Give Me The Simple Life

Just like being in a relationship, things go much better when your needs are being met. I think the same applies to starting a new life with a foreign country. Prior to arriving and up until recently the big question in my mind was, “What could go wrong?” I kept wondering if I packed the right items, forgot anything, etc. Arriving, my first concerns were locating clean drinking water, internet, cell phone and food sources. Once these major items were secured it was then a matter of getting items I needed for my studio for daily living. Little by little each day I built up a place of refuge that I could call ‘home’ in this foreign land.

Now, granted, it’s a single-man’s studio.. but it’s the only domicile I have at present. It’s secure, clean and newly constructed. It’s a place to keep my ‘stuff’ and lay down my head at the end of the day. Everything ‘out there’ in this foreign land I’ve chosen to live in is outside my control. But this space I have to live in is where I customize it with my own list of creature comforts that are important to me. And what I have confirmed here that I practiced in my former land is the concept that there is beauty in simplicity.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m something of a minimalist. I like life to be simple, whittled down to just the stuff I need and the people that make a positive impact in my life. I save complexity for my thoughts, where I spend away the days analyzing just about everything from every possible angle. Having too The-Simple-Life-1much stuff, or drama, going on interrupts my focus.

So, as I began to say, up until now I’ve had the overwhelming ‘feeling’ of being a stranger in a strange land. It’s unavoidable. So many things are literally foreign to me here. Things are done for a different reason or via a method I’m not familiar with. And I love the little adventures that this provides. For two weeks I’ve been in search of a wider table that I could devote solely to my laptop and related ‘tech’ items.. a committed workspace. When I first arrived I only had one small table which served as my work-center, dining table, food-prep location and general place to just put stuff when walking in the door. Not very efficient. But everywhere I looked for a table it was either over-priced, too small or already damaged. Today I found just the right table at the marketplace and set it up solely for my tech/work space. And I am just as happy as a monkey with a banana. The only time getting more ‘stuff’ is worthwhile is when it serves a good purpose and this simple item.. a table, makes my life so much simpler.

Now I can actually keep the blender and rice cooker constantly plugged in on the other table.. AND have a place to eat my meals without moving cables, DVDs, cameras and speakers each time. A table just for eating. Wow. At this rate I can entertain company. But not anytime soon, aside from my girlfriend.

After setting up my table and being altogether pleased with myself, I went out into the cool afternoon (we do get some cool afternoons here every so often).. and I spent some time in the hammock that is strung beneath the shady branches of several mango trees just beyond my front porch. I swung there lazily, looking up into the varying, cool colors of green leaves above me and just enjoyed some time doing absolutely nothing for about 45 minutes or so.

After a while of that I came back inside and pulled one of the fresh pineapples out of the fridge that I’d bought while at the marketplace that morning. The vendor there cut away all the outer rind, thus leaving me with a large, singular block of pure pineapple fruit. I sliced it up and slipped it into the blender with some mango and purified water. A bit of whirring and I now had a pitcher of fresh fruit juice to quench my thirst. Thick and pulpy.. just the way I like it. Earlier today I had a great lunch of lumpia and a variety of grilled chicken skewers with some hanging rice. Now it’s early evening and in a while I will take my evening walk, about a mile, for some exercise and.. more chicken skewers cooked up at a bbq place run by my maid.

The-Simple-Life-2My point in all this is that it really doesn’t take much to make me happy. I have my free time, plenty of creative projects to keep my mind busy, a few good books to read, a novel to write, plenty of good food to eat and interesting people I run into almost every day. I would say the only major difference in my mindset between here and when I was ‘back home’ is the amount of hours I spent working, working, working to make ends meet. Back home I lived a simple life and was pretty happy. But I never really took a day off. I enjoyed what I was doing, running my own PC repair business and met lots of cool people doing that as well. But the traffic, driving and fast-food were taking their toll on me each and every day.

Here, even a ‘troublesome’ day is not all that bad. Yesterday, for instance.. I awoke to find not only was there no water (which happens about once a week here.. water pump fails to fill the water-tower at night sometimes).. but I had forgotten to fill my own basins the night before for just such an occurrence. Usually I have two basins on reserve so I can at least take a shower. So there I was yesterday.. not only no water to bathe but I was supposed to catch a cab to Cebu in a while to meet with a reader from my blog who had come in from Bangladesh on business. I waited but.. still no water and I had to leave within 2 hours. So.. I improvised. I grabbed a towel and walked about two blocks away to a hotel. For 40 pesos (about $1.25 USD) I now had access to both a shower and the swimming pool. Problem solved. And I had a full hour to spare. After showering off I took a relaxed swim in the warm sunshine.. having the pool all to myself. Cool, clean refreshing water.. a perfect day for a swim and the day was only getting started.

Like most of us, I’ve reached for more complicated scenarios in search of ‘fun’ or contentment. Vacations to Las Vegas, for instance. Four hours of driving, check into the hotel, get out to the casinos.. lose a bunch of money, get a quick bite to eat, hit up a dance club, get hammered and take a long walk down the strip 13 hours later before finally crashing into my hotel room. OK, so it was ‘fun’. But in the end I was tired, a bit hung-over and my wallet was a bit lighter. Plus, I still had that four hour drive to get back home. In the blazing heat.

But days like today.. as I lay there in that hammock, I just said to myself; “This is nice. Simple, but so satisfying.” And no hang-over.

I’m not against big productions. I’ll probably be making a trip to Bohol in the next two weeks to take a look around. I already know there’s no way I’ll pack everything Bohol has to offer in just a few days. My game-plan is to just arrive with a bit of Net pre-prep in my head and do whatever seems interesting. I’m not going to go on a mad-tour. Just gonna take it as it comes. Sort of like a recon mission, to look around and get data for my future trips to Bohol because I have a feeling I’m going to want to return there several more times.

Life has many variables. We can easily make things as complicated as we want them to be. But, give me the simple life. Good friends, good food, work I enjoy and an interesting environment. Some people find that in New York, California, Canada, Australia, Italy or wherever their bliss leads them . Me.. I’m content here in the Philippines. There is still so much more for me to explore and I hope to see most if not all of it. But not in one week or even one year. Eventually, when I have the funds, I hope to spend a month or more in Florence, Italy as a short getaway to appreciate the art and food there. But right now, I’m going to have another glass of fresh pineapple juice, my evening walk, a refreshing shower and a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow is a new day, with new adventures and opportunities.

Contentment with life’s simple pleasures has done nothing to diminish my ambitions or goals. It just simplifies and paces each day’s joy to a rate I can appreciate it more fully.

Reekay
www.LifeBeyondTheSea.com

philippines survival guide advice expats

Author: Reekay

After 49 years living in Southern California, USA, I decided to move to the Philippines despite never having been here before. In July, 2012, I took a leap of faith and transplanted myself to the amazing Philippines. I am a single man taking an honest look at all that the islands here have to offer, one day at a time. I hope you find my LBTSea site informative, entertaining and hopefully a bit of each. 🙂 Be sure to visit the Forum and other parts of what the site has to offer. Browse around and be sure to sign up for updates via email. Enjoy!
— Reekay

68 comments

  1. Keep on posting your Blog! Very informative and interesting outlook you have. My wife is from Mindanao and I have been there, Manila, and a few days in outskirts of Cebu.

    So your blog

  2. You can’t beat the simple life in the Philippines where it’s still a choice. I’ve been in Florida for two weeks now and I can already feel the stress of a harried lifestyle as I spend time driving around town trying to re-connect with my old life in my own hometown. Staying home in the states is not the same thing as staying home in the Philippines. When I stayed home for a whole day in the states, it felt as if I’m going to go crazy while I observe the people around me going through their own routine of hustle and bustle of daily life. I felt a pang of guilt that I should be out there going through my own motion of the Rat Race instead of staying home to relax. I didn’t feel the same way when I stayed home in the Philippines. I was relaxed even when I had to fight the torturous traffic of Manila and from the lack of solitude from my noisy neighborhood; I also felt the same relaxing vibes from the people around me. So a simple life is not just something you dictate or create for yourself; it has to be in sync with your surrounding.

    1. Thanks. It’s a lifestyle I’ve had even in the States. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m no Buddhist.. but I do believe that my heart is more at peace not being attached to material things. I enjoy luxury every so often, who doesn’t? But I don’t live in anticipation of it. So, it’s a mindset I took with me to the PH and it fits in well for life there. 🙂 But no matter where we’re at, coming to peace on the inside can make ‘just about’ anyplace a livable paradise.

  3. Thanks for the articles, but are you recycling from past articles? I feel like I have read these recent ones before. Also some references to timelines and your point in the journey that lead me to ask.

    Not a complaint, just wondering.

    1. The recent articles posted are ones that I had allowed to be posted on another travel blog, so you may have read them there. I decided to move them over to my site since I won’t be returning to Bohol until end of this month. Then I’ll be doing new articles and videos again. 🙂

  4. Great stuff Mr. V i stumbled across your videos yesterday and you hooked me . lol i like simple and uncomplicated . keep up the good work Mr. V

  5. Is it financial independence that enables simple life?

    It makes a lot of difference that the locality allows simple living. Easy to be content with “simple” luxuries. Enjoy!

    1. Most people are led to believe that if they amass ‘much more’.. only then will they be in a position to enjoy life. But by becoming content, and seeing our needs realistically, I believe we can enjoy life ‘now’. More ‘stuff’ usually brings more stress. At least that’s been my experience.

      1. I believe you. You are blessed. A simple life is not affordable to many. 🙂

        I met a retired couple who completely uprooted themselves from the US. They cannot be any happier with their decision. I can’t say they are necessarily living a “simple” life but they enjoy being in the Philippines.

        Being close to nature as you do now is bliss. Great choice, Henry and thank you for sharing the journey.

      2. More stuff more stress! How true, at least for me. I came from a simple begining and worked very hard in life and aquired a lot. That’s what we are indoctrinated to do, at least in the CA upbringing I had. Most people would define my life as a success but mostly it has added just more stress to me. I am thankful to not be struggling like some at this point but over the last 3 years I have been focusing on deleveraging my life down to simplfy my life. As I work through this process I feel bricks being lifted off my back. My goal is to get back to my roots (that is simple living not material living). As they say you can’t take things to the grave, so life is really about experiences and the relationships you have. I will be heading to Panglao Bohol this April to check things out. I hope to just relax and perhaps try doing some good things volunteering my time to make better life’s for people in the Philippines. They are a lovely culture and very inventive to survive they daily grind. I respect that because I use to live like this surviving on my own as a teenager. Cheers! Thomas

        1. Panglao is a great place to just unwind, either at Alona beach or the other, quieter beaches away from the tourist areas. I enjoyed the central part of Iloilo, they have some beautiful provinces there with brick homes and beautiful landscaping.

          1. Aloha Henry,
            Thanks for your remarks. I will be in Panglao Bohol region looking to plan a simpler life. I will be there 23-29 April. Is it possible to connect up? And how do I get a hold of you? Just ask a local? Thank you for your time and efforts. Cheers! Thomas

  6. I love your blogs, your videos, your philosophy, your open minded realistic and optimistic approach. Even with all the negatives you manage to turn them around and to get the best out of life there. You are an inspiration to me and probably to many people out there. Keep it up Reekay!

      1. You are welcome. One thing hits me and that i find throughout all your articles and videos and that makes me wonder if the Philippines is the right place for ME: you point to all of the culturally based things you must do, especially as a foreigner, in order to lead a pleasant and hassle/problem free life. For example being careful when two schoolgirls walk next to you, careful on what to reply to people that ask you information, careful about where you live, where you take your dates, amounts of money lended or given, careful in starting a business or owning a home, careful not to be cheated or robbed, careful not to offend when turning someone down, etc. I am sure you know what I am talking about. It seems to me that on one side of the scale there is western culture with all its idiosyncracies, rat race materialistic life, on the other a simpler, more genuine life which forces you to change your behavior in order to obtain a peaceful existence and to alter quite drastically your behavior because its hard to trust anyone out there especially because you are perceived as a ‘rich kano’ no matter what. It must be very difficult to pick the real friends from the lot, not to speak of girlfriend. This is what intrigues me but at the same time worries me. I would like to retire there given the lower cost of living and beautiful landscape but especially because i search an easier and simpler life. In all your articles this simple life, for an expat, to me, dont seem as obvious. That is what I am trying to figure out, before making the move.
        Keep up the good work!

        1. For me, weighing all those cultural adaptions against the life I’ve known in SoCal all my life, I find it well worth it. But then I’m the type who can enjoy either lots of social interaction or absolutely none, like a hermit. My one frailty in that regard is that I tend to take a female relationship pretty serious after 6 months. But other than that, once you see the PH for what it is, it doesn’t surprise you and the adjustments are easy to make.

  7. Good stuff Henry. I must say, that I envy, as well as admire, what you have done for yourself, with the adventure of a new life in the Philippines. It's a big step, but you seem to have adapted quite well. Someday, I too, hope to follow in your footsteps and retire in the the Phil's, to live that quiet, and simple life. Maybe even find a good woman to share those golden years.
    Thanks for sharing your adventure!

  8. Thanks for posting Henry..i have been reading & listening to a lot of your stuff. My life has been too fast and too stressful too. When I am in the Cebu I feel more relaxed for a few weeks each winter. My wife has a nice but modest house on Mactan Island. But even there where there are 450,000 people stuffed together on a 25 square mile island life is more relaxed than back home. I was there for six weeks in Nov and December and I sought out as many Ex Pats as I could…which meant I went to the bars to visit. I was surprised at how many had a bad attitude after a couple of years.

    1. Yes, the ones that just hang out at the bars all day and don’t get out to enjoy the rest of the island.. they tend to focus on the negative. I rarely step into a pub, a dance club more likely for me and even then only on rare occasion. Plenty of other things to do in the PH.

      1. The previous five winters I spent with Nanies family…who are wonderful..all filipina. I stop and visit a westerner now and then in the mall or the bus. But I have trouble making friends with westerners so this year I went mostly to pubs and eating places…not because I want to drink or eat out all the time. I had fun visiting and learned a lot….but where can you meet “normal” westerners on Mactan Island? These guys are fun to talk to but after a few visits their negative attitude gets to me. Of course…many would not think I am “normal” either…I am not judging them…just saying they aren’t my kind of people for a long term friendship. Thanks for your posts…I read a lot of them… don’t sweat responding if you are busy….Have a good day.

        1. I love Mactan but for a social life it’s kind of limited. I’m guessing you visited Tamiya.. Luxor or Facebar area. You can meet some short-timers on the north-east end of Mactan, where the resorts are in Maribago. There’s an outdoor drinking place on the main road many go to hang out in the evening. But the places like ‘Midnight Sun’ or ‘The Leprechaun’ is where you may run into the jaded guys who just basically limit their PH experience to hanging out at the pub all day.

            1. The call center jobs are a great opportunity for locals to make a living. For us expats, the lesser wages compared to what we’re used to being paid would take some adjusting to get used to. For younger expats willing to work long hours, it’s one way to go and live in the PH. But for most older expats, our goal is to retire or semi-retire so a call center job isn’t so attractive to us.

  9. Hi Henry,
    How you doin, well I am living in Basak now not far from the mall, as you know I have a long time reader here, and nearly everything you say is true, I find I am so relaxed here, somethings are a little strange at first and somethings just blow me away. I agree with bar thing, there is a little expat bar close to me and they have a live band some nights so I go with my Filipino friend to listen to the music and I must say he doesn’t feel very welcome there, lot’s of these expats here really have such a bad attitude, make me wonder why they bother living here. Anyway I will catch up with you one day, be safe

  10. Love your site. I met my wife in 2007 in Manila and have never been happier. I am looking at doing the same as you just looking for the simple life. I am buying a little place in Marinduque and just live. I have been working in Afghanistan for a few years and now it time for a break from all that

  11. Thanks for setting up this great website…i have been going to the Philippines for 15 years, but you seem to have a better handle on things after your short time there than possibly anybody I know.

    I will be joining you as an expat there beginning next January. I hope to learn from your wisdom and have a wonderful retirement there.

  12. Came across your YouTube videos and then your blog. Great videos and very nice articles. I actually spent one Saturday afternoon just going thru them! Been living here in CA for the past 28 years and contemplating on going back to the Philippines soon. Been in my mind for the last couple of years actually but somehow can’t make the jump. I admire you for your outlook in life and attitude in general. Keep Well and Stay Happy!!!

    1. Thanks. Well, I’d say at least try to plan a 3 week visit and that just might be what sways you to come back for good. A buddy of mine was just here in the PH after I’d encouraged him during my visit to Mexico to visit. He’s already gotten a lease on a place here in the PH and is only going home to organize things for a permanent stay here in the PH. 🙂

      1. Actually I’m halfway there.I’m originally from the Philippines and lived here in the US for the past 28 years. I’ve been visiting every year and I stay longer and longer on every visit. I like your minimalist lifestyle but since I’m an avid golfer, I might require a higher budget to really enjoy life in the Philippines. Otherwise, I don’t really need much. Just a place to relax and store a few stuff. Keep Well Henry and keep on blogging!!!

  13. Thanks for all your efforts in making your site such a good one. I commend you for the content, which is so great. You are a good person, in many ways. God Bless You and keep you safe from harm. AND… enjoy your good life and please keep posting for all us dreamers out here wandering around the internet !!

  14. Great videos and tips. I like your attitude and appreciation of the Philippines and culture. Visited Cebu and Mindanao several times from 2010 – 2013. Also served in subic as a Marine 1986-1988. Keep up the good work. Very informative and on point. Rudy Moreno

  15. I totally agree with you there is nothing wrong with looking for younger woman or women looking for younger men how to love I’m looking for a woman outside my country cuz I feel right now I can’t meeting with any woman in my country at all yup I’m on to dating sites and I can’t you know I’m looking in the Philippines for to meet somebody you’re on how to get to crap from this wonder women but but I’m from Canada you know I’m a nice guy you 38 years old like I’m when are fallopian website just the kind of dating site and a response I got for the women in the Philippines was incredible no they really wanted to get to know me

  16. thank you for all the information that you share! i have a question and i don’t know where to post it? i have been researching about the Phil. and i found a lot of talk about the dangers to foreigners (especially to caucasians): kidnappings, murders, robberies and break-ins. is there anything that you can advise on this topic? Can you name the danger areas to stay away from? thank you for your advise and reply!

  17. thanks for sharing your experiences on life there.watching and listening to your videos.really hit home and have to say wow you nailed a lot of my experiences as well.so thanks a lot.

  18. hello MR.HENRY V.(REEKAY) Were very thankful to read about your experiences here in our country and you put more efforts and shared what you got into .My american fiancee wil be coming to visit me on the middle of FEBRUARY 2015 and hes very eager to see and meet you in person .How we can contact you ? Tks and more power to you …GOD BLESS !!!!!!!

  19. Hi Henry
    I’ve been following most of the things you published. You won my admiration because after almost two years in the Philippines you still don’t run out of good things to say about my country. I wrote you once and I suggested observing the subtle differences among people of different islands. How’s the stormy weather affect you anyhow? By this time may you have noticed that some islands are affected more by typhoons and others hardly at all. As you move from island to island and as you decide where to hang out for a while add this factor if you haven’t done yet. If you still plan to move progressively towards Palawan thru Panay Island, I suggest take the Antique route from Iloilo and progress northward and in time you will end up in Boracay. I suggest Antique for the following reasons: (1) it is beautiful but the least touristy of the four Panay provinces (2) It is protected from strong typhoons by the Panay Cordilleras that stretches the whole province from north to south (3) It is not on a flood plain (4) It is highly accessible from all points in the Panay Island (5) Antiquenos are very hospitable and sweet. By the way, I am not from Antique. I was born in the neighboring province of Aklan. Thank you for enjoying and appreciating my home country.

  20. I think a lotpeople are fooled by all the English and western food establishments. You are not in Kansas anymore. The society and social interactions are very different from people of the USA. You can live there in peace and harmony but you will have to adapt to the culture to attain that peace.

  21. I really want to thank you for giving my the walk down memory lane. Lots of stuff showed your innocence (buy some chickens for company, no food in sari Sari store) but I have been craving walking down that street for a while now.

  22. We expatriates are trying to simplify our lives by moving to the Philippines and trying to live a simple life, while Filipinos in the Philippines and throughout the world are complicating life by trying hard to climb the social and economic ladders. What a reversal of fortunes.

    1. It’s human nature to want something that you do not have. But the grass is not always greener at the other side. I guess the key is knowing your self. Determine what you want in life and go for it.

  23. Wow, small world Henry… I lived in Murrieta, Ca for a number of years, bought a home there with my Filipina wife and then when I retired from the US Navy we ended up in a divorce. I have been contemplating moving/relocating to the Philippine's for quite some time and your Blog is very informative and helpful. Keep up the good work brother…

  24. Hi Hendry. I realy am impressed by yo web.site. man you clever. we have so much in common. I am flying into manila on 1 december from Johannesburg SA. Getting married to Judi…..
    I want to meet you. I HAVE SOME PIG EXPERIENCE.

  25. Hi Henry.thanks for all your insights.Im 42 swm after 13yrs of marriage i divorced and gave everything to her and my son.Everything 6 bdrm house i built fully furnished also my beach house fully furnished.i took my jewlery off even gave that.i been working since i was 12 and working and buyingSTUFF..UGH..OH so much life wasted.i worked so hard for what? I know the reasons and oh it consumed my life buying thousands of dollars of Stuff..ugh..lol.so divorced free from the ugh..i bought a harley davidson..hmm.i never rode a cycle beforein my life.but somehow for some reason .so i got a motorcycle liscense..within a week i was in a coma..broke all my ribs collapsed lung broke neck blood on my brain. (And yes i did die and see something) i recovered quickly even breaking up concrete with a sledge hammer with broken ribs..i took no pain medication.i dont believe in drugs.ok ..yes crazy they say but…i now see and now know my dreams Im coming to the phils soon.i am simple .just got caught up in all that materialism here..im the kind of man that can sleep in the woods without shelter.im a stonemason by trade.even a gold metal brick layer.it took me trama and many wasted years to realize whats important in life..i do realize money is needed.but omg what was i doing? Lol..they can have this rat race everyone trying to keep up with the jones.lol..i hope to meet you someday and say hi in person..im from outside philadelphia pa U.S.A..

  26. I've been listening to your u tube videos , I'd love to hear about how you manage crime there , hear it's bad is that true, that worries me a lot as I've been thinking of taking trip to queson city , that's were this girl is that I've been talking to is . She says I'd have to stay in motel ,maybe not always but ,lot of crime and couldn't go to were she actually lives for fear of being robbed , so like I said that is my main concern . Thanks for all the information you've given me.

  27. Hi Henry
    I enjoy very much reading your blog and watch your videos …very informative .I have been to cebu twice and visited Malapascua . I’ve had a great time in the philippines and i plan to retire there myself or like you say semi retired.I’m 53 now and I can’t think of a better place to continue enjoying life and take on new adventures. You are right the women are absolutely beautiful !! I hope to get meet you one day you seem like a really nice guy.
    Steph

  28. I REALLY ENJOY WATCHING YOUR VIDEO ON YOUTUBE,SHARING EVERYONE ABOUT ALL THE EXPERIENCES YOU HAVE WHILE YOU ARE IN PHILIPPINES..

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