Digital nomad lifestyle – When is it time to go home?

Digital nomad lifestyle - When is it time to go home
Me in Bagan, Myanmar

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.

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Selling my 2003 Acura TL

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.

 

Digital nomad lifestyle - When is it time to go home
The start of my journey in Maui, Hawaii

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Biking with friends in Taipei

 

Return to Vancouver

Digital nomad lifestyle - When is it time to go home
Pondering life at my Vancouver Oasis, George Wainborn Park

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.

 

Chiang Mai

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.

Video thumbnail for youtube video Chiang Mai Thailand and Taipei Taiwan lifestyle - Chicvoyage Travel
Interviewing a prominent Chiang Mai digital nomad Johnny FD in Taiwan

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.

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Partying with friends in Chiang mai

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.

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Singapore is clean, modern, and expensive city. An excellent travel hub in Asia

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.

 

 

Tarantula spider eating digital nomad in Cambodia – Skype video

Tarantula spider eating digital nomad in Cambodia

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
  • Bitcoin chat
  • Way to meet people on our journey’s using Meetups and tinder
  • The idea of becoming a Digital indefinitely

 

My takeway

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!

 

Resources and links from this show

stream.nigelfish.com – follow Nigel and his adventures in Asia on his microblog

(eCamm Call Recorder on the Mac) – I used this trial software for the Skype video interview. I believe it was free for 1 week. It worked out great and was easy to use

DIY Video guy – Caleb did an excellent tutorial on the eCamm software and the idea settings to use

Maps.me – app that you can use for off-line maps when you have not internet on your phone. I can imagine very useful!

Nomadlist – A good general ranking of cities for Digital nomads ranked by city. Take it with a grain of salt as I find the cost of living for Taipei to be highly inflated

Slack.com – I’ve been hearing more about this site for business instant communication. Nigel mentions this as a way connect with the digital nomad communite

Make money teaching on-line with your own courses

make money teaching videos

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.
make money on udemy
If you multiply the course price and number of students you would think some people are killing it on Udemy

 

 

 

What I think of Udemy so far?

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My first course on Udemy

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.

udemy facebook group
udemy facebook group has been helpful
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.

make money with travel videos
My second course “make money with travel videos”

 

 

 

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?

make money with travel videos
make money with travel videos on skillfeed
 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

 

Kenting,Taiwan – Revealed

Kenting

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur originally from Vancouver, Canada. Currently in Taiwan.

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.

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Why I relocated my life from Canada to Taiwan and what you can learn from my experience Page 2

Taiwan working holiday

The Taiwanese people

– 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.

    Taipei's metro system known as the "MRT"
    Taipei’s metro system known as the “MRT”

 

 

  • Public transport

    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.

 

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Taipei, Taiwan is a modern global city
  • Modern

    – 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.

  • Geographic location

    – 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.

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 4.33.42 PM

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!)

  • Food

    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.

  • Visa friendly

    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 ?
  • Was Taiwan what I thought it would be?
xiao long bao 小笼包- soup pork dumplings are a taiwan favourite
xiao long bao 小笼包- soup pork dumplings are a taiwan favourite

 

IMG_0664
One of my street food favorites on Yong Kang street.

 

Why I relocated my life from Canada to Taiwan and what you can learn from my experience Page 1

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur originally from Vancouver, Canada

Welcome to a series of posts where I’m going to share some of my experiences and what I’ve learned in my 4 months of living in Taiwan. Before we get started I’ll provide a little background and explain my reasons for relocating. You may be interested in this article if you are:

  • Interested in learning Chinese abroad
  • You are thinking of pursuing a working holiday and want to learn useful information on Taipei, Taiwan
  • Lifestyle redesign – You are tired of working a 9am to 5pm job and are curious if there is an alternative life you can create for yourself
  • You are a travel enthusiast and are curious about new travel experiences

Travel can be a life changing experience. My first trip to Europe led me to finally move out of my parents place in Vancouver, BC Canada at 29 years old and started me down a path of independence. 6 years and many trips later I sit in a cozy modern café near downtown Taipei listening to jazz music while I type this blog out.  Travel opens your eyes and mind to the way that other people on this planet live. Sometimes we get stuck in the world that we live in and we forget that there are alternatives to what we know.

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My trip to Europe in 2007 ignited my independence and opened my eyes

What I’ve found in the past two years of frequent travel is that visiting a place for 3 days to a week to visit and take pictures of tourist attractions was just scratching the surface. It was too rushed. It wasn’t as gratifying anymore. I felt that I was trying to cram everything in a short period to make the best use of the time.  I felt that that I wasn’t really getting to know the city like a local. When you are working as an employee you think of travel as a vacation. Perhaps a 5 day trip to take a break from the 9 to 5pm before returning with tons of pictures and stories to share with friends and colleagues. I think this is the most common travel experience.

What if there was something else?  Another way to experience travel other than visiting tourist attractions, hotels, tours and cramming in some parties for the weekend? What about relocating your life to learn the language of a foreign country for 3 months or longer? Perhaps you can even work a little and make some friends. If you’re interested to hear more then keep reading!

A little background

I arrived in Taoyuan airport Taipei on August 23 2013. To make my life a little easier I had arranged for a driver to take me to the apartment where I would be staying for a short while. I was driven to the suburb of Jingan in the district of Zhonghe, New Taipei City. The rain was coming down like a flood putting my electronic gear at risk. We pulled into an alley with older apartments and bar lined windows. We opened the metallic doors that led to a dark staircase. I was fortunate to have some help carrying my heaving luggage up those 5 flights of stairs. Finally we reached my apartment. I sank down on my bed and set my alarm for a short nap

The early days - my cozy Jingan apartment
The early days – My Jingan apartment for my first 3 months

It has been just over 3 months since I arrived in Taipei, Taiwan to study, live, and attempt to build a new life. I essentially traded a comfortable lifestyle in my home of Vancouver, BC Canada for some 2013 travel film adventures and this opportunity. I started off in Taipei with some suitcases, my dreams, a few contacts, and film content and gear.

Why Taiwan?

This is one of the most popular questions that I am asked by people in Taipei and there are many reasons for my decision.

I will list my reasons for selecting Taiwan and what I have actually experienced in my 3 months here.

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Registration for the school (MTC) I would be studying chinese

 

Learn Mandarin (chinese)

Chinese environment

This was the probably the most important reason for me coming here. It was a long-term goal I’ve had for myself. I’ve tried to tackle learning mandarin through classes in Vancouver, Rosetta stone, podcasts, and spending time with my Taiwanese friends. My progress was dismal and I got my butt kicked by Mandarin. I’m a self-motivated person, but If I was to tackle this challenging goal I wanted to go all in and give myself a better chance.  I’m sure there is more than one way to learn the language, but this is the path that I chose.

I also knew from my first visit that Taipei was predominantly a mandarin chinese-speaking city, which offered an opportunity to practice chinese daily.

I chose the local suburb of Jingan, Zhonghe for my first 3 months in Taiwan
I chose the local suburb of Jingan, Zhonghe for my first 3 months in Taiwan

My original plan was to live in a local area not to far away from school to force myself to interact with Chinese speaking locals.

Great school to learn Mandarin

Taipei was also home to the Mandarin Training Center run by the National Taiwan Normal University Mandarin Training Center. Wikipedia claims that MTC is one of the world’s oldest and most distinguished programs for Chinese as a second language. I had a friend that had lived and learned mandarin at the MTC better known locally as “Shida”, which is how I found out about the school

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An example of how the chinese environment would encourage one to learn chinese. It is common to not have an english menu at some restaurants in Taipei

 

  • Taiwanese friends and previous exposure to Taiwan and culture

    – One of my best friends Allen, is Taiwanese. We met in Vancouver and I eventually became more immersed in the Taiwanese culture there.  He had introduced me to some local friends of his, which would definitely help get my start in a new country.

IMG_0890
2011 Taipei trip. One of my best friends Allen (beside me) help introduce to me some of his local Taiwanese friends

 

Having some local friends has made Taipei a better experience
Having some local friends has made Taipei a better experience

Prior Visit

  • Prior Visit This is a continuation from the previous point. In January 2012 Allen invited friends and myself for his wedding in Taipei.  Prior to my visit I really didn’t know what Taiwan was like. I think this visit was influential to my decision and minimize the uncertainty I had about Taiwan. As I know not everyone will have this opportunity hopefully I can remove some of that uncertainty for you through my blog and I also shot a modern travel adventure documentary on Asia entitled ChicVoyage in Asia for sale.

Page 2

South Africa review 2013 – a tourist in my motherland

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur



Greg is a former corporate  IT Manager and Business Lead from Vancouver, BC in Canada inspired during his MBA program to take a risk and follow his heart and passions. He is a modern World Explorer, Film-maker, Mobile & Google friendly Website producer, & Entrepreneur at the intersection of travel and technology. He has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store in 2012. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom. His 4 month 2013 journey took him to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The next journey is currently in progress with a return to Asia where is currently living and studying Mandarin in Taiwan. His vision for his family of travel companies called Chicvoyagegroup is to “inspire the world to travel and explore”

As someone who was originally born in South Africa with local relatives, but who has spent more of their adult life being raised in Canada I plan to offer a unique perspective on my homeland.

After 2 months of filming and traveling in Hawaii and Australia I would have been happy with the video and pictures I had captured for the year. Fortunately shortly before I left for Australia I was invited to accompany my grandmother from Singapore to South Africa.  This would be a great opportunity to help my grandmother and revisit my home country at an age where I could appreciate it.

My last trip to South Africa was in 2001. I had spent time with my good family South African friends Leanne and Melissa while traveling through Australia. They had armed me with some inside information and suggested I turn on my South African accent to blend in with the locals.

South Africa Review

Good for

  • Weather – The weather is almost always perfect. Sunny and dry most of the time.
  • Value  – The South African currency is weak compared to Western currencies offering great value to Western visitors
  • Lifestyle – Capetown offers the best lifestyle being a scenic waterfront city with the beautiful mountain backdrop. Rent an apartment here and indulge in the wines of Stellenbosh, the cafe’s, and foods at great value.
  • Foods – South African’s have their own local specialties like Biltong, Marie biscuits, and great local wine like Nedeberg. You also have western foods like Shepherds pie, Cornish pastries, lasagna, spaghetti bolognese.

Cons

  • Safety concerns – Be careful in areas in Johannesburg especially at night. Capetown and Kruger National Park are safer.
  • Car City – South Africa still requires a car to get around

South Africa is a country that can offer a great lifestyle, weather, and value to visitors. There are some friendly down to earth people that I met while I this country. The tradeoff is the safety that comes with a huge gap between the poor and wealthy. Nelson Mandela has done much for this country and put South Africa on the map. I hope you enjoyed this original coverage of South Africa 2013, which I dedicate to my late Grand mother on my mother’s side who passed away days before I arrived on this trip. Thanks to my Dad’s mother (my Grand mother) for making this trip possible, my parents, my cousins in Pretoria & Sandton, my uncle Edmund, and family friends for their help during this trip. If you read down this far then wait until you see the video. I guarantee I’m going to show you something special!

 

South Africa review 2013
Capetown Table mountain

 

South Africa review 2013
The journey in South Africa 2013

 

A usable 10 day itinerary to South Africa

Day 1

  • check in at hotel near Sandton City, Johannesburg. The Radisson blu offers a convenient location
  • Have dinner at hotel or Sandton

Day 2

  • Have breakfast and coffee at Mugg and Bean at Sandton City
  • Take the Gautrain to Rosebank Mall and have lunch
  • Back to Sandton City for dinner

Day 3

  • Do a big bus tour to take you around Johannesburg

Day 4

  • Fly from Joburg to Neilspruit for Kruger National Park Safari
  • Self-drive to skukuza camp for 1 night

Day 5

  • Drive to Olifant Camp and sight see along the way
  • Stay at Olifant Camp and check in
  • Do a night safari

Day 6

  • Self drive to Sight see

Day 7

  • Drive to Neilspruit Airport from Kruger national Park
  • Fly out to Capetown from Kruger National Park

Day 8

  • Check in at the your accommodation. Suggestion for view of Table Mountain (Flatrock Apartments) or Airbnb

Day 9

  • Breakfast at the V & A Waterfront
  • Do the Robben Island Tour

Day 10

  • Visit Table Mountain to sight-see
  • Drive out to Stellenbosch to visit Wine country and do a wine-tasting

Day 11

  • Take a drive out to Camps Bay and Chapmans Peak to enjoy the beach and the scenery

Day 12

  • Flight back to Tambo airport in Joburg and home

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E-kindle Amazon book now Available

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ORUOXO8

This is a true travel adventure in South Africa that took place in 2013 that shares travel tips and nuggets as the story unfolds

Greg Hung goes on a special travel adventure to visit his family and film Johannesburg, Cape Town, and the Kruger National Park.

Greg offers a unique perspective having lived the first 10 years of his life in Johannesburg South Africa and having access to the local knowledge of local relatives.

Highlights of the book include:
-Sampling the Gautrain to visit Sandton City and even the Joburg Airport
– Living at a private apartment near Long street overlooking Table Mountain
– Visiting the wineries at Stellenbosch
– Making new friends on the Robben Island Tour and a night out on the town in Cape Town
– Visits to Sandton City, Rosebank, and Melrose Square
– A BMW drive through the ghetto of Hillbrow
– A stay at the Satara rest camp at the Kruger National Park, night safari, and photo hunting for African elephants, giraffes, and lions

 

The Great Barrier Reef – Cairns

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur

Greg is a modern World Explorer, Film-maker, Mobile & Google friendly Website producer, & Entrepreneur at the intersection of travel and technology. He has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store in 2012. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom. His 4 month 2013 journey took him to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. He is currently studying Mandarin in Taiwan.

The Great Barrier Reef – Cairns

I landed in Australia on May 8th and now it was June 19th 2013. My Australian tour was finally coming to a close in the town of Cairns, Australia to visit the Great Barrier Reef.  I had survived the super high prices of Australia, driving on the other side of the road, and the baggage delays of Jetstar airlines. Before arriving here I had seen the aerial shots of turquoise blue ocean with cays surrounded by coral. What was the experience actually like?

When I originally planned the trip I failed to recognize that it was winter in Cairns during late June. My airbnb host confirmed this was actually the best time to come as the weather is not too hot and not too wet.

Great barrier reef cairns
The weather in Cairns for the week of June 19th

 

I arrived in the airport and picked up my car rental. It was a nice hot day in the mid to high twenties and I used the google maps GPS to head straight towards my Airbnb private room. The location would be at a cozy space located a 10 minute drive from the town of Cairns. The pictures matched the Airbnb property and I found the keys and let myself in.  I would be sharing a private room from a local couple. I quickly brought my luggage in and immediately took a short nap. When I woke up I heard some conversation. I had a chance to meet the boyfriend. You come to the Great Barrier Reef for one main reason and that is to scuba dive or at least snorkel.  He gave me some ideas about planning my trip and I agreed it was best to go to town to do some investigation. He also suggested doing a road trip north up to Daintree to Cape Tribulation where rainforest meets the beach. Later on in the trip the couple left for Brisbane leaving with the house to myself. Airbnb is really based on trust, and Australia has plenty of it.

Great barrier reef cairns
My private room in my Cairns, Airbnb rental

The town of Cairns is very small and you will most likely end up on the main street called Esplanade. Not far from there is the Cairns park and promenade. It’s worth going for a walk on the promenade or to check out the people barbequing or sunbathing. Esplanade and surrounding area is lined with restaurants and a popular dive shop called Tusa. The other dive shops will be near the Pier or one of the main streets south of Esplanade so I recommend parking on Esplanade street and walking around. It’s worth visiting the tourist information office on Esplanade, but make sure you go to the official one.  Each dive shop offers a different experience, and I’m sure they are all good otherwise they wouldn’t be in business still . I had particular needs as I needed to film and wanted good customer service, knowledgeable staff, good equipment, transparency, a smaller boat, and fair prices. Tusa seemed to have larger boats and I had the impression I would be on a party boat full of backpackers.  After shopping around town, researching on trip advisor I decided to go with seastarcruises. They had a clear plan of where they planned to dive and snorkel. We would be snorkeling at Michaelmas Cay and I would be doing 2 scuba dives at the Hastings Reef, which I understood to be at the outer barrier reef.

Great barrier reef cairns
the boardwalk (promenade) at Cairns in the evening
Great barrier reef cairns
the boardwalk (promenade) at Cairns

 

Seasick tablets and preparation for filming underwater

I read on trip advisor that many people got sick on the way to their great barrier reef dives. I decided to get myself some seasick tablets near the local Woolworths. I also had to do some hunting around for the best solution to film underwater video at the Great Barrier Reef without a mega budget. I went around the town of Cairns to ask the experts. In short a dry bag for the SLR will not go deep enough and the SLR housing is too expensive and can only be purchased. I settled on using my go pro 3 with some modifications at the advice of one of the shop experts. Read my article if you want to learn more.

Great barrier reef cairns
My custom made pvc mount for filming underwater

The big dive

I packed the following things to bring on the boat. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance. I mean this was one of the major highlights of my entire Australia trip riding on a single day experience. Here was my packing list.

  • Trip-pod
  • 2 camera’s with fresh memory cards and batteries
  • towel
  • dry shorts, t-shirt, and underwear
  • sandals
  • sunscreen
  • sunglasses
  • Go pro and 2 batteries with extra memory card
  • Custom Go pro support
  • Banana
  • Cell phone
  • Coffee
  • a liter of bottled water

The dive starts first thing in the morning. I recommend skipping any ideas about going to the bar especially if you scuba diving. I walked to the pier and was immediately greet with a warm welcome and friendly staff.

Great barrier reef cairns
Looking for my boat at the Pier

I found a seat and we got an introduction to the staff and were on our way. I took my sea sick pill prior, but it wasn’t working and I began to feel sick. I was taken to the back of the boat and asked to chew on some ice and look at land apparently to give me a better sense of balance. There was a nice English girl that helped me through this, and sat with me the whole time I was sick. This small gesture meant a lot to me. Thanks

Great barrier reef cairns
our boat to fit 35 people

We arrived at michaelmas cay for our snorkel and the crew was nice enough to help transport my camera gear in a water proof container. We took a smaller motorized raft boat to the island and I took some photos before doing a snorkel. Most of the people in the group were beginners so I was able to keep pace with our group leader. The snorkel itself had some decent photo and video opportunities that you can see in the videos. The cay itself is roped off but there is a small part of the beach you can walk around and take pictures

Great barrier reef cairns
a view michaelmas-cay behind us as we snorkel
Great barrier reef cairns
snorkeling at michaelmas cay

Hastings Reef

There were a total of 4 people including myself on our dive group. This was great as smaller groups are better, and our dive master was nice and had great communication skills. He was also interested in my go pro filming attachment, and helped me film throughout the day. The dive itself was great. A lot of rich sea life near he the coral, the dive master took care of us, and I enjoyed diving off the raft navy seal style for the second dive. The entire experience was what I call 5 star. The staff were friendly and the equipment was good quality. I will refer you to the upcoming video.

Great barrier reef cairns
The great barrier reef. This is it

After the dives we headed back to shore and as these were my final dives for the trip I enjoyed a couple of beers and chatted with an American couple about their recent honeymoon to Kruger national park in South Africa. This conversation actually resulted in me planning a trip there.

Great barrier reef cairns
Our dive master shows us a sea cucumber
Great barrier reef cairns
my dive log

Cape Tribulation

I had a free day to do a road trip out of the city and decided to do it at Cape Tribulation. It was a long drive out of town and took me to the Daintree forest. I had to cross a crocodile infested river via a car ferry to the other side. Part of the drive was through forest and other parts are scenic and along the coast. The reward was finally making it to the Cape tribulation beach area. There is a scenic point where I was rewarded with a rare beach, mountain, and rain forest landscape. I took a few pictures and did my last video interview for the trip.

Great barrier reef cairns
A great ending to the Australia Tour at Cape Tribulation

Tip: If you just plan to dive and not take any road trips I recommend staying closer to the town of Cairns.

Wrap-up and some learned wisdom

The Australia tour was over, but the journey was just beginning. I know it’s cliché, but this was a great trip, and I was fortunate to capture some great stuff and some experiences that will last a lifetime. In order to survive in Australia this country taught me to be extremely frugal and to make the most of what I had. I avoided $5 starbucks coffees and chose local coffees for $3.50 that were even stronger and tastier. I eventually got a coffee travel french press and got a bag of coffee to save further. I stayed in airbnb places that had kitchens and shopped at woolworths for groceries. There are some excellent experiences that you don’t need to pay much for. Doing a hike at Sydney’s coastal walk or walking across the Harbour Bridge. You can still enjoy life a little. Australia offers great wine and the prices for their bottles were quite reasonable compared to other countries. Enjoying the local goods that a country can offer often will mean you will pay less for good quality.

The only thing that could have made improved this trip would be to have the right travel partner during the whole trip to share it with. On the positive side I was lucky to have some friends in Brisbane and Melbourne, and make some friends along the way. I learned that Meetups are one good way to meet people in a new city. Before the trip I had thoughts of relocating my life to this country and traveling as a full-time lifestyle.

I learned that although some of Australia’s destinations have a lot to offer my heart was taking me in a different direction for now. After traveling with my equipment I had removed any thought of traveling full-time as a lifestyle. I had sold all my possessions in Vancouver and put my life in 2 suitcases, a camera bag, and backpack. Although I had proved I had everything I needed to live in these bags I would need a base and a place in the world to call home for a while. I had traveled and lived almost exclusively in Airbnb properties with the local hosts. This was not hotel travel and this was not a hostel experience. It’s kind of like staying with some friendly room-mates that most likely enjoy travel in a local neighborhood. It was a major factor to help improve my experience as a solo traveler. Just when I thought this adventure could not be topped my upcoming journey ahead had a stop in Singapore for a couple of days before revisiting my homeland South Africa.

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5 days visiting Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, & the Gold Coast

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur

Greg is a modern World Explorer, Film-maker, Mobile & Google friendly Website producer, & Entrepreneur at the intersection of travel and technology. He has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store in 2012. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom. His 4 month 2013 journey took him to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. He is currently studying Mandarin in Taiwan.

5 days visiting Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, & the Gold Coast

An aerial view of Brisbane

The price for going out on Friday night and my early morning flight meant I got almost no sleep heading to Brisbane. Fortunately I had a good family friend Leanne that picked me up from the airport and took me to where I was staying in South Bank. The space I chose for my stay would be a top floor euro style apartment in South Bank with a huge patio deck. The host of the apartment was cool, and my room opened up to a huge patio with a table and a view of the South bank. South bank is known as the entertainment district of Brisbane. It is quite central to attractions, transportation, and the CBD.

south-bank-from-patio
A shot South Bank from the patio of my apartment

Sunshine Coast

sunshine coast

sunshine coast
The warmth of the sunshine coast beach nearing sunset is incredible

Leanne and I began our adventure traveling to the Sunshine Coast, a popular recommendation I received from Australian locals throughout my time in the country. We stopped by the town of Noosa an upscale area with expensive options to eat and shop. There are some reasonable options to eat if you can find the food court or a subway.  The main attraction was the beautiful beach and coastal walk and the of course the sunshine. The sunshine here is invigorating and amazing.

South Bank

Almost every day was a sunny 19 degrees Celsius in Brisbane, which was a major factor in a positive experience in this city especially during the winter. I walked to the South Bank area, which is an entertainment district close to the river. The lifestyle features a large path for walking, jogging and cycling by the river and plenty of places to sit, eat and relax.

south bank lifestyle
The south bank active lifestyle in brisbane
South Bank beach
The South Bank beach

The public transport is good with bike rentals in the city and a smart card system called a go card for trains, buses, and their boats. Their boats are a good form of fast transportation. They look like serious boats, and provide functional transportation along the river.

map of brisbane
a visual map of brisbane

getting around by boat in Brisbane

Tip: you can even return your go card after your visit for some money back

The city is noticeably smaller and less international than Melbourne and Sydney, but as a Chinese Canadian I felt welcome in the city at all times. The roads are narrow, hilly, and generally confusing if you drive outside of the city. We had a chance to venture into a Brisbane small upscale neighborhood called Paddington. At Paddington we went to visit the Java Cafe for a good lunch.

breakfast-brisbane
Brisbane breakfast at the Java cafe

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Gold Coast

gold-coast-beach

We went to visit the Gold Coast and stopped at Palm beach which had a wonderful beach with a view of the gold coast skyline. I didn’t spend that much time in the actual city of the Gold coast, but it looked heavily developed with many buildings that can be seen in the landscape.

A pleasant surprise was seeing the Palazo Versace hotel, which I was aware of prior to my trip but I forgot it was right here in the Gold Coast. We manage to get some photos inside without denting our wallets.

Palazzo Versace Australia
Inside Palazzo Versace Australia

My time in Brisbane was short. I think that this city’s weather, growing skyline, and nearby beaches and lifestyle have something compelling to offer. Time will tell where Brisbane is going, but my sense is that it is up and coming and deserves serious consideration to live for the sunny and laidback lifestyle. Thanks to my good friend Leanne for showing me around and helping out! There would be one more stop on the Australia tour. Next stop Cairns to experience the great Barrier Reef.

A sample itinerary in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, and Gold Coast

recommended to hire a car

Day 1

  • Settle in and take a day trip out to the Sunshine Coast
  • Visit the area of Noosa for lunch
  • Walk along coastal walk to take pictures and visit the beach around sunset time
  • Dinner at the sunshine coast

Day 2

  • Visit the area of South Bank to take a walk along the promenade
  • Pick up a lunch near the street pool and have your lunch near there
  • Take a boat to visit the downtown area
  • Walk around the downtown area and take a boat back
  • Dinner at the West End neighborhood

Day 3

  • Visit Mt Cot-tha lookout to aerial pictures of Brisbane
  • Have lunch at Paddington’s Java Cafe
  • Take a drive out to the Gold Coast
  • At the Gold Coast visit Palm beach to walk along the beach
  • Have dinner at the Palm Beach club
  • Drive around the Gold Coast downtown area
  • Visit the Versace Hotel
versace-hotel-gold-coast
versace-hotel-gold-coast

 

 

Journey in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, and Brisbane