I’ve been taking some time to relax, contemplate life, and catch up with my good friends in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Nic has spent months at a time in Chiang Mai, and I can see why. He’s also been showing me around, and today we took motor-bike rides up into the mountains to check out the Doi Suthep temple.
When traveling I enjoy doing cardio rather than weight lifting. Lifting weights is too taxing. Cardio gets blood flowing and helps sweat out the bloat we acquire from flying on planes and eating.
I did a 30-minute hotel workout.
The ride was uphill into the mountains with a lot of twists and turns. I’ll risk my life for a great pic, but not until I know the terrain.
There’s a temple on the way towards Doi Suthep.
A dragon guards the temple.
The gorilla was permitted to enter, after promising to pay proper respects.
Onward to Doi Suthep.
There are small shrines throughout the Doi Suthep temple.
Please ring bell for meditation.
There were small gardens everywhere.
The view from the top. Even ancient temples are often under construction, as evidenced by this re-bar.
It’s hard to appreciate how detailed the engravings are.
Each engraving tells a story.
Your soul needs to be watered and cared for, as with any plant.
I did some meditation. There were pillows available to sit on.
After a long contemplative walk, where I considered the future of me and those in my life, it was time to leave.
I was hungry and these fried eggs/fried coconut things looked delicious.
Still hungry, I had some coconut-fried chicken, which was splendid.
On the way down I stopped by the national park to cool down at the waterfall.
Open your heart and mind up to new possibilities, let the water flow through you.
Unwinding on the Island of Koh Samui, Thailand
As much as I enjoy the busy streets of Saigon, my mind requires large open spaces. I do my best work near the ocean or mountains (ideally both). Koh Samui, an island in Thailand, was just what I needed to relax and unwind.
Like all of Thailand, Koh Samui is hot. Heat has pros and cons. I love swimming in the ocean, but the oceans in Los Angeles are frigid.
In Thailand the water is warm, even first thing in the morning.
The sunrise was, well, see for yourself.
In Thailand, keep applying that sunscreen. Even if you think you’ve applied it frequently enough, you likely haven’t.
My face and arms were too red for me to go outside swimming the next day.
Koh Samui has excellent local cuisine, with a lot of places offer an Italian-Thai fusion.
You can also grab a burger.
Or some sashimi.
Koh Samui is home to several temples, including the Big Buddha Temple.
I hopped on the motobike and took the drive to check it out.
I found a dog meditating. Who, after all, understands more about gratitude and getting into the moment than dogs?
The sign says:
Buddhist monks are for
Bidden to look upon
The Exposed Bodies of Women!!!
Please Respect These Holy Men
Thankfully I’m not a monk…
I told you the food was good!
The hotel offered an ocean view.
The pool was also relaxing.
Ordinarily an airport would be of no notice. Yet the Koh Samui airport was more comfortable and spacious than many luxury hotels.
This is an airport?
You can read some of my other travel entries here:
A Day (and Night) in the Life of Saigon
I’ve travelled enough to not get goo-goo eyes for each new city. We all know the type, “OMG! THIS PLACE IS AMAZING I AM GOING TO LIVE HERE.”
Well. Oh my.
Saigon has a vibe as all cities do.
Saigon has a fair amount of chaos and disarray, which excites me. I approach each new day without expectations.
Here are some photographs of Saigon I’ve taken.
Saigon is humanity.
Saigon is narrow streets.
Saigon is work.
Saigon is a lot of coffee.
Saigon is traffic.
Saigon is new games.
Saigon is walking.
Saigon is riding.
Saigon is good food.
Saigon is service.
Saigon is open air.
Saigon is water.
Saigon is a city.
Saigon is life.
Saigon is whatever you want it to be.
How to Fly for Free with Sky Miles
You can work for the bank, or you can make the bank work for you. After spending a few years getting my personal finances in order, I was finally able to make the bank work for me by playing the sky miles game.
Since I pay my credit cards off in full each month, sky miles are essentially “free money” for me. In fact, not taking advantage of sky mills is leaving money on the table for no good reason.
I also don’t use any advanced tricks. My approach is simple: Get a credit card, meet the minimum spend, get a new credit card, repeat. Other people treat using miles like a serious hobby. Different strokes for different folks.
If you play the game right, you’ll fly for free. If you slip up, the math gets complicated. (You may still receive some free travel, but you won’t max out your winnings.)
Before playing the sky miles game, remember the First Rule of Sky Club: The bank wants you to screw up. Rule 2 of Sky Club: If you do not screw up, the bank will try screwing you up.
Flying for free is relaxing.
How the Sky Miles Game is Played.
To trick you into screwing up your personal finances, credit card companies offer you a lavish amount of free airline travel for signing up for a credit card and meeting their minimum spending requirements.
For example, Chase Bank will give you $800 in free travel if you sign up for a SouthWest Rapid Rewards credit card and spend $2,500 within the first three months of having the card.
You also receive sky miles for every dollar you put on your credit card. You may receive anywhere from 1 to 3 miles per dollar you spend, depending on how the bank offers the deal to you.
The banks are not your friends. The bank wants you to forget to make a payment. When you miss a payment, the bank will charge you interest and fees and also rise your annual percentage rate (APR) on the card. Always make you payments in full and on time.
Even if you don’t miss a payment, there may be a “glitch” from the bank causing you to miss a payment. Keep track of your personal finances to avoid being unjustly charged a late fee.
How I Avoid Paying Late Fees.
When I receive a new credit card in the mail, I immediately go online to set the card up for auto-payment. I pay the balance in full.
Mint.com flags any late fees that hit any of my accounts. (I’m a huge fan of Mint.com and credit it with turning my personal finances around.)
Occasionally (see Rule 2) the bank will claim you missed a payment. Mint.com will sent you an e-mail alert, you contact the bank, and they correct the mistake.
How I Earned my 2014 Sky Miles.
I played the game intelligently. I would take out one credit card at a time, meet the minimum spend requirement for that card, and then open a new credit card. I took out around 8 credit cards in 2014.
The credit card sign-up bonuses included Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and British Airways.
I racked up 150,000 Southwest miles by obtaining two credit cards for myself and two for my business. At the time (rules may have changed), Southwest would give a companion pass to anyone who acquired 100,000 miles in a fiscal year.
A companion pass allowed me to take someone with me for free whenever I travelled.
I travelled a lot in 2014.
2014 Trips / Travel Using Sky Miles.
I fly with Shauna each time. Shauna flew for free on Southwest, as I earned enough sky miles to get the coveted companion pass.
- Los Angeles to Las Vegas (three times)
- Los Angles to Chicago
- Los Angeles to New York (one way)
- Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles (one way)
- Los Angeles to Denver (I paid for my ticket; Shauna flew for free)
Southwest mileage balance – 45,000 miles.
Chicago is my kind of town.
Vegas has great night life.
Vegas also has world-class dining.
- Los Angeles to New York (two first-class tickets; one way)
- Miami to Los Angeles (Michael only; one way)
Americans Airlines mileage balance – 90,000 miles.
You can split your trips up into legs to take advantage of sky miles.
We flew to New York on sky miles and paid for tickets from JFK/NYC to St. John, Virgin Islands.
- New York to London (paid for 1/2 of trip, or one full ticket, with BA Avios/sky miles)
From London we flew into Rome, Italy. As I noted, above, you can use sky miles for one leg of the trip while paying out of pocket for the next leg of your flight.
British Airways mileage balance – 45,000.
How Much Do Sky Miles Cost?
The sky miles cost as much as the mileage bonus and sky miles you earn from purchases are worth less the annual fees you paid. Although I haven’t done the math, in 2014 I received several thousands of dollars in “free” flights.
In addition, I have over 250,000 unused sky miles.
Annual fees paid in 2014 – $1,170.
How to Learn More About Sky Miles?
I’m not in the credit card business. In theory I could sign up for credit card affiliate offers. I’d tell you about the benefits of a credit card, you’d sign up using my affiliate link, and I’d profit.
Since I don’t have any affiliate agreement with anyone, I’ll direct you to the site where I learned the game. Check out Million Mile Secrets.
You can also check out MileValue for more advanced tips. I don’t go into the sky miles stuff hardcore. I simply get a credit card, meet the minimum spend, and then get another credit card.
There are a lot more advanced tricks you can use.
How to Improve Your Credit.
If you’re not able to put the banks to work for you, check out my article on personal finance.
I started off with bad credit, built my credit up, and now the bank is my sugar mommy.
As always, there’s a way to game the system. Finding out how to game the system is one of my hobbies.
Are you a Sky Miles Junkie?
If so, what are your best tricks and tips for using sky miles? Post a comment or question below!