Archives For domestic life

The 2019 travel review

December 21, 2019

Blogging was once an amazing thing and people cared. It’s 2019 and people don’t.

On some levels I regret giving up blogging regularly here – blogging took me from MP staffer to b5media, to TechCrunch and beyond to today, the end of 2019.

This is cut and paste from Facebook but it’s a decent one – 2019 has been a decent year for me. A happy new year for all. I could complain about my life now – it has for years never been boring and of course I fear failure again. But that said, I’ve somehow managed to be in the happiest relationship I’ve been in my life for over three years and likewise proudly gay in that relationship. Reeee gay – it’s 2019, who cares.

March – Chengdu, Leshan and some other places in Sichuan Province. It’s kind of like Thai food – far better in-country and I’d go back again tomorrow the food was that good. Lovely countryside, interesting city and naturally we got to see pandas in the place they’re from.

Lijiang – always beautiful and while we couldn’t get up to Jade Snow Mountain due to maintenance works Matchima Luangrahaeng was still cold. It was my second time in Lijiang and I will return, it’s that pretty. Then onto Kunming via Chinese High Speed Rail which is staggeringly good and I have been Japan and traveled by Shinkansen so I can compare. Kunming was ok but not a big Chinese city – only 8 million 

July – Jinghong Xishuangbanna, the historic northern extent of the Lanna (northern Thai) empire. No one ever goes there and sadly I found out why. Some of it properly pretty and there are some very nice Thai wats (temples) there but it’s an unrated Chinese tier-town for a reason. I wanted to love it so much but I couldn’t. Being nearly refused entry at the airport because they’d never seen a white person before wasn’t helpful 

August – Phrae and Nan. I’d driven through Phrae often but never stayed the night and Nan was the last province I hadn’t visited in the north of Thailand. It was ok – the night market in Nan was underwhelming but people say you go for the National Parks near the Laos border. I didn’t get that far.

October – Hanoi and Ha Long Bay. The real surprise for me of the year as I’d been to both in 2015 before and hated Hanoi previously is that this year I loved Hanoi. It’s crazy, dirty and chaotic but it’s dead cheap and super interesting to explore. Spent a night on a boat on Ha Long Bay this time (last time was a day trip) and I can’t recommend that trip enough – it’s that’s good.

December: went to Hot District and Ob Luang National Park for the first time – different. Some nice views. Doi Inthanon on the way back for the third time, still cold and more tourists than ever 

Somewhere in between times I also spent a night in Lampang and went to their weekend night market – in terms of interest better than the markets in Chiang Mai and that’s the third year straight I’ve spent a night there just to go to Lampang market.

Obviously, money permitting I’d like to travel further in 2020 but all-in-all, a good travel year. One takeaway – there are places in mainland China that are really fantastic that people should visit given the opportunity. If one day the geopolitics finally calms down, mainland China has the potential to be massively popular.


I just realized that I haven’t properly posted here since August last year.

On occasion, I have the odd brain wave about turning my personal blog into travel/ digital nomad blog, but they come and go. Let’s be honest, in the main personal blogging is dead unless you’re trying to sell something, and if you’re not all the smart guys now post to Medium; I do like Medium but the same reason I wouldn’t host my personal blog on is the same reason I wouldn’t host it on Medium either: I like the control, even if I don’t post very often.

But I digress.

My last update was August last year after my 2 month long grand tour of Asia and it was an amazing time and a year later I do miss not doing something similar, with different destinations, again.

I’ve had some life drama over the last 2 months: I severely sprained my ankle, was in a cast and on crutches. My better half took up a new job where she was bullied and treated appallingly badly and quit after 2 weeks (if it was Australia we would have been in court by now, it doesn’t work that way in Thailand) and then she was in a car crash. The stress of all that gave me my worst case of tonsillitis (and migraines and an ear infection…3 from 3 🙂 ) in 20+ years and as I write this I’ve only really been physically better in the last 2 days.

But here’s the thing. For all the drama in life, I’m grateful for what I have.

I have some good to amazingly great friends in Chiang Mai and other places in Thiland now who from fate, or luck, I am beyond fortunate to have made.

Life is good, and I live in a place I love, not just because Northern Thailand is insanely cheap versus Australia (it helps soooo much 🙂 ), or that I hate cold weather and it’s rarely cold here, but because it’s just a legitimately lovely, nice place to live and when I decided to reset my life when I moved here the plan actually ended up working out.

Life is never boring, and there are always challenges, but I’m grateful for what I have now, and grateful at the age of 40 that not only did I live this long (never thought I would 🙂 ) but heading through middle age (it hurts me to say that 🙂 ) if all goes to plan I’m set for life even before 50.

Chon Chang, which in Thai is a toast to elephants (Chang is elephant…weirdly it’s also my Thai nickname 🙂 ) that they may win the war.

If life is a war I think that after far too much bullshit for years I might actually finally be winning it 🙂


On approaching 40

April 28, 2015

Got asked today whether I’d hooked up with anyone or found a partner yet in Thailand.

Oddly I remember several people (some who I can name but won’t) saying to me that you’ll never know yourself until you can live with yourself being single, something most of my adult life I couldn’t live with, and didn’t.

I think today that I can, but I’d lie if I didn’t admit there were times where I didn’t like being alone.

I reinvented myself at 30. Through risk, occasional misadventure and amazing ups, and sadly some downs (sometimes obviously serious) in between, not many people can say they spent 10 years working for themselves (or via contract from home, same sort of thing,) and in my case, I’ve never had to wear a suit to work in 10 years. Oddly the formal 10 year anniversary is 10 years come early December.

Shit has happened, but I remain grateful today that I have a writing gig that I love, friends, be it most of them far away, and I can wake up in the morning and occasionally inspire others to do better.

But for all that: I still don’t have a plan for the next 10 years, besides being able to legally see my own flesh and blood, Declan Riley, come August 2020.

I really should come up with a plan though, I’d love to be rich in the next 5 years and be able to put my son through University for example, but at this stage, given but once again his mother has cut off all access (legally, sadly) who knows.

I’ve got about 4 and a bit months to work out a plan.

Wish me luck, I need it 🙂


They saying that life wasn’t meant to be easy.

But life does test us.

I loved my time in Thailand, but towards the last week it became a challenge. I’m not going to go into all the details, other than to say fuck, and all at the last minute.

But I will share this; after a week of where I had magical highs and lows (I still can’t lift stuff with my right arm, and have possibly inflamed my arm injury again, falling on the steps of the BKK Sky Train..) so I, after a 12 hour layover in KUL, which was horrible, not because I couldn’t find a place to sleep on a bench, but because of the very rude people who make up 50% of those who do that (I’m not mentioning where they are from on the subcontinent and their unbelievable rudeness,) I got on the KUL-PER flight. Got to say Malaysia Airways was amazing in terms of quality and flight.

Would fly them again tomorrow: and in perspective, their cost was half of that than Air Asia/ Air AsiaX…which were supposed to be their cheap alt.

Except:…well, it’s probably not their fault vs the airports, but they lost my bag.

Nearly every single piece of clothing I own is in that bag. I did the purge couple of years back.

It turned up this morning (2 days later) via Courier: I can’t put in words how much it made me feel amazing again. Anyhow..

I will sleep tonight…and know I have my bag back in the morning.

Also touch wood worked 🙂


September 4, 2014



“The countenance is the portrait of the soul, and the eyes mark its intentions.”

Sage advice I should have followed in years gone by.

Marcus Tullius Cicero.

As I walked down the street from one of my 3 local 7-Elevens tonight I was nearly hit by a car.

This car came probably in under 1m away from me.

I never flinched once nor cared. I’m in Thailand. It was way close, but it was never going to hit me.thai bike

And if one thing Thailand has taught me is that caring less is freedom.

For those interested in the car story: it’s just usual here. Bikes often get closer as you’re walking up and down a street.

In Australia, I’d go completely and utterly spare. Every. Single. Time.

But somehow this wonderful country called Thailand has taught me not to care. To not get stressed. To not unduly worry.

Yes, Thailand has a horrible track record with road deaths, but likewise no one is going to run into you as you walk up the street.

I’ll walk up my street again tonight, and I won’t give a shit about being hit because I know that an average Thai on a bike, or in a car, doesn’t want to hit me.

And this conquers a lot of anxiety I ever had.

I’ve been accused by quite a few people of running away from my problems.

I’m not, as opposed to saying fuck it all and lets live somewhere where I can be happy and content.

I would never have thought about moving to Chiang Mai accept this bloke I know, who’s maybe a bit crazier than I am, but none the less a good bloke (and he worked out the sale of The Blog Herald for me) David Krug suggested Chiang Mai as a destination.

I’m happy he did.

I love this town. I really do. I’m content here. I’m comfortable. And the only bad thing is it’s near on impossible to get a permanent stay here visa.

And yet some people suggest that I’ve run away.

I’ve not run away from anything. You can’t runaway from nothing after all 🙂

My relationship with Kellie came to an end and so be it: still love the girl, and will always be there for her, but let me say this (please don’t be upset Kel that I’m saying this publicly) I encouraged her to get back with her husband, which she has and is still doing. She’s quite possibly my sole mate, and the only person I’ve ever met in my life who is kinda like me.

It’s a relationship I actually regret losing…unlike the nut cases prior.

I’ve had a seriously colourful relationship past (before Kellie I would note…I have ZERO negative to say about her,) including a full blown psycho who thought that sending out IVO’s daily was fun. That relationship cost me soooo many friends it wasn’t funny. For the record my name was on them: it wasn’t my idea, I was just supporting my partner.

But I need to accept the blame.

My ex-wife left me after telling me one day that she’d like to donate to the IVF programme then several months later running off with the husband of the woman she was donating her eggs to.

Shit I can’t make up: I’m seriously not that creative.

But so it is.

The next time you, and anyone thinks that I’m in Thailand running away please don’t: I’m here because I gave up the pursuit of wealth in an attempt to be content and happy, and this place makes me happy.

I’m content, not stressed (every day people nearly run me over and I don’t care, in Melbourne I’d be seriously upset.)

If it works out I don’t know. And yes the heat earlier this week got to me. But tell me seriously if you’re single: why not give a shot to something that may make you happy?

PS: Given I’m 15 months away from middle age…. 😉


So I have a new gig, I’m a staff writer for Social News Daily. It was officially announced Monday US time (31/3.)

Post here.

It was a beyond lovely post and I promise I had nothing to do with it…well except edit it after it went up after Andy Beard pointed out to me on Twitter: b5media was founded in 2005, not 2004 as per the original post (note to self: I’m getting old and forgetting dates 🙂 )

I’m also somewhat stoked that a good guy like Andy Beard not only remembers me, but remembers my past better than I do.

I’ve had a proverbial shit ton of positive feedback about the new gig across social media, including people who I haven’t had much to do with in years (some going back to TechCrunch time) that have gone out of their way to like, congratulate or other forms of social media recognition.

It’s humbling. It really is that after all these years people still can find value in me writing, and giving my opinion.

Those who know me, or have followed me through some pretty dark years know some of the story post divorce to this point. Roller coaster kind of comes close.

I’m not going to rehash it all again…because if one thing about the response to this new gig tells me is that where perhaps at times that while I didn’t have a lot of faith in myself, others still did, and do.

It’s my 13th year in blogging, and I’m in my 10th year this year of doing it for a living. I’ve been what I guess some would call extremely well off, and I’ve also had periods where I was buggered if I knew how to pay the next bill. Because life is never boring there were I think six periods over all 🙂

Over the last 18+ months I’ve tried to rebuild myself, and part of that has been with, not exactly nail biting tech posts (or revenue), but I’ve built it to the stage it has paid the bills, and oddly it gives most readers joy, often daily, when they find free stuff. There’s nothing nicer when a reader emails me to say they loved a sample they obtained via the site..and in one case a $20,000 holiday abroad. The site helped me rebuild daily discipline in writing (8 posts minimum a day week day (I aim for 10), and sometimes it’s not as easy as it seems when you can’t find 4 or 5 freebies to post.)

I’m not giving up (it pays my bills), but having joined Social News Daily others now have an expectation that I write and deliver, and from this week I aim to continue to crawl back to someone I use to be. I hope to be someone who can make headlines again and break stories.

Since starting at SND I’ve already had an amazing impact in writing about the potential new Armenian Genocide in Syria, (with an insane 11,000 social shares and counting, on the first post, another 6k on the follow ups and still counting) and although someone said to me on Facebook today that I’m being employed to write click bait: it may be true to some extent but even if once a month I can drive traffic by helping promote an amazingly worthy cause like #SaveKessab, I can and will go to bed at night sleeping better for it.


Hi world, I think I might be back! 🙂


Before I start, let me say that the following comes with a warning: I’m not a lifestyle guru, nor am I a life coach, any sort of guru, or any of the god knows how many sites who are promising you the world based on an idea.

But here’s the catch: I have an idea.

The following should be taken with not a grain of salt, but with about a dozen bags of it, because like way to many people blogging theses days, I’m not an expert just because I have an idea that may or not be good.

That aside.

In the new year I’m hitting the reset button on my life.

I’ve had some amazing experiences, successes, but I’ve also had some fucking tragic awful failures, be it mostly in my personal life.

Yay, I can build a website up. Nooo I fail at relationships, although I can survive them from anywhere to 3 months through to 9 years (with most <2 years.)

A friend (and I wish I could remember who) once said to me that you will only be ready for a relationship when you are comfortable with living by yourself.

After nearly 10 years of marriage the whole concept sounded wrong. The thought that I could live alone was wrong, and after the separation then divorce all I did was try to fill my life with someone else.

I’m not suggesting that anyone reading this can’t, or shouldn’t have someone in their life, but it’s an interesting point: “you are only ready for a relationship when you can live with yourself” (I know that’s not what I wrote above, but in each instance, it’s words to that affect.)

I can live with myself now. Actually, at this point in my life, I’m quite happy doing so. It only took 38 years 🙂

I’m currently planning to move back to Chiang Mai, where I spent roughly 4 out of the last 6 months in. I love the place, but I’m not using this post to explain why, I’ll save that for another post.

The moral/ idea of this post/ story is that you can be happy alone (with salt 🙂 ) I know it’s hard and hell it took me years to accept it but as I write this I know that I’m going to be far more happy alone than I will be in a relationship (and that’s putting aside the BS I’ve dealt with.)

I only wish I could remember who told me about being happy alone so I could credit them.

I’ve been there, done that, and if you are going through any relationship issues, or alone issues, know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and you can be happy alone.

I’m not going to open up a call centre here but if you want to talk about your probs, or ping my brain: duncan at Happy to talk.

But again, as per the heading: the reset button is coming. I hope to get back in Chiang Mai ASAP and come January 1st I’m pressing that button.

(insert guru stuff here) YOU CAN DO THAT 😀

OK so I’m taking the piss now but seriously, I am, and if anyone reading this has had any doubts, you can as well.


I need to be more selfish

October 25, 2013



One of the biggest failings in my life, personally, in business and even in a gig, is that I’ve been way to trusting.

The reality is that over and over again I get screwed for being so trusting.

I should theoretically be in Melbourne as I write this; I’m not. I’m in Chiang Mai.

I’d paid to go home to Melbourne but got bailed on at the 11th hour. So be it.

But I can say it’s not the first time I’ve been deceived either. Sort of the story of my life.

I’d booked to see a Stephen Fry and Kevin Smith maybe 3-4 years ago..and go bailed on in the end…I still went though 🙂

There’s more behind that, but I won’t carry on.

But I will say this: never trust a woman when it comes to promises, even if you are married.