Tag Archives: Travel

Thailand and Digital Nomad-ism

Simone Working Koh SamuiI am constantly blown away how rewarding, challenging, fun and generally a “good thing” being location independent is.

If you are stuck in a rut or miserable with your job then you need to start looking at the joys and benefits of simplifying life.  You don’t necessarily need to go so far as to be travelling the world, setting up office where ever your laptop happens to be, but the principles are invaluable. Down sizing, focusing on what is important and prioritising the level of freedom and control  that you want from life can really be world changing.

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Internet Dongles: can’t live without them!

OK, so maybe that’s a bit strong: you can live without them, but you certainly can’t travel and work reliably without them.

It is so important to have a backup internet connection, in many parts of the world wifi and even power can disappear without notice.  Indeed, in many less developed parts of the world mobile connections are much more widespread and reliable than anything else; in Africa for example many places haven’t bothered with cabling (even for power) but everyone has a mobile phone.

Even in ‘developed’ countries you’ll find yourself grateful for the magic little thing at some point.

Here are some of my recent experiences:

Vietnam

I found the wifi connections in while travelling and working in Vietnam really good (much easier to find that in Europe, Japan or Australia – in fact, as easy as their visa on arrival to Vietnam). But it was still important to have a 3G backup connection; as it was less reliable in some of the places I stayed.

Mobifone and Viettel are two of the good service providers in Vietnam.  I bought a Viettel dongle and sim card with a load of credit for about $30 US in Siagon.  I recommend finding one of the many specialist phone places (in fact it heard it is simple to purchase at the airport, but I wasn’t that organised).  Make sure you get them to activate it for you and then immediately test yourself.

Top up credit can be purchased almost everywhere; but I didn’t need to recharge until after two months.

The 3G speeds where pretty good across the country on the whole; plenty enough for most things including some Skyping.

Uganda

The dongle was my main connection in Uganda.  There are a couple of places in Kamapla with wifi or cables to connect the laptop and most places have small internet cafes with connected PCs you can use.  However, outside that it was only the dongle.  Also they have significant power issues with the electricity going out for many hours at a time.
I had good success with an Airtel dongle though.

Just the sim card?

So far I have used a locally sourced dongle, but it should be possible and may be better to just buy a local sim card and put that in your dongle, especially if you are moving between countries a lot.
Hurray for dongles (plus its a cool word) 🙂

Remote Working in Vietnam on a Budget

I’ve now spent 2.5 months travelling and working remotely in Vietnam and am recording some of my experiences and lessons learned.

Overall my experience has been amazingly positive and I’ve proved the case for being location independent a lot more!   

View from my “office” in Nah Trang

Connectivity

This is SE Asia and so my expectations were pretty low, however I have been very pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to find good Internet connection in Vietnam.  In fact I have found that many more of the hotels, restaurants and coffee shops have free WIFI than in Europe or Japan (can’t comment on N America)!

Hotels

Almost every hotel has wifi of varying degrees of quality. First thing I do when arriving somewhere new is find a cheap hotel (for me it’s somewhere between US$6 and US$60). Make sure you scout out the rooms before committing. I always take my HTC phone with me and check the upload and download speed in the hotel room. It’s no good doing this from reception as it often varies floor to floor and room to room. If the connection’s not good enough in one room I ask where the wifi router is situated and hopefully there’ll be a room closer, usually meaning a better connection.

I use the SpeedTest.net app for this; of course this will not tell you anything about reliability or contention issues during busy times, but it is generally an excellent indicator.

My favourite (and the cheapest)
place to stay in Mui Ne.

Surprisingly enough, the hotel with the worst internet connection I stayed in was the $60 one. Although it had a really nice garden for working in. This was in Mui Ne and there was a problem with the whole town’s internet connection while we were there. The $6 hotel was across the road and, bizarrely, that side of the street was still working and had some of the fastest speeds tested in Vietnam.

Working in a hotel room is much more relaxed than working at an office. Even if the room has a desk, I tend to get a sore back from the poor quality chairs so I don’t use them. You’ll usually find me kicking back on the bed with my laptop and pillow (one for me to lounge against, one under the laptop for heat). So my only real requirements in a hotel are a bed, good air conditioning (if it is hot and humid), and wifi for, preferably, under $15. You can usually get that and more in Vietnam.

Coffee Shops & Restaurants

Coffee Shop working

Vietnam has a great café culture. Most cafes have wifi and noboby minds if you buy one coffee and spend the next four or five hours working on your laptop in their establishment. This has worked well in some of the places I’ve been where the temperatures haven’t been too high but restaurant/café air conditioning is not really the norm in Vietnam so I’m a bit picky about the places outside the hotel where I can comfortably work for extended periods. If there is a lot of shade, some fans or a cool coastal breeze, then I can usually sit happily for hours.

Connection Outages

Power cuts and internet outages can’t be anticipated so I take a Viettel mobile internet dongle with me; more on that, the locations I have found best and whatever else I can think of in future posts…