The Iditarod Life

I am writing to you from Sinouk Cafe, and let me tell you it is not as good as Common Grounds. So if you find yourself in Vientiane, Laos, you are welcome to try out both places, but I think you’ll find Common Grounds to be the best cafe in the city, both in quality and bang-for-your-buck. Jo is sitting across from me looking up information on teaching English in Vietnam, as that is our next move. I have a real good feeling about it! Not so long ago…I quit drinking alcohol, and I told myself it would be worth it because if I didn’t drink I would certainly find success. So far, that has not come to fruition (I know what I like, and numbness is one of those things). Sure, I am able to travel and explore the world, which I undoubtedly couldn’t have done as a drunkard, but you know what I really want? Money. I want money af. So I am going to keep doing what I am doing, and part of what I am doing will now have been teaching English.

The goal, at least my goal, is to stay in Vietnam for a year. One year will do. I don’t need more, and I hope to not give up settling on less. Afterwards the plan…well it cannot be predicted. Life after one year in Vietnam would never be the same. and if I complete my free online coding camp? Well shit. I actually think I’ll be happy! I am happy right now, don’t get me wrong. Traveling with Jo, exploring the Earth, drinking coffee and writing. These are what separates the current model from the defunct Chris. but to have a career? That’s a different Chris entirely. I’m not going to end up dead or in jail, mom. I think I might actually do something with my life. I am pretty excited to start! First, I need to take a year and prepare the reins, otherwise I’ll end up cold and alone in this Iditarod . Can’t have that.

Chris.

 

UPDATE: Literally just as I finished editing the above, Jo leaned over and told me to get a work permit in Vietnam requires a college degree. Fuck. So…we shall see. If I can’t get work in Vietnam that is going to be quite disheartening, and I have a plan B to go back to the states and work at a restaurant while I teach myself coding. Obviously though, I think I would find more success if I stuck to the original plan. Either way, we just bought 3 month visas to Vietnam yesterday, which we pick up in a week, so we’re going.

* * *

A Note from the future:
You can now support my work directly using Patreon or Venmo!
After writing for over three years, I have confidence my hardwork is showing through,
and so I have no shame is giving my readers an option support my work.
Thanks in advance!

It’s short, but she still likes it!

I didn’t have a great morning yesterday, and I dare say today feels like it could start the same way. Bu Hao! I cannot accept this. First of all, I love the morning. It is by far my favorite thing to wake up early, and get straight to writing, or walking, maybe listening to music…I just enjoy the morning time. So when I am having a bad morning, or string of mornings, it really puts a damper on my overall mood. I just fucks things up. I get real picky about certain things, and it just gets worse from there. I’ve found that giving up my main ideas and goals for the day is the only hope. I began yesterday by looking for work,  but soon began to feel overwhelmed and frustrated, and I knew there was no sense in carrying on. Any letters one might send out while they are angry with the world, well, that shits gonna sound angry! So Jo and I just went for a walk and then ate some food, which took nearly two hours to receive.

It was kind of a trip that it took two hours for the food to be received, because we were a little stoned and time was passing abnormally for me. I had always been told that food took a long time in Laos when you ordered it, but that was by far the most extreme experience I have discovered on the matter. It wasn’t until Jo pointed out we had been walking to the restaurant at 13:05, and when she told me that it was 14:45 and we still didn’t have our food. It was a crazy time. I didn’t even order because I wasn’t hungry yet, but by the time the food arrived I could have eaten. Oh well. That was yesterday, and this is today. In the end it worked out because we went out to eat for dinner and I was quite hungry then. I suppose it is the case, that I might eat because I am bored sometimes, and that is not a good habit to get into.

In between the two meals we ate, something unusual happened. It was a planned thing, but it was still unusual. Are you ready? I cut off all my hair. Shits gone. I had a lot of hair, and now I have a little bit of hair. I did this for several reasons, but the main contender of reasons is that I have wickedly bad dandruff, and I am hoping the sun will help to cure my scaly head. I didn’t get to experience any sun yesterday after we cut the hair, but today I am gonna burn the shit outta that mother fucker. It’s gonna be great.

Anyway, I am currently sitting on the porch of my guesthouse, second floor, across the street from where I will have breakfast (it’s three buildings here at the Khamphone Guesthouse, and we are directly across from the main building). We paid an extra 10,000 LAK (Laos Kip) each to have breakfast included, and I will tell you: it’s totally worth it. He told me there would be rice…and there isn’t any rice, but that’s okay. There are eggs, bread, jam (jelly? I haven’t actually had it yet), soup…well anyway, it’s a decent spread for what we pay. If we didn’t eat here we would end up paying like 20,000 LAK per person to eat at a restaurant, so this deal is good. Saving like 2 or 3 bucks each day this way. Right now there is a plethora of Chinese tourists here, presumably for the Chinese New Year, and the guy who runs the guesthouse tells us that it is busier than usual. That’s cool though, we were ready before we even arrived. China is buying a lot of property in Laos…just a honorable mention. I guess that doesn’t strike me as surprising though. China is the future.

Well…the time is 15:34 in San Francisco, and I know only that because my computer never changed times when I started traveling. It’s not like my phone that changes as I go (which is dead). But morning is upon us here in Laos, so I am going to close the word doc, open up the internet and surf the news for a bit, then I am going to eat breakfast. Eventually Jo will wake up, and then we are going to go for a morning swim in a local lagoon. Should be a good time! Peace for now.

Chris

* * *

A Note from the future:
You can now support my work directly using Patreon or Venmo!
After writing for over three years, I have confidence my hardwork is showing through,
and so I have no shame is giving my readers an option support my work.
Thanks in advance!

Coffee Inn, in Vang Vieng. Plus Andy.

I am writing to you from Luang Prabang Bakery…in Vang Vieng. It doesn’t do that name justice! The coffee in Luang Prabang was quality. Okay, so it wasn’t quality everywhere…or even most places, but I spent a lot of time at Saffron Coffee and the coffee was just incredible. They do all the basics (Cappuccino, Americano, Latte…), but you can also order a French Press, or even a siphon made cup-a-joe! There’s a great article about Lao Coffee here. It is fairly surprising to me, but NesCafe is available everywhere here. I mean it’s literally on the menu board behind me right now, and it costs like $1.20 or something. I find it insulting that anyone would serve that stuff, but you can’t deny people when they find a good way to get to that money.

Recently I have been in contact with the owner of travelsizedrobot.com, which is just another travel blog, and in fact that’s why I reached out to him in the first place, because us travel bloggers should be united! I am not very good at making my page get to the top of Google, but I am good at making connections. I am not very good at monetizing…even with the connections, but that will change. If you write it, they will read; that’s what I believe. So anyway, I emailed him, and he emailed me back, just chatting about travel and whatnot. He has been a digital nomad for seven years, and if you are looking to get into that lifestyle I suggest you visit his blog here.

Jo is sitting across from me on her computer, and the restaurant is filling up. She just showed me her lesson plan for tonight. She is working with a gentleman from Tunisia on his pronunciation. He put an advertisement up on freelancer.com, and when Jo responded Jo got the job. It’s working out quite nice. She hasn’t gotten paid yet, but she’s only worked with the guy one time. He wants to do public speaking in America. More power to him. Today they are going to read a Robert Frost poem and work more on the general rules of phonetics. She has a Lao Coffee, which…really seems like it’s just instant coffee. Kind of a rip off, but we could be wrong! We could be wrong. Maybe Lao coffee just has that flavor to it. It does taste just like this other place I ordered Lao coffee, and I thought it was instant coffee there as well. But we had a pretty good Lao Coffee in Pak Bang, so I just don’t know!

Well, we are going to move on from this cafe and go to a different one in search of better coffee. Sounds like we are going to head to Cafe Eh Eh (spoiler alert! we didn’t), which we tried to go to yesterday, but it was closed at like 11 AM for some reason. When I get there I will finish this article, edit, and post the badboy. Lets hop to it! The time is 09:42 here in Vang Vieng, and the date is February 8th…big day tomorrow, because I am going to cut all my hair off it. and now that I’ve written it I really gotta follow through.

Alright, now we’re talking! I am writing to you from a place called Coffee Inn, right around the corner and down the street, and this place so far is superior in every aspect. First of all, the atmosphere is more geared for the digital nomad revolution, as there are outlets available, the coffee is reasonably priced, and the reviews pointed to a quality product. Jo is in the bathroom and they just delivered her Hot Americano to me…I am wondering if I should try it, but I will wait for her. Holy shit! Then my Hot Cappuccino showed up, and it looks out.of.this.world. It also smells as such, since who doesn’t like cinnamon. Yeah, this is defiantly the spot if you are in Vang Vieng.

Jo has pointed out that many of the places here in South East Asia seemed to be geared toward one ethnicity or another, and it is very true! At this shop, everything is written in Korean, and there seems to be…only Korean people here. The guesthouse we’re staying at seems to cater mostly to the Chinese. We stayed at this place in Chiang Mai called the Dutch Guesthouse, and there was almost strictly Dutch people there. Not strange, but different. This place has had the best prices of anywhere I have been. The Koreans and the Americans get along very well, and I am glad to give these folks my business. There is more than one reason I feel welcome at this coffee shop, and I will probably spend more time here while I am in Vang Vieng.

So I am taking this online class on web design and computer programming from App Academy. It’s a free class, which for some people is going to be the most important thing (myself included). I was certainly not ready to invest any money into a programming class, because honestly it might not be for me! But I am dying to add a new skill to me repertoire, and I’ve come to realize that pretty much any skill will mesh well with my ability to write. Programming seems to be the obvious choice. First, I have a lot of support in the realm of advancing my computer knowledge. I was introduced to the free class from App Academy by my friend Andy. I lived with Andy at the Green Tortoise Hostel, where he stayed for four months while he completed the in-person App Academy class. Let me tell you the story of Andy.

When Andy first arrived, I didn’t pay any significant mind to him because, well, I worked at the hostel and I only knew him as an individual I would see in the morning and at night, so I figured he was just there on business. As time went on I got to know of him, and I took to talking to him because Jo told me why he was staying at the hostel. He wasn’t there on business, he was there for the purposes of education. Andy went to university in Michigan (where he is from), and he studied science (I could be more specific, but I’m not writing his biography today, I am just trying to get a point across that he is a hard worker and interesting individual. Plus I don’t remember exactly what he studied). He graduated, and I am unsure if he worked in his field or not, but eventually he took to traveling. He spent some time in New Zealand where, if I remember correctly he met a Digital Nomad that was able to maintain his lifestyle by monetizing his computer programming skills. So then Andy took some free classes online and discovered he enjoyed programming. Fast forward a couple of months, and Andy is back in Michigan saving his money while working as a bartender (bartenders can make good money, if you’re savvy). He saves enough money to afford a $17,000 class from App Academy, which is a four month class, as well as the amount required to stay at the Green Tortoise for the four months the class takes place. Wow. Fucking WOW. Am I right?

Would you invest…let’s call it $25,000, in yourself? First, let’s cover a few bases. One: Andy had already completed a four-year degree from an accredited University. One thing I have learned about college as I have gotten older is that it’s less about what you study, and more about proving (to yourself, as well as your future employers) that you can complete a four year degree. College is hard. Most people can’t do it, and that’s all the more reason to complete a college degree! You gotta show you can fucking do that shit! Show that you can complete that four-year task! So Andy was already an individual who knew he could complete a college degree. I have not completed a college degree, and so I don’t think it would be wise for me to jump into a $25,000 investment in myself. If I found out I couldn’t keep up with the workload, I would lose out on a lot of money.

So Andy has his money, and he moves to San Francisco and he starts his schooling. Several months later I would start talking to him and become friends with him, not only because he is an interesting dude but also because we are from the same part of the country and subsequently share a lot of the same values. I saw him working hard, and it was obvious to anyone looking from the outside that he would succeed (although at the end he was almost out of money! Another success story that occurred on the edge of destitution). Boy oh boy, did he ever find the success he was looking for! At the end of his course at App Academy the company actually asked him if he would enjoy being an instructor of the class which he hadn’t even finished. He said yes, and the rest is history. He soon found his $25,000 investment to pay for itself, and he now lives in Oakland and is able to afford to travel and he is living his best life. Andy is in his early 30’s, if I am correct, but he looks a little younger than he is. You’re looking for some inspiration? Andy is your man.

When I was interested in learning about how to improve my coding skills (not that I have any to start) so I could have better control over my blog, Andy was the guy I turned to. I messaged him on Facebook and asked him if he could recommend any free programs for improving my use of the Java coding language (I just picked a language that I thought I needed to know, and that’s how I phrased the question). He told me about a couple resources, but the one that stood out to me was: The company he works for, App Academy, just began offering a free class on coding. The same class he took for $17,000 is now available online for free!  He told me all four months of material is there, for free, and so you know what? I took the dive! I am not very far into the class, but I am enjoying it. I am at the point where I desire to continue my learning outside the class. Perhaps getting some books to read that will strengthen my chances of success with the free class.

Okay…that’s what I have for you today. The time is 11:04 AM, and Jo and I are going to go explore the city. It gets quite hot in the middle of the day out here in South East Asia, and we should really be exploring in the morning and working on our computers in the afternoon, but our minds just gravitate toward working in the mornings, and that’s how things have been going. Tomorrow I am going to apply for some more gig’s online having to do with freelance writing, and I am going to continue to take the free coding class. App Academy suggests it will take 12 to 16 months to complete the free online course, and so I am giving myself 2 years to really learn coding using this free tool. But if I could be making even 30k to 50k freelancing after I finish the class, plus having the control over my website I desire, I will be very happy. I am not on track to have a career by 30, but if I could code everything would be different. I look forward to writing more about this endeavor, and I hope as I progress you will see the results come through on this blog and website. I will talk to you all soon!

Chris

* * *

A Note from the future:
You can now support my work directly using Patreon or Venmo!
After writing for over three years, I have confidence my hardwork is showing through,
and so I have no shame is giving my readers an option support my work.
Thanks in advance!

Coffee in Luang Prabang, written from Mekong Coffee House.

I am in Laos, and I am feeling pessimistic today. I ordered a cappuccino and the thing is practically all milk. You know, I wouldn’t know the difference between a good Cap and a bad Cap before I left America, but now I feel like I can certainly make the identification. So here’s the rundown for Luang Prabang: Saffron Coffee has the best cappuccino, and probably the best coffee as well. Also, a lot of the proceeds go back to the coffee farmers, which is nice. I read online that Mekong Coffee has good WiFi, and so I came here to stream the Superbowl as it is February 3rd, but my stupid VPN isn’t able to trick CBS and so they won’t let me stream the game because I’m outside of the United States. Fuck You, CBS. Anyway…this Cappuccino sucks. I ordered the large…and maybe they just take a small Cap and add double the milk in this part of the world? I mean if I order a large, shouldn’t two shots just be a given? Seems pretty much like a trick in my eyes, but I’m starting to see what’s going on.

Mini House (which is a restaurant on the main-drag) doesn’t even have real coffee, they just give you NesCafe. It’s amazing how often you can order coffee at a restaurant and get NesCafe out here, and by amazing I mean despicable. The first cafe I went to in the city was Dao Coffee, and so far it’s actually my favorite shop. It’s not as busy as Saffron, and it’s got quality goods. Plus the WiFi works well enough for all the tasks I have tried. Man…I’m literally sitting here drinking warm milk. It’s actually pretty gross when you want the bitter taste of coffee in your mouth. What else could I tell you about…Oh! The best omelet with rice (my favorite breakfast) can be found at this place called ‘Lao Coffee,’ if you search on Google Maps, and they only sell rice after 10 AM. I am not so sure I would order their coffee…it doesn’t appear to be a coffee shop, and in fact when I saw the sign in the building for Lao Coffee I took it to be a retired signage. I would venture to guess that they serve NesCafe there. So, anyway, that’s what I have for you.

Chris

P.S. The music at this place sucks a double dick too. This guy is just playing dance hits…and its 08:15 in the morning. Maybe you’re into that. You can read my review on Google Maps HERE under the 2 stars category.

* * *

A Note from the future:
You can now support my work directly using Patreon or Venmo!
After writing for over three years, I have confidence my hardwork is showing through,
and so I have no shame is giving my readers an option support my work.
Thanks in advance!

Slow Boat To Luang Prabang

The date is January 31st, and I am in the middle of a two day journey. I am writing to you from a slow boat in Laos, upon which I travel from Pak Beng to Luang Prabang. It is mildly cold this morning, evidenced to any on looker by the droves of tourist-passengers asking to dig their bags up from the floor so they can retrieve their cloaks.  Jo and I are fairly prepared with our coat and sweatshirt, respectively. When I left Chicago on November 29th I was wearing

From The Bakery Window

two sweatshirts. When I arrived in India I gifted one of the Carhartt sweatshirts away (the less worn, yet less sentimental one) to the host of my first Air B&B. He seemed grateful, as he later sent me an email with him wearing the hoodie. In the picture he had the hood up like a real gangsta (r.i.p. Treyvon, who was not a gangster). Anyway, take note, if you are taking the Slow Boat in Laos (it’s a tourist attraction nowadays), don’t go without dressing warm on day number two.

I have Kanye West in my ears, and as I have stated before I don’t usually write while listening to music, but I guess that is a changing thing. It’s on shuffle, so let’s see what comes next. It was Schoolboy Q, then SHXDE, then Soulja Boy…I settled on Kiss Me Thru The Phone, lol. It’s early, but still a practical piece of music to bump on a relaxing riverboat through the center of Laos, right? Sorry Josh, I didn’t mean to skip you in favor of some shit tunes this time, but I do have you on my playlist bro, and I try to spread the word.

We left our accommodation this morning, which is named Donevilasuk Guest House, and went to get breakfast at

The Dock

the only place in town that has an espresso machine (I read that piece of information online at Travelfish.org, which has provided me an abundance of information to get around Laos with confidence). The place with the espresso machine is called Monesavan Bakery. Jo and I both ordered the same thing, an egg and cheese bagel with some coffee. Jo got Lao coffee, and I got Cappuccino. Breakfast was very good, and the price wasn’t bad either. In addition to

Look! Fog!

breakfast, we ordered five sandwiches from the same bakery so we could eat on the boat.  Pleased with the bakery’s service and quality, we proceeded to the dock to claim our seats for the remainder of the slow boat trip.

Two Boats! Woo! We had read online that, in the past, they had crammed all the tourists onto a single boat the second day. I was very glad to find we would not be in that same predicament, especially since we fill both boats with ease, all 180 of us passengers. Jo and I got on to the boat with less chairs and settled ourselves into a front row seat. I then left to gather snacks from the village while Jo stayed behind to watch the stuff (we did it the other way around yesterday). I spent 62,000 Kip buying snacks, and 85,000 Kip is $10, so I spent less than $10. When I returned to the boat I found Jo to be seated among the locals, as they took the front seats, and all the tourists sat near the back. Cool! I am happy. The tourists forever invite me to share a beer, but as we know, I don’t drink. I used to drink. Now I only smoke. Anyway. So now we are on the boat, and about 40 minutes into our journey while I have Big L and Jay Z with their seven minute freestyle bumping in my ears, and I am going to leave it here and continue to enjoy the musica and the vistas. Peace! Until later.

Chris

* * *

A Note from the future:
You can now support my work directly using Patreon or Venmo!
After writing for over three years, I have confidence my hardwork is showing through,
and so I have no shame is giving my readers an option support my work.
Thanks in advance!

White Temple; PART ONE!

Yesterday I visited The White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Let me tell you about the most mystifying temple I have been to, and more than likely the most interesting temple in Thailand. In the late 20th century The White Temple was known as Wat Rong Khun, and it was decaying. A man named Chalermchai Kositpipat bought the property; an artist. A magnificent artist bought the property and has been using his own money to fund a renovation and expansion to the Wat. You can read the Wikipedia page here.

Jo and I arrived at the bus five minutes before it was supposed to leave, only to find out that there was no planed departure for 35 minutes. Okay, so we missed the bus. This did provide a great opportunity for me to buy sunglasses however. I have been putting off the purchasing of sunglasses for almost two whole months, but yesterday (1/28/19) I finally got the task done! I bought grey shades from a place called MINISO. I had visited the store with Jo the day previous, where I took a couple selfies with the Pink Panther (officially licensed) goods, played with the amazing

Wat Rong Khun

plush toys, and gawked at the price of silverware. When I mentioned to Jo that I wanted to look at sunglasses at the store, I was practically kidding; I thought prices would be through the roof! I was wrong. For only 200 Baht ($6.34) I am now sporting a pair of polarized beauties!

Sunglasses perched upon my bridge, we took back to the bus. This time the bus is full, and we are lucky to get the last two seats still available next to each other. In time, several more people would enter the bus, and I would give two different seats away, two different times. When the bus finally departed I settled onto a fold down seat next to the open door, also located close to Jo and this nice French lady we met. It was strange actually, because we had met this lady already on the van ride from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, but we didn’t much talk to her. This time we chatted with her a bit. She’s from Paris, and mostly speaks French. This is okay, because Jo can also speak a little bit of French. After speaking with the lady for the length of the bus ride, we had a new friend! Perhaps we will see her one day in the great city of Paris.

Hands Up For ART!

Wow, I am barely into the story here! Okay, so we arrive at the temple. It’s bright af. Like, seriously. Most of the temple has these tiny mirrors on it, and the thing is all white. This building is super bright. We buy our tickets for 50 baht each, and we enter. From a distance the temple looks ornate and beautiful. I took some obligatory photographs which turned out quite well. Then we headed for the bridge which leads to the main building. The temple is still being built and isn’t scheduled to be finished until 2070. Eventually there will be nine buildings. Holy shit you guys, I did NOT expect what I found. Underneath the bridge leading to the main attraction there are hundreds of hands reaching up from an unknown abyss. Fire, perhaps? The sight was grueling, and of course I immediately knew I was getting into a memorable adventure.

Part One: FIN!

Chris

* * *

A Note from the future:
You can now support my work directly using Patreon or Venmo!
After writing for over three years, I have confidence my hardwork is showing through,
and so I have no shame is giving my readers an option support my work.
Thanks in advance!