Welcome to Couchfish

My name is Stuart McDonald. I’m a co-founder of Travelfish.org, a travel planning website to Southeast Asia. As you know, there’s little in the way of travel, or travel planning, going on right now—and for good reason. That doesn’t mean people have stopped dreaming about travel.

Couchfish is here to keep those dreams alive.

Every weekday at 9:00am Bali time (GMT+8), paying subscribers will receive that day’s issue. Non-paying subscribers will receive a round-up of the week’s posts on the Friday.

Each bite-size issue (around 400 words) will include a description of a day's travel in the region, including plenty of links out to other material to read. Think of it as something to take your mind off the news cycle while you enjoy your morning coffee.

What is in an issue?

I’ll be starting in Bangkok, spending a few days there and then moving on. I’ll be travelling by ground transport only and where possible, staying and eating at family-owned businesses. I’ll be highlighting stuff that even Southeast Asia old hands may not have heard of, I hope.

What is not in an issue?

This newsletter is not about Corona. I won‘t be writing about the virus at all. I’ll be pretending it doesn’t exist.

So this is a travel blog?

No. This isn’t a record of what I’m doing as, most likely like you, I’m stuck at home. Rather think of it as a wrap on things you could do—one day. I’ll link out to interesting videos, podcasts and perhaps throw in an interview or two. Stuff to get those feet itching.

How long is the trip?

People often say they’d like to travel forever, but in practice it rarely works out that way. I’ll keep this going as long as I can (I will be having weekends off to recharge). There are so many places to travel to!

But what about the lockdowns?

Couchfish works on the assumption that it's business as usual everywhere. All hotels and guesthouses are open. Borders are open. Buses and boats are running. Bars and restaurants are open. Fictional I know, but that’s just for now. One day they’ll be open again.

Where will you go?

The rough plan will be a loop-d-loop. From Bangkok I’ll head north then move west for a bit of northern Burma, before returning to Thailand. From there, I'll head to Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, before returning to Thailand again. Then back to Burma, southward bound, and then back into Thailand.

By this stage I’ll have been on the virtual road for at least three months. Who knows where things will be at by then? The next broad strokes of the trip would be Malaysia and Singapore. Then a boat across to Indonesia for the long west to east haul.

What are the rules?

Planes or trains: No flying unless unavoidable.

Visas: I’ll work within visa regulations pre-Corona. I’m on an Australian passport, so visas are not all that much of a challenge for me luckily.

Dosh: I’m not working to a budget—after all budgetless dreams are the best kind right?

Advertising: No ads. No affiliate links. No sponsored content. Nada.

What is the point of Couchfish?

To get both my and your feet itching.

To help publicise small family-owned businesses in the region.

To give me something to do other than work on the Travelfish redesign.

To earn me a little bit of money!

This is a work in progress

I am making this up as I go. Suggestions are welcome and appreciated.

Please get in touch

If you have a suggestion on somewhere you think I should go, please let me know. Likewise, if there is a business you’d like to see highlighted, let me know. Want to share your experiences of somewhere? Let me know. My email is stuartmcdonald@travelfish.org I’m on Twitter at @travelfish

Money matters

So that’s what Couchfish is all about. As I mentioned this is a paid newsletter. That said, subscribers are welcome (and encouraged, I beg you!) to forward individual issues to others.

I’ve never done a paid newsletter before, so this is a bit of an experiment for me, but here is how it is going to work:

First off, if you’re a Travelfish member, email me your member name and the email address you’d like to receive the newsletter to. I’ll add you for free.

If you’re not a Travelfish member, here is the fee schedule. All amounts are in US dollars and billed via Substack & Stripe:

First 100 paying subscribers: $5 per month

Paying subscribers 101-250: $7 per month

Paying subscribers 251-500: $10 per month

Paying subscribers 501+: $15 per month

So sign up today!

If you can’t afford the newsletter, drop me a line and I’m sure we can work something out.

What now?

Tomorrow morning, I arrive in Bangkok. Flying in to Don Muang. I’ll be spending a few days in a city I love. Find out more tomorrow.

Thanks for reading


To find out more about the company that provides the tech for this newsletter, visit Substack.com.

Subscribe to Couchfish

Keeping you on the road in Southeast Asia, at least in your mind, from your couch.


Stuart McDonald 

The co-founder of Travelfish.org and Couchfish, I’m based in Bali, Indonesia and write about both travelling and the travel industry. Think both could be better than they currently are.

Cindy Fan

Cindy Fan is a freelance travel writer. cindyfan.com / Instagram: @cindyisAWOL