Soul Searching: Enough Is Enough, I’m Moving To Bali!

After two and a half years, I am leaving the place that I have come to call home… Malaysia.

Why am I leaving?

Many of the reasons that led me to Malaysia in the first place are the very same things that are causing me to leave. I have a desire for something new, something more and I don’t feel satisfied any more with my life in KL. Does that mean that I didn’t get what I came for? Does it mean that I am not satisfied with my time in Malaysia? Of course not. It just means that my needs and desires have changed and the goalposts have been moved. New boxes have appeared and they aren’t being ticked.

In the two and a half years I have spent as an expat living in KL I have learnt a huge amount about what it is that I actually want in my life, and I have a clearer vision about how to go about getting it. When I first arrived in KL I was buzzing, exciting to be in a new city and I was even more excited to stay and to call it home. So I settled down for a while. I was living in a tropical country, in a place that was just a short trip to the beaches, to paradise. I was working from home in an amazing apartment and I had a ton of friends and a great social life. But there was something deep inside of me that wanted more. An empty space that I felt I couldn’t fill with ‘things’.

What was missing?

I felt that my life had no meaning. I was having a bit of an existential crisis! So I joined the Samaritans (known as the Befrienders in Malaysia). They are an organisation that provides emotional support to those who are feeling depressed or suicidal. I volunteered there providing support to those in need. I felt that by helping others through the difficult times in their lives I would be filling the empty void in my own life. It wasn’t an entirely selfless act. In turn I would feel better about myself.

My experience volunteering there was absolutely amazing and I learnt a huge amount about what it really takes to offer emotional support to someone in need. Those really are skills that I know I will use many times over in my life. But as time went on I realised that still I was not entirely happy with my life.

I still wanted more!

I quit my contract job (as I previously wrote about here) and realised that I needed to be pushing myself towards my own goals and not just being a cog in someone else’s system.

It seems pretty simple in hindsight but that was what was missing from my life before. I needed to be pursuing my own dreams and goals and working on my own projects, and not just working for someone else, stacking cash and living a superficial life full of ‘things’. So I went freelance full time and started to produce my own content. I have so much more passion for work knowing that I am working on projects that I genuinely care about. Projects that are my own.

Often the reason why so many people end up unhappy is because they aren’t following their hearts. What do you truly care about? What are you passionate about? Are you pushing yourself to your fullest potential so that you can live your dream life? If not, what is stopping you? In your current situation, where do you see yourself in 5 years time? What about in 1 year? These are things that I constantly ask myself and through self reflection questions such as these keep me on the right track.

Are you on the right path?

Many of us have this inner desire to live a life that offers us food for our souls. I have been on a bumpy journey of ups and downs searching for that life, and I feel as though I am now one step closer. For me, the risk is worth it. Is it worth it for you? Does your soul need feeding? I know that I have a long journey ahead but at least I know that the path is leading me in the right direction. So ask yourself… where is your path leading you…?

If anyone wants to share their own life experiences with me, I would be more than happy to listen.

What Should You Do With Your GoPro Camera Footage?

I own a GoPro. You probably own a GoPro. Their cameras have retained the top spot for the best-selling digital image camera for a while now and GoPro is a company whose revenue just keeps growing and growing.

Their portable, lightweight, high definition cameras are durable, waterproof and don’t require a complicated set of instructions to use. They are pretty much idiot-proof – you point and shoot. Simple as that. And the affordable price tag is what really seals the deal. Unsurprisingly, they hit millions of unit sales every year.

I may sound like an ambassador for GoPro right now, but I assure you I am not! I am trying to demonstrate the point that the company sells a lot of cameras and it’s more than likely that either you or at least someone you know owns one of their cameras.

GoPro – The perfect travel companion

Do You Shoot Video On Your GoPro?

With the ability on the latest GoPros to shoot video up to 4k resolution, it more than just a camera for stills. If you own a GoPro you have most likely shot video.

The users of the new GoPro Quik video editing app more than tripled in 2016 compared to the previous year. There is a real desire to edit videos, and on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, video is becoming more and more present.

But not everyone wants to be an editor and often this footage gets neglected and left doing nothing on a computer hard drive.

So What Should You Do With This GoPro Video Footage?

Have you ever considered getting SOMEONE ELSE to edit the footage for you? This morning I put together a very simple edit of some GoPro footage I found on my computer from an old snowboarding holiday. I filmed a total of 8 clips during that ENTIRE week. Not a lot. This is the video:

As you can see, it doesn’t take a lot of perfectly crafted and planned shots to make a cool video that you can share with your friends and family and on social media. As I said before, I only filmed 8 clips. EIGHT!

So what I am trying to say here is – SEND ME YOUR FOOTAGE!

I can look at your camera footage (it doesn’t necessarily have to be a GoPro) and give you a video editing quote with no obligation to use my services if you aren’t happy with the price. I can create something like the above video for as low as $50US (project dependant).

So if this is a service that interests you, get in touch TODAY!

And if you are looking for something with a little more graphics or more in depth editing, no problem. I can work to your needs to find a solution that works for you.

Patrick

You can also visit my homepage for more info or check out my portfolio for more of my work.

Is Browsing Social Media The Best Cure For Boredom?

Have you ever experienced that feeling? The guilt of spending too much time browsing social media, when afterwards you feel the time could have been spent in a much more productive manner. Is browsing social media really the best cure for boredom? And if not, what is?

It’s no secret that a social media addiction can lead to anxiety and depression. So let’s explore this topic and see if we can find any positives to fight that feeling of guilt.

Since I quit my job and went fully freelance, I often find myself with plenty of free time. I sometimes feel as though my biggest struggle is where to direct my mental energy during these periods of downtime. As someone who feels lazy and beats himself up when not doing something productive, I often create work when there is none. Usually I head straight for Final Cut, Motion or Photoshop and create images or videos such as these:

These were made purely out of a desire to ‘stay productive’.

At other times I pick up my phone and browse social media and the internet. In the blink of an eye, 20 minutes has passed and I’m scolding myself for being unfocused and lazy.

Is Browsing Social Media Good For You?

So I decided to put in a bit of research and find out whether there are actually any benefits to this ‘unfocused and lazy’ pursuit.

Unsurprisingly it can be both good and bad.

According to studies conducted (mostly on Facebook usage) it depends entirely on how you are using the platform and also your levels of mental health. Individuals with high levels of mental wellbeing are more likely to use social media to better connect with people, catch up with their friends and share their own experiences. On the other hand, those with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety may spend hours browsing their friend’s feeds and constantly comparing themselves to them. This undoubtedly has a negative impact on their mental wellbeing.

What we should also remember now is that people on social media ONLY POST WHAT THEY WANT OTHERS TO SEE. So if you are comparing yourself to someone else on social media, you will only be comparing yourself to the side of that person that they want you to see.

Is Binging On Social Media Good For Us?

None of this surprises me at all and seems fairly logical and straightforward. But what about those times when we go to ‘quickly’ check our notifications and end up binge watching cat videos for half an hour instead?

Now this is a little more complex. If you spend the time watching videos relating to topics that you are passionate about, for example, then this could work in your favour in the long run. You may find your mind being stimulated in other areas and this could lead to the pursuit of a new hobby or career path. If the videos or media content is educational then you could be learning and expanding your general knowledge. You may also experience a boost in creativity levels.

And if you really do just spend the time watching funny cat videos instead of working, you may feel guilt, but in that case remind yourself that laughter is good for your health. Scientific studies have proven that laughter can boost your immune system, lowers stress levels and can even help you to live longer.

So during heavy levels of stress during work projects, 30 minutes of cat videos may be exactly what the doctor ordered! So next time the guilt hits, don’t be so hard on yourself.

In many cases though, even social media can’t satisfy our minds and we may be left feeling frustrated.

So What Should We Do When We Are Bored?

Boredom is a state reached when whatever we are currently engaged in at that time is not satisfying us mentally. So should we embrace this feeling or go and look for something productive to do instead?

Firstly let me ask you – how often do you allow yourself a break from technology to have some time for inner reflection?

When you’re constantly on the go there’s not much time to stop and think, whereas when you take a break, that’s all there is to do. Self reflection is important as it allows you to assess where you are in your life, whether you are happy, achieving what you want and whether you are being true to yourself. If you can’t be true to yourself then how can you be true to others? If you aren’t giving yourself enough love, will there be enough left to share with others?

Have you ever felt unhappy and frustrated with your life but you’re not entirely sure why? It may be a recurring feeling that you just can’t shake. Well self reflection may be the best cure for you.

Since I started travelling, I have had much time for reflection. Maybe too much! But when I landed in Kuala Lumpur, got a nice apartment, friends, girlfriend, a solid job (I spoke about all this in my last post), something didn’t feel right. It was only through some solid self reflection that I ultimately decided what was most important to me and which path would make me most happy.

So it seems that instead of obsessing over other people’s lives on social media, focusing on yourself may be a better way to spend your time.

Being Bored Can Be A Good Thing

Have you ever had a great idea whilst in the shower or travelling on public transport? This is most likely because your mind is not otherwise occupied and your thoughts are free to wander.

Boredom fuels creativity.

If we never allow ourselves to become bored, experts fear that our imaginations may suffer and not be able to flourish in the way that they could or should. When kids are bored they play games and create their own fun, so why can we not do the same thing when we are adults?

Let’s all build a fort from our bedsheets and pretend that we are on an alien planet! Or shrink ourselves and take a trip on a rubber duck in a giant hot tub…

What Should We Take From This Post?

We may find that our lives are often too busy for self reflection and it is difficult to find time to get some real perspective on whether we are actually heading in the right direction. Whilst browsing social media can aid us in certain areas of our lives and allow us to temporarily distract our brains from work, it can also be detrimental to use it in the wrong ways. Moderation is key.

Allowing ourselves some ‘me time’ may actually be the best form of self help. So next time boredom hits, try doing nothing. If you find you need to write down what you are thinking, grab a pen and paper. Be your own therapist.

So not only the best cure for boredom, but the best form of therapy may be waiting for you right now at your fingertips.

Patrick

NB. I am currently available for video editing and/or motion graphics work. Ping me an email if you need a video editor or if you are looking for a quote, or visit my homepage for more info. Reasonable rates offered.

I Quit My Job. Again

It has been a while since my last blog post. 2 years in fact! When I left the UK in 2013 to go backpacking, my plan was to see a bunch of cool s**t and then go and find a job and settle in Australia.

So after 9 months of travelling and with little money left, I headed to Australia to find a new home. If you know me, then you know that things didn’t end there. Dissatisfied with what I had found in Australia I made a plan to return to Asia. That was when I started blogging. You may remember this video?:

I was uncertain of what the future held and thought that I would start up a website and document not only my future travels but also all of the stuff I had already seen in the 9 months prior to arriving in Melbourne. I had many ideas and was hoping that the website would become popular because more website visitors would eventually equal more money!

And so I blogged and blogged. Some posts remain pretty popular and I still get emails to this day asking for advice on particular topics (mainly riding a motorbike through Vietnam!).

And then I stopped.

Why Did I Stop Blogging?

I got a job. A secure constant stream of video editing work. I was very happy with this contract I had landed. Looking back, I’m not sure if it was a blessing or a curse. But after moving from place to place for almost 2 years, it was nice to have a break from all that constant moving.

After I found myself what was quite frankly the nicest apartment I could have ever imagined actually living in, I unpacked all of my stuff from my backpack for the first time in a very long time.

In Kuala Lumpur, apartments like this are not that expensive when compared with western property prices. It also included access to swimming pool, gym and had 24 hour security.

And so now my life was too busy with my new job, new friends, new girlfriend, new hobbies, new apartment and new life to even think about putting pen to paper and start writing again.

As time went by, I found myself becoming more and more frustrated with where I had landed. I felt by accepting this new job that I was killing my creativity and I kept wondering where I would have been had I not taken it. I felt trapped, at a standstill and disappointed with the position I had put myself in.

To cut a long story short, I quit my job. Again.

I was, once again in a position of financial insecurity which although nerve racking, couldn’t have felt better. I was free to let my creativity resurface. That was a few months ago now and luckily I am surviving.

Since I have had no actual job, I have been able to concentrate on my own projects. In case you didn’t realise, I am a video editor and motion graphics designer. I also film and have my own gear, although editing is my main source of income. I am a freelance video editor.

What Have I Learnt?

Financial security won’t make you happy. Don’t sell your soul for a pay cheque.

Do what makes you happy. Money is very nice, and I would love more of it…please send me some! But in all seriousness, you will decay from the inside out if you commit your whole life to something that you don’t enjoy.

Quitting your job is easier than you think. If you quit your job and find that you’re desperate for money then you will find a way to make it. I’m sure you’re reading this with a million excuses why I’m wrong. If you truly don’t enjoy your work then put that same negative, excuse-giving energy into creating a possibility that you could in fact quit and create something better for yourself.

Blogging is therapeutic. Writing down your thoughts on paper is actually quite enjoyable. Most of us are so transfixed to our phone/computer screens reading what other people have written. Why not try to write something for yourself for once? It can be about anything. Who knows – you might even discover a new passion and be able to create a whole new life for yourself.

Since posting up a few of my own videos online and through various other sources, I have had more enquiries for film and editing work in the last couple of months than during the whole time I was working in my last job.

As a freelancer, I have more time to invest in pushing my skills to the next level. I have recently been experimenting with hyperlapses and I have various other filmmaking ideas that I am excited to implement into my future videos.

What Next?

In future blogs, I will mostly focus on creating new video content and writing about that, as well as posts about my travels and also the lessons I have learned.

I will end this with a link to one of my favourite recent videos which combines a heap of footage that I took whilst travelling, combined with some space graphics and what-not.

Oh and before I forget, I am currently available for editing and/or motion graphics work. Ping me an email if you need any work done. Go on, don’t be shy now. My rates are actually pretty reasonable.

Patrick

An Idiot’s Guide To Riding Through Vietnam By Motorbike

Thinking of riding from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh (or vice versa) by motorbike? Well you have come to the right place! This is a guide to riding through Vietnam on a motorbike!

Here I will break down the essentials for you, tell you what you need to know and give you a whole bunch of tips as well. Even an idiot will be able to follow my guide and be able to have a similar adventure to mine! Welcome to…

The Best Damn Guide About Riding Through Vietnam On A Motorbike Ever! (possibly)

Pat on Bike in Vietnam Mountains_01

First things first, you’re gonna need some wheels…

Where Can I Buy A Bike!?

Whether you are travelling north from Saigon or south from Hanoi, there are plenty of places you can buy motorcycles. Travellers do the trip so often that they have a constant cycle of bikes being bought and sold in many places. Your best best is to first check vietnam.craigslist.org and do a search for ‘motorbike Hanoi’ for example. Not only do bike shops list here, but also other travellers who have finished with their bikes and are looking to sell. I bought mine here:

Hanoi Motorbike Shop01

Most importantly, make sure you test drive it first. Check that all of the lights and electrics work correctly. If you know anything about bikes then you’ll know what to look for mechanically-speaking. If you are used to riding bikes then once you get moving, you can quite often tell instantly if something isn’t quite right.

Get them to change the oil for you. Make sure that a blue registration card is included and the serial numbers on the engine and the plates match up. That more-or-less proves that the bike isn’t stolen. Oh and get a helmet. You’d be a fool not to wear one! The bike that I bought was a Honda Win 110, which is the most popular motorbike for travellers. There are tons of them available usually for around the $200 mark, mechanics can fix them easily and they are generally fairly reliable. This was my bike:

Honda Win 110

So now you’re most likely in possession of a rusty old machine on two wheels which kinda works ok, and you are probably thinking…

I Now Own A Motorbike But I Have No Idea Which Roads To Take! Where’s My Dad When I Need Him!?

This is the route that I took which lasted 10 days total:

Vietnam By Motorbike Map

And the following is a break down of the places I stopped every day and the distances covered. My trip was rather rushed so you would benefit from spending longer doing the same trip, and then possibly visiting more places. I only stayed in one place for more than one night and was on the road most days for at least half of the day.

As a side note, I didn’t end my trip in Ho Chi Minh. I continued and then crossed the border into Cambodia so if you’re thinking of doing that then that’s totally possible. I didn’t have to show any additional documents and the process was completely hassle free, on the entry and exit back into Vietnam. Hopefully you won’t have any problems if you’re gonna do the same thing.

Riding Motorbike Through Vietnam

Get The App!

GPS is your friend. I had an app on my iPhone called ‘CityMaps2Go’ which quite frankly I couldn’t have lived without! I stayed on the Ho Chi Minh Highway for most of the trip but veered onto the busier Highway 1 when I needed to visit towns closer to the coast. I would be checking my GPS multiple times during the day, especially as I came closer to towns, just to make sure that I was taking the right roads. So don’t get lost, technology is your friend!

Trip Break Down

Day 1: Hanoi – Pho Chau | Distance Covered – 381km

Day 2: Pho Chau – Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park | Distance Covered – 133km

Day 3: Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park – Hue | Distance Covered – 219km

Day 4: Hue – Hoi An | Distance Covered – 138km

Day 5: Hoi An – Kontum | Distance Covered – 245km

Day 6: Kontum – Buon Ma Thuot | Distance Covered – 298km

Day 7: Buon Ma Thuot – Da Lat | Distance Covered – 206km

Day 8: Da Lat – Da Lat | Distance Covered – 0km

Day 9: Da Lat – Dau Giây | Distance Covered – 233km

Day 10: Dau Giây – Ho Chi Minh | Distance Covered – 78km

That was my exact day by day distances covered. I had no real plan when I left Hanoi for where I would end up each day. I pretty much estimated each night how far it was to the next potential stop point and headed in that direction. I would always stop between 12 and 2 for lunch wherever I was. You will pass by so many roadside cafés, restaurants and street food places that you will never go hungry.

Where Should I Stay?

Motorbike in Room Pants Vietnam

The following is a list of all of the places that I stayed along the way on my trip. If you can’t see any ‘hotel’ or ‘guesthouse’ signs whilst riding, then try looking out for ‘khách san’ (hotel) or ‘nhà nghì’ (motel/guesthouse) signs instead. Also, prices may vary from the ones I have listed below but the average price I paid was around $8. In smaller, less touristic towns I could get a large double room for this price whereas in more touristic places I mostly stayed in dorms.

Accommodation List

HANOI

Hanoi Hostel, 91C Hang Ma Street | Hoan kiem distHanoi 0084Vietnam

Price: $7 per night for a bed in an 8-bed dorm (breakfast included)

PHO CHAU

I stayed at some random hotel in town, but I can’t find the name online. This place is small so just look for hotel or guesthouse signs. I found a reasonably large room with double bed in an average hotel.

Price: $8 per night for a fairly large double room.

PHONG NHA-KE BANG NATIONAL PARK

Phong Nha Lake House Resort, Khuongha, Hung trach, Bo Trạch, Quang Binh, Vietnam

Price: $8 for the biggest (double-bed bunk beds!) and nicest (8-bed) dorm room bed I have ever stayed at in any country I have visited. This place is highly recommended.

Website: phongnhalakehouse.com

HUE

Tigon Hostel, 11B Nguyen Cong Tru StreetHueVietnam

Price: $8 for a 10-bed dorm bed (including the best buffet breakfast I have had in a while, just make sure to wake up early!)

HOI AN

I actually stayed at some random family’s house that was masquerading as a phone shop. It was located just off Trãn Cao Van (nearer to the Tran Hung Dao end), just up the road/round the corner from Moe’s Tavern and the Laugh Cafe. Many people I know stayed at the Sunflower Hotel/Hostel here.

Price: $7 I paid for a single room which is cheap for this tourist-infested town. Last time I was here (have been 5 times now!), the family had just made available a larger, much nicer room for $8 per night. Contact me if you wish to know exactly where it was. I also got very cheap motorbike rental whilst staying here – $1 per day for a semi-automatic motorbike the first time I stayed and $2 on my third visit (inflation!). The second time I was here I obviously had my own motorbike so no need to hire!

KONTUM

Hong My Hotel, 09B, Ngo Quyen, Phuong Thong NhatKontum 58000Vietnam

Price: $8 for a pretty large double room.

BUON MA THUOT

Khách Sạn Ngọc Dung, 122 Chu Văn An, Tân An, Buôn Ma Thuột, Đắk Lắk, Vietnam

Price: $7-$8 for a large double room, TV, fridge, the lot.

DA LAT

Cam Tu Cau Hotel, 118 Nguyen Van Troi, Da LatDalatVietnam

Price: $8 for a decent sized, very nice, clean room. This hotel was awesome and also cheap for the standard. The service was great, the staff were friendly and they also arrange canyoning tours which go daily. the breakfast here is an additional $1, but for that you get a baguette, butter, jam and eggs. I think that a drink (probably juice) was also included.

Many people stay at the Family Hostel in Da Lat which is more of a crazy/interesting experience where a local family has opened up their house to backpackers. Worth checking out if you want to meet other travellers and feel like part of one big, crazy Vietnamese family!

DAU GIÂY

The Gateway To Hell. I won’t even bother listing the place where I stayed here. It was awful. There weren’t many places around here to stay. I would recommend just carrying on straight to Saigon/Ho Chi Minh as it isn’t far and get a decent place there instead.

HO CHI MINH / SAIGON

Hotel 97, 97 Bui Vien St., District 1Ho Chi Minh CityVietnam (Formerly My Hoa Hotel)

UPDATE: the last time I was in Ho Chi Minh (Nov 2015) this place was no longer there. If on a budget, I recommend checking out New Saigon Hostel in District 1.

Price: $10 approx. for a dorm room bed.

Pat on Bike in Vietnam Mountains_02

What Do I Need To Take With Me?

There are a few essentials that I would recommend that you take with you.

A rain poncho is an essential depending on what time of year you go. I was pretty lucky with the weather but it really depends what time of year you are visiting. The rain is generally worse in the north and at higher altitudes. Once you pass through the mountains it usually gets hotter and dryer. You might also want to consider waterproof trousers.

A phone with GPS! As I mentioned earlier you will find this an invaluable tool to help guide you in the right direction to those small towns, especially when the light may be failing and you need a place to stay for the night.

Decent protective gear. You may feel the urge to ride in your shorts, vest/singlet and flip-flops because it is 30 degrees and you’re boiling your ass off, but when you get run off the road by a huge truck that doesn’t give a crap about the little man, you’ll regret not wearing something a bit more substantial! I wore gloves, a wind proof jacket and shorts. I could have been much more kitted out and I met people who were wearing full leathers from head to toe. Just be sensible kids! You may think you look like a badass now, but when you’re scraping your skin off the tarmac you’ll regret not being more sensible…this ain’t a game! This is your life! And the rules of the road here are rather sketchy at times.

A half-decent knowledge of the rules of the road. You will pretty much pick this up as you go along but you will quickly learn that the rules on the roads of Vietnam are very different to the rules in western countries. The biggest vehicle wins is rule number 1! You will often find yourself facing two vehicles side by side using both lanes hurtling towards you at ridiculous speeds at which point you may be forced off onto the dirt track at the side of the road. Just be wary and keep your wits about you at all times. Buses, coaches and trucks quite often just want to get from A to B in the quickest possible time and really couldn’t care if they put your life in jeopardy. I had a small crash where a van coming from the opposite direction just completely cut in front of me to turn into a side road. I didn’t have time to slow down. Another time in the mountains in the north (where there is only one lane to begin with) I was riding uphill and a huge truck was coming towards me. There was a scooter also coming towards me. The truck decided to overtake the scooter at the exact point where I would be passing in the opposite direction, forcing me off the side of the road and eventually losing control of the bike and dropping it, breaking a wing mirror. The woman on the scooter also came off her bike. This was in the mountains in a relatively dangerous area. Someone could have died! But the truck did not give a toss. He was the biggest vehicle and so he won. The end.

You might also want to take with you some basic tools so that you can tighten screws and what-not (yep, technical speak!), and do a bit of maintenance on your bike if you feel it isn’t running correctly. I didn’t do this cos I know very little indeed about mechanics and there are garages all over the place offering cheap prices!

DON’T BE AFRAID TO USE YOUR HORN!

Your horn is your friend, it lets people know you are approaching and it is not rude to beep people, it is actually polite. The horn is used very differently in Asia and is not seen as a sign of anger in many situations. So beep, beep, beep away my friend!

What Attractions Are There To See Along The Way?

There are a few places that I would recommend stopping at along the way and here are some of the ones that I managed to fit in as follows:

HANOI

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – Yes, you can go and see the body of a man that has been dead for 50 years. I did this and found the experience to be rather surreal. You have to get there early and take your passport with you. No photos allowed!

Vietnam Military History Museum – Learn all about the Vietnam War and there are also lots of tanks, helicopters and other military vehicles and weapons on show. Photos allowed!

Hoa Lo Prison – Used by the French during the first Indo-Chinese War to house political prisoners, and then used again by the Vietnamese during the second Indo-Chinese War (Vietnam War) to house prisoners of war. It was sarcastically nicknamed the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ by US soldiers.

Man in Hoa Lo Prison Hanoi Vietnam

PHONG NHA-KE BANG NATIONAL PARK

Phong Nha National Park

Caves – There are loads of big caves to see here. Get on a boat with a bunch of other tourists and go and float into one. Interesting stuff.

Phong Nha Caves Panoramic Vietnam

HUE

The Vinh Moc Tunnels – These are actually about 70km north of Hue so if you’re travelling from north to south then best to visit on your way to the city, rather than after you get there as you’ll only be backtracking. These were a system of tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the last Vietnam War, similar to the Cu Chi Tunnels in/near Ho Chi Minh. I found these very interesting indeed and it was fascinating to learn about how whole families lived within these tunnels for long periods at a time. You can still see ‘rooms’ within the tunnels which are basically just cavities in the walls of the tunnels. I found these tunnels to be much less packed with tourists than the Cu Chi Tunnels. This area of Vietnam, named the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) was one of the most bombed areas during the war.

Vinh Moc Tunnels Structure Plan Vietnam

Vinh Moc Tunnels Vietnam

The Imperial City – This is pretty much like a smaller version of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. Where the last Vietnamese emperor lived. Go check out his gaff, it ain’t half bad!

Imperial City Gardens Hue

Tombs – There are lots of tombs scattered around the city where various emperors and other important people (hey, I’m not a tour guide and don’t know specifics ok, gimme a break!) were buried. My personal favourite was Khai Dinh’s tomb which was rather impressive indeed!

Khai Dinh's Tomb

HOI AN

The old town – Kind of goes without saying really. When you are here, have a wander into the old town and see the famous bridge that was a gift from the Japanese. They weren’t charging entry the first time I was here but now they do. You have to pay to just walk into the old town. Apparently it is for maintenance. Shouldn’t cost too much, maybe like $5 (don’t quote me on that one).

Beaches – There are a few beaches round here. An Bang is a short ride from the old town. I preferred Da Nang as it was much less crowded. Also they had pull up bars, parallel bars and various other equipment for bodyweight training, if you’re into that sort of thing. After all it’s not always easy to find a gym when you’re travelling. At sunset you can find locals performing freestyle calisthenics tricks at the pull up bars on the beach. Entertaining and impressive!

KONTUM

The Wooden Church of Kontum – As far as churches go, this one was pretty nice! A little different as it is all constructed from wood and definitely the nicest church that I came across in Asia.

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PLEIKU

The Minh Thanh Temple – Just south of Kontum is the BEST temple in Asia as far as I am concerned! I seem to always be banging on about this place. It is so visually stunning and a lot of effort has been put into the construction of both the temple and the very large pagoda that is next to it. The gardens surrounding the two are very beautiful as well.

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Minh Thanh Temple Pleiku Vietnam_02

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Minh Thanh Pagoda Pleiku Vietnam_01

Minh Thanh Temple Pleiku Pagoda Warlord God

Ho Chi Minh Statue – There is a massive statue of Ho Chi Minh here. Someone told me that it was the biggest statue of him in Vietnam. Not sure if that is actually true but it’s pretty big!

Ho Chi Minh Statue Pleiku Vietnam

BUON MA THUOT

Ethnographic Museum – Gotta squeeze in a museum now and then! This one focuses on all of the local history in the area, including people, local tribes and settlers, the environment and contains many artefacts, videos, pictures and models! Very interesting and informative and the building itself is also rather impressive to look at!

Ethnographic Museum Buon Ma Thuot Vietnam

DA LAT

The Crazy House – This is a house/former hotel that was designed by a Vietnamese architect, which is a little bit like something you would find in an amusement park. It is a house that is essentially ‘crazy’ in the way it has been built.

Crazy House Da Lat Vietnam

 

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Crazy House Da Lat Roof

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The Old Train Station – This train station is no longer in use but still houses some old trains which are nice to look at and pose in for photos! One of the carriages has been transformed into a café so grab an iced coffee and chill…

Da Lat Old Train

Canyoning! – This costed me $18 through my hotel (Cam Tu Cau) and is a great, fun way to spend a day! The day will contain abseiling down rocks and waterfalls, floating down river and down natural water slides, plus cliff jumping. Very fun indeed! Here is a video of my little adventure:

HO CHI MINH / SAIGON

The Cu Chi Tunnels – These, like the Vinh Moc Tunnels in the DMZ, were used during the war by the Viet Cong to protect them from the bombing on the surface. These are extremely cramped and you can crawl (literally) through them if you like, just so long as you aren’t claustrophobic!

Man in the Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels Entrance man

The War Remnants Museum – More war remnants! Vehicles, weapons, pictures, etc. The lot. Some absolutely incredible war photography on show here as well! I spent ages here just looking at all of the photographs. Worth checking out just for that in my opinion.

CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’VE FINISHED YOUR EPIC JOURNEY!

…well the epic journey of reading this blog post anyway. Hopefully you are now a bit more clued up and can use this as some kind of resource if you are planning to do a similar trip. Feel free to shoot me an email at info@patrickwatkins.com for more info!

Patrick out…*vroom vroom!*

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:

Mountain Man

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.

muffin 4

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…

Bandaged Leg

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…