In 2020. I was amidst a five-year journey that took me through dozens of cities, towns, and islands of Southeast Asia.
How I ended up there is kind of a funny story. . .
See, I wasn’t like everyone else in the middle of small-town America where I am from. But I couldn’t convince anyone that I was different. I had wider curiosity than the Midwest offered.
It started with a dream to spend a summer in a van ‘out West’. My friends from university teased me; “Hippie!”. Maybe I talked about it too much but, in my head, California was the only place I could squeeze more from this life. It’s like the thrills of life were a wet t-shirt and I had to wring the whole thing out before settling.
When I packed up my 1998 Nissan Altima (I didn’t have money for a van) and moved to the West Coast in the summer of 2015, little did I know it was only the beginning.
Almost instantly, I knew I needed more.
So, the decision was made to spend my final year of studies in the Mediteranean — literally. I packed my backpack and moved to a 15×25-mile-wide island. There, I discovered myself and met so many people. It was one of the most important years of my life.
I spent a semester in Malta and several more months backpacking Europe far and wide.
On my way home in May of 2016, my intentions were already to return to Europe very soon.
Another summer was spent living in my Nissan (this time I got to Canada) before I was on the plane back across the pond.
It only took one month of backpacking before I ended up back in Malta. I started to see my future there. It was everything I wanted.
I spent the next year and a half mostly on the tiny island. Days were spent writing on my limestone roof terrace with a view of a spectacular domed church pre-dating early modern era where the tower bells would ring every hour. Nights were of a less laid-back variety, with a majority of them being spent partying with friends until sunrise.
I spent the summer in northern Africa in Algeria, the fall near the Arctic Circle in the Faroe Islands, but no matter what, I kept coming back to that tiny island in the great Med.
It was there I met friends, made enemies, romanced often, and built a dysfunctional family and life that I will never completely leave behind. Everything about that period was absolutely beautiful in its own right.
However, come Spring of 2018, that all came to a crashing halt. I did a bad thing and thought I was above the immigration laws in Malta. I overstayed my visa and was handed a ban from 27 countries within Europe.
In a lot of ways, my days of running around being blissfully ignorant to the world were done. I gained consciousness of nearly everything, it seemed.
And when I returned home, being deported with zero dollars left to my name, I was struck with a bit of reality; it was time to grow up.
So, I built my online business. It took months — if not a year — but it slowly started providing me with a means to keep going in this crazy life.
In the fall of the same year, I boarded a plane back to Europe — to Croatia, one of the few countries I was allowed into — but when I arrived, immigration officers had a different plan for me.
They held me at the airport, barring entry as we waited for approval from higher jurisdiction. I spent five nights in a small airport jail cell. Moving throughout Europe would be more complicated than I thought.
So, instead of waiting out a decision, I took the next opportunity I had to start a new journey; a flight to the other end of the globe. Thailand.
I spent a few months in crazy Bangkok (one living on Khao San Road — don’t try it) while I got my new life straightened out. A few romantic affairs got me through the loneliness and withdrawals I went through as I settled down as a new person.
I leaned on a newfound mindfulness as I backpacked around Southeast Asia — spending a month in Vietnam and the Philippines before settling down in Borneo where I spent the next six months.
I met great people who got me through a particularly rough patch of my life. By the time my 25th birthday rolled around, I had settled into my new role of a person who cared.
Seeing the poverty and big smiles of Southeast Asians across the region birthed a new passion of mine; humanitarianism.
With a big vision and dozens of project ideas racing through my head, I phoned some of my closest friends from around Europe and recruited them to uproot their lives for an unrealized dream waiting for them in Southeast Asia.
It’s ridiculous to think I was persuasive enough to get four friends to give up a year of their adult lives to hop around Asia with me. Some took a gap year, some quit their jobs, but they (and I) were all looking for deeper meaning.
We started in Bali — where else do five creatives from various parts of the world reunite to collaborate on something bigger than themselves? It felt like the second-coming of Hemingway’s Lost Generation.
We spent two months on The Island of the Gods, a month each in Thailand, Laos, and Malaysia before returning to Indonesia where we spent the next six months in COVID-19 quarantine.
We were granted an emergency visa as the whole world went on lockdown. We started several projects including a food drive to feed a village of people from where we lived for nearly a month.
It was a time that is hard to fully grasp the reality, but that’s how I ended up where I am today.
Adam moved away in 2015 and he has been abroad ever since in places as far as remote islands in Asia to rural villages in Northern Africa. He’s always looking for the next adventure and story to tell.
He has traveled five years, four continents, and over forty countries while assimilating himself into countless cultures. He has been to rural African shantytowns where Westerners haven’t and has toasted villages of drunken locals in the country of Georgia who don’t speak a lick of English.
He believes his experiences give him extra insight into the travel industry and an added advantage other content writers in the industry don’t have; experience on the road!