We’ve been offline for a while. Did you miss us?
These past few months have been surreal, and they’ll perhaps go down as the highlight of all our travels.
We spent a week in April motorbiking from town to town across northern Thailand. We took cooking classes in Chiang Mai and Penang. We explored the bustling urban centers of Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. We enjoyed visits from our families and kicked back on the beaches of the Andaman Sea. We learned to scuba dive (!) and found ourselves face-to-face with a massive whale shark one morning – a moment I will absolutely never forget.
Our journey from Seattle to Ho Chi Minh City took all of 24 hours. We live in a pretty damn amazing world, don’t we? I watched three Best Picture nominees, ate a couple in-flight meals, jogged across Seoul Incheon Airport to make our tight connection, and woke up as we landed in Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s largest metro area and the country’s commercial and financial capital. Until 1976, it was known as Saigon, a name that’s still used colloquially in reference to the central districts of the city. Saigon isn’t at the top of every traveler’s must-see list for Southeast Asia, but it did happen to have the cheapest round-trip flights when we booked our travel a few months ago. Knowing we’d be spending the spring working our way all around the region, it wasn’t important to us where we started. Vietnam it was!
One of my best friends – we’ll call him Dylan – also happens to be one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. You’d recognize it in an instant if you met him. He’s intellectually curious, up-to-date on seemingly every current event, bitingly clever, and one of the funniest people I know.
Dylan and I met as coworkers at my first full-time job. He’s exactly the kind of person you’d want on your team. Not only is he one of the hardest workers, but his analytical skills are off-the-charts. Lob out any idea or question – whether it’s “Why doesn’t this restaurant take reservations?” or “What will happen if the individual health insurance mandate isn’t enforced?” – and he’ll probably have a page-long list of hypotheses and well thought-out analysis ready to discuss in minutes.
Somehow, the guy is even more qualified on paper. Dylan has five degrees, all of them from the kind of world-renowned academic institutions that would make even the most demanding helicopter parent proud. He’s worked for the most competitive employers. And did I mention that he’s personable and good-looking to boot?
Dylan is the kind of person who should have all the leverage in the world in finding the ideal job, right? I can’t think of an organization that wouldn’t get tremendous value out of hiring him.
Indeed, he currently works for the most highly-regarded company in his field. I would guess he’s earning at least $200k per year, plus a big annual bonus.
Yet when I asked Dylan how work was going in a recent conversation, I was disappointed by the answer.
“It’s kind of a grind,” he told me.
It’s not very often that I get so excited about a publicly-traded company that I start recommending it to all my friends, family, and readers, but I just couldn’t keep this latest portfolio addition to myself.
My latest buy is Vitiai. Many people haven’t even heard of it, but it’s been a really strong performer over the past few years, and I’m optimistic that it has many years (decades, even!) of growth ahead of it.
This is the fourth installment in our series in which we share our cost of living as we experiment with different FIRE adventures and travel to destinations around the world. Previously, we’ve shared our experiences with #vanlife (parts one and two) and backpacking in Eastern Europe.
We had a blast traveling Mexico for practically the entire month of February, visiting Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, and Mazatlán before our brief return to the dreary Pacific Northwest winter. Here’s the financial breakdown of our trip.