An Inner Earthquake: My First Three Months Living as a Nomad

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.

So I quit my job, sold all my stuff, and planned to live abroad for six months on a tiny budget of $3,000. What happened after that wasn't important to me. With the entire world knocking at my door and absolutely no experience traveling abroad, my new lifestyle started in India. I had no idea what to expect of the following six months -- I only knew that my life would never be the same again. Continue reading

Frugal Travel Report for April 2010

This is the second in a series of reports detailing my travel expenses during a six-month sustainable travel trip through India, Vietnam, and Nepal, as outlined in The Plan: 6 Months, 3 Countries, and $3,000.

Frugal Travel Reports
March 2010 (includes Pre-Travel expenses)
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010

While its only been a few days since I released the March 2010 report, I want to get on schedule and release a new report at the start of each month.

During the month of April I spent more time in hotels and ate at restaurants more frequently than cooking for myself. The increased lodging and food expenses reflect this trend.

The entire month was spent living in Ujire, making new friends, working on my laptop at the office in town, and exploring nearby places like Jamalabad and Moodabidri. Continue reading

Frugal Travel Report for March 2010

Frugal Travel Reports
March 2010 (includes Pre-Travel expenses)
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010


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

Video: Eating a Cashew Fruit

[Note to email and RSS readers: You may need to click through to the website to view the video.]

Have you ever wondered what a cashew looks like straight from the tree? The farm where I'm staying in India has dozens of cashew trees growing (they're harvested for good money).

One day, while exploring the farm, a cashew fruit dropped from a tree and almost hit me on the head (maybe if it actually hit me I would have discovered a universal law). Continue reading

My First $100 in India and a Message of Thanks

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).

So, where exactly did those 2,940 Rupees go? Continue reading

My First Substantial Vegan Dinner on the Farm in Ujire, India

I cooked my first substantial vegan dinner on the farm in Ujire, India using rice, channa dhal, and onion's that I purchased from town and some local veggies that were growing on the farm.

I have since gotten more creative (standby for future videos!) but there's something beautiful about the simplicity of a meal like this: It never leaves me feeling like crap and it always fills me up (thank you fiber)!

My First Jeep Ride in India

There I was, walking around the busy center of town in Ujire, India, sweating more than everyone else around me and clearly not looking or feeling like a local. But I was already used to that. I've been into town twice now and the strange stares and odd looks are practically expected. I've discovered that if you stop looking at everyone in the eyes, it's easy to forget that they're staring.

It was about twenty past four in the afternoon and I was headed back home; a remote farm nestled in the foothills of the Western Ghats about 10 miles from town. I had two options for getting there: Wait for the bus and be crammed in with students headed home from school, or look for one of the jeeps and ride like a real local.

I noticed a bus arriving and waited to ask if it was headed to Kukavu (pronounced "kokow"), the name of the area about two miles from the farmhouse. The ticket attendant on the bus gave me a disgusted look and shooed me away. Continue reading

A Tour of the Farmhouse in Ujire, India

Here's a quick tour of the farmhouse I'm staying at in Ujire, India. It's relatively remote, about ten miles from town and about two miles from the main road.

The area where the farmhouse is situated is called Malajoti, a name given to it long before the current owner came into possession of it.

The mountains you see are part of the Western Ghats, which is "one of the world’s ten 'Hottest biodiversity hotspots' and has over 5000 species of flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species and 179 amphibian species".

I'll work on making another video of the areas around the farm, which are really worth seeing!

Contemplating Contentedness

In this video I contemplate a feeling of content that I began to experience after spending one full week living the lifestyle of my dreams.

This video was shot on my first night staying alone on a remote farm in Ujire, India.

I'm still working on correcting a few annoyances with regards to making videos (for example, I say "umm" and "you guys" way too much). If you have any other suggestions for me, please let me know. I'm shooting for semi-structured clips; I don't want the entire thing planned out, but at the same time I don't want to be umm'ing throughout the whole video.

A Quick Update from a Remote Farm in Ujire, India

If you're following me on Twitter, you might have seen my last two updates about reaching Ujire safely. This is my one week anniversary here in India and its been amazing so far. I've seen and experienced so much, I haven't really gotten sick (besides a mild case of travelers diarrhea), and everyone I've come in contact with has been so incredibly helpful and generous.

I'm currently staying alone in Ujire, on a remote farm about 9 miles from town. There is some electricty here, but it's solar powered (running on batteries at night) and the phone is wireless (basically a CMDA cellphone-type connection). For Internet, I'm using a Windows XP laptop that was already here -- it uses a dail-up connection and Internet Explorer 6 (ugh!). My cell phone still isn't working (there were issues activating the prepaid SIM).

I can use the laptop for doing very basic things like checking my email (GMail usually takes a minute or two to load every page), but everything else is painfully slow (it took me 30 minutes to respond to 8 comments on my blog!). The isolation, remoteness, never ending heat, and constant sweat have all made me shy away from using my laptop to write, however I have been taking my camera with me.

After getting such an awesome response on my first video blog, I've started making a lot more video clips (thank you to everyone who commented!). Unfortunately, the dial-up connection here on the farm means I have to go into town to upload anything, but if you can be patient, I can assure you that the clips are awesome!

Staying on the farm alone makes me feel like I'm on a remote island somewhere -- or like I'm on one of those TV shows, Survivor or LOST(I haven't watched a single episode of either, so I'm only guessing). The view here is incredible and I'm surrounded by mountains and jungle. The locals have seen tigers and elephants nearby and there are so many different types of tropical birds with incredible colors and songs.

There are some other really cool things about this place, but I don't want to spoil the surprise. The videos will tell all!

I'm planning to head into town at some point this week, so you can expect videos and pictures soon! Until then, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me (I love getting email and comments!).