2019 Is Nearly Over. What Have I Learned?

2019 was admittedly a strange year for me. I did hit some goals but ultimately my life was pretty stagnant and I’m not really sure if overall the year was positive or not. Having said that, with the interest of keeping upbeat here are the things I learned in the last 12 months.

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Trust Your Gut/Instincts

I had quite a few shitty situations happen to me at work. Things I’d rather not go into too much detail about but still personally affected me. I think the reason was because I called the majority of things they ended up doing to me. I ignored the red flags and put it down to me being negative and looking for bad things when they weren’t there.

Hey, these things happen, and they help you grow as a person. But I did learn that if I spot any warning signs I should listen to them, because more often than not I have been right about them…

Travel More

Subsequently, this situation turned out very well for me as I ended up going to Malaysia and falling in love with yet another country (I know, I’m such a slut…). I missed bouncing around countries and meeting new people, and I felt a wave of passion and confidence that I haven’t felt in a very long time. This is what I enjoy most, so I need to chase this as no one is going to chase it for me…

This may sound funny to some of you since I seem to be always abroad. Yes, but Thailand was my home, which meant for me it wasn’t a holiday; it was home, and I had all the struggles that everyone else experiences except mine was in some random country.

Don’t Stress About Money

Money is understandably a concern at the moment since I am not making any, but money is only paper. I have enough to survive for the time being, so who cares? So many things can happen in the future that may render all my previous money worries completely pointless. So worry about that situation when it happens. Sure, be sensible with money, but don’t worry so much that you become ultra frugal and end up having an anxiety attack…

Just Keep Swimming…

Work can come in many forms, but for me it is writing. Being a writer can be a struggle due to the overwhelming self doubt when you put so much effort into your work, yet see people in more conventional jobs making far more than you with less hours of work. However, the most important thing is not to give up. I look at some of my previous books and cringe, yet people still compliment me on how gripping the storylines are. I enjoy writing, and I enjoy entertaining. Sure, money would be nice, but the more I write the more I entertain people. If they end up being good enough then the money will follow. If not, then I’ve got to work harder to make the books better for people. Trial and error, and learn from mistakes. Not everything can be gold dust.

Literally Anything Can Happen

I look back at my life wondering how I ended up not being an accountant and due to a combination of seemingly random factors, events and choices I have ended up where I am (Literally and figuratively). A chance meeting at any point or a ‘fuck it, I’m doing it!’ moment can alter my life events at any moment. So what is the point in overthinking? I’m not saying don’t plan; that would be stupid. But don’t get down when things aren’t going to plan. Because that is the whole point. Nothing goes to plan. React to the situation around you and swim with the river. It doesn’t always take you where you want to go, but it takes you where you need to be.

Family Is Important

And finally, the most important thing I learned was to acknowledge how amazing my family are on a regular basis. Something happened to me in my early twenties without me realising and I slowly drifted away from my close knit family, and in turn I became more reclusive. I live far away from my family so it isn’t like I can just pop down the road and see them. Also it can be awkward when I do see them because I haven’t seen them in so long (and our cultural references are different now), but I want to make more of an effort to be mentally closer to my family. Of course, this is much easier said than done, and will take a lot of effort on my end to achieve it, but they are people that deserve it, even if I don’t say that to them enough…

Final Leg Of The Trip: Phang Nga, Eating Spag Bol With The Mother…

It was time to leave Malaysia. I didn’t want to, but unless I marry some Malaysian girl and acquire a passport, the law states I must leave after a certain time. So I woke up early in the morning ready for my painful journey into Thailand and Phang Nga.

The mini bus left at 8:30. Yep, I told you it was painful. Luckily it wasn’t that cramped and the driver was on a mission, because we got to immigration in record time. Then after queuing for over 30 minutes I got my Thai stamp in my passport ready to get some spag bol.

The minibus dropped me off in the middle of buttfuck nowhere. The good news is buttfuck’s bus station was very close by and I walked in. Some tout asked me where I was going and tried to lead me out of the bus station. I said no and tried to get a ticket at one of the kiosks. As I did she looked behind me nervously and I turned to see the tout standing directly behind me.

“Oh, I have to follow that guy?” I inferred. (Note: This was NOT the correct way to think. I’m looking for someone to blame so I blame Malaysia for raising my trust levels…) And I followed him thinking this was the only place to get a ticket to the obscure place I was going, got it, then went through a series of hilarious steps where I realised I had been scammed into paying over the odds for a ticket.

The good news is it was still less than half of what the hotel in Malaysia tried to charge me for that leg of the journey, and It was a tiny reminder that not everyone in Thailand can be trusted and I need to get my guard up again. On the grand scale of things this mindset could have cost me a lot more further down the road.

Speaking of ‘further down the road’; the lady said it would only take 4-5 hours. 7 hours later I was still bobbing about on the rickety bus. The Mother suspected this though and had waited to put the spag bol on.

I got in and my stepdad picked me up on his beasty motorbike. I headbutted him with my bike helmet a couple of times on the way back due to his powerful bike throwing me back and forth at will, and we finally got to The Mother’s house.

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Spag bol demolished and after a few hours of catching up I could feel my body shutting down. So I went to bed and caught some Z’s. My own flipping room!!!!! I’ve been in hostels for the last three months (Living the luxury lifestyle…) so it was nice to have my own double bed, AND be able to shut the door.

So I’m back in Thailand for one more year. Not sure what I will do after that. I’m looking at going back into full time work again after my year visa is up. I’m not sure, there are many options available to me and I’ll see how things go over the next couple of months.

When I Got A Subtle Reminder That Writing Is My Job And Not A Charity…

I’ve never really viewed writing as a form of income. Of course, getting an income from something I really enjoy is always a bonus. Maybe that is why it doesn’t feel right to profit from something I actually like doing. After all, we are programmed to work hard for our money. If it doesn’t feel like work, then it doesn’t feel particularly honest when someone pays you for it…

Recently I met someone who was interested in reading one of my books. My natural reaction was to say to them that I’m happy to give you it for free if you are interested, since I’m far more excited about getting a new reader than the sale itself. She replied that she was willing to pay for it and how much would it cost.

This threw me for a second because now I had to work out the costs in my head. After throwing a few numbers together I worked out how much it would be, and added a bit for myself, less than a dollar in fact.

She seemed happy and agreed to pay me the money. Then I worked out the numbers in my head again and realised I’d calculated them wrong, and in fact I was going to lose money overall.

“Actually, sorry, it is actually going to be this much…” I said to her sheepishly. Again, just barely covering the cost of my expenses.

“…Right…” Was her confused reply.

I felt like a dishonest businessman. I’ve dealt with a lot of people like that in my life where they would change the deal at the last minute, and genuinely be confused why the other person feels like they’ve been lied to. I could tell she wasn’t particularly thrilled I’d changed the price but went along with it anyway.

That’s not how I want to be remembered; so I explained to her why I had raised the price, and said that I would go back to the original price even though it would actually cost me money since that is what we originally agreed on. It’s not ideal, but when is anything in life ever ideal…?

For me this felt like the right thing to do, but it was also a lesson to myself to overshoot the price knowing can always lower it if the calculations are wrong. I looked at it thinking why do I feel guilty for charging people for my work? How has that become ingrained in me?

Ultimately, I need to eat and pay bills, so why am I feeling guilty for receiving money for the work I have done? This guilt actually made me lose money in this occasion, but also taught me that my work is worth more than zero. I am worth more than zero…

So even though it feels weird to say to people that my books cost money (it feels like a sleazy sales pitch), I know that I need to accept that this is my job, and it isn’t a charity. Sure, if I become a millionaire one day then I’ll be happy to give loads of books away to anyone, but for now it makes no sense to take on a second or third job that I’m not particularly fond of, just because I feel bad for charging people for my main job.

Second Youtube Interview With ‘Bad Badger Retired In Thailand’

Only gone and done another feather-plucking interview!!!! This one is less of a one-on-one interview and more about me talking to the camera about the giveaway I am doing on my stepdad’s Youtube channel to celebrate him getting 500 subscribers.

I know it doesn’t look like it at first glance, but the interview is there. It starts at 5:10

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Also, here is the first interview if that tickles your fancy as well. This one is more about my writing process and general stuff about me and what I do. Well, what I did a year ago anyway…

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Let me know what you think below. And if you are interested in joining the competition either like and comment on this post, or do the same on the Youtube video. Thank you and good luck!

Kuala Lumpur: Final Battle…Fight!

First of all, choose your nostalgic fight music before you keep reading:

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By this point I had decided to go back to Thailand sooner than expected. I was enjoying my time in Malaysia, but it was time to go and not overstay my welcome. I’d noticed that I was doing nothing all day and that was a sign to go back. So I decided to not go to all the other places I had planned; but once my money had run out (as in not going to the cash machine again) I would be back in the land of Thai’s…

So the main order of the week was to overdose on schwarma’s and Indian food, and boy did I do just that! There was one day where I thought it would be a cracking idea to walk in the heat from the hostel to Bukit Bintang. Yeah… slowly penetrate that for a laugh!!! I did it though, and it was a terrible idea. Word of advice, take the 40p subway train instead…

I met Miss Slovenia again though! Miss Slovenia is a tall, beautiful blonde girl who was in KL a month ago (way too young for me though…) who could easily pass for a model. We caught up, demolished some Indian food and did a Rick and Morty marathon. Why? because we are cool. If you want to be cool watch this video:

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So not too much to report in KL to be honest. I did go back to Penang for a couple of days to break up the trip back to Phang-Nga (Where the mother of mine lives…) I was also hoping to see the hostel owner in Penang while I was there, but only briefly saw her as I was about to leave. So hello and goodbye I guess…

I met an Indonesian girl in Kuala Lumpur, and she was unlucky enough to miss her flight while I was there. So while waiting for her next flight she came to Penang with me and I enjoyed showing her around all the cheap, local restaurants I had found whilst there. Including an intimidating looking Indian restaurant with outstanding food (Restaran Sulltania in case you were wondering). She said she wasn’t a fan of Indian food, but she enjoyed it so I was happy…

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random pic of a cool car outside of KL Sentral just to break up the post…

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And that was it! I jumped on the minibus at 8:30 in the morning (I hate mornings, I’m such a kid…) to go back to Thailand and prepare to see the Motherness, who had promised a top of the range spag bol to be ready when I got back. Italian food is always a winner. If anyone wants to bribe me in any way, Italian food or chocolate is the way to my heart. I’m not directly saying that is what you should do; I’m just leaving that out there…

300 Followers!

This may not seem like a big deal to most of you, but I do zero marketing for my blog and do little to no ‘networking’ for it. I treat this as an online diary of sorts, promoting my books along the way.

The fact that 300 of you are showing an interest in my blog – and my books – considering all this is remarkable to me. So thank you so much for your interest and if you have any questions for me feel free to leave a comment and I will be happy to start interacting with you.

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Here’s to the next 300! Hope you all have a great day!

Johor Bahru: Don’t Stay Near The Bus Station…

“Four and a half bloody hours from KL to Johor Bahru…? I’ll have some of that!” I thought as we arrived at a place called Larkin Sentral. I knew there was accommodation very close by the bus station so I didn’t need to go far either.

“Taxi. taxi taxi!” The first guy shouted at me as I walked in his direction.

“No thank you” I replied politely as I kept on walking.

“Singapore, Singapore Singapore!” The second guy shouted.

“Fuck me, everyone in Johor Bahru talks in three’s!” I joked to myself. Then I said “Beetlejuice” to myself three times, chuckled to myself and headed out of the bus station

After to and froing around the area, I finally arrived at the hostel. I was in a very chirpy mood, but I was about to get knock off my metaphorical perch…

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I don’t know, something about the guy rubbed me up the wrong way. He just seemed shady, and kept monotonically listing all these ‘rules’ I had to abide by with all these hidden charges should I do something wrong, conveniently after he’d taken my money. Then he announced there were no dorm beds and I had to book a double room for myself instead. My instincts told me to get out, but my brain told me I didn’t know the exact location of another hostel so I took the L and prepared to leave come 12 the next day.

I walked around the town and found nothing. “What a seethole…” I thought as the place had single-handedly sucked the positive energy out of me in 30 minutes. All was not lost though; as I found a second hotel to stay in. This wasn’t exactly the Ritz either, but it was half the price of the other place, and no hidden charges either…

I logged onto the internet and kept getting a message that said ‘connection failed, unknown connection error’ and accepted that this place would be a good story to tell people once I’d left. I took the hint and went to sleep.

The next day I went downstairs to take advantage of the breakfast on offer. It was toast and tea, but free is free so I wasn’t complaining. I was complaining about all the dirty plates and cups on the table. I didn’t understand why the guy had lectured me beforehand about all these hidden charges if he wasn’t going to implement them.

The best was yet to come though, as a woman in her forties came out the hostel room, burped loudly without covering her mouth, then headed towards me, revealing a dirty top that looked like she’d been sick on herself and not bothered to clean it up.

“Yep, it’s time to go!” I thought to myself. Then I heaved and ran to the toilet area where there was an open window so I could get some fresh air. Travelling isn’t all fun and games you know…

As predicted as soon as I got to the new place my whole world became much better. They even gave me a single room to myself for the same price offered for a dorm! Sure, the bathroom was down the hall, but for £5 a night I’m not complaining one bit!

I asked the girl on reception what there was to do around the area. “This area, no good.” Was her stuttered reply. Then after an awkward but funny back and forth I realised that the only good things to see were in the main town, so I got my not so curvy bum on a bus and headed down there.

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I then spent the next few hours playing tourist. I went to a mosque, because why not? Then I went through Chinatown and walked past the palace gardens (At first I thought it was an open park, but the sign of a person holding a rifle saying ‘no unauthorised access allowed’ soon told me otherwise…) then finally went to the zoo. I previously wrote about this which you can read here: https://sirlewisofclarke.wordpress.com/2019/12/01/johor-bahru-zoo-definitely-not-going-in-oh-look-what-happened/

That evening I had a spicy as foque spag bol. I didn’t plan on it being that spicy, but if I did have any dodgy bacteria brewing in my stomach those chillies got rid of them pretty sharpish!

The next day involved going to Singapore (https://sirlewisofclarke.wordpress.com/2019/11/30/hi-singapore-i-need-a-wee/) and when I got back in the evening I decided after such a long day I wanted a big meal that wasn’t processed. So I ordered a butter chicken combo but I gambled and lost; the food was horrendous, and clearly not fresh. You can’t win them all, but I know never to eat there again…

I left the next day on a long ass bus back to KL, as I’ve decided I think it is time to go back to Thailand soon. I love Malaysia, but if I want to keep that love affair going I need to leave before I overstay my welcome and it becomes tedious here. I want to leave with positive memories, not thinking, “I hung onto it for too long…”

So overall the Larkin Sentral area is pretty shitake mushroomy. The good news is if you have to stay here (or just want a base by the bus station to do a Singapore trip) there is a really good (and cheap) hotel called Ghazrins Hotel. The staff are friendly and even though it is basic, it is all you need really.

Johor Bahru Zoo. Definitely not going in. Oh look what happened…?

“A zoo? Nah, you’re alright. Who would want to go to a tiny zoo?” I laughed to myself. Actually, no I didn’t. I thought this to myself as I was exhausted from all the walking I had done, and was ready to see the nearby mosque then head back to the hotel.

After the mosque I walked back past the zoo and said to myself, “I wonder how much it would be to go in. You know, just for reference…” Like I was contemplating a gateway drug. I went there and saw it was 2 ringgit to get in (40p) so after umming and arring about reasons not to go in, I thought ‘sod it, let’s get addicted to zoos!’

“I bet it is foqueing terrible…” I thought to myself with a smile as I walked in. I expected a derelict zoo, I got a small zoo, but by no means derelict.

I overheard some random girl talking in Malay and half way through the sentence she said the word ‘camel’ and pointed straight, so that was my first port of call.

Interestingly the camels looked quite free. Well, they weren’t caged in. Then I did a loop around the zoo and saw some birds, monkeys, reptiles and a pretty chilled out hippo. Then I came across a monkey sitting on top of a tree without a care in the world. Everyone should aspire to be that monkey…

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I was about to leave thinking I’d seen everything, then I saw a sign saying there were tigers, elephants and bears. They weren’t lying; I walked not too far to my left and saw the animals. Again, not looking neglected; they actually looked really relaxed. Except for the tiger. The tiger looked pissed off for some reason…

So the zoo only took 30-45 minutes to walk all the way around, but there was enough to see and considering the price it is absolutely worth it. On a hot day you don’t want to be wandering around for five or six hours trying to get your money’s worth, so this mini-zoo for less than 50p was a great excursion that isn’t exactly energy draining.

I’d say if it leads to the animals having more interaction and being well fed, that this is a highly recommended place to go if you have some time to kill in Johor Bahru, or have just come over the border from Singapore and don’t want to do anything too strenuous.