We Are All Migrants

As I followed the recent news of the large group of Central American migrants making their way toward the US border I’ve felt a sense of identity and affinity with them. Like them, I’ve crossed borders and changed countries to improve my life. If you’ve ever packed up everything and changed cities or countries in pursuit of educational, work or personal opportunities perhaps you’re a migrant as well? In an age in which information and ideas move at the speed of light and in which we can become aware and take advantage of opportunities almost anywhere on the planet, perhaps we are all migrants. Far from being something to fear, I think the migrants possess qualities we should embrace. To start, I think that their desire to improve their lives, their openness to change and to thoughtful risk-taking are among the qualities critical to thriving in the 21st century world.

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First Impressions of…?

I know I wrote in a post a couple months ago that I would be returning to Nepal to do the Annapurna Circuit Trek this month, but I changed my mind. When you’re single with no children and essentially retired you can do that. Until plane tickets are purchased and hotels are booked you can change your mind. In both everyday life and travel, time stretches out in front of you like a vast open savanna of possibilities. Your days, weeks, months and years are yours to spend as you like.

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More Photos of the Laugavegur Trek

Here are the remaining photos from the Laugavegur Trek I did in Iceland this past July and some music I recently discovered from Satin Jackets, a dance music collective led by German producer Tim Bernhardt. Lush landscapes, lush tunes.

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Time > Money (part 4 – recommended readings)

Note: This post is the last in a four part series. Here are links to the previous posts in the series: part 1, part 2, part 3

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Great news for busy people! Being literate on personal finance and developing good money habits doesn’t require a lot of time. Just one book is more than enough (for example, the two at the top of my list below) and the main principles could easily be summarized in a concise blog post.

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The Beauty of a Single Flower

It will probably come as no surprise that I’m not a fan of the “pics for Facebook” mode of travel in which the main objective of a journey seems to be getting lots of selfies to show off on social media. If we go to Angkor Wat and do nothing more than take a succession of photos of our own face, are we really seeing and experiencing Angkor Wat?

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Some Ice Cold Water on my Mind

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” Haruki Murakami in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

The high point of my two weeks in Iceland this July was the Laugavegur and Fimmvorduhals Treks, which are connected and done continuously over 4-6 days. Beginning with the raw, desolate beauty of Landmannalaugar in the highlands of western Iceland, traveling through the deep, rugged, verdant canyons of Thorsmork and ending near the southern coast at Skogar, the trek is included in many “best in the world” lists on the internet. It could easily be the most incredible natural beauty I’ve seen in my life, and that’s saying a lot, because I do like to get out and see the world! In addition to the unforgettable scenery, I met a lot of wonderful people on the trail and in the mountain huts we stayed at each night.

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Time > Money (Part 3 – how to easily calculate when you can retire)

This is the third post in a four part series. You can find the first here and the second here.

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Are you looking forward to retirement? Would you like to spend all of your time as you like rather than just nights, weekends and holidays? What if you could do that sooner than you previously thought? With this series on personal finance and especially with this post with “math” in the title, some readers may feel that the blog has strayed from its more philosophical orientation (“Life is a journey. What are smart ways to travel?”). In the end though I see this series as fundamentally about how we use our time. Getting our financial house in order is simply a way to spend more of our time in this world on what we care about most. So the personal finance I’m advocating is one with a distinctly spiritual dimension – What makes life most worth living? How can we do more of that?

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Photos of Pokhara

I haven’t been able to post in the blog for a while because my June and July travels in the US and Iceland were just too busy and eventful. My motivation for the blog is as high as ever though and now that I’m back to regular life in Bangkok I look forward to resuming regular posts.

The two weeks I spent in Iceland were so rich in amazing scenery that I’ll probably do at least 3-4 posts from that trip, especially of the extended trek and day hikes I did there. I need more time to go over the thousands of photos I took on that trip and select only the very best for the blog. For now, here are my best photos from Pokhara, which is a gateway for many treks in Nepal, including the one I did in April.

Fewa Lake at sunset. Pokhara lies on the shore of this lake.

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Time > Money (Part 2 – How much of your life are you selling off?)

This is the second post in a four part series. You can find the first post here

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Near the end of my time in Saigon a friend asked me to visit her English class to talk to her students and give them a chance to practice with a native speaker. When she introduced me to the class she told the students that I wrote a blog “about meditation,”  a comment which left me with a mix of amusement and embarrassment. Is my enthusiasm in recommending meditation really that over the top!?

One of the things I like about this series on time and money is that it’s about something I’m equally evangelical about but which I’ve barely touched in this blog – personal finance and more generally being smart about money. (By the way, the “>” in the title is the math symbol for “greater than”, not an arrow, and the title of this series is my assertion that, in the context of a human life, time and our ability to control how we spend it is vastly more important than money.)

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