5 Greatest Life Lessons I've Learned from Seng

Andy Ung
January 16, 2024

Ambitions to travel around the world and taking photos of every place we visited

That was our plan one year ago. 

We wanted to see the world for what it "is", leaving the regular 8-5 grind in the hope of finding work we love. 

Seng and I swooned over wanderlust sending each other pictures of magical places around the world. We would set “plans” on how we would get there and what we would see. 

Then one night, a decision was made.  We decided on a destination.  We decided to take the leap and purchased one way tickets to Cancun to start our journey of self-discovery and see what the world could offer us.  

January 2nd, 2016, Our Adventure Began

Both of us left our jobs. We didn’t know what the universe had in mind for us but we knew this would change us forever.

For the next 3 weeks, we had deep conversations about life and happiness, chatted it up with travelers we met along our journey, visited the local hospital, questioned our own morals and values about society...

And ultimately, how we viewed success. 

Then, one day, everything changed 

Due to unfortunate events, Seng passed away on January 23rd, 2016. He was caught in a riptide off the coast of Puerta Viejo.  

As you can probably imagine, this turned out to be the most traumatizing event of my life. And it can’t be undone.

Seng made a lasting impact on every person he came into contact with. Always bringing a smile across the face of strangers, friends, and family. 

Who he was as a person has made the biggest impact on my life in the most positive way. Each day I am reminded and affected by his words, his perspective on live, and how we lived it.

Here are the 5 greatest lessons he taught me and I hope it will help anyone that needs it.

5 Greatest Life Lessons

1. Always be present


Some cliches hit the nail on the head and "Always be present" is one of them.

I am still learning this skill. It certainly isn't easy to master so do not feel alone if you are struggling with it. 

Seng had the ability to be present and it would always brighten everyone’s day. He knew how to laugh, goof around, and enjoy every minute he had with his family and friends. 

I still catch myself not being fully present--and every time--Seng comes to mind. He reminds me how much sweeter life is when you fully savor it and how it will attract some of the best people in the world.

2. Take risks 


How long do you want to miss out on feeling alive by always staying in the bubble of your comfort zone?  

Taking risks is a part of life...even if we aren't comfortable doing it. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone is crucial in growing as a human being.  

Seng would try something new and uncomfortable all the time. There were times where he knew that he wouldn’t be good at it, but he always gave it a shot. For instance, he tried partner dancing, practicing martial arts, and even tried parkour. He didn’t let fear run his life, and at the end of the day…he can truly say he gave it a shot. 

All it takes is to take that single step forward. Just try and see where it goes. You just might find a passion in it.

3. Take a Leap of Faith 


Seng and I met a local in Costa Rica as we hiked to nearby waterfall. It was dried up at the time, but there was still a 40-foot drop to the water pool which was awesome. 

We met up with a local who was laying on a rock at the time. The local’s name was Truth and told us he came from the Heavens. This is not a joke...that is honestly how he introduced himself.  

At one point in the conversation we looked down from this 40-foot drop. He asked us a simple question:  ”Are you going to take that leap of faith or are you too scared to jump?” 

As he said this, Truth jumps into the pool of water with Seng and myself following suit. I have to say, we trusted an old man we never met before and had the best time of our lives. He taught us one of the greatest lessons in life: to have faith. 

No only do we need to have faith in humanity, but faith in ourselves. Sometimes, it just takes a single leap to reach that elusive goal.

4. Everyone has a story 


Every traveler we met had a story. 

Whether they were rich or poor, one of the most enjoyable aspects was hearing all the stories from everyone we met. We met a family of 8 who move from Sacramento to Tulum to open up a coffee shop. Now they are trying to change the sustainability in Tulum. 

We met a local in Guatemala who weaves clothing to gain money so her children can go to college. She worked day and night to find success for her children. 

Never count out someone due to their circumstances and accept all forms of life. Each person on this planet is living a life as complex as our own and they each have their own story.

5. Choice


During our game of Connect with our friends Cesar and Jen, one of the questions that was asked was, “What was your hardest lesson in life?” 

Seng’s answer was choice. 

As we went further into it, I learned that he made a choice to change for the better when he was about 16 years old. He started choosing to live better, love his friends and family, and create something for himself. 

He made a choice to live in a world of happiness and find fulfillment in everything he did. We each have the ability to make a choice of living a life worth remembering. 

We can choose to live in sadness, loathing, anger, and resentment, or choose to live a life of joy, acceptance, kindness, and love. 

The choice is ours to make…

Take it all in


I take these 5 lessons with me every day but I am still learning to apply these lessons in all facets of my life. Being the best version of yourself is challenging, but if it wasn’t difficult, it wouldn’t be worth it. 

The lessons come and go until a realization of what I need to do to better myself becomes increasingly clear. I try to be more aware and remind myself of the lessons taught to me by Seng. It’s difficult, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it. 

It’s worth fighting each day, getting up each day, and living the life we are meant to live.  Each day needs to be approached with this attitude. One day, I will make him proud. We can see the world together, capturing each moment that will speak a thousand words.  

On a final note, all these photos were taken by Seng. He was an incredible photographer, taking his time to learn various techniques to fine tune his craft and style. 

Seng continues to be an inspiration for every person that has crossed his path. He demonstrated how to accept and show kindness to each individual. We love you Seng, you will always be a part of our lives.

Seng's family Charlie Ngo, Vincent Ean, Dorothy Ean
Andy Ung
Andy is an Adventure Leader and Photographer. He has backpacked throughout Central America and parts of South America. His passions lies in dancing, fitness, photography, and creating connections with people. 


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