Great to meet you, I’m Mark Wiens!
I’m an eater, traveler, author, blogger, video host, a coffee drinker, and some other random things, but mostly I just love to eat delicious food.
Thank you for stopping by, and I look forward to connecting with you more!
– Mark Wiens
The longer version:
I was born in Phoenix, Arizona, in the USA in 1986.
I don’t have many memories from my first few years, but what I do remember is that my mother tells me I was eating rice from day one.
When I was 5 years old, my family moved Albertville, a small town southeastern France in the mountainous Alpes region. Other than going to Hawaii and Canada back and forth a few times to visit relatives, this was my first journey.
From France, we moved to the center of Africa, a tiny village in northern Democratic Republic of Congo (then called Zaire), called Tandala.
Though I was quite young at that time, DR Congo was a foundation, a learning experience of culture, food, and friendships.
One of my favorite activities living in the jungle of DR Congo was sling-shot hunting for random birds with a few of my friends. After we’d shoot a bird, we’d setup a fire, roast, and eat them – usually there were only a few bites.
DR Congo is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but unfortunately due to irresponsible leaders and mis-management, the country and its people have (and still are) suffered.
In 1996, my family moved to Kenya, right into the heart of the capital city of Nairobi.
From 5th grade, all they way up through graduating from high school in 2008 (with the exception of 1 year back in the US), I attended Rossylyn Academy.
Although I wasn’t a huge fan of school at the time, I wouldn’t change the experience of attending Rosslyn for anything. The friends I had (and to this day), the teachers, the quality of education, and the mix of
After graduating from high school, I had no idea what to do.
The common thing to do was to graduate from high school, and go on to university somewhere. And though I had no plans, I returned to the US and eventually I enrolled to Arizona State University.
During my four years at University, again I was able to make some incredible friends from around the world and I enjoyed my experience, yet at the same time I had an urge to keep going, to see more of the world.
I graduated from ASU in 2008 with a degree in Global Studies; I had a diploma, but I still had no idea what to do – I just knew the last thing in the world I wanted to do was sit in an office.
During university I worked full time, and I sold many things on sites like eBay and Craigslist. I also saved as much money as I could, while paying my university tuition.
So when I finished university I had a little bit of money saved, and I had no debt (make every effort / choice you can to be debt free).
About a month after graduating I went to South America – Buenos Aires, Argentina to be specific. My goal was not to just travel and party, but instead I wanted to learn, eat, and just see what it was like to live there.
I decided to take a TESOL course to learn to teach English – I thought if I can teach English somewhere in the world, it can be a way for me to live overseas and earn money.
The 1 month course went well, and again, I received a diploma of achievement, but I still had no idea what I wanted to do.
I traveled though Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile for the next couple of months, and then returned back to the US for my sister’s wedding.
While back visiting the US, with all my fresh memories of South America – the people, the food, the breathtaking Torres del Paine (which I was lucky enough to hike for 10 days), I decided to start a blog – thinking I could just post some photos and experiences to share with my family and friends.
At the beginning of 2009, Migrationology.com was born in about 1 week of mental straining, and having little clue what I was doing – but I eventually had a website and posted my first few article.
The idea behind the name Migrationology was that it was going to be about travel, but experiences in travel – food in my case – and not just rushing from place to place or taking a quick vacation – but about local immersion.
About a month later, I bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok, with zero plans after that.
I traveled throughout Southeast Asia, both with a friend, and by myself for the next 6 months, soaking in as much as I could, and loving every bite of food I could fit in my stomach – though food, I fell in love with Southeast Asia, blogging along the way – that is when I had internet – which I wasn’t as concerned about back then.
At some point when I was in the Philippines, a buddy of mine, Joel, from way back in Nairobi, wrote me an e-mail and said, “I’m joining you, where should I buy my plane ticket?”
I was making plans by the day at this point, so not knowing exactly what else to say, I said Bangkok, knowing I could get there from wherever I might be in the next few months.
We met up in Bangkok, did nothing but eat for a couple of months, and then the reality settled in that both of our finances were just about finished.
It was finally time for me to make use of my TESOL certificate I had gotten in Buenos Aires!
With a university degree and a TESOL certification, it didn’t take long for me to land a job teaching English in Bangkok at a private institute, and I signed a one year contract. My friend Joel eventually got a job teaching English at a school in rural Thailand.
Teaching English was a great experience, and I’m really glad I did it… but I have to be honest and say that it just wasn’t for me. The Thai students and met and connected with were amazing, but I’m just not the type of guy that can sit in a classroom all day.
During my year of teaching English, I was still blogging, and at this point Migrationology.com was starting to grow, and I realized there could be potential for a blog beyond having your family read it.
I made a commitment to blog and experiment with online projects in every spare moment that I wasn’t teaching (even when I was eating).
Along with earning money as a teacher, I lived a frugal life, something I had learned from my father and from the way we lived and traveled while growing up.
In Bangkok I could live for $285.06 per month, sharing a studio apartment, and eating delicious food (keep in mind this lifestyle may not be for everyone, but when you have a goal and strategy, I think it’s a great lifestyle), while investing my time in online projects.
I failed at a number of online projects, but I kept blogging and writing and publishing, and I made another commitment to never have to teach English again (I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with teaching).
After finishing my year of teaching English, I was still not making enough to live off, even by myself.
But I was earning a little bit – and that’s important – it kept me going and pushing further.
And again, by living frugally, and having saved probably 90% of the money I made teaching English, I worked by myself diligently, sweating at the computer in Bangkok for long hours, blogging and investing my time in online projects.
Within a humid sweaty studio room in southern Bangkok, I published the Eating Thai Food Guide, my first eBook, a product that allowed me to earn more of a living, and still what is one of my most passionate works.
In Thailand, with a lower cost of living, I could afford to spend time working on my own projects, instead of someone else’s.
Things grew slowly, but I kept persisting, and experimenting.
While teaching and living in Thailand, I met Ying, an incredible cook, traveler, eater, and just the most amazing person I’ve ever met. I consider myself blessed and lucky that I met Ying and that she agreed to marry me.
We got married at a restaurant in Bangkok, ate a feast of southern Thai food, and instead of having one of those beautiful giant wedding cakes, we had a beautiful giant durian.
So that brings us to where we are today.
Ying and I are based in Thailand, but we travel frequently, in pursuit of delicious food.
I by all means don’t have everything figured out, but everyday is an opportunity to do something, try something, and learn something.
– Mark Wiens