Aug. 9, 2022

Flash Sale + Loneliness Living in SE Asia (Part 2)

Flash Sale + Loneliness Living in SE Asia (Part 2)

Welcome back to Part 2 of Kristin's conversation with Giang Cao, which left off last week while chatting about relationships and loneliness in Southeast Asia and as a long-term traveler.

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Welcome back to Part 2 of Kristin's conversation with Giang Cao, which left off last week while chatting about relationships and loneliness in Southeast Asia and as a long-term traveler. 

Check out more of Giang’s amazing illustrations in Kristin’s new book, Digital Nomads for Dummies.Thank you for making it #1 and #3 on Amazon Business Travel new releases! 


Episode 167 Special Offers: 



  • Dating and meeting new people as a digital nomad. 
  • How Giang’s perception of being a nomad changed during the pandemic lockdown. 
  • The pros and cons of being a nomad versus a settler
  • Advice for people who are struggling with the digital nomad lifestyle or concerned about what they might face. 



  • How do you meet people and make friends in a new country? 
  • How has travel changed you? Do you feel like a different person? 
  • What are your favorite places to live in Vietnam?



Related Podcasts:


Recommended Destinations to Visit in Vietnam:

  • Da Nang
  • Hanoi
  • Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)


Connect with Giang:


Connect with Kristin: 


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Warm welcome to new patrons!

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Podcast descriptions may contain affiliate links of products and services we use and recommend at no additional cost to you.



Sneak Peek:


Giang Cao:Well, thank you, Kristin, for this talk. I think you - I think you are the first digital nomad that I reconnect with for a long life. I think that is what make me miss being on the road and meet other people and share stories. I think that is part of the digital nomad  life that I really miss.


Introduction: Welcome to Badass Digital Nomads, where we're pushing the boundaries of remote work and travel, all while staying grounded with a little bit of old school philosophy, self-development, and business advice from our guests.  


Kristin Wilson, Host: Hey there, Kristin, from Traveling with Kristin here and welcome to Episode 167 of Badass Digital Nomads. If you tuned in last week to my interview with Giang Cao of Vietnam, you may have noticed that the interview abruptly cut off around 34, 35 minutes into the interview. We did some troubleshooting there and we're not sure exactly what happened. It seemed like there was a problem with that file exporting, and although I updated it the same day, I realized it didn't populate all of the podcast feeds.


So in today's episode, I decided to dedicate it to the second half of Giang's interview, and it cut out right in the juicy part, right in the middle, where she was talking about her struggles with relationship issues and with loneliness. And it was so riveting. I'm so sorry to leave you all hanging like that. So we will play the rest of the interview for you today and I hope you enjoy. In other news, however, Digital Nomads for Dummies, the e-book version is officially out. By the time this podcast will be published. So you can start reading the e-book now and the physical copies of the book will be shipping out starting this week. I am so excited to announce that the book is at number one and number three right now.


So both versions of the book are in the top three on Amazon in business travel releases. So thank you so much for your support. And as a thank you to each and every one of you who have been supporting the podcast, supporting the YouTube channel out there, buying the book and keeping it at number one on Amazon new releases for months now, I have decided to do something that I have never done before, and I'm offering aflash sale for one on one consultations with me. So I'm offering 50% off one on one phone or zoom consultation to talk about anything that you want to talk about related to travel, living abroad or finding a remote job, or starting an online business.


So anything that will help you go location independent. I am here to help you now have a book, A Road Map for becoming a digital nomad. But I also know the benefits of working with people one on one. And I've been working with my clients one on one for well over ten years now. So I wanted to give all of you a thank you and also the option to talk with me one on one for a half off. So I will drop the link in the show notes. You can also go to and you have up to one year to book your consultation so you can book as many as you want or you can reserve as many as you want now and then you can book them throughout the year. This is the only time I've ever done something like this, and I don't know if or when I'll ever offer it again. So there is one caveat, and that is that this is a limited time offer. You will have until midnight ET on Friday, August 12, so you have the next three days to book. But again, you can hold those consultations and book them with me throughout the year. So you can wait until next week, next month, whenever you feel like that call is going to come in handy for you. So if there's something that's been on your mind lately and you want to get some feedback, some support strategy, or just a sounding board for your plans, then head over to or directly with the link in the show notes and you can book a call with me today. Again, thank you so much for helping make Digital Nomads for Dummies the number one and number three selling books on Amazon in business travel releases, it's my pleasure to give a gift back to you, and I hope that today you enjoy the second half of my interview with the lovely Giang Cao.


Podcast Interview: 


Kristin: Yeah. Did you have any relationships? Did you date anyone when you were traveling as a nomad?


Giang Cao:I think dating is definitely problem I didn't really date anyone kind of like it's not something like official and it kind of ended badly, but it's also I feel like it's my problem, even though some people have I've had that problem and I don't want to make it very nomad thing. Right. Because a lot of people has been traveling with their partner and they also find fulfilling relationships on the road. I think so. It's more like about my very personal problem, but I feel like dating in a digital nomad world. I don't know is it seem like you only meet this person on the road. You don't know their circle, you don't know they're lifelong friends. Some kind of that. You don't know what they're going to be in their own environment. You only know them when they are on basically holiday - of holiday. So everything can be very nice and rosy and like idealistic at that time because you're both in a place where you don't have any kind of normal responsibility and then you can just talk about feels good things and you don't know who they are when they are not in that frame of mind. Right? So I think it's harder to get to know someone really well before you jump into something like or a relationship with them. And also couple with the loneliness. That is when you are lonely you kind of feel like, okay, I'm definitely more kind of like needy when I'm traveling because I feel like I want more interactions and I want to be with someone more because I feel lonely, even though I know that is not healthy. But I think it's not a really good base tool for being, you know, starting a relationship. So I think all of the good relationship I have is when I am I start it when I'm at home and I'm surrounded by friends and I have all kind of other activity that I can go into so I can just pace myself to get to know someone better.

When I'm on the road as a digital nomad, I feel like everything has happened very fast because you feel like you don't have enough time, like you're going to live and the end of the month maybe, and then you want to get to know them very fast before that time ends - for example and when a relationship end, it often end very easily too because you can just go to that different country and then you’re not gonna see each other again.

So it's not like you have the inclination or you have the obligation to make that work because you don’t have to see this person's life for a long time. Right. So it's very easy as a cut tie because you will need to work a lot to come back and reconnect. 




Giang Cao:so I've got a problem. 


Kristin:Yeah, I definitely agree. Like, it comes like this turning point where you have to know by the end of the month or, you know, three months if you want to invest more time and energy in that relationship or if it's just going with the flow to the next place, and then that could mean the end of that relationship. And how do you usually connect with people when you're in these countries? How do you meet people? 


Giang Cao:So naturally, I think I am an introvert. This was like when I go to a new country, I can - it’s like being like extrovert - like I can just go around and be friendly and meet people and go to places with them. But I think recently I like you said, co-living is one of the main things that I use to connect with people. So I choose to leave in co-living instead of going to my own place and then go to co-working because I feel like I am very focused when I'm at work, so I don't want to talk to anybody when I'm at work versus with co-Living, when I'm working I’m working but after that we can have like share meals, we can have like time in common rooms.

And I think that is really good way to get to know people. And I think that is my favorite way of traveling when I own a new place is just try to find a co-living that I like and stay there for a while. So in Malaysia I was staying in a co-living like that and I think that is my main way of getting to know people and the co-living also welcome local people coming there and work.

So I made tons of local friends who are still friends untill to now. And yeah, so I mean, I know finding new people right now is going to co-Living. 


Kristin:Yeah, that was a really good channel for me too. I met a lot of people that way and Japan and Norway and all different countries. How did your perception of being a nomad change during the pandemic? So you went to Malaysia first. You thought you were just going for two weeks and then you get stuck during the pandemic. So how did that change your perception of being a digital nomad? 


Giang Cao:Oh, definitely. Like, I'm not saying changing it like completely, but I definitely it's that mostly what I feel like my digital nomad journey should be like. 

So before that, I think I would just jump from place to place and being stuck in Malaysia is likely very unexpected, even though I like the place and I came back to Malaysia at that time, it was for 5th time. So after I got stuck there I was staying in a co-living place, which is a place I really like, and they have a lot of plants and they have a cat. And then because a host cannot come to the place often, because of the pandemic and the lockdown, so it kept them. So I said I can help them take care of the plants so taking care of the plants it was really helping during the pandemic because it's some kind of routine and the stability is has like a healing property to it.

So I just keep doing that everyday and I realize that it's really helped me to connect to that particular place just by seeing the plants grow every day. And I even grow plants  from the seed. So it's something that I don't I never would do when I was traveling from place to place. I think that is make a difference with my stay here compared to all of this year that I've been in it, like going - bumping from place to place and never really long enough for the way for seed to grow, you know, and that is about the plans and the cats, but then about the people and the people I met, I keep meeting them.

This is like it's not this one, not two dinner. This this one little conversation is as I keep meeting the same people every week. And I think just by doing that, I make really good friends and friends as going to exist is through it in my life to this day. And then I think it changed me and my perception of making friends because I think before I think like friend, this would be interesting.

We would have really deep conversations and we should be really inspiring. But then I realize that friends they are the most important things about them is that they are there. They are there when you need them and they are there when you need someone to hang out. And when you feel lonely or you want to go somewhere, you can call them up.

So the time in Malaysia is like meeting that. Okay, the most important quality of a friend is that they will be there for you right? And I make really good local friends during a time when I was in Malaysia, which is two years. But now I think like one year is a minimum amount of time that I stay in one place, whether it is like a long stretch of time or if I coming by for a place that I think is it's really take time to really be a connection with someone and to make that person like a permanent part of your life.


Kristin:Yeah. Do you think that you'll keep going back to Malaysia to visit those friends or what are your plans to do next as a nomad? 


Giang Cao:All right. No, I actually don't have any particular plans for any place. So right now is my plan is also depending on some other person's plan because we actually just got to know each other. 

Just got to know each other and we plan that we have to find some way where we both can go easily and we can have some kind of extended period of time to get to know each other. Because before that, like I tell you as a digital nomad, you want to get to know someone does not often happen very fast because you always feel like you're running out of time.

So right now I'm me and a person decided that, okay, we are going to do it the normal way we want to take the time and get to know someone by spending a lot of time with them and just doing a lot of things together and have different experience together. So just like normal people do, and that's what I have in mind.

So right now I feel like after being digital nomads for a few years, I feel like I'm very comfortable in my own skin right now and I can just be comfortable everywhere and like all of that we deal with it like visa, accommodation, like to eat something like that - it just seemed like a very normal thing to do and I can just do it like this everyday chores, right? And so right now my plan is to go is a flow. 


Kristin:I think there is like this kind of tension or kind of back and forth between wanting to travel and explore the world and like see what's next and what's the next step and what's around the corner. But then also having that other more settled and grounded side and having like a home life and having friends, I think that's so important to like I was showing you in my screen, my, my plants that are here and that I've had for a couple of years now, and I've noticed that I've been in one place long enough to see my orchid grow three stems like I've never had an orchid that just kept re- sprouting, but I've had it for almost two years now, so it keeps like renewing itself.


Giang Cao:You kept an orchid alive!




Giang Cao:Good one. 


Kristin:Good one, It's like the best one I've ever had and then my poor lettuce. Oh, but you said you grew plants from seeds and I did the same thing. I grew tomatoes from seeds, and they grew so big that they were up to the roof of my patio and I had to give them away. And then I have this lettuce patch that died because I went to Chicago for the weekend. And, you know, you start to realize that, yeah, like you have to be consistent with watering your plants every day for them to stay alive and but then there comes this time where it's like on one hand, I notice that the palm trees outside my window have grown higher. And there's these signs around my neighborhood that are about Coconut Grove. And one of them says they have poetry on them, like haikus and stuff. And one says like something about staying in a place long enough to enjoy the shade of trees that you might have planted. And that just really sticks with me because there's so much significance in staying in a place for so long that you watch your kids grow up and the trees grow. And on the other end of the spectrum, because we're humans and everything is like a duality and polarized, we have this other urge to explore. And so I think it's about balancing or like finding that point in the tension, I guess balance where you can have a somewhat normal and grounded life with the human connection and community and relationships that are important. But then you also have that personal growth that comes through travel. You have the challenge that comes through travel. You have like the exploration or the excitement. And like after two and a half years in Miami, I'm definitely feeling like it's time for me to travel again. But maybe, you know, that travel comes to an end, that destination, you know, you kind of come to the end of your time there and then it's time to go somewhere else or it's time to go back home.

And maybe that is the pattern of an evolving nomadic lifestyle is maybe having a little bit of both. What do you think? 


Giang Cao:Yeah, I think it really depends on the person. Right. But I think you go to nomad, just to know what it's like. And some people can go, live that life or whatever, but some really need roots like you and I just said, we want something we take care of and we can own. Yeah, it's really like kind of. I know say that consciousness is like the idea of like keeping everything moderate. Like you don't have too much of this thing or not doing the things that are in moderation. And I think that's a lot like that. You want stability and you want some kind of root and you want to be in a place long enough to see how all of the efforts in one place turn into I think it has also some kind of significance in life. Because not everything in life is happening fast right? because you plant something and then you need to wait for months for it to grow. And I think to have that patient, to see something grow like that is a part of life that we need to cherish. But the nomadic things is great. You can just go and you can just have all kind of mix experiences, different experiences and see different perspective and meet different people.

And I think that is something that not many people can do in the past. But now we can do it like with quite a lot more ease. And I think we just need to take the opportunity and I think it is a part of being in more and in this time. And I think I'm thankful for that because it's allowed me to just go go somewhere where my parents cannot go and I still have to widen my mind into something that they are not exposed to.

So yeah, that's maybe a little bit of both for me, please. 




Giang Cao:So I think at the end of this journey, I don't think it's right. We're just going to think we're going to lose something like that our life. And whether it is to say one place. All right, or is it to go somewhere else, I think is still the part of our life that is not like defined by anything unless we want to. Right. So 


Kristin:that's such great advice. 

Giang Cao:So I, I'd really like to be able to meet different people and just to meet them like I - as a kid, I always watch television news and I want to go to a lot of places. I couldn't do that until recently. Right. So I don't know. Sorry. I just do like my mind is drifting right now.

Is this because as is like in the morning and in the morning, usually my mind was very, very focused. 


Kristin:More coffees


Giang Cao:okay, you do it. 


Kristin:My last question for you, though, would be how has travel changed you? You know, in the past five or six years, do you feel like the same person or do you feel like a better version of yourself? How has that changed you since the beginning of your nomadic journey through today? 


Giang Cao:Oh, good question. The thing that change me the most is to be more aware of what the other person - people might be thinking. Because I grew up in one country and I was raised in one country, so I wasn't often exposed to different character, different perspectives.

And so when I meet other people, somehow I don't realize, like, we are not different, we are the same in any way, but we are also different in another way. For example, in Vietnam, it's quite socially acceptable to say racist things. 


Kristin:Mm hmm.


Giang Cao: Let's say sexism is quite acceptable to say that. Okay, women are weak and may not strong.

Something like that is also quite socially acceptable to say that you  are fat  like to say someone is fat, for example. But when I meet people I realize those kind of things often quite sensitive to talk about. And then it's also important to have your own opinion about something rather than this to say that everyone is saying that. So that's how it is, right?

So for me, I was more aware of what the other person might be thinking and trying to learn about their perception and their perspective. And that is somehow challenged my own thinking like, why did I take that away? Why did I act this certain way? And by being in a new place when nothing is familiar and nothing is like the environment that I grew up with. And I believe that a lot of things we call ourself, it basically is, is our is - is how we are conditioned to think and we are taught certain things and we are expected to behave in a certain way. But when we travel, there's none of that around us. We just need to find a new way to act and how to adapt to some places that we put some new perspective or cultural value that we are not exposed to before.

And I think that in a way, I don't think I am become the place that I go to. It's mostly, like I said, the thing way. Okay, so there are so many different way of thinking or doing things. Everyone is thinking that they are doing the right thing. But who is right, who is wrong? right. So I think it makes me more very of questioning-  it make me become more critical in thinking about how I act and why I act this way.

So I realize a lot of things we are conditioned to do. So right now, I just keep in questioning why I do that, why people do things. And I think for me it gave me a lot of freedom because I realized that nothing is set in stone and then nothing - the tradition - there's this tradition is this because people keep doing that way and then for me, it makes me become a very I say flexible.

I mean, I say kind of mindset when it comes to different cultural value and I feel like I can tolerate a lot of differences in people now, and I feel like differences doesn't really bother me as much as before. I feel like everyone is entitled to their opinion, right? And my opinion is not like this is always changing is I seem like always for the most stuff and I can change opinion and it kinda make me like a wishy washy kind of person. I don't want to have like a rigid kind of belief system where I can not accept another people's belief system, but it changed me. 


Kristin:Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. It's very helpful and I feel the same way that you want to be flexible and open minded. But then there's also like some principles that you want to keep and some beliefs that you want to hold to be true but being able to travel and have those experiences allows you to integrate that on a deeper level compared to before. And then when you come back, you know, five years later or however long it is, you come back a different person. Hopefully a better person. And then you appreciate those things about home and travel and find whatever the next step is.

So thank you so much for sharing your experiences. What kind of advice or words of wisdom would you have for people that are coming from non-Western countries? Or maybe they're from a country where they don't know any other digital nomads and they either feel like, you know, maybe it's too difficult because of the visa situation or maybe it's not for them or that they don't have enough money or some other sort of blocks that are holding them back. Maybe their family doesn't want them to go. What would you say to them? 


Giang Cao:The thing you said about family is, I think is one of the thing - The first thing that they have to deal with when they start this journey, because usually family will think like, yeah, its a dangerous world out there and then they worry about us. So that's why they don't want us to go on this journey. So I think the first thing you want to do is the support that you can take care of yourself. And I think a lot of people in - who is coming from a less privileged country, they are actually more adaptable to a very difficult living situation. So I think it's less about the ability to adapt, but more about the self-consciousness that I have. When you go out and you hang out with people from a Western world. So I think when I started, I was really self-conscious about where I was coming from in my work. I was doing things for like I mostly work with American clients, so I know that my work has been accepted on an international level, right? But deep inside me, I still have this kind of self-consciousness that I am not good enough. I am not as good as people from Western country. And I think that is some kind of mental block that make it difficult for me to be really good friend with people from around the world. And I think the one thing that I can say to people from my developing world, like that  want to be a digital nomad.

Is is that just to realize that people are - we are different, but we are also very similar in many way. And then it's just because we are from developing world doesn't mean like we cannot be good friend with people from western country or like developed world. And I think so to overcome that kind of self-consciousness make me become much more open and comfortable in social situation. And that is something that I think, yeah, just get that mindset right before or even during the time when you are becoming a digital nomad. 


Kristin:Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. That's so incredibly inspiring and it's just about facing that fear and that discomfort and then realizing when it's over that it wasn't so bad after all. 


Giang Cao:Yeah, it's not so scary.


Kristin:Yeah, but yeah, it can be intimidating and scary. But it's great to hear from your experience how you were able to transition from working for a company and being, you know, kind of bored with your traditional lifestyle to working for yourself and starting your side hustle and tripling your income and having these experiences traveling as a solo female traveler to other countries, making friends co-living I mean, you've done so much in such a short time and I'm sure that your family is proud now that they're like, Okay, she knows that she's doing.


Giang Cao: It’s like kind of accepting now. 



Kristin: Yes. acceptance.


Giang Cao:It’s kind of an achievement.


Kristin:Yeah. But, you know, you're living life on your terms and you're doing what you want to do. And even though sometimes we can only see one step ahead or maybe only in the present moment and not even what the next step is, then you're still living life on your terms and and doing what you want to do. So I'm so glad that our paths crossed. I'm glad that you had the idea to make the comics and to create that and put it out there on the Internet for the rest of us to see. And I'm glad that we got to meet through that. And many more people will get to see them in the book in Digital Nomads for Dummies.

So a lot of people have preordered it so far. So I hope that they enjoy your comics and get a good laugh out of them. And for everyone else who wants to connect with you, maybe they want to just, you know, check your website. Maybe there are some people that are looking for some freelance graphic design work. How can they get in touch?


Giang Cao:You can find me on Behance because I'm still building my website with my more recent work. But I think you can find me on Behance with Giang Cao, G I A N G space Like K A O


Kristin:Is it C A O? Or K ?


Giang Cao:I change it into a K on behance because a lot of people, they pronouns they C as chas


Kristin:So yep, I see it. Okay. We will link to your Behance profile in the show notes. We will link to Very Nomad Problems and then for everyone who is listening, your bio will also be on our website about us digital nomads. So when you go to this Shownotes page, then you'll see Giang's beautiful face at the bottom and her contact info there, too.


Giang Cao:Thank you, Kristin, for this talk. I think you really gave me a lot of inspiration into I think you are through first digital nomad that I reconnect with all for my long life. I think the first new person and I think that is what we miss being on the road and meet other people and the share stories. I think that is part of nomad life that I really miss. And definitely I would not give up on that, even though I'm saying I'm kind of like a retired nomad, no. Yeah. So I hope like the best of the books and I also hope to, I yeah. Let me know where I get it.


Kristin: I'll send you a copy for free, so I'll send you one and then before you go, we forgot to ask you, what is another place that people should visit in Vietnam? Because I think now I want to go. I mean, I want to go visit. I hope we get to see each other in real life. But for all the other travelers out there


Giang Cao: yeah, that really is as if you go there, just let me know and I can just come to where you come and be your tour guide. So I think the favorite place of digital nomad  right now is Da Nang it’s in the middle of Vietnam. They also have the National Airport. So you can also easily get there from I don't know which course I know, but they definitely have a lot of direct flights to different cities in the world and in Nam Nang they have bubbling the nomad community. They have the beach, they have river, mountain. So beautiful city, really clean compared to Hanoi oSaigon, which is the big city. So I think if you go to Vietnam, just start there in Da Nang  if you want to spend longer time there, you can go from the north and go to Da Nang - like Hanoi and Da Nang and then Saigon. If you want to go to the three Cities, is three cities in Vietnam, but if you don't have enough time, just go to Da Nang. I think that's also my favorite place of visit. 


Kristin:Yeah, I think it's one of the top locations that I've seen on Nomad List for Vietnam. I think so. That makes sense. We all know where we're going to go in Vietnam now, so thank you so much.

Giang Cao:Yeah, I hope I can work out with you soon. So yeah. Keep in touch. 


Kristin:Maybe later year. Maybe I'll escape some winter and go over there. So yeah, we'll be in touch. We'll have a great day. Friday over there. 12 hours difference and get some coffee. Enjoy your day and we'll be in touch. Thanks, everyone. 

Giang Cao:Thank you and see you around.

Kristin:I really hope you enjoyed my conversation with Giang today as much as I did.

You can get a list of all the links and the places that we talk today in the show notes, as well as a link to buy my new book where you can see Giang's art in print. Remember, you have until this Friday, August 12th, at midnight Eastern Time to get 50% off one hour phone or zoom consultations with me that are good for up to one year that's at traveling with Kristin dot com slash store or by using the link in the show notes.

I look forward to chatting with you soon and see you all again next week for a brand new interview.



Giang CaoProfile Photo

Giang Cao


I design infographics, data visualizations and sometimes make webcomics for fun.