Dreams come true…if we persist!

Many years ago I was unemployed, not sure where my next meal was going to come from, and my rent was overdue. I walked into a Bento lunch place to spend half my net worth on a Yakisoba Wrap and decided to grab a book off their extensive bookshelf and read while awaiting my food. As I skimmed the shelf for a cover that looks interesting (we all judge books by their covers, let’s be honest), one stood out. It was a paperback in white with yellow and green lettering – “THINK AND GROW RICH” by Napoleon Hill. I chuckled to myself and out of sheer cynicism I grabbed it off the shelf and sat down for a read. Something was strange here, this seemingly gimmicky book with what I thought was a pretty corny title was actually making sense. The author had interviewed succesful people and boiled there experience down to a formula outlined in this book. I read the book and have in the years since shared many copies with friends over time. My plan was to have a net worth of $36 million dollars by age 36, and that I could then retire with a $1 million yearly allowance until the age of 72. At 72, who knows what the plan would be.

It didn’t happen.

Instead I struggled with personal problems, failed at a career in Real Estate, my fiance left me (and for good reasons), my parents bailed me out of foreclosure on my home several times and were tired of having a 30 year old son as a financial burden. The IRS sent me my tax bill for 3 years of evading taxes during my now failed Real Estate Career…$21,000.

Here’s the magic. The human mind attracts what is contained at the forefront of consciousness for the most time. I learned this in Napoleon Hill’s book. That’s why it’s titled “THINK and GROW RICH”. Not wish, not hope, not work.

As I approach my 40th birthday, I reflect back on my 20’s and 30’s. I am a full time student, learning how to be a freelance graphic designer. By the grace of a God beyond my comprehension and much help from my parents and friends, I have a home still. The past 2 years has been filled with travel to Colombia, Mexico, Bali, Thailand, and back to Colombia. I have met some remarkable people and seen things beyond imagination. All of my needs for food, clothing, and shelter are more than fulfilled. When work and school are done for the day, I have a higher purpose serving my fellows that exceeds any self interest benefits.  Having millions of dollars always seemed like it would solve all my problems, but now I define wealth differently. The principles I learned in Napoleon’s book have set standards for me in life and were the catalyst for immense changes in my outlook upon life. I have stumbled almost daily on my journey, but these  principles have helped open my mind and explore further inspirational books on career, finance, spirituality, and even wilderness survival.

None of this would be possible without “THINK and GROW RICH”. I highly recommend the book and you can get it here at my affiliate link. Thanks so much for reading and supporting my blog.

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Exploring Colombia like a Boss!!!

I no longer had a job, but I had a passport, 401k, and a final paycheck. I had heard from 2 friends that Colombia was amazing and the exchange rate meant a bum like me could have some fun for a couple weeks.

I booked a ticket for around $350 usd and was off.  $350 you ask. Yes, and I will reveal my secret only to members of the Land Sea Air Club! But more about that on my next post.  I decided to start in Bogota as this seemed like a logical choice to learn about Colombia’s people, cultural heritage, and history.  As an artist, I also wanted to check out the art scene in one of South America’s most Cosmopolitan Cities.

I booked a room at an Air B&B that was super cheap, or so I thought.  It was in Fontibon, and the hosts were amazing, helpful and awesome.  The location however was in an area for working class and retired locals and was so obscure for a tourist to be in that I actually had an Uber driver refuse to take me there without a long explanation that “YES! I AM STAYING IN FONTIBON!” He could not believe it. I recommend El Chapinero or Rosales.  Candalaria is great too if you want to be in the heart of it all.

The best shopping is in El Chapinero in my opinion and is also the home of one of the best Sushi restaurants I have ever been to.

The Candalaria is the center of Bogota in many ways and home to Simon Bolivar square pictured below.  The Museo De Oro is also there. You can find a shop for anything, gadgets, cutlery, gold and jewelry, etc. This area is home to my favorite restaurant in Bogota, San Just. It is a fusion of French Tapas and Colombian cuisine. To die for and very inexpensive considering the quality and preparation.  Candalaria also hosts my favorite Cultural experiences in Colombia – THE BOGOTA GRAFFITI TOUR!!!!!! Sounds like just looking at amazing street art like the featured image above, however, the hosts tell a greater story about the area, Colombia, and details which you will have to find out on the tour. ***As always, be smart.  I was advised many times to be careful walking around showing off valuables.  Colombia is full of great, honest, hard-working people. Please remember though – your smartphone or dslr’s value is enough to feed a modest family for a couple months. Don’t show off and be alert of when and where you display item’s of wealth like phones and cameras. ***20160201_164149

Another must see in Bogota is Monserrate. Near the University, it is best to get a lift to the aerial tram.  Atop the mountain is an amazing and very old monestary.  When I visited, there was a fire in the hills surrounding Bogota and smoke had drifted into the valley. This was unusual and disruptive to the local life and dangerous for breathing, but is very uncommon.

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We are headed here again soon and a new club member will be getting the experience of a lifetime.  For this trip, we will be visiting Medellin, Bogota, and Cartagena.  Also, with new equipment and a longer stay in 3 of Colombia’s great cities, we have a new backpack to keep our gear safe and useful. The backpack has a steel mesh within the layers of fabric to protect from slashing into the bag, an RFID safety pocket for credit cards and passports, and can also be locked to a pole with the slash resistant straps.  We picked the Hawaiian Blue colorway and got a huge discount.  Click on our affiliate link to get the best price on Amazon and support my blog please.

Stay tuned for more great adventures! And don’t forget to Travel Safe, Travel Smart!

Thanks for reading.

Expect the best, prepare for the worst.

The old adage “The best defense is a good offense” comes to mind.  I had booked a room too late in Bangkok to get my coveted private room at Sta Ying’s Hostel and ended up sharing a room.  Simultaneously, a gorgeous new friend insisted we hang out. Ying’s is my go to near the airport for first/last days in Bangkok due to the close proximity to the airport and Ying is one of my favorite people in Bangkok. Ok ok, we need to rewind…

My first night arriving in Bangkok, my flight gets in 3 hours late, at 3am. I know 2 words in Thai, so I am showing my taxi driver my phone and trying to pronounce the address with very little progress.  Finally, he pulls over and asks in broken English (much more than I could reciprocate in Thai) “Can you call them?”. I agree and we call you Ying. At 3am. She answers and explains that she had just headed home from dropping her son off at the airport and would be…HAPPY to let me in, show me my room, and give me a key. WOW! Sold on Ying, Sold on Thailand. She stops by and meets us in a few minutes and let’s me in.  Such an awesome person.  She saved my ass.

So, at the end of my journey I decided another visit to Ying’s was in order. But the private room on the top floor was booked and the second floor room.  So dorm it is.  I hate leaving my passport, cameras, and extra cash in a locker that I personally could break into. I’m not a practiced thief, so I’m sure it would be easy for them to get at my stuff in a locker with a tiny pad lock.  Ying’s is safe, but I prefer not to put my belongings on the menu anywhere. What I have found is a great solution, especially back home in Portland, Oregon, is the pacsafe travel safe.  I put my valuables in it anytime I have to leave them unattended, no matter where I am.  What’s great about it is the sturdy slash resistant materials have a steel mesh layered into the exterior, yet the safe is essentially like a fabric reusable shopping bag that cinches shut with a specialty locking mechanism.  I keep my new camera, wallet (if I’m jumping in the river!), and cell in the bag which then locks to a steel latch in my car.  I always keep it out of sight too, but if somebody does break in, my stuff won’t get stolen.  Hopefully they are still trying to break into the safe bag when I return!

Having peace of mind when at home or travelling is really the most valuable thing.  I can buy new cameras, can replace my phone, etc. Having my belongings taken is just so disturbing though, so this has proved to be an inexpensive and worthwhile tool that I hope you will enjoy too. If you think this may work for you, here are both versions. Please use my associate links by clicking on the images below and get Amazon’s best price.

Enjoy and travel safe, travel smart!

The Magic is in the pack.

 

When you travel, do you ever consider how convenient your luggage is when going through customs, dashing through the airport to make a connecting flight, or just unpacking your belongings upon arrival at your Hotel or Hostel? Comfort and convenience are my two big priorities when taking long flights with layovers.

I have experimented with hard luggage, just taking a backpack and hoping to buy luggage/extra clothes at my destination, and a “carry on backpack”.  While each has it’s advantage, I have found that a small day pack in a larger carry on backpack is the winning combo.  The Magic with my carry on pack, is that it is designed to be picked up by handles on several sides, has a single shoulder strap AND backpack shoulder straps that can be stowed in a hidden pocket, and is big enough to carry my gear but still pass size restrictions for carry on.  Carry-on bag. The maximum dimensions for a carry-on bag are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), including handles and wheels.

My personal choice is the Timbuk2 aviator.  The bag/pack has external pockets to quick access items too.  It is made of seriously durable materials and is also stylish.  I have taken this bag to Thailand, Bali, Mexico, and all over the U.S. Check it out by clicking this link:

This continues to be my go to luggage until further notice. Club approved! Safe travels my friends!

All about the action!

Having a good action cam that is fully immersible makes recording memories of your travels so much fun!  I found that carrying my small Sony Action Cam around was more convenient than a dslr, safer than possibly dropping my phone in water or sand, and I got some great shots with it.

Typically the action cams weigh very little even with a waterproof case.  I chose the Sony AS series due to enhanced image stabilization, a cool watch remote that displays what the camera sees and stop/start recording function, and a camcorder body with a flip out screen for instant viewing/playback.

My favorite part was going snorkeling in Koh Tao with my friends Ryan and Caitlyn in the infamous “SHARK BAY”!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Not to worry, the bay is only popular with friendly reef sharks, at least for now. There was a lot of silt as you can see from the underwater photos, but the dry pictures came out great and the wide angle helps include the full scene. The Sony AS can send photos to your computer/phone/tablet via wifi if you need to share without removing the Micro SD card.  There is also several modes: Still shot, Movie, burst shot for multiple stills of a scene,  and interval for taking short snippets of video intermittently.

Please let me know what questions you have!  If you like what you are reading and find the info useful, please support by using our links to purchase products on Amazon that we have tried and tested.  We never offer or mention products unless we really enjoyed the experience and insured quality, durability, and cost effectiveness.  The more you save, the more you can travel.  Thanks for reading!

*Click the camera to explore Sony Action Cams*

Cartagena! And more safe travel tips!

Cartagena is literally protected by a “pirate defense” wall over 500 years old in what is referred to as the “Old City”, the original town that was a center for commerce, the Spanish Inquisition, and the heart of this lovely coastal area. The city has other parts such as Bocagrande, Manga, Getsemani, and many others.

The people are very friendly here and fairly approachable.  Street vendors offer such fare as arrepas con queso, a personal favorite of cornmeal cakes and melted cheese.  The rich history here is incredible and if you are offered guide service at the Casa de la Inquisicion, take it!  An elderly gentleman guided me and gave me much more information than I would have otherwise found on my own.  But beware, you must negotiate price up front and bartering is socially acceptable.  Here’s a link with directions to Museo Histórico de Cartagena Casa de la Inquisición.

I used a Pacsafe brand shoulder bag to protect my valuables from snatch and grab thieves and RFID “skimming” (stealing personal information through use of an rfid scanner).  As tourism in these areas grows each year, generating massive revenue, a larger police presence means thieves are less brazen to physically steal from tourists, and therefore using “skimming” is a safer route.  Furthermore, you don’t even realize you have been robbed until you check your bank balance or find out your passport info has been used nefariously. It is not my intention to scare you, merely to raise awareness.  The Pacsafe shoulder sling I brought has RFID protection, a steel mesh layered in so that the bag can’t be cut open, zipper fasteners, and steel cables in the strap so it can’t be slashed and dashed. It also has interior pockets including one specifically for a passport, a separate zippered area for cash, papers, etc. You can get it here for about $10 less than I paid!

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