Why Digital Nomads Are Singing Praises About Singapore…

Singapore has become South East Asia’s commerce capital. Companies from around the world are moving to Singapore to take advantage of its reputation as a networking hub. However, the city isn’t only for office-based business empires – digital nomads are now starting to realise that they can benefit from this city’s buzz too. Here are just a few reasons why digital nomads should give Singapore a go.

All year-round hot weather

Those looking for warm weather will find it all year round in Singapore. Due to its distance from the equator, Singapore has a climate that’s practically tropical. It does rain often, but it’s a warm tropical rain – you’ll never feel cold in Singapore. The constant heat means that when you’re not working, you can take the chance to work on your tan.

Singapore digital nomads

Many apartment complexes and hotels come with pools and there are many public pools to choose from too including water parks and city view pools giving you the chance to cool off. You can even head to Sentosa where there are white sand beaches (all man-made, although you’d never guess it from looking at them).

Luxury accommodation

Accommodation in Singapore can be a little pricey, but you’re guaranteed good quality living conditions for what you pay. Most of the population live in government owned apartments known as HDB flats. These are nothing like the public housing you’ll find in the west – their amenities are luxurious in comparison, they’re safe and secure, plus they’re likely to come with amazing views.

Singapore digital nomads

If you’re moving with family or sharing with someone else you may be able to consider a house for rent– you may even be able to find one with its own swimming pool. Alternatively, you could live out a hotel or hostel as some digital nomads staying short-term do.

Fast internet speed

When it comes to working online on the go, you don’t have to worry about internet connection in Singapore as you may do in many other countries around the world. Singapore has many public internet hotspots that you can use for free – simply look out for the Wireless@SG network when you’re out and about.

Not only is the internet easy to access, it’s also one of the fastest in the world. This makes it perfect for digital nomads – whilst you may find yourself desperately hunting for wi-fi in many countries around the world, you can feel more at ease in Singapore.

No shortage of coffices

If you’re the type of digital nomad that loves to work from a coffee bar, you’ll be happy to know that Singapore has no shortage of ideal ‘coffices’. In fact, there are many coffee bars in the city specifically set up for people to work from. This could allow you to work from a new café every day, giving you the chance to try out new coffee blends and constantly work in a new setting, keeping you always motivated.

On top of the city’s coffices, there are a number of co-working spaces that you can try out for a more work-focused environment. You may have to pay a small fee to rent a desk, but this may be no more than you’d usually spend on coffee.

Good transport links

Singapore also has a good public transport system, which makes it easy to get around and explore. You’re often best buying a Smartcard which can be used on all buses and trains across the city. You can pay a monthly or annual fee – you’ll pay less overall than were you to pay individually for each journey. Driving in Singapore is not recommended unless you really miss the freedom of having a car – there’s very little road to explore and car ownership can be expensive. Almost everywhere in Singapore is accessible via public transport and if you decide to cross the border in Malaysia, you’re generally best off hiring a car here rather than in Singapore as the rates are likely to be cheaper.

High levels of safety

The crime rate in Singapore is very low. There are really no bad areas – you can feel comfortable taking the backstreets in most parts of the city without feeling as if someone’s going to mug you for your laptop. That isn’t to say that Singapore isn’t crime-free at all and as with any city it’s always good to have your wits about you. Singapore has a lot of strict laws, but you won’t feel as if you’re constantly being watched by police as you may do in some cities – they’re there only when they need to be.

Delicious food

Good food is a perk wherever you happen to travel in the world. Singapore’s cuisine is very cosmopolitan, so is likely to appeal to everyone’s tastebuds. There are plenty of traditional Singaporean restaurants and street food stalls where you can enjoy South East Asian noodle dishes and curries.

Singapore digital nomads

There are also a lot of Western style restaurants if you’d like something different. On top of great places to eat, Singapore has great bars for when you want to unwind – the city is known for its cocktails including the iconic Singapore Sling.

The whole of South East Asia is on your doorstep

Singapore’s central location in South East Asia also makes it ideal for exploring neighbouring countries in the region when you’ve got some time off. Cross the border and you can explore Malaysia– it’s an hour’s flight to Kuala Lumpur, or a 6 hour bus ride if you want to do it on the cheap. Here, you can see sights such as the Petronas Towers and Chinatown. Also accessible in Malaysia is the town of Malacca, renowned for its Portuguese colonial architecture and temples. It’s also possible to head south from Singapore to Indonesia. You can take a boat ride to the island of Bintan, which is renowned for its white sands and beach resorts. Bintan is also a great place for trying out various water activities such as scuba diving and paddle-boarding, not to mention visiting an array of temples such as the Lohan temple containing nearly 500 statues.

Singapore Digital Nomads

Want to venture a little further afield? Bangkok is a two hour flight, as is Jakarta and Brunei. This could allow you to take a longer holiday and see a little more of South East Asia whilst still keeping Singapore as your base. Singapore is generally accepted as the most expensive place in South East Asia when it comes to cost of living – you won’t need to bring much spending money with you when exploring its neighbours. Make sure that you purchase a visa when leaving Singapore as many of the countries in South East Asia require one.

And you, have you been to Singapore? Are you considering the digital nomad lifestyle or are you one? Let me know in the comments below! 

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Slovenia: Europe’s best hidden cycling destination

Slovenia best European cycling destination

Why is Slovenia Europe’s best-hidden cycling destination? Well,I didn’t expect it. In fact, I had no expectations at all. I like to explore places without having preconceptions and ideas in mind. But, let me tell you, I’m in love with Slovenia now. While you’ve probably heard of Bled Lake and the capital with the impossible name to spell and pronounce, you are probably in the unknown with the rest of the country as I was a week ago. Keep reading to find out

I just got back from my cycling ambassador experience around Slovenia and I’m ready to share with you some tips and tricks about this little country as well as a great cycling itinerary for my fellow bikers.

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 1 – Welcome to Slovenia! Europe’s best-hidden cycling destination!

 Get to know the capital

WHEN WHAT
morning Arrivals to Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana
late morning Explore the city by foot and stop for lunch / late breakfast at Pritličje. One of the best cafes in town (also ideal for digital nomads)
16:00-19:00 Cycling around Ljubljana with the Moustache Tour guides
Dinner Ljubljana Castle
Notes I will publish a dedicated article about Ljubljana since there is loads to see and explore there and I don’t want this article to be too long!
Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 2 – Dolenjska Region – Explore Novo Mesto, the hometown of Tour of Slovenia Race  

WHEN
10:00 – 11:00 Arrive in Otočec 
11:00 – 11:30 Cycling: Otočec – Novo Mesto (7km)
13:30 – 15:00 Lunch at Don Bobi and tour of the city
15:00 – 17:30 Cycle Novo Mesto – Kostanjevica na Krki (26.5km) 
17:30 – 19:00 Explore the Venice of Slovenia and then relax by SUP-ping down the river along the village
19:30 Dinner
Overnight at Balnea Hotel, Novo Mesto
Notes & more info: https://www.visitdolenjska.eu/en/
https://www.facebook.com/VisitDolenjska

https://instagram.com/visitdolenjska/

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 3 – Štajerska Region – North-East of Slovenia 

WHEN WHAT
8:00 Depart from Novo Mesto
10:30 Arrive in Maribor
11:00-15:00 Tour of the town and lunch at the Hotel Maribor
15:00 – 19:00 Afternoon at Pohorje Bike Park
20:00 – 22:00 Dinner at Gostilna pri treh ribnikih
Overnight at Ramšak Chateau Vineyard Glamping Resort*
Notes + Info https://maribor-pohorje.si/best-choice.aspx

https://www.facebook.com/VisitMaribor/

https://www.instagram.com/visitmaribor/

* I will soon publish a dedicated article about the gorgeous Ramšac Chateau – Stay tuned

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 4 – Primorska Region – Mediterranean Slovenia – The coast 

WHEN WHAT
7:30 Transfer from Maribor to Piran
10:00 Arrive in Piran and tour of the city
12:00 -12.30 Cycle from Piran to Portoroz (3.3km)
12:30 – 15:00 Lunch at Oštarija Portorož
15:00 Visit to Fonda Fish Farm
19:00 Dinner at Hisa Torkla
Overnight at Stara šola Korte Guesthouse
Notes + Info http://www.portoroz.si/en/

https://www.instagram.com/portorozpiran/

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 5 – Kranjska Gora Region – IMMERSE IN GREEN   

A must-try experience for any cycling visitor is the route between Mojstrana and Rateče, which runs along a well-maintained asphalt cycle path past several interesting abandoned railway stations, well worth taking a closer look at.

If for you cycling is synonymous with great exertion, adventure and adrenaline-pumping excitement, you may be the right person to tackle the ascent of the Vršič mountain pass, one of Europe’s most challenging road cycling routes.

You can also choose Bike park. The park offers three different trails – Downhill, Airline and Lunapark – whose names say it all about the styles of riding you can choose from. Featuring a 350-metre vertical drop, several kilometres of trails with varied surfaces, and all kinds of fun obstacles such as bridges, jumps and teeter-totters, the park has something for everyone who can ride a bike.

WHEN WHAT
8:00 Transfer to Kranjska Gora
10:00 Arrive in Kranjska Gora and pick one of the many cycling routes in the region
17:00 Chill by Jasna Lake with a book
Overnight at Hit Alpinea Kranjska Gora (Ramada Hotel&Suites)
Notes + Info https://www.kranjska-gora.si/en

https://www.instagram.com/kranjskagora/

https://www.facebook.com/KranjskaGora

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 6 – HIKING or MOUNTAIN BIKING in KRVAVEC 

Timing Activity
9:00 Depart from Kranjska Gora to Krvavec Mountain Resort / Bike Park
10:00 – 13:00 Enjoy and go cycling cray at Krvavec Bike Park
13:00-14:30 Lunch up at Hotel Krvavec
Notes + Info http://www.tourism-cerklje.si/en

https://www.facebook.com/TICcerkljeNaGorenjskem

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

photo credits: Nace Production

Slovenia: Europe’s best-hidden cycling destination

This is probably the first of a series of articles I’m going to write about Slovenia (if I’ll ever find the time LOL). There is so much to see and explore in such a small country and Slovenia is Europe’s best-hidden cycling destination. You can find out more in the links above and by checking the official Tourist Board website which is incredibly well-researched and written. Make sure to drop me a line via the contact form if you have any specific questions or enquiries – I’d be happy to help you plan your trip to Slovenia!

*

I was invited by the Official Tourist Board of Slovenia as the Italian/British Cycling Ambassador 2018 – all opinions above are mine. A special thank you go to Slovenia TO team, Vesna for planning everything incredibly well, Marusa for making sure everyone was happy in such a pressure-filled week, the filming crew and especially Lea, Sašo and Nace for their ability to make me feel comfortable in front of the camera. 

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Myanmar itinerary and 10 places you must see

myanmar itinerary

In this (very long) article, you will find my Myanmar itinerary and how to plan your trip to this beautiful county including the 10 places you must visit in Myanmar (at the bottom of the article).

In the end, you will also find a list of practical tips for getting the visa, getting to know the locals, some curious info and more.

A bit of background and history of Myanmar

At first, while exploring Cambodia, I was in a huge moral dilemma regarding Myanmar and a potential visit to a country where freedom was something reserved only for a few lucky ones and where locals (including Aung San Suu Kyi and the Moustache Brothers) were unfairly imprisoned for criticising the government. It was a tough decision, I could have flown to  Bali straight away and chill on their wonderful beaches or I could follow my instinct to explore yet one more country on my 23-month life-changing journey. As I am writing this post, you already know what I decided to do.

Myanmar was calling and I had to go.

I consider myself an ethical traveller, someone who tries to respect other cultures while on the road and surely sustain countries which are trying to develop and open up to the outside world. This is why I had to go to Myanmar and this is also the reason why I hope you will feel like booking a plane to this incredible country once you’ve read my article.

Myanmar itinerary

Myanmar only opened up to tourism in 2012, so relatively recently and this has two implications for your itinerary: first, there are still parts of Myanmar that you cannot visit as a tourist. There are also some parts that you can only visit under the supervision of a guide. Second, infrastructure is still being built: buses can be ancient, old, broken and dangerous (probably the worst I’ve sat my ass on throughout South-East Asia), roads are in the same state as buses with pollution reaching skyrocket level in the major cities.

Books to get ready for your trip to Myanmar

As I believe you should always know a little about the place you are going to visit, I always recommend reading books about the country. Ditch your Lonely Planets, buy a book or read honest blog posts instead. Here are my suggestions:

Burma – A country at the crossroad by Benedict Rogers

Letters from Burma by  Aung San Suu Kyi

[On another note but about books… Did you know I just decided to express my love for books and reading on my Instagram more and more often? If you follow me there too, you might already know that I have recently kicked off a new community Instagram for people like me: who buy far more many books you could possibly read in a lifetime and be happy about it! Share your pictures with #tsundokutogether, I might also create a gallery here on my blog with the best pictures of your books obsession 😃 ]

My Myanmar Itinerary

Now, let’s get started! Choosing a route when visiting a country is crucial for having a great time there. So planning – especially if you have limited time – is going to be an important part of your trip to Myanmar.

I spent 3 weeks in Myanmar, travelling at a leisurely pace and only by land. There are other places I would have liked to have seen in but I didn’t manage to reach for various reasons, but I know I will be back one day to see them.

Choosing a starting and ending point:

After a lot of research, as I was leaving Cambodia I decided to travel in a big circle around Myanmar, flying in and out from Yangon. I could have finished in Mandalay like other travellers, but I would have missed some interesting spots I wanted to see, plus, there is always a hefty charge on booking a one-way ticket, that’s why I chose to travel to and from Yangon. I also believe Yangon is better connected to the other countries than Mandalay. Of course, this loop becomes harder the fewer days you have to travel within Myanmar so it is up to you to choose whether to save some dollars or maybe skip one or two of the highlights below. PS: As mentioned I travelled by land, there are also national airports where you can fly to if you are in a hurry or wish to save time between stops. Personally, I love travelling by land for two reasons: on the buses, you have the unique opportunity to sit down with locals and get a sense of their culture, language, lifestyle. Secondly, I love the slow pace (in Myanmar it can be extremely slow!) and watch the world pass by through my window seat.

How long do you need?

I’ve always been against those who rush through highlights to tick them off of an ambitious to-see list, therefore I always push people to see less but better.For example, I wouldn’t advise you to travel to Myanmar if you only had 7 days (my itinerary below needs at least two weeks) because travel around Myanmar is slow and you would really have to skip some important things. Generally speaking, 10 or (better) 14 days are going to be a great length of time in Myanmar.

STOP 1: Yangon (3 days)

Once I landed in Yangon, there was something in the air. I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but it smelled like hope. A friend of mine who had been there in 2012 as soon as they opened the borders, told me that the atmosphere was sad and deep, it was like time had stopped and the people were kind of scared and afraid of the future. But when I was there, I could tell there was something different. (Some) people were open to foreigners and it was nice to see how much effort they put into making me feel welcome. 

Things to do in Yangon

Shwedagon Pagoda: Watch the gold gleam at  Shwedagon Pagoda at sunrise, one of the oldest and most sacred Buddhist sights in Myanmar and in the world. TIP: you can use your ticket to go back in the evening and seeing the Pagoda in the different light of sunset.

Downtown Yangon: Not since I was in India have I seen such crumbling beauty and one of my favourite things to do was simply to wander and get lost in the streets of Yangon: Some buildings are better restored than others, some have a colonial look but most of them tell a tale of a time long gone by.

myanmar itinerary

Bogyoke Market:  If you like people watching and browsing among hundreds of stalls of things you never have seen before, this is the place to be

myanmar itinerary

Circle line train to watch local life in action. I had a very special encounter on this train – as it always happens when you embrace the local life and forget your camera and phone. I met this young student who I chatted to for the entire journey. Not sure how or why, but at some point, as we were talking about life, death and Buddhism, he passed me the book he was reading at an exact page and told me to read:

Everything comes and goes
we don’t need to push it away
and it will go away by itself.

I have no idea why or how, but those words were exactly what I needed at that precise moment of my life. If you read my Fiji post, you know what I am talking about since despite it had been 6 months, I was still in the deep hole of my heartbreak.  (The poem was from the book “A Map of the Journey by Sayādaw U Jokita )

Theingottara Park (People’s Square & Park):  Stroll around some lushly green gardens (and avoid Yangon’s dense traffic). If you get lucky, you can also meet some lovely little nuns dressed in pink strolling around the ark.

Caffeine fix & food in Yangon

Easy Cafe: Probably the best coffee in Myanmar, a bit more expensive than others, but surely worthy for a coffee fix

999 Shan Noodle Shop:  love noodles? Come here! Very cheap, but tasty noodles, probably the best in town! Make sure to go there early as it closes at 7 pm.

Coffee Circles: probably overpriced, but definitely worth a stop for a coffee and a healthy salad – they have wi-fi so you can also get some work done while sipping on your drink. 

Dream + sleep in Yangon

I spent a few nights at Little Monkey Hostel where I met some of my best friends during my travel (hello Percorra!) People who I later caught up again in other parts of the world. The hostel is nothing fancy, but the staff was friendly, it was clean and in a nice part of town.

STOP 2: Ngapali Beach (2 days)

I like to balance my city and cultural exploration with a bit of nature and possibly beach days, so while I was in Myanmar, I took a bus to Ngapali Beach where I took a few days by the ocean to think about my travel, my future and my mind.  I also took the time to fall in love with myself again.

I spent three nights in Ngapali Beach and did little exploring up and down the Ngapali main road and its adjacent beaches during that time. I really needed some rest, reading and just chilling by the ocean.

The one thing you need to know is that Ngapali is mainly a resort type of place and prices are quite high in comparison with the rest of Myanmar and south-east Asia. As I was at the end of my trip,  I visited Ngapali beach on a medium budget and I even added an extra night as I managed to share my room with another girl on my last and third night.

NOTE Ngapali beach doesn’t really open through its monsoon sea:son (typically mid-May to the end of September), and that’s no surprise because the monsoon in Myanmar means constant rain. Additionally, flights are very rare and expensive during the monsoon season. Basically, if you can, plan your trip to Ngapali beach outside the monsoon season.

Dream + sleep in Ngpali Beach

I stayed at Memento Resort during my time on Ngapali beach. It was a simple accommodation on the beach, nothing fancy, a little expensive, but as mentioned above it above average in this region so I can’t really complain.

How to get to Ngpali Beach

There is a bus from Yangon but it cuts through the mountain range making for a long and bumpy journey. The closest airport is Thandwe Airport which is located in the north and just a couple of kilometres to the hotels in the north and less than 10 kilometres from most of the hotels in the main area.

STOP 3: Bagan (3 days)

Once upon a time, Bagan was a temple hub. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, there were over 10,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries in the city. Today, there are around 2,000 of them: all jammed into a 13 by 8 kilometres area that has become the Bagan Archeological Zone. It’s pretty sure you are going to see some temples while in Bagan and that’s one of the main reasons why people come here. Despite being one of the most popular destinations in Myanmar, Began welcomed me with an incredible sense of peace and silence. I guess it was because as always, I was travelling during mid-low seasons which has several advantages (no crowds and lower prices to mention just two) and disadvantages (fewer connections, hot air balloons season was off already). Temperatures hit 40 degrees Celsius by 8/9am and although I was used to hot and humid weather after so many months in the region, it was pretty tough to stay out in the central hours of the day (tip to beat the heat in Bagan below).

Things to do in Bagan

Watch the sun rising among the thousands of  Bagan pagodas and come back at sunset for a different show. While I was researching for this article, I read somewhere that today there are only 4/5 temples you can climb to see this incredible natural show while most of them were open last year while I was there. However, since these temples are incredibly old and precious, I think the government has made the right move to protect them from camera and smartphones armed tourists.

Myanmar itinerary

THE STORYTELLER’S TIPS: * For those of you who arrive on a night bus, use your first morning to see the sunrise. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to check into your accommodation before 1/2pm so make the most of your time since you are already awake. Do your research beforehand so you know where you want to go to see the sunrise and you can tell your driver right away. * Another way to get around the temples and Began is to rent an e-Bike. I stayed at Ostello Bello and they had an e-Bike sunrise tour each day for both existing guests and those who just arrived by bus.

Ananda Temple: my Burma’s gang and I took our eBikes for a further exploration one day and went to the Ananda Temple, one of the most incredible temples I’ve seen in my life. I had a shocking moment there as I realised my first tattoo resembles too well the symbol buddhas have on their forehead. And I did not know anything about buddhism when I drawn and got my tattoo 10 years ago!!

Mani Sithu Market: Local markets (like coffee shops, libraries and bookshops) are an obsession of mine when travelling in Asia or  anywhere in the world. It’s where people connect, exchange goods and chat among themselves. It’s also the place where you can feel invisible and just enjoy the full immersion in the culture without worrying about being harassed or asked to buy something. There was only my group and I when we visited, much to the delight of the locals.

myanmar itinerary

MyanmarTreasure Resort: waking up before sunrise and walking around in the scorching heat can be extremely tiring, that’s why with my gang, I decided to spend a chilled afternoon swimming and sipping cocktails at this resort.

Caffeine fix & eat in Bagan

  • 7 Sisters Restaurant
  • The Moon Be Kind to Animals (I  had wonderful veggie food!)

Dream + sleep in Bagan

Ostello Bello

Getting to Bagan

From Ngpali BeachI got a night bus to Inle Lake with JJ Express, one of the VIP buses companies. You can read more about booking buses and air transport at the bottom of this article.

STOP 4: INLE LAKE (2 days)

Tourism has definitely blossomed on Inle Lake. Maybe it was Steve McCurry’s fault or maybe it’s just what happens when a natural beauty gets discovered by the masses. Whatever reason, make sure to add this spot to your itinerary.

The local people (known as Itha, meaning children of the lake) used to live just on the lake’s resources, so tourism blossoming in the area has definitely improved their conditions.

Things to do in Inle Lake

Inle Lake at sunrise: another early rise – it seems Myanmar was the country where I woke up before sunrise the most! – to hit the lake and see the famous fishermen in action. There is a hot debate on the authenticity of this practice. But I personally have seen men using this technique in other places where they were not modelling for the tourists cameras but simply fishing.

Visit the floating gardens: along the lake and canals, there are impressive gardens which are probably as impressive as the  floating houses

Explore the local palafitte shops and step back in time: while industrialisation and globalisation are surely taking place on Inle Lake and the rest of Myanmar, it seemed to me that there was a strong desire to keep their old traditions alive. While on the lake take the time to explore the craft shops including the silversmith, the ‘cheroot’ producer where you’ll have the chance to try rolling your own flavoured cigar/cigarette or meet the lotus weaving women. Lotus weaving is rare because it’s super labour intensive and hard, however in the connecting shop you can find gorgeous scarfs and textiles (which were far beyond my backpacking budget at the time!).

Meet the Padaung ladies: I had been asked if I wanted to see the long neck ladies in Chiang Mai, Thailand and I said no. And I said no again in Myamar as I am against zoos especially human zoos. So, I went off to the local market and there they were. I’ll admit it, I was curious to see if they resembled those women pictured in a postcard which is still hanging in my bedroom at my parents’ house. They did. They were exactly as I had imagined them for over 25 years. Beautiful in their gold neck rings and far, far away from me as something I read about, but could not understand completely.  We shared a glance, a smile and a wave. It was a meaningful moment for me and I’m glad I didn’t book any tours to see them anywhere else.

Myanmar itinerary

Shwe Indein Pagoda: This is still a half hidden gem in Myanmar which I’m almost scared to share here to risk then to see it then every day on Instagram or similar. When I was there, last year,  there weren’t many people around.  This temple complex on the west bank of the lake, has fallen into ruins, pretty much like Ta Prohm temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Hopefully, it will remain as it is, unspoiled and off the mass tourist track.

Dream + sleep in Inle Lake

Ostello Bello

How to get to Inle Lake

Clearly, I’m a crazy person since I opted, once again, to take a night bus from Bagan to Inle Lake. Allegedly, it was another “VIP”JJ Express, but we stopped every few hours and we arrived in the middle of the night (this is something pretty common throughout Asia, for reasons I can’t explain).

STOP 5 MANDALAY (2 days)

Bustling alleyways, street markets everywhere, pagodas and monasteries at every corner: Mandalay is this and more. The riverside city is worth stopping at  at least for a day or two. Here are the best things to see and do in Mandalay, the second largest city in the country.

Things to do in Mandalay

U Pein Bridge at Sunset: with its whopping 1.2 kilometers in length, is estimated to be the longest teakwood bridge in the world. It was built in 1850 and is utilized by both locals and tourists alike. It’s great to walk along its length and then stop to have a chat while the sun sets on the horizon. I had one of the best conversations of my life while sitting on the ancient bridge.

Day Trip to Mingun: Once an unknown city, today Mingun has become very popular among travellers, which means that as soon as you arrive, you’ll be bombarded by vendors trying to sell you all sorts of things. The three main things you will want to include are: the Mingun Bell and the Hsinbyume Pagoda. The Mingun Pagoda is essentially a giant pile of bricks. Visitors make the short journey up the stairs to find it housing only one small Buddha relic, and the side stairs were closed as of June 2017. That being said, it is a nice relic to photograph as it stands some 492-feet tall. The Mingun Bell is one of the heaviest bells in the entire world, and it is believed to weigh some 200,000 pounds. Be sure to get into the bell to get a feel for its size. When I was there, there was a guy playing his guitar to a bunch of kids whom were singing along and laughing at some funny songs.

myanmar itinerary

The last sight is the Hsinbyume Pagoda or, as I called it, the wedding cake. This pagoda is a shimmering white structure that visitors can enter and explore. It was built in 1816 and is painted white. The pagoda went under restoration in 1874 after an earthquake shook its structure, but King Mindon did an amazing job restoring the pagoda back to its original state. Today, it is one of the most notable attractions in all of Myanmar.

Myanmar itinerary

Sunset at Mandalay Hill

There is no better way to end your trip to Mandalay than witnessing a sunset up to the Mandalay Hill. You can either walk the mile-long journey or pay a taxi or truck at the bottom of the hill to take you up the hill. If I don’t remember wrong it should cost around 7,000 kyat or so. At the top of Mandalay Hill is Su Taung Pyae Pagoda shimmering with glass-covered and vibrantly colored tiles. From here, you can see the entire Mandalay city and the many pagodas around the area. This is also a great place to connect with the locals and especially the monks. They will come up to you to chat about your home country and to practice their English. It’s a great exchange opportunity: to know more about being a Buddhist monk in Myanmar and to share a bit of your world with the people hosting you.

Caffeine fix & food in Mandalay

Mandalay is filled with cheap, street side restaurants which often lack any sort of signs that indicate the name of the restaurant or what it is they are serving. However, the food is likely to be delicious and very cheap (with 2,000 kyat you can get a full meal). While in Mandalay, make sure to try  some traditional dishes like the bean paste salad, Shan noodles, and tea leaf salad. Special mention goes to Mingalabar Restaurant.

How to get to Mandalay: 

You guessed right. I boarded yet another bus from Inle Lake and for the initial hour, I wish I didn’t. My assigned seat was broken and as it was sliding ahead, my legs got stuck and I could not move. It was the first and last time, I really struggle to endure the journey. In fact, I didn’t. I asked to be moved and a very friendly family let me take one of their reserved seat for the rest of the (8/10 hour journey).

Dream + sleep Mandalay

Ostello Bello was again my choice in Mandalay

 

STOP 6: Yangon (2 days)

I spent another couple of days in Yangon, wandering the streets, taking (thousands) of pictures and working from my hostel and various cafes before taking off to Bali, my next and last stop of my incredible trip.

This is my itinerary and I feel I’ve seen enough for my first time there. I think most countries should be visited at least twice in a lifetime and I hope to go back to Myanmar one day, maybe when new parts of the country will open up to foreigners.

OTHER INTERESTING INFO & FACTS TO PLAN YOUR MYANMAR ITINERARY:

Phone, Internet & Wifi

Not too long ago, mobile phones were basically inexistent and SIM cards could cost $2,000. Basically no now had a phone and the internet did not exist. There was no roaming and no wifi. My friend who visited in 2012 told me that arriving in Myanmar meant disconnecting from the world and in fact I did not hear from him for a month while he was there.

When I landed in Yangon’s airport last year, I must admit I was still a bit worried since being a digital nomad means you gotta always be connected and I had important deadlines to meet and work to do. Throughout my trip I bought a local SIM card in each country I went and I made no exception in Myanmar, where I bought a Ooreedo SIM card with 14GB for 22500Ks(back then). Note: Outside the big cities, you will be either without network or a weak 3G sign will appear every now and then.

Money & ATMs

You can withdraw cash from various ATMs and pay with credit card at several places. Even if we consider this the norm, think that only 6 years ago there were no ATMs and credit cards did not exist, so make sure to appreciate this little advantage.

The Locals

When people ask me about Myanmar, I immediately think about the people of Myanmar.The stories I tell are all about that or the other episode with the locals. In a country where travellers are still like pink flamingos in a big city, you are likely to be photographed, stopped for a chat and more often than not helped with directions or recommendations.

Some of my most memorable in Myanmar are those spent with the children. I remember that time at the Shwedagon Pagoda where an entire family decided to keep me company while I was exploring the stupas, or that time at one of the bus stops where two very little kids where serving alongside their dad, I still remember the day when Aung sat next to me watching sunrise on one of the temple. His smile is for me the smile of Myanmar.

While backpacking through Asia – or anywhere in the world where there is a language barrier – it is easy to end up in groups of other travellers and spend days, weeks, even months  together. Being in a group makes it harder to connect with the local community and that’s why I always like to save time for myself alone.

THE STORYTELLER’S TIP: if you are an open and chatty person,you won’t have any troubles connecting with the locals, always remember that what might be normal in your country can be offensive, weird in another (learn the traditions before going!) . Also, be aware that not all Burmese people speak English, so you might have to speak slowly and repeat several times what you want to say. Also keep a translation app handy at all times. Technology, used wisely, is a great thing.

Food and STREET FOOD in Myanmar:

I ate street food and meals sat on tiny stall for most of my trip. Most of the time, I’m unable to contain my curiosity for local foods as I always want to try new things and flavours. I never had a problem with food except that one time in Chiang Mai… But then again, I’ve believe that my stomach has developed resistance to anything after so many months in India and Asia.

Cost of travel in Myanmar

  • Bad news – Myanmar is a lot more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia because it’s a country that is still being built which means that the infrastructure, as well as accommodations and services, are still a step behind in comparison to its neighbouring countries.
  • Accommodation costs: A dorm bed will set you back around $20-$30 a night. You can get a basic private room with en-suite from around $35 for a single bed.  Popular ‘package tourist’ destinations like Ngapali beach can cost as much as $100 a night for a 2-star hotel (though there are a couple of hostels there too). On the plus side, you usually get a free breakfast (filter coffee and toast) with your accommodation.
    As you might have noticed I stayed at Ostello Bello in most of my stops. It’s a clean, friendly chain that offers good standard dorms and lots of activities and the social scene – I met lots of my now friends at the various Ostello Bello I stayed at.
  • Food costs – street food is most affordable – around $1-$2 for a plate of something basic. Local restaurants costs around $2-$4 a meal. Anything remotely westerns (air-conditioning or featuring something like pizza) and you’re into the $7-$12 bracket.
  • Drinks – bottled water is well priced, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also cheap at a couple of dollars per bottle.

Time Zone
Myanmar has that weirdest half-hour difference to its time zone so it’s 6 and a half hours ahead of GMT.

Power sockets 

The plug sockets of Myanmar should be the gold standard – you’ll find most sockets have multiple adaptors for European and North American 2-pin plugs as well as my very own British three-pin. I travel with the Apple World Travel adaptor pack, which makes life even easier.

Suitcase or Backpack? 
You’ll be better travel with a backpack than a suitcase – I actually think this wherever you are travelling too since crowded public transports, stairs, delays and all things in between can slow you down a lot. And if you need tips for packing you bag, read this

  

Final comments: 

Like most of my friends who visited Cuba, I feel like telling you what they keep telling me: Go Now. Or using Bernard Shaw’s words  “I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad” and this means the big chains, the westernisation of Asia, the 7/11 and McDonalds of the world. Myanmar still feels authentic and genuine, but as I’ve already seen in many other parts of the world, it won’t be long before it changes and adapt to much to the tourists needs and wishes.

So, don’t delay and get to see it before tourism, technology and international chains change the true face of this incredible country!

Top 10 Things to do in Myanmar:

1 – Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon

2 – Get lost in the streets of downtown Yangon

3 – Circle line train in Yangon

4- Ngpali Beach

5 – Inle lake

6 –  sunrise in Bagan

7- U Pein Bridge at sunset

8- visit Mingun

9 – Mandalay Hill

10- talk to the locals

And that’s it – my extra-long article with a Myanmar itinerary and 10 top things to do is over. I think I should have wrote an ebook instead or at least split in a few articles. But hey, here it is and I hope you’ll find it helpful.

Have you been to Myanmar? Any extra tips you want to share – let me know in the comments below and share or pin  add links social.

 

Note: there are affiliate links in this Myanmar itinerary post. If you book through them, I get a tiny % of your purchase which I invest to maintain this blog – there is no catch or added cost for you whatsoever.

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Malta for Digital Nomads: The European Chiang Mai?

At landing, Malta feels a lot like Italy. People at the public transport counter at the airport barely speak English, the bus runs every hour, it was 10 minutes late and fully packed with people with luggage. Not a great start.

But once you catch a glimpse of the limestone houses and the narrow streets through the bus’ windows, everything will be forgotten. Malta is love at first sight.

As you know, I am now enjoying the life of my dreams (AKA digital nomad lifestyle = work + travel anywhere in the world), but since I got back from my long trip and settling back in Italy after 10 years of living abroad, I much more enjoy shorter trips and I’m hoping to find a base somewhere one day. Since last summer I’ve taken loads of short-ish trips all around Italy and  Europe and I’m amazed by the number of things I didn’t see despite having spent the first thirty years of my life in Europe.

NOTE TO SELF & THE READERS: I still have loads to see and I’m super excited about my future trips (more to come in the next few months, make sure to follow my instastories where I constantly share insights about my itineraries!)

So when CoCoHub Malta invited me to stay at their newly opened co-living space in the heart of Malta, I was super excited. I had never been to one, I’ve tried and experienced many co-working spaces all around Asia, but I had always been a bit afraid of staying in a co-living for the lack of privacy and the usual hostel-feeling.

But CoCoHub was a pleasant surprise, keep reading to find out more about CoCoHub.

Top things to see & do in Malta

Valletta

The Renzo Piano-designed City Gate, Parliament Building and Opera House have dramatically changed the cityscape of Malta along with Valletta’s status as European Capital of Culture for 2018. The city is reborn, with new museums, new hotels and bars and restaurants. Malta’s capital and the largest settlement on the island, Valletta is a great city, despite maybe not being the most beautiful Maltese one (in my humble opinion). It has a neat grid street system, so even if you try, it’ll be extremely hard to get lost. The centre is pedestrianised, but it is hilly – it reminded me a lot of Lisbon – so wear comfy shoes and opt for a backpack rather than a trolley.

Valletta was built on a 1km by 600m peninsula by the  Knights of St John after they withstood the Great Siege repelling a huge Turkish army in 1565 (this is a super fascinating story which deserves a separate article, or just pick up any books about the Knights of St John). Its founders declared that it should be ‘a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen‘, and in fact to today, it retains its 16th-century elegance. Valletta is packed with interesting sights and that’s why when Unesco named Valletta a World Heritage Site, it described it as ‘one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world’.

Start on the bridge across Valletta’s ditch, which opens into Renzo Piano’s City Gate (1) built atop the ruins of Valletta’s Opera House.  Beyond it, you can wander around the spaces created by the Italian architect’s new Parliament Building (2), a huge sandstone block that has been machine-sculpted in the old Maltese style.

Walk down Strait Street (3), once known as “the Gut”, a notorious hang-out for off-duty sailors and the red district. The street still has the faded bar signs from its former life and today it hosts nightly clubs and hole-in-the-wall bars.

From City Gate (1), Republic Street runs straight to Fort St Elmo (4) at the peninsula’s tip. It’s a very busy street, filled with a permanent crowd of tourists and locals alike, take a side street and explore in peace.

I’ve seen incredible churches and Italy has probably the highest percentage in the world of gorgeous frescos and statues, but the magnificent St John’s  Co-Cathedral (6) left me truly speechless. It was packed with people, I will never understand why they still allow groups of 30-50 people in spaces such churches and museums. Rant over. The floor is made of polychrome marble and the ceiling is the work of the Italian artist and Knight of St John, Mattia Preti. Its other great treasures include two paintings by Caravaggio, who fled to Malta after committing murder in Rome. He spent several years on the island, becoming a Knight of St John (though he soon ran into trouble here too and ended up fleeing back to Italy)

Upper Barrakka Gardens (13), which offer wonderful views over the piercing-blue Grand Harbour, the Three Cities and Fort St Angelo (14),

The Three Cities

Malta for digital nomads

Despite their picturesque narrow streets and stunning views, the ‘Three Cities’, Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua, are surprisingly off the tourist radar and the perfect Maltese towns to absorb some local atmosphere. Vittoriosa and Senglea occupy two narrow peninsulas connected by a pedestrian bridge while Cospicua merges into Vittoriosa and lies just south of it.

Marsaskala

Marsaskala (also spelt Marsascala), gathered around the head of a long, narrow bay, was originally a Sicilian fishing community: the name means ‘Sicilian Harbour‘. Today it is an increasingly popular residential area and a seaside resort among the Maltese. It a great place for a wonder or some fish-based meals by the harbour with its tiny colourful boats dancing on the water.

Mdina

The mysterious golden-stone walled citadel of Mdina perched on a hilltop was fortified from as long ago as 1000 BC when the  Phoenicians built a protective wall and called their settlement Malet, meaning ‘place of shelter’. Later, the Romans built a large town here and called it Melita. It was only given its present name when the Arabs arrived in the 9th century – medina in Arabic means ‘walled city’. The Arabs dug a deep moat around the wall which has recently been landscaped as a lush garden.

While in Mdina, explore the hidden roads and avoid the tourist crowds who mainly stick to the main street, wander around the Città Notabile as it was called in medieval times because it was the favourite residence of the Maltese aristocracy. When the Knights of St John arrived in Malta and made the Grand Harbour and Valletta their centre of activity, Mdina sank into the background. as a holiday destination for the nobility.

Former Malta’s capital, Mdina, was my favourite city during my stay in Malta. The beautiful honey-washed and colourful doors and balconies filled my Instagramming eyes (and camera roll).

Malta for digital nomads

If you, like me are a Game of Thrones fan obsessed, you might be glad to know that several locations around Malta have served as GOT’s backdrops like the picture below. Do you remember what happened in this square in the popular TV HBO series?

Here’s the scene (spoiler alert!)

And what about Ned and Catelyn Stark farewell? The Vilhena Gate in Mdina is where the Stark see each other for the last time (sob!) and served as the entrance to King’s Landing on many other episodes.

While in Mdina, eat at Coogi’s: amazing courtyard, incredible and tasty food and super friendly staff. I choose spaghetti alle vongole and a mini bottle of white wine. Definitely the best meal in Malta.

Rabat

Malta for digital nomads

Once you leave the walls of Mdina behind, the street leads you to Rabat. It’s a short and gentle walk which takes you to the equally cute town minus the walls. It’s filled with even more gallerias (Maltese balconies) and there are far less tourists around than Mdina. This is Instagram heaven for real! I even found several vintage cars on my way so some #soloparking shots are guaranteed there and I had one of the best of my Maltese days.

More Game of Thrones in Rabat as you walk to Saint Dominic’s Priory or the Red Keep courtyard is where Ned Stark signs his death when confesses to Cersei Lannister that he knows the truth about his children (don’t watch the clip – spoiler alert!)

Malta for digital nomads

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die” she whispered.

Marsaxlokk

The ancient fishing village of Marsaxlokk (meaning southeasterly harbour) feels like an unchanged slice of real Maltese life, despite the arrival of hundreds of tourists every Sunday for its weekly fish market.

A very photogenic fleet of brightly coloured luzzu (fishing boats) and fishermen sat by the waterside mending nets, make the subject for perfect Instagram shots.

Marsaxlokk is the perfect base for those looking for a relaxed place (if you can overcome the Sunday hoards).

WHERE TO STAY IN MALTA AS A DIGITAL NOMAD:

CoCoHub Malta


Nestled in the cute village of Birgu, also known by its title Città Vittoriosa, CoCoHub Malta is a great option for those who like peace and tranquillity, without feeling totally disconnected (Valletta is only 30 minutes bus ride away). Vittoriosa is an old fortified city on the south side of the Grand Harbour and it occupies a promontory of land with Fort Saint Angelo at its head and the city of Cospicua at its base.

Why choose CoCoHub:

If you are looking for a great, lively, fun space to live and -as they put it – #getshitdone, this is the place for you. The vibe is great and you can meet loads of people in a matter of seconds.
CoCoHub is managed by three brilliant, young and entrepreneurial guys with lots of digital experience. They chose the perfect location and managed to create something great in a 400 years old building in just a few months. Choose CoCoHub if you are looking for:

  • community vibe
  • good location (away from busy Valletta but not too quiet )
  • reliable and fast wifi
  • arty feeling and settings
  • fun and interesting events
  • young environment

The only downside I could find during my week-long stay was a lack of an actual cleaning schedule or a professional cleaner (especially in the kitchen and bathrooms). But sorting that out, CoCoHub has the potential to be the number one reference for digital nomads in Malta.

Gozo

If you’re like me, you may not have realised that the island nation of Malta is actually an archipelago, made of two other islands on top of Malta. Gozo and Comino, only a short ferry ride away are in fact two beautiful additional destinations which are well worth a visit. Comino is inhabited but home to stunning Blue Lagoon, while Gozo offers the perfect middle ground between busy Valletta and super quiet Comino.

How to reach Gozo

Board the #222 bus from Valletta to the Cirkewwa ferry terminal at the very northern point of Malta. The bus is slow and it took about an hour and a half despite being only a few kilometres away, but embrace the journey and look outside to breath more of Maltese life. The ferries run about every hour during low season and more frequently during summer months. It was just a quick 25-minute journey before arriving at the town of Mgarr in Gozo. Oh! Remember that you will board the boat “for free” since you only pay on the way back from Gozo!
Click here for the ferry schedule.

Victoria 

The capital city of Gozo is Victoria, and in the heart of the city is the Citadel, which has been the centre of activity since the Neolithic ages (that’s 10,200 BC – 2,000BC!), but it was first fortified during the Bronze Age (1500 BC). Right at the centre of the Citadel, lies St. George’s Basilica, which was built between 1672 and 1678, with (you guessed it) limestone blocks. Once I was inside, my jaw dropped: the interior is filled with colourful frescos, stained glass windows and all its 11 chapels are uniquely beautiful.
When in Victoria, make sure to stop for a pint or two at the Jubilee Cafe, a pub-like institution in the main square.

Ggantija Temples

These megalithic temples with its 6m high walls and 40m are the largest as well as Malta’s oldest temples (3600BC).  At the visitor centre, you can see several of the famous “fat ladies”.

Marsalforn

This is Gozo’s main holiday resort with a promenade, its restaurant facing the seas and low-rise hotels and apartments.

Calypso Caves

The caves aren’t impressive, but the view overlooking Rambla Bay is.

The Azure Window (The Dothraki Wedding)

Daenerys Targaryen is now one of the series’ favourite characters and I hope she’ll be the one to claim the Iron Throne, but at the beginning of Game of Thrones series, she was a fragile bride to Khal Drogo.

It is sad that the arch has now sunk into the ocean, but the sight is still well worth a visit even if just for imaging the Dothraki wedding.

Where to stay in Gozo for digital nomads 

When looking for a place to stay, as a DN, the first thing i Check is the wifi connection and most of the time I ask the property to do run a quick speed check for me and send me the results. But in Gozo, I found the perfect accommodation for digital nomads: Calido Hogar. Managed by Mark and Karen, this is the perfect place if you wish to chill, work and maybe jump in the pool. When I’ll go back to Malta I’ll definitely stay there again. You can get €28 off booking through this link.

IS MALTA THE PERFECT DESTINATION FOR DIGITAL NOMADS?

It’s a tough question, but I guess I gathered enough info through CoCoHub and other fellow digital nomads to give you a reasonable answer.

AFFORDABLE, QUALITY HOUSING

Renting an apartment in Malta is not that expensive when compared to other European cities, so if you wish or need to be based in Europe, Malta could be a great option.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTS

The bus system is reliable and cheap, even if slow. A one-way ticket valid for 2 hours is €1.50 whilst a week-long pass will set you back €21 or you can get a Tallinja card for even cheaper fares. Otherwise, you can get anywhere in 20 minutes by car/motorbike and you can easily rent one from a shop in the main cities.

TIP: If you have a smartphone, use the Google Maps app to find bus routes and schedules around the islands. Bus times can be off by 15 minutes or so, but Google Maps is the best way to get around in Malta!

ENDLESS SUMMER (or so)

Malta has been voted as the country with the best climate in the world, so there isn’t much to add to this point. The weather is warm all year round, although you might want to skip the months between December and February, as it tends to get quite chilly inside since houses are not equipped with heating.

VISA 

European citizens can enter freely, while others visiting from other continents shouldn’t have too much trouble getting at least a 3-month tourist visa.

ENGLISH MAKES IT EASIER

English is one of the island’s official languages, together with Maltese and Italian. If you speak it, this makes things easier. Additionally, since tourism is one of the biggest economies in Malta, people here treat travellers very well.

INTERNET AND WIFI

Being home to several IT and online gambling companies, Malta has invested heavily in technology during the past few years, so you can easily find a good internet connection and, of course, mobile networks. There are several public wi-fi hotspots and most cafes are provided with free wifi.
TIP:  there are lots of work opportunities related to IT here in Malta, especially in gaming companies which have relocated here for the favourable tax system. These companies look very favourably on employment of foreigners, so if you are just at the start of your digital nomad adventure, you can find some extra cash working part-time while connecting with other expats.

MALTESE FOOD

Maltese traditional cuisine is an interesting mix of Italian, Arabic/Spanish and Greek traditions. The most common local dish is the rabbit stew and pastizzi, while lots of Italian products are also brought over from nearby Sicily, and you can find them in the supermarkets.

Make sure to sample the traditional cheese of Gozo, Ġbejniet and don’t miss the goat cheese stuffed ravioli and of course, the Maltese bread, the ftira.

GOOD CONNECTIONS TO OTHER DESTINATIONS

Malta is an island, so the easiest way to get there is by plane. There are also catamaran services to nearby Sicily. It is quite cheap to travel via air to and from Malta, especially in summer when Ryanair services a number of routes throughout Europe.

VALUE FOR MONEY

When you consider everything, Malta is one of the cheapest places you can choose. It is probably more expensive than places in Asia, but it is much cheaper than living in other European countries.

CONCLUSIONS

No matter what part of Malta you choose to settle in, you’ll likely find everything you’re looking for as a digital nomad. Local and international food, restaurants and bars, events and outdoor activities.

Malta also has some of the best weather in the world, blazing fast wi-fi and it’s the perfect place for digital nomads, yet somehow, Malta isn’t Chiang Mai or Bali. There aren’t the same amount of DN  events, workshops or communities, but this isn’t necessarily a minus point! I believe Malta could be a great place to spend part of the year.

Useful Websites & Resources for Digital Nomads in Malta

This is only a short overview about Malta for Digital Nomads, obviously, there is much more to see and say. If you have any questions, the comments section is waiting for you. I would also like to hear feedback from some other digital nomads who have been to Malta in the past or are thinking of coming here soon.

***

NOTE: I was a guest at CoCohub Malta where I was hired as a social media strategist and influencer during my stay – all opinions are my own. 

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Leave the dreams to the dreamers….

planner 2018

Leave the dreams to the dreamers….

They said.

I don’t normally promote my own business ventures and don’t usually celebrate my successes here (or nowhere else). But this time, I will make an exception. Firstly, because success should always be celebrated, and secondly because this little, cute, project deserves a special place since it’s been a dream of mine for over a decade.

deluxe planner

And today is here. Today is real.

My first baby is born. 

original planner

~ Don’t ever let somebody tell you “You can’t do something”. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. When people can’t do something themselves, they’re gonna tell you that you can’t do it. You want something, go get it.

CREATE IT.

Period.

Another Life is Possible – The eBook

change your life

“Choose a life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers… Choose DIY and wondering who the f**k you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit crushing game shows, stucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away in the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself, choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that?”
― Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting

*

I’m sure you’ve seen the movie or read the book and if you haven’t you should.

Why?

Because life isn’t only what you think you should be doing.
Life is also what you want to do.

Society pushes us to think that we have to:

Go to school, go to uni, get a job, make money, get married, buy a house, or two, retire. 

Die.

But what if in YOUR limited time
you could do something truly REMARKABLE?

The truth is that

You can

because

Another Life is Possible 

After months of researching and learning (the hard way) from my personal 25-month experience around the globe, I am ready to share what I’ve learnt about creating a lifestyle that matches your values, dreams and passions.

This book (like me) doesn’t have all the answer, nor it contains all the options that are currently available,
but it’s a great starting point if:

  • You don’t know what you want to do in life and you are lost in a sea of ideas, doubts and options. Or the complete lack of them
  • You already have a job, but it takes up all your energy and you are left with nothing to give to your family, friends, beloved ones or side projects
  • You want to travel the world but don’t have the money / time / courage or whatever else it takes.

I’m here to tell you that….

TODAY YOU CAN

With the right information and the right attitude, you can actually tailor your life instead of coping with something you are not totally into.

This book won’t encourage you to leave your safe job and hit a deserted island, it’s not even a guide to becoming a digital nomad. There are so many other options to actually have a remarkable life and I’ll share them with you on my ebook.

This guide is your manual to create a life that is perfect for you rather than finding a job that pays the bills.

I am not a guru nor I want to become one. This book is the result of thousands of conversations I had with friends and people I’ve met around the world, but it’s mainly the output of my personal research and it’s exactly the book I searched for everywhere three years ago when I made the decision to change my life.

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 SAVE THE DATE 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Another Life is Possible – the eBook

is out on 

December 1st 

 

Get your copy with 10% discount by signing up to the event on my facebook page here

 

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Another Life Is Possible – Escape The City – Rome 2017

Another Life is Possible

Another life is possible and in September 2017, I was invited by Escape The City to share my story from former Senior Project Manager at Amazon EU to Social Media Strategist and Content Creator around the world.

Many people who couldn’t participate in person to the event, asked me to stream the event, but because that wasn’t possible, I’ve decided to share with you the main points here.

Life 1.0 – My Previous Life

After graduating from Economics at the best faculty in Italy (Padova), I took an internship in London at an American management consulting firm with several offices around the world. The internship became a full-time, permanent contract and after 3 and half years with the same company and a 2-year assignment in Milan, I decided to join a smaller agency in London. After 3 more years, I switched to corporate life and joined Amazon’s European Centre of Excellence where I applied my previous experiences to the Ops team of this tech giant.
Another Life is Possible But one day in November 2014, something happened and turned my life upside down. Time was suddenly more important money, success, career. Time was more important than anything else. As Jep Gambardella said in the fantastic movie “The Great Beauty”:

My most important discovery is that I no longer can waste time doing things I don’t wanna do. 

Jep Gambardella

Another Life is Possible

 

Fear as the engine for change

I’ve been asked about a million times if I was scared when I left my safe and well-paid job in London. The short answer is “Hell, yeah!”. The longer answer is here and the way I used to use my fear as an engine was answering this question:

 

What’s the worst thing that can happen? 

 

The answer for me was to die without having at least tried. To test if another life was possible.

Another Life is Possible

And so I decided to take a 6-month sabbatical which turned into a 25-month trip. Which turned my life upside down.
Once again.

WATCH MY 2 YEAR TRIP AROUND THE WORLD IN 90 SECONDS

 

 

Life 2.0 – Another Life is Possible 

Today, I am a Social Media Strategist and Content Creator (you can read more about what I do here). I’ve been on the road full-time since September 2015 and I have no intention to stop. I help my business clients to be successful online and I help my personal clients to be successful offline and make it remarkable through tailored coaching programmes.
One of the channels I use for my clients is Instagram, where I promote products and services as well as help them to grow their accounts.


 

Another life is possible
Make it remarkable

 

If you wish to book your first coaching session and understand how you can also change your life, feel free to email me directly (using the contact form here

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Matera, why you must visit it now

Matera

I’ll admit it. It was through Instagram that I fell in love with Matera and it became a constant, fixed, ever-present travel obsession goal. And finally, this summer – my summer of fulfilling Italian dreams and exploring my home country-  I managed to see it with my own eyes.

As much research you can do about Matera, as much as you stalk people on Instagram and Pinterest, there is not much that prepares you for seeing the shiniest Italian gem for the first time.

World-known for its famous sassi, Matera is located on the border of Basilicata and Puglia and is one of my latest (and favourite) discoveries in Italy. Walking around this cute town where the sun reflects off the white limestone is not only breathtaking but extremely fascinating because of its history but also for its stunning beauty. But things were very different not too long ago…

THE OLD ITALIAN SHAME

Matera dates back to the Paleolithic Age and once you get there, you will see that not much has changed. Matera, after Petra in Jordan, is the oldest city in the world which was continuously inhabited for more than 30,000 years. It was once considered a giant slum filled with malaria and where poor people were living in medieval conditions. In caves. Exactly as described in the controversial book ‘Christ Stopped at Eboli‘ by Carlo Levi (1945), there was no running water or electricity and people were really living in very basic conditions. Truth to be told until the 1950’s Matera was also where prisoners were sent to live (and possibly die) in horrible conditions. In 1952, after the visit of the then prime minister, the Italian government ordered its evacuation due to inhumane living conditions and the city was left behind and abandoned by everyone but the addicts and the “bad people”. The residents were offered a new apartment in the new Matera, but some struggled to live their homes, livestock and families.

MATERA TODAY

The city was never completely empty until the 1980s, but it’s only in the last two decades that the government and the local authorities and entrepreneurs have launched and managed a deep and important make over and facelift. Today, Matera has re-shaped its streets, caves and general vibe. There are luxury and boutique hotels at every corner and you can dine at some of the best Italian restaurants right in the same caves that not long ago hosted entire families and their livestock, often in the same room.

After so much general effort, in 1993, Matera was named a UNESCO World Heritage sites, which means that it is considered of ‘outstanding value to humanity and is protected to preserve the cultural and natural heritage of the area.” Matera will also be the 2019 European Capital of Culture and I think this gem is totally ready to attract thousands of visitors.

First of all, let me tell you that the sassi aren’t what you think (or what I thought!). Many people think that Matera’s caves are the “sassi”, but they’re not. The sassi (literally meaning “stones”) refer to the two neighbourhoods, Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano, made of stone dwellings in porous limestone of tufa in the ancient town. The original living quarters were primitive cave dwellings on the other side of the canyon. Gradually, the people made their way over to build the city you can visit today. 

To really get a feeling of Matera, you need to walk (and get lost) among the narrow lanes between houses.

 

 

 

How to explore the city 

Kids, there is a new way to explore a new city and this new way is an app called Aroundly (available in the App Store and google play). Aroundly allows you to tailor your visit to your preferences, whether you are alone or in a group, looking for fun or culture, this app creates an itinerary just for you takes you around Matera (or Cagliari, Erice, Catania, Trapani, Siracusa, Trieste and many other cities) and puts you in touch with locals and new friends.

Where to stay in Matera 

Sant’Angelo Resort

When I was invited to stay at the Sant’Angelo Resort in Matera, I had no doubts to say YES and immerse myself in this stunning hotel and its ancient walls and rooms. The owners took on the massive project to transform these caves that were once humble abodes, into splendid residences, suites and luxury rooms in order to redeem and restore the noble soul of an old civilization. The result is a mesmerising resort where you are constantly spoiled by incredible views over the old town and where every little detail screams luxury, but also home. I had a fantastic stay at Sant’Angelo and I am sure I’ll go back next time I am in Matera.

As I always do when I travel for work, I opted for breakfast in bed which was served in a sumptuous basked filled with all the delicacies you would expect from such a top notch hotel.

Vicolo Fiore

If you are looking for a simpler room in Matera, then Vicolo Fiore is the go to option. Only 50m from the Piazza Pascoli viewpoint, this brand new and super cute apartment features two double rooms (Barisano & Caveoso, the names of the two neighbourhoods) and a brand new kitchen that offers all you need for a short stay in town.

You will have all the comforts and facilities you will need for a short or a long stay in Matera, including (strong) wi-fi making a perfect place for fellow digital nomads looking for a place to work and stay put for a short period of time. Another plus is the free parking (which is a massive plus in Matera which is almost completely car-free).

 

How to reach Matera 

  • Train: if you want to travel by train, the easiest way is to first get to Bari which is connected to Trenitalia (the national train system and it’s a 4-hour train ride from Rome to Bari), then go to the regional train site, Ferrovie Appulo Lucane, putting in “Bari Centrale” as your starting point and “Matera Centrale” as your endpoint. The ride takes between 1 hour and 15 minutes and 1.5 hours and it is very cheap (something like 2 euros). From the train station, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the sassi of Matera.
  • Car: as part of our #fromnorthtosouthandbacksummer road trip we came by car, but parking in the centre of Matera can be quite difficult (erm…impossible!) since it’s a big ZLT area (no cars allowed except for residents), but you can still find a solution by talking to locals or parking just outside the city center.

INTEresting FACTS and tips ABOUT MATERA

  • Matera was tagged a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993
  • Here is where Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of Christ’ movie was filmed
  • Forget your heels and wear (very) comfy shoes – ideally with a good sole as the streets can be quite slippery
  • Fully charge your camera batteries and bring a wide angle lens if you have one

BOOKS & MOVIES 

  • Christ Stopped at Eboli by Carlo Levi’
  • The Passion of Christ by Mel Gibson
  • Ben Hur
  • La Lupa, 1953
  • Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo 1964, by  Pier Paolo Pasolini

WHY SHOULD YOU VISIT MATERA NOW

Today, the city (still) has a great non-touristy vibe. I don’t think it will be the same next year since Matera will be the 2019 European Capital of Culture and I am sure it will attract even more visitors in the next decade and beyond. So, if you don’t love crowded places and queuing every 10 minutes book your stay in Matera now!

Sleeping in a cave? Where else can you experience it? I am not sure, but I think Matera is the only place in the world.

As Carlo Levi said:

Anyone who sees Matera cannot help but be awe-struck, so expressive and touching is its sorrowful beauty

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Going home after a long time…

going home after long trip

I am going home after a long time

As you are reading this, I’m finally boarding the plane that will take me home to Italy. If I planned everything really well and there haven’t been any delays, in this exact moment, I should be taking off from Bangkok and toward Myanmar, India, UAE, Germany and eventually, home. I am finally sitting on board that same plane that I’ve already cancelled and postponed 3 times. It’s bittersweet, I’m still shit at saying goodbyes to old friends, new road friends and places, despite the millions I’ve already said in the last few months. But it is time.

I’ve finally accomplished all the things I wanted to do during this long solo journey and this chapter of my life is now completed. In the best way possible in fact. I could not ask for more since the main goal has been achieved. That is becoming a calmer, wiser, slower, finest, better version of myself. The world and its beautiful people have shaped that little, scared, lonely “girl” that was desperately crying at the airport in Istanbul in September 2015. That  girl does not exist anymore and she has been replaced by a stronger, fulfilled, empowered woman who loves herself and the world around. I can travel alone. I can travel alone for twenty months (and counting). And not only I can, I LOVE travelling solo! In fact travelling solo is THE BEST and nothing compares to it.

I am ready to go home also because I’ve managed to achieve my second, accidental goal. After so much struggle and hustle, doubts and failures, today and for the past few months, I am standing tall on the tiny successes of my location independent lifestyle and since it’s been exactly 12 months that I’ve been able to travel only with the income made on the road, I can finally call myself a real digital nomad and for thsis I stick a little invisible DN badge on my chest. YAY!! I made it. I freaking made it.

The journey has been incredible and so powerful and so amazing and especially humbling. The places and people I’ve met made me the person I am today. And I gotta be honest with you, I’m having a massive crush on me right now 😍. Like my first real self love in 32 years, mate.

As I have learnt so much about myself, I realised that I was more scared of the known than the unknown. I realised that the fear that normally entangles people to stay in normal lives was what boosted and fuelled my trip. Where others remain stuck in the intricated world of doubts, fears, insecurities, I took advantage of them and decided to shape new opportunities just for myself.

And I forgave myself. I realised that all the things I did, I said, I wanted were necessary. Every single little thing. Finally, I looked up to the mirror, deep into my big brown eyes  and while hugging my naked self, I said the words: “you are forgiven”. Because in life, sometimes, you can prepare yourself, but you cannot predict what life throws at you and you can’t blame yourself for wanting more, for having bigger dreams, expectations, love for life, for loving the unexpected more than the expected, for loving freedom more than boredom. You can just be you. And I can just be me.

And I am finally ready to go home 

In the past 20 months, I have had some of the most incredible experiences of my life, I have slept in the middle of  deserts, I climbed on top of mountains, volcanos and rocks, I’ve swum with turtles, dolphins, sea lions and clown fish, I have seen countless sunrises and sunsets, I have slept in 543875426043 hostels, campgrounds, luxury hotels and in my tiny tent on the side of many Aussie roads. I have been blessed by incredible people, my time was wasted by a couple of assholes too (hello, f***ing German mechanic in Cairns!!).

I’m scared but also excited for everything that lies in front of me during this Italian summer that I’ve been dreaming for a while. I am mentally getting ready to be overwhelmed with emotions, smells and tastes. I am already physically ready to welcome all those familiar hugs, kisses and strokes I’ve been missing for so long.

649 days.

20 months.

13 countries.

4 continents.

25 flights.

15 trains.

43 buses.

6 cars.

35 scooters.

3 bicycles.

1 camel.

Everything is exactly as it is meant to be

During all this time, I have planned little, the few plans I had were normally cancelled, postponed or changed. My return couldn’t have been any different. During my journey around the world, I always tried to get off the beaten track, often missing the must-see, must-dos, must-bes. Some days I was plain lazy, others too busy with work, others too sad to leave my bed, some days I was filled with such an intense joy that I thought my heart would explode. On this trip, I learnt what pure happiness means. I was blessed by it when I was staring at the Taj Mahal while the sun rose on the horizon and my incredible friend, Prabu took the beautiful photo that symbolises my trip.

I was overwhelmed with true joy when surfing for the first time in Sydney, but also when I was lying naked and alone on a beach in Western Australia or when I hiked the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand, danced the traditional dances in Fiji and Samoa, when I first tried Muay Thai in Chiang Mai, when I relaxed tubing in Laos, or while seeing my business blossom naturally and effortlessly after so many stops and failures. I was happy surfing again in Canggu, hugging a dear friend on top of the rice fields in Ubud, or while talking about love and commitment with a long-lasting stable couple or when I realised that perfect love does not exist and we are human with another favourite couple I am lucky to call my friends. And I was happy to discover that life is all this. It’s made of little, brief moments when everything is exactly as it’s meant to be and nothing, absolutely nothing, could be any better.

Because everything is already perfect. It is as it is meant to be.

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Am I ready to go home?

Of course not. I thought I would by now, but the thing is that no one ever feels completely ready when the moment to board that last plane comes. Surely no one who has the bad habit of setting super high expectations for themselves. And I’m guilty of that, of course. Nobody feels as changed as they had planned to be when they firstly left home. Personally, I don’t know if I have truly changed or if my current conditions and mindset make me act as a different person to whom I was before. What I do know now, and I know it really well, is what freedom tastes like. And it tastes like sea water and honey, watermelon and chilli. And it tastes like Life.

During my journey, I also learnt the meaning of losing everything. Of feeling lost and really alone. Of not knowing who you are or what do you belong to. But the most important lesson of the entire trip was that Another Life is Possible. If you really lose everything, if you don’t have anything else to lose, then you gotta start all over and build something new, something amazing just for yourself. And believe that you can

I am scared. 

I know I’ve lived as much as I could. Not by ticking off things off of a list, I’ve only been to 13 countries in 20 months, but by embracing the people and the world around me. By letting it go under my skin, day by day, person by person.
I am not going home only after 20 months of travel around the world, I am going home exactly after 10 years of living abroad and away from my family and friends.

It’s freaking scary. It’s overwhelming and is frightening and exciting. As I walk down into the tunnel to the plane, there are thousands of emotion exploding inside me. While I was packing Frank (my big backpack), one more time, I had tears in my eyes. Today, I learnt to welcome all these emotions as I know they are all part of the journey, they are all part of life. And I also know that soon enough I will be going back to the other home I’ve created for myself. The one up there in the sky. Or on the road. Because I feel home everywhere. The world is my home. Because my home is everywhere and anywhere I have been. But also where I haven’t been yet.

They say home is where the heart is

But my heart is wild and free

So am I homeless or just heartless

Did I start this, did it start me

They say fear is for the brave

For cowards never stare it in the eye

So am I fearless to be fearful

Does it take courage to learn how to cry

So many winding roads

So many miles to go

(Passenger)

I am always gonna be fine

But as I went through security, as I got another exit stamp on my passport, as I am sitting on this plane, I feel stronger. Stronger than ever. Because the road taught me that I will be fine. I will be fine always and everywhere. Nothing can break me because nothing was fixed to start with. The truth is that not only I found myself. But I found that little, permanent home, just inside myself. The perfect place to rest after a long day, the cosy home I made for me only. In a world where nothing is permanent, constant, I learnt that I AM my own constant element in the equation of life.

Only me on both side of the equal sign. And it’s more than enough.

going home after a long time

Embrace Life as it comes

It’s impossible to know what might happen next. Or why. What this situation will bring to you. Or which way you will take when faced with a big decision. Why some things will be destroyed. What makes some other blossom, die or change. How people get sick, change or leave. How people can love you, make promises, break them, break your heart. Live without you. Forget you. It’s impossible to explain why children die while the sun still rises every morning. It is impossible to understand. But it is unavoidable.

It took me 5 years, 1 month and 2 days to become the person I dreamed to become. To fully transform the little girl I once was into the woman I imagined I could be. I aspired to be. I ought to be. It took so much out of me. It broke me into a million little pieces, but they say that sometimes you need to smash a crumbling house in order to build a stronger one. And so I did.

Set fire to your boats

I set fire to the boats of my safe life, I scratched my title and experiences, I chose freedom while fear, hustles and struggles were burning all around me. And I fell. Oh gosh, I fell so deep. I burnt myself too.

I felt more alone than ever. It was like I was the only person remained in the universe. But that was ok too. Because alone was what I needed. What I wanted and because by learning to be alone I became much stronger, so much wider, so much better.

I no longer beg for attention, for love. I no longer need love to fix me. The waves crashing on the beach, the birds singing, the clouds moving above my head, a familiar tune in the background, a smile of a stranger, my own smile. All of this are enough. They are more than enough, they are everything.

They are everything.

My life, my wonderful life, like all lives, so impermanent, so imperfect, so fragile, yet so powerful, so mesmerising, so scary. So remarkable. So mine.

going home after long time

Live life to the fullest.

Exit your comfort zone. Feel uncomfortable, feel scared. Do something on your own. Miss your friends. Feel lonely. Eat the food you’re not used to. Pack your backpack, sweat. Sleep on bunk beds. Sleep in the middle of the desert. Don’t sleep and party all night. Rise early. And feel strong, feel connected. Lose yourself. Lose everything. Just let it be. Breath. Look at a beautiful sunset on the other side of the world. And feel at home wherever you are. Feel that you are exactly where you need to be in this moment. Live in the present, forget the past, don’t stress about the future. They do not exist. Be. Here. Now.

Make it remarkable. 

So yes, after these last 20 months exploring the world, exploring myself, loving the world, loving myself, I am ready to go home. I am ready to go home after a long time.

 

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Dear Fellow Traveller, it’s ok to feel sad while travelling

sad while travelling

Two weeks ago, I was sitting on the longest teak bridge in the world in Mandalay, Myanmar where I had a deep and intense conversation with a friend who felt lost and sad while travelling. Last week, chilling and watching a sunset on a beach here in Canggu I had a similar conversation with another friend who was also overwhelmed by sadness as an early departure had to cut her trip short. I, personally, have cried more frequently in the past 19 months on the road than in my entire life.

What’s wrong with me?

Sadness while travelling can seem illegal and dishonest because you are not supposed to be sad while travelling. For a long time on this trip, I thought I was done. I thought I had to give up because sadness and depression had taken over the joy of altogether. I knew I was ruining my once-in-a-lifetime experience but the truth is that I will always thank my ex for that. My reaction, my heartbreak, my deep fall in the hole was simply normal and I cannot blame myself too much.

Being sad while travelling sucks. And it sucks, even more, when all the people around you think you have no right to be sad. But don’t worry, accept that strangers – but also some friends – have no clue about travelling long term and they are talking without any direct experience.

If you aren’t on a two-week holiday in Australia, Malaysia or Samoa, yes, you might want to push back any feeling of sadness for a later date. But when the road becomes your home, you are a digital nomad and your lifestyle is full-time travelling like mine, then life happens wherever you are. And emotions and feelings follow.

The world does not stop when you travel. Nor does life around you.

In the year and a half, since I have started travelling, several tragic events have happened in my family and life and I was alone at the other side of the world to cope with them. Often hugging myself to bed crying and without anyone to hold me tight. Two of my uncles died, my sister got diagnosed and cured of cancer, she also got a divorce, I got cheated on and dumped by my ex [all without a face-to-face meeting after a 4.5 yrs relationship WTF] and only a few days ago my 10-year old cousin died of brain tumour after 2.5 months since the diagnosis. [we are raising money for the hospice which took so much care of him in his last weeks; if you wish to donate click here].

If family tragedies and heartbreaks aren’t enough, there are also plenty of other things going bad on the road. As I was exploring from country to country, looking for something meaningful to keep me going, I lost my identity. Professionally and personally, I fell into a massive, black hole where I did not know who I was or wanted to be any longer. Facing myself in the mirror became a daily battle because my ego was crushed, my self-confidence smashed and my lack of self-esteem was overwhelming.

I always had so many expectations and goals for myself and suddenly, leaving my public role in society, my title and losing the only thing that kept me connected to my old self just crushed me. I was a lost traveller with no direction and no plans. During the same time, my freelance gigs went from bad to terrible and I soon started losing faith and confidence which were soon replaced by fear and anxiety. Slipping into depression again was certain and before I knew it…

I was stuck in muddy waters

sad while travelling

I had a motorbike accident which could have ended in a much worse way if I was distracted. The last time I checked, my ex – in the usual selfish style – was posting pictures of this new amazing “love” in OUR favourite London spots [WTF 2], completely crushing any sort of respect for me or what we had. Once again, proving what a heartless, calculating and lying narcissist I fell in love with (and wasted SO much time for! WTF3).

As that wasn’t enough, I also bumped into a few shitty clients who decided that I was going to work for them for free, a scam job offer, another client who cut our project (and budget) by 75%. Everything was falling apart. The little things I had built slowly and with so much effort were disappearing day by day. I fell apart.

I fell apart.

I had every right to be sad.

Yet I was still travelling.

And I kept travelling because that became my personal dimension, it is my home and the “place” where I can heal my soul. A year ago I wrote one of my most-read article “No, travelling did not solve my problems ” and today, 9 months later, I’m here to confirm what I wrote there.

No, travelling doesn’t solve problems.

Yes. It’s ok to feel sad while travelling.

Remember that EVERYONE eventually gets sad travelling. It’s unavoidable and probably necessary to get back up and enjoy the rest of the trip with renewed energy and joy because exactly like the roller coasters of life, without the downhill part and the following rise back up, your travel would just be flat and boring. So, I am not telling you to fall into depression, but to feel ok when sadness hits. You are going to be OK.

It is OK to feel sad while travelling, my friend. And you know why? It is important to remember that while we are quite egocentric human beings, the world around us does change. It isn’t static as we’d like to think. The conditions and the people around us take other, unexpected ways. Nothing is permanent. You, me and the world around us. Sadness included. So, when she comes to you next time at night, welcome her in bed, hold her tight, have a little cry together and in the morning dry your tears and tell her to go. Till next time.

The road is waiting.