4 Ways to Travel for Work.

Hello my nomadic nobles. Check out my friend and fellow traveller The Wandering Broski (Michael) article on how 4 Ways To Travel For Work. I’m trying my utmost to follow his advice!

The Wandering Broski

Hey you greedy little so and so! You want to keep on travelling forever don’t you?

Well you can’t.

Ha, I joke, sure you can. Here’s 4 ways to do it.

1. Teaching

Look at you fancy pants. Your teaching and inspiring (or cursing at under your breath) the leaders of tomorrow. Being a teacher in pretty much anything gives you a pass to travel the world. This is especially true if you’re from a country with a highly regarded education system such as the USA or UK. You could be a school teacher, a sport teacher/coach or a teacher in a musical instrument. Even if you’re not a teacher but have a degree you can do this great course called TEFL. This stands for; Teaching English as a Foreign Language. And yep you guessed it, once you’ve competed this internationally recognised qualification you can go and teach English to…

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Cambodia – The Kingdom Of Wonder – In Pictures.

The highlights in pictures of a majestic time in Cambodia.

As I’ve been on the figurative road that is travelling for over a year now, I think it’s due time I shared some of the wondrous photos I’ve been lucky enough to take during my journeying. It isn’t fair that they should all be trapped inside the confines of my laptop when they could be gazed upon by good folks like yourselves. This post’s focal point will be Cambodia – The Kingdom Of Wonder. An apt name for a country that has ancient cities battling mother nature, idyllic beach islands that scream paradise without ever stating it and a people who were forced to live and die through horrors comparable only to Hitler’s Dream (Research and learn as much as you can about the Khmer Rouge and the despicable Pol Pot). In spite of the loss of over a third of the population to a genocidal regime of guerrilla tactics just some 30 years ago, the Khmer people know how to give the heartiest most radiant smiles in want of nothing other than to see one given back. If that isn’t wondrous then I’m sure I don’t understand the meaning of the word.

These pictures come directly from my humble camera and have not been edited in any way. Some to my detriment (a few need trimming) and some to my advantage( I’m Peter Parker).

 

 

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Angkor Wat is symbolic of Cambodia as it appears on their flag and is the passionate pride of the country. Here it is at sunrise. I struggle to think of a more magical site I’ve gazed upon.

 

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In contrast,  here it is in the day time from much further afield. Built as the earthly representation of (Hindu then Buddhist) heaven. One can see why when it seemingly floats amongst the clouds.

 

 

 

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All around the primary building of Angkor Wat – Meaning City Of Temples therefore constituting to the entire 160 hectare region of varying temples north of Siem Reap although the central complex is regarded singularly as Angkor Wat too – are stunningly detailed stone carvings of the stories of various kings that ruled the roost over its millennia spanning history.

 

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On the outskirts of Phnom Penh this young girl ponders, perhaps on the looming city, maybe on the complexities of her socio-economic misfortune but I hope her musings are hopeful and beautiful. The only way children should dream.

 

 

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Sunset through the treeline on Koh Rong Samloem island. Brought to you by nature – the free, reliable and omnipresent TV channel.

 

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Atop Bokor mountain, above the sea and amongst the clouds, here be dragons(flies).

 

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As I stated, none of these photographs are edited and yet I took this quick snap of a dutiful, loyal and adorable dog waiting patiently as his best friend grabbed some cash from the ATM and it turned out like this. A sepia-styled, almost negative. Whatever sorcery went on, it looks pretty wonderful to me because dogs.

 

 

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Victims of the Khmer Rouge inside the memorial Stupa at the Killing Fields Of Choeung Ek. Truly a place of despair and melancholy. Said to be Asia’s Auschwitz. The saddest place I’ve ever been. But also one of the most important.

 

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Cohabitation between nature and man. Ta Prohm or The Tomb Raider Temple. The most famous temple behind Angkor Wat. I don’t have a real perspective here for the sheer scale of this grand, careless tree.

 

 

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Cambodia must be huge fans of the epic Vietnam war movie The Deer Hunter as all of their benches are lined with the face of Christopher Walken during the gut-wrenching finale.
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Bayon is a temple of many smiling stone faces. See how many you can spot. And yes that is a monk taking a selfie.

 

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Murky waters, weathered ancient temple, looming mountain, grey rain clouds. The atmosphere was palpable.

 

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In the river town of Kampot this abandoned railway bridge is still used by a man and his son for an afternoon of fishing.

 

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Earlier in the day I was atop the far off Bokor mountain that hides the sun during this sunset boat cruise along Kampot River but I love the purity of light that cannot be contained.

 

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This water temple was hard to get a good angle on but its intricacies and scope reminded me of the many water temples that have plagued me through the Legend Of Zelda games.

 

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I finish with the sun and sky. This looks like a painting but all I did was look up, point. click and smile. A smile representative of the Khmer people and their kingdom of wonder.

 

Please don’t be afraid to comment or ask any questions in the comments section if there is anything you’d like to know about this magical country.

Thanks for reading and ogling.

Aaron Farrell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discovering The Great Barrier Reef.

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NO FILTER!

 

Within modern day society, many of us often speak in hyperbole. Everything is awesome. It was the best thing I’ve ever seen. That was literally (figuratively) the greatest song ever. Dictionaries and speech expand and grow with the times and right now we may have a problem with overestimation. It comes with a sweet sense of delight then that I know The Great Barrier Reef earns its title. Heck, it deserves better than that. The Super-Awesome, Grandest Of Natural Phenomena, Really Great Barrier Reef. Australia, seeing as you’ve given me so much joy you can have that new name for free. I just want to see it on road signs and on tour advertisements within the next year.

All around Cairns, tour operators are offering a plethora of different tours to The Great Barrier Reef for a highly contrasting amount of monies. It was in the hotel we stayed at on the outskirts of the city that my girlfriend found a flyer for Reef Experience – a day tour offering unlimited snorkelling, introductory scuba dive, breakfast, lunch and even cheese and wine (the deal breaker) to cap off the day all at $195. It seemed a real steal for two poor backpackers compared to some tours that have been triple that price and made us think we may have to just get a rubber dingy and a hand-fan to make our way out toward the pockets of magical reef that hugs the Queensland coast. After feeling giddy with excitement the day before the trip, a shuttle bus picked us up from our hotel and dropped us off at the dock for what would literally(I sincerely mean it) be one of the favourite tours I’ve been on in my life.

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Under Pressure *Hums song whilst popping ears*

 

After stepping barefooted onto the boat we grabbed a seat and listened to the morning briefing from staff about safety and what all of us sunburnt tourists could expect from our experience on the barrier reef. All the while other staff – there was an abundance of informative, attentive and fun staff aboard – prepared breakfast and lunch for the day which made me salivate (like Homer Simpson gazing at a ring donut) as the fresh fruits, veg and salads looked around 46.7 times better than any I’ve prepared myself. After the briefing, a bite to eat for breakfast and of course a cuppa, my girlfriend and I ventured to the top deck to breathe in the salty air and ogle the alluring aqua colours of the waters we were lucky enough to be riding upon. The sun shone hot but the breezy air was enough to allow any and all to sunbathe and drink in the energy as we awaited to arrive at the first dive site. Before arriving we had another briefing – where the staff show enough humility toward the obligation of showing everybody how to use scuba gear that kept it bearably benign as nobody likes safety briefings but I’d rather a briefing than to drown so it’s all sun and snow I suppose.

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My Magnificent Mermaid.

 

Each person has a safety number given to them as they board the boat which is then used to classify the groups for scuba diving but worry not, nobody who came together had to split up. Me and Becky were in group 5 which meant we could have a speedy snorkel before our scuba dive. I was not utterly blind going into this trip as I have experienced some effervescent coral and splendid sealife on prior travels in Koh Tao (where I realised reefs are as alive as I am) and Gili Air (where a turtle joined us for a morning swim) but as I dropped into the rippling turquoise sea face first and the water cooled my body, I was reminded that the sea is simply my favourite place to be. Once that water washes over my head I feel cleansed, even baptised but with none of the biblical rhetoric – Mother Nature is my religion. After swimming away from the boat, the world beneath the surface explodes in spectral colour as life thrives in ways you can never imagine as a land dweller. As I swam through the crystalline waters and observed bulks of corals looking like Davy Jones and his crew I felt that I had been dropped into the world of Finding Nemo. I’m not joking, the colour, the life, the lanes of intersecting traffic of fish going about their lives, it’s humbling and enlightening. The sea presents us all an opportunity to look beneath the surface within any rung of life. To gain knowledge and insight we need only delve a little deeper and enquire more to discover adventure, love or anything else inspiring and deep. The sea then is the perfect metaphor and never more for me than my time meeting the life that lives just an hours boat ride from Cairns. I was absorbed within the intricacies of every piece of flowing flora and fantastical (some fish look like they belong in a colourful Sci-Fi film) fauna. Would I not have had to grasp the snorkel with my mouth I would have probably taken in half the sea through my gaping mouth. Luckily I heard a bellow of “GROUP FIVE” and so darted back to the boat to get an air tank on my back to allow me to venture deeper.

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IT’S ALIIIIVVVEEE!

 

With the tank and weights on my back and respirator in my mouth (*Heavy breath* No, I am your father” *Heavy breath*) I took another plunge down below and waited for the fellow three in my group as I held onto an anchoring rope that looked a part of the reef as much as the giant clams that snap shut upon a touch. And then we were off. Playing follow the leader in a full three dimensions, we descended into chasms acting as microcities with their being no less life there than the busiest of our locales on land. It reminded me somewhat of my early teen years playing Warhammer and the like. After painting all my figures in bright colours and building a battlefield of faux trees and hills for them to fight on I could stand back, look on and imagine what might battle ensue and how it would feel to someday have a girl speak to me whilst not asking if I’ve tidied my room. This particular microcosm a few metres beneath a sparkling sea however needed no imagination to be alive. It simply was life at its most diverse and dense and delightful. Although I was the first one in the water of Group 5 I was trailing at the back always flicking the OK hand symbol to let our instructor know I wasn’t in trouble merely in awe. We drifted around the edges of coral formations that had their own life systems atop them. Some tiny pods of deep purples would shut the instant I got too close. Nothing here is inanimate despite its size or seemingly dormant look. Becky and I would take it in turns snapping shots of the wonder that surrounded us and of each other suspended in the weightlessness. We rented an underwater camera from Cairns Digital which was fairly priced and they drop off and pick up the camera from the hotel. If like me your GoPro is currently on the seafloor of the Central Coast (it fell off my damn surfboard/ Aquaman jacked me) filming the greatest documentary never to be seen then Cairns Digital is a great way to savour some memories on a memory card. Although no picture compares to seeing it with one’s own eyes. I think if I had lugged a waterproof Imax camera down to the depths the pictures would feel lacklustre to what is now playing on loop in the memory theatre of my brain. After twenty or so minutes it was time to head back up. I was thinking of trying to stay submerged until my air supply ran out and hoping evolution would kick start and grant me gills but I thought better of it because I was hungry.

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Spock Would Be Proud Of My Prosperity.

 

 

Lunch was a selection of fresh salads ranging from noodles, couscous, coleslaw and leaf salads with olives and feta cheese. There is also BBQ chicken, pork and beef. The tea and coffee is unlimited and since living in a campervan, I have become accustomed to getting out of the sea and having a soothing cup of coffee almost immediately thereafter. Sitting in the sun on the deck of a boat, eating good food and discussing all the wonders you’ve seen with your soul mate is about as good as it gets. After the cattle were fed and coffeed(?) we had a light-hearted lecture from resident marine biologist Cam who we had spoken to earlier as Becky wants to go into marine biology and so what better insight to chat to one of these aquatic rock stars. The talk was informative and snappy, highlighting some of the coral and fish we may have seen and the importance that people respect the barrier reef. It is the largest organism on Earth but we are the largest parasite so of course we are killing it bit by bit with our greed, ego and lack of care for anything that isn’t money in our hands. Cam touched upon this but kept it low key as not to offend but the environment is something I am massively passionate about and I think had I his power I would have gone about slapping people I thought who tried to pick any coral or who denied global warming. The afternoon followed the morning as it always seems to do and with it was a chance to do more snorkelling, pay for another scuba dive or take a snorkel tour with Cam who would use his smarts to teach us what all this alien life was. We went for the latter and it did not disappoint.

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Rush Hour Traffic.

 

As a vibrant fish seemingly made of every shade of green and the size of my torso munched on coral it had smaller fish munching it – a symbiotic relationship of help me help you.  The tour lasted an hour and was so insightful, and whilst I can’t remember specific names of some of the little critters we met, these gardens of underwater paradise we gazed upon will always be with me. I really wanted to see a shark (reef shark not Bruce) or another chilled turtle but we weren’t quite lucky enough although that’s like a king saying his crown isn’t gold enough. The last moment just before leaving the water for the last time was as majestic as any I’d experienced earlier. I had happiness in my belly for all I’d seen and experienced throughout the day but some ethereal light show of dancing sun rays in the turquoise water topped it all off. I imagined a mermaid just beneath my eyeshot playing an instrument that caused this visual trickery. My imagination has always been vivid however but the Great Barrier Reef is such a magical place that nothing seems impossible below the surface. After getting back aboard we were at leisure for a little while before we ventured back toward Cairns. At risk of seeming fickle right now, I mentioned earlier that I felt sitting in the sun with good food and your soul mate reminiscing about the day is as good as it gets. Turns out that if you add wine and cheese to that equation it actually does get better. At the very last of the day, all of the tourists went to the upper deck for a group photo and a gracious goodbye from the staff. We docked, we exited and we high fived the staff lining the boat. A day with no downs.

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The Valley Of The Shadow Of Life.

 

Before I ever thought it possible that I could spend a day on The Great Barrier Reef I knew I needed to go there after reading that Sir David Attenborough said it was his favourite place in the world for its diversity and beauty. Nobody should take that lightly. After the wonderful day that Reef Experience allowed me I just want to share it with the world. The Great Barrier Reef is being destroyed by global warming and the many tendrils of what ensues because of humankind’s fix it tomorrow attitude. If we continue, there will be no tomorrow for what is the most spectacular natural wonder on our earth. This year’s bleaching has been devastating and the reef can’t afford another any time soon. Much like my time in South Africa taught me with its abundance of life but much of it being endangered, The Great Barrier Reef is in a similar situation and the thought of my children or grandchildren not being able to experience these wonders makes me shudder. The world is meant to be viewed in colour and not drab greys, and natural lively colour is never more potent or prominent in the reefs beneath the surface of the sea.

 

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The Whole World In My Hand.

There And Back Again -Travelling’s Unexpected Journey.

A piece on the struggles of giving up on travelling too early and the battle of mending mistakes.

Whilst living in a camper van  (The Batvan) journeying Australia, I became somewhat fed up of the travelling lifestyle. I wanted daily showers, running water and many other small things I had always taken for granted. My girlfriend and I would bicker over silly things and get annoyed with each other for no other reason than we were so closely confined. Which in our four wondrous years of sharing our passions and lives together we had never done. I still loved all the good parts of travelling and to be fair most of it was nothing less than spectacular, especially when you share those magical moments with the person you love but I needed a way out of the van’s confinements. Discussion and thought turned to action as they so often do and I haphazardly applied for university to study Professional and Creative Writing as a way to repair and recuperate. Also to enable myself to become a more learned individual that has a degree in his passion, allowing the possibility of eventually applying for jobs the world over and relieving the ever-present thirst for travel too. I was accepted unconditionally (to my surprise) into university back in Wales.  I made a mistake. A massive mistake.

 

My girlfriend was set to come home to study as well but her mother had already booked her holiday out to Oz to meet us – now just my girlfriend as I came home earlier to sort the flat and whatnot – and so is still out there now. I have been home nigh on four weeks and from the teary final moments we shared in Brisbane airport saying goodbye for six weeks, I felt like I’d made a mistake. We started together, we should have finished together or not at all. I wish I felt a bit braver that day as I would have dramatically stomped off the plane at the last minute, ran back through to the departure gate, embraced my girl and said something cheesy like “You are the only certainty I need” and then kissed her passionately as the camera pans around in a 360 degree motion and security guards mutter ‘Get a room’Unfortunately, I didn’t do that because I’m not part of a 90’s sitcom and I simply wasn’t brave enough at the time. I then had a worse time travelling experience than Marty in Back To The Future Part II and came home only to realise that I was no longer excited for university, the settled life or daily showers. I tried to convince myself and other’s that I’d wanted that but this nagging feeling clung onto mind and spirit and my internal organs had all become cold, dead lead. Of course it was amazing to see my mother and my family and friends but I think we’d all realised I’d come home a little early – eleven months after setting off.

 

I’ve been home for four weeks as I write this and its been perhaps some of the most emotionally difficult of my quarter century existence. I’ve questioned all the decisions up until this point, tortured myself for how many ways I could have dealt with my feelings toward travelling differently. I can now identify I was depressed working the job I hated before we set off for our global travels and I have had perhaps an even worse bout of depression with my time home. Never have I felt so low and self-destructive. I have always been a conflicted individual. My heart is never not on my sleeve, I have always believed in showing my emotions overtly and couldn’t stop them anyway as I’ve failed every time I tried. Yet, my mind is a logical piece of kit, very aware, always switched on in many terms of contemplation, reviewing decisions and constructing new ideas. They clash massively and were I a superhero as I’ve always wished, I’ve no doubt my greatest villain would be myself. This perpetual battle I host didn’t help any in figuring out what I should do. For anyone in love, you know how hard time away can be. I mean my girlfriend Becky is nine hours ahead and physically couldn’t be further away, she’s literally 10,705 miles from me. So The Proclaimers with their measly 500 and Vanessa Carlton with her pitiful 1000 can both suck it. Alas, I’ve now made the decision that I’m going back to Australia and my girlfriend is staying there too as she has realised her time to come home isn’t now. Now all I have to do is write a song about it. (What rhymes with ten thousand, seven hundred and fie miles?)  Wanderlust is still in us both and so to is our desire to earn our 2nd year working visa by completing three months regional farm work. We have until February to do this so we are prepared to work our cute little bums (I speak for her bum) off in doing so.

 

It took me almost every waking hour since being home to come to this decision but ultimately we all make mistakes but must we allow the mistakes to then make us? Not if we can help it. In my decision to come home and pursue education (which is no bad thing by the way), I didn’t realise what I was giving up and also what I was fucking (french my pardon) up. I’ve wasted a lot of money for Becky and I, I’ve messed up my her Mum’s travel plans, I’ve put my own mother through some version of hell in seeing her son so down, and I’ve put myself through the grinder for it all. But its never too late to make amends. Yes, the mistake is made but what is the point of diving deeper into the breathless abyss of poor decision making because you’ve already made the initial plunge? There isn’t one because if ever an idiom has been true it is Learn from your mistakes and to partner that idiom, a quote from Oscar Wilde; “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes”.

I’ve deferred my university course should I want to attend next year and I’ve backed out of the flat at the last minute before I really indebted myself. Whilst I’ve bought a car, I must now sell it. It matters not though within the grand scheme of things because your truest desires don’t wash away like writing in the sand; they are but the sea. I’m in a much healthier frame of mind in knowing I’m going to resume travelling and earn my 2nd year visa in Australia to use at a later date and come February, in fitting with The Lord Of The Rings rhetoric I’ve used in the title, we may visit Middle-Ear… I mean New Zealand. We may not but I’m certainly excited at the prospects that could come from my resuming travelling. I wasn’t done with it, I’ll never be done with it but perhaps in the future I will feel comfortable enough to press pause on it to pursue other things, I just don’t know – which is awesome for a guy who a few months ago wanted more certainty.

 

I’ve not revelled in this piece of writing as I usually do from finger jabbing my keyboard but I feel it was important. It certainly hurts going back over a mistake again and again and I’ve done it enough in my mind but I figured if I can write about it, then maybe a person will read it and that person may realise their mistakes are there to be learnt from and acted upon. I mean I’m willing to go through some pretty extreme jet lag after having only recovered from a bout of it but peace of mind, an inspired spirit and my girlfriend are worth more than all the money, wasted time and efforts and bloody jet lag the world can throw at me. And so I stand once more on the brink of discovery, The Batvan is sold, Queensland is waiting, vegetables/fruit are craving my soft touch as I pick them. But I’m excited at the security of having a camper van being gone and am totally aware of certain aspects of my own rigidity previously when travelling and although I’m heading back to Australia, I am perhaps new in some ways, sure there are emotional and spiritual scabs all inside me but if I learnt one thing from skateboarding its that scabs harden. I am stronger because I have been weaker. I am better because I have been worse. I am smarter because I’ve been stupid. I am Spartacus! (Sorry, watched it today and that moment is inspired film making).

 

I hope this article helps somebody because it may not have been cathartic for me as I’m still hurting some from the rushed decisions I made in the moment but I live to fight another day with the ability to make each day that much better. If you feel down in a moment, assess your surroundings and situation, soldier it and then solve it. Change your situation accordingly to your feelings. I was an angry zombie before travelling and as such had to change my situation drastically. I was just pissed off and a little homesick when I thought coming home would be the best option. I didn’t act accordingly. Now I am however, as going back out there feels like the only option to gain my true happiness back and to make amends. Be drastic and maybe even dramatic but remember why you started upon your current road first and think what you want from it. Allow your measured decisions to determine the outcome and not the outcome determine your measured decisions. We all must walk alone at times but skipping down a golden beach hand in hand with your soul mate whilst you both laugh at something utterly benign to 7 billion other people is a beautiful journey no matter the destination. There and back again.

Travelling Isn’t All Waterfalls And Wonder And That Is Fine.

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The Simpson’s logo popped up right after I took this photo!

 

 

 

Travelling is a word now synonymous with a particular outlook on life.  A mantra that we live to discover, outwardly into the world and inward through meeting and conversing with those people of the world.  Travel blogs here on WordPress are as common as internet adverts telling me how to be a millionaire in just twenty minutes (it actually took forty five minutes).  Pop onto Instagram and click on the travel hashtag and the some of the world’s most photogenic places are there before you.  There is a revolution of sorts happening where many people who feel choked by mundanity are simply slipping its grip and heading off on an adventure.  I feel however that through the medium of social media, many are glamorising the very act of washing away the glamour.  Travelling, as I’ve come to believe it, isn’t about the yacht parties and five star resorts one can see on many a starry eyed instagram, neither is it about making tons of cash through marketing and selling adverts through your nose.  If its’s about freedom and nonconformity then one must firstly, be free and secondly, not conform.  I think its important that the nomads and the wanderers, the free spirits and the soulful seers aren’t misrepresented by those that build their false gods in themselves and paint us all as seeking a destination as opposed to living the journey.

 

Broken, bowed, bent and bitter. 

Between the waterfalls, beaches, jungles, mountains and cityscapes there is a lot of travelling.  Obviously right? One has to get to these places somehow.  This can be very tedious, uncomfortable and at times soul destroying. Whilst travelling South Africa’s Garden Route in a rental car there was scenery like I simply hadn’t seen before.  I was driving with a gaping mouth at the militant lines of trees standing like watchful giants over the roads.  There were times when there was just three foot between the car and impending doom via a long fall of a short cliff. The view would have been worth it,  probably, as the sculpted mountains that crept away into the horizon were mesmerising.  In Cambodia however I was promised a “hotel bus” to get me from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh.  Anyone who has travelled South East Asia rigorously however knows that what is stated and what is should be taken with a pinch of salt – preferably with some lemon and tequila.  The ride was the literal highway to hell that AC/DC rave about.  I arrived in Vietnam some seventeen hours later, a shell of a person and in a rage of tired aggression.  I was broken.  To then top it off I was royally ripped off by a cunning taxi driver and my hotel room had a direct shaft to the crying baby that lived down stairs.  All I wanted was a bowl of cereal and a good hour of silence but instead I had noodle soup and a bustling dense city.  That is travelling. Wanting a particular thing and not getting it as the true wonders of travel are in the discovery of the unexpected and not the expectation of things previously coveted.  And now I have a tried and tested travel anecdote and even somewhat of an admiration for the sly taxi driver who literally and metaphorically took me for a ride to make instead of telling me to walk 200 metres after exiting the bus.   Whoever sold that cramped, moist(nothing should ever be ‘moist’ no one likes ‘moist’), sticky, uncomfortable hotel bus can eat the biggest bag of shit they can get their hands on.  That is unforgivable.

 

My point here is that the travel part of travel is often far from glamourous, if I didn’t cook up the meanest ball soup whilst driving hundreds of km’s a day in South Africa then I am not man but it was so worth it.  At times the long journey’s will make you ill (some pirates would get sea sick on the journey to and from the Gili Islands) or murder your excitement but within the grand scheme of our punctuated lives they never really matter because my journal and memory banks are full of wonder from each and every destination after some of these travels.

 

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If You Look To Your Right You’ll See Mountains And Impending Doom.

 

 

Social Media is Pinnochio – A liar not a real boy.

Social media is guilty of many things, both good and bad, but when I pop onto my travelling Instagram for some inspiration, sometimes I get mad.  There are swathes of travellers all around the world instagramming some phenomenal shots but there are also those that preach sermons of self-discovery and befriending communities of local peoples but are just simply talking shit.  So long as humans have tongues and throats, there will be a Billy Bullshit somewhere or other.  It is a shame that so many Billies are wrongly conveying a message that money equates to travel and freedom and that they have a secret formula to freedom.  There is no format to freedom or being a traveller apart from getting your William Wallace on every now and then and screaming “Freedom” at some English folks.  Whilst one needs money for that initial plane ticket, there isn’t a sum of money that allows one to be free because freedom is a mind set not a destination.  I often get asked how can I afford to travel  indefinitely (I’m in my 11th month and its drawing to a close shortly as I’m headed to university to study … writing… but more on that another time), my answer varies in wording but the flavour is because I choose to. I’ve stayed at newly acquainted friends homes, I’ve cleaned toilets for somewhere to park my campervan, I’ve paid the bare minimum to sleep in a dorm full of Snorlax’ and as I’m doing now, I mind peoples pets and homes for them to go on holiday and for me to have a man-size bed and running water.  And when all that fails I get intimate with cucumbers(picking and planting, not starring in weird fruit porn) and lemons get intimate with me (When life gives you lemons be damn grateful you didn’t have to pick them) for some cash.  Yes whilst initially undesirable on some accounts, all have led to laughs, smiles and memories albeit some only after the cuts healed because hindsight truly is a wonderful thing.

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Sometimes, you just drive past a monkey getting a blowjob and your problems float away.

 

 

 

Not having a bottomless gold pot is part of the magic of travelling free. Whilst a lot of things would have been easier if I had unlimited gold coins, many other magnificent moments and impactful instances wouldn’t have happened because of that fact also.  So if you are waiting to go travelling because of money then all I can say is that there isn’t a sum of money that enables you to go.  It’s not like your bank account is going to jet you off when it hits X amount of zeros, that’s on you. If you do need a bit of extra money then evaluate your outgoings.  It sounds simple and even obvious but man am I good at saving money now compared to the me of three years ago.  We are all consumers and live within this consumerist society and as such we consume a lot of shit.  So simply stop.  Stop buying things that have one use or are part of an endless collection( except books, never stop buying books) and adapt because of that and find alternative solutions to spending obscene amounts of money on a night out.  Think not of filling the room around you with products but filling the hole inside with amazement and majesty through your travels.  The hole will get smaller but I bet you will grow bigger as a person and a spirit.

 

Let It Out

As high as seeing the world can take you and experiencing a whole new life and way of living can bring pure joy, it can also beat your ass.  There are times of profuse anger at the seeming nonsensical ways of a person or even countries customs.  There will be disappointment that seems to cover you like dirt from a shovel.  Missing family, friends and home comforts can bring tears to the best of us.  A helplessness like you’ve never felt will have you in its talons more than once as you feel like you are being sucked down a black hole of misunderstanding and misanthropy.  Plans will smear like last night’s mascara (I’m a big KISS fan), and the months of building assurances and safety nets will wash away with the tide.  There’ll be tears, tantrums, fear, helplessness, incomprehension and weirdly enough a hollowness – in spite of the spiritual growth.  The best we can do is let it out.  Allow yourself to be angry or upset, don’t think you can’t be mad at travelling because like the best relationships, there are always disagreements.  The very reason we all  go to the gym is to break down muscle fibres in the knowledge that they’ll grow ever stronger because of it.  Its a little off-kilter but use that analogy when your getting kicked in the nuts repeatedly in the figurative sense( if someone’s doing that for real then roundhouse their ass).  Know that its fine to be hating it for a day or analysing each life decision that led you to that very moment of despair.  I think I needed some of these moments of defeat to allow me perspective on the good times. There were days I wanted to go home and days I wanted to just be shot into space.  They were much fewer than the days where I believed I was exactly where I should be however.

 

When walking through the Killing Fields – the tragic aftermath of the brutal regimes of the Khmer Rouge , think of it like South East Asia’s Auschwitz – I felt disgust at human kind.  This isn’t a new feeling, I can often get this overwhelming disparate feeling toward the human race and hope that the zombie apocalypse arrives immediately but there was different altogether.  Seeing the melancholy stupor holding the bones of countless victims of Pol Pot’s genocidal hypocrisy and hearing the stories of unparalleled human suffering I simply felt done. Done with the human race.  Come on Apes, enslave us already.  ALAS, in getting to know more Cambodian people and talking to them about their country, society and in fact the Khmer Rouge I felt uplifted, simply by their capacity for hope through heartiness.  Every Cambodian I met and actually conversed with was polite, friendly, interested, helpful and all had beautiful smiles as if some genetic trait. Although a third of their population were mindlessly killed and the whole world stood aside and let it happen (highlighting the western world’s hypocritical oaths of standing for the rest of the world) they were hopeful that their country would continue its growth toward greatness.  In my eyes Cambodia is a pretty great country as it is with literal ancient cities to behold and gorgeous natural beauty at every turn but I may have almost taken the kindness and heartiness of the people for granted had I not felt hopeless on my first day in Phnom Penh after visiting the Killing Fields.  There are lessons like this that repeat and in turn, remind you of your luck and privilege being born in Wales (in my case obviously) where I started bounds ahead of many other in the world that were born on the same day as I.  Realisation is something that always sticks with you, to actuate something solely by oneself is an unforgettable lesson.  In comparison to many people you may meet, your life will seem like a dream so let it out as much as you let it in.

Stupa
Profoundly Haunting. These are all victims of hate.

 

 

Selfies Sticks Are Reason 792045939 Why Lightsabers Should Exist.

Despite the glitz and glamour that some portray as their shrouded travels, they are probably taking selfies(I present crime number one) with a selfie stick(And crime number two).  Whilst you may be greasy haired, wearing board shorts and with seven layers of sun cream on your back there are those who will be looking as if the red carpet perpetuates in front of them.  Then they elongate a selfie stick and start a self-involved photoshoot. This is where you decide their fate is to be shared with that of the Skywalkers – they must lose a hand.  So hack that shit off and then go have a shower you smelly bastard.

This isn’t about me hating on anybody or any one thing either.  It’s about getting to know certain types of people within life and that of the travelling community who solely want to create an identity on their social media accounts that is about as much them as a man with a tattoo of their football team’s crest emblazoned on their heart is me.  It’s okay to look nice and dress nice and not to attract flies, my point is more toward the falsehood that some use those things to portray something that isn’t correct.  Should we all adopt the Skywalker technique* then the fakers will soon be easily identifiable.

 

 

Live For You Whilst Living For Others.

A paradox you say?  No.  Simply live for you and your passions whilst learning from and loving all those you meet on your path.  A path that is a lifelong journey of discovery and not a tick off a bucket list.  Now go scream at those English.

 

* Please do not dismember anybody for reals in light of my words. I’m promoting love and freedom here and not some sadistic one handed world mantra.  I’m just being sure.  sarcasm is famously hard to read on the internet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tears and Tears.

Tears fall from heaven and dance upon rooftops and the wronged as if a vigilant heroine

Tears in jeans and hearts let the damp in like the bloating corpse of a shotgun wedding widow

Tears roll up eyelids of the maniacal and morose alike, defying gravity and rules, a cause without a rebel

Tears rip through flesh and alibis as mettle and integrity is tested by the robbers and cops

Tears dry or drown.  Tears scar or split.

Tears and Tears demote teachers to pupils.  Tears and Tears promote pupils to teachers.

Thanks for reading. Aaron Farrell JK(Jedi Knight)

Farm Work In Australia – My First Foray.

Should anyone reading this be a fellow backpacker looking for farm work then I offer this advice. Speak to the farmer/manager on the phone and interrogate them like your Jack Bauer having a really crappy day.

Find out what you’ll be doing on the job in depth and if it entails giving fruit handjobs
Ask about the hours required of you (minimum/maximum) and length of time you will be needed to work for
The pay rate is adequate and fair, making sure it meets the national minimum wage or the state minimum wage
What the accommodation offers and how much you’ll pay for it. Make sure it’s acceptable for human beings and not just possums and spiders.
WHERE IS THE NUKE DAMN IT!? – This is only for those true Jack Bauer fans.

Twas’ a wet and black Sunday evening.  The roads were slick with lashing rain and dreary hope.  Hope, that after months of searching, applying, researching and calling, that maybe this farm that I’d spent seven hours of my Sunday driving to would be at least homely and welcoming.  At most, fun and worthy of the weeks I’d spend there. The roads however were slick with lashing rain and dreary hopes.

 

Excuse the melodramatics.  I like writing with tone and atmosphere.  I also like theatricality, darlings.  That Sunday evening ended with tarnished hopes.  Hopes that the boss at the farm would be a decent and welcoming human being.  Hopes that the accommodation would be clean and comfortable.  Hopes that on a small, family run farm, my girlfriend and I would be adopted into the family setting and be treated with respect.  Hopes and expectations often lead to disappointment.  And that idiom didn’t disappoint.  

 

So farm work, finally! After nigh on eight months of travelling I could work and put some money back into the bank to fund some more travels.  I was willing to do anything and so working primarily with cucumbers didn’t sound too challenging to my naive expectations of what goes into growing a cucumber.  As I’ve never been into gardening or anything of the like, (the closest I’ve come to growing a plant is getting my Bulbasaur to a Venasaur and slaying fools with Hyper Beam on Pokemon Yellow) I simply thought you plant it, you water it, you pick it.  Whilst those are the main tenets, there is a lot more that goes into the farming trade.  

 

The first day of my official farm work which I was told totally counts toward my second year visa  began.  The farmer/boss assured me that he will officially sign off for a Second Year Visa as is required after you have worked 88 days in particular post codes doing particular jobs that the Australian government deem particular enough.  I asked several times before we left on a road trip to get to the farm and the boss assured me it is legitimate.  Failing his less than astute word we double checked a list of postcodes we had from The Base Hostel on our induction meeting (an STA Travel add-on to set folks up with a bank account and such and a chance to have invaluable insight into what your trip in Australia could be) and the post code matched their listing.  Perfect we thought.  Earning some dollar bills and ticking off days for the second year visa.  I should have known not to trust The Base however as from the moment I walked into the place on my first night in Australia, I knew it was full of shit.  We arrived on a Saturday night and walked into a literal night club held smack bang on the ground floor of the hostel and just below our shared dorm.  It was like a nightclub scene from a Blade movie.  I just wish I had my stakes and sword.  Anyway that is not my point, my point is that when you walk into a hostel like that, with the stairs covered in sick and the staff frowning at your for not wanting to ‘party’ after a long day flying from Asia, then I should have known that whatever information I got from them in the induction meeting (which took place during the fucking Superbowl – an annual ritual that has been part of my life for as many years as I can remember) would be the particular shit that bull’s churn.  Before I get back to the titular farm work at hand however I just want to warn any would-be travellers that enjoy some peace and aren’t big fans of having more alcohol in their system than blood to stay away from The Base like it’s a den of sweaty, gurning, shuffling zombies.  I imagine should the zombie virus come from anywhere it would be from the joining together of two intoxicated, smelly, horny people that fornicate on the burger-strewn, sick-covered floors of a Base Backpackers Hostel.  And STA Travel thanks for assuming ‘backpacker’ means ‘young person of no standards and morals that wants loud, thumping music as a lullaby and has no inhibitions to see and experience the city in which they are situated other than visiting a local drug dealer’.  It’s nice to know that you get us.  A backpacker hostel should be about a chilled vibe where you can meet and talk/listen to other’s journeys and backgrounds through shared ciders and barbecued meat.  A place where communities of travellers come together and share and create and play.  Where sharing a dorm means deep conversations into the shallow night.  Where laughter is the universal language.  NOT a place where getting raped seems like the best of some bad situations  (Possible melodramatics again but you were warned).

 

And that Ladies and Gentlemen is a tangent.  Now where was I? Ah yes. The first day of farm work that DID NOT count toward my 88 days for the second year visa.  We were to plant infant cucumber plants and twirl them around a dangling string which would promote upward growth.  Many greenhouses full of bags of soil were waiting to be fingered – no seriously you have to literally finger the soil about three inches deep to plant the plant (and the innuendo doesn’t stop there).  

 

After a hard day’s work and some seriously sore fingers, the first day was a wrap and regardless of how dirty my fingers were and how much my back ached from the stooped over position, it was nice to know that cash was going into my bank.  Now I love the freedom of no work and travelling perpetually but to quote Freddie Mercury – I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy – and so I have no limitless fund that I can dip into.  So the week followed with picking cucumber from the older plants, pruning them, twirling them and generally performing all manners of fellatio on these phallic fruits.  

 

At the end of the week, it was nice to kick back and feel like I’d earned the weekend, earned the surf and put some money back in my pocket for the further travels up the coast.  The farm was situated at Peats Ridge on the Central Coast of New South Wales and though there was no phone reception up at the farm, I was only a forty minute drive away from some great surfing beaches.  That should have been the telltale sign really that this job didn’t count toward the second year visa as the Australian government want us backpackers in the far reaches, working beneath mystical bridges and having to complete riddles to find the farm you’re actually looking for.  It makes sense though but after spending the prior two months calling the National Harvest Helpline – an agency set up to dole out the work to backpackers – emailing people on gumtree, calling farms, vineyards etc and generally stressing that I’m going to have to sell my liver on the black market to fund some more adventures or to eat.  So when someone did want work I jumped at it.

 

Should anyone reading this be a fellow backpacker looking for farm work then I offer this advice. Speak to the farmer/manager on the phone and interrogate them like your Jack Bauer having a really crappy day.  

  • Find out what you’ll be doing on the job in depth and if it entails giving fruit handjobs
  • Ask about the hours required of you (minimum/maximum) and length of time you will be needed to work for
  • The pay rate is adequate and fair, making sure it meets the national minimum wage or the state minimum wage
  • What the accommodation offers and how much you’ll pay for it.  Make sure it’s acceptable for human beings and not just possums and spiders.  
  • WHERE IS THE NUKE DAMN IT!? – This is only for those true Jack Bauer fans.  

 

Now it so happened that although I tried, the information given to me by the farmer was somewhat false pertaining to the hours we would get and the area code not being eligible for the second year visa.  Which is obviously a mighty shame that he was that much of an unwashed, shitty asshole but all you can do is try and get the information you need and know your rights.  The australia.gov website provides fountains of information on everything work related for travellers and they really have got their heads screwed on.

 

The weeks continued with the twirling and picking and pruning and packing and is as much fun as all that sounds but it was work.  I smelt something was awry however at the arse end of the second week when we had early finishes and even a day off mid-week for lack of work.  The farm was family owned and the old greek dude who started it in the 80’s had passed it onto his two sons and their respective families all work and live on the farm.  As we arrived one family went on vacation.  Then they come back and there wasn’t much work and then the other family went on a week’s vacation too and the worked picked back up.  When they were back however there wasn’t a great deal to do as there is only so much maintenance one can do to greenhouses full of cucumber before you’re painting the bad ones green and sellotaping two small ones to make a big one.  

 

My girlfriend and I didn’t feel welcome on the farm at all.  The accommodation was so bad that we opted to stay inside the van, apart from the boss having a go at my work after him telling me that was the way to do it, we didn’t speak, the hours were slimming and it felt like they were purposefully giving less hours as a ploy to push us out rather than being adult human beings and explaining there was no work and they only took us on to cover holidays and not for the ‘at least two months’ they had agreed to. We were downtrodden but knew that this was just be a shadow on an otherwise amazing year of travels and exploits.  

 

Then came a silver lining, or so we thought.  They were having a couple that had worked for them a few months prior come back to work and so I assumed there must be a lot more work coming in, the citrus and tomatoes on the farm must be ready to be maintained.  However, after a busy week when they first came of us all working hard and getting to know each other, the second week brought bad news.  The boss spoke to my girlfriend (he avoided me like the plague, I think the idiot must have thought he’d catch some intelligence should he come near, or maybe a fiery hadouken) and said that he can’t keep us on as there’s no work.  But that he’s keeping on the the new couple that came as he promised them they could come back.  It was like a playground discussion.  

“I said that they could use the football on break time and even though you’re using it and need it and I could have told them weeks ago that they can’t have it at this specific time, I didn’t because I’m a fucktard.  Please don’t tell Mr Mckay I swore, M’kay.”  

 

Although we hadn’t earned the amount of money we’d planned and neither did we have an agreeable time we did see this as removing our shackles and the chance to hit the road again.  And so after five weeks of dealing with single-minded, racist, ignorant idiots I have to deal with them no longer.  It was a sterling sight seeing the farm in the rear-view.  I did have a premonition of that sight however that was slightly different after a day where the boss and his father persisted on making their dicks hard by continually having a go at me.  I had envisioned seeing the farm in my rear-view but all the greenhouses smoking and flames dancing on the fields as I maniacally laugh.  Probably best it didn’t turn out that way however. Probably.

 

And that is the very brief and informal synopsis of my first foray into farm work.  There were many disagreements, not much joy apart from days off, an ever-present feeling of unwelcomeness and that my girlfriend and I had been used just to cover the family holidays.  And our last week was full of sleepless nights as we battled nightly with a mouse that refused to pay rent and yet persisted on eating all the food we had in the Batvan.  Should I be brave enough to delve into that dark week of memories and emotional scarring, that could be an equally informal and near pointless article that I post.  You lucky readers!

 

If this article is to have a point, I’d say it’s this: Expect nothing from farm work and you won’t be disappointed.  Knuckle down and earn that money you need for the travels and possibly the second year visa.  Just check and double check that it definitely counts and is in the correct postcode.  You could be very made up when you arrived at a welcoming family farm or on a huge operation where you meet many fellow backpackers and soon-to-be friends.  I definitely know this does happen.  Unfortunately for me it didn’t this time.  There are many more farms however and much more fruit that needs fellating.  So get to it and make the best out of it and your week long battle with a mouse will be something to tell the grandkids on a Sunday afternoon.