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Clubby Geezers


retirecheaply

When you’re surrounded by other people your own age and race, it gets clubby real fast. Assumed common values speed consensus and nobody thinks twice about offering an opinion. Here in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I have as many expat friends as I did my fellow students at University of Missouri. We all despised the Vietnam war and dreaded being sent against our will to the very region I now inhabit voluntarily.

Instead of eating army rations, I eat Thai food in incredibly affordable restaurants. My social security pension allows me a life of leisure. Since this is a Buddhist country and theft is rare, I spend little time worrying about my personal safety, though every day finds me riding a motorcycle through insane traffic, a clear and present danger, but rampaging scooters don’t hold a candle to mortar rounds or sniper fire.

Like all grumpy retirees, we like to complain…

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GIVING UP AS A PATH TO FREEDOM


In my country, people ask you “what do you do” in order to know who you are. They especially ask this of men, as certain women still feel comfortable describing how their husbands make a living in order to answer that question.

But when you’ve finally given or thrown away most of your belongings, sold the rest and moved across the world with a couple of suitcases in hand, chances are there is no answer to that question. At least there is no answer that would impress anyone in a casual conversation. Thoreau wrote about this in Walden. His neighbors were sharply critical of him for not striving to get anywhere, to fight for any cause, to help the unfortunate or weak. He was just taking care of himself! A sin, to their way of looking at things.

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I stuck my camera onto a kite with a really long string


and then sent the kite up into the sky. I kept running out of string, so I tied the kite to a fence, ran to the nearest store, and bought another spool until there was no more string to be had. This is the photo my camera took. Of course, getting kite and camera back down was no walk in the park, either. Fortunately, the wind stopped blowing long enough for me to spool it in.

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triple border


about a hundred and fifty years ago, Paraguay made the unfortunate decision to attack its neighbors, resulting in a loss of 95% of the male population and a great amount of land which was divided up among the victors. Today, Argentina and Brazil share Iguazu falls, while Paraguay looks sadly on from Ciudad del Este, a few miles west.