We’re thrilled to be featuring Dan Andrews again. We had a chance to get on a long call with him and discuss a wide range of topics specific to international entrepreneurship, careers, and what it means to be an American abroad. Check it out!
Mike: Dan Andrews of the Tropical MBA is a mobile entrepreneur based mostly out of Asia. He also runs the lifestyle business podcast over at lifestylebusinesspodcast.com. So definitely go and check that out.
Today we are going to cover a range of topics specific to being virtual entrepreneurs who run their businesses on their laptops. So both Dan and I are based in Southeast Asia which is arguably the best region in the world to be based in if you make a living off your computer. So if you are considering bootstrapping your startup in an exotic location, you will find these insights very useful indeed.
Dan, a lot of students are coming out of university with staggering debt and entering one of the worst job markets in history. What do you wish you knew about student loan debt right after you got out of college?
Dan: That you don’t have to pay it.
You know I think I wish I wouldn’t have kowtowed my entire life towards that one fiscal responsibility. I look at that number and I thought “Oh shit, I have to get a job, I have to do this, do that”. It was really like a couple of hundred of bucks a month that was deferrable. I wish I would have forgotten about that and sat down and ask myself, what is it that I really want to do with my life, what is possible. And I wish I would have pursued it from that angle rather than just jumping into “Who’s going to pay me to do anything“. And that was kind of my attitude at that time. I wasn’t really plugged in to the whole entrepreneurial movement that you like talking about.
The converse of what you have just said, these people are graduating into the worst job market in the history of the known human universe – well they’re also graduating into the biggest entrepreneurial moment ever. It’s never been a better time to start a business. So forget about that freaking job market. Start thinking about how you can build an amazing life for yourself by starting a business or building an incredible skill set that can make you indispensable to anybody who would want to hire you.
Michael: Right, of course. I think a lot of our audience will be familiar with the internships that you guys provide. Can you go into a little detail about that?
Dan: Sure, I guess two and half years ago I was living here in Asia, you know riding around motorcycles and building businesses and just thinking “This is just fantastic”. I bet young people would want to do this and you know, I bet they would be willing to take a huge pay cut in order to do it, to see how a business can be built in your laptop like what you’ve said. So we started up with internships and over the last 24 months or so we’ve done 20 placements with entrepreneurs here in Southeast Asia.
Michael: Fantastic. You brought up a point of skill sets a little while ago and I’ve personally worked in various big companies. And I noticed a lot of skills that I picked up weren’t useful to me outside of institution, outside of the company.
That is kind of the point you are hitting right? Like these are skills that you can build for yourself that you can use independently for your own business?
Dan: Sure, yeah. I mean there are certain….the entrepreneurial skill set is the most valuable skill set in the context of institutions as well. If you know how to create something out of nothing, you are going to be indispensable and people will hire you. You can get yourself a job anywhere. You can show up to a place like Bangkok, Saigon- you can get a job there if you are an entrepreneur. It’s not going to be hard for you to pay the rent.
Michael: Right. And if somebody came out of school, tried to do a start up in the Philippines or Thailand for a year. If they failed, they can go back to these companies with that experience they had and arguably will be more valuable to them than if they’d been excel jockeys for a year.
Dan: No question, because one of the things that have happened in the ground that people are not recognizing is that sort of the resource that’s most in demand is the ability to have a vision or to have decisions or to make something from nothing. That’s the entrepreneurial skill set, and that’s what companies in the information economy need. So by coming out here, bombing on your own for a year, you are learning much more valuable skills than if you went and push papers around at some international bank back in the United States. So those are the skills people are looking for, they might not have articulated it yet but that’s what is happening on the ground. So if you’re good at that, you are going to get a job, you are going to get paid, you’re going to be fun.
Michael: Let me give you a little bit of alternative route. So, some people are not that adventurous. Perhaps a little bit more anxious. And maybe a more comfortable route for them is taking the English teaching route. Actually, you can live in Bangkok or any other place in Asia for about 500-800 bucks a month. Thus, if you make $2,000 a month on English teacher’s salary, you can actually save money and pay off some of student loans – if that was an issue to somebody.
Dan: Absolutely. A bunch of guys who took that route and it is still totally viable as you have said.
Michael: So, let’s just say I’m a senior in college or I am working at a job I hate in the US, somewhere in my 20’s or early 30’s and I’ve been reading stuff like the Tropical MBA. I’m planning my escape from America to some Southeast Asia paradise where I can bootstrap my start up and live on 500 bucks a month. What kind of advice would you give to a person with this profile? To sort of prepare themselves mentally and logistically for that move?
Dan: Stop preparing. Stop planning. The whole thing is that the mindset is one of sort of considering options in weighing crap. What you need to do is work. And you need to get good at doing the types of work that is valuable for these companies. So check yourself in another game if you can’t show up to Bangkok and get a job as an English teacher within two weeks, you’ve got much bigger life problems.
If people are going to tell you to sit around, I could sit around and do stuff or whatever. People need topics to write blog posts about or whatever. If you started your shit going on that airplane and show up and you can’t get a job in two weeks, you’ve got bigger problems. That’s why figure out that problem.
Michael: As we’ve discussed through our email exchanges, I’m considering moving into different destination after this stint in Bangkok. I’m currently considering Saigon a.k.a. Ho Chi Minh city, in Vietnam, as well as Bali in Indonesia. Now, you lived in both of these spots, can you give us a rundown on Saigon in terms of base lining my monthly cost of living, the visa situation and general pros and cons?
Dan: Absolutely. Let me flip the script on you a little bit. If you want to edit this out you can but I’m curious because I’ve just showed up in Bangkok last night.
So could you tell me about your experience a little bit in Bangkok, like has it met your expectations like where is it weak or where is it strong? How much money you are spending, can you give me the goods?
Michael: Have you not spent so much time in Bangkok? I thought this is one of your hubs at one point.
Dan: I’ve spent only about a month of my life here so I don’t know much about Bangkok.
Michael: Okay got it. Sure. I’ve been to Bangkok on two different occasions. The first was about exactly a year ago. I was out really far, out in the Boondocks. I’m talking about Burmese refugees and cows and snakes on the outskirts of the city. I was living at a Muay Thai gym and that was definitely an experience. As in, you walk out at night, it’s pitch black and you might step on a monitor lizard.
My new experience now is like luxury condo living. I’m living at this place which is a typical high rise condo. It’s costing me about 600 bucks a month including utilities. I have a six month lease and I live about 50 meters from the MRT. The supermarket is about 60 meters away. I have a giant food market next to me. And my cost of living is easily under a thousand dollars a month right now. But having said that, I’m in hustle mode. I’m working my ass off and I’m not spending much money on partying.
Dan: Where does Bangkok fall short for you, like where does it leave you wanting?
Michael: I can’t think of a single thing. As a single young man with an internet business, it fulfills every possible need that I have.
Michael: Yeah. The language barriers are an issue but I’m learning Thai actually. I can’t think of anything really. It’s a great air hub. I was in Chiang Mai for a while. I like Chiang Mai, it’s cheap, definitely a good spot for bootstrapping but I travel by air a lot to other hubs and Bangkok is so great. It’s got all the advantages of being a transportation hub that Singapore and Hong Kong would have. But it’s also cheap to live in.
Michael: So you could get, you could fly with Air Asia to Singapore or Hong Kong very cheaply and it is just great.
Are there anything else things that you want to know? You can party on the cheap. You can party on the expensive. You can buy Belvedere at Q Bar, or you can just sit down beside 7eleven and drink Singhas.
Dan: No I’m just curious. I love Bangkok. It’s great to be here, and maybe just for the audience who is listening in. To me the one thing that’s unique about Bangkok is very much in many ways it’s got some first world city elements to it. It does feel a little bit like New York, like mashed up with Saigon. It’s kind of a little bit like New York in Asia. You can become proactive, that is the one thing that I commonly feel in a place like Bangkok is like I want to get out of town. But you said, it’s pretty easy to get out of town.
Michael: Right. I keep tweeting this and posting it on my Facebook that you have about 13 countries and dozens and dozens of beautiful cities in such a wide range of cities and countries within a 3 hour, $200 flight of Bangkok. It’s ridiculous, like if you are living in San Francisco or New York, there is no chance you can have anything like that. In New York, where am I getting to for 200 bucks…Newark? Connecticut? Where am I going? I can’t get to London.
Dan: And that right there you’ve just nailed it. I mean if you can make $2,000-3,000 a month here in Southeast Asia the lifestyle is so dramatically different. It’s not a 2-3 times multiple, it’s like 10x multiple what you can achieve back home.
Now you sort of been saying in order for us to take a weekend in Hawaii, or a weekend in Austin, or weekend in Cabo. Each one of those things could cost you $500-700. You are going to a place which is not that much different. It’s pretty much a known quantity. You know going from San Diego to Austin, it’s not that of a big deal. But here you are talking about going to Kuala Lumpur, going to Saigon, going to Myanmar. You can go to Hong Kong. You can go to Southern China. The places you could go and how cheap it is once you get there is amazing.
Michael: 60 bucks and you are in a new world. Going from Bangkok to Myanmar is an hour and half. But you’ve been time warped back into the 1950’s.
Dan: That to me is what we traditionally sought out city living for. I love this quote that said that the chief virtue of city living is access to the strange. Like you could be in the lower east side and in an hour later you could be in Yonkers or Harlem or whatever. Well, screw that. I get a better plan man. Let’s go down to the airport take 50 bucks on Air Asia and two hours later you’re in a whole different freaking century.
And that to me is one of the biggest benefits that’s sort of under talked about in the blogosphere. People don’t see that back home…like how we live, Michael. Remember I have been in four different countries for the last 5 weeks and how that impacts your life and how much richness that brings your life. To me, I can’t trade that card back in, like I’m never going back. Once you see that, you lived that lifestyle, you can’t go back to the weekend in Austin, Texas. It’s not going to happen.
Michael: No, it’s a no-brainer, really.
You brought up Myanmar a second ago and I want to talk about that. We just did our first podcast with legendary investor Jim Rogers. He wouldn’t stop talking about it. And that’s 60 bucks and an hour and a half from where we are right now.
Michael: So that is the place I want to check out really soon. The investment opportunities, assuming there isn’t some ridiculous political upheaval, should be really good.
Dan: Yes. It does seem all the cards seem to be coming up Myanmar. Obviously, there may be a huge jump this year. I mean, that is not part of my game. I’m not Mr Capital Markets, I’m still Mr Hustle. I’m not really that much into going into making real estate or infrastructure investments in developing economies, but it does seem like I wouldn’t mind stopping by Yangon and hanging out and seeing the country seems like an amazing time to go to Myanmar.
Michael: No natural gas pipeline development in your near future?
Dan: Not quite my niche (Dan Andrews chuckle).
So you flipped a script for that a good eight minutes. Can we get back to Saigon and Bali, either or?
Dan: Bring it on.
Michael: So just in general. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Saigon recently in terms of monthly cost of living, visa situation, the pros and cons of being an expat, and living there.
Dan: A lot of people, and this is a very common thing when I lived in Saigon in 2009, I would say: “This place is going to be like Bangkok in 10 years.” And that promise is being realized, in terms of the development, the architecture, the infrastructure, the internationalization of the people, the cleanliness. Saigon is happening right now. It’s that “capital H” happening. It’s a hot spot to be for entrepreneurs.
[call gets cut off]
Michael: So where were we? Can you give us a rundown on Bali? Actually, no. You were talking about Saigon. Can you give us a rundown on Saigon in terms of generally, the situation you lined up, about how it’s the next Bangkok?
Dan: Yes, it’s the next Bangkok. I mean, one of the things that is one the big game changers in Saigon is that the internet is much better. It’s significantly better than it was three years ago. So I’ve seen a lot of improvement there. The entrepreneur community is quite strong, similar to what it’s been in Bangkok for five years now. To me, I think the Vietnamese culture is very appealing. It’s very industrious, and entrepreneurial, it’s got the best food culture in Southeast Asia, I believe. And it’s just the great place to travel around. It’s a step removed from Thailand. It’s like the first place anybody that has a two-week-off comes and there’s something nice about being sort of a step removed from that in Vietnam. So I very much would encourage anybody. It’s a great place to get started.
Just speaking on the costs, you asked, similar to Bangkok, maybe the infrastructure is a little bit difficult to figure out how things are going on it, but you know, you can easily get by with a thousand bucks for a month and there are teacher jobs there, same deal. I think Saigon is a great spot.
Michael: That sounds great. I’m considering Saigon v.s. Bali. And the main reason I want to go to Bali is that I prefer large cosmopolitan centers as opposed to tropical islands. But I want to learn Indonesian because it seems like the easiest Asian language to pick up.
Dan: That could be the case. You know, Tagalog and Bahasa are relatively easy for sure. In some ways, there’s a little bit less value because of Indonesia’s history and stuff, the way things go down on that country, is in English, a lot of times. So maybe a little bit less value to learning Bahasa, but yes, it would be easier.
Michael: The Vietnamese language seems pretty complicated, comparatively.
Dan: Yes, I mean, listening comprehension for sure, because you have got to get used to tones, but I know a bunch of buddies who speak Vietnamese and I speak a few words…I don’t really see it as that much harder than Bahasa. And for me, even if it were easier than Bahasa, I don’t see it as interesting as that of the Vietnamese, just because of its cultural attachment to what is going on in Vietnam right now. But I mean, again, these are very personal decisions.
Michael: You’re the adopted White son of Vietnam.
Dan: I do love Vietnamese culture. I really do feel and emotional attachment to the culture in the way that I never felt in Indonesia.
Michael: I got you. So I think Saigon might be winning in that.
Because the internet thing is such a deal breaker, for Bali.
Dan: Yes, I mean, for people who don’t know, good download speed in Bali would be two meg down that would be very good. But there is an issue with the main pipeline over from Jakarta because it’s an island, it’s not on the mainland that we’ve got packet loss issues and I’m just constantly getting ticked off by webinars and skype calls and stuff.
Michael: And it’s a disaster.
Dan: Yes it’s a disaster. I think it’ll be solved in a year or two, but just for now it’s a problem.
Michael: Maybe Saigon first, Bali next.
Dan: Yes, that could work. I mean, Bali is awesome man. It has got this kind of international flair that doesn’t really exist in the rest of Southeast Asia. It has got this level of class that’s unparalleled. And it’s just a classy spot. I really dig it there.
Michael: Great. So going back to the career questions, let’s say you’re a recent grad, maybe 22, 23, 24 and you have about two to five years of experience in the US, and you’re thinking about getting a job in Asia. I know you’re more of an entrepreneur, but if you were to get a job in Asia, where would you want to go and why would you choose that city or those cities?
Dan: Okay. Well, we were just talking about Saigon. It’s a great spot to go to teach English, it’s a great spot to go to work for international banks. If you were to want to take an international post in a place like HSBC, Saigon will be a great spot to do it. There are a lot of open positions for stuff like that. I do have an entrepreneurial bent and what I would do is try to get a job with an entrepreneur.
You want to learn skills, you ought to work directly with people who have those skills and become an apprentice.
To me, that is the new economy. We are going back to the apprentice model. Put up a landing page that is about you that demonstrates your work, demonstrates what you’ve learned over the last two to five years. And try to find yourself an apprenticeship. One of the things you’re going to find, for lack of the better term, let’s call it the “baller class” here in Southeast Asia. They are lacking quality staff. There is a dearth of talent here in Southeast Asia. You can demonstrate that you’ve got an incredible skill set and you’re willing to work for a couple of thousand bucks a month. You’re going to find that there are a lot of jobs available to you.
I think they key thing is, in the corporate world, we’re taught to try to maximize our income out of the gate. And in the apprenticeship and entrepreneurship world, that is a bad strategy. You want to make your burn and your employer’s burn very low. You want to think long term and say, “Hey, You know what. I get paid $4,000 back in Austin, Texas. If you pay me a thousand dollars, I’ll come up to Bangkok. Let’s work together for three or four months and see how it goes.”
That is long-term thinking and in that three or months you’ll meet more than enough people that are willing to pay you or capable of paying you $4,000 a month.
Michael: One thing I think that a lot of people don’t realize is they’ll like say, “Yes I make 4K or 5K in Boston or New York and I’d only make a thousand dollars in Bangkok. I’d have to be an idiot to give up that cash.” What they don’t realize is that when you’re living on 500 bucks and you don’t have to spend much money on anything else, then your lifestyle is actually going to be probably better in Bangkok or Saigon than it would be back home.
Dan: Yes. I’d say back of the napkin you make four grand in Boston and fifteen hundred here in Bangkok. In Bangkok you’re socking away 500 bucks of that and in Boston you’re charging 500 bucks on your credit card.
Dan: And on every functional area in which it counts, aside from visiting your family, you would run away better in Bangkok. And! Bangkok is an amazing growth market, if you think about things, like your career in a long term. Are you better off starting in Boston or are you better off starting in Bangkok? No question, Bangkok.
Dan: I mean, just a simple thing like in virtue of just being here, you’re learning a unique and valuable skill set. So that to me, at a minimum, just by showing up, you’re learning stuff that most people will never learn. And that’s valuable.
Michael: In regards to recruitment and getting hired, to what extent to do you think that, let’s say that you’re a typical American from New York or something, you don’t speak Vietnamese or Thai, to what extent to do you that’s going to hamper people’s career opportunities?
Dan: Not much at all. The world’s language is English so if you can understand what I’m saying right now, you’re a lucky mofo. So it’s not much of a hindrance. Obviously you should attempt to learn those languages and be serious about that, but it’s not going to hold you back.
Michael: Frankly, I think 90% of it is showing up.
Dan: That’s it. That’s always been it. And the whole thing is people are waiting for this crap to be legible online. And that’s why, Michael, you’re doing the Lord’s work man, putting the stuff out there, like, look I’ll cut the suspense for you. If you Google around looking for opportunities, you’re going to find “Teaching English in South Korea”. That’s not the opportunity. The opportunity is to show up, to meet guys like Michael, to have a couple of beers and to figure out what’s the next move and it’s not going to be on Google.
Michael: Right. Every path is different; every opportunity is different. And a lot of it has to do with physically being here. If you don’t do that, if you’re emailing people from abroad, there are strategies to do that. That’s why we exist, actually. But if you did show up, you’re going to meet one person who’s going to introduce you to another person and before you know it, within two months you’re going to have something on your plate. There are ways to hack the system and set yourself up interviews before you go, as well.
Michael: In regards to start-ups, and when I say start-ups I don’t mean sitting down the laptop and bootstrapping by yourself, but more the Silicon Valley-esque approach of raising capital.
Michael: If you’re going to take that approach in Asia, where would you want to go?
Dan: That’s the beauty of it. I don’t think you need to choose one location. Singapore, Bangkok, all these places, you’ve got a bunch of investors here that are just absolutely have more cash than they know what to do with. And they’d love to be involved in something like that. So you can get better terms, easier money. Now, it might not be smart money, so that’s something that you got to consider, but I know a bunch of angel investors, anybody can just send me an email. I was just talking to a Vietnamese Angel Investor, Viet-American guy, and he can’t find talent to put his money into. And that’s the story in Southeast Asia right now. So if you’re young and broke, this is the place to be. Not Silicon Valley, where every smart dude in America shows up there looking for the same thing. That’s not an opportunity, right? That’s a known quantity. The opportunity to raise money is definitely here in Southeast Asia.
Michael: Do you think that, just to be clear, can that sort of angel investment also finance your lifestyle as well?
Michael: Because they are going to want to know that. They are going to want to know, in additional to getting the capital for the business, they’re going to have to eat and have rent.
Dan: Yes, sure. I mean there are little incubator type things popping up all over Asia as well. It’s not like there is a clear way to do it even in California. You going to have to come, you’re going to have to network with the people…but if what you want is a hundred grand to yourself to start up, even that’s 25 grand for yourself to live, you’re going to get it here a lot easier than you would get it back home. There is no question about that in my mind.
Michael: So what types of opportunities do you think that regional angel investors would be looking to invest in?
Dan: I think anything. I think the biggest challenge is going to be staffing. Getting high quality engineers that you can communicate with and building a team is going to be more challenging in a place like Vietnam than it would be in California. Now, if you’re a developer yourself, you are going to be in a really good situation because you can own more of your company because you don’t need to spend that much money. So you can only take twenty-five grand to live for an entire year, whereas, you’re taking four times of that in the bay area.
I’m talking a little bit out of my comfort zone here. I don’t have a lot of friends who are taking the angel money and stuff like that but I know these guys who are looking for these types of investments. And I do have a bunch of friends who have excess cash.
That’s the story of Asia. Everybody’s got cash. That’s why everybody’s inflated real estate prices because they have no idea on how to invest and what to do with it.
If you’re an entrepreneur and you got a good reason to take someone’s $100,000, it’s not going to be that tough of a sell in these areas of the world.
Michael: Great. That’s another approach that we talked about. We’ve got English teaching. We have bootstrapping. We have a traditional career at a consultancy or a bank or something like that. Then, we have the “show-up, find an agent-investor and get it moving with your team.”
Dan: While we’re talking about techniques, there’s another technique that I’ve seen quite a few times and this technique works particularly well with the Philippines which is to target small business entrepreneurs or medium sized organizations that want to develop a backroom in the Philippines or they want to outsource parts of their process.
A lot of businesses have this desire but it’s too big of an extension for them to go setup 10 people in Manila. Well, you can say, “Hey, you know I’ll do that for you for $1,500 a month like no upfront fees no nothing. Just pick my plane ticket. Give me $1,500 and I’ll spend 6 to 12 months setting that up for you.”
And I’ve been on this trump for a long time and it’s so cool. A few weeks ago I was in Manila and I actually met up a podcaster, who came up to me and he was so appreciative. He was so pumped up and pulled that exact move. He’s actually working at a company that could be benefit from it and he went to them and he said, “You guys want to pay me $50,000 a year? How about you guys pay me $25,000 a year and send me to Manila and I’m going to move your business forward in a profound way and you’re going to save money with on me plus on your business in general.” I mean, who’s going to turn that down?
Michael: Just to reiterate that. Somebody already working for a company and proposing that, “All right, I’ve been here for a couple of years. I know how it works. I know what you need in terms of an outsourcing standpoint. If you’ll send me to Manila or Cebu I can set this all up for you and you could save a lot of money. ”
Dan: Yes. I have a story. I did this in my career. The Adsense Flipper guys, I’m sure they’re quite popular guys now. Your biggest client is your current employer. They’re paying you $40-50,000 a year. Why not sell them on something better? “Right now, you just got one me. How about you pay me a quarter of what you’re paying me now. I’m going to go to the Philippines, learn all these proprietor information for you, set you guys up with four or five new employees, train them, do this, do that. And then, in six months you guys go over to visit and see what we’ve done and it’s going to be amazing.”
That to me is an entrepreneur moment, “intrapreneurship” if you will, but everybody wins because you get to live this amazing life. They get to save money and their business forward. That’s a huge opportunity if you can do it.
Michael: You’re also getting this experience of launching a venture with someone else’s capital and risk at the same time.
Dan: That’s exactly right. You’re building a personal asset on their payroll. That to me is an amazing opportunity. Everybody wins there. If you’re training up five VA’s for their business, why not train up a couple of yours while you’re at it and have them put the bill.
There’s a lot of guys doing that stuff. When you can get the leash, I mean, that’s a long leash on the other side of the planet plus you’re getting paid $1,500 a month.
And the greatest thing about that kind of arrangement, for me, is that as an entrepreneur you’re getting paid based on results. You’re not getting paid for “ass in chair” which is really like what you what you want to try to get yourself out of. Regardless of what situation you’re in you want to be compensated eventually for the kinds of results that you can achieve because you’re going to see more leverage, you’re going to see more wealth and you’re going to have more fun. That to me is a great opportunity to get yourself in that kind of situation.
That story in particular, I’ve seen that happen a few handfuls of times. There’s definitely a lot of people in that move. It’s a big opportunity right now. It’s something to look out for.
Michael: This is a great topic. I’m definitely going to have to have a private conversation with you to follow up on that. But on the topic of fun, since a lot of people come over here for that reason. I’d say that the profile of someone who goes to Bali might be a Yoga person, a surfer type of person. Someone who likes Bangkok might be into more like bottles and models at Q bar or Sirocco. What are the different stereotypes of other cities around the region that you’ve been to?
Dan: That’s kind of interesting. I like these kinds of conversations. I think you’re right. Bali is kind of place where the Zeitgeist is sort of like “we’ve made it”. It’s a little bit older and it’s a little bit like—there’s not a lot of hustle muscle there. It’s like “we’re in our white linen. We’re drinking our champagne. We’re chilled out.” Maybe the younger people there are a little bit more the privileged crowd, like people who maybe came from a more “money” background. They’re surfers and not really interested in working, stuff like that.
Hanoi would be like an “artsy”, “I’m in an NGO and I’m trying to change the world” – would be kind of that.
Michael: With baggy sweat pants and sandals.
Dan: Manila would be like much like in general like a working class even if they’re professionals, a little rougher around the collar, hard partying, definitely like “babes and beers” would be the Manila scene.
Jakarta would be like your classic expat, on the edge of the frontier, “I work for an International land grant bank” kind of thing and hang out and drink gin at these sort of expat bars kind of scene.
I’m trying to think of where else I’m willing to speak on. Shenzhen would be “I’m effing here and I’m going to make a million dollars in the next two years and that’s what I’m here for.” Because what else would you be in Shenzhen for? (Dan Andrews Chuckle)
Michael: That’s true, yeah.
Dan: Hong Kong will be much more like “I made it” kind of “I make 150,000 and I work for HSBC”. Singapore would be—I don’t mean it like I don’t know too many guys in Singapore. It’s a little bit older crowd. Guys that are definitely…
Michael: Singapore to me is a blander version of Hong Kong in terms of careers at least and the crowd. Both of those—they’re an easy first step into Asia especially if you have cash.
Dan: Yeah. But there’s something about Singapore that I just feel like there’s something going on there in terms of start-ups, young people. Singapore is definitely more entrepreneurial than Hong Kong. Hong Kong feels like it’s all figured out. It’s a very advanced.
Dan: I’m trying to think of what else. Cambodia would be like the typical expat and Phnom Penh would be like “I’m trying to manage a drug habit. I’ve got two girlfriends and a big motorcycle and I’m smoking a spliff while I’m at it.”
Michael: “I want to shoot AKs. I want to do these things I can’t do anywhere else”.
Dan: Ralph Potts said something. It was so apt, about Cambodia. He said, “There’s two draws to Cambodia, Ankor Wat and lawlessness, two reasons why you go there.”
Michael: Right. What are we leaving out? I went to Malaysia. I went to KL, Kuala Lumpur, I didn’t really get any strong impression in any sense. I just kind of felt it was a cheaper version of Singapore.
Dan: That seems apt to me. I haven’t been further field so I don’t really have much to add there.
Michael: Got it. But you’ve been to Korea, right?
Dan: I have not. No.
Michael: Korea is a strange place for me because I’m Korean-American. So, my take on the country is very different than it would be, I think, compared to other people.
Dan: Yeah. All my buddies who live in Korea don’t really want to live there. That’s a very common thing that I hear. Based on the stories I hear from there, it doesn’t seem to have a big draw. People aren’t particularly into it.
Michael: I keep hearing that, Taipei, which I haven’t been to Taiwan yet. But I keep hearing that Taipei is like the hidden gem of Asia. It’s like Asia’s best kept secret.
Dan: I heard that too. That’s something on my list.
Michael: You haven’t been there yet? I thought you have.
Dan: Nope. There’s so much to see, man.
Michael: For sure. You see, like in all these places we’ve gotten to these places from Manila or Bangkok for about $300, $200. And if we are working jobs we could have done it in a 3-day weekend. That’s something I really want to drill on the heads of listeners that you can have all these ridiculous weekend trips for really cheap.
Dan: One of the cool things and once you get into it, it’s so amazing and addictive. You’re not singular. All your buddies are doing this, too. If you have a friend or if you meet somebody say, “Hey, let’s go here for the weekend”, the chances that they’ll go with you. In the US, the crowds that you’re running in will not have that flexibility, will not have that time wealth.
Michael: Can you imagine being in New York and working at JP Morgan and you say, “Hey, let’s go to Puerto Rico this weekend.” That would be the most absurd thing. Everybody would laugh at you and tell you “get lost”. And here it’s like really on a whim you can have no idea when you wake up one day in Bangkok that you’re going to be in Laos or Bali in like 6 hours. But in can happen. You can just do it.
Dan: It’s normal. It’s not a weird thing at all to do that kind of stuff.