Evolve Asia found a young couple who chose Ubud, Bali as their first stop in a plan to travel the world in search of their ideal city/country where they can settle down and build a sustainable life together.
We catch up with Michael Pole and Komal Kaur as we document this slow but sure phenomenon of who we call Wired Nomads.
1. Tell me more about yourself- age, occupation, motivation for current
chosen lifestyle and why this is conducive for your chosen search for a
place to call your own
M: I'm a 28 year old UK expat, I was working in Singapore as an IT consultant for 3 years, during which I started my own Internet business giving me the freedom of a location independent lifestyle. I travelled a lot as a kid so it’s kind of in my blood, if I stay in one place too long I start to get restless and SE Asia is as good a place as any to start the adventure!
K: I worked in a lab for 7 years before taking a 6-month sabbatical. I love to travel and the world is my oyster, constantly expanding my mind and soul with all the new experiences I encounter everywhere I go! Whether that be volunteering at a yoga festival and being inspired by all the wonderful teachers, or trying to get out of a sticky situation with corrupt traffic policemen looking to make a quick buck.
2. What are you really searching for or what is that paradise/utopia in your
M: Well I love being close to nature, and Singapore is pretty green for a city but I don’t miss waking up to the construction noises every morning! I think just having the freedom and control of what to do with your day is very empowering, and gives you the time to explore your passions. The world is small place these days and we could be anywhere within a day or two, so the possibilities are endless J
K : A place with beautiful lush landscapes, a community of amazing like-minded people leading passionate lives. A melting pot of cultures, talents and visions. Is that asking for alot?
3. Is income a deciding factor in this nomadic lifestyle?
M: Well you definitely have to find a way to maintain your income whilst travelling. I was inspired by Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week to get out of my desk job and so I started my own business, working 18 hour days for about 9 months until I was ready to quit my job. It was worth it in the end and once you’re not tied to a desk you can relocate and get a better bang for your buck, so I’d say our quality of life is much better than it was in Singapore. And I thought the same about Singapore when I moved from London, so that says a lot.
K: We would like to maintain our healthy eating habits (as organic as possible) so it is important that we have an income that sustains that.
4. What are the perks and highs of this lifestyle?
M: Time freedom, it doesn’t get any better than that. I was living for the weekend for 8 years after university and was never really at peace with that, even though I had amazing career progression for my age. Now I can go at my own pace, I’m much less stressed and more motivated to get the best out of life and myself. I probably work harder than my 9-5 because I know all the benefits are accruing to me and not my employer, so I’m a lot happier.
K: No alarm clocks to wake up to! I worked for an amazing company with great bosses and colleagues but nothing beats waking up every morning at your own time! Now I have all the time for daily workouts and meditation. I am able to explore the country I am in at my own pace, without rushing to 'see everything' like people usually have to do when traveling on a standard 5-day holiday. Having time to meet locals and actually get to know the unique cultures and traditions on a personal level is very special too.
5.What are the challenges?
K: Living out of a bag and constantly packing and unpacking can get tiresome after a while. We also have to keep learning to get around and finding places to eat (we are vegetarian and try to eat as healthy as possible) every time we move. To avoid doing too much of this we try to stay at least a couple of weeks in any one place. I also wish I could find a magic potion for my hair, the hard water and air pollution seems to dry it out!
M: Ha I’m a bit directionally challenged so finding my way around new places takes a while, and then you have to do it all over again! Also you can’t rely on the conveniences of the MRT and taxis in Singapore so I had to learn how to ride a motorbike for the first time (with a passenger in tow), let’s just say the locals don’t show you any mercy. I’m learning to be a bit more flexible with my health routine as well, when I left Singapore with all my pills and potions my bag weighed around 50kg which was crazy, so you have to learn to let go and adapt.
6. Who or what were you inspired by to embark on this?
M: I read a lot of motivational books (Millionaire Fastlane, 4 Hour Work Week, Think and Grow Rich etc) so I was always aware I could be doing more with my life, but it wasn’t until my job and current situation became so painful that I finally took action. If you look at it rationally the worst case scenario is you fail and you have to go back doing what you are doing now, so you haven’t got much to lose. The problem is we’re taught to be so scared of failure, so we never achieve greatness. I think moving across the world to Singapore gave me a lot of confidence that I achieved one of my dreams, so I felt I owed it to myself not to stop halfway.
K: My restless nature, knowing that there is so much 'out there' to explore, other inspiring travelers whose blogs I stumbled on, and M were a huge inspiration.
7.Would you recommend this lifestyle to others?
M: I’d recommend financial independence to anyone who thinks there’s more to life. If you’re not inspired and bouncing out of bed in the morning to go to work, then you shouldn’t settle for the ordinary just because everyone else is doing that. You don’t have to always be travelling around the world if you have responsibilities at home, but it’s not as hard as you might think, and once you jump off the edge there’s no going back to the cubicle.
K: I would highly recommend! Anyone with an open mind, adaptable nature, an adventurous spirit and humour to face unpredictable situations would be a perfect fit!
Komal and Michael are in Jogjakarta at the moment, going to Borobudur, Mount Merapi and Prambanan temples while they're still in Indonesia.
They say they love Bali and they will likely return one day.
In mid-May they depart for Thailand (Bangkok and Chiang Mai) for 3 weeks as they continue on their exciting whirlwind adventure.
Interviewed by Sonia Ong, April 2013