Hosting Horrors Part 2

Hosting Horrors Part 2

Time to get back to it, hosting your sites that is. Unless you’re reading through the archives. In which case it was just time to click on the link for the next link. Kind of gets rid of the anticipation though doesn’t it?

Setting up your VPS instance

Sign up for Digital Ocean, and then create a droplet. The instructions I’m going to be giving you are for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. You can use something else instead, but I like Ubuntu quite a lot, your mileage may vary.

There is a great walkthrough I used on Digital Oceans support site here There are a couple of things that I would say though if you are going to be going through this whole walkthrough and using Easy Engine. My first thought when I install a new Linux server is to install MySQL and Apache. You aren’t going to be using Apache and it was a pain to migrate off of it, so I’d recommend against installing it now. Also don’t install MySQL yet unless you have a specific reason to. Let Easy Engine do it and you can save yourself creating a couple of config files and such. It’ll set a random root password that you can change later if you want. It boils down to just setting up your users, specifically one with sudo access. I also usually set my root password in general when I do a new install. You do that by doing the following:

sudo su

Enter in your password then put in

passwd

Set the password and now your root user has a password set. If you want to do a whole lot of root stuff this can be a nice thing. Just realize that you’re going around all of the security that Ubuntu puts in to keep a static root user out. There are occasions when it can be really nice though so just be aware of what you’re doing.

Also make sure that you have openssh-server installed. Make sure that you can SSH into the box. Once you have the DNS setup you can just use user@yourdomain.com where “user” is your username and “domain.com” is any of the domains you pointed at the instance.

Easy Engine

Easy Engine is a piece of software that makes setting up your server infinitely easier. You have to get your VPS setup first though as we went through before. The install process at Easy Engine is pretty good and I’d recommend it. It is basically just running a shell script as root. It allows all of your stack to be installed by Easy Engine.

After that I would recommend running

sudo ee stack install --all

That will install anything that isn’t already installed. Also run

sudo ee stack install -php7

That will allow you to run sites in PHP7 mode. It’s super fast, although a lot of older plugins and themes don’t support it. I tried it out on a clients beta site and the landing page loaded super fast, but it wouldn’t go to any other page. I put it back since I could see them wanting their customers to be able to navigate their site. It’s always something with those people, right?

Creating a site with Easy Engine

Creating a site with Easy Engine is pretty easy. As long as you have your DNS updated and it’s propagated out you can go off to the races.

sudo ee site create yourdomain.com --wpfc --letsencrypt

So lets break that down a bit.

sudo ee site create yourdomain.com

That creates a new site. One of the most basic forms of that is

sudo ee site create yourdomain.com --wp

That creates the site with WordPress. It creates a MySQL database and a user for that database. It installs the newest version of WordPress and then creates a user for you. You can specify that in the config file, but if not it will tell you the login details in the terminal session. I make sure to set my default user as the same email address as my wordpress.com account then I can install Jetpack and enable Single Sign On, and I’m off to the races.

The next part is the

--wpfc

That installs the Nginx cache options for WordPress. There are some faster caching stuff out there, but that enables Memcache and some other goodies. It also tends to just work and I can’t be bothered to mess with my caching options all day long. I’ve tried thw w3tc option (wwwtc super cache) and I’ve had tons of issues getting it to stay working. It’s always something with my .htaccess file. I also make sure to enable the image CDN stuff in Jetpack. If you select jump start when you install it you’ll be good on that. It enables it that way.

The last part is

--letsencrypt

That enables a free SSL cert on it. That’s why I had you create a www A record in your DNS earlier. Lets Encrypt checks for that. It will make a SSL cert for 90 days, but it will also create a cron job that renews it 30 days before it expires for every site you use it on. Pretty cool right? I thought it was. It saved me a ton on SSL certs.

Final Hosting Steps

So your site is installed? Great! Now go to https://yourdomain.com/wp-admin, login, then you’re good to go. I’d recommend installing Jetpack in the plugins section (it’s one of the top featured ones, can’t miss it), activate it, tie it to your wordpress.com account (create one if you don’t have one, they’re free), and click jump start. I also enable monitor on all of my sites so that I get an email if they go down. I also do a couple of other things on all of my new sites, but I’ve already been running pretty long on this. If people are interested I’ll go into my next steps. They’re Google Analytics setup, Google Webmaster Tools, and some email forwarding stuff on the server. Also some WordPress best practices (backup, SEO, Security).

Conclusion

Now you have a functioning web server. Pretty cool right? Now you just have to administer, update, and take care of it (that’s the easy part right?). Do you have a better way of running your web server? Let me know in the comments. Do you have any questions? Let me know in the same place. That’s actually just going to be a good generalization. Correspond in the comments. Yeah, lets go with that.

Hosting Horrors Part 1

Hosting Horrors Part 1

I started hosting all of my own websites on VPS instances in the cloud. I was sick of the price and quality of hosting in general. I was on a shared hosting plan, like most people that administer their own sites. It was fine when I was just hosting my website, which was really just a place to put my resume and my PGP key. I’ve had that domain for years and use it as my primary professional email domain. I lucked out and got in before Google started charging for a few emails and I’m grandfathered in.

Once I started hosting sites for clients it got to be a bigger issue. The latency and uptime was all over the place. My sites were going down every week. The hosting provider tried to say that they didn’t go down, they just didn’t respond for a while, which seems like an academic distinction to me. Unresponsive is unresponsive. I then migrated all of my sites to a VPS provider. It was pretty good, but I didn’t realize that they were, “Managed,” VPS instances. That means that you don’t have root access, it’s really just shared hosting with less bells and whistles. However the performance was MUCH better. I couldn’t do any of the server optimizations that I really wanted to though. What if I don’t like the compression extensions they’re using? Heck, what if I don’t want to use Apache for a web server? Get a dedicated server was the response from their documentation. I’ve been system administrator on some dedicated servers and I’ll pass. They’re also really expensive. If I need that kind of performance I’d prefer to load balance multiple servers so that I have HA (high availability) and fail-over. Although load balancing your load balancer is an interesting problem. If you want that kind of fault-tolerance with dedicated servers you’re also paying for MULTIPLE dedicated servers which is even more expensive.

After all of that I moved to an awesome service called Digital Ocean. I’ve been with them for a while and I use a similar service in Australia called Binary Lane.

Domain Registration

So with Digital Ocean I started hosting all of my sites. I also migrated all of my domains off of my previous hosting provider to a DNS only service. Digital Ocean doesn’t do domain registration which is good, because it forced me to move my domains to a domain registrar that only does that. It’s a good move, because then if you move from one hosting provider to another you don’t have to pay to re-register your domains. I was out over $100USD this year before I realized that. I use Hover, and highly recommend them. They even helped me with transferring/registering some .com.au addresses, and that is an extreme pain. Did you know you need basically an Australian Social Security Number (ABN) to register a .com.au domain? It’s a pain.

DNS Hosting Settings

So DNS is a bit of a black art in a lot of tech. A lot of people say they know DNS and what they really mean is they know the difference between an A record and an MX record, or they know that DNS translates IP’s into human readable URL’s. The core of DNS is simple, but the ways it interacts is not. Also kudos to anyone running a DNS server is a pain. It’s not too bad on Windows, but the O’reilly book on BIND (the major Linux based DNS server) is huge. I got asked in the early stages of my carer to start running a server for the company, and I agreed (because I was an intern and wanted to please). I looked into it and was floored. Fortunately the company wasn’t great on keeping track of it’s ideas so it died a slow death.

Later on in my career, pretty recently actually, I worked on a product that intimately used DNS. The new standards that doctors and hospitals use to communicate with each other and patients use DNS as an authentication layer. It uses DNS cert requests to verify PKI (public key infrastructure). A couple of my colleagues and I looked through a whole lot of DNS routing stuff before we got a handle on exactly what the order was. For instance if I go to a subdomain for a domain does it query the NS record before the A record? It seems like a subtle difference, but depending on that it can go to an entirely different server that doesn’t have the records you need to resolve. We developed a joke that when stuff didn’t work you’d just say, “I don’t know, maybe it’s the DNS?” Now we’re going to go over how to set your DNS settings for your hosting from your registrar then set the other settings on your host.

So in order to host your sites at Digital Ocean and have your domain registration with Hover then you’re going to need to change your name servers for hover. You can set them in the domain settings. You need to change them to the following:

ns1.digitalocean.com
ns2.digitalocean.com
ns3.digitalocean.com

Then you’re going to need to change the DNS settings on your Digital Ocean account. You can do this by navigating to networking along the top, then going to networking. Then you can select domains. Add the domain that you have. then go into it. You’re going to want to set an A record for both

@.yourdomain.com

and

www.yourdomain.com

I’d also create an A record for

mail.yourdomain.com

and then create an mx record for

mail.yourdomain.com

You should see the IP for your droplet get entered into your records. Set all the A records to that IP. You can also request a floating IP and use that as well. I just used the one that was included. If you can’t find it then SSH into your VPS and run

ifconfig

That should give you the IP (it’s not the loopback one).

Your DNS should work now. You can verify by running nslookup on your machine (if you’re Windows). However for the purposes of this I’ll just recommend using an online service. A good DNS server to check against is 8.8.8.8. That’s Google’s DNS and they’re pretty good. I also sometimes use 4.2.2.2 which is Verizon.

That concludes Part 1. Next time I’ll go over getting your VPS and the management layer of your server set up. What, you can’t wait for the next part? TOO BAD! BWAH HA HA HA!!! Sorry, but these walk-throughs get super long, so I’m splitting them up. If people hate that let me know in the comments. It seems like a few thousand words in a row is excessive, but what do I know?

Working On the Road

So you’re working remote. You have a deadline, and you’re saaaaay in Southeast Asia, like me. Where can you get it done? I know some people that work quite well from lobbies in hostels. Personally if I need to get more than three hours or so of work done per day I need someplace quiet to work. At hostels I always say that I get distracted by fun.

“Hey Noah, you want to go to the beach?”

“Wow, that sounds like way more fun than what I’m doing!” Clack goes the laptop shut.
I’ve tried a few different ways of doing this. I’m not sure if you thrive on chaos in a work environment; I’ve met a few people who do (ie. development bullpens shudder).

Coffeshops

I’ve was working in Kuta, Bali at a coffee shop quite a bit near the end of my time there. It was great. They had actual ice tea, yes that is ACTUAL ice tea. If you haven’t been out here before you don’t know how rare that is. Most of the ice tea is basically syrup. Aside from that it was some of the only decent WiFi I had found on the island.

This bares mentioning. Most hostel Wifi sucks. It’s not even an issue with the connection. They are using consumer grade routers with WPA/WPA2 encryption. Those routers were only designed to work with maybe 4-6 devices and a lot of the time they are supporting 30+ devices. In addition to that they are almost never configured by someone familiar with the idea of signal interference, or any of the other quick ways of increasing signal strength in wireless networks.

Back to the coffee shop though, I was working there every day for 5-7 hours. It was great. Aircon, good food (although pricey), not too long of a walk, and the internet was fast enough that I wasn’t waiting 20 seconds every time I clicked on something on a server I was remoted into. Also they gave me a cold towel to wipe off the sweat when I came in, and they had power outlets at the tables. The pluses were many, but there were some downsides too.

I was averaging $7-$10 per day while I was there. That was a big glass of iced tea, a small glass of iced tea (after lunch), and a burger. The burger was really good, they put beets in it sometimes, who knew that would be so good? I was hitting my deadlines and making money being there, so it didn’t really bother me, but that’s a bit of money in Bali. I was only paying $6/day for my dorm room, and street food was about $1 for a meal. It might not be worth it to you, depending on how much income you’re pulling in on those days. If I was only working one or two hours I might not have paid for it.

Mobile Data

I used primarily used mobile data to connect in the Philippines and India, although I used it a little bit in the islands in Southern Thailand. The data was not bad in either place, and it was much faster then the WiFi. I WiFi tethered my phone to my laptop to connect. It is pretty easy to setup and almost all smartphones support doing it. Just remember that you need an unlocked GSM phone to use it outside of the USA. Other countries don’t need to worry as much. BTW it’s almost impossible to get a SIM card in Sweden if you aren’t a citizen (if you can it’s super expensive).

In India most places are using a mobile dongle connected to an access point (router). So your phone will have as much bandwidth as the rest of the restaurant/bar/cafe combined. It’s a pretty easy sell. In Goa it ran me $20 USD/10GB of 3G. I was getting about 5-6Mbps, but the latency was pretty high. This was not in the major areas of Goa either. It was in a pretty small fishing village. Also getting an Indian SIM card is a bit of a pain. I’ll link to a walk-through on how to get one.

In the Philippines the SIM cards are cheap and so is the data. It’s not as cheap as India, but few places are. I paid $30/month for unlimited 4G when it was available and 3G everywhere else. It was pretty good. I used Smart based on some reviews I saw online. You can buy prepay credit almost everywhere, although the SIM cards can be a bit hard to find if you aren’t in the city. Grab one in Manila or Cebu if you go through there. I was able to get some work done in the hostel on my bed while tethered, but I kind of wish I had someplace quieter. Eventually I ended up connecting to my phone and combining it with the next option.

Hotels/Private rooms

Some hotels do have decent WiFi. The one I’m writing this at has excellent connectivity. Thailand in general has had good internet. Koh Lanta didn’t, but it’s one of the smaller, less developed islands. Phuket is fine here. They are connected via fiber. I lead with this because I paid $25/night in Cebu City for a hotel because I thought it would have good wifi. It didn’t. The room was nice though and they had room service, and McDonalds delivery (don’t judge me). Even if you are tethering to your phone it still might be worth spending the extra money on the room if you need to get a bunch of work done. I’ve been working full time here in Phuket, and in Manila and Cebu City I took a week or two each to get some work out the door and have a break from the craziness.

The private room is a good compromise, if you don’t want to become a hermit like I tend to when I’m working a lot. You have your own space to work, but you can come out in the evenings and see people and socialize. I did this for a few days in Manila before I went to Nepal. It was nice. The hotel can be more social if you know people in town, but it’s much harder to meet people traveling outside of a commons area, and hotels don’t have those. If you’re lucky they’ll have an overpriced bar.

Restaurants

I personally can’t stand working at restaurants unless I don’t eat anything. They sometimes have decent WiFi because people are usually just checking FaceBook instead of talking to their friends and they’re not streaming movies. The one exception I’ll put on this is hotel restaurants. People tend to leave you alone and people don’t talk. I still don’t like eating while I’m working somewhere else, but I feel more comfortable doing it at my hotel, although I did eat every day in Bali while I worked, so maybe it’s a comfort thing. It feels weird to me to work at a restaurant. Even at a hotel I’d prefer just to get room service or have something delivered.

Apartments

The closest I got to an apartment, so far on my travels, is an apartel (apartment/hotel) in Manila (specifically just outside Makati). It was pretty nice. the WiFi was bad, but the mobile connectivity was good, and they delivered a lot of fast food (you can see that Manila was not good for my health). I had one of the nicer rooms I stayed at in the Philippines, and it was only $20/day. I even could have cooked there if I had felt like it.

Co-Working Spaces

I know some people that love co-working spaces. I’ve never used them much myself. I was in Koh Phagnan and was right next to one. I went up to it, because I figured the internet would be better then at my hostel. It had a dog in the lobby that hated me, and kept trying to bite me, which was weird because dogs usually love me. No one knew whose dog it was, and nobody was working the desk. I thought about going back later, but it didn’t seem like a place that was conducive to concentration. Other than that it looked quite nice and apparently had dual fiber hookups for fail-over.

I am going to be looking more into co-working spaces if I stay in a city long enough to justify getting setup at one, but I haven’t so far. If I find one I like I’ll be sure to post about it. I did a preliminary check in Bangkok, but the reviews were ho-hum. I’ll check them out if I end up grabbing an apartment there.

Hostels

Now we’re back to hostels. I mentioned before that I can’t get a full day of work done at hotels, but I can get some done. I worked maybe 20-30 hours/month through the beginning of my trip in the Philippines, and I did work in Goa, but that was a two bed private with my buddy.

When I say hostel I specifically mean dorm rooms. The issue for me was that when people walk in and see you on your laptop they feel the need to engage. They think that you are a shut-in that won’t leave your room due to some issue. It’s an admirable reaction because they’re trying to help, but it’s also annoying when you’re interrupted every hour or so by someone talking to you. I mean if I’m on my bed with headphones and a laptop I probably don’t want to talk. Maybe other people don’t have that issue, but if you’re social and get to know the people at the hostel they will talk to you no matter what. It sounds weird, but if you aren’t on the first floor, or next to the commons area it’s less of an issue.

Internet Quality

I’ve done a bunch of talking about where I’ve found the best internet, but I haven’t went into how I judge it. I have pretty specific requirements, but this should give you a good guideline for checking. My requirements are that I need to VPN (secure connect) to a server back in Portland, OR, access servers there, websites, and general web browsing for research.

I have an app on my phone that’s a speed tester. It’s called Ookla. It’s the speedtest.net app, so if you are on a laptop you can also just go to Speedtest.net There is an Android and an IOS version. It doesn’t give all the data I’d like in a speed tester, but it’s free and easy to use. I’d prefer to get package loss and jitter, but we can’t have everything. I take the throughput (higher is better, but 3-5Mpbs is generally enough) as well as the latency (lower is better). I also bring up my FaceBook and see how long it takes to load the news feed. I sometimes bring up a youtube video and see how long it takes to buffer. I also like to go to a couple of blogs that I read and see how fast they load (arstechnica, hackernews, etc).

What I Used

Here is a breakdown of what I used in all the places I’ve been. This is for work. If I was just messing around on FaceBook then it doesn’t really matter how fast the internet is, just that it runs at all.

  • Sweden
    • Some tethering, but I was on international roaming so it was epensive and slow in the rural area where I was staying
  • India
    • Mobile 3G with tethering
  • Philippines
    • Mostly mobile 4G/3G
    • I used WiFi some before I left Manila because I was in the heart of Makati which has pretty good connectivity and was one of the only places with good WiFi I found in the country. The only other place was in Malapascua, which is weird because it’s a really small island.
  • Nepal
    • I was only ever able to get my email to work on the WiFi there. If you’re staying in Kathmandu it might be worth it to grab a SIM card. I spent a lot of time in smaller towns though so it didn’t seem worth it.
  • Singapore
    • I used WiFi, but was pretty underwhelmed. I had heard Singapore had great WiFi, but the place I stayed at didn’t. To be fair it was really cheap for Singapore.
  • Indonesia
    • I had a SIM card here and it worked okay, but in Jakarta my hostel had great WiFi, and in Jojakarta I didn’t do much work. In Bali once I found the coffeeshop I didn’t use anything else
  • Malaysia
    • In Malaysia I used mostly WiFi. I had a SIM card but data wasn’t cheap so I didn’t use it too much. In Penang it was pretty bad. In KL I stayed at an incredibly cheap hostel the first time, and the second time I was working quite a bit, but I was staying with a friend that had an apartment with fiber.
  • Thailand
    • The internet in Thailand is great. I had a SIM card too, and when I wanted faster internet I would use my SIM card, but the WiFi was good. It’s what I’m using now.

The Terror of the 40 Hour Work Week

So, I came out to Phuket in order to get back in shape. I enrolled in a fitness camp and did a meal plan and booked a room for a month. I have done about none of those things, but I have got a ton of work done as well as started to work on some side projects. I’ve been pretty productive even if my sleep schedule would make a doctor wince.

I was thinking about how my remote working situation has changed since I started this trip about a year ago. When I started I wasn’t working much at all because the internet in rural Sweden wasn’t very good, or it wasn’t where I was staying. Also the mobile was a pain/expensive to setup if you weren’t a Swedish citizen. In India I was working about 5ish hours a week over mobile 3g tethering. I’m going to write up a post on what types of internet I was using in each country, and where I got it.

Now I’m working more like 40 hours a week and it’s been a bit of an adjustment. I don’t do very well with a normal 8 hour workday. My working tends to be more in spurts then that. 12 hours one day, maybe just a few the next. I get on a roll and then go until I get out of the zone or get too tired to stay up. I’ve been told that this isn’t how most people work, but it’s always served me pretty well. It lends itself to having days scattered through the week that you don’t have to do a ton off work. Little mini days off help keep you sane. However I will say that if I’m working I tend to work more than 40 hours/week

I guess my point is that in our culture we have come to this shared delusion that all people work best in the exact same hours (9-5), and for the exact same amount of time (40 hours/week). People are a lot more complicated than that, and productivity/creativity is a lot more idiosyncratic to those people. I read once, and agree whole-heartedly, that motivation and creativity wax and wane. You shouldn’t feel the need to do mediocre work just because other people are. Don’t feel bad if you don’t feel the normal work week, and if your job doesn’t allow you to work in the way that you put out your best work then you might want to re-evaluate your working situation. Some of the best engineers I know put out a higher volume of higher quality work if they only work 30ish hours/week. This is heresy in an industry where 60+ hours/week is seen as pretty standard. Although that also isn’t an excuse to slack. If you miss deadlines or put out not much/low quality work then you have other issues.

Most people only work about that much anyways. They sit around, go to meetings, do email, and a cornucopia of other things that do nothing to drive quality or generate revenue for their respective employers. There was a time when I was in meetings for around 30 hours/week. I don’t really consider that work because it does nothing to push out product, or improve quality. I suppose you should take my hourly estimates with a grain of salt though because when I state those numbers I don’t generally include the previously stated activities. Although I will say that I generally prefer a quick Skype call to trying to hash things out over IM/chat. It generally takes a lot longer.

I’ve been ranting a bit, but I feel pretty strongly about this. I’ve been lucky that for the past several years I’ve had more flexibility with my work environments than most people. This has been a combination of luck, conscious choices, and having the pleasure of working with people that are way too good to be seen with the likes of me. Just remember that it’s more productive, and pleasurable, to structure your life around your work then the other way around.

Buy Things with Stories

I wrote this before I took active steps to go travel, last February. I left it unchanged though, except for this, and that.

I was recently talking with a very good friend of mine. I’ve been thinking of doing some traveling. I would be leaving a good job and a good apartment and going on a long trip with a friend of mine that has proved moderately unstable multiple times, although I’m not sure I’m one to talk. I was voicing some of my concerns about leaving a job that I’m good at, that pays well, and where I enjoy my colleagues. I know that I will be taking a step backwards in professional development, and a pay cut when I come back, but I said that I thought it was worth it. He said something to me that I really like. He was talking about coming back to a company that he left after a half year where he co-founded a startup, worked on his pilots license, went to Mexico with the Red Bull F-1 Team, and visited his family across the country. They thought that was awesome and brought him back for even more money.

He told me that you can buy things with stories. He said that when people ask what you did during a work gap if you say that you were unemployed, or that you were at home playing Xbox and drinking then you weren’t going to get a job. However if you have some great stories to tell then you are probably fine. Also he pointed out that if you weren’t working for 2 years then you better have a 2 year story, not, “I went down to Mexico to skydive.” That doesn’t take 2 years.

I love this idea, I love the idea of using our experiences as currency in our lives. It shows that wealth isn’t just material. I’ve been blessed materially, but I’ve never placed much value on that kind of wealth. I want a wealth of experience, and friends, and love. These are the things that I place value on.

I’m working on having a business running when I leave, but if not I’m putting aside enough money to leave for a year, and maybe more. That probably means that next Christmas will be the last one with my parents for a while. That’s bitter-sweet, but I’m excited. I don’t really get excited more than superficially about most things. The last thing I was excited about was going to the Philippines, but that ended up falling through due to lack of funds. I now make more money than I need, and 2 years in a senior role have equipped me with the skills to run my own business, and the nerve to make the deals to make that happen.

I look forward to the coming year, and hope my resolve stays strong.

My intro

An introduction eh? Is that what you want? I suppose I can oblige. My name is Noah Gildersleeve. I used to be a musician, then a helpful techie (IT, support), and I’ve been testing software at dev shops for the past 4 years or so in Portland OR. I was all set to go career at my company. They want to move me into management, and I thought I was ready, but then an old friend of mine asked me a question that changed that.

“Do you want to come travel with me for a couple of years?”

That might sound like an insane question for some people reading this, or maybe not because you’re reading a travel blog (although I’m preparing it’s still a travel blog). It’s not that weird for my friends though. I was going to go traveling in the Philippines with another good friend of mine before I got this job two years ago. I was going to pick up something temporary, make some money and then go traveling with that money plus my tax return for the year. Apparently I’m better with computers than I am with taxes though because my tax return was about $4000 less than I thought it was going to be. Apparently you can’t get refunds on your SS or Medicare. Who knew? Everyone else knew it turned out, and now I do too. I took the job and wrote it off as a life lesson. I loved the job, and my co-workers. I got into a very comfortable rut. I am currently the head of my department, just a couple of people now, but we’re growing. I could really stay as long as I want, and I make plenty of money to do whatever I feel like within limits. This isn’t about bragging (unless it’s about my beard of which I am very proud, see photo); it’s about setting the stage for my decision. I said that I’d think about it. HA! You thought I was going to go in with gusto? That is somewhat my MO, but this friend of mine doesn’t take people changing their minds lightly and I didn’t want to commit without thinking about it. I crunched the number and said yes. Before I didn’t make enough money to travel (so I thought), but now I do. We decided to leave in a year.

Turns out I’m as impatient as my friend. Goals that far out aren’t really doable. They might be for some people, but not for me. It’s hard to make real sacrifices for a goal that out there and ethereal. He asked if I wanted to leave in September. That’s right, this September. That’s a goal I can work towards. I decided to chronicle this process, then write during my actual journey. The trip plan as it stands now is Portland OR -> Stockholm Sweden (2 weeks) -> Goa, India (six months) -> Kathmandu Nepal (2 months) -> Bangkok Thailand (5 months or whatever the visa works out to be) -> the rest of southeast Asia. it gets a little hazy after Thailand. We are going to hit Laos, Vietnam, Bali, Singapore, Malaysia, and a couple of other places then make our way back west through Europe.

A lot of the travel blogs I read sum up their process before they leave in around one article. That might be by design, and this might fail TERRIBLY, but I’m going to do it anyways.

This whole intro is a little more direct to the audience than I normally write, but there it is. It was meant to introduce me, Noah, to you, the reader.