Category Archives: Travel

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

An End To Adventure?

After 1 month in Chiang Mai, I realized just how deeply happy I was with it.

Edit: this draft was not reviewed & published to my Email list a bit late.

Chaing Mai is beautiful, has mountains, nature, waterfalls, extremely cheap (yet luxurious) accommodation, delicious food, and so much more.

It’s not all perfect- Bangkok for example is much better for dating, and Sofia, Bulgaria cools down quite a bit.

Leaving a destination is always the true test to how much I liked it or didn’t. Do I wish to return, or am I happy to leave?

In Vietnam I was so excited to leave that I got to the airport extra early- I missed Thailand, and Vietnam was a bit too chaotic for my tastes (as in they literally don’t stop for you at cross-walks and have to endanger your life to cross the road).

I spent 4 days in Vietnam, and now almost a week in Bangkok. I feel torn as what to do next, as often I do while traveling.

With the whole world at my fingertips, it’s hard to make a decision! But recently I’ve observed that my choices are becoming more and more narrow.

For example 2 years ago when I just started I researched the endless destinations and even created a post on my blog about all the places I wanted to go and things I wanted to do.

It included dozens of countries and wild adventures that would no doubt create memories for life.

However, I’ve noticed that there’s a “yin and yang” to life. You can adventure and be crazy, but you also need familiarity, comfort, etc.

One psychologist (I forgot whom) said there were 6 basic psychological needs of humans. One was familiarity, and then the one right after was spontaneity.

On one hand you need routine, comfort, and familiarity. But on the other hand you need some stimulation and newness. A dash of uncertainty makes for some excitement!

That’s where this post begins. It’s a bit wrong to say “an end to adventure” because of course adventure will not end.

I’d probably really enjoy staying in one city for 1 year, but no doubt by the end of it I might again be writing up a list of endless destinations that I would now know I can’t possibly complete within even a reasonable time period.

A better way of saying this would be “a temporary end to adventure.” Let’s dive into this.

2 Years of Adventure

I can’t believe I am writing this. It’s still fresh in my mind marveling at those individuals who claimed to have traveled to a dozen countries, speak 3 languages, and make money online.

There was just something about it that drew me in. Now I’m in, and have been, and what I’m discovering is that this is not the one-way trip that I thought it would be.

Every nomad ends their journey. I’ve wrote about this before, when I was mentally snapping in Thailand last year (but that was more-so due to heart-break, surgery, and isolation).

In the past 2 years I’ve actually visited 14 or 15 countries- which means I’m excluding unintentional layovers.

I’ve learned to speak some French, a few phrases in Dutch, Finnish, and Hungarian, some basic Bulgarian, and some Thai. My German has been slightly improved. There’s probably some others in there.

This fact is even more shocking- I’ve “lived” (which in my book means spending 1 month minimum in the country) in Phoenix; Montreal, Canada; Heidelberg (debatable as it was broken up), Germany; Sofia, Bulgaria; Pafos, Cyprus; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Canggu, Bali. This is 6 or 7 countries, depending on how you count it!

I don’t know what I expected would happen after I did all of this to be honest. I looked up to those who had accomplished such feats, as if something would change.

Alas, everywhere you go, there you are. I am still just me, at the end of the day. I’ve “done” so much but nothing really changed. At the same time, I’ve changed completely & grown so much.

Does that make sense? If you’ve aggressively pursued any goal you can probably understand me.

Travel Fatigue

Now let’s be completely, brutally honest. I was hardly happy during all of this traveling.

There have been some exceptional moments, such as falling madly in love, hooking up in Thailand, riding a motorbike, surfing, and those unforgettable nights with friends.

The growth itself is beautiful and amazing also. Simply looking back onto my days in Montreal for example, I see that technically I wasn’t in the best state (financially, physically, emotionally), but I was growing so much and so I look back on those days fondly.

But there comes a point that every new country is.. well, as they say in Thailand: same same.

By the time I entered my most recent “new” country- Vietnam- I was hardly impressed. I walked down the famous party street excited, but I had context for it- it was like KhaoSan, in Bangkok.

The temples, bridges, rivers, nature, etc. all fade into the same thing. Yeah, it’s beautiful, and profound, but you can have too much of it and become numb to it all.

You still experience culture shock, but in a different way. It’s almost annoying and you’re getting severely diminishing returns from your efforts.

Think of it like this: the difference between $1 and $10 is a lot, but the difference between 10 million and 25 million not so much in terms of lifestyle change.

With an extra $9- from starting at $1- you can suddenly afford significantly better food and even restaurant food.

When you’ve already got 10 million to enjoy on life, an extra 15 million, while substantially greater than the $9 improvement in the other, will not drastically improve the individual’s life.

The same is true about travel. It becomes fatiguing. You start having other needs, and prioritizing other things that the destinations.

For example, I wrote that I wanted to visit a water-park, Chiang Rai, get a tattoo, or visit Pai while staying in Chiang Mai. I did none of that and give 0 fucks about doing it. Another fucking temple or experience hardly turns me on.

In hindsight, this created a lot of troubles for me and my ex when we were visiting some European countries together. All I wanted to do was work in a cafe, while she wanted to go to museums.

My brain could literally not handle any new stimulation, so I desperately wished to return to the same restaurants & cafes over and over. Only now can I see why we had clashes.

The same thing that brought you pleasure can bring you pain. There is a balance to everything.

The problem comes when you associate the activity with pleasure it’s easy to lose perspective which is that it may not be pleasing you anymore… but because it brought you pleasure then, it’s easy to keep up the activity (see: every addiction).

Constantly packing bags, saying goodbye, adopting to new languages & culture customs, searching for drinkable water, restaurants, etc. seriously begins to consume a ton of energy.

With other commitments such as work, relationships, and personal enjoyment time, it becomes near impossible to fulfill everything while on the road.

It simply gets to be “too much.” I am writing this now in Bangkok, and I really want to love this city.

In fact, tonight was absolutely fun. I enjoyed going out. It was great, but I am realizing that I can’t handle it… now.

A Narrowing of Travel Destinations

About 6 months ago I snapped from heart-break, isolation, and travel fatigue. I was unintentionally traveling at an absurd pace, I think an average of one new country every 2 weeks.

I didn’t even want to do that, but things were just getting fucked up and I wasn’t taking responsibility for my life.

I thought I wanted to move to Portland or Vegas, but I quickly realized upon returning to Phoenix that this was a form of escapism. I began to catch my grounding in Phoenix, and then I was planning on going back to Bulgaria.

But in my heart I really wanted to experience things in Bali & Thailand. I figured I’d knock out some goals there, then go.

Even in Phoenix then, my destination list was looking more like “Montreal, Sofia, Bali, and Thailand” compared to that ridiculous list of dozens of countries to visit.

Compare that to when I was down to go anywhere, intended on doing this and that and everything, etc. 2 years ago before I had set off!!

As I’ve traveled, the destinations list has shrunk so much. Other things have became priorities, and I’ve observed my own energetic limits with travel.

Right now in Bangkok I literally have 2 options: Chiang Mai or Sofia. I’ll probably do Chiang Mai 1 more month, then Sofia for 3 months. Then I’ve already decided I’ll return to Thailand to live for about 4 months.

Of course, that’s a rough, un-set plan. Things change. They probably will. But compare this to back when I was using “Google Flights Explore” to view every bloody country I could visit.

I was recently invited to Holland with free accommodation and cheap food, but turned it down.

I just can’t, anymore. Well, at least for the time being. I need to slow down.

A Plan For The Future

My plan for at least until the end of the year is to only visit destinations that I’ve previously visited and have a social circle, or ONLY visit a new place if it’s with friends and in the context of a vacation.

Work is such a priority now. So is fitness, social circle, and dating. After taking several girls home in Bangkok (not necessarily hooking up with them all), I’m really desiring something a bit more stable.

It’s really fascinating to see how I’ve changed like this. I thought I’d never settle like this, yet here I am, kind of nearing the end of the line.

I can intuitively see the future. Starting now I will only visit familiar destinations- specifically Chiang Mai, Sofia, Bali (maybe), Montreal, and Phoenix.

My travel is slowing down. I’ll begin to spend more and more time in each place. 1 month in Chiang Mai, and who knows maybe I’ll be tempted into another month.

Then Bulgaria, for 3 months. Then back to Thailand (Chiang Mai).

The only exception to this is Bangkok- I’ve got 2 week’s experience in Bangkok, and I told myself I’d give here a try for a month or two once I’m making more money and re-grounded.

There’s also one other exception, but it can be wrote about if it comes about.

Probably what will happen is I’ll spend considerably more time in Bulgaria & Chiang Mai, and I’ll split my time between the two or end up wishing to immigrate to Bulgaria or Chiang Mai.

Then that’ll happen, and I’ll start to really slow down my traveling.

Who knows, maybe it won’t happen like this. I still want to check out South America for example, but that could be years down the line rather than months.

Adaptation Cost

Why is this happening? The biggest reason digital nomads and perpetual travelers start to slow down then “quit” traveling is the adaptation cost of every new destination.

The only ones who have successfully managed long-term travel is with consistent returning to favorite destinations with stable social bases, OR having a partner or community to travel with.

At best the adaptation period is about a week to a new city, if you’re planning on staying & working remotely.

While often pleasurable, significant energy is lost learning customs, finding restaurants, places to work, etc.

The simple act of discovering new roads is taxing on the brain. It becomes near-impossible, sometimes impossible to do other tasks when you have to adapt to a new place.

For example I haven’t done yoga since leaving Phoenix, despite being in yoga hot-spot Bali!

I was too busy with adventure, adaptation, and work and socializing that I while I did have the time I didn’t have the mental bandwidth to wish to invest in a yoga practice or find a teacher.

When you go back to places that are familiar, there is no adaptation cost, except to a small extent.

Every time I’ve gone back to Montreal for example has been a breeze- I know the city, metro, have friends, know restaurants, and cafes.

Same for Sofia, Bulgaria. I’d argue that I enjoyed Chiang Mai so much for the simple fact I was here last year, even if I didn’t enjoy it so much then. It is familiar now, I know where to go, and for that I required almost 0 energy with adapting myself to here.

There is a small cultural adaptation cost even if destinations are familiar. This can be painful and leave you crying in a car, feeling so misunderstood and out of a place (true story from me one time when I returned to America after years abroad and realized I had changed so much).

One reason I’m hesitant to go to Bulgaria now is that I realize I’ve culturally adapted to Southeast Asia and Thailand specifically. Certain habits, such as a slight bow, big smile, etc. would make me appear high and insane to Bulgarians.

Going from Thailand to USA to Bulgaria is better because USA isn’t as respectful as Thailand, and Bulgaria isn’t as respectful as USA (in terms of service & social customs). Going directly from Bulgaria to Thailand or vice versa is a more sudden, drastic, difficult change.

Things Always Change

Maybe I’ll get bored of staying in Chiang Mai or Sofia. In fact, it’s likely that’ll happen.

So that’s why I clarified earlier that this is a temporary “ending of adventure.”

That being said I do prefer the title “an end to adventure” because the past 2 years have been chaos, but now things will likely never be as chaotic again for the simple fact that I don’t want it to be chaotic.

2 Beautiful Years of Adventure (slowing down)

Looking back I can’t believe all of the experiences I’ve had. What the fuck?

It wasn’t long ago that I was a nobody from Nebraska, not respected by anybody. Now here I am, a “world traveler,” finally what I wanted to be, and living dreams I never could’ve imagined.

Look, I’m not trying to hype it up. It’s not like I’m high all the time. It becomes normal.

The point is just that looking back there’s a certain satisfaction for that it was done.

From what I know there are a couple different types of happiness, and one is growth-based. If you have grown a lot or achieved something difficult, you will always derive fulfillment from that.

I feel that way about this. Today is where I am consciously realizing my own needs and evening out from what was a chaotic, beautiful journey.

I wasn’t necessarily happy all the time. The whole 9 months fiasco that began in Cyprus and ended in Phoenix (with like 10 countries in between) was not a light period.

But I came out of the darkness. That’s what’s fulfilling. I learned, grew, and reset my own priorities.

I’m very grateful for that all of this was experienced! Like I said earlier, it’s not necessarily the end to adventure. Perhaps after re-grounding I’ll wish to do 3 months in Costa Rica, then Colombia, etc.

Just right now my priorities are about familiarity and comfort. Enjoy deep friendships and deeper relationships with women.

I really can’t believe it’s been 2 fucking years. Wow.

A New Beginning

It’s not an end- a new beginning. The chaotic, uncontrolled travel is coming to a close.

Now it’s more about focusing on business, enjoying a great social life, and developing other hobbies.

Travel is still without a doubt on the table- but not every power is meant to be used to its fullest capability. I can be anywhere anytime, but should I be? I think not.

Now it’s about cultivating relationships in those places that I love- Phoenix, Montreal, Sofia, and Chiang Mai. And when I’m ready, I’ll check out Bangkok more.

It seems everyone who also has traveled long-term has felt these things and gone through a similar path.

At first it’s crazy, exciting etc. and you love it. But then you find a home, or a group of people you really resonate with. Or you straight up fall in love.

Then you start to slow down, enjoy those places that are familiar, and focus more on fulfillment and social life.

After this the individual has one or two main bases, or settles down completely.

What Other Paths of Mastery Await?

A closing thought before this post is over. I do wonder, what other growth challenges does life offer?

In life you can become an expert athlete, develop a hobby or passion, contribute massive value, grow a business, and so much more.

Most people don’t commit to mastery and truly grow. So they stagnate and live life in a derp state.

One of the beautiful things about this travel experience is that it prevented me from derping.

I had to be massively awake and focused to do this. I’ve grown so much and learned about who I am and what I want so much so that being fulfilled is much easier.

So now I wonder: what other paths of mastery await? If I commit to business mastery, will I receive similar epiphanies and shocking growth?

At any rate, doing something bold or challenging seems to be one of the keys to fulfillment in life.

This is something no one can take credit for but me. I planed piano for over a decade, but my parents forced me to do that (and then I later did it out of habit). Piano is not a true accomplishment in my books. This is.

In the end everything changes- you start out in yin, then shift to yang, and then balance..

First, to desperately wish to travel like crazy, then, to do. Then, to find a happy medium, a true fulfillment.

Maybe the same with every path of mastery..

Done (:

-Michael

Love & Ladyboys: Tales of Thailand

In 4 days, I must leave Thailand for a “visa run,” or I must extend my visa. Wow, that went by fast.

It feels like yesterday that I was departing from Bali, saying good-bye to my newfound friends and adventures I enjoyed in Indonesia.

I deeply missed Bali- it’s a place I must return to soon, but there is just something here in Thailand that nowhere else in the world has.

It’s got something that makes “Thailand” the place to live and “Bali” the place to work-cation.

In fact it even has me questioning the whole immigrate-to-Bulgaria thing that I had originally planned on doing later this year!

Now the thought of committing to a 3-month apartment lease in Sofia seems too much after the “take it day-by-day” vibe you have here in Southeast Asia.

With next-day flights basically as cheap as flights purchased 1 week or 1 month in advance, and abundant apartment rentals available on a month-by-month basis, any type of commitment seems scary.

Did you know that Asians, when their brains have been studied, literally process information different than Westerners? This is actually probably true of every culture.

I’ve taken many of the good pieces of their culture and integrated it into my personality. Now, while I do miss Bulgaria, I kind of want to stay…

So let’s talk about Thailand. For the past month, I’ve been living in Chiang Mai.

Last year I was in Bangkok for 1 week and Chiang Mai for 3 weeks. I also had just broken up with my ex, was in massive culture shock, had a surgery, and a motorcycle crash. Yeah, things were a bit dark…

I couldn’t appreciate the beauty and “awesomeness” of Thailand then. Now I do, and WOW, now I understand why people come here and stay forever!

Chiang Mai is just such an incredible place to live. It’s quiet, relaxed, filled with beautiful nature, near waterfalls and lakes and mountains, cheap, has tasty food, and even the night-life scene is pretty good considering how small the city is!

One of my most favorite aspects is the abundant number of coffee shops & cafes all over the place that are literally designed for work.

This place caters to students and digital entrepreneurs, so it’s an exceptional place to get some work done while also having a great, balanced social & party life.

At any hour you are sure to find a good place to work with good or exceptional internet connection. Coffee & Thai Tea is delicious.

“Ristr8to,” while not a place designed for work, is a place I love to frequent with friends as it literally is one of the best coffee shops in the world. Their signature coffee costs 98 Baht, or about $3.

In USA for a similar taste & size you’d pay at least $6, but probably even more. Especially in expensive cities like Seattle!

Here you can enjoy world class coffee by a Barista who literally won multiple international Latte Art championships around the world for just $3! If you follow my Instagram (@DrivingTheUniverse) you’ll regularly see I post his designs he makes on my coffee, including angels, unicorns, rabbits, and more!

Things are just good here. I am missing a bit of that deep social connection & social life that I had in Sofia, but I can see that the longer I stay here the more likely I am to find it here.

In fact, it is already developing like that. I’ve already observed myself coincidentally bumping into several people all over the place. It kind of feels like the Sofia, Bulgaria of Southeast Asia!

Thai culture is exceptionally kind as well. You can expect amazing service, smiles, and genuinely wonderful people. Learning a bit of Thai helps also.

One running joke about Thailand is about the ladyboys. “Be careful about hooking up with ladyboys,” everyone shouts!

One night me and a friend went out. I went home with a beautiful girl, a 10/10 in my book.

He went home also with a beautiful girl but… As his hand went down, he.. erm.. found out that it wasn’t a girl he took home.

It didn’t bother him though, and having spent some time here, I wouldn’t say it would bother anyone so much either. It’s only scary when you haven’t lived here. Once you’ve experienced life here in Thailand yourself, silly things like this don’t bother you.

If that happens, you just draw the line and walk away.

In your mind it is traumatizing because you know it’s a boy, but when the primal part of your brain really thinks it is a girl you can’t really be traumatized, even after logically knowing that it is a boy.

The next night after my friend pulled a ladyboy, I met with a ladyboy. We didn’t touch or kiss anything- I suspected it was a ladyboy from the start, given that her friends were ladyboys (typically they all hang around each other).

I was tired and a bit tipsy, and I couldn’t believe that it was a guy. This “girl” looked so real that if she were alone with a ton of other girls who weren’t obviously ladyboys, there would honestly be no way to tell.

They invited me to dinner, and I decided to go, because why not? It was an interesting experience hanging out with them.

Before I had felt resistant to being around ladyboys, and I’m not entirely sure why. Now I feel my mind is more open, I feel more compassionate and understanding towards trans.

I can’t say whether it’s right or wrong, but my thinking now is just that it’s a path that their soul must experience in this lifetime. In that way, it is perhaps right for them, and no need to judge.

I personally would not want to do anything sexual with a ladyboy, but after that night and hearing about my friend’s story the fear of accidentally kissing a ladyboy is gone.

Yeah, this sounds crazy, some of you are gonna freak out, but really it’s only one of those things you’re afraid of when you haven’t had proper experience in Thailand.

After you’ve lived in Thailand for some time (technically I’ve spent 2 total months in Thailand now!) the fear is gone. There’s sometimes no way to tell, and the primal part of your brain can’t get traumatized because the ladyboys truly do look so feminine.

Countless memories have already been made in this fast month of Thailand, so much so that I’m a bit sucker-punched because I really can’t decide what to do next!

My visa expires in 4 days- what the hell should I do?

I’ve tried just now writing down some ideas. I want to explore Vietnam, Bangkok, and even stay longer here in Chiang Mai. I also of course miss Bali and have friends there.

There’s just so much to explore and do, and now that I’m finally healing from my last relationship I’m feeling so much more mentally healthy and ready to take on the world.

I am regaining that self-confidence and self-belief that everything will be alright no matter what.

I am feeling stronger, happier, and more able of taking care of myself and working towards my goals.

I am reconnecting with myself, feeling alive, feeling energized.

In the next month or so, I plan on going back to Sofia. Of course, it seems that every month I extend my stay in Asia a bit longer… So we’ll see what happens.

For now, I must decide what to do. Visa extension, or visa run? Move to Bangkok, or visit it for a weekend while living in Chiang Mai? So much to do and see!

And the beautiful thing is, unlike Europe or North America, everything is so affordable and short-term that there’s no such thing as a bad decision.

Apartments don’t have to be booked for 1 year or even 3 months. I can do it for 1 week and decide day by day what to do.

I’d like to create a bit of mental stability, as I prioritize work & working out, but I’m truly relishing in the fact that I need not commit to anything.

At the end stages of healing from a relationship, I’m so happy to know that I don’t have to commit to anyone or anything now.

Who knows what I’ll do. All I know is that my experience of Bali & Thailand have been amazing and made me really question what I should do next. It was much more awesome than I could’ve ever anticipated.

-Michael.

We are All Just Humans

I’ve traveled the world for almost 2 years now, spent extended time (1+ month) in 6-7 countries, and “lived” in at least 3 countries (2 if you count living as a minimum of one year).

This blessing has provided me the opportunity to meet people of vastly different backgrounds.

I’ve met people from all 6 human continents, from countless countries, countless races, ethnic backgrounds, etc.

One thing that always stands out to me is this: we are all just humans, fundamentally.

Sure our brains may process information differently. We may speak different languages. We may come from cultures so vastly different we will never be able to fully comprehend the other’s life and upbringing.

But at a deep, fundamental level- we are all just humans. We have feelings, goals, ambitions, hopes, and a wide array of emotions.

Some of those feelings are tribal, such as the “us vs. them” mentality you see in various countries. Other feelings are productive, such as compassion & empathy.

When I see someone, even if they look different than me or speak a language I don’t understand, I just see a human.

A Russian does not look Russian, and an African does not look African. I just see a light that is a human being.

It’s really strange to think that 101 years ago the first great world war ended, and little did the world know that another greater one was right around the corner.

When I see a German I don’t fear for my life or my territory. I don’t see a Russian and think that they might wish to take my secrets. I see just people living their lives.

Most people are just good people. Yeah there’s a shitty German or two but there’s a shitty American or two also.

War just makes no sense- especially now, now that our economies are so dependent on each other.

I think 99% of people, even if slightly misguided at times, just want the best for themselves and everyone. Most people aren’t naturally tribal and aggressive.

In Bali I would often hang out in groups so diverse- people from vastly different backgrounds and cultures. We could have an American, Canadian, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, and more all in one group. And we just had fun, as if the strange past of our nations clashing did not exist.

I think that war is started by a small group of heavily misguided people that somehow inspire fear & hatred in the masses. It is the politicians that send their sons to war.

When America drafted countless young boys to the pointless Vietnam War, did the Senators and House of Representatives and Judges and President go to join them? No. They sat in their comfy little chairs and read war statistics.

It’s SO easy to hate another group of people when you don’t actually know them. When you create misconceptions and a view of them but you’ve never met them, it’s easy to hate.

The politicians and generals sitting in their comfy chairs do not see that the people getting killed are normal humans just like us. When an American life is lost, it sucks. But what they didn’t see is that a German dying in WWII or a Russian or Vietcong was not a win but equally tragic.

A family back in their respective homeland will mourn the loss. A partner will grieve the loss of their lover. The economy will lose what could’ve been a productive member of society.

Travel and world connection is so beautiful because it allows all of humanity to stop putting these ridiculous stereotypes of other groups of people in their mind.

The Russians are not evil. Their language may sound harsh to an English speaker (and all the ridiculous propaganda of us vs. them) but they love, celebrate, party, desire wealth, and prosperity just like the Americans.

They really are no different. They are just humans. Germans are just humans. Africans are.

Everyone everywhere is just human- and I’m grateful that we live in a world so connected than before because it’s becoming near-impossible to hate another group of people because the world is becoming so integrated.

The compounding effect of war is why we must do all that we can to avoid another war of any kind, anywhere. If I lose my brother to enemy gunfire, it would only be natural to hate them- and then I may hurt one of them, but then their brothers will hate me… and thus the cycle continues.

If we remain a globally connected planet, then this hatred will be hard to hold onto. Our societies will be so interconnected that we won’t be able to hate each other.

This doesn’t mean we’ll lose our culture or values as nations. It just means that we will have enough respect, understanding, and love to prevent ridiculous tribal mentality from ever arising again.

In many places in the world being a foreigner or having foreigners is still not common. We don’t get enough exposure to other cultures & people, so it’s too easy to say “we are this and they are that.” That’s not how it really is- we’re all just human.

I have no tolerance now for people that initiate such ridiculous mentality. When people say that “Russians are this” or “Americans are that” or whatever, it just reveals a deep insecurity in the individual. They have no understanding or connection with anyone outside their own tribe.

When I meet people, I don’t see a label of “American” or “Russian” or “German” or “Spanish” or any other of the great nations. We are all just humans. Everyone looks human, acts human, and is human.

Last month in Bali I got sick for about a week, so I purchased a childhood favorite game to pass the time- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.

While I enjoyed playing it, a part of me felt sickened. I realized that games such as this continued this “America vs. Russia” mentality. It made “us” the good guys and “them” the bad guys.

The game was fun, but sometimes I couldn’t help but wonder about the video game character’s lives. I empathized with “the enemy” because even though they were shooting at us, they had a family back home, and also thought they were on the right side.

In fact, the game was a completely different experience than when I played it growing up- when I grew up I enjoyed the action, shooting, and adventure.

But this time I paid attention to the story, and the story made the game even more painful.

Roughly speaking (and I could be wrong), the Americans were trying to infiltrate a terrorist organization to get rid of their leader, but then the terrorist pulled a trick on the Americans which led the Russians to think that America had attacked them, when really it was the terrorists that attacked Russia.

Naturally Russia attacked USA, and thus began the war. Even though the Russians were still slightly the “bad guys,” it was surprising how hard the developers tried to make a story that made sense in a way.

I wrote this last part of the video game just to say that as fun as they can be, a game such as this also feels wrong in a way because it still makes Americans right and Russians wrong. It humanizes one group of people while isolating another group, and making the other group appear immoral and inhuman.

That’s not the truth. We are all just humans, and the only enemy is the darkness that pulls us back into the tribal mentality of “us vs them.”

The truth that none of us realized was that we were all playing the game of life on the same team all along, but the team had a fight and broke into sub-teams that competed against each other.

The real problems that our one team of humanity had to face such as the environment, creating abundance, prosperity, and happiness fade to the background when we can’t even work as a team.

That’s the big joke of it all: we are all just humans playing on the same team, but we got so trapped in our illusion of “us vs them” that we forgot there were greater things to battle- together.

We are all just humans, and nothing else. Let’s treat everyone like that.

-Michael