After a month at home with no travel, I’m heading back out on the road this week. This time I’m going to Nepal and Bhutan, two countries in South Asia that have eluded me until now.
I used 50,000 American Airlines miles to book a one-way awards trip on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong. The Portland-LAX connection is included, and since I arrive at LAX on Wednesday afternoon and don’t leave for Hong Kong until the midnight red-eye, I decided to put together an L.A. area meetup in between.
From Hong Kong I have three flights left on my Round-the-World ticket from last year, so I’ll use those to get to and from Kathmandu (KTM) and then down to Indonesia (DPS) before coming home the same way I did last month – Seoul, LAX, Vancouver, etc.
I’ll write more about Bhutan later, but in short, there is no travel hacking involved in a trip to that country. Bhutan has one airline (the state carrier, Druk Air), and you have to pay the government $200 a day in advance before they issue you a visa and plane ticket. Thankfully, the $200 rate includes your hotel stay, most meals, and guided tours in the two major cities. Visitors to Bhutan usually arrive via Bangkok, Delhi, or Kathmandu, and naturally I’ll arrive on the Kathmandu flight.
In the meantime, a few other things are going on:
Forest Grove Half-Marathon
In my annual review last December I committed to running either one full marathon or two half-marathons this year. I’d still like to do the “real” marathon, but all the travel I’ve been doing has definitely taken a toll on long-distance training.
In case the full marathon doesn’t happen, this morning I ran the first half-marathon in Forest Grove, Oregon (about 30 minutes from Portland). It was a good race and my time was 1:39:57 – not amazing, but pretty good for me. If you’re just getting started running, I really recommend the half-marathon distance. It can still be an ass-kicking experience without being the life-draining experience of the full 26.2 mile marathon.
“Social Web” Product Launch on Tuesday, August 18
The day before I fly out to Nepal and Bhutan, I’m launching my first product in several months — and I think it will be a fairly big deal. A few close advisors have pointed out that it probably wasn’t the wisest choice to leave World Domination HQ so close after a product launch, and I suspect they’re right. I’ve been working all day, every day over the past 10 days getting ready for Tuesday.
Thankfully, a lot of the work has been fun, which is how I prefer work to be when I get a choice. As I see it, each of us have a message to share. The challenge lies in how to get the message out to the world, and that’s what this project will help with.
As part of my research, last night I went down to Whiffie’s Fried Pies, a food cart in Southeast Portland about 20 blocks from where I live. I met with Gregg Abbott, the owner, who told me the story of how he started the cart earlier this year.
Check out this video to hear from Gregg:
[This is a two-minute preview – the full 14-minute version will be available with the Social Web project.]
Whiffie’s is expanding the pie quite literally – making a product that is becoming an underground hit throughout the local area (Portland) and the online world (Twitter). Two things came through in the full version of the interview:
1) Whiffie’s started in May, is already breaking even (very unusual in the restaurant business), and has recently brought on two new employees. Most interestingly, about 60% of their business comes through Twitter. Yep, 60% – and Gregg doesn’t even promote his own stuff that much online. He talks shop with other food cart owners, answers questions, and keeps in touch with his growing fan base.
2) When I talked with Gregg, he was more excited about relationships and the power of new media than about the potential for Whiffie’s to become a huge business. It definitely isn’t an act; Gregg is passionate about what he is doing. He talked about how he recently turned 30 and wanted to find a way to work for himself and connect with a community. He’s having fun, building a sustainable business, and watches the sun rise every morning. Sounds good to me.
Social media as a force for good – someone should make a product about that. Oh, wait, that’s what Gwen and I are doing.
If you’re in Portland or happen to visit our city sometime, definitely make a pilgrimage to Whiffie’s. Get there late – they stay open until 3am! I recommend the double chocolate crème. If you’re NOT in Portland, you can hear more about getting your message out to a worldwide market on Tuesday morning.
Coming Up: Tomorrow we’ll talk about authenticity. I think there’s a lot of confusion over how to be authentic. It’s actually quite easy, but some people make it hard.
Tuesday we’ll launch the Unconventional Guide to the Social Web, 9am EST, 6am PST.
Wednesday I head to Asia for two weeks, but first I’ll hang out with 40 AONC readers from 7-8:30 p.m. in Los Angeles. Are you in? Send me a note.
I figure after all of these back-to-back adventures, I can always sleep on my 14-hour flight to Hong Kong. Hopefully it won’t be followed by a 14-hour delay in the Hong Kong airport, as happened last month.
Image by Todd Mecklem