I just wrapped up living 3 months at a luxury condo in nimman, Chiang Mai. Was it worth it? read on. Since leaving Vancouver in 2013 I haven’t slept on a bed I’ve owned for the past 5 years. Why? Because I relocated in Taiwan and Thailand where it is common to find fully furnished apartments. I’ve since obtained a level of time and location freedom where I have a choice of which city to live and where I want to live. In western cities like Vancouver this isn’t really the case because it is more of a landlord/property owner market. It’s a job interview to find a place to live and the high costs limit which area and type of accommodation you can pick.
Once of the best benefits of Chiang Mai is vast amount of selection that people have choosing where to live on a short-term basis. Most apartments are ready to move in, some have weekly cleaning, and there is no interview process as long as you have money. The most desirable area is Nimman (Nimmanhamen) because of dense amount of coffee shops, cowork spaces, restaurants, and bars. Even when my out of town friends come to visit we end spending time in Nimman. I’ve lived in Nimman since 2015 in a variety of apartments from basic studio to upscale apartment. However the Siri Condo is in a more luxurious class and feel due to the pool, image, and construction of the condo.
I paid $550 US a month for my 1 bedroom apartment, which is considered expensive for Chiang Mai Thailand. To put things into perspective I can find a nice studio nearby for $300 US. You can pay even less if you live further away (1km). So what do you get for that extra $250 US? For starters you get a decent pool and usable gym. It wasn’t the nicest pool or gym, but it was functional and convenient. Because it was so convenient over the period of 3 months I’m at a very good level of fitness. I would have need to pay at least $50 US to use equivalent facilities outside of the condo.
The interior has a luxury feel and is built with high end finishings. Marble flooring, and solid construction in the walls meant it was fairly quiet living here. I didn’t hear noise from the neighbors. I had a small functional kitchen with microwave, which allowed to cook. Since I had lots of practice cooking in Vancouver, I ended up cooking a lot of breakfast and late night meals for myself. The apartment included a quality washing machine (luxury), which allowed me to do laundry in my room instead of going to the public area or a shop to do it. I mentioned the amenities, but haven’t mentioned access to the sky garden area. I used this area to journal and have coffee in the mornings. I occasionally shot some talking videos on the top and some skyline scenery from the rooftop.
The business impact
The wifi in the apartment was a private connection clocking in around 30/20mbps. My first 2 years I only used the shared free wifi in my apartments. I only later gave in to get a private connection. This condo included it and having this fast reliable connection in my room allowed me to produce a lot of content. As I’m a Youtuber, Stock footage videographer, and online instructor I upload a lot of videos to the Internet. Sometimes it’s difficult to finish uploads at a public space because it may take an entire night. The fast private connection allowed me to do my work and even do uploads while going out for massages or drinks with friends.
Most apartments these days include an HD LCD tv with hdmi connection. This room was no exception and gave me access to a 40inch HD tv to connect to my laptop. It also gave me a nice dining table with solid chairs. All this added up to a great environment to work from home. During my stay in Chiang Mai I probably worked from home 70% of the time. I probably was more productive overall than going through the cafe circuit. I was also able to do voiceover recordings from the apartment because it was so exceptionally quiet for Chiang Mai. I had to make some adjustments like unplug my fridge and turn off the AC, but I effectively turned my living room into a workspace and recording studio. I would have to pay at least $100US or more for access to cowork space and to use a room as a studio.
Chiang Mai is very much a motorbike city although access to Uber and Grab are making it more convenient. As I don’t ride a motorbike anymore living in a central area of Nimman still allowed me to hangout with friends without riding a motorbike. There have been so many times I’ve gone out in Nimman where I’ve had the luxury of just being able to walk home within 7 minutes. This also ends up saving you some money on a motorbike, gas, and taxis.
As you can see I got a lot of value for the extra $250 US. Yes I was able to justify the cost. It was worth it for me. I had pretty much everything I needed except for regular cleaning for this price. I think the combination of the location of the condo and on-site luxuries ended up saving me time. Chiang mai offers a range of accommodation from $200 for basic to $550 for luxury. Somewhere in this range I’m sure you’ll find where you are looking for. Lifestyle is a personal thing and varies from person to person. I think if you live in Chiang mai too long you start to compare prices in local currency. 5000 baht extra sounds like a lot, but if you convert it to US currency it is $160 US it isn’t. The beauty of Chiang Mai is that you have choices, and usually if you’re looking for something cheaper you can find it. This being said I believe you get what you pay for, so you have to make sure you’re not trading off something that is important to you. Do you need that pool? maybe not. Do you need the private wifi? No question here. As a location independent entrepreneur you have to make sure that you’ve got everything you need to live a healthy life and be productive.
Where can you find comfortable upscale accommodation in Chiang Mai?
You can then visit these apartments in person and ask to see a room. If you’re comfortable you can rent a motorbike for a day and drive up to these apartments to look around. I usually keep the email or facebook contacts of the apartments I like so I need to to repeat this for repeat visits.
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Hanoi Vietnam has amazing food like banh mi beef stew sandwiches, chicken pho noodle soup, vietnamese spring rolls, and yes even craft beer.
Hanoi is a bit chaotic at first, and faster than Chiang Mai. After settling into the chaotic traffic there is plenty of food and shopping to discover by walking around the old quarter.
Getting in and getting around
You can use Air Asia or Viet Jet air from Thailand for cheap flights from Thailand to Hanoi. You can use the Mai Linh taxis to get into town without worrying about getting ripped off. If you get a simcard you can use an uber to get around cheap and safely.
Hanoi feels safe and the people are friendly even though their english isn’t too strong they will try. The locals are hustlers and even Hanoi is slower than Saigon you can feel the energy of the people.
The currency is super inflated so you’ll get to work with currency in the millions or hundreds of thousands. When you convert things over you’ll find that the costs are lower than Chiang mai for shopping and food. Bring plenty of brand new US dollars to exchange for Dong there and get a local sim card at the airport.
Where to Stay
I recommend to stay in the Old quarter. I stayed at the Nova hotel, which was a great balance between comfort, location, and value. The hotel offered a solid free breakfast with choices between western and local dishes like Pho Gai (Chicken Noodle soup).
Where and what to eat
Nova hotel was a great location to start sampling the local food . There were plenty of coffee shops nearby where you can people watch and enjoy vietnamese coffee. There is a sample menu in the video. You can also buy bags of coffee to take back home with you and the many shops around the old quarter. You’ll find coffee varieties like Kopi luwak or arabica beans. Highlands coffee is a local vietnamese chain around town that you can depend on for decent coffee, wifi, and toilets. I found a nice trendy spot to enjoy Vietnamese coffee near St. Joseph’s Cathedral that you can see in the video.
I recommend doing a food tour. I used Hanoi food tasting tours for $25 US. You will get some insight into the local foods and find places you would never find on your own.
My personal favorite are the beef stew cheese steak sandwiches. You can these banh mi shops near the old quarter. I was also happy to see a craft beer scene. I went to the craft beer pub near Hoàn Kiếm lake and enjoyed some a craft beer flight for a decent price. Of course I recommend trying the local beer first as well before spoiling your palette.
I enjoyed sitting by the shops and eating fried cheese sticks with hanoi beer. Of course you want to try authentic vietnamese beef pho. If you’ve lived in Thailand for some time you will know that quality beef is harder to find and more expensive. In Vietnam it’s easier to find good beef at good prices. We found a nice hot pot spot that was very generous with the beef.
I was impressed with the co-work space. It had a pleasant and large atmosphere with 3 levels.
Filming the trip
I brought the DJI Osmo with me to film. It was my primary camera as opposed to my SLR in past trips. There are no drones allowed in Vietnam fyi. Osmo gave me the freedom to walk around the city with my girlfriend without taking a long time to setup for stable shots.It’s so easy to get up and film great shots I even let my girlfriend try it. Also the image was in full 4k resolution at aperture f 2.8. For stock footage purposes I was probably one of the first to be filming this city again in 4k resolution. Connecting my Asus android or ipad allowed me to use it as an external monitor to give me comfort I was getting great shots. You can get the osmo here.
That is an affiliate link where I get a small commission, but I am currently using the DJI osmo and fully recommend it for traveling and shooting stock footage in 4k. Check out some of the clips I filmed with the Osmo.
Plans to monetize on this footage
I produce this footage to license it on stock footage agencies. I actually earned about $130 US during this trip from my past trips. I took advantage of this trip to get some interesting footage in Hanoi like Halong bay. I will then publish these videos online to license. If you’re interested in learning more about this you can check out my free stock footage course.
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South Korea is well known for the winter olympics, K pop, beautiful girls, and modern electronics. Seoul has amazing food for the soul like pork rib bone soup, dumplings, bugolgi beef bbq, bim bam bop and more. I decided to make a visit to film and sample the food and use Seoul to fly to Vancouver. South Korea has potential for Digital nomads despite the higher cost. We will be exploring some of the info in our Seoul Korea Digital nomad and food guide.
Getting in, getting connected, and Where to Stay
I booked a 6 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, but you can find cheap flights from Bangkok or Taipei. Unfortunately Ubers’s are expensive so I took an airport limo bus ($9 us) to the Ramada hotel in Dongdaemun. The bus pretty much stopped in front of the hotel. I decided to rent a mobile router as it would give me 4g Internet unlimited data up to 3 devices. This cost me $42 us for the 5 days. They also had single sim packages.
Where did I stay
I stayed at the Ramada Encore hotel in Dongdaemun. I did plenty of research between my friends, airbnb, and trip advisor. I found the airbnb’s more on the high end, and the Ramada had the right combination of value, convenience, location, good reviews, and it was a modern hotel. As I said I got dropped off right in front of the hotel. There is a starbucks, convenience store, bus stops, and the Shinseoldong Subway station within a 2 minute walk radius. This subway is on line 1 and goes directly to city hall station. The lobby has a decent work area and local coffee shop and nearby starbucks was spacious and featured a fast Internet connection. I got a good room on the corner of the 16th floor. The was room was relatively spacious for Seoul, everything was clean, modern, and I had a decent view. The wifi wasn’t as fast as I wanted, but I just used my mobile router. The staff spoke a decent level of English to help me get around.
What did I eat and drink
I ate everything from noodle soups, dumplings, fried chicken, beef bulgolgi, jap chae potato noodles, bim bam bop, and pork rib hangover soup to name a few. I marked some pins for the restaurants I went to. You could find a good meal for about 7000 won $6.2 US. The portions were large, and fresh kim chi and side dishes seemed to come standard. I tried the local beer Cass and also some craft beer in Hong dae and Itaewon areas. I recommend trying out the Magpie Ipa in Hongdae. It comes from Jeju island and goes for about 7000 won. Coffee’s ranged from 3000 to 4000 won and offered free wifi.
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What did I film?
I took some pov footage from the bus and airport limos using DJI Osmo to capture that unique perspective. If you’re interesting in filming with this camera check out my course. I know its hard to unpack to get out the camera after a long trip, but I made an extra effort because I knew taxis would be expensive. I used the DJI osmo to capture some unique angles at Gangnam and Itaewon areas. I brought out the Canon SLR with the 50mm F 1.4 to capture some nice nightlife footage as well. I explored the hotel and discovered they had rooftop access. I took full advantage of this to get some aerials around Dongdaemun. I brought my drone, but from my research it seemed like if I didn’t fly at the designated drone park at Hangang park Seoul, then I might be at risk for a fine. From my research the footage from there wasn’t particularly scenic and it was at least 1.5 hours in transit just to get there. Instead I went to the DJI Flagship store in Hongdae area. I understand that there are only some official flagship stores worldwide so I made the visit. It was worthwhile as I got to see pretty much all the current gear and get some hands-on with the DJI goggles connected to DJI Mavic and touch the latest small drone dji spark. I ended up partnering with my local friend to complete filming of a Digital nomad guide to Seoul Korea.
I decided to switch my workflow to less laptop work and more content producing footage. This is always more fun and makes more sense on a short expensive trip. I rather do the laptop work from a location that I’m going to be more settled in. I worked at some cafe’s like Starbucks, the Ramada Encore lobby, my room, and the Noah Co-work space. I tried to make a visit to the free Dcamp cowork space, and Hive Arena and Wework at Gangnam They were closed due to holiday. Dcamp is free and the latter 2 are paid co-work spaces, which are not cheap The cafe Internet speeds were fast enough to get some work done.
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4 days is just scratching the surface of Seoul. It is a large city and although there is good public transport it takes a long time to get around to the different areas. I didn’t really explore the main tourist attractions nor did I visit many co-work spaces, nor did I visit Jeju island. If I did return to Seoul I would bring some company and might try out Gangnam or Hongdae areas. Seoul is not as expensive as you would think once you have taken care of your accomodation. It will just take time to fully expore what it has to offer
Langkawi Malaysia is a beautiful tropical beach island only a cheap 30 minute plane ride from Penang. A little known secret is that Langkawi offers duty free prices for alchohol and smokes! Read on.During my month stay in Penang I continually heard good things about the beach and the cheap alcohol. Disclaimer: There are affiliate links to the hotel.
Getting in and getting around
I booked a 30 minute flight from Penang to Langkawai there using Air Asia for $34 US one way and did a short 2 day stay at Cenang Beach, the main popular beach. My goal there was to relax from the grind I had in Penang. It was a cheap uber ride from the airport (15rm) to my hotel at the Nadias. Cenang beach is a short 5 minute walk away from the Nadias hoteland offers those gorgeous sunsets.
Where to stay
After a lot of cross research between trip advisor and Agoda I settled on the Nadias hotel at $about 49 US a night. As you know me I’m looking for a comfortable room, good value, clean, wifi, and good location. This placed checked the boxes for me. The room was a decent sized, it was modern, decent breakfast, and decent swimming pool. The main feature was that it was a short 5 minute walk to the beach, close to the starbucks, plaza, and duty free stores. It’s ideal for couples or people looking a comfortable room they could work and have a class walk to cenang beach.
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In between filming video I also found out that the duty free stores not only carry cheap beer, but wine and cigars. A got a bottle of hardy’s sauvignon blanc for 29 Ringet. I heard that the island has some special arrangement where they don’t pass on the duty to tourists. This is one of the draws of the island. I didn’t bother touring around the island. I managed to wake up early to catch some morning aerial footage of Penang, but the prime time would be during the sunset.
I did a lunch at red tomato, the popular restaurant for western food with foreigners. The food was good, but it was expensive and there was terrible customer service. The kebab’s on the main street were good. The included breakfast buffer at the hotel was just average. For the afternoon I decided to rent a sunbed until sunset. At least I could film some footage with DJI OSMO.
I took out the DJI drone to setup by my sunbed and asked permission from the owner. He said yes. There were a lot of people, but the airspace was clear and I had a strong GPS signal. I took off from a quiet area. I manage to capture different colors of the sunset during my 1 flight. I had to deal with some curious tourists. I gave myself a 5 minute buffer to land and double checked it was safe to land. Flying on a tropic beach paradise like Langkawi is awesome as an Aerial Videographer. There are few high obstructions and you have a georgeous sunset and beach to film. If you are interested in learning Aerial videography or photography from me check out my Online class with a promo discount.
Episode 25 of the Greg Hung show podcast is all about Hanoi Vietnam. Learn about Thai visas, currency, where to stay, what you can eat, Halong Bay, Co-work spaces,craft beer massages, and of course how I packed and filmed Hanoi in 4k.
This is the question I’ve been pondering the past several months. This post is largely personal, but perhaps you are at the same point or you may get to this phase of your digital nomad journey.
First let me giving you a little background in case you’re just getting to know me.
In 2 days I will have spent 4 months living in Chiang Mai Thailand and almost 2 years in Taiwan.
My journey to freedom and living abroad in Taiwan
My first taste of corporate freedom came on May 2011 when I told my director I sold my Vancouver apartment and I was leaving my job to pursue my own thing. I eventually made my way to Asia for 2 months that left me wanting for more. It would have to wait because I needed to return to corporate and get a job in May 2012. It was a good gig. I had a 9 to 5pm job that paid well and even had a decent cafeteria and on-site gym I could play basketball after work. I made the 25-minute commute in my Acura TL sedan from my Yaletown studio condo to Richmond every weekday morning. Still my heart was not happy and yearning to live abroad. This was my 2nd chance to live a normal Vancouver life.
On May 2013 I left my Business Team Lead job in Vancouver sold my car and set off on a journey to Hawaii, 2 months in Australia, South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, before living abroad in Taiwan. I got an apartment, enrolled for Chinese classes at Shida, and lived life. I made friends, had romantic relationships, had great food, and was still trying to get figure out this business thing. Eventually I started teaching English at a cram school. I hated it so much that it forced me to really figure out this business thing. I discovered a way to earn an income from my videos in 2014 using stock footage and my on-line courses. My on-line earnings grew to the point I could get my time and location freedom back again. I met a digital nomad from Vancouver named Nigel during this time. He introduced me to the idea of the digital nomad lifestyle and the nomad list. Through my research I discovered that Chiang Mai seemed like the destination to be.
Return to Vancouver
I went back home to Vancouver for Christmas in 2014 to visit family and friends for a month. I enjoyed craft beer, shot stock footage, flew the drone, and saw my family and friends. It was great, but I still didn’t feel like it was time to come home to stay. The grey clouds, long rainy days, and cold didn’t help to convince me to stay. I had seen and experienced too much.
I still had unfinished business in Taiwan and Asia. I needed to improve my Chinese. I needed to improve my on-line business, and I need to travel deeper into Asia.
At the beginning of this year I began dating a Taiwanese girlfriend, and began focusing on scaling my on-line business. We went to the Pingxi festival and we wrote our dreams on our lanterns before we lit and set them off into the sky. It felt my life was starting to come together in Taiwan. I started volunteering as the photographer at a professional expat social club called Internations. I joined the local co-work space in Taipei called the Makerbar. I worked at the space during the day and would hang out with my girlfriend at night.
During the year I thought more about Chiang Mai. Sometimes it is difficult to live the life of the digital nomad especially in Taiwan where it is more common to work a traditional job. The environment offers a lot, but there is a very small on-line digital nomad community.
I met a well-known Asian American entrepreneur, Johnny FDK, who was living a good life in Chiang Mai. During a family visit to Singapore I stopped by Thailand for the first time. As I took my taxi from Chiang Mai airport to the neighborhood of Nimman I already was being charmed by the city. I returned to Taiwan with plans to relocate to Chiang Mai. I scored an amazing video opportunity with a foreign company just before I left Taipei. This would give me the funds to follow my 2015 vision.
I traveled to Okinawa Japan before moving out to Chiang Mai. I even got sponsored by an on-line company called curious to produce a drone course that I would film in Chiang Mai. My sister ended up visiting Taipei and helped me move into Chiang Mai.
I traveled deep into South East Asia with my sister and Taiwanese girlfriend visiting countries and filming Bangkok, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
I had settled into my life in Chiang Mai. I had a nice modern apartment in Nimman, I started to meet a group of solid friends, and went to work. I rented a scooter from Mango bikes for about 2400 baht a month. I was filming a drone course in the mountain jungles of Chiang Mai and the university. To get paid to film a course teaching people to fly and film with a drone in Thailand was freaking cool.
During the day I would visit the co-working spaces of Mana and Camp during the day and produce my videos. At night I would frequent the restaurants and bars of Nimman and drink cheap Singha and Leo beer. I would enjoy the live music at the rooftop bars at Nimman hill, chill with friends at Deejai Gardens, listen to live jazz at Mojo’s, or enjoy a carafe of red wine at Kafe Vino. I found some of my favorite food spots for cheap pad thai at the Maya, curries at K’s Kitchen, and even good western breakfast at Bake and bite. Once a week I would treat myself to a foot or oil massage for $6.80 US. I got back into the dating scene and started dating a local Thai girl.
Coming home to family
Still during one of my weekly Facetime calls my parents asked me to come back. I started to think about returning to life in Toronto or Vancouver. Thinking started to translate into flight and apartment shopping. Returning to Canada wouldn’t be as simple as booking a flight back.
Prices for just about everything especially accommodation is more expensive. While I can make a comfortable living in places like Chiang Mai with my on-line business is not at a stage I can enjoy time and location freedom in Canada. My dad tried to place the urgency on summer in Vancouver ending. Chiang Mai is like summer everyday so I didn’t feel that I needed to rush. In Canada thoughts crossed my mind to return to a corporate job. Yes a corporate job mostly probably related to my 13 years in IT leadership. There is a good chance with my MBA and career experience I could return to the workforce and earn a $70-90k (CDN) a year job. I also need to pay off the loan for my MBA still, which hangs over my head. My on-line business and what I love would need to take a backseat to my corporate job. Most likely if I did nothing I would bringing in an additional $28-32k Canadian a year in passive income. This could be a good scenario financially earning 100-120k (CDN) a year. I would have tons of stories, experiences, and information to share with Canadians who wanted to pursue a similar once in a lifetime adventure.
I feel like I’m taking steps forward to achieve my dream of financial freedom in Chiang Mai. I’m busy working hard on my on-line business here. I feel like I have the workspaces, fast upload Internet speeds, and supportive community to take my business to the next level. The atmosphere of working in co-working spaces together with people who made similar sacrifices certainly helps to keep me on track. You end up talking with digital nomads, and it is hard not to increase your knowledge of the familiar Internet business topics of e-books, seo, Kindle books, affiliate marketing, blogging, or building a sales funnel.
The problem is that I’ve failed to reach my financial targets. All the work I’ve produced in Chiang Mai hasn’t necessarily translated into the financial success I imagined. The longer I’m out here the further I’m delaying earning the salary I mentioned earlier.
After all the recent traveling for Chiang mai visa runs I’ve become a bit travel weary and a bit homesick. I want to be able to cross the street as a pedestrian and not have cars try to run me over. I want to have random friendly conversations with strangers. I miss being able to walk straight on a sidewalk an not have someone cut me off frequently.
It’s harder for me to imagine, but I’m usually a bit more senior in terms of my age in this digital nomad community. If I were 25 years old perhaps I wouldn’t think twice continuing what I’m doing. However, I’m 37 and because of that I think a bit differently. Maybe I’m a bit grumpier too I would love to have some kids, have financial freedom, take care of my parents, and be able to see my family more often. Is returning to Canada, starting a job, getting married, buying a home, and living with kids the solution? Should I be not be content with what I’ve seen, done, and experienced already?
Chances are I would bored and chained up to a company after a year or 2.
Is there another way to think of this? A redefinition of what I refer to as home. One of my longer-term goals I envisioned having more than one home in the world. A home you could come to 3-6 months at a time to escape the weather and high prices. Every city has something to offer and pros and cons. Vancouver has awesome Cantonese foods, mary jane, beautiful scenery, the seawall, and generally a higher quality of life. The downside is the fall and winter grey clouds and non stop rain. All if forgiven because our beautiful 3 month summers where all we want to do is get outdoors, exercise, drink coffee on the patio, or do something near the seawall or water.
Taipei has an excellent transportation system, is super convenient, cheaper than the west, and excellent noodles and dumplings. However, the buildings are old and owning property is super expensive. There are the regular typhoons and earthquakes and almost everywhere is crowded. There is a small digital nomad community and there are the language barrier issues.
Singapore is the most developed English-speaking city in Asia, one of the safest and cleanest, and is a great travel hub. However, expensive prices for most things from accommodation, driving, and booze set back this city. The Island is pretty small and the perfection can be boring for some.
Chiang Mai has regular hot weather and beautiful mountain and jungle scenery. Nimman is a trendy and upcoming neighborhood that offers everyone one could need. It is a renter friendly city allowing one to rent a scooter or apartment with ease and no hassles. The lifestyle here is easy and cost of living some of the lowest in the world. You have a strong community of Digital nomads and it’s easy to rent here. However; Thailand’s one-month tourist visa is inconvenient leading to visa workarounds to extended stays. I would be great to have more pavements and pedestrian traffic crossings that are longer than 7 seconds long. The burning season from February to April results in thick smoke making it unbearable to live here during these months. The heat combined with the air pollution from the tuk tuks, motor bikes, and red trucks leads to lower air quality that I’m used to from Vancouver.
Perhaps I have to redefine what I call home? After all my travels one thing is for sure. Chiang Mai is definitely a place I could see myself coming back on a regular basis living here for part of the year. Some places like Tokyo are great to visit, but destinations are great to live. Chiang Mai is one of those places.
What conclusion have I come to? I am grateful for the great lifestyle that I’ve had in Chiang Mai. The business opportunities that have come my way. I’ve traveled and experienced more in this part of the world than I could ever imagine.Would I like to travel more. Of course I would!
Working in a corporate job for a short time, can help me with financial stability. Perhaps I would be happy to pay off the MBA loan and regroup. Can I see myself going through 2-hour meetings and waking up at 8am every morning to commute to work? After the freedom I’ve experienced I would have to say no. Perhaps I could develop my video business in Canada and North America. The video opportunities I’ve had in Chiang Mai will lead to an impressive video portfolio. Sometimes I have to wrestle with the rational side of my brain tries to over analyze and calculate before making a decision. I still have faith and belief that following your passion and heart will lead to success. I’m enjoying the journey. This journey has taught to have the courage and faith to follow your heart. It has taken time to develop the instinct to trust my feelings to make a decision that feels right.
Right now it feels like its time to return home to Vancouver for now. To answer the question of what is it time to go home for yourself I believe you also have to be honest with yourself and learn to trust your feelings. I don’t know what the future holds. I do know what I want. I want to spend some time with my family. I want to do paid talks to inspire Canadians and Westerners about the freedom lifestyle that is available to them. I want to teach people to learn to find their passion and calling and to develop the courage to pursue it. I want to do aerial videography in Canada perhaps for golf courses or resorts. I want to enjoy a cup of JJ bean coffee, Christmas parties with some craft beer and cabernet savignon with my friends, and home cooking with the family.
I want to build a business with solar energy and bringing and cleaner air to countries. I want to empower locals in popular digital nomad countries to build their own businesses and improve their lives. I’ve seen how clean and developed cities like Singapore are. I want to bring some of that cleanliness and fix the pavements in Chiang Mai. I have grand ambitions beyond just being a digital nomad. How will it all happen? I don’t know.
For now If I’ve inspired you to live a free live and to listen to your heart this long post would have been worth it.
Yes that’s right. Traveling, coding, and eating a Tarantula spider in Cambodia. Today we have a special guest Nigel Fish, a Vancouver digital nomad in Asia on “ghunglive”. I met Nigel in Taipei thanks to the introduction from my Taiwanese friend Serena in 2014. I credit Nigel with taking me deeper in the world of the Digital nomad and making me realize that I myself have become a digital nomad. Nigel is the first digital nomad that I’ve met in Asia actually from the same hometown. While I prefer to use Taiwan as a base and take less frequent trips to nearby countries in Asia, Nigel is more “nomadic” as he travels more frequently than I do. The truth is I would love to more freedom to travel like Nigel.
Why should you watch this video?
Catch a glimpse of Nigel eating a Tarantula in Cambodia
Learn more about the life of a Canadian web developer who makes a living traveling and working from different countries
Get useful insight as a digital nomad in countries like Thailand, Cambodia, and Taiwan
Learn about the type of digital nomads Nigel has met in Bangkok meetups
Hear about Time Zone Freedom – The idea of not being chained to a 9am – 5pm schedule. Nigel is able to do sightseeing in the day and do some work at night
Digital nomad essentials and useful resources
How regular working people can get started into the Digital Nomad lifestyle
Talk about visa allowances for Canadians in Asian countries
Payment systems that are used to get paid over the Internet
Way to meet people on our journey’s using Meetups and tinder
The idea of becoming a Digital indefinitely
I think it’s great to meet people like Nigel that are not just talking about being a digital nomad, but that are actually living the lifestyle. He is so optimistic about giving it a try that it actually inspires me to push on. Nigel touched on the lifestyle stuff like green space and going for a run in Cambodia. I think its important for Digital Nomads to take into account the lifestyle that a city offers other than just cafe’s, low cost of living, and the Wifi availability. In Taipei I can go to the local sports center gym for 50nt for ($1.98 cdn, $1.59 US) for an hour or run at an Olympic style track for free. You can take out a U-bike rental with the Easycard to the riverside for an hour or two for less than $1 US without any sign-up or insurances hassles. What is the transportation and convenience like? Do you need to take a taxi to get to space that you can run? Do you need a car? In Taipei I can take the MRT just outside my apartment for 1 station and be at the track in 7 minutes. Everyone has a different lifestyle. Perhaps you like having a larger house in the suburbs with a car and commuting to work and back for an hour each day is your lifestyle.
Getting paid over the Internet as a digital nomad in a foreign countries has some issues. For me receiving money through paypal means I get his with a fee from my domestic bank and the local bank here costing me about $25 US for each withdrawal. I also loose some money in the conversion process. I’m not sure what the best solution is yet.
Lastly the idea of being able to get a business visa in Cambodia and being a digital nomad indefinitely was very interesting. Not having to worry about visa issues really does open up new possibilities to setup shop in Asia.
Digital nomads any thoughts or comments on this episode?
This was my first Skype video interview that I setup from Taipei while Nigel was in Cambodia. I hope you enjoyed this format, and if you enjoyed it please sign up for the newsletter and comment below!
I was contacted by some people in Vancouver who were interested in attending my SLR video workshop. The problem was that I’m living in Taiwan now. As I was currently teaching English I decided that I had the mindset to create my own course on creating travel videos using video as the platform. I put in the many hours to put together an outline and film the course. I thought this would be time well spent as there wasn’t any in depth travel video courses. So let’s start with how you can make money teaching on-line!
Where to sell your video course not Youtube
I love Youtube, but I think it is not the correct platform to sell a video course. My top video “Night in Vancouver” currently has 30,000 views and I haven’t earned anything on it. Youtube surprisingly rejected my request for monetization. Even if I did monetize based on 4kdownload’s claim of $5-7 per 1,000 views it would be $210US. If I used another site’s claim of $264 per month for 70,000 views this works out to .003 per view. Ok that’s not bad. Perhaps I should look more into sorting that out. I could also leverage to the high viewership on this video to promote my course, which I do. The point is that Youtube is not the platform to sell a course. It is difficult and requires a bit of luck in my experience to get in 5 digit viewership.
I could sell it on the Internet, but then I would have to find an audience and the logistics of delivering the video to my students. A 4 minute video lecture was 422mb for a 4minute and 20 second video lecture. I could have delivered it through my website and deliver it through E-junkie the problem was that the customer would have to download it, which would take too long. I searched the Internet for the right solution and came across Udemy.com – an online teaching platform based in San Francisco.
my top youtube video Nightlife in Vancouver with 30,000 views has earned me any revenue
What is Udemy?
They are an on-line learning platform based in San Francisco California USA.
They are well established with over 4,000,000 students
They have 18,000 courses ranging teaching people how to “Use Dropbox” to “teaching photography”
They have an app for Iphone and Google Android.
What I think of Udemy so far?
It is free to become an instructor and was fairly straightforward to create a course outline and upload my video to their platform. Their website is user friendly and provides you the guidance you need to complete your course. They do a good job of packaging your course for the web. If you’re interested you can check out my course “The Art of Travel video” here.
Students can preview your course curriculum and promotional video and decide if they want to join and pay for your course. Once they join you can interact with your students using Udemy. If Udemy sell’s the course through their efforts they keep half of the revenue. Udemy has a great system for creating coupon discounts for your course. If you sell the course through your promotional efforts you keep 100% of the income minus 3% for credit card transactions.
After creating my first course I wanted to use my momentum to create my second course on how to make money creating travel videos. They have a good community through their facebook group. The members are other teachers and people that are a part of Udemy. It is useful to get feedback on your course their and ask others questions.
It wasn’t long before I got my second course on-line.
I’ve made some sales and once of the great things is that Udemy uses a non-exclusive model so you can sell the course elsewhere. The thing to be aware of is that if your course is free on Udemy you can’t sell it on another platform like Skillfeed.
Another Platform to sell your course called Skillfeed
Skillfeed is another on-line teaching platform owned by the major stock footage firm Shutterstock. I am familiar with Shutterstock as I host and sell almost 2000 video clips on their site.
If you put in the time and effort to create in my opinion it is a no brainer to sign up for free and host your course on Skillfeed.
What is Skillfeed?
They are an on-line learning platform. I think based in New York as they are a Shutterstock company
They are not as established as Shuterstock with 437 instructors
They have 43,499 video tutorials. I think they don’t list the number of courses as it is still a low number.
What I think of Skillfeed so far?
I had a few minor issues uploading my videos to Skillfeed, but once up their I went through their approval process rather quickly. Their model is different as they charge their their customers a monthly flat fee for unlimited access to courses. The way you earn revenue is by the number of minutes viewed for your courses. It was quite encourage to see the number of minutes go up day by day and currently check it daily.
I have the same two courses up there from Udemy. The great thing was that it didn’t take much more work to get the same two course up on Skillfeed. I think if you’re planning to teach a course and sell them that the best strategy would be to sell both on Udemy and Skillfeed. At the moment my Gopro course is performing much better on Skillfeed than it is on Udemy. Having your course on both platforms gives you access to a broader audience.
If you found this post useful and do decide to sign up for skillfeed I would appreciate you sign up here.
It is a referral link for me. After you sign up and create your courses you can also share your experience and ask other instructors to sign up if you believe in it.
Skillshare a 3rd teaching platform
As we speak I got contacted from someone last night on email. She said she was impressed with my photography and wanted to invite me to host my content on skillshare. Here is what I know about skillshare
56.8K followers Twitter
305,000 facebook likes
Global website rank of 9,382 on Alexa.com compared with (945 rank of Udemy and 19,661 of skillfeed.com) mostly visited my Americans.
I’m still learning more about this site, but it looks like there is a minimum requirement of 2 classes with 300+ students to qualify to get paid. I’m wondering how if this means your first 2 courses have to be free before you apply. If this is the case it is a deterrent to leveraging your existing courses on Udemy and Skillfeed. I will share more as I learn.
If you enjoyed this post and are interested in joining Skilfeed please join using this link. It will help me with a referral income and doesn’t cost you anything.
Sign up for my newsletter and I will share a PDF that covers the following:
What tools I used to create my video and screen captures
Tips on creating your course
How I created the cover’s for my course on my own
Lessons learned: what worked and what didn’t
My revenue for the past 2 months on these 2 platforms
Some of the tactics that I used on Udemy to earn reviews and get my first students
A good podcast from another resource that provides strategy and tactics on Udemy and Skillfeed
I had lived in Taipei, Taiwan almost a year and during this time I heard lots of positive things from locals about Kenting’s beaches and great weather. It was a 2-hour high-speed train ride and a 2-hour drive south of Taipei. I decided to travel there and see for myself. Kenting is located in the far South of Taiwan. We took the HSR from Taipei to the closest station in Kaosiung called Zuoying左營站. From there we rented a car and took a 2-hour drive down south to Kenting .
Tip: if you have internet on your phone use google maps for audio navigation
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We would have gotten lost if it wasn’t for google maps. The driver’s in Kaoshiung are terrible and you can expect cars to change lanes without signaling, tail-gating, and if you leave a car space in front of you some idiot will attempt to overtake you (by weaving in and out) by using that space.
We stayed at the Kenting Culture Resort, which provided a good value, free breakfast, internet, free water, free parking, and great customer service for about 2000nt a night. It wasn’t right by the beach, but it was quiet and a close drive to all the places we wanted to go.
Our first night we decided to take a 15 minute drive to a seaside hill called Guanshan 關山. I discovered it by accident while searching for the sunset time. I clicked on one of the pictures and found that CNN actually rated this viewpoint for one of he world’s best sunset views. Interesting.
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We drove to Guanshan shortly before sunset with my camera gear and drone. It was packed with people and mosquitos. The views are spectacular to say the least. I also discovered a viewpoint that wasn’t as crowded just a 5 minute walk west of the main viewpoint. We woke up early the next morning just after sunrise for a filming session at that secret viewpoint with no other tourists to compete with.
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After that we decided it was a good time to film the main street, which happens to be Pingtung night market墾丁大街 . I’ve seen a lot of night markets in my one year here. You will see your typical night market fare here as well. What is unique about this night market is that the night market is just on one large street that transforms from a regular street to a night market that you can easily cover in an hour. I could see some interesting accommodation on the second floors of this street and around the area, but could imagine how noisy it could get on most nights. The gem my friend introduced me to was the Mambo Thai restaurant near the end of the strip. It was probably the most authentic and best tasting Pad Thai I’ve had in my life for about 200nt. I’ll just let the picture speak for itself.
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Our hotel was conveniently located across from a famous baozi shop. A baozi is a steamed bun with some filling. This shop was serious about their baozi’s. They had a large selection on their menu and everyday you could watch the staff make them fresh from making the dough to preparing the filling wearing their surgical masks.
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After we decided to check out the lighthouse area and the most Southern point in Taiwan, which was about a 20-minute drive. We parked and walked down to what looked like a teashop for a break and drink. I must mention that the summer down here is blistering hot. The temperatures hover around the mid to high 30’s and the sun is intense. Expect to leave the car air conditioner on “full blast” and it’s a good idea to take regular cold drink breaks. They had an observatory platform to view the ocean. It was special to imagine being at the most southern point of Taiwan. There was still a short distance to walk to the shore, but we could see many tired people coming back that deterred us. We decided to get a coconut milk drink. This was no coconut drink from 7-11. This was the real deal with a straw right into the coconut with pure natural coconut milk. Delicious! We were lucky to get special access to see how he prepared the coconuts, which you may see on our video.
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It was a couple hours before sunshine and it was time for the secret beach known as Baisha (White sand beach). If you want to put it on goggle maps you need the chinese words for it (白沙彎) I had heard so much about. The sign into the beach was discreet and easy to miss. We drove down the driveway as we saw people coming out. We scored a free parking near the ocean and got our stuff. Before you enter the beach there were a couple of older looking Taiwanese women that you had to speak to if you wanted an umbrella and seats. I think it cost 200nt for the package. The beach was busy lined with umbrellas, Taiwanese girls in bikini’s, and local guys trying to dare each other to see who could walk closest to the ocean. I didn’t see any sign of any foreigners or anyone swimming. The sand was awesome, but the waves were really rough. We stayed until sunset. I wish I had a couple more days to enjoy that beach and just decompress.
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Our final stop was at the Houbihu Fishing Port to sample some of the fresh seafood. We had some trouble finding the right place, but there was a large building by the ocean near the wind turbines. We went to the second floor to skip the crowded uncomfortable seating area. I got a small order a sashimi for about 200nt, which is enough for one hungry person. The same amount would probably cost about 100-150nt more in Taipei. I had 3 different types. It was a delicious and inexpensive way to end our Kenting trip.
– I have traveled to such cities in Asia such as Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Guangzhou. Of these cities in general I prefer the Taiwanese people. They are generally honest, trustworthy, respectful, and friendly. Coming from a western background I really appreciate these qualities that you cannot expect throughout Asia. I knew I was going to deal with a large language barrier gap, and with it a vulnerability that the Taiwanese wouldn’t try to take advantage of. Well at least I hoped.
Safe & clean
Generally Taipei is a very clean city. The upscale areas such as Xinyi tend to be the cleanest with some local suburbs still being clean, but not to the same extent. Public transport stations on their underground train (the MRT) are very clean. Coming from Vancouver and Singapore it is easy to take this for granted. The only danger I have experienced is while crossing the street looking out for crazy scooter and bus drivers, but generally you can walk in Taipei even until late at night without worrying about being in danger. After traveling to South Africa I appreciate the peace of mind and countries where I can look at my smartphone without being worried about being robbed.
The MRT system and facilities here are top notch. They use the contactless card for payment entry and the service is fast, extensive and reliable. Taipei is the only city I know that offers designated plug and usb outlets for charging phones and devices at their stations. Almost every station has a clean bathroom and well-labeled exits. Taipei also offers an easy to use bike rental program with quality equipment, plenty of bike stations for free 30 minute use.
– I knew Taipei was a modern developed city in Asia that offered a good standard of living, good transportation, and was an Internet friendly city.
– Geographically I like to think of Taiwan as the heart of Asia. It is nearby to Hong Kong, Shanghai, South Korea and not too far away from Malaysia, Japan, Phillipines, and In Indonesia.
Under 2 hours to Hong Kong
About 2 hours to Shanghai
Under 3 hours to Seoul, Korea
Low cost of living
compared to Western standards things like food, transport, and accommodation cost less. My private studio in Jingan apartment was small, but it was private and cost me close to $440 US dollars a month and included internet, washing machine, and furniture. I was also prepared to pay 21,000nt or $700US for my very first apartment in Jingan, but I quickly found out after arriving that this was too expensive. (太 贵 了！）
Home to Taiwanese beef noodles, Xiao long bao, bubble tea, and many other great foods. A good bowl of Beef noodles can be found for 90NT or $3US.
Canada had an arrangement with Taiwan called a working holiday visa. This was was relatively straightforward to obtain and allowed me to legally live, work, and study in Taiwan for up to a year. This isn’t available in every country and there are some age limit restrictions ranging from 35 to 30 depending on the country. The working holiday visa option was an amazing opportunity to gain a rich cultural experience. Read more about working holidays here.
Now that you know why I moved to Taiwan. In my next article I’ll share some experiences and what I have actually observed and learned from living and studying here in my first 3 months. Some things I’ll discuss:
How was the experience of learning chinese in Taipei at the MTC ?
Could I build a life and friends in Taipei and what adventures did I have ?
How did I survive and figure out the basics such as how to eat and find a place to live ?