Tag Archives: Travel

A short note from me to you at the start of this New Year: I’m writing this under the bright light of a full moon so as not to disturb my sleeping wife. We’ve been having a lovely holiday in Myanmar since Christmas Eve (check out the photostream here) and have an early morning wake-up tomorrow to watch the sun rise over ruins of an ancient city called Bagan. Not a bad way to start a day, right?

Today, the 4th of January, is Myanmar’s independence day, commemorating when this country (then called ‘Burma’) broke free from Britain. I started this morning riding a shaky electric “E-Bike” along a very sandy, sawtooth-ragged road shoulder. As I wobbled along, the double-tap horns of passing motorbikes and swerving, speeding cars made the traffic feel much more like India than Thailand. I took a deep breath, clinched my jaw, and kept my eyes pointed straight ahead.

We eventually arrived at the nearly 1,000 year old Ananda Pagoda and wandered through the overflowing crowds of a festival which was sort of hybrid between a busy town market and a once-a-year county fair: Human-powered amusement park rides plastered, unaccountably, with the image of Johnny Depp-as-Captain Jack Sparrow, monks of every size, age, and description wandering amidst a backdrop of distorted electronic music playing through overdriven speakers and, everywhere, the smell of unfamiliar foods and spices in the air.

I spent the afternoon back at the hotel, recovering from how I spent my morning.

Bagan is an archeological treasure, the site of thousands of pagodas and religious monuments. Its breadth rivals Angkor Wat. We’ve had a beautiful time so far here in Myanmar and I thought I’d share it with you in case you needed an inspiring place to visit on this Earth or, you know, were wondering why I haven’t answered your email or been fixing AppleScripts inconveniently broken by some new app update.

Looking Ahead

Bagan is now at the center of Myanmar’s nascent rebirth as a tourist destination and, as a place which mixes history with new beginnings, is probably the perfect place to start 2015 and sort through this moment in my life when I feel a strong urge to take stock of where I’ve been – and where I really want to go.

2014 was another peripatetic year: It began in Luang Prabang, Laos and ended with fireworks over Inle Lake, here in Myanmar. In between–Thailand, Hong Kong, the U.S., the U.K., Italy, Switzerland, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, French Polynesia. In each place, Lauren and I found old friends or made new ones.

How lucky is that?

Moving around so much hasn’t made it easy to finish everything I’ve started, but I think – I hope – that all this travel has helped me begin to see myself and the work I want to do more clearly. More and more this year, I found myself thinking about how traditions and technologies can work together to make our lives feel fuller and make our world more humane.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve met so many people who use a pastiche of ideas and tools–old and new–to do their best work and build a future for themselves. It often leaves me feeling more curious than certain about how to get at my own best work… but I suppose that means that I’m exploring in the right places. I have some glimmers of the direction that this is taking me and I’m looking forward to sharing more with you here soon.

For now, I wanted to take this moment to thank you again for all of the kind support you’ve given me in 2014: Your personal notes, mentions, and donations make me feel so very grateful to have an opportunity to share a bit of myself with you.

The more I live, the more I understand what a rare and wonderful privilege this is.

A Review of One Year of AFAR Magazine

AFAR Magazine

Today’s mail included a copy of AFAR Magazine with one of those “THIS IS YOUR LAST ISSUE!” flyers attached to the cover. These days, with more of my reading material arriving digitally, I almost always let the print subscription lapse — but I’m renewing this one.

If you like to read more about the people and the culture of the places you go, then AFAR is probably the magazine you’ve been looking for all these years.

One Year of AFAR Magazine

In a happy moment of travel-related serendipity, I found out about AFAR while on a trip last summer. We were staying at a place in Dubai’s Bastakiya neighborhood and, while walking around, a nearby Hotel / Gallery caught our eye.1

The manager, an American named Harrison, was kind enough to show us around and invited us to enjoy some cool beverages in the shade afterwards. We all talked about our travels and, at some point, Harrison asked us “Have you ever heard of AFAR Magazine?”. One of its founders had just been a guest and he described it as a magazine geared toward people interested in a more engaged style of exploring the world.

It piqued my interest, and so I subscribed when we returned to New York a couple of months later.

Traveling With Your Brain Turned On

AFAR is about international, intentional travel and, with every issue that’s arrived since I subscribed, I’ve been impressed by its quality. The features, the photography, the layout, and the writing are consistently enjoyable2.

This isn’t more of the same “Aspirational Lifestyle Porn” that is often passed off as travel journalism these days (you won’t likely see “The AFAR Top 100 List of Über-Luxe Resorts / Objets Inaccessible” anytime soon). Instead, it focuses on having experiences which can help you understand a place better — irrespective of price.

You’ll find articles about people and the work they do, useful tips about how local people live, about the art and the food cultures which often give a region its unique textures and flavors, stories about volunteering and ways to get more deeply involved in the places you visit…. and, of course, plenty of photos to get you day-dreaming!

Best of Both Worlds

Even though it’s a difficult time for traditional publishing, there are still a few magazines that deliver a quality product which actually takes advantage of the strengths of the printed page. Monocle, The Economist, National Geographic, and the New York Review Of Books will always have an audience because each gives a tactile, visceral reading experience that isn’t the same as a website or an eBook. In the same way, AFAR Magazine is a pleasure to read and I’m already looking forward to thumbing through another year’s worth of issues!

But AFAR also has a digital presence… and it’s not a web-based rehash of the magazine. AFAR Connect is an online community that lets members reach out to one another, ask questions of locals, post photos, and trade travel tips and must-see places (As part of my upcoming “Tech for Travelers” Series, I’ll give you a closer look at AFAR Connect).

Both in print and digital forms, AFAR puts people and their stories at the center of their content. I think it’s a smart, engaging approach and well-worth checking out!

  1. Traveling to Dubai? Be sure to check out Bastakiya! It’s hard to grasp how much things have changed for this city without walking around this traditional neighborhood and along the nearby Dubai Creek. []
  2. I was very pleased to discover that writers like Matt Gross and Rachel Shukert were contributors []

We recently took a tour of Tom Bihn’s new Seattle factory and talked with him about making a product (and a business) that reflects your values.

Tom Bihn Tour

Tom and Lauren Discuss The Art Of Bag Construction

Lauren and I were traveling in the Pacific Northwest last week and decided to drop by Tom Bihn’s new factory / showroom to thank them in person for supporting the “Help In Your Own Way Giveaway”. We expected a quick visit but, instead, we received a full tour of the new place — personally led by Tom and by Darcy Gray, the Vice President of Tom Bihn.

[Read more…]