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The Monster Trip of 2009

Last year at about this time, I took what I called the Monster Trip of 2008.

It involved four continents, driving through Italy in the middle of the night, visiting Iraqi Kurdistan, roaming by train and bus across the Baltics and Moldova, and finally coming home through Asia – where I mistakenly double-booked myself on two non-refundable tickets home from Japan.

What fun that was. Now it's time to repeat the process, although with a completely different itinerary, and hopefully without getting stranded on a faraway continent three days before I'm supposed to come home.

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Visit to Seth Godin’s Alternative MBA Program

I returned to Portland late last night after a great visit to the great New York City.

I've needed to go to New York for a few months now - I wanted to meet my book editor and a few other people, but I kept putting it off. Since I travel so much internationally, I try to keep my domestic trips to a minimum.

However, when I received an invitation a couple of weeks ago to visit with Seth Godin and his remarkable Alternative MBA students, I knew it was time to break out the calendar and book a ticket.

The lesson is, when you get an opportunity like this, don't hesitate. Do whatever you need to do to get wherever you need to be.

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Coming Tomorrow: The Secret Connection* Between Art and Money

Let's be clear: there's no real secret. I subscribe to the 10,000 hours theory. When I wrote about it six months before Outliers came out, I called it the 14,600 hours to virtuosity.

Then Gladwell's great book arrived, everyone started talking about 10k hours, and I thought, “Awesome. Now we can all save 4,600 hours!”

Anyway, the secret connection between art and money involves working hard on the same thing for a long time.

There you go! Get to work. By the time evening rolls around, only 9,992 hours will remain.

HOWEVER...

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My Unexpected Trip to the Cook Islands (Courtesy of Air New Zealand)

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I've been home from my trip to Haiti and South America for about a week now, and I didn't expect to go anywhere for a while.

Then all of a sudden, I got an email from Air New Zealand... offering to bring me along with a group of journalists going to the South Pacific for a press event. The offer came via Chris Brogan, who recommended me to Air New Zealand – big thanks to Chris for that.

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Video Update: Expectations Management and the Worst Hotel in All of Guyana

Hey guys,

Greetings from Georgetown, Guyana - the launch point for the second part of my trip.

For the past couple of days I've been staying in what TripAdvisor calls the worst hotel in all of Guyana. Is it really that bad? Check out the video.

Also, a note from the director (that's me): I recorded this video outside at 6:00 p.m., thinking that sunset would be half an hour later. It turns out that sunset in Guyana starts about 5:45. Who knew? Anyway, I had to rush to get this going. I did a second take afterwards, which was a bit more concise, but the sky was too dark. I know, I know - it's a work in progress.

See you next from Suriname, a 10-12 hour journey from here via ferry and a combination of buses. Thank you for the great feedback last week; I have read all the comments and wish I could be more responsive.

I'll hole up in the Dominican Republic at the end of this trip and get back up to speed. Have a great week!

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Video Update: Live from JFK Terminal 8

Hi everyone, Greetings from Terminal 8 in JFK Airport – New York City, or so it appears to be outside the window. In about two hours I’m getting on a plane to fly down to Port au Prince, Haiti. Last night I slept (relatively speaking) on the floor outside the terminal here after arriving well…

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Notes from the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

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In the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in Dhaka, Bangladesh, I’m having lunch with a couple of West African gangsters. To be precise, I’m eating a cheese sandwich while they are chain-smoking and drinking espresso.

I started off sitting at another table, but then we said hello to each other and I moved over. Because I lived in their region for so long, I always enjoy talking with West Africans whenever I meet up with them while traveling. The encounter with the guys at the Sheraton in Bangladesh, however, is a bit unusual.

They are very friendly. We talk about Obama, about Bangladesh, and so on. I ask them how long they are staying in Dhaka, and they say “We’re not sure.” I ask if they are staying “here,” meaning the Sheraton, and they say, “We’re not staying here, but we keep a room here.”

Whenever they’re not traveling, one of them tells me, they live in Brazil or Columbia. They work throughout Latin America, Africa, and Asia, but never in the U.S. or Europe.

Hmmmm ...

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Holiday in Cambodia

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When I wasn’t playing ping-pong and visiting Dunkin’ Donuts, I passed up the chance to visit Cambodia in 2002. After a few weeks in Bangkok, Jolie and I ended up in a small village a few miles from the Cambodian border. There wasn’t much happening there, and one day someone said, “Hey, why don’t we go to Cambodia?”

We looked into it and learned that the visa would cost $20 upon arrival. The transport to get there and back would have been another $10, and for some reason I decided that $30 was too much to spend for a short visit across the border.

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