Chiang Mai, Thailand: June 2012
MOZZIE BYTE (Editor): A warm welcome to all our Daily Explorer readers. For those of you who are joining us for the first time, Ray has been travelling and living nomadically for over six and a half years since he left England in November 2005. He has visited 21 different countries so far on his journey and we have been publishing exclusive news and stories about his experiences (you will find all of these in our Previous Issues archive).
This will be the last issue of The Daily Explorer in its current format. As the Buddhists teach us, nothing is permanent; everything changes and this publication is no exception. The original purpose for which this was created appears to have run its course and for now, our future role in Ray’s life is uncertain. Regular readers will know that it is five months since we published our last issue. Some of you even sent us messages asking why there have been no updates for a while. So we thought this would be a good moment to bring you an update and some insight about what is happening for our global traveller. When we contacted him, we discovered he is about to leave Thailand for an extended visit to London.
In case you missed our last issue, we caught up with Ray as 2012 was getting underway. We found out what happened when he ran in the Chiang Mai half-marathon – his first race in over two years – and had some brief highlights from his three-day trip to Shanghai, attending a facilitator training for an exciting new programme called “The Suited Monk”. You can read it now at: The Suited Monk and The Runner
Above: In our last issue, our global traveller completed the annual Chiang Mai half-marathon, marking the start of his preparations to run two more marathons this year. You can read it now at: The Suited Monk and The Runner
It seems as if the landscape of Ray’s life has changed a lot since January. I asked him if he could distill his thoughts for us and describe how things will be different going forward. “When I began this great nomadic experiment some six and a half years ago, I wanted to prove to myself that it would be possible to live in anonymity, without possessions or status, without attachment to goals, without a fixed identity or routine and be as happy (or even happier) as I was when I was living more of a “conventional” life in England. I guess I had run out of purpose and imagination for the lifestyle I had cultivated back in 2005 and really wanted to discover a new path for myself. I thought travelling would support me to find that path and it really has. I have reached a point in time where you could say my search for the “new way” of living is over. The temporary has become the permanent. The unknown has become knowable. I am comfortable without having strict goals and plans. I prefer living each moment and being present to opportunities. My security is coming deep from within me and is not dependent on external events, circumstances or relationships. I can see now that there is no ‘going back’ to the conventional life as I knew before” admitted Ray. What exactly did he mean by the term “conventional”?
“I use the word advisedly as strictly speaking, life is always unpredictable. But when you remove the main anchors of home, work and relationship from the equation, as happened to me in 2005, there is a much greater probability that one’s life will really move in far more unpredictable and creative ways than you can imagine. Many times before I departed on the journey, I had read that material wealth is not the source of true happiness and after six and half years of modest living, with one bag of clothes and a laptop, I am satisfied that I know the truth of that statement deeply within myself. I no longer feel the desire or need to be constantly travelling and am looking at ways in which I can share the experiences I have had, and the knowledge and insight that has come from those experiences, with others who are on a similar journey and who want to know for themselves” he told me. “Therefore, the nature of what I want to talk about is changing too, as I no longer think of myself as a “traveller” per se. My own interests are now taking me in a slightly different direction. I want to continue to educate myself about life and humanity and want to reach a greater knowledge and understanding of my inner world, so that I will be more capable in supporting and helping others. The Daily Explorer has (up till now) been a vehicle for me to share my travel experiences and it will no longer be needed from my perspective” added Ray.
Above: Our global traveller, who has been tight-lipped for a while about himself, reveals that The Daily Explorer will no longer be publishing stories about his travel experiences – “It is time to shake things up and make changes. I am not quite sure yet if there is a future for The Daily Explorer and am going to take a few months to really think about it. If it is to return, I suspect the format, content and the overall purpose for it will be quite different” Ray told me (Photo: Susie Moberly)
I was curious to know how Ray felt about this era of The Daily Explorer coming to an end? “To be really honest, I feel relieved” admitted Ray. “Some readers had been telling me that they were less interested in some of the more recent blog editions as I had not gone anywhere and was filling the space with quite ordinary, daily life things that were not that exciting. From my perspective, I have felt less motivated to compile the pictures and information that Mozzie and his team needs each month and had been delaying doing it with increasing frequency as I felt there was too little of substance to share with people. You know, it’s funny – at the beginning of this journey, people would ask me ” How long are you going to travel for?” and I would answer “I am not sure – most probably, until I get bored with it”. Well, I think that point is here and simply travelling for its own sake, at least for me who has been doing it for the last six and a half years, has become uninspiring – even to myself! I can’t quite believe I am saying this, but its true” he acknowledged.
My next question for Ray was to establish if Chiang Mai was going to be his base? “That question is a really good example of how I have become accustomed to living with uncertainty. A couple of years ago, I would have said “I don’t know” and felt a deep sense of anxiety. Now, I still answer “I don’t know” and feel completely calm in the knowledge that it does not require a permanent decision. The fact is, right now I love this little city and usually enjoy the time I spend here. I have met some wonderful people who hang out here and others who have passed through. It feels like home more than any other place at this moment. If that feeling ever changes, I will most likely find somewhere else to go. My instincts tell me that Asia is the part of the world that I want to be in for now. It is a very exciting region with many opportunities for me to learn and grow, so I think it is likely to remain the centre of gravity in my world for the foreseeable future. I am coaching a few people out here and being in the same time zone makes doing that a lot less stressful for me. I can manage it for short periods, as I will have to when I visit Europe, but prefer to be here if I can” he explained.
Above: Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, viewed from the Suthep hills – “Right now, I love this little city” said Ray, who has been a regular visitor since 2006″
Below: Chiang Mai has something for everyone – “Great climate, quality of life, superb food, trekking, charming people and great roads to ride motorcycles on”, according to our traveller (Photo: A Guyon)
Above and below: One person who Ray met in Chiang Mai is a photographer from Scotland called Alan McArthur – “He knows how to take really amazing pictures, as you can see from the four images he has given us” said Ray. If you are ever in Chiang Mai and you want to upgrade your picture-taking skills, Alan is definitely worth meeting” added Ray. He also has a video on YouTube
Despite this being our finale, from talking to Ray, I got the sense that the central theme of The Daily Explorer i.e. “exploring” is something that still remains very important to him. “That’s true Mozzie. To me, curiosity is a grossly under-rated quality. I meet very few people who are genuinely curious about things and it is always such a wonderful, engaging experience when I find someone who is. Exploring is not confined only to geographical places. For me, it is just as desirable and rewarding to be curious about language, agriculture, history, music, the arts, my physical well-being, the financial world, the nature of power, tyranny, community, humanity and spirituality. These are just a few of the things that fascinate me and occupy an increasing amount of my time. In future, I hope to share more with our readers about these things as I learn more about them myself and discover ideas and information that might be of interest to everyone” explained Ray.
In the immediate future, our global nomad is concentrating on developing his ability to provide effective coaching support to a handful of executives and senior managers from multi-national companies that are stationed in Asia. “We have talked about my relationship with Coach In A Box in previous issues of The Daily Explorer, so I won’t go into too much detail here. I currently look after 10-12 clients for them so it is still fairly small in terms of the time it takes up. I had a very long time away from the world of business and it is interesting to have stuck a toe back into that world in the last few months. I am enjoying my clients and feel very able to help them make progress with their own development goals. Talking to some of them reminds me of myself a few years ago! I also like being a member of the coaching team, which is spread all over the region. It feels like a ‘family’ and being part of a tribe is something I have discovered is a very important need I have, which is one of the reasons I like that aspect” explained Ray
Above: From businessman to back-packer, and now back again? Here at The Daily Explorer, we don’t think so! Ray sent us these pictures whilst taking part in a client workshop in Bangkok (left). For now, he is enjoying working part-time as a business coach, and as far as we can tell, has no plans to make a full re-entry into that world just yet – “There are so many things that I still want to experience in the remaining time I have. And I have come to realise that (for me), the feeling of being wealthy comes from having a large amount of discretionary time at my disposal, rather than a large amount of money. Of course, there is nothing wrong with having money! But I don’t want to make that the priority if it means my time is committed to things which do not feel right in my heart and do not give me a sense of fulfillment at a deeper level. The balance has to be right” said our global explorer
Below: Freedom is precious and many of us take it for-granted. Delegates from the management and leadership workshop above were invited to think about this as they took half a day out, away from the classroom to visit a young offenders centre in Bangkok – “The idea of bringing them here is to give them an opportunity to interact with people in a totally different type of environment to the one they are used to, and see if they can really engage with some of the inmates by using the communication skills they learn during their workshop. It is a very innovative approach to learning how to create trust and rapport with people” observed Ray. “Coming here reminds me that freedom is the most valuable thing in the world to me. Sadly, we are living in a world in which our individual liberty is being constantly challenged” added Ray
Above: Our global nomad is clearly enjoying the opportunity to use his business knowledge and experience in Asia – “I am very lucky to be part of a great team” said Ray. He assisted colleagues Kenny Toh and Marisa Chuawiwat (left) to run the workshop, held at The Landmark Hotel in Bangkok. “The people at Coach In A Box have been very supportive and are helping me improve my coaching and training skills. Although it does feel a bit strange to operate in the mainstream business world, it feels good to interact with people who are dealing with many of the same issues I faced when I was a full-time business leader” he told me
Although it may be the ‘end of the road’ for The Daily Explorer, I was curious to know how Ray was feeling about running marathons as I heard he was still in training? “It’s a good question Mozzie and very timely. I recently took part in the 7th International Marathon in Phuket (Thailand) and my training for the race, which started some 16 weeks before, did not go at all well. I was experiencing serious fatiguing in my legs during all of my long runs and suspected that I would struggle to run my goal time in the race itself. I have had this dream for the last three years of running a marathon in under four hours. But it seems the harder I push myself to achieve it, the more physical problems I have and now looks very unlikely that I will be able to do it” said a dejected Ray. “My running has stopped being enjoyable and started to feel like a big, heavy task, which is a signal it is time for a re-think. Running marathons is challenging enough, even when you love it as it requires 5-6 days of training every week and an enormous amount of attention and discipline around the food you eat. As I have been struggling with the whole regime, I am going to take a break from training for a while and let my body recover” added Ray.
Above: Our athlete arrives in Phuket the day before the start of the 7th International Laguna Phuket International Marathon, hoping to run the race in just under four hours
Below: Over 5,000 athletes take part in the annual event and many attend the ‘pasta party’ which is thrown the night before so that they can complete the vitally important process of ‘carb-loading’ before the race starts at 4.30am the next day – “When the average human body is fully loaded with fuel, it gives most people a maximum endurance of 3-3.5 hours, which is not quite enough to complete 26 miles (42 kilometres) if you are a slower runner like me” he explained. “I always have to load up as best I can, usually eating double portions for 2-3 days before the race, and re-load with carbs in the race by eating small sachets of specially formulated sports energy gels. There is much more to running these long distances than one might realise and it takes very careful preparation to be successful” added Ray
Above: The race is underway (left) and things appear to be going according to plan for our global explorer – “The first 3 or 4 miles went really well, but after that I started to struggle. By the time I reached the halfway point, which is 13 miles, I had been running just over 2 hours and was about 10 minutes behind schedule. So I could see I was unlikely to make my goal time. After 15 miles, my legs were seriously fatiguing and I had 3 or 4 blisters on my feet, so I began taking small walking breaks, which further ruined my time! Things continued to deteriorate and I ended the race (centre and right), feeling exhausted, in 5 hours and 22 minutes which is over an hour slower than the race I ran in New York in 2009” recalled Ray. “I have to admit, I was very glad it was over!”
Editors Note: It is obviously a sad time for me and the team as we say farewell to The Daily Explorer that we have all had a part in building and growing over the last five years. Since we started publishing in 2007, these pages have been viewed over 126,000 times, which makes us all feel really good about the outstanding effort that went into creating 68 fabulous issues during that time. We hope you have enjoyed being a part of the story too and we wish Ray the very best of luck in whatever direction he takes from this point on. Just remember, it is not the destination, but the journey that counts. On behalf of everyone at The Daily Explorer, thank you for inviting us to be a part of yours.
Ray will be in London for a while from mid July, so if any of you would like to meet him while he is there, you can email him at email@example.com. I am sure he will be happy to hear from you!
Above: To all our readers, we wish you well on your journey as you continue to explore your own lives. Here are a couple of things to remember from The Daily Explorer team that might be useful