Freaks + geeks

There was a girl who talked to freaks.

You: ?

Me (hissing): “Shut up, I’m quoting some poetry here.”

*ahum*

There was a girl who talked to freaks
She understood them, and they her
One day she looked into a crystal stream
and saw in its bed a diamond
she picked it up and placed it in her hair

she did so

as she did so, she turned into a freak
it was then revealed that the other freaks,
she magically had understood,
were once human like her

You: “Mmmkay that doesn’t make sense, Ev.”

Well it’s an adaptation of a Cocorosie song which I geniusly altered to my new favorite tv show :

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You can watch it on Netflix. Or try Youtube for free!

It’s kinda like ‘That 70’s Show’ but situated in the 80’s. And it has been around for ages. It was the first acting gig for a lot of actors who became famous later on.

It’s about this achiever kid Lindsay who is a mathlete, decides not to be a geek anymore but to hang out with a bunch of burnouts instead.

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Hell I would be a burnout if I could hang with James Franco and Seth Rogan.

Squat goals!

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Errr, I mean squad goals.

Freaks and Geeks - Season 1

L-R: Seth Rogen as Ken Miller, Jason Segel as Nick Andopolis, Linda Cardellini as Lindsay Weir, and James Franco as Daniel Desario

I have always fancied James Franco as an actor but after seeing him on ‘Freaks and Geeks’ I desperately want to sodomize him.

You: ???

Me: Well, I hear he’s gay but he doesn’t want the world to know about it.

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Anyway. Some of the plot lines are very adaptable to my life. Apart from the fact I’m not in school anymore and I don’t smoke weed (that often): I’m a definite burnout! I’m channeling my inner punk. Heck, I even sneakily blasted ‘Anarchy in the U.K.’ by the Sex Pistols through the speakers the other day.

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Well, relax. I’m not going to walk around with egg white spikes in my hair or walk the streets with a head full of acid, but I do understand the punk way of thinking.

I don’t know if it’s the trashy Berlin vibe of the café I work at, the tattoo TV shows I binge watch, Trump unpacking his personals in the Oval office or just another super moon, but I just don’t feel like following the rules too much anymore. Even dogs go to heaven, right? And there are a lot of good people who live their life according to the book who don’t.

Punk basically promotes the act of ‘thinking for yourself’. And that’s all I’ve been doing this year. Analyzing, questioning, nonconforming. Because it came naturally to me. The more I walk off the beaten path the more I feel this uninspired way of living: getting up each day, leaving for work with a worn out face, coming home with a worn out face, not enjoying anything, being an apathetic slave to society isn’t the way I want to live my life.

Example: I happen to know quite a lot of people who studied, have a degree in some higher study like business management, civil engineering, sports physics, … but deliberately serve coffee, work in a store, pick up garbage, … Every day these people get asked if they aren’t too smart for the job they do. And I think it’s exactly this narrowed way of thinking that makes our economy, our society, sick.

You don’t have to stay an engineer and reply emails all day if you discover it’s not really your trade. You made the choice to become one when you were 18. If you feel you would be better at serving coffee with crazy latte art, then why should you feel restricted to go do that? If you pour coffee and it’s the thing you love most in the world, don’t you think a bit of that love drips in the cup and makes that customer a little more happy too?

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I just really feel people are doing way too much against their will. They’re being deliberately sodomized by the system, man.

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And that’s how you create diseases, cancer and mental breakdowns.

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Life at the café is a good example of this point I’m trying to make. I experience a lot of interesting encounters behind my counter. I talk to people. Listen to them. Share stories, insights and laughs. Also pain. Some come to me to talk about their troubles. A bad day at work. A date that got blown off. A brain tumor that needs to be removed. A marriage that has gone sideways.

Now, I don’t really like being confronted with people’s problems too much but I designed my own signature way of dealing with these cases.

I don’t speak.

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I just listen. And when the waterworks come, I quietly slip a napkin under their beer card and whisper: “Go ahead. This stays between us”.

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Just let it all out K-boy

Because of the world presenting itself to me in various shapes, colors and tastes,  customers provide me with a lot of insights in life. Some bright. Some somber.

The other day I was gazing outside and reminiscing about life and asking myself some fundamental questions about my future. Our future.  And the reason why we are put on this Earth.

My boss: “There is no reason, kid. This is all there is to it. I hate to give it to you, but take it from a man who has lived.”

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Funny thing: I didn’t really feel like disagreeing with him. Even though he’s only 50 % right.

It’s a crazy thing called ‘living’. We’re all trapped together in a limited time and space zone and don’t really know what to do with our time being here. We just fill up the blanks. Make time pass quicker when we’re at work and try to press pause when we’re on holiday. The only thing we know for sure is that we’ll all die one day.

Being limited, we should all be capable to make the most out of it. But instead we fuck everything up. We destroy, overindulge, hate, fight, complain, cheat, … we let our egos get in the way.

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Also, with time being so limited, we all feel the deadline. And the need to desperately leave a mark. A footprint. We want the world to know who we are and to remember us. We don’t want to disappear in the history books a loser. We all want to be winners and be better than our neighbor. But often fail doing so.

Greed is such a disease. We should shake it.
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Tone down your expectations. Of yourself, of others, of life in general and just try to do good, enjoy the ride and pick up as many memories while doing so. It is the only way of dealing with this mortal fight.

To be kind to your kin.

And your knees.

And to live as much in the moment as possible.

Wherever you are, to really be there. Whatever you do, to really do it. I think it’s the only way to savor each day and actually come as close as you can get to something called ‘happiness’. Take it from a burnout.

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On that thought, I recently started to Snap myself into the moment.

You: “Oh great, just be more egotistical that will solve all of our problems.”

Me: “Oh please… I had some accounts before but I just never really was a fan of it until now. All of a sudden I felt the need to snap. And I also understood it better. It’s a great way to share your vision, to make mini movies, tell cool stories, … I guess my after movie inspired me to do it.”

In case you haven’t yet, you can check it right here:

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And it’s SUPER compatible with the blog and a great addition to my multi media strategy in my bid to transcend this earth and start life on a different planet with James Franco!

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Look, I already snapped this before you read it. How meta am I?

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You: “As if you’re living someone else’s drug dream…I’m calling your mother.”

Me: “Wait! You don’t want to stay around to see me get my ears pierced with infected pins???”

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Snap you later! 

==> Follow me: evdelgouffe aka ‘Blonde Clueless

XO

The power of Chi

As you could read in my previous post, life in this academy can be quite confronting. You get confronted with your limits, your incapabilities, your doubts and your fears. But the thing I’ve been experiencing most problems with. Is how confronting my age has suddenly become.

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A lot of these kids here are around 21, there are even some 17-18-19 year olds of which I thought they were actually my age.

When I was that age, enrolling in a martial arts school in a far away country to train 40 hours a week was the furthest thing on my mind. I was too busy being a book worm, studying and providing for my future. I was very career minded. Very serious, actually. And very insecure. I was always worried about what other people would think of me. I was always trying to fit in and if somebody would say a mean thing about me, that would bother me for days.

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With age, I learned not to care about that anymore. That’s one of the few positive sides of aging.

However. Some comments do still affect me. They don’t hurt me. They just fucking piss me off. For instance, when my article on HLN.be got published about traveling without a plan and living life to the fullest, I couldn’t help but check how people were reacting to it. Most of the comments were good. But, of course, there were also some bad comments. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. And you don’t have to agree with me and my way of living. Different people, different ideas. It’s just the way some people pin you down instantly as a selfish brat that probably hasn’t got any sick relatives to take care of, and shouldn’t expect any help from others when she is in trouble, is just so narrow minded that it drives me claustrophobically insane. If someone would say this to my face I would fucking rip theirs off.

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First of all: No, I don’t have a sick relative to take care of. Lucky me! And lucky relatives of mine! That we’re all healthy and perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves.

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Seconds: I don’t believe people should need other people or that people should put their lives on hold for others. Of course if my mother or father was sick, I would take care of them. But I wouldn’t stop living. The day before I left, someone close to me got really upset about me leaving because she needed me to be there because she was having a baby soon… I couldn’t believe anyone could demand me to stay for the sake of her choosing to reproduce. That just didn’t fit in my head. I’m sorry but I’m not gonna neglect myself because of others. This is my life and I choose how I live it.

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But then again, I’m not super human either. So I do ask myself that question occasionally:

AM I BEING SELFISH?

The way it began for me: I really needed to leave my everyday routine and live completely in the moment. I believe people who choose to do so, don’t have to feel bad about that. For example Maryam, who I met in Tasmania, her mother back in Iran was really sick but that didn’t prevent her from traveling around Australia. And her mother didn’t blame her. Is she selfish? No way. It’s not like she was getting wasted every night, partying away. She was there dealing with her own personal struggles and challenges while dealing with her mother’s sickness. People need to understand that going away to travel for longer periods of time isn’t about lying on a deck of a cruise ship, sipping frozen strawberry margaritas and doing nothing. No, that’s holidaying. Traveling is embarking on a journey to gain important life lessons from it. And that usually doesn’t always go as expected, or doesn’t necessarily have to be a better life than the one you had at home. It’s all about experiencing, learning, to seek confrontation with yourself and others. Surviving basically.

To do that on your own requires braveness, independence and creativity. People blame us travelers for taking the easy way out, running away from responsibilities, but honestly if I really wanted to have an easy life I would have just stayed at home, curled up in my comfort zone. My life isn’t easier. It has simplified, yes. Cause I took all the bad Chi out, and only keep the good Chi.

You: “Sorry Evvy, but what is Chi exact-ly?”

Me: Ahaa! Very good question, You-san!

Chi (or Qi) is the fundamental life force that flows through all and everything. It basically differentiates a living human being from a corpse.

(again)

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A strong life force makes a human being totally alive, alert and present while a weak force results in sluggishness and fatigue. You can increase and develop your Chi to overcome illness, become more vibrant and enhance mental capacity.

That’s what Taiji and Qigong are all about. If I would only find a way to shut up my mind while I stand there frozen for 40 minutes with my eyes closed and knees bent, while trying to find a magnetic sensation between my fingertips.

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Basically you should think about your body, your blood flow, … Or birds. Birds are always good. It should bring you into an elevated state of being. If you achieve in doing that, Godzilla could drop in the school yard and you wouldn’t even move a muscle.

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“Shit, they’re doing Qigong. There goes my terrifying entrance.”

Or how coach Ariel likes to put it: “No matter what happens, no matter how much it hurts, do not open your eyes, do not drop your arms, do not straighten your legs, just focus on your laogong* points.”

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That basically means if someone would stand next to you and burn your face with a Bunsen burner, or fire gun shots at you, you are not supposed to move. Yeah, it’s advanced. ***

(*** BTW coach Ariel did an awesome thing this week. He broke a brick with his bare hand while holding an egg inside his palm. Guess what?? The egg didn’t break! The egg was real alright, he showed us after. Right before his palm magically gave birth to an unidentified living sentinel thing with sharp teeth!)

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… Okay that last part I made up…

I think this whole Chinese philosophy thing is super interesting, though. But sometimes it’s a lot to process. Especially when the lessons are in Chinese, and the school translator isn’t doing a very good job getting the point across. I was following a Taoism class the other day and I just couldn’t understand everything the master was explaining us. I was #dafuq’ing all over the place.

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During that class we were supposed to learn about Feng Shui. But at the end the only thing I actually remembered was that it means Wind – Water. I decided to run over to Amanda, the weirdest of translators, always wearing the most colorful and funny outfits, and ask her the obvious question:

Me: “Amanda, what in da funk is the difference between Chi and Feng Shui?”

She stared at me with her beady eyes, not really understanding how I had just came out of a one hour Taoism class about Feng Shui still asking that question.

Amanda: “Well, Feng Shui is all about harmony around you. Your home, the trees, the buildings around you, … They have to be aligned so that the wind/water can flow without blockages. While Chi is the energy inside your body. If someone has a weak voice, for example, then that person has weak Chi. If a person has a strong voice than that person has a strong Chi. Got it?

(Mind = blown)

Wow, Amanda had just provided me with an interesting insight there. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this academy so far -besides spider man crawls, walking push ups and Russian push ups- it’s definitely how to speak loudly and raise my voice.

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My whole life I’ve been too much of an introvert to do that properly. And sometimes I just swallowed words or I would begin a sentence loudly and end it softly. Mumbling. When we train I yell it out like crazy. My punch doesn’t come out without a loud and clear : TSE HA! They taught me that the first day. To scream and shout, to do your movements with power. The Shifu is always screaming: ‘Louder! More Power!’ And when we do laps around the school yard we always count as loud as we can. Like soldiers.

Leader: ‘Yi Er, Yi Er, Yi Er, Yi  … (group echo: Yi Er, Yi Er, Yi Er, Yi)
Leader: Yi Er, San Si (group echo: Yi Er, San Si)
Leader: Yi, Er, Saaaaan Si! (group echo: Yi, Er, Saaaaan Si!

I guess that means I have a strong Chi! Thanks Amanda! You made it a lot more clear! Now go back to being weird!

With her clearing up that question, I could finally answer that other question for myself.

AM I BEING SELFISH?

No! Of course not!! If this traveling and experiencing new things is doing all this good to me, then why should I be ashamed of living for me? It took me a while to come up with an antonym for selfish, until I finally got it: if I’m doing this for anything, it’s out of SELF LOVE. And subsequently the love I have for others. The most important people in my life. Cause when I am a stronger Evelien, they’ll gain from it too. If I’m not happy with the way things are going in my life, how can you expect I will be of any beneficence in your life? My Feng Shui would fuck up your Feng Shui, and then we would both end up with bad Chi, shitting that bad Chi on other people, creating a bad Chi-chaos that would eventually bring this whole world to an end.

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Now THAT! would be selfish.

There are no blockages in my system, I can love others much more than I ever could before. I can literally empower others with my Chi. And I will, once I return. You better be ready!

So bottom line:

Screw you guys, Imma do whatever the fuck I want. It’s good for you. It’s good for me. It is the power of Chi. 

Chi you later!

XO

Nourishing my Chi. Out of self love. Of course. Every Saturday I go to the bakery in Mu Ping and treat myself to a nice pineapple pie. It iz zie best! ❤

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Home (-sick)

Homesickness is the distress or impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home.[1] Its cognitive hallmark is preoccupying thoughts of home and attachment objects.[2] Sufferers typically report a combination of depressive andanxious symptoms, withdrawn behavior and difficulty focusing on topics unrelated to home.[3][4][5]

I have thought about home. About my brother, who’s having his first baby soon, my mother who is worried sick about me, my father who is far too active on Facebook and my best friend who now has to go to parties without me…. I have thought about them a lot. But I don’t miss a single one of them…

Ouch Evelien, that’s a pretty harsh thing to say innit?

– Well, … Is it?

I mean, why would I travel all the way to the other side of the world, where everything turns backwards, the seasons are upside down, people drive on the left and the midland looks like Mars? To be pretty damn far away from everything and everyone, I reckon*.

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I have been in South-Australia for almost three weeks now. One week of holiday, two weeks on the farm. And I’m enjoying myself every day.

Why would anyone wanna stay in the South that long? Fact: the rest of the continent considers the southern folks to be a bunch of bacon loving bogans. But the truth is: if it wouldn’t be nice down here, I wouldn’t have stayed this long. And by the look of the Crocs and white socks on my feet, maybe I am just a big bogan too.

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So you know I’m physically doing well. You’ve seen my updates pop up on Instagram and Facebook. But how’s the inner Eve doing? I hear you wonder. As you can read in my bio, I was kinda worn out when I left Belgium. I had reached a ceiling and needed some time to clear my mind. Well, I have had plenty of time to reflect on my life here. I have just spent four hours scrubbing a stove and an oven to absolute polished perfection, just because I found it therapeutic. As I scrub I see my life roll in front of my eyes like a movie. How far I’ve come -literally 15.975,96 km- but also the turns and directions I’ve taken in my life. Some dead ends. But mostly exciting roads that lead to amazing experiences. This farm life definitely puts into perspective how crazy hectic my life was before. The media, the rat race, the constant tap dancing between success and failure.

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But it made me the adventurer I am today, I guess. It’s crazy to see that ME, the girl who used to have such a big fear of being abandoned when she was a kid, became so independent. I used to be scared of everything. I was raised by a bunch of pessimists. Basically everyone in my dad’s family missed out on brilliant careers as safety inspectors. They would always warn me for the dangers in life, all the things that could go wrong.

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Well it didn’t help I grew up in a time where Belgium’s major export product were pedophiles and child molesters. I am still aware of the dangers, I’m not THAT clueless. I keep my eyes open while traveling alone, but I also keep them open to see the good parts. My fear of abandonment has been reduced to minus 1.000.000.000.000. … . I hear some backpackers have their parents over to stay with them for a couple of weeks. I just couldn’t imagine my parents on a 20 hour flight. My mom wouldn’t understand any of the in flight entertainment since the movies -including the menu- are all in English, my father would snore the entire way people would freak out thinking one of the engines fell out.

I’m such a loner, sometimes this worries me. When I imagine my future I think I will live somewhere on a mountain top with my future husband, two kids and two dogs. Somewhere far away from the outside world. Not having to deal with a lot of other people. Just living a very natural way of life. That sounds like bliss.

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I do blame my job for my over independentness… independence… inde… ah whatever! In a good way. It taught me to be inventive, to do deal with problems on the spot, …
I remember my first day as a journo. I had to go to this press event with loads of celebrities attending. I didn’t have any time to prepare. I just jumped in my car and drove with both hands wrapped tightly around the steering wheel since I had just gotten my temporary driver’s license. When I arrived I noticed I had no pen or paper on me (a journo’s basic attire). I had to use my diary and an eye pencil to make notes…

But most of all I blame Disney for making me spend all my life savings on traveling and seeing the world. That company made a hard headed dreamer out of me. Portraying girls who are a little left of center, and want to be part of something bigger. They got me completely brainwashed.

So yeah, I’ve been thinking about life a lot. I still don’t know what I will do when I return to Europe in five months from now. But … -I RECKON- that doesn’t matter. I don’t know what I will be doing next week either, besides going to Melbourne. What I will do there? Where I will sleep? Where I will have a stop on the Great Ocean Road to take my next selfie? Don’t know, don’t care. I just follow my nose. I have done this the past few weeks and it hasn’t let me down so far. In fact: the best plan I ever had was to have no plan at all.

However, I doubt I will just pick up my life where I left it. I left it for a reason, so some things will definitely change. Things will probably simplify more. Other than that I leave all my options open. I’m planning to live life to my full potential. I’m not super confident or anything but I do have a strong belief people can achieve more than they think and let themselves be limited by others too much.

You read my bio, and how much I like to live life to the fullest. I strongly believe in reincarnation. Only I don’t believe you have to die first in order to experience this. If I choose to live a bunch of different lives, acquire a bunch of different trades, I can. It’s not because I don’t speak Japanese, I can’t be speaking it two years from now. It’s not because I am not a triathlete, I can’t be a few months from now. What if I want to become a martial arts expert, who’s gonna stop me? Me? Because I’m a journalist and locked myself into that box till eternity? Ahm… don’t think so.

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You: “So I can become anything I want, ay? Okay Evvy, I wanna become a millionaire.”
– Well why not? It’s not something you just wish for, though. But if you work hard, sure you can be the next Jordan Belfort. Why wouldn’t you?

Just look up some old David Beckham pics and you’ll see ANYTHING is possible in life.

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(#Dafuq?!)

You: “Uhu, and what if I wanna become a Jedi?”
– Well there are lightsaber schools you can attend, so yeah, this is possible. I’m sure you can work something out with your fellow class mates to re-enact some cool Jedi story lines and perform some (staged) mind tricks.

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I know a guy in New York who puts on a super hero costume every day to help authorities fight small criminals. Just don’t get yourself deliberately bitten by a poisonous spider. I’m pretty sure you won’t turn into Spiderman. And if you do, just remember: with great power, comes great responsibility.

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XO

Bank stats: I have been in Australia for almost one month and I have hardly spent a nickel. People don’t need much when you come to think of it. We just like to think we do. I haven’t been wearing much make up either. Only 10 % of what I usually smear on my face every day. Maybe this is why I save up so much money.

* Famous Aussie stop word. They just put it in every sentence possible.

Meeting the Neighbours (snakes, butcher sons and kangaroos on Tinder)

Down Under everything is out to kill you. Even the sun.

An estimated 10,000 venomous spiders inhabiting a variety of ecosystems. Ten of the most deadliest snakes. Some nasty things living in the waters. But every morning I fear the rooster.

I have to tell you he’s a dodgy little feller. And ugly too. He attacks you when you least expect it. I was letting out the chucks -like I do every morning- to feed them when all of a sudden he comes running right at me with his wings open. I had to knock him down three times with my food scrapes bucket until I suddenly realized I was holding a precious weapon. An egg.

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Me: I will drop your offspring, pal. So bugger off!

Turns out he’s just a big chicken. Especially when I come in with the wheelbarrow. You should see him run then.

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Every morning I consider it a miracle I survived another night. A miracle I wasn’t attacked by a poisonous snake or rolled up in a giant woolly web by an army of redbacks to feast on me for several weeks on end. But other than that, I am enjoying the farm life. I feed the animals, clean the house, mow the lawn, take care of the plants, …. Not one day is the same really.

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My very first chore on the farm was to fill up the horse water. Once I walked up there, with one hand holding the hose, I discovered a cockatoo had drowned himself in one of the basins. Grrreat. The sheep and horses stood there staring at me, all thinking: “What are you going to do now, city girl?”

Well for five minutes I didn’t have the faintest idea really. Eventually I went to go get a bag, climbed over the fence and scooped it up with a stick. Then I left it somewhere in the shed to deal with it later. I had to hurry to feed the chucks. This is where I had my first stand off with the rooster.

Another interesting encounter I had was with Olaf the goat. He jumps on you like a dog, follows you every where around; I tried to tell him already: Look Olaf you’re a goat not a dog, your hoofs hurt when you jump on me and you got them nasty pointy things on your head that perforate the hell out of me. The goat actually belongs to Jesse. She found him in the street, completely starved. She also owns a cat. Cheshire, is the name. I just saw two cheshire cats last Sunday night in an elevator at the Adelaide Hilton. A boy and a girl so drunk they had this crazy smiles on their faces. She was probably a hooker. And he looked very much an occa*.

Talking about bogans** (and I mean this in the nicest way) turns out there’s living a hot butcher’s son next door. His name is Alex, he’s like ten feet tall or so. Regular feet. Not his feet cause they’re gigantic as well. Turns out Alex lives by himself with a dog and a bird. No girlfriend, no kids, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get around. Everytime new backpackers arrive he makes sure to check them out. Especially the female ones. Found out he already got involved with some of the ‘farmer’s daughters’ (that’s how I’d like to call us female farm inhabitants). But this one isn’t up for grabs that easy.

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I did install Tinder, however. I had this crazy idea my Tinder would explode with hot surf dudes once I would arrive Down Under. Turns out that’s a bit of a HUGE let down. I even had to lower the age level to 23 cause once above 30 you really get the hopeless ones. It’s also funny how buff some of the men are here. They look like big, hairless kangaroos.

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Look at this dude showing off his pecs at the wildlife park in Victor Harbor.

I did install Tinder after meeting Noah, the other backpacker. He met his girlfriend Kelsey that way and they are just adorable together. Kelsey is so cool, she’s like Kristen Stewart’s younger sister. Definitely some screws loose in that upper chamber.

Noah is a strapping British lad who is -what’s in a name- a carpenter. If this world goes to an end at least he will be able to build us a proper ark. There are enough animals to take with us too. My room used to be his one year ago. That’s where he got bitten by a white tail spider. Its poison had burnt a hole of about a 2 AUD coin into his lower arm. He was putting on a shirt to discover seconds later a spider had crawled into his sleeve. It’s a pretty nasty scar. Occasionally it becomes an open wound again. Grose.

Note to self: spiders hide in clothes AND sit on towels. I got a big black one crawling on my thumb the other day after I grabbed a towel to dry my hands. I jumped like two meters backwards. It must have looked impressive.

I also encountered the infamous Eastern Brown Snake. Sitting behind glass, fortunately. It looks so slow, stupid and harmless but looks can be quite deceiving. It is fast, aggressive and FATAL (the bio stated).

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I’m so close to reaching my inner Indiana Jones. I do hate snakes an awful lot since I’m here.

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I am living this farm life for four days now. Am in Australia for almost two weeks and already have I wondered: “What am I doing here?”

I wasn’t expecting existential questions until my arrival in China, two months from now. Backpacker Pierre has it too, occasionally, he says.

He is an electrician in France and is also having a bit of a ‘walkabout’. He’s been traveling way longer than me. He recently had a farm job in Sydney where he stayed for three months, he made loads of money there. As much as 10.000 AUD (!). He said the conditions were good but he likes it better over here. Samantha and Nick definitely got a fun, young household going on. Everybody contributes when they go to work and by the end of the day she makes sure there’s dinner on the table. I was really lucky I got this job. When I first reached out to Sammy she said they had just hired someone, and weren’t looking for another backpacker at the moment. Two minutes later she sent me a text to tell me she had changed her mind and looks forward to meeting me. I do wonder what got her to change her mind. Maybe because I had presented myself as a ‘young, easy going, hard working backpacker looking for a host with a good sense of humor’. People always tend to prove they fit right into that category. It’s almost as if they wouldn’t reply they immediately admit they’re stiff and boring. Seems like I have pulled a little reversed psychology there…

We did get to know each other pretty well on Friday. Sam and Nick threw a party and invited some friends over. Including the hot butcher. There was quite a lot of wine involved. And some green stuff called Midori. Anyway it knocked some people out pretty fast. We also had a taste of that farm lamb. It wasn’t until I licked my fingers clean I discovered what I had been eating.

farmlamb

I should watch out with that once I arrive in China if I don’t want to end up eating cat or dog. Also: I had just started naming the sheep that day. I wonder if we had Angie, Carl or Forrest for dinner. I think I will just stop doing that since I learnt they will kill some more sheep next week. I won’t be surprised if there will be kangaroo on the menu later this week as well. Turns out the boys went hunting yesterday to fill up the freezer. I heard them arrive late last night and noticed there was quite some heavy lifting involved.

sheepnames

Before I went to bed I discovered loads of spiders in my room. I even had to call in Noah to check if there were any white tails. He said they were harmless but one was pregnant and I swear it was disgusting. I tried to hoover it, but it disappeared. I think I will sleep with my ear plugs in tonight. I still have some from the plane. Or tie my hoodie real tight around my face. I don’t want those babies to hatch in my ears.

hoodie

Anyway, I should probably deal with this dead bird now. And take out the trash to the front of the ranch. I’m allowed to take the quad :-p

XO

BTW: I bought myself a genuine cowboy hat the other day. Looking like a real McLeod’s daughter ey?

cowgirl

bluff

The Bluff, Victor Harbor

* an occa/ocker  : A thing or person characterised by their (usu. extreme) Australian-ness. Esp. refers to persons with heavy Australian accents and mannerisms. Typically used as an insult. See also bogan.
** a bogan : A person perceived to be unsophisticated or of a lower class background.

Tourist Down Under

So why Oz? Even though Australia is an expensive country to travel, there are ways to make it more budget friendly by making yourself useful. Australia is made for backpackers. For about 400 Australian dollar you can obtain a working holiday visa and you’re good to go and work as much as you want for a maximum duration of one year*. More if you fix a second year visa. It is the best way to sponsor your trip since you’re traveling and making money at the same time. Plus, they’re a one-way ticket to new skills and experiences that will shape your future forever. Keep in mind it can take up to four weeks to get your working holiday visa fixed and you must apply for a visa in your home country. With me it only took half an hour to get a visa granted. They must have been desperately needing workers at that time.

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It is advised to start looking for work before your departure. However, I didn’t apply for a job before I left Belgium. I figured it didn’t make much sense since I didn’t know where I was going and employees want to know when they can use you. If you cannot tell them when you will be at their service, they will just ignore your email and find someone else. My tip: Once you arrive, just look for a decent wifi connection and start looking for work on your laptop. Send out a couple of emails, make some phone calls and within two hours you will have things to work with. I installed myself at a McDonalds near a local shopping mall to use the free wifi there. (Well you do need to buy a milkshake or something, it’s courtesy.) Once I had some interesting contacts I quickly ran over to Coles to buy a new SIM card for only 2 dollars. Very easy to install and much cheaper roaming rates. Once you install your new SIM you will have an Australian number so you will be easy to reach. No worries: your contact numbers, Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook apps just get updated so you don’t have to inform your entire phone book that you have a new number. They won’t even notice.

You can look for jobs at various places. Some people aim for a more high profile job in sales or advertising. But most of them end up selling crap from door to door or answering phones in a call center. Yikes. Since it’s summer in Australia, I prefer looking for jobs outdoors. Picking oranges, avocados, grapes, … Helping out on a nursery farm, taking care of sheep, chickens, koala bears,  …. If you like to get your finger nails dirty harvesting and farm jobs are the way to go. You can find these online through Harvest Trail, Gumtree, Helpx, … or look for advertisements in your nearest hostel. Helpx (www.helpx.net) is actually a very good website to find work through hosts. Basically the idea is you work 4-6 hours a day on their farm and they provide you with food and accommodation during your stay. For me it is the best way to go about since you hardly spend any money. I much rather have food and accommodation covered than seeing the dollars flowing on my Australian bank account. Plus with homestay work you don’t have to file for an Australian tax number (since you don’t pay taxes because you don’t make money) nor do you need an Australian bank account (since -again- you won’t make money). You just offer your two hands for free food and a roof over your head. Plus: you get to meet lots of interesting new people and see how they live. Also: they can provide you with tips on what to see in Australia and what to avoid. If you’re not keen on living in people’s homes: with Helpx you can check out the reviews from previous backpackers so you know who to trust. Another (similar) thing is WWOOFing (Willing Workers on Organic Farms, a loose network of national organizations that facilitate placement of volunteers on organic farms). But I heard a story about a guy paying a lot of money to get to a farm, somewhere in a secluded area, only to learn there was no farm there. It was just a scam. Scams are common and as a (clueless) backpacker you are an easy target. Some fruit pickers end up getting paid 2 dollars per hour. Also: do not trust advertisements stating ‘seeking female backpackers only’. You can bet your razzies that some perv is just out to rape you.

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Since seeking a job can be a bit stressful I advise you book your first week accommodation in advance. That way you have a place to stay to come up with a game plan and you don’t have to worry about your night’s rest. You will need it when you get those muscles rolling on the farm. I, however, suffer from a serious case of sleep deprivation. I haven’t slept for two days straight because I’m still hungover from jetlag and -maybe also- too excited about all this. My head is constantly busy processing all these new impressions and encounters. Luckily I’m staying with the nicest people. They feed me well and look for fun things to do while I’m there.

So the ‘working experience/sponsoring’ part was a big reason for me to start my trip in Australia. Also the fact that you have to get from A to B with 20 kilos attached to your back and rely on your own resourcefulness was a big ‘travel turn on’ for me. There is also a social side to the story that triggered me since it wouldn’t hurt to learn to be a bit more outgoing. I’m kind of a hermit at times. Most people heading Down Under want a total escape from their existing role, while some are looking beyond, to the future, hoping to develop skills in areas which are relevant to their chosen field. This is where the ‘walkabout’ comes to mind. Walkabout historically refers to (and I quote Wikipedia) ‘a rite of passage during which male Australian Aboriginals would undergo a journey during adolescence and live in the wilderness for a period as long as six months to make the transition into manhood as a deeply spiritual awakening.’

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I too see this as a spiritual journey. As it probably will bring my mind, body and soul closer together creating more of a balance in my life. Most backpackers just don’t give a fuck about finding inner peace and just get drunk, shag and do about anything for money. I heard one guy cleaned another guy’s house naked in order to pay for the rest of his trip. And lots of female backpackers turn strippers to increase their travel budget. Apparently mostly French girls. They’re not so prude anyways.

XO

* Like all things in life, there’s an expiry date. You can only apply for a working holiday visa up to the age of 31. Deadlines everywhere!
Piece of advice: Apply for a visa yourself, don’t ask some agency to do it for you as it doesn’t cost you anything. Except for 5 minutes of your precious time and concentration. Apply for visa here ==> https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/417-

Why?

“Why are you doing this?” This must be the question I got asked the most these past few weeks. Friends, family, colleagues, …. Everybody was looking for a reason. There had to be a reason in order for them to grasp the fact that I am quitting my job to go live at the other end of the world for a couple of months. Well, that reason is as various as non existent. Yes, a combinations of things has triggered my urge to travel. I probably have a serious case of FOMO and an acute hunger for experiencing awesome things. And things probably got a little too predictable for me back home. It’s strange how much I get stressed from routine and how calm I become when I embark on an exciting mission like this.

I just need to be challenged in life. And if I don’t get that challenge, I will look for it myself. I am not looking for myself, for the record. I am not looking for big answers, I am just doing my thing. The thing I feel I need most at the moment and that is to explore, experience while trying to expect the least possible -which is really hard when people keep saying you’re going to meet the Australian of your life. I am not unhappy; I just want to prevent myself from falling asleep. I just want to get a taste of as much as possible. I think people are capable of doing a lot more than they think. And it’s not because you make one choice in life, you have to stick with it till eternity. Never give up on a good thing? Sure. But if you feel the need to explore and develop new skills, you have to power to go do that. I see this journey as an investment in myself. I choose a life less ordinary.

This is what I want my life to look like, like the best meal I had in Hua Hin.
All different plates, different tastes, some mild, some spicy, some sweet, some sour.
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More info on my journey: see menu ‘About blonde/clueless’, ‘Get Started’ and ‘Are You With Me?’

XO

My encounter with cave man

Before I embark on my big adventure I’d like to take a second to look back on 2015. A year where I took a leap of faith (literally by diving 27,5 meters vertically down a slide at speeds up to 60 miles per hour at Dubai’s most legendary water park) and my life took some unexpected but very exciting turns. 2015 was a year of metamorphosis. I turned blonde. What a shocker. I got transformed into a fairy at Tomorrowland, became a survival chick in Slovenia, got in touch with my inner gay icon in Ibiza and continued channeling my inner geek at comic cons. It was the year where I became the person I will enjoy to be the rest of my life. However, I doubt I will stay a blonde.

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Change was in the air that 31st January of 2014. Me and my best friend Cedric kick started the New Year on a beach in Dubai. He lived there at that time and since I didn’t see him that often and I had just come out of a break up, Dubai seemed the best place to start the new year fresh. Little did I know he was going to be the most important person to me that year. A few days later he moved to Antwerp after he got an impromptu job offer. We were like Bonnie & Clyde and embarked on one hell of a ride. We partied all over the world and infiltrated the underground gay scene. Yes, I stood amongst quite a lot of bare chests in 2015. Especially by the end of the year when I went to Thailand to cover my final story: 48 hours on the set of Temptation Island. In Belgian news stands soon!

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But my most remarkable and inspiring encounter was with a cave man in Mokri Potok, Slovenia. Where I was sent to meet up with Angelo, a guy who traded his everyday life to live and survive in the Slovenian bush with his dog Lana and other forest creatures. Even though I only stayed with him for a week, I got infected by his freedom, his way of thinking, openly and without prejudice. Without fear. Having faith in what will happen. Or not happen.

Angelo.jpg

A few weeks before my departure to Oz I met up with him in Belgium. He had just gotten some fresh ink at the local tattoo parlor and was preparing himself to survive in more extreme environments. While we were enjoying our drinks in a densely populated bar in the city, we were both in the woods. He with his heart. Me with my thoughts. At that time I was fretting over my future, stuffing my face with comforting carbs and basically freaking out over what I was going to do with my life. I just knew something had to happen. The further away from home, the better.

“What did you want to become when you were a kid?”, Angelo asked.
Me: “Ahm… an R&B singer?”
Angelo looked at me while raising his left eye brow. You should know Angelo is a wild man. He has a full, pitch dark beard, his wild manes he keeps up in a messy man bun and he carries an interesting cologne of wet dog and camp fire.
Angelo: “Okay…Try to visualize what your dreams were when you were younger, when every possibility laid before you and every door was an open one.”

Me: “I wanted to see the world… And have long hair.”
Angelo: “Voila! There you have it, this is why you’re restless.”
Me: “Because I don’t have long hair?”
Angelo: “Because you feel you’ve been neglecting some of your childhood dreams. Then what are you waiting for? For love to come knock on your door and take away all your dreams? For you to hatch out a few kids and end up divorced five years later? The doctor to tell you you have cancer? For you to become an old lady with a stick and huge glasses?”
Me: “Hey, don’t mock my glasses!”
Angelo: “I’m just saying you don’t have anything keeping you here. Except for excuses.”
Me: “But where do I start? I don’t even have enough money to travel to far away countries. I don’t even own a backpack. (on the edge of hysterical) I have never opened a travel guide in my life!”
Angelo: “Then write your own. When you visited me in Slovenia I noticed you were not there completely. Physically yes, but your head was somewhere else. It was only when I read your story in the newspaper I understood your head was processing every little detail and my mind was blown. You can write, kid. Use that talent. You have a voice that people want to hear.”

I shook my head. Why would anyone want to read what I have to say? Me? A clueless girl from Belgium.
Me: “There are so many people who write travel stories, great travel stories, I can never transcend that…”
Angelo: “Well you just said you don’t read them so you will be unique in whatever you do. Stop looking at the problems and try looking at the possibilities. Right now you’re at the foot of the mountain and it looks like the Kilimanjaro to you. It’s only when you’re at the top of that mountain, you will see that it’s just a little hill.” Angelo would make a convincing graphic novel charachter. “Think about all the amazing encounters you will experience, the lessons you will learn, the skills you will acquire. You will see, when you want something really bad you will become a magnet. You will start to attract things where you’ve been dreaming about for a very long time.”

Then and there I knew Angelo was right. Then and there I knew it was time to take matters into my own hands. One week later I booked my trip. One month later I’m typing this while I’m sitting in seat 43K, going 559 miles per hour with a bit of turbulence. I guess this is what my life will be like the following months. Fast, occasionally rocky. But hopefully with a smooth landing.

XO

(Find the PDF’s on my encounter with cave man in the menu. Sorry it’s in Dutch.)