S-21

Vacancy in a place once filled with thousands of people. The rooms a are bare and yet they hold so much. From photographs of prisoners; to empty torture chambers, this compound tells the story of its weighted past. Empty cells fill the rooms, leaving space for only imagination as to just what exactly it was like.

4 buildings, 1 winner: Death.
Otherwise known as Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Cambodia’s most famous prison during the brutal Khmer Rouge regime.

The biggest enemy of humanity is ourselves.

My Travel Goals

Today is the day. I’ve been planning and un-planning this trip for over a year now. My journey to Cambodia and Vietnam. I can’t believe it’s finally here. In just a few hours time I will be boarding my plane ready to jet off for 6 weeks.

With that in mind here is a list of my goals for this trip.

To challenge myself.

I want to push myself in situations to be more open and talk to new people without feeling nervous or awkward.

To make every day count.

I want to utilise my hours wisely and enjoy the whole day by doing great things.

To gain more self-confidence.

I think this will coincide with my first goal. I know I’ll come out of this experience and more well-rounded person.

To be in the moment.

I really don’t want to take anything for granted on this adventure. Who knows when I will return next.

To be experimental.

Especially when it comes down to food. I’m ditching the western food and sampling all the local cuisine I can get my hands on. Yes, even the bugs.

To be ok with things not going exactly to plan.

This is really important. I want to be flexible and do the things I want to do in that moment and that’s  why I’ve tried to plan as little as possible – it’s all a part of the adventure.

To have fun.

There will be no tears on my behalf, I deserve this trip and I’ve worked hard to get myself here.

To learn.

I want to learn as much about the countries’ history and culture as I can. I want o find myself and learn about myself on the road, on my own. I want to learn about humanity and I’m hoping I’m greeted with a lot of compassion in my destinations.

To make time.

Time for reflection, for blogging and diary writing and for taking it all in. And keeping in touch with family and friends when possible.

To get lost.

I get lost EVERYWHERE. But I want to enjoy getting lost in this new world.

To do good.

I want to give back to the community as much as I can and that is why I’m volunteering and taking part in sustainable travelling whilst I’m exploring.

To be grateful and happy.

This is their countries and I’m honoured to be visiting. I’m really good at letting he bad things not bother me so I’m hoping when things go wrong on the road, because lets face it something bad is bound to happen at least once, I will take this attribute with me in my proceedings.

To have Vietnamese coffee in every place I visit.

Last but by no means least is coffee. I’ve  heard Vietnam produce some delicious coffee and I’m making it a vow to try each place I visit version of the caffeinated brew.

 

And finally, check out my packing list for my travels.

What I'm packing for South East Asia

Travelling light is something I struggle with. I always end up packing way too much in fear of not having enough outfit choices or enough clothes for different activities.

I over pack to put my mind at ease.

But this time round I’m challenging myself to pack as little as possible. In 2 more sleeps I will embark on a 6 week adventure to Cambodia and Vietnam. I’ve ditched the suitcase and opted for a backpack channeling my ultimate traveller vibes.

So here’s my list of things I’m taking. I’ll let you know what I did and didn’t need to bring along with me on my return home.

 

CLOTHES

2 dress shirts for evening outings (1 white, 1 patterned.)

1 pair of jeans

1 white trousers

5 pair of shorts

7 pairs of swimwear – I like to keep my options open

14 t-shirts and vests

2 long-sleeve t-shirt

1 pair of flip-flops

2 pair of trainers

10 pairs of socks

14 pairs of underwear

1 towel

TOILETRIES

1 toothbrush

1 tube of toothpaste

1 razor

Moisturiser

1 small bottle of shampoo + conditioner

1 small bottle of shower gel

Comb

Deodorant

Lip balm

Sun cream and aftersun

Wipes

SMALL MEDICAL KIT

Plasters

Anti-histamines

Antibacterial cream

Hand sanitiser

Anti dhiarheals

Bite relief and repellant

GEAR

iPad Pro

iPhone

Wireless Keyboard

Universal power adapter

Diary and pen

Disposable camera

MISCELLANEOUS

A key or combination lock (everyone should have one!)

Reusable water pouch

Neck pillow

Earplugs and eyemask

Travel wash

 

Here’s my rucksack an my day bag.

Karrimor Bobcat 65 Rucksack and Karrimor Urban 30 Day Bag. 

Time at a standstill

Time.

A convention brought about to track the progress of our lives. Are we doing too much or are we not doing enough? Time is always there but we sometimes find ourselves losing track of time and asking where did it all go? And why so fast?

I’m prone to asking these questions and since returning home for the summer break I find myself asking the reverse. I’m now showered with an abundance of time. Maybe it’s because I’m allowing myself to have more time to do the things that I actually want to do.

Summer for me has always been long and somewhat unproductive, I find myself only ever searching for that break I deserve. I longed for my summers to be like how they used to be. Spent with friends and family everyday having fun, going on adventures and losing myself in the world that I’m glad to call mine. But somewhere in the middle of that I grew up and lost my way. I was more focussed on earning the money. I lost touch with friends and I was forever feeling guilty for not making them a priority. Or myself for that matter.

So this summer I set myself a challenge: To do the things that make me the happiest.

I said goodbye to the constant work ethic I enroll into whenever I come home because “I need the money”.

I’ve compromised, settling for only 3 shifts a week instead of the many more I usually do. I requested my weekends off and so far they’ve been accepted. I took time off to help myself out.

It’s long needed.

I wanted my days to be free so that I could see the people I’ve missed whilst away and get to do the things I set my heart on doing. Like Snowdon for example, after getting a bad case of envy after seeing my brothers instagram post of him hiking Mount Snowdon, I made a special request to embark on the expedition for myself.

And guess what. I did it.

This is because I made it a priority. I planned and I accomplished. It was just another reminder that if you start listening to your thoughts and acknowledge what you truly want you get your life sorted and you change yourself for the better.

My life in london is constantly on ‘play.’ I find it quite hard to escape the world I live in and I find sanctuary in my writing and alone time. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely adore my life there but there are some days where I just wish everything could be paused for a few seconds for me to take my breather and then carry on. I do love the fast nature of the city and my degree and it definitely keeps me on my feet but every once in a while I think everybody needs a break.

Going from a sky rocketing lifestyle to a more relaxed system has definitely took some time to get used to.

8 days in and it’s only just settling into my body. In the first few days everything seemed warped. Time had slowed down.

Time was at a standstill.

I was greeted with hours of emptiness and plentiful opportunities. It felt different. Not what I was used to at all. Work helped relieve the hollowness of my schedule but it just felt abnormal to me.

But I liked this abnormal approach.

I’ve spent my days catching up with friends and family. I’ve done things I wanted to do and I’ve planned my days in accordance to my goals and objectives. I think it’s because I know in less than a weeks time I’ll be setting off on my adventures in South East Asia .

My time is limited and I intend on spending it wisely. Not wasting it worrying about finances and doing absolutely nothing. I want this summer to last and I want it to be great.

I have a feeling it will be.

13 things you probably didn’t know about me

We all have our secrets and superstitions in life and I’ve decided to confess a few of mine. Our quirks are what make us unique, you can tell an awful lot about a person just by becoming aware of a few things they do each day. With my readership ever-expanding I figured I needed to let you guys know a little bit more about me.

Here’s a list of my top 13 things that you may or may not know about me.

1. I’m a twin

Jason (far left)

I have a twin brother called Jason. I’m older than him by 36 minutes and I dont ever let him forget that. We have always been close growing up; we played football together, swam together and boxed together (I was actually quite good) and we have had our fair share of  fights in the past. What he succeeds in strength I make up for in my winning streak of arguments.

He once threw a tennis ball at me and damaged my cornea. Both him and my sister Courtney chased me head first into a wall and I had to get my head glued open for the second time. The first time jason put a nectarine pip in front of my bike tyre and I went head first into a lamppost. He also threw me in mud back in year 9 on our walk to school and he gave me a bruised neck.

Apparently I drunkenly started a brawl with him. I’m not entirely sure what exactly happened.

It’s all fun and games really and it was all part of my growing up. I love him and I wouldn’t ever change him for the world even if he is an arrogant bastard sometimes. We both seem to have mellowed over the years but that doesn’t stop me from winding him up at every given chance. I’m the annoying twin but my annoyance is infectious – the household wouldn’t be the same without me. I know it and they know it. Jason likes to think he’s the smart one and whilst grades may prove that (except your college grades, just saying) I would have to disagree.

He mocks my subjects saying “they’re not proper subjects” unlike his Physics orientated degree of some kind or another. But I like to think my intelligence branches out in many forms. They’re not all in one basket so to speak and thats the way I like it. I’m constantly growing and expanding my path/s in life. As is he, he’s done so well for himself and I never ever tell him this but I’m very proud of the man he has become and is continuing to be.

2. I was bitten by a dog, TWICE.

Meet Holly, my beautiful 13 year old dog (staff crossed with a border collie)

Yes thats right. Twice.

I’ve been a survivor since the moment I was conceived. In the womb I was dying, Jason was eating all of the food and he squished me against the womb lining. He’s always been a bit of a bully, jokes. But I stayed strong and I stood my ground, coming out weighing 1 pound heavier than him at 5.13lbs.

There is a fire within me thats not about to blow out anytime soon.

So my first incident with the canine creatures was when I was 4 years old (I think). My nan and grandad had recently bought a dog and left my family to mind it whilst they went on holiday. My mum had just finished bathing me and told me to go and get dried in the bedroom. But I had something else on my mind. My Homer Simpson toy. It was in the room where the dog was sleeping. Being the mischievous boy that I was, I crept into the other bedroom and went under the bed to find my toy. Bingo, I had found it. Making my way out from under the cave I accidentally nudged the dog in its sleep. It woke up and latched onto my face. There was blood everywhere. I screamed at the top of my lungs. Escaping its lair I ran down the hall way.

Next thing I know I was waking up in a hospital bed after just undergoing emergency surgery. My whole face was open and I now have scars that tell my story. They’re my battle wounds so to speak. I was to face many more over the duration of my life. The next time happened whilst I  was on my paper round. I was just minding my business and I approached a house that had a little Jack Russel occupying its garden. This dog was always yapping. But the dog went inside the house and I thought this is your time to go and deliver it safely. I pushed it through the letterbox and was on my way back to the gate. The dog came running after me and bit me behind my knee. The owner came out and apologised profusely but I told her not to worry, I just wanted to get the hell out of that garden.

After these attacks my love for dogs still hasn’t changed. My dog, Holly (border collie and staff crossbreed), is the most protective dog ever. Sometimes too protective. She loves people but she’s just not a big fan of other dogs, probably due to herself being attacked by a Rottweiler when she was younger. But nonetheless less she is a beautiful soul and I love her unconditionally. She’s 13 years old and still acts like a big puppy.

3. I’m actually shy deep down 

I’m a secret introvert and I’m not afraid to admit it. As outgoing as I am there’s nothing I love more than being by myself. In my own company. I can sit there for hours just entertaining myself and finding myself hilarious – pathetic I know. I like my inner social circles quite small but my outer circles expansive. I am a social butterfly, I will talk to anyone in that sense as long as I kind of know you before hand. I get awkward almost all the time and the more I tell myself you’re being awkward the worse it gets. I start stumbling on my words and just making one big embarrassment of myself. But its all part of my character and it makes me laugh so I just roll with it. You’d think being in the industry that I am I’d have heaps of confidence – WRONG. I get nervous asking for little things like food in a restaurant or finding out information from people in stores. Sometimes just walking down the street, I use my water bottle as a distraction to get me through it. Maybe it’s a defence thing; I don’t really know. I like to be in my room at my desk writing away, or singing some songs and reading a book or an article online. That’s just the way I am. That is until vodka is involved and then I’m all up for the party.

 

4. I light incense before I go to sleep


This has been a habit of mine more so in the past few years. It’s more like a ritual now for me, it helps me sleep. It sets the mood for peacefulness and I love the smell of it. It makes me calm and channel zen vibes. It’s the time when I can say to myself, right now its. Time to unwind, slow down, take a break and allow yourself to relax.

5. My favourite colour is yellow.

Yellow to me emulates happiness. It’s bright, its airy and its cheery. It gives me so much warmth and joy. Whilst i must admit it is not my favourite colour to wear it is my favourite colour to see. It’s radiating and glows all around. It’s just one of them colours that captivates you and makes you smile whenever you see it.

6. I check my horoscope and angel cards very often.

I’ve been following my horoscope for years, I’ve got it set up on my twitter so that I can check my horoscope daily. I follow way too many astrology accounts and I can easily spend hours going through their posts. Many people say its just a load of bullshit but they interest me so much. But you do have to take it wth a pinch of salt.

 It gives me insight and I can relate myself a lot to my findings. I’m a Virgo and I feel like I resemble everything that a Virgo is in every sense.

Angel cards are relatively new to me and they were introduced to me since moving to uni in September. That’s all down to my dear friend and future flat mate Nikki. She’s a spiritual goddess and she brought these wonderful cards to my attention whenever I needed guidance and comfort throughout the year. It sounds bizarre but without fail in every single reading all my questions have been answered or they have played themselves out in the future. They have really helped me out over the past yea giving me both clarity and enlightenment in terms of where I’m a right now and what I want to achieve.

7. I leave myself notes around the house.

This is just a cute thing I do for myself. I leave myself reminders to take care of myself, emotionally, mentally and physically. They’re on my mirrors my walls and my noticeboard. They’re just little reminders that can quickly get me out of a bad spell or remind myself thatI  need to prioritise myself. It may sound selfish or self-indulgent but Idont care, it helps me keep my head straight and I think we should all love ourselves a little bit more. You’ve got to find love within yourself before you can find it in others. Once you find it in yourself you will be at your happiest. My big thing is stay happy and stay YOU.

8. I won the standing long jump for my year.

Who knew I was an athlete right? Well not quite but in the summer of year 10 I competed against all the houses in my year for the standing long jump. I cant remember my exact measurements but I ended up coming first place for red house. Which was an upgrade from the last years Bismarck performance in the 800m coming last. My long distance running has drastically improved now I must say.

9. My favourite book is To Kill A Mockingbird

I first picked up this novel in my GCSE years in English. No matter how much analysing we did for our exam I still adored this book. I loved its story, I’m always quite passionate about these kind of tales. I like books that take me to a new world that I can learn so much from. It’s through literature that we learn and Harper Lee captured this so perfectly. She taught me a lot about life and about growing up. She opened my eyes to what is right and what is wrong through her tale that was relevant and is still very relevant today!


10. I’ve been struggling with weight gain throughout my life.

My main thing is this “learn to love the skin you’re in.”

It’s been a struggle. I think the only time I ever had a bit of meat on me was when I was a toddler. Since then Ive morphed somewhat into a skeleton. I’ve been around the same weight since I was 13/14 years old.

9 stone.

I just can never seem to put on any weight. It’s not that I dont eat, because my appetite is huge. I’m a big snacker though and I dont always eat the right types of food. Shoot me. My life is honestly what you could describe as hectic. From 7am I dont stop. I’m up and out ready to start my day at Uni. This includes several dance lessons, physical acting lessons and singing lessons. Ive built my metabolism up and so no matter what I eat its out of my system before my next meal.

Okay, so a bit of an exaggeration but you get the picture. At uni I started taking protein as an extra way to get the nutrients I needed because there were days where it would be hours until my next meal. Protein acted as a quick fix for that before I had my next meal to fill in the gap. I felt a lot stronger within myself as well.

Hopefully in the future I see a rise in my weight gain. Whilst I know for my skeletal figure I am toned it just doesnt suit my ideal image right now.

11. I hardly ever get enough sleep.

Even if I go to bed at 8pm I find myself laying there until 2am every night without fail before my mind even considers falling to sleep.  Guess you could say I’ve gotten into a routine.

 A BAD one.

However I do have my own little routine that I enjoy doing before I fall asleep. They are my night rituals. My night rituals include lighting incense (my favourite is lavender), reading a book, my sleepy tea and soothing sounds promoting self-love and letting go of fear playlists on YouTube. Usually I’ll play a sleep hypnosis/meditation session as well to help aid my slumber.

This all comes after I’ve done about a thousand things before bed. I’m a night owl so my mind is constantly on play. I do try and take moments throughout the day for it to be on pause though otherwise I find myself becoming absolutely exhausted.

I’m a Virgo, organisation is my goal, I can’t settle until EVERYTHING is sorted out.


12. I saw Dolly Parton live in concert.

8th June 2014. What a night! I took my Nan and Mother to see Dolly Parton on her Blue Smoke World Tour in Liverpool Echo Arena. We all adore her music and it was such a great night. At 71 years old shes definitely still got it. When I saw her I couldn’t believe how tiny she was but her voice still captivated the arena. She put on such a good show, playing a variety of different instruments as well. She sang all her hits as well as her new music. The whole arena was smiling. I’ve grown up with her music all my life and it was great to finally see her live. As a trio we also got to see Whitney Houston live before her passing.

 

13. I stick by the 2 grid, 3 grid rule.


This is my weird habit. Although I dont think its weird at all. Basically whenever Imwalking and there’s 3 grids on the pavement I have to manoeuvre myself around the grids so I dont stand on them for fear of bad luck. If ever I do unfortunately step on 3 grids I find myself searchingendlesslessly for the next 2 grids. For 2 grids bring you good luck. I swear by it. I get so annoyed at myself for stepping on 3 grids and its the same for walking underneath signs. It causes me so much grief. This quirk affects me daily but it helps make my morning walks a bit more enjoyable and stepping on 2 grids a day uplifts my mood dramatically.

Snowdon

Sunday 2nd July – Mount Snowdon completed.

What a perfect Sunday it was. The sun glistened and the views were incredible. We set off at around 9.15am from Chester and arrived at 10:45am. I was thrilled and excited for the day ahead. I had no hangover from the wine the night before and I was ready to get my hike on.

Snowdon has a great mix of steepness and comfort on its path. We chose the popular Llanberis path for our route as it was my first time hiking the mountain. It was so peaceful being in the heart of nature. There was a slight breeze that made the journey very comfortable and you could hear the sound of sheep baa’ing throughout the course.

There was a cute halfway house where we stopped off for slush puppies because of the heat but on we went with the accompaniment of haribo’s and toffee crisps for that extra bit of rush. I went through stages of slow paces to sudden rushes of energy and that came at one of the steepest bits of the trek. I said to myself you can do this and my body responded in the best way possible. The hike didn’t seem as daunting as I first preempted.

I think I’ve always been attracted to a sense of adventure and it’s always been in my life in small forms but as I grow older I’m finding myself being more and more adventurous and it’s something I want to keep up. Mind, my orienteering skills are still as crap as ever but I don’t exactly mind getting lost along the way. It wouldn’t be the same otherwise.

Of course no trip could be complete without me posing for pictures along the way.

THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF MUSIC 🎶
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3,2,1 SMILE 😁

On top of the world 🌍
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SNOWDONIA 2017, it’s been great!



Just like anything in life, if you set your mind to it you can do it. You’ll achieve those goals that once seemed so impossible just to even start. If you stick at it and you put your energy into it you’ll see the results and climbing this mountain was a much needed reminder to love the life I’m living and that absolutely anything is possible.