This past week marks three months since I left the place I called home for the first twenty-eight years of my life. I spent the past three months in India, a world away from my familiar home in the Northeast United States and I'm currently staying in Vietnam for two weeks before going to Nepal for two months.
Part of the reason for leaving home, changing my lifestyle, becoming a nomad was to rediscover myself; to strip my life of everything that might distract me from the process of inner discovery.
I was beginning to feel as though my life had gone down the wrong road; as if I had accidentally walked down the wrong path and I was watching the correct path disappear through a thick forest. I had to cut across. Whatever it took, I had to get to the other side. I felt an uncontrollable urge to follow my inner compass.
As promised in my previous post, The Plan: 6 Months, 3 Countries, and $3,000, I will begin doing monthly travel reports that detail how I spend my budget each month as I travel through Asia. This monthly report may become a regular long-term thing, but for now I'm committing to doing them for at least the next six months.
My initial six-month journey has a very tight budget: $250 USD per month. I already outlined some of my first-month expenses in a previous post, but this report is a more formalized overview and explains how I actually lived on such a budget.
Frugal travel involves more than simply setting a budget and then looking for the cheapest places to stay. It also means traveling more slowly, always accepting invitations and offers to stay with friends, and choosing to have a more authentic experience by living like the locals.
Without the generosity of friends in India, I'm not sure I would have made the first month's budget. However, I don't have friends everywhere (at least not yet!), so once I move on from my current location in Ujire, meeting this budget will become a lot more challenging.
This first month was an opportunity to see just how realistic my $250/mo budget was and I'm happy to report that it's absolutely realistic! Continue reading →
It's been almost one month since I arrived in India (26 days to be exact) and I have finally spent my first $100 USD (that's approximately 4,500 Rupees).
In fact, it was less than $100 because I got ripped off twice: The first time was with a $28 currency exchange fee when I changed a $100 bill for rupees during my layover at the Heathrow Airport in London.
The second time was when I stopped in a small town near Mangalore to refill my local Airtel SIM card: I gave the agent Rs.300, but when I was finally able to check the balance, it only showed Rs.1 (as I later learned, my unlocked iPhone didn't work with the local SIM, so I couldn't check the balance until I purchased a basic Nokia phone a few days later).
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This is my first "video blog post" from Bangalore, India. I'm thinking of mixing my writing with one or two video blog posts per week. The video would allow me to give everyone a better perspective of the places I visit. Maybe I could even shoot other videos and then compile them into mini-documentaries.
My writing and photos wouldn't go away -- the videos would just complement them and give me another way of reaching out to you, my wonderful my readers. 🙂
Thoughts? First impressions? Please leave feedback below!
The plane landed in Bangalore India early in the morning. This was my first trip outside the United States and I had no idea what to expect when I arrived.
On the plane we had to fill out an Indian Customs card to give to the immigration officer when we arrived. It asked questions such as where I would be staying and whether or not I was bringing in any seeds, meat, or plants that might carry insects. This seemed like an important concern because before the plane took off from London's Heathrow airport, they also sprayed an insecticide throughout the cabin to kill any insects that might have stowed away on the passengers.
Upon exiting the plane, the first stop was the Indian Customs. I had built up all this unnecessary anxiety over not getting through customs and the immigration officer literally spent 15 seconds looking over my passport and then let me through. He didn't even ask me any questions!
As I exited the airport, the air smelled thick and humid, but cool (the sun hadn't risen yet). It first smelled of burning wood, then of human waste. Within a few minutes, the smells had mostly faded (I think my nose adjusted because I hardly smell anything anywhere now).
My friend had arranged for a driver to drive us to his house. My first impression of the driving was that they're all suicidal and crazy, and that they constantly use their horns to make others aware of that fact. They drive fast, really fast. I will never again think American drivers from any state are crazy.
As we approached the first intersection on the highway, I noticed the traffic light was red. But we didn't slow down. There were other vehicles approaching the intersection, but that didn't seem to matter. As we flew through the intersection my friend told me that there's an unwritten rule that red lights don't matter before 6:30am. Awesome. Continue reading →