Following my last post Navi and I were set on the idea for living in Kuala Lumpur for 6 months. We’d looked at dozens of properties, negotiated fees and even started to price up some furniture. We were sure we could stay in Malaysia for as long as we wanted providing we exited and re-entered every 90 days as per the visa regulations. Things were going great.
Our trip to the village in rural Punjab was awesome. We spent just over 3 weeks with family in Bhullarai. We visited Amritsar and the Golden Temple. Shopped in the bazaars for bargain clothes. Ate some incredible food. Walked the fields at sunset and tasted a very different way of life.
” I do not believe in taking the right decision, I take a decision and make it right. “
In 2014 before I quit my job to travel the world, I wrote this article.
Back then I had a mind full of questions. I still don’t have all the answers but I’m making progress. And I’m happy.
This is a response to that earlier article, sort of.
” Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self “
Over Christmas I got hold of the latest South East Asia on a shoestring guidebook. The last time I owned one of these chunky editions was in 2006. Back then Myanmar was called Burma – I think. She was under military rule and the country was closed to visitors. Whilst included on the map inside the cover of the 2006 guidebook, Myanmar was tantalisingly shaded out. I remember staring at her and wondering what she must be like behind those imaginary walls.
As promised here is my full breakdown of the backpacking cost for a couple in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately I neglected to keep a record of expenditure during the first few weeks. We were volunteering for most of this time so all meals and accommodation were free. Had I included this period in the budget calculation, no doubt the average daily spend would have been significantly lower.
Christmas can be a lonely time on the road. Lately I’ve found my mind fondly wandering back to memories of life back home. After 4 months away, travel ceases to be non-stop excitement and starts to become your norm. I’m even beginning to feel nostalgic about stuff I hated back in London like coming into an empty office when everyone else is on leave or Christmas shopping.
This video is a collection from our 6 weeks in Sri Lanka. Most of the coastal scenes are in the South around Mirissa. The beautiful Dutch fort town of Galle also features near the beginning. The jungle scenes are from the Willupatu wildlife reserve in the North West. The mountain scenes at the end are from Sri Lanka’s heartland – Ella and the amazing Lion Rock in Sigiriya.
So yesterday we hiked to the top of Ella Rock. It’s a beautiful steep escarpment jutting out over the tiny hill town of Ella in Southern Sri Lanka. Most visitors here opt to climb the less arduous and somewhat smaller Little Adams Peak. Navi and I choose Ella Rock instead, mainly due to the presence of dozens of feral dogs on the trail leading to Little Adams Peak.
” Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments “
Navi and I spent 2 weeks volunteering in Sri Lanka at a small village near Puttalam earlier this month. We organised the placement from the UK through the popular volunteering website workaway.info. The site puts volunteers in touch with willing hosts over email. Volunteers can browse opportunities by country and check availability with the handy host calendar. Volunteering placements vary throughout the world but generally, volunteers are asked to work for a maximum of 5 hours per day, 5 days per week. In exchange, the host will provide food and roof over your head. Usually, for as long as you wish to stay. The site costs $29 to join for two years. All volunteer opportunities are free.
” To succeed in life, you need two things, ignorance and confidence “
The Kerala Backwaters are a labyrinth of freshwater canals, rivers, lakes, lagoons and islands stretching almost the entire length of the state. 38 rivers feed nearly 1000 km of interconnected waterways. This unique ecosystem is home to large numbers of birds and aquatic creatures including rare otters and turtles.
India is cheap. Perhaps the cheapest travel destination on earth. The backpacking cost for a couple in India is lower than anywhere else Navi and I have travelled before.
Our first Indian railways experience has been simply awesome. They always save a few seats for foreigners on popular tourist routes so you don’t have to book weeks in advance like the guide books say. The AC carriages come with beds, blankets and curtains for privacy. The on board food is tasty and you can reach through the window and grab hot drinks at any station courtesy of the armies of chai wallahs.
We visited Northern Goa (Beaches) first and then traveled east to Hampi (boulders & temples).
” Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do “
In my first blog post back in 2014 I promised to expand on my reasons to travel, so here goes.
What is a private pension?
A private pension is a savings plan that pays you an income in retirement. Private pensions are administered by private individuals or companies as opposed to state pensions which are administered by the government.
I was 10 years old when I bought my first camera. It was a Zenith EM SLR with a 200mm telephoto lens. It handled like a brick and weighed as much as half a dozen bricks but I adored it. I bought it because I wanted to take pictures of nature. I dragged my parents everywhere. They followed a respectable distance behind mostly while I crept up on birds and rabbits or ran off into the distance chasing a sunset. It was a film camera of course.
It’s beginning to get very real. All the little plans Navi and I started to put into place years ago are nearing their conclusion. Moments we have talked about for so long are marked in the calendar just a few flips away. I have a new passport with 40 empty pages. In two weeks time it will have an India visa inside.
In 2011 I took a massive loan from the bank with the idea of buying a second property to rent out during my travels. It seemed like a great idea at the time but after three years of sleepless nights and frustrating exchanges with tenants and managing agents I’m selling up. Here’s why, from start to finish.
If you’re young and planning a round the world trip or a few months sabbatical you probably don’t need to think about how to travel long term. You probably have a very simple strategy that involves saving up a big pot of money and booking a flight.
In January 2014 I saw an ad for the Nokia Lumia 1020. I don’t usually take much notice of gadgets especially phones but this ad caught my eye for one reason.
The camera on the device boasted a whopping 41 million pixels. Obviously, its still a phone. It still has a tiny image sensor and a tiny crappy lens, but looking at some sample shots, it was clear that smartphone technology is moving pretty fast.
Recently on a short break to Kolymbari in Crete, Navi and I had the pleasure to eat at a great traditional restaurant on the coast. We met a girl there called Julie. Julie was working front of house, using her English skills to good effect persuading hungry tourists like us to try some traditional local food. We ate there several times during our trip and were blown away, not only by the food but also Julie’s great personality. Julie had bags of stories and anecdotes about Crete and life in the States. Her experiences provided a fascinating peek into the world of an expat living and working in Greece. It also got me thinking – What is the cost of living in Greece? Could Navi and I live here in Greece for a while?
I wont lie, tax is complicated. There are accountants here in my building that specialize in tax and they still have to refer to books sometimes to answer questions.
With such complexity surrounding the issue its no wonder the vast majority of us bury our heads in the sand when it comes to tax. It’s far easier just to ignore it and let the government sort it out.
Think globally act locally is primarily an environmental concept, but the environment isn’t the only concern. People and cultures can benefit from help too. If you want to be a good backpacker as well as a good person one way to go about it is to start thinking about your actions and how they affect others. By acting locally your efforts can contribute to the global good.
In today’s world of wanting everything now it’s very hard to get people to part with their income through the promise of a pension. For most, the word retirement conjures up images of handsome silver haired fifty something’s sailing around the Mediterranean in polo shirts. The reality, I’m sorry to say, is going to be starkly different for most of us. People’s expectations of retirement living standards are on the increase but pension contributions are at an all time low.
What’s the best way of withdrawing cash abroad? Believe it or not, the answer will probably depend on your home country rather than the country you are traveling to. For those of you in America or Australia, the market is awash with cards that let you withdraw cash while abroad for free. If you live in the states a Charles Schwab share account card will even refund foreign ATM fees.
Welcome to the first BackToTravel blog post – Traveling the world.
I’m going to use a question answer format for this post. It’s a great way to cram loads of info into a small space. The post is based largely around questions I’ve been asked by friends and relatives with a few extra bits I think you ought to know if you’re new to BackToTravel.