Mindoro banka boat view

in SE Asia

Why I Am In South East Asia

Man, what a crazy start to 2012 hey!

I spent christmas 2011 with Joe & Justin from Adsense Flippers in Davao, Philippines. These guys are the bomb, and made a lonely traveller feel at home over the Christmas period (check out their latest podcast episode on AdsenseFlippers.com – great stuff that’s relevant to alot of entrepreneurs who battle with defining the value in their offering).

Justin organized a pre-christmas present run, where we drove around Davao in a Jeepney wearing santa hats, handing out presents to (surprisingly weary lol) kids, check out the video by John Paul Grant from LifeStyleBusinessDesign.com.

Joe then kicked my ass in a post-Christmas-glutony gym session, still feeling the effects of that two weeks later.

New Years was spent in Manila, watching fireworks go off in every direction from a condo rooftop with Ava (who makes very classy video intros), Stephen W. (who runs remoteseotools and other services) and my partner in crime Nick H.

So it’s taken two weeks to recover from the holiday season, hence the dust you see settling on this old blog. But I’m back, settled in Pasig city, Manila for the month (heading to Chiang Mai, Thailand soon) and ready to put some words down on paper again.


A lot of discussion and thoughts I’ve been having recently are based around the “lifestyle design” industry and the deeper messages behind it.

I have a friend who recently quit his office job and wants to travel and build his skill set. Thinking about his situation makes me think about why I headed out to SE Asia originally, and wether I chose the “right path” (the alternative, in my mind, being settling in the UK and working my way up the London corporate ladder).

I’ve also put allot of thought into why I should keep exploring SE Asia, trying to uncover my motivations and really get to the root of what drives me. I’m not setting any New Years resoloutions this year (read Raam Dev’s the annual placebo effect article to see why), so I guess I’ll have to make do with introspective thought

The Various Motivators Of The People You Meet In Asia

I don’t like to generalize, but when I do I try and back it up :-D. There’s two common motivators behind the wandering souls you meet travelling and settled across various locations in the Philippines, Indonesia and I’m assuming other locations in SE Asia:

Not Going Home

These are the vagabonds of the world, those in love with exploration, new experiences and that ‘sensation overload’ feeling. Your average NGH‘er is usually very young (17-24) and allot of the time from a small city/country/state (or a very ‘cosmopolitan’ big/medium city). Travel & new experiences are the main priorities for the NGHer, and they arrange everything else to enable and support this travel lifestyle.

This is how many people I’ve met in Asia started out, although their motivations have often evolved into one of the other two listed here…

The Business Heads

These guys have a “business first, everything else after” approach that makes me think that their location and love of travel and exploration play a tiny part in their decisions, if any at all. To the business head, location isn’t really important – growing their business (wether that be through adding quality people to their network, hiring staff or just drastically cutting costs – both living and business expenses) is the main motivator.

Drop a business head in the middle of the Amazonian jungle with empty pockets and they would find a way to use that locations assets to their advantage, probably emerging 3 years later with a flourishing export business and a wallet fat enough to put many a lifestyle designer to shame 😉

In Love With The Country

I’ve only met a few of these ‘lovers‘, but I have noticed that there are two sides to those motivated by their love for a country/city/beach side town:

They Came, They Fell In Love With The Place, They Were Blinded, They Got Screwed
These guys are sad to see, you can usually find them at 11am knocking a few beers back at the beach bar and grumbling softly to their expat friends.

Allot of very smart people back home, come to places like the Philippines and seem to loose all sensibilities, next thing you know they are making overzealous investments (in people, businesses, property and other things) that are loaded with risk and quickly loose their hat to people who actually know how the country and its systems work!

They Came, They Fell In Love With The Place, They Figured Out A Way To Make It Work
There’s a thin line between the lovers who made it work and the ones who got screwed. The difference usually lies in how down to earth and honest with themselves they are.

A clear headed, sensible individual who wants to move to a new country looks at things rationally, just like they would back home and progresses accordingly. Allot of the time they adjust their decision to allow for variables introduced by their new location, like the difficulties of owning property in the Philippines or of owning 100% of a business in Thailand. Those who get blinded look at risky investments, or decisions with an extraordinary amount of downside compared to up, and seem to say “ahh, it will all work out for the best – after all, I love this place.”

It sounds crazy but its true, and its a weird thing to see!

Why I’ve Been Exploring SE Asia For The Past 9 Months

To put it plainly, I’m here to create an unfair advantage for myself!

The ability to meet with, share information and work with cool entrepreneurs is multiplied by x10 when your one of the only accessible people in the country doing “cool online stuff” and can talk from a position of experience about issues that other are having.

I don’t try and pretend to know more then I do, or act like a baller when I’m clearly not (yet ;-D), but I do try and provide at least a bit of value to everyone I meet.

In the Philippines for example (particuarly Manila), there are thousands of expats and very smart Filippinos working for multinational BPO’s, banks and technology firms. Check out this post on Soverign man: it’s booming over here, what’s holding you back. However, I meet someone who earns their crust online, ecspecially someone who I can help out in some way and just feel an instant connection, like you used to be old buddies sharing a Ribena on the school playground (or capri-sun, whatever your poison was as a kid).

I don’t like to commoditize relationships, and doing so would probably rub a lot of the people I’ve met on my travels the wrong way, but meeting, having a few drinks, shooting hoops and sharing amazing moments like NYE fireworks across the Manila skyline is why I am, and will be staying in SE Asia!

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    • Joe, there isn’t much I wouldn’t do right now for a grilled chicken fillet with asparagus like I ate at yours! Enjoying the delicacies (greasy & fried foods) of Manila right now.

      Will definitely head back to Davao soon, for a sparring match if nothing else 😉