Category Archives: Travel

Listening to the Heart & Using the Mind

Recently I had a bit of a conundrum: my visa was expiring for Bulgaria- and fast. I had just a little over 2 weeks (and now less than 10 days) until I’d have to leave.

Wow, the time went by really fast. The initial adjustment of coming back to Bulgaria from Thailand was extremely rough:

Memories of a lost relationship, adjusting to western food after months of simple Thai cuisine, lack of AC in the hot summer, jet lag, and other bad coincidences like my laptop breaking.

I kind of went into a work-too-much mode, as I was super excited to achieve my new business goals I had set out. Eventually I burnt out, and was no longer capable of working so hard.

It then became my priority to enjoy my new social life, which had improved significantly since the last time I was here.

I began to date again, hangout with new friends, deepen old friendships, and over the latter course of my stay here in Bulgaria I began to feel much more deeply happy.

Life is simple here. Wake up, meditate, food, coffee, work, hangout. Repeat.

I created some group chats for different groups that I have here, as I was beginning to get too many great friends- instead of many one on one meetups or small groups, I found myself managing large groups of 8-12 people at a time.

This was deeply fulfilling and will now become a part of my life manifesto wherever I go- creating social groups and bonding everyone together is such an incredible experience!

When I wasn’t with my newfound social groups, I was dating AMAZING girls. My dating life has been not as good as Thailand as I spent the first half of my stay here not attempting dating at all really, but now I can see a lot of potential in it.

In theory I could’ve extended my visa for another 2-3 months, but I don’t want to. It’s a short-term solution to a long-term problem, which would be my immigration status in EU.

During the additional 2-3 months I would just get more attached to people, and it would be all that harder to leave. I’d probably get another girlfriend so it’s best instead to stay free until I have the clear-cut home base.

Anyways I’m technically leaving 1-2 days before my visa expires, so I can return to Bulgaria as soon as I pick up a new visa in America. If I were to extend, then the rule would dictate I’d have to remain outside of Bulgaria for a minimum of 90 days (as far as I know).

I feel really sad to be leaving. So many old and new faces, connections deeper, groups better, it’s really an amazing experience this time around!

So… What’s Next? Decision Making…

Because I was so caught up in enjoying everything, I was a bit caught off guard by my upcoming visa expiration and decisions that I had to make.

Making decisions has always felt like a conundrum for me, but now they’re becoming easier to make. In hindsight, I’ve made very few bad decisions, and bad ones that I’ve made were quick to self-correct with time.

In my mind I sometimes saw two paths as black & white. Good or bad. But that’s not really the case- both paths can be equally good, so in a way you can’t make a bad decision. On the other hand, both decisions can be bad…

The most important thing I’m learning about decisions is that it’s best to make them ASAP, given that you are able to collect all of the necessary data to make a good decision.

Realizing that I could often over-think things, I attempted to make a decision too fast in purchasing a new laptop, which I ended up regretting (but everything again turned out okay, so it really wasn’t that much of a problem in the end!).

Now I’m seeing the healthy balance: do the research needed, ask the questions needed, but don’t over-think it or worry about it too much.

I narrowed down my choices to Thailand or the United States, reason being I want to stick to what’s familiar and comfortable more than anything else. I’m preferring these days not to travel and adventure to new places, except for explicit vacations. I’d like to slow down my pace and enjoy a bit more the fruits of my labors.

I had of course other thoughts like “what if I visited Italy, or Ukraine, or XYZ country,” as the prospect of landing in a new country completely fresh and not knowing anyone still feels a bit romantic to me… But I opted not to do that this time around.

It was United States or Thailand- left or right, East or West.

The Heart, The Mind, the Dilemma

I knew with certainty what my heart wanted- Thailand. But my mind resisted, and was insistent on heading back to the United States.

Logically speaking it would be better because I could test it out as a home base, compare it to Bulgaria, then make a decision on where to live and then finally get my home base. Furthermore, it’s in the best time zone, and also offers more networking opportunities. It’s the best thing for my business.

This created a split within me, but instead of resisting anything I decided this time around to just “let go” and hear both sides of the situation. Inspired by a friend’s tip, I called an “inner circle meeting” between “let’s go to Thailand” and “let’s go to America.”

I listened to both sides of the coin, and surprisingly found that Thailand actually had a significant amount of rationale to it!

Thailand is cheaper, it’s more familiar (surprisingly), I’ve multiple friends/dating partners there or headed there, and I know everything I need to know to quickly plug back into an awesome life.

Was I being nostalgic of my previous times in Thailand, or was it truly the best decision? I tried to reflect on what data I would need to make the best decision… And then suddenly I realized it: I needed to figure out if my old apartment building was available.

I decided that I would not go back to Thailand if my old apartment building wasn’t available as I didn’t want to deal with a new place. Where you live greatly affects your happiness!

I sent an Email and have been in correspondence with my old property managers, and found a place that is more than good enough. It’s also $100 cheaper per month. Great!

Still not completely certain, I decided to listen clearly to what my heart had to say. My Heart was super adamant about Thailand, even though the surface-level logic pointed towards United States.

Ultimately what I realized was two things:

First, there was a lot more logic to the decision of heading to Thailand first then America. I will go to the USA for the holidays. I won’t bore you with all the details, but my brain at a surface-level was unable to process what my heart was able to quickly process and compile. Intuition was right!!!

Second, I want to live an amazing life. Whether I live in Bulgaria or USA, I will visit Thailand regularly for fun trips.

It completely goes against my life manifesto to be ultra-logical and boring about life and rush to get everything sorted out. Life is about enjoyment, fulfillment, etc., and so if I can’t go to Thailand because I *need* to find a home base *right now* (essentially delaying happiness for later) then I would never allow myself to *just be happy.*

Think about it: if you train your brain neurons to say “I’ll be happy when [xyz],” then when you finally achieve XYZ then your brain neurons will keep firing on the old “I’ll be happy when” path.

There shouldn’t be such a rush for me to find a home base. Life is about enjoyment and fulfillment, not about rushing to completely everything that the mind wants completed.

Finally, my heart just really wants to go to Thailand over USA. In fact, Thailand is more familiar/safe to me than USA. What???

As shocking as it sounds, it’s true. I haven’t ever lived in the USA outside of my parent’s home far away from the city center, so I’ve never truly experienced life in the USA. When I was doing some research I realized just how different it really would be.

Honestly I’m not ready for that yet- as crazy as it sounds even to me USA is the “foreign” place by this point, and Thailand or Bulgaria are familiar places.

I mentioned earlier this post I had narrowed down my options to Thailand or USA due to familiarity and comfort above adventure, reason being that simply the travel itself is extremely adventurous.

That was my little hint that I would be choosing Thailand over the USA- because Thailand is, as shocking as it may sound, more familiar than any American city.

Following the Heart: the Results

Immediately after making the decision at 5AM in the morning (because I couldn’t sleep all night due to subconscious stress about this), I felt relaxed. I just felt this beautiful relaxation come over me.

Maybe I would’ve felt this for the USA also. I don’t know. Neither decision is particularly bad, just Thailand is better for me now.

I was talking to a friend a few days ago and he said something very important: “it doesn’t matter what you decide because in the end your brain will do confirmation bias to make your choice the right choice.”

So what I am about to write about is probably just confirmation bias that the choice I made is the right one, though it should be added there was some synchronicity + clues that I should go to Thailand before the decision was made, also.

As I mentioned earlier I had other friends traveling to Thailand at the same time I was. People had reached out to me prior to the decision asking if I was going to Chiang Mai because they were.

Things are connecting perfectly, too.

I will arrive in Bangkok on Nov 5, and stay in Bangkok until Nov 8, when I’ll go to Chiang Mai.

During my few days in Bangkok I have plans to meet a Thai friend from Chiang Mai, a dutch friend now living in Bangkok, and another Thai friend.

In Chiang Mai I have multiple meetings already planned out, adventures pre decided.

I know so many amazing cafes, restaurants, yoga places, etc. so I’ll be able to re-plug into my Chiang Mai life very quickly- I estimate within a week it’ll feel like I never left, and Bulgaria was just a dream (just like now my life in Chiang Mai feels like a dream).

Since making this choice- which I knew was my authentic heart choice- I’ve felt more good energy, vitality, and happiness. I was actually starting to feel sick as a result of standing on the fence for too long, so at the very least the “excess energetic potential” of sitting on the fence is gone- the decision is made, the path is set.

I may not stay in Thailand that long, either. A girl I went out with in Chiang Mai from Taiwan invited me over to Taiwan- her group has a car and we could have some fun exploring Taiwan.

As I’ll be flying over to America anyways, I am seriously considering reducing my stay in Thailand to just a month so I can enjoy a week or two with her in Taiwan- that is an adventure I feel ready for!

Listening to the Heart & using the Mind

What I’ve learned, and probably we all deep down intuitively know, is that we should follow our hearts.

The fact is if I were to fly straight to the USA my heart would not be all in for that. My heart would be asking, “why not Thailand, just a month before going to USA for the holidays?”

Because I wouldn’t be “all in” for the USA, I wouldn’t even have an optimal experience. When it comes to choices in life you’ve gotta be “all in or all out.” Halfsies doesn’t benefit anyone.

In the end, life itself is an emotional experience. We do things because we want to be happy, and the mind should only serve as a tool for our heart.

Unfortunately many of us struggle in today’s society with that- society places the mind above the heart, as irrational as it is. Luckily it seems we’re going through a cultural transformation that embraces the heart for what it is- the heart is much more wise than the mind, it just speaks subconsciously, and thus we don’t easily understand all the reasons for its premonitions.

What sealed the deal on the Thailand vs. USA thing for me was this realization:

If I went to the USA, I’d have to use my mind energy to rationalize the decision. If I went to Thailand and followed my heart, I’d have extra mind + heart energy to use to handle the various problems associated with Thailand, such as the worse time zone for business sales calls.

What’s better: to live in the USA where the time zone for business is better but not feel all in for it, or go to Thailand and stay up a bit later or get up a bit earlier so I can call my clients in America?

The latter of course! Anyways, the ultra-logical decision-making process begs this question: what’s the point?

What’s the point if I go to America for better business opportunities, if I, deep down, will just want to leave for Thailand anyways?

Reconnecting with Core Values & Principles

Ultimately we all have a “core reason” for being alive, for living. Adventure, exploration, and spreading love is a huge part of that for me.

Using my mind to serve this purpose is useful- I can create plans for doing business so that I can live this life.

But you have to be careful not to get too stuck in the mind, then the mind will keep making decisions without the guidance of your “core self” or the heart.

The mind will say “we have to go here for business,” but it has gotten completely detached for the reason to do business in the first place, which was to travel, adventure, and live an epic life of freedom!

I’m headed to Thailand

So I’m headed back to Chiang Mai, Thailand. I don’t know yet how long I will stay. I’ll buy flights back to America soon for the holidays most likely. I also may visit Taiwan or Hong Kong or something. We’ll see.

For sure though I’ll be in Bangkok on Nov. 5, and then on Nov 8 be back in my “other second home” in Chiang Mai for at least a month!

If you want to come adventure, I encourage you to do so! Come meet me in Chiang Mai 🙂

Thanks,

-Michael

The Great Return to Bulgaria

Finally I’m writing this… I’m going back to Sofia, Bulgaria. No more speculation. It’s official.

After months of flirting with the idea as I voyage across North America & Asia, a flight has finally been purchased and I will officially return to Sofia.

I’ve got all kinds of mixed feelings. Some positive, but most negative to be honest.

There are a few reasons I feel this way. One of the reasons is the realization that Bulgaria has made an unconscious association with love, as soon into my first time in living in Sofia I fell deeply in love in my most intense relationship ever.

Now I know that I will not return to this, but instead something else.

This “something else” I can’t exactly say what it is. This uncertainty is painful. I feel I am approaching something fast, something I should remember, but don’t quite.

Many months ago, as I attempted to apply for immigration to Bulgaria in Chicago, a photo a friend from Bulgaria showed me made me tear up in a public restaurant.

It was a deeply happy moment in my last month in Sofia. Me and many friends were at our favorite bar. The smiles you see on this photo are deep. The eyes are genuine.

I’ve been gone a LONG time, and if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that you as a person can change faster than you imagine.

Thinking back to my friends in Montreal is quite the surprise to see how they’ve changed, or Phoenix too. In fact for Phoenix I always seem to be hanging around new friends.

For long Bulgaria has existed as a sort of mental delusion which I have consciously accepted yet not ever expressed to others.

This delusion was that Sofia was my home. I wrote about it. I shouted it to the world. I announced how amazing Bulgaria was and meant it because there was a time when Bulgaria was everything to me.

Even as I left Bulgaria, I maintained this delusion. I did things which didn’t exactly make sense, but in some ways did, such as avoiding returning to Bulgaria.

It was mentally comforting to think that I could “return home” at any moment to Sofia because the truth is I don’t feel like I’m at home anywhere anymore.

When I am in Phoenix I long for the adventure that can be found outside the USA. Sometimes I wonder if I can have this adventure within the USA. I’d need a bit more cash, but it’s possible.

When I am in Thailand and living, I miss the sense of community I’ve had in other places such as Bulgaria. I haven’t found so many deep connections besides various girls I’ve dated, but not in just friends- if I have they’ve left for onward travel.

Bulgaria felt like a home because of the love I had there, of the many friends I had, and it was the first time I was really living alone and more financially secure than in Canada.

I have more friends in Sofia than any other city. I had love there, one I thought would last always and forever.

As I’ve meandered onward, maintaining this delusion of being able to “return home” at any moment was necessary because without it I may have felt too much emotional pain.

Such is this life, this grand journey, to be torn between many worlds. Experiencing them all, yet occupying none.

I purchased the flight back to Bulgaria for a few reasons. It seemed to be an overall better decision, especially because I began to feel like I wasn’t growing how I wanted to here in Thailand.

It kind of felt like my progress in various areas of my life had hit a stand-still here in Thailand.

What was beginning as a period of great growth and fulfillment is now evening out, and I’m finding that I’m not ready to live here, if at all.

I’m not entirely opposed to living in Chiang Mai, but as I’ve wrote before I need to do a better job of picking friends. Being as many travelers come here, it’s imperative that in order to live here you paradoxically avoid the travelers, otherwise you will struggle to maintain stable social ties- your mental health will suffer as a result.

I suppose having a girlfriend may have kept me here also, as it’s easier to put up with transient social scenes when you do have at least one deeper social connection maintaining you.

My hope with Bulgaria is that I can reconnect with my many great social circles there, and grow in the ways which I’d like to now.

The thing is, I’m kind of nervous to see how we’ll actually connect. I can’t visualize readily how this will play out.

I’m certain that some connections will be deepened by my increase in maturity, but other connections I have no doubt drift off as we realize we are more different than the same.

What I wonder most of all is just what my experience of Bulgaria will be this time. Will my values align with the Bulgarian?

Thailand has changed me. Learning Thai has changed me. I’ve changed a lot, I am not who I was when I left in November of 2018.

It’s hard to objectively say whether my previous love for Bulgaria was grounded or not.

Remember that my love for Bulgaria was also the first time I was madly in love, having so many friends, having money, living alone, etc.

It may be my shocking discovery that Thailand or USA is more suited for me, and it was only via association that I claimed to love Bulgaria.

Soon the truth will be found, and this is what this journey is about.

I intend to take notes on my updated experience of Bulgaria to determine if I could live there longer-term. It’s very well possible I may decide that elsewhere is better for me.

If that’s the case I’ll still make visits back for my friends most likely, and Sofia, Bulgaria will always hold a place in my heart, but then I’ll move on.

I know that already much has changed. Messaging all of my friends in Bulgaria the night I purchased the flights was eerie and creepy.

Some of my best friends are gone, no longer in Bulgaria. Though I’m sure I’ll make new friends who have entered Bulgaria, and friends of friends I may have not otherwise connected with.

I’m curious what changes my friends have made too. Surely a lot has changed over 9 months yes?

Some things remain the same, but some change. This is the humbling aspect of travel because I can’t state what will change and what has stood the test of almost a year.

Looking myself in the mirror, I can state that I’m so different. I have a different look in my eye, a certain change in presence, new values, and more direction.

Whereas before in Bulgaria I was rather aimless and still discovering myself, now I know more who I am, where I’d like to go, and what my values are.

I find that so crazy and I’m so grateful to whatever unknown force is carrying me on its back.

This time I know the exact fitness goals I have, the exact business goals, my hobbies, my values, what I want in a girl, and my boundaries.

I used to have so much free time, and now not so much. Knowing your purpose makes you busy I guess.

I won’t share on here what some of these things are, and as you may have noticed my writing frequency has already decreased drastically. I’m busy in other projects, more meaningful ones, and I’ve realized a big difference in the “talkers” and “walkers.”

I used to very much be a talker. Now I’d like to think I’m a walker, though I’ll bite my lip when I say that because even admitting such a thing is a form of self-validation that can distract me from the path I’ve laid out and intend to walk.

The flights to Bulgaria are as ideal as it can get. I’ll be flying with Emirates airlines for less than $600 USD Bangkok -> Sofia. There is a 4 hour layover in Dubai. I leave Bangkok at 3AM, and arrive at 3PM in Bulgaria.

Having been constantly on planes for 2 years now, I can tell you that these flights are about as ideal as it gets. Besides the fact that it’s the cheapest (and on a Sunday, so no worries for work) it allows for the most likelihood of quick adaptation to the time zone (arriving past 5PM is dangerous).

Despite the most luxurious of flight options and flight paths available, I’m exhausted and a part of my non-excitement with this journey back to Bulgaria has to do with the fact that I’m just done with travel.

I can’t even muster up much excitement to see my friends after purchasing the ticket because I’m already wondering about accommodation, jet lag, and the massive change in environment I will be experiencing.

To counter-act these effects I’ve wrote down a list of goals for Bulgaria so that I have a clear sense of direction with what needs to be done in Bulgaria. This is comforting.

My new goals will set the framework for me to develop proper habits & routines necessary to re-adapt to the Slavic life, and also keep me on the path.

If I start to deviate from my goals, it will be obvious because they are written down and I know what needs to be done.

Still, I’m ready to have a primary home base from which I see the world. It makes more sense financially, emotionally, physically, and for all my goals.

I guess this again goes back to the beauty of me having “discovered myself” by traveling so much.

There was a time necessary for wandering aimlessly, and actually I’m so grateful for that.

Now I know who I am. What I want. Where I’m going. And most importantly what needs to get done.

Perhaps why I also am so non-excited for Bulgaria is that there are certain people which I don’t want to see, but also curious to see, and certain places I don’t wish to go, but will go anyways.

It is a possibility to see my ex again, especially with how compact Sofia center is. Sofia is the type of city where everyone bumps into everyone. It’s where synchronicity happens.

I will be facing the entirety of my past most likely, not just a portion of it. Now I should see clearly Bulgaria for as it is, good and bad, yin and yang.

I think though that I am under-estimating how happy I will feel with the social support of my friends. Right now experiencing some of these places & people would still emotionally upset me, but I must remember there will also be deep friends through which I feel more fulfilled.

It’s hard to imagine that, as it’s been so long. I can know this logically, but not yet feel it.

While all this seems non-exciting, and I don’t necessarily feel the most excited about Bulgaria, it’s okay.

There are loose ends which need to be tied up. Something needs to happen, and I am opening myself to the experience.

I know what I need as an individual so even if it is so bad, I’ll be able to take care of myself. Hell, I always get through everything.

First I was excited to go, but now after buying the flights my emotions are more grounded.

There is almost a sense of dread that comes with leaving Thailand. I truly love it here. It’s taught me so much and I have embraced many of the Thai values.

Every time I meet a foreign friend or acquaintance, such as a Dutch friend that recently came here a week ago, I am reminded of just how much I have changed.

My friends in Bulgaria will no doubt be in for a surprise when they meet me. Some good, some bad. I am not the same.

Everywhere has yin & yang, including me, including you, and even Bulgaria.

Before I was obsessed only with the Yin nature of Bulgaria, but now I am wise, and know that there is a Yang side which I may see as well.

This time, I’ll see the whole, and not neglect the half.

Even if I don’t choose to live in Bulgaria after these 3 months, I will finally have that loose end tied up and know that it’s not for me. Phoenix & Thailand will no doubt call me on each side of the world as I stay in Bulgaria.

That being said, it’s also possible that I’ll love Bulgaria and my life there so much that I immediately immigrate there.

This is the beauty of not knowing. While my writing sounds non-exciting and nearly dreadful, it is not without a hint of humor.

This is the journey. Yin & yang, left and right, but in the end, experience.

What will I experience this time? Will my past haunt me?

Let us discover, friends.

I’ll be in Bulgaria on August 11 at 3PM. Feel free to join me for dinner around 5 or 6PM. First rounds on me after that. The original intention is a stay of 3 months, though we know what often happens to these types of plans…

-Michael.

You are probably stuck in a bubble

For over 2 years I’ve traveled basically non-stop, with over a dozen countries hit and at least 6 where I spent a month or longer.

The travel community is all about “being open, having new experiences, etc.” But now I don’t think anyone is really traveling- it’s just a bubble.

People may change their location. You can go from Australia to Chaing Mai. However I think a very rare few (1-5%) actually have deep, authentic, local travel experiences.

In reflection on this startling realization, it’s made me think about all of the bubbles that exist in the world.

As it is said in the book Reality Transurfing Steps I-V, we all exist in a separate Universe that is layered on top of each other. The more I’ve traveled & experienced different cultures the more I see this to be true.

We all inhabit the same physical plane but very rarely do we actually leave our little bubble for a new experience.

Let’s dive deep into this by examining my personal experiences from traveling. Stay aware of your own bubbles, and don’t get distracted by my writing about travel. Take the concepts that are important for you.

The Chiang Mai Bubble

Chiang Mai is a popular travel destination, and for good reason. It’s beautiful, things are cheap, and the local culture is welcoming.

With an abundance of hostels, cafes, and restaurants it’s understandable why travelers from all around the globe would wish to come here.

The thing is, most of these travelers fly from all around the world yet never really get out of their bubble!

They all go to the same cafes, restaurants, etc. in the same places, as if to create a “Little America” or “Little UK” or “Little Europe” in Chiang Mai. I’ve observed this in other places such as Bali which had a “Little Russia.”

Is it still traveling? Of course. And if it’s what makes people genuinely happy, then let it be so.

But we must label it for what it is, and that’s simply making a “Little Europe/America” in Asia and not genuinely experiencing Asia for what it has to offer!

In living here for several months now I’ve had tourists tell me all kinds of things about Thai culture and Thailand. They’re so opinionated yet have no real experience.

Perhaps the biggest Western bubble in Chiang Mai has to do with the party scene. All of the Westerners go to a club called “Zoe in Yellow.” Some Thais go there but not often.

I have some Thai friends that go there, and one of them particularly enjoys “hunting” British men. There are several ladyboys and other Thai girls that are there for no other reason than for the western men.

Again this is all totally okay… But it’s not an authentic Thai experience. You minus well go to a club in London or New York and you’ll have basically the same thing.

The demographics of Northern Thailand skew towards a predominantly Thai population (of course). Yet why is that more than 50% of the people in this club are white?

All this club area is an area for the “travelers” and “expats” to hang out.

Is it an authentic travel experience to go to Chiang Mai and hang out only with other travelers & expats? Sure it’s fun, but this is not real Thailand.

Popping the Travel Bubble

A simple 10-15 minute motorbike ride away from this Western-style club is a giant Thai club which has probably 10x more people.

The venue is truly local. As a foreigner, the first thing you’ll notice walking in is that you’re the only foreigner. I went yesterday and besides the friends I took there was not a single other white person there, for example.

The venue is epically insane also- it’s giant, and has ultra-high-quality sound system. There is regular live performances and dances on stage. People actually dance rather than sit around all lame.

It’s actually terrifying walking in. You realize you’re the only foreigner, people are dancing like crazy, there’s an insane live performance- it’s a true local Thai club.

As is the true Thai experience if you’d like to go to the toilet and pee (as a male) you may be shocked to discover that someone is giving you a massage! It is normal in this club to receive a nice shoulder massage as you pee at the urinal (though you should definitely leave a little tip).

How many people who have “traveled” to Thailand know that such a thing is normal? They don’t because all they do is hang around “little Western World” where things are set up just like the West.

I’ve observed this degree of segregation everywhere I’ve traveled. In Bali for example I was shocked to discover that Canggu was primarily European/American, but a simple 20 minute’s ride up North takes you to places so far off the beaten path that people stare at you wondering what you’re doing in their little village.

I can’t help but wonder then: why do people even travel if they don’t really integrate into the local culture or experience anything authentic?

In Asia it is rather easy to see this segregation due to the color of people’s skin. If I hang out in the Santitham area of Chiang Mai I will see only 1-3% white people. If I go to the backpacker area I see 50% white “travelers.”

The thing is Santitham isn’t far from the backpacker area at all. You could walk there or take a super fast taxi.

Another white-ish area is the “Nimman” area in Chiang Mai. You see maybe 20% white people.

You want to know the shocking thing in all this? The epic Thai club is a fucking 10 minute walk from Nimman.

Nothing about any of this makes sense! This astonishing Thai club should have at least 1-5 white people considering its close proximity to an area where about 20% of the people observed are white expats!

Yet they don’t go. Because these “travelers” live in their own bubble.

No one foreign has heard of this club. Not even people who have “lived” here for many months.

Dissecting the Bubble

Now this isn’t meant to be a hate post or anything by any means. I get travel can be exhausting and hanging around people who get you or sticking to familiar delights can be comforting.

Many of these people claim to be traveling though, and there were times I thought I was traveling when in fact I had not.

Sure I saw things, but I didn’t experience anything profoundly different. Too often was I trapped in a bubble. My location changed but not my experience.

Realizing these things have made me question if travel is even worth it- I was going to make that the original post of the title but I instead decided to make this more relatable because the implications of this bubble are greater than I initially realized.

All these “travelers” come here and I watch & listen to them go to the same places over and over. Nothing is profoundly unique about what they are experiencing. They are not experiencing what is local and true.

Again no hate on any of them. And I don’t mean to be racist when I say “white” or “Asians” or whatever. As stated earlier it’s simply an easy determinant of how many foreigners are in a certain area.

It’s just weird, you know? It’s like an invisible force drew a literal force-field around a certain part of Chiang Mai where the “travelers” hang out so that they can’t interfere with the true locals.

A simple 5-10 minute bike ride can take you out of an area with 25% white “travelers” into an area where you are given a second glance for being white (not because people are racist but because it’s obvious you’re a foreigner and people are surprised to see you not stuck in the travel bubble).

The travel bubble is huge. It’s what I’m using as an example for all bubbles that exist in the world!

So many people claim to travel. I’ve claimed to travel. Have I really though? How many people have truly traveled? They go to the same places as everyone else, stay in their little bubbles so much so to the degree that you can literally draw an invisible line in the city to segregate the travelers from everyone else!

Examining My Bubble

In realizing that all is just a bubble, I’ve had some profound reflections on my own life.

First let’s examine my experiences in Bulgaria. I’ve spent about 9 months there and it was often some of the happiest times of my life (excluding the past few months which have been epic).

The longer I stayed in Bulgaria the larger of an “ROI” (return on investment) I had on being there.

By month 9 I was still learning about Bulgarian culture and integrating. Despite having several local friends we were still discovering differences in all kinds of little things.

Compare that to many of the other countries I’ve traveled to where I’ve only stayed for a few days or weeks. It was definitely cool seeing the sights, but it wasn’t a profoundly deep and amazing experience.

It is quite egoic to claim you’ve visited “x number of countries” because it speaks very little of how deep you’ve gone in each country.

Going deep on 2-3 countries is a significantly deeper experience than buzzing through 15 countries on 3 days each, which is what most travelers do.

The great fallacy here is that more countries = more experience. But that’s just not the case.

I’ve also learned this for example with sex. Every guy it seems wants to fuck the most number of girls as possible… But why?

It’s better to have one awesome partner so that the quality of sex is great & consistent rather than 100 terrible partners. Trust me sometimes finally getting in bed with a 10 is not fun (in fact the recent “10” I was with was so bad/weird it really illustrated this truth to me).

To add onto this point I observed that in some places such as Bali I was hardly experiencing any true Balinese culture. It was still a great experience, but I’ve realized it takes months or years to properly experience a country!

The more I’ve traveled, the less opinionated about each place I’ve become. I’ve understood so many nuances in regards to fulfillment in a place that it’s near impossible for me to give any opinion about a place.

Second, I’ve realized that I haven’t hardly lived in the USA. Sure, I’m from the USA. I’ve spent about 19 years worth of time in the USA.

Have I lived there? Nope. At most I’ve probably only truly lived & experience USA for about 1-3 months.

I’m realizing here in Thailand that to properly experience local culture and find deeper fulfillment it’ll take months or years of learning the language, getting local social circles, etc.

In traveling so much I’ve also realized just how contextual fulfillment in a place is- you can be happy anywhere.

Personal Lifestyle Changes

I’ve wrote earlier that I’m slowly down on travel. For the next year I won’t visit any new places and instead only stick to what’s familiar, unless it’s explicitly a vacation with pre-established friends.

After 2 years of constant sight-seeing, it’s become deeply apparent that the most fulfilling experiences were when I went deep, found a lover, had great friends, and a successful daily routine.

This means I’ll only be in Chiang Mai; Sofia, Bulgaria; Montreal, Canada; and Phoenix, Arizona.

I may swing by Bali because I have friends there. I haven’t been to Hong Kong but may go there for a 2-3 day vacation because I’ve 2 great friends there. See those are the only exceptions though.

The truth is that it’s very difficult to travel. It could just be that I’ve traveled enough to get the surface-level experiences out of the way. Who knows.

What I do know is that going deep on places is more important than going wide! In the attempt to experience too many people create their own little bubbles. They say they travel yet experience very little.

Examining All Bubbles

Now this was a lot of writing on travel, but it’s only one example of one of the many bubbles that exist in the world.

As long as you are conscious you are in a bubble it is okay. Most people aren’t though- they think they’ve traveled to Chiang Mai or Bali but hardly have. The deep experiences elude them.

There are many bubbles in the world! There is the financial bubble, self-help bubble, all kinds of bubbles which keep you trapped from moving towards what you really want to.

For example if you’re in a particular fitness bubble you may be held back from legitimately achieving your goals because the bubble thinks in a certain way. They say to do certain things which you unconsciously agree with which in the end hurts you.

The self-help bubble is a big one. People work on “improving themselves” for years yet never actually make progress. They “work on their business” yet never truly cash out.

The “hustle” bubble is an ultra-deadly one. People jerk themselves off on Instagram about how they’ve worked 70 hours… Again, what has truly been accomplished in those 70 horus? Nothing.

The travel bubble is bad if you are not conscious to it because you will think that you’ve traveled when in fact you have only experienced a tiny fraction of what was available to experience. It holds you back from the true beauty & depth that is right there waiting for you to experience.

What Does a Bubble Do?

To summarize clearly, a bubble holds you back by making you think you’re making progress when in fact you are making less progress than what is truly possible- and by a substantial amount too.

Travel bubble: people physically go different places yet stay in their little Western world, going to the same cafes as everyone else which actually aren’t that great (or too expensive). People do this and miss out on experiences which are truly breathtaking, such as the real Thai club described above.

Entrepreneurship bubble: people jerk off about 80 hours per week yet make no real progress. People run around with their heads cut off like chickens. Profit isn’t super hard but it is when you spend 70 hours per week on BS and 10 on important stuff.

Self-help bubble: endless improvement & reading yet no real progress towards the goal (or super slow progress).

Dating bubble: same as above, constantly work on yourself yet never get a girlfriend.

Your bubble: ???

There are many bubbles out there. I have danced intimately with the travel one, especially since I try actively to break out of it.

But what one are you stuck in?

Hit me up and let me know (:

-Michael

Asia: My Experience So Far

This is the beginning of my 4th month in Southeast Asia, and now having visited several cities & countries I have a better idea of what there is to offer here.

Keep in mind that this is highly objective, as others will enjoy other aspects that I may not enjoy.

Note: this is an un-edited draft from a couple weeks ago. Experiences have changed a lot in the past 2 weeks. Click HERE for the most recent write-up regarding life in Chiang Mai. The rest has not been reviewed.

Where I’ve Been

I’ve spent a little over a week in Bangkok, and I’ve moved back to Bangkok to spend at least one more week.

I’ve spent 7 total weeks in Chiang Mai, 4 days in Saigon, Vietnam, as well as 1 month in Canggu, Bali (while also visiting the nearby cities in Bali as well such as Ubud & scuba diving cities in the Northeast).

Here are my opinions and experiences!

Bali

Canggu, Bali is great for digital nomads & tourists alike. Basically everything caters to the foreigner, so much so that in my opinion it’s kind of off-putting.

That being said the culture is fascinating if you can immerse in it, which is rather difficult given that everything does indeed cater to foreigners.

I stayed for 1 month in Canggu, which is a popular tourist/digital nomad hotspot. Ubud is also particularly popular with digital nomads.

There are less touristy areas you could definitely stay in, but the English there will be very poor.

Even in the very touristy areas, the English levels of the locals was not so high. It wasn’t as bad as Vietnam, but not near as good as Thailand. Sometimes you will struggle with things.

Bali has everything you could possibly want, besides stable living. For this reason, I have extremely mixed feelings about it. Let’s dive into what this means.

There is an abundance of exceptional apartments, villas, houses, etc. for you to live in. You an live in pure luxury or have a very cheap room. All accommodations are available for long-term or short-term rent, due to the transient nature of the island.

There aren’t many cafes or coffee shops to work from, especially because a lot of things are outdoors where it can be quite hot.

That being said there are some exceptional co-working spaces for online workers (I worked at Matra) which have very fast WiFi.

One of the most annoying things about Bali is that the government blocks several websites, primarily porn, but even social media sites such as Reddit. Luckily many of the co-working spaces and other WiFi’s allow you to bypass the filter, but keep that on the down-low 😛

Internet is quite slow in Bali, besides the co-working spaces, where it is reliably fast. WiFi is also generally terrible.

There are an endless number of delicious restaurants to try. Local food is quite bad, and that’s something every traveler has agreed on. It’s cheap if you want it, but it’s nothing like Thai food or Vietnamese food with great diversity & flavor.

I really enjoyed the great diversity of food. I found a Balkan restaurant which had Bulgarian food owned by a Romanian, and a Greek restaurant owned by a man with such a Greek accent it was no question where he was from!

Also I enjoyed eating at an Italian restaurant, again- owned by an Italian. All of these foods are relatively affordable, and exceptionally delicious. Having traveled to many of these countries, I can confirm that the food quality is as good as local food.

International dining is beyond amazing in Bali. You name it, you can find it. Well, besides exceptional Thai food, that I couldn’t find for some reason.

There are also endless activities to do. You can surf, hangout at the beach, go hiking, scuba dive, ride a motorcycle, there are just too many things to do! You will not be bored in Bali!

The spas & massages are next-level amazing. I enjoyed a place called “Amo” where for about $20 I would get a 30 minute head & shoulder massage, and then a day pass for the Sauna + cold plunge. I made several friends there.

The culture on Bali is a bit weird. You have super touristy & expat zones such as Canggu, and ten you ride a motorbike 5 kilometers north and you’ll literally have locals taking photos with you because that’s so rare (yes, that actually happened).

Me and a friend drove up to explore the local areas & temples, away from the beaten path, and we noticed that everyone was staring at us. Not in a bad way. Just in the sense that it was clear that they didn’t get any tourists.

So in Canggu or Ubud you see white people everywhere, and then you drive a little bit up North and suddenly you’re the only white person and it becomes very obvious very suddenly.

This is where the annoyance of Bali crept in: there didn’t feel like a proper mix of expat & local culture.

For example when I lived in Chiang Mai I felt like I had to integrate myself partially with the local culture. I didn’t have to learn Thai because everyone speaks good English, but it earned me several points for doing so.

I noticed that a few Indonesian words & phrases didn’t really earn me points in Canggu, probably because they’re so used to tourists they don’t even care whether I learn Balinese or not.

There isn’t really a culture in Canggu or Ubud, besides that of being a complete mix of Europeans, Russians, Americans, and especially Australians. It’s cool that there’s such a diverse range of people, but where the hell are the locals?

This is the weird part: when you walk into a restaurant or cafe and it’s a ton of local Balinese serving you, and there are 0 locals eating or drinking. Just tourists. It feels really weird.

It actually made me a bit uncomfortable to look around and see only Indonesians serving a ton of Europeans n’ what not, not because of some race / identity politics, but simply because it indicated a lack of proper mixing between tourists/expats/locals.

Bali is a place to get served and treated like a king, not necessarily immerse yourself in local culture. Of course, this could change in the future, but most everyone would agree with me on this.

I have two other major complaints with Bali: the first being traffic. No, it’s not that the traffic is too crazy. I can handle that.

The problem I have is so many foreigners & expats are so disrespectful to the culture that they rent motorbikes without any idea how to drive them, and then drive said motorbikes so aggressively and without care.

I wrote in a previous post that I observed every single minute a new rider having left their turn signal on. People are literally so clueless on motorbikes in Bali that they leave their turn signals on, likely not knowing how to turn them off on a motorcycle.

Motorcycles without mufflers aren’t uncommon either, so you can get some white virgin 22 year old who loves to rev the engine and drive aggressively, hurting everyone else’s ears. As if a loud motorbike signals that you have a big dick.

Some areas in Canggu are just so underdeveloped to the point it’s dangerous. If you research the “famous Canggu short-cut,” you’ll find a 2-way road that only has enough room to fit one car and one motorbike.

It is raised above the ground with no guard rail so you can also fall a few feet off, or your car will tip over if you fall over. There are so many photos online of such happening. I didn’t witness it, but I did witness a fall close to it.

For whatever reason some genius decided to make a 2-way road that could only fit one car and one motorbike. When 2 cars come at the same time, the whole street locks up. The street is long enough to where this regularly happened, and I would get trapped in between cars and other motorbikes for so long as people had to hop out of their cars and figure this shit out.

Another issue I have with Bali is no clear residence/visa strategy for long-term living. Everyone I asked who had lived there was “visa running” every 60 days, or doing some type of “social visa.”

So in order to live in Bali short-term or long-term every 30 days you have to go to an immigration office to extend your visa, and then when the visa can’t be extended anymore you have to leave the country and fly back.

Contrast this with Thailand which offers Muay Thai visas, language visas, elite visas, and a clear path to residency.

In terms of visas & living I still am uneasy about Southeast Asia for long-term due to the fact there’s no clear path to long-term citizenship. For example, move to USA or Canada or almost any European country and there’s a clear path to citizenship.

That being said countries like Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, etc. still have a clear path to residency, which allows you at least to remain in the country.

Bali on the other hand is too vague with their visa policies, which means you don’t get the right to stay there. Imagine being told by an immigration officer you can’t enter the country- with all your stuff stuck at “home!”

So Bali is definitely a good place to visit as a tourist, or even as a month or so as a digital nomad, but I don’t want to get too attached to there as living legally is not easy.

I really enjoyed Bali and will certainly return, but I don’t like the transient nature, and the fact that everything is about the foreigners. It’s great being catered to, but it’s just so weird when everywhere you go it’s ONLY locals or ONLY foreigners being served by locals. There is just no mixing.

Bangkok

I’ll write more on Bangkok later. I stayed for 1 week last year, and I just moved here for another week or two. I can’t write much on it because I don’t have so much experience. So far I prefer Chiang Mai.

Bangkok traffic is crazy and long, but public transit is available. There’s probably nowhere better for parties & dating, especially considering that the female-male ratio is higher, meaning that there are more women than men. This begins glaringly obvious on Tinder, where hundreds of girls will match you.

Parties are amazing and fun as well!

Note: I started writing this post a few days ago, and now I am finishing it up. So now I’m adding more to the Bangkok section here:

My sleep has been a complete disaster, and I still have very mixed feelings about Bangkok. With my sleep schedule being a disaster, it’s only natural that I’ll feel like shit and not be able to clearly identify whether Bangkok is for me or not.

After doing some writing & talking with friends, I think I’ve came to this conclusion:

Bangkok is much more expensive than I thought it would be.

If you want to come here as a tourist and party, it won’t be that expensive, but in terms of actually living it actually is a lot more expensive than I thought it would be.

The reason for this is in Chiang Mai there are a ton of fun, free things to do. That’s not really the case here.

You either must rent a motorbike, which I’m very hesitant to due to the increase in danger of riding, OR take taxis/public transit.

Public transit + taxi costs add up. I haven’t been keeping track but so far I’d say it’s equal to or even more expensive than the cost of owning my own motorbike in Chiang Mai!

If I were to rent a motorbike it would be a tiny bit more expensive than in Chiang Mai, but the problem is parking. Chiang Mai is so relaxed you can literally park anywhere.

Here you aren’t allowed to be so relaxed. You must find a legitimate parking place. The parking fees will no doubt add up and eat up more of the budget.

If you’ve got cash to drop, this seems to be the place. The malls are legendary. Bars & clubs are next-level. You can enjoy rooftop bars and sip fancy wine, or get down n’ dirty on a wild party road called KhaoSan road.

Dining is next-level amazing as well, but local (cheap) Thai markets are more difficult to find than in Chiang Mai.

With everything being more spread out, commute times increase. This is also what has me iffy.

In Chiang Mai I ride 5-10 minutes everywhere, max 15, and then maybe like 20 minutes to go up the mountain to a beautiful waterfall. Here it’s minimum 20 minutes which includes a lot of walking, motorbike taxis, and the public transit system.

To meet one girl, I spent almost an entire hour in public transport!

This could just be the area that I’m staying in however. Bangkok is such a big city I would need to experiment with living in different places.

I’ll also probably have to rent a motorbike. I’m considering doing that later today or tomorrow for a few days to get a feel for riding around here.

One annoying thing is that I’m finding it difficult to find suitable cafes to work from. The last coffee shop I was at printed me a fucking 1 hour WiFi ticket, and the WiFi was so bad that I couldn’t work.

So I went to a place I thought had good WiFi, and same same: the WiFi is so bad I’m back to uploading a YouTube video via my phone’s SIM card.

If you want to live & work here remotely, you must find what’s called a “co-working” space to get your work done, or have a home office. Both of these things are expensive and will add an extra $100-$200 onto the monthly budget.

After posting on Reddit for feedback, I realized that I probably need to double my monthly budget in order to fully enjoy live here. Right now I can’t do that.

On one hand I love the excitement of Bangkok. It’s a big city with everything you could imagine- even if it’s quite spread out.

Bangkok has western amenities, amazing apartments, quiet accommodation, and most importantly for me an endless list of literally hundreds of tinder girls waiting to match me and meet me.

With cash, this is the city to live in. I’ve dated an average of 2 new girls per day since moving here, but I’m also finding that exhausting. It would not be unrealistic to say that if you had the drive you could bang a new person every day here (is it like this in other big cities??).

Today I’ve kept my phone away from me for the most part, and stopped responding to all of the messages. I need some me-time, some time to relax in cafes, wander aimlessly, and not schedule dates & work in by the hour.

With cash you can enjoy a life so incredible here, I think that once I do have the cash this might end up being my favorite place to be! I’d be able to have an epic apartment, nice motorbike, date tons of girls, and actually do exciting things such as bowling, rooftop bars, crazy parties, fine dining, and more.

Until then, Bangkok not might be the city for me to be. And even all that being said, I miss the “Sabai sabai” (relax relax) vibes of Chiang Mai or the peace of Sofia.

Part of it could be that I’ve traveled a bit too much recently. I do recognize in myself that I’m sick of searching for a new place to work from, especially because I am prioritizing my work more recently.

I noticed recently that I was feeling very bad, and I felt much better when I got some work done.

I was happy when a girl was late to our meeting because it meant that I could spend 30 more minutes making some progress.

This is completely my fault to be enjoying too much the women of Bangkok instead of work, but damn is it distracting! And a bit much!

It’s a man’s dream to date 2 new girls every day, but now that I’m living the dream, WOW I need to slow down…

So in short, I’ve got extremely mixed feelings about Bangkok. A part of me loves it. The controlled chaos, dating, parties, and western amenities.

The other part of me cringes at the prices I’m paying (which often exceeds the prices in Bulgaria and even Western Europe) for various things, and simply desires some comfort & familiarity.

The human can only travel so much… We need to relax and enjoy comfort too. I’m learning that about myself.

I’m finding it very, very hard to purchase a flight out though. The dating & excitement here is keeping me trapped. I want to go but can’t yet.

Perhaps Bangkok will serve as my motivation for earning more money with online business.

When I get another client or two and can justify doubling my monthly budget, Bangkok will be a totally different experience.

I may write another report as well because as I said my sleep schedule has been totally fucked up (day 2: too much wine on a rooftop bar and staying up late with a hot girl) which definitely adds a negative hue to the experience.

Also, I’m not so much in “abundant” feeling. What I mean is that I may need to share more good energy from friends in Chiang Mai / Sofia before I have the capability to properly integrate into a new city.

As mentioned, you can only have so much newness until you start to crave a familiar face.

Chiang Mai

Last year I spent 3 weeks in Chiang Mai but dipped out fast. I was heart-broken, isolated, didn’t have healthy habits, had a surgery, and a motorbike crash in the nearby mountains.

I was not in a good mental space or ready to enjoy it. I was also experiencing massive culture shock.

Now I went back to live there for 1 month, and all I can say is “WOW!” I never could’ve expected I’d enjoy it so much!

After 30 days my visa expired, and instead of extending I took a weekend in Vietnam (and now I’m in Bangkok). I must say, Vietnam was too much (more on that later) and I kept thinking of how I wanted to go back to Chiang Mai.

After just 30 more days, Chiang Mai… already feels like home. I could totally see myself living there, maybe equally to Sofia, Bulgaria.

In fact, it feels a lot like Sofia. It’s generally quiet & relaxed, but there are great parties available as well. There are amazing coffee shops, food, and a great local culture to immerse yourself into! There’s also many foreigners permanently living there.

In a way it is still slightly transient from all the digital nomads coming & leaving, but most people seem to return… like myself, so take that for what it’s worth.

The traffic in Chiang Mai is relaxed, people are respectful & kind, the local food is incredible and cheap, and there’s an abundance of great places to stay short, medium, and long-term at an affordable price.

I am intending on spending 1 week in Bangkok and then after I might go back to Sofia, Bulgaria, stay longer in Bangkok, or even do 1 more month in Chaing Mai- it’s that amazing!

In fact, after 3 months in Sofia, Bulgaria (which is what I’m leaning on doing in about 2-3 weeks) I will then probably go back to Chiang Mai for about 3 months to properly immerse myself in Thai culture & language.

I don’t even know what to write about- it’s just so amazing. You can meet locals, expats, foreigners, travelers, hangout in the mountain, explore waterfalls, relax by the lake, and go to local markets.

Parties are also a lot of fun, but the main clubs close at midnight. I actually prefer this so that my sleep schedule doesn’t get totally ruined by a party starting at 11pm and ending at 5am.

I love Thai food, and there is an abundance of great Thai restaurants in Chiang mai! There are also other places, such as burger restaurant & Italian restaurant, and even an American restaurant with great Mac n’ Cheese.

What I love about Chiang Mai is the relaxed vibe. It’s a healthy mix of working, social life, and everything.

For example in Bangkok dating is off the charts amazing, but you have to deal with annoying traffic and a bit more of a hectic life.

I think the most ideal situation for Chiang Mai would be to get a girlfriend, so I’ll probably try not to get a girlfriend when I return to Bulgaria just so that I can get a Thai girlfriend.

The Thai girls are so amazing, kind, etc. that I truly believe they might be the best to date.

I met a really cool, special girl in Chiang Mai also. I told her I wasn’t ready for anything serious because of my last relationship’s ending, which she understood.

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel a bit of love for her… But I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want her to get her expectations up just for me to leave to Bulgaria.

Chiang Mai has me really re-considering whether I want to immigrate fully to Bulgaria or not, simply because of how amazing it is!

There’s just so much to do, but it’s at a more relaxed, happy place. It’s got the fastest internet I’ve experienced. Service is off the charts amazing.

I feel genuinely excited at learning Thai and immersing myself more into Thai culture and Chiang Mai life. I’m actually torn between spending 3 months now in Chiang Mai or going back to Bulgaria, but I’ll probably go back to Bulgaria.

The only problem with Chiang Mai is that there’s something called “Burning Season” from February to April, where it becomes the most polluted city in the whole world! The farmers are burning something as the name implies, and a ton of smoke comes.

So if I were to live there permanently, I couldn’t live there during that time- in fact, no one wants to live there during that time!

Other than that Chiang Mai is perfect and I couldn’t imagine a better place to be besides Sofia, Bulgaria. I’ll be returning soon as Chiang Mai is holding a special place in my heart.

Saigon, Vietnam

Saigon, now referred to as Ho Chi Minh City, is crazy. I spent 4 days there, and have mixed feelings.

The party on Friday night was too crazy to the point of absurdity and danger. The craziest girl I’ve ever dated was on Sunday. Another girl I met opened up and started looking through Tinder at the party there.

The culture is not so kind as Thailand, so maybe it’s the contrast from the kind service of the Thai to the more frowning style of the Vietnamese. There are still very nice people though.

Some of the Vietnamese I met were very funny, kind, etc. even though they hardly spoke any English. Most people have very low English speaking, you can get around with English but it’ll be quite hard!

Others were angry, downright rude, and there are a lot of hagglers that annoy you. People are aggressive drivers, and it is not safe.

For example traffic does not stop for you if you want to cross the street. I think technically you get the right of way, but nobody cares. HONK HONK, move out of the way!

If you aren’t moving fast enough? HONK, move! The buses & cars would honk at bikers, demanding they move or get hit.

When crossing the street you literally have to play “frogger” with your life, dodging motorbikbes and cars. It’s quite the adventure. Sometimes exciting, but in hindsight not a place I’d like to live.

The party in Saigon was the craziest I’ve had in my whole life- not in terms of enjoyment, but just in terms of random shit going on. Hardly anyone dances, which is weird.

So the “walking street” also allows motorbikes and cars to pass through and mix with the people, making it super dangerous.

All kinds of people line the streets haggling you to buy their shit, which is useless stuff.

Drug dealers are everywhere and offer you weed, meth, cocaine, whatever you want. They also have balloons filled with laughing gas. I saw no police, and locals confirmed that you can do or buy whatever you want- the police don’t care.

Fire breathers and performers would randomly go on the street and spit fire. Hookers would literally grab onto you. Massage therapists (probably with happy endings) would grab onto you also.

Little kids also lined the streets trying to perform and show you things. There were also street food vendors.

It is… to say the least, a shit show, packed person to person and bike to bike in all this craziness along with absurdly loud music.

A bit too crazy, but definitely a place to have a wild night.

Honestly I was excited to leave Vietnam. It gets to be too much too fast. It’s a cool place to visit, but it can’t compare to Bangkok.

Bangkok is cleaner, kinder, and more respectful. Vietnam is so crazy to the point that nobody cares about your life. It’s brutally dangerous.

I was happy to leave Vietnam and arrived at the airport extra early. Then my flight got delayed, so I spent like 2-3x longer in the airport than I did the length of my flight.

When I landed back in Thailand, a wave of relaxation washed over me. I was back home.

Asia: In the Future

Right now I’m currently in Bangkok (see: Bangkok section). I’ve got mixed feelings, primarily because I am against craving some familiarity/stability from either Bulgaria or Chiang Mai.

Furthermore this city appears to be above my budget. Definitely I could live nice in my budget, but to properly enjoy “the life” in this city you need to be wealthy, even by American standards.

I’d like to return to Chiang Mai & Bali, and when I have more wealth Bangok. My AirBNB expires Tuesday and I don’t know what I’ll do from there.

I’m considering staying in Bangkok one more week (I feel attached already to many of the girls I’ve seen, and not gonna lie, enjoying all this female attention/crazy life) and getting a motorbike to better experience it. We’ll see if my wallet can afford it first though.

My heart originally called me to Bulgaria, but now strangely… I feel drawn to Chiang Mai. The dating may not be as legendary, but it’s ultra-cheap for an incredible lifestyle and now that I’ve seen more girls than I can even keep track of I’m discovering other personal priorities such as me-time, male friends, business, and fitness.

I’ve never had a crazy dating lifestyle, and now that the “pendulum” has swung far towards that way I’m discovering that the fantasy- when realized- isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I do wish to return; I struggle to leave any destination as often I find myself attached to at least one person and place.

So far there’s not much else in Asia I’d like to see. I’ve traveled so much that sights are kind of meh, and I’m valuing more having a home base and stability + great social circle.

Japan & Korea would be cool to visit, and Koh Phangan, Thailand is on the list as well.

I’m also putting a small amount of effort into learning Thai, which is also why I’m enjoying Thailand so much more. The locals love it that a white “farang” is speaking some Thai.

In some instances at cafes I can speak enough Thai to complete the entire order, ask some questions, and say thank you! It feels so amazing to speak Thai, even more so than speaking German or Bulgarian!

It just feels right. I keep saying, “I’m gonna travel to Bulgaria,” but then I say 1 more month in Thailand.

Should I really stay 3 months in Bulgaria, or is that too long? The longer I stay here, the longer I wish to stay. The more I wish to learn more Thai, and integrate myself more into the culture.

A beautiful girl I was seeing in Chiang Mai (and connected deeply with) gave me a child’s book for learning the Thai letters, which is even crazier than Thai. Every Thai girl I meet is excited to teach me more Thai, and so in every date or hangout I go on I learn more and more Thai.

Thai people are also some of the nicest, kindest, most amazing people I’ve ever met. In Chiang Mai you see people casually leaving wallets full of cash, laptops, and phones out and about in cafes because of how safe it is.

It’s a culture based on respect, and for that reason I’m finding more and more reason to stay..

I do really want to go back to Bulgaria… But I also observe how many “Asian” habits I’m developing, such as bowing and smiling very widely at everyone. Both of these would be soo weird in Bulgaria.

I’ve already resolved subconsciously that after Bulgaria I want to go back to Thailand and live for at least 3-4 months. If I have the budget I’ll try a month in Bangkok, otherwise Chiang Mai.

I’ll also have a vacation in Koh Phangan.

Like I said, I don’t intend to do a lot more traveling to new places anymore. It’s exhausting and my brain needs stability. So I’m planning on having a home base in Bulgaria, and then another in Thailand.

From there if I feel compelled to explore I will, but I don’t now. I’m.. happy, here. Genuinely happy.

Sure I don’t “have it all” and things could be better, but there’s just something here in the way of living that makes me content. “Sabai sabai,” as the Thai say. Relax, one moment at a time..

After all, isn’t the present moment all we really have?

-Michael

A Newfound Peace & Joy

It’s been a while since I’ve published a proper post- and this is all with good reason.

I’ve been focused on other things recently, or just enjoying life. You see, I’ve realized there’s a huge difference between “talking” and “walking.”

Recently in my life it’s been more about actually doing things rather than talking about them.

Granted I know that my writing can help inspire & uplift others as well as provide practical tips, but my preference as of recent has been to just enjoy my own flow and not focus so much on the blog.

I’ve actually attempted to write some articles, but not had the drive to sustain finishing them.

It’s not that I lack motivation- it’s that priorities have shifted. In some instances I’ve wrote an entire blog post, only not to send it at all.

As of now I have maybe 3-5 articles that I need to send out which I’ll schedule for the next few days in just a minute after writing this.

So, what’s been up? Besides my feedback request on my new website, I’ve been for the most part dark for the past 2-4 weeks.

Chiang Mai: A New Home?

A couple weeks ago I left Chiang Mai after a month here. I went to Vietnam for 4 days, and was so exhausted and ready to go back to Thailand after that experience.

I was then in Bangkok for a week. I wanted to try it out for a week and then decide whether to stay longer or leave.

It was fun, but very over-stimulating. I am discovering my own personal preferences for where I would enjoy living.

Bangkok is great if you just want to hook-up & party, but man the commutes are really annoying and it doesn’t seem to have any peace.

Chiang Mai, Thailand and Sofia, Bulgaria- despite being completely different- share some commonalities which I now understand as my preference for a city to live, at least for this period of my life.

Both are medium-sized cities that have fast commutes, lots of nature, yet at the same time good parties & social life. It’s more of a balanced life, compared to Bangkok which would be a crazy party life or a small city which would be too boring for me.

Sometimes it feels like something is missing. I’m still finding my deeper connections here.

I miss my friends in Bulgaria and in Phoenix (and everywhere else like Montreal, etc.) but recently have begun making deeper connections.

One problem with Chiang Mai is that many people come and go. In my first month my two best guy friends left. I’ve now made more of an effort to cut out transients, and only focus on people that live here, will often return here, or whom I could otherwise meet elsewhere.

A few deeper connections is much more fulfilling than many small connections!

Chiang Mai has been surprisingly fulfilling overall though, and what I really love is the great work-life balance.

It’s got the kind of vibe where you want to hustle & get work done in the morning & afternoon, but in the evening it’s almost demanded that you do something to relax and be happy, such as get a massage, hangout at a waterfall, or jog around the park.

Chiang Mai is also quite affordable. Every dollar I save is a dollar I can re-invest into my development or business!

That’s actually one of the many reasons I’m hesitant to go back to Bulgaria- Bulgaria isn’t that much more expensive but the cost of flying there and living will increase expenses by at least $500 per month.

And that’s $500 per month I can put into ads if I stay here.

Of course life isn’t all about money. I learned that the hard way last year when I did my wisdom teeth surgery without painkillers, anesthesia, or even laughing gas to save money… Sometimes the spend is worth it.

That being said I find myself really integrating into Thai culture and developing habits that I know will not serve me in Bulgaria.

For example, I am super smiley here- people said I smiled a lot in Bulgaria, but now I’m very smiley. It’s just Thai culture! Bulgarians would see this behavior and think that I am a fraud, high, or crazy.

It’s not good or bad. It’s just different. But I know that there will be a re-adaptation period to Bulgaria which I am not so excited for.

I can’t remember if I published that post or not, but I recently decided that for the rest of the year I will not travel anywhere new unless it’s with friends and explicitly a vacation.

Traveling to new places costs a lot of energy- energy which could be used to workout, relax, or service a client.

Also, there’s just no point. In the past 2 years I’ve been to 14 or 15 countries or something like that.. It’s crazy. But I’ve had enough, for now.

Yes, there’s still so much I wish to do. But why? After so much instability, I am ready for some stability.

Long-Term Goals

Finally I have some longer-term goals for my life, which feels great. I’ve got a rough idea of how I want my fitness, dating life, social life, and life as a whole to look like in the next 2 years.

The main goal I have now is by June 1st, 2020 to have a primary home base where I spend at least 6 months per year.

For the next year I will probably only be in Phoenix, Montreal, Sofia, and Chiang Mai. There are of course the exceptions mentioned, such as visiting friends in Bali or having a layover in London or something like that.

Trust me it sounds like a dream to travel like crazy & indefinitely, but it only feels that way within the context of what you already have. Eventually all sights look the same, all parties are the same, etc.. Depth is key. Priorities change.

Right now the likely candidates for a home base are Phoenix, Sofia, or Chiang Mai.

If I live in Chiang Mai I will have to leave every year around February for a couple months because of a season called “smokey season.” The farmers burn their fields and the air quality becomes the worst of all cities in the entire world!

If I live in Phoenix, I will have to likely sign a 1-year lease for an apartment or house. This will greatly reduce my desire to travel especially as America is the most expensive place.

I don’t yet see myself living in Phoenix, but I do confess it’s a possibility. I had a ton of fun in my last month in Phoenix because my friends were so much better.

If I live in Bulgaria, I will have to do a complex, complicated, and expensive immigration process to get residency there.

So overall I’ve no idea exactly what the plan is. Right now I’m taking things one step at a time and going with the flow.

At the very least I have my “main 4 bases” which I can circulate between.

Healing, Habits, & Progress

Because I’ve been in Chiang Mai for long now I’ve been able to develop healthy habits, healing, and routines that promote progress in my life.

For example last month I re-started my arms & abs routine to grow my arms & abs. It fucking sucks but I love it. I’ve always wanted bigger arms.

I actually hooked up with a girl yesterday that randomly gave me a lot of dating advice. She basically said I was in the clear for everything but I’d be “perfect” with bigger arms.

That I can’t deny, it’s something I’ve known for some time and I am excited to see those results.

Already with what little growth my arms have made I’ve noticed a huge difference in dating & social life. Yesterday I partied and 2 different guys came up to me asking if I was someone famous (I can’t remember this dude’s Instagram).

Even I had to admit he looked a lot like me, except the fit, muscular version. It’s funny: first I re-start my arms routine, a month later I hook up with a super sexy girl who motivates me to get bigger arms, and then later that day 2 guys come up to me asking if I’m someone famous, who just so happens to look almost exactly like me except with big arm muscles.

Such synchronicity seems to be the Universe’s way of saying “this is what you will look like in 1 year if you stay committed.”

Around 4 months ago I was in a dark space. I was back in Phoenix, reverse-culture shocked from too long outside America, and not doing success habits or progressing in life in anyway.

Perhaps it was a necessary darkness. Who knows. One way or another I am finally progressing in business, fitness, and dating in the way which I’ve always wanted to.

Fulfillment in the Flow

And that’s why I feel peace & fulfillment here. I’m not everywhere where I want to be- but I’m authentically living life how I’ve always wanted to, and that’s what feels amazing.

I am saving money all while making moves in every direction in my life. I’m doing everything I always wanted to do.

Recently it just hit me that I, in a way, “made it” and it was a deeply emotional moment. I’m not successful and rich or ultra-good with girls, but I’m at the next level I always wanted to be at.

Less is More

I’m probably writing another post on this. With progress comes excess that needs to be cut out.

Example: I recently put forth a huge initiative to improve my dating life. Within weeks I was seeing an average of 2 new girls per day. I was even mixing up who was who!

I had charmed so many girls some even wanted to fly out from other places in Thailand to see me. Just yesterday I remembered that one girl was flying out to see me this weekend, but I am paying off her tickets because I’m so exhausted with so many girls.

First world problems, I know. I never could’ve imagined a reality in which I am actively cutting out girls who are quality because I don’t want to deal with all of them.

But it happens. It seems there are “layers to life” (more on this later). Most people idealize success, but with success comes a new set of problems. Granted they are much better problems, but still situations to deal with nonetheless.

Anyways, my point here is that I’ve re-evaluated my priorities and realized I was spending too much time dating around when I could’ve been using that time to work on fitness, business, or hell even some alone time.

Tomorrow I plan to have an “alone day,” which again I never could’ve imagined desperately needing. I always wanted more people, more girls, more friends, yet now I am so done with all that and need a day to just “be.”

I guess what I’ve learned most in this is that priorities change. When you haven’t had a wild dating & hook-up lifestyle, you crave it more than anything else.

Then you finally get it, and priorities shift yet again. Now I rather go deep with one girl, and hook up only here or there with others.

As if the call had been answered, I met a really cool, deeper girl with whom I really enjoy spending time with.. I’ve since cut out most other girls that I’ve seen so that I can prioritize time with her.

I’ve realized that with many things in life less is more. It’s not about doing more- it’s about doing less so that you can do more. You only have 24 hours a day, after all.

Instead of writing down “I want to do more XYZ,” I am writing down .that I want less of dating around now so that I can do more business and have more alone time.

I know some of what I am writing can sound silly. I sure feel that way. As a kid I never could’ve imagined having this dating & hook-up life. It is amazing and I truly feel grateful for it.

But then you realize you are dating too much and would rather be alone. Or have some guy friends you can just chill with. Or even one deeper, special girl.

The Flow of Life

It’s the flow of life. There is no endpoint in life- isn’t that what is so beautiful? At any given moment you don’t have to be successful by other’s standards.

As long as you are working towards your goal and winning each day, you win. That’s what is so beautiful!

We don’t have to be successful now. We just have to make progress. THAT is success.

Priorities change and as long as you stay authentic to your new desires you win.

Southeast Asia has taught me that great lesson. There is no arriving anywhere. Are you living authentically now? If so, you win.

Layers of Life

Life is like an onion- there are many layers to peel back. Sometimes you have to achieve a goal to realize it’s not what fulfills you most.

Then you can re-adjust and find balance. I always wanted to hook up with many girls and have that crazy fun lifestyle. It’s still a ton of fun, but now I am easing up on that goal and focusing more instead on business.

I am finding that in discovering this “flow of life” and achieving goals I am also finding more deep, meaningful goals.

Instead of me saying “how can I get laid” or saying “how can I make money” it’s more about “how can I give mutual value to the world?”

It’s a lot more fulfilling to set a goal of helping others and then making money as a result of it than to make money just for money.

I find that focusing on this brings a passion to my life. The best part of my day is when I get to my favorite coffee shop to work.

Me writing this now, and then soon to study a book after, this is the best part of my day because I am living most authentically and on my purpose.

Misc Thoughts

I also love Chiang Mai because the service quality is exceptional.

For example, I am writing this in my favorite coffee shop. I’m always greeted with a warm smile and a big thank you when I leave. The baristas all remember my order exactly- so I just hand them money and sit down.

As soon as I walk in, they bring me the largest glass of ice water possible. In fact they begin preparing the water as soon as they see me before I enter the coffee shop so that I can sit & drink immediately. When I work and focus, I often drink a lot of water. They sneak by and refill my ice-water without me even realizing so that I don’t have to get up and refill it myself.

This doesn’t happen in Bulgaria or even America!!! People are all about giving here so I feel genuinely happy to leave tips and learn Thai, which just seems to continue this cycle of giving and good energy.

People at the park I jog at often wave or smile at me. They compliment my Thai or running speed. Other runners exchange “thumbs up” with me.

Fun games are also often played at the park, and people are quick to invite you if they see you are observing them. I have always been too exhausted or too tight on time to join, but perhaps one day I will randomly join.

I feel greatly welcomed into the culture here, more so than anywhere else. Everyone actively invites you into their groups and fun, it’s amazing.

I feel so grateful to be here. Every month I decide to stay just a bit longer. Who knows what will happen in the future, but for now, I am here, so I live here.

4 months ago I was in darkness, but now I am in light, for no other reason than I’ve rediscovered my own authentic drive and am actively making moves. It’s the progress that brings fulfillment more than anything else.

What are you progressing on? Let me know by hitting “reply,” I love hearing (:

Thanks,

-Michael