In 1996, on one of my first trips to Thailand, I traveled to Ko Samet, a small island approximately 70 kilometers south of Pattaya. At the time, the island was relatively undeveloped and unknown to the masses. It made an ideal getaway. One of my dreams had always been to live in a bungalow on a secluded beach and Ko Samet fit the bill. Peaceful and unobtrusive, a gentle, ocean breeze continuously ran through the palm trees lining the beach. There were no in your face touts or irritating pushiness, only bits of occasional laughter and the sounds of the sea.
Each morning after waking, I enjoyed a morning swim, followed by a fresh fruit and yogurt breakfast. For the next week, I did very little; I read, sat on the porch staring at the ocean, slept in a hammock strung between two Palm trees, and went for long walks contemplating the meaning of life. I even calculated the cost to live on the island. When the feeling of isolation grew too strong, I walked down to a nearby restaurant where small groups of travelers congregated; eating, drinking, and talking about their wonderful time on the island. Each evening, I ate fresh seafood and drank whiskey – a lot of it. At first, it was perfect.
"I’m on an exotic beach in Thailand, having fun without a worry in the world. This is living!" I thought. Life on the island was as stress-free as it gets. After three or four days though, the giddiness and wonder of island life melted in to boredom and by the time I left, I was almost happy to be heading home. My dream of living on the beach in a bungalow is one I am sure many share and while Ko Samet gave me a taste of this dream, it taught me that a dream without purpose is shallow and unfulfilling. It was a beautiful place, but life as a beach bum has its limits.
Have you ever asked yourself, "What is my idea of a perfect life? What is my dream lifestyle?"
Before I began working for Top Rated Boxing Promotions a little more than four years ago, my writing and photographic career was steadily progressing. I had built a small but loyal client base and had weekly boxing columns in The Phuket Gazette and The Sweet Science. For a year and a half, I was the editor of the now defunct Asian Boxing News. I even managed to finagle credentials to the Beijing Olympics. HBO Sports purchased a half a dozen of my photos on two occasions and I was actually beginning to make a decent living.
I was planning to write two or three books (at least) on boxing, and then several on Thailand and the expatriate lifestyle but boxing left me very little free time. The sport has a way of taking over your life. What little time I did have remaining I spent with my family. Six days a week, I took a two-hour taxi ride to and from the gym. Normally I spent four or five hours at the gym before returning home. It was draining, especially if I was holding the pads or putting the fighters threw conditioning drills. People often asked why I did not purchase a car but Bangkok traffic is excruciating and driving was the last thing I wanted to do after a hard day at the gym. Instead of driving myself, I just hopped in a taxi, put on my headphones, turned on some music, and left the driving to my chauffeur.
Looking back, I should have forced myself to continue writing even if it meant waking up an hour or two earlier every day. I also should have continued to carry my camera with me everywhere I went. Hindsight is 20-20 though.
The internet and technology makes it possible to work virtually anywhere in the world. Living on the beach in a bungalow while earning a living from photography and writing, my own dream lifestyle, is entirely possible.
Even with a wife and two children.