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Six weeks in Darjeeling – The Wrap Up.

Darjeeling, India – I love it.

From the steep, twisting streets of the town to the momentous mountain views, friendly locals, top food and fresh climate. By “fresh” I’m referring to it being cold which to be honest, caught me a little bit off guard at first. I mean it’s India it ain’t supposed to be cold but then it dawned on me, with all the Tea farming I should have expected it to be cold. I remember years ago I stayed in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia and it was the same. Perfect for tea plantations, cold and wet and at high altitudes.

Below you can see my whole Darjeeling trip condensed into one video packed full of goodness. From my bumpy jeep journey up through the mountains from Siliguri to Kurseong Railway station, a trip on the famous Toy Train along the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway through to a tour of the local town and it’s surrounding areas. All mixed in with a few of my interesting little insights along the way.


cant’ see the video ? click here.

Like a fool I of course turned up in Darjeeling in pretty much in shorts and t-shirt and had to resort to wearing almost everything I had with me. Even though it was very cold it was quite refreshing for me as I’ve been living in hot climates for the last few years and I fell in love with Darjeeling within days and decided to stay a while. One of the first things that first hit me about Darjeeling (apart from the cold) was how much it didn’t feel like India. With not so many Indian-looking people and structures around it felt more like China or Nepal. As I learned more about the interesting history of Darjeeling from the locals it all made sense.

My Home

A major factor in me loving Darjeeling had a lot to do with the excellent place I was staying at, The Revolver Lodge is a funky little ‘Beatles themed’ place with most importantly free wifi that is pretty solid (essential for a digital nomad such as myself), stylish rooms, electric blanket bed warmers for those chilly nights, satellite Tv, books DVDs and attracting real interesting travelers

cant’ see the video ? click here.

I had phoned this place whilst on the train on the way to Darjeeling and when I arrived I was majorly impressed by the whole vibe they had going on at this stylish little lodge. Looked at the rooms and thought “Yes- this will do at least for my first night or two”. Six weeks later I was still there. Met some great people, saw some amazing sights and had a real chilled (literally) relaxing time.

A Day in The Life Of

An average top day for me rolled out something like this:

6am Up bright and early, mountain view walk to this tiny little local shop for a big cup of strong black Darjeeling tea.

7am work online for a few hours. using the good WiFi with my USB dongle as backup.

10am Breakfast at a local vegetarian restaurant- my favorite, Baked Beans on Toast topped with Cheese.

11am Back to Revolver for an hour or two blast on the Playstation3 -working my way thru a fantastic Sci-Fi first-person-shooter, chipping away at it thru to it’s completion a little bit each day.

1pm Work online for a couple of hours –by using some ninja productivity tricks I can get 4-5 hours work done in 2 hours.

2-3pm Lunch at Glenery’s Restaurant – too many amazing dishes to mention but I did become addicted to their roast chicken with roasted veg. Washed down with a chocolate brownie and ice cream covered in hot chocolate sauce. Burp.

4pm Back to my room at revolver for a bit of TV and maybe a cheeky afternoon siesta to sleep off my big lunch.

6-7pm shower and out for an evening meal – Indian or Chinese and quite often Italian. I found this awesome place that did fantastic pizza and pasta called “The Hot Pizza Place”, couldn’t keep myself away from there.

9pm back to revolver to work online as the US is starting to wake up.

11.45pm Midnight movie (and flick on that electric blanket for a toasty hot bed) – crash out for the night.

All Good

Pretty simple but a great little routine where I got tons of work done and at the same time had a real chilled out lifestyle that I changed up a lot and really got into. :)

Let me know in the comments below if you think Darjeeling appeals to you. Or if you have been there before, how did you rate it ?

And Then It Turned Bad

All round, I really, really liked Darjeeling and my stay at Revolver – THEN my whole India trip suddenly started to go seriously pear shaped and then got worse and led to me leaving India and having some life threatening and scariest, maddest few weeks I’ve had for a long, long time. :(   Find out all about that in my next post….

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First Half Day in India. Tripping out in Calcutta.

To sum up my first impressions of India in one word it would be “Mental”. After now being in India for nearly 3 weeks now I have started to adapt to the madness of it all. But let me tell you a crazy story about my very first day.

After a house sitting for a year in Thailand I was ready for some serious traveling adventures. Flew from Bangkok landing in Kolkata (Calcutta) airport with my girlfriend and we set off on an adventure to get to a hotel and get settled. I don’t know why but for some reason I did it all a little different than I usually would. Normally, when landing in a country that I have never visited before I would always book a room in advance for at least the first night. This time I only had the name of the train station closest to the airport and the plan was to get a bus from the airport to there, (I always try to avoid taxis from airport’s as they’re usually a rip off and rather my first experiences of a country be traveling with the locals rather than potentially being cheated) then head to Sudder Street area (backpacker central where all the cheap hotels and tourist information places are). Get a room, get our bearings and figure out how to get myself connected to the internet. The journey from the airport went smoothly and we soon arrived at Sudder Street (sort of like Thailand’s Khaosan Road), not my ideal place to stay but a good easy start rather than jumping straight off the tourist track.

This guy sits in his little cupboard shop 14 hours a day!

This is where it all started to go slightly weird, I’d heard about the tourist touts and was saying “No thank you” alot as we battled round looking for a decent guest house to drop our bags and get showered and relax. Many of the hotels and guest houses were full so when we did find one that had rooms we went for it. The hotel was an old British built building with really high ceilings and after checking in we were lead to our room by this tiny old Indian midget guy who was about 3ft tall, dropped our bags and quick freshen up. The missus wanted a little sleep whilst I went out to figure out the internet situation.

After just 2 hours, I had worked it all out and had set myself up with a usb dongle thing that I could plug straight into my laptop and apparently good speed internet 24/7. I’d have to test it out for a day or so to actually believe it but I was very proud of myself and was almost dancing back to my room punching the air with satisfaction that I was fully connected within hours of landing in India.

I got back to the room opened the door and was hit by this strong smell of some sort of thinners or gasoline and the missus sitting on the bed not looking happy. “What the hell is that smell”, I said. She explained that because of the noise of the traffic outside she had closed the window, as it was wide open when we first arrived and that she could smell gasoline and figured that it was coming from the traffic outside.

After trying to work it out for 10 minutes I said, “Right, we’re not havin this” and went to grab a hotel staff to get them to sort it out or at least put us in another room.

By this time I was starting to spin out a little bit (and the missus was pretty much tripping) from inhaling the fumes and when the little 3ft tall hotel guy came to our room with really high ceiling (about 20ft) it was all starting to feel a little bit like Alice in wonderland. Just to make it even weirder the little Indian hobbit guy was armed with a supersize (about 1ft tall) can of air freshener. He sprayed the room and told us that we must keep the window open.

“Eh? So the smell is in the room then?” I said,

The little guy replied “Yeah, we use Paraffin to kill the bed bugs”

WTF ?

After being left very confused and shocked by it all, we quickly checked out of that hotel and found another place, which turned out to be really nice and was actually cheaper but, most importantly didn’t smell of Paraffin.

Incredible India !?! What a bizarre first day.

Jump in the comments below and let me know…

Have you been to India ? Got any tips, must see places, or weird experiences to share?

If you have not visited India, does it appeal to you ? Probably not after reading this ;)

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Who said being homeless is a bad thing?

A quick explanation of the start of my next exciting adventure. After living it up at my temporary Thailand HQ for a year, being a house-sitting gig for a good friend of mine(who is one cool dude that ten years ago went around the world on a motorbike!) the house finally sold and I’m outta here. I’ve got rid of a lot of my stuff; Big screen Tv, Sofa, Oven, Motorbike and loads of other stuff that I’ve accumulated over the last couple of years. Sold it or gave it away and now down to the bare minimal. Bags packed and off for some full time traveling again. I’d actually been planning this for a long time so as to not get too comfortable at this house and then be sad when it sold.

India is where my next adventures will be taking me and I am really excited about the whole trip and what is ahead of me. I’ve very roughly planned it out but will be pretty much working it out as I go (which makes it even more exciting). Rocking a totally organic itinerary, nothing is set in stone and I will just go with the flow, gathering tips and tricks and making travel decisions from those I meet in India. The only thing I’m worrying about a little bit, is how wobbly the internet is, with all my business being done online, crappy internet really screws me up.

In this video I talk about this as a lesson on perception. Because when I first got news that the house was sold and I am out, I could have taken it really badly (and to be honest was really gutted because it is a fantastic place) but by setting up an amazing adventure ahead of me it makes me concentrate on that. Think back to the saying “The glass of water is half full or half empty” I say, “Dump the water and fill the glass with beer!”. Rather than thinking of it as “oh no, I’m homeless”, I’m on a “oh yes, I have freedom”.

And then there’s the story of why I stopped blogging for the last six months, and a really interesting story that is. I’ll tell you all about that and what I’ve been up to very soon. Either way, I’M BACK !

Let me know in the comments below what ins and outs of my upcoming adventures you want to know more about.

posted by admin in Lifestyle Design,Location Independent,Travelling and have View Comments

Digital Nomad Cribs – Location Independent House Sitting.

Take a quick tour of this fantastic place which is temporarily my home in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. I am actually house sitting for a good friend of mine who is currently in South America. I have done a bit of house sitting a few years ago but this place is just amazing. In such a quite, peaceful spaceous area surrounded by small mountains.

In this video I give you a quick spin through the local village and a tour of this awesome property where I am staying at the moment.   Enjoy…

I have not personally used these sites but I have heard that you can find great houses that need a house sitter dotted around the world, heres a bunch of them.

I got this house sitting gig by word of mouth and just happening to be in the right place at the right time. I was looking for a place and they were looking for someone trust worthy to take care of this beautiful property with mountains in the back yard.

I jumped at the opportunity and am currently staying here with my girlfriend keeping the place maintained and nice for occasional potential to look round. This is the perfect place for me at the moment where I can focus on my various online projects. I call this mode I am in at the moment ‘productive recluse concentration’, just a funky name for getting my head down and putting the hours in whilst in a totally relaxing environment with minimal distractions. It’s nothing new, people have been doing it for years where they hide themselves away for a period of time to focus on writing a book or painting or whatever.

I admittedly be a little sad when it is eventually sold and I have to move on but that will be cancelled out because I will be glad for the owner who can’t wait to sell this place.

I’m not sure where I’ll be going next, thinking maybe a beach area and I should be popping home to the uk sometime soon also. No big plans, I just roll with it and right now am enjoying the moment and especially enjoying the masses of space and nature around me.

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7 Ways to Wreck your Location Independence

Having the freedom that comes with going location independent can also come with a whole load of struggles. It’s nice to talk about all the working from a laptop on a tropical beach but let me share with you today seven ways you can make your digital nomad lifestyle alot harder for yourself.

Sliced by stuffing my motor bike into a barbed wire fence only the other day. OUCH !

1. Motorbikes.

Talking from very recent reminder of this one, see photo. Playing with motorbikes, especially in countries where they are famous for their crazy roads and high accident rates. I personally try my best to stick by my motto of, “If you stay off the motorbikes then you lower your chance of having an accident”.

Over my years I’ve smashed up a few bikes in different countries around the world and it can be an expensive habit if rental bikes and can sting or be painful or alot worse. Ending up in a hospital is also not the way you want to go. I’ve been lucky and although I have had probably close to 10 motorbike accidents over 8 years, mostly Thailand, I am luckey and  have only ever had bumps and scratches. Just be careful is what I’m saying !

Quick Tip: If you do ever smash up a rented motorbike (let’s hope you never do). Get a quote from local repair shop on much to fix the scratches or totally twisted bike (if you have destroyed it you’ll most probably have to buy a new one). Then before having any work carried out, go and visit the place you rented the bike from, try and speak to the owner and be honest and tell them you’ve smashed up the bike and your gonna sort it out. Most of the motorbike rental places in south east Asia make more money than they do from renting the bike by charging extortionate prices if you even scratch their motorbike.

2. Alcohol

We all like a drink, but be careful. Booze is dirt cheap in SE Asia, the partying is top notch guaranteed and you will always have great times meeting some awesome people.

But it’s far to easy to get carried away.

If you’re just on a short vacation for a couple of weeks in Thailand, cool, party to your hearts content. But if you have the dream of travelling long-term you have to develop a certain discipline with alcohol because it’s extremely easy to drink too much too often in these tropical locations. When I look back at my first time travelling a one year round the world trip I am not proud to say that I spent over half of my years budget on alcohol.

Alcohol can massively chomp into your funds as well as potentially getting you into mischief.

Quick Tip: When my when my drinking became boarding on alcoholism I tackled it by using a combination of tricks. One was by saying to myself that when I went out drinking I had to drink 2 or 3 soda waters first before I hit the beer. This would bloat me a little and at least slow down or lower my drinking. I later started replacing beer with coca-cola, and slowly got back down to drinking alcohol occasionally. Then the coca cola got out of hand, but that’s another story.

3. Money

Spending wisely, saving, budgeting, Blah blah. Being good with money is a good skill to develop for the long-term nomad, personally this is one of my weaknesses, I hate dealing with money but suprisingly, it is quite an essential part of long term travel. Most modern nomads are either working remotely or building there own online businesses and the entrepreneurial nomad must also take care about budgeting their business activities as well.

It is also easy to make investments in your business development that sometimes don’t work out as planned. Talking from experience, I know because I have got things wrong before and really messed up my finances which causes huge problems and can really jeopardize the whole lifestyle. Although I think that this part is directly related to the entrepreneur lifestyle, easy to make money on demand and just as easy to lose money on ideas that fail. The learning curve of an independent mobile entrepreneur is a whole other thing.

Quick Tip: Move away from renting guest house rooms and instead rent a house or an apartment, catch is you have to usually pay at least 3 months upfront. It’s works out a heck of alot cheaper in the long run and you get to properly experience the local culture.

4. Romance

If your nomading with your loved one, there can be challenges. I’ve seen married couple break up whilst travelling (not fun to be around) and I have also seen people meet the loves of thier lives and live happily ever after. I’m lucky to be in a happy long term relationship, but today is for the the single nomad men.

It’s so easy to slip into playboy mode whilst travelling, either with other forign travelers or locals. Too many times I have seen single wannabe nomad guys come out to South East Asia and get into some crazy situations with local ladies. Often it starts out playing around in the bars and then leads to some crazy places that you would not believe. Some of the guys I have seen them been slowly rinsed of all there dough and have to return home broke. Let’s call them ‘entrepreneurial ladies’, they have fine tuned there art of squeezing cash from passing foreigners and it is amazing how the most smart streetwise fellas can get squeezed of all there money by some of these devious little ladies.

Quick Tip: If you are single and looking for a bit of local lovin in South East Asia, stay away from the girly bars! Instead, check out the talent in the local libraries, supermarkets, off the beaten tourist track, anywhere but the bars. Simply put, the classy ladies don’t hang out at prostitute bars. “Oh, but she’s not on the game, she just works there as the cashier.” Come on lads, just keep your witts about you.

5. Fun

I must sound like a real party pooper saying, stay of the motorbikes, drink responsibly, spend your money wisely and be careful of the sexy ladies. Hey, I’m all about having fun and I dig a good party, but too much fun can totally jeopardize your location independent dreams. There is just so many fun things to do and experience form scuba diving to climbing, meeting great people and sharing stories. All of this fun, like with anything must be done in moderation if you want your freedom to last.

Quick tip : Just think work before play. If you have deadlines to meet or projects that you are developing, be strict with your self and don’t let the having too much fun spoil your location independent set up.

6. Being an Ass

Behave yourself. Just remember you are a guest in the country you are visiting. Respect the locals, the culture and generally just be a good person and try your best to avoid trouble.

Be an ass and if the locals don’t get you then fellow travelling foreigners will get you. An extreme example of this that comes to my mind, is about 5 years ago I was staying on the beautiful Kao Tho island and met loads of cool people. I was partying with this group of 15 people who were all lone travellers who had come together over a week. We had all became really good friends then one night, we were all walking along the beach and we saw a group of puppies. These cute little baby dogs were really fun to watch playing on the beach. Then out of nowhere this one guy (European) shouted watch this, and ran towards the dogs and kicked one of these little guys like it was a football. I just heard the yelp and saw the puppy go flying through the air.

Now I’m a big dog lover, and whether you like dogs or not, this is totally wrong and not cool in so many ways. When it happened my jaw dropped and before I had time to get my head around what had just happened, some other unimpressed people in our group had punched this guy knocking him to the ground where some of the girls in the group ran in and kicked the guy whilst he was on the ground.

Simple put nomading is not for ass-holes.

Quick Tip: It is probably safer to be an ass-hole in your home country and you are more likely to get away with it . So if you are the type of ass that thinks kicking random baby dogs is funny don’t bother chasing the nomad dream as you won’t last long.

7. ?

All you travellers and nomads who are out there rocking the location independence your way, what is a seventh point you could add here. Alot of it is simple common sense. I’m leaving this one open to suggestions.

What do ya think ?

Comments below yo !

posted by admin in Location Independent,Travelling and have View Comments