Remy-Leigh: Inside South East Asia

Upon Remys return from Asia, we found out the ups the downs, the whats good and the not so good; so here goes…from Asia with love.

What made you take the leap of faith and book that ticket? 
I had just completed a bachelor’s degree in film production and was making a living freelancing and working in hospitality but I felt like I was living each week on repeat. The numb feeling of routine started to get to me. I felt like I was searching for something but I didn’t know what. I knew I needed to change things up and see something new. The only thing that kept me sane were the dork adventures to far away mountains. But I needed more. I wanted to run somewhere drastically far away from anything I ever knew. So I did. I dropped it all, bought a flight and a Lot pass with a company called Stray Asia, and headed out on my own.
Like a stray dog; I went looking for something that felt like home.18871361_10154012154529364_787125246_n
“Because he takes from me what he takes from you. The merciless thief towards our youth. So while I still can I want to see everything I can. Escape from my comfort zone, looking danger in the eye. I want to measure my self by challenging myself. Understand ones self and push past my limitations. To peek through the cracks. Know what’s on the other side of mountains. To learn language, names and culture. To have fun with the locals, helping where I can along the way. To find what I lost and to stray away from my safe haven. Far far away from anything I ever knew. To draw closer to living not merely existing.
So I did..”

Okay cool, so if you had to pick one, what was the highlight…aside from cross-dressing!
After I travelled off the beaten track through Thailand, Loas, Cambodia and Vietnam. I got my self a cheap motor bike in Hanoi and decided to ride back down to Saigon. The whole trip was not easy. Filled with break downs in the middle of no where late at night, sometimes in the rain. Busses and trucks speeding past with murderous intent. Also I had never used a manual bike before, so learning in Hanoi was liking throwing myself in the deep end, with rocks tied to my arms and legs. But every day I would find myself in a long stretch of quiet road; surrounded by rice paddies and mountains. With the wind on my back and sun upon my face, words of Boniver drowning out the rumble of the bike. I felt like I was truly alive.
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Is there anything you kinda regret, or maybe some advice you would give yourself before the trip?
Laugh louder and cherish my time around the people i was with. I miss them now. I look at photos and wonder if I’ll ever see them again. I hope so. I can’t talk much about my tales from travelling with my friends back home because they weren’t there. No frame of reference. These memories were with complete strangers that grew to become my friends. I might not see them again but I know I’ll remember them for the rest of my life.
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You mentioned Stray Asia; what were the advantages of using a guide? 
It helps get past the wall that westerners stand outside of, peeking through the cracks; wondering, whats on that plate, what are they saying, what does this and that mean, how do I find this and that, and so on. You learn a great deal from them. More than you can from any travel book. But aside from that, they are an absolute laugh!
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That must have really enhanced your experience – so what was the most interesting /eye-opening thing you learned whilst out in Asia? 
While in Vientiane in Laos. I went to this place called the Cope Centre. This is where I learnt everything I now know about the history of Laos. How it’s one of the most bombed countries on the earth, from a war that it was never a part of. There was this part where it had kids drawings and words with it that were translated. One of the drawings really made my stomach flip and heart ache. It made me so angry and ashamed at the same time. A quote from a movie went through my head. “Whats the point in being a civilisation anymore if we are no longer interested in being civil”. Do you know the movie?

The locals in Laos have all the reason to hate us westerners. But all they showed me was their love. So many genuine smiles. I haven’t dared to moan about any first word problems since. I have no right to.
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Caption – Illustration 37: “The school was hit and burned. There were many people in the school who died. But I didn’t know who because I wasn’t brave enough to look. I was afraid that the air-planes would shoot me.”

Woah, okay so you got pretty deep there, lets lighten the mood – lets talk hot-spots…where are we headed?
In Laos I’d say Vang Vieng. I was told stories of this place years before I arrived. I took a note of it on my phone to remember. I had completely forgotten about that note and the story. But when I was in Vang Vieng it somehow felt familiar to me. Little did I know at the time I was taking part in the very same activities that were told to me years ago; tubing, renting a motor bike getting well and truly lost hunting down the lagoons and caves. I couldn’t shake off the familiarity. It was weird. I thought it was just being drunk ans hungover in the heat. Then while I was scrolling through the hundreds of pages of notes on my phone (I have had this phone for 7 years) – the first note was there: “Laos, vangviang go there, tubing story”. I strange feeling rushed over me. It was like I was meant to come to this place. Making those stories my own tales to tell and pass on to another.

In Cambodia Siem Reap was probably my favourte spot. At night its so livley, bars, music and food everywhere. The famous Ankor Wat temple being one of the wonders of the world is obviously mind blowing. But I do recommend going to the circus that it always running there. The price for the ticket goes towards a good cause for the kids and families affected by war and poverty. But also the whole act is full of some of the most talented people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

But It i had to choose it would be Vietnam being my favourite. I didn’t care too much for Thailand, the beaches are nice but just too many tourists for my liking. More of a place that you go on holiday to than travelling around. In my opinion. Choosing my personal favourite hot spot is pretty tough. But when I think of Vietnam, I think of Hue. I spent the longest time there than I did anywhere else during my travels. The Forbidden Kingdom is nice if you are not already ‘templed out’. The abandoned water park is an awesome day out. Its like you are in a little pocket of time. But what made it my favourite place was the locals. I became friends with a few who taught me a lot and showed me an amazing time. I’d go to Brown Eyes bar to play some pool and relax. Just soak it all in, people watching and making small talk. Then a female bartender behind the bar was being playful and friendly. We had a laugh and a chat. She invited me to karaoke with her friends after her shift. Being the yes man I am I thought sure why not. I’m sure they will be just as bad at singing than myself. I went and had an awesome time. But I was wrong. They could definitely give people a run for their money on any western singing competition. It was kinda intimidating. But I was drunk and “I don’t wanna miss a thing” is my shower song. So what ever….
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Awesome, thanks Remy – so for anyone reading this who might be after some tips…what’s your advice? 
Don’t be afraid of what you want. What is fictitious in a novel or film is not so much the story but the method by which characters thought and feelings develop into action, a method which rarely occurs in daily life. People don’t put them selves out in the vulnerable cold enough for what they want. Scared of seeming weird, scared of being shut down, scared of being scared. Don’t hesitate. Right when its most scary to jump, that’s when you should jump. Just grab it with both hands and brace yourself. For this experience will scar your very being. It will show you what matters. If you are reading this. You’re already on the right track.
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You’ve shared tonnes of photos on your socials – you’ve gotta have a favourite? 
Either of the photos with the school kids from a Lao home stay. This place meant a lot to me. It was the first time I saw a village hidden in the leaves (if you got that reference you are awesome). It was made mostly out of sticks. But the kids were playing outside having so much fun. Same, same but different. Now days back home in England I don’t see kids having that much fun anymore. They just don’t. They are indoors playing computer games or looking down at a screen. I often see 13 year olds with better phones than my own. Anyway we went and gave some stuff to the school, pens books that kind of stuff. They were so grateful, was like how western kids are on Christmas day. The children were so happy. One of the things we also got them was a ball. So we played football. After about twenty minutes in that heat I felt 18902935_10154012154644364_65264196_nlike I was going to pass out. They definitely already had a football hiding somewhere because they were annoying good. It was fun and felt weirdly nostalgic. This was a defining moment where my perspective started to shift. For the better.

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Thanks Remy that was awesome, it’s great to have you back in the UK so we can start getting prepped for our next adventure…we’ll have to fill you in on the details – you’ve missed 6 months of planning already! Before we wrap this up, any further comments you have?
People ask me a lot if they should go with a tour or on their own
I say try and do both to be honest. If you are going to choose a tour I say go with Stray Asia. Their tours are flexible. You are not racing around trying to see everything in one day before you have to get back on a buss or boat to go to the next destination. Its Hop on hop off. If you want to stay somewhere longer, you just do. Then catch the next buss or the buss after that. The guides teach you a great deal. More than you could ever learn from a book or western traveller who thinks he is the nuts because he has been travelling for a year. Also you don’t know how much you get ripped off everywhere when travelling alone for the first time. Food, drink, bike rentals even at borders. Stray guides warn you an show you the way as it were. You wont be asked for extra money at borders in Cambodia with Stray. In short, its less stress, more fun and you go off the tourist beaten track to places the solo travellers have never even heard of. If you are interested just lick on their link below.
http://www.straytravel.asia/

Fancy a £500 adventure grant? Sure you do!

If you’re like us, 9 times out of 10 it’s the finances that put a spanner in the works when trying to figure out that next big adventure; and also if you’re like us you then wonder what the hell you did with  all your money in your early 20s (and why did spending £100s every month on tequila shots seem like a valid use of money!!)

The usual ‘adventure blockers’ seem to be finances, time, and skill. Well here’s an opportunity which will wipe one of those blockers of the list…no it’s not a time machine, but what it is, is a pretty awesome £500 Adventure Grant from Intrepid Magazine.

 

 

This is an Adventure Grant with a difference; as Intrepid Magazine editor, and all round adventure junkie, Emily Woodhouse explained –

“…[She] wanted to go on an adventure. Specifically, she wanted to climb unnamed mountains in Kyrgyzstan… 

She didn’t think it was safe to do that on her own, because she wasn’t an experience mountaineer. Trouble was, she also didn’t have enough money going spare to afford to be on a trip with a guide. She looked into grants, but time after time they said that commercial tours weren’t eligible.

Then she remembered a story about a man who couldn’t sell his stately home…

No one would give him the full price for the house – it was too expensive for most people who wanted to live there. Instead, he sold £2 raffle tickets until he raised the value of the house and then picked a winner. Your dream home for £2?! Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Why can’t the same thing happen for adventure grants…?”

Well now thanks to Emily, the same thing can happen for adventure grants; the set up is pretty straight forward, in a nutshell, the total Adventure Grant fund needs to reach £1000 – and it is made up from budding adventurers ‘buying’ a raffle ticket – so £1 = 1 Raffle Ticket (although you can enter as many times as you like to boost your chances!)

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What is an Adventure Anyway?

There’s no selection criteria, no entry forms. It really is as simple as throwing in a quid (or more!) for your chance to win the £500 grant! Of course there are a few PR bits to go along with it, which is no biggie, and the details are in the FAQ section on the CrowdFunder page.

So what the heck are you waiting for?

No seriously why are you still reading this?

Go already!

 

 

Down2Earth & doah_adventures

We’re pleased to announce our first collaboration of 2018; and it’s with UK based clothing start-up down2earth. Their thirst for adventure was an instant pull for us and after some initial chit-chats it was clear that doah_adventures and Down2Earth were two peas in a pod.

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So what’s in store for Down2Earth and doah_adventures? Well as proud ambassadors we will be promoting, using, and abusing some of the products Down2Earth has to offer; and sharing the occasional promotion too! So don’t worry, this isn’t a pre-curser to us becoming a spambot sales page, we’re not into all that. We’re not working on commission, we’re just working on love – because like The Beatles said, all you need is love.

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What we WILL be doing however is helping this adventurous UK brand get out of the starting blocks. In fact, you can too (and get yourself a cheeky treat from as little at £1) by taking a look at their Kickstarter page >

http://kck.st/2CZUViJ

So keep a look out on our social media to see some Down2Earth products in action, and our follow up blog posts! We’re delighted to be working with the guys at D2E; so go check them out, and then get to the check out.

 

 

Sport Relief 2018 Challenge

This year Adam will be taking on a challenge for Sport Relief, and the best part is that he doesn’t even know what the challenge is yet…because YOU have the power to decide his fate!

So here’s the plan:

– we will post out on Twitter our ‘challenge Adam’ tweet.
– you guys RT like crazy, because the number of RT’s will directly correlate with the extent of his challenge.
– on the 16th March Adam’s Challenge will be announced; general ideas at the moment are; 1RT = 10 Burpees, or maybe 1RT = 100m added to a run … it depends heavily on the number of RTs we get! But for sure we will be pushing Adam to the limit, probably beyond his limit because we want to make him suffer…obviously. So if you have any other ideas…drop them in the comments!
– then keep an eye out during Sport Relief Week, for updates, and to witness Adam getting obliterated by your challenge!

Obviously while you’re here head over to the Sport Relief Website to make your donations, or to just find out more about the great work they do.

Let’s get to it…

moves you

In Review: The Primal Pantry – Almond & Cashew Raw Paleo Bar

If you’re like me, you must be a pretty awesome,  you’ll find the ever saturated nutritional snack isle more a source of confusion than convenience. It literally feels like there’s a new brand on the shelf every week, and for me anyway, it’s getting to the point where I’ve begun to just think ‘oh forget it’.

So for that reason, I am taking it upon myself, in the name of ‘the outdoor and adventure’ community, to snack like I have never snacked before and review a product plucked from the nutritional snack isle each week. I will be marking each (out of 7 summits) on taste & texturecost, and bang-for-your-buck (nutrition).

So without further ado – first up I have the Almond & Cashew Raw Paleo Bar – from The Primal Pantry.

 

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TASTE & TEXTURE: 

(6/7) Δ Δ Δ Δ Δ Δ Δ 
Spot on. (that was easy)…but honestly the blend of flavours is great – and due to the ‘basic’ nature of the ingredients there’s really not much else to unpack on this point. I did find the bar a touch on the small side, but larger 45g bars are also available.
Something that often bugs the hell out of me is getting bits stuck in my teeth, especially if I’m on the side of a mountain without a tooth pick, or possibly with a tooth pick, but with huge gloves on! I’m pleased to report a zero, on the ‘stuck in the teeth’ scale, and I gave it a really good chew too.

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COST:

(6/7) Δ Δ Δ Δ Δ Δ Δ 
When The Primal Pantry Founder; Suzie Walker, is quoted on the Primal Pantry website saying “We should stop asking why real food is so expensive and instead question why processed food is so cheap”  you might expect to be digging deep into your pockets. But with an average cost per bar of 62p well…that’s cheaper than a Kit-Kat.
I’m sure the cost will vary, but I managed to get that on offer in a supermarket; even at the normal list price it works out at 75p per bar.

 

 

 

BANG-FOR-YOUR-BUCK:

(4/7)  Δ Δ Δ Δ
Despite tasting superb, and being really relatively cheap, I was found wanting after just a short time, perhaps the larger bar would do the trick, but I can’t help but think I would be a little disappointed after one of these out on the trail. I could easily scoff the whole packet in one, paleofest, sitting.

Typical Values Typical Values per 100g Per Bar
Energy (kJ/kcal) 1909/458 573/138
Fat 27.0g 8.0g
(of which saturates) 3.4g 1.0g
Carbohydrate 39.2g 11.8g
(of which sugars) 35.7g 10.7g
Fibre 4.8g 1.5g
Protein 12.1g 3.6g
Salt 0.02g 0.01g

 

FINAL WORD:

(5/7) Δ Δ Δ Δ Δ 
Certainly a decent enough snack bar, would it make it into my hiking backpack? In honesty no. But I see this more as a straight-swap bar for those impulse snacks (I mentioned a Kit-Kat earlier, and my god am I a sucker for a Kit-Kat) well I’ve found my new go-to bar for those ‘at the counter’ impulse buys.

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Small Steps to Big Results

I’ve recently been looking into incremental training and micro routines as a way to generate big results; and I just wanted to share a few thought on it, and hopefully give you some ideas too for your own training, although it totally can apply to any aspect of life, from saving money, to reading more, to getting in shape, I think there’s a lot of merit in incremental training, or as I’ like to put it simply.
Getting one bit better, at one thing, everyday.

It really got me thinking about how just a few years ago, if you had said that I would be making the summit of Mt. Toubkal in 3 years time, I would have laughed! Especially because at that point I had just been up and down Snowdon and thought it was hard work! So how did I get there? Well, through just small improvements over a long period of time…

Oftentimes when we set a new training regime, we go all in and expect the world from ourselves; especially even with dieting; and obviously not everyone, but usually we might stick at it for what, a month, a week, a day even?
The idea behind this philosophy of training is you set yourself a routine, which is so simple, and so achievable you really cant say no to it. So here’s an example from Peter Schroeder:

“The first habit I started with was reading. I have never been a big reader but decided I wanted to start reading more to learn new things. Initially, I began reading one page a night before bed. Just one page, that’s it!

Anyone can read a single page of a book. No matter what, I would read before bed every single night. What I found was reading the page of the book wasn’t what was important, but rather forming the habit. It’s nearly impossible to make an excuse not to take a minute for reading a page of a book. Thus, the habit begins to form.

Photo Credit — https://unsplash.com/search/read?photo=OMXPrCAhxrE

Sometimes it was a struggle (especially after long days), but remember — it’s only one page. Eventually, I was slowly able to increase the volume in five-minute increments to get to forty-five minutes of reading a night.

Another micro-habit I was able to entrench in my life was meditation. I have always had a cluttered mind and wanted to start doing something to clear my thoughts. After some time, I landed on meditation and breathing exercises as my path to a clear mind.

I decided it would be helpful to do this every morning to clear my mind at the beginning of the day, as well as a perfect way to cap off the day when I’m winding down at night.

To kick off the meditation process, I started by meditating for a minute in the morning and at night. Establishing the process helped me to make meditation part of my routine. Now, I meditate for fifteen minutes in the morning and a half an hour at night.

The micro-habit process has also helped me esablish the routine of going to bed at 10 pm every night (with exceptions), wake up at 6 am every morning (no exceptions), not use any electronics after 8 pm, and begin to learn French.

All of these things have become baked into my daily routine through micro-habits.”

 

So when we’re looking at micro routines its not that we can’t do more, because we can, and probably do. But its that forming the routine in such a way that you can’t avoid it…well that’s a lifestyle change!

The point is, that its very easy to shy away from a commitment like exercise if it’s hugely time consuming; or if its ‘just one of those days’…even on those days as Peter said, even the 1 page of reading can be done!
But here’s some really cool things about this method:

1. You have no idea how efficient you can get! Over time you’re going to be getting so efficient at the task in hand that your results will be exponentially.

2. These micro routines will become daily habits that you soon won’t even think about.

3. You will literally be making a lifestyle change, that will last, and is actually pretty easy to fall into.

A good way to demonstrate how one small thing each day can have such a huge impact, is to look at the reverse of a positive health decision, like smoking for example:

So sure, smoke 5 cigarettes a day for a month, and you’ll probably be in okay shape.
15 a day for a year, you’re getting chesty and short of breath by now.
20 a day for 10 years, well you’re already short of breath, so chances are you’re not exercising, so also likely you’re out of shape. Also the accumulation of all those ‘one small things’ has filled your lungs with tar, chemicals, and countless cell mutations.
20 a day for 40 years? Well you know where we’re going by now, so one health condition predisposes you to the next; and this where we see the results growing exponentially.

So whether its a diet, a work-out, a new language, or to read, or to talk to old friends more, literally anything (even blogging!) it can be achieved with huge results, just taking one small incremental change each and every day.

From Snowdon, to now making plans for our first of the 7 Summits; just one small step at a time…where we will get to? Who know! We’ll let you know though for sure.

 

 

 

If you would like to check out Peter Schroeders full article, and for more on setting effective micro routines click here.