Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Padar Island


We didn’t think the kids would be able to make it, but we all made it to the summit of Padar Island, even Ayla. Padar is an island in Komodo National Park that is famous for hiking. It was beautiful.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Flying Fox Migration

 In Komodo national park, every night, there is a migration of thousands of flying foxes. It is quite the spectacle.

South Bali


The cliffs of Ulu Watu

Tanah Lot


Tanah Lot is one of the holiest temples in Bali. A sea temple allegedly surrounded by ancient snakes, it is steeped in lore. On our visit, the rains came down and it gave the complex a foreboding feel that seemed most appropriate. The surf pounded the temple with loud splashes shooting 10’s of feet in the air. It was amazing.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Kecak Dance


The Kecak dance is a Balinese dance that was originally a trance ritual and in the 1930’s became a sort of musical play about the Ramanya. It is a rhythmic dance and watching it on the cliffs of Ulu Watu is not to be missed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Singapore Slang


We started in Bangkok, made our way to Cambodia, and had two days to rest in Singapore at the Marina Bay Sands before heading to Bali, Flores, and Komodo to see the dragons. Singapore is a great place to recharge and provision. It has everything you need. The economic miracle of Singapore is one of my favorite stories, and what LKY achieved on these muddy banks of the malacca straight is my favorite exercise in country building - we may never see something as profound from an economic dev standpoint again. That’s why I love Singapore. 

You can taste the melting pot in its dishes - Chinese, South Asian, Malay, Cantonese, Indonesian - and the list goes on. It is my third favorite place to eat behind Hong Kong and Tokyo. Singapore is becoming almost intolerably nice - most of its grit has been sheared by economic progress and scarcity of land in the defacto capital of Southeast Asia.

Singapore used to be a collection of villages, and only one remains - Kampong Lorong Buangkok.

I love what Singapore represents a sort of cultural compromise and the most precise and nimble form of government - the city state. 

It was a great place for us to provision and rest up for Indonesia. Marina Bay Sands has a great pool and shopping, but it was one of the most disappointing hotels I have ever stayed at - stick with the MO or Raffles. It is not bad per se, but it deserves to be much better and felt cheap and impersonal.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat is one of the best places on the planet. I have visited around 120 countries and seen a lot of beauty, but Angkor is just the right blend of magic and reality and vibes. It is the perfect temple complex, and I love it so much. 

Exploring Cambodia


As recently as 1980, Cambodia had no monetary system. The reign of Pol Pot removed a generation and created a fractured society filled with people who have big hearts and smiles. Many live exceptionally simple lives in the countryside, and it is fascinating to travel and view life from this perspective.

Night Market


12 years ago we visited the Siem Reap night market for the first time. It was a place where you could buy weird animals, get your ear’s cleaned, have fish gnaw at your feet, change Kyat to Riel, buy t shirts, and get a Khmer massage. It felt like the center of the evening universe before the crowds dispersed and hit pub street.

We were thankful to see the night market alive and well, though gone were some of the weirder offerings. In 2022, it has a more wholesome, less Mos Eisley Cantina, vibe. The kids bought necklaces and elephant dolls, and we rode home in the rain.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Kompong Phluk


We visited one of the lake communities on Tonle Sap and it really blew the kids away to see how people live interesting lives on the water.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

A return to Cambodia


How long has it been old friend? Over 10 years? When Kristin and I first set foot in Cambodia we were in love. The temples, night markets, red dirt, adventurous countryside romps - it pulled us in. We visited twice in two years, and it is a delight to return 12 years later to see our old friend. 

Most importantly, it has been incredible sharing it with our children. Exploring temple ruins with Harper and Ronan was an absolute delight and a perfect adventure.

Friday, July 8, 2022

River Life in Bangkok


Before being connected by phones and laptops, connections took place mostly in the physical realm. The town square, the market, roads, and of course, rivers are an ancient way to connect with others. In Bangkok, the river still carries this function. Today we loaded up in a long tail boat and explored some lesser known estuaries of the Chao Phraya river.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok

A long journey elevates the destination in a way that can make any hotel room feel like a special sanctuary. Arriving at a destination and having a respite from planes and airports and jet lag gives the arrival location a home-like quality that is hard to explain.

I remember every room I have stayed in after a long trip with fondness. They have ranged from desperate backpacker hostels in Vietnam to grand hotels in Europe. Lately, I make a special effort to nail the the arrival and arrival room. 

Last night we landed, bleary eyed and bloated like gila monsters, at Suvarnabhumi Airport. It was around midnight and it felt much much later. The airport buzzed a light tired hum and armed members of the military shifted around in drab olive military fatigues watching passengers shuffle through customs. More than yesterday, less than 2019.

Much of Asia has been shut down since Spring 2020, with holdouts like China and Japan still erecting plenty of barriers for travelers, many too high to pass. Thailand recently opened up its borders completely and as a piece d’resistance, legalized marijuana. It was sudden and a rare move for an Asian country. That’s where we are at.

Made it

The most fundamentally important aspect of a long travel day is the focus it provides. We flew from Louisville to Dallas to Tokyo to Bangkok. Door to door, it took about 32 hours. That means for 32 hours, our family shared a single goal - get to Bangkok. It is important to focus and break down ideas into singular goals - when you do that and add up all the goals, big and small, the potential emerges to build and change the world.

I love travel days. You arrive as a different person than when you left. They are painful and filled with introspection and opportunities to think. It is an opportunity to center yourself, take stock, read, write, and plan. Since our first long trip from SF to Hong Kong in 2009, I have revered the long journey with a sort of spiritual relevance that doesn’t exist in our day to day lives. I have visited Asia again and again, and again and again, the trip centers me in an amazing way. 

Six of us traveled from Louisville to Bangkok. Kristin and I along with our three children and nanny Chelsea. We had no material delays, and aside from our daughter Harper throwing up a few times on the long flight - it was uneventful. We rested and ate and considered the manifestation of the trip - which required the energy of all trips and conquests that have come before it. When I first started traveling, I felt lucky. Now I am grateful.

Monday, July 4, 2022

The trip never ended

It felt like a war, but it wasn't. It seemed to last forever, but it didn't. As the years went on, our path around the world continued to carve deeper grooves into softer and softer dirt. I abandoned the words but never the travel. It grew more intense. From the silk road to the edge of the Pacific, we never stopped. 50 countries turned into 100, and now I chase something else entirely.

When it all started, I traveled - - and I asked the world to change me - that was the only goal. It was pretty selfish in hindsight. Formal education and stacks of books didn't gift me the perspective I imagined I needed or deserved, so I left. Travel delivered, and when my dreams began to come true I knew why. The world gave me this life.  But. It always seemed to be a quid pro quo. When the time came, I would have to return the favor the world gave to me. 

So we start again.