The Daily Decaf

taking a break from the buzz

Just Another Fork In The Road


Contemplating my next life move.

Original post featured at Not All Who Wander Are Lost.

Two paths diverged in the woods. Luckily, I showed up early, and was able to walk down both. 

Each day, we blindly follow through with familiar routines. We approach daily tasks and chores with an unquestioned obedience. We, the programmed collective, do as we’re told; all the more often, we simply do as we know.

We repeat familiar tasks tirelessly, and lay our heads down on fresh pillows after exhausting days. It’s only when we uproot ourselves from such familiar scenes that we discover life’s alternatives. That other ways of living are not only possible, but also plentiful.

The question is, where do you start? How do you even begin the process of choosing which kind of life you want to live? What kind of person you want to be? With any number of options available, the process of narrowing them down can feel overwhelming. But have no fear: you got this.

You start by making mistakes. You pursue your passions with a reckless obsession, and you don’t give up until you’ve failed. Twice. Maybe even a few times. You become a master of your own universe, and you begin each day by staring yourself in the mirror, proclaiming, “I’m a superstar!And you remind yourself that it’s not just your mom who thinks so.

You spend sufficient time learning what doesn’t work for you-what feels forced, unnatural, or coerced- and you cross those things/people/places/jobs off the list. You trust in your gut, and your gut guides you.

Over time, you begin to develop a groove. You find yourself naturally drifting in a particular direction, signaling that your focus is being born. Sometimes, the current of mental adjustment is slow, causing what can feel like a meandering way forward. Other times, though, the current pulls you hard and fast in a specific direction. If this pull is consistent and strong, allow yourself to surrender to its pulls. This is your instinct guiding you in the right direction for you.

The Art of Having Fun


Soaring high above Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

Original post featured at Not All Who Wander Are Lost.

Fun is best understood in three ways. First, you plan the fun. You anticipate it. You sip beers and brainstorm ideas. You conjure up brilliant plans—tales of escape—and you devise ways to turn fantasy into reality.  You think of all the places you’d want to go in the world if time or money were of no concern, and you plot out those places on your scratch and sniff map. You have a couple more beers and you start thinking what better time than now. You book flights that night.

Nothing beats the anticipation of a good time. Arguably, even having the fun sometimes can’t compare to the joy that comes from simply thinking about fun things. But the next step comes after the planning stage. The next stage of fun includes actually doing the thing you’ve set out to do. This second stage can’t be faulted. You go on the journey, see some live music, dance like you just don’t give a damn, immerse yourself in the unknown, and travel to the depths of your soul. It is here where you discover a fresher, more revitalized sense of yourself. You meet this person, and fall in love. You wish he/she would drop by more often.

The final stage of fun is the reliving part. After anticipating and having the fun, you recreate the highlights over and over again. You put the best ofmoments on repeat, and spend your post-fun days reminiscing on that which once was. You peruse old photos and read through past journal entries. You reach out to those who were with you at the time the fun was had. You send texts or emails. Make out of the blue phone calls. Anything to connect to those involved in your fun quest, and send a small “thanks” to those who rendered fun possible.

After the days have passed, you will quickly find yourself back to square one. Note, this doesn’t have to be a bad square; it’s just an ordinary one. You will find that your routines have quickly tracked you down. Your old habits, mannerisms and ways will find you, even though you deceptively thought your new self was undiscoverable. You will behave much as you always did, and your day-to-day will pick up much as it had before.

If your routines served you well in the past, there is no harm in returning to them. To the places and people whom you love and that help to fill your cup.But this time, when you return, you will always keep one foot slightly higher off the ground. This slight pep in your step will unmistakably differentiate you from your past, and you will find that the revitalization you experienced during the fun has uplifted you ever so much. You are now lighter and calmer.

With your new and uplifted self, you will stay open to new opportunity. You will welcome the chance for adventure. You will embrace human contradiction, and become a cautious risk-taker. You will find that if you try just a little, you can be a pretty good time.

Behind The Lens: Sunsets in El Nido

Behind the Lens is an ongoing series that tells the true story—both good and bad—behind what it took to get that picture.

What You See

“Just another day in paradise! Enjoyed a quiet view of sunset over the harbor while sharing a San Miguel on a cool Summer’s eve!”


What You Miss

“We arrived 90 minutes before sunset to ensure a chance at a front-row spot, as it was our only hope of even being able to take a picture. The bar itself was sheltered by narrow walls and thick trees, which prevent even the lightest of gusts from reaching us.  The hot 95 degree sun shown directly onto your face, and without sunscreen we began to burn within minutes.  We tried to hydrate, but the bar would only accept cash, of which we had only enough for one San Miguel.  As the sun got progressively lower, the crowd of people behind us packed in ever-tighter, juggling an oft-spilled beer in one hand, and both their camera phone and cigarette in the other. We took turns fending off the never-ending onslaught of outstretched arms reaching over us, eager for their own picture, as we each took shots.  After finally getting the picture after 2hrs, we began the 30-minute trek back home, exhausted, sunburnt, dehydrated and malnourished, and found ourselves crashing for the night at 8pm.”



Flying: What Your Seat Choice Says About You

There are three kinds of people in this world: Aisle, Window, and Middle.

Aisle is the hyperactive extrovert.  They regard Middle and Window as prisoners of their own domain; their ability to socialize, stand, or even request a glass of water is entirely dependent cooperation from their rowmates to the side. Are Middle or Aisle sleeping? Well sorry Window, looks like you can’t use the bathroom for the remainder of this 7-hr flight.

Aisle, on the other hand, is free. They can control their own destiny.  Surrounded by constant stimuli, they find themselves exploring every opportunity they can scrape from the situation. There’s people watching: what’s the couple in 14A/B fighting about? Who’s child is jamming crayons into the ceiling fan? They can stand, stretch, use the bathroom, or acquire complementary snacks whenever they want.  Want conversation? They’re surrounded on all sides by other groups of travelers.

Have you ever heard the pilot come on the PA, frustrated: “For the third time people, the seatbelt sign is on for a reason, return to your seats and stay there.” That’s Aisle.  There are no rules for them. They’ll reluctantly return to their seats for a moment, but only to stuff their seat-back pockets full of all the treasure they’ve collected in the cabin. Leg twitching excitedly, they’re already planning their next move.

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How to Play it Cool After a Complimentary Upgrade


Pretending that you’re a somebody doesn’t come easy. It takes a good degree of skill and swagger to walk into a place and act like you’re the cream of the crop. The bee’s knees.

This post is about the awkwardness that comes from first class status. Specifically, it explores the real-life tension felt when Mike and I were upgraded to a swanky 5-star hotel suite while wearing flip flops and track suits.

This entire hotel experience has been a mistake. Not in the “It should have never happened and I regret it” sort of way. But in the sense that it all feels like one big accident. Like we showed up with the wrong ID and someone(s) far fancier, far richer, far more worthy were mistakenly identified as us. We checked in and were escorted to the 16th floor of the Liberty Central Saigon Citypoint Hotel, also known as the Executive Club floor. Upon arrival, we were led to room 1601, which turned out to be part room, part palace.

Floor to ceiling windows overlook the hustle, bustle and grind of the city streets below. The bathroom is located in the center of the entire suite–my first time experiencing such an exposed and grand tub. The club floor permits access to the executive lounge, which is essentially a relaxing spot for rich people to hide out from the world and drink for free.

After two weeks of barefoot, vagabond travel, we decided to embrace the sterile and ostracizing domains with a “Yes, please,” and “Can I have some more?” Several hours past check-out, we had overstayed our welcome. We should have been kicked out at check out and yet, there we were, still seated on the tan leather sofa, trying with great determination to not spill our third glass of red all over the couch cushions.

While our original plan was to fake it till we make it, we couldn’t help but feel hopelessly awkward and insecure. Anytime the staff made eye contact with us, we either smiled and nodded politely, or averted our eyes entirely. By the end, we had completely confused everyone, for our behavior and reactions were never consistent. Smiling in one moment and hiding our faces the next. We had lost our footing, were disoriented by our surroundings, and were no longer playing it cool. We were impostors of the saddest sort.

But, hey. At least the drinks were free.

How It Came To Be


Like any brilliant idea, The Daily Decaf came to mind after an evening spent gazing at the Mekong River over a not-so-fancy bottle of wine. The wine itself was not particularly memorable, but the night spent drinking it certainly was.

The idea behind the site is simple: offer a place for people to come to take a break from the buzz. Like most people, we see time as something that never seems to be on our side. We have grand ideas and shared visions, but are not always sure of how to make our dreams come true. Through this site, we hope to challenge ourselves and each other to make the most of the time we have. Sometimes, this will mean saying yes to adventure and experience. Other times, this will mean learning how and when to slow down.

Our goal is to share stories and insights on traveling, living life, growing up and keeping it real. The best stories are shared ones, so please feel free to comment when the mood strikes. We’d love to hear from you!

Until then,

K & M