Mongolian Trip Expense Report

Here is the cost of our recent trip from Irkutsk Russia to Ulan Bator Mongolia. I post this a day after I posted my Russian Trip Expense Report, which was my most popular post yet, looks like people are more interested in how much something costs, rather than hearing about how good/bad something is, so here goes.Mongolia

Note: these prices are the total for 2 people, doing this trip solo would cost exactly half the price.

Mongolian Trip Expenses

  • Visas £0
  • Train £218
  • Accommodation £37
  • Food and other £60

Total £315
Per person £157.5
Cost per day (per person) £31.5

The “other” in “Food and other” applies to anything from Tooth paste, to insect repellent.

The train into Mongolia consisted of 2 nights accommodation on the train, in a follow up post I’ll include the cost of the train from Mongolia to China

Fact: Vegetables and fruit are practically unheard of in Mongolia, if you’re a vegetarian don’t think “meh, like I care, I’ll simply eat plain rice”, rice isn’t meat!, so therefore it’s unheard of.

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Russian trip expense report

Here is the total cost of our recent Trans-Siberian trip through Russia. This includes the cost of getting to Russia from Estonia, and getting from Saint Petersburg to Irkutsk, from Irkutsk we headed south on the Trans-Mongolian onwards to China, I’ll add those costs in a follow up post.

Red Square Moscow

Red Square Moscow

Note: these prices are the total for 2 people, doing this trip solo would cost exactly half the price.

Russia Trip Expenses

  • Visas £176.4
  • Bus £4.50 – from Tallinn to Saint Petersburg
  • Trains £444.47 – high speed Saint Petersburg to Moscow and 4 night sleeper train Moscow to Irkutsk.
  • Accommodation £69.5
  • Tours £32.5 – Boat tours in Saint Petersburg and Moscow plus bus trip to Lake Baikal
  • Food and Other £148.15

Total £875.6
Per person £437.8
Cost per day £43.7

Mistakes made

  • We booked the fast train from Saint Petersburg to Moscow a little too late and paid around £90, this should have only been £40.
  • The train from Moscow to Irkutsk is really a waste of time, trees are planted 5 metres from the tracks for the first 80% of the route, so you literally will see nothing new for 3 days straight, I certainly will not recommend the trip to anyone.
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LIGO Celebration in Riga Old Town

Irina covered more of the cultural background and put it a little more elegantly than myself

RUSHING RUSSIAN

BonfireMattand I are currently in Riga, Latvia and last night we went to a LĪGO celebration in Riga Old Town. I though I’d write a quick post about it for anyone who happens to be in this beautiful city on or around 23rd of June and wants to participate in the celebration and mix in with the locals.

LIGO is a summer solstice festival that has been celebrated by Latvians for hundreds of years and is one of the most important celebrations every year anticipated by many people. Traditional celebration includes singing Latvian folk songs, dancing around a bonfire and women wearing flower wreaths while men wear oak leaf wreaths instead.

I’m originally from Riga, born and raised, but haven’t lived here for 10 years now so this was my first time celebrating in a while. Since the holiday lasts for several days, people tend to buy lots of…

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Ligo Festival Riga Latvia

Ligo Riga Latvia

A top lit fire burning down throughout the night

So this week in Riga was the yearly Ligo festival. The festival consisted of harbour side bonfires, live music, food, rain, beer and a lot of dancing.

On Arrival it was raining quite heavily, everyone had umbrellas, the large stage had live performers and singers singing traditional Latvian songs.

Fire Ligo Latvia

Awaiting the fires to be lit

It all seemed not that overly exciting at first, however beer consumption increased as the night got on and the atmosphere became quite merry. At 23:15 two large bonfires on the street were lit further enhancing the atmosphere.

The fires were top lit, meaning they would burn downwards more slowly, roaring away for around 5 hours. The night itself officially ended at 4am, we left 2 hours earlier than this. The Live bands on the stage were still playing and the area was still just as crowded as earlier, I’m assuming it stayed this way until close.

The girls all had flowers on their head and the men had big green leaves, it’s a site to see, these can be bought from the many vendors on the street for around 10 euro, beers range from 2 to 3 euro.

The street is closed off from traffic, along the side of the street are tents selling food and beer with tables and chairs out the front, behind these tents are hundreds of portable chemical toilets.

Latvian beer and snacks

Popular Latvian beer snack, fried bread

I’d highly recommend joining this festival’s very well behaved people eating and drinking all night. If you plan on visiting Latvia be sure to go during Ligo, ensure you turn up with an empty stomach and a willingness to eat, drink and be merry.

With free entry it’s easy to come and go throughout the night, around 9pm we stepped out to a near by bar, mostly to get out of the rain. Here we ate some fried bread (a popular Latvian beer snack) , enjoyed a beer and cider each before returning for the bonfire lighting ritual.

A Weekend in Amsterdam

This was a really lovely weekend in a lovely city

RUSHING RUSSIAN

AmsterdamThis blog post is well overdue but I had just got to thinking about my and Matt’sweekend getaway to Amsterdam last year. This was my first time visiting and of course, I have done my research up front of the most popular tourist attractions and the recommended things to do and see.

Just like every other capital city, there is a variety of things to see and places to visit and as always, not enough time for everything you set out to do. Of course, there are museums such as Riijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Anne Frank Museum, Red Light District and Vondelpark which are top places to visit for anyone travelling for the first time. In this post I will list some other things I loved about Amsterdam:

Walking and cycling everywhere

Amsterdam is a beautiful and a rather compact city.The best way to see it is by…

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Why I’ve quit my job and moved to Latvia

ligoToo often I see articles by bloggers titled “why you should quit your job and move to (insert 3rd world country here)”, often with an accompanying lifestyle porn photo, you know the ones eg. a laptop by a pool.

The sales pitch is usually “it’s cheaper in country x, so work on-line there”, the reality is you have no safety net there, if you’re so sure of your on-line business plans and need to lower your living costs to bootstrap, then why not move in with your parents for a few months first, or crash on a mate’s couch or rent a cheap room in a local house with 5 poor uni students, then put that $2,000 for the flight and overseas living costs into your company, do some on-line courses etc, stay in your home town where there is less to distract you. If you’re bootstrapping there is no need whatsoever to have a beach 50 metres down the road.

Once your company is working well, then head overseas or better still, if you’re young and lacking real world work experience, get some solid experience in, move up the corporate ladder a little, the world isn’t going anywhere, it’ll still be there in 4 years time.

But this isn’t what most people want to hear, they want to see a laptop by the pool, a hammock by the beach and be sold a dream, have their reward now and work for it later, go away for 5 years, make enough money to survive then return home with zero experience. Now, you could learn a lot about on-line marketing, sales and the lot, but how about some office experience, how about paying attention to how companies you’re working for are run, noting this down mentally, most jobs in the world are in offices, get a good dose of reality, face to face with clients, work smart, invest hard, then reap the rewards.

I’m not saying slog out the 9-5 forever, you may be very successful on-line, but if that is your destiny you can do it from home and for much cheaper.

So why my title for this article? Well I’ve spent the last 9 years working smart and getting solid experience, all while working abroad in a first world rich/expensive country. I’ve built several revenue streams and can now branch out and reap my rewards, the reason for the move to Latvia is simple – my partner is from there and we’re living with her family for a month while we’re bootstrapping. How much will one month with the in-laws cost? $0, zero, nothing.

The one thing I’ve learnt over the last 15 years of working is don’t be in such a rush but always be planning and always be doing, be prepared to make mistakes, but be prepared to make sacrifices, moving to live by a beach and set-up your dream company isn’t a sacrifice.

Perhaps you’ll be able to simply pack up, move to paradise and bootstrap by some beach while instagramming life style porn to all your envious friends, but know that there is other ways to achieve your dreams. The key may not be to drop everything and run to paradise, it might actually be to work your butt off from home, then go abroad free like a bird, what is better than working from paradise? Being in paradise and not having to work.

Food for thought.

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Welcome to the top – Iceland 2006

It was late at night as I got into a taxi in Reykjavik, the world’s most northern capital city. “Where are you from?” the driver said, “Australia” I replied, “ohh welcome to the top!”. This was my first solo trip in Europe, having moved to England several months earlier.

Iceland’s economy was booming, I counted 40+ construction cranes in a city of 200,000 people, it was 2006, the financial crisis hadn’t hit yet, a beer at the time cost me $3 in Australia, here it was costing me $12.50.

What got me thinking of a trip that is now 9 years ago? reminiscing over old videos, I’m leaving the UK one week from today, I had originally planned to come for just a year…. what the taxi driver said that night will be forever etched into my memory, as that was the moment I realised just how far I was from home and how wonderful and big this planet is.

Anyway below is the video of my Iceland trip, the taxi driver isn’t in it, excuse the low light, digital cameras have come along way in 9 years.

A weekend in Amsterdam

I thought I’d write up this quick post to recommend a tour we done on a recent trip to Amsterdam, the tour is the Amsterdam Candlelight Cruise.

Although the 2 hour cruise was 37.50 euro each I consider it very good value for a city where a beer can cost 7.50. For our euros not only did we get a lovely 2 hour night cruise through the canals and some lovely cheese we also got unlimited wine, and when I say unlimited, yes it was unlimited, our glass was never empty and was continually topped up for the 2 hours.

Alien Amsterdam

Irina and our favourite Alien

We shared a table with another couple who kept to themselves and had their own cheese board, the view of Amsterdam out of the windows and glass canopy at night was stunning, the only con was the candles weren’t real candles but rather little flickering lights designed to look like candles, I’m guessing this is for safety reasons.

If you’re an alcohol drinker looking for a night out without paying 7.50 a drink all night, then I highly recommend starting your night out with this tour.

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Where accepts Bitcoin in Amsterdam

Where is Bitcoin accepted in Amsterdam?

This weekend I’ll be out of office again, I’m visiting Amsterdam, one of the more free and liberal cities that I’ve been to, a city where you’re treated like an adult, providing of course you act like an adult.

Amsterdam shrooms

January 2014

It’ll be my sixth visit to Amsterdam and my first trip where I plan to live off only what I can buy with Bitcoin. I’ve done some research and it looks as though food, drinks, accommodation and Magic Mushrooms (truffles) won’t be a problem, however the more *Amsterdam* style coffee shops don’t accept it, I can also get a cut throat shave too.

The one problem I find with Bitcoin is finding a single useful resource of places that accept it, there is coin map, but it seems to be missing most of the businesses that I’ve found listed elsewhere, what I do plan to do is a follow up post of my weekend and hopefully write down a list of Bitcoin accepting places on this blog.

Can anyone recommend a resource better than this reddit page?

As mentioned previously this will be my sixth time, however I’ll be travelling with Rushing Russian this time and it’ll be her first, so I’m keen to show her the best places I’ve found, along with a wonderful introduction to Psilocybin, this molecule truly changed my life for the better.

I’ll leave it at this for now, be sure to check back in another week, I’ll also upload photos to my Instagram account so please follow for some fun snaps.

Matt

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