RickShaw Run

So it’s officially on – and by that I mean paid for! Yes I’m heading back to India’s south to compete in the RickShaw Classic Run from Channai.

RollinInTheRickShaw

10 Days, some 1000km, and what I assume will be an epic adventure with Hannah and Kassie. (2/3 of the superbestfriends).

For more Check out the Race HERE

GK Out!

Winter is Coming

It’s that time of year, the time when summer season ends, I’m unemployed, and everything is right with the world.

This year is a little different as my travel plans include an extended stint in a small Austrian town, a trip back to a country I’ve already visited, and finally trying to land my next job /dream job.

After four years on the road for contiki as a tour manager I’m attempting to hang up my clipboard. The plan, well frankly that’s up in the air until I make a commitment to a few things but hopefully my next job will still be in the travel industry, still see me travelling for work, hopefully a little wider than just Europe.

India Take 2

For my 30th it’s been decided that I’ll be driving one of the least safe modes of transport, on some of the shittest roads in the semi-developed world, as I join two close friends in a Tuk-Tuk/Rickshaw race across the bottom of India.

My last stint in the country of curry was mind blowing. I found it to be a wonderful mix of food, relaxation, and insanity. This time should be no different so expect some photos, videos, and general fun as that trip progresses.
Aside from driving three wheeled death machines, and trying to land my next gig, I’m planning on improving my snowboarding and german with an extended stay in Hopfgarten Austria. The small town will be home to quite a few of my friends, has some of the nicest views of any place I’ve ever visited, and 500km of snow covered mountain to snowboard on. All in all it’s a great place to spend a few months.

So that’s my life to this moment.

From Schipol Airport – waiting for an EasyJet flight to London!

GK Out

Airport Stress

I understand that Air travel is stressful for some, especially those travelling with small children, for older people that find it hard to move around, or people that are genuinely afraid of flying. These people have a right to be nervous and skittish.

Everyone else needs to just calm down and de-stress!

People, with no reason, work themselves into tense angry balls of hate at airports. They get stressed at check-in, angry at security, and loose their minds while waiting to find out their departure gate.  This behaviour is just creating unwarranted stress for everyone and frankly I want to punch these people in the face…with a brick….twice…while screaming CALM DOWN YOU’RE STRESSING EVERYONE OUT!

Here are some things people do at airport that just needs to stop for both their and my sanity – and so I can stopped getting stressed near these people.

1)    Forcing your family and friends to arriving 5 hours before your flight departs!

I’m talking about the people that arrive ludicrously early for their flight and then build small forts out of their luggage as they wait for the baggage drop to open. Airports hate these people because it causes congestion when none should exist in parts of the airport that they have designed to be streamlined.

It causes stress because these people tend to arrive with the mindset that they are already late and camp as close to the line as possible. Then proceed to panic about every little step. They rush from check-in, through security, to departure lounge, and camp out right beneath the announcement boards. The sprint to Starbucks to get a coffee panicking that they’ll miss their plane even through it doesn’t take off for another 2 hours.

SOLUTION: DON’T get to the airport 5h before your flight.

Pre-plan your transit to the airport by purchase train tickets, or a private car, well in advance and schedule it to arrive 3hours before take off no earlier.

Trust me even with the modern security lines this will be plenty of time.

If you’re worried about falling asleep in the departures lounge, set an alarm 60mins before departure. This way you’ll ensure you’re awake, have time to go to the toilet, check your departure gate and walk there.

2)    Exceeding the Weight Limit on your Baggage.

It is clearly stated on every website, on the ticket, on signs around the airport, and finally stated clearly by check-in staff, it’s not a negotiation, it can’t ‘let you off this time’.

Here in Europe everyone knows that it’s 17kg for Ryan Air, 20KG for Easy Jet, 23kg for all big name carriers, yet every check-in has that one person that argues with the check-in staff that they should be allowed to take the extra 5kg, or the ‘didn’t realise they’d packed that much’.

SOLUTION: The MAXIMUM weight limit on baggage isn’t a target to aim for. If your bag is over 20KG for anything below a 7day holiday then you over packed.

If the check-in staff say it’s over you have two choices:
a) Throw out the extra KGs of stuff in the nearest bin.
b) Pay the exorbitant ‘over weight’ charge that the airlines levy on over packers.

There is no other option, don’t argue, don’t make the rest of us wait while you have a hissy fit. Be an adult, shut up, and pick A or B.

3)    Being Unorganised

These people irritate me most of all because they tend to be the ones with children or are running late. They fumble around, unpacking half their bags looking for passports and boarding passes. They are normally also the ones that have exceeded their baggage limit, and been sitting in the check-in area for 5hours. These people they hold everyone up.

They then make it worse by getting to security and having three litres of liquids in their carry-on, even though there is 1,000,000 signs saying 100ml EVERYWHERE plus the public services announcements that play in the check-in hall on a loop.

SOLUTION: WE SHOOT THESE PEOPLE.

No in all seriousness air travel involves three components. A Ticket/Boarding Pass, a Passport/ID Card, and Baggage. That’s it. Hell in truth in the modern era Baggage is optional.

Your passport, and boarding pass should have their own designated spot, make it the same one every time. If you can’t do this, then hold it in your hand like a child.

Speaking of children for the love of all that is holy if they can’t yet write their own name do NOT entrust them with document that are vital to your holiday.

4)    Children

Not only should the be seen but not heard, I would prefer if you tranquillise you  little terror prior to arrival at the airport. Children, in general, do not travel well. The worst people are those that think it’s adorable when their little angel is kicking, screaming, and running around. These people need to understand that if they don’t want to discipline their children then I’m going to. If little Billy/Jane keeps waking me up, I’m going to be that person that makes a scene – a crime scene .

Do everyone a favour and keep you kid entertained/asleep.

DO: Bring and iPad/Tablet loaded with games and videos
DON’T: forget to bring earphones – I don’t want to hear Pepper Pig for 8h.

DO: Drug your kids up to the eyeballs
DON’T: Expect sympathy if you don’t and have to deal with your child being hyper for 19h.

DO: Feed your kid.
DON’T Feed them sugar or things you know keep them awake.

SOLUTION: Leave the kids at home – or with a relative, just not near me. 

So that’s it for this little rant.

Had a great day on George’s Boat swimming, eating his famous chips, and generally enjoying the beautiful surroundings that is Corfu.

GK

Thoughts From The Road: WIFI & Cutting the Digital Cord

There’s no such thing as free WIFI.

Constantly, both on tour, and during my own travels, I hear people complain about paying for WIFI. The common complaint is, ‘where they’re from the wifi is free, and it’s ridiculous to have to pay. My response  is always the same:

Is it really FREE at home?

Often when I point out the WIFI at home isn’t a zero cost item they tell me they have wifi everywhere they go. They forget that even if you’re not paying the bill someone is, that no-one is giving unlimited, open, free wifi. Not even the cities with ‘free-Wifi Zones’

The wifi at Starbucks isn’t free, you’re expected to buy a drink. The WIFI in hotels that is listed as free isn’t;  It’s built into the price of the room and more than often limited in bandwidth and download amount. The wifi at cafes & restaurants isn’t free, to test this out try going in sitting down and then refusing to buy something but use ask for the wifi password, most places will ask you to leave.

Free Public wifi is limited to a certain download amount, blocked content, limited speed. It also normally requires a email address or phone number to be given to get a ‘activation code’. Your data is then monitored and analysed.

WIFI vs. MOBILE DATA

The other thing people often mix up is the difference between Mobile Data (built into your mobile phone contract) and WIFI. They’re separate things. most people today are used to having Mobile Data everywhere.

If you simply can’t be disconnected while travelling the you need to spend the cash to purchase an international SIM and top it up. Don’t complain that  it’s expensive, especially if travelling through multi-pul countries. Roaming fees are a fact of life (at the moment) and it cost what ever you’re willing to pay to be constantly online while travelling.

CUTTING THE CORD

On holiday I feel that you are doing yourself a disservice not cutting the digital cord for a week or two and seeing what life is like without the constant update from friends on ‘how much work sucks’.

There is no reason that you can’t significantly reduce your online activities while travelling. It’s all a matter of replacing checking social media with a none-digital activity.

For me I replace my phone with a book (or kindle) and a notepad. When I’m bored I read, or write. It doesn’t take long for ‘checking your facebook’ to become ‘reading a chapter of a book.’

While travelling I normally get through five or six novels. If I have bus/coach rides this can double.

That said you you don’t have to be completely WIFI/Digital free. I tend to write, edit blog posts and photos over lunch, then spend 30min after my dinner uploading and responding to online social media, booking my accommodation, and researching (and saving offline) info on the places i’ll visit to read later.

I’m not a hater of WIFI, or social media. I love them. As a marketer I think they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. I just don’t think you need to be connected 24/7 while on holiday.

From the lobby of the hotel in Dublin.

GK out!

ps: this post was written at lunch, uploaded at 10pm!

My Experiences with Ramadan

BBQ and Sharing food with friends – It doesn’t get any more Aussie.

Reading recent articles coming out of my second home of Australia, there are reports of a boycott of Woolworth’s supermarkets because they are running a ‘Happy Ramadan’ campaign.

The quotes from people offended by the posters and offers from the big supermarket are littered with the normal uniformed, and ignorant statements like ‘It’s Un-Australian’, not ‘not part of our culture’.

A few counters to their argument. For a start the holiday shares striking similarity to Lent, and the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur (both involve fasting or giving up of treasured things). The end of Ramadan is about sharing food, or breaking bread, with others in a show of community.

I’ll always remember having the privilege of spending a portion of Ramadan in the Turkish capital of Istanbul. As the sun set on a 35oC day and locals shuffled out of the mosques the city came alive with a buzz. This hum wasn’t cars, or air-conditioning units, but the sound of hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets to break their fast surrounded by family, friends, and strangers alike.

Walking the streets I received hundreds of offers of food, and tea. I was invited to sit and share with a young family as they celebrated not only the end of the fasting period but also their sons first Ramadan (Breastfeeding mothers are exempt from the fast).

On every street corner, in every park, people laughed, children played, and as far as I could see no alcohol was being consumed*. During the celebration I saw not one fight, one argument, not one person in a state of intoxication, other than that of someone over filled with BBQ meat, bread and tea.

Now to why I think this could be a wonderful new Australian holiday. The end of Ramadan is basically Australia day without the beer. It’s about getting out into the community, sharing food with your family, friends, and strangers. It is a giant street party that has the potential to bring entire communities out of their homes and into the streets.

As a bonus without alcohol being consumed it sets a wonderful example to our children that celebrations don’t required beer and wine to be present to have a good time.

For basic information on the holiday check out Wikipedia, or other none-religious sites.

You’ll discover that it shares many of the tenants of Christian and Jewish holidays with similar traditions of fasting, and is a time for reflection within the Islamic community.

And if you get a chance spend it in an Islamic country.

*Istanbul is a liberal Islamic country and as such I’m sure some alcohol was consumed but I have no recollection of seeing it and especially around the children I saw not a single bottle of beer/wine/sprits. 

My days in Paris

IMAG2788_1The French capital is like most others, an island of culture in a sea of reality. The grand boulevards, the iconic sights, all combine to make Paris appear on most travellers ‘must visit’ list. Even for the septics like myself after a few visits Paris will change your opinion of her and now, like me, have you looking forward to a visit.

This is a change for me, I was not the cities biggest fan, in fact I used to loath my time here in the busy, crowded, often slummy capital.

I’m currently sipping on an overpriced cappuccino, in a café overlooking the engineering marvel that is the Eiffel tower. From my vantage point I can see the nearly 2hour long line for tickets, with hundreds, if not a thousands people all lined up from before opening time for a chance to stand atop one of the world most famous structures. Safely tucked in my bag are the tickets for my group, they’ll have to wait a grand total of 5mins for the elevator and security check.

If four years of being a tour manager have taught me anything it is pre-buying tickets online is well worth what ever ‘skip the line’ charge is applied. For some of those queuing their entire day in Paris will be just a visit to the Eiffel tower. It’s something I’ve come to realise that saving money on tickets can sometime mean you waste a day in lines, and changed how I travel in my personal time.

My next stop sees me people watching at the Louvre, the largest art museum in Europe. The former royal residence is evolving with time. It’s once controversial glass pyramid entrance is today nearly as recognised a landmark as the Arc de triumph. The iconic nature of the entrance is reinforced by the fact that for some it is the main drawcard to the museum, with them forgoing actual entry to the museum to simply pass through the glass structure to the ticket hall below.

Hidden in plain sight the three wings of the Louvre are home to hundreds of thousands of pieces of art, all overlooked, for the most part, by the hoards of tourist all on focused searches for the big three, the Mona Lisa, the Venus De Milo, and the ancient Winged Victory.

Standing in the atrium beneath the pyramid it is fun to watch groups, who have waited in line above some for a few hours, simply walk around what is essentially the ticket hall and then leave. My favourite people are the frizzy haired teachers corralling groups of teenagers on a school trip. The woman clearly worried about losing one of her charges in the crowds, paces up and down the group, while the children, oblivious to the art and people surrounding them, interact on social media and take selfies with their phones.

Strolling through the gardens on my way to the pickup point, the crowds are starting to thin. It’s a Sunday and as the sun falls lower in the sky, half hidden by the clouds that herald rain, the air is decidedly cooler and people are hurrying to find a warm place to have some dinner.

Off in the distance, as I wait for my group, as the light fades along the Champs Elysee, the avenue is starting to earn it’s nickname as the Street of Diamonds and Rubies. At the far end the occasional flash of a camera can be seen from atop the Arc de Triumph as tourists get sunset images of themselves atop the grand archway. The arch is currently half wrapped in scaffold as they clean the years of soot from cars and trucks that drive around it daily.

Tonight I’ll visit the Moulin Rouge for the umpteenth time, and enjoy a nice meal, a great show, and finish with some drinks with friends at the bar next door. For me Paris is a normal place now, a city I’m comfortable in, a city I understand, and can enjoy.

I’m nowhere near a local but I can definitely call myself a convert to the French ways (well some)

From a café chair in Jardin des Tuileries, Au revoir, jusqu’à la prochaine fois!

GK Out!

The Buried Life are…

Really nice guys!

10377982_775744745792507_4747673120469864051_n (1)It’s a beautiful sunny day and we’ve escaped the log-jam that is the centre of Florence. Just a 20 minutes drive and both side of the road are lined by the wooded, vibrant, vineyard filled Tuscan hills that skirt the capital of Tuscany.

A hand is waved, we pull the Lancia rental car over onto the dirt siding to discuss what will be shot and how.

For this day I’ve hired a classic white Fiat 500 (seen above). The plan is to cram the boys in and generally get the crazy that is fitting four fully-grown men into what is essentially a car built for two small Italians and a child. This is just the start, which would also see the boys don full Renaissance costumes and perform a improvised skit at a 13th century castle.

BuriedLifeCostumeTo say I’m having fun would be an understatement.

This is the craziest tour I’ve ever run. ‘The Buried Life’ comprises of four guys, Ben, Jonnie, Dave, & Duncan, who cross off bucket list items, while in turn helping strangers do the same. Their project has seen them appear in their own TV show of the same name, play ball with the US president, appear on Oprah, write a best selling book, go on a date with Taylor Swift, BASE Jump, but for me the one that stands out is when they found and supplied a bionic arm to a girl so she could hug her dad.

The underlying question they ask ‘What do you want to do before you die’ is not some morbid curiosity, but a way to seek out, delve into, and ultimately help people achieve their dreams, a project the boys have been working on for over seven years.

David-DavFor this 10 day period I’ve been tasked with being the ‘tour manager’ for the four boys, their production team, and the Contiki office staff. My role is to ensure that the filming has a minimal impact on the real tour and its tour manager Maite. I also get to help make things happen (As it was put to me) which for this trip has meant doing everything from hiring cars, to running interference and convincing police to allow us to film in locations normally requiring a permit.

Now lets get to the boys themselves. It would be easy for guys in this position to be arrogant, diva-esk, douchebags. The boys are so far from this it’s crazy. Courteous, driven, and ultimately here to do a job, their work ethic is astounding; we pulled 15h filming days for the majority of this trip, and I heard not one complaint.
10286768_774434799256835_1549730320713467003_oThey also care about the people they are helping. Briawnna (the 5th Member winner) had contacted the boys two years previous. Her story had resonated with the guys then and when she re-applied this time they saw and opportunity to help. There are little things they do for fans. From shout outs on facebook, to writing SPARNZA on Juliet’s love wall for a girl who went through a self harming depression during her teenage years. It was these things, these small things that just endeared them to me.

If you get a chance check out their YouTube channel – and especially this video, which if it gets 1million views will see another worthy recipient gain a free bionic arm, do.

I also have to mention their production team who went to, lets say extremes, to make some of the shoots happen. Penni & Lena you were champs! I personally draw the line at rubbing sunscreen on my mates backs, let alone painting their entire, and I mean ENTIRE, body white.

Finally there was cameraman Jay. For most days he was lucky to get 3h sleep but was always the first down ready to rock and roll for the day. If you get a chance check out his work do. (Check His Stuff Out Here).

After ten days, countless hours of setup and filming, photo-shoots in some of Italy’s most well known locations, and eating all the food (this was mostly Dav) I’m back in London getting ready to hit the road with fifty one excited people on a European Vista (21days).

I can’t wait to see what the boys come up with from everything we shot.

So from a Costa Coffee prepping for the next tour.

GK Out!

TBL Social Stuff
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tbl
Twitter: @theburiedlife
Instagram: @buriedlife
Vine: Vine Profile
Web: http://www.theburiedlife.com/

Jays Work: His Videos

The Buried Life – My Next Gig

So I’ve failed in one of my own 30Before30 goals, the one that states I will ‘Write, write, and write some more’. Well that stops now.

Along with a pledge to update the blog every week, I will also be uploading a video a week to Youtube. The content will vary, based on what I’m up to that week, but will always be travel focused, and personal to me.

This week will see me taking on another brilliant challenge as I become the ‘Tour Manager/Escort’ for The Buried Life team as they embark on their #5thMember competition in Italy.

The four boys Ben, Duncan, Jonnie, and Dave will be joined by two people trying to become the 5th member of the team and along the way we’ll be crossing off some more of their list, maybe adding a thing or two, and generally taking in Italy. This is not only about the Buried life team, we’ll all be onboard a Contiki Italian Esspresso tour with the wonderful Enzo as the Tour manager, and I can’t wait to see what the trip holds.

I’m excited, nervous, scared, for the challenges that are to come but I’m sure it’ll be amazing, and if all else fails I’ll give me something to write about.

So stay tuned for more  from that adventure, as well as everything else that is coming this year.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel, feel free to email me at GlennContiki(at)gmail.com and check out my slowly developing 40before40 List.

From a sunny London, Summer is finally here!
GK OUT!

Ps: the latest video in the Nessie Hunting Series

I Can’t Sit Still

I think I may have inherited this trait from my father! The crux being that I can’t enjoy sitting around doing nothing for more than a day or two. I need a project, something to occupy my mind, something that I can focus on, work on, and hopefully see through to its conclusion.

An example is the fact I can’t even go on a Snowboarding Holiday without deciding to dedicate two days to filming and one to editing a Snowboarding Video

This need to do something means that I tend to burn through books at a rate that would decimate a small forest, luckily I now read mostly on my Kindle© so Amazon loves me and my bank thinks I’m insane from the quantity of mico-book purchases appearing on my account statements – it also means I feel the ever longing need for a new series of books. I’ve read through most of the SciFi recomendations on Amazon.

I also have an entire folder on Dropbox called ‘stuff I’m writing’ that includes everything from some scripts I started in 2003 that are on their 6-10th draft, down to a document with the working title “Making History interactive and Fun on coach tours for Gen Z” (Yes I’m well aware it needs to be catchier!)

For 2014  being a Tour manager is not stressful enough, and as such have come up with a way of filling in my limited down time with scripting, filming, and editing videos. While I wont go into what I’ll be creating I did come up with, pitch, and now am trying to decide the best approach to film, some pretty exciting stuff for Contiki.

So make sure you check out http://www.youtube.com/user/glenncontiki and subscribe to the channel.  And while you’re there check out some of the crazy stuff I’ve already filmed, like Bungee jumping, LochNess Swimming and Snowboarding adventures!

So from a train, where i’m trying to finish writing a few things (and being distracted by this blog post)

GK Out!