Istanbul

I recently spent a week in Istanbul, my 2nd visit this year.

Istanbul is a vibrant city which I really enjoy hanging out in to eat and work. The coffee shop culture is growing fast. The local cuisine is varied and delicious. The locals are very friendly. And due to the Turkish Lira weakening this year, it’s never been a better time to visit.

Here are my travel notes:

  • I like to stay near Taksim Square – the vibrant shopping area surrounded by restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. The InterContinental in the area is a great choice to base yourself.
  • Dinner at Zübeyir Ocakbaşı is a must (bookings needed) – it’s one of my top 5 restaurants and I always try to dine here twice on each trip (yes, it’s that good)
  • Talking of food, other good spots I enjoy include Ciya (good home-cooking, very inexpensive), Mikla (rated one of the best 50 restaurants in the world) and brunch at the Four Seasons for a blow out at the weekend
  • Get lost exploring the Grand Bazaar – one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world
  • Take a ferry ride. Each trip will set you back less than $1 and you’ll be guaranteed great views no matter what direction you head in
  • Enjoy a sundowner overlooking the Bosphorus. The bar at the top of the Conrad hotel offer’s excellent views
  • Uber is the easiest way to get around town – including to/from the airport. Not only are they always big vans with nice spacious seats, but they are crazy cheap too!

I’m now back in Bangkok for the winter. Hit me up if you pass through!

A few days in Copenhagen

A beautiful day to stroll around Nyhavn

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I’ve built some great friendships with a lot of Danes (one is the godfather of my child) during the past 12 years of traveling, hence I’ve always wanted to check out Denmark after hearing so many different stories about the great quality of life there.

While I’m currently touring Europe, I made sure to include a few days in Copenhagen, and what follows is a few notes on 3 nights spent in the beautiful capital:

1. Getting to the city from the airport is a total breeze with the metro line connecting both in 13 minutes.

2. You can purchase a SIM card in vending machines located within the arrivals hall at the airport (by the baggage carousel). The one I purchased was with Lebara and included 5GB of data and some minutes/sms messages for 98DKK.

3. We stayed at this Airbnb with a really nice guy from Iceland. Highly recommended.

I've been looking forward to this dinner 😋

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4. After following Restaurant 108, opened by former Noma employees and which is also backed by René Redzepi, the founder of Noma, on Instagram for a year or so, this was the restaurant I wanted to “splurge” on knowing Noma are currently touring in Mexico. And I’m glad we did – while the meal was not cheap, it was fantastic – with amazing cooking techniques you don’t often see elsewhere.

My kinda vibes 👌

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5. For more great eats, I highly recommend you check out Paper Island, which houses 20-30 different street food vendors under one roof with an outside seating area which is the perfect spot to sit back with a drink and spend time with friends.

The Torvehallerne food market is also worth a walk around where you’ll find a branch of The Coffee Collective (many say they serve the best coffee in the city) and Grød, serving up some of the best porridge I’ve ever had.

Was told this is the best bakery in Copenhagen 😋

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Still hungry? Also worth checking out is Meyers Bageri for some of the best home baked pastries I’ve ever had and Grams Lækkerier, a small sandwich shop my local friend Lara took me to which is run by who has got to be one of the friendliest guys in Copenhagen.

6. There were more bikes registered in Copenhagen than there were cars in 2017, and as a result, it’s a great city to explore on bike. I rented one from Copenhagen Bicycles and had no issues.

7. I highly recommend checking out Copenhagens ‘free world’, a “self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of about 850 residents“. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else, and if you like to smoke weed, this is the place to come to purchase some of the good stuff (it was laid out on tables for sale in the open when I visited).

8. Copenhagen does live up to its reputation as being one of the most expensive cities in the world. It was sometimes astounding how expensive it was ($60 to rent a bike for an afternoon or $10 for a coffee?!!). With that said, we had a great 3 days and while we won’t be back in a hurry, I could highly recommend it to those who haven’t visited before.

Bangkok’s Best Restaurants

One of the best things about Bangkok is it’s growing dining scene. It’s been fascinating to watch over the past decade, in particular the growth of small independent restaurants created by people who care not only about the food they serve and where their ingredients come from, but also caring about the small details that can really make eating out memorable.

Being known as the guy who likes to eat in Bangkok, I’m constantly being asked where I personally like to dine out with friends and family. With this said, I created a list of my favorites on Google Docs which I continue to update on a regular basis – which now saves me time repeating the list every time someone asks.

All the restaurants featured follow what I love about a great restaurant: great ambiance and service along with food that’s really special.

You can view the list here, and for live food blogging you can follow me on Instagram.

 

 

How I travel the world with my family while building a tech startup

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My son is now 1 year and 3 months old and since he was fit to fly at 6 months; myself, my wife and our son have been traveling while I grow my startup non-stop.

We’ve had a blast so far visiting Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Dubai, Turkey, Spain and the U.K over the past 9 months.

As someone who has been traveling non-stop for 11 years straight now, the transition from traveling solo to traveling with my wife to now traveling with my family has been an interesting one, and something I’ve wanted to write about for a while now.

Today I woke up to the following email, which presented a great chance to write down my thoughts on traveling with a family in the hopes it will help other families considering doing the same.

Here’s the email:

I’m the CEO and founder of a bootstrapped software company that I started a couple of years ago. I’m also an American expat and a proud new father to a beautiful little boy.

I’ve read a couple of your tweets pertaining to being a digital nomad parent and living in airbnbs and hotels. I’m really curious about your perspective of traveling internationally with young children.

Specifically, I’m curious about finding child-friendly hotels, babysitters abroad, running your business with your family around 24/7 and what that’s like.

Some thoughts:

1. First up, I will say a huge part of why we are able to travel is due to my amazing wife – she’s really supportive of my work ethic and she enjoys caring for our boy while I work.

They are always visiting parks, play rooms, swimming pools, going out for lunch etc. We would not be able to travel and work at the same time if this was not the case.

2. While having the luxury of deciding what your expenses are going to be for any given week or month (on a budget? visit Vietnam. Feeling flush? visit Japan), flights for the whole family, hotels, healthcare etc. does mount up quickly.

With this said I wouldn’t recommend jetting off with your family until you can easily afford good health insurance (I use World Nomads) for the whole family.

3. The biggest hurdle you’ll no doubt face is keeping productive while traveling. Here’s how I approach it:

I believe most humans can only produce 40 hours of GREAT work per week, and this is personally my weekly goal whether I’m traveling or not. So while most of my friends work from 9-5, Mon-Fri, my work schedule is scattered all over the place.

I may work 4 hours before breakfast, two hours after lunch while my son is taking his afternoon nap and then a further 3 hours after dinner when we as a family are settling down for bed.

But the goal is the same every week: produce 40 hours of great work. Having this mind-set has really allowed me to stay productive while traveling.

4. Serviced apartments (or Airbnb) that have a kitchen, pool and a play room have made traveling so much easier. They create a home type setting that allows me to “go to work” while the family “stays at home”.

Some great serviced apartments (all with play rooms and swimming pools) that have really helped us over the past year include:

Somersett or Centerpoint in Thonglor, Bangkok
Intercontinental Residences, Saigon
Eastin Tan Hotel (get the suites), Chiang Mai
Ascott Residence, Osaka

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Oliver making new friends in Fukuoka

5. In my experience traveling with kids is hard on the parents – not the kids (they love it!).

6. Flying with kids, especially in Asia, is a breeze. In many airports, we’re able to take advantage of the express lane reserved for disabled and/or first class travelers – just make sure to smile when you ask!

7. With that said, my boy (as with most humans) does not react well with flights over 5 hours. To solve this issue we now stop off in various destinations along the route when traveling long-haul.

For example, we flew from Bangkok to London via Sri Lanka, Dubai, Istanbul and Barcelona for around the same cost of a one-way direct ticket from Bangkok to London by leveraging low-cost airlines on many of the routes. It was a lot of fun staying 3/4 nights in each city and as an added bonus, we never experienced any jet lag!

8. The hardest part of working while traveling for me is getting setup in a new location. It can take 2-3 days before I find a co-working space or a coffee shop I like working from.

9. The most difficult part of traveling with our son prior to he was 1 years old was finding organic baby food. I can remember in Hong Kong I spent $300(!!!) on baby food for a week and in Saigon spent 2 hours in traffic driving to the other side of town. Thankfully life’s much easier now he is eating solids.

10. Get good at delegating and outsourcing – not just with work but also planning travel. I often ask my assistant to search for opening times, hotels, flights etc. which saves us heaps of time.

11. I’ve not hired any nannies yet and I don’t think we will unless we have enough time to really get to know the nanny before leaving our boy alone with her. That’s just our perspective.

12. Japan and Thailand are by far the most kid-friendly spots we’ve visited and we’ve found it really easy to network with other families in both locations just by smiling and saying hello.

Anything I missed? Have specific questions? Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter.

Playing Poker in Macau

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I’m typing this on the ferry heading to hong Kong after a week in Macau playing poker, taking my son swimming, eating far too many oily carbs and constantly being amazed at the wealth I’ve witnessed at the casinos in Macau.

I venture to Macau on a fair regularly basis to play Poker, although I haven’t been for a while since having my boy, I thought now is a great time to share what’s it’s like visiting Macau as a tourist, as a family and the main draw; the no limit hold’em cash games games.

Getting to Macau

Getting to Macau couldn’t be easier. You can either fly into Macau’s international airport, get the Sky Shuttle Helicopter from Hong Kong or get a boat from one of the free ferry ports in Hong Kong; Kowloon, Sheung Wan or from Hong Kong’s international airport (If you opt for the later, don’t leave immigration as the ferry check-in is done from inside the airport terminal).

On this trip I opted for the boat ride from Kowloon in Hong Kong. The journey takes an hour and immigration at both ends is super fast and efficient, taking 5-10 minutes at each end max. There are 2 companies you can choose from; Cotai Water Jet and TurboJet. Both have regular departures and similar pricing.

If you opt to arrive in Macau by ferry, you’ll either end up at Macau Outer or Taipa. The difference is only 10 minute’s drive away so I wouldn’t fuss over this too much (I’d rather sit on a bus for 10 minutes than wait 50 minutes for a ferry going to the closest port).

If you plan to stay in a casino (which I’ll come to in a moment), you’ll most likely be able to catch one of the regular shuttle buses to and from each ferry port (and I assume the airport) to the hotel you’re staying at. They are free of charge and as mentioned above, either take 5 or 10 minutes depending on what port you arrive into and what part of Macau you are staying at.

Where to Stay

If you’re visiting Macau to play Poker, it’s hard to beat the Cotai Strip – which is a collection of hotels that are linked to each other via walkways, restaurants and shopping malls.

What’s great about choosing one of the hotels on the strip is that you’ll be within walking distance to 2 of the 3 spots where you can play no limit texas hold’em in Macau; the Venetian and the Poker Stars room located at the City of Dreams.

On this recent trip I stayed at the Sheraton, simply as it’s on the strip (where I wanted to stay) and it looked like a great spot for a family to hang out. It was a good choice – the rooms were huge (especially compared to Hong Kong standards), the swimming pools great and the buffet breakfast was huge.

Poker in Macau

There are 3 spots in play Texas Hold’em in Macau:

1. The Wynn

The Wynn hotel and casino is generally considered the best spot in Macau for high-stakes cash games, and it’s also considered to have the best facilities, chairs and comfort. I played here on my previous trip but did not visit on this trip, but I hear the stakes are 50/100 with a minimum 50,000 buy-in (HKD). If you’re interested in playing high-stakes, The Wynn would be a great place to check out.

2. The Venetian

The Venetian has many cash games, from 25/50 with a buy-in between 2,000 and 15,000 to 100/200 if my memory serves corrected. The chairs here are especially comfortable, and it was mainly a Chinese/Asian crowd when I visited with about 6-8 tables in play.

3. The PokerStars Room

The Poker Stars Room is situated in the City of Dreams complex, a stone’s throw away from the St. Regis and the Hard Rock Cafe hotels. The starting rake here is also 25/50 with buy-ins from 2,000 to 5,000 – which I personally really liked. This is also the only spot where I had to queue, albeit only 20 minutes (I hear this can easily extend to 60 minutes).

It’s also worth noting there were many more tables in play (10-15 when I visited) compared to The Venetian and it had a much more of an international vibe. The Poker Stars Room is also the only spot in town who host daily tournaments, many of which are satellites to the Asian Poker Tour circuit.

Visiting Macau with a family

This was my first time visiting Macau with a family and it was a breeze. The huge boulevard type walkways outside the hotels meant it was a pleasure walking outside to gett some fresh air, while the staff in the multiple hotels we visited and walked through we’re happy to greet and meet us. We also had no problems in dining at some of the best spots in town.