My Journey Through India

Hey’ y’all, I’m back once again with the flavour! Bringing you that knowledge on India that nobody ever gave ya!

*ahem*

So I travelled throughout India for about 2 months and 1 week. I never made it up to the north, there is just too much to see in the south. The north, from what I hear, is a very different experience from the south. In the south, people are way more laid back and it’s more tropical down there, with many beaches scattered all the way up the south west coast. Loads of amazing spots to see! Whereas the north seems more intense and maybe not quite so laid back and relaxed. But I can’t vouch for that as I haven’t been. That is one place that is to be experienced in my future for sure.

In my first post I left off after I arrived in Varkala (it’s a trap!), which was really only just at the start of my journey. In this post I will continue my journey, list the places that I went and maybe it will inspire you to visit. I’ll post up pictures too so you can see what each place is like! If you have never been to India, the picture in your head will most likely be of crowded places, dirty streets and chaos, but the south is not always like this. I went to many picturesque and beautiful spots where there weren’t many people at all, and then I did of course also go to some of the more chaotic cities as well.

I am guessing that if you are looking for a relaxing holiday destination, India isn’t one that would pop up in your mind. But why not? You lot don’t know nuffin’ (it tried to auto-correct this to ‘muffin’…I’m hungry, yuummmm muffins *drool*)! And maybe you don’t know muffins either? But let’s not go there, I’m not one to test one’s muffin knowledge…I’m hardly an expert myself! Having said this, in Perth at the airport I had the most amazing muffin I have ever had in my life. It was massive! And warm as well. Damn, I wish I had a muffin right now. I’ll see if I can find a picture of it. Actually, hang on a moment I just have to Google some pictures of muffins for five minutes………*tick tock*…….ok I’m back. These ones look pretty good don’t they:

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Yuuuummmmmmmm….

What was the point of this blog post again? I might just scrap it and go make some muffins. No, no I better finish it first. Ok, so it was about my top ten muffins in India right or something like that? God, I can’t even remember. If you’re still reading this I feel sorry for you….this post could probably take quite a while to get through!

OK, back on topic for real now…muffins. Right? What is your favourite type of muffin? I personally like blueberry. I love blueberries! Blueberry and white chocolate sounds good too! And heated up so the chocolate is melting…yuummmmmmm…. *ahem*

Ok, so India.

Let’s do this!

Come on Patrick. Focus!

So as I was saying, India can prove to be a very relaxing holiday destination after all. There are many nice spots up the south west coast, which is where I spent most of my time. So let’s start with Varkala as that’s where I got to last time.

Varkala

This is in Kerala, which many say is the most beautiful (and green) part of India. It is basically a cliff with loads of shops/stalls/shacks that sell stuff, plus restaurants, etc. It is quite touristy. We kept calling it ‘our holiday from India, in India’, if that makes sense. You can figure it out. You’re smart people. Below the cliffs are beaches and it’s also a pretty decent spot for doing a bit of surfing as well! Surfing in India, who’d have thunk it?! I stayed here twice on my trip. The second time I stayed there had been a murder on the cliff after some local Indians had a dispute with a restaurant owner and his son. The suspects ended up fleeing, and for all I know could still be on the run as fugitives. About a week later, someone tried to burn down this same restaurant/guest house and the fire started to spread down the cliff, destroying shops. And also, some young shop owner apparently died during the night a few weeks before this. So, all in all, a perfect destination for a relaxing break! Hahaha….next…

But honestly… aside from all of this madness, this place is super chilled out. In total I spent over three weeks here basically doing not much. I cursed myself a little for ‘wasting’ time not seeing other parts of India but hey, I was enjoying myself and that’s the most important thing right? This is why I say it’s a trap! It is easy to get stuck here. All of the food is super cheap and pretty good quality. Fish is brought in fresh every single day by the fishermen. I had the most amazing fish I have ever had here, a swordfish fillet. It was huge! And I had it with rice and vegetables and it all came to like £3 or something. Bargain. Normally I would consider £3 a lot for a meal but that was truly first class. Just don’t tell any of the restaurant owners that the fish once had a mother as you may get into a really awkward, weird argument. Moving swiftly on…

Oh and also whilst here we saw a moondog, or moon halo which was pretty amazing. What is that you may ask? Well it is a relatively rare bright circular spot on a lunar halo caused by the refraction of moonlight by hexagonal-plate-shaped ice crystals in cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. Moondogs appear at 22° to the left and right of the moon. They are exactly analogous to sun dogs, but are rarer because to be produced the moon must be bright and therefore full or nearly full. Moondogs show little color to the unaided eye because their light is not bright enough to activate the cone cells of humans’ eyes. You got that? Good. Thought I’d keep it nice and simple for you.

Here are a few photos from Varkala…

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A Hindu shrine (if that’s the right word?) in a shop.

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This was probably the best thing about this shop. After we finished playing with this puppy, he went over and took a pee on the entrance doormat to the shop. We clearly got him too excited.

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Now that’s a face only a mother could love! (no disrespect to any Hindus out there)… This is the monkey God known as Hanuman. I have no idea why I bought this, ummm, tea towel….? I think actually you are meant to hang it on your wall like a painting. I think that I was bribed into buying something from a shop because I took a photo. It probably only cost like 20p anyway.

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Kiya on a train again from Varkala to Om Beach. He just loves being photographed on trains this guy. Haha.

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It was extremely hot at this point. I was in for a lot of sweating that day. Honestly, I don’t know how my body can produce so much sweat sometimes. Maybe it’s like a superpower that I need to learn to harness in some way…?

So that last photo shows Léna and Kiya just after we got off the train from Varkala to Gokarna, where we would head to the next destination known as…

Om Beach

This is just near Gokarna town. Om Beach is really nice. This is the same place that I got that tattoo from that guy in that shack on the beach that could have potentially given me some kind of disease. But you know…YOLO! (did I just say that?) …It makes me wonder, who comes up with these sayings and how do they spread? I’m guessing they start in internet forums and then are somehow spread and adopted by the coolest of the cool, unaware that they were invented by that same person that they bully at school…who’s the cool one now eh!? So I YOLO’d it all the way to the tattoo ‘studio’ in Om Beach and got a tattoo of an ‘Om’. Which is a Hindu symbol that you see EVERYWHERE in India. To be honest, I don’t really understand it and I’ve read up on it loads. It’s just too complicated. Hey, don’t judge me. I only did it cos I thought it might make me look cool, like one of those travellers that is totally in touch with the culture and is totally at one with mind, body and soul. Yep, that’s me now. I am well spiritual. Whatever that means.

God this post is taking far too long and all I can think of is muffins. Does it show? It’s probably well boring to read. Maybe I should write about muffins next time? I am highly addicted to sweet things. LOOOVE my fro-yo, and gelato ice cream as well! I am surprised that I’m not double the weight I am now. I put it down to all of the running that I do, often to the muffin shop.

So anyway, whilst at Om Beach, one of the most amazing things that you can do at night time is to see the glow in the dark plankton. Or bio-luminescent plankton as they are known. They are tiny creatures in the water that glow up when disturbed. So when you swim with them, it is like you are in a Disney film with tiny crystals of light all around you. It is pretty magical. I saw this twice in my travels. Once in Om Beach, here and once in Cambodia on Koh Rong. It was actually much better and the plankton were brighter in Koh Rong, but I didn’t get robbed whilst I was in the water in Om Beach so that was probably the better experience on the whole!

Another amazing thing to do here is to get a boat (or you can walk as well) to a beach a few bays over called Paradise Beach. This was once populated with guesthouses but I think the police shut it down for one reason or another so it is now completely empty. We were there for a few hours, wandered through the bush behind the beach and went swimming (with our new tattoos held high out of the water!). Now because we (three of us) were now tattoo’d with the Om symbol and were clearly at one with our inner spirits, we decided to do some yoga on the beach. We were clearly qualified now. It didn’t really go too well and we got the boat back to Om Beach. The end.

Can I get my muffins now? No I will carry on, there is still much to tell. One day we got a tuktuk into Gokarna town and I had some of the best food that I had in all of my journey throughout India. I had a delicious cashew nut curry and also some fried cauliflower (gobi manchuri). We were there for sunset and the whole town turned golden as the sun was setting, it was rather incredible. I have never experienced such a reddish, golden glow that seemed to just hang in the atmosphere around us, like were we inside a blanket of soothing light. That’s the best way I can describe it. I wasn’t on drugs, I promise.

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Look, the cows are on holiday again. This time a bird with a stick in its beak has joined them. Joy!

Mangalore

I went on to Mangalore next. My 30th birthday was approaching so I decided to leave this beautiful beach spot, a sacred place and supposedly the birthplace of Shiva to go and celebrate in some crowded, shitty city. It seemed like the only sensible thing to do. Haha, no it wasn’t that bad. One of my close friends lives here and so I thought it would be nice to go and celebrate with him and his family! They bought me a cake! Here it is!:

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Yes I did put this photo in one of my previous posts but no-one probably reads this crap anyway so no harm in posting it again!

So I turn 30 and all of a sudden I feel some kind of clarity in my life. Things are finally starting to make sense and I feel as though I have a clear vision for my future. I am a grown man, I know my purpose, my role and I am finally on the right path. Ok, no that’s all bollocks. Nothing changed. I was still a bum, wandering around Asia aimlessly. I think I ate some fried squid at the side of the road on some plastic chairs at a really sketchy looking place, and had a few beers. My friend treated me. In fact he seemed to be treating me loads, I really need to repay his kindness one day! In India they have a saying which when translated (sorry, I don’t know the original saying!) means “guest is God”. So if you ever stay with an Indian family, expect to be treated like royalty. I really liked that. Obviously.

So Mangalore was alright. To be honest, I don’t remember anything in particular that was good about it. God I’m rubbish at this travel blogging malarkey aren’t I? You may as well just stop reading now. It’s probably wise. Here is a photo of my friend and me just before I left for my mountain trek…

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Gotta love the Jeep!

Kollur/Kodachadri

Now I have told this story in my last two blog posts so I’m not going to tell it again. But this experience was one of my most memorable in India for sure. I basically climbed a mountain, almost got eaten by a lion, had to persuade a guy I wasn’t going to kill myself, had a spider in my ear, almost got attacked by a snake, finally reached the peak of this mountain to find a monk in a tiny temple on a mobile phone and took a photo of a man far, far away on a mountain peak in the distance which looks like this:

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Can you see him? He is there standing with his arms out…look closer!

Here are a few other photos from my trek:

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The start of my trek. Well I am just feeling fine and dandy right now. This will be a walk in the park!

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Ok, time for a photo! Oh dear, it’s awfully hot and I’m doing that sweating thing again…

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Oh jeez, it’s going in my eyes! I’m blind! I can’t even take a GoPro selfie without my sweat ruining everything…

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…maybe I’ll just climb the rest of this mountain with my eyes shut.

Can you see that look on my face? Yes it is either sheer terror from the sight of that mountain lion that was chasing me, or I have gone fully blind now from all of the sweat in my eyes and I can’t actually see where the GoPro is.

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I finally reach the top to find a monk on a mobile phone. Surprised he even got reception up there.

Anyway…

Goa

Party capital, here I come! I have a funny story about this place actually! So I ended up getting the local buses all the way from Kollur to Goa which took all day. This is also where I met ‘My New BFF’ from my last blog post. When I finally got to Goa, I decided that this was my chance to truly party it up in style for my 30th as I hadn’t really done so yet. I met up with two friends in Palolem, and we started on the apple vodka…classy! This was just the beginning to a messy night. Basically we ended up meeting up with some people we had previously met on our travels. As the hours were passing by, people were slowly starting to leave. Hell no, I thought! I want to party all night until the sun comes up! I am only 30 once! Apart from the 364 other days of the year of course.

Anyway, so I started buying a guy drinks who was with our group because I wanted him to stay out. Everyone else had left pretty much. We ended up playing pool and we played one game for money against some locals, won and decided to take the money and run. The most sensible thing to do…I’m sure he was going to try and hustle us! But, no I’m too smart for that. I wasn’t born yesterday. No, I was born 30 years ago young man! We then moved on to the dance floor and I attempted to do a handstand and crashed face first into the floor. Nice moves as always. Anyway, the night ended up by me being sick in the sea and falling asleep on the beach (I am such a disgrace). I then made my way home and used my friend’s ali baba pants (hippie trousers basically) for a duvet cover. Once again, classy as ever! I later found out that the guy who I was buying drinks for and hanging out with was gay and he thought I was hitting on him. Whoops. I can’t help it if I am just a super friendly, nice guy! If he is reading this, I had a great night and thanks for hanging out with me it was fun! If it wasn’t for you, my 30th birthday celebration would have fallen flat on its face, just like me when I tried to do that handstand! Haha.

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This is like one of the only photos I took in Goa. Clearly too busy being sick in the sea. But this was where we stayed. It had walls that were made of cardboard and it would probably have blown over if the wind picked up above 4mph. One evening as I was taking a shower the toilet just started flushing for no reason and wouldn’t stop. This meant that the shower stopped working. And I was all covered in soap ready for my rinse off! What am I supposed to do now? Well, you know that bum water gun that you use to flush up your bum hole to get rid of all the poo? Yeah well I had to use that instead. And guess what? The connecting cable wasn’t long enough to reach my head so I had to finish my shower crouching next to the toilet, rinsing myself with the water that is normally used for flushing the mess from your rear end. Lovely. Just bloody lovely!

Hampi

So the rest of my time in Goa was fun, but mainly we (my friend Léna and I) just chilled on the beach and didn’t do much. Our next destination though was without doubt my favourite in all of India. Hampi! Yay, Hampi! Oh how I miss this place. I will be back one day. I think I will continue my blog post next time about this place. 1) because I could be here forever chatting about the fun times I had here, 2) there is no way I can cover all of my trip in India in the rest of this blog post, 3) you’re probably really bored now and 4) I want my muffin. In fact, let’s just remind ourselves why we are reading this post at all…

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This time I Googled “delicious muffins” in case you are interested. On the whole, the search results were a little disappointing, but I still found these tasty looking treats. If you would like further tips on keyword combinations to search for your desired muffin of choice, please shoot me an email any time.

Is anyone else hungry right now? I wonder why… So next time I will continue my story from Hampi, the greatest place in all of India. I hope that this blog post has been informative and educational because after all, that’s why you’re here isn’t it? To learn? Well I think we’ve all learnt valuable lessons about life today. I have probably missed my calling in life as a teacher. I am always focused and I never get distrac…..ok that’s enough shite for today!

Muffin out…

Sorry, I mean:

Patrick muffin…

No that’s not right.

Muffin…

Yeah close enough.

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My Top 10 Most Random Moments From India

So once I was setting up an interview with N.E.R.D. and I dropped the boom microphone on Pharrell Williams’ head! Hahaha, true story. He was wearing sunglasses in a dark room (obviously cos he is so cool), but as I got close to him I could see that his eyes were very bloodshot and he was either extremely tired from jet lag, or, well, I’ll leave it up to your imagination. I don’t want to get done for libel or anything like that! He seemed a bit stunned and just kind of looked at me blankly. I apologised and got on with setting up the interview. Randomly, that was the same day that Tim Westwood borrowed our lights for his interview with Pharrell and Chad. Now I know that he gets a lot of stick, but he was honestly one of the nicest men I have met and even sent me an email later that day just to say thanks again for letting him use our lights. What a lovely ending to that story! Anyway…..once again that has absolutely NO relation to anything in the rest of this post. Well, almost no relation because today I am going to write about my top 10 most random experiences that I had whilst travelling through India. Now I am just gonna write these from the top of my head so no doubt I will forget some good ones and then curse myself later for not remembering….bad Patrick! Anyway, let’s start at number 10. Are you ready!? (this is exciting isn’t it? What do you mean no? I think you mean YES!)

Patrick’s Top Ten Most Random Moments From India!:

10. The Man at the Side of the Road

So I was riding through Hampi, my favourite place in all of India(!) on a scooter as it was getting dark. I can see a man in the distance squatting at the side of the road. OK, everything is normal here I think…this is just a man chilling by the road in the midst of all of this lovely scenery in one of the most beautiful places in India. But no, this was no ordinary ‘chilling moment’ that this aforementioned man was having. I’m sure you can guess what I am going to say next. Yes, this man was having a poo. Now I have seen men having a poo in China and Vietnam, but this was different…as I passed him our eyes met and as far as I am concerned – you should never have to look a man in the eyes when he is having a poo. Isn’t this one of the Ten Commandments? I’m sure it is. And if it isn’t, then it sure as hell should be!

9. Jimee and the Belly Flop

This wasn’t really a random moment, more of a hilarious/painful one! I will let the video speak for itself…

Apparently his balls hurt for a day after that one…eek! 

8. “Can I Please Have a Photo With You?”

…said by everyone, everywhere in Asia. Well, this is more a collection of different moments rather than one. A recurring moment let’s say! And this happens all over Asia, but seriously….why? The amount of times that people you have never met and don’t even know want to take a picture with you is ridiculous. And the funniest thing is when you notice people casually trying to take photos of you without your knowledge, and then they try to style it out pretending that they are just playing on their phones. I met a girl from Finland who was on the beach and a guy took a photo of her but by accident left the flash on. So she basically screamed at the guy and demanded that he give her the phone so that she could delete them herself. All the while, the guy is still insisting that he didn’t take any pictures…come on bro, sort it out! Actually this happens to many girls in India I think. But anyway, I had requests to be in pictures with loads of people. One friend of mine had a crying baby thrust upon him without warning whilst he was expected to pose for photos…he was just like “what the hell am I supposed to do with this thing!?” hahaha.

7. The Ear Cleaner and his Testimonials Book

So I’m still in Hampi. It seems like this place is a breeding ground for random moments. And I’m back on that bloody scooter again! This day actually was just ridiculous. Aside from the ear cleaner (I will get to him in a minute), this was one of the worst days on a bike in all of my travels (I rode all the way through Vietnam and Cambodia with less trouble!). So we rented scooters off some kid who I think was about 11 years old. I’m sure that alarm bells should have been ringing at this point. There were four of us, me and three girls (ladies’ man!). Firstly, within about 10 minutes two of the girls came off the bike trying to turn a corner on a dirt track. Great start. About 30 minutes later the bike that I was riding broke down. The 11 year old eventually came to pick us up, whilst insisting that there was nothing wrong with the bike. Ummmm, I think you are sadly mistaken young man! On the way back to repair it, I came off my replacement bike because it had no back brake and the front brake locked even when you applied just the tiniest bit of pressure. And I think that one of the other girls came off her bike again. So all around, it was a pretty successful day I would say!

Anyway, so as we are heading out in the morning (after crash number one had already happened!), a man in the street pretty much stops us in the middle of the road whilst we are riding the scooter, thrusts a small diary into my hand and insists that I read the text out loud. What the bloody hell is going on!? That’s all I have to say. So it turns out that this guy is an ear cleaner by profession and has a book full of testimonials from tourists/backpackers who have had their ears cleaned by him. People from all around the world have had their ears cleaned and then written in this guy’s book about how he is the “best ear cleaner in town”…are there more than one of them!? Is it just me, or is his profession a bit strange? Hmmmm…. And he gets his customers by running out into the roads and stopping tourists on pink, broken mopeds…maybe this guy has got it sorted after all. All seems a bit random to me though. Or maybe he is the normal one and I am just a weird man…? Well we thought it was hilarious anyway…

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Here I am with my bandaged leg post-bike crash which I spoke about. It’s not really working out too well and I gave up in the end as it wouldn’t stay on. I have no photos of the ear cleaner, apologies! This photo was stolen from another friend’s Facebook, haha! Thanks Léna! 😉

6. My New BFF!

Now I had just finished my mountain trek, had managed to escape from some pesky lion that was clearly trying to eat me whilst in the mountains and was on a bus heading towards Goa to meet up with a couple of friends. On this particular day I was on local buses all day long transferring from one to another, attempting to get help from the locals, which sometimes proved difficult and eventually travelled a good amount of kilometres passing over state borders in India on my way to the party capital…Goa! Palolem Beach to be precise. So on the way, pretty much everyone I meet wants to question me because I am a white man, travelling alone and that apparently is very fascinating. It’s great fun and exciting for them, and also for me too…I love meeting new people! But when you have to answer the same exact questions from different people over and over and over it can sometimes get a little tedious.

Anyway, so a young guy gets on the bus and we have another one of those broken conversations, which lasted maybe 10 minutes. The he asks me for my phone number. Ok cool, what’s the worst that could happen? So we travel for maybe another 10 minutes and he has to get off the bus. I wouldn’t say we really ‘connected’ in any great way, just a bit of chit chat here and there about nothing too deep. As he leaves the bus he says to me “ok bye, I’ll call you later!”. Ummm, ok cool. Chat to you, errr, later, ummm, bro…?

So as I said previously, I love meeting new people but this to me all seemed a bit weird. I didn’t know this guy, we had only spoken briefly about where I was from, where he was from, exchanged names and maybe a bit more general chit chat. So I want to pose a question…does this young gentleman now consider us friends? This is a genuine question. In London if this happened and I asked for another guy’s phone number after chatting on a bus he would probably assume that I was gay and wanted a piece of his ass! But in India it is different. Is it a good thing? I don’t know, for me I have to connect with someone before I ask for their number.

Anyway about half an hour later after this guy has left the bus he calls me. I was actually asleep at this point so I didn’t answer. But when I wake up I think oh that’s a bit strange I wonder why he called. Then later that evening he calls me again. We proceed to have a very basic conversation as his English is not very good. He asks me if I have had dinner. Where am I? How am I? He ends the call by saying that he will call me again tomorrow. I don’t even speak to my mum that often! Hahaha. So I think that we are now ‘friends’…? So is this a random experience, or is it just me being close minded? Maybe I’m the weird one here! I’m not sure, you decide. In the meantime, I’m going to sleep now. I want tomorrow to come faster so that I can have another exhilarating conversation with my new BFF!

5. Getting Tattoo’d in a Shack on the Beach for the Grand Price of £8

This is pretty self explanatory. Getting my first ‘proper’ (well, sort of) tattoo in a little beach shack in India. The guy charged £8 and we were still trying to haggle the price down! Hahaha, this is what you have to do to survive out there – haggle over pennies! The funny thing was that he drew it on me in biro. He was clearly a professional! Well I got the tattoo done. And he shaded it all in with the same gun he used to do the outline, which if you know anything about tattoos, is just all wrong, haha! It looked a bit shoddy, so I got an artist in Nepal to go over it again for the grand price of £10…what a bloody rip off! Haha.

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A bird’s eye view of me in the studio. That’s the dude’s wife in the top of the photo. She was usually watching movies.

4. Bike + Wall = Crash

I met up with a couple of friends from London in a place called Varkala. Actually something random about this place that isn’t on my list is that there was a murder here during my time in India. A man was pushed off the cliff here and fell to his death. So the restaurant/resort/guesthouse owners ended up fleeing and became fugitives. So the second time I was here, there were wanted posters up for murder suspects! Crazy. So anyway (where do I go from there!?), I met up with a couple of friends from London – I won’t name any names at this point to avoid embarrassment haha. So we decided whilst we were there to rent scooters. My friend had never ridden a scooter before (this doesn’t really matter when you are in Asia! They’d let a monkey rent a bike if he/she could talk!). So he gets on the scooter and as he is just telling the guy that he has ridden scooters before and knew exactly what he was doing he rides the thing straight into the wall! Hahaha, damn it was too funny. Well, I guess you had to be there! And because he hasn’t quite gotten used to the controls (if that’s the right word!?), instead of braking and trying to turn the bike around or reverse it he accelerates again and smashes into the wall for a second time. Hahaha! And this guy is standing right there next to him. I can’t help laughing thinking back to it! Hahaha. Oh it’s just me? Oh dear. Ok.

3. The Posing Man Who Just Wants a Ride Home

So I have also spoken about this in my last post as well, but I will go over it again in more detail cos I didn’t really tell the whole story! So we met some guy next to a temple on the top of some big rock, somewhere in India. It was somewhere not too far from Varkala. He couldn’t speak any English and he guided us to a small pond where he continued to get out a bucket and firstly wash our feet, and then secondly insist that we splash it over our faces. We then had a short interval to take some photos of him posing in various positions. The he showed us round what was possibly a temple cemetery (I’m not really sure!?) and he made us follow him round in circles around it a few times, stopping along the way to look at these ‘tombs’ (sorry I really don’t know what it was all about!?). Then we had another short interval where he posed for photos next to a bush. And when I say ‘posed’, he was really going for it! He was totally loving the camera! Then he proceeded to take us to a nearby “waterfall”…well I didn’t see any water. I think it was a little trickle of water down the edge of some rock, I’m not really sure. Maybe it was all lost in translation? Before we left we had a short interval where he posed for some more photos, but this time he uses props!…and pretends that he is eating some food. Hahaha. As we were leaving, he followed us and just jumped on the back of Jimee’s bike without any of us knowing why or where he wanted us to take him! We were just like “ok, I guess you’re coming with us then!”…hahaha. He eventually told us to stop as we passed by what must have been his house…Here are some photos of this man…what a legend!

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I actually stole these photos (all but one) from my friend Alan’s Facebook, so errr, thanks Alan!!!! But here you can see the aforementioned man in a variety of different poses!

2. I Promise I Won’t Kill Myself! Honest!

I did speak about this is my last blog post for those regular readers! (cos I have been blogging for so long after all!) So I am in a town called Kollur and I have spent the morning travelling on a bus from Mangalore so that I can go and climb some mountain called Kodachadri. Apparently, it is a really amazing place and not many tourists are aware of it and so I thought it would be a cool experience. So after going topless in the nearby temple (yes it was compulsory for all men to remove their tops to enter the local temple. Probably something to do with some big God dude being a chest hair fetishist or something. Can I say that? Am I going to get taken away now? Oh well, it was going to happen sooner or later!), I got the bus to the starting point of the trek to go up this mountain. So you can choose to walk or take a Jeep up to the top, but the Jeep is just for big fatty fat fats. So by the time I started trekking, it was already 3:30pm. And the trek up takes at least 3-3 and a half hours to reach, not the summit, but the small village (3 houses or something) nearish to the top.

I was supposed to have a guide, but when I got to Kollur my contact that I met there through a friend phoned the guide and couldn’t reach him. So he was like “oh just go and do it yourself. It’s easy you can’t get lost, just follow the path” and then he drew me a map of some lines on a piece of paper…seriously, this is so India. They are so laid back about everything, if you ask for help or guidance from 10 people, expect 10 different answers! Is the mountain this way? Yes. Never ask a question which poses a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer because they will always say yes. They don’t want to seem like they don’t know what they are talking about. And if you don’t get a yes, then maybe instead you will get a head wobble and sometimes it’s anyone’s guess as to what that means. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not slating India, I absolutely love the place, but sometimes it’s just ridiculous when you are asking for help the answers you get. So when the path up this mountain ended and turned into what looked like a dried up stream I wasn’t surprised! Anyway, eventually I found my way to the top, but still with no idea where this ‘village’ was. I thought I was gonna get lost up a mountain in India, in the dark and get eaten by a mountain lion…seriously this is totally possible ok so shut up yeah!

So I eventually make it to the village in the dark and I meet up with the man who lives in the only house up there that houses people wanting to stay and then continue to the summit in the morning. He tells me, “I’m sorry but you have to go down, you cannot stay with me”. Actually that’s a lie, that was translated to me by a couple who were also staying up there for the night. “Why?” I ask. I didn’t want to go down, I had come this far, risked my life, almost got eaten by a lion and then to do what?…go back down in the Jeep with all the fatties? Hell no! So the reason he doesn’t let me stay is because I am apparently on my own. So bloody what I think! It is then translated that solo travellers climb this mountain to then commit suicide by jumping off. Ahhh ok. I see. I am assuming that it is because it is a religious place, there is a temple at the top of the mountain and maybe some people feel like it is the perfect spiritual location to end it all. Well not me, I am enjoying my life too much to jump off some mountain in the middle of India, even if I am being chased by a mountain lion! So how am I supposed to reply to this? “ummm I promise not to kill myself if you let me stay in your house for the night. Pretty please with a cherry on top!”. So I basically tell the couple who are translating for me that I promise I won’t kill myself (seriously, this has gotta be one of the most random moments of my life, hahaha!) if he lets me stay in his house. Eventually he lets me stay…not because he believes that I am an honest, life loving guy but because I happen to be carrying a flyer for a local yoga guy (the guy who said I didn’t need a guide…yeah thanks mate, I almost got eaten by a lion because of you!) who he happened to go to school with. So all of a sudden, this guy was all happy and cheerful and laughing and we were no longer having a conversation about whether I was or wasn’t going to kill myself. Joy.

To add to this, during the night a spider climbed in my ear, my bananas and my iPhone cable got dragged over to the other side of the room and chewed on by some creature (maybe it was that lion?) and I had all sorts of bugs flying into my face. An all round 5 star experience! Highly recommended! Here is a photo of the place where I stayed!:

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This place had the most amazing view of the stars at night…really stunning. Just a shame that the door had a big chunk taken out of the bottom of it allowing creatures to get in and chew on my belongings! Luckily not big enough for the lion to get in. He probably got bored waiting for me during the night and so wandered off to find someone else to hunt. Also randomly, this was the place where I had my first ever cup of coffee. Yeah, never liked coffee but now I am loving it, and it all started here at the age of 30! Oh and another thing – on the way down from the peak a big black snake slithered past my path. It was moving well fast. The end. Great story huh?

1. Drunk Guys + Guns = A Bad Idea!

OK, this has definitely got to be my most surreal moment I think. Just thinking back to specific moments of this night I remember looking to my friend Kiya who was with me and thinking “what the absolute fudge is going on here!?”, haha. So my friend who lives in India thought that it would be a cool experience if he took us on a hunting trip to experience something a little different. Something that tourists generally don’t get to see. So we got in his friend’s car and headed off to meet these guys who he didn’t even really know very well. He called them ‘country Indians’. I’m not sure if that is racist if it is being said by another Indian(?), but you get the point I hope. Anyway, so we pull up to this bar to meet these guys who we are meant to be going hunting with that night. And another thing…hunting at night? Is this normal? Aren’t you meant to hunt during the day? I got the impression that it’s because what we were doing was either very illegal, or ummmm, well I can’t think of any other reason! It was probably well illegal. Who knows. So anyway, we pull up to this bar/restaurant and yes of course these guys are steaming drunk already. Well some of them are anyway. One guy keeps introducing himself to me over and over again. So it’s funny that I actually can’t remember his name, hahaha! Anyway, after driving for a bit in the dark in the middle of God knows where, we eventually (after a piss break) arrive at some farm/estate. There is a chicken tied up that these guys keep taunting and thinking that it is hilarious. He was actually an ex-fighting cock that the guys had bought to cook and eat….but wait, aren’t we going hunting? I thought that we would catch our own food! They are obviously not very confident in their abilities.

It turns out that these guys don’t really know how to hunt at all. And all of a sudden one of them appears to be holding what looks like an old musket from World War I! And it doesn’t fire bullets, no. It fires ball bearings. And they are trying to clean the barrel with this pipe cleaner type thing, all the while they are drinking and getting even more drunk. And when you have a drunk man holding an old gun that could possibly go off at any moment cos it’s so old that it probably doesn’t function in the way that a ‘modern’ firearm should do, there are moments when you question “am I going to get shot tonight? Is tonight the night that I die? I should have jumped off that bloody mountain after all, it would have been a better way to end it!”. Hahaha, they are waving it around all over the place pointing it in our direction and my friend is like “whoa whoa, be careful with that thing”. At this moment, I think that I would have been safer up that mountain with that lion chasing me! Hey, maybe we will shoot him tonight with this old gun from 100 years ago! He has probably been tracking my scent for days after all! Yes! This seems likely! So eventually after playing around with this antique for ages, with us thinking that we are about to head off into the wild at night to kill ourselves a lion to eat, it all of a sudden goes off…*BANG*! “Oh sorry guys we can’t go out hunting now because we just scared off all of the animals”…haha. so you’re telling me that I just risked my life hanging out with a bunch of drunks waving a gun around in my face for the last half hour to then be told that it was all for nothing? Super! “no, it’s fine we can go fishing instead” they tell us. Errrr, ok. So there is a small stream behind this guy’s estate and they set up a net across this stream to catch a big ol’ fish for breakfast. Hey, maybe we will catch a shark! It seems probable. And how successful is this fishing net? Well in the morning they have caught one fish that is about 3 inches long! Hahaha, wow a feast! I came to the conclusion that these guys didn’t know how to hunt after all…just a feeling. They all got naked and washed themselves in the stream in the morning. A beautiful end to a wonderful experience.

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Look it’s Kiya, posing in the stream the morning after the ‘hunt’. The very same place where they almost caught Jaws! And that’s my friend Binil in the background with his boxers on…what a lovely view! Haha

So that’s all you’re getting this time. I think last time I said that I would post about my top places to visit in India. Yeah sorry about that one. I seem to just post what I want, when I want and never stick to what I said I was going to post. I’m just trying to keep you lot on your toes! So this time I won’t make any promises about what is coming next time. Probably some more India related stuff or maybe I will move onto Nepal, or maybe, just maybe it will be about something entirely random…who knows!?

Patrick out…

Quit Job, Go Travelling, Turn 30…Maybe I am Having a Third Life Crisis!?

I just got back from the local swimming pool in Brisbane. There was a dead lizard at the bottom of the pool. This has absolutely no relation to anything else I am going to write in this blog post, I just thought that I would let you know! But this poses a very interesting question…can lizards swim?! I feel like I can picture a lizard swimming. Don’t lizards have webbed feet? They are clearly MADE for swimming! So maybe it died of a heart attack? Or liver failure? Or maybe it swallowed too much chlorine? Anyway, answers in the post please folks. Back on topic…

So it may seem strange that I quit my job, go travelling around Asia and then decide to blog about it AFTER I have actually left the continent months later. Well get used to it, that’s just how I roll! I ain’t gon’ let nobody tell me how to live my life, ya hear?! *ahem* …so I thought I would just go over some of my most amazing experiences, my thoughts, feelings, some of my filming experiences (and tips) in Asia and also what I got out of it and why I think that you should do the same thing! So I will first start with India as there is too much to cover in just one post for my whole trip! If you are thinking of just upping and leaving, then you are in the right place to hear about someone’s experiences who has already done it… (and I will include lots of pics that I haven’t previously posted on Facebook or Instagram before so look out for those fresh ones!)

Before I left the UK I was extremely excited to be actually doing something new with my life but I’m not gonna lie, it was also a bit nerve racking! I don’t think it actually really hit me fully until I was in the airport at Heathrow saying goodbye to my parents with no idea when I would see them again, and of course there were some tears shed! I think as a grown man that there are certain situations where it is acceptable to cry, and this is one of them, ok!? Yeah good. Glad we got that one sorted. Look, here I am at the airport just before I checked in my backpack.

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What a handsome, young (and nervous at this point!) fellow! That backpack weighed exactly 20kg as far as I can remember. I was also carrying one on my front which weighed at least 10kg and an additional sleeping bag…my advice to you? Travel light! When you are carrying heavy bags through hot countries, you will feel it trust me! I didn’t need half of the stuff I took with me. I mean, who on earth needs a mosquito net for their head!? 

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And here we have the contents of my bags! I actually didn’t take everything you see here as I couldn’t fit it all in. But my most valued possession? Hmmmm, probably my camera! Haha, but I would say that because of my profession!

So passing through security at the airport, I was all of a sudden all alone and the adventure had officially started! Well, actually it almost didn’t get started at all because I got held at security for so long that I almost missed my flight. So destination 1? India! This place right here:

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The view from my very first hotel (and pretty much the only ‘hotel’ I stayed in during my trip!) room overlooking Kovalam Beach. Yes I have a GoPro on a pole, get over it people! You know you love it really! I don’t know why I get so much stick (pun intended) over using this thing…I’m sure other ‘pole’ users will agree with me!

It’s funny…I met up with a friend (big yaself up Binil! If you are reading this, thanks for all of your help you are a legend!) at Trivandrum airport in Kerala (south India) and he ended up taking me to a place to stay which was pretty nice. It cost me about £30 per night, which in backpacker terms is ridiculously expensive! But what did I know?…I had just landed and had no idea how much everything cost. I remember thinking “God, this place is a shithole”…hahaha! It turns out that it was probably one of the nicest places I was likely to stay at for the foreseeable future. I guess as you travel that your standards drop and you become way more relaxed, laid back and you care less. You get used to the cockroaches and the bugs, the hard beds, the rot, the damp, the rust, the dust, the mosquito nets with huge holes in them and everything else that slowly you just accept as normal. “Does the place have a bed to sleep in? Is it cheap? Great, I’ll take it!”…that was pretty much my philosophy in the coming months.

Many people also ask me “Did you experience any kind of culture shock after landing in India?”. My answer would be “not really”. What affected me more was suddenly being in a strange country, far away from home with no friends to travel with and absolutely no plan of what I was going to do or where I was going next. I still remember on day 1 walking past a man with completely deformed legs crawling his way down the sidewalk (I seem to have adapted many American sayings since I left the UK, and I now often relate prices to dollars instead of pounds. Funny that) and thinking “oh God, why is everyone just ignoring this guy?”. But there are handicapped and homeless people everywhere, people sleeping in the street and you are exposed to it pretty much from the get go. It seems to be accepted as normal so you quickly get used to it. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing to be honest…?

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Kovalam Beach in Kerala.

So I never really told anyone this but for my first 5 days or so I felt quite alone, trying hard to adjust to this new life. I didn’t meet any other backpackers and I was just one English man in an unfamiliar land full of people who don’t speak my language (well actually the Indians are very good at English!). So I guess in that sense I did have a bit of a culture shock. I made my way from Kovalam next down to the southernmost point of India…the tip! A place called Kanyakumari.

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It seems like half of India turned up to watch the sunset at Kanyakumari!

No longer in Kerala, I was now in a state called Tamil Nadu. The language spoken there (Tamil) is different to what is spoken in Kerala (Malayalam). I met a couple of Israeli girls there who were also travelling throughout India. They asked me if I wanted to watched the sunset (and sunrise the next morning) with them and I remember feeling grateful to have some other travellers to hang out with! God, I’m such a loser, haha. Funny how much I changed over the coming months though, asking people I had just met if they wanted to share a room. You need to learn how to make friends fast when you travel if you want to keep costs down! Sharing rooms is a must and you can’t be afraid to ask, especially if you are a solo traveller like myself. In one place I shared one bed with two other people. When we split the cost it came to like £1.40 each per night…bargain!

So the first person I met and travelled together with properly was a super nice Aussie dude (nuff respect Kiya!) that I met at the train station. He was also a solo traveller and we agreed to share a room in our next destination as we were headed the same way…hurrah, I made a friend mum! Hahaha. And this was the view from our balcony…compare this with the previous balcony pic. Nice place huh? Yeah, this cost me £2.50 per night…bit of a change from £30!

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There I go with my pole again. Oh and my hammock that a friend from London bought me (thanks Gianni!). This was taken in Varkala (I spent far too long here, as I came back again later in my trip and stayed for 3 weeks!).

So I could go on and on for a very loooong time about each specific part of my journey in India. But for now I will just post up a few more pictures, and in the next post I will post up my highlights and tips for the best places to visit and things to do and see in the south of India. And then I will have to dedicate another post to some of the funniest things that happened whilst I was there…I bet you lot are on the edge of your seats right now! Here is some eye candy for y’all in the meantime (in no particular order):

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A shop owner in Varkala.

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Jimee and Lucie with their new family members! Haha! These kids would just not leave us alone and followed us around for ages whilst we took photos asking for money. This was on our way to the Matrimandir meditation dome in Pondicherry.

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Outside our guesthouse in Alleppey, Kerala…the same place where a millipede made its way into my trousers and a cockroach decided to make a new home in my shoe!

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The best biscuits in all of India!

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This was a bit weird…on the backwaters in Kerala at a lunch stop a bird of prey is thrust upon us. So we took photos of it. The end.

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The Alleppey crew! (minus Jimee, I think he was chilling in a temple or something…!?)

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The pinkest house in all of India! In Kerala.

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Kirsten and the goat…can you tell which one is which? I can’t. Hahaha, you know I love you really Kirsten!!

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A kid just caught a frog. He ran home after this picture was taken. Most likely to cook and eat little Mr. Froggy!

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Kirsten and Jimee cruising through the backwaters.

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Splashing around on the backwaters of Kerala in Alleppey. This was on Lucie’s 21st birthday! Happy birthday Lucie!!! That’s her ass on the right of the photo…a birthday ass! Haha!

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Dom busting out his handstand skills on a beach somewhere in India.

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Dom riding the sleeper train through India!

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Dom and me trying to get inside the barrels in Varkala. Shortly after (or before actually I can’t remember) this photo was taken I did manage to body surf a wave inside the barrel which was pretty amazing until it dumped me face first into the sea bed, smashing my face and giving me a lovely cut up face and nosebleed!

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Jimee and Jimmy (yes, there are two of them!) getting ready for a bit of boating action in some town, somewhere in India.

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Hello To The Queen….without doubt the greatest desert in all of India. Thanks to Bar for introducing it to me! You will only find it in touristy places, but if you ever see it on any menu out there, order it! This one wasn’t actually the best one I tried. The best one was in a place called ‘Little Tibet’, which is a restaurant in Varkala on the cliff. Apparently it was invented by some stoned Israeli’s in India many years ago who then presented it to their English friend and so called it Hello To The Queen. Random.

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A portrait of yours truly in the sand, expertly crafted by Mr. Dominik Rohrer! Well done, it’s almost like I am looking in a mirror!

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This photo just makes me laugh thinking back to when I took it. We met this guy next to a temple on the top of some big rock, somewhere in India and he was totally loving the camera, busting poses left, right and centre. He didn’t really speak much English and it was all rather bizarre. As we were leaving, he followed us and just jumped on the back of Jimee’s bike without any of us knowing why or where he wanted us to take him! We were just like “ok, I guess you’re coming with us then!”…hahaha. He eventually told us to stop as we passed by what must have been his house…free taxi service from Jimee Clarke, he’ll take you wherever you want with no questions asked! Haha.

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Bar as a mermaid…isn’t he beautiful!?

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The tea plantations in Munnar, India. Some of the most amazing scenery here, I highly recommend visiting!

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The crew in Hampi….the greatest place in all of India!

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Léna with the pole this time! In Hampi, India on our way to go tubing, woohooo!!!!

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Hampi, at one of the many temples there. The red mark on my forehead was given to me at a temple as a blessing, applied in that spot as it is thought to be the most holy point on the body (the third eye/sixth chakra).

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Oi monkey, you are so close to the camera that you have gone out of focus!

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The Hampi crew! (before Jimee turned up)

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Near the peak at a mountain in Kollur called Kodachadri. Funny story – when I reached the top I had to persuade some guy to let me stay in his house (there were like three people living up there!), because he doesn’t usually let solo travellers stay there…the reason? Solo travellers apparently visit the mountain to jump off and kill themselves. So there I am having to try and persuade some guy who doesn’t really speak English that I am not going to kill myself. Just another day in India! Oh and just to add to this, in the town at the bottom of the mountain (Kollur), I visited the only temple in all of my travels where you actually have to take off your clothes to enter! All males had to go in topless. Usually you have to dress up and cover up, but no, not there…what can I say? This is India!

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My 30th birthday! I spent this with my friend and his family in Mangalore. Thanks for the cake!!! Also, all of you CSC peeps will notice the t-shirt. Reppin’ Kix! Haha

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I don’t think this one really needs any comment…

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…maybe the guy had been eating too many of these biscuits….!?

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Gokarna town! This place did the best gobi manchuri on the local’s beach front. Basically fried cauliflower. Delicious! Go check it out if you are in the town.

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Getting tattoo’d in a ‘studio’ at Om Beach. Love Kiya’s face in this one!

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Om Beach…where the cows go on holiday.

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Look, here I am with all of my bags on a train track! Let’s hope there isn’t a train approaching. And as many of my friends know, I am known for my sweating, ummmmm, abilities…!? Yeah, well this day just took it to a whole new level…waterfalls galore!

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Just chillin’ with Léna, Kiya and our new rickshaw buddies!

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On a train in India!

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….inside a (rather packed) train in India. We actually had to board this train as it was moving, and it was crazy busy inside as you can see, so not an easy task!

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Doggy beach life! The guy on the left behind the dog was an American guy who had been travelling for years…at this point he was telling us how he was shot at during a drive-by shooting in Hawaii. Crazy!

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A dog. In a bin. This is India.

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A girl performing in the street in Pondicherry (the place where Life of Pi was set!)

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Shame, I had a few good ones lined up.

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The coolest dog in all of India! This dog was named after a kung fu legend ‘Wong Fei-hung’, who is also the most portrayed character in all of film history. Random fact for you there.

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A martial arts show in Thekkady.

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Upside down photography in Hampi! Bet you didn’t even realise it was upside down did ya!?

So anyway, that’s all for now. I know in my last blog post that I promised you the story about what happens when you are up a mountain and someone shouts “AVALANCHE!”, but unfortunately it will have to wait! Maybe next time….or maybe when I make it to Nepal! If you have made it this far down the page, well done I congratulate you for reading all of my ramblings!

Patrick out…

A Luxurious World Awaits…

Welcome to the wonderful world of Lux Suite. Here you will find many sumptuous, delicious and luxurious treats for the eyes…in other words, the film and video editing work of Patrick Watkins. And that, ladies and gentlemen, would be me! This is my first blog post since I have updated my website (my, oh my did it need an update!). So what on earth am I doing with my life you may be wondering? Hmmmm, or maybe not…who knows, it’s not like I’m a mind reader or anything! No, I’m a video editor and occasional filmmaker! The reason why I say occasional is because my main source of work is editing content that others have filmed. In other words, I’m pretty much a freelance editor! But sometimes when I have the chance to focus on my own work, I produce films such as these ones. I absolutely LOOOOVE to travel so who knows where my next destination will be, and also when.

So I spent 9 of the last 10 months or so travelling throughout Asia, which you will no doubt be able to see from some of the content on this site. I filmed and edited a few short films whilst I was away, and I am currently working on editing a couple more so please watch this space and don’t forget to check back here for regular updates on my life! I bet you guys are on the edge of your seats right now just at the thought of getting an insight into the life of the man behind Lux Suite, right?! Yes, I thought as much!

As well as filming and editing, equipped with a DSLR, one cannot help but turn into an occasional photographer (there I go with my ‘occasional’ term again). Would you like to see some of my pictures? Well whether you would or not, here are a select few choices to possibly inspire you to go and do a bit of travelling yourself… (you can click on these images to see the full size versions)

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The north of Vietnam (also seen in my video ‘North Vietnam’)

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A friend of mine on a train in India, riding north through Kerala in the south of India

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A young girl wandering through the ruins of an old temple in Cambodia

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Guess which one is me! Yes, that’s right, the dodgy looking one on the right wearing an old French farmer’s hat on top of a Vietnamese ladies’ head scarf…hey don’t judge, I thought that the colours were rather pleasing for the eyes!

So that’s a teeny, tiny snippet of some things that my camera happened to capture. I’ll upload more in time.

I will leave you with this thought for the day (or night depending on what time you are reading this…heck, there’s probably no-one even reading this at all!)… If you’re not weird, are you normal? Because I think that if you’re not weird, then there must be something clearly wrong with you!

Next time I will be covering what to do when you are up a mountain and you hear someone shout “AVALANCHE!” at the top of their voice. I promise you, it’s a very exciting story indeed!

Patrick out…