

But this way I got to stretch my legs for a few streets and I spotted the cafe I would later have breakfast in.

I quickly found my way up to the hostel but I was not granted permission to check in until 2pm that afternoon. It was still about 10am at the time. They took my luggage into relative safety and I set off back out into Alicante to go grab some breakfast at one of the cafes next to the roundabout with the idyllic view. I just wanted to keep it simple at this point.

I ordered a bocadillo de tortilla de patatas and a cerveza. That’s a Spanish omelette baguette and a beer in English. I took great pleasure in saying “una cerveza por favor” when he asked me about drinks, even though it was before 11am in the morning, just because it was one of those phrases I had batted around for years but never thought about actually using it to communicate with a local. I guess it felt like I was delivering a punchline in my head but to the waiter I was just saying something totally pedestrian.

While I was scoffing I was busy tagging and photo sharing and taking great pleasure that my phone was now working with data straight from the plane – a luxury I most certainly was not afforded in Germany (now, to be fair this was my phone settings fault but it was of no relief to discover that after battling my way around Germany for several weeks with only Wi-Fi).

After that, I was well and truly ready to sleep but still homeless until 2. I returned to the hostel and passed out hard on their sofas until they woke me up at check-in time. It was a risky move as there was nowhere secure for my laptop bag. I had it tucked into the left of me and I was kind of leaning on it.

I had to take the chance as there was no way I was staying awake any longer. Hostels are pretty safe places. People leave electronics around all the time and they are there when they come back. Personally, I stay on full watch all the time. I take my keys and phone into the shower with me. I keep everything locked up. At worst case, I ask a friend I have made to watch my stuff while I duck off to the toilet quickly. So far there hasn’t really been any trouble but the problem is that if it does happen just once then it’s my whole world is gone and I have nobody to blame but myself.

This time I was lucky and I got the tour and shown to my bed at 2pm where I promptly got my head down for a few more hours. That evening I managed to drag myself to the supermarket and get the pizza and beers you see in the gallery below and then I spent the evening chatting to people on Skype before being the first in my dorm to turn in for the night (a rare occasion).

I was tired but I had also been invited on a walking tour that morning which I was too tired to take up but the same tour was heading out the next day on Saturday at 10:15am so I wanted to be up. That journey is described in the next Daily Life post.

Daily Life

Day 222: German excellence?

Growing up in England, Germany was always held up to me as a centre of excellence. German engineering is engineering at its finest. The trains are efficient. It is a prosperous well-organised machine of a country.

The memo didn’t get passed along to everyone here it seems. In my experience, the locals are just the same as everyone else.

Poor policing? That’s Germany for you. Trains delayed? Of course, it’s Germany!

The general consensus on the ground (from my totally anecdotal evidence) seems to be that German’s have a poor view of their government and their surroundings, just like any other country.

I guess now I write this I am realising I should have had the presence of mind to ask them which country they hold up to be doing things right.

Daily Life

Day 217: Did somebody say sandals?

Did somebody say sandallllls? Hyped to finally be able to put on my premium hiking sandals.

Last year I quickly discovered it was hard for a farang to find size 11 footwear in Thailand. It was off the top end of the scales even in the westernised shopping malls.

The ones I did finally find only lasted a few weeks before the rainy season claimed them as its victims – the glue was not prepared for this kind of treatment.

Fast forward to 2018 and I have bought myself some top of the range Merrell hiking sandals which set me back about 20x more than my BKK counterparts but will hopefully also last more than 20x as long 👣

Daily Life

Day 216: Which way is the traffic in Germany?

I have spent 7 weeks here in Germany and I can confidently say that at no point did I have any kind of grasp on which direction the traffic was coming from.

Even the roads I was using every day, I would go to cross, look the wrong way and then cringe inside. It was basically the equivalent of setting a flare off that said: “I’m a tourist!”

It’s left. Look left for the traffic.

I think.

Unless you’re on a one-way street.

Unless there is somebody riding a motorbike on the path.

Unless you’re at a crossroads.

Good luck, I guess.

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