Digital Nomad Stories

From Bali to 70 Countries: A Bali Guide, Visa Tips and Productivity Hacks

September 04, 2023 Anne Claessen Season 2 Episode 146
Digital Nomad Stories
From Bali to 70 Countries: A Bali Guide, Visa Tips and Productivity Hacks
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever dreamed of jet-setting around the globe while working remotely? Olivia Purba, a digital nomad and entrepreneur, has it down to an art. Having visited over 70 countries, this Indonesian native shares her compelling journey, revealing the hurdles she's overcome as a globetrotter with a passport that isn't always warmly welcomed. Olivia's story is a poignant reminder of how we often take for granted the privilege of unrestricted travel. 

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Connect with Kendra:



Speaker 1:

Hey Nomads, welcome to Digital Nomad Stories, the podcast. My name is Anna Claessen and, together with my co-host, kendra Hasse, we interview digital nomads. Why? Because we want to share stories of how they did it. We talk about remote work, online business, location and dependency, freelancing, travel and, of course, the digital nomad lifestyle. Do you want to know more about us and access all previous episodes? Visit digitalnomadsdoriesco. Alright, let's go into today's episode.

Speaker 2:

Welcome to Digital Nomads Stories, the podcast. My name is Kendra and I'm your host today. Today, I'm joined by Olivia Puerba and I'm super excited because she already travelled 70 countries and writes about her experiences, and she also will host a productivity retreat in Bali next year. So a lot of interesting topics today in this episode, and I'm glad that you are here, hi.

Speaker 3:

Kendra, how are you? Thanks for having me.

Speaker 2:

Great, maybe we directly start with you presenting yourself a little bit. What is maybe your story behind all your travelling?

Speaker 3:

Sure, sure, my name is Olivia. Yeah, you mentioned before, I'm originally from Sumatra, indonesia, but now I'm based in Bali, so I'm not travelling. I am a published author. I already published two books and four collaborative books, and I'm a blogger two travel blogger, entrepreneur and a sustainability consultant. My hobby is, of course, travelling, writing and then.

Speaker 2:

Wow, there's like a lot of things. So since when are you a digital nomad?

Speaker 3:

Oh, okay, so I think I wouldn't draw a line about when I was a digital nomad. But as far as I knew, I was always into travelling. So I was born in a small town, tourist town in Sumatra. It's called Brestagi. It's near Singapore and Malaysia.

Speaker 3:

So growing up I saw a lot of people coming to my hometown and their tourist, of course, and it creates curiosity of me, like if people can come to my hometown travelling, I also want to see their hometown, their country, people of different skin colour with me, different eye colours, and I was just curious and that's the reason I took international relations for my major of my bachelor degree, so that I can be a diplomat in travel, right. But then I realised along the way my first year actually I was working for the government, indonesian government, negotiating UNFCCC on behalf of Indonesian government, so climate change related. But then I realised that bureaucracy and working with the government is not for me, it's not my personality. I was really stressed about it, about my job, so I decided to quit and I found other ways for me to travel.

Speaker 3:

So I would say that first time I travelled was in 2010, when I was still a student, like a bachelor degree student, and I got scholarship to Australia for an exchange for six months and ever since I always find a way to travel, and most of the travel that I did before was a sponsor. So either through scholarships, studying eight different universities around the world, and all under full scholarships, and then I also did volunteer through government programmes. Usually I did part time jobs. I also worked somewhere abroad, did research or have a speech where they invited and like, sponsored my flight, etc. So I just managed to find a way for me to travel the outside but also still pushing through my career and my study, because that's what my parents want me to do so?

Speaker 2:

do you have your home base in Bali and then travel from there, or are you also sometimes staying longer in other countries?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so the story is after finishing my master degree in Australia in 2017, I was living there for three years for my double masters and then I decided to go back, to return back to Indonesia, working with the NGO in Eastern, based in Bali, but helping farmers in Eastern parts of Indonesia, in Eastern islands. So I decided, like I just want to have a Bali as my base, but I'm still very passionate about traveling. I keep traveling from Bali and then, not so long after, I met a man who became my husband now and luckily he is still a digital nomad, you call it so he works online. So together we travel very often. Sometimes we stay in a place for, let's say, like five, six months.

Speaker 3:

We were in Costa Rica this half year, there this year, and before was many places in Brazil, in Argentina five months we got stuck during Corona and often time in Netherlands, because he's from Netherlands, but we have a house in Bali and we store our everything there. And if I would say that, yeah, my home is in Bali and I have a physical house too, there- Wow, that's nice.

Speaker 2:

But that's like this perfect mixture of whenever you feel you want to go home, you can go home, you have your house, and whenever you feel you need to see something of the world, so on yourself, like in this traveling working world.

Speaker 2:

You don't want to do it, and so your books and your travel blog is it all about your experiences while traveling, like? Maybe you can share with us some things we could read in the book. So what are maybe interesting stories for our listeners, for the general mad? Some nice experiences you had, or maybe also some challenges you faced?

Speaker 3:

Sure, sure, yeah. So, as an Indonesian, you might or might not know that my passport is not as strong, so I have to apply to visa to most of the countries that I visit pretty much, and it's a very complicated process. It's not like go online and then I get the visa in one day. So I've prepared a lot of documents, including my, you know, like my bank account, proof that I have money there, my family card, insurance, booking of hotels, booking of return ticket, itinerary ID card, school certificate, work certificate, business certificate, whatever, like so many, lots of documents. I have to collect that in order to get this visa right, especially in the US visa, canadian visa, etc. And it's also I have to pay. So I'll pay around 50 to 200 USD depends on which country that I want to visit, and the process is lengthy and tedious. It takes one to three months.

Speaker 3:

So it's not easy for Indonesian to travel, and so a lot of people saw me traveling, indonesian especially, and they wonder how did I travel?

Speaker 3:

What's my secret of travel? And also our currency is not strong, so we don't have like purchasing, purchasing power, so it's expensive for us to travel to, let's say, western countries, and a lot of people asked me through Facebook back then and asked me personally as well, and I also have a lot of stories to tell them, like how, as a woman, I traveled by myself back then before I met my husband, and a lot of ways that you can do. But people were hindrance or the family. Well, in Indonesia also, like family takes a lot of influence, the decisions in you. So they said, oh yeah, the girl shouldn't travel, it's dangerous out there. So I want to write about my experience that inspired me to write down how I get to travel, what's the preparation, how I get a visa, how I get a scholarship, how I get to travel for free and my tips and tricks traveling on the road as a solo female traveler. And I just wrote it into a book because it's so long. So if I explain one by one, it's so long to people.

Speaker 2:

And what would be maybe like once though, that's like super interesting for digital nomads like around the world. Because I love already what you shared, because if we are living in Europe or in the United States, it's so easy for us to travel and they always feel it so unfair to people like you who are living in Bali or who are from South America, from any Eastern country that really needs a visa, and I feel we sometimes forget how luxurious we are. You know so, how beneficial we are that we just can go wherever we want without really needing like a visa for three months.

Speaker 2:

This is like for me, because I'm from Germany, that is already something that's eye-opening. What else would you fear could be like an eye-opening story?

Speaker 3:

Eye-opening stories for people who want to travel.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, like for digital nomads, like because I feel sometimes for us it becomes like normal, right, but it's like so different, like depending on your nationality, how your digital nomad life is really being.

Speaker 3:

I think a lot of people forget that they have privilege. It's a privilege to have a strong passport, for sure, and I was just not lucky in that draw that I get. I was born in a country where the passport is strong. I love my country I'm not saying that I'm not but it's just hard to travel. But I think with a lot of passion and hard-working and that optimism for sure, still we can get a visa. It takes time and of course, money too, because applying it also costs a lot. But I've never got my visa rejected. It was always accepted because whenever I travel there is always a strong reason. I make sure that through the interviews if they have interviews some countries ask for interviews that my reason is legit. Either I travel for work, for sightseeing, and I don't have intentions to misuse my visa, for instance and I just complete all the documents that are necessary to prove that my intention was not to overstay my visa or to misuse it.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, well, that is already like I feel like a really good insight, because it's I'm like curious how do you manage it that none of your visa has been rejected? So one first thing is like the interview preparation. Then you are like really conscious when filling in the document that you are like traveling with good intention, anything else that you really need to keep in mind together to be sent out rejected.

Speaker 3:

No, really, I think there is a lot of documents, right. I just I just make sure that my documents are complete when I apply for visa and that, yeah, the reason is strong and what's the right time. The countries are afraid, like if you, if people gonna go there and not returning back to their countries, or they were doing illegal work somewhere in their country, within the country. So I was. Whenever I applied visa, I always make sure that, yeah, the intention is clear. I have a house in Indonesia, for instance, I have a proper job, I have a if I'm studying, that I have a university, that I have to return. So there is a reason, a strong reason, for me to go back to my home country, yeah, to return, pretty much. So that's I think that's a legit reason why I was never be rejected for my visa.

Speaker 2:

That is a great insight and I'm glad to hear that you, that you manage where will be like your next travel be like? For what visa are you currently applying, or are you applying for any current no?

Speaker 3:

so I've seen quite a lot of visa that I needed. I've got the five years US visa, five years saying and visa. Most of the time, people struggling with saying and visa, especially from developing countries, because if, like, if people apply for two weeks, they just give like straight two weeks, right. So if they want to extend, they can't, they have to return, booking a return flight as well. And I think because I applied often like between 2014 to 2017, every year I apply for saying and visa because have the like 100 Euro each applications and because I apply every year, then when I apply in Dutch embassy in 2018, if I'm not mistaken, that is all on my passport I apply every year. So then, even though I ask for one month saying and visa, they give me five years. Yeah, and ever since, if I apply again, then they give me just five years because I've proved that I always return back and never, ever use my visa, never overstay my visa. So, yeah, that's it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think it's also like really great to see, if we are like conscious about it, that we can make it happen somehow.

Speaker 3:

True.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and the other thing where you are like, where you are like working on, is your productivity we treat. Maybe you want to share a little bit about it. So, and what can I imagine about this retreat? It's like it sounds like really nice, but maybe you can do it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's funny, right, because it's a retreat productive. So I just finished my study in Costa Rica my third master on sustainability business in Costa Rica and university and then I learned a lot there and my previous career I was always working either with the government. In June, my last job was a startup on plastic recycling in Bali and I want to make my own journey. I am currently sustainability consultant for businesses, but I also want to make something out of my own. So then I thought I started doing something here and there, just testing the market in VPNs and traps, but then I realized that it is easier and more powerful when I'm surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs who are striving for betterness, and when we get it together, there is accountability towards doing our own. So that's the idea comes from, because I was in Bangkok a few weeks ago, a few months ago in June, and I met a couple of entrepreneurs and I realized that when I'm with entrepreneurs, like the creativity, the minds and the focus is there, like I am more striving, because I see how the progress is shared, their tips, et cetera, and I want to create an environment where these people are together and we are supporting each other, accountable to each other and share our own. So that's why I created this focus retreat, because I also also for me, because I also want to be surrounded with these kind of people.

Speaker 3:

So the idea is to have two weeks time in Bali, in Ubud, in the middle of a rice field, of course, in Bali, and then we will be together working on our projects. So every day, people will share what they want to do today, and then later on we will do masterminds as well and sharing their things about entrepreneurship, either like scaling up, marketing or HR, whatever they can share on. And then I also want to invite a startup founders or business based in Bali who are based in Bali it could be international or like local and they share their insight as well, how do they execute their business, et cetera. And on the weekend I want to invite these people to visit local heroes, we call it, or people who micro entrepreneurs Bali's people or Indonesian who run their own business with a purpose. So they, for instance, the purpose of business are a woman empowerment, or they also have tempeh soybean agriculture or a bomb orchid sector, but those business are having a mission, positive missions that empower local people, or having a focus, that issue that they want to take, like woman empowerment, hiv or conservation or environmental plastic issues, etc.

Speaker 3:

So the business has a purpose, not necessarily like just making profit, but there is something beyond that. So I'm hoping to gather people who have like minded. Plus, I think it's important also to diminish all the destruction. So that's why we're going to have like in-house chefs cooking Indonesian or having a local delicious food, because maybe a lot of people don't know like delicious food in Bali, so I can get them there. Also the London to King care and we will have like a nice product. How to say, a chair desk is very important for digit right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think they are like already so many things and let's dive a little bit deeper into this topics. So I really like this idea, like of working like for ghost and productive, and I think that's like a topic that's really also important for us right and for our listeners, because if we are maybe sometimes, when we are like traveling or in different countries, it's so easy to to get lost because of all the adventures that are waiting for us outside and this fear of missing out, and then maybe sometimes it's hard to really get like focused and productive. And it's always helpful also for me to search like co-working cafes wherever.

Speaker 2:

I am to be in this, to be in this headspace. What else do you think is can help us besides the retreat, then? Because after in the retreat is a certain amount of time where we really can be productive. What do you do normally when you are traveling around to really work productively?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so when I travel, that's why I always try to find like-minded people. I think it's important to make sure that I'm also pump motivated by these people when we talk about stuff Like, for instance, last time in Netherlands, I tried to find this community of like woman enterprise and meet up so I can inspire, get inspired on or be inspired as well by this woman. And if I am traveling and I don't know people just yet like right now I'm in Les Palmes I haven't met people because I'm still settling down a few days here. What I do is I have this note where I put what is the things that I want to achieve today. So it's just very simple, it's just like a point on the paper, like things that I want to achieve today, and so it get me on track on things. So, yeah, that's the thing I want to do. I'm doing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think that's also a great tip. And what I also really like about your retreat is that you're going to visit these local heroes. Yeah, so whenever I feel, when we are traveling, do you have any recommendations Like, how could we find these local heroes also in other countries? Because I feel it's so important and valuable, also when you're like traveling around, that you get immersed with the local people, understand the local culture and not just the you know with the international people.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I agree, I think it's very disconnected, what I oversee between the bubble of digital nomads and the locals, and it seems like there are many reasons why it's it's it's just not connected. First, like the really different lifestyle they go every day and they meet. They already have like local people. I mean, they already have their friends and family, so they just interact on themselves and they do their daily life. And the second, maybe also the language itself. Like many locals on speech, the language of the digital nomads, we usually use English. I mean the locals probably also don't understand the lifestyle and there's nothing that they can relate to. So I actually don't have a lot of tips. If I am abroad, I'm also struggling to find local, unless otherwise I live in a country for long. So, for instance, I was in Costa Rica. I lived there for six months. Of course, I know my neighbors, I interact with them. If I have food, I share with them, so that we just build connection, even though I speak really bad Spanish or not at all.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I just I just start to go out by myself and then, like people are just being friendly and talk to me and yeah, just like with the Google Trans, that we just communicate or like with body language, so people start to know me and I got to know them and they invite me sometimes to whatever like their event. If they have a party celebration at home and I got invited, then I can get to know the locals. But if I'm just staying for two weeks, it's really hard. I don't know people, I don't know how to start it and maybe not enough time even to settle down by myself, not to mention to get to know locals.

Speaker 2:

I also think like two weeks is like a super less, but what you just said the language.

Speaker 2:

I always like hear that the language is also like a super important topic and that if we stay really for several months in one country, it's really worse to learn the language. Okay, so I guess like to learn Spanish when we're staying in Latin America. It's way easier than, for example, learning any Asian language. Yeah, depends where you're from, but then at least make the effort. Why, as you just said, with Google Translator, I always suggest just to not make just language like this one barrier, because to create like connections sometimes it's also possible with gestures and showing interest.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think people also appreciate if we just start learning, even though they don't understand. But they will open up their, they become just warmer the moment they know that we're trying to speak or to communicate with them. From experience.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so yeah, it's nice to put it like all in this in your retreat, the things together, and also another point you mentioned that I feel is also part of the digital nomad experience is trial to the local food right. We are always like craving for it. So what would you say is we all need to try when we are in Bali.

Speaker 3:

So I understand, because now, like I, am traveling around Europe but often people also miss Asian food. I go to Asian grocery and Asian restaurants, so I understand also the other way around people who will miss their food that they get used to, right. But I think it's also good to explore, be more adventurous a bit, and there are many. I don't know how I can drive to Spain, to Bali, but there are many local cuisines. That is delicious and cheap and it's hidden gem. Of course, a lot of people love digital nomad. Don't know it because it's just not advertised out there, because it's local, like the one that is advertised normally like catering to western or like gas or to tourists. So we have like a sake pig, like baby guling and ayam baklava, fried chicken with balinese sauce. Well, in an Asian dish is usually a lot of chili and garlic and onion and local spices, but I miss it a lot and also like mixed culinary, chinese, indonesian and yeah, I don't know where to start because there's so many food down in my mind.

Speaker 2:

Looks great. So we all now have like plenty of options. Yes, I would really recommend there One thing you also shared with me before and I don't want to skip it because I think it's also really nice. It's like your honeymoon guide. Oh, okay, sure, sure, for Bali. So for all the listeners who are thinking maybe to get married in Bali, they really should read your website, right?

Speaker 3:

Sure, yeah. So it's a project together with my husband now. So this is the thing we live in Bali for. I live in Bali since 2017. My husband lived there since 2018. So every time we live, every time our friends or family come, he always ask a recommendation. Of course, like, if you live there, they will ask you a recommendation of accommodation or food or activities, right? So we gather a lot of this information. We just write it down and then my husband has an idea.

Speaker 3:

Oh, maybe you know like a lot of people come to Bali to do honeymoon. Why don't we write it? Because it's fun, you know, and most of the time, we try already most of the places that we mentioned there BaliHanYongHunGuidecom, because we also like to explore Bali every weekend. So many things to do, so many new restaurants or so many good cuisines western, asian or any kind of a cuisines that we can try out there. Like instead of we keep it for ourselves, we think you'll be just write it down.

Speaker 3:

So that's how we create BaliHanYongHunGuidecom. So it's monthly, from our own experience, and we hand pick all the hotels that we suggested there, all the food that recommended and activities I recommended and Bali is big and it's even though I live there we live there for like five, six years there's always always things to do. It's now it never get bored. From east to west to north, there's always something pop up new. There's always new activities. People come and go like always meeting new people, and yeah, it's just never ending list and we like to put it there, so to keep and we will.

Speaker 2:

We will put it for sure in the show notes so anyone who is like interested can check it. But what would you maybe, what I like, the key recommendations or opportunities you see for really staying as a digital nomad, some kind of Bali, and what are like also the challenges you see if we if we imagine some of our listeners now are thinking should I go?

Speaker 3:

to Bali or not?

Speaker 2:

what could we give them as advice?

Speaker 3:

yeah, so BaliHanYongHunGuide has been really popular this is for digital nomad sport right in the past few years, and so the challenge I will say it creates, like a housing market, a spice among expanse or digital nomad on people who want to live there long, especially in particular areas, because that's a hard sport. But in the past, in the capital, where most locals live there, it's not happening. People want to live in the nearby seashore and see, so the the cost of the accommodation is really expensive. Now it's almost like in Europe in some areas too like even, yeah, equal to western Europe, and it's also challenging to find the accommodation there.

Speaker 3:

It's not all too urban being need to go through Facebook groups and ask around and check around, and sometimes there are also fraud cases where people advertise but it's not there. So we have to be careful as well. Don't send the deposit before I don't know. It's tricky because you want to keep it. When you send it there, post it, they're gone, they're not there. The agent is just a fraud. So to recommendation of friends is also important. Yeah, I think that's the challenge when a combination now this is expensive.

Speaker 2:

Well need to be tricky. And I think that's a really good point we need to be aware of when preparing our stay environment.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and other than that also, I think, well, this is particular my challenge. People come and go. There's not many. I think there are people who stay, but, like we are digital nomads, of course we come and go. So I think a lot of people who stay there longer there is a struggle to find long-term friendship. First, people who have a base. They want to have like kind of stability, the people that they hang around, not like starting all over again with the conversation what are you doing? Blah, blah, blah, like just sort of this conversation. They want to have like more in-depth conversation. And I think, as a very transient place, Bali is not the best place to find long-term friendship somehow. But if you want to meet people, that's perfect. That's a lot of people come and flop in and hop off there.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, but the good thing about Bali is, as I mentioned before, it's a very beautiful island. There's so many things to do, from mountain to beach. There's so many options of food as well, from Western Asian spicy bland, you name it. Also it's very. It's also there's a city. There's facilities. You can buy anything that you want that is in the Western hemisphere. You can have it there. There are malls, hospitals, everything. So it's not just small island. It has everything you need and if you get bored from Bali, you can go hop into islands nearby. There is Lombok, there is Sumba, which is more pristine and more secluded compared to Bali, and if you want to go to city, there's Surabaya and Jakarta. I don't know if people digital. There is just a city. If you want something that you can't find in Bali, like electricity or whatever, you can just go there. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Wow, that's like yeah, that sounds nice. And what is like your special secret tip for Bali? My special secret to Bali is Like a special secret recommendation. Oh, secret recommendation.

Speaker 3:

Do not use five seconds. Wait, let me think. Secret recommendation oh, okay, maybe I have one. I think a lot of people stuck in the in Kangaroo, right? Well, mostly Changoo or no Perenane and Cese. I think if you want something a bit different, go, try out to go to explore north of Bali, because that is like another word, like it's so different from Hazel and Basil, of Changoo and Perenane and Cese. You can say Minyak, for instance, ahmed, it's very good for surfing, for diving, and it's very beautiful. You can see the mountain agung there, very beautiful. And explore the north. Where is it? Like Chandidasa or north of Ubud. They're very pristine. Yeah, like way more pristine than the south. I think that's a secret if you want to try something new and try to avoid traffic and pollution in the south.

Speaker 2:

I think that's amazing because I haven't been yet to Bali. It's also on the topic. Oh no you should and I really I may be next year for your retweet. Let's see. And then, yeah, I've heard about it a lot that we are all going to the same spot and it's amazing that you shared this recommendation with us. Thank you. So, before we now finish and for sure we'll put all of your links for the retreat, for the honeymoon diet, for your travel vlog and the show notes, but anything else you would like to share.

Speaker 2:

Anything I haven't asked you to talk about.

Speaker 3:

I think I said everything, but if you were Again, I will say it again If you're looking for romantic things in Bali not only romantic but general place to go and do check on balihanimunguidecom, because it's all everything there, not necessary for a couple, but even for general tourists that happen to be in Bali. It's very useful and I'm happy to meet you if you decide to come to Bali and if you're an entrepreneur, I would like to get connected too, because it's always nice to meet other people who are trying out business, especially sustainability business.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's it, yeah, perfect. Thank you so much. A lot of insights. I think it was a nice talking to you.

Speaker 3:

Thank you. I'm forward to have you too, can try in Bali, pink me. If you're there, I will be happy to show you around.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, now I'm motivated to show you.

Speaker 1:

And that's it for today. Thank you so much for listening. I appreciate it very, very much. I would appreciate it even more if you could leave a review on Apple Podcasts for me. That way, more people can find this podcast, more people can hear the inspiring stories that we're sharing, and the more people we can impact for the better. So, thank you so much if you are going to leave a review. I really appreciate you and I will see you in the next episode.

Interview With Digital Nomad Olivia Puerba
Two-Week Bali Retreat for Digital Nomads
Digital Nomad Life in Bali
Thankful for Insights and Requesting Reviews