by Niall Doherty


My key habit for today was to be present and authentic, keep my heart open. The peak was a spontaneous dinner which became a six hour chat with a beautiful friend of mine, talking love, sex, money, courage, legacy and everything in between. Later I failed miserably by trying to play it cool in front of a gorgeous ex-Marine instead of speaking my mind. You have no idea how disappointed I was with myself.


The brightest full moon I’ve ever seen is framed by floating lanterns in the Chiang Mai sky. I’m strolling streets with men from Greece and Lebanon, two good guys I randomly started talking with at the market. We release a lantern of our own from a gap in the moat and I opt to leave them as we near the red light. I’m alone now, moving through happy crowds, daring myself to approach, eager to exorcise last night’s demon.


What am I scared of, really? I know a Westerner here in Chiang Mai who lived quite comfortably on $300 last month. A friend told me last week that she has web design work ready for me whenever I need it. Random people are filling my inbox with software ideas and offers to connect me with others who’d be happy to help. I’m beginning to appreciate that there’s no way I can fail.


By the time this month is done, I’ll have spent in the vicinity of $7,000. Shuffling money around has been a pain of late. My Irish bank won’t let me make an international transfer without some new number-generating widget, and such a transfer from my Hong Kong bank requires in-branch form-filling. It’s been a while since I was this low on funds, more than a year. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t stressful.


Henry Ford would invite people to dinner before deciding whether to hire them or not. If they salted their food before tasting it, he ruled them out, taking it as evidence that the person was prone to execute a plan before taking a proper measure of the situation. This in mind, I caught myself reaching for the shaker today before tasting the tuna salad. Flavor was fine without it.

Meeting Rasta Gandalf in Chiang Mai. This dude apparently has three wives and sells leather jackets to the locals.

Meeting Rasta Gandalf in Chiang Mai. This dude apparently has three wives and sells leather jackets to the locals.


— How much you pay my friend?
— I give her two orgasms. That’s my final offer.
— You pay 3000 baht.
— How about zero baht?
— Zero baht?
— Yeah, zero baht. I don’t pay for sex.
— He no pay, we go.
— No no, it okay, I like him, he funny.
— If you think I’m funny now, you should see me naked.


Joe Rogan in my ears starting up at an expanding universe back of a crowded bus to Bangkok, thoughts fixed on the future. I’ve long had in mind the sequel to this no-fly adventure, a trip far more ambitious, risky, polarizing. It would be a year-long immersion experience, a trustworthy sidekick along for the ride. I wouldn’t be able to write about it until the end.


Bangkok cabbies shady as ever, I say fuck em and walk an hour with all my world possessions before hopping a canal boat to the Wittayu. There’s a key waiting in the lobby, access to Anthony’s empty apartment. Showered up and logged on, I go meet a guy nearby about a scooter then grab cash and noodles at Phrom Phong. I’m running on four hours sleep but phone beeps keep me upbeat.


I’m lonely today, craving intimacy. Thought I was horny at first, but a quick fiddle did nothing to alleviate the restlessness. I came to Bangkok thinking I’d be big king ding-a-ling with a few old flames lined up to relight. But everything fell through. The best girl of all is across town but it wouldn’t be fair to try there. She can’t flip the emotional switch like I can. So I sit solitary in Ant’s empty apartment, resisting distractions, leaning into the loneliness.


They cut the corners off the old, hand me a new. 2.5 years it lasted. Flicking through I see stamps for Laos, the United States, Thailand, UAE, Iran, Cambodia, India, Nepal, China, Vietnam, Myanmar, Turkey. I wonder at what point it became commonplace to carry around a little book with your face in it as evidence that you’ve received permission to set foot on a specific piece of the planet.

An early Saturday on Khaosan Road in Bangkok. In a word: Messy.

An early Saturday on Khaosan Road in Bangkok. In a word: Messy.


You know you’ve undertaken a righteous pursuit when you get a kick out of the process, not just enduring it in hopes of an eventual payoff. And I’m loving this, talking with business owners, asking about their challenges, uncovering pain. I’m becoming a better listener, developing present moment awareness. I feel I can’t succeed with this software dealio without becoming a better person, more caring, less limiting beliefs.


Resentful today while flicking through Facebook. A friend posting a happy pic of him and his girl, another dude showing off a modeling shot. I don’t think it’s jealousy, but something stops me from hitting the like button. What is that? Being resentful of other people’s happiness? It’s strongest when I’m feeling low, like I’ve been the last couple of days, battling exhaustion. I catch myself this time and thumb up those photos. Good for them.


There’s a lot to be said for sitting down with a master and having them step you through exactly how they do things. Looking over their shoulder, seeing it through their eyes, the fog lifts. Beats the hell out of reading a book or watching a video. Those of us who get ahead seem to have less qualms about asking the masters for private tours. I still struggle with that, feeling like it would be cheating somehow, or my curiosity unwelcome.


It’s like the zombie apocalypse in this elevator. She’s a fat teenager with smeared lipstick, stitches in the bridge of her nose, and a powdered complexion like she just sneezed into a bag of flour. She’s speaking to me in Thai with a worried expression, flashing the peace sign in and out of her breast pocket. I have no idea what she’s saying, but she seems to want something from me. Mai kow jai, mai kow jai! Then she spots the money clip in my right hand and makes a reach for it.


Two months back it wasn’t right, and I’m glad we didn’t fall into anything. But right now all seems good. I couldn’t have imagined this even a week ago, together strolling through Chiang Mai streets and rolling around a pink hotel. She asked what happened with that girl from the 14th, and I told her, and it was fine. I’m glad she’s here.

Filled up the old passport in 2.5 years. Time to start over.

Filled up the old passport in 2.5 years. Time to start over.

In the comments below, let me know which of the above Momentos is your favorite. Which can you relate to?

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