30th Sep 2015

Errrrr… Hello!

It has been a while since I’ve updated this. Not because I haven’t been doing anything worth posting, but because my little brain box has slowly become less and less interested in “social media” in general. When I first got an iPhone in 2011 I used to love it – Tweeting left right and centre about thoughts I had on the bus, Instagramming photos of my lunch, Facebooking a photo of my mate asleep, you know how it goes. But since I left the UK and EnviroPhoned my iPhone, I find myself thinking “who cares?!”. Yeah it’s good to post up a video you’ve made, a tune you’ve produced, or promote an event, but 90% of the stuff I see on there simply pisses me off, and I don’t want to be a part of something that doesn’t really resonate with me anymore. I’m not going to go into specifics or start ranting, but due to this I’ve found myself hardly posting anything online, I’ve Tweeted & Facebooked a few videos I’ve made, but unfortunately I’ve let my website fall to the sidelines as well. Do people even check websites these days? I remember when I was running the Fiasco Skateboarding blog back in 2007ish – whenever I went onto the internet back then I had a handful of sites I would always visit straight away to catch up on the latest skateboarding/camera/music news, but nowadays it seems we just log onto social media, and get told what websites to go on, what articles to read, what ADHD 5 second video to watch. In fact, the 5 second videos now play automatically as you scroll past them – it’s a complete warzone for your attention out there! Fiasco Skateboarding clocked up some brilliant viewing figures without the help of social media, but nowadays, if it ain’t on Instagram or Facebook, no one’s gonna bother looking. I’m guilty of this too though, in fact I get so overwhelmed by the wealth of content out there that sometimes I just give up watching/listening/reading anything online all together! Technology has come so far that everyone and their dog is trying to promote their blog/video/music/shop/event/mixtape/label/photograph etc. So what I’ve focused on doing recently is just creating for my own amusement, and if other people watch and like it, then fair play to them. This is kind of subconsciously why I haven’t updated this site in a while. Has anyone even read this far?

Anyway, I have been making some videos, and I’m gonna make an effort to keep this website updated with everything over the next few weeks. So check back if you’re up for it, but if not, sweet as. There’s actually quite a lot of new stuff up on my YouTube channel already, so if you are interested, click here :)

In the mean time, here’s a picture of my mate Toby enjoying a sunset ciggy in Auckland:

Tobe Smokey Sunset

I’ll be back soon. Peace.

13th May 2014

Goodbye Siem Reap!

Woah, the time has finally arrived for me to leave this awesome place!

9 months ago I arrived in Cambodia just after receiving confirmation from Med School that they wanted me to do 13 music videos for Etherwood’s new album. Prior to this I had been travelling for 6 weeks with my now ex-girlfriend Violet, who had just flown back to the UK to complete her last 2 years at uni. Now on my own, with this big job at hand, I wanted to find somewhere to stay for a couple of months so that I could complete it. I had just left Thailand hearing that Cambodia was a lot more relaxed about letting people stay long term – in Thailand you have to do a border run when your visa expires, which only gives you an extra 7 days, where as in Cambodia you just pop to a travel agent with $75, and you get an extra 3 months with no questions asked! I landed in the country’s capital, Phnom Penh, and within 15 minutes of getting out of a Tuk Tuk in the city centre, I was at a bar sipping on a nice cold beer (which cost me 30p), and within minutes someone handed me a spliff with a big grin on his face – “Welcome to Cambodia!” Right then I knew this was the place I wanted to stay.

I met an old uni friend who I hadn’t seen for about 3 years, who had a flat just down the road and had spent the last 2 years living here. We chilled in the hustle and bustle for a week or so before heading up to Siem Reap – she was about to leave Cambodia and wanted to pay one last visit to the town to say goodbye to some old friends, and to stock up on some cheap Cambodian market items to sell back in the UK.

Alex, Citi, Me

My friend Alex, her boyfriend Citi and me in Phnom Penh

My first impressions of Siem Reap were amazing. We arrived at this beautiful, sunny little town with a river running through it, people having picnics on the grassy river bank under the shade of palm trees, locals selling coconuts and mangos for 30p, travellers enjoying cold beers in funky little guesthouses, and Angkor Wat, arguably the 8th wonder of the world, just a stone’s throw away – the prospect of calling this place my home, even for just 2 months, made me wanna run around naked in excitement.

Siem Reap Wheel

The sun setting behind the wheel of The Siem Reap River

I wanted to volunteer in a hotel or guesthouse in exchange for free accommodation, so that I had a place to edit these music videos. Then after a couple of days of walking around loads of different places, my dreams started to crumble. It was the beginning of low season, so most places were getting rid of staff, not taking on new ones! And it appeared that only Western owned resorts would hire Westerners, all the local Khmers didn’t seem to understand what the word ‘volunteer’ or ‘free’ even meant! As I began to lose hope, I saw an ad on Trip Advisor for a hotel called Lotus Lodge, which had a 3 storey tall watch tower, where you had panoramic views and could see Angkor Wat. “That sounds pretty cool” I thought, so I sent one last email to them before closing my laptop for the day.

A few days later I received an email reply, saying that it was low season and they wouldn’t normally hire anyone, but it turned out that the co-owner of the hotel was also into film-making, and was just working on a project which he needed an editor for. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! So then the following week I was getting cosy in a beautiful air conditioned room, which made a nice change from the scabby, stuffy $2 room I was previously in!

So months passed, I finished the music videos for Etherwood and I finished the initial work for the hotel owner (Mitch), but the urge to leave just never came! I had a great group of friends in town, who were also here working long-term, and helped show me that the party scene here is ridiculous too – 30p beers, the ability to smoke weed in bars, great live music and the lack of a closing time in most venues meant that days flew by in a hazy blur. I never planned to stay this long, and I never made the decision to, it just happened! I continued to earn my keep at the hotel by creating a load of videos to help sell the tours that they offered to guests (floating village tour, countryside tour, jeep tours etc.), which are all now being displayed on two lovely plasma TVs in the hotel foyer and bar, as well as doing a few general maintenance tasks around the hotel. I’ve also done a few other videos around town and down at the beach, which can be seen on my YouTube channel at the moment, while I work on a new travel page for this site :)

So now here we are, 9 months later, and I’m finally packing my bag back up and leaving this beautiful country. I wrote a post the other day “10 things I love about Cambodia” which explains some of the other reasons I’ve enjoyed my time here so much. I’m not going home though, oh no, I’ve acquired myself a skateboard (thank you Carlo @ X Bar!), and am heading to Colorado in The States to meet one of my best mates from home and spend the summer skateboarding and road-tripping! Skateboarding was what originally got me into film-making, and doing all these travel videos here has made me realise that I miss it, so as much as I love Cambodia and it saddens me to leave, I’m so excited to get back on a skateboard and get back into making skate-videos. (On a related note, this article is a great read about the state of skate videos these days – with 1000′s of 5 second phone clips being uploaded to Instagram every second, people are slacking on good old fashioned, well edited 3 minute skate clips on YouTube, and I’m excited to try and fill that void – stay tuned!).

Anyway, I will leave you with this; a project I have been working on and off for the majority of my stay here. A timelapse film, documenting this beautiful town I’ve been lucky enough to be able to call my home for the last 9 months. I believe that this is the first timelapse film of Siem Reap as well, so I hope that you enjoy, and that it provides a nice picture of the diversity and unique vibe of the town. Thanks for the good times Siem Reap, and an extra huge thanks to Mitch, Veronica and all the wonderful staff at Lotus Lodge for having me for so long, you will always have a place in my heart :)

YouTube Preview Image

Also a big thanks to Phally and Nnareth for the Khmer translations! And as usual the soundtrack to this video is up for free download! It’s called 1st Dimension and is a collaboration between two produces called Fracx & Aura. It can be downloaded from Fracx’s Soundcloud page, and if you like it, give him a follow! Thanks for the amazing tune man!

8th Apr 2014

Counting My Blessings: 10 Things I Love About Cambodia

Just stumbled across this post on Khmer440.com, “10 Things I Will Miss About Cambodia”, written by a man returning to the UK after 12 months living in Cambodia. Pretty much outlines everything I love about living here, although I could add the following points to the list:

cambodia_640

The lack of laws regarding anything. If you wanna drive a motorbike, fine. Don’t worry about having a licence, insurance, tax, an MOT, a helmet, lights, indicators, don’t worry about being old enough to have pubes, driving on the right side of the road, running red lights, having five people on your bike or even being sober, if you hurt yourself it’s your own problem! You like smoking weed? Fine! Just don’t be overly obvious about it, and if you run out, just pop to the local ‘happy pizza’ shop and get a quarter ounce bag for $15. Or get a weed pizza delivered! How many times have I seen local kids looking sketchy smoking a joint on a street corner? Never. You want to buy or sell counterfeit DVDs, software and hard-drives filled with the latest TV shows, music and films? Go for it, there are these shops everywhere! If you want to drink all night and all day, crack on! There are no laws regarding the sale of alcohol whatsoever, and no laws regarding the age of people allowed into nightclubs. And how many times have I seen someone who’s blatantly underage drinking or causing trouble while drunk? Never. Obviously it’s liberating to have so much freedom, and it’s nice to not be constantly nannied by the government like in the UK – When I was 19 I once got ID’ed for party-poppers. I also got ID’ed for a packet of plastic cutlery at a similar age. How many times have I been ID’ed here? Once, at the airport when I landed. “It’s your life, go and do what you like, just don’t hurt anyone!” appears to be the message from the government here. Fantastic.

In regards to the point about the Christmas season and advertising in that blog post I’m referring to – I fully agree with what the author said, and I’ve only seen about 5 big adverts (of course there are small flyers and stuff knocking around) on the street here in Siem Reap , and they haven’t changed once in 7 months. One’s for Samsung Air-Conditioners, one’s for cement, one’s about the new Costa (yes it’s happened, there’s a Hard Rock opening here soon too, and I’m not really enthused about that), and that’s about it really. You don’t get the latest ‘must have’ items rammed down your throat till you throw up, no film adverts, none of the latest iPhone 8 marketing campaigns; all you know about here is simply what you want to know about –  if you want to found out about the latest things you’re actually interested in, theres free WiFi everywhere! I don’t watch TV either and it’s heaven just living your life without subliminal interference from multi-national corporations.

Another reason I love it here is that no-one is ever in a rush. There’s no battle to get on the underground to rush to get to your desk before 8:59am, no pushing or shoving or any sense of urgency whatsoever, everyone is just cool calm and collected. 45 minutes late? Don’t worry about it! The roads appear frightening at first, but then you realise everyone is going 20mph, and if you need to get to the other side everyone will do their best to make a path for you – there’s no “I was in this lane first!!”. Also when you’re in a busy shop there’s no sense of panic in the air around the tills like I feel in England – no pressure to hurry to put your change in your pocket so the next person in the queue can be served. Everyone does everything with a smile on their face, and not a care in the world. Even if they’re working for $3 a day.

Siem reap Route 6

Video still [ungraded] from a timelapse video I’m currently working on entitled “A Day in Siem Reap”. This is Route 6, the busiest road in Siem Reap and the road that leads to the country’s capital, Phnom Penh. This is the road with the most advertisements on in the whole city, and I’ve seen more adverts on disused bus stops in the middle of nowhere back in the UK. You can also see 4 people on a bike, a man chilling in the back of a trailer and a dude on the wrong side of the road. A normal morning unfolding in Siem Reap.

Typical Bamboo Scaffolding

Some typical Cambodian bamboo scaffolding. In England you have to be lectured, trained and paperwork must be signed in order to even climb a ladder to change a lightbulb at work.

Typical Cambodian Shops

A cluster of shops on a typical Cambodian road.

Reading that article made me realise all the things that I love about this place but am starting to somewhat take for granted, and most of them are reasons why I left the UK in the first place. I can imagine going back to the UK now and realising “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”.

It’s beautiful here, and I love it. Count your blessings, I know I’m counting mine :)

5th Apr 2014

Skateistan & The Skateshop Phnom Penh visit Siem Reap Skatepark!

Last weekend marked the opening party of the Siem Reap skatepark! We had the pleasure of being joined by the likes of Skateistan Cambodia, and the owners and skaters from The Skateshop Phnom Penh - really friendly, passionate guys, and I also had the opportunity to interview them, check the video at the end of this post! A lot of fun was had over the weekend, and a hell of a lot of sweat! It also reminded me how much I love skateboarding, and how it can be such an effective means of bringing people together.

Siem Reap Skatepark

The skatepark was originally designed and constructed as a roller-blade park a few years ago, and features some tight transitions, a fast triple-camel-hump and a little nipple in the middle. Last weekend a nice grindbox and a long rail were added (I’m not sure exactly by who, but thank you!), and the hope is to continue to grow the park so that it is more useable by skateboarders. There are plans of putting a small miniramp outside in the garden, along with a BBQ and some kind of fridge/bar with refreshments, which would be sick!

The whole project is being organised and run by Tori at The Hand in HeART Project, who is also planning several communal/art projects at the skatepark, such as wall-mural painting sessions, and other workshops. She is of course looking to get as many people involved as possible, so if you could give a hand, whether it be in the means of a sponsorship, a donation, or a helping hand on site if you’re nearby, please get in touch with her via her organisation’s Facebook, or via the Skatepark’s Facebook page.

After a fair few hours in the park, a few games of SKATE, and after riskily ducktaping Ed the GoPro to the bottom of a skateboard, we headed out to X-Bar’s rooftop mini to catch the sunset:

Siem Reap Skatepark Game of SKATE

GoPro Skateboard

Miniramp Sunset SIem Reap

A huge thanks to everyone involved, for more photos please check the Facebook album, otherwise, peep the video below!

The soundtrack to the video was kindly donated by the man that is Benny Aves – producer of the new FREE Small Town Boredom album. Give him a follow on Soundcloud and check out this little teaser of the tunes you’ve got to look forward to from him later on this year: