The Profound Lesson Learned Whilst Driving a Motorbike Off a Cliff in Vietnam

The Profound Lesson Learned Whilst Driving a Motorbike Off a Cliff in Vietnam

The Profound Lesson Learned Whilst Driving a Motorbike Off a Cliff in Vietnam

A secret to wipe anger, sorrow, and frustration from your brain?

Originally published January 2018.

It’s 10 am on my 26th birthday. We’ve been on our bikes for 30 minutes, traversing the drizzled, foggy hills outside of Dong Van, a picturesque town on Vietnam’s northern border with China.

The eight of us zip up and down the quarried slopes, our tracks flanked by the sheer drops that make East Asia’s limestone cliffs so awe inspiring.

Thang tears ahead on his enormous dirt bike, easily conquering the “roads”. By this point in our odyssey we’d come to learn these were little more than gravel, mud and potholes loosely connected by ribbons of tarmac — if we were lucky.

Directly behind him, I pick up speed and confidence as I acclimatize to the slip and slide of the bike. Cruising through slick mud and freshly formed rivers from the previous night’s storm.

Gathering speed on an uphill, the cliff side path veers left. The “road” is merely two deep, parallel trenches with a muddy bank between them.

Thang blasts through the right hand trench, closest to the cliff edge.

Bumps inward up the middle bank, and flicks his back tire around as he pulls out of the obstacle.

I kill off much of my speed from the uphill and follow his line.

Right hand trench.

“This is deeper than I anticipated….” flicks across my brain for a fraction of a second.

My back tire slides.

“Perhaps my 125cc semiauto bike isn’t as capable as our guide’s off-road monster”

Pull inwards.

Bike bounces up the bank, away from the cliff.

“Correct. Fuck. Correct. Fuck”

Back wheel flicks over the bank and into the left hand trench, knocking it’s side and directing me towards the cliff edge.

“Fuck. Fuck. Fuck”

I scramble to correct, leaning in left, pumping the breaks, knocking down the gears.

Existence shrinks down to a strobing set of images and gut punch emotional reactions.

Seconds stretch out. The edge hurtles towards me.

“FUCK. FUCK. FUCK.”….


Get ready for one of the most profound life lessons I’ve learned, wrapped up in a crazy story, wrapped up in a (hopefully) amusing highlight reel of my bike trip around North Vietnam.

The insanity of Hanoi was oppressive and overwhelming for many I’m traveling with. But I, I found the elevated discomfort in almost every aspect of my life exhilarating.

Want to cross the road?

Prepare to die.

Want to eat the food?

Prepare to die.

Want to converse with 99% of the population without pointing and hand gesturing?

Good. fucking. luck.

Hanoi’s streets are tight and sprawling, with countless thousands of people all living on top of each other.

Her roads a terrifying chaos of motorbikes beeping and sliding between each other.

Her smells flick and flutter from the rich aromas of garlic, galangal, and chili to the arresting kick of exhaust smog and sewage.

The magnitude of sensory overload is electric. The mounting discomfort makes my heart thump.

For me, being immersed to the neck in an uncomfortable situation leaves me awash with the taste of growth.

The opportunity to raise to the situation and conquer it. To fight and flow through it.

To come out on the other side a person I enjoy more today than I did yesterday.

So with the scene set, and your appetite for excitement hopefully piqued, let me share just some of the fun from my Vietnamese adventure.

Sunday: You sure we’re prepared for this?

After spending less than an hour learning how to actually drive a bike the previous day, Eddie, Tibor, Remy, Mark, John, Joe, myself and our guide Thang prepare to exit the mayhem of Hanoi and begin our adventure.

Thang, is a lunatic.

A tiny Vietnamese guy in his early twenties with an electric passion for off road driving.

He seems to mistake our excitement and eagerness, for an indication of driving ability when planning out our route.

He plans out the most beautiful (deadly) route he knows, and we head out into the moto-carnage that is downtown Hanoi.

We drive for 45 minutes and through a chorus of horn honks, and feverish mirror checks, we make it safely outside the greater city.

Safely that is, until another biker swerves in front of Mark.

He slams the beaks.

The bike doesn’t like it.

Mark bails, throwing the bike down and sliding.

His hand and arm are bloodied. The bike is functional. We bandage him up and 30 minutes later we’re off.

Lesson learned — assume everyone is an imbecile with a death wish.

We’re on the road again.

Perhaps 3 minutes pass.

A woman by the side of the road stands there with her bike, and then without warning decides to walk it into the road.

I slam the breaks.

The bike doesn’t like it.

I bail, throwing the bike down and sliding.

The woman that caused me to bail just looks at me on the floor, pinned under my bike and continues on walking…

Cheers.

My right arm, leg and ankle are bloodied. My bike is not functional. I laugh it off, get bandaged up and we grab lunch whilst we wait an hour for another bike.

Lesson ACTUALLY learned — assume everyone is an imbecile with a death wish.

Great start.

Onward we ride. I’m now vigilant of anyone anywhere near the road, giving them extra room for unexplained crazy.

When we finally break from Hanoi we’re greeted by wide open roads. We ride across a gorgeous expanse of planes, greeted by my first real sight of Asia’s arresting limestone mountains.

John Michael Eubank

After a couple of hours we pull up at a junction in a small town. Whilst we figure out which direction Thang took we’re treated by the sight of, in 8 or so pieces, a cooked dog…

Interesting…..

So interesting in fact, that John somehow thinks this would be a good image to send to our 50 person Whatsapp group message.

It was not.

Silly John.

We figure out where to go, and as darkness descends we head up into the mountains. And with that darkness, rumbles in a spectacular tropical thunderstorm.

The heavens open and inky blackness is blown away by blinding cracks. The sky glows as tendrils of lightning rip it apart. Thunderclaps are so seismic I can feel them shake through my body over the rumbling engine beneath me.

It’s an electrifying end to a exciting first day as we pull into Ba Be lake to settle down at our local homestay.

Monday: We’re really dumb…

Morning breaks and we’re up early. I now get a chance to see the prehistoric beauty of Ba Be lake.

We hop on a boat and spend an hour on the lake.

Calm and cool, surrounded by dense rainforest. Towering, monolithic, jungle covered cliffs press skywards as clouds tumble and pour between their valleys.

If a triceratops burst from the trees, chased by a hungry tyrannosaur, I’d not be the least bit surprised. It is haunting..

📸: @jobob2992

We get back, gear up, hop on our motors and start our ascent from the lake. As we wind back and fourth on thin, hairpin roads, the rest of the group pulls ahead of Joe and I.

I just can’t seem to get the hang of these tight corners.

I try to throw myself into them a little more, but I still continue to drift out to the other side of the road on my exit.

Not being instantly good at everything, frustrates me.

I give it another go and can’t seem to get my balance right for long enough. I pull around a particularly sharp hairpin and find myself quickly drifting out not only to the edge of the road, but the edge of a cliff.

“Shit. Think quick.”

I pump the breaks.

Still drifting…

I tighten my sphincter.

Still drifting….

“Ahhh, fuck.”

I slam the breaks and throw myself to the floor.

I scraping along exactly the same side, in exactly the same places as yesterday 😑

100% accurate. No drama…

Wounds torn open again, I laugh that I’m not dead, check the bike’s fine, and ride on.

First hour of the day appears to be my danger zone. I’m pissed that I can’t get the hang of it as quickly as I’d like, but I’m keen to rise to the challenge.

Remy hangs back for a bit and gives some pointers.

Trial by fire — I learn how to do tight corners properly.

I kind of hope I don’t need to learn everything about my bike this way…

Today we climb up and down kilometer high cliffs, stopping at the tops to view tropical forests below. The sun shimmering across them through slithers in the cloud cover.

📸 @marky_mark38

John is apparently so distracted by this beauty, he drives straight into a ditch.

Silly John.

But no, the carnage for the day is only just beginning.

As we scale up and down drenched mountain roads, it becomes apparent to me, perhaps most so due to my acute knowledge of exactly what our bikes CAN’T do, that these slick downhill sections are ludicrously risky.

We’re on a long downhill stretch, perhaps 35⁰, everyone is in sight. Thang and Joe overtake two cars before a tight right corner. This alone seems questionable to me, but Thang know’s his shit, so I assume all is fine.

What I don’t think they notice is the car that pulls around that corner as they lose sight of it to make the overtake.

Mark’s next up and also hasn’t seen this car. He attempts to follow.

I’m slamming my horn to alert him but he moves out to attempt the overtake.

He quickly realizes this isn’t going to work, and hits the breaks to pull back in.

Too hard.

His rear wheel starts to slide, and then it goes.

Mark’s down, sliding with his bike down this slick hill.

If the cars in front of him hit the beaks, Mark’s fucked.

Remy’s behind, he slams the breaks to avoid Mark.

Remy’s down.

If he slides out towards the oncoming traffic, Remy’s fucked.

He joins Mark sliding down the mountain road.

Eddie pulls up behind, slam his breaks, and send his bike careening into Tibor, leaving both of them on the floor..

“Well that fucking was dumb..”

We all agree, laugh that we’re alive, and head on our way.

2 days in, everyone has gone down.

Everyone, except Joe.

Tick. Tock.

We end in the bustling town of Cao Bang. Finishing up in the best way imaginable — with a couple glasses each of Vietnamese coffee.

A coffee delightfully different than any I’ve had before, so chocolaty, smooth, fruity.

Yep, it’s that good you’ll want it in the evening.

Gazing longingly at that black gold…

Tuesday: No words.

We head to the garage to grab our bikes and there’s a family down there with a couple of ducks…

The father proceeds to quickly butcher one, drain it’s blood, defeather it, and chop it up, in front of his child (I assume), in approximately 4 minutes…

It was an odd way to start the day 😶

We’re on the road for an hour or so before we pass a small dragon fruit farm, grab one for the road, and have a short lived “debate” on taking a safe route vs the most beautiful one.

Weird morning, weird fruit. 📸: @marky_mark38

Debate quickly over, we pull off the tarmac to a small dirt and gravel trail up into the hills, a hundred yards of so past the farm.

What we’ve seen so far has been entrancing yes, but it pales in comparison to today.

Today is the first day I’m actually lost for words. So baring this in mind, I’ll attempt to paint a picture.

With words.

That I was lost for.

We ascend the winding dirt path through the center of a small, lush valley. Intermittent showers give us ample time to stop, take on and off waterproofs, and drink in the slowly increasing grandeur of our surrounds.

At the third stop, the valley floor opens up and on a distant valley slope is a single, enormous tree above all the rest.

It looks like a painting. A bonsai, perfected over decades, scaled up and just popped right on the side of this valley.

My heart starts to thump.

“Yep, this is up there, maybe top 10 most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen.”

That’s the tree! 📸: @marky_mark38

We take off around two more bends.

I slam the breaks on, lean back on my bike and..

“Holy fucking shit balls.”

“Seriously?”

My gaze is thrust hundreds of meters down into a verdant, sun rippled valley.

Millennia sealed in stone, rise up from its base to tower over me. I’m dwarfed.

A tiny ribbon of dirt snakes back and fourth, marking the path of my descent into Eden.

“Mmm, this is likely the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen.”

It takes a few minutes, but I catch my breath, quell my raging butterflies and begin my looping path to the valley floor.

The next hour is bliss.

The sound of the bike fades out and the wonder of my surroundings pours into my being.

The roads, too narrow and treacherous for anything larger than a bike, are completely ours.

The border between myself and my bike slowly start to evaporate.

Through dense forested fields, beneath the watch of the epic limestone, we twist and bob, up hills and through hairpins.

And all of a sudden.

The valley opens.

“Ughhhhhhh……”

My back tire screeches to a halt. Breath is savagely ripped from my lungs.

My soul is pierced. Shattered.

Primal majesty.

Wow…

A tsunami of splendor near knocks me from my seat.

The valley tears wide open. Vivid jade fields shoot out into the distance.

To the right, amber rice paddies, ready for harvest, dance upon terraces rising towards the heavens.

To the left, a waterfall explodes from the summit. An ephemeral rainbow shimmers in it’s spray.

The titanic cliffs made all the more striking against these softly rolling hills, and tiny dotted dwellings.

As the sunlight flutters and twirls across this vista I’m awash in ecstasy.

My heart aches. My fingers tingle.

Hell, I even shed a tear.

📸: @marky_mark38

 

Words don’t do it justice. Pictures don’t do it justice. Videos don’t do it justice.

This raw.

Emotional.

Gut punch, needs to be seen for even a slight appreciation of just how awe inspiring it feels.

If you get the chance to explore some of Asia’s off the beaten track countryside.

Fucking. Do It.

Anyway, I get my shit together and head on wards through the valley.

We run into some locals who direct us to a nearby waterfall and cave.

So off course he head off with them to check that out!

We find an awesome little waterfall, flowing from what we assume is the cave — something that can be seen into via a crack in the cliff, but not entered.

We go to walk off before we’re beckoned back by another local. He gets us to climb up the cliff with him over the waterfall, where we actually find the cave.

It’s a spectacular, alien world.

Like some eerie Lovecraftian cathedral.

Enormous limestone tendrils drip down from the ceiling.

Stalagmites line the floor like the fossilized teeth of some long dead behemoth.

Crystal clear lakes shoot off around submerged corners and corridors.

Apparently, with snorkels it’s possible to traverse a kilometer or two, coming up in another valley at another village!

Gives me chills, in the best way.

📸: @marky_mark38

We finish up the first day with the long ascent out of the valley.

It’s absolute bliss.

I take off by myself to enjoy the climb without having to start and stop for everyone else.

I really can see why people get so passionate about bikes.

There really is nothing between you and nature. You’ve got this amazing ability to reach difficult locations. With the twist of a key, you can be off your bike ready to silently drink in whichever gorgeous view has caught your eye.

And then there’s the feeling.

Oooof it feels good.

When you’ve been out for a few hours, the difference between you and the bike really just disappears. Everything becomes fluid.

Is gumming your brain up with too much testosterone a smart idea?

From experience, clearly not.

Are bikes whirring metal death machines?

Obv.

But, do I now understand why people love them?

Hell fucking yes.

Once again, I get the pleasure of finishing up the last hour of my day seeing the sky set ablaze in a crazy tropical storm as we arrive into Bao Lac.

Also!

Didn’t crash today.

Boom.

📸: @marky_mark38

Wednesday: It gets better.

Today we continue our journey towards the China boarder.

The jungle thins as we pass through lush mossy hills. The cliffs are very different now. Jet black,ominous, even more towering.

📸:@marky_mark38

A small passage opens at their base, and we pass across the floor of a narrow valley.

And then,

I’m no longer in Vietnam, I’ve ridden into Middle Earth, the gates of Mordor.

An enormous basin opens up before me.

A river and lake just below me.

Thang’s favorite road, the “Happy road”, hugs the side of the obsidian cliffs to the left, snaking it’s way up them through the clouds.

Today is every bit as awe inspiring as yesterday. Diametrically opposite, but equally arresting.

Again, I merge with my machine and take to ripping up the cliffs, bursting through the clouds, adrenaline sharpening every second into a tiny eternity.

Falling prohibited. 📸: @marky_mark38

After an amazing drive we arrive in the town of Dong Van. Thang takes the lead, and we follow, assuming he’s taking us to a hotel.

We pass through the town, down some small alley, and then start to climb a hill with an incline that is rapidly increasing.

I make no comment, blindly following Thang’s lead.

Turns out, he’s trying to take us and our bikes up to Don Cao, an old military fortress from France’s colonization days.

Up a 50–60⁰ incline!

Did I mention he was crazy..?

Most of our pathetic little bikes have no chance of making it.

Joe’s in front of me and on a gravel filled corner, tries to power up it and goes nowhere.

His bike starts sliding backwards, before falling on him, pinning him.

He’s not very pleased.

So we all immediately rush to his aid

Oh no wait, until this point, Joe was the only one of us not to crash.

So we stand above him and laugh for 2–3 minutes before offering to help.

Now he’s really not very pleased.

Silly Joe.

After sticking our bikes in first gear, leaving the throttle full, and walking them up, we manage to reach the top (still have no idea why we didn’t just walk up without them..)

And guess what?

The view’s mindbogglingly gorgeous.

We have a 360 of the whole area from hundreds of meters up.

Below us is Dong Van, with rice paddies extending down the valley floor left and right, as far as the eye can see.

Behind us are the formidable mountains that cloak China.

After soaking in the sights, we spend an eternity trying to get out bikes down the same incline — again, no idea why we took them up there, before reaching our hotel.

Another crash free day for me.

Boom.

We get freshened up and head down for a hot pot dinner — Thang’s favorite (favorite road, favorite dish, making Joe finally fall over, Thang had a good day).

As it’s my birthday tomorrow, it takes little time for the beers to escalate into several hours of rice wine, finding a massage place, befriending the guys that worked there, getting driven around in their bus/golf cart hybrid at 4am and other silliness…

📸: @marky_mark38

Thursday: It gets worse.

“Fak.”

I could feel better today, but it was an amusing birthday.

So, I pull myself together, and on wards we ride to Ha Giang.

It’s 10am on my 26th birthday. We’ve been on our bikes for 30 minutes.

The eight of us zip up and down the quarried slopes, our tracks flanked by sheer drops.

Thang tears ahead on his enormous dirt bike, easily conquering the “roads”.

Directly behind him, I pick up speed and confidence as I acclimatize to the slip and slide of the bike. Cruising through slick mud and freshly formed rivers from the previous nights storm.

Gathering speed on an uphill, the cliff side path veers left, the “road” is merely two deep, parallel trenches with a muddy bank between them.

Thang blasts through the right hand trench, closest to the cliff edge, bumps in up the middle banks and flicks his back tire around as he pulls out of the obstacle.

I kill off much of my speed from the uphill and follow his line.

Right hand trench.

“This is deeper than I anticipated….” flicks across my brain for a fraction of a second.

My back tire slides.

Next thought blast;

“Perhaps my 125cc semiauto bike isn’t as capable as our guide’s off-road monster”

Pull inwards.

Bike bounces up the bank, away from the cliff.

Back wheel flicks over the bank and into the left hand trench, knocking it’s side and directing me towards the cliff edge.

I scramble to correct, leaning in left, pumping the breaks, knocking down the gears.

Existence shrinks down to a strobing set of images and gut punch emotional reactions.

The edge hurtles towards me.

I’m airborne for a moment as I leave the road.

Everything is flashing.

Off I fly, 15 or so feet down a pile of boulders.

On the same, fucking, side 😑

.

.

.

Breathe in….

Breathe out….

.

I’m alive.

I can’t move. But, I don’t think I’m hurt.

“McCreesh….”

Mark half yells, half questions.

“Ha! I’m o-kAy!”

I holler back in what may have been an Italian accent..

Mark now starts a laugh that lasts the best part of three days.

An uncontrollable laugh that pretty much prevents him from talking to me, as every time he sees my dumb face, he imagines me flailing off that cliff….

Ten to fifteen locals seem to emerge from the bushes and before I know it, my bike is being picked off me, and we’re all pushing it back up the side of the cliff.

Ironically, one of them is wearing a tshirt with the emblazoned slogan:

“Shit Happens”

Brilliant..

Video starts about half way up 😑 📸: @where_is_remy

By the time I get to the top, Thang has cycled back and he and Joe are incredibly perplexed by just how cheery I am.

“You keep almost dying… Why are you not a trembling mess?”

Asks Joe.

“I no understand. You crazy”

Says Thang, who we’ve established, is actually crazy.

And here we come to the profound lesson….

There’s no point holding on to the negative emotion that your mind at first wants to thrust upon you.

It eats into you.

The lesson from this incident is; be WAY more fucking alert in the first hour of riding. I know it’s the danger zone.

My emotional response of laughter vs terror is largely irrelevant to me learning that.

Laughter is more enjoyable, so I chose that.

It wasn’t until this incident that I realized just how pervasive this mindset change had been in shaping my life.

As soon as the epiphany hits, example after example, going back the best part of a decade, flood into my mind.

  • You’re pushed into a swimming pool, destroying your phone. Irritation and anger become laughter and acceptance. Tears won’t fix the phone.
  • Someone has an opinion you find distasteful, idiotic or abhorrent. Frustration and anger become curiosity. You won’t convince anyone by telling them how wrong they are. May as well be interested in how they’ve arrived at the opinions they have. Great way not to hate everyone.
  • You and your friends are brutally assaultedBlind rage and panic become sharp focus. Anger exacerbates angry situations. Much more important to defuse and protect.
  • A stranger insults you. Upset and irritation become pitied amusement.Snap judgement and pigeon holing based on surface or extraneous characteristics is narrow minded. Do this robs them of beauty held in the depths of others. Their stories.

My oldest example of this response rewiring wasn’t clear to me until the end of my month in Vietnam, at our farewell event.

Roughly thirty of us are at an eco-lodge, retreat outside the city. We are all sat in a room discussing failure, and what it means to us. The question is posed:

“What does failure mean to you?”

I run the question through my mind, puzzled as I let it percolate around my brain.

“Not being able to meet the expectations of my parents.”

“Not being able to buy a house”

“Not achieving my career goals”

These are just a few of the answers offered up.

And for me? I let this question burrow deep into me.

I really, really strain to come to my answer.

And…

Absolutely. NOTHING.

It’s not that I don’t understand the question. Or that I couldn’t think of what failure meant to me.

It’s that failure has COMPLETELY ceased to hold meaning as a concept to me.

There is a technique to achieve this, and it’s equally as powerful for you to completely sever a tie between an action and the emotion you respond with.

This may seem different the previously mentioned examples, but I assure you it’s the same mechanism.

Here’s are the steps to change your emotional response to a negative situation:

1. Identify the trigger and your normal emotional response. For example, the normal emotional response to failure is to be humiliated, upset, embarrassed, dejected, perhaps to give up. Often the fear of these results may prevent you from putting yourself out there in the first place.

2. Think about what this trigger actually means. What does it actually mean to fail at your goal? Will you be homeless? Will you starve to death? Is there no route to repair the damage that failure does?

Often failures will lead to some personal or professional discomfort, but rarely are they the end of the world. Our minds like to overemphasis fears into unconquerable monstrosities, regardless of how true that may be.

3. Focus on embodying the emotion or persona that will pull you through the reality of the situation. In the case of failure, it’s something that happens for an instant. You then have the choice of how long you carry it’s emotional baggage around. The longer you carry that baggage, the longer you waste not trying to achieve your goal in another way, or not trying to repair any damage done by the failure.

When I was perhaps 16, I just decided that “I would be successful”. It was that simple.

I then started telling that to everyone I knew, regardless or not of if I believed it. Saying it created a persona that I tried to live up to, creating a sort of self fulfilling prophecy.

Over years, more and more people started to attach that characteristic to me. Over yet more years, I actually internalized this message so deeply that I started to believe it myself.

If I was going to be successful, than failure was only temporary. There was thus no point dwelling on failures (or fuck ups as I now call them). It was just wasting time. Time I should be spending towards the future “successful” me.

4. When the trigger happens, practice your embodiment. It won’t just magically work, so give yourself time to experience your normal emotions. But not for too long. Give yourself a time limit, then pick yourself up and focus on your embodiment.

If you fail; kick and scream a bit, pick yourself up, and get back to moving forward. You can’t change the past, so don’t live there.

5. Practice this! You won’t just magically change your response. It takes time. It takes patience. You really need to be considered with it.

It took me years to internalize, and be convinced by my “I will be successful”message through exclaiming it to everyone that I met.

It may have taken me years longer to completely sever my connection to my concept of failure.

But!

When you do manage to do this, you’ll realize that the neural muscle (so to speak) that you’re training, isn’t unique to your one example!

After I’d practiced swapping out wallowing in failure, or fear of doing so, it was easy to swap all of the negative responses I bullet pointed above.

Once you do this once, you can apply it to a vast amount of problems you face. In quick succession you can unburden your mind from a multitude of fears, worries and imagined pressures.

It feel amazingly liberating to:

  • Not get annoyed, angry, worried etc. about situations you cannot change, past, present or future.
  • Not care about things that are of no consequence to you or others, for example, what strangers think of you.

Back to the bikes!

Anyway, for those more interested in travel than becoming all zen, lets wrap up the rest of the bike trip 😅

So, I’m alive, bike’s fine, off we go.

Thang, thinks the roads we’ve been on so far as too good, so he decides to take up over a mountain on an road that’s mid construction.

We are literally driving over piles of boulders, on piece of shit bikes.

📸: John Michael Eubank and @marky_mark38

Joe crashes twice more.

Lol…..

They were both VERY slow so he was okay, but he was irritated for a long time none the less.

Emotional responses 😉

Today the scenery was, you guessed it, breath taking!

The black cliffs make way for rolling green fields and alpine forests.

It reminds me very much of Britain, if the landscape were vertically stretched to give hills four times the height.

Just how far the hills stretch from valley base to summit evokes thoughts of gargantuan Sci Fi O’Neal cylinders. Massive cylindrical spacecraft, rotating along their long axis to create spin gravity and leading to landscapes that reach up the insides of the cylinder, before looping back over your head.

📸: @marky_mark38 & kromekat.com

We finish up at a homestay outside Ha Giang, trekking through fireflies to a secluded waterfall where we all go swimming.

And by we all, I don’t mean me. I’m covered in holes as I insist on testing my apparent inability to break myself…

Adorably, the homestay owners have gotten me a birthday cake with my freaking name on it! 😍

It’s beyond lovely, so we finish our delicious dinner and cake desert, and turn in early.

📸: John Michael Eubank and @marky_mark38

Friday: Once more, just for fun.

By this point, I’ve had more than enough of crashing.

We cruise over a mountain range covered in dense jungle.

Tight valleys and magic waterfalls are around every turn.

📸: @marky_mark38

We pass over the mountains, and come towards to a small town for lunch.

I hear a tire screech (the sound of which still sends shivers down my spine to this day).

I look forward to Mark.

I see his tire skid out a little before he recovers it. I figure that’s what the sound was from.

It doesn’t take me long to see that I was wrong.

All though I’ve had enough of crashing, Remy, it seems, has not.

He tears through a dusty corner ahead of me, underestimating how sharp it is.

His front wheel locks up and he proceeds to superman over the handlebars.

Onto his face.

Ouch.

He laughs it off, despite missing half a tooth, and with a few big gashes. We head over to a conveniently placed hospital in the nearby town to get him stitched up.

We grab food, wait for Remy, and we head on our way.

After the descent, we follow a river on a (surprisingly good) road that hugs the bottom of a steep valley.

Another treat awaits….

We’ve seen lots of rice paddies so far, but none overlaid on such mesmerizing gradients, and few quite so close up.

Terraces stack hundreds of meters up. The landscape takes on an enchanting blend of man made and natural. Unharvested rice grass dances with a prismatic shimmer. Orange, yellow and green pulsate and wave in the breeze.

Interestingly, The strange geometry transports me to Minecraft. Are we in a simulation? 😏

📸: @marky_mark38

A darkness closes in, we arrive in Xin Man, a sooty mining town with not a second thought given to tourist catering.

This is real industrial Vietnam.

And tucked in it’s dilapidated streets is the best food I ate in my entire time in Vietnam! Thang, as always, has full reign to pick what we eat, and really outshines himself this time.

Vietnam doesn’t appear to have a massive range of signature dishes: Pho, bahn mi, bun cha, spring rolls, omlette, stir fry meat and rice are likely to make up the majority of what you eat here.

But what this does mean, is you can really find some exquisite variations on these if you search hard enough.

We grab a big assortment of dishes from a tiny family diner. Never before have I tried such a transcendental omelette! The spring rolls are mouthwatering. The soy sauce is the most deep and delicate I’ve ever experienced.

And the coffee…

Ohhh my…

This was the best Vietnamese coffee I’ve ever had. Which is in itself the best coffee I’ve ever had.

I want to fly across the globe to this (arguably) dirty nowhere just for this coffee again.

Also!

A random stray rottweiler bites Mark on the ass for no apparent reason 😂

It was funny.

For me.

He didn’t seem to think as much…

Saturday: A chipper red head.

Today brings our trip to an end. We head out for our last full day ride towards the town of Sa Pa, located to the North West on a high plateau.

On our way we have yet another captivating mountain ascent. As we head up to higher altitudes again, the jungle makes way for more alpine trees and scrub.

The transitions are striking, and hard to communicate visually. The rich smell of pine resin fills the air. The humidity dissipates.

It feels like another continent.

Atop one of the highest peaks I stop for a brooding picture.

📸: @marky_mark38

As does everyone else 😆….

📸: @marky_mark38

Heading down the mountain, the steep road quickly turns into a muddy river.

It’s pretty damn slippery, as Eddie finds out.

We’re all stopped waiting as bikes pass one by one through a slick, thin passage caused by a landslide.

Eddie pulls up behind me and pushes his breaks lightly.

His wheels stop moving.

His bike does not.

Impressively, as the bike slides and goes down, he steps off it onto his feet as if nothing happened.

Joe, isn’t so lucky..

Whilst traversing the passage, his bike isn’t playing ball.

Without the space to hop off, he falls into the landslide, which is just an enormous pile of mud 😑

Poor Joe.

The upside — he seems way more chipper this time!

Perhaps all of our laughing in the face of near imminent death is rubbing off on him…

At the bottom of the mudslide we reach a bustling rural market, full of all manner of occult trinkets and exotic(risky) foods.

I grab some assorted goods on sticks. Chicken feet (not good). Mushrooms (not good). Pink mystery balls (you guessed it).

To left I can be seen donning a voguish armored jacket. Thang insisted after, you know, I drove off a cliff…. 📸: @marky_mark38

The exit from the market marks our last stretch as Vietnam’s rice paddy game is upped once more.

Over the next mountain we are treated to another massive expanse of wide open valleys and peaks. This time littered with hundreds of golden rice terraces ready for harvest.

And that’s not all.

For one of the few times during the trip, we are treated to..

GOOD FUCKING ROADS!

We get like two hours riding without constantly dipping and swerving to avoid potholes. What a treat.

That is until we’re about an hour out from Sa Pa…

Then it’s not the roads that are the issue, but the ludicrous amount of semi trucks that seem to be heading up the steep roads to the plateau town.

Bumper to bumper traffic. Bikes darting in and out. Crazy overtakes needed to get past two or three semis at a time. It’s pandemonium. And also really quite fun 😆

📸: @marky_mark38

We arrive in Sa Pa early evening and head out for too many cocktails to celebrate, not dying? Before heading to Lao Cai to catch the overnight train back the following day.

Would I recommend it?

I’m not convinced if this is an endorsement for a Vietnam bike trip or not. On the one hand, I have NO FUCKING IDEA how none of us were severely injured.

We crashed a LOT.

On the other hand, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The pictures and my description barely scratch the surface. It was natural splendor, exhilaration and wonder that likes of which I’ve never felt.

Enrapturing, visceral beauty.

Personally, I would do it again at the drop of a hat.

You made to the end, WOW!

Thank you so much.

I’m currently putting much more focus on my writing, so if you enjoyed this in any way, then sharing this with interested friends, or in relevant locations, would be truly mean so much to me.

I’m getting a lot of enjoyment from people’s thoughts and feedback on my writing, so the more that see it, there more I get to experience that.

Thanks again ❤️

Yo, I’m Connor!

I’m a smart person. I don’t do smart things.

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Wine Fueled Adventures & Romance in Portugal

Originally posted October 2017.

Portugal, my home for the third month of my new digital nomad life, has been an awesome experience! Drinking too much. Working too much. Business diversification. Racism and assault. Epic adventures fueling a nerd brain explosion. Crazy month.

Is this a long ass post?

Yep.

Am I trying to write it 1–2 months after the fact and so might much of it be fictional?

Also, possible.

Will it make you laugh?

Irrelevant. It makes me laugh and it’s my blog.

So, after too much fun before leaving Budapest, I’m back into work mode in Lisbon.

Sunday

Go to a cute cafe to blast out some work for a few hours. Before heading over to WiP, our work space for the month to check out the city preview.

The preview is when the local team at the work space run us through everything they recommend we check out. Sites, food, bars, activities. All the fun stuff.

The local team seems awesome.

I, quite enjoying a complete lack of preparation for everything non-work related, forget to save a pin for our apartment.

After the preview, I spend 45 minutes wondering up and down what I’m sure is our street. Checking and trying all doors with a weird split key like ours, like some lunatic.

Friends eventually turn up and show me where we actually live.

I’m not even on the right side of the road…

Monday

Up early and in manic work mode.

Ariela and I march up Lisbon’s never ending hills to “A Cevicheria”. This tiny Peruvian joint, serves ceviche, beef tartar tacos and a surf and turf sandwich that

BLOWS.

MY.

MIND.

Mmmm! Ooo, even thinking about it is making me salivate…

Anyway, the food in Lisbon is the shit. I decide I’ll be back at this place to clean out the entire menu.

My mentor reminds me that I’m quite good at getting social traffic. He suggests I should diversify to offer coaching and consulting.

I diversify to offer coaching and consulting.

I spend the rest of the day diving through the operating processes I’ve given my virtual assistant to see how easy they’d be to scale for clients.

Tuesday

I’ve known since the first week of doing this travel that a large amount of the people I’m traveling with want to start their own businesses. I decide I should just launch a class for it!

If people follow it and start making money — amazing! If they don’t, I’ll have a full course recorded which I can sell myself.

Either way I win.

This is always my favorite kind of gamble.

First month of classes covers Instagram and 25+ people turn up! 🎉

For dinner I head out with Mel, Kathy and Joe for Portuguese food in some spectacular, Arabic style hotel.

Again, the food here is dope.

Still being in maniac mode, I head back to WiP and smash out work for a few hours more, accompanied by some green wine.

Kiwi and I, who are regularly the first in and last out of work, hit up a kebab joint, which again, is too tasty, and have a fun business chat.

Wednesday

Find a gym for the first time that is actually well equipped, apart from a lack of 20kg bumpers.

I make do..

John, Joe and I go to A Cevicharia, I eat everything that isn’t on the taster menu (need an excuse to come at least once more…)

OMG.

It’s so damn tasty.

A running theme for this month is the food here is so freaking good, I couldn’t decide between dishes. I often ended up eating two or more mains for variety. This was also expensive…

I head back to work late and go over to Taryn’s house to pretend to write blog posts. In honesty, just to drink wine, catch up and receive next-level back scratches 😍

Thursday

I get up early for Taryn’s Yoga class on the roof of WiP.

Feel so zen after.

Work like a maniac, again.

I then head to 4 Caravelas, an adorable little bar on Pink St., the party road in Lisbon, for a cocktail making class.

We compete with each other to speed make, and drink, about 10–15 cocktails.

I off course, must DESTROY ALL COMPETITION, as revealed by my concentration face..

When you’re so competitive that victory appears to come at the cost of a small stroke…

The cocktails are ludicrously tasty, the owners are lovely, AND we get two for one before 11.

I’ll be back here a lot…

After getting a little loosey goosey on some cocktails, we all head to a few more bars on Pink St.

Kara’s niece and friend, Rachael and Shar are over to visit.

Rachael, is really cute 😏

We drink some more before deciding to find a club along the water to go to.

Seems to only be Rachael and I by the time we arrive at the club, so we head in regardless and dance away for a few hours.

We head home along the water and Rachael decides to go and dip her feet in the river.

This was a mistake.

Unbeknownst to us, the stones down to the water are slippery AS FUCK.

About four meters from the actual water, Rachael’s feet literally launch from beneath her. She hits the deck before rapidly sliding up to her chest in the city river water.

“Holy shit”

I yell before attempting to save her.

This too, was a mistake.

Unsurprisingly, the rocks are still just as slick for me as they are for her. I also go down before sliding in to the syphilis water up to my waist.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard.

It’s 5am.

We’re drunk.

Soaking wet.

And covered in river sludge.

It’s hilarious to the point of making my face ache 😅

Friday

Decide (via way of hangover), that I should have a chill day.

Me and Rachael grab some food in Time Out market, a giant food hall with every food you could want. Mexican, Portuguese, French, Thai, all the food.

I can’t decide between Vietnamese spring rolls or Thai massaman curry.

I get both.

They’re both bomb!

We finish that and just start wondering the streets and chatting. Through tiny alleys, up and up hills, past beautiful hidden churches and up to gorgeous views across the entire city.

If you’re in Lisbon, suck it up and climb the hills. The vista’s are SO worth it!

@rachelyancey — different Rachel..

Hours fly by. It’s loads of fun.

We Uber back and I head off for a nap.

After recharging, I sit and chat to Pino for a bit before heading to Time Out again with her to meet Remy, Kiwi and Milana.

I can’t decide between tuna tartar or beef tartar.

I get both.

They’re both bomb!

I head out to Pink St. to grab a drink or two (or three or four….) for Adi’s Birthday.

Somehow, we’re going to a club again. I suggest Urban beach after it seeming fun last night.

This was a mistake.

Short version, we turn up and are viciously assaulted by the racist thugs on the door with zero provocation.

Long version here: When Assault, Robbery and Destruction of Property are Perfectly Legal. Mad Dogs in Lisbon.

Saturday

So I’m pretty exhausted after the last few days and try to nap.

Apparently I’m suffering with some post traumatic rage, so that doesn’t happen.

Go to WiP, smash coffee, smash angry music, smash work.

Duffs drops in for a catch up / to check I’m okay which is very sweet.

I head back to my flat late and loads of friends are over. We drink wine and catch up and it’s all adorable.

Jake, drunk on ambition, decides to construct this monstrously impressive fort in under 30 minutes.

You can’t see the palace suite and jacuzzi from this angle…

Sunday

I wake up feeling good.

I get in the shower aaaaand I’m angry again, 😑

The sea is my happy place, so a group of about 10 of us head to the Oceanarium.

Walking in we pass a very friendly looking member of security. My stomach turns.

(This is something I mention more in the above post about Friday’s incident. The PTS that followed the event for a week or two was really irritating.

It pissed me off that an act that took 10 minutes for those scumbags had to stick with me for all that time.)

Anyway, the Oceanarium is wonderful. Ooof, it’s so relaxing and beautiful seeing the fish floating around. Seeing the light shimmering through the water. Gives me shivers.

Amusingly, as we walk around I notice that it’s just me, John and Mel.

We, being massive fucking nerds, take twice as long to get around the place as everyone else. We’re too busy running around like children, gawping at every little sea critter, talking about super interesting science shit 🤓

Left @j.m.eubank, Right two @mdoesthings

We finally catch up to the others who have been waiting at the exit. We grab a Gondela lift over the bay to a tasty little Chinese spot.

I can’t decide what to eat. So I EAT EVERYTHING.

The dim sum and bao are magical.

We head back and most of the crew head on a walking tour.

I go to bed on my face, HARD.

I wake up a puddle of drool and Kib comes over as he wants some company and to talk out Friday night.

We hang for an hour and I bounce out to chill with Rachael.

I’m pleased to hear that the walking tour everyone went on was basically the same tour we wondered on ourselves a couple of days prior.

Don’t need no guide 😎

We drink wine and chat into the early hours. She tells me some story about a corpse bride from a church they’d found on the tour. It sounds like real life Game of Thrones and I’m skeptical of it’s historical accuracy..

But she tells it in a hilarious, excited way so I’m enthralled. I’m reminded that hanging out with her is so funny it makes my face hurt.

She’s heading back to America on Tuesday, and I’m pretty sure I have a massive crush on her.

Fuck.

Monday

Back on that work hype. Grab my first consulting client! I start pulling together the info to turn them into an Instagram baller.

I head to Amelia’s to watch Game of Thrones with everyone. 😱 That dragon fight though…

Take a walk through a cute little park with Rachael and we grab some wine back at mine. Loads a fun.

Tuesday

Wake up 10.40. Realize I have a cooking class at 11 😑

Run over to Time Out just in time to cook up some delicious salt cod dishes.

We make some beautiful not-bruschetta, and some gorgeous not-risotto.

Those dishes are from Italy and we’re in Portugal.

I eat, I nap (system works..), I work out, run a second Instagram Internet Money session and head out for Rachael’s last night.

It’s sad to see her leave, but it was very fun. Swings and roundabouts hey.

@specifically.random, definitely not risotto, or bruschetta..

Wednesday

Errrr….. Wednesday… What does anyone do on a Wednesday?

I believe I spent the day training up Michelle to do some Instagram account management, and worked a lot. Think I booked a couple of clients for Pinterest coaching. And likely napped.

That sounds like a day I would do…

Thursday

Another crazy work day (Lisbon seemed to take work and play to the extreme). Put in about 13 hours til 10pm, then head out to meet friends on the water for cocktails.

Stop at Amelia’s for a catch up and to generally dump all my thoughts and emotions out to her to chat through them.

I’m Watson..

Friday

Smash the gym. Smash the work. Go to grab food and pass Jake on the way out.

He reminds me that we need Visa photos and application forms for Vietnam next month…. So I go on a mission across the city to find a photo booth with him.

We grab tasty Italian pizza bread sandwich things….

I can’t decide between the pesto & mozzarella, and the prosciutto one.

I get both.

Worth ittt…

I walk 90% of the way back to WiP, down all the hills, before realizing I’m hairy.

So I walk back up all the hills in search of the best barbers.

Tucked away through an unassuming, graffiti filled alley, out onto a tiny courtyard is an awesome little barbershop. Belarmino.

I go in and am greeted with a cold beer and hard rock. Sleeve tattooed, pointy mustached guys are both giving and receiving haircuts.

You have my attention.

So anyway I sit down and grab likely the best haircut of my life from Miguel, the owner. I grab recommendations on all the best bars and food places to check out. The most interesting of which is “Red Frog”. A hidden speak easy that does some of the best rated cocktails in the World…

I stay up working til some time after 11. Amelia then comes over for a catch up and to generally dump all her thoughts and emotions out to me to chat through them.

We have a system 😄

Saturday

I take a boat trip to some gorgeous hidden beaches. This is the first time I’ve left Lisbon this month, so this is something I really need!

We sail past gorgeous, towering cliffs made from layer upon layer of stone. The sun is shining, the sea is glistening.

It looks so damn inviting.

We stop off at a beach only reachable via a long hike, and flanked by enormous cliffs. It looks gorgeous.

Johnathan jumps off the boat into the shimmering sea. Before he surfaces, I take a dive from the top deck straight into the beautiful,

shimmering,

glistening

So innocent, so unaware….. (@dre.by.day)

Altantic. Fucking. Ocean.

“Faaaaaaakkk this is cold”

Runs through my head as I plunge deeper and deeper from the enthusiasm of my dive.

At the same time, my balls jump rapidly to my throat, 😑

I then have the pleasure of swimming for 10 minutes (an eternity) to the shore.

Anyway, the beach is breathtaking. Made more so by the beach’s “entry fee”. The 20 minute hike required to get there for those without a boat! This means that many of those on the beach are athletic, bikini clad women.

Lovely.

After this, Kib, Isaac, Pino, Beth, Dario and I head out for illegal Chinese food . Unsurprisingly, this is in an illegal Chinese “restaurant”.

This has us ringing a doorbell on a random apartment. Walking into some sketchy building. Through a kitchen and into a converted dining area.

The food was insane. And luckily, I didn’t have to make any choices on what I ate as it was dirt cheap, cash in hand Chinese food.

Amusingly enough, our next stop also has us ringing some random, unassuming doorbell. We head to Red Frog, as recommended by Miguel.

He wasn’t wrong.

I have without a doubt the two (couldn’t pick one..) most exquisite cocktails I’ve ever experienced!

Flavors that have no business off a plate, blend into a refreshing sour symphony in my mouth. If you’re in Lisbon, put Red Frog on your list.

We finish up the night in Bairro Alto, bumping into more of our RY crew. Laura and Michelle are a tiny bit drunk… So we decide 3am is a good enough time to finish up the night and take them home.

Sunday

Well it appears I’ve completely exhausted my social points.

The man period begins, so I blanket hate everyone. I decide most of my Sunday is best spent smashing out some work alone in WiP.

I work up an appetite and decide I can be social, if it’s for a short time and there’s food involved..

We hit a Peruvian place and like everything else culinary in Lisbon, it’s fucking bomb.

I can’t pick what to eat so I double up my mains. Causa and ceviche 😋

With that done I dash off to hermit by myself again. Easy.

Monday

Still socially exhausted. Buckle in for another crazy work day, taking a break for the gym (important to keep me from getting too grumpy).

Head over to Amelia’s for group Game of Thrones. After, everyone heads upstairs for a group chat about the arseholes at Urban Beach. We also cover several other accounts of racism we’d encountered in Lisbon.

Love when we get together for these chats (even when I’m grumpy and hate everyone). Just feels awesome to go deeper and get stuff out that doesn’t come up in general chit chat.

PR shitstorm agreed upon. Responsibilities divided. Awesome meeting.

Tuesday

Pretty standard day. Lots of work. Run the business class, wrapping up the last of the know how on Instagram.

Have a webinar to give to Dan Meredith’s private Facebook group. “Going from 0–15,000 daily visitors from Pinterest in 6 months”. Feed oddly nervous, so start on the wine a little before.

Goes down a storm (as does the webinar 😏).

Also, writing this blog I’m becoming aware of just how much I drank whilst in Lisbon…

RIP liver.

Ashe has let me know he’s dropping out of RY a few days prior, so I go out for catch up drinks with him before he leaves.

By this time I’m already a bottle down, and that dude likes to go hard.

By time time we’re done and go to meet everyone at 4 Caravelas (as always), I’m spangled.

Not me…

Something that Melissa points out to me 😑

So I decide to try wrangle back any responsible adult points I can, and get some of the fam to take me home.

Wednesday

Again, what does anyone do on a Wednesday….

I’m going to assume based on the last nights antics that I slept most of the day..

Pretty sure this evening I hit the gym. Then Pino and I ordered a quantity of Tacos so ambitious, we request it three times before we’re taken seriously.

Yep, that’s only the first layer of Mexican delights you can see.

Thursday

Still searching for something to snap me out of my funk, I go to an event dubbed “Happiness Club”.

Sounds like it should do the job, right?

It’s a series of group exercises intended to foster deeper connection and emotional openness. Love this shit.

We talk about times we’ve struggled and challenges we’ve had etc.

For me, the most fulfilling part is pinning blank notes on each others backs. We then go around and write nice things we think about each other, anonymously, on said notes.


Something I’ve struggled with in the past is putting in the effort to give friends quality time. I’m sure this is due to a variety of factors, but a big one is I’ve spent the vast majority of my adult life (9 years since age 14) in relationships.

This can lead to is giving your focus to one person and neglecting giving time to others. Even if that’s only checking in with them for lunch or with a phone call every week or so.

This has been a problem in my past that’s bothered me. I’ve made it a large priority whilst globe trotting to really give time to people, to help them, to connect with them. To just be there to support them if needed.

So circling back to the “Happiness Club”, I feel the notes that I received reflected this, which is awesome.


“You are kind and open and accepting of everyone. “

“So compassionate, incredibly thoughtful and generous with your heart and your time. “

#feelserbeam #feelsplosion ? 😍 😍 😍

I give zero fucks what other people think of me — i.e. I’m not going to bend who I am to appease others. But, when I get feedback that I’m coming across as the version of me that I want to be, it’s a pretty awesome feeling.

So, that fixed my funk right?

Nope.

Still don’t want to be around people.

Interesting…

So I go chill at home and work from there.

Friday

Wake up feeling good!

Get to work.

Feel shit 😩

Right, fuck this.

When it turns out that what seems like social exhaustion is actually, my monthly depressive “man period”, there’s often an easy fix. I write out every problem that may be bothering me.

I then write out the potential solutions to all those problems.

I also write out what I was doing one year ago, two years ago, three years ago.

Guess what?

Turns out life’s fucking great, and that almost all these potential problems, aren’t problems.

The only one that is; that I’d only briefly left Lisbon once in my time there, is simple to solve ! Get out of Lisbon to find some adventure!

Like magic, almost all my grump dissipates. Isn’t the brain a stupid, wondrous thing.

I work like a productive little unicorn for the rest of the day 🦄

Saturday

My source of adventure?

Pino and I grab a Panda to road trip down the picturesque Portuguese coast to Lagos in the Algarve region. Her take on our adventure is here.

Immediately I’m back. My brain is on fire and I feel like myself again.

Energy and ambition fill my body.

All at once I’m terrible car company as my nerd brain fills my head with obscure rabbit holes of thought.

Amusingly, Pino, who refers to the work music I listen to as “death metal”, has a phone full of all the same artists.

Avenged, FFDP, Three Day’s Grace, Stone Sour etc.

I find that time and time again, chilling with someone, swapping through the genres and artists you enjoy, is an awesome way to bond 🙃

We off-road to a secluded beach that look as if it formed before life slithered from the seas.

We snake and twist through lush forests full of twisted, gnarled trunks.

We climb down a rocky trail to a beach flanked by mighty black cliffs, cut through with branched granite lightning.

Nerd brain pleased.

We pull up to a quaint little town and go hunting for food.

I grab some delicious charcoal grilled squid.

Pino, being a bloody yank, confuses ounces and grams.

Orders a kilo of prawns.

😑

Oh no….. now I need to eat double portions…. again.. 🙄

Mel, Arrestia and Annelise are also taking a road trip today. We head down to another majestic beach to wait for them for a while.

I lie down for a second…

*Some unknown period of time passes*

As I grumble to life, pulling my face from the puddle of drool that’s appeared, I gaze up at Pino standing next to me.

“Urghh, how long have we been here?”

“Just over an hour!”

Faaaaak….

FYI, an hour+ is not a good time to lie topless in the Portuguese summer sun, not moving at all.

As I roll over my back feels like someone’s poured hot oil on me.

I realize I’m now stuck with the most defined, burned back / white arse separation line, anyone’s ever experienced…

Lovely.

Anyway, apparently whilst I’ve been sleeping on my face, the other girls have driven by and are now on their way to Lagos.

I guess we should do the same!

We continue our journey south. Stop off at a couple more arresting beaches. Then arrive at our hotel outside Lagos.

I guess we should do the same!

We continue our journey south, stop off at a couple more arresting beaches, before arriving at our hotel outside Lagos.

After a day in the car, I figure I should do some work for a bit. Pino heads to the bar to grab some food.

The whole of 15 minutes passes before:

“They have truffle risotto at this restaurant! Should I order you some?!”

ffs…

This chick knows how to get my attention….

So I head down, smash that (it’s amazing!), and start on a little white wine.

We grab another one or two at the bar. Chat to a local expat family and note down the names of 6–7 fun places to check out in Lagos.

We go to each of them.

We drink in each of them.

We get, really, realllly, krunk.

We grab a taxi home.

Oh, except there are no taxis in the entirety of Lagos. So we walk.

And we keep walking, and walking.

And now we have no idea where we are or where our hotel is.

So, Pino, being a bloody yank, has the CIA on speed dial. She calls up someone clearly important, in an inebriated huff.

15 minutes later a car turns up, grabs us and gets us home.

Sunday

Ready to continue adventuring!

We head down to the pool to chill in the sun.

I start to melt.

It was 100% this bad, especially the bit at the end…

Perhaps we should grab breakfast and play that “hair of the dog” game?

I realize they have full English breakfasts and can’t resist!

Mmmm,

perfect hangover food,

aaaaaaaaannnndd

DEAD.

Yep, I’ll not be doing anything for a few hours.

I head up to the room and pass out.

I wake up in time for Pino and the Panda to turn up. We head out to some tiny little village in the hills of Portugal to “Pizza Pazza”. It apparently serves the best Pizza in Portugal.

I’m not convinced this statement is broad enough.

We stop in a silent town, with sweeping views across an uninhabited valley and enjoy perhaps the tastiest pizzas of my life.

The scenery, the food, the company. All come together into something truly magical.

@specifically.random

After this we head over to Sagres to watch the sunset.

We walk out along the top of a towering red cliff, overlooking sheltered bay beaches.

The crimson rocks and strange, tall, spindled flora transport me to an alien world. Darwin IV if anyone is curious about which world in particular…. 🤓

We walk further out towards the edge of this massive cliff before getting as comfy as one can on a sofa of boulders. We settle down to watch the sunset.

The surface of the sea below dances like a silk sheet against the banded indigo and red sky.

At the same time this is erupting into my nerd brain, I forward it on to Pino.

I think she’s enjoying my odd commentary.

Perhaps she’s being polite….

In any case, I’m enjoying my company 😆

Left from @mdoesthings, middle from Wayne Barlowe, right from @specifically.random

Lovellllyyy

We’re mesmerized by the sunset before driving over to Sagres town. We’re going to grab wine and meet the other girls for a bit before heading back to the hotel.

This doesn’t happen.

Almost as soon as we walk through the door, Annelise uses her hawk eyes to spot the wine. This is swiftly opened and distributed.

We drink, we chat, we decide we should go out to bars. Yaaaay….. this is exactly how I’d planned my Sunday evening….

Whilst this is happening, I notice that not only is Annelise smart and very cute, she’s also funny and loves adventure.

Ticking all them boxes.

Fuck.

Anyway, we head out, we drink cocktails and pale ale, we chat, we laugh. Arrestia gets a little drunk and chases some unknowing guy around. Pino and I drive home.

All, good, fun.

Monday

To wrap up our adventure trip, we head over to the most beautiful hidden beach. Pino had found this whilst I was dying in bed the day before…

We park up and hike for 20 minutes through a lush valley. Ducking through thick Mediterranean trees, and crossing a stream before the valley opens to a magical, hidden beach.

We scale the cliffs to the left of the beach. Climb up to an ancient ruin for a vantage over the expansive coastline.

Spotting a hidden alcove past the beach, we dash down the cliffs. We wade through crashing waves and arrive at alone at our own little spot.

Alone with a naked elderly Portuguese couple, that is..

So, when in Rome!

@specifically.random

We arrive back in Lisbon in time for Game of Thrones. After which I chill with Amelia and Dina, watching some movie with Will Farrell and Kevin Hart.

Game of Thrones was insane!

Kevin and Will were not.

Tuesday

After so much adventure, today is a work day!

Finish up the Instagram Internet money classes.

Train Michelle some more.

Grab a coaching client.

Crush it in the gym.

Solid day.

In the evening our group is running an event called “The Moth”. You get up on stage and tell a story people don’t know about you — simple.

I often vomit every story from my past at anyone at all I meet. So as Pino wasn’t at this event, I decide my easiest options is to tell a story I’ve had no chance to share yet; my nerd brain this weekend.


I get a little excited, and maybe a little drunk…

Wednesday

Easy day! Get some work done. Do a coaching call. Grab Lunch with Laura.

Laura’s already running a baller social media agency, and is awesome at strategy and management.

Two things I despise.

She’s interested in partnering up.

I get to experiment and come up with cutting edge marketing strategies. Build a personal brand. Create fun content.

Laura onboards clients. Creates a next level social strategy with them. Trains Virtual Assistants to scale those marketing systems to blow up their businesses.

Everyone gets to do what they’re good at and enjoy!

Still in crazy work mode after my adventure weekend.

Pause work for long enough to ask Annelise out for drinks the next night.

She says yes 😏

Thursday

Another day in paradise, working.

That evening I head to the Farewell Junction — a final party we throw in each city we visit.

It’s at some dope art exhibit and everyone’s here! It’s awesome to have these events to wrap up a city. Lots of our group are often busy or away exploring throughout the month, so to get everyone together can be quite rare!

It’s so worth it though. Really makes an event special.

I was late… so not even in this picture…

Everyone heads to 4 Caravelas. I start on the pints of Margarita. There are less wise things one could drink, I assume…

I chill there for a bit and then grab Annelise and a bottle (or two) of green wine for a wonderful (my words) riverside date.

Some may argue that drinking two bottles of wine on top of a full night is too much..

I would argue it can lead to half a night of hilarity.

The other half?

I have no idea, drank too much wine.

Friday

The final day! I’m pretty dead but hang with Annelise for a bit, before I grab an ambitious amount of MacDonalds.

Unsurprisingly, this puts me right to sleep…

Strong final day.

I wake up to keep track of general work tasks and then a load of friends come over and we chill in my lounge.

Hang out with Annelise after. Awesome way to wrap up my time in Lisbon before 20+ hours of flights to Dubai and Hanoi the next morning!


What did I learn from this month?

Firstly, that I drank A LOT! Holy hell. The drinking is less of a problem than the half to whole day of dead I get after doing so.

As I mentioned at the start, I’m writing this up from Thailand, 1–2 months after the fact. Just seeing this frequency of drinking has made me drastically cut my intake for the last two weeks.

Drinking can be a useful tool for open conversation, approaching people you like the look of, and general silliness. It can also be self destructive. Eating into time that you need to spend working, if you’re to continue traveling the world and having fun.

So yeah, action point 1: Be less dumb with alcohol.

The second big thing I realized was I’d much prefer to fancy someone than just have one off hook ups.

Even considering:

  1. I’m travelling the world for at least the next 7–8 months and have zero intention of getting in a relationship.
  2. It pretty miserable to like someone and then have one of you leave.

I think the enjoyment of having silly fun adventures with someone you fancy, is easily worth something that “isn’t going anywhere”.

If it wasn’t so enjoyable, it wouldn’t suck so much when it stops.

So my thoughts are: Just have fun, enjoy it, live in the moment. When the moment passes, be a fucking grown up, you can’t have everything you want all the time. Dealing with negative emotions is healthy practice.

So action point 2: Live in the moment — have fun with people you like whilst you can.

Final big point — I learned that I need to schedule in adventure or it will drive me nuts. Adventuring is something that really sets my brain alight, and if I ignore that impulse for long enough I will just feel trapped and miserable.

So making an effort to get my adventure out of the way earlier in my month should give my mental energy a big boost!

Action point 3: You love adventure — so schedule it in early.

This post was long AF, if you made it to the end, you’re amazing!

Let me know what you thought! What have been your biggest struggles whilst traveling?

For your effort:

Yo, I’m Connor!

I’m a smart person. I don’t do smart things.

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When Assault, Robbery and Destruction of Property are Perfectly Legal

When Assault, Robbery and Destruction of Property are Perfectly Legal

When Assault, Robbery and Destruction of Property are Perfectly Legal

Mad Dogs in Lisbon

Originally posted August 2017.

UPDATE: Awesome news! Turns out this club was shut down, and several security members arrested after this story and another assault video went viral. Good job everyone.

This post covers one of the most shocking, vicious acts of senseless, unprovoked violence I’ve ever witnessed. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so powerless. The mental scars of the incident are still fresh, weeks after it occurred.

Apologies in advance, this post is likely to be a little less lighthearted than usual, but I hope it helps provoke action to prevent this happening again. This isn’t a one off incident, it’s happening at the same place in Lisbon nearly every week. Some time soon it may not be a case of rabid, group assault, but manslaughter. This is why I write this post.


It’s a normal Friday night in Lisbon. I’ve been working late and joined up with about 10 friends an hour ago. It’s approximately 2 am and we’re out looking for somewhere to go dancing (Dina needs to dance!).

The previous night I’d discovered K Urban Beach Bar with a beautiful girl from Boston(who’s white, apparently this was important). It’s quite a sight, with pillars of light all across the sand, and a long wooden walkway to the entrance. A cool, seeming chill place to dance into the early hours. Thinking nothing of it, I recommend we go there and we make the 15–20 minute walk over from Pink Street to the bar.

Doesn’t it look pretty? (Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhart)

I’m first in line to get into the club, and I’m greeted by a member of security who asks:

“How many of there are you?”.

“About 10?”

“Sorry, it’s a private party, you have to go”.

Right, okay. So ignoring the fact that we weren’t asked for our names for the “private party” list, and how oddly the amount of us determines whether we can enter, I decide it’s not worth saying any more and decide to leave with the two people behind me.

I’ve dealt with security on a power trip far too many times, there’s very little to be done and it’s not worth any provocation.

I walk past my friends behind me and say “We’re not getting in, lets just go to the club we passed on the way here”

I wrongly assumed the tone of this conveyed the situation, and about a third of the way down the walkway away from the club, I look back and see my friends standing there for a second before people start getting pushed.

Tick,

Tick,

Tick.

Time slows to a crawl. Body’s sway back and fourth.

My heart drops, adrenaline explodes into my system. But this isn’t a cause for rage or madness on my behalf. This is a feeling I’m intimately familiar with. An otherworldly sharpness washes over me.

I’m expecting security to drag a few friends out.

I’m expecting to calm screaming friends.

I’m expecting to be a cool voice of reason in a heated situation.

And then it happens…

Eddie (who’s Colombian) is sucker punched by one of 5 members of “security” as he turns to face the people behind him. He goes down.

I start to jog towards the quickly erupting chaos.

Kyle takes a hook to the side of the head. He goes down. Mark is punched and rocked.

But the worst is yet to come.

Kib (who’s Kenyan) takes a roundhouse kick to the face.

He looks like he’s stepped on a bomb.

He stumbles for another second as I start to run towards him.

He glances around, trying to understand what’s happened, glances towards me, and takes a full force punch to the chin.

He’s out cold on his feet, and doesn’t remain there for long.

I’m now full charge, yell “GET BACK!” to Taryn who’s screaming, and I dive on Kib to soak up any further barrages.

He’s laying on his back, eyes glazed, with a swarm of 10 “security”, no, 10 mad dogs; sober, coordinated, clearly trained to fight by that head kick.

Encircling him.

Screaming at him.

I roll him into a recovery position and reassure him that it’s okay, we’re not moving until he’s ready and that they’re not going to hit him any more.

And they keep screaming and screaming.

“Get him the fuck out!”

“We can’t get people in, get him out of the way!”

You see, they’d knocked him out at the front of the queue to the club.

Perhaps if they were concerned about getting people into the club, they shouldn’t have done that?

Then the first big test begins.

I’m on the floor, trying my best to stay zen as fuck, and not only have I got friends in the vicinity screaming in fear and anger, I have a swarm of screaming savages surrounding me and my barely conscious friend.

These subhumans proceed to swoop past us, pushing us with their feet and throwing bottles of water in Kib’s face to try jolt him awake.

I don’t want to move Kib until he feels sturdy enough to, but they’re screaming at me to get him out.

Every time that water is thrown in his face, I’m a hairs width away from exploding with white hot rage.

Unbridled, crotch shot, beating to a pulp, eye gouging fury.

I’ve never felt, and contained such anger.

But I knew that was exactly what these degenerates were looking for. There were 10 of them, just begging for an excuse to really jump in and stomp someone to a coma.

By the third lot of water thrown in his face, I knew I couldn’t take another.

I had to get him out. I yelled to Mark, and we threw one of Kib’s arms over each of our shoulders and carried him out.

We sit him down on a wall at the end of the walkway, and I run back over to make sure all of our friends have gotten back.

As I get towards the bar again, I notice Adi, who’s roughly 5”5’ and can’t be more than 120 lbs, is recording what’s happened, and the bouncer that threw the first pot shot is marching towards her.

He grabs her phone, hits her and throws her phone in the water, before marching off into the bar again.

Not realizing that he’s thrown her phone, I think he’s just taken in.

Perhaps stupidly, I walk towards another bouncer (that I’ve not seen frenziedly attacking people), and very reasonably ask if we can get her phone back.

We’ve all just been attacked, it’s the least they can do, right. I’m ignored.

Adi, who’s understandably unhappy about her phone, is yelling towards the one who hit her and walked off.

Another bouncer is marching toward her.

She’s not getting fucking hit again.

I step in front and say we should go.

I start getting pushed and I’m walking backwards along the walk. I’ve got my hands in the air saying we’re going.

One punch.

“Why are you punching me?”

Two.

“I’m leaving, why are you punching me?”

Three.

“Stop punching me 😑”

Four.

“Stop punching me 😠”

This was my second big test.

Eating four punches with my hands in the air sparks another tsunami of adrenaline.

He stops, I’ve walked the entire length of the walkway getting punched.

Once more, I’m a hairs-width from erupting with blind rage.

I turn around and Kib’s on the floor.

Three fucking savages have run past me whilst I was distracted by getting punched in the face, and have decided to choke out a still disoriented Kib, and then proceed to punch and kick him on the floor whilst he was unconscious.

I charge over yelling and get in the way. This time they dissipate and walk back to the bar, for the final time.

We call the police and an ambulance. Kib and Kyle go for a check up to make sure they’re okay.

I talk through with the police and not only find out that this happens regularly, but that there’s sweet fuck all they can do about it.

The court process takes 6–12 months to happen, and tourists very rarely have that time.

These monsters are able to do this once or twice a weekend.

The police, the Uber drivers, the online reviews all reflect this. And nothing is done about it.


But you could have just been drunk and boisterous, and not mentioning that?

Some of us had been drinking more than others.

Eddie also offered to pay the €250 per person price they jacked the entry fare up to, when essentially telling people to piss off.

Perhaps that was provocative.

But perhaps there’s more here…

Kyle posted this picture of his face to his Instagram after the event:

@mynameiskyleokay

He tagged K Urban Beach Bar in the picture and the next weekend someone messaged him with a story exactly the same as ours.

Coincidence?

Let’s look at Tripadvisor and Google Reviews:

Lol, couldn’t help myself

So yeah, an out of the blue, apparently race driven attack, is something you can expect to see at K Urban Beach Bar. If you’re lucky enough, you may even be a part of one!

So why am I writing this shit if nothing will get done?

  1. If I can stop someone visiting this club, and potentially getting assaulted and killed, that’s my number one.
  2. To highlight what seems to be a massive race problem, not just at this bar but at many in Lisbon.
  3. It may be cathartic for me to write out.
  4. I have a troubled background, mixed up with lots of fighting, so perhaps this helps you understand more about me.

Hopefully the bulk of this post and the reviews have gone some way towards ticking off the first two points. The third is TBD when I finish this, at the moment it’s pretty stressful.

So the fourth point..

I want to do a little more to convey how difficult this is to write.

I’ve been an angry person before, and I moved past that. But reliving this in intimate detail has adrenaline raging through my system.

My largest issue is that I’ve got a past deeply intertwined with fighting.

Since the age of 8, and until my early twenties, fighting had been a regular go-to for resolving issues with those that wanted to bully or push around me, my family or my friends.

As I got older, this was often tied to drinking (not because I would start fights, but because I’d be around drunk people that had something to prove).

This actually got to the point where I had to chose to stop drinking, for almost a year whilst I was 22 to sort my shit out. I needed to stop resorting to violence when it was such an easily presented option.

So what’s my point?

Well, 10–15 years of getting in 50–100 fights, combined with 4 years of MMA training 5–10 hours a week, have actually made me very good at it.

And that’s a problem.

As I relive this experience, my mind keeps racing back to elaborate vision of attacking back.

There are few things that make my blood boil like bullies, and I cannot deny the sense of satisfaction I would feel to really hurt those scumbags, and use their own language to show them they can’t just go around mass assaulting people without repercussion.

Again, I’ve been an angry person, and I don’t want to be one again.

So along with the appalling injustice of this event, there’s an issue that is really sticking with me.

I’m pissed that these arseholes keep dragging my mind back to anger.

Post Traumatic Stress

I keep experiencing PTS which manifests as moments of white hot rage towards them.

I wake up in the middle of the night, and within seconds my brain returns to the event.

Adrenaline floods my system and now, because of them, I’m stuck awake for at least the next 45 minutes.

I wake up in the morning, I’m happy, I jump in the shower and my mind wonders back, and I’m angry again.

I keep cycling through the night, where instead of standing there getting punched in the face, I lose it and knock some cunts out.

I keep running through elaborate revenge fantasies.

That pisses me off.

They’ve made me angry, and they don’t give a fuck, this is just what they do for fun.

A few days after this was at the Aquarium (my happy place), grabbed my tickets and went to enter.

There’s a very friends security guy there just checking people have their tickets.

My stomach twists and I feel a strange unease.

These fucking bastards have rooted a subconscious worry within me.

That pisses me off.

I loved Lisbon until that happened, and now I don’t, and I know that they’re not representative of many in Lisbon, but still, it’s affected me.

That pisses me off.

And I’m not the only one. At least four other friends that where there have told me they’ve had post traumatic stress, manifesting as uncontrolled crying, rage fantasies, dark thoughts, or wanting to just scream all the time.

But I’m Happy 😁

Anyway, despite occasional flashes of rage, I couldn’t be more happy about how I handled this.

I stayed calm and collected during the whole ordeal.

I believe I prevented several friends getting hurt more severely.

I resisted the unspeakably strong urge to knock some cunts out — there were too many of them, and putting down 2 or 3 of them would have been just the excuse the others were looking for to jump me, and hurt / kill my friends.

It’s funny, a week or so before, I’d looked after a close friend who’d arguably gotten too drunk after dealing with some really shitty news.

I happily put aside whatever I was doing to make sure she was okay for a few hours. And after that, a couple of people said something along these lines to me:

“You’re the most patient man I’ve ever met”

Fuck.

No.

I could look after a friend in need all day for a week and not have my patience exhausted.

But this ordeal, this fucking pushed me.

This really ran out my patience.

I’m so rarely tested to that extent. Tempted to lash out and controlling myself not to, even in the face of such a heated, unjust, dangerous situation.


Anyway, if you want to do something amazing to try and prevent this from happening again, please consider sharing it with your friends, especially those living in, or with connections in Portugal.

If you want to boost it on Medium, whack that claps button 5–10 times.

I honestly do worry that someone will be killed by these mad dogs, and as nothing is going to happen legally speaking, I figure the most I can do is put this out there.

Perhaps it’s seen by people that would otherwise visit this club, and they reconsider.

Well this has been pretty morbid to write. If you want your spirits lifted, try watch this dude control like 20 pets. It made me cry (in the best way).

Yo, I’m Connor!

I’m a smart person. I don’t do smart things.

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Life as a Traveling Entrepreneur isn’t All Unicorns and Rainbows

But Mostly it is!

Originally posted August 2017.

It’s been a little while since I’ve got a post out so apologies for this one being so long! I’ve somehow managed to write way less, despite making a big effort to not do ALL the fun things ALL the time.

This post gives a run down of the fun and struggles I had in Budapest whilst I was there for a month this July!

Why you may want to bother reading this:

  • You want an insight into the reality of life traveling and running your own business.
  • You’re a clever marketer and want to know which of your new Instagram growth hacks is going to kill your account (I don’t know anyone who’s aware of this, and I know LOTS of Instagram big ballers).
  • You hate your work and want to put off getting starting it today for as long as possible 😉

So here, we, go!


Travel Day + Week One

The first week was somewhat of work blur, as I’ll explain shortly, but here are the main bits!

We leave Split on a Saturday on a chartered flight to Budapest. Our flight is delayed by hours, and we maaaaaaay have gotten a little drunk whilst waiting, and turned Splits tiny airport into some rave / casino combo.

In Budapest we meet out awesome city team, Zsofi and Niki!

Zsofi tries to teach us Hungarian (one of the world’s most difficult languages). We also try Unicum, a local liquor and “delicacy”, for the first, and the last time.

I’d visited this gorgeous city about 18 months prior, and had got most touristy stuff out of the way.

This meant whilst everyone was going berserk, especially my American friends, who were very taken by “old stuff”, I was able to start getting some work done.

Luckily, I had some extra motivation. About 3 days before leaving Croatia, my website kept crashing every time 10+ people were on it (I regularly have 10,000+ people a day on it, so it was pretty fucking dead).

To make this even more fun, no one could figure out what the issue was.

Was it a DDoS attack?

Hackers?

A plugin or theme bug?

Or, worst case scenario, a core WordPress bug (yup, guess which it was…. 😑)?

To make this even EVEN more fun, everyone was having ALL THE FUN as it was our last few days in Croatia. So with the FOMO in full force, I decided it would be best to just not think about my dead AF website and party party party.

This, it turns out, is a recipe for some very unpleasant anxiety (the only time I’ve had my travel fam say I seemed stressed!).

Come my first Monday in Budapest when everyone was exploring and having fun, I was settling in for a week of 15 hour work days, completely rebuilding my website from scratch as the issue was, you guessed it, a core WordPress bug.

And they say I struggle with work-life balance…

Anyway, this was pretty fun, I’d take having 15 hour days working on a problem I know I can solve, than having zero fucking clue what’s broken.

So that was my exciting first week in Budapest.

Friday

We go out for a lovely Indian dinner — find some actual spicy food. I’m pleased.

Head into town and meet up with the gang. Me, Taryn and Flick start touring the bars, we get a little krunk… Taryn get’s hiccups, it’s adorable.

The sun comes up. Fuck everything. I walk the girls home and pick up 7am McDonalds for Amelia.

Saturday

This will be my chill day. I snooze in until the early afternoon and then head out to find somewhere interesting.

I bump into Kat and Janet and we head to the river for drinks.

We chill by the river at some cute Italian restaurant, knock back a few bottles of vino and then Mark and Dario join us to keep the festivities rolling.

Having not eaten all day, at ~9pm we decide to hit up Hard Rock for some mad burgers and boozy shakes.

We head to Kiwi’s for more drinks and then out with the crew to Instant.

Photo from Mel @mdoesthings

Dina’s a mother fucking badass and convinces the door staff to let us all skip the queue.

I’m beyond impressed by this.

Party party party. Aaaand the sun comes up, again,

Sunday

Yeah, not today.

Monday

Today is my first stand-out experience in Budapest, we delve into the Labyrinth of caves below the city. We’re 30 meters underground, it’s pitch black, you can’t see your hands in front of your face.

The whole experience is just thrilling. It’s a completely new environment to me. The hair on the back of my neck stands up and I feel as I would walking through any jungle or over any mountain range.

We crawl through 2 feet wide tunnels on our stomachs. At first this seems like a terrible idea, and a distance voice in my head quietly reminds me that I could FREAK THE FUCK OUT at any point.

I decide to ignore that voice.

After the first 10–15ft crawl, the adrenaline hits me. I need more.

So the best part of the caves? I discover small spaces excite me.

Which may require further exploration…😏

Tuesday-Friday

Meet a Russian Segway gang.

Coincidentally (I hope), Russians steal my Uber details and enjoy joy rides in and around Moscow on my dolla.

And the rest of this week?

Sweet.

Fuck.

All.

I’m burned out from working like a mad man and then partying like a mad man.

I’m feeling anxious and blanket hate everyone.

So I chill at home for the week, do some work, watch some Netflix.

This is my first big crash of my travel journey, and I know it’ll not be my last.

I make an effort to journal about the various factors and events leading to it, and endeavor to keep an eye on them in the future!

Saturday

Yep. More fun.

We take a bus out to an outdoor thermal bath beside Lake Balaton, a beautifully, azure blue lake in Western Hungary.

The outdoor thermal bath is, interesting…

Firstly, after having such an easy time swimming in the oh-so salty Adriatic Sea off Croatia, I’m quickly aware of how buoyant I am not, in the warm, fresh water of the thermal bath.

And this isn’t water you want to be sinking in to.

The bottom of the thermal pool is coated in a slimy, thick, pond weed. I also can’t help but think that the toasty, weedy waters are a perfect breeding ground for all sorts of nasties.

So I’m sure the amount of pool I swallow gives my immune system a fun work day.

Anyway, like I said, interesting experience.

After that we head over to Tihany, a picturesque village, with adorable thatched roof cottages on a peninsula on the lake. We visit a monastery some 1000 years old, with beautiful views over the lake.

It’s spectacular.

Left picture from Little T @theremoteyogi

After the views over the lake, I’ve seen all I need to make up my mind: I need to get on this lake.

A group of us grab a bus down to the waterside and rent a yacht to sail out onto the lake for an hour or two.

Kara and Janet buy us some wine(vinegar) to drink.

It’s not good.

Being someone not particularly motivated by possessions, I must admit, a small yacht is now somewhat appealing…

We head back to Budapest, grab some very average, very spongy taco’s and head over to party it up for Melissa’s birthday at the Széchenyi thermal baths.

These beautiful, Roman era baths are, for one night a week, completely obliterated by drunk, obnoxious tourists.

And I’m one of them 😉

People are constantly throwing drink cups around, creating a sea of artificial jellyfish to wade through.

And the drinks that aren’t finished? Don’t worry, people are busy splashing hot, syphilitic water around into all of those, so you’ll spend some time pondering:

“how long will it take for the booze in my drink to sterilize that…?”

Whilst a massive, crazy pool party seems like an awesome idea, as everyone is all sexy, pretty much running around in their underwear, the reality isn’t quite as practical.

Get into the party pit and you find that being chest (or neck) deep in water isn’t the most conducive for having fun and dancing..

But that’s fine, you can just hop out and dance at the sides.

Oh wait, you’re just in swim wear.

And it’s wet.

And it’s 2am.

So this lasts the whole of about 30 seconds before you get cold and just wading into the chaos again.

Anyway, it’s my second thermal bath of the day, and my second “interesting” experience. At the very least, I’m sure my skin is hella sexy after all of it.

Sunday

So, back on a work hype.

Head out to a coffee shop and start pounding through Pinterest work.

Converting all of my standard workout pins into GIF versions, to double up my pin content 🔥!

Monday

Ready to smash the day. Pump out all the work. Hit the gym. Move on to beer work (one of my favorite kinds of work).

Game of Thrones is back on 😁!

I explode with excitement.

Watch that with the fam and head back to work to finish off my 15 hours of work.

Work game strong.

Tuesday

Decide to go to an event — Rubik’s cube master in the garden of philosophy-first part sounds shit, second part interests me enough to go.

I was wrong.

We go to a lovely garden on top of a hill on the Buda side of the city and one of Hungary’s best Rubik’s speed solvers walks us through solving the first face of a cube.

It gives me an itch.

I NEED to learn how to solve this puzzle.

In the evening about 15 of us head over to Matheus’ house for “Deep chats”, an informal event arranged by Trish, who’s basically in charge of making sure everyone on Remote Year has a dope ass time.

This is my second stand out experience in Budapest.

I get such a kick out of peeling back the layers on people and getting to know them on a deeper level. What make’s them tick? What are they passionate about? What are they insecure about? What do they want to do with their lives?

So to get the opportunity to peel back 2–3 layers with 15+ people just blew my little feels brain to pieces.

All the happy feels

Love it.

In fact, loved it so much I’m going to write up a post with the activities we went through in order to get people to open up, as I think it’s such a valuable thing to do.

Need to make this a monthly event!

Wednesday

So hyped up for work that I think I just do 16 hours and then sleep.

Make all the workout pin GIFs 🔥🔥.

Thursday

Still have the fucking itch.. Google the nearest toy shop and march over to buy a Rubik’s cube. Proceed to sit on Youtube for hours figuring out how to solve one and practicing until I can do it without help.

The itch disappears.

Side note; mentor gives me a super flattering shout out on his Growth Hacking Facebook group (Traffic & Copy), putting me in a top 10 with some REALLY IMPRESSIVE mo fuckers:

“Connor McCreesh — Dangerously close to being my favourite person I’ve ever mentored, like Justin, learned growth hacking by sitting in his bedroom and trying shit out.

No reading blogs, no networking, just grinding and iterating.

He finds content that gets high engagement, puts it on his Instagram page, and has a link on his bio leading to an info product, and makes bags of ca$h.

Encouraged by those results, he then went away and worked out Pinterest (again, on his own) and is doing even better on that. Like everyone else on this list, he is using that baseline to work on new things.”

So that was awesome 🔥

Good.

Fucking.

Day.

Friday

Pop over to Pisa for the weekend to attend a “Nation House”, a meet up of people from different RY travel groups to exchange expertise, experiences and in general just have loads of fun.

Our house revolved around “Goal Setting and Habit Forming”.

And I’m ALL ABOUT DAT SHIT. So this was right up my alley, and I’m also going to whip up a post about the various techniques and activities we ran through, as they were really helpful.

Anyway — I turn up Friday afternoon, wonder through the tight, cute streets of Pisa towards Filter Coffee Lab where I meet up with many of the awesome people I’m about to spend the next few days with.

Travis and Michelle rock up with a van each and we take off far out of Pisa and deep into the Italian country side.

We stop off for groceries and continue onward to traverse tiny, winding roads up through the hills.

We climb and climb, with no sight of another car until we pull into our home for the weekend; the adorable hamlet (I guess?) of Tavella.

A tiny settlement of eight, YES EIGHT, people up in a tiny little collection of interconnected houses and alleyways high in the hills of Tuscany.

It’s somewhat amusing that the 12 of us have more than doubled the population of this “town”.

We’re greeted by the MOST adorable German couple anyone’s ever met. When Airbnb gets it right, it gets it RIGHT!

We’re taken on a tour of the house and Jesus, sets about whipping up some tasty AF Mexican cuisine for us all to chow down on.

We ease into the first evening with a kick-ass visioning workshop from Marina, and everyone enjoys the ludicrously cheap wine that Italy has to offer.

Saturday

It’s 8.30, my door swings open and:

Travis wakes me up in the best way possible to this sound track!

Side note — Travis is the most positive, cheery, energetic human I think I’ve ever met. He’s amazing. I need to spend more time with him.

Everyone’s whipping up a breakfast storm. Bacon, eggs, cereal, all the foods.

I fuel my body with nutritious, caffeinated espresso goodness instead.

If time doesn’t slow down, you’re not drinking enough…

We whip through another round of energizing, empowering goal and habit forming talks. I’m getting very ready to get shit done.

I smash out some speed carbonara for the group. They seem to like it.

We head out to Cinque Terre, a beautiful, quaint collection of towns spread out along the coast.

Yes I know. EVERYTHING is beautiful.. Well, it fucking is.

We sit in a gorgeous harbor, sipping some Aperol Spritz’s / orange goop, and one of my best friends calls me whilst balls deep in a trip. So that was a pretty fun, and nice to catch up.

We hit up a pizza joint that’s hundreds of years old, unsurprisingly, it’s damn good.

Then we head back to our adorable hamlet for yet more wine, goop 🍹, and general fun whilst getting to know each other better. We made rounds of the table cheersing to people, locations and experiences close to our hearts.

If you’re looking to get a little krunk, having a drink every time one of 12 people makes a toast, and going round and round the group isn’t a bad way….

Sunday

8.30am. Lion King, again 😍.

I’m convinced that no day can be started poorly with this to wake you up. Hello new alarm…

We smash another three learning sessions finishing up with yours truly and my amazing partner Stevie (who you may remember from my last post)!

I basically try to convince the group that they should want to create astronaut dinosaurs that will save the world..

I think they buy it.

We bounce to see the Tower of Pisa, which is in a beautiful courtyard with a few other amazing old building.

We take some dumb (awesome) perspective photos, as you do.

Then we grab a final lunch before most of the group takes off.

The remaining crew head to a hostel, I drool sleep for a little bit (the best sleep) and then we head out into Pisa to drink til stupid am again.

It was loads of fun.

In fact, one of my big highlights from this weekend is meeting this new group of people. It feels like my first week in Croatia again, but the vibe is different. Everyone here has already been on this journey, some have even finished it, so it’s crazy interesting to pick their brains on the experience.

Advice on locations I was yet to visit.

Funny stories to share.

Horror stories to learn nothing from and repeat!

The whole weekend really was great fun. I’ll be looking to get involved with more of these in the future.

Tuesday

I AM THE FIRE 🔥!

Ready to pull some change from this weekend, I dive straight into meditating again, having got a lot out of it when I did it for ~4 months, a year ago.

Check the Calm app — lots of zen background tracks.

Schedule in a business class “Make All the Internet Money” for the following Tuesday.

In Split roughly half of my group (20–25 people) had said they had goals that should be easily achievable with my business / marketing help in 3–6 months.

It only took me 6 weeks and a super motivational weekend to get to it, but now it’s on!

Work like a badass for the rest of the day!

Wednesday

Up at 8am (I don’t do this). Meditate. Work out.

Work like a madman, again!

Hit a new Pinterest traffic milestone — 13,000 unique hits in a day.

Also, get a Pinterest consulting gig.

It’s takes an hour, zero prep and I get paid big bucks. I’m considering giving this a little more thought….

Thursday

Thursday fun day. After neglecting Instagram in favor of Pinterest for months, as Pinterest is less prone to shafting your entire business with algorithm changes, I dive back into Instagram!

I.

Love.

Figuring shit out 😍!

Especially if that shit can be turned into Internet money..

So I dive back into Instagram, start to push my follower count up after weeks of stagnation, but best of all, I figure out something new, something that no one else knows 😏.

This is a topic for a whole post, but basically even the best in the business (who I’m regularly connected with), aren’t getting something big right.

But for most people, not only aren’t they getting this right, they’re completely fucking their accounts long term growth by getting this wrong.

In short:

Don’t use boost groups / engagement groups / telegram groups, whatever you want to call them. Your account will die before you can make good money from it.

So if you’re in any of these groups, get out. You’ll likely struggle to cover the cost of pulling your account out of the algorithmic pile of shit you bury it in!

In the evening we head over to a bar to finish up our “Collective” for the month — the same event series that had me jumping from a four story cliff in Split. This month’s topic is communication and Kiwi and Dina, the masters for the month, have arranged a Shark Tank pitch for us.

Now this is the kind of stuff I do all the time, so having the balls to talk in front of a crowd, especially one comprised of my close friends, isn’t something difficult for me.

What I really enjoyed about this event was that friends that struggled with communication, who weren’t interested in taking part when I pressed them before the session, got up to talk after 3–4 of us started it off.

I also got yet another kick that I need to really spend some time working on my storytelling skills. Several of the short pitches were just lessons wrapped up in vivid stories. They were enthralling. Need to work on that shit!

We continue to keep the communication skills building with a trip to an Escape Room — a problem solving game room that you try to get out of.

These rooms completely set my nerd brain on fire. They’re AMAZING! 🤓🔥

We escape from the most difficult room before the time runs out 😎

We head to a Tikki (Native American?) bar, grab some tasty cocktails and this seems to be all I need to decide going HARD tonight is for me.

We head over to Instant, the massive, 3 ruin bar complex.

I proceed to, for some reason, drink my own body weight in beer.

I get KRUNK.

The sun starts to come up (fml fml fml 😑).

Niki, being the world’s biggest sweetie, gets a taxi home with me to make sure I’m not dead.

Friday

It seems she didn’t succeed..

I’m dead.

Wake up at 10am.

Wake up at 3pm.

Go for a McDonalds date with LD. Eat an ambitious amount of burgers.

Wake up at 6.30pm.

Somehow, manage to have one of the most interesting / fun experiences of my whole time in Budapest!

I get up, resuscitate my face with a gallon of water, and catch a bus up the road to Marks to meet everyone for a blind dinner (ooo, interesting).

Kelly (who is visiting Budapest from another Remote Year group, and is awesome) has organised this amazing evening experience.

So here is my third and final stand out experience whilst in Budapest:

We have a blind hostess (who’s a complete sweetheart), and she leads us through a crazy sensory experience and dinner, IN COMPLETE DARKNESS.

Can’t see your hand in front of your face darkness.

It’s NUTS.

We start off walking through a flat in complete darkness. We’re forced to getting very touchy, bumping into everyone and getting stuck as a group in corners of the room.

It’s completely hilarious how much we rely on our vision.

I’m reminded how much fun I have when every day experiences are made challenging: Figuring out a menu in another language, crossing the road (in Asia), navigating metro systems, and, it seems, trying to paw my way around a flat with zero vision.

Gives a great adrenaline kick.

Such a junkie.

Love it!

So we paw our way around this flat before exiting to cross a busy road.

Again.

In complete fucking darkness. Very fun.

We cross the road to a log cabin before ending up in a museum filled with famous statues.

Being competitive, I’m pawing at all of them madly. I NEED TO KNOW.

A sphinx.

Atlas supporting the world.

A person. Athletic, male chest. Seems to have something thrown over his shoulder.

Idea!

Crotch shot.

Yep, it’s Michelangelo’s David!

Sphinx. Atlas. David.

So after rabidly working through the statues, we head into the dinner hall.

This is a crazy experience in itself. There are 3–4 tables of people already in there, talking and laughing. We sit down and it takes a while to zero in on the people around me, their voices, where they’re located, but when I have, it’s amazing.

What your brain does to fill in the blanks when your vision is gone is absolutely amazing.

My nerd brain has the biggest boner for the whole experience 🤓.

My “vision” passes through shades of red, blue and purple.

I sit with my jaw on the floor for the whole experience, staring at the galaxy of stars I can “see” wherever I assume the ceiling is.

I wave my hands around in front of my face, I can see them! Except I clearly can’t.

To test this, I hold Kelly’s hand in front of my face, and I can see it! Except I can’t, because she’s already moved it seconds ago, and as soon as she tells me this, her hand and arm evaporate from my “vision”.

I can see Dario and Kara sitting across the table from me. Except I can’t.

I’m terrible company for most of the experience as I sit in amazement at the workings of my brain.

We (I) also eat food, like animals, as no one can see us doing so 🙃

Anyway, in short, spend some time in the dark, it’s crazy cool.

Me by the end of the dinner.

After this we head to Pontoon, a rooftop bar on the Danube to grab drinks. After saying farewell to Niki the previous night, I go to see Zsofi to say bye.

My heart weeps 😔.

As fun as all the travel is; meeting sweet, awesome, magic new people, saying bye to them, especially after getting to know them for a month, isn’t something I look forward to!

I smother her in hugs for an hour and take one last stroll home, as tomorrow, I leave for a new adventure in Lisbon, Portugal!


So, useful shit from that monster read?

Well, hopefully it was at least fun! But what I want to convey is it’s not all balls to the wall fun (I mean, it mostly is, but not ALL).

Work life balance is HARD. There’s so many interesting, fun opportunities to throw myself into and picking the ones that are actually meaningful to me isn’t as obvious as it may sound.

I can’t do everything!

  1. I’ve got a business(es) to run.
  2. I like working, it motivates me, ignites my passion for problem solving and makes me feel dope.

So there needs to be a balance! Believe me when I say, the FOMO is REAL!

You need to really rein in your schedule.

Next point — It sucks leaving awesome people behind. Beautiful, wonderful people that you connect with, and then they’re gone.

How do you balance being open and wanting to get deeper with people, against becoming somewhat jaded at doing so because it sucks so much when you leave?

I’ve no idea, tell me please haha!

Final point — for my business peeps 😉, stop using mass engagement groups (the Telegram type, usually). They’re going to kill your account.

So that’s that, like the post?

Want more travel experience stuff?

More business stuff?

Know how to make leaving cool people less crushing?

Thanks!

Yo, I’m Connor!

I’m a smart person. I don’t do smart things.

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3 Biggest Lessons from Gaining 250,000 Instagram Followers in 10 months

250,000 Instagram Followers in 10 months

My 3 Biggest Lessons and the Fun it’s Allowed Me.

Need to celebrate wins more soooooo;

I’ve just passed 250,000 Instagram followers in 10 months!

Woo.

Go me…

I’m going to give you my biggest 3 takeaways from growing this account, but first I want to give you a peak behind the curtain at some of the fun that I’ve been having in the last week or two, based largely on the success of this Instagram account.

  1. If you’re just here for the marketing knowledge and want to skip this section — DON’T!

I mean, there’s nothing “useful” for you in this section, but it’s not long, and there’s a chance you might even enjoy it 🙃

2. If you do find it in anyway amusing, here’s a peek at my first two weeks in Croatia.


Wednesday

Fly over to Copenhagen for a Bachelor party.

Realize Stevie, a girl whom I’ve never met, but am doing a goal setting workshop in Italy with next month, is also in Copenhagen for a few days!

Meet her for drinks / to battle plan. She’s amazing.

Spend $15 on a beer. Die a little inside.

Meet my uncle who’s flown from Canada for the party a few days early. We drink too much and sing karaoke.

I pick “Power of Love — Huey Lewis”.

I jump on stage and “Power of Love — Jennifer Rush” starts to play.

These are not the same song…

Thursday

Caffeine through the previous night’s antics.

Work. work. work.

Go to some hipster barber shop. Get the most meticulous haircut anyone has ever had. This dude shaved my head with 8–9 different clipper lengths.

It was nuts.

Hair looks dope though!

The rest of the bachelor party turns up and we head over to the boat we’re staying on.

We drink. We sing karaoke (you may detect a pattern emerging).

 

Drink. Drink. Drink. Pass out.

Friday

Not feeling too fresh. We go to the Carlsberg brewery. They have nazi elephants . We learn some beer history and taste some (lots) of beer.

My energy returns.

We throw on some pirate outfits and take to the streets!

I discover 7Eleven taquitos.

I destroy 7Eleven taquitos.

Taquitoppenheimer

Guess what! We drink, again.

I drunk eat too many taquitos, again.

I’m so tired from too much fun and not enough sleep, I swear I feel my soul break, horcrux style.

I knock back 10–15 shots hoping that my energy returns.

It does not.

I go to bed for about 3 hours before…

Sunday

I wake at 7am and fly 5 hours back to Split.

I’ve never been so annihilated it’s making me cry to keep my eyes open

Monday

I’m a man reborn. Punch work in the face with my productivity fists! Me and Joe punch our workout in the face with our, er, fists!

Go to a meeting that the amazing L.D organised where everyone turned up to talk about their background, goal and fears for the coming year.

It was fucking awesome.

Got all the friendship feels and get a good kick to scale and automate my business more.

Would be the nuts if I could free up more of my time, and help the awesome people I’m traveling with smash their goals!

Watch Wonder Woman.

😍

Decide I need to marry wonder woman.

Tuesday

Work like a bloody bad man again. Get a good 11 hours in.

Chill with the bestie watching Despicable Me.

Wednesday

Go to some huge outdoor rave to celebrate the solstice. Develop GCLF (gorgeous Croatian lady fatigue). Not even joking. The ladies here are so good looking, it actually exhausts you.

Uber home at 5am.

Me and Mark ask our driver to stop so we can grab pizza half way.

There are two shops, one’s stopped serving and one has approximately two thousand hungry people outside it.

We go into the closed ones and they cook us up the two remaining pizzas with topping combos so nasty, that clearly only idiots would buy them.

We’re hella drunk so, tasty AF…

Sleep.

Thursday

Wake up. It’s 9am and I’m like:

Wake up at 6.30pm.

Solid day.

Mark cooks L.D and Amelia and I some dank munchies. He’s awesome.

Sleep.

Friday

Work, work, work, gym, work, work.

Amazing Sushi round 2.

We go out for one drink.

Then two. three. four.

Alcohol magically cures GCLF.

Stay out til the sun comes up dancing with lovely Croatian ladies.

Saturday

I wake up and decide, once again;

No adulting for me.

Moving ain’t on the cards for me today.

I chill and get loads of writing done.

Sunday

Sunday Funday!

Me, Eddie, Kib and John drive to Plitvice National park. It’s unspeakably beautiful.

Epic Waterfalls.

Pristine lakes a magical shade of deep cobalt.

And apparently all of America and Asia over the age of 60.

It’s pretty busy!

Luckily, we march around for 6–7 hours and for the last couple, we are the only people around. It is stunningly tranquil.

But that’s not the end of the fun…
We travel to Knin to Europe’s second largest castle. It’s on top of mountain. It’s fucking epic.

We eat a gorgeous feast as the sunsets over the mountains and then, then the heavens open.

The sky’s alight and the rumble of thunder shakes through each of us. People are inside to avoid the rain, but I need to find the lightning.

I run from the restaurant to the top of the castle until I find my moment.

Looking out across an expansive plane, mountains on each side to frame it, gorgeous tendrils of lightning branch across the sky. The hair on the back of my neck stands up as a storm of rain drenches me.

Everyone else catches up and we all get just a little silly… We run around screaming ghost noises, gibberish and movie quotes into the heavens..


Yeah, yeah, get on to Instagram.

Okay okay…

To top it off, this week I hit quarter of a MILLION Instagram followers!

Here’s what you actually came here for, my take away’s from achieving this.

1. It’s not difficult to grow a large following

No intention to sound like an arse, and perhaps you’re putting in the right hours in the right place and getting no results.

But.

I’m almost certain that 99% of people aren’t doing the following:

  • Posting good content, consistently.
  • Priming that content for discovery by using good hashtags and engaging.

What do I mean “good content”?

Content which has proven itself to perform well. That could take a lot of forms:

  • You could see locations or styles of photos that work well and imitate them.
  • You could find “themes” on Instagram and fit your photos to that theme (travel, fitness, fashion, food, memes, motivation, or more granular sub-niches of these).
  • Or, most simply — you could find larger accounts in your niche and find the best content they’ve ever posted, and repost that with an attribution to them (you’ll likely need to contact them before doing so).

If you’re relying on the business that this Instagram account funds to pay the bills, or to get you out of a life you’re not enjoying;

DON’T TRY TO REINVENT THE FUCKING WHEEL.

Find what works and adapt it in whatever way works best for you.

If you’ve got a load of time to test new shit, or you’re doing an art project, fuck yeah, try something edgy and viral, otherwise — stick to what works.

What do I mean by “consistently”?

Posting 2–8 posts, at about the same times. EVERY DAY.

EVERY, DAMN, DAY!

Most people freak at the thought of this, and so most people aren’t doing this.

Know what helps with making this many posts per day? Having a large store of content ready for your account to use via some or all of the methods mentioned above 😉

2. Instagram will constantly try to fuck you.

Instagram isn’t your platform, it’s continuously changing!

Guess what, maybe, they decide they want you to do something differently.

Maybe, you don’t want to.

You like what you’re doing.

What you’re doing has ALWAYS worked, stupid Instagram.

Doesn’t matter.

Pants down.

Boom, say bye to your engagement.

And she ain’t some cheap, $50 fling. This Instagram traffic is conversion meth. Missing out on it going to your website for 1–2 weeks is really going to kick you in the (literal) coin purse.

There is hope. I’m going to let you in on a little (big) secret:

Your traffic from Instagram is related to your account growth, not your follower count!

Is it easier to gain lots of followers if your account is big?

Sure.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a sure thing. My largest traffic day from Instagram was at perhaps 30,000 followers. And my most profitable month from Instagram traffic was in the 80–120k follower range.

My traffic is steady, and it does continue to go up on average, but when it has big growth (usually from a string of successful posts) it’s really noticeable in the traffic you get.

Point being, don’t think that everything hinges on having a huge Instagram account. I’d suggest you have multiple accounts and stick to maintaining them.

What works can change quickly and multiple accounts helps you experiment more to find out what Instagram is after.

If you can get some quick growth, you can get much of the reward of a larger account with a small one.

Know what you’ll need to get that tasty, tasty growth?

3. You’ll need to get creative!

The algorithm changes lately have been savage and people are feeling the squeeze.

You’ve now got to get very creative because 3–4 posts in a row with low engagement and Instagram will limit your exposure to YOUR OWN FOLLOWERS, which can cripple your further exposure for the next week plus.

So; if you’re feeling a little hard done by, if you’re feeling like going into a Facebook marketing group and making a post anywhere along the lines of:

“Oh no!! I’m not getting growth any more, I’ve been shadow banned!”

“Oh no!! I’m not getting growth any more, Instagram’s algorithm has changed and now my account is dead!”

“Oh no!! I gained 6 followers today and then I lost 9, my Instalife is ruined”

If you feel like saying anything like that, I have a little gift for you:

Shut the fuck up.

Know what you’re not doing if you’re moaning?

You’re not getting shit done.

Getting shit done >> moaning on Facebook.

So try using your time productively by experimenting with any / all of the following:

  • Posting more.
  • Finding better quality content — look at large accounts that are in your niche and repost their best performing content.
  • Get more hashtags that are relevant to your account and build some hashtag ladders with them.
  • Network with influencers. Under about 250,000 followers I’ve found it very easy to get in touch with influencers by engaging with their content in a thoughtful way, or sending them a direct message offering something useful . If they engage back with your content it can give you a big boost in the explore page.
  • Try posting videos — Instagram is making a push for them as shown in their video feature section. Try posting a video a day for 3–4 weeks, see what happens.
  • Use Instagram stories more and try using hashtags and location tags with them. Instagram trying to crush Snapchat and so just doing stories may give you an algorithm boost when posting photos to your followers.
  • Ditto for Instagram livestreams.
  • Try some creative album posts.

Instagram’s algorithm is usually looking for something, and a good guess is whatever their latest update introduced, so give that a go.

Don’t want to do live streams or stories?

Tough!

Instagram wants it and it will make your life all the harder if you don’t get on board.

You can either embrace it as they intended, or find a system that allows you to do it in a way that suits you.

That’s really it. There are very few secret, hidden techniques to getting this shit to work. Get to work and in less than a year you can also have a big account!

Like the post?

What’s your largest social media achievement?

What creative Instagram strategies are working for you?

Here’s a present for letting me know 😊

Mwahahaa, stupid human..

Yo, I’m Connor!

I’m a smart person. I don’t do smart things.

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Time Alchemy: How to Turn 2 Weeks into 2 Months

Time Alchemy: How to Turn 2 Weeks into 2 Months

Time Alchemy: How to Turn 2 Weeks into 2 Months

Make Life Awesome by Finding Your Tribe

Originally published June 2017.

So, I’m two weeks into a year long adventure, and I wanted to fill you in on my big initial take-aways:

  1. Filling your day with novel experiences makes time last FOREVERRRR.
  2. The people you do those novel experiences with can uplift the experience’s awesome factor by like 100x.

But lets back up.

Being notoriously bad at celebrating my own wins, you may be unfamiliar with this whole situation. 3–4 months ago I was accepted onto a year long travel / work program called Remote Year.

Basically, 50–75 dope as fuck people (plus me) get together for a year, change the city they live in each month and work from their laptops.

Month 1: Split, Croatia.

Month 2: Budapest, Hungary.

Month 3: Lisbon, Portugal.

Month 4: Hanoi, Vietnam.

Month 5: Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Month 6: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Month 7: Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Month 8: Córdoba, Argentina.

Month 9: Lima, Peru.

Month 10: Bogotá, Colombia.

Month 11: Medellín, Colombia.

Month 12: Mexico City, Mexico.

Month 13+: Exploring the US, Burning Man, Canada?

I know, sounds awesome hey 😉

So my big takeaways, let’s get into those!


Time Alchemy

He’s a surface look at just some of the fun I’ve been having since starting this adventure. It’s about as brief as I could make it, but you should get the idea.

Fill your life with this much stuff and you really will feel like some sort of time wizard.

It’s bizarre.

I started on this program just over two weeks ago, and it already feels like I’ve been here for two months. Here’s a glimpse of the chaos that is my life on Remote Year.

Before turning up, Eddie, one of my flatmates to be does a Cribs video for our penthouse suite:

Yep, pretty dope!

I’m now somewhat excited. (I’ve since been told that everyone gets a nice place at some point, so I’m sure I’ll be in crack dens for the rest of the trip).

Monday

I board my flight. There is no row 13. I’m in row 14, so actually row 13. Bad luck doesn’t count if they don’t use the number, right?

I arrive at Split Airport late Monday night — 9pm(ish), Uber to my house, realize my SIM doesn’t give me Internet.

Wonder around in the dark for 40 minutes. Consider how sleeping rough my first night may not be fun.

Find my co-working space — meet Vicky and Gorka — don’t know what their job titles are, but they’re basically our Remote year Mums.

They’re awesome.

Meet Laura and Kim, my other two flatmates.

They’re awesome.

Want to party. Can’t get hold of anyone. Eat fast food. Sleep.

Tuesday

Get up bright and early. Inhale all the espresso and get to work in WiP, our coworking space located conveniently below “the penthouse”.

Meet about 10 more awesome people. Manage 3–4 hours of work before being distracted by all the fun.

Go check out a tattoo place. Disappointed to hear that my shit tribal tattoo can’t be covered up 😑

Find a gym. Work out with Matheus with no A/C. He’s awesome. The gym is not.

Swim in the Adriatic. People say the sea is freezing. The British sea is freezing, this is not.

Start drinking. Meet more awesome people. Sleep.

Wednesday

Inhale all the espresso. Put in another 3–4 hour work session.

Get distracted by awesome people. Buy wine. Drink wine. Realize wine comes in bigger bottles here.

Notice the wine bottle’s so large I need two hands to wield it.

20 of us go to a salsa bar. Drink more wine. Have a phone call with Sam my good friend from home for ages. Get the feelz.

Realize no one can salsa. Give zero fucks and get everyone to invade the dance floor with whatever questionable moves we’ve got.

Everyone goes home. I’m excited (from too much wine), and perform some sort of spinning hug / wrestling move combo on Andrea.

We fall over, laughing, but also both bleeding a bit.. I vow to get to know people better before hugssulting anyone else. Sleep.

Thursday

Jump out of bed. Go to WiP. Work for 30 minutes before realizing I drank too much wine. Die in bed all day.

Wake up at 6pm. Get distracted by awesome people. Go for sushi in the old town and out for drinks at Sanctuary, a bar full of tourists. As the only Brit on the trip, get embarrassed by groups of drunk and loud Brits.

Discover that Pino and I have the same favorite whiskey.

Mind is blown.

Sleep.

Worried smiles when the complimentary shots are described as “petrol” by the waiter.

Friday

Jump out of bed (at midday). Espresso. Work, work, work (for a few hours). Gym. Go to old town where everyone gives a 30 second presentation.

Everyone is awesome.

We head to Sanctuary. Still full of tourists.

Pino and Kiwi leave early but get distracted on the way home by ravey flashing lights. Whatsapp us a video of them dancing at an empty rave.

I round up the troops and we head to said rave, dance it up and it fills up just a little…

Stay up til 5am. Sleep.

Saturday

Decide to recover in bed all day. Get distracted by awesome people. Go to some sort of group orientation meeting.

Travis explains level 3 fun via a story of someone getting hit by a car. It doesn’t sound that fun.

We write a song.

We go to the beach. Everyone gets crunky monkey. I’m hungover and my brain doesn’t work. I do a colouring book with Amelia. She’s awesome, and adorable.

I nap and get ready for yet more fun.

Everyone heads to old town. Everyone wants to party together but no one can decide what to do so groups of 5 or so continue to break off.

A group of us go to Bokerhia, a fancy ass Italian restaurant. We buy ALL THE FOOD — fillet steaks, truffle pasta, meat and cheese boards, fancy burgers.

I have a mouthgasm.

Sleep.

Sunday

Up early. Espresso. We head to Krka national park. Jake drives.

He’s awesome, but also the most hungover I’ve ever seen anyone, ever.

Half way there he literally melts Ark of the Covenant style. It’s hilarious (I suspect not for him).

We turn up at Krka. It’s BEAUTIFUL.

I experience ecstasy. I’m short of breath, my stomach is tingling. I become awful company as I wonder through the forests and waterfalls, listening to the birds and feeling amazing.

Everyone stops to swim in the main waterfall. I do a little meditation with Taryn.

She’s awesome.

We hike back up to the cars and drive to Zadar, another cute port town.

A group of us grab food (it’s Italian, it’s always Italian). We then go to the sea organ, a giant musical instrument that makes sounds based on the sea’s waves flowing in and out of it. My nerd brain gets a boner.

We jump off the pier into the water a few times.

The distance on that dive 💪

An Ozzy girl chats me up. I’m too busy being distracted by another beautiful girl. I tell Taryn I’m worried about speaking to her in case she’s got an Italian, Spanish or French accent and I lose my shit.

I talk to her.

She’s from France.

I lose my shit.

We grab food and drive back to Split. Eddie falls asleep in the front of the car and then is jolted awake by Taryn turning a tight corner. He freaks and tries to kill us all by grabbing the steering wheel.

It’s hilarious.

Sleep.

Monday

Espresso. Work, work, gym, work — actually got a decent day in.

Go for dinner with Lauren, Flick, Eddie, Amelia, Dina and Dario.

Take the piss out of Amelia’s margarita pizza for being vastly inadequate in comparison to my four cheese pizza. Turns out she has my pizza😑

Everyone gets fucked up and starts chatting nonsense to each other.

It’s very amusing.

Sleep.

Tuesday

Start my day with a mindset coaching call with Emily.

We try to work out all the ways I’m fucked up. It’s fun.

Get loads of work done.

Explore old town in the evening. End up in Sanctuary, with the tourists, again.

Sleep.

Wednesday

Espresso. Work, work, gym, work.

It’s Matheus’ birthday. He and Ariela teach us some Spanish. We drink wine.

Tamara cooks 10 of us an amazing roast dinner. It’s the shit.

Each of us gives a toast. I get the feelz. We drink more wine.

We go to the salsa bar again. A lovely waitress greets me with “Hello drunky, no alcohol for you”, after last week’s salsa antics.

We drink more wine.

Matheus and Ariela try to teach me Spanish pick up lines that are way too long. I ace it like a native.

🙄…

We overtake the dance floor with questionable moves, again. Sleep.

Thursday

Today was meant to be my “me day”. I do a couple of hours of work, nap, because hungover, and then chill on the beach and read through some of my personal log / diary.

A mindset coaching action point for me is to appreciate where I’m at and how far I’ve come. So I read through my diary to see how shitty I was feeling 12–18 months ago. Good fun.

Chill with Amelia in the evening, watching videos of animals doing dumb shit.

Have a few beers and go to meet previously mentioned lovely waitress when she finishes work. We go skinny dipping under the full moon.

This is fun.

Sleep.

Friday

Espresso. Work. We go to a homeless dog shelter and get attacked by puppies for an hour.

It’s pretty much the best hour anyone in history has ever had.

Snapping those Tinder pics

Work. Work.

Everyone’s goes to do some cliff jumping. I decide to jump from the biggest one seconds after turning up, before my brain can tell me how dumb it is to do so.

Jump off a 4 story tall cliff into the sea.

It’s tall enough, that you’re falling for long enough, that you realize how scary it is about a second before hitting the water.

This is fucking terrifying. Also pretty exhilarating.

Kyle start’s recording jumps with his drone.

The last thing I want to do is jump off that fucking cliff again. I do it anyway.

This time my feet aren’t as close together. I jump on my balls.

This hurts.

A group of us go the beach bar an Travis leads a workout. It breaks me.

I head into old town, grab a beer, and do some work for a few hours by myself.

Everyone else heads into old town to meet at, you guessed it, Sanctuary, with the tourists!

We drink there for a bit and then party the night away.

I go to sleep at 4am, to get up at 7am for a boat trip around some beautiful, near by islands.

Saturday

7am, I wake up for the boat trip. I try to move. I can’t. Sleep.

Sleep, sleep sleep sleep. 7pm I wake up.

Good day.


These events may or may not have happened in this order. I don’t know. It’s all very chaotic.

So if you feel like life is racing by, consider doing all the fun stuff with loads of crazy people. Though I understand that may be easier said than done / sustained!

Speaking of crazy people, this brings me on to the next point!

Finding Your Tribe

This is something I’m really big on, and it’s something I’ll give a full post to at some point soon. I really can’t describe how awesome it feels to “find your people”.

I’ve done it several times before — finding entrepreneurs at University by running a society, finding more through the New Entrepreneurs Foundation, a year long training course I did after University, and finding entrepreneur / travel friends through a 3 week 30 person business development trip to India.

It feel fucking amazing, because you can just be you.

There’s this whole layer of information that you likely keep away from a lot of people in your life.

Your hobbies, passions, ambitions, whatever you’re a nerd about

My favorite place to be.

You withhold it because they’re just not interested and/or they don’t “get it”.

What I’ve realized after several years of surrounding myself with more and more of “my people”, is that this takes a hell of a lot of mental energy.

It’s so freeing just to chill the fuck out, be yourself and chat to the people around you about whatever nerdy shit is obsessing you, and have them get it and be genuinely interested.

Anyone could travel to any of the cities I’m visiting, and do the same things I do.

But what’s much more difficult, is to do that with 50 people that are on your wavelength.

That’s whats so special about this adventure.

That’s what’s got me so damn excited for this year!

The people I’m working with have such a range of backgrounds, nationalities, ages, skills and jobs. I’m traveling with teachers, construction managers, accountants, lawyers, marketing consultants, graphic designers, cryptocurrency entrepreneurs, cgi designers, demolitions managers, elearning providers, government consultants, AV design salespeople and so many more.

These people are so varied and diverse, but what they all have in common is a passion for adventure, exploration and having the freedom to lead an awesome life!

I really am so excited to have the privilege of sharing the next year with all of these amazing people, and I know this adventure is going to be a million times more special because of it.


What’s the longest period of time you’ve had “all the fun” for, and how long did it feel like it lasted? Know any awesome things to do in the cities I’m visiting?

Let me know!

Yeah! Good job.

Yo, I’m Connor!

I’m a smart person. I don’t do smart things.

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