Travel Posts

Taipei: the user-friendly city

Taipei: the user-friendly city

I never expected to end up in Taipei.

For the last couple of years, I have been working remote. Initially from Berlin, then for an extended stretch from Eastern Europe. For the last 6 or so months I have been in Asia.

I had come to Saigon, Vietnam after several months in Bangkok. In Saigon I had struck up a chat at a local bar with another traveler, a student Brewmaster at Olds College, Alberta, Canada. This traveler, Mike, ended up becoming one of my better friends and more reliable companions on nights out in Saigon over the weeks that followed.

I had longstanding plans to meet up with an old friend from New York in Japan after my time in Saigon, but no idea where I was heading after. Mike strongly encouraged me to go to Taipei, and offered to intro me to a Taiwanese-American friend of his who had been living there the last 10 years and could show me around a bit.

It is this arbitrary sequence of events that found me, roughly two weeks later, landing at Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport.

Some reflections on slow travel
Belgrade, Serbia

Some reflections on slow travel

I’ve spent the last couple of years doing what I would call slow travel, spending periods of a month or more in different cities. This began in late 2016 with a job that brought me to Berlin for months at a time over a period of a year. I quit that job last October and in the time since have been through Europe, Asia, the US, and then back around to Europe, where I am for the next several months with no fixed end in sight. I wanted to compile some observations that I’ve made in this time.

2 weeks in Saigon
The Saigon skyline at night (Photo credit: TripSavvy)

2 weeks in Saigon

I spent the final 2 weeks of the year in Ho Chi Minh City (colloquially/formerly “Saigon”), Vietnam with a group of friends from Hacker Paradise. I wanted to share some quick impressions of the city while the experience is still fresh in my head.

Piña Colada Driven Development on the island of Ko Lanta

Piña Colada Driven Development on the island of Ko Lanta

I have spent the past month on the island of Ko Lanta, on the Andaman Sea in southern Thailand. I couldn’t have imagined a place more dramatically different from the cities I’ve spent the majority of my time for the last decade. It’s been a welcome departure, and I’ve even managed to work while here, without sacrificing enjoyment of the natural beauty, swims in the ocean and sunset drinks.

A retrospective on one month in Chiang Mai
A Chiang Mai alleyway. Photo credit: richardhwc (Flickr)

A retrospective on one month in Chiang Mai

I just wrapped up my month with Hacker Paradise in Chiang Mai, Thailand and have settled into my accommodation in Ko Lanta. I had done a post a month ago when I’d just arrived detailing my first impressions of the place and figure I should do a retrospective post now that I’ve spent quite a bit more time in the city. I loved Chiang Mai, and hope to return in the future. That said, I wanted to highlight both the good and the bad, to try and give people an accurate picture of what it is really like to live there for a month.

Tips for seamless travel from one year abroad
Chiang Mai, Thailand, November 2017. Photo credit: amurbb (from my Hacker Paradise group)

Tips for seamless travel from one year abroad

This year is the first in which I’ve spent more time outside the US than in it. Through all of this, there are a few things that contributed in an outsized way to making all the travel surprisingly seamless. I wanted to highlight a few of those things here.

A stumble through my favorite dive bars of Berlin
Ä Bar on Weserstrasse in Neukölln. Photo credit: Hostelworld

A stumble through my favorite dive bars of Berlin

Those who know me well know that one of my most beloved pastimes, odd as it may be, is meeting strangers and trading stories in a friendly local dive bar. Having not had much of a permanent residence for the last year, getting to know staff and regulars at dive bars has been an important part of feeling like I belong wherever I am. In the interest of perpetuating the good vibes, and easing the work of others who might be on the same quest, I wanted to highlight my favorite dives in the cities I’ve stayed. As I spent about 5 months of this past year in Berlin, and had plenty of time to appreciate and settle into many of the city’s dive bars, this first installment will focus on Berlin. Here are some of my very favorite dive bars, by neighborhood.

Asia, Hacker Paradise and Plans for 2017-18
Ristr8o Cafe, Nimman. A popular cafe in my neighborhood and one that nicely represents the vibe in Chiang Mai. Photo credit: BK Magazine

Asia, Hacker Paradise and Plans for 2017-18

I have been in Chiang Mai, Thailand since past Saturday with Hacker Paradise, a roving group of creatives and remote workers. I joined Hacker Paradise on the recommendation of a friend, who had been on a prior trip. It is my first time in Asia, and so far there has been a tremendous amount to take in.

I have been in Chiang Mai just 4 full days right now, and will certainly be sharing a more mature perspective on the city as my month here progresses. So far there has been both a lot that squarely aligns with preconceptions I’d had of the city, and also quite a lot that has been a surprise.