So, who is this Chris guy?

      A man known by many names is usually a spy, a thief, or a notorious character. I am none of these, but those who have known me know I go by more than a half dozen names. You can call me Chris.

Clubbing in Kathmandu

I am known by most as a traveler, first and foremost. But before I left my country for a life of travel and culture, I worked, studied, and played in my hometown of Boston. I lived for a brief stint in Canada's capitol, Ottawa, while studying music and French, and then graduated from university with a 4-year degree in psychology and optical media art (photography and film).

I continued my studies and practice in photography in Boston before becoming the General Manager of Boston's acclaimed Masa restaurant.
      It was then that I had the life-changing realization that in our consumeristic culture, we are becoming owned. Owned by our jobs. Owned by our possessions. Owned by our obligations, and our future plans. Owned by our TV's and the media. The more free our culture has become the more open to psycho-socio, economic, and egoistic assault we have become as individuals. On a base level we all know it as "the machine". But I was beginning to see how endless the cycle of "the machine" was, and how deep the rabbit hole is.
Riding a yak in Tibet

I wanted out. We are taught to question everything in our uniquely American education system, and yet people didn't seem to be questioning their own lives, and the measurement that is supposed to be the ultimate yard-stick: Happiness. Is your life guiding you in the direction of happiness, and are you enjoying happiness in the here and now. This was slipping through the fingers of almost everybody I met, including myself! So I decided to leave.

I didn't know exactly how to do it, but neither did anyone else. So I sort of made it up. I approached this big question as I think I was supposed to approach life in the first place - as a game. An experiment that was going to be fun.
Part of the paradigm associated with the problem mentioned above is that in American society we value security -   planning is good, and being able to ostensibly guarantee one's future is even better.  This is not wrong, and it worked for me for a long time. I was quite happy, and comfortable, and it wasn't with the clash of some life-changing event that I decided otherwise.  As I recall I just sort of eased into this new paradigm, and within only a few months I looked around and didn't feel very happy or comfortable at all.  I decided that my possessions, my job, and my life all seemed to be in preparation for a planned future that I no longer wanted.

So avoiding the trap of planning too much, I decided to sell all my things and leave everything familiar behind with no plan beyond that.  I started this website as a tool (much like E-Bay) through which I sold everything I owned. I created 3 rules to live by in this transition period, and named it Phase 1.

Phase 1

Rule 1 - I must sell everything I own by November 1, 2003
Rule 2 - I must leave my job and apartment by November 1, 2003
Rule 3 - I may not make any further plans until November 1, 2003
Almost immediately, it had gained the attention of many Americans as a befuddling, and intriguing experiment that went against the social grain.  As I began to get press, more and more people were asking "what next"?  Well, since part of the exercise was not to have a next step, I didn't have an answer.  Needless to say, everyone and their brother had advise.  From hiking the Appalachian Trail, to investing in real-estate, to starting my own business, to working for a NGO in Cuba, to helping a family in a lighthouse in France!  By the end of my sale, one month later, I was a free man.  I had never felt such freedom in my whole life.  With no obligations, appointments, possessions, or bills, I walked out of my old apartment and finally thought "what next"?
With so much input over the previous month, I had a long list of offers and suggestions, but I felt strongly that whatever it was, it should entail travel.  After thinking hard, the two final choices seemed to be the Appalachian Trail, or to move abroad.  Well, I had sold all my expensive camping gear and it would be suicide to start the Appalachian Trail just before winter, so I was leaning towards moving abroad.  The idea was exciting!   A whole new culture, and language awaited me.  Some place completely different.  A new start.  But where to?

Finding work in Japan

I started doing feverish research on regions, countries, and cities of interest.  I spent days, and then weeks couch surfing and living with family.   Finally I realized I couldn't decide.  There were so many places I hadn't been to.  How could I make such a monumentous move with such a miniscule knowledge of the world?  So the plan changed.  I would have to see more of the world first.  My research went on for another month as I glazed over the small mountain of "Round-The-World" travel guides, stories, and advice, and by January 2004, I was ready.   I left for a journey round-the-world (RTW), calling it "Phase 2", following the mantra of the first phase, and only having 3 rules I had to follow:

Phase 2

Rule 1 - I could only bring what I could fit in a small book bag (roughly the volume of 1/2 a pillow)
Rule 2 - Once my feet left North American soil, I could not return for a minimum of 12 months
Rule 3 - I had to maintain this website throughout my travels
And so this website revamped itself into both a record of Phase 1, and an up-to-date travel log/album so that I could keep old friends informed of my travels, and inform new friends of who I was and where I started.

I had an extraordinary journey through 19 American states, Mexico, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Mongolia, and China. I met met many life-long friends, enjoyed foreign cuisine, and even fell in love in the far East. But 9 months into the trip I made met 2 travelers who would change the direction of my life.

Relaxing in Goa, India

Danielle and Ian were traveling through Tibet in the same direction as me, and we kept bumping into each other. When we bumped into each other again in Kathmandu, Danielle asked me to join her on a visit to a local orphanage. I refused a few times, thinking it would be such a downer, or that it was just too mushy a thing for me. But eventually she convinced me to just come meet the kids for a festival.
The moment I saw these children I was hooked. They weren't at all the depressing bunch of sad kids dressed in rags that I was expecting. They were happy, and totally oblivious to their situation. In fact, it turned out they were pretty lucky, and they only saw it from that angle. After a couple weeks, Danielle and Ian moved on, but I decided to stop my travels to get more involved with this orphanage. My first project was to build them a website so they could reach out to a broader spectrum of volunteers and organizations worldwide. But my real joy was playing with the kids, and feeling like I was improving their lives somehow. I was hooked.

It wasn't until the corrupt king of Nepal declared martial law, and a coup ensued, that I decided I could not stay in Nepal indefinitely. When the telephone lines, electricity, and internet was turned back on, I made my move. All airports had been closed and vehicles were banned from the streets under threat of firebombing! As soon as the airports were opened I boarded a plane for Japan - the closest nation I could be guaranteed a job that paid enough for me to make regular return trips to Nepal. And thus began " Phase 3 " - a similar extension to previous phases, with 3 new rules:

West Highland Way in Scotland

Phase 3

Rule 1 - I had to move to a foreign country (Japan)
Rule 2 - I had to become conversational in the local language
Rule 3 - No ladder jobs that would end me up back in a Phase 1 situation
Back in my hometown of Boston

I remained in Japan for 2 years while working at schools as an English teacher, and taking my plentiful vacations back in Nepal, and other Asian countries. I kept a record of my cultural experiences and travels on both my Phase 3 site ( and my Traveling Asia blog. After 2 years there it was time to make another big change in my life. I had discovered my strong interest in helping others - especially those who can not help themselves. I wanted to return to my NPO work, and gain a broader variety of experience so I could merge the best ideas and make the biggest impact I could. Phase 3 was over.
Now I am moving forward with my life and pursuing a new path, and documenting it on a new site, Bicycling Asia.



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