Sophie, a Digital Nomad from Warsaw, Poland, tells us her stories from her travels across the world solo.
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To say who I am, I should first briefly explain who I was. I was the person with a really good job, renting a great apartment in the city center. Surrounded by friends, busy with weekly events, concerts, gym, parties… I basically had everything. But I was also the person who used to scroll Facebook looking at the pictures of overseas-experiences and adventures of my friends and thinking: I would so much love to do that, but I have no money, no time, not enough vacations, blah, blah, blah… It was a year and a half ago. Now I’m a Digital Nomad working remotely, “happy homeless,” traveling from one place to another. I don’t have a place to go back to, I’m just moving forward. The world is my office and even though I don’t have my beloved closet, I’ve never been happier! Plus, there’s always enough place for a pair of heels and a sequin dress in my backpack.
Where are you from and what are your top three recommendations of things to do for our lady travelers visiting your hometown?
I come from Poland and the last years I was living there I spent in Warsaw. It’s a really interesting place, especially during the summer time. When the warm nights start covering both sides of the Vistula river, you can expect a good portion of a wide variety of music brought to you by many bars and clubs located on the riverside. All depends on the timing! You can always check: http://warsawnow.pl/
What or who helped you get over the initial fear of traveling?
I just had to experience it myself, to find out there’s nothing to be scared of. After my first two weeks in Asia, I slowly started to notice that the vast majority of people are simply good and the world nurtures you and keeps you on the surface no matter how high the tide would be. Plus, I’ll never forget the time when everybody was asking me “where are you going next?” and I had nothing to say, besides simply “home”. Now I know that home is not defined by the walls and doors, but by people and feelings.
Who or what inspired you to travel?
The first person who tried to persuade me that a full-time job, rented flat, and parties are not all there is in life was a guy from Boston I met during my first month-long journey to Bangkok. He was experiencing the wonders of a gap year and I guess our conversations resulted in a good way. We met a couple of months later and he couldn’t believe how much, in a good way, I’ve changed. Yes, I told him it was his merit. Where is your favorite destination and your top three recommendations (things to do/to eat) for our ladies who visit?
For food: Bangkok and Tokyo. Bangkok has soi Rambuttri, a little food stall called “I <3 Thai Food.” Delicious! Great seafood. Right next to it is another one – “Magic Thai Food” – the food is almost as good and the owner performs magic tricks in front of the dining guests. In Tokya, next to the Gotanda station, you can find a lovely small traditional restaurant (Doma Doma) with good food and reasonable prices. Be prepared you’ll have to take your shoes off and you’ll be dining in a small room equipped even with a TV. Very fancy.
Most memorable or touching experience whilst traveling?
This one just popped into my head: my Couchsurfing experience in Kuala Lumpur. I decided to go there for a prolonged weekend (4 days) because seeing the Petronas towers was definitely on my bucket list. I had a pretty low budget, so I decided to try my luck with Couchsurfing. One of the hosts I’d messaged was especially helpful and easy to talk to, so I decided to stay with him. How surprised I was when it turned out, that the guy lives in a hotel like Coco Chanel, and on the 47th floor, there was an infinity pool where I could swim, admiring the amazing view with the Petronas towers, while sipping drink he offered me. Magical!
Most memorable incident with a local?
Once in Hanoi, Vietnam, I decided to (for once) not go to the party and feed my soul instead. I found out that there was a famous jazz bar, so without even thinking too much I picked it as a great option for the evening. My plan was to enjoy the music and, when the venue would close to go to sleep like a good girl should. Never happened! When the jazz concert was over, the bartender came up to me and asked if I would like to party. And because he looked like Johnny Deep, I couldn’t say no. Only when I got up from the table it turned out that he was something around 5 feet tall… Anyways, he made me jump on his pink Hello Kitty scooter and we went dancing. It was fun even though I looked like a giraffe next to him!
Could you share an experience of kindness from strangers?
Vietnam, coming back from a party in the middle of the night, I was about to catch a taxi, but unfortunately, my credit card stopped working and I had no money. Plus, my phone died so I didn’t even know which way to go (and that would take me probably 2 hours). Then a driver of a taxi that was passing by, pulled over. When I told him what happened, he drove me back to the hostel for free, gave me a warm hug and wished me luck on my future travels.
Most incredible experience with fellow travelers?
In Bangkok, I find this incredible and absolutely extraordinary. It was my first birthday abroad and the owner of the hostel where I was staying plus a bunch of guests, they threw a surprise party for me. With a birthday cake and everything, who would suppose!
Experienced any challenges traveling as a woman?
First of all, I have to admit unfortunately that traveling solo as a woman can be hard sometimes. We read those wonderful stories about couples who left their jobs to travel the world, we gasp in awe clapping our hands over how brave they are…. but wait a minute. There are so many solo traveling girls on the road, who maybe are not fearless, but definitely brave, and who gained what they have through hard work and stubbornness. This is what I do as well and I admire other ladies who stepped out of their comfort zone as well. It requires us to be brave and it doesn’t always happen “just like that” or “because you’re lucky”. The hardest time I’ve had was in India. And unfortunately, it was because of the female sexual objectification. We are in the 21st century, but it is still an issue. While staying there, even though I was wearing always long trousers and long-sleeved sweatshirts, I had to face not only cat-calling, whistling, but also guys absolutely relentless grabbing my bum. Yes, in the middle of the street in Varanasi – the holy city. So sad.
Anything you saw shocked you on the road?
Many things! In Taipei, Taiwan – the way policeman was checking if the motorbike is sober: he asked him to blow into policeman’s fist and then he smelled it. Yikes! In Thailand, temple complexes have really nice restrooms you can use for free. It’s like a toilet in a church – for me, mindblowing! In India, they pee on the street, against the wall. Cows roaming around, and their poop is covered with newspapers. In Italy, once I made a mistake of going to a cafeteria and asking for a latte… they gave me a glass of milk (maybe that inspired me to learn Italian). In Japan, on Sunday morning while walking through Shinjuku, Tokyo, you can see businessman sleeping on the ground – they were simply too drunk to go back home, and it’s so safe, that they don’t have to. In Cambodia, you can buy a SIM card in one of the street stalls. Vendors sit in front of the large papers with numbers and prices. The cheapest numbers are about 1-3 usd, but the fanciest go even up to 300usd. And locals actually buy them! Sold, marked on the list with a fluorescent pen.
Most useful resources you use to check for travel info?
PEOPLE! Just talk, ask, follow other backpackers, it’s so much better that!
That’s all from Sophie, got questions? Leave it in the comment box below! Can’t get enough of us? Follow for daily updates!
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