Tag Archives: lodging

My Early Experience as a Digital Nomad: Part Two

My early experience as a digital nomad has been enjoyable. It has also been filled with a series of small missteps and some small things that have worked out well that I haven’t read about from others (several might just be so simple that no-one bothers to mention them, but they may give you something to think about if you are planning to try the nomadic lifestyle.

Also see – My Early Experience as a Digital Nomad: Part One, Technology

Choosing to start in Chiang Mai, Thailand was fortuitous. It really is very convenient for digital nomads. Monthly renting is easy in Chiang Mai. Lots of great food and co-work spaces options. Good internet all over. It is an easy and enjoyable place to live.

Maybe I missed it but one very small mis-step was not packing a towel. I don’t recall that on the list of things to bring but there hasn’t been a towel at three of my stays, including Chiang Mai. Small missteps are the best ones.

I started my digital nomad ways a bit differently than most (though largely in similar ways). I lived in Malaysia a couple years first and then set off to be a nomad. I just sent two boxes a bit bigger than those for a ream of paper back home before I left. And I gave a bunch of stuff away I had picked up (books, printer, basketball, plants, cloths, etc.). But I decided just to start the nomad life with my large suitcase, carry on sized suitcase and my small backpack.

Those suitcases have been fine for my travels so far. But I have done what is probably sensible and create a much better system for packing. I don’t normally leave stuff behind but so far I have left behind; the electric cord for my shaver, two hats, 2 socks (not matching so I know have 3 socks of 2 types) and something else that I can’t remember right now.

I also spend way more time looking for stuff than I should. I think I would be wise to create content pouches that then go in specific places so I know where to find stuff. I do that in a half-hearted way now that works in general but those few items that fall in can waste a bunch of time. I have a house for this stay and room to fully unpack and arrange things, so hopefully I will be in a bit better shape after this stint in Vietnam.

I also managed to rip a pair of my shorts pretty spectacularly on a hike. I managed to get home ok, my uncool belly-pack hid the ludicrous tears to some degree. Luckily for me as part of my packing up I took a couple extra pieces of clothing, so I didn’t need to replace the shorts. I have extra cloths I don’t really need and probably wouldn’t take if I go the large backpack route when I relaunch as a nomad next time (which I think is what I will do, and also take my current backpack).

Photo of my shorts with massive tears

Large tears made while I did the wonderful Chompet hike across the river from Luang Prabang.

Continue reading

Swiss-Lanna Lodge, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand is a huge center for tourism and digital nomads. I began my stay in Chiang Mai at the Swiss-Lanna Lodge, a wonderful small lodge with beautiful wood furnishings and a personal touch. It is a converted traditional Thai house.

photo of Pha Noi, Toto, Toto and Phi Rose in front of the Swiss Lanna Lodge.

Pha Noi, Toto and Phi Rose in front of the Swiss Lanna Lodge.

Pha Noi, on the left of the photo is the cleaning lady for the Lodge. Toto is the general manager of the guesthouse who is responsible for sharing information about tourist attractions, transfer service and all about the accommodations with customers (she speaks Thai, English and French). And Phi Rose is the wonderful chef, who is responsible for providing homemade meals for guests. I didn’t get a photo of the other staff person – who also speaks a bit of Chinese (along with Thai and English) for the growing number of Chinese tourists.

The staff are extremely helpful and provide great hospitality. I enjoy this level of hospitality which I only find in these smaller boutique hotels. I also prefer to be a bit away from the hectic center of activity so the Swiss-Lanna Lodge is a great fit.

The lodge is located a couple kilometers from old town Chiang Mai. The building is surrounded by a garden with fruit trees, flowers and hammocks.

Swiss Lanna Lodge garden

comfortable hammocks in the garden. One of the trees it hangs from is a star fruit tree.

Continue reading

Curious Cat Travel Maps

As a tourist I don’t usually do a great deal of research in advance. I do like to find out what are some of the most popular tourist destinations. And to look for those things I like a great deal, such as hiking.

I useful find myself with a list of things I want to do and a place to stay. Sometimes I had an idea of where things we located and what might be good to do on the same day. But often, I did not. I would sometimes get a list of good restaurants but I would almost never actually get to them.

I do like walking around in a new city and getting a feel for things. Using a good old fashion map worked for this. But I would often waste a fair amount of time when I got lost. GPS mapping seemed like a perfect solution for my travel needs.

While I have been using the internet a long time, I have never had a smart phone. But I got an iPad mini and decided to test out my idea of using GPS and mapping as I walked around. Looking at the options, I decided I would rather create my own map so I could have the details I cared about.

I tried in out (I bought an iPad mainly for this mapping function but also to use as a book reader) in China (Hong Kong, Guilin, Yangshuo, Yunnan and Shanghai) and it went very well. Here is my map for Shanghai:

See full screen

I am now making Curious Cat Tourist Maps available online. I used Open Maps (and umap) which I am very pleased with (Here is a link to the Curious Cat Hong Kong Tourist map as another example). I can include those items that interest me (tourist destination, lodging, eating and transit) and include background info (like what subway stop for a particular designation etc.).

Continue reading

Finding Places to Stay to Stay with Decent wifi

For many people connection to the internet has ceased to be a desire and has become a requirement while traveling. Getting a sim-card for your smart phone, or tablet, may suffice. Or using that connection to tether your laptop to may work.

But often that isn’t the best solution and you want a hotel with broadband that is really broadband and hopefully they don’t add fees for what seems to me a basic expectation today (or at least not ludicrously expensive as some fancy hotels charge for an internet connection).

Agoda notes what hotels offer free wifi and in general I like Agoda. The comments can sometimes help identify if the hotel has good, mediocre or bad wifi. Trip Advisor has some decent information on good hotels.

But for years I have asked for and looked for someone that will integrate information on what the actual wifi experience is for hotels. And if they had it (I never found any) then I wanted to be able to use it as a filter.

I found a site that is working on providing wifi quality data for hotels and tweeted about it: Hotel wifi test. And Speedspot noted they have what they think is an even better offering. It does seem a bit more complete to me, but both are pretty lacking for details on places I visit most.

So far they seem to have the largest amount of data on the most popular cities in rich countries – which isn’t surprising. Hopefully they will add more data soon on the places I want to go. We need more of this kind of data so we can make informed decisions and chose hotels that provide services modern travel want (decent wifi).

While the travel sites are at it I also wish they would let me filter for what I care about – a good nights sleep which means quiet rooms. They should really let us set our own criteria for agony and then provide results (Hipmunk style). Maybe we have to wait for Hipmunk to do it.

Related: Worse Hotel Service the More You Pay (2010)Travel photos blog