“Where’s your bag?” “This is my bag.” “No, your proper bag.” “This is my proper bag.” Confusing cab drivers is only one of the many perks of ultralight travel, which has saved me a lot of money, time and mental energy over the last year.
My broken jandals are dangling by a thread; one solitary scrap of medical tape holding them to my filthy and blackened feet. They’ve carried me for 150km, over ice and snow and scree, across the highest pass in the world. For every gauntlet the Himalayas has thrown down – insomnia, gastro, altitude headaches, frozen toes – they’ve provided a constant rubbery reassurance. Now it’s all falling apart at the seams…
The only thing more banal than rappers spitting rhymes about their new 50” plasma screen is smug hipsters who won’t shut up about the fact that they don’t even own a TV, man. I apologise in advance for the sanctimony you are about to receive. Like so many clichés, if you dig deep enough, there’s a lustrous pearl of truth nestled amongst the old shellfish guts. So, here goes: I haven’t ‘watched TV’, in the conventional sense, for about five years…
The first time I visited Thailand, I couldn’t get over how cheap Chiang Mai was. In my Day in the Life post, I guesstimated my monthly expenses might come in as low as ~US$500, and committed to tracking every last baht to find out the actual figure. Finally, the deed is done! After spending a cumulative six months in this city across three separate visits, I’ve crunched the numbers on all my spending. What follows is a full breakdown of costs across every category, including all the strategies I’ve used to save money.
As a small human being, I made fortnightly trips to the public library with a garbage sack slung over my shoulder. Not a tote, not a grocery bag; a big ol’ garbage sack. Short stories, novellas, comics, teen fiction, non-fiction – all of it disappeared into the sack’s insatiable maw.
Staying fit on the road is a challenge, especially when your entire life has to fit into a 22 litre day pack. While I stretch the carry-on limit pretty far, I suspect the cabin crew would object to me stuffing an Olympic barbell and a couple hundred kg of plates into the overhead lockers. Fortunately, I’ve found a way to cram an entire gymnasium into my pocket…
Star Wars fans come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they look like scruffy, twenty-something writers from a small island on the arse-end of the world. Other times they look like besuited, seventy-year-old billionaire fund managers from the American mid-west. David Booth is co-founder of Dimensional Fund Advisors, which manages about $445 billion of investor cash. I didn’t get to ask him to weigh in on the Han vs Greedo controversy, but our conversation was still among the most life-changing I’ve ever had.
The northern Thai city of Chiang Mai is becoming my home base in between adventures. It’s charming, it’s beautiful, and it’s cheap as chips. Here’s what a typical day might look like for me, including a daily cost breakdown to show how far western dollars stretch over here.
Goodreads just informed me I read 65 books this year. That’s miles away from my goal – which was to crack triple figures – but it’s still been a hell of a good year. About two thirds of the books I read were really good. From those, I’m skimming off the absolute crème de la crème to recommend to you.
Taking a big dreamy dump is the best way I can describe how it feels to get rid of your possessions. See also: Rasping the dead skin off your feet, taking a tactical chunder during a big night out, or achieving inbox zero. It’s the same sense of deep satisfaction. The deadweight is gone, leaving you feeling all shiny and streamlined. That’s why culling my entire life’s belongings down to the contents of a 22 litre day pack felt really fucking good.