Thursday, 27 November 2014

Post-Financial Apocalypse.


Last month's post was the site's most popular receiving thousands of hits. It left me thinking: "People love tragedy." With that in mind, I still feel like I'm walking through the wreckage of a nuclear holocaust. The landscape is barren and there's no sign of life. However, there are glimmers of hope on the scarred horizon.

Clearly the early-retirement dream is over. As a consequence of that, I've been reflecting on how I'll continue to live by the tenets of minimalism. Once you've eschewed materialism and its associated wage slavery it's impossible to return. What society offers and is gobbled up by the unthinking masses no longer seduces. Freedom, on the other hand, tastes sweet.

Chiang Mai. I love living here. It's a dream come true so the aim has to be to continue doing so.

Part time work. I make enough to live well working part time. So why do more? I make about 7500thb/week teaching 15hrs.

Room/pool. I'll stay where I've been living for most of the last year. A single room with a balcony overlooking the pool and views of the mountains. 900thb/week all in.

No debt. I'll never borrow money. I was thinking about buying a Kawasaki 650cc for 150,000thb when the investment matured. However, that will have to wait until I've saved up for it. Could be a while.

Possessions. Everything I own fits on the back of a motorbike. Except the motorbike itself which, I admit, is an indulgence but has brought much joy.

Clothes. I used to buy them in Oxfam. Now it's Tesco. I own hardly any. They all fit in a 7kg washing machine.

TV. Haven't had one for years. They're a major component of the government's sheeple brainwashing program. Quite Orwellian. Give it up and you'll see how rich life can be.

Fix things yourself. I repaired (illegally) gas central heating on New Year's Eve 2002. I fitted a new kitchen and bathroom single-handedly in 2005. These endeavours save £1000s in labour as well as adding to your knowledge and skill-base.

Maintain hobbies. I run, read, write (this), learn foreign languages and ride motorbikes. Hobbies give you a sense of purpose and engage your passions.

Avoid booze/tabs. Not only do they cost, they're detrimental to health.

Set goals. They give life direction. I'm aiming to run a half-marathon (21.1km) in under 2hrs in December. I want to learn Thai to the point I understand the news. I will be trekking hundreds of kilometers through the Nepalese Himilayas in March 2015.

Enough of that shite. What have you been up to? Considering I've just lost my entire life savings ($0.25M) life has been going remarkably well.

I finally made it to remote Wiang Haeng district and the end of my quest to visit all of Chiang Mai's 25 districts. I'm very proud to have finally done it. Remember CM province is the same size as Wales with most of the population living in CM City. The outer districts are very isolated.

The remote roads were challenging with 60km taking 3hrs. This is where off-road bikes come in to their own. Many of the fairing's nuts and bolts shook free and had to be replaced when I got back to civilisation. Only 7km to the Burmese border and 1100km to China!

I ended up staying a night at Piang Luang on the Burmese border. Not many Westerners make it to these parts and I was the object of much curiousity. It's times like this when I'm glad I can speak Thai. Needless to say the scenery was spectacular.


I've been spending time in local temples trying to reconcile the unpredictability of life. This is my favourite near Doi Saket.

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.


I joined Jinx and Malcolm for a fast 400km around the Lampang-Payao loop.


Is the place where umbrellas are handmade just outside CM.
Alasdair couldn't resist and bought one for our pool. Here we are later playing a different kind of pool in a bamboo shit-hole.

A quick Doi Inthanon loop took the bike past 40,000km. They've been building this road the whole time I've been here and it's almost finished. You'd understand the scale of this achievement if you ever ride this route past Mae Wang.

Again I went with Jinx and Malcolm.

I went again a few days later with Alex. This time we weren't so lucky with the weather and we spent many hours sitting under shelters like this.
It was good watching these Hmong kids play with sticks and spinners in the deluge as we drank hot coffee from the safety of their shack.

I'm still enjoying learning Thai at school. It means I can communicate with lasses like this (for up to an hour).

I went on a date with a 20yo lass in Lampang. The most memorable part of the day was this massive road marker followed by a winter shake at the pool. I've just finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. A great read but I thought it was set in Asia and not Sweden?

Austrian Armin was in town sporting tremendous hair. He was a huge help in coming to terms with recent events.

I had to endure another morning at The Ted Shed (CM Immigration). Look how chaotic it is. This is the only negative thing about living here.

I'm partial to the odd fruit shake now and then. Here you get service with a cuddle. This kid is one of the brighter prospects at the school where I teach maths part time.

I hooked up with Malcolm for a spin around the CM locality. He surprised me by introducing me to a route I'd overlooked. We passed huge statues of monks before stumbling upon CM's Grand Canyon.

Lamphun or Lampang? A tough call. However, half a roast chicken for 66bt isn't. These little chicken stalls (called Ha Dao meaning Five Star) are the best in Thailand.

A CM lad in a Toon top and a Toon lad in a CM top? What's going on here? Shearer is known the world over!

A cheeky Samoeng loop. I can almost do this blindfolded now. There's even a video. If the link doesn't work simply google: A Geordie and a Mackem in Thailand.

It's definitely the best video I've done yet. The schoolkids love it.

Talking of school I was watching Interstellar at the cinema when I noticed this tessellation of rhombi and parallelograms. Not as good as this feed-the-fish zipline though. For 20bt you slide a bag of fishfood down the wire where it bursts to begin a big fish feeding frenzy!

41st Birthday

I hired a Honda CB650F for the day and blasted 380km around the Lampang-Payao loop. It costs 1500bt/day with an additional 800bt in fuel. I hit a top speed of 210km/h (130mph) and seldom dropped below 150km/h. However, this thing guzzles double the gas of a CBR250.

I was thinking of buying a 650 but with four cylinders I reckon it's way over the top for what you need in Thailand. I'll be sticking with the 250 as it's a perfect all rounder.

A cracking day out and I'll be hoping to do something similar next year.

Drunken Poetry - The Park

evening time
sun long set
lit up in gold
doi suthep

darkened path
through the palms
young hearts embrace
in hopeful arms

a lone man runs
tortured mind
his search for peace

an occasional face
soft glare of a screen
postmodern lives
what does it mean?


  1. Hey Steve it was good to meet up yesterday at our mutual Austrian friend Heinrich. Followed by a motorbike ride to the eastern areas of Mae On and Doi Saket. it was good to travel with a kindred spirit. Life is good here in Northern Thailand and should not be wasted on bad western habits which many expats do. Voluntarily giving up the drink this year was best all-round for me and appreciate things moreso.

    Cheers......... Gary Deeks

  2. There are plenty of teaching jobs in China now, Stephen. And they pay good salaries for certified teachers. Math and science are the ones schools always on the look out for. And btw, thanks for the warning about investing companies and me ( and I'm sure many others) really appreciate it. ( things you own, end up owning you- Fight Club) Alex

  3. Likewise Gary.

    Thanks Alex. I like that quote!!

  4. Nice poem Stephen. You sound optimistic and happy to see things working out job wise - retirement over rated anyway, just makes the brain rot. Lots of people die when they stop working, look at it that way. And as long as you have the money for those 1 to 1 language classes. Guess you have to cram a lot into that time eh?
    Wish I had your facility for languages. 3 months here and I'm stuck on 2 words.
    Frank (bbqboy)

  5. I just read your story from a web link on a Thailand board of which I am a member.

    My heart goes out to you and I am sorry at the financial devastation you have suffered.

    I wish you the best of luck in life and hope you recover.


Please be nice.