Death By Chilli

“Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life” – Wayne Dyer

I love this picture. This was me at the eOcambo Company Christmas party back in Siem Reap. I was slightly drunk and I had just come out of a 10 minute long bout of intense oral and emotional pain after foolishly challenging one of the Cambodian girls to a chilli eating contest. I was on the brink of vomiting, and as for the Cambodian girl, she just sat there and laughed while shaking her head. Oun Kouch 😂

I learned two lessons from this experience;

1) Trying to impress people with your stupid antics will only backfire on you 😂🔥

2) Never again will I challenge a Cambodian, or anyone for that matter, in a chilli eating contest. Especially after drinking beer.

Home Sweet Home

Don’t take me for someone who just lets anyone into their bedroom. I’m just not that type of guy.

But for those who have been supporting me on my journey so far, come on in 🤪

I present to you – the infamous mattress.

Look, it may not seem like much but for me, it’s all that I really need. I figured, I have the rest of my life to sleep in luxurious beds.

The plan is to eat dust for the next few years without expecting anything in return, monetary wise. The lessons learned and the wisdom gained from these experiences is enough to make me feel like the wealthiest man alive.

A Family of Welcome

It’s 9:30 am and I’ve come out here to relax, reflect and escape.

The more the days go on, the more this all starts to sink in and all of a sudden, it’s your reality. Things are starting to uncover themselves, and some of these things you might not like or may not be accustomed to.

It can be overwhelming and agitating. This process of learning and adaptation can send you up and down like angry waves in an ocean.

Living in a commune with 20 people. Wow, it’s an experience unlike no other.

We sat last night for prayer time. It was probably the most interesting circle of prayer I have ever been in. There was chanting, there were mantras and there was worshiping. The crazy part was, all of the main religions were noted and chanted for. People held hands and there was clapping at the end of it.

The kids had their lines that they would sing. It was like this circle of absolutely everything. That’s the philosophy of the school, you see. Free Education for All – all are welcome to join. Everyone is accepted as part of the family. Everyone is out to teach and learn in order to steer each other in the right direction.

The Invasion of The Frog

Flashback to a time when in a rural village in Cambodia and all you want to do is take a shit in peace, but you have a creepy frog all up in your business.

These slimy creatures and I have made some great memories during my times living in rural villages in Asia.

As the cliche goes – one night in Bangkok. I was out getting drunk and eating street food. I came across a stand that was selling fried frogs. I had 2 small frogs served to me on a wooden skewer. They were delicious.

2 nights later, I’m in rural Thailand sleeping on a thin mattress under a mosquito net. I had a month in this village, and it was my first night when a rain storm hit. At first, I was in high spirits about it. It meant the night would be cool and would sleep well.

About half an hour after entering into the net and resting my eyes, I slowly began to doze off. I was feeling great, falling in and out of consciousness so peacefully. Suddenly, I feel something fall on my back. I remained still at first, only to shoot up in horror seconds later. The sensation felt so foreign to me. I grabbed the wet, slimy thing off me and and threw it at the net. I turned my light on to see a small frog just staring at me. I was freaking out. I got out of bed and began to pace around like a mad man. “Fuck, is this what the next month is going to be about? Frogs jumping on me in my sleep? Nah, I want out right now. I wanna go home”.

I tried going back to sleep, but I had another one jump me. Two small frogs under my net now. It took some of the most grittiest of will to get back to sleep that night. I had no choice. I was out to chop bamboo the next day. I needed rest, desperately.

I thought it was so appropriate for this to happen in Thailand. The concept of Karma was something that I associated this situation with – Eating 2 small fried frogs in Bangkok 2 nights before and having two small frogs attack in revenge as soon as I was in the village.

Damn, those bastards got me on the first night. They did a brilliant job at serving Karma. Mentally, I could never really recover. It was a struggle going to sleep every night after that first encounter.

I often look back on this story and I admire the way it all played out. Getting Karma served in the Buddhist country of Thailand by two frogs. In Thailand, the frog is seen as a sign of wealth. You rub the back of the frog for good fortune. Although I was living in some of the poorest conditions I’ve ever experienced, I came to learn that these trips were when I would feel the richest I’ve ever experienced.

I recall one lonely Saturday night back in Siem Reap. I needed a mid night snack, so I set off on my bicycle into town for some of that famous Cambodian ice cream rolls they make from chopped up fruit on a cold plate.

I was sitting on a milk crate eating my share when I noticed a boy no older than 10 years old, wandering around near the ice cream stands. I called him over to hand him a dollar. He took the money and came back to me with a friend of his, pointing at his friend, asking me to give his friend a dollar.

I said “no”, and signalled for him to split the dollar that was given to him.

The reason why I didn’t give his friend a dollar was because I wanted to teach him the value in sharing. That, when you are gifted with something, it’s your responsibility to share that gift with others. Regardless of the gift, whether it is monetary or a gift of genetic luck, it is our responsibility to honour those gifts for the sake of the bigger picture.

A proud moment was when I watched the kid get change and split the dollar with his buddy.

In Cambodia, community is important. Working in collaboration is a matter of survival. This is an area where the Cambodians thrive. Their sense of generosity is admirable.

Look out for the gifts that have been given to you in your life, not only the monetary ones. Think about the gifts of your personality, your talents, the family you were born into. It is your responsibility to honour those gifts in the pursuit of helping others. Being attentive to your environment will give you a sense of purpose and make the gifts that have been given to you feel far more meaningful.

At night time, we would sit in the main area of the commune where all the classes are done and all of the meals are had in.

We would sit in a circle on plastic chairs – about 15-20 of us, eyes closed and hands joined.

The first time I heard it, I was stunned to hear the chanting and the praying for all different religions. Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Krishna – everyone got a shout out.

After the first two experiences I had with this little prayer ceremony, I began to let go and embrace it for what it was. I noticed myself falling into these drowsy states of mind.

I’ve heard of many stories of healing through the use of chanting and prayer. There are many stories like these in our religious scripts.

If these stories are true, then what is it that is actually happening here? There is something about the subconscious mind that is capable of healing the body and mind. The only problem is, the conscious mind stands in the way as the gatekeeper, guarding what goes into the subconscious mind.

This can be manipulated by falling into altered states of consciousness. Meditation is one way to change your brainwave frequency – prayer, chanting and hypnosis are other forms.

Once you fall into your drowsy state, you are more open to suggestion. Your conscious mind takes a back seat and your subconscious mind becomes open.

If these states are entered into regularly, with consistent affirmations, you begin to program the subconscious mind into believing these things to be true.

When the people of the commune finished singing, they would repeat affirmations such as; I am a kind person, I am keen to learn, I believe in my ability to achieve things, I will always help those in need. These affirmations were all good in nature and value, and this repetitive, trance like affirmation was responsible for dropping suggestions to the open subconscious mind.

Once the subconscious blindly believes in these things, you become programmed to live a certain way. These things begin to manifest themselves through your external world.

Just imagine what pictures we could paint in our minds, making them our true realities.

A late night snack – A bag of cockroaches, soaked in salt and chilli.

I tried one and ended up spitting out a crushed up ball of shell, guts and my own saliva.

I tried staying open to it, recognising the fact that these are in fact a delicacy in many Asian countries. When it first hit my mouth, I made sure I wasn’t basing my opinion off the fact that there was a cockroach in my mouth.

So, I chewed and chewed, waiting to make a final decision without any negative biases. After about 30 seconds, I spat it out on the side of the road.

The shell felt as though it was going to cut my throat if I let it down there. I don’t think it helped that I was directly facing a stack of rubbish bags next to a bin after a hard Friday night.

The Khmer ladies who were next to me laughed as I spat it out and I pointed to the garbage to tell them that what they were eating is found in garbage stacks like the one we were facing.

The ladies shrugged their shoulders, sipped their red wine and continued crunching.

The Mission Continues

After spending a week enjoying the tourist spot of Siem Reap, I’ve decided that it’s time to get back out to the village to finish off what I started.

My time was cut short the last time I was living in the commune and I had to go back to Sydney indefinitely.

After a month, I’ve found myself back in Cambodia and this time I have brought some mates with me to help me complete the project in the commune.

It’s crazy, because when I first came to Cambodia, I had no idea I would end up living in this commune in rural Battambang. When I applied for the role, the people who run the school said it was like fate. I came in during a time of expansion, as the school developed a long term project to build an IT centre in the commune for all the students.

Having technology in this commune would be an absolute boost to the lives of these students. Giving them proper access to the internet where they have a whole world of information at their fingertips could really make a difference to their careers and their lives, and now I’m on my way back there to help make this all happen.

Having your mates from back home by your side to experience this is another thing, altogether. I’ve been proudly showing them around my home and seeing their level of appreciation for a country and culture like this is touching.

Tomorrow, I return back home to the village where the mission will continue.

From West to East

After spending a week enjoying the tourist spot of Siem Reap, I’ve decided that it’s time to get back out to the village to finish off what I started.

My time was cut short the last time I was living in the commune and I had to go back to Sydney indefinitely.

After a month, I’ve found myself back in Cambodia and this time I have brought some mates with me to help me complete the project in the commune.

It’s crazy, because when I first came to Cambodia, I had no idea I would end up living in this commune in rural Battambang. When I applied for the role, the people who run the school said it was like fate. I came in during a time of expansion, as the school developed a long term project to build an IT centre in the commune for all the students.

Having technology in this commune would be an absolute boost to the lives of these students. Giving them proper access to the internet where they have a whole world of information at their fingertips could really make a difference to their careers and their lives, and now I’m on my way back there to help make this all happen.

Having your mates from back home by your side to experience this is another thing, altogether. I’ve been proudly showing them around my home and seeing their level of appreciation for a country and culture like this is touching.

Tomorrow, I return back home to the village where the mission will continue.

Dark Days

Ill never forget the first time I saw this.

It was a stormy afternoon in Siem Reap and I was roaming around to some of the temples in town, gathering some information about the new place in which I chose to live.

I remember a disabled guy, no younger than me who was acting as my tour guide, just to hustle for some change. We stood at the steps beneath this display and he murmured words, nothing that I could fully understand.

The setting was grim, and I could feel the darkness and emptiness within me as I gazed up at the glass window with the bones in it.

I found out that these were the bones of the people who were murdered during the Khmer Rouge. I felt sick to my stomach. I observed the bones and found cracks in the skulls, possibly from the ruthless axing to the heads.

Since this experience, I have come across a display like this twice after and its as if nothing ever changes. You dont grow accustomed to it. You feel that sick sense of sadness deep within your gut, each and every time.

Its so hard to believe that these were the ancestors and the blood of some of my closest friends in Cambodia. I cant even begin to imagine how seeing this display would make them feel.