The Summer of Love and Loss – Ben Around the World Diary – Day 135 – 19th October 2019

The Summer of Love and Loss – Ben Around the World Diary – Day 135 – 19th October 2019

– ODO- 17047 – 17213km
– Location- Van Vieng
– Weather- 27-35 humid and dusty

It’s been over two months since my last daily diary. 10 weeks since I crossed the friendship bridge into Laos to stay with my friend Steff and spend summer back with my family in Europe for one month.

Things changed when I got back in touch with Naomi. We met several years before when was in LA for a business trip, preparing for a talk, taking meetings but also generally escaping the impending demise of my company Chew and my relationship with my co founder Wil (more on that story in future).

I was researching “alternative living”, a catch all term for co-living communities, co-ops and communes, and I booked a night at PodShare. PodShare turned out to be a glorified hosted which is nicely summed up in true style by the Vice article In Pod-Based Community Living, Rent Is Cheap, But Sex Is Banned. Naomi was working there as she took a year to travel around the world to escape the London life. While the space left a lot to be desired our walks from Hollywood up to the Griffith observatory. From LA I moved on and back to London but we stayed close sharing photos though a private gallery until months later, back in London we began dating
with the proviso I was leaving to cycle around the world next May.

With that primer let’s fast forward 15 months and through 25 countries and 17,000km I had plenty of time to think about what I was missing. Despite all the amazing things I experienced and the freedom of traveling with no end in sight I couldn’t forget Naomi. With some friends advice I finally finished a letter about how I felt that I’d been writing and re-writing since I arrived in India, finally pushing it through a letterbox in Barcelona before heading for my flight back to Laos to continue the trip.

At the airport I got a brief email from Naomi. Not something that I’d expect as a response for my heart felt note. I replied with a line, “have your read my letter”. She had decided to email me out of the blue the same day my letter landed on her welcome mat. The next three weeks were a blur of calling, deciding to see each other and two weeks meeting in Kuala Lumpur to figure out weather we really could do this long distance thing. Finally we agreed to some terms and enjoyed our company after so many months.

But that wasn’t the end of the summer saga. I’d know my grandmothers health was getting worse from the time I’d left in the trip, even putting money aside to fly and see her if her time came. The time came. Suddenly, but not unexpectedly, she passed away from an infection which ended her years of confusion and suffering from dementia but also her happy, strict but alway kind life. I knew I had to return home to support my family. So with a quick flight booking the rollercoaster of emotions continued. From the excitement, deep affection and joy of re-connecting with my lost love to being surrounded by destraught and exhausted family crying into each other shoulders.

I took some weeks after the funeral to live with Naomi in London which only confirmed our shared love and perspective as much as to help plan and work on my 7 startup project (more posts about that coming too). Finally I returned to Laos, spent 4 more weeks working on contract and startup projects and returned to my bike today, 4 weeks later than originally planned.

But thanks to this break I’ve got a much better plan for my coming 2 years of cycling, feel closer to my family than every before, have had more success in my business than this time last year, a partner so share the world with and over all have a new sense of purpose to be back on the road.


Hi, my name is Ben and I’m a startup founder and adventurer. Highlights of my career include building three startups from zero to exit (, StreamOn and working on Aux) and cycling – halfway – around the world in 2018. Subscribe for updates, blog posts and videos on my startup life and adventure travels.
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