Tag Archives: volunteer

Welcoming My Second Half-Century

Unlike most Americans, I love April 15th, the anniversary of my birth. Almost as bad as being born on Christmas Day or more recently, September 11th, it’s the infamous day representing the tax filing deadline for millions of Americans. Considering Diane and I always get a sizable tax refund anyway, the day never meant much to me as far as the government goes. But this year is a triple whammy in a very positive way. First off, it’s my 50th birthday. By itself that’s an awesome milestone especially for those lucky enough to be starting the second half of life sans work. More importantly, however, it marks the end of my 550+ day trudge as a House Husband waiting endlessly to file an MM2H Visa without adverse financial ramifications. (Although it’s permitted, applicants under age 50 need to submit a fixed deposit that’s twice as high). And finally, we close escrow ten days after we file. Now that’s good karma !!

cuteSo what have I accomplished in 50 years on the planet? Sadly, nothing at all except marrying a wonderful lifelong companion that puts up with my anal personality, overly chatty nature and other misgivings like my pathetic lack of skills when it comes to putting anything together. As far as contributions to humanity, I helped a couple of thousand high net worth clients make sure their cash was where it should be for 30 years. Hoping to change that, Diane and I pan on including volunteerism as part of our travels, especially as it applies to animals. Our favorite and number one on the bucket list to visit is Tasikoki  Wildlife Rescue Center in the northernmost province of Sulawesi. Rich in biodiversity, the island receives little attention in the conservation field and their mission is to diminish the trade in protected wildlife. Their Facebook page is awesome and I highly encourage everyone to visit and like it.

asiaNot really feeling old yet, I still think of myself as middle age but relatively fit enough to spend ten or fifteen years traveling, exploring, sharing stories on the blog and being as active as practical without dehydrating myself to death. Deciding to spend my long 17 month period between layoff and MM2H filing getting healthier in preparation for expat adventures, it’s been a long and often challenging time. Eagerly awaiting this day I’m looking forward to another half century minus the cubicles, work stress and day-to-day trudge that is life as an American army ant worker. Here’s to 50 more !!

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Get Fit, Get Fat, then Get Fit again

Apparently, somebody is watching over us. Understanding that heat and humidity are possibly the worst conditions for fitness training, Diane and I have avoided the inevitable topic of how to enjoy all the incredible food available in Southeast Asia without destroying the last year of workouts. Lo and behold, as if they heard we were coming, a group of dedicated fitness professionals just opened up what looks like an incredible gym conveniently located right in the heart of Penang. Normally avoiding promotion of specific businesses to keep the blog from sounding too commercial, this post is an exception to the rule. Consider this my one and only plug for something we haven’t yet seen but are confident will meet our expectations. Worrying about where to find air-conditioned comfort, studio classes and modern equipment we’re used to, Team Powerhouse Fitness appears to be a godsend.

Dr-Joe-LeonardiRecapping a bit, Diane and I were neither fat nor fit back in late 2013 but knew we could stand to lose a few pounds and increase our fitness levels. Deterred by her two-hour commute and my ridiculous work hours that coincided with a time zone three hours ahead of the Western U.S. coast, we usually reserved productive workouts for once weekly weekend trips to our local gym. Fortunately, the bank that shall remain nameless put an abrupt end to my working days and sent me reeling into uncharted (and unemployed) waters. Wondering what life as a House Husband should be like, I decided to embrace the positives. After agreeing we’d simply retire early 16 months later once I was old enough to apply for an MM2H Visa at a reasonable cost, I embraced the free time and embarked on a five-day a week fitness routine that included HIIT training, free weights, yoga and a lot of cardio. Seeing an immediate improvement, Diane decided to use her corporate gym membership and started attending fitness classes.

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Orangutans and Luxury at Borneo’s Hidden Gem; Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort

Read the story behind the video here

Proximity to orangutans is one of the primary reasons Diane and I chose Malaysia as our destination for early retirement. Among the most fascinating animals on earth, their quickly diminishing natural habitat lies in small swaths of the Sabah province in Malaysian Borneo, about a two-hour plane ride from Penang.  Volunteer opportunities involving orangutan conservation always piqued our interest so we dedicated our annual Expat Destination Research Vacation to orangutan encounters in the wild, Excursions to The Borneo Rainforest Lodge and The Kinabatangan River Valley did not disappoint, providing several amazing sightings and educating us immensely about habitat destruction.

 The Shagri-La Rasa Ria Resort

The Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah province, Malaysian Borneo

Needing some R&R after trekking through the jungle, we needed a little pampering and a couple of good night’s sleep before continuing to Singapore. Normally we’re prudent travelers but early retirement still seemed distant since I had no vision of being laid off, so we investigated a more luxurious option and discovered even the world’s best hotel chains have an undiscovered hidden gem. Along with the beauty of The Rasa Ria Resort Resort, one last adventure with orangutans on the resort’s private reserve solidified the entire experience.

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