Mee Fa Ben Baan , Mee Yung Ben Puan

A Thai proverb relating to the fauxbo mindset: “Have sky for house, have mosquito for friend.”

That pretty nicely sums up life as a cyclist in Southeast Asia.

By the time this post goes up, my squad and I will be leaving this wonderful place behind.  We’ll be somewhere in Myanmar, slowly making the transition out of one subcontinent and into another.  All the easy living here in SEA, along with the constant company of (/distraction caused by) travel companions, has so far kept my inner statistics nerd in check.  But now that one part of my trip is ending and another beginning, I feel the need to step back momentarily from the stream of laughter, snacking, and ukulele-strumming, and put my four years of undergraduate economics training to use.

Professor Nichols (Econometrics 101), I hope I’m making you proud!

Once again, the point of all this is to prove with numbers that


The implication being that


(If you so desire.)

I don’t intend to say that anyone who doesn’t want to travel ought to, or that it’s a superior lifestyle, or anything like that.  It’s right for me, at the moment, but my pleasure and sense of freedom depend entirely on there being bunches of people living “normal” lives, farming, cooking, building roads, building hotels, fixing bikes, running the government, managing mutual funds, and all that.

Still, I wish this sort of information had been out there, or perhaps a little more prevalent, back in 2008 when I spent $1500 on a six-day package tour from Korea to Thailand, or that one time in 2007 when two friends and I racked up a $400 bill for a (very long) night of Karaoke, or in 2005 when I got my parents to take out a $13,000 loan for a new car to ease my 2.5km commute commute to and from my college campus.

Had I used $1000 of that money to buy a kickass bicycle, invested the rest, and saved the money that I wound up spending on insurance, gas, and maintenance, I’d probably have something like $30,000 extra dollars right now.  That would be more than enough to travel for five years, or even indefinitely if invested wisely.

Ok, I’ll stop with the rant and get on with the goodness.

May some find it inspiring.

Late October 2013: Laos

2013-10-11 Mingyu 004

Muang Neung to Muang Khua

Shaky Squad: Mingyu, Minseong, and Chris

455 km over 18 days.

$11.50/Day + $35 for Visa

Highlights: stunning scenery, idyllic villages, killer climbs, fantastic pizzas.


Remarks: Frequent rain, a few stomach issues, and a lot of Breaking Bad to watch  = too many nights in hotels.

November-December 2013: Vietnam

2013-12-21 Bo Y 011

Dien Bien Phu to Bo Y

With Mingyu, Minseong, and Chris.  Then minus Mingyu, plus Mirek and Katya.  Plus Mark and Claire.

1791km over 47 days

$9.57/Day + $65 for visa (ouch!) and $35 for extension.

Highlights: baguette sandwiches, cheap draught beer ($0.25/glass), learning to bargain pleasantly in the face of absurdly overstated prices, good times with friends.


Remarks: 10 of these days were spent in visa purgatory.  Ugh.

Late December 2013: Laos


Attapeu to Si Phan Don

With Minseong, Chris, Mark, and Claire.

333km over 12 days.

$9.99/day plus $35 for visa.

Highlights: a return to quiet country roads, fording rivers, and floating down the Mekong in an inner tube.


Remarks: The “hotel” segment should really be split evenly into “hours slept in bed” and “hours piddled away in hammock.”

January 2013: Cambodia

2013-01-08 to Khao Nek 028

Cambodia: Stung Treng to Poipet

With Minseong, then solo.

1207km over 30 days

$6.65/day + $26 for visa

Highlights: lake in extinct volcano caldera, ubiquitous sugar cane juice and fruit shakes, needing thirty days to learn how to count to ten.


Remarks: camping + cooking + volunteering = super cheap travel.

February 2013: Thailand

2014-02-08 to Klang Dong 019

Aranyaprathet to Surat Thani


1423km over 27 days.

$9.49/day + $18 for a visa run to Myanmar

Highlights: easy roads, easy camping, plentiful veggies, sabai sabai all day erryday.


Remarks: High “etc” costs due to one visit to an organic shop, one present shipped back to the USA, one ferry to a tropical island, one charitable donation, a new habit of recording ATM surcharges, and slightly increased beer consumption while in Bangkok.  On the plus side, seven nights for free in a luxurious hotel that usually runs $40 a night!

March 2013: Thailand

IMG_1406b 2014-03-28 Koh Similan 015b

Yoga Class on Koh Phangan with Suzie, Fauxboing with Adam and Karla

31 days.  923km Hitchhiked (with bike and gear), 1888 by Bus/train/boat

$16.49/day (even after generous subsidies) + $18 for visa run to Myanmar

Highlights: catching up with old friends, reminiscing, training fauxbo apprentices


Remarks:  Ouch!  At $551, this was by far the most expensive month of the trip.  No surprise given that I biked precisely 0 kilometers.  Of the $300 or so of “Etc” money, nearly $200 went to the yoga school ($12/day, 12 days, 6+ hours of instruction daily, plus one personal consultation for $60).  Most of the rest was for trains, buses, and boats while traveling with A & K.  And beers.

Lesson: Biking saves me money on transportation costs, and eats so much time and energy that I don’t spend money

on entertainment (or personal enrichment) either.

April 2013: Thailand

chai's2 Yun's

Three weeks waiting around Bangkok for visas.

One week riding Bangkok – Mae Sot with Katya and Mirek, joined for the last day by Minseong, and Chris.

846km over 29 days.

$13.43/day + $25 for visa run to Cambodia.

Highlights: havin’ jack squat to do, hangin’ out all day, writin’ crap like this, ice cream buffet. Oh, and turning 30.


Remarks: Another month of high “Etc” expenses, this time due to various forms of bicycle and dental maintenance.  Hopefully I won’t need any more of either for a while.

Other Miscellaneous Graphs

(because we just agreed to delay our departure by another two days, leaving me with lots of time on my hands)

Actually, I decided to cram the remaining stats into one graph.  Behold my masterpiece!


Maybe next time I’ll figure out how to make a 3D version and incorporate another few variables and axes.

Until then, I guess I’ll have to content myself with enjoying may fauxbodom.

Gotta say, it’s pretty easy.

2014-02-26 to Kho Phangan 019

This entry was posted in "Spirituality", Characters and Friends, Costs, Southeast Asia and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mee Fa Ben Baan , Mee Yung Ben Puan

  1. ian chen says:

    fantastic! to write these “crap” ,to draw these statistic graphic,you need to have 7 months’ experience ,daily recordings,and a lot of patience. goes on !
    the bottom picture looks like an eye,cool!

    if the unit of measurement can be added in the statistic graphics or axes,that’ll be better.