Ayutthaya

After spending some time in Bangkok we decided to start the journey up to Chiang Mai with a 6 hour stop in the old capital city of Ayutthaya. 650 years ago this was the seat of power for Siam. It lasted for about 400 years, and now much of the city is in ruins after an invading Burma army destroyed the city in 1767. It’s still an amazing place to explore and learn about its history.

We packed our huge bags, checked out of our hostel (Lub.D), and waited at a bus stop because neither of us had tried the city buses yet. After waiting for a good 25 minutes for a bus that was supposed to come every 11 minutes we hailed a taxi and asked to go to the train station. He said 100 baht; he capitulated after we both demanded the meter be turned on, and it ended up being only 45 baht. We bought our ticket to Ayutthaya in third class for 40 baht and then our sleeper car ticket to Chiang Mai for 796 baht (around $27). When we asked which train to get on the uniformed agent said car 1, 2, 3 as he pointed at each. We thought he meant 1, 2, OR 3, but what he actually meant was 1, 2, THEN 3. So after settling into our comfortable second-class seats and remarking what a good deal it was we were told that we had to move to third class which consisted of non-reclining seats that were nothing more than thinly covered pieces of wood. But it was only 40 baht for a two hour train ride…or roughly $1.30. I wish Europe’s trains were this affordable!

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5 Questions to Answer During My Southeast Asia Sabbatical

“The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one’s appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship.”

– Amelia Earhart

One of the things that we believe at work is the importance of designing one’s experiments properly: if experiments are designed properly then it’s impossible for them to fail. You always learn something and that is, after all, the point of an experiment. So what are some of the hypothesis that I’m looking to test by going through this sabbatical experiment?

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Southeast Asia Adventure

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
– St. Augustine

When I left for an 8 month work assignment in Palo Alto, California a good friend of mine suggested that I keep a journal in order to share the things I learned. It as a good idea, and I told him so…but I never did keep that journal. This time, though, I’m going to do my best to write at least weekly about my adventure in Southeast Asia!

Some of you may have heard me talking about it: I’m taking a four month sabbatical from work and heading to Asia. The reactions I get when I tell people this are interesting: they either fall into “That’s awesome!” or “How can you get four months off?”. As I reflect on the why and try to look back on the genesis of the idea it actually originally started because moving to Bangkok for work had come up as a possibility, and I had started talking with my manager about what it would look like if I moved there for another short-term project. The project ended up not getting legs…but the idea of moving to Bangkok had been planted in my mind.

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Life Lessons Learned from Hang Gliding

hangGlider

As you may or may not know, I’ve been taking hang gliding lessons for the past few months. Because my time in Northern California is quickly coming to a close and it will be much more difficult to learn how to hang glide back in Michigan, I took a half day vacation this past Tuesday and headed down to Milpitas; I had two of the very best (and longest) flights that I’ve had to date. I was at the top of the 50 ft training hill all morning and learned a ton about steering and pitch! Being in the air for 20-30 seconds gave me much more time to try new things and to get feedback.

I was with two other students and while they were flying and hauling the glider back up the hill,  I considered some of the many parallels between hang gliding and life in general.

It’s hard to recover from a bad launch: When you launch a hang glider you’ve captured a lot of energy. Ideally a pilot uses this energy to navigate and stay aloft for a while (my instructor doesn’t even take out his glider if he’s not going to stay up for at least an hour). When I have launched my glider when it wasn’t balanced I always end up taking much shorter flights because I have to spend a lot of my energy correcting the glider in the air vs. doing it correctly on the ground. In life and business, I’ve found that doing something successful on your first time out of the gate is really important. When I bought my first house I paid fair market value. I also didn’t have to do much to the property except move in and get some house mates. This positive experience is responsible for my continued interest because it did something far more valuable than making money: it built my confidence such that I believed that I could do it successfully. Now when I purchase a property, it’s almost always below market value and has a 5 or 6 figure rehab budget. This type of project would be terrible property to start one’s real estate investing career one. Thus far I’ve been training on a 330 sqft glider. I’ll work my way down to a 170 sqft one. In life it’s important to aim for a perfect launch and to do that you should set yourself up for success by starting with training wheels.

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