Lash from LashWorldTour.com
We’ve never met face to face (not yet), but Lash from LashWorldTour.com is a kindred spirit and fellow nomadic blogger who lives to travel just like we do. She’s independent, adventurous, and seriously upbeat. Lash has also had some very interesting experiences out on the road, including a stint working with the crew of the TV show Survivor. We decided to interview her to hear about some of those adventures, get some advice on travel, and find out about how this contemporary nomad handles the challenges of life on the road.
Q: Your world travels began when you moved to Japan in 1991. After 6 years in Japan, you decided to go nomadic. What led you to take the leap? And how have you made a living while on the road?
A: Actually, that’s not quite the way it happened, truth be told. 🙂
I had decided to travel the world before I left for Japan. My move to Kyoto was part of my bigger plan to travel the world for as long as possible. I moved to Kyoto specifically to save money for that.
I thought it would take 3-5 years, but it took six. That was fine because I absolutely loved Japan, especially Kyoto. I left half reluctantly. But I was practically chomping at the bit to finally start my world travels. So, onward ho…
As for being able to afford world travels: I saved heaps of money working my A** off in Japan, invested it, and started my travels living off the interest of my investments. Great plan. Until the big stock market crash of 2000. So much for that scheme. It was great for the couple years it lasted and at least I didn’t lose my money; there was just no more interest being paid out. Sigh.
Since 2001 I’ve tried many different ways to earn a living and keep going. I exported bags and clothes from Bali and Thailand to Japan, where I sold them at trance festivals and Kyoto’s temple markets. I would have done that again but I got nabbed to work crew on ‘Survivor’. That lasted one year / two episodes.
Then I became a PADI dive pro in 2004. That was wonderful except the pay is super low for all the hard work and responsibility involved. I got fed up, as do most other instructors, who generally last about four years.
So, in 2008 I started searching again. I took a web design course. Worked at a rock climbing school in Thailand. Had my own restaurant / bakery / cafe in Thailand. (I was the baker.) Did more diving in Bali.
While in Bali in 2010 I realized I should write a couple of guidebooks about cycling and hiking in Bali. And so my travel writing and blogging career began.
My guidebooks: Cycling Bali and Hiking in Bali
Q: Tell us a little about your experience working on Survivor. Would you want to be a contestant on the show?
A: Working crew on ‘Survivior’ was one of the most enjoyable jobs I’ve ever had. If the company would have continued hiring me, I would have done it for as long as possible!
Most of the crew were really super nice, fun and interesting people. I got to watch and be part of the workings of a film production from beginning to end: set-up, filming and tear-down. Fascinating! I’ve written many articles about my experiences on crew, which I’ll be posting soon on my site as a series. Interesting stuff.
I absolutely, definitely would NOT want to be a contestant on ‘Survivor’! Those people go through hell! Have you ever seen how emaciated and worn down they get as the show progresses? People think the show is partly rigged, but it’s not.
The contestants really do live out in the wilderness and have to make it on their own off their wits, the land, and the few provisions they’re given. Although cameramen are watching them 24-7, the crew and contestants are not allowed to interact at all.
Once when a tribe went off to participate in The Challenges, the remaining camera crew noticed that the tribe’s camp fire was not out. It started burning up the camp. The camera guys called security and directors. They were told to do nothing, to just let it burn. The tribe returned to a burned up camp. They lost everything.
The only time the production company would interfere with the contestants would be if it were a life or death situation.
Being a contestant on Survivor is a physically, emotionally and psychologically draining / traumatizing experience. No way, not for me!
Q: There is a lot of great content about Bali on your blog. Is Bali your home away from home?
A: Thanks Tony. I do love Bali, that’s for sure! Thus far, I have 56 posts on Bali, with more to come.
But I should point out that I don’t have the concept of ‘home-away-from-home’. There is no other ‘home’ that I’m away from. 🙂 I left the USA in 1991. Since then I have not considered it my home. My parents and brothers are there, but I have no property, house or job in the States. America is my nationality, but that’s it really. I’m more of an international gypsy.
Wherever I stay while traveling, I consider that my current home. My home was Kyoto, Japan for 6 years. Since then I’ve had several temporary ‘homes’. My home has been Tonsai Beach, Krabi, Thailand for several 6-month stints. It’s been Bali for several more 4-6 month stints. It’s been Penang, Malaysia and Bangkok, Thailand. It’s been in Singapore. It’s been WWOOF gigs in Australia and friends’ houses.
Other times, I’m purely nomadic, moving from place to place. I just love being an international Gypsy. No actual home required.
But as to Bali:
I first visited in 2000 and instantly loved it. It’s the only place I’ve traveled where I started trying to figure out how to live there (i.e. How to earn a living and stay) Since then, off and on, I’ve been plotting a way to live there in the future. Several years I’ve stayed 6 months – literally half my life. I taught three diving seasons in Amed. And now I’m here as a travel blogger / writer.
But I’m not ready to settle down yet! I still want to travel another 10-15 years before I choose a place to live. However, Bali is the one place I’d like to retire to one day.
Q: Traveling long-term has its ups and downs. What’s the most challenging thing for you about nomadic life?
A: Earning a living. It gets to be a real drag when you’re just scraping by for long periods of time. Or when you’re not sure how you can earn a living next, before your current funds run out.
But nomadic life is wonderful when you don’t have the stress of worrying about an income.
I feel best when I don’t have to worry about money. I’ve had several chunks of travel time like that. When I started out in 1998, I had quite a generous income from my investments. That lasted 2 ½ years. Later, when teaching scuba diving, income was rolling in and I saved money. Those were happy, carefree times. Then for a few months between dive seasons I had money to live on.
Now my travel writing and blogging career is picking up. I think I see a steady income rolling in recently.
Besides money issues, I do have a few pet peeves while traveling: being asked the same questions over and over again, day after day, by everyone I meet. Noise, especially at night. Cigarette smoke, especially in restaurants, hotels and on buses.
Q: What’s the most bizarre experience you’ve had out on the road? And the most rewarding?
A: My most bizarre experience might be the time I was hiking mountains solo in central Java. I met a death metal rock band guy out hiking. (What western death metal guy likes hiking and wilderness?!) We hit it off. So when I finished up my 3-day trek and set up camp at the base of the mountain, he brought his whole band out to camp with me.
I was serenaded all night by death metal on acoustic guitar. Hilarious! I wondered at the time if I wasn’t perhaps putting myself in some danger… alone in central Java, Indonesia’s mountains with a pack of frisky young Javanese rock boys. But they didn’t harm me in any way or steal any of my things. I just made some new friends.
Most rewarding… Perhaps the WWOFF experiences I did in Australia. (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) That whole fair exchange of services is really cool. You help out with your time and abilities. In exchange you get a room and meals. You build a cool relationship with the hosts. And it’s very warming to feel like part of the ‘real community’ when the hosts involve you in local events, happenings, parties. They also show you places you would never find or learn about if you were just a traveler passing through. (Read WWOOFing in Kuranda.)
Q: You always ask the question when you do an interview, so it’s only fair to ask you: what are your three favorite places?
A: Fair enough. I actually like that question.
I’m primarily driven to explore nature, culture and all arts. My favorite places have stunning nature, highly developed aesthetics/arts, and interesting culture that’s evident in peoples’ daily lives.
Those places for me are: Bali. Kyoto, Japan. Singapore (which is my favorite city in the world). If I could list 4, I’d include Krabi, Thailand. I also loved Myanmar, which is the top place I’d like to re-visit.
Q: Since you’re a dive professional, we also have to ask about your favorite dive locations.
A: I’ve only been diving in SE Asia and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, so I’d first like to qualify my answer by pointing that out. I can’t comment first-hand on other destinations in the world.
With that in mind, the best diving I’ve done is on the north coast of Bali at Amed and Jemeluk. Stunning reefs and wall dives, amazing macro life, calm and warm tropical seas with mild to no currents.
2. Tioman Island, Malaysia is a wayyy under-rated dive destination, eclipsed by its super popular (over rated) neighbor Perentian Islands to the north. Tioman has some of the best coral I’ve seen, turtles, and plethora of reef fish and great nudibranchs. There’s also great night diving off the beach at Selang.
3. Two particular dive sites at Phi Phi Island, Thailand are just mouth-dropping gorgeous. (overall the diving there is hit or miss)
Q: For those thinking about going nomadic, what is your best piece of advice?
A: Wow, that’s a tough one. Let me go think about that a while…
Ok, I’m back. Based on my experiences, I’d say to try lining up some sort of income before going nomadic. The best situation for being nomadic would be that you don’t have to worry about money.
If you can create a passive income (rental income, royalties income, online passive income, investments) then you wouldn’t have to worry about feeding yourself, or to keep looking for the next source of income, or to stress. Money worries can really put a dent in enjoyable travels.
So I’d recommend, if it’s at all possible, to set up some source of passive income before you hit the road.
However, not many people know how to do that (Hello! I haven’t managed yet after my investment income dried up). So the next option is to have work that’s not location dependent. That way you can work no matter where you are. Website design, day-trading, income from websites, travel blogging. Selling your own books or products. Those are all jobs that various nomadic travelers have.
Alternately, you could work overseas – teaching, diving, casual work in bars, restaurants, hostels, etc.
On the other hand, I certainly don’t want to scare people away from setting out on world travels! There are many, many ways to earn money all over the world. You don’t have to have it all figured out before you go. In fact, most world travelers don’t. We just have a super strong drive to see the world and so set out as best we can.
Despite my advice above, if you don’t have any passive income or work lined up, don’t let that stop you from going! Having a passive income or location independent work would just make it easier. I advise going anyhow and figure it out as you go.
If worse comes to worse, you can always return home and work or settle down wherever you happen to be. It’s not like if you head out to travel you burn all bridges behind you! Try it! If it doesn’t work for some reason, you can do something else. At least you did it!