Sunday, 24 May 2015



This blog has received almost 90,000 visitors since its 2006 inception over 9 years ago. However, of the 166 posts written, the most popular one, by far, is about how I lost $250,000. Next, is one about soapy massages.

Look at the traffic spike when I lost it all. Is this a fair reflection of human nature? Do people really prefer tragedy and shagging over travel and adventure? I guess the answer is yes and yes based on this evidence.

Sir Barry Payne

Losing a significant sum leaves one pondering the sea of human detritus we have to swim through. It's hard to not conclude that most folk involved in financial services are dishonest. It's probably a prerequisite for working in the field. Words like integrity are best left unspoken.

I'll never listen to a financial snake oil salesman again. I was going through some paperwork (applying for a Thai Teaching License) when I came across this long forgotten business card. A discovery that triggered a flood of mistakes memories.

I visited their website and chuckled as I skimmed the BS:

"Our aim is to enhance and protect the assets and income of our personal and corporate clients who are drawn from all over the world."

Enhance and protect? Really? Way to go losing my entire $250,000 lads.

They go on:

"It is our aim to ensure our clients are completely satisfied with all elements of the services we offer."

Satisfied? Erm, no. Incredibly pissed off. Barry's smiling here because, as a Senior Consultant, he suffers no consequences for his involvement in people losing their life savings. Accountability? Erm no. The only people paying the price are foolish investors - like me.

Had I never met Mr Barry Payne I'd still be rich and retired early. Instead, I'm piss poor and back in the matrix.

The Matrix

Resuming full time employment has been a bitter pill to swallow. Imagine a black slave overcoming massive obstacles to escape a 19th century Texan plantation. He lies low by day and travels north at night slowly making his way to Pennsylvania and freedom. However, tragically, after months of dangerous progress, slave hunters capture him just south of the Confederacy/Union border. His hopes of freedom snuffed out like a candle in the wind.

Obviously, my own tribulations are negligible by comparison but I've experienced some severe negative emotions. Suppressing revenge, shame and anger has been an ongoing battle. What karmic crime did I commit in a previous life to deserve this? How did I allow myself to be talked into a den of vipers and thieves? The answer is I don't know. Perhaps I was hypnotised? There was definitely something bizarre going on as I allowed Barry to blindly lead and seal my fate. Perhaps that's what this whole thing was? Fate? Bad fate?


Nepal had an almighty earthquake killing thousands only three weeks after I left. Was this also fate? Good fate? Is fate (good or bad) non-discriminatory?


Innocuous events chart life's course and current events have conspired to have me spending my days with the worker drones of Varee International School, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Office chat revolves around moaning about Thailand, teaching, wives, husbands, houses, cars and kids. It's been a bit of a transition after two years of sweet, sweet freedom. I've been teaching two small classes of 11/12yo Maths, IT and Science. It's been a lot of fun and I'll be sad to leave them when A Level Maths and Physics begin in August.

But is it a good thing?

Why do humans agree to spend 8hrs/day, 5days/week chained to a single location? Easy. Because they need food and shelter. To get food we need special paper. This paper must have a local person of importance printed on it along with a number. To shelter ourselves we rent from landlords. Most landlords will only accept the same special paper as payment.

This special paper represents your labour and the most common method of acquiring it is by selling your time. Time is a finite resource - we all run out of it at some point. Selling your time is effectively whoring yourself out for x hrs/day. The only difference between a working whore and a working non-whore is the nature of the work. The only way to stop whoring yourself out is to achieve financial independence and, realistically, this can only be achieved through minimalism.

I've lived a minimalist lifestyle for almost two decades. I don't regret the sacrifices made now that I'm back to square one. Having minimal material expectations enables one to quickly rebuild a savings buffer and re-evaluate the future. Currently I aim to save at least 60-70% of my monthly salary and build enough to retire (again) by 60. Best pull my socks up because that's only 18 years away.


In Nepal I didn't shave or use shampoo for five weeks. The results were spectacular. It felt great getting shaved, head sharpened and shampooed at the local sheep shearers back in Chiang Mai.

Sticky wickets

An unusual Asian experience saw me sitting with hundreds of Farangs drinking cider at a cricket match one Saturday afternoon. I've never seen so many white people in one place since leaving Angleterre. Canny.


Involved boozing with the usual suspects. We increased the Sea of Leo's depth considerably after a 5 week Himalayan absence. 

Twas good to hear Paddy's dulcet Brummie tones again on my first night back.

Scientists are concerned as new research indicates that Leo is contributing to rising sea levels that could submerge coral atolls and destroy their delicate eco-systems.

The phenomena is exacerbated for low lying islands in the Sea of Leo as thoughtless alcoholics add up to 16 big bottles per night and end up comatose in shops.


Been out with some crackers lately. Left is Nui 20 from the Karen tribe in Mae La Noi. However, Fah 21 from Shan State, Burma has blown me away. I met them both while jogging in the park but I've continued to chase Fah. Would I sacrifice my freedom to hit this regularly? Maybe. By the way, both of these lasses can't speak a lick of English so those Thai lessons haven't been a waste!

Thai language school

Classes have resumed at NES after a four month break. We jumped straight back in with a televised debate about marriage


Chiang Mai FC have had a turbulent start to the new season in Yahama League One. However, they seem to have steadied the ship in recent weeks. I watched them undeservedly draw with Thai Honda FC before scraping past Samut Songkram 3-2. CMFC converted a penalty in that game which I dutifully recorded.

Bike trips

Have been few and far between. A combination of full time work, boiling weather (40+) and then the rainy season have conspired to impede the joy. However, the weather didn't impede the donning of a Karen tribal shirt that Nui gave me.

This massive lizard crawled into my shoe while I was relaxing in the bath at DoiSaket Hot Springs. I shat myself when it ran out as I put my foot in.

Work at Mae Rim underpass is progressing nicely. I get odd looks from the workmen as I lean over trying to get photos of the construction site.

The government (to their credit) are trying to stop farmers burning the fields and forests which cause smoke pollution problems during March and April. It's up for debate how much of an effect these signs are having.


Took some students to CM zoo t'other week before making truncated pyramids and tetrahedrons with a lad I tutor on Saturdays.

Jo and Armin

There's only been one man who's entertained the idea of questioning my perceptions of reality. That man is Austrian Armin. However, a second fella ... Australian Jo has come along and stirred my understanding of things a bit more. I don't know what it is with countries that start with AUSTR but they've produced a couple of lads who seem to transcend the earthly world I inhabit. Talking to people like this is excellent. Having your core beliefs shaken is invigorating. Oddly, they're both fluent in Thai too.

Drunk Poetry

drinking beer
swimming mind
alien tongues
many kinds

a lone voice stark
in ambient noise
dulcet brum tones
a cause for joy

making sense
a complex world
why are we here

life goes on
no real aim
wake tomorrow
all the same


Kaorob = respect
ngoot ngit = bad mood
oo an yang = what did you say (CM dialect)
suangern = odd one out
baakkeng = stubborn
yaak mee kon piset = I want someone special


  1. On the subject of saving, i think you know deep within yourself what you gotta do. With PGCE, Middle East or China beckons. More money= more savings=early retirement. Great post, btw and i concur: Burmese chick looks smashing, baby!

  2. Always sad hearing that story Stephen. And that guy is a douch. So many stories of these things happening (even in Canada) and it's always the same story...You'll make your $250,000 back Stephen :)
    I've been following your blog for a really long time, years before we were set to leave Canada for our own long term travels (I think you were in the Philippines when I first started reading you). I've always enjoyed your crazy adventures, both travel and with the girls. Love your style of writing, you always make me laugh. Have to say you've gotten a bit more serious and contemplative over the last year and again, I'm sorry about getting screwed over. I have no idea what I'd do except maybe murder the guy and decapitate him.
    And sorry to be negative, but most people take pleasure in the misery of others because they are miserable themselves.
    I don't believe in fate or destiny, I believe in the guiding principle of 'shit happens'. None of those people deserved to die and I hate hearing people trying to rationalize it by religion or other cosmic crap. Shit happens, for good and for bad.
    Good luck with the Burmese girl, she's a looker :)
    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. Thanks Frank. About the Nepal earthquake .... I meant it was good fate (for me) because I just missed it - not for the poor souls involved. That sentence was poorly written.
      Always nice to hear your comments though. So you've been following my follies since around 2008 then? Before I switched to blogger in Jan 2009. That's when the 90,000 hits stared (not 2006). I spent a lot of 2008 in the PHI. Some wild times.

  3. I love reading about your adventures in Asia. I am still a slave saving money away, hoping to retire in Asia soon. I am concerned about losing my money, and I have a lot of mutual funds and ETFs. I've tried to diversify across different funds and different financial institutions. I suppose I should hold some cash in the bank and bits of land here and there as well to diversify it even more. It would be great if you could write a "lessons learnt" post teaching people how what to do to avoid financial ruin. Is it just a matter of diversification? Even if your net worth seems low, it seems like you have a great life!

  4. 1. Leave it in a normal savings account.
    2. Doing ANYTHING else is a gamble and be prepared to lose it all (like me).
    3. Don't listen to or trust Independent Financial Advisors.
    4. If you must invest - DIVERSIFY. This was my biggest mistake.
    5. Don't believe the bullshit in the glossy investment brochures (like the 100% capital guarantee lies in my case).
    6. If I could do it all again I would have left it in a normal UK savings account.
    7. Good luck.


Please be nice.