Where it’s at, the realities of life on the road.

I have been travelling for 115 days, 2 hours, 36 minutes and 55 seconds! I know this because I just added a cool day countdown to my website.

So where are things at with regard to my trip and what have I learnt during my time on the road?

I’m in Borneo at the moment and I must say the place agrees with me. It’s a place I can live out my ‘boys own adventure’, trekking into remote locations like some modern day explorer.
I’ve been using Kuching as a base from which to make trips into the interior. Two local people, Nicholas and Francesca have both helped in feeding two streams of interest I have been following in my recent videos; spirituality and social anthropology.

Work and Money
Working on the road has not been easy. I’m terribly behind in my editing. Pretty much all the best stuff, still needs to be edited. My planned main income source, youtube adsense, has taken a terrible dive after google recently changed their search algorithm. Basically my income has halved. And if I’m to be honest with myself, this is partly the reason I have not worked so hard to edit all my footage. I’m considering my options and wondering if youtube is the best fit for my content. Sure it gets the most views of any video platform, but if those views result in half the income one could get from other sources e.g. television, it is not sustainable for independent producers. When television converges with the internet, youtube hopes to still be numero uno. Recently they paid out $100 million to 100 new channels to help with this transition. Unfortunately though for those independent creators who have built a following on youtube, they were not selected in this new initiative, with most of the money going to unknown production houses.
Do we need more of the same tv offerings, I suppose time will tell? I think it is a risky move by youtube, making outcasts of their aspiring amateur ‘content providers’. Maybe the door is open for a clever start up to form niche channels, travel content for example seems to be completely ignored in youtube’s new convergence push.
Despite the downturn in my adsense revenue, I still turned a profit after the first 3 months of travel. I’m not going to go into detail but all that income has been video based e.g. stock footage sales, video download sales and other video platform ad revenue. If anything, the youtube changes have forced me to find my own permanent sources of passive income and not rely on the ebbs and flows of advertising. I have a few ideas in the pipeline and only wish I had a crystal ball to work out which of these ideas will reap the most reward before expending valuable time.

Finding a balance
I found when I first started this trip, I did tend to over indulge a bit. Why not, I was making a passive income in a strong currency, I was travelling the world, why not live like a rock star! In Bali, after maybe 10 years of not smoking, I started again. My reasoning, everyone smokes in Asia and cigs were cheap! I also found I was drinking most every night. It is easy to get caught up in the ‘party’ atmosphere when around other travellers who are up for a good time on their short yearly holidays.
I’ve since stopped smoking and recently stopped drinking (short term social experiment). I realised on an extended stay at a remote longhouse in the jungle, the only thing I truly craved when away from civilisation, was my morning cup of coffee.
I’m a typical Aussie male, love a drink, love a beer at the end of the day. But I’ve come to realise alcohol is like a safety blanket. People use it to pep themselves up, to help bring sleep, but essentially, it is a time waster. I’ve realised being half tanked is not the most productive way to end a day.
Which brings me to another outcome of my travels and my on-the-road reading. Like a lot of ‘digital nomads’ I read that damn Tim Ferris book, ‘The four hour work week’. At first I got some good out of it, I assessed aspects of my life using the Pareto principle. I made some positive changes, cutting back my digital footprint, closing my personal Facebook account, which I deemed a time waster and generally avoided tasks I didn’t feel like doing. But then I looked at the fruits of Tim’s book, I researched those ‘living the dream’, Swarmy digital narcissists, each trying to flog the other useless online products, with hyperbole and snake oil. I recommend the book, but personally I WANT to fill my hours with meaningful work, I just want to be in control of when and how. I’m still working on finding that balance but already feel buoyant with the results of time gained from cutting time wasting activities from my daily activities.

Solo Travel
There are certain things that just shouldn’t be done alone. We are social creatures and I think if one is to enjoy solo travel, one must find strategies that helps one meet strangers. The internet and sites like couch surfing are a great place to start. But I think it is also important to be open to just meeting people out and about. When on Perhentian Island, I vowed I would not eat alone for any meal. So I would approach other tables, ok, usually groups of attractive women, and ask them if I could join them. Never was I refused. Taking on a challenge like this, changes your whole mindset. It actually puts you in a great mood and gives you a great feeling of independence. You can float in and out of social situations as you please.
But what about longer term friendships, and romance I hear you ask? Well yes, this is a problem, a 3 day holiday romance may be all fun and exciting to start with, but it is not really a sustainable relationship model. I really don’t have the answer to this one. Personally I think I’m going through sexual transmutation, and it’s a liberating feeling, not being driven by some evolutionary drive to perpetuate the species or to put it more bluntly, feel the need to chase pussy. Oh God I am getting old!
I would like to meet someone, but there is no great need at this stage in my journey, which is a nice position to be in.

Challenging yourself to follow your dream
It is amazing how when you start on the quest to follow your dream, people and things quietly fall into place without the slightest need for action from yourself. I’ve always been very lucky in my travels and yet still I worry about money and the future like anyone else.
Recently I spent a restless night while staying in a remote jungle longhouse. Right near where I was sleeping, a small house was built for the spirit of the surrounding jungle. The builder of the longhouse was told in a dream to build a small house for the local spirit, in order to protect the residents of the longhouse. As I lay there tossing and turning, in the netherworld between wake and dream, I heard a voice whisper softly, ‘If you believe, it will be’. I’m not talking some kind of Rhonda Byrne rip everyone off ‘the secret’ kind of way. It was stated like a fact. As though to say, you are doing as you wanted, why worry about the outcome, continue on your path, and it will all fall into place.
Now I imagine a lot of you are going, what hippy trippy shit is this you are going on about! But for me, a person who cut and slices my way through life, trying to stamp my mark on every aspect, struggling and fighting to make things happen the way I want them to happen. My experience has shown, again and again, no matter how much I think I’m in control, I never really know where my next break is going to come from. And if I have my eyes firmly planted on where I think my opportunities may come, I may miss an actual opportunity!
So worrying is such a pointless activity AND it will kill you, so now, I just do my thing, and somehow, through some alchemic mystery, it all seems to fall into place….sickening really, for a control freak πŸ™‚

So really, it’s all going fine and dandy. Of course there are days when I wonder how I will make this all work. But it’s happening, my eyes are clear, I’m alive and for those moments when I’m in tune with all around me, filming an amazing story, meeting amazing people. Well, there is no place I’d rather be.

Happy travels, and love to hear your comments below.

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19 thoughts on “Where it’s at, the realities of life on the road.

  1. Hey Mr. Overlander, I get what you are talking about. You seem to be at an exciting turning point and really living life in the now, with a sense of freedom and aliveness. I have been there too where things were not really working and I needed to lift myself above it all and searched for another way of living my truth, I guess. That whispering voice can only be heard by tapping into that part of the brain a lot of people rarely use. I have started reading a book called β€œblink” – the power of thinking without thinking which talks about this type of thing. I guess that makes me hippy trippy too.

    It’s good that you are no longer distracted by smoking, drinking to excess and holding on to control. As you mentioned, by doing that you open yourself to the unknown as nothing is ever set in concrete, or is that stone ( think that’s my Italian heritage talking). All the best and enjoy the flow.

  2. Thanks Teresa, Your comment about thinking without thinking made me think of a recent video I watched featuring John Cleese talking about creativity http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGt3-fxOvug How sometimes all we need to find a solution to a problem is to sleep on it.

  3. Good one Mark. It’s certainly a refreshing take on life. Too many seek to control themselves and others and end up losing out. I agree with the “believe it will be”. Remain optimistic and things happen effortlessly.
    Glad to see you’re going well.
    Dan

  4. hi teresa, hi mark,

    i couldn’t have said it better. you are absolutely right!
    when we trust in ourselves and life, everything will fall into place. i wonder why. is it the balance in us, the QUIET, which let us think more clear.
    if we know, and are able to articulate precisely what we need in our life, i believe, we will get it.

    love and lets float πŸ˜‰
    hugs
    kris

    p.s. mark, it makes me happy to read that my blog post “CREATIVITY” John Cleese
    John Cleese on the Origin of Creativity http://mruxndesign.blogspot.com/2010/09/creativityjohn-cleese.html “met” you and left such an impression.
    and by the way, did the most sexy QUIT SMOKING commercial with john cleese [in the end of the same blog post] do the trick? LOL
    i quit smoking on my last australia trip 2003! πŸ˜‰ i feel free now! xox

  5. … MAYBE YOU SHOULD START A 2ND BLOG CALLED ‘HIPPY TRIPPY’
    ABOUT “HOW WE DISCOVER THE TRUE MEANING OF LIFE,… WHICH IS ….
    … DISCOVERING THAT WE JUST CAN LIVE OUR DREAMS AND NOTHING BAD WILL HAPPEN TO US.
    OF COURSE IT’S NOT THAT EASY [OR IS IT, MAYBE?], AND THAT’S WHY YOU SHOULD WRITE ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE OF YOUR INNER JOURNEY, WHILE YOU ARE TRAVELING IN THE OUTSIDE OF YOUR BODY.
    πŸ˜‰ KRIS

  6. Thanks for the video recommendation Mark. I would have loved to have been part of that audience. Kris, I do agree, it is the quiet that is the key. It’s also home base to our sanity ?

  7. whoops, the question mark is meant to be a smile.

  8. Happy for you as i read yr article with great interest…..also note that you are a teacherable person and willing to adapt to changes to the enviroments and you have a strong will power (God’s gift) to make up yr mind on the issues of smoke and alcohol and partying…and also i presume as you go along yr life that you are a blessing to anothera and meeting the right people at the right time also can have good effect to yr living…..u are a lucky bloke as you have freedom and not much commitment to yr family in australia….i have met many “foreigners” up to my present age. i would rate you as brilliant, honest, helpful, clean, disciplined and easy to get along….and above all u have great sence of umour and respect for others….i end here wishing you best and evetually GOD touches yr life more someday as he did to mine…..love you bro..hope to see and met up again…where? GOD knows!!!! take care yaar ( yaar means brotherly friend)…..

  9. This is a great post. I couldnt agree more about the proliferation of LD blogs and follow me hype. I do like how you are doing your own thing, keeping it humble, and showing people a skill you have (video making). Kind of serendipitous for myself since I want to make videos for my soon to be site but dont have any experience in video making. Couch surfing is great, but I really like how you never eat alone… pushing your own boundaries and getting out and meet people in the “wild”. Great mindset. Keep it up.

  10. thanks brother mountain, sounds like a reference πŸ™‚

  11. Mr Overlander.You have been doing this for ages and you are really down to earth with your work n everything, and you really need the best of eveything.Keep the good work going.

  12. β€œWe can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.”
    ? Paulo Coelho
    Someone once said to me…”Dont think Ange…just feel”..Havent forgot it yet.Enjoy the journey….Its ur path…!

  13. I too have been guilty of overindulgence while traveling solo. I guess its because of the notion that I would not have the chance to “try” the local delights ever again.

  14. … great site Mark, couldnt stop looking at your videos … I travel mostly alone and really agree you have to meet/interact with the locals whenever you can, otherwise your solo experience eventually develops an unhealthy lingering fear (I have no idea where this fear comes from or what its about, but it usually makes its presence felt after a sustained solo stretch)
    The problem with traveling is stopping, once you start in earnest I think your committed for life, there are periods where you get absolutely sick of it, but give it some time and the ol’ travel bug returns … also our photos from our travel experiences will always renew the fading memories of earlier travels, what better way to relive a life when this life is coming to an end … (but hopefully thats not for a while yet!)
    Im looking forward to seeing your Japan postings as its one of my favorite comfortable destinations …

  15. Yes, when to stop, I really want to film the whole world, but at the rate I’m going…it could take years!

  16. This is such an inspiration to me, you have no idea. I’ve always toyed with the idea of just… leaving. Drive until I run out of gas or out of road. Thank you for this.

  17. Ahh, that damn Four Hour Work Week book… I’m reading it right now. While it’s inspiring and all, I can’t help but think that his level of automation isn’t realistic in my life. I think he also downplays the time commitment it takes to see your ‘muses’ actually start to make a viable income.

    Anyways, I was really intrigued to read about your challenge to eat dinner with someone every night on Perhentian Island. Maybe someday I’ll get the cajones to do something similar.

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