Why I Feel Bad About Giving A Homeless Kid My Food…

The other night I went for a casual stroll around Phnom Penh. I found a nice little street stall and got some food for $1.25. “F***ing winner!” I thought to myself as I walked away triumphantly. I sat down on a nearby park bench to scoff my Khmer noodles when I noticed out of the corner of my eye a kid who looked no older than 6 slowly drift towards me. He had no shirt or shoes, just a pair or shorts on. He sat next to me and silently and watched me eat my noodles.

Suddenly he screamed so loudly in Khmer it actually made me jump. Of course I had no idea what he was saying but I could take an educated guess judging by the situation and the fact he was pointing at the noodles when he screamed that he was probably hungry.

I looked at him and said, “Sorry little man, but this is mine, I won’t finish it all though so you can have the rest.” knowing he couldn’t understand me but hoping by the tone and the calmness of my voice he could tell that I wasn’t being threatening.

Then after a few more bites I decided that he probably needed the food far more than I did, so I handed the take away container over to him. I then said to be careful, because it was hot, gesturing with my hand to try and communicate that the food was spicy. So I went over to a lady who was selling water and bought a bottle of water for him. I opened it for him just in case he was too weak to open it and left it with him, slowly walking away whilst smiling and waving to imply that it was for him.

Now you would think that I felt good about this right? helping a impoverished child in need?

Not really, and here’s why:

I’m a classic over-thinker, so this situation was on my mind for the entire walk home. Yes, he has food tonight, but what about tomorrow? Am I just prolonging the inevitable? I learned a long time ago whilst travelling that you cannot save the world, and helping this one child for one night may not be beneficial for him in the long run, since he may just be on borrowed time anyway, and in my naivety I could have given him false hope.

However on the other side of the coin, I would always present this scenario to my students in my advanced English classes;

“What if 5 years ago there was supposed to have been a Thai doctor who found a cure for cancer, but because he or she was born in such a poor family he or she was never giving a real chance at life and died of starvation at the age of 4?” Then explaining to them that great people are destined to be great, all they need is that one opportunity and you can bet your bottom dollar that they will take it. However if they are never given a chance in life then they can never possibly survive. I may have given this poor boy that one opportunity. It’s not a full opportunity by any means but he had a full belly for one more night, and you never know he may have needed to get through that one more night before his opportunity was presented to him. If he was never supposed to be someone special then he would probably not take it, but if he is, well; just watch him go…

I guess my point – if I have a point – is that I’m caught in two minds over this; on the surface I have fed a homeless child who needed it FAR more than I did, but if you dig a little deeper It was only one meal. I didn’t save the kid’s life. He still had to go on the streets looking for food the next day. He may even be dead by now. A horrible thing to imagine I know, but that is the grim reality of the situation in third world countries. I suppose my intentions were good, that’s the main thing. I hope the child survives this rough time, because when he does eventually grow up you will know for a fact that he will NEVER take anything for granted…

My First Vietnam Scam

I got some books copied a few days ago. I like to get some cheap copies that I can give to my friends rather than make them pay for my stuff. And of course if they read it and like it, then they will recommend it to their friends which can only benefit me as a brand name.

Unfortunately I spent a day at a friends house which was miles away from the city centre, Before I knew it it was 6 in the evening. I excused myself saying I needed to get to the copy shop before it closed at 8. I thanked her family for her hospitality and she told me which bus I needed to get to go to the city, and from there I could get another bus to near the airport, which was where my hotel and the copy shop was.

sounds easy right? Not when you are in Vietnam. There was a serious amount of traffic and I got to the city centre for 7:15. I abandoned the bus idea and decided to pay more to make sure I got to the copy shop before it closed. I found a motorbike guy who said the price was ‘up to me’. Normally I would be very skeptical of this approach, but a friend of mine who also blogs told me a story about how he was impressed by the guys honesty and integrity when it happened to him and ended up paying him double, so I threw caution to the wind and trusted the guy.

To be fair he was bombing it through the streets. He must have sensed my urgency and was doing his best to get me there as quickly as possible. At one point the motorbike slipped and we would have crashed if it wasn’t for my reflexes, firmly placing my foot on the ground to stop the bike falling to the left.

We got there with ten minutes to spare, so I decided to reward him by paying him 100,000 dong (to put that in perspective, I’d taken a motorbike that distance before and paid half that price, and a proper taxi cost me 93,000 beforehand)

To my surprise he then started screaming at me demanding more money. I was so shocked by his attitude considering I knew I’d paid him handsomely that I swiftly turned on my heels and walked away before I got angry with the guy. He then chased me down the road demanding that I pay him more which was really irritating me, as I turned around to tell him aggressively where to go he I saw that he was holding a 10,000 dong (about 33p) note.

I’m colourblind, so even though I’m normally on the ball when it comes to numbers and money, it’s hard for me to differentiate foreign notes, especially when they have so many zeros behind them, And there are more variations of Vietnamese notes than there are of Scottish money.

I apologized profusely, putting my hand on my heart and saying I didn’t know I’d given him the wrong note. I took the note and with my steamed up glasses (it was raining, which probably contributed to the fact I’d made a mistake) I made sure that I gave him the right note this time, then I handed a 100,000 note to him, double checking that I hadn’t got it wrong again.

“NO… 300,000!!!” He barked at me, which incensed me so much I shouted “Fuck off!” in a shocked tone and walked away before I got really angry and did something stupid. He then chased me down the road again to which I was geting REALLY agitated now. He stopped me and then showed me the note I had given him; another 10,000 note…

Now I knew what was going on, but of course by now it was too late. Ironically if he didn’t have the audacity to try the trick a second time I would have been unaware I’d been scammed in the first place. Instead I would have felt bad that I’d tried to pay an honest motorbike driver with a 33 pence note. I took the note and he could see in my eyes I had clocked on to what he was doing and quickly scarpered.

On the grand scale of things I only lost the equivalent of 5 dollars, so it’s not the end of the world. But I still feel annoyed that I got duped so easily. I suppose its a gentle reminder to be more alert that not everyone is honest and I should keep my guard up more often. However this one removed incident does not change how I feel about Vietnam. I’m still enjoying the country and it’s hospittality, I just need to be more careful that’s all. Also I thought I would post this just in case any of you go to Vietnam, so you will be aware of this scam. Double check your money when you hand it over, because you never know if the person you are dealing with is dishonest or not.

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Cebu and Manila: The Philippines Really Need To Sack Their PR Guy…

It’s no secret that I have fallen in love with The Philippines whilst I’ve been here. Great place to see, even better people and just an all around beautiful country. I was on the final straight of my trip in Cebu before heading back to Manila by boat. That was the plan anyway…

Before I came here I knew very little about The Philippines. I knew about Manny Pacquiao (obviously) and one of my favourite sportspeople, Efren Reyes, but other than that I knew very little. So before I came I did some extensive research on where to go, including asking people who had already been there where their favourite haunts were…

“Angeles!” Was the city that most people would chant. Normally people over the age of 60 of course, I quickly vetoed that idea unless I was passing through and wanted to feel the energy of the place for the day.

“Cebu!” Was another one. “It’s safe, and it caters for tourists much better than the other places!” Some said they had been to Manila, but the reviews were mixed. I’ve never liked capital cities anyway, so Manila wasn’t really on my radar to begin with…

Luckily another friend of mine told me about some real places to see. That, on top of my research, set the tone of a vague direction in which I would be heading in the month I had. Unfortunately this meant I had to miss some places, but I knew this would give me a reason to come back again if I liked the country so I wasn’t worried.

Anyway, back to the story: I’d had an amazing time in most of the places I had been and I could only sing the praises of everyone I’d met and everywhere I had seen, until I got to Cebu, the place considered ‘the safe place’

Ironically this was the only place I felt uncomfortable. Using the word ‘unsafe’ would be highly unfair, but I would be followed down the road constantly by prostitutes, Have big guys approach me asking if I was looking for anything dodgy, or have beggars walk directly behind me for a long time (At one point after noticing in the corner of my eye this one person had been walking directly behind me for over a minute without saying a word, I started walking faster and she literally began to run after me, so I turned around, grabbed my pockets to make sure nothing was missing and firmly told her to stop following me)

The city wasn’t up to standard compared to the other places I had been either. I mean it was OK, but one day would have been more than enough for me. Also the aggressive sales technique of vendors and hotel owners put me off more often that not. I distinctly remember thinking, “THIS is the place they are advertising? No wonder nobody knows about this beautiful country…”

Next stop; Manila. My taxi guy openly admitted he couldn’t see very well and refused to put on glasses, he then took me 2 miles away from where I was supposed to be, insisting he knew where he was going while at the same time staring at my map as the meter kept running up. After two minutes I got out and got another taxi. I got to the place in the end but the experience left a slight bitter taste in my mouth and the damage was done.

Of course, you cannot generalize a city (or a country for that matter) after one visit, because some people do genuinely have bad luck (or good luck in some cases…) But if I went to the places that everyone else told me to go, I would have left shaking my head, vowing to never come back, and I guess a lot of people do just that…

I wouldn’t even have to get out of second gear to promote this country. I mean seriously, this place is amazing. The general perception is that it is unsafe (Which is true in Southern places like Mindanao, I wouldn’t recommend going anywhere near there in the near future…) but this could not be further from the truth in the North and Central Philippines. There was more than one occasion when I would be walking through a city late at night looking for a room expecting to get robbed when a group of guys would come to my aid, directing me to a hotel and calling me ‘sir’ in the process… I went to some incredible places that were off most people’s radar (Sagada, Vigan, Puerto Galera, Bacolod and Dumaguete just to name a few) and missed a few (namely El Nido, Puerto Princesa, Bohol and Siquijor) that I been told by locals and ex-pats alike were places to see. These are the places that would attract tourists in droves. Luckily I was willing to go out of my comfort zone, rough it a bit and try to get to these places that to be fair were not easily accessible without researching online first, otherwise I would have been another tourist who was disillusioned by my trip, saying “Yeah, it was alright…” If anyone asked about it before swiftly changing the subject.

So point being The Philippines really needs a good marketing campaign like Thailand has. Advertising the beauty of their country and encouraging people to see places other than the two I have previously mentioned. Once this happens, then hopefully it will only be a matter of time before this country starts getting a serious amount of income from tourism, and a positive reputation that they deserve.

100 posts!

I made it to 100 posts. Here are some of my personal favourites that i think you may enjoy…

I’m No Good At This Spamming Malarkey…

This was much funnier than i anticipated it to be…

But I Don’t Want To Do Any Writing Today…

A very inspirational post

The Book’s Out, Now I Have To Market It…

Again, unexpectedly hilarious

I Feel Like I’m Writing A Flop

This has a lot of sentiment to me as i have finished this book now, and genuinely believe it’s only a matter of time before it gets picked up by a publisher when i start to push it

First Night Back In Thailand And I Get Sexually Molested By A Monk…

I don’t think an explanation is necessary here…

Guess Who’s Back…Back Again…Fucktard’s Back…Tell A Friend…

This was another funny post, mainly about my teaching escapades

Click on the links to read the posts, and enjoy!!!

Book Sale For 24 Hours Only

I became an uncle for the second time a couple of days ago, so to celebrate i’m offering a discount on my books for the next 24 hours. Get your copies now before they go back to normal price again!

Click on the pictures to buy them now from Amazon

Lew book cover

The Price of Fame: 3 reviews all above 4 stars. This is arguably my most successful book

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The Butterfly Killings: This is by far the most complex book i have written anyone who likes horror and deep storylines will erjoy this one

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Destiny: My latest book, a comedy with a 5 star rating

Bacolod, Another Great Place in The Philippines…

I’d had a tough last few days; I had failed in my expedition to get to Iloilo in one day, having to settle in a tiny village called Roxas for a night (which was actually a pleasant surprise, it was a nice little place) then I got to Iloilo the next night and found out that every hotel was either full or had doubled their prices for some obscure convention that was happening, so I took the hint and I decided to get out of there the next day. I had been told there was nothing to do or see in Bacolod and to get my cute but small pert ass to Dumaguete. But in the end I was glad I ignored these people…

The main reason for this was because I had joined a dating site a few months previously, for two reasons; one genuine and the other far more sinister, The genuine reason was to meet real people who could show me around their hometown, and maybe if I was lucky have a sofa to sleep on and gain some friends for life (and possibly return the favour wherever I was in the world and they came to see me) the evil reason was to promote my books. I felt that I could mention that I was an author and these people would tell their friends, they wouldn’t actually buy anything but word of mouth would get out that I actually exist, and a few months down the line I could come up in a conversation and when someone has a look they may buy my book(s) if they like them, and in turn tell their friends that I’m a good writer.

Point being in Bacalod was the first girl I had met on my travels from this site. I must admit I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that she was very intelligent from the Skype conversations we had (which is normal because we both want to know that we are real people, and not 55 year old fat bald men sitting behind a computer saying that they are Nigerian princesses and willing to make us millionaires if we give them our bank details…)

We met outside Jolibee, which is the generic fast food restaurant here, after much ‘to’ing and ‘fro’ing due to my phone not working in this country for some reason. I went to the shopping mall where we had agreed to meet and couldn’t find her, then after conceding life and going back to the hotel, the hotel manager was nice enough to let me use his phone, so I called her and told her where I’d be. Half an hour later we found each other and got chatting. We hit it off straight away. She’s a nurse and clearly knew what she was talking about, so I must admit I was attracted by her intelligence. After we watched TV for a while we both agreed to go to a resort together for the day, and then I would leave for Dumaguete the next day.

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The resort was amazing! We went for a swim and walked up to see some waterfalls. After that we got back home and chilled. She looked exhausted so I let her sleep on my bed in the air conditioning for a few hours while I devoted a few hours to try and fix my laptop (I didn’t win…) Then a friend of mine who I met at Heathrow airport about a year ago (and nearly lost contact with her) sent me a message on Facebook asking if I was going to the ruins, She sent me a link and I said I would go early the next day before heading off to Dumaguete. Then I thought to myself that I was in no rush, and could spend another day in Bacolod rather than rush and stress myself out.

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After me and Hazel had dinner she went back home and I got talking to the owners of the guest house. We began talking about pool and they loved the fact I was interested in the game. They must have thought I qualified because they then invited me out for a drink with them. It was a great night with friendly people, they even refused to let me pay!

The next day I woke up refreshed thanking my lucky stars that I had decided to not avoid this city, and got ready to go to the ruins with the girl I had met, as we were getting on really well. The ruins were pretty cool. I don’t want to go into too much detail because I don’t want to ruin it for my friend who is waiting on a postcard describing the atmosphere there, but it was definitely worth seeing.

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So the next day I said goodbye with a heavy heart and headed off to Dumaguete. I was happy that I had met some great people there and I know for a fact that I will be back. The city wasn’t much to look at but it had a vibrant atmosphere that filled you with energy. Ignore what everybody says; give this place a visit, you won’t regret it.

As for Hazel? We had an amazing time together. There was a spark there I must admit and we’ll see what happens in the future. She is planning on moving to Europe next year to work as a nurse there, so I will continue to Skype her every so often to give her IELTS tips (since I used to be an IELTS teacher) and we’ll play it from there. If nothing does happen though I know that we will stay friends at the very least. Finally I’d like to personally thank hazel on here for showing me around the best places in Bacolod, and I know that I will see her again one day, whether it is in Europe or back in The Philippines.

Puerto Galera, The Philippines

I was way ahead of schedule by the time I got to Puerto Galera. I had made a rough estimation beforehand that I would be half way through my month long trip by the time I got here, however I had been flying through Luzon and got there after a week. I’d heard that Puerto Galera was expensive so I didn’t plan on staying long, that was until I was greeted by this sight:

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I had met a Welsh guy and his girlfriend on the boat from Batangas and he told me that he was staying in a resort, so if I didn’t have anywhere to stay I should follow him there and from there I could find relatively cheap accommodation nearby, however once I saw the view from the resort I was set, and paid for two nights there.

Almost instantly afterwards I walked next door and found a beach hut. I asked how much it was and they quoted me 900 pesos (about £15) a night cheaper than where I was staying. I took it on the chin Mayweatheresque and decided to stay there after I’d finished my two days at the resort.

So by now I was set to chill out by the beach for a few days. I’m not really a beach person so I hadn’t planned for this, but it was a welcome break from travelling from place to place every one or two days, staying in a place with a bathroom down the hall and a room that could barely fit a bed in…

On the second day David (the Welsh guy) invited me up to his balcony for a drink. I declined because he was with his girlfriend and assumed I was intruding on their romantic getaway together. He brushed this off and said it would be fun, so I punched the air like a power ranger and signed the contract, saying I’d be there in a few hours. When I got there I was greeted by copious amounts of alcohol and great company, We talked about my books and every subject other than my books for a few hours until hunger struck. He then treated me to a nice meal in the resort that was orgasm worthy, then we went to do some karaoke.

Karaoke? But you can’t sing, you can barely speak!

I know, but I forgot to mention that Mae, (David’s girlfriend) was an outstanding singer, as are a lot of Filipinas, David could handle himself with a microphone as well. (That’s not an innuendo, control yourself you dirty bastards!!!) Mae immediately opened up with ‘Girl on fire’ and I was blown away, you could even say my fire was blown out (I’m so fucking hilarious, I’m here all week…) Then they handed the microphone to me and I murdered ‘Thinking out loud’, ‘A Thousand Years’ and ‘But I do love you’. I did redeem myself after a few more drinks by nailing ‘Champagne Supernova’ (Although I went for a high note at the end, failed miserably and temporarily deafened everyone within a 5 yard radius of me…). I think I’ve found my karaoke song when I’m an ickle bit drunk and there’s a karaoke machine in the vicinity…

The next day I went by myself to a bar that had a pool table. Even the bar girls were taking zero interest in me (I know, I’m a stallion around the ladies…) as I played some pool on my Todd. Then help arrived in the form of an Englishman; the owner walked in and as we got talking, the girls perked up. This gave me more confidence and one of the girls began to flirt with me. She was a bar girl and obviously looking for a free drink, but I still counted it as a moral victory and did a fist pump in celebration. (Not that kind of fist pump! Fucking hell, what’s wrong with you lot today?…)

I stayed there for a few hours and got drunk, then I staggered home to write some more of my book, which by this point I was still trying to write. Before finally deciding to move on to Iloilo the next day.

I will definitely be back in Puerto Galera one day. The ex-pats were very welcoming and the community in general was small but they were all kind. I’m starting to think I could easily get a six month visa here and churn out a book whilst spending some extensive time around this country.