Monday, 23 March 2020

Early Retirement and Minimalism in Southeast Asia


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.


This budgeting app is right up my street. Data City. Pie charts - the lot. $383 in February. A sub-400 month. Without trying. There's even a few Indians and massages thrown in. Amazing.
Not just surviving, but thriving.

Interestingly, the UK's unemployment benefit is around $400/month. Free money. But you'd have to live in the UK. Fuck that.

So, it's certainly possible to thrive on $400/month ... providing one is willing to adjust one's mindset.

But, if you're not getting dole, where's ya coin frea wee man?

Well, through dividend investing young man. Despite the Corona virus slashing 30% off my net worth, the monthly dividends have increased to $580/month (after Uncle Sam takes his 15%). This was my main reason for switching from growth investing to dividend investing - I still get the divs despite market corrections. In fact the yields increase on the cheaper stocks I re-invest the dividends into. Win-win. So the recent S&P500 bed-shit barely concerns me - although I am standing by for dividend cuts. Anything north of $500 is more than enough for my needs. Happy Days.


I keep hearing that we're living in the Information Age. Really? Perhaps it's time to exploit that? Get a laptop. Work from home. Become a Digital Nomad. It all sounds so ........ millennial.

So, not being one to rest on me laurels and-all-that, I literally dived into online teaching. Literally. Dived. Like. It was time to monetize my teaching experience and become a dancing monkey for Chinese toddlers. So far, at $20/hr, I've raked in:

Dec $260
Jan $160
Feb $950

In February they were begging us to add an hour at lunchtime because of the Chinese school holidays. Nee bother. So I did a draining 2hrs/day in Feb. In March I'm back to 1hr/day. So around $500. It's a doddle. In fact it's very enjoyable if you get a good kid.

1hr/day beats 8hrs/day in a regular school. The benefits are many.

I quit my last job 6 months ago at the end of September. I had $4,300 in cash. Today, I have $2,700 left. Not bad. Shouldn't have to sell any bitcoin for a while - very curious to see how that does after the halvening in May.


Sometimes I cycle out to the derelict airport. I walk up and down the runway. It's comically third world. I love it. The sunsets are good.

It's also the place to do wedding photos.

The Black Man

Battambang's most famous landmark is a big black man holding a stick. Looks cool at night.

One night I found people banging out tunes on Khmer-style xylophones accompanied by the wonderful aroma of joss sticks. A treat for the senses.


Monthly nut cut. Can't knock the price. $1.25.

Proper decent job too. Al fresco.


One of the best things about living in SEA are the people you end up meeting. Fellow escapees. The ones that got away. All sorts, from every walk of life.

Sam here is a young poet from Mississippi. Canny lad.

Ned's an interesting fellow. Originally from the States but he's been in this neck of the woods for donkeys. Recently a Russian KGB agent shot him with a laser - resulting in a broken hip and severed arm. He's an expert in languages and holography. He has AIDS, went 20 days without food in the Amazon and escaped from prison. This is just the tip of the iceberg. It doesn't rain, it pours.

First time I've been in a proper bar in ages.

I mainly hang out in Ganesh. A guesthouse ran by Stefan and Annie - a German/Thai couple. They're very chilled and I like to speak the odd bit of Thai with Annie.
There's even a pool table where I've managed to revive some dormant talent.
Sometimes, when he's a bit skint, Dave's happy to accept a free jug of foam after a barrel change.

The new passport pic jolted me a bit. 36 v 46. I'm getting on. There are some Barang here in their early 20s. I'm 47 this year. Did me GCSEs in 1990. Left school. 30 years ago. Before they were born. Fuck!

However, thoughts of age fade into oblivion as I contemplate a full moon at The Riverside.

A full stomach. A pot of tea. A fat, pregnant moon just hanging there, in space. No strings. How?

Is it still there if I'm not looking at it? Does it need a conscious observer to collapse the wave function?

Is life some kind of cosmic joke? Our slide down the mortal coil pre-determined? Do I think too much?

How did I end up here? What the fuck am I doing? Why does my philosophical compass seem to swing between nihilism and existentialism?

I don't know. I don't think anyone does. What I do know, looking back, is that the last 30 years have been a blast. Submarines to Cambodia. A convoluted route. Wins and losses. I wouldn't change a thing.

1 comment:

  1. Bet ya hungry soon??? (Rhetorical).. Have you wondered why there are no wildlife in Kampuchea..
    They ate everything.. And you're on the menu sailor.. Haha
    See ya when ya get back home (missing a leg or 2)
    Take care mate 4 more months of this debacle..