Growing up, I’ve always fantasised about living in different parts of the world like Paris and New York. The idea was as soon as I was done with a place, I’d pack up and move on. Who knew I’d end up doing something similar today?
In the last three years, I’ve lived on and off in Interlaken, Switzerland, for over 13 months in total (and counting). While it’s a ridiculously expensive country, it’s a painfully stunning country that you must visit at least once in your life.
Before coming to Switzerland, note that transportation is stupidly expensive. A full price bus ticket can cost 4 Francs, which is the equivalent of USD 4. To avoid unnecessarily wasting money on transport, planning your trip is key. Once you have an itinerary laid out, you’ll be able to see when you’ll need to take train rides between cities and villages, which will allow you to search for train passes that can save you quite some money.
There are two truths you need to know about me:
- I cannot cycle.
- I’m a night owl.
I’ve been in Eugene, Oregon for over two months now and given the timezone differences between Oregon and Interlaken (where my company’s headquarters are), I’ve had to get up a lot earlier than I’m used to. This is what I wish my days look like:
I’ve been hoarding receipts to keep track of my expenses, mostly for tax purposes. While it’s good practice to keep track of money going in and out of my bank account, it’s not uncommon for me to find receipts from 2 months ago at the bottom of my bags and purses… along with melting cough sweets, pen caps and the occasional paper clip.
I’ve also been buying clothes according to the changing seasons. Before arriving in America, I was working from Switzerland and summer arrived without spring. It got hot fast. My long sleeve tops and cosy jumpers starting feeling heavy and soggy from my excessive sweating (I’m only human!). So, over one Saturday, I went to town and got myself some more breathable clothes, including a floral print asymmetric skirt that I am obsessed with.
I’ve been in America for almost a month now, spending time in Eugene where my sister lives, travelling around Oregon with my family, visiting New York and exploring New Orleans.
The west coast has been amazing, stunning scenery, fresh air, good food and really nice people. The east coast, not so much.
New York was a giant clusterfuck in my opinion. It was loud and smelly and actually trashy, something I never saw on Sex and the City. That said, Brooklyn does live up to its hype. While it’s painfully overpriced, it is a lovely place to be in.
After two years of long-term travel, I’ve discovered a few tips and tricks of my own to survive the great unknown. As I pack for my upcoming RTW trip, I thought it’d be fun to share a few things I’ve come to really appreciate while travelling.
Seriously, take these items with you and your future self will thank you.
This has saved many shoes many times (in Taiwan, in London, in Ireland). While they’re not difficult to find and this tip isn’t particularly revolutionary (to be fair, the rest of them aren’t mind-blowers either), I like to have a spare tube in my bag just in case of emergencies.
Working remotely for TrekkSoft on a nearly full-time basis has been both a blessing and a curse.
It’s been a blessing because I’ve got to use the rest of my time to travel and explore the world or work from home in my pyjamas without fighting through the morning traffic. It’s been a blessing because I get to structure my days according to what’s important to me, and that includes taking two-hour lunch breaks every Thursday to hang out with my Ahmah.
It’s also been a curse because I tend to feel disconnected from my team and the life they’re having in Interlaken (yes, the FOMO is hella real), the friendships they’re building, the cheese they’re having and the mountains they’re climbing. It especially sucks when I’m not around for birthday parties or Christmas parties or when a friend needs more support than a phone call.
I’m currently on an idyllic island off Banda Aceh with a full moon over the sea, sitting in my room trying to get over a tummy bug. I think I shouldn’t have had that whipped cream that came with my fancy and way-too-sweet lychee drink last night.
Anyway, when’s a better time to write about things I’m looking forward to than when I’m in pain and require a good distraction?
Here’s a list of things I’m looking forward to in 2018:
We’re two weeks into the new year and I couldn’t bring myself to write one of those heartfelt “I had an amazing 2017 and here’s to greater adventures” posts. As much as I tried to recall all the great moments in 2017, the constant news of death – death of my grand aunt, death of quite a few friend’s parents, death of people I’ve known since my days in SIBKL (that’s the church I grew up in) – it coloured 2017 in a way I’ve never experienced before.
There were times when I was fortunate enough to be physically present to share the painful burden of grief, and there were other times when all I could do was send strings of texts to friends at home telling them I was sorry.
I burst into tears by the River Aare as I sat down to read a friend’s eulogy. I cried by the stairway outside our office while on the phone with another friend as we both realised the permanence of death and the fragility of life. I watched friends hold back tears too many times last year to ignore it.
Death was evident in 2017.
This whole digital nomad thing requires a lot of energy. Like, a lot. I’m constantly juggling full-time work, navigating new destinations and figuring out new routines, planning my next trip and staying in touch with people I love… plus I write for Wait A Minute Now and really really really want to grow that. So, unfortunately, Next Train Out took a back seat.
Since I’m home and am on a TEN-DAY holiday, I thought I’d catch you up on what I’ve been up to, where I’ve been and all that.
I learned this recipe from My Green Roots back in university and it has brought me nothing but comfort and envious glances from other backpackers – a great way to make new friends, really.
The recipe uses tomatoes that keeps the broth light, while adding turmeric, ginger and cayenne pepper which gives it a slightly spicy kick and a warmth that’s perfect on cold summer nights.