Elon Musk’s Government

Mars Satellite

“How do you envision humans governing a separate planet?”

Elon Musk answered the above question when speaking at Stanford recently by saying that because a Martian government would be built on a clean foundation, it would probably be something closer to a direct democracy (in which every member votes on laws and policies directly) rather than a representative democracy (like what we find in the Western world today).

In the past, such direct democracy was infeasible. There was no tool or engine by which everyone could vote on everything. Communication was only as fast as a horse and illiteracy was prevalent, so it was rational to have elected representatives voting on behalf of their constituents. The absence of technology and education made it so.

Of course, today this isn’t the case — so Elon gave three intuitive ideas that could apply to a new Martian government (or simply a terrestrial upgrade).

Legal Limits

Elon credits Google co-founder Larry Page for this first concept. The idea is that laws be limited in size via a simple mechanism like word count. Currently we have 1,000-page laws which nobody has read. “If you can’t write the law in 1,000 words then it probably shouldn’t be there. We shouldn’t have a single law passed that’s the size of Lord of the Rings and literally not a single person in Congress has read the whole thing.”

Legal Sunsets

Laws, by default, have an infinite lifespan. Elon suggests that laws be given a sunset period such that when their time is up, laws must be actively renewed to remain in place. Those that can’t continue standing on their own merit simply expire. Placing the burden on renewal would create a naturally recurring “opt-in” legal system.

Legal Destruction

In the same vein, Elon looks at our current legal system and sees that, “Over time the body of law just gets bigger and bigger and bigger…” So, in addition to the natural sunset period, perhaps laws should be easier to remove than to put in place. For example, it might take a 60% vote to instate a law but only a 40% vote to remove it.

He did mention that ultimately the workings of a government on Mars would be up to the future Martians (and he certainly counts himself among them).

You can see Elon’s full Q&A here — though admittedly I think the above is the most interesting part. He gets into Martian government theory after the 50:00 minute mark.

I originally published this post on Medium here.

The True Cost of Ownership


Minimalism has taken many forms these days. It’s even become a pop-culture trend. I suspect it is partly related to the economic downturn, a newish need to make more from less. For me, minimalism can be broken down into several parts. Maybe some of this will resonate with you. Some write off minimalism as hippy-foo-foo bullshit. Well, let me appeal to minimalism with reason.

By deciding to bring some new thing into your life, you have to calculate whether the gain will offset the cost. This mental process sounds like a pain in the ass, but most of you already do this when making a purchase. That’s how you decide whether the new pair of pants or coffee table or samurai sword is worth the advertised price.

The problem is that, usually, the only cost in this mental exercise that is weighed against the reward is a monetary one. The cost of owning a physical item does not end at the checkout. It echoes forward in time for the entire duration that it’s in your possession.

Here are some examples of forgotten costs accrued when making a purchase:

  • Time/effort required to get to the store
  • Time/effort required to transport the item to its final location
  • Assembly/Activation/Setup
  • Space cost (assuming it’s not digital, it will take up space)
  • Maintenance/Cleaning
  • Relocation/Removal/Disposal (The item is your responsibility until it’s not)

For instance, say you buy or rent a living space. You go a little bigger than you really need because you get a good price on it. Now you have unfurnished space. So you buy a coffee table and a lamp and a chair and call it a reading area or whatever. That’s nice, reading is really good for you, but say you only read at night before bed. In fact, the only time you go into your reading area is to give it a brief cleaning. Years later, you decide to move. Whether you go bigger or smaller, those items must be moved or sold or donated.

From the top down, the costs of owning that extra space is equal to the expense of the additional square footage (including increased rent/mortgage/insurance/property taxes), the added utility cost of heating/cooling the area, the amount spent on the furniture, the time to purchase the furniture, the time spent cleaning the area and its furnishings, and finally the time or money spent on ensuring that the furniture be moved, sold, or donated.

I was once the type of person who bought things because they were a good deal. This led me to buy things I wouldn’t otherwise buy, things with only a single use, and things bought on impulse. I’m pretty sure I’ve even bought DVDs of films I could watch on Netflix just so that I could have them on my shelf. A lot of media shelves are just trophy cases. I once ventured onto eBay and, in a moment of carnal male weakness, bought multiple sets of throwing knives.

There is a psychological cost to ownership as well (beyond the guilt of buying weaponry on eBay). You may experience buyer’s remorse. Items you own must be protected from theft, insured against destruction, perhaps kept away from pets or children. They must accurately represent your personality to friends and guests. If you stop liking an item in your living space, it must be removed and maybe replaced.

My relationship with possessions has slowly evolved and each time I travel I’m reminded of how little I actually need. That is why, the last time I was “home,” I made an active effort to rid myself of all my possessions. Not everything, of course, but I wanted to be able to fit my life into a couple backpacks. Beyond the psychology and wasted resources, fewer things, for me, equated increased mobility.

So a great eBay and Craigslist adventure began, and I sold off everything I could, slowly but surely, over a period of four months. What couldn’t be sold was gifted. And what couldn’t be gifted was donated. I was planning another escape, though in the beginning I didn’t quite know it. I can say first hand that the process was liberating. With each thing that left my possession, I felt lighter, freer, even cleaner. I realized I had been acting as the manager of all of these things. On some subconscious level, they were on my mind, a part of me in some way. And then they weren’t.[hr]

If you liked this post, share it please! If you want to connect, follow me on Twitter, sign up for my once-a-month newsletter, or send me an email.

Photo credit: Martin Gommel

How We Killed the Universe

One summer a few years ago I found myself on a Colorado bluff
with an elevation of about 11,000 feet. As blue skies turned to gold, my companions and I built a fire, cooked ramen noodles, and pulled the cork from a bottle of red wine. We passed the bottle around as the Earth turned its back on the Sun, pulling us into shadows.

One can face east at sunset and watch darkness rise. The darkness climbed higher and soon specks of light began popping out for us from across the oceans of time. The Milky Way hung above us and we became very, very small. Our pasts and our futures seemed to shrink before us and vanish with a wink.

It is a powerful tool to be able to zoom out so far that one’s entire life simply vanishes. If any one experience can be said to put life in perspective, it is most certainly gazing at the starscape above us. I have come to realize the unfortunate truth that many of us are not often afforded this lens. The advent of electricity brought light pollution and in the span of a few generations we have mortally wounded the night sky and with it our window to the universe.

There was a time when every human was given a nightly reminder of their own smallness. For city dwellers, which now make up around 80% of the population for most developed countries¹ (and probably 99% of the world’s decision makers), it has become all too easy to forget that we are just the inhabitants of a living rock orbiting a star in a universe we barely understand.

Also, it has been discovered that thinking about distant things makes humans more creative. It seems like a safe bet that gazing at the stars would fall under this category. As we pile into cities under a cozy blanket of light are we reducing some of our original, internal illumination?

I’ve become curious as to the psychological effect of our new bright nights. We have made some wonderful advancements as a species but I fear that conquering the night has left us with some unintended consequences.


Losing the beauty of darkness has been a subtle but strong ally in a disturbing perspective shift. A shift inward. We are beginning to lose nature’s cadenced transition between night and day. The metronome is developing an arrhythmia and as fewer naked-eye astronomers look up and ponder the cosmos, fewer still will question our place in it.

Have you ever experienced an emotional or intellectual breakthrough when gazing up at a star-filled night sky?

Further Reading:
Check out the International Dark-Sky Association

Images courtesy of Hubble and c@rljones via photopin cc
¹ Population data from World Resources Institute

Would You Invest in the Netflix for Toys?

Jobs Act

Imagine your otherwise batshit crazy neighbor comes up with a big idea. Really big. The type of idea that could become the next Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or maybe just the next Coffee Joulies – how much would choose to invest? Let’s say you’re feeling restless and want to invest $1,000. Your neighbor thinks his idea is worth $50k. He’s willing to give you 2% equity in his idea/company if you put your $1,000 toward getting it started. He wants to go online and find 49 other investors. Today, as far as I can tell, there is no legal framework in the United States that allows this. You save $1,000 and you neighbor goes back to drinking bourbon and spying on lawn gnomes.

President Obama, in the interest of gnome privacy, is preparing to sign the JOBS Act into law on Thursday (April 5, 2012). Once this happens, startups will be able to raise up to $1 million in funding from non-accredited investors (read: regular people). This appears to accomplish two big things:

  • It increases the total amount of money available to startups (theoretically should increase the number of startups that…start)
  • It gives the common citizen the ability to invest a small amount in an early-stage company

There are a few clear problems that come with this Act. Namely among these is the potential for fraud and the reality that these are very high-risk investments and those seeking funding might downplay that risk (or those doing the investing might be blind to it). For startups acquiring crowdfunding the failure rate could climb as high at 90%. Despite these drawbacks, I predict this change will be a net positive for both entrepreneurs and for the US economy.

I would really love to see a Kickstarter-esque platform grow out of this. Individuals would be charged only after the funding goal was reached and each investor would receive equity instead of (or in addition to) “rewards”. Using this platform investors could keep tabs on the various companies in their portfolio and companies could easily communicate with their numerous shareholders.

What are you thoughts? As a non-accredited investor, would you consider investing in a brand new company? Add your comments below. As for the title, sorry, that already exists.

EDIT (4/7/2012) – Toygaroo closed just a few days after I posted this article, reportedly because “the growth…experienced was simply too fast and [they] were not able to secure the additional investment needed” to sustain that growth.

Image stolen from The Huffington Post – Go read their stuff too.

Everything’s Bigger in Texas – SXSW 2012

South by Southwest is an annual film/music/interactive festival that overtakes the beautiful city of Austin, Texas every March. I’ve attended for two years now because it’s an incredibly cost-effective vacation that provides two things I need on a regular basis:

  • A smooth blend of relaxation and chaos
  • Interesting and intelligent people to meet

It’s essentially a few thousand sponsored parties, shows, and events all designed to make you have a good time (and usually remember a brand or an artist). For the common man it means enjoying free food, open bars, live music, and creative people for twelve days.

When combined with CouchSurfing/staying with friends and airline miles it gets even more affordable. Just don’t buy an official badge. You don’t need it.

A few things I did at SXSW 2012:

  1. Ate heaps of burgers sourced from local, grass-fed beef
  2. Drank loads of Tito’s vodka, Lone Star, and Dos Equis
  3. Learned about truffles and truffle oil (and truffle fries)
  4. Watched at least 30 live music performances
  5. Saw a fight at a local grocery store
  6. Became jealous of Austin’s Car2Go service
  7. Watched the Austin Music Awards from the third-tier VIP section and saw Bruce Springsteen’s surprise performance
  8. Met dozens of incredible personalities from Austin, New York, Mexico City, and Toronto
  9. Consumed massive amounts of free BBQ and tacos
  10. Saw a concert in a church at midnight
  11. Personally returned a lost wallet
  12. Won a Sphero at a tech party
  13. Saw a mobile Occupy SXSW street movement and the police response
  14. Watched Jeff Who Lives at Home at an Alamo Draft House – my new favorite theater (you can silently order food/drink with little slips of paper during the film)
I highly recommend checking out Firehorse – the live performance gave me goosebumps.


Bridging the Chasm

Me at Burning Man

And then a year went by.


I stayed in the United States for the entirety of 2011 but I did manage to spend six full weeks on highly visceral activities in other places. These included SXSW, Bonnaroo, ten days on Anna Maria Island with good friends, and a glorious week in the Black Rock Desert at Burning Man. Not bad.


I redesigned my personal site and moved all the old Wanderlust content here. I did this because it looks fancier and I want to write about other topics in addition to travel. Sorry for those of you that got a random email update a couple weeks back. I hope you like my new home.


I was offered a job and accepted it. I’m still employed so that’s all I will say about that for now.

I’ve also launched a one man web building company. I taught myself all about domains, hosting, and WordPress. When I built this site I realized I could build awesome websites for other people too. If you need a site for your business, blog, or portfolio consider having it Built by Collin.


In addition to teaching myself the above mentioned skills I am learning JavaScript for free using Code Academy. I’m also reading quite a bit about startups and venture capital.

I’ve also been studying various topics that I suppose could by categorized under “the human condition.” Our physical evolution has left us with many unneeded byproducts (i.e. wisdom teeth, appendices). I’m convinced that our mental evolution has followed the same course.

Take greed for example. Greed is a characteristic which appears to be innate. And why not? It was once incredibly useful. It made us into the dominant species we are today. The greedy monkey had more to eat. But now it has turned against us. If anyone can think of one “world problem” that cannot be linked to greed I’d be very eager to hear it.


I’ve been selling off all my belongings. I want to be as lightweight as possible. I don’t want to be a man who is owned by his possessions. I’m converting everything I can into liquid capital, the rest gets donated or gifted.

I also grew my hair out really long and wrote a blog post.

The End Is the Beginning Is the End

Current Location: Louisville, KY, United States of America
Current  Weather: 32°F (feels like 24°F)
Days Gone: 201
Days Remaining: Zero
Home provides its own type of chaos. Perhaps the chaos and uncertainty craved by the traveler is really just a craving for simplicity. Unknown means no planning. It means your time is yours and yours alone. For me, unknown is easy. With too many variables, calculation becomes impossible. You can’t suffer from analysis paralysis if you can’t analyze the situation. I’ve said before that the present is all we have. Well, it turns out that while traveling the present is the only thing worth considering. Even for someone like me, a person who considers every option and almost subconsciously plans for every consequence, travel makes careful planning impossible. With an unwieldy trip such as this, the possible futures which cascade outward from every event are so multitudinous and varied that I can actually allow myself to not think about them. Mental peace.

But home is where I am now. I’ve been breathing cold Louisville, KY air since early December. My trip was cut short suddenly when I received an email that my grandfather was in the hospital for what would be the last time. Twelve hours (and a bus ride to the capital) later I was on the side of a Malaysian highway helping my cab driver change his flat tire. With only minutes to spare I jumped out at the airport, abandoning in the backseat the sandals I’d worn for seven months and two thick books, jetsam that would have kept my pack from fitting in the overhead compartment. I was living in rewind. It was eerie, the speed at which I was able to backpedal. The speed at which I was able to circumnavigate the entire planet at a moments notice. You know that montage in Fight Club where Edward Norton is flying around the country and experiences a disconnected sort of deja vu? It was like that with less bandages and more security. Malacca-Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok-Tokyo-Chicago.

Chicago about killed me. It was snowing. I’d gone from 100 degrees to 30 in 24 hours. By the time I made it from the plane up the walkway to the airport (in my lightweight rain jacket) my shivering was indistinguishable from a seizure. I’d consumed eight cups of coffee and four back-to-back in flight movies. My plan was to beat jet-lag preemptively. I hadn’t slept. My vision was obstructed by tall people in rough, gray coats. I found myself drowning in English, loud and obnoxious and everywhere. Sickly looking people all across the terminal bared their teeth and screamed into cell phones. Surely they were complaining of their cold, bleak surroundingstheir gray floors and gray walls and gray-filtered sunlight. It was a zoo exhibit. Or an ant farm. The giant planes on the tarmac watched us silently through the glass. I found my way to the domestic terminal and huddled next to a vending machine. I was afraid to sit down, fall asleep, miss my flight. I counted to stay awake. I counted “people who stared at me,” “people without cell phones,” and “people who smiled.” I spent 90 minutes next to that vending machine. Smiles lost.

I slipped into my old life the way one might slip on an old shoe. Everything worked the way it shouldI could still drive a stick, run the microwave, answer a cell phonebut it was all very surreal. I’m chalking it up to jet lag, reverse culture shock, and sunlight withdrawal, but I can barely remember my first two weeks stateside. I was my own apparition, out of touch with reality. I found myself constantly recoiling from everyday things. I became physically ill the first time I walked into a Bed, Bath and Beyond and saw a $40 piece of metal designed to hold toilet paper; available in bronze, nickel, and chrome. Thanks but I’d rather have five days on a Cambodian beach.

I’d like to think I’ve become more empowered. I’ve learned to accept my own strengths and I know how to take full control of my life. By living simply, eating meals of rice and sharing dirty accommodations, I have become comfortable with my “worst case scenario.” I can now take bigger risks without fearing the consequences, because I’ve already faced them. In many ways the things gained on a trip such as this one are intangible. And most intangibles cannot be defined without metaphor. The writer in me is gleeful at this conundrum. But the reality is that I cannot tell you what I’ve learned, lost, and gained. Our language is not yet that robust.

I spent two-hundred days wandering throughout Southeast Asia. And I did it on my own. Through my self-reliance I have achieved, if nothing else, self-trust. And it is with this I move forward, comfortable in my non-conformity, one step at a time.

The Breakdown by Numbers

Total cost (including airfare): less than $4,600
Airfare: $1150
Cost per day on the ground: ~$17.25 (ranging from $6-60)
Weight lost: 18 lbs (From 158 lbs to 140 lbs)
Days abroad: 201
Distance traveled (by land): 11,000 km / 6,800 miles
Distance traveled (by air): 31,600 km / 19,630 miles
Total distance traveled:  42,600 km / 26,480 miles

This was an experience that will continue to shape me for the rest of my life. I cannot imagine what else I might have done with that seven months that would prove more valuable. For those of you who have stuck with me through the whole journey, I am beyond grateful.

Last thing consumed: Quite a bit actually. I’m focusing on regaining all the muscle I lost. I’m eating 3,000 calories/day at the moment. Since my return I’ve regained 16 lbs.
Thought fragment: I’m driving 1,000 miles to Austin for SXSW in a couple weeks. It will be good to get back on the road again.

Did you enjoy reading this post? That’s great because it’s the last one for a long while. Feel free to subscribe to start getting updates when my next adventure rolls around.

What did you think of my final undertakings? This may be your last chance to ask questions pertaining to the trip. Leave your questions and comments below!


Terror, Power, and Tandoori Chicken

Current Location: Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Current  Weather: 77°F (feels like 86°F)
Days Gone: 199
Days Remaining: 17
With less than three weeks until my return the world is beginning to spin faster. It is as if the planet itself is trying to gain enough momentum to launch me back into a society that moves at a different speed. Two days ago I was clutching to the back of a motorbike while it flew through heavy traffic, passing with only inches to spare between bigger vehicles, running red lights, and generally spending as much time in the wrong lane as possible. My driver and cohort was oblivious to my terror. I decided, as I felt the heat of another car’s brake lights on my knee as we swerved around it, that if I survived this journey I would write about it. Thus, you have the above. For I did survive, and in doing so I’ve discovered that I much prefer being the operator of fast and deadly vehicles, not the helpless passenger.

Despite said dangers, our unfaithful steed bore us to Penang National Park, where we trekked into the dense monkey-infested jungle and arrived, at great length and covered in sweat, on a fairly private beach pocked with massive crab holes. The blue-green waters spoke of  relief, so we shed our salt-soaked shirts and swam. Before long, we were joined by a cautious and stealthy sea otter which spent most of its time examining us from a safe distance. Its head would vanish and pop up elsewhere, not unlike Whack-A-Mole from the days of old.

I have finally realized why it is that monkeys feel the need to attack me. And really, it’s all their fault. You see, monkeys happen to instinctively identify bared teeth as a challenge to fierce physical combat. As such, when I laugh at their silly ways and silly faces, they think I am challenging them to a dual. And when a human duals a monkey, nobody wins. So should you find yourself confronted by a monkey with the silliest of faces, even if said monkey is wearing a jester’s cap, do not, under any circumstance, laugh at the monkey. For it will attempt to eat you, and it will start with your bare ankles.

Almost without even trying, I’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving consistently since my arrival on Penang, Isle of Food. I must say, though, I’ve sampled all the top Malay dishes from local establishments, and they are all still trumped by Indian cuisine. As such, the image to the right was (one of) my Thanksgiving dinner(s).

I’ve been in Southeast Asia for nearly two hundred days, and I think I’ve avoided writing anything on this blog that might be seen as culturally insensitive. But all that is about to change. I fully understand that many different cultures use many different utensils and practice many different methods of eating. That is all fine and good. I like variety. When eating Pad Thai or any fried noodle dish, I would sooner take up chopsticks than I would a fork. When eating a sandwich or french fries, I use my hands. And of course, should I find myself eating steak, I think the most convenient tools would be a knife/fork combination. However, when enjoying Indian cuisine, the traditional method seems to be the use a single hand. By employing deft thumb movements, one can shovel food from the palm and remaining digits into one’s mouth. I used this method myself many months ago when I found myself sharing a meal of rice and chicken in the wilderness with a tiny Hmong girl. And after I learned the proper technique it worked quite well.

That said, eating heavily sauced rice with your hand is something that, even after a lifetime of training, can end in messy defeat. The other day I was sitting in a restaurant enjoying my meal with the spoon/fork combo. An Indian gentleman at another table tackled his with the hand method. As a result, he had curry and rice not only on his hand, but also spread about his mouth and on his shirt. I watched, amazed, taking another bite of rice and beef curry with my spoon. As another bit of rice fell to his shirt and I couldn’t help but think, “Dude, there’s just a better way.” So there you have it. Culturally insensitive or not, there are times when hand-eating is simply the inferior method. If any Indians (or other eat-with-your-handers) are reading this, feel free to sacrifice me in the comments section and defend saucy hands everywhere!

I’ll keep this brief, but I want talk for a moment about power. I believe that everything is relative. And I mean everything. Power is no exception. The most powerful person in the world is the person who has the most control over you, your life, and your decisions. Therefore, the most powerful person in existence, my dear reader, is you. Uncle Ben was right though, with great power comes great responsibility. What will you do with all your power?

Last thing consumed: Did you see those pictures above?
Thought fragment: I think, should I have such a grand opportunity upon my return, I’m going to opt out of the new TSA death ray scanners just to get the complimentary groping everyone is getting so excited about.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Subscribe to Wanderlust – A Story of Movement and Adventure via email or with your favorite feed reader by using the menu at the top right of this screen

What do you think of my latest undertakings? Leave your questions and comments below!


Same Same, But Different

Current Location: Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia
Current  Weather: 90°F (feels like 107°F)
Days Gone: 161
Days Remaining: 55

First off we have a tiny bit of business to attend to. If anyone has clicked the Donate link to the right, they have seen that donations are not intended to go to me, but instead to the Wanderlust Lending Team at Kiva.org. For Kiva’s 5-Year Anniversary they are offering a $25 loan credit to anyone who invites five people. If you’ve considered lending before, now is the best time because you can your $25 donation would actually contribute $30! You can read more about Kiva at their website or on the Donate page here. If you are interested in participating, send a quick email to twocents.wanderlust@gmail.com with the subject line “Kiva.” I’ll send you an invite within 24 hours. Just keep in mind that the offer expires at the end of October. You can still join after that time, of course, but Kiva will no longer be offering additional loan credit. Now on to the travel stuff.

I escaped Cambodia the very same day my visa expired, which seems to be a bad habit I’ve formed. But last minute escapes are cinematic, no? Back in Thailand on a fifteen day transit visa (aiming for Malaysia) I decided to stop off at an island called Ko Chang. For all intents and purposes, I told myself the detour was “on the way” to Bangkok anyway. I arrived after dark due to some painfully disorganized buses at the border crossing. Little did I know that I would not see the sun for five days. My first afternoon a monsoon struck the island with deadly force. I’m not kidding, seven people died due to landslides and the island lost power for 60 hours. During this time I drained the batteries of my laptop and iPod and read nearly three novels. I also watched the cats hunt geckos. Determined to see the island in sunlight, I hung around for a few more days – though even after the power returned, the rain continued. Finally, on day five, the sun appeared for two hours. I visited the beach but saw only rocks, trash, and a few miserable tourists. At least I got some free barbecue at a bar one night and, due to power outages, negotiated a lower room rate. On day six I cut my losses and fled for Bangkok. But the rain followed me there, too.

From Bangkok I moved south as far as I could on one ticket. The result was a city called Had Yai not terribly far from Malaysia. From there I tried to get a ticket into Malaysia, but the local bus station only offered tickets to the border. So that’s where I went. I walked across the Thai-Malaysian border at around 3:30 PM on a Sunday. I had decided to try to go to another island (the sun was shining again!) called Pulau Langkawi. The nearest port was an hour away and no buses ran there. So I hired a taxi to take me the whole way for about $12. Now here I am, and I might stay quite a while. Malaysia was kind enough to give me a 90 day visa for free. There is a solid Indian population on the island, which is awesome because they all speak English and I’m going to eat curry until I pop. I’ve been here almost 48 hours now and haven’t seen a drop of rain, not even the typical afternoon shower. It is hot though, this is the furthest South I’ve ever been.

I feel like I should apologize for the “…and then I did this”-style of post. I was debating what to write about, but the past two weeks or so have mostly been transit, rainstorms, and basic living. And I guess that’s the interesting thing. I’ve always said that travel is a lifestyle, but I think now this holds true (for me) more than ever before, though perhaps from a slightly different perspective. I am still living, I just happen to be in Malaysia. Take today for instance: I got up early. I found a new local breakfast joint and had some yellow rice, curry, and eggs. I went for a run on the beach. I took care of some internet business (emails, web articles, Facebook, Skype). I went and had a lunch of lamb curry and white rice. I returned to the beach. I read a few chapters of fiction. Then I came back to my dorm and took a cold shower. Next I started writing this post. It’s been a relaxing day. After this I’ll probably head back to the beach to do some writing and watch the sunset. Then I’ll go get some dinner, come back “home,” watch a movie on my laptop, and go to bed. Aside from the context, the day itself is not that unusual. Like I said, I just happen to be in Malaysia. Living.

Last thing consumed: Lamb Curry and White Rice, at only $1.60 – I think I’ll stay awhile.
Thought fragment: Being a Muslim country, alcohol is heavily taxed and absurdly priced. You can buy alcohol free beer at the minimart for US$2 a bottle to play pretend. I think, as a result of this, my stay in Malaysia will be very…hydrating.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Subscribe to Wanderlust – A Story of Movement and Adventure via email or with your favorite feed reader by using the menu at the top right of this screen

What do you think of my latest undertakings? Leave your questions and comments below!


Slow Migrations

Current Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Current  Weather: 86°F (feels like 94°F)
Days Gone: 143
Days Remaining: 73

I move a lot. Since landing in Bangkok all those months ago, I have spent my nights in over 50 different places, including buses, trains, boats, and even a cargo ship. Due to its small size, spending a month in Cambodia has given me a sort of reprieve. This isn’t to say that Cambodia doesn’t offer many destinations, I just don’t really need another French-inspired river town at the moment. I’m good on jungles and I’ve got more islands in my near future. So I spent a solid ten days recharging my batteries in Sihanoukville, often by having food delivered to me poolside and enjoying a $10 per day lifestyle. Now I am loitering in Siem Reap, probably until my visa expires, and spending even less. Here I have discovered a new and unique type of lifestyle: routine. Back home, I always did my best to avoid routine – it’s bland, conventional, and boring. It’s the rut we’re all stuck in. But I have discovered a valuable exception to this rule.

A routine is only unfulfilling when someone else is writing the schedule. Whether it’s the boss of an unpleasant workplace or a bitter professor or whoever, he or she probably doesn’t have your best interests in mind, yet probably does have a large portion of control over your life. This, to put it bluntly, is not awesome. It results in a massive loss of forward momentum. I am creating my own routine here in Siem Reap – I’m able to absorb the energy of the city and increase my creative output. I can watch every sunrise, sunset, and thunderstorm. I can sit in a cafe and write for two hours every morning. I am in a position to meet new and interesting people every single day. I don’t want to preach, but I do want to put out a reminder that it is vastly important to avoid becoming stagnant; even if your body is not moving, your mind should be. Whether it’s traveling Southeast Asia, learning to make homemade pizza, practicing Tai Chi, or reading a novel – the only wrong thing to do is nothing.

Despite “taking a vacation from traveling,” I did rent a bicycle and visit Angkor Wat and it’s surrounding temples. Angkor is often referred to as the jewel of Cambodia, and many people visit the country specifically for these temples. The beer here is even called Angkor. With that said, visiting Angkor Wat was, for me, sort of like being given a massive amount of tiramisu after eating brownies for four months. It was good. Really good. But it was still a chocolate dessert. And I wanted fresh sushi. Consider this: a grain of sand can be as interesting as an entire sea, it simply depends on the lens through which you view it. Just because you look at more doesn’t necessarily mean you see more. The same applies to the speed at which you move through the world. It is difficult, yet entirely necessary, to give oneself permission to stop and smell the street food – though the scent of garlic and chillies lends nothing to the “productivity” one feels, it is still an investment in one’s self, in one’s life experience.

So, for now, I am focusing on the sand grains, the golden details that get lost in the thick brush strokes of movement. Observe, for a moment, the yellow dragonfly which manages to maintain its curious and reckless flight, even in the clean, hard, thunder-less rain. How can it fly while drops as large, for it, as grapefruits fill the air? Notice the clothing, always steaming on the lines and balcony railings and baking in the rafters – the sloughed skins of t-shirts patiently waiting to collect more salt from our backs. Taste the  mango shake, served with more than a hint of sweet milk; the condensation is so thick and quick on the glass that for a moment you think you will need two hands just to hold it all. And this, these golden details, is all we have: our minds, our bodies, and the present. Nothing else is guaranteed.

Last thing consumed: A large baguette with an omelet, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and hot tea
Thought fragment: Riding a bicycle out of the silent, inky blackness of the of the sleeping city to visit Angkor at sunrise was probably just as rewarding at Angkor itself.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Subscribe to Wanderlust – A Story of Movement and Adventure via email or with your favorite feed reader by using the menu at the top right of this screen

What do you think of my latest undertakings? Leave your questions and comments below!