It’s been awhile since my last post here so now that I’m a little more settled in I thought I would share a little about what I’ve been doing while I’ve been so very quiet.
The big news is that I decided to relocate to Thailand. That’s why it’s been difficult to post as I’ve been on airplanes, sitting in airports, in and out of hotel rooms, and trying to get settled into an apartment for the last several weeks.
Most of the regular readers here know that I’ve blogged about my previous trips to The Kingdom and how I really find this part of the world to be quite amazing. I’ve actually lost count of how many times I’ve been here in the past but it’s something like 8 or 9’ish with my longest stay being about two and a half months. So far I’ve been as far north as the mountain areas of Chiang Mai and down south as far as Phuket. Hopefully I’ll be able to find some time to explore some other regions once I get back into the flow of things.
Of course, staying in Europe or even going back to the US were possibilities I also gave some consideration to. Europe obviously has a wealth of opportunities to continue working in the online poker industry and I even had a few discussions with some people in the US who are working on some interesting poker related things. But nothing really jumped out at me that I thought I could get passionate about and being passionate about what I’m doing is something that is non-negotiable for me.
I think the thing that made it difficult to find something that clicked is that over the years I’ve had all sorts of ideas that I would love to do. The problem is that I’ve never had the time. It’s so easy to get caught up in day to day stuff that you keep putting off the things you want to do. So after consulting with everyone from fellow poker bloggers to respected colleagues and friends I figured I would give it a go.
In terms of why I picked Bangkok, well, it’s a digital world and I really don’t need to be physically located anywhere. Why not be someplace where I would spend my holidays anyway? I’ve also built up a good network of friends here in Bangkok of both Thai and farang (westerners) with a surprising number of them connected to the online poker world either as affiliates, players, or just interested observers.
As for what I’m working on, well, I launched a rakeback site and I’ll probably officially launch my poker job search site in a week or so once I get some kinks worked out. I’ve also got pages and pages of ideas scribbled on scraps of paper all over the place. Some ideas are in the poker world and some have nothing to do with poker whatsoever. I’ve also decided to do some consulting work helping online poker sites put together successful poker promotions, retention campaigns, and other poker operational issues. Additionally I set up a few freelance writing projects to talk about poker and the poker industry.
I’m really excited right now because there are so many opportunities and things I’ve been mulling over for years that I will now have some time to work on. I think my biggest challenge is simply prioritizing and not spreading myself too thin.
So, the last few weeks I’ve been trying to get settled into Bangkok and get things going. I started looking for apartments and saw one listed on Craig’s List. The estate agent was a very nice Thai lady named Jan who got her MBA in the US so her English was perfect and she understood the westerner mindset.
My living room window overlooks Central World and in the evening the Bangkok skyline is absolutely gorgeous. It’s very central being a few minute walk to both the Sukhumvit and Silom lines of the skytrain which means I can pretty much get to anywhere in the city with minimal time spent out in the smothering humidity.
Like I said, Jan was was fantastic and helped me get internet, phone, electricity, water, and everything sorted out. I would have been totally lost if it hadn’t been for her. If anybody ever needs her contact details feel free to ask.
It turns out my landlord is retired Thai man who used to be a big shot in the Thai police force. He’s been a delightful guy as well. We chatted and he’s been to LA and other parts of the US and strangely enough decorated the apartment with stuff he bought in the US which makes for this really surreal feeling of having pictures and artwork from the US up on your walls of your Bangkok apartment.
So right about the time I get myself all settled in and start to get a daily routine going, I have to make a visa run because I only got the airport stamp which is good for 30 days. So as I write this I’m in Phnom Penh, Cambodia waiting for the Thai embassy to approve my visa application (in Thailand you have to leave the country in order to get a visa).
After this visa expires (90 days – technically 60 days + a 30 day extension) I’ll probably sign up for some Thai classes and get a 1 year visa to study Thai. Four hours a week for a year runs about $1000. Considering the cost of leaving and re-entering the country every 90 days it’s a pretty good trade off. And probably a lot less wear and tear on a passport that I’ve already had to add additional pages to.
Phnom Penh is a cool little town. It’s both a little more backwards and a little more advanced than I thought it would be if that makes any sense. Some things are fantastic and seem efficient while other aspects of the country are typical third-world.
To put it in context there’s a Dutch guy who I met in the hotel bar and we’ve chatted a few times. He told me he went out to the shooting range and wanted to fire a handgun. Now, in Cambodia you can go to this shooting range and shoot just about any weapon in the world. You can have an AK-47, M16, M60 machine gun, and you can even fire off RPG rocket launchers. But you can’t fire a handgun because they’re illegal in Cambodia??!?
I saw a guy die in a motorcycle accident right in front of me. The motorcycle ran a light and got plowed by a taxi. I was on the corner of Asoke and Sukhumvit in Bangkok when it happened and I waited around until the police and ambulance came.
After taking vitals (or lack thereof) the paramedics didn’t seem to be in any great hurry so I think it was safe to assume the motorcycle driver was DOA.
Although I absolutely hate Patpong with a passion it’s the same skytrain stop as where I have to get off to go to my bank so I popped into O’Reilly’s for a cold one and to cool off in the air conditioning before making the trek up to my bank. As I’m walking down the street I see these two Latino guys all thugged out with tats, LA Dodgers cap tilted to the side, basketball jersey, baggy pants, etc. The one guy had just bought a pair of brass knuckles from one of the street vendors and was admiring how they looked on his fist when he bumped into this little old Thai guy.
Mr. Thug Life: “Oh, oh, I’m so sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. I’m so sorry.”
Thai guy: Mai ben rai (forget about it)
What a tough guy :-)
In Cambodia I’m staying at this place called Flamingos which a friend recommended as being a cheap but clean hotel. It’s not all that bad by South East Asia standards. It’s certainly not the Four Seasons but for $25 a night you get a king size bed, wardrobe, desk, television, mini-bar, and bathroom. Like I said, not a place I might bring someone for a romantic weekend but suits the purpose for hanging around waiting for the Thai embassy to issue a visa stamp.
Anyway, in the room they post all of these signs and there’s one with the hotel rules.
#3 It is prohibited to bring in all kinds of explosives, drug, and poisonous substances.
#4 Abusing the child is not allowed.
What kind of people do they rent rooms to here?