I’m not gonna lie. I’m both excited as hell and a little bit sad to make this next move. Because I love Asia. It’s been good to me. (Aside from the dengue, food poisoning, face sweats, and jellyfish stings, obvi.) But I’ve spent a long time traveling here – like 8 months total – and it’s time to move on…
For the past two weeks, I’ve had a great studio apartment in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The city is a “digital nomad” hub so it’s a bit of a cliche destination for expats, but damn if that’s not for a reason!
You could literally eat really, really well there for $5 a day. Rent isn’t bad either. And there’s tons to do. The city is full of cafes and the countryside is beautiful. And right now the weather is great. Plus, there are affordable big Chang beers everywhere you turn, and uh, again, the food! I’m not joking when I say I was considering staying a month in that little apartment located next to a small street food kingdom.
But alas, the time has come to try out a different area of the world…
I’m going to New Zealand!
Yeah, a little something new for me. I’ve never been and never even really thought about going until these past few months – see my “No job, no home” post for the logic behind this one, folks. And yes, Marko is going too. We fly from Kuala Lumpur to Auckland tonight (thank god for cheap flights on AirAsia). From there, we’ll get our bearings, adjust to the shock of Western prices and hostel life in dorms again, and maybe BUY A CAR?!
Ah, what?! I know. Big things.
I’ve got my Working Holiday Visa which allows me to stay in the country for up to a year and work while I’m there. Because let’s be honest, I’ll probably need some funds in a little while, and with non-Southeast Asian prices, it’ll be sooner rather than later. (Side note: this visa was FREE! I was prepared to pay the usual 175 euros that the official immigration website had listed, but they told me I was exempt as a US citizen applying from outside of New Zealand. Sooo something to think about, guys…)
While I’m there, I’ll also be trying to ramp up this freelance writing work I’ve been doing! Maybe I’m cautiously optimistic, but I actually think I can make it work – I made a solid bit of money last month without putting in many hours, and I won’t lie – working from anywhere in the world that has wifi is absolutely incredible. And so liberating.
But eventually, I’m hoping to actually use my visa and find a low-stress job (possibly hospitality or vineyard-related) so I can meet cool people and earn some cash. I have friends who’ve done this in NZ and absolutely loved it.
And yes, while I’m nervous about the costs of New Zealand, I’m pumped about being in the land of
hobbits, just kidding I’m not a LOTR fan at all friendly, English-speaking locals. And since I’m such a big trekker now (HA!), I’m ready to head out and explore their ridiculously beautiful outdoors. Oh man, the nature! But seriously, we’re gonna try to do a lot of camping and hiking while we check out the country and decide where to “settle” and get jobs.
Buying a vehicle and traveling the North and South Islands seems to be the ultimate backpacker experience in New Zealand, and it feels like the most desirable for us if we wanna have freedom. (They do have buses too!) Ideally, the kind soul of a person who sells us their car will include all their stuff – like a tent, camping chairs, stove, cooking stuff, etc. (You can tell I’m really most excited about the stuff, right?! I don’t know shit about buying a car…)
So this is quite a change for me.
And if all that driving and camping nonsense isn’t different enough from my usual travel style, we’re about to get into something else that I’ve really been hoping to do on the road:
So this is kinda the dream. Actual free accommodation. In a nice place.
We’ve already got two house-sits lined up on the North Island, so we’ll have a home and pets (!!) for a few weeks and get to cook our own meals (!!!!!!). I cannot stress enough how happy I am about hanging with cute animals and making my own food. Possibly at the same time. In Chiang Mai, we could get three dishes of Thai food for the price of a small jar of cumin, so cooking really wasn’t an option. Now we’ll be able to make dinner and take dog walks to check out the lakes in Rotorua every night!
I mean, that’s just one of our first housesitting stops, I don’t even know how to pronounce it…
So I’m pumped! I’m excited about checking out the cities and deciding where I wanna “live.” But I’m also excited about roaming around the country for a while first. And having a car! And camping! All of it!
If anyone has any tips – about New Zealand travel, how to do it cheaply, the best sights, favorite cities, freelancing, driving on the left, whatever – get at me! Your recommendations for New Zealand wine included…
As always, I hope you’ll keep following along even when I don’t know exactly where I’m going.