Nearly two months into traveling Southeast Asia and finally returning to the blogoshere. It's tough to know where to begin, but here it goes.
In my previous post ( about two months ago now—woops!), It was obvious that I was highly anticipating this trip, as I prepared to embrace the unknown. Flash forward a few months, and I'm currently spending my days lounging at the beach on a Thai Island called Koh Chang. The living is easy.
Looking back, it's been quite an interesting time since leaving Korea with a loose plan and adventure on my mind. I guess I've found what I was looking for. From riding on the back of a Kawasaki motorcycle with a local girl to interviewing tribal elders with a Nat Geo photographer/fillmmaker/eco-activist to getting food poisoning during a three-day trek to experiencing a local wedding in Myanmar to getting constantly drenched in water during Thai New Year.
I've spent the majority of my time in Thailand—most of it in Chiang Mai, a culturally-rich city in the northern part of the country. The city boasts countless temples scattered throughout the "old city", an area enclosed by a square canal, the remnants of a city from a time long past. Foreigners and locals alike can be found sampling the abundance of cheap street food or browsing the open-air markets that seem to be up and running every day of the week.
Chiang Mai also happens to be a hotbed for digital nomads. With uber cheap living costs (apartments for as little as $100 a month), great food and endless networking opportunities, it's no wonder why online workers are flocking to the city. Basically, it's heaven for location-independent business owners or freelancers. It's one of the main reasons I came. With a trip to Myanmar in between, I ended up spending about a month there. It gave me a sense of community for the expats and the locals.
After spending a week in the city, I felt like I was ready to leave and then BAM—I met multiple creative, online workers, even a few that make films as well! One of them was a guy named Basil—turned out to be quite an interesting dude indeed. He's a fellow American who has been living in Thailand for years now. He's also photographed for National Geographic and The New York TImes. I met him in a Facebook group for digital nomads, and he quickly invited me to stay at his place in the jungle. I was intrigued and soon learned that he was working on several film projects centered around ecology and protecting the natural environment. He discussed his plans for reforesting the area to promote a richer ecosystem of plants and animals while also creating "nature hubs", where creatives (artists, writers, filmmakers, etc.) can come to get back in touch with nature as well as work on their own individual creative endeavors. I was blown away by this idea, so I spent a few days there learning about the Mae Wang Project
It's been inspiring meeting and talking with people who are out there making shit happen. It's certainly given me motivation to keep pushing for it. The time is now.
Working/putting out content while on the road has proven to be a significant challenge. At times, I've felt stagnant with my ability to create. I suppose this is one of the key lessons that this trip is trying to teach me. I've struggled with getting a video started, partly because of my piece of s!#% laptop. I won't bore you with the details, but bottom line—it's time for an upgrade. Technical issues aside, staying at hostels and constantly meeting people has made it difficult to focus and get in deep work. I suppose this isn't really a bad thing. On the opposite side of the spectrum, in Korea I had PLENTY of time to work, but all this alone time wasn't ideal from a mental health standpoint.
During this trip, I have certainly taken a fair number of videos, so as usual, something is coming soon. Writing has also been quite scarce. I've managed a handful of journal entries, but not nearly as many I would have liked. Instagram has been the one social media platform that I've managed to salvage some sense of consistency. After all, it's only a photo and bit of text. It's ironic because before I made an Instagram account, I had little interest in it and now it's probably my favorite social media app.
On the Horizon
I'm pleased to announce that I'm (possibly) one step closer to location independence. In a few days, I have an interview for teaching English online. If I get the job (knock on wood), I'll be teaching young Chinese students via Skype. I don't want to speak too soon, but this seems like an awesome gig. The job requires a minimum of five hours per week, and each lesson is a 25 minute one-on-one session. The lessons plans are prepared for you, so basically you just have be there in front of the laptop and ready to speak. The pay is also pretty solid ($18-28/hour)! I'm hoping the interview goes well and maybe I'll become that much closer to having a location-independent income stream!
I have about another week left in Thailand—hopefully more island vibin'. Then, I'm off to my last stop before heading back to 'Murica. I'll be flying from Bangkok to Barcelona. This will be my first time in Europe, so the stoke is high! I'll be exploring the Spanish coast and countryside for a month. In mid-May, I'll be meeting up with my cousin (he's currently living in Spain) and my little sister (her first trip abroad). I haven't seen any family in 14 months, so getting some quality time with them will be a refreshing change of pace.
As always, traveling has brought to places both physically and mentally that I could have never predicted. One of those lessons is to let go and surrender to the journey. Resisting change or perceived negativity is ultimately staying off the path that leads to your truth. Since the start of my time in Asia, my interest in Buddhism and mindfulness has grown immensely.
The past and the future are merely illusions. The only thing that's real is right now. Let us not fall into the trap of becoming victims of sacrificing the present for a time and place that only exists within our mind. Bask in the power of the present moment as it is and as you are now.
Break Your Boundaries.