Monday, 26 July 2021

Lockdown blues

Eight weeks off - good.
In lockdown - bad.

HCMC has entered the mother of all lockdowns whereby we're only allowed out to the nearest grocery store. Given that I live in a windowless bed-n-bog, I've been eating anything that doesn't need cooked.

Dreams of clean mountain air in Dalat quickly evaporated leaving a residue of ham sandwiches and youtube.

Friday, 11 June 2021

15 years in Asia

I left England 15 years ago today. The 12th of June 2006 to the 12th of June 2021. My last sight of Blighty were the remote Shetland Isles slipping away on a bleak southern horizon. The ferry was making its way north, through the icy Atlantic to Torshavn - the capital of the Faroes Islands.

I was 32 then. 47 now. I didn't plan to stay away this long, it just happened. Let's take a peek through the murky telescope of history at this roller coaster.

Saturday, 5 June 2021

20 types of western teacher in Asia

I’ve taught in Asia since 2007. During that time I’ve encountered a whole spectrum of characters in a wide variety of roles. I’ve taught in Taiwan, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and China. I’ve taught online, in language centers, in government schools, in international schools and even as a private tutor. I’ve seen it all.

Friday, 4 June 2021

21st Century Diogenes - a tribute

Not many people in life leave an impression. There’s been three men that have had a profound impact on how I view the world. Armin (Austria) whom I met in Malaysia in 2008; Joe (Australia) whom I met in Thailand in 2014; and Dave (Wales) whom I met in Cambodia in 2019. They’re similar in some ways yet as unique as can be in others. The underpinning characteristic they all share, other than speaking foreign languages, is that they most certainly do not follow the Nietzschean herd.

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Pedagogical BS

Flow

I haven't written much lately. Working 50hrs/week impedes the flow of creative juices. Weekends are for recuperation. Additionally, there's not much here to inspire a man with an adventurous soul. This is hardly the Himalayas, Borneo or the Mongolian Steppe. This is Ho Chi Ming - a chaotic city of 10M souls. Why would humans willingly subject themselves to this much noise and depressing concrete? Is the gr$$n stuff really that powerful?

Friday, 1 January 2021

Celestial Maneuvers in Mui Ne

As the earth completed another arbitrary orbit of our star, I spent the time reflecting on 47 years of sentience. The older one gets the more meaningless everything becomes, to the point of laughable absurdity. Life certainly seems to be a cosmic joke. Extended periods of suffering punctuated by moments of joy. The universe exercising its dualistic nature, happiness can't exist without pain. Light without dark. Once basic needs are met, the best one can hope for is contentment, whereby both bliss and suffering are attenuated, and a vanilla state of being is achieved. The middle way as Buddhists might say.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

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.