How to Truly Live: A Tribute to Seng Ngo

Matt Wilson
January 16, 2024

“Life is short.”  

These words are only cliche until they become a reality.

This winter we lost a friend all too soon.  Seng Ngo was taken from us in an instant.

Just days before his passing, I had the amazing opportunity to spend time with Seng in Costa Rica.  If you ever met Seng or needed the motivation to truly live life to the fullest… this is his story.  May we all follow in his footsteps.

Photo Cred: LIz Flores

Seng Ngo 

Seng was on a journey… to think deeply and live freely.

He and his best friend Andy Ung were traveling solo from Mexico all the way through South America.  A three month trip in front of them.  Something they both felt they needed to do, to understand a world much larger than themselves.

This however was not Seng’s first journey of this type.  

Over the last two years Seng was on a mission to fill his life with as many unique experiences and unforgettable moments as possible.  

Photo Cred:  Liz Flores

Although I had known Seng in high school, we first reconnected in 2014 when he and his beautiful girlfriend Tina came to Costa Rica with Under30Experiences.  

Seng was one of the first in the group to really open up and share with everyone how alive he felt spending time in such a beautiful place and truly connecting with others beyond surface level.

Photo Cred:  Tina Rbeener

Just a few short weeks later, he turned around and came back to Costa Rica with family… a few months after that we met up in Paris, toured the city, and spent the better part of two days together while he was on a massive Eurotrip, this time traveling solo, finding his own path.

In a world full of the superficial, it was Seng who always asked the genuine questions.

When Seng asked you how you were doing, he really meant it, and he really cared.  He stayed an active member of the Under30Experiences community and would routinely travel an hour and a half from his home in Fishkill to Manhattan to meet up with friends and exchange travel stories.

Photo Cred:  Liz Flores

On this particular journey to South America, Seng was absolutely determined to live life to the fullest….

Backpacking through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and then meeting up with our friends Jen and Cesar at one of the world’s most renown eco-lodges here in Costa Rica.

Seng and Andy showed up in Manuel Antonio looking for adventure… Here is Seng taking the leap off a massive waterfall:

The first stop: joining us in the local indoor soccer league.  Seng had never played goalie before, but he was quick to say he'd give it a shot.  

Seng also didn’t have sneakers or athletic shorts, so he wore hiking boots and I’m pretty sure that’s his bathing suit…

Photo Cred:  Andy Ung

Seng was amazing.  He only let up 17 goals that game.

If you didn’t already know, Costa Ricans are REALLY good at soccer.  He said he actually woke up with nightmares, twitching, dreaming the opposing team was pelting shots at him in his sleep.

We went out to the local bar afterwards to celebrate our 17-10 loss.

The next day we went to Playa Biesanz, a beautiful hidden beach where Andy led us through a workout.  

Seng, as always, was down for anything… we did a series of exercises that basically looked like three dudes rolling around in the sand.

After, we took Luz’s yoga class on the beach and surrendered to this beautiful sunset, laying peacefully in the sand…

Seng lived a full day that day.

Photo Cred:  Luz Garcia (seng third from left)

The next night Seng and Andy came over to discuss their new project Sonderfly.

Sonderfly is a social blogging platform that the guys were creating on this trip to tell stories of the people they met and inspirations of self-discovery about the world.

This of course is why I choose to tell this story today, as a tribute to the amazing person we had the opportunity to spend time with in hopes that we can all be inspired by Seng’s passion for life.  

Photo Cred:  Evan Jacobsen

That night we recorded a podcast talking about Seng and Andy's journey and their desire to help others find out who they really are.  

It is an hour long conversation between Andy and I, where you can really understand the deep, soulful purpose of their journey, why they love to travel so much and the change in which they want to see in the world.

Just 36 hours after this conversation, Seng and Andy took off for the Caribbean coast on their way to Panama where Mother Nature and her fierce rip-tides swallowed our friend Seng and dragged him out to sea.  

After eight air searches and days of land searches under the leadership of the Coast Guard, Red Cross and US Embassy, Seng was unable to be found and brought home.

The sun went down that night in a truly special way to honor our friend…

“It’s not about the years in your life, it’s about the life in your years.”  

Although this story comes to a sad ending, Seng has been an inspiration to all who knew him.  

Seng truly lived life to the fullest and wished others to do the same.  

If you’d like to hear more about Seng’s travels, vision for Sonderfly, and desire to make the world a better place, I invite you to listen to this very special episode of the Live Different Podcast...

Seng Ngo's Memorial will be held Sunday, April 10, 2016 at 11AM in Fishkill, New York.

Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson is Co-founder of Under30Experiences and Author of The Millennial Travel Guidebook: Escape More, Spend Less, & Make Travel a Priority in Your Life. He is host of the Live Different Podcast, Millennial Travel Podcast, and formerly Co-founder of He is committed to helping people live more adventurous lives.


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