Why We Moved from SE Asia to Portugal

It has already been over thirty days since we moved the retirement adventure from SE Asia to Portugal. Sarah and I (along with Biscuit the grumpy cat, and Angel, the feisty Thai street dog) are starting to settle in and enjoy the rhythms that come with a new place and new beginnings. We, of course, will miss Laos, our friends there, the culture, and our familiar haunts, but there is much more of this world to be experienced, and we felt it was time to make a beginning someplace new.

When I began the retirement adventure over six years ago, my intent was to see the world and experience new countries and cultures, one place at a time, one year at a time. I planned to base myself in different locations, all over the world, and force myself to move on once my year was complete. So far I have lived on a Caribbean beach in Mexico, in the Central Highlands of Mexico, in the shadow of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, in the foothills of the Himalayas in Thailand and, until recently, on the banks of the Mekong River in Laos. Every place has had its charms I have collected many fond memories and friendships in all of them.

Sunset on the Mekong River in Laos

Sunset on the Mekong River in Laos

Evidence shows that all creatures have a tendency to adjust to and grow complacent even in less than ideal places. We have all seen dogs who were once confined in cages, return to live in them even after the cage doors are swung wide open. I don’t want to live the life of a satisfied animal, I want to challenge myself, push my boundaries and deeply experience as much variety as possible during my retirement years, so I keep moving.

Along the way, I have been extremely fortunate to find a kindred spirit in Sarah who moved with me from Thailand to Laos and now to Portugal. She has proven to me that it is possible to live the life of a curious traveler and yet not feel perpetually lost. That you can live in the moment in a comfortable home, even while reaching out to the world and keeping an eye on the future.

There is some validity in the argument that you should “grow where you are planted” and I concur with the idea that you should make an effort to thrive wherever you are, in all circumstances, for however long you are there. While we are not now planning to put down roots anytime soon, we have decided it is okay to put in some strong stakes. Neither Sarah or I am ready to be “planted” anywhere just yet. Maybe, one day, if we decide to stop moving, it will be in a place that we know from a variety of experience, that suits us.

Sunset on the Atlantic Ocean in Portugal

Drone Photo of Sunset on the Atlantic Ocean in Portugal

I have discovered that there is a danger in moving to a new base and still not fully exploring it. In SE Asia, I still traveled about half the time and found myself missing out on some of the amazing things closer to home. That was a major factor in us deciding to stay and an extra year in Laos. It was also a major factor in us deciding to alter the plan a bit and commit to two years in Portugal.

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Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn't intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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