Night train to Butterworth

Watiing for the night trainA narrow bunk bed, clean white sheets and a pillow in the form of a square. A small rectangular window, providing a view to the outside world. A decorated brown curtain on a rail, providing privacy from the world inside the train. My private little habitat on the night train to Butterworth.

The window provides me with the view of a light dotted Kuala Lumpur, when the night train departs and snakes out of the station. Then, when we slitter into more rural places, I am mostly entertained with a theater of darkness. Sometimes small lights pierce through the theater curtain. Looking at them, quickly passing by, like falling stars, I feel like I am a very small object. Floating through a dark universe in my little spaceship.

Whenever the night train reaches a station, it feels like we are the temporary visitors of a small unknown planet. Each station seems unattached from reality, and the rest of the world. What is it doing here in this black universe? Is it just floating around in an endless see of darkness?

New people emerge on the train. They speak to each other in a strange language. Words and sounds which I do not understand. Probably the local language on this small stroke of light and concrete, surrounded by the dense black jungle.

The night train continues its journey, slowly traveling from one planet to another. Picking up passengers along the way. Passengers who normally provide live and culture to those small planets. For a short moment however, everybody share’s the world of the train. The train cabin becomes a travelling bee hive, smelling of sweet culture, buzzing from strange languages spoken.

I lay on my bed staring out of the narrow window. Somehow train travelling at night makes me sad. In my thoughts, the moving train, and the changing view outside, represent a vastly passing life. A life where I constantly look for answers in the dark. Sometimes there seem to be solutions floating around. Piercing trough the darkness, in the form of small and hopeful lights. When seeing those lights, I want to grab them, and hold on to them tight. They seem like touchable objects, providing answers and revaluations. Yet the train moves on. To fast to capture any clear images. To fast for me to grab the truth or the reality.

Unable to grab the present, I often try to imagine about what lays ahead, when the train reaches its final destination. Yet even so often I end up thinking about what is left behind. Imaginations of Butterworth turn into memories of home, old memories of a past live. I guess living in the darkness makes me crave for something familiar.

For now I try to hold on about one certainty. Out of this darkness will emerge Butterworth. That is the destination I am going to. However, the outcome of what will happen at that destination is still dark and unknown. I imagine being some sort of space astronaut. Traveling to a strange and exotic destination. Not knowing what will happen when I arrive. Like an episode of Star Trek. The crew heading out to examine the the creatures on an exotic world which is being called Butterworth. B-u-t-t-erworthhh I mumble before I fall a sleep, and enter a different dark dimension.

Did you ever traveled with a night train? What did you see and what did you think? What was your destination? 

Khao San Diaries: Trouble at The Club

Khao San Road - The ClubShe stares at met with mad eyes. The fact that she is wearing red contact lenses makes it even worse. The girl is dressed up like some vampire, and she is probably going to rip my throat off. I look around. On normal nights this place already looks like crazy town, but now I really ended up in Harry Potter land. Witches, zombies and Dracula’s stroll the streets, celebrating and drinking lots of alcohol.

Being the smart capitalists that they are, the owners of The Club have taken the opportunity to get some extra money out of this monster fest. It is a busy Halloween night, so they decided to charge an entrance fee. Not a bad idea if you want to make extra money, and prevent the dance floor from becoming over stacked with drunk zombies.

I want to pay to get in but somehow fail miserably. Almost immediately we start a discussion about how much money I payed. While arguing with vampire girl, I am once again reminded why I don’t really like these kind of places. Especially not on crowded Halloween nights, when the staff is even more annoyed then usual.

The entrance money is not really the problem. The problem is that most of the times, I am either pushed inside by someone with an annoyed face, when I pay, or pushed outside by someone with an angry faced, if I try something funny. Trying something funny in their eyes could be anything from asking where the toilets are, to wanting some customer service when there is a problem. Going into discussion about the big why is not always appreciated. Partly understandable at busy and chaotic moments. I should just avoid these places at those nights.

It often looks like the club and bar staff seem to think the same. Please do not show your face her you annoying, large amounts of money paying customer. It seems to be in the blood of people that deal with large crowds of drunk (tourists) every night. I am wasting their time for every second that I am not paying but complaining. ‘Customer service, yeah sure but we have customers now, please come back another time’. A lot of people except this attitude and keep showing up. Reason for the staff to keep acting like that. At the same time they shove someone outside, they shove a lot more people inside. Conclusion: they don’t need you. Especially if you are being difficult.

I am also guilty for this coming back behavior. Of course, at certain moments, I am also drawn to the dark sides of live. Then I want to go out to shady dance clubs, and do my part of irresponsible drinking and dancing. But I always end up thinking the same thing when I arrive. it is hard to find some friendliness in a club. I have also experienced this problem in the Netherlands, with these giant meatball bouncers. When I want to enter a club, they look at me as if I just stole their kids lunch money. What a way to make someone feel welcome.

Going into discussion with the Thai staff om Khao San Road always makes me feel unpleasant. When something is wrong there seems to be no reason for discussion. No matter if I am are right or not. They usually get really angry. Vampire girl is a good example. After exchanging some yes and no’s back and forth I start see her getting more furious by the second, and I get a hopeless feeling. Defending my point any longer and she will probably go Muay Thai on me, followed by her colleagues and random Thai, who want their piece of the disrespectful Farang.

Not much for me to do then excepting my defeat. I lower my head and give up. The guard behind me recognizes my body langue and shoves me, how lucky for me, into the direction of the entrance to hell. Another security guard grabs my arm, and stamps me with the mark of the devil. I stare at the black entrance allowed stamp, feeling frustrated. Once again I belong to The Club. I feel slightly embarrassed, thinking of  all those previous moments when I cursed this place. I wish I was a real witch. That would certainly improve the cursing part. Now they win again, because I decided to show up once more. Again I am drained from my money with an unpleasant feeling, and I haven’t even seen the Halloween beer prices yet.

Your experience

Did you ever been to Khao San road or The Club? Tell us about your experience. Do you have stories about other bars and clubs, where you experienced bad or really good customer services? Leave your interesting responses in the comments section below.

Start Growing

Have you ever thought of learning how to develop yourself and grow as a human being? It can be difficult to know where to begin. Maybe you started looking for information online. You entered the words Personal Development in the Google search bar and quickly became overwhelmed by all the information available. Where to start you might have thought and maybe you got so demoralized that you decided to let it be. So far for your attempt to have a better life.

Maybe giving up at that point seemed not such a big deal but realize that you started looking because you felt you needed to improve some unsatisfying aspects of your life. That unsatisfied feeling will stay and grow and you know that eventually you will find yourself typing in those same Google search words again or maybe you just give up and settle for a mediocre live. At least you tried.

Now that is obviously not a scenario you desire. Don’t worry, this article will teach you the first step you have to take when you want to start improving yourself. Actually when you choose to look online for advice about personal development or read this article you already have your first foot on the start line and that is the most important one on your path.

The first step

Whether you want to learn about Personal Development because you want to become a better public speaker, become more confident or any other reason you might have, there is one important decision that you need to make. That is the decision to begin to grow and develop yourself. Whoever you are or what ever your situation is, everybody has to take that first step. Compare it to driving lessons. We all make a choice to learn how to drive a car and we need to learn the basic driving skills but after that we decide for ourselves where to drive to.

Have no fear

Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.
Chinese Proverb

You need to decide that Personal Development is going to be a part of your life. Realize however, that the process is going to be tough and long. You need to be really committed to your goal. It is not going to happen with a quick fix.

Maybe all kinds of questions and fears are popping up now. What if it is too difficult, what if it takes too much of my time, what if I fail. Forget all those fears, you are already close to your most important victory. Which is making the intelligent choice to start focusing on growth and development. That could become the most important decision in your life.

Don’t think about the next steps for now, you will figure them out later and you will overcome them too. Yes Self Improvement will be difficult work sometimes but remember that you are in the process of development. From now on you will only fail if you give up on yourself and your decision to grow in life.

Don’t worry about the time consuming factor. You decide how much time you want to put into Personal Development but remember that you are growing and that means that it can never be wasted time. Realize that you will waste time and probably your life when you don’t take action and settle for a mediocre life instead of living the life of your dreams.

Don’t worry if you do not see immediate results. Personal Development can be a very slow process. Be patient, as long as you feel that you keep growing your on the right path.

Are you ready?

I Assume, because you are reading this article, that you want to start growing. Think about that decision. It is an important one so take your time. Think about the advices in the article, think about your current situation and eventually decide if you are ready to start improving your life.

If you are ready to make a commitment to yourself then make sure it is a strong one. Don’t agree with thoughts like: I will try or: well let’s see first. Make the decision with whole your hart and soul. Go stand in front of the mirror and repeat it out loud a few times: ‘I am ready to start growing. ‘ ‘I am ready to start living the life of my dreams. ‘ Remember this moment, it could become the most important moment in your life.

Again, don’t worry about what you have to do next. You completed the biggest and most important step already. From here on you are in control. Whether you keep following my advices or those of somebody else, whether you decide to go to seminars or read motivational books to make the next step, it is all up to you now. The first step is universal the next one’s are personal but one thing is sure: you are now committed to start living the life of your dreams. Nothing is going to stop you because you know what you want. You want to grow.

I would like to read about your decision to change your life. What motivated you to start developing yourself? What did you feel at that moment and how do you look back at it? What is your next step to improve?  You can leave your comment in the comment section below.


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Doi Inthanon, the first mountain.

My first mountain summit
After a long and tough battle I reached the top of Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand, on 10-07-07 around 16:30 a clock.  Originally it was my goal to go to the mountain to gather some information, scan the environment, climate etc. It took me so long to reach the mountain that I decided to walk to the top at the same day.Visitor center Doi Inthanon

I was dropped of at the visitor center and went inside to ask how much km it was to the top.  It turned out to be 17 km. I thought that was a task I could complete so I bought some more water and started walking.  It was in the middle of the day so the sun was very hot. To hot in my opinion. The extra water I bought became very useful as well as the salted chips and chocolate that kept me going. Still after two hours I was battling not to get a heath stroke. At extreme moments like that you really learn how to be good for yourself. You have to take care of yourself otherwise you won’t make it. You have to eat, you have to drink.  Even if you don’t want to.

The road went on and so did I. Occasionally I got a surprised look from people who where going up or down the mountain. What was that strange farrang doing, walking up the mountain in the heath of the day. There was a guy who approved me when he saw me battling the steep mountain road. He turned out to be Dutch like me and he turned out to become my hero of the day. He asked how I was doing and offered me a ride to the top. I rejected. Sure I would like it but then I would not be satisfied at the end.  He wanted to help me  though and offered to go to the top a little bit later and then wait for me there so that we both could drive back down.  He turned to go visit the waterfall first and I went on with my mission.

Great view
Great view from Doi Inthanon

The battle became  more tough every meter and I needed to res a lot.  Yet I was determined to make it and now I had a deadline. I needed to be on that mountain to at 16:00 a clock to get a nice ride back to town. I still had 9 tough km’s to go. The whole time dangerously dark clouds hang above me and I started to worry as it got later and later. Worst of all I did not have a jacket. I had bought a poncho the day before I went to the mountain but it turned out to be a child size.

Luckely I found a shop along the way and was able to buy a good sized poncho. The lady also gave me the demorilizing news that I still had to climb 5 km’s. I looked at the sky. The wether got worse. It got late and I was about to miss my deadline. I thought about giving up but could not stand that idea because I was so close to my goal.  I decided to push on. The next few km’s there where a lot more moments where I thought of giving up. But I was so close..

At some point Serge, the guy that offered to help me, drove by on his way to the top. I waved but he did not notice me. I  knew now that I had to hurry to the top otherwise I could be stuck on a mountain without the promise of a ride back. I was at my breaking point though. The steep parts where horrible and I had to stop every 50 meter to stop the burning feeling in my legs.  Every time the road got steep there was a warning sign and I strarted to hate it.  Every once in a while a different sighn showed me how much km it was to the top, 5, 4, 3..

The last 2 km's
The last 2 km’s to the top

The view was breathtaking but I could not bring up the power anymore to look or make pictures. I was determined to reach the top thinking of nothing. Just one step after another. Just as I thought the last 2 km whould demolisch my body. Serge came back from the top. He told me I was almost there. Where did those last two km’s go? He offered  me a ride again. I told him I would walk. We went around the corner and there it was the summit.  Yet I was so broken down I did not even had the energy to be uforic.

The highest point in Thailand
The highest point in Thailand

We made some photo’s as prove. It was great that Serge could make them. How would I be able to make those pictures on my own. Serge turned out to be even more of a hero by driving me all the way back to the center of Chang Mai. As soon as we reached Chang Mai, the sky bursted open and rain came down on us in buckets. We got soken weth but I could not be more thankfull that those could that where hanging abouve me did not burst open earlyer that day.

It was an exting day and a great adventure. We celebrated with beers that night. Step ! of my goal was accomplished.

Serge on the motorcycle that brought us back to civilization.


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