Beginnings of a Digital Nomad: The Remote Year – Day 12

in #travel4 years ago

An Australian staying next door had never traveled. This inspired me to provide the most useful travel tips to save you money, stay prepared, and help make your journey go as smooth as possible!

Angelo-Monkey-Forest.jpg

July 2nd, 2017 - Day 12

Today I write to you upon fresh arrival at the Gili Trawangan Island in Indonesia. But first, let's rewind to three days ago...

After saying our goodbyes to Rene @world5list and his girlfriend, we manage to hit the sack just after midnight, with my alarm set for 2:30 am. "Ok, that gives me enough time to do some last-minute work, pack the remainder of my stuff, shower, order a Grab (rideshare) car, and get to the airport in time for our 6:15 am flight." It seemed like just a few moments had passed before I heard Christina's voice wake me up, "It's already 3 am." Damnit, not again! The frenzied hurry ensues once more.

Travel tip #1: When in Southeast Asia, download the Grab app for all your ridesharing purposes. Uber tends to crap out on this continent so Grab is more popular in almost every Southeast Asian country. Also, unlike Uber, Grab charges you a flat rate no matter how long your ride may be delayed due to traffic, weather conditions, etc. This is EXTREMELY useful considering the fact that many large Asian cities suffer from intense traffic jams at seemingly random times of the day. In addition to requesting a car, you can also request normal taxis and motorcycle taxis (at least in Thailand, where motorcycle taxis are extremely common). They allow the option to pay in cash as well.

In a fatigued daze, we make our way through the early bird crowds at DMK airport. We're so tired that we both pass out almost instantaneously for the entire duration of our four-hour-long flight. The plane's tires come to a screeching halt and we proceed like sheep off the plane, through customs, baggage claim, and finally into the freedom of the fresh Bali air...order another Grab for a 1.5-hour ride to the breathtaking Balinese town of Ubud.

Travel tip #2: A lot of countries you go to nowadays require proof of leaving the country. A good way to go about this in case you want to leave your trip open-ended is to create a free account on Travelocity.com and search for an "outbound" ticket while logged into your newly-created account. Travelocity then lists all your flight options, along with which exact flights allow FREE CANCELLATION WITHIN 24 HOURS! Book one of these flights to prove to the ticketing agent that you're leaving the intended country, then cancel the flight right after they've checked you in :) For example, going to Thailand always requires me to prove to the inbound airline that I'll be departing Thailand within 30 days of arrival. So I'll book a flight from, say, Bangkok to Phnom Penh leaving one week after my arrival, check in and provide the necessary ticketing proof, login to Travelocity once I'm checked in, click "Manage Reservations," then "Cancel Reservation," and BOOM! I have my ticket in hand with no charges on my card ;)

Hindu-Swastika-Well-Being.jpg

Before being stolen by Hitler & the Nazi Party, the swastika (Sanskrit for "well-being") was widely used by large companies/organizations such as Coca-Cola, Carlsberg, and even the Boy Scouts, as it was a symbol of good fortune, originating from Hinduism and Buddhism. I noticed that this symbol (and its original meaning) is still widespread all over Indonesia, a predominantly Hindu country.

After a good night's (and much needed) rest, Christina and I hammer out some work, then I go for a run around Ubud to clear my mind while she takes a nap. Although hesitant after hearing mixed reviews about Bali, I was extremely impressed by the Balinese town of Ubud. Nestled in lush, green mountains with a diverse species of exotic plants and animals, the sleepy town has a relaxed, beach town vibe without being in close proximity to the ocean. Its streets are lined with bungalow-style restaurants serving all kinds of fresh, organic juices and mouth-savoring Indonesian meals.

Travel tip #3: If you don't already have a credit card offering you good rewards, GET ONE ASAP! By putting all of your trip's spend on these cards, you'll be that much closer to your next trip via rewards miles, which you can redeem for free airline tickets, hotel bookings, etc. Additionally, cards try to stay competitive by offering no foreign transaction fees, which will save you hundreds—if not, thousands—in the long run. @calaber24p made a great post about credit card rewards programs that's definitely worth checking out here!

While you will get hassled by countless locals looking to peddle their services, it's still dotted by an overwhelming amount of Hindu temples and structures standing in good condition, all of which act as a reminder of the country's vibrant culture and rich history.

Travel tip #4: If you ever plan on visiting any Hindu or Buddhist temples, be sure to always have your shoulders and knees covered before entering (i.e., no skirts or tank tops). Although this may seem like uncomfortable attire for hot, tropical climates such as Indonesia or Thailand, there are looser/more breathable alternatives available such as sarongs. And if you REALLY don't have anything to cover your body parts, you have the option of renting proper attire at the entrances to any of these religious locations.

The highlight of the day came mid-afternoon when Christina and I made our way to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary—a Hindu free-range safe space for monkeys—to play with our primate pals. For less than $4/person (IDR 50,000), you can walk around thick, forested paths to see/play with/feed hundreds of macaques. It's funny to watch these simple little creatures leading their relaxed lives...no care in the world whatsoever for money, WiFI connection, work, or—you'd never believe it—Steemit! Just give them a banana and they're the happiest little critters in the world :)

Travel tip #5: Don't rely on money exchange counters. ATMs will still give you, hands down, the best conversion rates possible for the time that you're traveling. Better yet, there are also plenty of banks out there that waive fees for out-of-network ATM cash withdrawals, such as Capital One, Charles Schwab, and most credit unions.

The high from the monkey sanctuary was later complemented with a stroll through the bustling Ubud town market, where goods of all kinds were being forced into your pockets in exchange for whatever amounts of fiat currency you held (if only they'd accept Steem Dollars ;)). From sarongs and elephant pants to religious relics, they have anything and everything you could think of.

Gili-Trawangan-Horse-Carriage.jpg

The small island of Gili Trawangan has no cars. Instead, the main forms of transportation are biking, walking, or small horse-drawn carriages such as these.

The next day (today), we pack up our stuff and head for Gili Trawangan Island. In what we thought would be a smooth and seamless transition to a tropical getaway, was actually a one-way ticket to Shitshow-ville; population: us. The backpacker-filled two-hour (they said it would only be one hour) shuttle ride dropped us off in a crowded boat launch harbor crammed with confused tourists wandering around aimlessly in search of the right boat...all the while sticky from the intense Indonesian heat and humidity. Fortunately for me, I was able to get some work done on my phone for part of the journey...which leads me to my next travel tip ;)

Travel tip #6: For those American travelers looking to stay connected while abroad without having to pay ridiculous international roaming charges, contact your cell phone providers about the most cost-effective ways of using data abroad. For example, AT&T allows you to purchase "Passport Plans" for as little as $15 for free texting and 2 GB of data; more than enough for 30 days of messaging/calling on Whatsapp as well as using rideshare apps. Sprint and T-Mobile stepped up their game even further by giving their customers unlimited free international 3G data; all you have to do is call them to activate this feature!

It's now close to 1 am and I'm struggling to keep my eyes open as I write this, but I wanted to leave you off with yet one more travel tip!

Travel tip #7: When checking for flights (especially when you plan on flying in and out of the same airport), ALWAYS be sure to compare the prices of both roundtrips and two one-ways. I've had travel booking sites try to charge me MORE for a roundtrip ticket than purchasing two separate one-ways, which ended up being $200 cheaper altogether; all going to and from the same airports.

To view past posts on "Beginnings of a Digital Nomad: The Remote Year," click here:
https://steemit.com/travel/@theywillkillyou/beginnings-of-a-digital-nomad-the-remote-year-day-1
https://steemit.com/travel/@theywillkillyou/beginnings-of-a-digital-nomad-the-remote-year-day-8

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Great Posts @theywillkillyou ... livin that freedom lifestyle :)

Thanks brotha, appreciate it!

wonderfull thanks for sharing

Glad you enjoyed it :) Thanks for taking time out of your day to read it!

Wow. These are some great tips! The post was very informative and visually appealing.

I'm glad you were able to take something away from it! Thank you for your support :)

I hear they have some strong shakes on that Island. You try any? (magic shroom shakes)

Heard that too, but nah I can't be doing that stuff...gotta stay sharp!

didnt know about travelocity.com

really valubale tip. thx a lot.

I had a ticket booked to vietnam when I entered thailand and for the first time they didnt check, even I only had a one way ticket.

Glad I was able to help! Try it out next time, it works flawlessly :)

Awesome life bro. I am here in SEA, Thailand loving it.

Haha thanks! Thailand is dope :) Gonna be back soon, I'll keep you posted!

Great traveling tips thanks, man.

And thank you for your support brotha!

As someone from Kathmandu, I have to say be careful around moneys. They're cute and funny until they steal your wallet or bite your face off.

Ugh...thank God that didn't happen! We got lucky

I've traveled in grab ! I love the way they drop us and guide us where to go where not to go.
Thank You for sharing this amazing post with us @theywillkillyou

And thank you for taking the time to read it :) Grab is awesome!

What a dope adventure you're having. I always knew about that symbol and it's meaning. This is why I say knowledge is power, people really have the ability to manipulate the mind. Thanks for sharing. I need to take a trip myself out of this country.

This is why I say knowledge is power, people really have the ability to manipulate the mind.

Well said my friend, very well said! Thanks for taking time out of your time to read my stuff :)

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I am going to resteem this post for further read later. Speaking of the swastika @theywillkillyou, do you realised a good symbol turn evil is when it is being mirrored / flipped / skewed ? :)

Yeah it's crazy how that works! Thank you so much for your support, it means the world to me :)

awesome travels Angelo! I have a friend that recently moved from Vietnam to Melbourne to complete her studies. she loves it in Australia.

For a second i thought I saw a neo nazi sign lol...whoops!

Hmmmm will have to check out Australia sometime then! I've never been but I hear good things :) Thanks for the recommendation!

same face in first picture. nice pictures. thanks for sharing with us.. keep posting..

Thanks your kind words & taking time out of your day to read it! I truly appreciate it :)

The trip is very fun, especially if you imagine the nature of Bali, I remember when a few years ago when visiting Bali, very beautiful, just unfortunately the camera that took time left behind hotel room, and I've traveled home. Thank you, I can relish the image I once made.

My pleasure :) Sorry to hear about your camera...but I guess that's a good enough reason to go back to Bali! Ha

Thank you for the suggestion, when I was planning a vacation at the end of the year to Bali with the family.

That was a fantastic log of your journey! I thoroughly enjoyed reading through it as well as seeing the pictures!

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

That was a fantastic log of your journey! I thoroughly enjoyed reading through it as well as seeing the pictures!

Very nice! I have also been traveling full time for about 2 years now. I do photography but I am also moving into blogging and writing. Great work!

Thanks a lot! What's your favorite place you've been to? I'm always looking for new ideas/recommendations :)

No worries haha. I really loved Melbourne , I stayed there for about 6 monthes. But as far as something more exotic, I'd say Da Lat Vietnam is really amazing, in fact just travelling around by scooter through the country side of middle Vietnam is always a new experience. I love exploring this country.

Ooooohhh Da Lat? Never heard of it...will check it out asap! Thank you for the recommendation :) Vietnam is still a country I have to cross off of my bucket list!

Nice man, yeah Vietnam is awesome. Da Lat is really cool its on top of a mountain and it has so much natural beauty that is very distinct in the Vietnam region. It is also known as the flower city. It is certainly a place I would include on any Vietnam visit.

From what I saw on Google images, it looks BEAUTIFUL! Thank you again for the recommendation :) Added to my bucket list & hope to visit Da Lat sometime in the next year or so!

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