South East Asia life

Before heading off to South East Asia, I spent the Winter Holidays in Vancouver with friends and family. Pretty much as soon as I arrived, I fell ill. Perhaps it was the road weariness catching up with me as well. Before I left, I had the pleasure of dropping my family off at the airport for their trip to the UK. It was fun to be on the other side of the interaction for a change.

At this point, I should probably mention why I was heading to South East Asia. First and foremost, I absolutely loved my time in Malaysia, the previous Fall. Secondly, it should come as no surprise that, after a year of travel, my funds were thinning out. Cost of living for Westerners is very low there, so I thought it would be a cool place to set up for a while and explore another culture. Finally, I had repeatedly heard about the Digital Nomad ‘community’ in Chiang Mai, Thailand, so I left to check it out.

I left late January 2018 for Bangkok.

Tiny Market corridor in Bangkok
Tiny Market corridor in Bangkok
Food stall Bangkok Thailand
Pad Thai food stand in Bangkok. I absolutely LOVE eating at these little road side stands.
Pad Thai
Pad Thai from the road side food stand. It was really quite amazing!

I spent a few days there before heading up to Chiang Mai. I stayed at an AirBnB for a week, before finding an apartment at the Dcondo Sign complex. The apartment was about $300 CAD a month on a six month contract. I asked the owner if I could extended it a few months but he said no, he was moving in. This may or may not have been the truth, as talking with locals, it’s common to kick people out and jack up the price for high season tourists.

Chang Phuak Gate, Chiang Mai Thailand
Chang Phuak Gate, Chiang Mai Thailand

As I had done little planning before heading to Chiang Mai, I wasn’t aware I was arriving during “the burning season”. This is time when harvests are finished and the farmers dry and burn the left over vegetation. The locals told me that Chiang Mai is a valley so the smoke sits there until a wind blows it away. They also said the Thai government fines farmers that burn, so the smoke was from the farmers in Myanmar.

What this meant for me, was limiting my time outside. I bought N95 masks, but with a beard they didn’t work very well. This wasn’t a huge deal as my days were spent trying to get the digital nomad life off the ground.

Monks at  Wat Chai Pra kiat
Monks in Wat Chai Pra kiat. These two gentlemen were slouching and lounging in the chairs. As I walked up, I asked if I could take a picture. They agreed and both straightened up and looked “monkly”. I love this picture.

For weeks and months, my days were spent sifting through jobs online punctuated by runs to the Thai border for visa renewals. I would spend my day writing proposals for the jobs I am a match for. I would then have to wait for North America to wake up and review my offers, so I would spend time working a personal project. Rounding out the day would be Lunch (Koa Soi!), grocery shopping, exercise in the buildings gym and maybe a little exploring Chiang Mai depending on the weather/smoke. I would then wake up, find zero responses to my proposals and start all over again, modifying my approach to proposals. It became a bit of a grind.

Gold horse

On the subject of weather, I should mention “the burning season” turned into “the rainy season”. This made for some spectacular lighting storms rolling over the city. Early one morning I was laying in bed wondering why I was awake. At that moment my apartment lit up like it was midday. Then one of the loudest sounds I’ve ever heard, assaulted my senses as the lighting striking the adjoining building reported.

After months of rain and mostly unsuccessfully hunting for work online, I felt I had had enough. With my apartment’s contract ending, I decided to head back to Vancouver to enjoy the Summertime sunshine with friends and family and start hunting for a job.

View from the Phra Pin Klao bridge in Bangkok, Thailand.
View from the Phra Pin Klao bridge in Bangkok, Thailand.

Italy! Portugal! Spain! Oh my!

This final leg of my 2017 travel was focused on Spain and Italy. As I mentioned in my previous post, I left Ljubljana for Venice. It was mid-November at this point and I was exhausted. The pace had been very aggressive and didn’t leave much room for down time. I knew it would be tough, but I was surprised as to how much it had taken out of me mentally. This was even more apparent reviewing my photos. I can see a drop in volume of pictures I was taking. That being said, I was planning to be back in Vancouver for Christmas, so that put a little spring back in my step.

From Ljubljana, I took a bus to Venice. This leg of travel looked like this:

Ljubljana → Venice → Rimini → San Marino → Florence → Milan → Barcelona → Granada → Algeciras → Morocco → Seville → Lisbon → Barcelona → Vancouver

While wandering through Germany in October, I was freezing my tail feathers off. I thought if I headed through Italy to southern Spain and into Morocco it would be warmer. It was warmer in the day times, but the nights were still chilly. I recall one evening in Morocco when the temperature was 2C. Until that point, it had never occurred to me that it could get that cold in North Africa.

Venice

Leaving Ljubljana was delayed. The bus arrived in Venice after dark.  The public transit workers were also on a partial strike.  Getting to the island the hostel was on was challenging but not overly difficult. Being night time, it wasn’t as apparent how close to the water the hostel was.  The next morning I came down the main stairs to this.

Front door to Venice

Boat repair shop

Venetian gondolas

Venice at night

Here is a little 30 second clip I took on the canal in Venice.

Rimini

I left Venice for Rimini. Why Rimini? It’s a short bus ride to San Marino. I didn’t stay in San Marino, as it there is only one hostel there, and it was closed. While Rimini is a tiny place, it has some little treasures such as the Porta Montanara, which is just around the corner from Arco D’Augusto.

Porta Montanara

I wouldn’t go to Rimini to see them, but it was fun happening upon them in my exploration.

San Marino

I wasn’t ready for the snow in San Marino. I did have cold weather clothes on but, still: snow. In hindsight, of course it snowed. It was rainy and cold in Rimini and San Marino is on top of a hill. It did make for some beautiful photos, however.

San Marino

Florence

From Rimini I caught a bus to Florence. What is there to say about Florence that hasn’t already been said.

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

The Birth of Venus

David

Milan and Barcelona

I travelled from Florence to Milan for a two day stay before heading to Barcelona. Sadly, I didn’t get any noteworthy shots in either place.  There was an unusual incident in Barcelona. The hostel arranged an event for the travellers.  While on public transit , I asked the organizer if we were going the right way, as he said it was 20 mins and we had been on the bus for over 45.  He asked the driver what was going on and the driver replied that they were told not to drive through the heart of downtown. There were Catalan independence protests and they didn’t want the buses flipped over.  Yeah, I was okay with the long route.

Granada

Granada

I went to Granada to find the Tapas life and I found it.

Tapas life

What I wasn’t ready for was Alhambra. It is a jewel and a marvel.

Alhambra courtyard

Alhambra

Algeciras

I spend two nights in Algeciras. One night on the way down to Morocco and one on the way back. It is a lovely little Spanish town. The morning of my ferry to Tangier, I woke up to heavy rain. The water was rolling under the kitchen door in waves. I was nervous for my boat ride, but it cleared up and I had a lovely sailing. It was odd for me to clear Moroccan customs on a ferry, but it was efficient.

Tangier

Tangier was an awesome time. I hope to go back to Morocco to see Chefchaouen and do more exploration. The Spring or earlier in the fall would be a better time to go. It was too cold at night.

Walking out of the port

Market spice vendor

Camels!

Abandoned homes on Achakar Beach

Seville

The Seville Cathedral was unbelievable. I was told to go see it but didn’t have any expectations. It was possibly the most beautiful thing I saw in my travels. The build was stunning. The works of art were breath-taking. It is a must-see.

The city itself is also beautiful. I could spend many more days exploring the city and evenings living the tapas life.

The tomb of Christopher Columbus in the Seville Cathedral

Gate at Real Alcazar of Seville

Lisbon

Lisbon is a foggy memory. I felt like a squeezed out tube of toothpaste when I arrived. The weather was also unpleasant, so sadly I didn’t get many pictures. This was the best one.

I did have fun exploring the city and doing touristy things, none the less.

From here it was back to Vancouver for the holidays! TTFN! Happy Holidays!