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South-East Asia (2019) Thailand

The Return of the Lobster-tan

It were blazing days and mi amour and I resided in a beauty of a room on Koh Tao. The government controlled travel agency had taken care of us these past days and it took time off of our hands. Though I had been reluctant, getting overwhelmed by the making of advanced plans, the Dutch in me had risen when I learned the financial benefits it would have. And despite the incompetence that had shown after the escapades in Khao Yai park, manifesting in an indolent and impatient man’s errors being brought to our blame and the wrongful bookings we had to fix, it was a pleasant experience.

Now, what brought us to this deserted island was our need for harmony from the amassing of nationalities we had witnessed in the Thai capital. A break-away from the tourists, if you must. Given, we did have the national park, however we decided to change the scenario. And where better to go to than Koh Tao, an island stamped with tourist-free by T, an old co-worker of mine. During our ferry there however, and a short amble about, it began to sink in that perhaps T’s definition of “Not so touristy” does not resonate to that of mine. Que sera sera. It took us a long haul to get to the island from the national park, including a night on a bunk-bed-train listening to a heavy-sized American babbling, making flirty remarks towards an uninterested local and grunting phrases and snores whilst awake, or sleepwalking, or both. He was a strange man without boundaries. Anyhow, we eventually arrived on the island and our nights there were booked and the room was lovely! The room was of such comfort we were convinced to have scammed the government – which might explain why she initially accidentally booked a night too few and our accommodation wasn’t the promised pricier cottage at the beach. But since we got our agreed upon night back and the two of us didn’t march and fret at the thought of a minute’s longer walk to get to the sandy border, there was no problem. So, what was the rush, eh?

The second we had fully settled in, the drinking and eating commenced. Something we lacked with the skipping of meals due to odd restaurant times in the national park. I cultivated the lost mass through burgers, pad thai, rice and noodles, sets of Singha and Changi with an occasional cocktail and mojito. We scoped out about every restaurant for a dish and only once our craving bellies were satiated we began the scavenging of activities.

One that had caught our lingering eye was a boat tour around the island, inclusive of snorkelling and swimming side by side with fishes and possibly turtles and sharks whilst admiring the corals. As the enticing title allured you here with a story of the lobster-tan, I find it near superfluous to point out that the seas that day lacked sharks. The turtles appeared at a bare minimum – none we saw – and the corals weren’t even a fraction of the wonders we witnessed at previous dives. I try not to constantly refer to the magical archipelago, however having experienced the corals and marine life in the Philippines, snorkelling elsewhere hardly wowed. As kickoff was the picturesque island near the port we embarked the boat from. That was where the trouble began.

Walking the wooden planks heading towards the viewpoint, my shoulders and neck were introduced to the flaming sun leaving a burning tingle that would increasingly escalate as the hours passed. Therefore, majority of our time on it was spent in the shades we could find. Leaving the island in the horizon behind us, the little boat graced over the waves heading from stop to stop with a sun peeking under the roof from an angle. And here, there was no safe haven to hide from apart from a simple towel. Needless to say that during the snorkelling and swimming, we bore no protection from it entirely.

So, as we began that day with the highlight, the day from there on came down to drifting through the salty air as we bit by bit dried out with a swimming break here and there. The club of foreigners began to redden as the day went on and I possible stood out the most, as a beacon of redness. The offshore lighthouse. The return of the lobster-tan. Nearing the end of our trip we wound up bonding with another victim of the fierce sun. She was an American as well, although she fared far better as company than the babbling train-goer and would soon participate in the restaurant-spree. The moment the boat returned to port, we all rushed out to retreat to our accommodations for a longed for cold shower and rest before proceeding to partake in the island’s gifts.

This trip had been unforgettable for reasons unlike most trips. The reason we could not forget, was that weeks thereafter we counted the blisters covering our skin. Bubbles of air dotted all over our necks, shoulders, backs and arms. Our time on beaches thereafter was spent with clothing covering every bit of skin including the face as the slightest ray touching it burned like hell. Showers, hot or cold, were unbearable. The shifting of our bed sheets or the mere light touch of a shirt sliding onto the shoulders caused a stinging pain. Our days at a paradise of an island was a time of chasing shades. That sun and its burn had us in its grip for weeks to follow. We became strongly aware of how dangerous and damaging the sun truly can be.

With that, as I hilariously look back with a sly smile, I do wish you tread with care when it comes to the sun and its strength. Do not underestimate the damage it can do to your skin.

Categories
Life outside of travel

Welcoming her home

At last, the tiny Filipina hidden behind her trolley rolled through the gate with tired eyes and a dreary face that screamed to have gone through hell. Short domestic flights with her hand tightly gripped into her lover’s had been an anxiety-riddled adventure. One must imagine the peaking of adrenaline and anxiousness when she stood alone on the Filipino airport, about to embark on a multiple flight journey of over 20 hours. Cheeks came doused with tears, dried over the hour-long flight and a heart was beating at an alarming rate throughout, but she bit down and fought through to finally arrive in Schiphol, Netherlands. A smile of exhaustion and weariness painted her face as she shyly moved closer to me and my father. A father I was glad to still be there and not hauled off by the Dutch military police after a near incident. After introducing the two to each other, we walked the same route I did a month before upon returning home.

I remember the drive home being foggy as ever, diminishing the views of the lowlands from our car, however with a dozing off girlfriend simply pleased to be back in the arms of her boyfriend it hadn’t been the greatest bother. For once, the restaurant on the way as usual stop was skipped and we headed straight for the house. Her to-be home. The pets and cuddles with the dogs were curt, since we quickly thereafter had taken on a horizontal position and caught up on some due sleep before introducing her to the initial Dutch unhealthy snacks.

From the day that I met her til the moment she stood bearing her encharming smile at the airport, I indubitably got to know more about her than anyone can claim. To this point, she seemed a perfect fit for me. For reasons unknown, she puts up with my weird, childlike behaviour and accepts as well as endorses and loves the wandering side of me, which means the acceptance of staying at our future home whilst I am off and to be open to migration more than once. However, the final tests remained within the Dutch culinary masterpieces and her opinion on such. So, the same day and weeks to follow I dragged her to local snackbars, the Wall of Febo and through stands of liquorice, stroopwafels and baked goods at supermarkets. With hopeful eyes I gazed at her as she put her teeth into a soft bread with a long croquette and atop of it a mush of mustard. My prayers and pleas had been answered when she shivered out of giddy excitement and exclaimed her love for the food, along with all other – admittedly unhealthy – that I had shoved down her throat.

After the Dutch delights, it remains without a doubt important how well she fares with my family. Bearing gifts from the marble capital Romblon, the two of us trotted up and down, hopping on the train for a weekend at my mom’s, followed by cycling through town to visit the grandmother, another deceased grandma’s sister and my aunt, meeting up with my sister and bonding with the younger brothers. One of them already excelling in English would understand every bit whereas the other would progressively gain more knowledge during her stay. And besides the grandma, everyone appeared to have a handle on the language and within family she clicked in perfectly, as she learned my trait of weirdness had been an overflowing mixture of that of both my mom’s and dad’s. And having met my sister and younger brothers, it is clear that there runs no exception. Nonetheless, she coped and chuckled along with the jesters.

Though, 18 months had been far too long. And you might take the globetrotter and put him back in his country, but you can’t remove the wanderlust nor stop the flowing of his traveller’s blood. At times, its flow is tranquil and hardly palpable, but with every beat it flows. So, the second the commotion of welcoming and uniqueness had died down and work, the same, unaltered, routinely tasks had reached boiling point of the pot that is monotonous, stale and bleak, my lust for being on the move came to a rise. The only distinction was, with an Asian’s arm locked into mine, I became tourist in own country!

For those utterly confused regarding the timeline, this belated blog post is written about the events on begin 2019, shortly after returning home from my South-East Asia and Australia venture. However, with the rapid speed I am currently writing at, soon, hopefully not too soon, they’ll be completely up-to-date. For now, to the travellers reading this, have you been tourist in own country?

Categories
Life outside of travel

Grateful for my home of family and friends

Returning home after a year and a half of travelling and working had been one of the strangest feelings I have had. Upon arrival, my father had been at the airport along with my younger brother whom had shot up into the sky over the past time. In a few minutes we caught up before striding the usual path towards the parking lot. Then, after a dull ride and the usual stop at the restaurant along the way, I saw my house again, standing with few minor changes at the same spot it stood when I had left. The Belgian Shepherds had whined and cried upon seeing me and I shed a near tear when over time their fur had changed significantly and for a split second I barely recognised them. Soon, I gallantly flung my backpack onto my shoulder and marched upstairs on the spiralling stairs to my room. A room barely touched, apart from the swept dust and vacuumed carpet. I had felt odd. Even to this day, I find it hard to believe to have been separated from my family and friends for a period so long at that age. Though the years of travelling have gotten me acquainted with, heartbreaking as it is, saying farewell to many newly-made friends with expectations of never seeing them, it is a different story and feeling when those friends – and family – are the ones from your country of birth. The country you had your childhood in. Despite my school years not always having been the greatest for me, though I have no clue why I had struggled, I was accompanied by a bunch of great friends and in the weeks to come I was to see and meet them and it felt strange.

Strange, because I was unsure about how thick and close these friendship truly were. Eighteen months is a long time and for some moments I had felt further away from them than I wished to feel. Of all of them. I had travelled and worked and along with it bonded through which I created and shaped friendships I never imagined would continue to be. Brothers and sisters in Malaysia, both locals and other travellers, with whom many drinks and tales have been shared, a new family in the Philippines and Aussie workmates turning into everlasting buddies had entered my life and it frightened me a bit to have them at such a distance and that perhaps my riveting ventures had caused a distance between me and my old friends.

There is no shame in it and I wouldn’t have blamed anyone as I had vanished from everyone’s life for what seemed forever. However, despite my disappearance, friends I hadn’t even realised to still have re-entered themselves into my life through a psychedelic experience, my ever loyal friends made time for me and we caught up on stuff in the time we had and I went by train to other towns to view apartments and slurp the end of a cold bottle. A previous co-traveller showed up in town and the same foolery had been present.

It made me grateful of having expanded my group of friends to a broad international one without losing a single compatriot, despite being away for seeming ceaseless periods. It makes me proud to say I have a great set of friends and that is something to cherish in a treacherous world of distrust and wrong-doers. It made me, besides the happiness I got from seeing my family and relatives over the days of the first week, feel glad to be back home and though I got many questions asking if it was hard to return to a travel-less way of life, it felt right.

And I am grateful of you, for still reading these swiftly jotted down tales and thoughts. Up next, I will take you into the world of psychedelics as I go through my own experience.

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South-East Asia (2017-2018)

Dubai Airport

The Pakistanis did not leave their habits at home as they took off from the Islamabad airport. I noticed this when upon landing in Dubai, the insides of the air-plane at seemed as if someone had run by with a torn garbage bag. Despite the effortless attempts of the stewards and stewardesses to collect everyone’s empty bottles, plastics and other junk, the passengers had hoarded it, to at final minutes litter the entire place. Baffled by the disrespect and lacking of courtesy, I stepped over the left-behind mess and made my way to the exit. Initially, I was supposed to have a few hours on hand, however a sudden change with my airline had left me with half a day in this capital of emirates. Unlike in Oman, I had no intention of heading for the city and attempted to make the airport my temporary home the way Tom Hanks did in the Terminal. For that reason, I took my time and calmly sauntered through the gateway leading me away from the plane.

The last bit of traveller’s spirit had dripped out during my stay in Pakistan and I had been yearning for my home. To make these long-some hours pass by more rapidly, I had entered the well-known Hard-Rock cafe to only be reminded by my second home. A young Filipina welcomed me into a stool and with a broad smile stood before me awaiting the order. As I asked for a beer from the tap, she raised her eyebrow and with an apologetic tone she asked for my passport. A melancholic-doused smile appeared on my face as I slid a hand into my backpack searching for the passport. The hint of her accent had made me beam, however it reminded me I was far from seeing my love again. As she confirmed my age, explaining that here the age is 21 and above, my eyes wandered around and I noticed many a Filipina and Filipino galloping around the bar either scribbling down orders on their notepads of people coming for a meal accompanied with music or carrying trays bearing tiny glasses with inside a translucent liquid most likely to numb the senses and crush the filter of words.

Lily poured me one of the finest crafts, as she answered the question on my mind; “The Filipinos basically run this airport.” I could find a trace of pride when she talked about all her fellow compatriots that went through the same effort to work alongside her on this side of the security. She sighed with a smile as she placed the beer on the coaster. As soon as she did, the tiny droplets on the outside of the tower of a glass descended down and wetted the coaster. With Pakistan’s beer coming in a can and tap beer being scarce in the Philippines, it had been some months since I had a beer so mouthwatering. Taking in my first delicious sip of the golden drink that came in perfect to speed up time, my thumb and index finger folded open the receipt which I studied intensely. Unexpectedly, I had a hefty amount of rupees left from my trip and that what I could, I had exchanged moments before entering the bar. With my wallet full of dirham, I was unaware of its worth. Possibly the distraction of the Filipina and her reminding accent or the bewitching keg of draught beer had me forget the number one rule of travelling; to always check the currency.

As I choked on my lavish beverage upon seeing its costs in my own currency, the bartender had returned and asked me if I had ever been to the Philippines, now that I knew her nationality. This question had been a gateway of topics that had us conversing for the majority of my beer. A beer I nurtured due to its price. Apparently, she and I had a lot in common as we both lived in the torment of a long-distance relationship and the same issues as well as thoughts on how to cope with those. As we talked the time away, a black man had watched us with his perfect, white as snow teeth shining from the dimmed booth he shared with Lily. He wore the same uniform and stood alongside her, though rising far above her, thus I assumed he worked there as well. However he was obviously not one of her compatriots, which rose my curiosity. Seeming eager to jump into the conversation, he grabbed his opportunity when she had to trot off to continue work. During this, I had shamelessly ordered a second posh beer, waving away my guilt by stating it is my last travel money anyhow. Picking up where she had left, the man engaged me with tons of questions before proudly, and warranted to do so, explaining how he, a man from Nigeria wound up serving drinks and meals at an airport in Dubai.

But nearing the end of his tale, he got interrupted by a cheerful blast resonating from a speaker somewhere near. He sighed and chuckled as his eyes averted to the ground. “It’s time”, he said in a voice of subtlety leaving me with a mind of questions. With long strides he marched towards the entrance where there stood a small podium. Taller than all his coworkers, he joined them by stepping onto the stage when a familiar sung began to play. Seconds later, I emitted a quiet cackle as I watched them all dance the YMCA. Where the Pakistanis took their habit of littering into the airplane, the Filipinos carried there culture of singing into this filipino-controlled hard-rock cafe and it was an astonishing phenomenon to witness. Upon the finishing of the song, I had a laugh with the two before parting to lounge on one of the comfy laid-back chairs I had spotted some hours before.

I began to feel light-headed, in the dreamy way, as the two tall beers had sufficed to take me on my empty stomach to a state of tipsiness and dreaminess which had made drowsing off relatively easy. Despite a half-day being immensely long and usually seeming to drag on when that time is spent waiting, my Pakistan-Netherlands journey had been one of ease and comfort if you take into mind that I had been gone for 18 months. 18 months and no member of the family, no animal nor human had fallen ill or gotten injured, no grave events had occurred and I was a day away from seeing them and holding the two Belgian Shepherds I cherish so deeply. Going on trips to see my close relatives before heading to the shop for my oh-so longed for unhealthy cravings. To actually ride my rinky-dink bike again that by now, as I write this belated post has been replaced for a superior one. Perhaps most importantly, to be sleeping in my own bed again. With that thought, I fell asleep with a smile on my face.

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Personal Favourites South-East Asia (2017-2018)

All must come to an end

Coming back from Cresta, we had been bedazzled by its beauty, but we knew with it, our trip was to come to an end. Our last day had arrived and dazed by the heat, we thought the Cantingas river to be best for letting the final hours pass before a needed night’s rest. The river was so clear, that it was hard to believe to be exactly that. Its water had enough cool to wash away weeks of unabated sun’s fury and with a lovely view all we needed. Many Filipinos had gathered here, as usual eating and drinking the local whiskey, and my pale skin seemed to stick out. Their eyes had lingered and glared at us resulting in a few initiating small-talks. Others would simply stare and wave. For a slight bit of privacy, we had gone downstream to bathe and savour our final moments while we could as the sun sank down out of sight.

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South-East Asia (2017-2018)

The Pearl; Cresta de Gallo

Cresta de Gallo, a name alone so charming it propelled the idea of the entire trip. Upon further investigation of the tiny, captivating island, my love and I were enticed by its beauty. Having set our plan in motion, it also came as last due to its location. But finally, having hopped from island to island and so on, touring with a tight time-schedule, we had arrived on an early morning at the shore of departure. Going from the nearest land Sibuyan, we headed to the dot in a minuscule boat. A boat that remarkably took us there unscathed through the boisterous waves. I had not figured it would take us out that far, as it is the smaller version of a bangka, which might explain why the way there took unexpectedly long.

Neither of us minded the long haul however, since we had come from far to visit this pearl. When we arrived, I had been surprised, near shocked, when I found that it was only us. Us, the two guys manning the boat and the care taker of the island – plus his moonstruck cousin. We had been told stories before by the locals of previous islands and from what we had heard, there used to be a couple on the island. They had lived there and been granted the island by the government. Yes, they actually owned the island, though it was under the condition that they would not sell it. Now that they had grown old, they had moved and their family would upkeep the place. After a welcome, we began to wander around. The entire island was vacated, the most breathtaking combination of beach and sea I had ever seen and we had it all to ourselves for as long as we wished it to be.

Accompanied by a dozen starving dogs, we could not help but have mixed feelings about the gorgeous place. No matter how bewitching it is, there is little crueller than to keep dogs on an island that bears little to nothing and to then treat them poorly. As a small consolation, we fed them most of our snacks before venturing around the island. One dog of the bunch had decided he wanted more of the peanut-butter crackers and had separated himself from the pack to join us. We wanted to experience as much as we could, as well as bring home a picture captivating enough to draw envy from those back home. Thus, with a little canine sauntering behind us, we filmed and photographed the beauty spots, meandered the perfect white sand, soaked up the sun fierce-fully blazing us on this blessed day and went for a dip into the refreshingly cool and blue water.

Hours had passed and it felt like an endless experience no one could take from us. Though these hours could fill many pages of enticing reasons what makes this islands a paradise, as the evening grows late, I will keep it short and simply let the pictures tell my tale. When enough time had spent burning to a crisp, we had decided to unhurried return to land and say bye to the paradise and the adorable puppers on it. We left bewitched and in amour. Would we ever return, it would be bearing dog treats and a tent.

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South-East Asia (2017-2018)

A MARBLE-OUS ISLAND

Romblon, known as the capital of marble, is home to a mesmerising marine life, picturesque beaches, a historic fort and over 38,000 people that are all but rude. It being one of the few islands with an actual tourist office, standing lonesome on the main square near the harbour, it is actually welcoming. Welcoming in the sense that a friendly – and chatty – woman awaits you with with advice on all surrounding islands, but also that wherever you venture off to, you are met with the smiles and waves of the friendly locals. Though the globetrotters come in scarce here, there are a plenty foreign, usually European entrepreneurs, having their business here. Therefore, even those that get overwhelmed by other cultures can find their peace here and enter a restaurant for a chewy German schnitzel or have a chat with the friendly Brit and Italian next door. If you wish to do a bit more than amble from diner to diner, worry not as this tiny island will surprise you with the beauties it beholds.

Now, aside from a presence in the cuisine, Europe has wiggled its roots in the history of many a island including Romblon, leaving various historical and heritage structures after Spain’s reign. The historic fort San Andres stands out the most as it looms over the city and sea, making it the absolute perfect spot for a sunset view. Since the climb there is on a set of tall, steep steps, the time the sun sheds its final lights is indeed best, as these steps paired with the Asian heat can be more than harsh. Expect to be met by the head of the organisation for reparation and maintenance, aka the guard and his friendly pup. This man, indubitably, will welcome you and if the place is not too hectic give you a free tour – but do tip. He will show and tell you all about the crumbling fortress that due to the massive and diligent restoration with the help of copious local as well as foreign volunteers remains to be a highlight of the petite island.

Of course, one does not go to these parts of the Philippines to solely admire the remainders of European influence. Though we did not get to experience the outer islands or any water-based activities due to harsh weather, we did get to tour around the island. On this ride-around, we came upon what in my opinion is, after Cresta de Gallo, the allurement of these waters; Bon-bon beach and Bang-ug island. Depending on which way you go around the island, this is either the final or immediate stop being close to the main city Poblacion. After stalling the scooter we rented for the day, we arrived on a long stretch of glistening, white sand. Sauntering along the water, the two of us headed for the island. Since the stretch is a fair walk, a ton of sunscreen is necessary to leave unscathed. Because the sun shone bright, at times feeling like a scourging whip of heat, but adding to the picturesque view that was sand, sea and sky. As if it was not enough, a rocky island of greenery fills the view with a breathtaking walkway of sand leading you through the sea at the right tidal. To our surprise it had been us, and us alone to admire the piece of art and without a queue or wait we took some of my favourite pictures before continuing.

Though this visit will leave the stops to follow in the dust, it is worthy to follow the not-so descriptive map and try to navigate yourself around the island in the search for the competing beaches, a lighthouse, a waterfall and to pass by the quarries before making your way back to the city or your accommodation. Romblon, of the Romblon province is a challenge alone to get to, but aside from dismaying the mass, has got an arsenal of sights. And upon departure, there is a world of souvenirs to take with, as the islet brings a strong game in the marble universe with competitive quality and for a reasonable price. Time to stuff your bag with gifts for the family!

How much effort would you put in to getting somewhere lovely but hard to get to? Or are you one that would put in effort not to have to go there and rather relax at the beach of your hotel?

Categories
Personal Favourites South-East Asia (2017-2018)

A brick of the wall of fear

Back in my lover’s arms, it was not long before I dragged her with me from island to island in the beautiful archipelago. A short flight had taken us to the well-known Cebu where both of us would, without truly realising it yet, face our fears. Though it would be under mild conditions, nonetheless it required a big swallow and hopefully it is a brick in the build-up of the real deal. For my lovely Filipina, it is the water she fears. No, she is not scared of the kiddie-pool or anything to that liking. It is the depth of the endless oceans and seas as well as the big creatures within that intimidate her. Nonetheless, time after time she had proven herself to be bigger and stronger through the swimming and snorkelling we had done up to that point. But, today would be different, today would be a terrifying day for her.

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Australia (2018) Personal Favourites

Working in one of the greatest cities

There was an annoying tune coming from my phone, as it did every morning, announcing the start of my day. It hadn’t dawned yet, but that was winter. Which was a season that packed quite some chill for a country known for its heat. Some of the cold had crept into the house and reluctant to unleash myself from the warm grip of the thick, snug blanket, I tended to snooze my alarms. Each time giving up a morning’s privilege. Starting off with a grand breakfast becoming a quick sandwich and banana. Then I’d have to skip the hot shower that warmed me up before embracing the cool outside. Finally, it would end in me speeding into my clothes and rushing off. Everyday it got a tad colder and it was always a struggle of wanting to be cold early on with only a sweater, or to drag around a bigger jacket all day once the Australian sun rose and brought its warmth. Because in all fairness, though this part of Australia is the coldest when it comes to winters, it was quite a doable cold. Nowhere near freezing, it was only the icy, fierce wind that stood between me and a comfortable temperature. I’ll give Melbourne that, the winds get tough and hard at times. But if I was lucky, which I never was, it would work in my favour.

Categories
Australia (2018)

A festival experience unlike others

The sun, as usual, was out and bestowed those under it with a pleasant warmth on the late afternoon. Wonderful moods were all around, people smiling and being goofy. I could hear laughter and many involved in lively conversations. Lots of drinks were being consumed, and with that, inevitably, plenty of other substances. From all over, masses had gathered in cars bearing tents, caravans and some had even managed to carry with whole furniture sets to either upgrade their camping setting or for a more comfortable view of the show that would be near the small town Meredith. Amidst the highlands was the festival of Golden Plains, and I, wearing black on black, was going to be working there. There was a bit of confusion though, as I was channelled through a different agency and I somehow ended up being the only person working alone and doing 12-hour shifts. But, it was what I preferred anyways. Because of this special ordeal, I got to enjoy the pleasures of both conversing with coworkers as well as having my own escape.

When the clock struck six, my shift began. The entirety of the evening and night, I would be scavenging for all garbage amongst the dancing crowds, as well as empty all the bins from the amphitheatre to the food stalls, the outskirts and the beginning of the camping. The thing I must applaud the organisers for, is that together with paid workers were a bunch of volunteers working half a day for a free ticket, which releases any stress from the job and quite frankly, made working a pleasure. I emptied bin after bin, whilst listening to the music and watching people glow with joy. All dressed with their own, at times strange styles, all types of people poured in as the hours passed. The outer parts viewing the stage was now a maze of comfy sofas and chairs, with unopened cans forgotten and lost. A few hours in, I bumped into a volunteer, with whom I joined the dancing cluster and together we picked up rubbish thrown on the ground. Now, here a surprising personality of these folk awaited me. People began thanking me for my service as if I just came back from fighting a war. They shook my hand and helped along. Before we knew it, a bunch of them during their dance moves cleaned up half the area for us. Once the volunteer had done her hours, she was off to join the other side.

Another benefit of being solo, was that I made my own breaks. So, whenever most of the rubbish was dealt with, I would take off my high-vis, open up a found, forgotten can and keep it company as I joined in with the festival-goers. Making friends went easily, both on and off duty. On duty, I eventually got to waste away some hours with two guys who oversaw most of the ground by car, as well as handled diverse smaller tasks. From cleaning up a faeces massacre that had occurred in a shower to assisting a highly buzzed lady from a cold ditch to a warm tent, they managed it. This was on the second day, when they pitied my long, lonesome hours and shoved me inside their jeep. For the better half, we simply drove around searching for anything out of the ordinary. Apart from the mentioned wasted woman, there was little to do.

It was three days of hard work as I cleaned, cleared and partially broke down, and with that, one of the better jobs of my working history. And despite having worked basically the entirety of the festival, with fun coworkers, a job not too stressful nor hard and people on ground helping, I had felt I experienced it all the same except with an impressive pay. My hat goes off to the organisers, as they did, in my opinion a terrific job.