So many incredible experiences, people, sites, etc…..
We completed the Camino in 32 days.
I’ll post more about our Camino in the days and weeks to come.
For now, I’ll just say that if you have ever considered walking the Camino… by all means do it!!
PS: Good movies re: the Camino:
The Way (with Martin Sheen)
Six Ways to Santiago (documentary)
This year Tomoe and I are planning to spend 3 weeks or so in the mountains of Japan. Our focus is to enjoy the best hiking, ryokan and onsens of south/west Japan (Kansai & Kyushu mostly).
A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn– and they are fabulous: traditional tatami mats (woven grass), sliding doors, zen-like simple beauty, futon, and fabulous set dinners.
An onsen is a hot-spring… and many of the best ryokan are built on or next to one. It’s hard to do justice to the sublime pleasure of Japanese onsen. I’ve been to a few hot-springs in America… and while nice, they lack the zen artistry of a Japanese onsen.
The water from the hot-spring is typically diverted into multiple baths.. sometimes made of stone, sometimes made of cedar. The bath is usually surrounded by a garden (sometimes a zen stone garden, sometimes bonzai,… sometimes just a stunning view of the mountains). There is a shower room adjacent to the bath… and everyone showers before entering the hot water. A great onsen is a work of landscaping art… in addition to it’s hedonistic benefits.
Onsen are also great social gathering points… with people of all ages enjoying the baths.
My favorite thing to do in Japan is to hike all day in the mountains… then descend to spend the night in a ryokan nestled in a valley or on a hillside,… then soak in it’s attached onsen… finishing the night with a traditional ryokan set meal in our own tatami room.
Many people equate Japan with super-modern mega-cities (of which there are plenty),… but the ryokan/onsen experience is just as quintessentially Japanese… and on the opposite end of the spectrum from the hectic cities.
And so… this Fall Tomoe and I have decided to research and find “the best” ryokan & onsen in Kansai and Kyushu and visit them! Of course it’s a subjective choice.. but it’ll be a marvelous research process!
My original car and van living experiments were inspired by an old Georgia friend named Kenny Peavy. We used to sit at sidewalk tables in downtown Athens (GA) and discuss Thoreau… and how we could apply his philosophy of living simply, freely, and well in a modern context.
Kenny started his experiment by living in an old Ford Bronco while working at the Athens Nature Center. At night he camped in the park. By day he maintained a professional job as a naturalist… and few knew he was living out of a car. He called his experiment “YHP: Young Homeless Professional”.
That same summer I lived in my Nissan Sentra with my dog… and decided on the name “Hobopoet” to describe my similar experiment, inspired by Kenny.
Much has happened since that summer… but Kenny and I continue to experiment and adventure in our own ways. Kenny now lives in Malaysia, and he is currently involved in another great adventure.
He just quit his job in order to start his own company and non-profit (and hopefully this time I was able to provide him with a little inspiration)… and this summer he and a friend are riding their bikes from Thailand to Bali (minus the water parts)!
The focus of the trip is on environmental/ecological projects in SE Asia… so as they ride they visit various people who are doing cool things for the environment. Kenny & his friend call this project “Green Riders”.
They just finished day 3… and are currently in Southern Thailand. I’m happy for Kenny and I’m happy we have remained friends and vagabonds for all of these years!
Check out Kenny’s latest adventures on the Green Riders blog at: http://greenriders.asia/blog/
Ride Kenny ride!
I’m a nomad. A “neo-bedouin”. I simply love the variety and challenge of travel.
I have lived in a car. I’ve lived in a van. I’ve backpacked around Asia. I’ve lived in several Asian countries on a shoe-string. They were all great experiments- interesting and growth-producing.
Over the past few years, however, I’ve been a lot more stationary… kind of “stuck” in San Francisco. It has never truly felt like home.
That situation is soon to change. Tomoe (my wife) and I have decided on a nomadic lifestyle that fits our needs.
I, starting this Fall, will be a true nomad– splitting my time every year between Southeast Asia (probably KL, Malaysia), Kyoto Japan, and the US. I’ll spend roughly 4 months in each place.
We plan to rent a house in Kyoto. Kyoto is a fantastic place– the old capital of Japan. It is filled with marvelous temples, traditional houses, and bamboo-lined paths (in addition to a fully modern city). Kyoto has tons of artists and artisans, lots of students, and lots of health-conscious people. It has the most vegan/veg. restaurants of any Japanese city I’ve visited. The city is also surrounded by hills and mountains– plenty of hiking and nature nearby. It’s an ideal place to spend the summer– which is what I’ll be doing.
Tomoe has given me the task of learning Japanese while I’m in Kyoto- so that’s one project I’ll be focused on there! In addition, I’ll be doing classes and seminars for Japanese companies (and for my planned non-profit Foundation), doing seminars in other nearby Asian countries (Korea, China, Taiwan,..), and writing & planning lessons.
Kuala Lumpur is a fully modern SE Asian city. Tropical, diverse… and packed with fabulous food- incredible Indian food (better than India, in my opinion), Chinese food, and Malay food… and an amazing bounty of tropical fruits and veggies. It’s a bustling place… but unlike Bangkok… has clean air. My good friend Kenny (another Georgia boy) already lives there and, next year, also becomes an entrepreneur. KL is always hot and sunny– a perfect place to spend the Winter– which is what I’ll be doing!
While in KL I’ll be mostly focused on doing as many seminars as possible– in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, S. China, and India. We’ll also enjoy hiking trips.. and of course, lots of diving.
The final 4 months of the year I’ll spend in the USA– visiting friends and family, attending seminars, and recording lessons for Effortless English.
I’ve felt a giddy excitement building inside me every since we decided on this schedule. Taking to the open road and the open skies…. moving with the seasons… the nomadic life is calling me again….
Here’s a short video of the crater of Mount Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii. It was an interesting place… there was steam coming out of the ground,.. and at night the smoke in the crater glowed red. They wouldn’t let people hike to the center of the crater because of poisonous gasses,.. but I had fun hiking around the crater.
The weather seemed to change every 15 minutes…. sunny, then cloudy and windy, then rainy, then sunny again… hot, warm, cold, hot again,…etc……
I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed Hawaii… both the Big Island and Oahu! I plan to spend more time there. From now on, I’ll probably stop over in Hawaii each time I go to and from Asia. So I may end up spending 1-2 months a year in Hawaii.
During this trip, in addition to diving and hiking around the volcano… I also took a surfing lesson,.. and went surfing a second time by myself.
It is VERY difficult. I managed to stand up once with the instructor… but never on my own the second time. However, I caught some waves and rode them on my knees. It was still lots of fun. What I love most is just being out in the water, under the sun, paddling around.
Next time, I plan to surf more… and to give windsurfing a try too.
I’m also considering sailing lessons here in San Francisco. I’d love to surf here… but the extremely cold water just doesn’t seem very inviting or fun to me I’ll save my surfing and diving for warmer waters!
Here’s video from a night dive I did off the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. It was one of the most amazing dives I’ve ever done. A giant manta swooped over my head and bumped it as he went over!
There were mantas everywhere… circling, swooping, and “flying” all around us.
Why do they come to that spot? Well, tiny plankton are attracted to the divers lights… and mantas eat plankton. So the reason they are gliding all around us with open mouths is that they are scooping up the plankton and eating. They are very graceful and peaceful creatures (unless you’re a plankton 😉
Todd is flying to Thailand, and eventually Koh Phayam, tonight. We said goodbye to him at the airport. You can watch the little video we just made at the airport: watch here.
What’s really cool about all of this is that we will document another Hobopoet success story in real time. My old archives (http://hobopoet.blogspot.com) and this site already provide the fully documented process of my path to freedom and self-reliance (from wage slave, to car and van living, to living abroad in Thailand, do scraping by in San Francisco, to micro-preneur, to successful and free entrepreneur).
Now we’re documenting Todd’s path to freedom… starting now as he flies off to Thailand… and continuing as he builds his bungalows, builds his web presence, and fulfills his dream of living a free, simple, healthy, and happy life on tropical Koh Phayam island in Thailand.
The reason this blog excites me is that YOU can see what’s possible… not in theory but in reality. You get to see the whole process… with all the bumps and warts and challenges…. and the victories. I want you to see that freedom, self-reliance, simplicity, and happiness are possible… without following the mainstream programmed path.
So I hope you’ll follow Todd’s adventures in Thailand, both here at Hobopoet and on his new blog.
And I hope you’ll see that my essays and exhortations are not just grand ideas and theories… but hard-nosed reality-based blueprints for anyone to follow.
Most of all, I hope you’ll find your own path to freedom and abundance!
Good luck to you too!
My friend Katie has a great new blog called Trail Dreamer. Check it out at: http://www.traildreamer.blogspot.com/
“Disciplined Hedonism” is one of my favorite phrases– one I first heard from my friend Chris.
In fact, I do think we need a healthy dose of both self-discipline AND hedonism in our life.
This month, the first month of the “Portable Empire” experiment in Bangkok, has mostly been about discipline. I have been working steadily and successfully on the “empire” since arriving here.
In fact, as I noted previously, I’ve had an explosion of productivity since arriving. The new environment has stimulated and energized me. In the last two weeks, I’ve launched a new (and quite effective) marketing campaign for the business… created several new videos for our upcoming video site… wrote several articles and press releases… and have planned and scheduled our first seminar in Bangkok (Sunday, January 25th).
I have also kicked ass with running. Despite the heat and pollution, I’m running like a fool. My weekly long run is now up to 90 minutes (two days ago). Each week, I add another 10 minutes to the long run. My regular “maintainence runs” are also going very well– I’m doing them 3-4 times a week at 40 to 60 minutes each.
All in all, I’m feeling super-energized!
And I’ve been disciplined with singing too– practing (almost) every morning. And today, I had my first singing lesson by phone– with my teacher in San Francisco. Too cool!
All of this made possible by a laptop, the internet, and a cheap Thai cell phone!
This discipline phase will continue for another two weeks. Next week, I’m off to Singapore for a few days. I’ll be meeting one of our members there (hopefully)– and doing my 100 minute long run. Should be nice to run in clean air for a change!
Then I’m back to Bangkok for our seminar– a 5 hour seminar to introduce more Thai people to my teaching system and English lessons.
After that,.. it’ll finally be time for some hedonism! My wife Tomoe arrives on the 26th of January. Then my friends Wat and Lewis arrive on the 28th. We’ll be heading down to the south (Koh Payam Island) for a big party, followed by a few days of snorkeling, diving, running on the beach, etc… Then Tomoe and I plan to visit Cambodia,… then dive some more… then Laos… then Fiji… etc…….
So the Portable Empire has thus far been ideal at fostering both self-Discipline and Hedonistic opportunities!
The “Portable Empire” experiment is going very well. In fact, I’ve been far more productive here in Thailand than I was in San Francisco!
Not sure why this is– I think it’s probably a result of increased energy and inspiration as a result of a dramatic change of environment. It’s so easy to get in a rut at home. Mental and emotional ruts are the bane of the Hobopoet life.
Another factor is that I have much more time here. This is also a strange phenomenon. Why should I have more time in Thailand? All I can say is that life just seems to move more slowly here. In SF, I’m constantly bombarded by phone calls, appointments, and projects.
Moving to another continent has a way of weeding out all that’s non-essential. Nobody is going to call me here unless it’s VERY important. Also, because I must go to a coffee shop or internet cafe to do email… I do it less often for less time. In SF, I’ve got 24 hour access in my apartment and it’s just too damn easy to jump on the internet anytime I feel the least bit bored or restless. Here in Thailand, I go for a walk, or get a massage, or sing, or go for a run.
And when I work, I do productive work-play rather than waste time surfing the web. Today, for example, I wrote two articles, recorded two podcasts, recorded & edited two videos, and wrote a marketing email & published it. All that in just a few hours.
Today I also went for a run, sang for an hour, played guitar, wrote in my journal, listened to music, and emailed friends. And I’ve still got plenty of time on my hands and in no way feel rushed.
In fact, this is one of the most marvelous things about The Portable Empire experiment: I’m “on vacation” in Thailand, yet I’m doing far more “work” (business and personal) than I ever did in SF– for both my business and my personal projects I’m doing as much in one day as I did in one week back in the States.
On top of that, despite still paying rent on my SF apartment… I’m spending FAR less money while here in Thailand. I’m “on vacation” and yet am saving a lot more money.
It’s hard to think of a cooler system! Especially compared to the usual wage slavery way of making an income. As a wage slave, I worked much harder, I had 2 paltry weeks of vacation a year, I was MUCH LESS productive (slaves aren’t usually very productive), and I almost never saved money (because I spent every available penny in a futile attempt to compensate for the boredom of work).
So The Portable Empire works from both the Hedonistic perspective, and the Productivity perspective… a perfect system for both the slacker and the capitalist! More time. More energy. More inspiration. More fun. More created. More accomplished. All with less work, in less time, with less money.
The experiment, so far, is a remarkable success!