My reflections on living in Asia for almost 1 year
Making a tough choice
My first visit to Asia was back in March 2018. It was a business trip to South Korea. Despite being extremely expensive, this place literally took my breath away and I knew I had to stay at that part of the globe for more than just a few days. The idea was a bit crazy even for me but it rooted inside of my brain deep enough to make a final decision later on.
It took me a few months and a two-weeks trip through Croatia to figure out that I am actually doing it. Tim Ferris and Brendon Burchard had a big influence on me at that time, so I did a few things that helped me a lot:
Outlined the worst-case scenario if I move to Asia. For me, it was losing a job and living on my own savings. At that time, I wasn’t quite sure what services can I provide to other people; thus, I was worried a bit. The good part was that I kept my job and was able to work on side projects in my spare time.
Created a list of things I must do before I leave. The most important was to prepare my parents and friends, finish my master’s degree and figure out a way to start working remotely.
Mark a date on a calendar.
This one actually was the most valuable one because if it’s not on a calendar, there’s no way you’re going to make it. I scheduled driving lessons, time for buying stuff, meeting with friends, grandparents and even talking with my CEO. It helped.
The first two months I lived in Canggu, Bali. The choice felt on this spot because of Nomad List recommendation and the weather conditions in April. Honestly, I like this place but I didn’t really absorb Indonesian culture because of the number of expats who are living there. I did participate in a traditional wedding in flipflops, tried mushrooms, learned how to surf, visited several islands, received an Indonesian driving license, had a date with Indonesian girl, drunk a gallon of Bintang, consumed about 20 kilos of chicken sate and dozens of Bali bowls. Other than that, I am a complete noob in Indonesian culture.
But the most important thing that Bali allowed me to do is to look at life from a completely different level. People seemed a lot more easygoing and satisfied with what they do and how they do it. There was no pressure from the boss or a certain amount of work you must do before you can take a vacation. In fact, every weekend can be a mini-vacation if you want to. You can find pretty much everything you want in Indonesia cause it is so big and diverse. I guess in some sense I started to experience what they call freedom. It felt good but it was only the beginning.
Giving up an alarm and traffic jams
The more countries I moved to, the more interesting habits I began to practice. The biggest one that impacted me emotionally was making a conscious choice of giving up the alarm. I didn’t even know how much joy it can bring. First, I was able to accept the fact that I can work when I want to. Nobody had control over my schedule and this is a truly beautiful part. For the last two months, for instance, I was working till 4 am and waking up after 1 pm. Weird timing, I know but good luck judging me for that.
Combine this with the fact that you avoid most of the traffic jams and you get a perfect calm piece of mind that can do unbelievable things. My productivity tripled the first couple of weeks when I started practicing this. It’s awesome. It does work only for people who can manage themselves and don’t need a to-do or checklist just to fill time but hey, it is worth trying if you have a chance to work remotely.
Back at home I always had a problem of finding friends to hang out or spend some quality time with because they are always busy. If you live a traditional lifestyle, there are very few chances that you’ll have any desire to go out somewhere late simply because you’re tired and you have to wake up early to repeat the same cycle, or you’re a normal person and you have other plans.
I wouldn’t say that Asia is different but you have a lot more options because people are open and ready to spend some time with you because that’s a part of their life. You can make friends easily and once you do, it’s hard to let them go. Over time you realize there’s a different type of fun due to cultural differences and language.
The one thing that definitely amazed me was this little tiny thing that people tend to use in unpredictable ways, trust. Based on everything I’ve gone through, I now view trust as nothing but a set of beliefs about how you should or shouldn’t react to people’s actions. It’s quite impressive that some people can ask you to join a party in their house without knowing who you are, while others are afraid to go on a date with you because of some stupid rules in their family. Weird thing, right? Well, kind of. The more you learn about the country, the less it becomes weird to understand but more difficult to accept because it doesn’t make any sense.
Overall, I should say, everyone, should have a chance to at least try living in a totally different part of the globe. This is an experience you can’t really buy or watch, trade or win in a lucky hand. This is something you have to go through by yourself and then decide whether you like it or not. The main question is though will you stop if you like it?