TSURUHASHI, OSAKA – I know this is going to sound crazy. I’m a little embarrassed to even bring it up…
But I’m having fantasies about “giving up” technology when we get back to America…
In this fantasy, I live in the ’80s again. And read books. And write on a word processor. And call people on the telephone. And read the newspapers. And write letters to friends. And look you in the eye when I meet you for lunch…
And forget every single password!
Is this even possible? What would happen if I took this path? More below…
Speeding Across Japan
Greetings from Japan! As I write these words, we are speeding across Japan on a bullet train! Not sure how fast we’re traveling, but it’s probably close to 200 mph.
Kate snapped a shot of me with Penny, Miles, and Dusty on our way to
Osaka, traveling maybe 200 mph
We left Tokyo this morning and are on our way to Osaka, Japan’s third-largest city and a big manufacturing town.
We rented a traditional Japanese house, so we’ll be sleeping on mats for the next few nights…
We’re paying $43 a night for the whole house.
Hit the Reset Button
Kate and I hit the “restore factory settings” button on our lives a year and a half ago. We gave up our apartments, our possessions… our entire lives as we knew them… and we left America with our three kids to travel around the world.
Now we live in a sort of Neverland, hopping from Airbnb to cheap hotel, living out of a suitcase, and exploring the world. We mainly use public transport.
We’ve toured America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, and China this way. And now we’re in Japan. We’ll spend the next three weeks here roaming around by high-speed rail.
Here’s Miles in our bedroom at the hostel in Tokyo…
Miles at the hostel in Tokyo, our stop before Osaka
We Love Japan
So far we all love Japan. It’s clean, orderly, and high-functioning. And the Japanese have fantastic manners, which we love.
In China, the people have zero consideration for your personal space. They push in front of you to get on the bus. They burp and spit and talk loudly and watch videos on their phones without using headphones.
Japanese people are the opposite. For example, on the trains and subways, they sit in total silence. And they almost always get up out of their seats so Kate and I can sit together with the children.
Today, we were having trouble finding our way to the train station. I asked a man for help translating a sign. Not only did he translate the sign for us, he then walked us all the way to the train station and into the ticket office, which took him about 10 minutes.
He was wearing a suit and looked like a businessman. He even carried our suitcase up the stairs for us. I know he was in a hurry because he kept looking at his watch.
This man was in a hurry, but he still went above and beyond to help
us catch our train
Living in Neverland
This morning, Kate and I were drinking coffee (freshly brewed coffee out of a vending machine for $1 a cup). The kids were playing in the little children’s play area. Another family came along with a little girl. Penny and the little girl played together.
Miles (9) and Dusty (11) in the children’s play area
Penny (7, right) with her new friend
Then, two American men came and sat down at our table. They both had sleeves of tattoos, and one of the men was huge.
It turns out they’re professional wrestlers – a “tag team!” They’ve come to Japan to perform at an event.
We had a long conversation with them.
One of them had been through hard times – his daughter died at age 23, then he had a stroke, and then he had stomach cancer with an only 57% survival rate. But he rose above these challenges and says he’s in the best shape of his life.
This year he’ll hold title belts in three different countries, the first time anyone has ever done that.
His stories… along with the highlight videos they showed us of their performances… fascinated the kids.
“I cannot believe this is our life,” I thought to myself.
We really are living in some sort of Neverland.
Our trip comes to an end soon – Japan will be our final stop – so we’re starting to think about the new life we’re going to create.
The only thing we know for sure is that we’re going to get married again and spend the rest of our lives together. Everything else is “TBD.”
Sometimes I feel a bit insecure not knowing what our future looks like… Where we’re going to live, what we’re going to do, etc. But mostly, I find it exciting and quite liberating. We can design the perfect lifestyle for our family.
We’ve already ditched our old lifestyles. And we’ve ditched most of our digital savings (by converting everything into gold).
I know the internet is powerful. And useful. And great… blah blah blah.
I can’t escape the feeling I’m letting technology ruin my quality of life… my ability to be present… my ability to have a quiet mind… my ability to connect with my family.
I want to know what it feels like to be bored again. I want my life back where I’m not a slave to the little computer in my pocket.
But how do I break the habit? It doesn’t seem possible…
– Tom Dyson
On readers’ minds today: Whether Tom should’ve kept his accounts of police brutality in Hong Kong to himself… Tom’s thoughts on using policy loans to buy gold… and a reader who is thankful Tom opened up about his experience with depression…
Reader comment: I had always thought you were a very unbiased writer, but your report about police brutality in Hong Kong is unfortunately very biased. If you want to report about something, please make sure you have seen or heard it from both sides, instead of being biased with a one-sided view.
You can strike me off from your email list if you think I am overboard with my comments. And if you need help while in Hong Kong, I do know many normal, law-abiding citizens who are not part of the rioters who can help. Wish you and your family a safe trip in Hong Kong.
Tom’s response: I’m not a reporter. I’m neither attempting to present a balanced view of Hong Kong… nor influence anyone’s views on the situation. I’m just telling you what I saw and what it was like for me.
Reader question: A few years back, you advised your Palm Beach Research Group readers to set up “Income for Life” insurance policies. Do you personally have any policies, and if so, have you used policy loans to purchase gold?
Tom’s response: Yes, Kate and I have five policies. I have never used policy loans to purchase gold, although I’ve been thinking about it.
My concern is, I want to sleep well at night, and I’m a bit uncomfortable taking out a loan to buy gold.
Feels a bit crazy. On the other hand, I want to own as much gold as I can. I’m not sure what I’ll do. But I’ll let you know if I decide to buy gold with my policy.
Reader comment: So readers are refuting your firsthand account of what you saw in Hong Kong based on the reports they have from the media?
As someone who has just spent four days in Kowloon closely watching the activities of police and youths in the streets, both day and night, I saw tens of thousands of youths vandalizing their way up and down Nathan Road. For the most part, they were indulged by police with only token tear gas and occasional water cannon response.
Storekeepers and just plain citizens made concerted efforts to clear the debris in the morning to reopen roads and sidewalks, only to see the youths return by lunchtime to recommence their destruction with renewed vigor.
The reports from Western media I have seen since are, as expected, slanted in whichever direction the media is inclined.
Reader comment: I was in HK until yesterday and completely agree with your report of the situation. HK side was working normally as usual. I spent some time in Jordan [an area in HK], where the last riot traces could be seen, but the population participated in the cleaning.
I spoke with some friends. They are worried about violence, but everybody is aware the violence first came from the police, who receive their orders from Beijing.
Some influential personalities try to discuss with the radicals to let them understand they play the game of the police.
Reader comment: I wish I had started reading your postcards months ago. I have traveled a lot in the world, starting with trips with my parents. About the time I started college, we didn’t travel that much anymore. At that time also, I was hit very hard with depression.
I didn’t know what was wrong with me for 27 years. The depression actually disabled me – I couldn’t hold a job or make money on my own. But I’m a survivor. I finally got tired of living that way and decided to be happy. About the same time, I went bankrupt.
I’m 78 now and beginning a thorough recovery. But I sure wish I had decided to do something like what you guys are doing when I was your age! Thanks for sharing your experience with depression. I’m not sure we can get rid of it, but we can stop it from ruling our lives!
Reader comment: Good job on the trip. I’ve traveled extensively for work and pleasure and was reminded of a comment by a German sailing friend: “Americans are such timid travelers.”
I can watch the news and get concerned, but then I remember my experiences. Wisdom comes with age… and experience. If you sit in your living room and watch the news, you’ll be afraid of everyone and afraid to do anything. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
Tom’s response: Thanks for all the kind notes. Kate and I read every message you send us. Please keep sending us your questions and comments at [email protected].