I love hostels, but a few of my travel mates swear by couchsurfing.  So with my upcoming
foray into the beautiful land of New Zealand, I figured I would give it a whirl.  However, as
you can see from the below email exchanges, I cannot be everyone’s best friend.  But the
more important issue here is what can we learn from this type of incident?

First, sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will never hurt you.  Especially if
those names are derived from someone who has never met you in person.  It is not logical to get upset when the person on the other side of the computer screen truly does not know who you are.  Hence, it is best to hit the “delete” key and move on.

Second, if you do meet such individuals in person, or merely decide to engage in further
communication with them, how should it be handled?  My initial response was to respond to fire with fire, but I opted not to.  His email was full of hate, jealousy and all sorts of other
negative emotions.  I do not like these feelings and prefer to be surrounded by positive happy people.  And so should you since negativity has no place in your life.

Hence, I see at least three roads to choose from in these scenarios.  The obvious, and most
preferred, is to simply walk away.  Your time is better spent elsewhere.  Another is to be
honest, “I do not engage in discussions with angry and jealous people.”  One other alternative (the least preferred) is to respond in a way that challenges the offender without he/she realizing it.  For example, you could reply with “so will there be any pretty girls at this feminist rally?”  Because the individual is so caught up in his emotions, he will take your words as is, and not realize he is being tested on his ability to decipher fiction from reality.

Next, you should always be open to constructive criticism.  We cannot see everything.  We
are only human.  Others may have different life experiences than us and see situations from a completely different angle.  A word of caution though.  Any suggestions must be backed by solid logic and complete objectivity.  If not, your time is merely being wasted on actions that will potentially move you backwards.  And I only want my readers moving forwards.

Lastly, it is important to remember that we cannot befriend every person in this world.  If you accept this, it is easier for you to move on and continue working towards your goals. And this is what matters most.  To be derailed by naysayers is a complete and total waste of your time and energy.  Their negativity and irrational arguments have no place in your quest to be a better person, to live a better life, and most importantly, to be happy.



Hi Mr. X,

Mrs. Y said you may have a place I could couchsurf for a few nights in Auckland?  I get in on November 30 and am looking for three nights.  If you could help that would be great!




Kia ora Michael

I may be a challenging host for you.

I’ve had a little look through your videos and I have some quite strong feelings about your
individualistic traveling philosophy. The emphasis on “quitting your job” that was clearly well- paid, IMO, further strengthens the chokehold that the power of money has on people’s freedoms – even in the west where such a thing is possible. The videos come across as quite separate to the places you are going and people you meet, who seem to serve as things that happen to you rather than your world tour and release of funds actually making a positive impact on them.

The lack of relationships tells its own story, that you could take a large amount of cash, leave one of the most predatory industries in the world, and as a single white male, seek to develop yourself through this intensely privileged opportunity – not through sacrifice but through exercising that power like very few other people can.

I too will travel next year. In the next few weeks I am leaving my low-paid job in green
advocacy to tour my artwork in the NZ summertime, then visit events and people overseas over the NZ winter. So in a way, I’m jealous and angry that you’d spend so much money to go to places like Antarctica just to kind of see what it’s like.

I feel like I’d challenge you to not be a tourist. If you come here, you’ll have to me more than just a rich guy that doesn’t want to stay in a hostel.

I’ll have a busy weekend helping with a feminist rally on Saturday and shooting a comedy
photography project on the Sunday.

And I’d be interested to discuss travel philosophy & western ideals with you if you’re open to that.

Anyway, I imagine this is quite a confronting reply that you weren’t expecting. I’m only letting you know because you said in your video that you’re hoping to change through your travels.. and so far I’m not seeing it.

So let me know.

Mr. X

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The devil can tempt even the most pure of souls.  Who will know if you only spend one hour on a two hour project?  Or if you interview three people where the minimum requisite is four?  As long as the result(s) are as expected, that is all that counts, right?


The other day I opted to do a tour of a couple of areas in Indonesia (instead of doing it on my own via public transport, staying at local lodgings, etc.).  I was a little on the lonely side, tired of “oh-so-efficient” Indonesian public transportation and exhausted from haggling for every Indonesian Rupiah.  And while my tourmates were pleasant and the sites we saw were impressive, my soul was half full.  I felt no sense of accomplishment.  I did not have any crazy stories of broken down buses with goats for cargo, or pictures of local people I had befriended on a street corner while waiting for a food vendor to serve me the latest hot
“mush.”  No, none of that.  Everything was served on a silver platter and ready to eat.  No
surprises.  No chance encounters.  Just some pretty sites that posed for me.

Everyone has their own travel style, and it is up to them to find this out.  Generally speaking, tours are not my cup of tea.  And I knew that before I signed up for this one, but I was drained and needed a rest.  So I opted for the easy way out.  But in retrospect, a wiser choice would have been to take a day or two off from traveling, and then return to the wild and wacky world of Indonesian jaunting.

In short, to all of those travelers, and non-travelers, out there, don’t cut corners.  When you want to accomplish something, do it right, and do it completely.  Yes, your hands will get dirty and yes your gas tank will be empty when you are finished.  But your gratification tank will be overflowing, and that is the fuel that keeps us driving off into that rainbow colored sunset.


mount bromo

Beautiful, but too easy.

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When I quit my job to travel the world last year, one of the topics on my mind was people’s attitudes towards material goods (and more generally, money).  After visiting a couple of traditional villages in Bajawa, on the island of Flores, Indonesia, my observations were more or less confirmed.



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When I meet genuine people who need assistance, I want to take action.  A few days ago I
was in the town of Bajawa, on the island of Flores, Indonesia.  Due to a foot injury, I had to
hire a motorcycle driver to show me some of the sites.  This man could not have been more
honest and hardworking if he had tried and truly needs some help getting customers.  So if
you are in his neck of the woods, please enlist his services – especially since we all know
how unscrupulous (taxi) drivers can be.  His contact details are: Lorens (085-333-505-160).  If you have trouble reaching him, Hotel Johny also works with him frequently.
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A diamond in the rough.

A diamond in the rough.

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When I quit my job to travel the world, I knew I would run into places that were touristy. But what I was not expecting was the far reaching roots of this industry.


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