Seven days in Indonesia

Beautiful Indonesia

Two months. Eight countries. Nineteen airports.

Time has flown by, I can’t believe that my wife and I are now wrapping up our Asia travels. We’re flying home to San Francisco for a one-week respite and wedding, and then will ship off to Europe for three months.

We capped off our Asia travel in style, spending a week in Indonesia — most of that time in Bali.

Indonesia is so freaking huge. It’s got 240 million people and a gazillion islands, each featuring very unique sets of people and cultures. My wife and I have only seen a tiny speck of the country but we loved what we did see. We’ve vowed to come back later to do a dedicated Indonesian trip where we can take in some more islands.

You gotta visit Indonesia. This place is so freakin’ cool. Here are a few highlights from our trip.

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Three days in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur City Scape

Time is flying and my wife and I are now towards the home stretch of our Asia tour. We intended to finish our Asia travel in Indonesia, but just to mix things up we took a three-day detour to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for an extended layover.

I did not expect Kuala Lumpur (or “KL” as everyone here calls it) to be so modern and developed. It reminded me a lot of Seoul. What’s more, the residents here are really interesting: it’s a predominantly Islamic society, but given the fact that the city is one of the major economic centers of Southeast Asia, many Westerners also live here. Everyone speaks English, and really well too.

The food is great (fantastic melting pot of Malay, Indian, and Western) and the city is nice, but there was something missing for me about this place. To me, KL just felt like another big city and I started to feel bored quickly.

I’ll keep this update brief. Here are some quick highlights from our KL trip.

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Three days in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat Sunrise

I’m not a morning person, but this is worth waking up at 4:00 AM.

Westerners don’t often think about Cambodia as a must-see tourist destination. That’s really unfortunate.

My wife and I just spent the last three days in Siem Reap, Cambodia, which was our staging area to visit Angkor Wat along with many other temples in the region. The experience was perfect: few tourists, amazing amazing amazing temples, and a unique and friendly culture.

Go now. See this country the way it’s meant to be seen before it’s too late. The country is still unspoiled, but who knows what it will be like in another 5-10 years.

Here are some highlights from Cambodia.

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2.5 weeks in Vietnam

Good morning Vietnam!

Vietnam made us nervous.

Not because my wife and I thought we would be in danger or anything, but this was the first trip we ever took where we didn’t plan anything in advance, other than the plane tickets to enter and exit the country. As novice travelers, the prospect of a blank itinerary was a bit nerve wracking.

It turns out that we had nothing to worry about; moreover, I’m now convinced that traveling without an itinerary is actually the best way to travel.

Vietnam is the perfect country to visit without any plans. As a Western tourist, you can get by very comfortably here: decent hotels can be found for under $20 USD/night; meals are normally under $5 USD; transportation is cheap-ish (less than $100 per in-country flight); and Vietnamese people are quite friendly and helpful. We had no problems booking transportation and accommodations on the fly, mostly through the smart phone we brought along. We thought that last-minute planning would stress us out, but it actually allowed us to feel more freedom.

The two-and-a-half weeks we spent in Vietnam went by in snap. We started in Hanoi in the North and slowly made our way down to Saigon in the South. My wife and I saw some amazing stuff along the way.

Here are the highlights of our Vietnam trip.

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How Chris Dixon helped me handle Fear

Thanks dude!

Thanks Chris!

Oh shit.

That’s all I could blurt out. I was at the ATM staring at my Chase business checking account balance and the number staring back at me was $500.

Oh shit.

An $8,000 bill that my business owed was scheduled to post tomorrow. Earlier in the day, I hounded a client about a slightly late payment they owed for a big marketing campaign. The VP I spoke to curtly assured me that the payment would arrive the next day.

Oh shit.

Running through the logistics in my head, the mailman arrived at my office every day around 3:00 PM. That gave me about two hours to collect the client check (assuming that it indeed would arrive) and deposit it in the bank. If the $8,000 bill posted at the end of the day, I’d be okay. If it posted earlier, then I’d now have to deal with a bounced check, which was sure to create headaches for the line of credit I had applied for at Chase…

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On Taiwan and Food Porn

Yes, I’m afraid that these are my awesome friends. And they are photographing an ice cream burrito.

Yes, I’m afraid that these are my awesome friends. And they are photographing an ice cream burrito.

Food Porn (noun). Definition: Gratuitous images of delicious food that make foodies swoon.

I hate this term, but I hear it all the time because all my friends are foodies. My Facebook news feed is a complete disaster, where I hardly see actual pictures of my friends any more but instead high-depth photos of what they are eating (and increasingly, baby pics — urgh).

To make matters worse, I am guilty of being a food pornographer myself. I can’t resist sharing a good steak picture whenever the opportunity presents itself.

I didn’t have any specific expectations of Taiwan before spending a week here with my wife and several awesome friends. I was pleased to discover that the country is really beautiful, with incredible natural geography, hot springs, and villages. Taiwanese people are also really nice, which was a pleasant contrast to the somewhat cold treatment I felt in mainland China.

But the food in Taiwan—holy crap, it’s good. And cheap. And good. For less than $5 USD, you can eat like a king in this country.

I’m going to do something now that I never expected to do on this blog, which is dedicate an entire post just to food.

If you’re a food lover with wanderlust, I highly recommend taking a trip to Taiwan. We were here for a week, but we could have easily stayed longer.

Here are some highlights from our grand Taiwan food tour.

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Four days in China

Jade master carver showing off his sweet jade ball.

Jade master carver showing off his sweet jade ball.

China is weird. I can’t decide whether it’s a developing country or years ahead of the first world.

My wife and I didn’t spend too much time in China, we only got to visit two cities: Beijing and Shanghai. Both cities are so different that they could be separate nations.

Overall, I didn’t really enjoy China, but I do think that it’s a must-visit place. The nation offers a glimpse of a past history/culture that is incredibly rich, as well as a preview of what the future will look like for human civilization moving forward.

Here are a few highlights from China.

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Four days in Korea

“Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got…” (says this baby Buddha from a temple in Daewon)

“Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got…” (says this baby Buddha from a temple in Daewon)

After an awesome week in Japan with friends, my wife and I hopped over to Korea to visit family. Most of our extended family lives in Korea today and it just so happened that the timing of our visit coincided with my wife’s grandmother’s 90th birthday.

Even with all the family stuff we were able to sneak in some quality sightseeing. We spent most our time in the southern part of the Korean peninsula, particularly Kwangju where my wife’s family lives.

Here are some highlights from Korea.

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Seven days in Japan

A picture of Mount Fuji, taken at about 81 mph. Very symmetrical, how Japanese!

A picture of Mount Fuji, taken at about 81 mph. Very symmetrical, how Japanese!

Anthony Bourdain said it best: “Japan. Any excuse to visit will suffice.”

The first time I visited Japan was 2009. This was the first country that I’ve visited where I could see myself leaving the US to immerse myself in a new culture for several years.

The food. The geography. The people. The visitor to Japan will find all of these things utterly wonderful and bizarre.

After a fun few days in the Arctic Circle, my wife and I crossed the Pacific Ocean to kick off our 2.5 month Asia trip, starting with a week in Japan with some of our closest friends. We focused on traveling the Southern half of Japan, visiting many cool spots between Tokyo and Kagoshima.

Below are some of the highlights of our Japan trip.

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Calculating when you can say: F-You

Money buys freedom. Yet most people don’t know how much their freedom actually costs.

My favorite personal finance concept is F-You Money, which is the amount of money required for a person to achieve full financial independence. That is, for said person to choose to start a business around a passion, choose to work in a cube, or simply choose to sit on her couch for the rest of her life.

F-You money varies greatly depending on the individual. This article teaches you how to calculate the exact amount of wealth you need to buy your freedom.

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