It has now been three years since I set out on this trip that has become my life – three years as a nomad! I can’t quite believe it myself.
I have already written a post about my reflections on this landmark milestone for me, so I won’t go back into it in detail here. But I will say that I feel incredibly lucky that I get to live this life, and a huge part of that is due to my supportive family – both my family in New Zealand and my new family in Colorado too. Toby and I are so thankful to them.
Month Thirty Six of Digital Nomad Life was mostly spent in New Zealand, where I was still working in Auckland full time, as well as juggling my Virtual Assistant work, wedding planning and working on this little blog.
I escaped the city twice – once to visit my cousin in her new house in the small town of Cambridge and to stay with one of my closest friends in Hamilton, and the second time was to see my Aunties in Matakana and to attend one of my favorite markets – the Matakana Saturday Market.
I finished work on a Friday then flew out early the next morning to Sydney – I don’t muck around – where I was staying for two nights with another of my closest friends in the chilled out Northern Beaches.
It was cold when I was there but at least it was sunny (unlike you, Auckland). We had a chilled out weekend, going to a craft market, wandering along the golden sand beach in Narrabeen, and watching movies at her house.
I also finally got to see my wedding dress, which had been delivered to my friend’s sister so I wouldn’t have to pay taxes and duty on it (it’s an Australian Designer).
The dress is pretty damaged, which I had expected as I paid less than a quarter of its original cost in a sample sale, but it is nothing that can’t be fixed, so I will get onto that as soon as I get back to Denver. Fingers crossed it won’t break the bank. I can’t wait to see what it is going to look like once it has been all fixed up!
From Sydney I flew to Kuala Lumpur for a brief stopover before continuing on to Bangkok. I arrived exhausted but so happy to be back.
The next three days were spent between the Dental Hospital near my hotel where I got a deep cleaning, four fillings and a wisdom tooth removed, and exploring the city. I also did a lot of relaxing by the pool and in my room at the Ibis Styles Hotel.
I really enjoyed my stay in Bangkok despite the dental stuff, and it ended up being a highlight of the month. Not bad for somewhere I felt ambivalent about before.
My last day of the month was spent traveling by taxi, plane, bus, and ferry to Koh Pha Ngan – a long travel day but completely worth it to get to paradise.
Now onto the Stats!
Countries Visited: New Zealand, Australia, Thailand
- New Zealand: Auckland, Cambridge, Hamilton, Matakana
- Australia: Sydney
- Thailand: Bangkok, Koh Pha Ngan
National Parks and Monuments Visited: None this month.
Islands Visited: Koh Pha Ngan in Thailand.
Best Meal: Month Thirty Six was a great month for food! I loved the smoked fish pie at the Matakana Saturday Market – the best smoked fish pie ever, the delectable banoffee pie from The Pie Piper in Auckland, my grilled sugarcane shrimp with lettuce, rice noodles, herbs & nuoc cham from the excellent Cafe Hanoi in Auckland, my Amano lunch, especially the perfect gorgonzola with roasted beetroot, the fried leek cakes from a street vendor in Bangkok – the same as the ones I loved in Cambodia!, and the deep fried fish with pepper and garlic that I had on my first night in Koh Pha Ngan – one of the best fish dishes I have ever had.
Worst Meal: It was bad Banh Mi again this month. I hated the vegetarian Banh Mi I had from a mall in Bangkok, and not just because I cut the inside of my lip up eating it (don’t try to eat something when your mouth is still numb from anaesthetic – it’s not worth it). The omelette in the Banh Mi was so oily and had a really weird, too crispy texture, and I just really didn’t like it. After last month’s also bad vegetarian Banh Mi, I’m starting to think that maybe I should just give up.
I also had a vegetarian Rendang at Sri Pinang in Auckland, thinking it was going to be vegetables but it was just grey fake meat – yuk. Fine if you like fake meat but I am not a big fan.
Best Craft Beer: I found two sour beers in New Zealand – only the second and third in nearly six months! I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw that the Sawmill Brewery in Matakana had both a Gose and a a Berliner Weisse – both of which were like sour nectar of the gods after not having one of my favorite types of beer for so long.
I didn’t do any actual hikes this month, but I continued to do a lot of city loops in Auckland, and I walked all over the place in Bangkok too – including all around beautiful Lumpini Park.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. After reading and loving Gone Girl and Dark Places, I have been dying to read Sharp Objects and it didn’t disappoint. The book is about a reporter in Chicago who gets sent back to her small Midwest home town to report on a murder of a local girl and the disappearance of another. Like all of Gillian Flynn’s novels, this one is full of dark twists and turns so I won’t say too much.
If you are a Netflix fanatic like me, you must have heard about the true crime series ‘The Staircase’. It takes place over a 12 year period, following the case of Michael Peterson, who’s wife Kathleen Peterson was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their house, completely covered in her own blood. It’s a very interesting case and I was enthralled – watch it for yourself then google the owl theory afterwards.
I also went to a prescreening of the doco-movie ‘Albatross’ on World Ocean Day at the headquarters of Sustainable Coastlines, a charity based in Auckland. The movie was beautifully shot and covered the lifespan of the albatrosses living on Midway Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It also showed the impact of plastic in oceans on these majestic birds. It was quite horrifying, with so many birds dying from ingesting plastic as they mistake it for food, then regurgitate it to their babies. So sad but so important to watch.
Loving my Early Morning Walks
During my time in Auckland, I absolutely loved starting the day with a one hour walk, watching the sun come up as I went. I’m not often up before most people are awake and there is a special peacefulness about being outside before the sun comes up. I want to try to continue this when I am back in Colorado, at least a couple of times a week. Wish me luck!
A Fancy Farewell Lunch With my Bestie
My bestie Kurt took me out for a fancy farewell lunch at Amano in Auckland – an Italian restaurant that sources almost all of its ingredients locally. The food was amazing – I had a gorgonzola plate with roasted beetroot, followed by delicate and handmade crayfish tortellini. We also had prosecco. I very rarely go to really nice restaurants so it was a real treat, and we even saw a New Zealand Celebrity, broadcaster John Campbell, at a nearby table.
Hitting the Road Once Again
Although I was sad to leave Auckland, this time not knowing when I would be back, I was also excited to get traveling again after 2.5 months based in one place. Even though I was nervous about getting dental work done, I was also so excited about returning to Thailand for two weeks – one of my favorite countries. Being back on the road is a feeling like no other and I am so excited for the adventures ahead!
Finally Falling for Bangkok
I have only spent a short amount of time in Bangkok, and it just didn’t seem like the kind of city I would fall for. My list of favorite cities include natural beauties like Vancouver, Sydney, Rio, Seattle, San Francisco and Cape Town, so how could crowded, built up Bangkok compete? Well it’s still not my favorite city but I can finally see the appeal after this last visit – when I focused more on just living life there rather than seeing the sights.
I loved wandering around Lumpini Park, Bangkok’s version of Central Park in New York, and around different neighbourhoods in the city, winding my way down narrow sois and along hectic main streets. I finally got a feel for the energy of the city and I really enjoyed it.
Gorgeous Weather in Thailand
It is meant to be rainy season in Thailand right now so I prepared myself for it to be hotter and wetter than my last visit there a few years ago. It has been neither. So far, I have only seen rain once, the evening I arrived, and the sun has been out the rest of the time.
It has also been a lot cooler than I thought it would be too, it’s still hot and humid but there has been a cool breeze and the temperature hasn’t been any hotter than in high season. I’m going to recommend everyone to visit Thailand in June in the future!
Still More Rain and Cold
Like last month, it just didn’t stop raining in Auckland – well, that’s what it felt like. There was also a serious cold snap, getting down to 3 degrees (37f)! – That’s pretty cold for the north of New Zealand, and just keep in mind that we don’t have proper heating in our houses here so it tends to feel even colder than it actually is.
A Painful Experience at the Dentist
My dental experience in Bangkok mostly went really well, but one injection they gave me really hurt going in and there is still tenderness in the area now, over a week later. My mouth was also sore for a few days after my wisdom tooth was pulled, but it wasn’t too bad – I didn’t even need painkillers.
Visiting the Wrong Part of Ari
This is a silly one that happened because I didn’t have a Thai SIM card. I had heard that the Thai hipster area of Ari is a cool neighbourhood to check out and so went there without really doing any research, aiming to just wander around. Well I did that, but couldn’t really see what was so cool about it – it just looked like any other neighbourhood.
I couldn’t find any free wifi to find out where I was going wrong, and when I got back to my hotel later, I realised that I had completely missed the cool part of the neighbourhood where all the great cafes and restaurants are. Oh well, I am going to try going back there when I return to Bangkok at the end of my stay.
Another high total this month – this time due to dental work, an eye exam and new glasses. For everyday costs not counting these one off spends, the total is around $845 and I am happy with that. Next month will likely have some more one off costs in regards to getting married and applying for my new visa – I can’t wait till this is all over!
I only paid for five nights of accommodation this month but I treated myself to a nice hotel while I was getting work done on my teeth so the cost is quite high for Thailand. My accommodation for the last month broke down into 22 nights with my Dad in Auckland, one night with a friend in Hamilton, one night with my Auntie in Matakana, two nights with a friend in Sydney, four nights at a hotel in Bangkok, and one night in a basic bungalow on Koh Pha Ngan.
Food and Drink $373
Not a terrible amount this month as I was still staying at my Dad’s in Auckland for the bulk of the month, and even though I ate out for two meals a day in Thailand (breakfast was included at my hotel), I mostly ate street food or at cheap restaurants.
- 2 x Bikini tops $27
- 3 x Ankle socks $7
- Petrol $20
- Public Transport to Airport in Sydney $7.50
- Taxi from Airport to Hotel in Bangkok $12.50
- Public Transport in Bangkok $5
- Taxi from Hotel to Airport in Bangkok $11.50
- Flight from Bangkok to Surat Thani $40
- Bus and Boat Package from Surat Thani Airport to Koh Pha Ngan $15
- Shared Taxi from Thong Sala to Thong Nai Pan Yai on Koh Pha Ngan $9
I don’t include International Flights in my Round Up Costs
- Movie Ticket $8
- Exam Exam and Designer glasses $67.50
- Phone Credit $17.50
- Reusable Straws $17
- Toiletries $20
- Dental Exam, X-rays and Deep Clean $145
- Tooth Extraction $60.50
- Four fillings $224
- Gifts $44.50
The big costs this month were on my teeth, but it was still a lot cheaper than if I had got the work done in New Zealand. I also got a great Groupon deal which included a full eye test, my choice of designer frames and lenses.
What’s in Store for Next Month
I will begin month thirty seven on the Thai island of Koh Pha Ngan where I will be spending another five nights on the quiet side of the island – no Full Moon Party for me!
While I’m there, I am planning to do a mix of relaxing at the beach, and exploring the rest of the island by scooter – it will be fun to be back in the saddle. Now that I have confidence, I love riding scooters.
From Koh Pha Ngan I am going to fly back up to Bangkok then take the train to Ayutthaya for a couple of days to explore the temples there, then I will spend my last two days in Thailand back in Bangkok.
Other than getting my stitches from my wisdom tooth removal cut out, I will be visiting one of the largest markets in the world, Chatuchak Market. If I have time I also want to return to Ari, and I want to visit the Temple of the Golden Mount and Wat Arun.
I’m not looking forward to my flight out of Thailand. I arrive into Manila at 3.30am and have eight hours there before my next flight, so I booked a capsule hotel so I can get at least some sleep before returning to the airport.
Then it’s a 13 hour flight to LA, a 3.5 hour stopover and a 2.5 hour flight to Denver, where I will finally be reunited with Toby after almost four months apart!
We have a housesit set up looking after two dogs and two cats for five days then will spend another few days staying with Toby’s brother or mum. I am so excited to be back in my adoptive city and we already have fun plans set up for 4th July – we are going to Elitch Gardens theme park with my friends Pete and Venessa.
I also want to drink all the sour beers that I have been missing, visit Toby’s family who I have missed so much, and do some hiking in the mountains. We also need to do some serious wedding planning and we have our engagement photo shoot planned at Red Rocks.
Oh, and we will be getting officially married within the first week for visa purposes – more about that next month.
From Denver we will be heading into the mountains to the small town of Eagle to housesit – firstly for four days, followed by a four day break where we are going to road trip to Colorado National Monument and Grand Junction – both new to me places in Colorado, then it’s back to the housesit for the rest of the month.
I’m planning to get more work done on The World on my Necklace as well as hiking loads in the mountains.
I can’t wait to be back home in the mountains of Colorado with my family – Toby and our little white van, Casper.
To read additional Monthly Round Ups, you can find them here