Sunday, 30 August 2020

Megalopolis

Starter

I'm writing this from a poky little bed-n-bog on the 4th floor of a small hotel in the pulsating heart of HoChiMinh City. It's taken some getting used to, the noise, the building shaking when a truck rumbles past, the horns, the perpetual white noise of traffic, music blaring from bars.

Did I mention noise? The last place you'd expect to find an AWOL Geordie.

Stop moaning. What've you been up to?

Monday, 20 July 2020

Batshit in Battambang. Vacuous in Vietnam.

Well, well, well. I'm sat at Incheon Airport, a mere 35km from North Korea. WTF am I doing here? Good question. It all started back in April where a confluence of events conspired to chart a new course for my erratic life.

Monday, 4 May 2020

Why I'm celibate and teetotal

Insignificant

I'd like to go a little off-piste today. Throw out some thoughts. I've been reading Nietzsche and Jung from the comfort of my small tropical apartment. It's somehow affirming to see some of your ideas stated succinctly in rational text. It's also jarring to see other beliefs disabused by those same texts. Either way it's always a worthwhile endeavour to re-evaluate your philosophical positions. Let's dive right in.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Early Retirement and Minimalism in Southeast Asia

Chilled

Early March, 1pm, well over 30-deg-C. Or, Harry Reddaz, as we'd say in the Royal Navy. I'm sat here, in glorious solitude, sipping a poolside coffee under the shade of a rainbow-coloured parasol. Rainbow? LGBTQ? From the West?

Not a twatpacker to be seen - they must be visiting the bat caves or something. Motionless palm trees remind me I'm in the tropics - mint.

The coffee's minging though - like mud.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Battambang Bliss

Early retirement

Russel
Been thinking about me old mate Aussie Russel who passed away a few years back. Sad.

One day, circa 2012, we were sat drinking Leo in his dream retirement home when I asked if he missed working?

Thursday, 26 December 2019

New decade. New life.

Coin

Christmas night. Battambang. 32 deg celsius. A vindaloo settling - aye, there's an Indian here! Sat in my new apartment mulling over the last 3 months of retirement. Feels like a lot has happened since quitting the last spirit-crushing-teaching-job in Chiang Mai. I had $4,300 in a Thai bank on PDR (pay-day-runner) day. I now have $2,500 in a Cambodian bank. So $1,800 spent. Or $600/month. However, much of that was on unavoidable expenses. Let's take a look:

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Battambang

Visa

Can't tell you how happy I was to see this in the passport. A one-year multiple-entry retirement visa. Haway the lads!! It's mind boggling that Thailand is so hostile while Cambodia rolls out a red carpet.

No 90day reports, no TM30s, no border bounces, no waiting for hours in immigration - ever, no landlords involved, no spirit-crushing jobs, no financial obligations.

Simply pay $300. Forget about it. Enjoy life in the tropics. 12 months later, pay again. Simple. Sabai sabai (Khmer style).

After my latest dealings with Thai immigration I'm sat here thinking I should've jumped ship earlier.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Cambodia 1

Cities

Felt sad leaving the rice fields of HangDong. Had an awesome October cycling around the sticks. And not being at work. Caught my first ever Uber to ChiangMai Airport. Spent my final Thai weekend in Krungtep Maha-Nakon (Bangers).

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE)


Image result for schwab stocks sharesI've had a few questions asking how it's possible to retire early having lost $225,000 in 2014 at the age of 40. While that's true, this post examines how I bounced back.

The first thing to note is that I started with nowt. My parents (both passed) were far from affluent. I'm not complaining - I had a great childhood. Just stating a fact. I left school at 16. Joined the Royal Navy. Was trained as an Electronic Engineer and served on HMS Coventry (Balkans conflict 1994) and HMS Victorious (a submarine designed to rain nuclear horror on innocent civilians).

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Why I'm leaving Thailand after a decade

Sat in a $110/month room, gazing out at emerald-green rice paddies bounded by slender palms. A piercingly blue sky with the odd cumulus marking the end of the rainy season. It truly is a glorious afternoon. The fan drones away providing a welcome breeze for my semi-naked torso. Wonderful tropical warmth. In October. Lovely.

Having sold the CBR500 for $3,500 and replaced it with a $50 bicycle I've been living a life-of-leisure since quitting the latest spirit-crushing job. I've decided to forfeit today's 40km cycle in favour of penning my reasons for leaving Thailand after a solid decade in the Kingdom.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Retirement (again)

Arrived in CM feeling upbeat after two years in the South. Glad to be back. Dining with Paddy and his wife (feels odd saying that) was a treat. The Indian was superb but it wiped me out for two days (food poisoning). An ominous sign of things to come?

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Angleterre

Well, what a couple of months. I was hunkering down for a third year in the Hat when an offer came out of the blue. A chance to return North. I swallowed the inevitable pay cut and started making plans.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Mortal Coil

Family

2008 me Mam passed away aged 57.
2019 me Fatha passed away aged 69.
Gets yi thinking like.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Pattaya

First thing I did in 2019 was fit a new chain. What a difference! Like a new bike.

Performed sea-trials by riding 400km around the south of Thailand.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

A man. A bike. A book. A bird.

Book

Managed to get it published on Amazon in both kindle and paperback formats. While setting up a link (to the right) I noticed the blog has had north of 200,000 visits. After some digging it turns out 15,000 people have read How I lost $250,000 while 12,000 people have researched Chiang Mai Soapies.

Financial loss and shagging ..... who'd ave thunk?

Saturday, 3 November 2018

There is no re-experience.

Bollicks

When I embarked on this adventure 12.5yrs ago everything felt fresh, vibrant and exotic. And it was. For sure. The sights, colours, smells, sounds, languages, cultures, food and women. Everything was electric and it resonated through my soul. All the way from the peaks of Icelandic volcanoes to the rainforests of Borneo. Good times.

Friday, 3 August 2018

The whole of Thailand on a CBR500


< In April 2012 I rode 7,500km around Thailand on a Honda Phantom 200cc.

> In August 2013 I rode 11,000km around Malaysia, Thailand and Laos on a Honda CBR 250cc. As far south as Singapore and as far north as China.

In July 2018, after a 5 year gap, it was time to do it again. This time on a Honda CBR 500cc.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

The south of Thailand

Certain dates stick in your mind. Certain events trigger memories. The World Cup. I remember watching England beat Paraguay 1-0 on Saturday 10th June 2006 in the Black Bull in Morpeth with my brother and his wife-to-be. I can even remember the price (£1.70) and shape of the pint glasses. Two days later I left the UK.

Friday, 18 May 2018

South of Thailand on a CBR500

The danger zone

Betong is the most southern town in Thailand. A twisty 270km south of the Hat. Passed through Yala where I was surprised to have coffee with John Lennon. Imagine. Wasn't expecting this as Yala feels like Islamabad.

Every vehicle in Thailand must display a number plate indicating the province it's registered in. However, Betong is the only district in Thailand to issue its own plates. Locals told me it's because Betong is remote - although I've been to far more remote districts. Umpang in Tak for example.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Buying a CBR500R in Thailand

Found Buddha racked out on Yoh Island one morning. The heat's starting to build in the Hat. Must be getting near Songkran.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Roads less travelled


School pantomine just before Christmas. First time I've ever been a dancing mouse.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Crypto-currencies. Irrational tattoos.

Rain

There's lots of it in Hat Yai in November. Lots. Every time I make a cup of coffee at work I have to walk past this steely gaze. Did I do something to upset her? Normally Buddhist statues are golden and serene, whereas this one is cold and ominous. Are November's grey pregnant skies linked to the darkness she induces in me? Freaky man.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Hat Yai Sabai Sabai

Footbon

I've got more idea about Hat Yai after two months. I'm still in the glorious phase of appreciating my escape from China. I shudder when I think back.

I can do normal things in Thailand like ride motorbikes, breathe clean air, see nature, find solitude, chat to people with manners, use clean bogs and, crucially, enjoy football. I went to watch Songkla United draw 3-3 with Army United. Same division as Chiang Mai. Same quality too. Fewer fans. I bought a shirt.

My dream is to see a Thai Premier League game one day. I reckon this might be possible in my lifetime unlike NUFC winning a trophy.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Bye bye Xi'an. Hello Hat Yai.

Holiday

I had 4 weeks off and stayed in Xian. Spent the time cycling around the city, writing a novel and having skype interviews.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Xi'an summer


Cycling

80km to the Qingling Mountains south of Xi'an. Doesn't sound much but it's a long old slog on a push bike.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Nothing without consciousness.

Revelation

One night I was listening to a philosopher on youtube. At one he point stated:


You're an aperture for the universe to see itself.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Bikes, Bulbs and Bollicks in Xi'an, China

Difficult
I've probably mentioned that the simplest things in China can be utterly traumatic. Washing clothes, ordering food and paying bills are complicated affairs for the intrepid yet bumbling foreigner. A new activity can be added to the list: changing light bulbs.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Living in Xi'an

Development

I went for a walk and ended up passing this building project near my apartment. Xi'an is developing at a furious pace and this is a common site throughout the city. Incredible to witness.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Xi'an ..... end of the silk road.

Xi'an

When I first entertained the idea of China I was offered positions in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhuo. The usual suspects. None of them appealed. I asked the recruiter if he had anywhere more interesting. He shrugged and suggested Xi'an. Images of terracotta armies, silk road camels, Marco Polo, ancient emperors and adventure instantly sprang to mind. I accepted and his eyes lit up. Xi'an is a hard sell as many foreigners are seduced by the bright lights of China's booming first-tier cities.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Eight years in Thailand

Thailand

It's with mixed emotions that I sit here in Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok with all my worldly belongings.

I first visited Thailand in October 2006. A short flight from Kunming, China. I was 32. Young, dumb and full of cum. Twas my first time south of the Tropic of Cancer. The metallic snow-capped mountains of Yunnan had given way to the luscious jungles of Chiang Mai. Talk about contrast. Exotic palms towered over alien looking banana trees. The stuff of postcards.