Wow has it been 2 years already? Here is my fun summary of 2 years being a digital nomad in South East Asia. Though I’m relatively stationary I’m not home-bound to anything or country. Here is my experience so far living that life..
Since I left at the end of 2014 I felt an immediate sense of distance or closure to my home country of the Netherlands. Even though I miss the obvious, I look at it as a really nice relationship I was in and now I was moving on to new things, bigger things. Returning to the Netherlands now after two years feels like visiting an old friend, you know, the ones you know you will have forever even if you don’t see them for a while. Within a week me and my homecountry are like best friends again. Just two buds back in Amsterdam hanging on the couch with a Heineken, a cheese platter with crackers and ‘maybe’ plans to cycle to a nice all-nighter.
Being abroad changes your perspective on life and it does so fast. Like an astronaut entering his first orbit looking down on the planet. In a short moment of time you become ‘the eagles eye view’ of all cultures with no apparent home to defend. With no borders left in your mind you more and more become a global citizen, an inhabitant of the world. Yes, with opinions of all, but thankful more too. Thankful for the access to education you got, proper parenting, learning to become open-minded and respectful to other cultures, or just the opportunity you were able to create for yourself because of high creativity.
Its too much to explain
The first three to six months of leaving your home country with no intention of returning anytime soon, is the craziest you’ll probably meet in your digi-nomad lifetime. I remember my first phone conversation to my best friend after just 3 weeks of staying abroad. An hour long phone call with all the crazy, juicy highs and lows. Ticking some sexual boxes far beyond wild dreams, meeting interesting new friends with totally jaded/biased not open views on life or the exact opposite, new foods, places etcetera. Only after hanging up I realized I only covered the last week of the 3 week stay, it’s just too much and continues far into the first ‘honeymoon’ period.
Traveling is not same-same
I found also there is a big difference in travellers, expats and digi-nomads. Travellers I have met and spoken to all seem to have something to run from, something to find. Mostly adulthood, obligations or just a new sense of self I guess. It almost seems the longer they are on the road, the bigger the ‘issue’ is they are running from or looking for. I do not mix well with travellers I found out :). It’s nice for hanging out for a while, but it gets to be like listening to a broken record, no offense. Though most digi-nomads don’t travel like those crazy travel bugs, (Tiiiime, is on my side..) they do sometimes share the same leaving motives though.
Expats is not same-same
Most of the time, digi-nomads and expats share deeper leaving reasons. Adventure, escape from mondaine life or in it for the experience, all non time-bound. Expats however seem to make the country they stay in more their own. A nice house, a pet, a wife, some kids maybe even. They are still somehow bounded in the country they stay in or have a more ‘project’ feel. “Im here to do x or run x, send from company x. I’m wherever they send me too”. Digi-nomads are different as they themselves sent themselves out by start. Venturing into whatever, how long ever they sent themselves. I guess you could say we carry the adventure gene a bit stronger, we rent smaller houses and don’t sign into any ‘permanency’, because, isn’t it just like home then again?
Inspirational, wether you like it or not
Just by going you trigger others. Either to start exploration by traveling or follow in your footsteps as digital nomade’s. It’s great to see people being triggered around you to do the same. Wether is directly or indirectly, you move and people around you start moving too. It’s a great feeling to see others follow in your network, to see them experience and inspire too. Finding themselves, living a new life, experiencing.
Two years of SE-Asia
Come and see my friends, come and see. Though it’s my personal opinion it’s the world of opportunities, I’ll see it everywhere, but SE-Asia is by far the capitol of that world. Nothing is easy, but it’s definitely less hard here to find an opportunity. You’ll get all the playground room you want here in learning about how to execute too, as long as you control your budget properly. Avoiding being frivolous and overspending here is something to take serious.
-When you get shrimp, you eat it as served (including skin).
-Asians generally do not prefer very spicy food so spice is always served separately, though there is always enough pepper on the table to make your face melt.
-Snails are a really more then decent lunch.
-It’s not allowed to have Vietnamese girl(s) over at night which starts at….??
-Anything coming from the USA is considered great.. Except their cars, food, politics, AMERICANS, narrow-mindness.. wait a minute..
-French are generally considered arrogant c*nts of which I strangely agree, but I can’t actually really name one like most of my friends can’t either.
-10$ in real life is the Monopoly equivalent of “Get out of jail free” card everywhere.
-Riding a moto-bike in Vietnam is exactly like riding a bicycle in Amsterdam.
-Plastic surgery in Asia is more common then on all other continents.
-Skin diseases due to lack of sun is more common in Vietnam then it is in the Netherlands.
-Learning a tonal language is not like learning Spanish on a holiday. You’ll never get fluent unless you stay here for 10 years or up or marry a Vietnamese.
-If you are a Vietnamese girl of 23 or up with no husband you are a ‘leftover’ girl..
-The bum gun is the conveniency thing you’ll miss most when you get out of Asia after you get used to it.
-Once noodles are in, they are here to stay.
-All the road rules you need to learn here: If it’s bigger then you, it has right of way.
-A stack of stones with on top a plastic bottle filled with green stuff on the side of the road means the nearby tyre repair man can give you a needed liter petrol top-up if you yell “SUCK” to them :).
-Pizza 4P Vietnam makes better pizza then many Italian restaurants in Italy I have been in.
-Construction work at night sound law: Who do you know? Hmm maybe this should read: Any law.
I’m really stoked to go into my third year of Asia! I’m definitely not done here yet. The nice weather season is back on which means Poolparties! Got an exciting new (Dutch) company VE Source BV, tons of nice new idea’s, back at top level sporting and lots of energy… That is.. After I get better from another nice undefinable Asian sickness..
See you at Saigon Soul! 🖖🏻