There are some essential services and needs for the long term traveler that swing places to become the home base. I’m not specifically talking about how a digital nomad would use a place but perhaps there are some that meet up. I don’t like writing the 5 things but it works here for listing out the things I feel are needed to find the new home base in Cambodia.
- Transportation services. The best location will have a variety of transportation hubs like buses, trains, airlines within a reasonable distance. Since I travel months at a time in places, I will never have to worry about arriving and then leaving in a week or two but the ease of getting to an international airport or connect on bus or personal taxi service is key. Give it some thought if you are gonna be staying at a place. It cannot be hard to enter or leave the place and you should be able to get around easily in the city via taxi or grab or tuk tuk or bike. For me, its walking which leads to the next thing.
- Walking to places to eat, drink, and somewhat socialize. I am not a big socializer but eating and drinking are good! You don’t want to spend all the time at the hotel or hostel or guesthouse or even in the tourist zone or on the bar street or whatever. Its nice if you can walk to a place that is different and find restaurants and pubs or bars that will suit you. Ideally the streets should be somewhat maintained and a sidewalk every so often is nice! You should also feel safe but take adequate precautions when out in the evening. Don’t carry the passport and wallet. You only need cash dollars in Cambodia or VND in Vietnam that is sufficient for the time at hand. Also don’t get slammed drunk and walk in the street. No one wants to hit you but be sensible out there.
- Laundry and phone services. You should be able to find a local place to get laundry done for $1 USD a KG. Thats the normal rate around Cambodia and they should give you a receipt for the service and tell you when its done. For phone or SIM card services, you will want to top up the service and for me its important that the people speak English and can tell you what it is you get. The last time in Otres Village the woman told me very clearly what the deal was and what service I should get and then did the verification and activation step. I won’t recommend one but just know how to top up the card for internet and calls.
- Groceries, Convenience Stores and Cambodian Markets. These are all handy things to know how to find and use. I always use an established store because the prices are printed on the door and grocery stores are even easier to use since they have a variety of goods. The classic Cambodian market can be used to replace everything from T shirts to shoes if you need. Be prepared to negotiate and don’t get mad. It’s a game. Also expect that these markets will not be super malls. They are traditional stores with lots of little stalls. Find one that has it all and you will be good!
- Printing and Computer Stores. This is easy in Vietnam but a bit harder in Cambodia sometimes. For document printing, find an Internet cafe and put your document on a USB flash drive. If you don’t have the flash drive, you will need to find the computer store.
- Exchange Services. Big deal here folks. Find a place to exchange or get smaller currency. No restaurant or coffee shop wants to see your $100 USD for a sandwich or latte. I feel guilty about $20 so try to only have $10 at a time. I also carry Riel with me since for smaller purchases, its easy to figure out the 4k rate and just use the currency. Try to also have USD singles since many things like a bottle of water will cost $.50 or a beer will.
There are so many other things like understanding how to get around, having google maps on the phone, finding landmarks that will help you get back. For me walking all the time in each place, I find a landmark like the Hanoi Historic Water Tank. When I get turned around or lost, seeing where the landmark is and understanding where its positioned compared to the hotel or shopping center or museum is nice!
Finally, the big one. How do you select the location for home base? Is it all the things above or is it the flash of sudden insight when the significant number come home to you? I think as I found Kampot, its that esoteric feeling that there is the right combination of things. Perhaps not all are met but there are some ways to get things done like finding a decent taxi service to the airport. Look at the things you expect from a home base. How many do you have to have and can you satisfy things if you find that the place seems to have that esoteric feel? In my experience with Kampot I found it to have the right combinations of things plus having the natural beauty and the keen feelings I get from having a city to wander in each day for hours. I don’t care if I walk the same blocks twice. What I care about is the sum total feeling of being there.
When you find a home base, you don’t have to be some kind of digital nomad or work if you are a long term traveler. What’s important that you feel good each day being there and its a long term feeling of goodness that simply cannot be traded until you find the next one. For me now, it’s Kampot Cambodia. For others it may be somewhere else.
Maybe you don’t need a home base at all but my take is having a place to cool your jets and perhaps do some planning. Its easier to do the planning with some of the core things met above.