Ibague, Colombia is a unique mid-sized city in the country that sees little tourism. The city isn’t a part of the coffee region, so many a tourist and traveler decides to skip the city in favor of others nearby.
But Ibague, Colombia offers a number of great things to do for the average traveler. If you speak a little Spanish, you could have a great time in this small city. Check out a few of the articles I wrote about Ibague here:
This is a really big water park and zoo situated about an hours bus ride from Ibague, in Melgar. It’s a great day out, and you can go to and from water slides and pools while you’re walking around the zoo. You can pick up a bus back to the exit gate. I’d recommend going in the week to avoid the crowds. Click here to learn more.
Armero Tragedy Site
Armero tragedy site is situated about an hour from Ibague. You can go to the bus station and get a bus that passes there. A volcano from the Nevado del Ruiz completely destroyed this town and killed 23,000 people. You can go and visit the ruins of the town, and there is also a small museum there with information on the disaster.
Great way to spend a few hours on the tour of the Orchid gardens in Ibague. Situated close to the center you don’t need to travel far. The host is very friendly and speaks a bit of English. There are also lots of humming birds about and it was a nice day out. There are also some great views of the mountains while walking around.
This is a nice relaxing spot with a little lake where you can go and get out of the city and relax. You can hire fishing rods there and spend the afternoon fishing around the lake and drink a few beers. There’s a restaurant there and a small swimming pool. There is also horse-riding available. Just ask a taxi driver for El Carmen.
The Rice Park (Parque del Arroz)
About an hour away from Ibague is the rice park. Take a tour and see how rice is produced. There are also some pools, horse-riding, and many fun things to do there. A great day trip from Ibague. Click here to learn more.
English Movies on Tuesdays
If you just want to relax and watch a film, the Tuesdays at Cinemark are the place to be. You can watch the latest movies there in English with Spanish subtitle. The price is around 7000cop. The cinema is in the Multicento mall.
Try a Tamal or Three
If you’re in Ibague, you simply can’t leave without trying the tamal. This is the home of Tamal, and you won’t get it better anywhere else. Its normally sold at weekend, look for big pans on the streets, that will be local people selling it. It contains rice, carrot, chicken, potatoes, chickpeas, sometimes pork too, mixed with tasty herbs and steamed in platano / banana leaf. It costs 4000 cop.
If you’re visiting Ibague and looking for a place to stay, get in touch with Michael. He offers a solid place to base up while in the region:
An ideal place to stay in Ibague, Colombia.
I have an apartment in Ibague and I’m renting a double private room for 1-3 people with great views of the mountains. The price includes breakfast. The apartment includes a water park, three pools, a gym, and we’re close to all the malls. You’ll also have easy access to the buses to the countryside and an English-speaking host to help you navigate the city or share a beer with.
Not commuting to the office… instead working from home, or a local coffee shop in comfort?
Being your own boss, totally in control of your output, work hours and paycheck?
Living in exotic locations, surrounded by beautiful girls like Thailand or Colombia?
The 4-hour work week?
Whatever freedom means for you, I think most of us would agree that how we earn our dollars is a huge part of achieving it.
Being in control of your revenue stream is by far the biggest 80/20 leverage point for gaining your freedom.
Nothing else will give you as much control over your life as being your own maker.
Working when you want, where you want, on what you want.
What A Beautiful Time to Be Alive
Thanks to the power of the internet, being your own boss and working from anywhere in the world is infinitely easier than it has ever been before.
My father has had the same job since he was 16 years old – he’s now approaching 60. My mother has had 2 jobs in the same timeframe.
They’ve lived in the same house since they got married in their early twenties, in the town they both grew up in.
I loosely live in Thailand and log into my laptop for an hour or two per day, press some buttons, and money appears in my bank account every month.
I cannot overstate how incredible it is to be a young guy in the 21st century.
And if you want a piece of the action, you want to achieve your freedom – whatever you define that as…
The quickest, easiest, and most direct way to achieve it is by starting a business.
Not just any old business, but a remote business you can run through the internet, which requires essentially no set up, no prior time investment, no start-up cost, and no special qualifications.
Better yet, one in which you probably already have the necessary skills, which will be 100% profitable. A business that can start depositing money into your bank account as soon as today.
I’m talking about starting an online freelance business. In this post I’ll tell you exactly how to get started. Choose what to do, get set up, land your first job, and make your first $100.
Step 1: Choosing What To Do
The first step, and probably most daunting, is deciding what kind of freelance business you want to go into.
You might be wondering what skills you have, which industry is easy to find work in, what you will enjoy, what pays well…
These are all great questions and I cannot answer them specifically because I don’t know what skills you have, or what you enjoy.
What I can do instead is give you the framework for how to think about this, so you can make the decisions you need to make to move forwards.
I recommend you leverage the skills you already have. Think about all the things you’ve done before, the things you do in your business or job now, hobbies you have, natural talents.
If someone has paid you to do a job before, clearly that has value to a company – no corporation is paying you out of the goodness of their heart – they pay you because you deliver more value than you cost.
It follows that if what you do has value for one business, it will have value for other businesses.
Maybe you have hobbies – photography, blogging, graphic design, etc. – these all have value for businesses.
Perhaps something comes so naturally you don’t even think about it. Speak two languages fluently? Love social media? These can be monetized quite easily.
Create a list of every job you’ve done in the past and then list all the tasks within that role. Add to it any skills you have developed from hobbies, have naturally, or have learnt elsewhere.
Now cross reference it with my list on the download below of all the different freelance businesses you could do. You’ll get some extra tips for thinking about this problem on there.
After listing all your skills, put a star next to the 4-5 that you think would be easy, enjoyable, profitable. Then assess them all against what is most important for you and narrow it down to the 1 that stands out.
I urge you to go through this process, spend an hour or so thinking about it, and then come to a decision.
Procrastinating on starting is not going to help anyone. What you choose to do now is not for ever. Your business will inevitably evolve over time anyway.
Starting and gaining momentum, money coming into your bank account, and increasing your confidence, is key.
Don’t get hung up on what to do. If you really can’t decide, just do something you enjoy and feel most confident with.
You are going to learn as you get going. Unless you’re already an expert at something, you will need to develop your skillset over time to succeed anyway.
I firmly believe everyone has skills they can leverage to make money, but even if you don’t – a worst case scenario is that you choose something you’re interested in and learn as you go.
The solution to a lack of skills is self-evident – learn skills.
Step 2: Create Your Profile
I don’t think the freelance sites are the best place to generate business in the long term, but they’re definitely the best place to start. Unless you’re a rare case and already have a lot of connections in an industry that you can leverage.
The freelance sites are full of clients actively looking to hire you to work for them. It’s much easier than cold pitching businesses who probably aren’t even looking for what you do.
Make your life easy and go to where the opportunities exist.
As well as easy access to clients, you also borrow the credibility of the site. There’s no worry about you not delivering work, or not being paid by the client, for that matter. Both parties are protected by the middle man.
This means its easier to gain trust and get your first couple of clients, when you don’t yet have a back catalogue of happy clients and great work.
The best freelance site in my experience is Upwork. It’s a bit more up-market than Fiverr – which is traditionally used by people hunting for cheap work. It has much more traffic than any of the smaller sites.
In pretty much any freelance area, there is enough new jobs being created every single day to keep you occupied applying for them all.
But before we get to applications, we need to build your profile out.
The mistake most people make on their profile is not doing a good job of selling themselves. You must recognise that you’re in cut-throat competition with every other freelancer on the planet.
That probably sounds like a tough gig, but the fact is, most people cannot sell for shit. They have no idea what to put on their profile and applications to get themselves hired.
This means that with just a little bit of direction, you will be head and shoulders above most of your competition.
The most important parts of the profile are what you see on the image below. This is what is visible on the preview, and if clients are not enticed by this part, they won’t click through to read the rest of your profile anyway.
The headline is where you say what you will do for them, the price gives an indication of your skill level, and the first paragraph of the overview is pulled through as a preview.
You want to focus on the very specific thing that you do, and the benefit the client gets from hiring you.
Most freelancers write the same thing, which means you have zero opportunity to stand out from anyone else. That’s going to keep the people with most experience and ratings getting all the jobs, and the new freelancers stuck with very little left over.
You need to stand out, and you will do that by showing that you ‘get’ what the client wants and needs.
In the mock profile nexample above, it says what I do – Facebook Ads, followed by the outcome for the client.
The fact is, nobody has an inherent need for Facebook ads in their business, they want more leads and sales. This is the outcome that the client cares about.
Marketing/sales 101 says that it is all about fulfilling the client’s desires or removing their pain. How you do it isn’t particularly important. That’s just a mechanism for them to get what they want.
You must sell them what they want.
For a much more in-depth, step-by-step explanation of how to write your Upwork profile, check out this post.
Step 3: Apply For Jobs
When you first start out as a freelancer I’m afraid to say you need to put in your numbers applying for jobs. Most of them will be ignored.
Recognise that it is a numbers game, remove your emotions from the process, and don’t get invested in any particular application.
It’s cliché but the more times you get rejected, the more successful you will be.
You should keep hammering the applications out until you get your first few gigs. This will give you ratings, reviews, push you up in the algorithm, and eventually clients will start coming to you.
That’s the goal, but in the beginning, you need to put your energy into the numbers game of applications.
What you write in the application will be dependent on the job you are applying for, but here is a general overview:
For simpler jobs you will write less, and if the client asks very specific questions, you should focus on answering them and forget about rigidly following a template.
Other than the times mentioned, this is a good template to follow. It’s structured enough that you don’t sit staring at a blank screen for an hour, unsure what to write. Yet it’s flexible enough for you to make it your own and adapt each application specifically to the job.
I suggest creating a system for applications where you have a minimum number of applications to send per day.
Don’t just spam out copy and paste applications, but put the effort into sending the best application you possibly can.
Use the template as a framework, make sure you read their job description and answer anything they ask.
Beyond this, put yourself in their shoes. Think about why they are hiring you, what role this job fulfils in their business and communicate on that level.
The more you ‘get’ what the client is going through, the more likely they are to hire you – even above people with more experience or ratings.
For a full explanation and step-by-step guide to sending out proposals that get you hired, check out this post.
Wrapping It Up
There is more to running a successful freelance business than this, but none of it is relevant until you have your first few clients.
When you have no clients, you don’t need to worry about anything apart from getting clients.
The first step is to choose what you want to do. The second step is completing your profile, and the third is applying for as many jobs as necessary until you have a few clients.
Forget about everything else for now.
I’ve put all the templates, extra video guides, and step-by-step instructions to help you make your first $100+ online into a simple download you can access below.
Want to work online, attain your freedom and travel the world?
Let me tell you what it takes to achieve that, after 2.5 years of non-stop traveling and working online I’ve seen a bunch of people come and go. They try to start a business and get their freedom, but it often doesn’t work out. I can only imagine how crushing it would be, to taste your freedom and then have to go back home, back to the cubicle. Continue reading →
Part of the joy of being location independent is getting to immerse yourself in the culture. Sadly, even in places as far east as Ukraine, we see Western travelers lining up for their Big Macs and McFlurrys at McDonald’s. Don’t skip out on trying Ukrainian food!
Lifestyle is infinitely better than “traveling” like a tourist. This means cutting out the comfort of Western chain restaurants and diving head-first into the local cuisine.
It means struggling a bit with understanding the menu. It means dealing with a certain ingredient you don’t like without complaint. It means to show respect to the new country’s culture and traditions.
With that being said, here are the Ukrainian foods you simply must try while you’re in Kiev, Ukraine.
7 Ukrainian Foods You Must Try
First off, here’s a quick 101 on Ukrainian cuisine.
They’re extremely proud of it. Especially the old grannies!
There’s heavy amounts of sour cream, oil, and dill used. You can find a variation of almost every dish which includes these things.
Sometimes the meat and potatoes in Ukrainian food can be a bit on the oily side–you’ve been warned.
Drinking water in Ukraine is expensive. When eating out, you should stick to coffee or tea. Bottled water will be more expensive–and you can’t drink the tap water in Ukraine.
Probably the most famous Ukrainian food.
Borscht is a soup with quite a few different variations. It’s popular all over Eastern Europe. Ukraine, Russia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland–you name it. But the Ukrainian version of borscht is the one commonly referred to in English. It almost always contains beetroots and is eaten as an appetizer at a lot of meals.
There are different variations in color such as green, which can be an interesting experience to try out! In addition to the beetroots, there are a lot of other ingredients. Usually some type of beef or pork is involved, and other sautéed vegetables.
Nearly every place will have their own special take on borscht, so don’t expect to ever get it the same way twice.
#2: Chicken Kiev
Chicken Kiev is the equivalent of Southern comfort food in Ukraine. When you think of Southern comfort food, you think of things like mac ‘n cheese, chicken dumplings, warm buttermilk biscuits, etc.
Chicken Kiev is simply baked chicken, wrapped around with breadcrumbs. Inside the wrap contains the chicken, as well as butter, herbs, and spices. When you slice it open, most of that oozes out and makes a great dipping sauce for your sides (it’s usually accompanied by either fried or mashed potatoes).
In fancier restaurants (the above picture was taken in one of the nicest restaurants in Kiev, and still only cost about $6 USD), chicken Kiev is garnished with plants on top, or sauces on the side as you see.
#3: Vareniki (Dumplings)
Vareniki are noodle-based dumplings that come with every flavor imaginable. If you venture into some of the Soviet style kitchens (as indicated by their hideous wallpaper and staff attire), you’ll see entire menus of these dumplings.
Common fillings include:
Variety of meats: pork, chicken, beef, sausage
Fruits: cherries, berries
Baked blood (yes, you heard it correctly!)
Of course, some Vareniki have some of these things mixed together into a delicious combination. The dumplings are usually either fried or boiled (we recommend trying one of each cooking style as the portions are often small) and served on the top or side with sour cream.
The Vareniki above is a baked blood-based dumpling.
Shashlik is generally more of a Caucus region specialty (think countries like Georgia–more on that below), but has made it’s way all across Europe, and is especially popular in Ukraine.
Shashlik is simply skewered kebabs. They were originally made with lamb, but you can also get them with beef, pork, chicken, and vegetarian style. The shashlik is usually cooked over a charcoal barbecue, giving it a rich flavor.
It’s usually topped with vegetables such as onions, tomato, or eggplant, and served with some spicy dip or pita bread.
Shashlik has gotten extremely popular in Ukraine, especially at some of the higher end restaurants. It’s a good alternative to their usually heavily-oiled based cooking. Many Ukrainians own summer homes or cottages where they have their own shashlik barbecues.
#5: Georgian Food
Okay, okay…we know this isn’t Ukrainian food.
Here’s the deal: Kiev has a high population of people who have migrated from Georgia and the Caucus region, and now live in Kiev.
They have brought a lot of their local culture and cuisine to Kiev, and it’s simply spectacular. From khinkali (dumplings) to shashlik to khachapuri (a pizza-like dish baked with Georgian cheeses)–Georgian food is incredibly unique to most Westerners.
Because it’s so unique and different, it made the cut to be on this list. You must try Georgian food for a very different experience than you can get in the Western world.
Don’t forget the Georgian wine, either. It’s excellent.
Recommended Georgian restaurants in Kiev: Shoti, Mama Manana, and Khmeli-Suneli.
#6: Fruit Based Ribs
A lot of Ukrainian restaurants have a very unique twist on ribs. Rather than grilling them and rubbing them with BBQ sauce and spices, they bake them and use fruit bases for taste.
For example, in the pictures above, one is a blueberry sauce, the other a sort of raspberry flavor.
You won’t find these types of ribs at every place, but if you see them on a menu, we highly recommend you give them a chance.
A couple of recommendations to get these type of ribs: Kiflik (you may only see it spelled as ‘Кіфлик’) and Kanapa.
#7: Potato Pancakes
A staple in the Ukrainian diet. The time of day doesn’t matter. Break, lunch, or dinner–potato pancakes are always available.
BONUS: Business Lunches
Kiev has a wonderful thing that occurs Monday through Friday, called business lunch. To draw traffic in, many of the nicer restaurants offer a discounted meal. It usually includes three to four courses and only costs $3-$7 USD.
That is not a joke. You’ll usually get bread, juice, a soup, a salad, and a main meal. You can then order coffee or dessert for a crazy discount too (usually 50 cents to a dollar).
The only downside is that it’s a set menu. It’s not usually a problem because there are usually three or so choices for different business lunches.
Some of our favorite business lunches in Kiev are: Pervak, BEEF, Capo di Monte, and Mario’s.
Ukrainian Food – Overall
There are lots of good dining options in Kiev. While much of Ukrainian (and Eastern European food) in general can seem quite bland, once you find the right dishes and right places, it’s actually incredible.
Like everything good, it just takes patience. Eat Ukrainian food while in Kiev – stay away from McDonald’s.