West Coast

Post coming soon

Spain

Post coming soon

UAE

Post coming soon

Japan

Post coming soon

Thailand

Post coming soon

KL / LNDN / NYC

Post coming soon

Why I Left Remote Year

Jun 23, 2016

I know I always say this, but it’s REALLY been a while since I’ve posted here. Mostly because I needed to take the time to reflect and collect my thoughts for what is arguably my most complex and interesting post. Ever. A lot of things came to a crashing crescendo during my month in Turkey, which resulted in my departure from the inaugural RY group. This post is about why. And it’s also to hopefully answer some of your questions that I’ve been receiving from around the world. I can’t find the time to answer each of you individually, so hopefully I can answer you all at once. I’m not going to beat around the bush, or try to be too politically correct here. I think it’s important to communicate my truest thoughts with no filter. The inaugural trip is complete. I am back home. My friends know who they are. So here we go.

Let’s start back in Cavtat, Croatia. There I was, travelling around the world, spending my Mondays drifting about on the blue Adriatic in an inflatable neon-coloured raft that I bought, with a new group of friendstrangers, living the “dream”, yet I was extremely unhappy. I felt disconnected and alone. I was very confused by this. Isn’t this what I wanted? Wasn’t this the dream? Maybe not. What was bothering me so much? Why did I feel so dissatisfied with everything? Was it RY? Was it my job? Was it me? Was I just missing home? The dissatisfaction forced me to sit down and analyze what was bothering me. I retreated into a hermit-like state for most of the month in Croatia, preferring to be alone with myself and my thoughts. I boiled it down to a few reasons. They all traced back to RY.

My tolerance for putting up with things that make me unhappy had already hit absolute zero after spending 3 years at Amazon with managers who I felt abused me. I’m a grownass man. I’m not about to put up with anyone's bullshit. Never again. If I don’t like something, I feel no obligation to stay. For anyone or anything.

So what exactly about RY was I so dissatisfied with? Before we get into that, I want to state for the record that I have no ill will towards RY. This is not a takedown piece. It is my honest, unique perspective. If you ask 70 different people, you will get 70 different perspectives. But still, I am grateful for what RY did for me. If it wasn’t for them, I would still be stuck inside my comfort zone. I have to commend them on their courage to launch such an audacious startup. It takes balls. Before meeting the founders, I assumed they would be older than me in order to know how to pull off such a crazy stunt. I was surprised to learn that the whole team was actually 2-3 years younger than me. That should be commended. To get so many people excited about an idea, about life in general. And I know it wasn't easy putting up with the amount of crap that they did throughout the year, so I applaud them for that. I wish them continued success in the future.

But given my unhappiness in Cavtat, I had a gut feeling that I was going to leave RY before I even realized it. It’s like when you feel you have to barf, you know you have to get it out in order to feel better, but you still don’t want to do it. Believe me, I didn’t want to leave. The thought alone was scary. How would I go out into the world by myself, a “reject” from RY, with no one watching my back, no one booking my transport, no one booking my accommodations or coworking spaces. It would all fall on me. Would I be able to make it? Could I balance doing all that with my job? What if I had a heart attack somewhere? Who would help me? And what about the friends that I had cultivated in the RY group? It felt crappy knowing that if I left, I wouldn’t see them as much. But I still knew I had to do it to make myself feel better.

The day we left Cavtat for Istanbul, I had already made up my mind. I was going to leave RY. It was my dirty little secret for the whole journey there. I was dying to tell the group, but knew I had to wait until I got to Istanbul. I read through the program contract to make sure I exited correctly and had my bases covered. I would let RY know once we were settled in Istanbul. I would pay the $2500 USD exit fee, not because I wanted to, but because the contract that I agreed to stated so and I would honour that no matter what, even if it was a steep price for me (I know that some people had left without paying the exit fee).

The $2500 USD exit fee is an interesting aside to talk about. It’s meant to detract and discourage people from leaving by penalizing them financially (though they’ll tell you it’s meant to “cover costs”). The cost of one month in RY was $2000 USD, and if you left even one day into that month, you had to pay an additional $2500 on top. This didn’t sit well with a lot of people, mostly because they didn’t understand why they needed to pay more money on top of their initial $3000 deposit. Looking back on my discussions with people about this exit fee, I felt too many people let it be their reason for staying. They couldn’t "afford to leave". To me, this didn’t make any sense. If I was only staying to avoid paying some amount of money, then that meant that I truly didn’t want to be there. What is the price of freedom anyway?

So now that I had decided to leave RY, what next? Where would I go? Do I go home? HELL NO! I was going to continue my year of travelling come hell or highwater. I would continue doing the same thing, just on my own terms. I could now pick my own destinations and my own accommodations! I was back in control of my money. I had already booked my Airbnb for the month in Istanbul before leaving Cavtat. I relied exclusively on Airbnb for the remainder of the year as well.

But the seeds of discontent had been planted long before we even got to Istanbul. The first sign of trouble for me was our month in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Don’t get me wrong, Ljubljana is one of the most beautiful, charming places I have had the pleasure of setting foot in. My problem was with the subpar accommodations that RY had provided for us. They put us in highschool dorms, with a bunch of highschool kids, with shared dorm-style bathrooms, in the middle of a heat wave, without AC… I heard stories of people waking up with bugs crawling on their face because they had to keep the window open in order to not melt away. Some of the RY girls even had to share showers with a bunch of teenage boys. They dropped the ball BIG TIME. They knew this too because everyone let them know loud and clear. Many people even screamed mutiny, and ironically, I was the one encouraging people to stay at the time because I felt it was too early to leave. I was expecting mistakes, but I wasn’t expecting such major gaffes so early in the game. This made me nervous about the rest of the year. The thought of being at the mercy of someone else’s poor decisions. The thought of not having control over how my hard-earned money is being spent. It made me uncomfortable. This is how it began to unravel for me.

We got to Istanbul a day or two before the end of August 2015. This is important because my next payment to RY for the month in Turkey was coming up on September 1st. If I didn’t leave before September 1st, I’d have to pay the $2000 for the month on top of the $2500 exit fee. As soon as we got to Turkey, I pulled aside one of the founders and told him that I had to talk to him about something very important. I felt like he knew what I was going to say. He said he was busy with getting everyone settled in, so I didn’t bother him much that day. I was tired from the journey too. The next day I insisted we meet, even if for a few minutes, and we did. I let him know that I had decided to leave RY and listed off my reasons for doing so. I could tell he wasn’t happy about it, but I told him I had already made my decision and wasn’t looking to change my mind.

I could tell he wasn’t happy because he thought that I was doing it for reasons other than the ones I stated to him. I knew that he thought that I was leaving as a result of one of my “controversial” RY friends who had exited the program a few days before me. I knew that people associated me with this controversial friend (rightfully so, since this person was and is my friend). I knew that people thought that I had been “poisoned” by this friend. I also knew that they couldn’t be farther from the truth. Everyone has their own unique reasons for leaving, and we have to respect that. I’m not going to get into my friend’s reasons for leaving, but I will get into mine.

Let’s start with the simplest reason: the CAD/USD exchange rate. I am a software engineer. I secured a remote job in Canada developing an Android app for Nickelodeon before starting RY. I’m still the lead engineer on this app (it’s called Noggin). I net roughly $5000 CAD per month (I feel I’m underpaid but that’s a separate rant). At the time I started RY, this converted to about $4500 USD per month. “Fine”, I thought. "I can make it work". But then the Canadian dollar started crashing only a few weeks into the program. The conversion rate skyrocketed from 1.15 towards 1.5 throughout the year of 2015. This hurt me a lot because I had to pay RY in USD. Effectively, my purchasing power diminished each month due to factors that were outside of anyone's control. This made me sad. Why should I have to sacrifice my travel experiences just because I’m from Canada? This was the most practical reason for my departure. My money was simply not going as far as it was in the first month of RY. So I made an executive decision to spend my own money how I please. It’s not that I was making bad money, it’s that the money I had to convert to pay RY was wasting close to $1000 CAD every month. That’s a lot of amazing dinners just gone down the drain. I thought I could do better on my own, and I did. Did I spend more money after leaving? Yes. Did my hard-earned money go farther? YES! I lived like royalty compared to the RY accommodations I saw after I left. Could I have done it for cheaper? Of course. It really depends on what level of quality of living you are comfortable with, and that varies person to person, situation to situation. Was I more lonely? Sure, but definitely more at peace mentally knowing my money is being fully utilized.

Another reason for my dissatisfaction, and I didn’t expect this one, was having everything done for me and served on a silver platter. I knew that this is what I had signed up for with RY, I just didn’t know that it would take away so much of the satisfaction of travelling. A big part of the journey is the adversity you face. They are invisible badges of honour that only you know about. Turns out I needed a little adversity to keep things interesting, to maintain my appreciation of travelling, and to feel a sense of achievement. Sounds a bit obnoxious, but you realize it when you’re in the thick of it.

Now let’s dig into one of the more complex reasons for my departure: the social dynamics of the group. There’s several layers of the social dynamics I want to discuss. Let’s start with what my expectations were coming into the program. I expected like-minded people: people who were somewhat well-travelled, people who had secured remote jobs to pay for the year, people with open minds and hearts who wanted to experience the world together, people who wanted to feel a sense of community with the rest of the world, people who knew how to act in culturally diverse settings, people who knew how to respect and appreciate differences between humans. I came to RY to build connections, and possibly more. I may have even been secretly looking for love. My motivations for doing RY are directly related to who I am. I am a young, brown, single (*wink wink*), Pakistani-Canadian, Muslim male (did I mention pretty?). In a way, I came to RY to represent my people and where I’m from, to show the world that we're not who they may think we are. The media is not nice to people like me. The media has stereotyped people like me since I was in highschool, well before I understood how big the world was or how it worked. Unfortunately, the media has also poisoned a lot of hearts with this deliberate misinformation. A lot of minds who have never met me hate me because of what the media has told them. They are victims of their own ignorance. There’s no shortage of Islamophobic attacks in the past year. I came to RY to show a different face. My face.

What I found instead, for the most part, was cliquey-ness, petty arguments, and non-inclusive behaviours, a lot like back in highschool. The first month in Prague I thought was good. Everyone made conscious efforts to get to know each other. Everyone was away from home and tried to make everyone else feel like they still have family. Everyone felt like they were on the same boat, on the same team. I think that was the only month where I felt this way. It went downhill from there. I’m not going to point fingers at anybody. Everyone is at different stages of the journey called life, and I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone along their journey. But that doesn’t excuse the behaviour of those people. The people who chose to hang out with others exactly like themselves. If you acted that way back home, nobody would mind. I do that too. But when you come on an international travel program and behave like that, you are sending a message. A message that says that you are either happy living with your own like-minded ignorance, or you are simply unintelligent and unaware of the effects of your actions on the group. Neither is good. Maybe I’m being too hard. Maybe I wasn’t hard enough. Maybe I fell short in my efforts to build bridges. Maybe I gave up on the group too early. Who knows. All I know is that I didn’t want to condone this type of behaviour by being a part of it. I would do no such thing.

This behaviour created a toxic social culture for everyone. People were put in difficult positions where they felt like they had to “pick sides”. I can’t tell you how many people complained to me personally about this because it was stressing them out and they didn’t know how to deal with it. I didn’t know how to deal with it. Many people withdrew from the group, including myself. Many people flat out denied that were was anything toxic about the social culture (guess who?). Don’t get me wrong, you would also find counter-examples to this type of behaviour in the RY group. Those counter-examples are the people I preferred to invest my time in. Those counter-examples are the reason why I even stayed as long as I did. What’s worse is that RY lost control of the social dynamics, like a fire they could no longer wield. As the administrators, it is their goal to engage all people of the group. I don’t feel they engaged all people equally, to the point where they may have been complicit in these toxic behaviours. There’s only so much control they have over something like this to begin with. Or do they?

The sheer number of people dictates a lot of the group interaction. It is mentally and physically exhausting to try and be friends with 70 new people all at the same time, if not impossible, while travelling the world and working a fulltime job. I was naive to think I could do so. It’s hard to plan any outing when you have 20-30 people down to go. I learned that firsthand. I am an ambivert who strongly leans towards introversion. I’m not used to talking to so many people. I’m not used to giving up so much of my personal time. This took a lot out of me, in terms of both time and energy. But it also takes time to cultivate meaningful relationships, and I was regretfully not able to do this with everyone. Even though on an individual level I felt I got along just fine with each person, it’s the group-level interactions that I saw that really bothered me.

This brings me to the second aspect of the social dynamics: diversity. Out of my own curiosity, I crunched the numbers (twice) to come up with a diversity report of the inaugural RY group of 73 people including staff:

Gender Diversity
Gender % of Total
Male 53%
Female 47%

Racial Diversity
Race % of Total
White 70%
Latino/Hispanic 10%
South Asian 8%
Black 7%
East Asian 5%

To summarize, the gender ratio was pretty well balanced. With respect to racial diversity, not so much. 7 out of 10 RYers were white. Out of those 7 RYers, 6 were American. 4 out of 10 RYers were just from New York. I don’t think these diversity numbers are good enough, especially given the fact that the selection pool is quite literally the entire world. Now you may think me racist for pointing out these statistics, but not really. Being a brown male living in a post-9/11 North America, I have become hyper-aware of race relations. I have been forced to, because people have been brainwashed into seeing me as a threat everywhere I go. I can sense the uneasiness people feel when I get on the train, or board the plane, or reach into my pocket to pull out my GoPro. I can feel their eyes examining me with suspicion. This is a brown male privilege all over the world. Even I questioned whether I was being unfair or biased in my opinion, but the thing with numbers is that they don’t lie. In my screening interview with one of the RY founders, I was assured that they didn’t want this to be “an American thing”. But somehow 60% of the group was white Americans. I think that turned a lot of people off, including myself. Now, I haven’t got anything against Americans or white or black or purple or orange people. I do however have a beef with a type of behavioural mindset. The mindset of hanging out “with your own”. It doesn’t matter who does it, it’s just wrong. Maybe it reminds them of home. Maybe that’s how they find comfort through all the chaos in the year.

Do I think they acted this way because they're white? No. I think that if 7 out of 10 RYers were brown, we would still see the same behaviour: birds of a feather flocking together. There’s nothing wrong with that. Except when you do it on an international travel program, you come off as ignorant. I think this is also part of a broader trend that is being observed, particularly in North America. Just look at the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag and how Asian actors are having to speak out against Hollywood whitewashing (will we see #RYSoWhite trending soon?). Just look at the diversity reports release by major tech companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon or Apple. The thing is, you can’t just “add some" diversity on top like sprinkles on your McSundae. It has to be engrained in the culture and the mindset from the start. My hopes are that the RY team will take actions to improve the group diversity in future cohorts. Also, to future/current RYers, look around you. Take whatever actions you can to prevent creating this type of social culture, for your own good and for the good of the group. You will only reap the true benefits of travelling when you open yourself up to other people and cultures, when you embrace them wholeheartedly, when you accept that you are all part of the same extended human family.

This post has turned into an essay so I’m going to start wrapping it up. I hope I didn’t offend anyone with my words, especially my friends. Actually, I don’t care if you were offended. If you think that these issues are "too taboo" and should not be spoken about publicly, then you are part of the problem and not the solution. We need to have constructive, open dialog between people. So that they can realize that they are just that: people.

One question I get asked a lot is: would you recommend doing something like this? The answer is a simple yes. If life ever presents you the opportunity to travel the world for a year, with or without RY, you take it. YOU ALWAYS TAKE IT. PERIOD. Knowing the things that I know now, if I was presented the same opportunity again, I would take it in a heartbeat. Despite the few things that I saw that I didn’t like and highlighted above, there were so many many more beautiful things the world revealed to me (as you can see in my videos). Those things are worth your sweat, time and effort. Stop going to silly all-inclusive resorts. That’s not real travelling. Go see the world with your own eyes!

From Toronto with much love,
Haseeb

Turkey

Jan 13, 2016

Hey hey! Welcome back, and happy new year! How time flies when you're bouncing around the globe! Super excited to share my 4th month on the road in Turkey with you all. This was probably the best month for food so far (although Japan is currently giving it a run for it's money). As such, a lot of this post will cover the amazing food I had :) Without further ado, check out the latest 4K webisode:

You'll have to excuse the picture quality since my iPhone was still out of order. The month began in Istanbul with a group brunch at the House Cafe next to Ortaköy Mosque right on the Bosphorus strait.

Here's another shot of the Bosphorus at sunset from the Mikla rooftop bar. AMAZING views of the city!

A traditional Turkish breakfast at Kahve 6, complete with fried sausage and Turkish tea :)

I REALLY enjoyed the traditional breakfast, this time by the water at Kale Cafe as patronized by Anthony Bourdain. I call this "Bourdaining". My favourite item was the clotted cheese, or Kaymak, with honey as seen on the bottom right. With some warm bread, it was out of this world!

One of the attractions I got around to visiting was called the Maiden's Tower. It was in the middle of the Bosphorus and required a short ferry to get there.

I climbed up to the top of the tower and got some more great views of Istanbul.

This mezze plate can be found at the Babel Cafe. It was as delicious as it looks.

There was this one time I decided to work out of a nearby park. Turned out this park had many friendly cats who just wanted to cuddle :)

Another one of the great attractions of Istanbul: the Blue Mosque. As beautiful as ever at sunset.

Also checked out the very trendy club/restaurant called Reina with my bud Nissa. It was on the water so the coolest part was you could arrive in style at this place by docking your own boat (or an Uber boat!)

I took a short but sweet weekend trip to Beirut, Lebanon in the middle of the month and went up to Harissa to check out the famous Lady of Lebanon. Needless to say she had some views.

Then it was back to Bourdaining in Istanbul. Enjoying some juicy pit-cooked lamb at Sur Ocakbasi.

Ocakbasi refers to a style of grilled Turkish meat cuisine (kinda like Teppanyaki). Here is a smaller, hole-in-the-wall restaurant that I frequented the most during my month, Adana Ocakbasi. They even had ram meat (which was surprisingly soft).

Is your mouth watering yet?

It was love at first bite :)

One of the more memorable cafes I visited was Kahwet Fairuz, named after a famous Lebanese singer. I have never seen anything like it. It looks like somewhere the Mad Hatter would throw a tea party.

And their food was out of this world too!

I ended off the month riding the famous hot air balloons of Cappadocia. Caught some beautiful views of the pointy rock formations.

The high life.

That's all folks! I'm currently eating my way through Japan for the month. I'll start working on the next blog post soon which covers Kuala Lumpur, New York and London. Till next time!

From Kyoto with love,
Haseeb

Croatia

Nov 28, 2015

Hello again! I know I've been M.I.A but now that I have some downtime I wana give you the scoop. Unfortunately, I drowned my iPhone while in Croatia so I don't have as many pretty pictures (which means a shorter blog post). But I did have my GoPro to capture all the adventures. Have a look see:

Here's a shot of a beautiful Bosnian sunset on the bus ride into Croatia.

We were staying in the coastal town of Cavtat. I bought a huge inflatable raft to relax on the Adriatic Sea.

And enjoyed a whole lot of amazing sunsets.

Just couldn't get enough of this sea view.

Also got some of the crew in on the raft action. From left to right: Sarah, Britanny and Sila.

Some more sunset for ya.

Jessie enjoying the view at town hall.

A view from the hills of Cavtat. I'd love to get a home with a view like this.

That's all I got for this post. I'm at home in Toronto right now for Thanksgiving and a short intermission from all the travelling. Stay tuned for my next post on Istanbul!

From Toronto with love,
Haseeb

Slovenia

Aug 25, 2015

Hey y'all, glad to have you back! Almost 10,000 km in and still going strong (to put that into perspective, the radius of the Earth is about 6,000 km!). I know I'm getting slower with these posts, but what a blast the second month of my journey has been! Take a look for yourself:

Let's pick up where we left off: arriving in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

This is the city center with a river running through the middle of it. It has a one-of-a-kind charm I have never experienced before.

In the first week I did some urban exploring of Ljubljana Castle with Sarah and Joyce. We were biking uphill to the castle, but then got tired halfway so we just took a moment to absorb this beautiful view with the snow-capped mountains in the backdrop.

Then we biked through Tivoli Park with some more remotes.

Lo and behold, there was an amazing Balkan restaurant called Gostilna Cad in the middle of the woods that is Tivoli, so we all took a hard-earned meal. From left to right: Katie, Chris, Mitch, Nitin, Joyce, Beth and Sarah.

Some more of the city center. Just behind these buildings was a weekly food market where you could sample different cuisines for cheap.

This was my favourite dessert in Ljubljana at a steakhouse called Sorbara. The only word to describe it: heavenly.

A lesser-known gem of a chilling spot we came across and made use of multiple times. Just a stretch of steps along the river with willow trees for shade.

The famous dragon bridge of Ljubljana at night. See how it breathes clouds and moonlight.

Another one of my most memorable meals of Ljubljana: huge-ass pizza with caviar and king prawns, courtesy of Foculus Pizzeria.

Although we were living in highschool dorms, we made sure to come together for potlucks from time to time. From left to right: Gaurabh, Stephen, Katie, Kim, Anuja, Jessie and I.

And there was also that one special potluck where Anuja's mom sent us a crate full of kachoris from Mumbai. Deliciousness :)

One of the sidetrips I made during the month was to Venice, Italy. This was my first time ever in Italy. Pictured above is the squad: Sara, Nissa, Nitin, Kimmoy, Kim, Sarah, Rafael, Michoel and Manu.

We walked around being tourists.

My fav part had to be the island of Burano, known for its beautifully colorful buildings, which was just a short ferry ride from Venice.

Just maxin, relaxin, lookin all cool.

Cousins photobombing me.

Pano with the crew. Imagine if all houses were this colorful.

We also took the mandatory gondola ride through the canals of Venice, serenaded by covers of Gypsy Kings from our gondolier.

Just me and the city.

The second sidetrip I made was to the jaw-dropping Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia.

I'm gona let you absorb this one for a minute. Highly recommend checking out the super hi-res version.

Lakes on lakes on lakes.

Pristine waters. No one is allowed to jump in.

:|

Britanny and Caryn admiring the view.

Something out of a fairy tale.

Back in Ljubljana, I also made a trip out to beautiful Lake Bled; a must-see.

Terrell looking out over the lake (shortly before the lifeguard came and yelled at us for going up there. He had been "whistling at us" from halfway across the lake for a while apparently).

Views. Check out that church on the tiny island in the middle.

Queue amazing lambchops picture around Lake Bled at Restaurant 1906 in Hotel Triglav.

We also checked out Lake Bohinj the next day which was just as beautiful. Sadly, the weather wasn't as nice to us so I don't have as many pretty pictures.

And that's all folks. We took a (very long) 14-hour bus ride from Ljubljana to Cavtat, making a pitstop in Bosnia on the way (as seen above). Despite the lengthy drive, we were well-entertained by the mountainous views. Cavtat is a city that was unknown to my geography. I couldn't point it out to you on a map before getting here, but now it's one of my top destinations for a future honeymoon (fingers crossed). A small coastal town in southern Croatia with friendly people, huge yachts and gorgeous sunsets. You probably want to stick around for the third webisode in my next post on Cavtat.

From Cavtat with love,
Haseeb

Czech Republic

Jul 14, 2015

Hey guys! Welcome back! As promised, here is my post about the first month of Remote Year (RY) in Prague. I'm super excited to share my first 4K webisode with you all! Check it out! Make sure you select '4K' from the settings to see it in all its glory:

This blog post wasn’t easy to write. It took a lot longer than I thought. I started out writing about my feelings during the trip, but then I realized even I don’t like reading a lot of words. In lieu of that, I’m going with a more picture-book approach where you can see my journey through the lens of my iPhone 5S (remember, click to enlarge). So let’s rewind back to the end of May 2015 in Toronto:

Heading out from Pearson

That's me flying out from Pearson to Schiphol for the weekend on my way to Prague. I packed my laptop bag, my Nike duffel bag and my Pininfarina suitcase that I checked in. I brought mostly summer clothes since we'll be chasing the sun (but also made sure to pack my Bose speakers and my gold chainzzz).

Faiz

I was actually stopping through Amsterdam to meet my old school homie, Faiz, who I hadn't seen in a while.

Chilling in Amsterdam crib

We rented a house for the weekend and just kicked it.

Strawberry chocolate waffles

Had a lot of great food, like these chocolate strawberry waffles at 1am.

Sippin in Amsterdam

And we had some chilled drinks. This was my first time spending more than a few hours in Amsterdam. I got to check out the city while biking around, and I loved it! I owe Netherlands a couple more visits. But that's all the time I had for Amsterdam. So I took off

Landing in Prague

This was the view out the window while descending on Prague. I landed around 10pm, where I was welcomed by Greg and Hannah of the RY team. Another RY participant, Inman, arrived shortly after and we both took a bus to our hotels. The group of 75 were spread out across 5-6 hotels. Sam greeted me at my hotel and got me set up with my SIM card and keys real quick. It was a wonderful feeling to have connectivity in a foreign city, especially after swinging between hotspots in Amsterdam. I also met my roommate, Trevor, and neighbour, Nicki.

My room in Prague

This was my amazing apartment in Prague. It was a 1-bedroom with a TV room and kitchen (not that I ever used it). I slept on the couch in the TV room. I wasn't complaining. I felt like I was sleeping in IKEA.

My commute to work

This was the view on my daily tram commute across a bridge to the co-working space. I loved it. It was about a 15-minute tram ride from my hotel.

Me at Locus workspace

The co-working space, Locus, was great as well. I loved the vibe of the place (even if it did get a little hot sometimes).

Locus workspace

Everyone was able to get crackin.

Park next to Locus

There was also a lovely park next door to take a break from work and get some fresh air.

Sunset  at Shooters Island

But sometimes when I really needed to I would just work from my couch and jam out to some tunes.

En route to Shooters Island

And then there was this one time we all went to Shooter's Island to hangout after work. I headed there with Nissa and Kevin.

En route to Shooters Island

Checked out some cool architecture on the way there. Prague was full of gems like this.

Dinner at Shooters Island

We had dinner by the river on Shooter's Island where we were greeted by views like this.

Sunset  at Shooters Island

And pink sunsets like this.

Prague Castle walking tour

We also took a RY walking tour of Prague Castle with the whole crew.

Prague Castle walking tour 2

Another angle of the castle at sunset.

Prague Castle sunset

And then the sunset got even more ridiculously beautiful.

Jaime's PSA

This PSA brought to you by Jaime.

Andel potluck

Occasionally the awesome RYers in my building would come together for amazing potlucks. I'm gonna miss these!

Lennon wall with Katelyn

And then there was this one day Katelyn and I decided to wander around the city and explore (you should also check out her travel blog, The Remote Nomad).

Me at Lennon wall

We checked out the John Lennon Wall.

Wandering 5

We wandered by Prague's famous astronomical clock.

Wandering 2

And wandered across the Charles Bridge.

Wandering

And wandered.

Wandering 3

And wandered.

Wandering 4

And wandered.

Nazi helmet

Also came across this Nazi helmet from WWII while checking out an old antique store.

Big Sean

A few of us went to see Big Sean who was in town as well.

Carly and Becki

One day I came across these crazy Brits, Carly and Becki, and we went on a bike tour of Letenské Sady park.

Letenske Sady

And it was awesome.

Tuna steak

Then I had this tasty tuna steak for lunch.

Subway station

Prague had amazing public transportation. Some of these train stations looked like works of art, some looked a little older.

Supreet

Met up for dinner with my homefry from back in the 6ix, Supreet.

Sunny day

The weather was generally good throughout the month. There was a good balance of sun and rain. Kinda reminded me of Seattle sometimes.

Sunny day 2

There would typically be sunshine earlier in the day, and then the clouds would move in in the afternoon.

Sunny day 3

But mostly good :)

Pre-Swan Lake dinner

Fancy dinner with some of the RYers before going to watch the Swan Lake ballet.

Swan Lake dinner

Caryn had an exhilarating time sitting next to me during the ballet.

Synagogue

Walked by this beautiful synagogue on my way to catch a train for a weekend in Vienna!

Vienna

Caught some cool breeze and cool scenes in Vienna.

Vienna 2

What really stood out to me about Vienna was the beautiful, beautiful architecture.

Vienna 3

They had architecture for days.

Vienna 4

And days.

Vienna 5

And days.

Vienna 6

Kim, Jessie and I couldn't get enough (you should also check out Jessie's travel blog, The Wandery List).

Vienna 7

The food was also fantastic! We stopped by at a food market to try out some Middle Eastern food and I had the best hummus I've had in recent memory.

Vienna 8

And then back to the architecture.

Vienna 9

We popped by the Austrian National Library.

Vienna 10

It was by far the highlight of my month. I've never wanted to read more anywhere else.

Vienna 11

Just gorgeous.

Vienna 12

Like I said...

Vienna 13

Okay, last one for Vienna.

Prague parks

Back in Prague for my last week, I made an aggressive circuit of the many beautiful parks around the city.

Prague parks 2

Fortunately the weather was on my side.

Prague parks 3

Went up by the Petřín Lookout Tower.

Prague parks 6

The view from the top of Petřínské Sady park. This is probably my favourite picture from the month.

Prague parks 4

Arikia and Kai descending into the city from Petřínské Sady park

Prague parks 5

Prague sent us off with one last gorgeous sunset.

Leaving Prague

The first month was such a blast! So many memories that I couldn't capture but they'll live forever in my memory's museum. We had an amazing boat party to celebrate the month that you can see in the video. But it was time to move on to the next one: Ljubljana! We all jumped on board a double decker bus and drove 9 hours south towards Slovenia.

Entering Slovenia

The drive to Ljubljana was beyond words. We drove through the Austrian and Slovenian mountain ranges with breathtaking views. It felt like something out of Jurassic World. I already started to get a feeling that I would fall for this place even though I knew nothing about it. 2 weeks in, and I'm absolutely loving it! I can't wait to show you guys the beauty of Slovenia. Stay tuned for the second webisode in my next post on Ljubljana!

From Ljubljana with love,
Haseeb

Hello World!

Jun 8 2015

Hello world! Welcome to my journey around the planet over the next year! I’m going to be hitting up 12 cities over 3 continents for the next 12 months:

  1. Prague, Czech Republic - June 2015
  2. Ljubljana, Slovenia - July 2015
  3. Dubrovnik, Croatia - August 2015
  4. Istanbul, Turkey - September 2015
  5. Penang, Malaysia - October 2015
  6. Ko Tao, Thailand - November 2015
  7. Hanoi, Vietnam - December 2015
  8. Kyoto, Japan - January 2016
  9. Buenos Aires, Argentina - February 2016
  10. Mendoza, Argentina - March 2016
  11. Santiago, Chile - April 2016
  12. Lima, Peru - May 2016

Who am I? My name is Haseeb Rabbani and I’m from Toronto. I grew up on a tiny island called Bahrain in the Middle East. I’m a software engineer by profession. I’ve worked for Amazon in the past, helping launch the Kindle Fire as part of the Amazon Instant Video team. I love eating, travelling and technology. I've been living in an apartment in Prague for a week now. Here's a picture I took recently at Shooter's Island (click to enlarge):

Chillin at Shooters Island

What am I doing? I’m one of 75 people on a remote work and travel program called Remote Year. The idea is to create a community of people who travel together while holding down a remote job. Of course everyone is some sort of technologist in being able to work remotely. There are a lot of developers, but not everyone is a developer. Is this free? No. Everyone pays Remote Year $2000 USD/month which gets us a place to sleep, a co-working space with internet so we can all do our thing, and travel accommodations between each city. There was also a $3000 USD initial deposit to confirm your spot in the program. Do we work for Remote Year? No. It’s up to each person to bring their own job and figure out how to go about doing that (but the group is really helpful in finding roles).

Where are the 75 people from? All over the world. There are people representing Turkey, Portugal, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, USA, Germany, Spain, Brazil. And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Why 75? Remote Year had a 3-round application process where 25,000 people initially applied from around the world. In the end only 75 were selected for the experience (INCLUDING ME!!).

Why blog about it? I know. Another travel blog right? But this is my first one ever! And what I actually want to do is share my amazing experiences from around the world with everyone through a series of 4K webisodes I’ll be shooting in each city. Why 4K? Everything is awesome in 4K. Everything. The goal is to create monthly videos to share my experience in each city. Stay tuned for the first webisode in my next post on Prague!

From Prague with love,
Haseeb