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Because life is all about experiences

I tramp the perpetual journey.

My life is a collection of beautiful experiences.

And since life’s short and unpredictable, I don’t waste any opportunities for deep, blissful experiences.

I tramp the perpetual journey.
My signs are nomadic freedom and openness of the mind.
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair.. I have no chair.
I lead no one to a table exchange.
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road.
Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,
Perhaps it is everywhere… On water, and on land.
Shoulder your duds, and I will mine, and let us set forth,
Wonderful nature and free nations we shall fetch as we go.

And so I did.

I fetched amazing experiences on my journey.

I will turn 30 this year.

So here’s a list of 30 of the best experiences I’ve had so far before I turn 30.

Motorbike Trip to Unexplored South Thailand

A bike trip to unexplored beaches and private sunsets

Location: Trang Province, Thailand

Unexplored beaches, private sunsets, the woods, speaking Thai, local food, motorbiking, amazing motorways, conversations with the locals, waterfalls.

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Living Like a Local in Southern Laos

Sleepy and carefree living in Paksan, Laos

Location: Route 13 along Mekong, Laos

Local living, Laos cuisine, staying with a local family, private sunsets, drinking BeerLao along the Mekong.

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Celebrating the Vietnamese New Year Like a Local

Welcoming the lunar new year with a local Vietnamese family

Location: Ha Tinh, Vietnam

Festive ceremonies, Cooking the local food, participating in rituals, meeting and greeting family and extended family, staying at the family home in the small town, local food and wine.

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Experiencing the Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai

Getting lost with the lanterns and festivities

Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand

The lanterns, celebrations, music and dances, prayers to the river, walking around Chiang Mai, photo walk of the festival.

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Kayaking from Island to Islet in the Andaman Sea

From Koh Yao Yai to Koh Nok on a Kayak

Location: Koh Yao Yai to Koh Nok, Thailand

Kayaking in the sea, rough waves, reaching the islet, climbing to the top of the islet, swimming near the islet.

Managing our Vietnamese Family Restaurant

Taking care of the family restaurant

Location: Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Living with the locals, running a local restaurant and homestay, learning Vietnamese, working on the other side, helping and guiding tourists to show them Ninh Binh.

My First Illegal Border Crossing

Crossing the border from Vietnam to Laos illegally

Location: Pa Hang, Laos

Experiencing borderless walking, illegal border crossing, global citizen mindset.

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Morning Walk in 3 Countries

Walking through the bordering villages of Austria, Hungary, and Slovenia

Location: Tri-border of Austria, Hungaria, and Slovenia

Morning walk through 3 countries, great experience especially coming from a country with very strict or disputed borders.

Tubing Waterfalls in Jogja

Just me, the waterfalls, and my tire tube

Location: Jogja, Indonesia

Tubing across multiple waterfalls and cascading waterfalls on a simple tire tube, hanging out with locals, swimming in green water pools from the falls, another tourist-free experience.

Tasting the Best Beers of the World

The ultimate beer tasting experience

Location: Brussels, Belgium

Tasting at the best place in Brussels, A lot of good beer, fun at the bar, trying local snacks.

Living the Local Life in Havelock Island

Staying with the locals on this pristine island

Location: Kala Patthar Village, Havelock Island, Andaman Sea

Staying with the locals, village life, local food and boating away from the tourists.

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Learning a New Language in 3 Months

My successful challenge to learn Vietnamese

Location: Vietnam

Learning Vietnamese in 3 months, Language learning hacks, speaking with the locals, making few friends, local experiences in Vietnam.

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Training Muay Thai in a Local Thai Boxing Gym

Learning Muay from Kru Ake in Trang Thailand

Location: Trang, Thailand

Learning Muay Thai from Kru Ake, Beautiful gym located in the center of Chinta Garden, Meeting my new master.

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Taking Care of a Cambodian Baby

Traveling across countries for her birthday

Location: Kampot, Cambodia

Meeting my Cambodian kid, making a new extended family, celebrating our days and birthdays together.

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The Secret Lagoon Swim in Ha Long Bay

A unique experience in the world’s most beautiful bay

Location: Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Independent Kakaying in Ha Long Bay, exploring and swimming in the secret lagoon, wonderful views of the bay.

My Deepest Meditation Session in Cagliari

Living each moment with the crystal clear waters of Sardinia

Location: Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy

Enjoying the beautiful waters of Sardinia, experiences deep meditation sessions by the sea.

Meeting the Real Sadhus of the Himalayas

Exploring life of sadhus in caves beyond Badrinath to Neelkanth

Location: Trail from Badrinath to Neelkanth, India

Finding caves and Sadhus to understand their mindsets and thoughts, trekking from Badrinath to Neelkanth base camp.

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Living with Tibetian Monks in a Monastic School

My own, short version of Seven Years in Tibet

Location: Bylakuppe, Mysore

Staying in monasteries, eating and praying with the monks, long walks in the green hills.

Exploring The Unexplored Beaches of South Goa

Going solo in South Goa to offbeat, unexplored beaches

Location: South Goa, India

Finding offbeat beaches on the coast of South Goa, enjoying fresh water fountains and the sun.

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Drinking Champagne with the World’s Best View

The best views I’ve ever had with my champagne featuring the Eiffel Tower

Location: Paris, France

A day at the tower with the best views of Paris, amazing views of the Eiffel Tower, good champagne to go along.

Glacier Lake Swim in the Western Himalayas

Cleansing the body with a nude swim in the Kareri Lake

Location: Kareri Lake, Western Himalayas

Nude swim at the glacier lake, overnight camping, finding alternative trekking trails around.

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My First Climbing Experience in Austria

Testing my limits, trying something new, and learning to trust my feet

Location: Austria

First climbing practice and experience, learning from my Austrian brother, living in Austria like a local.

Being The Only Tourist on a Small Paradise Island

Going where no traveler goes in the South China Sea

Location: Bãi Ngang, Ly Son, Vietnam

The small island where only locals live, getting the locals excited for probably their first visitor, swimming and exploring the beaches.

Solo Beach-to-Beach Jungle Trek on an Island

Trekking alone..

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Solo Trekking the Himalayas & A Tribute to John Muir.

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
― John Muir

The sunset at Naddi

The next morning, I started my trek from Naddi village to Kareri village.

I found myself alone on this trek as most people now use the new road connecting the two villages, thereby “transporting” themselves from one point to another, missing out on the experiences walking with nature.

The trek begins

Crossing the river Taking a break The next stream with a beautiful bridge Amazing views Beautiful pond with tadpoles and fish Meeting Shera

We trekked together, got lost together, and rested together. And when we used to get lost in the woods, we felt safe.

“One should go to the woods for safety, if for nothing else.”
― John Muir

Reaching the village

After around 7 km of the trail crossing through valleys and mountains, I reached Kareri Village.

My homestay in Kareri Village

Every trek has something new to offer. Each a new experience, a new learning, and a new world.

“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
― John Muir

Trek 2: Kareri Village to Kareri Lake

Trekking to the universe…

The night at Kareri was accompanied by strong thunderstorms. I decided to wait till the next morning to see if the weather lets me trek up to Kareri Lake which is a glacier lake around 11 km uphill trek from Kareri Village.

The morning turned out to be better than the night and I starting preparing my way up to the lake.

Planning my route

The news of the weather made the locals cancel their treks on this day. While I knew I should listen to the locals, I still went ahead with the trek.

Another crazy brother joined me as we started our trek up to the glacier lake.

The weather was friendly to us as we started The stream was with us all along Snow patches covering our trail presented a challenge

We had to cross the stream multiple times to avoid the bigger patches of snow. This made our trek longer and tiring.

After a few hours, it was getting dark but we were lucky to be there near a full moon night. The moon stayed with us as we found our way to the top.

Reaching the top made every challenge worth it. And as we got our first view of the snow mountains, our tiredness disappeared. We were healed — externally and internally.

“Earth has no pain that earth cannot heal.”
― John Muir

It was dark. We set up our tent and camped overnight.

The next morning, the sun invited us to the beautiful views of the lake.

At Kareri Lake

“How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!”
― John Muir

The Greeting of the Universe. View from our tent near the lake

“Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill.”
― John Muir

Trek 3: Kareri Lake to Kareri Village

The Western Disturbance Hits…

17.05.2019The rain started, so did the thunderstorm, and the hailstorm. I lost my phone, my action camera, among other stuff… It was one of the most amazing experiences I ever had.

The weather wasn’t as friendly to us when we started our descent. A storm hit us and the stream got flooded. Most of the trail back down was flooded too. My friend decided to camp halfway down.

I decided otherwise…

8:00 PM: I reached the village after 6 hours of trekking through the storm. I had lost my phone and I was tired. That night I slept the best.

“It is in the darkest times, when storms are blowing, that the most impressive displays are made.”
― John Muir

Thankfully, I had changed the memory card on my action camera and hence could retain all the pictures for this blog so far. However, I have no pictures of this day. On this day, I couldn’t even feel my hands and feet.

I had left my Canon digital camera in the village which would serve for the pictures of the next treks.

I decided to continue the next morning back to Naddi from where I would head to my next treks.

Being without the phone gave me a new found freedom. More than ever.

Trek 4: Naddi to Guna Devi Temple

Just me and the mountains…

With minor injuries and major pains, I was back on the trail. It was time to trek from Naddi to Guna Devi.

But first, it was time to welcome the sunrise at Naddi.

5:30 AM, NADDI. Locals waiting for the sun Shining on the mountains The first rays 6:45 AM, The spotlight on Naddi

“The sun shines not on us but in us.”
― John Muir

I was ready.

Soon as I started my trek to the temple, two Shera-s (beautiful mountain dogs) joined me.

Trekking together Taking breaks together

The trek up to the temple was beautiful and spiritual, with local devotees greeting me and my Sheras along the way.

View from the top

I was also treated to a temple lunch with the locals. I had found new friends. I felt great and knew it was time for my next trek.

Trek 5: Guna Temple to Bal Village

Staying with the locals…

I trekked down from the temple to Bal village where I stayed overnight.

Here’s a look at the local life at Bal Village, a beautiful village surrounded by the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas.

View from my village homestay Beautiful village home Say hello to my little friend I always saw him sitting there A village scene Look at that bucket! Breakfast with a view
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Because borders exist only in our minds…

My thoughts on one of my most thrilling experience, ever.

Nothing to Declare…
No custom offices, no biometrics. 
No stamped identities, no bags.
Just walking the earth as it was meant to be.
Without luggage, tickets or tags.

15.04.2019

It was 15th April 2019, comfortably cold early morning in Mộc Châu, Vietnam. The previous day was filled with explorations of the beautiful tea plantations of the rural paradise.

Today was still an empty book waiting to be written… Another beautiful chance to experience life anew. Another chance to live a lifetime in a day’s time.

My religion is to live and die without regret. My religion is to not wait for tomorrows. My religion is to plunge into change, move with it, and to live the experience. My religion is the moment.

I always loved to watch the borders and get an immense sense of freedom in crossing them. The mindset as a global citizen cannot be tamed by the immigration checks, the wars, and the border police. This is because the mindset is stronger than the protocol.

While the society runs protocol, nomads think freedom.

9:00 AM: Begin the journey

I made my way from Moc Chau toward the Laos border — stopping on every small waterfall I found on the way and enjoying the rolling hills all the way.

11:00 AM: Rejected entry at the checkpoint

After a beautiful journey of 2 to 2:30 hours, I was at the border. I was aware this particular border was only for Vietnamese and Laos nationals but still gave it a try to enter the checkpoint.

I was rejected. It was time to head back.

And then…

I was struck with an unknown feeling of freedom teasing me.
I was being invited… The forest sounded welcoming, the hills made way.
Everything made me walk — It was like a walk to freedom.
It had nothing to do with visiting the country or opposing the law.
It had everything to do with putting the mindset to practice.
As I was one with the earth — the borders erased.

12:00 PM: The trek into Laos

I traced the surrounding hills and forests for the opportunity. In around an hour, I found myself in a valley with a beautiful water stream. As I washed my face and stopped by the stream, I saw a beautiful family walking by. I looked into their eyes and knew I was there. I was in Laos.

Geographically, I was in Laos. Mentally, I was free.

I had no visas. At this moment, It was as if I didn’t exist.

2:00 PM: Exploring the first village of Laos

After celebrating the victory with BeerLao, I had a good meal and explored the village ‘Pa Hang’ until evening.

5:00 PM: Entering Vietnam Again

After a few hours in Laos, I trekked my way back into Vietnam. Everything was available to me. The planet felt mine. I felt more location independent than ever.

I had experienced something so beautiful in my first illegal border crossing. I had experienced the absence of borders.

I might not cross borders illegally again but I will always live with the global citizen mindset.

Remember the mindset is stronger than the protocol.

Don’t follow the protocol, build your mindset.

Live free!

Nomadic Dev.

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It was early morning and I was ready to continue my drive to Mai Chau.I had started from Ninh Binh on my semi-automatic ‘Wave’ motorbike.I wasn’t hungry and decided to make a quick stop to get the Vietnamese ‘Ca Phe Sua ‘.I happened to cross this little sugarcane Heaven on the way.The feel of crossing the sugarcane fields is just amazing.Location: Ân Nghĩa, Lạc Sơn District, Hoa Binh, VietnamI was tempted to stop for some fresh sugarcane water but decided to continue my search for a beautiful cafe.And I found it soon after..The river view was a treat and so was the coffee..:)The owner is a friendly guy who also showed me around.He’s built a small trek upto the river with beautiful views.

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The best experiences and highlights of my Vietnam travel have always been with local families. When I explore a new place in Vietnam, the first thing I do is find a local family to live with.

The easiest way to do this is by finding a homestay with a local family and then becoming a part of their lives to experience how they live

First Time in Ninh Binh

It was 2 A.M. when I first reached Ninh Binh after a 5 hour bus journey from Ha Tinh (where I had celebrated Tet 2019 with a local Vietnamese family).

I had done no reading about Ninh Binh as I was too busy eating, drinking, sleeping, and playing during those first few days of the Tet holiday.

At 3 A.M., I had a new Zalo friend who was going to rent me his motorbike in Ninh Binh city and at 4:00 AM, I sent a booking to ‘Ha Lan Homestay’ in Trang An.

I was convinced Trang An was the location I’d base myself in and Ha Lan was the homestay I would sleep in. I only booked the first night through Booking.com and my decision came from all the 10 star reviews I saw.

I had no idea I was about to find a new family of my own

Becoming Family

Thanks to my amazing Vietnamese skills, friendly nature, and a great sense of humor, I was ‘in’ the family on the second day of my stay, which I decided to extend indefinitely.

I had a new elder sister Yen (Chi Yen), who is also the primary host at the homestay.

The family liked me and I liked them.

I helped with the work, the restaurant, guest interactions, and online marketing.

Here are some of the best experiences at Ha Lan Homestay.

Family Dinners with Guests

We had frequent family dinners with guests with a lot of good food, live music, and a lot of drinks.

This is from one of the hot-pot party we had at the homestay! Everyone loved this dinner and said it was the ‘highlight’ meal of their entire Vietnam trip.

And I agree..

After a lot of eating..

Always a good time to pose.

Toward the end of the dinner, the homestay had become a home and family for all the guests.

So once we’d done eating (as the food never seems to finish), we decided to explore Bai Dinh like a local.

Explore Bai Dinh like a local

Ninh Binh is one of those destinations in Vietnam which combines stunning landscapes and architecture with really local experience.

And what could’ve been better than exploring with a local!

On the way to Bai Dinh

And so, we were at Bai Dinh!

Never miss a chance to talk to the locals!

Making Khoai Lang

We always had family dinners together.

And sometimes, after dinner, we used to cook sweet potato, Vietnamese style, on coal.

Khoai lang nướng

Playing Rummikub

What happens when your guests like playing Rummikub?

Well, if you’re a good host, you’d spend the night playing Rummikub with them!

And that’s what we did..

It’s Rummikub time!

After 3 days, it was time for me to pick my mom from Hanoi who was coming to travel Vietnam for the first time with me.

I was excited and decided to get here to the homestay to experience the local family and see Ninh Binh.

The homestay is located in Trang An which makes it close to all the interesting sights.

Here’s the location on the map:

I had decided to come back to the homestay and stay for a few weeks next time.

I will share my experience living here soon

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My first experience celebrating the lunar new year

Celebrations begin many days before the first day of the new year and usually start with a lot of cleaning, followed by many ceremonies, visiting relatives, eating, drinking and exchanging gifts and loads of lucky money!

Before we start celebrating, let’s learn about this lunar calendar thing.

Year of the Pig

2019 is the year of the pig (lợn in Vietnamese). The pig has the 12th place of all the zodiac animals. He probably overslept when the animals were ordered to visit the Jade Emperor’s party to decide the zodiac order. We will never know the details.

The 12-year cycle

You can easily find the other pig years by subtracting 12 from 2019 and so on. So the recent years of the pig are 2019, 2007, 1983, 1971, 1959, 1947.

The Five Elements

The Five elements in Vietnamese are as follows:

mộc — wood
hoả — fire
thổ — earth
kim — metal
thuỷ — water

Relation between the elements The 60-year cycle

When the zodiac animal is combined with the 5 elements, the cycle repeats after 60 years. 2019 is the year of the pig and earth. The last year of the pig + earth combination was 1959 and the next would be 2079.

So the other pig years with the combination of their zodiac animal and elements would be as follows:

1935 - lợn, mộc (pig, wood)
1947 - lợn, hoả (pig, fire)
1959 - lợn, thổ (pig, earth)
1971 - lợn, kim (pig, metal)
1983 - lợn, thuỷ (pig, water)
1995 - lợn, mộc (pig, wood)
2007 - lợn, hoả (pig, fire)
2019 - lợn, thổ (pig, earth)
2031 - lợn, kim (pig, metal)
Year of 2019

In this blog, I will be using the lunar calendar dates. For reference, here’s the Gregorian-Lunar calendar conversion for 2019.

Convert your dates

. . .

Let the celebrations begin..

Ngày 23 Tháng 12: Ông Táo

Mr Tao goes to heaven.

On this day, we have a small ceremony of sending Mr. Tao to heaven on carp fish.

Take him with you, dear fish.

Mr Tao is also known as the Kitchen God. It is believed that on the twenty third day of the twelfth lunar month, he goes to heaven to report the activities of each household to the Jade Emperor.

This annual report is used to decide the punishment or reward for each household.

. . .

Ngày 24 Tháng 12: Flower Market

Seeing the lucky plants of Tet

The Hoa Đào Walk in Hoi An

Hoa Đào (peach blossom) is iconic of North Vietnam and Apricot Blossom (Hoa Mai) is popular in South Vietnam as the lucky plants for Tet.

The Kumquat tree (or Cây Quất) is another common sight during Tet.

Cây Quất trees in Hoi An

The trend for the Kumquat tree apparently comes from Feng Shui as are other elements of Chinese traditional borrowed by Vietnam.

. . .

Ngày 25 Tháng 12: End of Year Parties

Year end goodbyes as we all leave for our hometowns

Almost everyone leaves the cities and their ‘workplaces’ for their hometowns a few days before Tet.

There are year end parties in all offices, organizations, and families and as Tet comes closer, it becomes a more homely, private family affair with visits to close relatives.

Last day in Hoi An

So it was time to say goodbye to my friends in Hoi An as I was going to celebrate Tet with the Anh Family in Ha Tinh.

. . .

Ngày 26 Tháng 12: Leave for Hometown

Time to go to the family hometown

We took the overnight bus from Da Nang to Ha Tinh.

It was a comfortable sleeper bus and we were all excited to head home.

. . .

Ngày 27 Tháng 12: Meeting Family

Lots of food, meetings, and celebration

The most important element of Tet is meeting all your family (Tourists please note this!).

And that’s exactly what was on the agenda for Day 1. We left our home in Hà Tĩnh to meet the rest of the family living in Vinh.

Family dinner in Hà Tĩnh

This dinner meant a lot to me as I had got in a local family and everyone loved me!

A big, happy family together is all I wanted for Tet and I got it 

Oh yes, we also went out shopping for a new Hoa Đào and got it home..

Back home in Ha Tinh.

. . .

Ngày 28 Tháng 12: Cooking Bánh Chưng & Bánh Tét

And a lot more, of course!

It was the right day to start cooking the traditional, Tet special, Banh Chung.

It’s made with glutinous rice, mung beans, pork and onions. I volunteered to make my ‘an chay’ (vegan) version with rice, mung, and onions.

Getting all the ingredients

As you can see in the picture, the hardest part is to master the wrap with the leaves using the wooden square. Once you get that, it’s quite easy to work with the ingredients.

The order in which the ingredients go in is as follows:

  1. Rice
  2. Mung Dal
  3. Pork (Meat version)
  4. Onion
  5. Rice

So the rice basically layers the cake on the top and bottom (and sides).

The foundation

Here’s a video on how to get the box right…

How to Wrap Banh Chung For Tet - YouTube

Rice followed by mung bean go in

(Skipping the pork here)

Onion goes in

Add the last layer of rice on top and wrap..

Ready to be steamed!

After we were done, we were hungry and headed for lunch.

Post lunch, it was time to visit the memorial of the great Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Du which was just 200 meters from our house.

Nguyen Du’s Memorial Selfie :D

We took some beautiful pictures (like true Asians) and got back home as it was time for me to cook my own vegan version of Bánh Chưng and Bánh Tét.

And so I did..

Getting the base right Folding for so dep In goes the stuff Pack and finish Be proud!

And next up..

Bánh Tét!

(The cylindrical one)

Need help for this one!
A lot more strings attached The Red ribbon to identify the vegan ones Time to cook em! Enter Big Brother

They’re cooked with wood and it’s a long process — around 6 hours cooking time.

At around 12:30 AM, they were ready and we took them out of the cooker.

Overnight, we kept them under some pressure to remove the additional water.

I’m pretty happy with my first Banh Chung and Banh Tet. Can’t wait to try them!

. . .

Ngày 29 Tháng 12: Family Ceremonies

Ending the year with ceremonies and more food

It was 29th morning, I woke up thinking about all the celebration we’ve done and realising Tet has barely begun!

On 29th, I started the day slow owing to all the cooking done the previous day.

Star fruit tree at a friend’s home
A new page, a new day.

I visited some of the friends’ families and tried some interesting snacks. Wine was served all times of the day during Tet.

Loved this one!
Simple chay lunch

Laster during the evening, we visited the ancestral tomb to pay respect.

One of the tomb’s was of my friend’s father’s sister who was a martyr as part of the American war.

We paid our respects including a ceremony where we presented the tomb with symbolic clothes and money — items that are believed to be of use to the ancestor.

We ended the 29th day with a family dinner..

Family dinner — End of Day 29

. . .

Ngày 30 Tháng 12: Ceremony & Fireworks

Welcome the new year

The last day of the year was filled with family time and a lot of food and sleep at home.

Toward the end of the day, we cooked Bánh Trôi Nước to offer prayers to the sky and the earth.

Offerings for the sky and earth

Once done, we left to see the fireworks in Vinh city which were scheduled for 12:00 AM.

I’m not a fan of fireworks but the idea was to get the family together.. And that, I love!

Chúc mừng năm mới 2019

And then..

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Living the Laotian life like the locals

It was 15th January 2019 and I had been on Route 13 in Laos for almost 2 weeks now..

This road runs along the Mighty Mekong river, which acts as the natural boundary between Thailand and Laos.

This road wasn’t an acquaintance anymore. Route 13 had now became dear to me.

When you go unplanned, without baggage and tourism, and let the road lead you, the road becomes dear to you. The road becomes a part of you and you become a part of the road.

And being the offbeat traveler you are, you know you’re going to venture out on the side-roads and the road knows that too. And she knows you’ll come back to her.

Then there are others on the journey. And they know this too! We all know our paths are going to merge on the public road.

Allons! to that which is endless as it was beginning-less, 
To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights, 
To merge all in the travel they tend to, and the days and nights they tend to, 
Again to merge them in the start of superior journeys,
To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it and pass it, 
To conceive no time, however distant, but what you may reach it and pass it, 
To look up or down no road but it stretches and waits for you, however long but it stretches and waits for you.

The road waits for you. And let’s you venture free.

I decided to stop by every interesting village I found on the road. And after a 10 days offbeat adventure trip, I decided to spend the next week just living the local life like the Laotians do.

Laos is known for the slow, sleepy culture and it was my pleasure to indulge in this slow-paced life.

Here are some of the simple, yet beautiful, moments from my local Laos life on Route 13! How to capture the sunset while still enjoying it :)
Magical Mekong Sunsets The View From Pak Kading
The real key to manliness: Carry your boat everywhere
Appreciate the slow life The Art of Lao Cooking Village Sunsets We both hate studying. Always ready to pose. Village sunset with a twist. Family meals and bro time! Stalking the sun. Tramps of days. Rest of Nights. Another beautiful day at the village. Meet Leo. Meet Non. Good siblings eat together. Boating time, yet again. Cafes along the Mekong. The Gods of Route 13. The Picnic. DIY village picnics. Sticky Rice Freaks. This is home. Laos-Korea Dee-Dee. Grow organic, eat organic. End of the days.

Cheers to all the moments along Route 13 and the Mekong.

Goodbye Laos 
Nomadic Dev
24th January, 2019

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Here’s a fun stat before we start..

35.38 million tourists arrived in Thailand in 2017 compared to only 3.86 million in Laos in the same year. Further, 1.19 million Indians arrived in Thailand in 2016 compared to just 8249 Indians in Laos in the same year.

That makes Laos quite the offbeat destination for Indians.

Well, it is also an offbeat destination in general, for everyone.

This is why it was the fastest Visa on Arrival I ever got.

I landed at Wattay International Airport in the capital of Laos and there were just 5 people in the queue and probably 50 people in the entire airport apart from the staff.

The process was a breeze and took just 10 minutes from start to finish.

In this blog, I’ll share all the information you need (and there’s not much needed) to get the VoA in Laos.

Visa Fee:

The Visa on Arrival (VoA) fee is $40 for Indians. You should pay this in USD.

You also have an option of paying the fee in Thai Baht but avoid that as an extra conversion fee gets charged with it.

Visa Documents:

You really don’t need any special documents to get the VoA.

All you need to get is:

  1. Your Passport
  2. A Passport size photo

And you get the visa form at the airport which you have to fill, along with an arrival / departure card which you’ll get in your flight.

So you don’t really need to get anything else. A lot of blogs have talked about accommodation proof, proof of sufficient funds, onward and return tickets but none of this is needed.

I’ve traveled in January 2019 and unless you read a fellow-travelers’ blog who has been there after Jan 2019, you can consider this information as the latest.

Visa Process:

Step 1: You fill the arrival card in your flight

Step 2: You go to the airport’s VoA counter and fill the Visa form

Step 3: You go to the first counter with your filled visa form, passport, and picture

Step 4: They take your passport and move you to the next counter where you pay the fee

Step 5: In the 3rd counter, you get your stamped passport back.

That’s all.

Airports where you can get the VoA are listed below:

  • Wattay International Airport, Laos
  • Pakse International Airport, Laos
  • Savannakhet Airport, Laos
  • Luang Prabang Airport, Laos

Please note as an Indian, you cannot get the VoA at the border crossings. You must fly in to Laos.

Also, If you don’t have a passport size photo, don’t worry. You will still get the VoA. You might have have to pay a dollar or two extra.

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You don’t need your Facebook news feed.

Step 1: Delete the Facebook app from your phone.

Step 2: Check Facebook only on the web version during your distracted times of shallow work.

Step 3: Even on the web, keep your shortcuts to a maximum of 3 most important links on Facebook.

Step 4: Eradicate your newsfeed from the web version using a plugin.

You should end up with something like below. Beauty & Bliss.

No newsfeed! :D

Remember the 80/20 rule.

Stay focused.

Be minimalist.

Go deep on a few groups and friends instead of many.

Remove distractions and engage in deep work sessions instead.

Read the 25 principles of transformational productivity here.

Your Facebook newsfeed is doing you more harm than good.

Yes, I’m a marketer. And I’m asking you to get rid of your newsfeed.

Brands will find you somewhere else and so will your true friends. Enjoy a life of FOCUS.

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