What People Want in Life: Part one

Tough isn’t it? The transition from young adult to ‘grown-up’ so tough in-fact the whole process can take a life-time. But, what do people really want in life? Is there just one thing, or being that everyone is unique, does that mean that life is a spectacular quest to find ‘your own personal greatness’? Are there a select few people who are really happy to do what others find mundane, or are they setting the bar too low? I hope to live a life worth living, but does that mean following in my idols footsteps or can i really be the one to set the rules?

Lets look at some facts of life.

First, there is a battle. Between two parts of you, or more accurately two different ways of thinking, everyone has these two fundamental processes, the conscience mind and the unconscious.

Credit evolution for the former brain functions, conscious thought. Generally known for rationality, consequence and Intelligence. It allows us to see long-term benefits or consequences of our actions, it helps us to weigh up all the different options and make informed decisions. We can consciously choose the path we want to walk before walking it and know (in theory) where it leads.

A perfect example of a life-influnencing conscious decision is choosing a career. We are all hell-bent on defining ourselves by ‘what-we-do’. A firefighter has trained for years to tackle blazes and help those in need. A CEO of a multi-million dollar company has educated herself for an entire lifetime to become honed at producing the right results for whatever company she works in. Somewhere along the line a decision was made to do, rather than fantasize.

Unconscious behaviour is entirely different. The unconscious mind works non-stop, it is influenced by everything. The way your parents behaved in the first year of your life, The bus you ride everyday, the clothes you’re wearing and the town you live in. The Unconscious mind is processing ten time the amount of information then the conscious. It is highly thought of as the emotional, instinctive and passionate side of you. It is largely influencing the urges you get. The way you feel, body language and the way you communicate.

An example of an life-altering unconscious decision we all make is found in the people we surround ourselves with. Someone whose close circle of friends who are intellectual and ‘book smart’ will make different decisions to that of someone who surrounds themselves with people with life-experience and ‘street-smarts’. It is so effective in fact that by changing the people who are around you can change your own perspective of morals, goals and success.

The crossover between these two levels of our minds is seamless. We constantly take in models of behaviour/environment/government/morality and apply them to our daily lives. We spend the first part of our lives constructing webs and maps in our brains that for the rest of our live we try to fit into the world we live in.

This is unbiased between classes, race or religion (or lack of) That is why you can find perfectly happy people who have no money and perfectly happy people owning three yachts. It’s a case of context.

Unfortunately individuals are bias. heavily bias towards what they perceive to be important, the age-old struggle between Impulsive and Cautious. Successful in careers and successful as a family. The ever-changing shift in what society deems a success or failure. Peers and family. Work and play. Happy or unhappy.

Recent studies of ‘the greatest jobs in the world’ come up with a huge variation. Some class greatness as being the luxury island caretaker, some class it as a business playboy. It’s impossible for an individual to simply look at what works for Joe Bloggs and apply it to his own life anymore. The sheer freedom of information now-a-days is too vast for anyone to know that one path is better than the other. It’s not, however a hindrance to the feelings we observe when we find something that tickles our fancy.

Although we can’t always explain why we like rock music to rap or office work to gardening we tend to gravitate to certain things in life more than others. Though it is fair to say that these things can and do change all the time.

I would like to give an example of a man I met recently. He worked as a computer programmer, at twenty-seven years old he fancied a change. Something influenced him in a way that was never there before. He went from computer software engineer to helicopter pilot in two years. He now flies into deep jungle terrain with geologists in search of gold pockets, he told me of the freedom of his job, not being restricted like some pilots to use only instruments but to use intuition and his own knowledge to navigate terrain, safely extract people to remote locations and set camps where they deemed good locations.

In two years he changed the entire course of his life.

In my blog i talk of similar experiences, times that i was able to change the way my life panned out from there-on-out. I am quite infatuated with the idea that if something isn’t quite right in your life, then it can be altered.

I’m not saying that one day I will be a helicopter pilot, but then again, why not?

That ‘why not’ attitude brings me to where i am now. The people who knew me four or five years ago would not have put me as a person who would travel the world – they might have put me as the type of person who would travel England – if the pay was good enough. Then there’s my recent past, i worked with some amazingly influential people at a school near Oxford, but even i wouldn’t have thought one day i would be sat in India contemplating life’s meaning. It’s rewards and its pit-falls…

I find myself, like so many others at a cross-road. I am torn between not knowing what I want and knowing I want something spectacular. torn between the safe route and the unsafe one. The computer engineer and the helicopter pilot. It’s daunting to say the least! To think that a decision I make today can affect the rest of my life. All i have to go on is my own personal brand of thinking. That special blend of both parts of my mind urging me in different directions…

I hope one day to find something I have a passion for.

I hope i will be able to put a conscious effort into achieving it.

I hope the balance of safe and impulse leads me to happiness.

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An 8 month old called Lili

Daily Prompt: Daring Do

Tell us about the time you rescued someone else (person or animal) from a dangerous situation. What happened? How did you prevail?

OK 

Image

Meet Lili.

She’s 8 moths old. Born in India.

She has a dislocated rear left hip. It’s fully out of the socket.

 

her hip is very much out of socket, and it has to stay there!
her hip is very much out of socket, and it has to stay there!

Her owner was an alcoholic. Her owner beat his dogs. Her owner never fed his dogs.

 

 

When i first saw Lili she was tiny, skin and bone is an accurate description.

 

 

She had been kidnapped the week before by Mr Atul from The Goan Animal rescue. Mr Atul is a very good at his job.

 

 

She was brought to us for fostering. Dangerously underweight and severely injured.

 

 

We fed her. gave her a place to sleep, gave her medication. got an x-ray, got vaccinations.

 

Lili’s been with me now for 3 weeks.

 

She is happy. She is good. She has a limp.

 

As i type, It’s 8pm in Goa, India. Lili is sat with me in the front porch.

 

 

Lili has been saved. I will do my best to ensure her life is better from now on.

Three Categories

Daily Prompt: My Precious

Who is the person in your life who can do no wrong? Describe this person and tell us why you hold them in such high esteem.

OK

Who on Earth can do no wrong… Who… I definitely hold people in the highest of esteem for sure, my wonderful girlfriend for one! But to say that someone can do no wrong… Where’s the truth in that? All people fall into three categories.

Your Enemies.

Your Friends.

Your Self.

We judge your enemies by their failures our friends get judged by their actions and we judge ourselves by our intentions.

So, next time you see that girl you hate, think about her intentions in life, maybe that will make us all think about our actions a little more, and failures? let go of pride and learn from failures.

Safe’s not Safe

Daily Prompt: Unexpected

by Cheri Lucas Rowlands on December 11, 2013

Unexpectedly, you lose your job. (Or a loved one. Or something or someone important to you.) What do you do next?

 

OK

Unexpectedly I did lose my job. I had Volunteered in Fiji for 3 months and my visa was up. I Came back to the town i grew up in and applied to work at the same supermarket I’d left months ago. I gradually, for the second time, fell up the ladder of retail industry. Before I knew it I was duty manager again. with all the extra responsibilities and no extra pay.

then on a snowy december in 2010 I worked a 15 hour shift. dragging in the pallets full of stock through the main door because the back entrance was snowed under… it was around midnight when I left.

Arriving the next morning for work i was called in to the office. “we have to let you go” they said – in my rush and fumble last night I’d forgot to twist the lock on the safe door… effectively leaving the safe un-locked all night. nothing went missing. know one knew except another duty manager but rules is rules and I was gone.

Shortly after I fell into the best job I’ve ever had. I worked as a teaching assistant in a special needs  school, using my volunteering experience as leverage I managed to start on January 10th.

I worked here for three years, I met the most important girl in my life here, one who is now traveling the world with me. I met inspirational teachers. hilarious staff and made true friends.

Losing one thing is a chance to gain so much more. just start leaving the safe unlocked.

‘Writing Off the Page’ – How to use writing as a means to travel the world.

Travellers, those hippy-types, who faf around asia all year in search of ‘themselves’

Writers, those self-centered-types, who faf around the house all day in search of ‘an idea’

Travel writers, searching for an idea whilst (sometimes) finding themselves.

Three mis-conceptions I had before leaving England, picking up a pencil and boarding a one-way flight half way across the globe. I’ve found out a few things along the way, things i’d like to share. If you love to write or you love to travel hopefully I can convince you that the two can be the most wonderful combination. Here goes.

Money? that’s fiction, right?

Travel writing will never earn you enough money to live on, I had better get that in early, at best you might be able to buy a new biro once in a while! This is exceptionally true for those budding young writers out there, taking a gap year from ‘creative writing 101’ in search of a million dollar story.

If your ‘destination’ is to become ‘rich beyond your wildest dreams’ than you needn’t travel the world. In fact, you needn’t travel further than your local retail park. But what if you’re not ‘in it for the money’?

Well, that’s a start! If you’re passion is for the words and not for the cash than you’re ahead of the game.

I read a speech once made by Alan Watts. He talked about if you truly love something, eventually, you can become a master of it. And when you become a master of something you’ll be able to charge a good fee for whatever it is you do. Sounds great to me.

The secret of writing.

There are so many writers to read. So many ideas to immerse yourself into. So many hours of procrastination to be had before becoming a masterful writer. Those really want to write will always do so. But the really good writers have something in abundance which the average joe-bloggs-would-be-novelist lacks. Inspiration.

That’s it. Secrets out. So simple too! just go out and be inspired, write a best seller, and retire in the Maldives before they sink. If only that were true.

Well actually there is a source of inspiration in the world, it comes from a Vietnamese hostel at 3am. It comes from waking up hung over on a boat and having no idea where it’s headed. It comes from an Indian yogi’s 7ft of unwashed hair. It comes from going out into the big wide world and experiencing new things.

But most importantly, Inspiration comes after you learn how to say ‘yes’.

“yes, I will try juggling those! so what if they’re on fire?!”

“yes, I will go with you to find your brother. where is he again? the arctic?”

“Yes! Free-diving looks like fun. bet I can hold my breath longer!”

What’s in it for me?

As if 14 hour bus rides and dysentery wern’t enough!

You’ll find that horrible things like writers-block cease to exist, it is replaced by an overwhelming urge to share your experience with the world (whether you write it in a simple blog or shout it from the beaches of Koh Tao). Life becomes a real adventure, the never-ending search for the next great thing… to be able to tell the world ‘i found this’. Here’s what I found…

  • Opportunities are found only when we go out and search for them.
  • New experiences fuel writers (and travellers).
  • The best stories come from great adventures.

So use writing ‘for a living’ your excuse to travel the world. Use writing ‘for a living’ as an excuse to say “yes”.

Vietnam’s Tourism Industry – Should it be left to the kids?

Here is an article I wrote for a website. here’s a sneak peek…



The full un-diluted version of Vietnam blog is on its way too!






Vietnam.

 

 

“Start in Hanoi, then work your way to Saigon. You’ll see a difference in the south” – A simple piece of advice given to me before becoming a tourist of this country. 

 

 

Hanoi Airport – August 2013 – My first time in Vietnam. Like most travellers my first priority was getting to the hotel. ‘This taxi drivers great!’ I thought – we’d been exchanging stories, it was a 40 minutes ride into town – so a little conversation goes a long way! Then conversation turned sour…

 

 

“Pay – You pay!” Insisting the toll booth we went through cost over ten times more than it did. He became visibly angry – raised his voice. The English he’d been chatting to me with had all been ‘forgotten’ and he became more animated in his demand.  

 

 

Now, I’m aware he must see hundreds of tourists a week – and, sadly, I have no doubt he thought by shouting i’d give in and pay. What took me by surprise was – this tact became a frequent occurrence – when dealing with anyone in trade.

 

 

 

 

Employee’s of the tourism industry seem to have been given this handbook on dealing with us tourists.

 

  • When ‘pointing’ and ‘one-syllable-directions’ fail – try raising your voice.

 

  • If the offender still isn’t doing what you expect – become more aggressive with your gestures. 

 

  • Be as defensive as possible when challenged on any of your demands and Remember – when in doubt, just refuse to speak English.

 

 

 

 

In total, I rode five 12 hour ‘sleeper’ buses, and what I noticed was rather shocking. No matter when you got on, or where, it was a case of western people are at the back – natives are at the front. When sitting in a seat deemed ‘wrong’ (i.e too far forward) a staff member would repeat the steps from the guidebook I mentioned above. 



 



Once and only once did i attempt a Rosa-Parks-esque stand-off. Refusing to move to the back of the bus. He became furious and told me to get off.

 

 

 

 

I’m sure there are many reasons why in these particular cases – its just-so-happened – to be this way. But surely better people-skills are required. Surely better training could be given. Surely no-one deserves a verbal onslaught from an angry bus driver.

 

Funny, i thought, that in every other aspect Vietnam had proven to be exceptional. Hotel workers were some of the best i’d encountered. Street sellers were polite and easy-going. Restaurant staff were as good as the food (which in Vietnam is very good indeed!).

 

 

 

 

Why then had the travel trade been left so far behind? Are us tourists really that bad? I needed to know, and strangely an answer came to me from an unlikely source.

 

 

Saigon’s Parks are a breath of fresh air. You can see people learning to dance, outdoor martial artists giving lessons, dozens of children skating and students. Students of english – this generation of academics gave me hope for Vietnam’s tourism industry. What seems like the whole school – are out in the parks simply going up and talking to people. they are practising english.

 

My most enjoyable night was spent talking in the park. We talked about everything. We debated politics. We chatted about english traditions. We discussed patriotism. When I asked them how long they’d been doing this one lad they said that every night for over a year he’d been coming to talk to foreigners. when I asked why he did it he said… 

 

 

 

“If i learn English it means I can get a better job, I can go to university or even get a scholarship somewhere. I practise everyday because I want to get better, because I learn new things and because i make new friends everyday.”

 

 

The advice i got about ‘people changing’ as i travel through Vietnam – was true. I saw an attitude change. I saw a generation change but mostly I saw a thirst for knowledge – and a spark of passion in young people that I fail to see back in England. So if you ask me ‘what do you think of tourism in Vietnam?’ I’d say go, dive in and get to know the people behind the job description.

 

 

 

But be wary of Airport taxis!

 

Cambodia’s Lies – through the eyes of a skeptic

Cambodia’s Lies




Shocking isn’t it. Before you ever set foot in Cambodia – You have been lied to. True maybe for the whole world now-a-days. But this country is like a novel. One which the author got 300 hours in – realised the HUGE plot holes – and gave up.




 

I will ease you in. Start where I started. England (notably not Cambodia) where I planned a trip around Asia…



 

Thailand – Cliché traveler destination. Might as well have a big ‘Start here’ printed on it.

Loas – Often mis-pronounced. It’s between me and Vietnam.


Vietnam – There was a war here once. Lets see what the fuss is about.


Cambodia – Cheap. Buy things here before India.



 

 

That was (more or less) my itinerary. Based on both research and references. Somehow all failing to mention the corruption, the lies and the propaganda. I hope to amend this. Read this article and be fair warned!




 

The first lie. Go to Cambodia, it’s cheap. No, it’s not.

 

 

Don’t get me wrong – compare house prices, a weekly shop or a moped to those in the UK – Asia wins hands down. But of the four countries I mentioned – Cambodia was the most expensive.

 

Street food was double that in Thailand. The hotels matched prices of Saigon. Even the kids-with-a-million-sunglasses were extortionate. Why then was this – noticeably – one of the poorest countries I have seen?

 

Who is all the money going to? – We’ll come to that.

 

 

 

 

 

The Second Lie. Go to Cambodia, the people are amazing.

 

Amazing is a strong adjective to use. You get the idea though. I was led to believe the citizens of Cambodia were what make this country great. 

 

Tourism is the countries biggest income. This is reflected in people. 

 

 

I imagined what the kids think. All they’ve seen is – western people must have a money tree! – I have little money… – these people need to give me their money!  

 

Its  tough, some 80% of all Cambodians are under 30. It’s hard to find an ‘old’ cambodian at all. Which suggests a free-rule for teenagers becoming impolite, deceitful and otherwise disengaged from visitors of Cambodia.

 

 

Of course this doesn’t ring true for everyone. But when you visit you will see for yourself, and why wouldn’t they be like that?! Poverty meets tourism – that’s not a good film idea. There was actually a poster in a tourist guide that read 

 

“Children aren’t the attraction. Think before visiting an orphanage”

 

 

This says it all about us tourists. The mentality of ‘wow, look – the third world. let’s go see the children quick’ – Actually that’s not too far off the truth. when you see a 60+ western man with a young Cambodian girl on his arm. Gold around her neck and a distinct look of depression in her eye.   

 

A far cry from the youngsters of Vietnam – thrilled to talk to a native Englishman to improve their second language. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third lie. The worst lie. Cambodia’s history.

 

This one got to me. The representation of horrific events. I chose my words carefully.

 

Two out of the three highest grossing tourist attractions in the country are – ‘S-21 prison’ and ‘the killing fields’. In short – a brutal prison where genocidal khmer rouge tortured innocent people – and the fields they were taken to be executed.

 

 

I found ‘the killing fields’ an ‘interesting’ place. It certainly does have a lot of human remains on display. you can pay to buy a flower, walk 5ft and place it down at the steps. (after you’ve paid to get there, get in and get the audio tour)

 

I found things here didn’t quite add up though. Little things. Little inconsistencies here and there. Facts and figures changing. The awful propaganda film they play three times a day. The Kids selling bracelets.

 

 

 

More so I have to say about S-21 prison.

 

Once a school. Turned into a prison. Now a museum – asserting that most of what you see is exactly how it was found in 1979.



 

Here’s a list of discrepancies I found at s-21 –  



 

1. Block A is the first building you enter. Photos of the rooms ‘as they were found’ show the last 7 bodies in the prison tortured to death. The bodies now buried just outside the door in large memorials. 

 

Each of the photos are on display – in the room they were taken in. Set aside the awful quality of the photos and Windows appear to have moved. Something wasn’t right.

 

 

 

 

2. Gallows stand tall in the Courtyard. A plaque states prisoners were hung by their wrists. Dunked in a vat of feces, then interrogated immediately.

 

S-21 is stated to be the most secret of the Khmer rouge’s prisons. Public gallows and feces dunking. In the capital city. Not the most effective way to keep your secret prison secret.

 

 

 

 

3. Block B is now a memorial to the prisoners. Thousands of photos. Each one a prisoner of S-21. All murdered. All cataloged with names and numbers. – well this building puzzles me. 

 

The story goes (stated on the walls of block B) that the detainees arrived in a truck. Were measured. Then Photographed. Then Beat. Women were raped. Then Put in mass detention rooms. Later moved to individual cells. Tortured. Taken to the killing field. Killed. (Not necessarily in that order). 

 

Why then do the photographs show smiles on the faces of these inmates? who is happy to be led – handcuffed – into a prison complex – riddled in barbed wire – with gallows and huge buckets of poo – hearing screams of torture – seeing those in front of you beat and the women dragged off for rape. 

 

Smiling yet?

 

Some of the photos are poor quality, most are clear(all better than the ones taken after the prison was discovered – abandoned) 

 

For the displays some were blown up to around 8 times bigger then the original ‘little’ photos. Then, oddly, had been edited to look older. Tea stained and ripped. Yet the thousands of ‘little’ photos were fine? that’s strange.

 

 

 

 

4. Block B also housed the Torture equipment. Complete with Illustrations of how it was used. What confused me here was a water torture device. A large wooden box – similar to a coffin – only three times as wide. It would be filled with water and the poor man inside would be handcuffed to the metal bar inside. Forcibly ‘half-drowned’. 

 

10 years of use. 30 years later. Zero water damage. A wooden box, with iron shackles – constantly filled with water. 40 years on and it was as if never used.

 

 

 

5. The building that looked most visually interesting. Block C. Wrapped head-to-toe in barbed wire. Not just any barbed wire though – Barbed wire that was clearly not 40 years old.

 

Inside – shoddily constructed cells. Uneven and leaning over. maybe 200 3ft x 6ft cells.

 

 

The bricks were exactly the same as you see everywhere in Cambodia. The concrete between the bricks – looked as new – as the concrete holding up the metal supports (Put in place by the museum to stop the cells falling like dominos).

 

 

 

 

6. Maybe this one goes down as the straw that broke my ‘skeptical’ back.

 

The Khmer rouge abandoned this facility. They were loosing a war and left S-21 behind them. Why then did they choose to leave… 

 

-Photographs and measurements of every murdered person.

-Photographs of Dead and tortured inmates.

-The names of every Khmer rouge that worked there.

-Documents, detailing interrogations (and torture) of every single inmate – Thousands of files – Signed by the wardens.  

 

All of that evidence was just ‘left behind’. The Khmer rouge were, no-doubt a brutal force, but Stupid – they were not. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am therefore – of the opinion – that S-21 prison was indeed a prison at one point. However was probably not housing a grand total of 12,000 – 15,000 innocent inmates over its years (depending on which book you read)

 

 

I believe it is more likely that the whole thing was politically fabricated. Made up to serve a different purpose. Used as a propaganda tool.

 

 

Strangely, I later found out, this is also to belief of the oppositions leader in Cambodia. However the last time he publicly said his opinion he was heavily and publicly berated.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final lie of Cambodia. One which isn’t at all well hidden. The Government.



The corruption of a prime-minister (former Khmer rouge to-boot) and the trickling down ooze of corruption throughout every government-owned entity. 

 

Hell – even the Cambodian anti-corruption agency is owned and run by the political party. Which makes me wonder what exactly they do all day in that office?

 

 

It is well know throughout the world as one of the most underhanded, unethical and unscrupulous regimes.

 

 

 

…But hey, Cambodia has got no natural resources the ‘worlds police-of america’ need to steal. There not threatening any one except their own population. There resisting, but following (in a shade of grey and 7 years late) the UN’s demands for equality. 




So lets let them be for now and all focus on Syria.