13 years with wordpress.com

An interesting perspective is that I have had an account on wordpress.com for 13 years now. I never realized when I first signed up there. I had so many other providers and hosts and services I’ve lost count. To say its all changed is an understatement. To ask if its changed for the better is a valid question. My answer is that it has not. I loved blogging years ago with the folks then that put words together out of love and desire to see them stand up next to each other. I won’t venture an opinion on what’s wrong with blogging now. I’ve said it before and you know what I think.

When what really matters was the same thing that mattered 20 years ago when i started.

It is content that matters folks. If you blog for travel, adventure, fashion, lifestyle, or just like me to write whatever the hell I want to write; its the words next to each other. Screen Shot 2018-10-30 at 12.14.33 PM

Try to not write clickbait blog posts. Try to write what you see, feel, think, desire, despise, want. Do you want to blog for 20 years? 10 years? Don’t know? Its all good if you have words. You have some of those, right?

Mikes Concept Workflow – Ideas, Discussion and what works and does not

Awhile ago I built a basic workflow in my productivity tool named Ulysses to try to help me stage information and have it flow through different stages. I have not really followed the approach I had lined out but now feel its time with writing other content more to try again. So in the interests of sharing here is a post on how it works. Just as a background, I use the Ulysses App which is on Apple platforms for this but you could use Google Docs just as well.

The basic idea for me was to kind of get organized. I don’t have massive amounts of information coming in and I don’t have a team on Slack collaborating with me. What I do have are these sometimes extemporaneous ideas that come to me walking with the camera or when I am reading something. I could find another app which captures it but truth be told, Ulysses is my one home for all text. I don’t need separate tools for the jobs when there is only one of me. So, information kinda comes in in various ways and I write little notes. These notes are free form things like,

look at www something or other and read their idea about Vietnam

So that is in what is called a “sheet” to use the Ulysses parlance. Does each little crumb have its own sheet? Not at this point. It may end up there next. We are at the Inbox level of things where these sheets get filed. Its here where things have gone awry for me and ideas propel with alacrity to other points in the workflow so I have decided to attack the problem head on here in Otres and try again. To ease the discussion, here is the workflow and how it’s used.

Inbox. The home of the little ideas captured in sheets. These are freeform ideally although that folder is empty now because I have not been good at maintaining this part of the workflow.

Stuff to do. Often the thing becomes something I want to do. A place to go or see on a walking trip. The sheets move here with some additional classification such as the where, maybe a map, a time, etc. I am still not good at this point but I have used it.

Ideas. At this point, the stuff to do yields ideas. Formative plans that I can act on. This is a good stage for me since things burst through on walks or over beers or when I’m reading. I have repositories for these things like :

  • Blog Posts. The idea is destined to become a blog post. When it gets here, its created and published using Ulysses publishing to WordPress tools.
  • Mikes Journal. The idea is not good for a blog post. It’s become too personal. The journal is a freeform text document using some markup but mostly its just typing into one sheet for each year. Ulysses is damned good at longer documents!
  • Travel. A catchall folder with sub folders for this year and next that needs some reorganization.
  • Stories too Edit. It may become a story. I only have one now I am working on. It kinda came this route.
  • Fuji Camera Notes. Infrequently I find a thing I want to keep on photography like a website or an author or something. I try to keep sets of notes on this stuff.
  • Blog Articles. The original idea was to create static content or “pages” on WordPress. The idea may end up as a blog article or static post.

So this is what I came up with as far as a workflow in Ulysses. What are the problems? Well, there are lots of little places for things to go. So the first thing I’ve decide to lessen the number of folders. I will pull down to only an inbox that will then feed the blog posts, journals, etc. The second problem is discipline. We all are spontaneous creatures and ideas come willy nilly at the dead of night when you wish they would not. My idea was having the same tool on the phone and the laptop meant I would be able to deal with this. I still believe that. Its just not how I use the mobile app on my iPhone. That is going to change. I want to have the mobile app play more of a key role as I slim down the workflow folders.

Some folders require reorganization. The travel folder has sub folders and lots of sheets and attachments of maps and pdf files. No real organization within the folder. I am going to study that problem and come up with a more elegant solution for travel. Its not just some app like TripIt. I don’t particularly care for more apps to store things in. Since my tool is Ulysses and its so well built for organization and function, this is it and I must learn more how to use it.

Finally is the journal. There is not much to be done there. I could simply move to something else but for me it breaks the basic rule of use. Why would I pay for Day One when my journal is a freeform text document and it just works for me?

Integration and Exporting

I want to finally discuss integration and exporting. If you decide to implement a workflow I think its important to find a central repository that you can live with and that’s integrated into how you do things already. I think Google Docs is really superb at this. But there are others too. So the simple rule is pick one you already feel good about. Don’t just buy a subscription to Ulysses or find X tool because legions of people swear by it. This is a tool for you folks. Make it stand your use test and it integrates, if you want, to mobile platforms.

Exporting finally is huge. The tool you choose should export to other formats. You may want a sheet in clear text or pdf or even a word docx. Make sure you can do these things. At some point, I may change back to Google Docs and I want the export path well paved from Ulysses.

Conclusions or such…

So there you have it. A workflow I don’t use but that is a start to trying to organize how I use information and maintain it in a single organizing and integrated tool. Rather than the helter-skelter of a tool for each thing which may work for you, my limitation is finding the nugget of information when it could be in Google keep or a Google Doc or perhaps in a text file somewhere. I dealt with this by buying the subscription to Ulysses. Its still a learning thing so the final conclusion is not written. But it works! And it works to help me find things and write things and publish them. I do feel the need to simplify the folders which I am going to do here in Sihanoukville while the rain falls and and days are slow.

Give it some thought folks. Do you want a home for things that you can then turn into a workflow to help you? I thought yes and no at first. Now I think yes with some caveats. It needs change. But life is all about change! Embrace it or ignore it at your peril.

Down the Street in Otres and my Cynical Blogging Views

A discussion with myself ensued this morning over iced coffee and some flirting with the Khmer lady that makes my coffee. I would say a beautiful smile she has with vibrant dark eyes and that sparkling personality. She told me she had seen me out walking but I had not seen her. I told her my name and she told me her name and we shook hands.

The discussion was about these wonderful people and their warmth and character and friendliness. I feel sometimes we short change them because of abrupt nature of some visitors. We don’t show them our best side but keep in mind this is their country and we are the visitors here so don’t act like an asshole American or wherever. I saw this at dinner last night too. Why is it that some people even come here? It’s so out of their character. You look at them and they should be staying in an upscale downtown hotel. Why in the world would they come to Otres Village? Its just a small dirt road lined city with a fair share of restaurants and bars and the beach. I considered that too.

As I sat over my iced latte first thing in the morning I felt blessed in a few ways to be able to have the time to just sit and not be rushed to the next destination. I’ll go to Siem Reap and see the Wats there and spend a month in that city but that’s to come. I thought about what it means to have a retirement visa here in Cambodia that basically lifts the barriers of entry for a year and lets me go where I want, see what I want, and leave and come back as I want. Cambodia was never meant as the full time home for me but as a home base. I knew I needed a home that I could feel comfortable in and enter the LaLune Hotel in Phnom Penh. I needed to learn how to get around. Enter the mobile GRAP app. I needed to find the vendors and services that would fix things like cameras and give me a quality haircut and feed me.

I then walked to the WING currency exchange shop where you can break larger US bills into smaller and got some change. If you don’t know it the US dollar rules here but you often get change back in a mix of Riel and US dollars so its to your favor to learn the 4 to 1 rule in currency exchange. Not that I have been cheated and I never give a truly large bill to a restaurant or bar. Largest I will give is $10 but most often the food and beverages cost a small amount. I had dinner the other night night for $3.25 which included a few beers and some delicious chicken fried rice. Same place has Khmer foods for cheap.

So all these thoughts kinda bubbled around in my poor little brain and then I went to the coffee shack down the street from my bungalow and met the owner there who wanted to talk. We shook hands and he told me about some of the reasons why Otres suffers through power outages and tap water gets cut off. Not because of infrastructure issues but the building and construction going on. He’s too nice to blame a certain asian country for their unchecked building methods here but its obvious. Sihanoukville is gonna change and already has and soon the little hamlets like Otres with little restaurants catering to all kinds of people will be in the past. It’s on the radar folks.

Today I leave a bit later and head to the Upper Market in downtown via tuk tuk. I’ll mess around there and see parts of the city with the camera and have dinner so will probably not go until later.

Favorite City Status

I was reading along on twitter and facebook today and some people were asking the favorite place we had visited. I thought back through so many places but only one really stands out for me. It has to be Da Nang Vietnam. If Vietnam had a retirement visa and my desire was to just stay put I think Da Nang with its eclectic mix of restaurants, bars, coffee culture, history and geography would be the place. It has this unique location of being both by a river and by the ocean. The Han River sparkles its way down the river front and businesses set up tables for coffee and food and beer on the streets in front of their restaurants. Let me tell you sitting out in the evening with a cold beer and just seeing the evening setting in with the bridges is amazing. I am a bridge guy and love finding them, photographing them, walking them. The favorite cities of mine like Vancouver and Osaka and Hiroshima all have bridges but Da Nang has the Golden Dragon Bridge. Most all of the bridges there light up at night and it creates an other worldly and beautiful experience to simply sit and enjoy a coffee or beer and just watch. Night time photography there is amazing as well.

But even all that being said, I feel no urgency to get back to Da Nang. I don’t feel a rush to return to Vietnam besides my few day stay in Phu Quoc Island which is a get away to a nice resort hotel where I can spoil myself.

Blogging This and That…

I guess after blogging for two decades I am jaded but when I read people talk about the big challenges around blogging and their accomplishments and nowhere is listed producing content it just kinda goes with what I feel is the downward evolution of this platform. Content is king folks. Words are power. If you blog and you do not do it for content and communication and exploration and discovery, why the hell do you do it? I’ve watched this platform nose dive to nothing but ads and sales pitches with a few words super imposed over them. I get you wanna sell things and you travel and you want to monetize and then fuel your travel and then do more of all the same. I’m in a different boat but on my boat I can see your boat clearly. In my boat, I don’t need to monetize a damned thing to go where I want so I have a different view. If you don’t think about the quality of your words and their impact I think you are W R O N G. And you got into the blogging for the wrong reason. Way back when, the early folks produced blogs that I would voraciously read about open source, their thoughts and ideas, articles read, and they would link to the so-called parma-links of other blogs to reinforce or have a discussion about disagreement. Do any of the bloggers now even know what a perma-link is I wonder?

Dealing with it all and Moving On

But I am nowhere close to folding my tent on blogging although so many of my colleagues have given up and just don’t create content any longer. I miss them and their original ideas and discussion. For me the blog here is about a thing which has persisted for a few years. It was about the planning and execution to leave and then the actual departure and places.

So this blog persists and I will continue to write in it and write my contrary opinions because this blog is not supported except by me. I will rail against wordpress.com when it feels right and consider moving to a self hosted wordpress.org site but on my own linux VPS. I will never move to a hosting solution where you cannot SSH or RDP in. But for me now, WordPress.com works and they took care of me once after I bugged them a few times on twitter.

So if you are a blogger today consider the impact of your words. The words are things that I relate to. It’s your original content. Instead of the 5 or 10 things that are best about the Hanoi coffee scene, try telling me your take on Hanoi and a day spent walking the old quarter. What did you see around Hoan Kiem Lake? What was it that you liked about Ho Chi Minh City?

I particularly avoid the posts that are regurgitations of 3 year old posts about the 10 things I should do in X or the 5 reasons I should go to Y. It feels like automated tweets to me that you just do to have presence.

I don’t mean to be so critical but of course I am critical. So sue me.

Thoughts on the Otres Beach – the moments versus the times

Yesterday here in Otres it was raining really good for most of the day. I was able to get out to walk a few times though. I walked down a few longer streets to see the country outside of Otres Village and then was able to finish the day by strolling the beach. Otres Beach is really made for taking longer strolls along it. Its a long stretch of sandy goodness that lets you walk along care free with feet in the sand and bath tub warm water. Its also a good time for introspection and some personal reflection.

I’ve been here in Otres almost a week now and have really two weeks to go since I’m going to Phu Quoc Island Vietnam the last real week here. The island is a few hour mini bus and ferry boat ride away and I booked a room at a nicer resort hotel to finish my time down here. When I get back on the 9th of November only a few days remain before flying to Siem Reap. But that’s then and this is now as my mom would say.

Lets talk now and some of the precious reflection because its the first real time besides perhaps in Da Lat when I felt this slow down and ability to basically stop and think most days. Otres has this laid back charm which leads one to want to think a bit and the beach just down the street is a powerful incubator for looking within while looking without. I came up with a few things while considering the travels and my life. I told some people before I am not a gap year, Digital Nomad, Round the World (RTW) person or ex-pat. I’ve been able to decide that these things are attempts to create life hashtags that explain the how of what you are doing but most often not the why. Many of these types of people travel either fast or slow or in the case of ex-pats perhaps not all. There is also a mentality I’ve found which lends itself to mobility of lifestyle and many really want social media uptake. Hundreds of likes on Instagram, lots of hearts and retweets on Twitter. The digital nomads focus on places I think which meet sets of criteria they have around connectivity, connectedness, and perhaps other digital nomads. The RTW person often collects countries and passport stamps as counts of success and ability. Then there are the gap year types which take a year or six months or whatever to find themselves.

I compare these worthy ambitions to what it is I bring and I find upon walking the beach that none of these define what I do and in fact what I do defies defining my approach in any of the types of travel I’ve elaborated above. There is a simple reason for this I think. Each of the type of traveler has a set of goals. Perhaps its to see all they can see or to find a year to spend enlightening themselves and then returning to the work life. Maybe its to find compelling places where digital nomadism can flourish and work can be done. All have goals to meet. Perhaps budgets to keep. Itineraries to keep even slightly. My vagabonding has no goals. There is no final or desired state for it. It simply is. This creates value and a new sense of purposeless travel that most or all of the classic types of traveler could not find or perhaps even want. In my case, its my ideal state. I realized this on my walk back in the rain on the beach yesterday. The second thing is most of these travelers have had to work or still work on the road. The income from the money fuels the travel or stasis in a place. That is not the case for me. I have no hours to keep on a clock or a thing to submit or worries that this or that will cause a problem with some budget I am carefully crafting.

I think the final thing is a more enduring yet hard to define state. Its the fact that time as an accounting has really ceased to exist for me day to day. I have a final day in a place that I have set but if I were to miss that, I would be out some small amount of money but life in Sihanoukville would go on. By killing off time and its inbound limitations and restrictions I’m left with moments. Moments are filled or not with things for me. Or perhaps each moment just leads to the next moment. I could leave now for breakfast down the street and get a nice two egg omelet for $2.50 and some hot coffee or I could wait. I could decide to not doing anything today or tomorrow. Time simply has stopped being an accountability device and I don’t believe for the most part the other types of travelers have that luxury. Most or all are driven by time.

So there you have it, a few things which differentiate what I do and sometimes reading the tweets and blog posts and instagram posts its obvious there is a difference. I can see how even the free wheeling digital nomads have restrictions. But I also figure I paid my dues for work and responsibility and goals and timelines and calendar events. I’ve reached the vaunted place in life of not having any of those and traveling slowly in places of my desire with no real financial, time, space or other concerns. Its liberating and I found that on the beach yesterday as the rain started a bit.

Now I know the ongoing value of reporting here and what the blog and twitter and even instagram do for me. Its not about building presence or membership or ads or certain types of content. Its about what I do and the fact that another retiree or retiree family could also do this. I answered a question on Quora the other day about happiness in life. Yes this is the time when I am completely happy with my life folks. Its all come together and fallen apart just like I wanted. Came together in 10 years of planning but then the falling apart happened after some time on the road. I realized in a coffee shop that none of it mattered. Perhaps that moment led to the beach in Cambodia. Moments are tied together with the thin filament of experience perhaps.

Nothing really changes with the blog with my realization. Its still a catalog of travels. I still post on twitter and have a minor following on instagram. Those are social media accounts I enjoy but they have really let me see the difference. Difference is good. Now perhaps it is time for a late breakfast this morning. Flip flops and shorts and a cap work well here.

Slower days in Sihanoukville – Beach, sand, water and feet

Catching up on a few other interesting topics besides the beach and how laid back the Otres Village is :-). I was thinking of a few things last night over my Chicken Lok Lak and beers.

Thing 1. I have no place to really be or time to get there any longer and when I go from a busy city like Phnom Penh to a sleepy beach village its hard to slow the pace down sometimes. I get used to tuk tuks taking me to all sorts of places, regular schedule of seeing the sights and sounds and people with the camera. A pace of things which while it’s not breakneck is faster. Now here in Sihanoukville, faced with a much slower pace of life I have to slow down. There is the ocean, the rather interesting group of people that live here, the food and beer. But wow! That ocean! That beach which stretches forever almost with water bath tub warm to walk in. I don’t swim much any more but the act of feeling sand and warm ocean water touching the skin and then slowly walking and taking photographs with the camera is never ending. Today, I’ll leave a bit later to enjoy the Thing 1 values and walk the beach in the afternoon to early evening. Get the steps in that make me feel good and take photos of the wonders of the beach, the little city life with dirt roads and friendly people, and then back for dinner to an end of another day of Thing 1 activities.

Thing 2. Writing longer content and having the time to do so. Now I have time to create more stuff. More written stuff. There’s a longer thing in there that sometimes I think wants out. I’ve pushed it to the bottom when I worked before. I had no real time to go off and just write or see where it would take me. Now I do. The times at the beach can catapult my writing back. I have written a few outlines for something longer that I won’t bore you with (yet). But its coming because now I have the time and ocean and sea breezes seem to be an outlet of sorts.

Finally Thing 3. The travel itself and looking at it. I guess at various times I think back on the 8 months gone and the places I’ve been to and am both thankful and amazed. I’ve watched others start and finish their travels while I was still in Vietnam. I watched yet others doing the long term travel count countries and continents. They are like badges of honor to some. You can read their bio’s on twitter like

30 countries and 5 continents in 90 days and still going

I don’t think I could do that pace. I move slower than that I fear. When I set this up for myself, I knew I did not want to just the road and have the countries enter and depart as the passport filled up. I don’t really want the passport to fill up. It’s fine the way it is now. Has an expired Vietnam visa and two Cambodian entries. So this Thing 3 has become not so much the travel which I still enjoy on buses and trains and airplanes; but the longer joys of being in-between and living. Strolling down the dirt street in front of my bungalow and getting the latte in the morning from the pretty girl that runs the latte shack, walking the ocean with no goals in mind, and then the beer and thoughts at night. Also the desire to create content is big for me now. Maybe a sub thing to this is the ability to find another place to go which sounds interesting and just booking that travel. I found Phu Quoc Island again the other day and decided I should splurge and stay a week at a nice resort there. Its a special economic zone so no real visa is needed. I found the mini-bus and the ferry ride back and a nice resort hotel to stay at for awhile.

In a final note of all this, I get to finally say goodbye to Bank of America. If you travel long term, do yourself a favor and do not get a BofA account. I decided to move my accounts to two banks and also had to wait to my social security direct deposit changed which took a few months. I have two checking accounts at completely different banks now. One is CapitolOne 360 for checking and a money market account. The other is Schwab. I truly think you want to have redundant accounts just in case something bad happens to a atm card. I also will never ever have credit cards again. They are the biggest rip off and scam and I am weak. I would just buy the thing on credit and then hate myself . In honesty I paid off two of them over 4 years because of my weakness. Never, ever again will I do them. If I cannot pay for a thing with cash or an ATM it ain’t worth it.

So, those were the things boiling up this morning when I walked to the Main Street to my local latte stand. Now in my room thinking that this day starts later today and I have a few hours before calling my daughter to perhaps read or write or dream. Maybe all three. No limits on any of them any longer.

Google Plus Goes Away

Goodbye Google Plus! Some would say the service was a failure and that no one used it but my news feed and friendships made there were much better than some of the crapola I see on Facebook. The technical merits of communities and collections and circles were very cool. I just wish LinkedIn would offer even a semblance of the filtering of news that Google Plus does.

I shared my photography albums from Google Photos to Google Plus quite often and had a collection there to post to which had over 4k subscribers so the idea that no one used it even in my small sample size is incorrect.

I started with it when it was announced back around 2011. Then it was a simpler thing and one could argue perhaps it was better then. Now with the news of the security breach and the end of the platform, one can cast about for a fitting replacement for what I think it did well.

One primary thing it really did well on was the signal to noise factor. I got more open source and technology news there in a threaded format that was quite easy to follow. I could create circles and subscribe people to them so I had circles like Friends, Android, Linux, Open Source. I could create collections and have content be posted there like my photographs. Facebook does not even come close to the signal to noise ratio. Sponsored posts, stupid news I don’t care about, ads for things I would never buy but yet there is no real way to opt out of makes FB a conscious decision for me sometimes. Unfortunately, most of the people on FB are true friends that I have known for years so I am not inclined to end posting or using that service.

The second thing was the integration with Google Photos. It was easy to “share” an album and create focused collections such as I did with photography. I also could manage the collections pretty easily and turn off comments if I so wished.

Another cool thing is the concept of circles. A circle is a sphere of influence and you could create numerous circles with different focus points and influences. I always thought that approach created more value than the FB approach which is to just slam your feed with stuff or you find a group to join. I don’t think FB groups are in any way comparable to communities in Google Plus.

Finally, it’s the people! I met great people there primarily in open source and Linux and even Linus Torvalds was present. I met a whole host of others especially in open source that became friends.

So whether you used the platform and service or not, there are alternatives to always consider out there but nothing simply takes its place. Facebook could never do that and LinkedIn could only hope to have the same functionality in how to create and manage feeds of news you want to focus on.

Goodbye Google Plus. You were a lot of fun and there were always more people with the hallmark on quality and approach.

Two weeks in Phnom Penh and Other Things

Two weeks in Phnom Penh have passed now. I’ve been having a pretty good time here with the food and photography and travel. In another two weeks I leave Phnom Penh and travel by bus to Sihanoukville where I will spend a month. Then another month in Siem Reap and a final month in Battambang and then back to Phnom Penh for a week and I leave for Singapore.

At that point, I’ll be the on road in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand for 5 months. I only spend a short time in Singapore because its cost of living is so high. What I spend for a week in a hotel there would get me a month in Malaysia.

Candidly speaking, I’ve seen the low and high sides of Phnom Penh. There is a bar district right by the riverfront which I don’t like much. Seeing a bunch of people staggering around drunk by 7pm does not do much for me. I just find it distressing I guess and I’m glad I don’t partake of that lifestyle. The high side is the history and beautiful architecture, food, and people here. I’ve wandered outside of the city and you see a completely different lifestyle. Not poor but not rich or entitled either. People genuinely look happy out there and I’ve been waved at and told hello by so many different types of people. I think the high sides of life here outweighs what I consider to be the depressing side by a far distance. The cultures here are ancient and visiting museums or galleries you get to see the lives of people going back centuries. I love that stuff!

Then there is the food culture here. I think Cambodian people love to eat and drink and it does not have to be Kymer food. Pizza, burgers, whatever are good. Restaurants by my hotel do not have English speaking staff but going to them has become fun. One place I have gone to a few times is notable by the sound of the beer tops popping from the Angkor Beer bottles. Its one of my favorite places since the food portions are huge and the prices are not.

The final food type thing is the coffee culture here. Coffee here is a pastime and there are these small sometimes mobile stalls all around the city that sell primary iced drinks. The iced latte that this place has down the street is most excellent when I get done with breakfast and settle in for a morning watching news and reading.

I was giving some thought to budget and money the other day. Its really hard for me to track what I spend because I don’t really care any longer. I have money. There is food and beer and a t shirt every so often. There is the Grab Tuk Tuks to take to places. Everything is covered and the most important of all is that I don’t feel stressed on how its done or what I spend. If I have to go to the ATM I go to the ATM. Here in Cambodia the US dollar rules so if you just use those you are good across the board. You may get change though in Riel so you have to remember the exchange rules. I don’t mind because its roughly 4k riel to $1 USD. Pretty easy when you get used to it to figure what you got back.

There are a few safety rules here if you visit to consider. Do not wave an expensive iPhone around on the streets or hold it lazily in your hand. Do not hold an expensive camera in your hand. They can be snatched. Do not carry your passport and wallet. I advise to buy a cheap little coin purse you carry around USD and some Riel in. Secure backpacks carefully because people have had them lifted from Tuk Tuks.

This is the same in any big city around the world though. If you wander around carrying expensive stuff in a hand, it may be removed from you in Paris, London, Chicago or New York too. Just exercise common sense.

Anyways, I have had a great time here for two weeks. Got my visa extended to a multiple entry retirement visa so I can always come back here from wherever for the next year. I visited several markets and bought t shirts that actually fit! :-). Ate some really good Cambodian BBQ down the street at an interesting restaurant I may go back to. I love the coffee stalls all around the city just in the right place at the right time!

My next plans are pretty well set to end of the year and my initial trip to Singapore. I have 30 days planned out in Kuala Lumpur but after that I have 60 more days on the tourist entry visa to see Malaysia and I don’t know what I’ll do. I have a few places I want to go that I may do shorter trips to. I have plane tickets booked for Phuket from Bangkok and then back. I will find other places to go in Thailand as I go.

Then I get back to Phnom Penh in June 2019. I think I will stay here a few weeks and take care of some things and get a tourist visa to China. I will need to be back in September to extend my retirement visa another year. I truly believe that that the retirement extension of stay visa is the best deal here for the money. If you’re retired and considering leaving, take a look at the Cambodian visas. Does not mean you have to stay here. The countries here can be traveled easily. I will always want to get back to Vietnam but Thailand, Lao, Malaysia, all can be reached easily.

I would also conclude that slow travel will always win out for me to these places. I cannot see speeding up to increase the country or continent count. The pace I go lets me settle in and do things in each place or not. I don’t feel rushed or the need to reach some magical quotient of countries and days.

A word on the blog as well. This blog is not about being monetized, seeking a cash flow, ads, creating content someone else pays for and it never will be. It’s probably not good enough. I have been doing this for 20 years and I’ve seen it come and go. Blogging 20 years ago was completely different than now. To the pioneers then the written word was king. Finding other blogs that you could link to or comment on was a big part of the experience. Linking out or in was authority. Services sprang up like Technorati back then to capture the authority and create authority indices and what blogs were the most popular. I would not say we have descended or become less. People still write and create content and I admire those that do so for the love of the word. I also don’t feel that those that create content and get paid are wrong or less. Its only when the ads and products lessen to me the value of the word that I stop reading those blogs. I think we would all agree we do this to create content and then share it. Maybe some do it to increase the number of followers. Great! I don’t. If no one reads this blog, I am just as happy creating it because its my voice on my travels. I share it because it suits my values; not yours.

New Blog Series – Retirement, Asia, and Traveling Forever

I’m starting a series of a few blog posts on retirement and living and traveling. The purpose of this next series of posts are to define how you can do better if you are living on fixed income if you have a mildly adventurous soul and are able to adjust to cultural change and thrive. Here’s an article that got me thinking about just how far US social security retirement will carry you. So what do I hope to convey that adds to the balance of information for people? That’s the topic of the next few posts. Here are the posts upcoming. Each one will be linked and presented and hopefully at the end of the next few posts you can see what retirement means, your choices if you travel, and how some freedom can work if you are retired in places that cost less.

  1. Retirement and Travel in Asia
  2. Making Life better with limited funds traveling in Asia
  3. How to go slow and see more
  4. Visas and Passports and places that offer more for less
  5. Bringing it all together. Being old does not mean you sit at home wondering

I came to the conclusion that more needed to be done after talking with a variety of people in Vietnam and Cambodia about retirement. Retirement is supposed to be the good times folks. You are supposed to be able to take a breather, find a new thing, do a new thing, and perhaps find a new way of living. Maybe even finding a new partner if you are socially inclined. I am a solitary type so I solo travel but perhaps its not meant for you so you want something more.

Another thing I hope to convey in the series is that a person is never too old to find a new adventure. I answer questions about aging a lot on Quora about aging and travel. I think people reach their retirement years and get complacent or believe they are XX years and cannot possibly hit the road. I think fear plays a great role in this. Fear of both the known and unknown. There also is the difference of a place like Vietnam or Cambodia. Some of us are simply not made for having our senses assaulted by change. We’re more comfortable with the known yet often the known will cost more, mean you live less, and perhaps even threaten your possessions.

I am gong to write each of the blog posts above sequentially each week. So the retirement and travel in Asia post will come next week or late this week and I will then publish one in the series each forthcoming week.

So anyways, if you are interested in what a tomorrow may look like; stay tuned. I’ll continue to write my regular travel posts about life on the road in Cambodia and what I see and link to photography I do. Maybe instead I will create a static page in WordPress for this work. I think perhaps a static page would be easier to manage and let there be a difference in content.

Friday in Da Nang – Food and beer and blogging thoughts

Its Friday night here in Da Nang. I went out for a really nice American breakfast this morning at a place called the Happy Heart Cafe. Hearing impaired people work there and produce some really nice food. I had the American breakfast this morning. Then I walked the city taking photographs which I won’t share because I am still practicing with the new camera. For dinner tonight, I walked over to Banh Canh Nga and had a bowl of Banh Canh and the fried dough called Quay. The Banh Canh noodles are different than the normal pho or other noodles. They seem almost al dente in their taste but have this rich flavor. The soup or broth is probably a family secret much like Pho. Its really a great noodle dish and having the Quay bread dough fried up with it lets one dip the bread sticks into the soup and the result is great! As I sat there this evening, a Vietnamese man and wife joined me at my table. We shared no common language but the language of food prevailed. They ordered more Quay and we shared another order. We all laughed at trying to eat the Pork with bone in. The husband went to get a fork which seemed easier. I just used my fingers. I don’t think there is an approved way with many Vietnamese foods of what to use. Vietnamese people seem to just want to get the food and beer into their systems and don’t care about propriety or methods.

So we sat there and laughed and they ordered more of the Quay. They put all of it on my plate and I divided it up into half and gave half back to the husband. He smiled and immediately attacked it! It was a fun moment in a local restaurant and the employees there were happy to see me. The waitress showed me the English menu and prompted me to order the Banh Canh. So of course I did. But there are meat choices so I went with Pork. The entire meal came to about $3.50 I believe. I think the Vietnamese man and wife paid for the extra order of the dough sticks.

If you get something like Pho or even Bun Bo Hue, get the bread sticks too. They make the meal very nice and are served hot. If they don’t have them ready they will not serve cold ones.

Then, after…

Then after was a stop along the riverfront for beer. I sat at the Waterfront Bar and Restaurant and as usual talked with one of the waitresses who told me about her growing up in Da Nang and wanted me to stay longer so I could come back for more tall Tiger draft beers. She tells me that life in Da Nang is good but that a lot of the workers are from other places in Vietnam. She’s a warm, funny, and I have to admit rather cute young person so I enjoy flirting a bit with her and making her laugh. I will sit there and watch the evening settle over the Han river and the dinner boats ply up and down the river serving their expensive dinners and drinks to probably the Korean and Japanese tourists.

So I sit and drink and probably get a bit shit faced. Its okay because that’s what the Vietnamese do on Fridays too. I found this one place next door to a restaurant I went to that I have to visit where the beer flows and food comes out and the guy rushes around serving people six packs of beer iced up in buckets. I may have to talk my Vietnamese friend from here to go there before I leave.

So that was my Friday. Now I sit in the room with the fan and AC going and I can hear the evening traffic motoring by. Life has become so different it seems and perhaps its the cans of beer I bought at the market talking. But I told someone on twitter that life has become real since I left. Traveling with no end becomes something completely different and I’ve found a large community of like-minded people on twitter. I think the travel and vagabonding community is well integrated and communities are easily grown and chats spring up that I really want to do.

One of the sidelines always is blogging. People there want to have successful blogs and produce something of value. They want to create. But creating is not enough. They want readership and comments and uptake. It used to be called authority way back when when blogging was in its youth. People now blog and write posts on instagram and tweet and reference all of them. Its an interesting revolution to observe and how people wish to communicate. Simply writing blogposts is not enough. Having 30 ads and writing product reviews will not avail. The folks on twitter that write the blogs are way ahead of you. They already know about how to create and market and sell and produce value.

But all of that is fine for them. My line is drawn on the blog. I don’t want ads or product reviews or partners or any of that. This blog has the pure words. Nothing separates them. Its like it used to be way back in the day when blogging was something else and we all did it to link to another blog and show our interest. Go back and look at blogging Ca 2000 or so. You will see a different reality. Did it evolve?

I wonder sometimes after reading some blogs on wordpress.com.