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/

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Teamwork: How to not be that guy.

img_20161101_223220Spending prolonged amounts of time with a small group of people can have its challenges – especially when the pretext is that you’re all good friends. Unlike in the workplace, where you’re free to dislike one, two, or all of your colleagues. There’s a lot at stake here – not only years of friendship potentially undone within a weekend of camping; but it’s in your interest to maintain that friendship – it could be the difference between launching a rescue attempt to save your sorry ass – or them enjoying some extra tent space and the additional food supplies!

remySo here’s some tips to not only keep your friends – but ensure you’re not abandoned hill-side by your team.

1. Don’t be annoying for the sake of being funny – okay so obviously there’s just some moments during a 12 hour drive, or 3 hour flight where someones going to be fast asleep with mouth wide open; these moments should be enjoyed by all [click here for evidence] but just know when a jokes a joke, and when you’re being an absolute…twit?

2. Just be cool – I mean being cool is in direct opposition to being a Dork, so I guess we would struggle with this one; but essentially just keeping an eye out for everyone; well, in our case Remy – as you can see (left), when he’s not asleep he can look sad. Maybe he is sad. We didn’t think to ask. Poor Remy.

Image result for hangry

3. Know yourself – If you know you’re prone to getting hangry (in our case this is Mike), keep yourself fed! Otherwise you’re not only going be spending alot of time feeling grouchy, but also your team will think you’re being an idiot. So really this is just being aware of what annoys you, and basically making sure you’re not putting yourself into situations where you’re going to turn irrational and irritable – applicable to smokers, coffee addicts, and the sleep-needy.

4. Know your mates – so we’ve learned through experience, that Dave really hates The Adam and Joe Show podcasts. We learned this by exposing him to them for around 7 straight hours on the way home from a weekend hiking in Scotland. We don’t listen to Adam and Joe Show podcasts now…because we’re nice like that, sorry Adam and Joe.

5. Space. We all need some Space – this is true, we all need some space, but y’know what – you’re not gonna get any, especially in a small hatchback stuffed with 4 guys, hiking gear and camping equipment! So what needs to happen here is for you to let-go of your personal space needs – reduce your personal boundaries and just deal with it. The important thing to remember is that it’s not the other persons fault that they’re in your space. So don’t get moody with them!

There’s loads more I’m sure; take our poll so we can finally decide, name, and shame!

Top Tips for Budding Bloggers

As new kids on the block; we thought it would be a great idea to reach out to the blogging community and ask for some top tips for budding bloggers – just like us!
The more we get involved with blogging, the more we’re realising that behind it all there is an amazing community of like minded people; all bringing their own unique twists, experiences, and specialities to the blogging game.

So here are some of the responses we received by asking, quite simply, what would be the number one tip you would give to someone starting out on their blogging journey?
Also…show some appreciation, visit, comment, and engage  with these awesome people – the one major thing I’ve personally come to learn recently is that the more you give to the blogging world, the more you will get out of it.

Hope you enjoy these tips; and if you have any of your own…please do chuck them down in the comments section!

 

“Tip 1 write what you want not what you think other want!”
 https://60plushillwalking.wordpress.com/ 
 https://triplethreepeaks.wordpress.com/

 

“I blog because I love writing about my missions and to share my experiences of the places I visit with other like-minded people, I have no interest in making money out of it.”
https://jandersjauntsandjourneys.blogspot.co.uk/

 

“Blog about things you love, and reach out to other bloggers – It’s much more fun once you get to know people.”
https://craftinvaders.co.uk/

 

“Be honest and be open in what you write – make it personal.”
 http://armchairmountaineer.com

 

“I’d agree with everyone who’s already said blog about what you love. My blog’s very mixed up – I go out rambling in Derbyshire but also to the theatre and gigs, and write about them all!”
http://maryomsthoughts.blogspot.co.uk/

 

“I would say just enjoy it. Blog what you want to blog about, be open to new experiences and meeting new people. Blogging has given me some fab opportunities along the way, but most importantly I’ve made some fabulous friends. Oh and I love that Mountain Goat post by the way. Hilarious. 😆”

 

“Be different. Find your niche and your voice and make yourself stand. And take pride in everything that you publish…there’s nothing worse than a half hearted poor quality post! Loyalty and followers are built on trust and hard work.”
www.theOrdinaryAdventurer.com

 

 

So you want to be an adventure photographer?  Of course you do, why else would you have clicked on this link?! Do you like to travel? Do you like to go on adventures? Do you like to get out of your comfort zone? And, do you have a camera (no matter how old, dusty and battered)? If you answered yes to these questions the good news is that you’re already halfway there!

If like us you have all the above credentials, maybe you’ve even been taking some photos and posting them to Instagram getting some decent feedback for a while, but you have that feeling that something is missing, scrolling through your feed and searching for hashtags like #adventure and #exploring but all you keep seeing is amazing photos and asking yourself –  “Why are my photos not this good???” – “Why am I not getting the top posts???” Well despair no more, I have reached out to some of our favourite (and hugely talented) instagrammers and asked them what their top tip is for how to take a great adventure photo to help you get those shots you’ve always dreamed of.

I have only picked a few photos from each feed so please click through to their accounts where there are tons more amazing photos to be admired! If I could have put all of them on here I would, but you would get lost for days and have no data left for the rest of the month!

polar.girl

 

“My tip for taking adventurous pictures is to find a person at least as crazy as you are and go outdoors and have fun! I found out that my most favourite photos have been captured with very little effort, while exploring beautiful places around the world and enjoying the moments with friends.”

(www.instagram.com/polar.girl/)

 

“Pre plan the adventure but don’t over plan it. Just be aware of any scenario that may soon reveal itself in present time and have your camera with you at all times. Envision the scenario before it happens and hit the shutter repeatedly. I mean I normally just ask homies to hang out and go on an adventure, bring my camera and simply take photos while life happens and think outside the box.”

(www.instagram.com/neroexplrs/)

rudirphoto

“One top tip? Well, Then it would be to invest in a carrying system like Peak Design CapturePro or Similar. Its a Camera-clip you can hang on one of the shoulder straps of your backpack, in front of you, so that your camera is always ready to shoot. I hate a camera dangling around from a strap, so the camera usually ended up in the backpack, before I bought CapturePro. With the camera in the backpack very few images and moments where captured. That sounds like a bit of an advert, but its not. So to sum up: Have your camera ready at all times, if you’re not shooting, you won’t capture the good image/moment!”

(www.instagram.com/rudirphoto/)

thebarefootboy

“My top tip would be to always be trying new things and living in the moment. Realize that life is about the now not what has happened or what will happen. Other than that be creative and have fun with the shot and edit!”

(www.instagram.com/thebarefootboy/)

wanderloove

“I always say: find a great spot, fall in love with it and show this on your photo! Every journey is a love story. I don’t know if this helps you but I do know that people love it when they can see passion in the pictures”

(www.instagram.com/wanderloove/)

adventure_scotland

“As for a top tip: I’m not much of a photographer so if I had to give advice/tips to anyone it would be the most obvious tip of all, if you want to take adventure photos then you need to become an adventurer. If you go to a boring place then chances are your photos will be boring too, unless you are incredibly creative. 
You cant capture a sunrise in the mountains if your not in the mountains at sunrise.
Also my camera is always out and ready to go,
I literally have my camera out from the start to the end of any adventure providing its safe (for me and my camera). I cant count the amazing moments i’ve missed because my camera was tucked away in my bag.”

(www.instagram.com/adventure_scotland/)

adventure_is_out_there6

 

“I take a lot of photos on my adventures and then spend a bit of time choosing the best ones and editing them. The weather always changes photos, you can go to the same place many times and it’s different every time because the weather is different.”

(www.instagram.com/adventure_is_out_there6/)

 

walkinghobb

 

“I always start early go by the rule of thirds and most important take the picture you like. I also try and capture the atmosphere of the moment.”

(www.instagram.com/walkinghobb/)

adventurerzguide

(www.instagram.com/adventurerzguide/)

“Find peoples accounts that are locals in the area (they always have some of the best spots in the area) then find those spots and put your own twist on the picture”
There you have it, some excellent tips from some excellent photographers. Personally I love the idea that was mentioned a couple of times that you have to be out there doing it to get these images, you cant be an adventure photographer from your sofa, and as Daniel said from Adventure_Scotland “you can’t capture a sunrise in the mountains if your not in the mountains at sunrise”  so get out there, get adventuring and go capture some epic photos! Don’t forget to use the tag #Dorksonahill so we can check out all your shots and who knows, we might be featuring you in a future blog.
It was really great to get to talk to the people behind these accounts, they are all down-to-earth, modest and super friendly. Big thank you for taking the time to answer our question and allowing us to share some of your work, I hope that one day our paths will cross while adventuring around the world!
Peace out
Mike
Dorks on a hill

Summer 2017 #dorksinAfrica

Our plans are now pinned down for the summer season and man we’re pumped for it! Everything between now and August will be leading up to our summit attempt of the immense Mt.Toubkal , the highest point of North Africa.
This will no doubt be our most challenging adventure to date and we cant wait to share the experience with you all.
toubkal

Between now and then however we have loads of awesome things lined up…not least the Orwell 25 Mile Challenge next month!

Stay tuned for more regular updates…

Dorks on a Hill – where it all began

It was back in 2014 when I received the news that my Grandfather had been given a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. Not really knowing what to do to help out; I thought it might be a nice gesture at least, to raise some money for Parkinons UK. For no reason in particular I thought, Snowdon!
A couple of conversations later and I had convinced three of my good friends; David, Mike, and Remy to come and join me on the challenge.

We received such awesome support and in the end raised over £2000 in just that one event. Little did we know what Snowdon had in store; and how it was going to be the spark which ignited a passion for all of us.

watkin

It was a combination of the mind-blowing views, incredible weather conditions and the general excitement of being out in the great outdoors which captured our imaginations; something which still to this day keeps driving us (although the weather conditions are not always so perfect; as we found out in the Peak District, and Fort William!)

wales

Since that day in sunny Wales, we have reached the summit of 4 mountains; in 4 countries no less:

Mt. Snowdon – Wales
Scafell Pike – England
Ben Nevis – Scotland
Mt. Bronzone – Italy 

Our next step is the National 3 Peaks Challenge which we will be completing later this year – and between now and then…well who knows!

So that’s the story of Dorks On A Hill; and we would love you to join us as our story continues – remember to subscribe to our blog and take a look at our Instagram page to get all out best snaps from around the world @dorksonahill 

doah x