I don’t think I’ve mentioned it in this blog yet but Western Australia is g-ddamn expensive. In Southeast Asia my part-time online job was enough to cover all of my expenses and then some; here, it’s basically my bus ticket.
My first strategy to mitigate this started out with using Couchsurfing for financial savings, instead of mainly for cultural exchange. It continued with spending large chunks of time in McDonald’s, as they are the only place that has free wifi that’s actually free. Things graduated to skipping meals, til I was down to one sizable early dinner a day. However, I knew it was getting to be a real problem when my visits to McDonald’s became not just for wifi but also the amazingly affordable food. I would have started hitchhiking long ago if I wasn’t dragged down by my two big bags (my original pack + extra clothes for when I settle down in Melbourne).
I had heard mixed reviews from travelers who had backpacked through Vietnam, and at one point I was 90% sure I would skip it on this trip, but at the last minute decided to go for it, and it ended up being the only country I actually extended my visa to stay longer in. Vietnam is freaking huge and there’s a lot to love about it (of course some not-so-lovely things as well, more on that later), but all the sights took a bigger bite out of my bank account than the last few countries had. I got really good feedback after my last budget post, which reviewed my expenses over the first 4 months of my trip, so I’ll keep doing posts like these as I continue to travel.
So, without further ado, here’s what I spent during my 36 days in Vietnam, with and without a few extra expenses.
Hard to believe I’ve been on the road for over 18 weeks now, but that’s what the calendar says. One of the most common questions I’ve gotten from friends and people who want to do something like this is how much this crazy adventure is costing me. Let’s break it down.
Indonesian dinner: $0.70.
Update: Going to VIetnam? Click HERE for what I spent over my 5 weeks in Vietnam (and how you can do it cheaper).
Update: Over the course of some Skype interviews and emails I managed to land a job based out of Silicon Valley, back in California.
I’m working in the same field I was back when I lived in San Francisco, online community management. Except instead of heading in to the office each day, I’m logging on to my workstation from beaches in Cambodia, rooftop bars in Phnom Penh, balconies in Vietnam. I took my interviews from a hut on the beach and the TV room in my hostel.
my new office
“Some bikes are better maintained than others so you might want to test your hire-bike close to home for a while in case the pedals have a tendency to fall off.”
- travel guide for the town of Sanur, Bali
Coming across helpful little postscripts like those make me fall a little in love with a place; I’ve just decided that Sanur is going to be my first stop in Bali.
Where the electricity only works 12 hours a day, where every time you eat at a restaurant you have to hunt someone down to give your money to, sometimes just writing the bill yourself, always staying as long as you want. Where no one is ever rushed at all, no one yells, no one is belligerently drunk, everyone is happy and friendly or at least blissfully chilled out; where the days of the week are irrelevant. Where smiles are plentiful but the fresh seafood is even more so. Where instead of roads you have dirt paths and the only transportation is by foot or by boat. A place with an ocean as clear as any resort pool, with colorful sea life, uncrowded beaches, and tranquil seas. A place exhibiting no dominant nationality, ethnicity, religion, or age group. A place where most accommodation is loosely maintained and the toilets always have lizards but never have paper, and everyone takes it in stride. Where there’s no hot water in the shower but you never really need it. Where you can relax in a cafe with a book for hours and not even buy anything, and no one will mind. Where the prawns are gigantic yet the same price as the chicken. Where there are no police and the only rule is to take off your shoes. Where $8 a night gets you a simple bed in a dorm with a million dollar view. A place that we’d never heard of but ended up at off a tip from a random Indian guy in the street ten minutes before we were about to set off somewhere else. This is the place I was imagining when I’d daydream in San Francisco about my upcoming trip to Thailand. Turns out it wasn’t in Thailand but rather Malaysia, and even better than I was hoping. Each day that I spend here makes it harder and harder to leave.