Travel

The Melting Pot

 
 

Breakfast with a Filipino, coffee with a Lithuanian, and dinner with a group legends from across the globe, each with their own cultures, traditions, languages, and stories to tell from their respective motherlands. Did you know that in Sweden they don’t use one word for “fart" Instead each type of fart has its own separate word (Prutt, Smygare and Brakare just to name a few). What about asking anyone except for an Aussie to pass your sunnies (sunglasses)? You’ll be met with a gaze of confusion while you go through and explain every word in the Australian version of the English dictionary (bottle-o or liquor store, servo or gas station, Maccas or McDonalds). Imagine if every single day you had the opportunity to sit down with a different person from one of the 196 countries on this globe (I’m including Taiwan- Soz China), and through simply engaging in conversation, you were able to learn about history, economics, science, language, religion and a whole array of other useful (and not so useful) facts and skills.

I left Australia 20 days ago and today I sat down and wrote a list of everyone who I’ve hung out with since arriving and had a meaningful conversation with, as well as the countries they were from. Any guesses how many countries were on that list? 20 different countries; in just under three weeks!

 
 

Now I know eventually the rate will begin to slow and I hardly expect that on day 196 a Tuvaluan village chief will walk into Fili Beans Espresso chasing a piccolo latte with almond milk (although that’d be so cool if he did, and totally worth the effort) but I’m excited that the travelers will continue to float into Siargao and when they come in to sample some of the best tasting coffee in the Philippines, I can’t wait to sit down and hear their story.

People come from all over the world, as well as from all over the Philippines to get a taste of life on this tropical island paradise and that’s a massive part of the island’s charm, but it’s hard to believe that a destination that up until a short time go, barely had a sealed road and now plays host to one of highest concentrated mix of international and Filipino visitors I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve travelled on some of the most saturated gringo trails on this planet from the surfer route through Central & South America, to the backpacker hangouts of Europe, and just about every corner of South East Asia but never have I experienced such a fusion of cultures, surfing together, partying together and forming lifetime friendships.

 
 

Maybe the reason attributing to this melting pot of travelers is that Siargao attracts a certain kind of person, whether it be surfers chasing epic waves or intrepid travelers looking to get off the beaten track; or perhaps it’s just more the case that this is one the most amazing, friendliest and pristine parts of the world and it’s simply just worth the visit. Regardless of the reason just know that it doesn’t really matter where in the world you’re from, if you end up here, you’ll have a plethora of likeminded travelers ready to hear your stories and keen to share theirs, and what better place than the beautiful tranquil grounds of Harana Resort, sipping on tasty Fili Beans Espresso coffee. 

Just Relax

 
 

This next blog needs to be prefaced with a slight warning because anyone wanting to read funny stories about me killing it at Fili Beans Espresso, knocking out awesome coffees or following stories of the amazing Philippines adventures I’ve been having on Siargao Island, this one’s not for you. The idea of this blog is to give my personal and honest insight into transitioning from life in Australia to life in the Philippines and while I know it’ll be full of amazing stories down the track this next one taps into my inner hippy a little.

I woke up sick this morning. Not sick. I woke up with a sick feeling in my stomach. For the first time since setting foot on this island I woke up with a feeling of unsureness; was I actually going to be able to make this work? The plan was to surf as much as possible and meet people from all over the world, trading travel stories while making some of the best coffee on Siargao Island. So still with no coffee machine after two weeks and an injured leg keeping me out of the water it’s no surprise that a little self-doubt was beginning to sink in.

 
 

After a quick self-assessment, it didn’t take long to realise why someone who normally deals quite well with stress or slow times, was starting to feel the pressure and struggling. 31 years on this planet has taught me a lot but one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt is that we need coping mechanisms for when things aren’t going to plan.

When the surf’s flat, we go kayaking, when we’re sick or injured, we get comfort from family and friends, or when the pressure starts to build, we take a step back, head for nature and remind ourselves that we’re the ones in control and have the ability to alter the amount of pressure we’re under. The problem was that the environment has changed and I hadn’t adapted yet… until this morning.

 
 

After hearing her praises sung all week from a group of friends, this morning I headed along to Kayla’s class at Yoga Dojo. Even though I was nervous at the thought of reopening my propeller wound with a little too much gusto on the Half Pigeon, I took the chance and had my first crack at seeking mindfulness on the Island and am extremely thankful for doing so.

In what was undoubtedly my most positive and enjoyable yoga session ever, I was finally able to clear the cloudiness of the previous two weeks and not only focus on what I’d come to Siargao in search of, but why I’d woken up this morning feeling so far from it. The problem wasn’t that I couldn’t surf or that I wasn’t making coffee yet, the problem was how I’d been approaching these challenges and the coping mechanisms with which I’d employed; which long story short, was to try and party it all away. This isn’t to say I haven’t been enjoying my time here on the Island, quite the contrary in fact, but what it had meant is that rather than focusing on the issues, I was simply ignoring them in the hope that eventually I’d be back in the water, the machine would be here and I’d be doing what I came here for and life would back on track; I guess it was just taking too long.

 
 

So what’s all of this taught me? Well for starters, meditation, mindfulness and yoga are a great place to start as a way to deal with stress, or the pressures of life when things aren’t quite going to plan. As well as this I understand that when we change our environments there may also be cause to change the way in which we approach our times of stress or inactivity and boredom. What it also means is that once again I’m feeling super positive about the whole experience and can’t wait to get my Simonelli T3 (my machine) and start knocking out some of the best coffees on Siargao Island, get back in the surf and feel the saltwater on my skin again and keep riding the good vibes that come from living amongst one of the friendliest tropical Island communities in the world. 

Mr Fili Beans

 

Have you ever watched one of those clips on YouTube where people do handstands on building edges or head off on epic trekking adventures to the North Pole or hurl themselves off a cliff in a wingsuit, and then thought to yourself “I’d love to experience that rush”. It’s normally followed by an immediate inner monologue that promptly says, “but faaark that, I’m way too pretty to get frostbite on my nose. I’ll just start with investing my lifesavings in a cafe in a developing world country and go from there.”

Why? Because we need risk in our lives. It keeps things interesting. It detracts from the mundane and when we take on risks, we produce that amazing little chemical called dopamine that gives off a natural feeling of ecstasy and euphoria. I was craving a little dopamine; I just didn’t want to have to jump off a cliff to get some. So I packed my things…

The idea of this blog is to inspire people to step outside of their comfort zones, take the risks and reap the rewards of a sense of achievement and happiness when you take the leap and chase the dream. This doesn’t mean everyone will read this blog, quit their job and move to a tropical island and start an espresso bar. Some people hate sweating their arses off in the tropics and there are even some extreme cases where people don’t like coffee (I know, weird right?), but by following my journey over the next year or so someone might decide they’re ready to take the leap and do that thing they’ve been wanting to do; get their driver’s license, learn to kite surf, open up a cupcake store or ask out that hot barista at your local café (yeah the ginger one, you know him), because at the end of the day, you only get one crack.

So I’ve quit a job I loved doing with an inspiring bunch of workmates, left my awesome apartment and housemates in Coolangatta, kissed my amazing family goodbye and am about to board a plane to see what it’s like to follow your dreams and set up a life on one of the most beautiful islands I’ve ever experienced in my life; Siargao, Philippines!