Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Pangandaran | Java Part 2

     We left the bustling busy streets of Jakarta behind and headed to the coast, to the quiet peninsula at Pangandaran. Apparently this town used to be very popular with tourists, but many Westerners stopped going after the tsunami there in 2006, so now the tourism businesses in town live for the weekends and holidays, and the domestic tourists that come to visit then. We were there mid-week, so it was very peaceful for the most part. We took a train from Jakarta to Central Java, then transferred to Pangandaran (in the West again) by minibus, the total journey taking almost 8 hours, but since we'd started early in the morning, it was only late afternoon when we arrived in Pangandaran.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Jakarta | Java Part 1

     Hello Indonesia! This is the final country on my crazy 9 week long summer trip, before I eventually fly home. I'll be here for about two and a half weeks, travelling through Java and Bali, starting with the second half of my Intrepid group trip, before I spend a few extra days in Bali on my own at the end. I flew from Singapore, after finishing the first half of the trip there, arriving in Jakarta just an hour and a half later, then catching a taxi to the hotel; public transport isn't very good in Indonesia apparently! I did have a few hours to spare that afternoon, but I was feeling pretty exhausted - especially after how busy we were in Singapore! - and Jakarta is a big city, so there wasn't too much close to the hotel, so I just stayed in and relaxed instead. That evening we had the welcome meeting for this half of the trip, and there are five of us in this group - after just four on the first half, these have been my smallest Intrepid groups so far! We had dinner together too, and our tour leader took us to Sabang Street, to eat some local Indonesian food. I've already noticed that fired rice, fried noodles, and sate skewers are pretty much staples on every menu, and I've tried all of them so far - that first night was chicken sate (which is the same as satay by the way!) for me.

Fatahillah Square & Si Jagur fertility cannon, Little Holland Old Town, Jakarta, Indonesia

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Singapore in 1 Day

     How to see the best of Singapore in less than 24 hours? That was the question facing us, as the first part of my group tour was coming to an end. I booked one long trip, lasting 4 weeks, but it's composed of two shorter ones, and the group and leader would be changing for the second half. This also meant I couldn't book any extra time in Singapore, as I had to fly on to Indonesia immediately. We left Melaka in the morning, and took the public bus down to Singapore, which of course meant crossing the border, by disembarking the bus twice to pass out through Malaysian immigration, and in through Singapore's. We arrived at the hotel in the middle of the afternoon, and only had the rest of that day to explore, as my next flight was first thing in the morning!

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Monday, 4 September 2017

Melaka | Malaysia Part 3

     When travelling to other places, I strongly encourage you to check if there are any holidays taking place while you are there; for instance, it's recommended to avoid China during Lunar New Year, as everything is congested and expensive. I didn't do this when booking all my travelling this summer, and therefore didn't know that Malaysia's National Day falls on the 31st of August. We already saw the celebratory fireworks at midnight back in Kuala Lumpur, which was definitely a good aspect of being there during a holiday. And we were spending the actual holiday travelling from KL to our final destination in Malaysia, Melaka, which took longer than usual because of traffic (2 hours increased to about 3.5), but meant we weren't doing much else that day. However, as it fell on a Thursday, most of the country was taking a long weekend - related fact, Malaysia has more public holidays than any other country - so on our full day in Melaka, the Friday, almost everything was closed! We still managed to do a few things, and it was nice to have some time to just relax, but it was a little frustrating too. So, this post might be shorter than some of my others!

Clocktower, church and trishaws at the Dutch Square, Melaka, Malaysia

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Kuala Lumpur | Malaysia Part 2

     Penang and Kuala Lumpur definitely feel like very different places! Where Penang is filled with British colonial architecture, and quaint Chinese jetties and the old town, KL is a modern, multicultural metropolis, fitting for the capital of such a melting-pot country. Evidence of its history and culture is still apparent, especially for us since our hotel was in Chinatown, but it's combined with towering skyscrapers and international brand names. By this point in the trip, we had a better idea about Malaysia's history too, so we could better understand the enthusiasm bubbling in the city, as they were approaching their National Day, the 60th anniversary of their independence, which we would witness more of at the end of our time in KL. The SEA games had also been taking place, and were coming to a close, so the city was certainly full of activity! Our arrival came after a few hours on a bus from Penang, and a private bus transfer from the terminal to our hotel, putting us there in the middle of the afternoon.

I <3 KL sign, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Friday, 1 September 2017

Penang | Malaysia Part 1

     A new day, a new country! My time in Thailand is up now, and I've crossed into Malaysia, a melting pot country of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures. It was a long travel day to get there, with about a 5 hour drive on the Thailand side, then another 3 (I think, there was a traffic jam too) on the Malaysian side. The border crossing itself was pretty easy itself, taking the bus there and walking through, stamping out of one country and into the next (no landing cards or customs forms either!), and getting on our next bus on the other side. I'll be spending about a week in Malaysia, visiting its most notable towns and cities, first up being Penang. I hadn't actually realised this was an island at first, though that shouldn't be surprising since I didn't know much about it at all. It's connected to the mainland by two massive bridges, one of which we drove over on arrival, and the other when we left two days later. Penang was the first place to be colonised by the British, and there's still plenty evidence of that, especially in the area we were staying in, Georgetown, named after the British monarch of the time, as well other cultures represented, like in Chinatown and Little India.

Chinese clan jetties, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Krabi | Thailand Part 5

     So after two weeks in Thailand, I've finally reached my last destination here. From Khao Sok, we drove south for a couple more hours, until we reached Krabi province. We actually spent three nights here; the first was at a local homestay in a simple, small village, followed by two more nights by the beach in Ao Nang. Having already spent a lot of time on a beach-type holiday last week, in Phuket, I was expecting Krabi to be somewhat similar. It was, more or less, save for that there were more backpacker-type tourists here than in Phuket, which was mainly families and couples. We left Khao Sok in the middle of the day, and had a private van transfer, which got us to the homestay in the late afternoon. We also left there early the next morning, and had just a 20 minute drive to Ao Nang, so we got two full days to explore there.

Phi Phi Leh lagoon near Krabi, Thailand

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Khao Sok | Thailand Part 4

     Ok, I know what you're thinking, if you've been reading my previous posts - I travelled from Phuket to Bangkok, to then travel south again just a couple of days later. Sounds daft, I know, but I kind of think of these as two different trips (inside my big one); one with family, the other with the group tour. And that's just the route that the tour happens to take. Anyways, Khao Sok National Park isn't an area of Thailand I knew much about before, but it definitely proved to be worth visiting. After the overnight train, we arrived early at our hotel, whose rooms were a group of bungalows in the forest on the edge of the national park. The 'town' was little more than a collection of other hotels, restaurants, and minimarts, but after the noise and bustle of Bangkok, I certainly wasn't complaining! The National Park entrance wasn't far from the hotel, but since we would be entering during our day trip the following day, I didn't bother paying to enter twice.

Elephant sanctuary experience, Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

Friday, 25 August 2017

Bangkok | Thailand Part 3

      Thailand, I haven't left you yet! My time in Phuket (parts one and two) with my family as finished, as they've headed off for a couple of days in Dubai before going home, but I've still got another week or so in the country. For the next four weeks of my travels, I'm joining Intrepid trips, the company I've previously used in Central AmericaVietnam, and Thailand & Laos. I enjoyed my time in Taiwan and Japan travelling solo, but it was going to stress me out too much to plan this much travelling all in one go, so I went for the convenience of a group tour again. I've booked 'Bangkok to Bali', lasting four weeks, but it's composed of 2 smaller trips, so this first portion with the current group is 'Bangkok to Singapore' - I'm the only person continuing on to the Indonesian portion, so there'll be a new group to meet then. Anyway, the trip kicked off in Bangkok (funny that!). I was here last year for the start of my trip to the north of Thailand and on to Laos, so I've seen some of the city before, but there were still some new areas to explore.

Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Phuket | Thailand Part 2

     So if you read my last post, you'll know that my travels have currently taken me to Thailand, specifically the Phuket region, where I was staying with my family for the last ten days or so (they left earlier today, while I still have a few more weeks of travel to go). That post was the first half of our time there, and some of the activities we got up to. Fortunately, the rain let up during the latter half of our holiday, so we were able to do a few more things on those days too! We were still staying in Karon the whole time, I've just named this post 'Phuket' to differentiate them both, and because a lot of these activities were a bit more spread out across the province than just Karon.

James Bond Island, Phang Nga Bay, Phuket, Thailand

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Karon | Thailand Part 1

     So I came to Thailand at around this time last year, and as far as I remember, we got decent weather. Maybe some rain, but overall we were able to go out and do all our planned activities. Well, this year I'm in the south (last year was mainly the north) with my family for 10 days, and it won't stop bloody raining! This is Thailand's low season for tourism (yay for less crowds!) and I was expecting some rain while we were here, but this is getting ridiculous. Obviously, we haven't been able to go do a lot of stuff so far, though we were always intending to spend at least some of the time at the pools in our resort - we're staying at the Mandarava, in the Karon Beach area - but that has been limited to the insides of our rooms for the last few days. Actually, I'll include the video I just took of the rain in this post, so you can understand what I mean! All that said, we have been able to go do a few things, during the drier windows of time, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the rain will let up a bit before we leave, so we can do a few more things too!

Longtail boats near Racha Island, Phuket, Thailand

Saturday, 12 August 2017

5 Day Hong Kong Highlights

     As we all know, I've written dozens and dozens of posts about sights to see and things to do in Hong Kong. Living there for close to two years meant I had plenty of time to explore places all over the city, islands, and countryside there. However, most visitors don't have this kind of time! Last year, my mum and sister visited for about 10 days, and saw quite a lot, but this year when they returned and brought my dad long for his first trip, we only had 5 days to show him the highlights of the city. This was also my last few days back in the city before I leave for good this time, so it was nice for me to revisit these places too. I'll link to more detailed posts about most of these sights, but this is my recommended highlights for 5 days in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong city skyline over Victoria Harbour at night

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Tokyo Disneyland | Japan Part 5

     Can you believe that's four Disneyland parks around the world that I've visited now? I never thought I'd get round them all, but seeing as I'd done three already, I decided that I had to visit Tokyo's too! So at this point, the last two are definitely on my bucket list now. My previous posts about the parks in Florida, Hong Kong, and Shanghai are all linked here as well. Tokyo actually has two parks, Disneyland and DisneySea, but I wasn't going to have time to visit both (on this trip anyway!). I'd read online that DisneySea is excellent, but I opted to prioritise Disneyland, since I'm trying to visit all of those now, and that's where I'd find the castle, fireworks, and various rides that I all associate with Disney. After all, if you only had time for one of Orlando's parks, it would be the Magic Kingdom over the rest, right?

Cinderella Castle, Tokyo Disneyland, Japan

Monday, 7 August 2017

Tokyo | Japan Part 4

     I feel like Tokyo is one of those cities that everyone wants to visit someday, known worldwide for its eclectic local culture combined with its long-standing traditions and history. So actually finding myself there was definitely a little surreal at first! I was staying there for five nights, to have four full days there. For the first night, after taking the bus over from my day trip to Mount Fuji, I checked into a capsule hotel near the bus station in Shinjuku. The walk to the hotel itself was my first taster of the city, and seeing as it's a major shopping district, it was mass of huge buildings, colourful lights, crowds of people, and various sounds and smells coming form all directions - pretty much what I was expecting to be honest! That was quite a fun little experience, sleeping in my wee hole in the wall, but while it's fun for one night, I was glad I wasn't there for my entire trip. Lucky for me, some family friends recently moved to Tokyo, and had enough space in their apartment near Harajuku for me to stay with them for the next four nights (after their previous visitors left, which was why I was in the hotel at first). So my first full day in the city began with the subway trip to theirs to drop off my bag before heading out again for the rest of the day. I spent three full days exploring various parts of the city, and then one day visiting Disneyland - which will be the next post to come!

Tokyo city skyline, Japan

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Mount Fuji | Japan Part 3

     Well, that's a debatable title really, since I didn't actually see the mountain... I was trying to though, that's the point really. After my five nights in Kyoto (parts one and two), I was on the road again and bound for Tokyo. However, while researching Tokyo, and potential day trips out of that city, Mount Fuji was brought to my attention. I hadn't realised that it wasn't all that far from Tokyo, and possible to visit in a day. But seeing as I would be coming from the same direction when I arrived from Kyoto, it struck me that it might make more sense to visit it en route. Cue several hours of researching locations to view it from, and the various trains and buses it would take to get there and then to Tokyo, and I eventually had a plan in place! There are a few locations you could visit, but I settled on the Fuji Five Lakes region, specifically Lake Kawaguchiko.

Mount Fuji, Lake Kawaguchiko, Fuji Five Lakes, Japan
It's behind there somewhere...

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Kansai Day Trips | Japan Part 2

     Kyoto has a wealth of temples, shrines, museums, and more, to be explored. After two full days in the city though, and reaching my tolerance level for temples, I was ready to venture further afield once more. Kansai is a fairly easy area to move around in, with dozens of train lines cross-crossing the region - again, this is why I skipped the JR Pass, since a lot of these are local lines that wouldn't be covered by it. It's also not a huge region, so the trips I took were each less than an hour away, allowing me time to sleep in or come back early and still see plenty. For one day, I decided to go to Nara, which is frequently recommended in every guide to the region, and for the other I tackled the hike between Kurama and Kibune, to make a change from all the temple-hopping (though there were still shrines along the trail).

Deer in Nara Park, Kansai, Japan

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Kyoto | Japan Part 1

     I'm in Japan! It feels a little surreal saying that. I think Japan is one of those countries we're so familiar with images of when we're young, but seems so far away, that actually being here takes a minute to get used to. And as familiar with certain elements of Asian culture as I am, Japan definitely feels different to many other destinations I've been to in this part of the world. I've got ten nights here, splitting my time between Kyoto and Tokyo. From Taiwan (Part 1 and Part 2), I flew into Osaka Kansai airport (Kyoto doesn't have one of its own), then the ever-so-helpful staff at tourist information there got me a train ticket and pointed me in the direction of the platform, to the train that would take me to Kyoto in just over an hour. There are all sorts of discount cards and passes available in Japan, from the JR Pass, which covers the whole country but only JR trains, to local ones like the Kansai Thru Pass, which covers everything but JR trains in the Kansai area. I did a lot of maths though, and concluded that since I would only be based in two cities, and taking a combination of transport in each, plus plenty walking, none of the passes would actually pay themselves off in my case, except maybe a daily subway pass sometimes, so I'm paying for everything as I go.

Vermillion gates at Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Taipei Day Trips | Taiwan Part 2

     As I mentioned at the end of my last post, I enjoyed my first few days in Taipei, but I didn't feel like there was enough to do to occupy all four of my days in Taiwan. So, for days three and four, I ventured out of the city for some day trips to the surrounding areas. My online research prior to this trip had suggested places like Taroko Gorge or Taichung as options, but these were quite a bit further away and would be long, fairly tiring days by my reckoning. Taking public transport that much in a foreign country is also quite daunting (she writes after spending the last hour trying to figure out trains and public transport in Japan) so I went for the slightly easier, and more relaxed options.

Shifen Waterfall, Taipei, Taiwan

Monday, 24 July 2017

Taipei City | Taiwan Part 1

     So, anyone who read my last post carefully, or who follows me on other social media, will know that since I've now finished my job in Hong Kong, I will be travelling through several Asian countries for the next two months, before eventually returning to the UK again. And my first destination is Taiwan! I'm staying here for five nights, with four full days at my disposal, which is longer than I typically spend in most places, so it's been a slightly more laid-back experience that usual for me. I looked into the possibility of exploring more of the island, but it was going to be tight even with five nights, so I opted to base myself in Taipei, but do a few day trips as well as explore the city. The city is part 1 of my Taiwan posts though, which I spent two full days exploring. Here we go!

Taipei 101 building, Taiwan

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Farewell Hong Kong (Again)

     Around this time last year, I wrote this post, saying goodbye to Hong Kong as I prepared to leave and move on to South Korea. Little did I know then, that Korea was not the right place for me at all - read that story here - and I found myself moving back to HK just 6 months later. And now, 6 months after that, a year since my first departure, here I am packing up and saying my goodbyes yet again. I know, I sound like the flakiest person ever, moving countries and switching jobs so often, but I like to think there's good reasons behind each of these decisions! And if you can't do that in your early 20s, when can you? Anyways, on to the goodbye.

Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong skyline taken from Ozone bar in the ICC at night

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Dear Future Travellers

     This is a letter to anyone considering travelling further afield or for an extended amount of time, or even those considering moving abroad. This is a letter to say do it. It will be one of the most terrifying and stressful experiences of your life. But it was also be the most rewarding, fulfilling, eye-opening experience you will ever have. Do it.

Travel quote "Adventures are the best way to learn" on a map background

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Surviving Long Haul Journeys

     I've done my fair share of long haul journeys during my travels over the last few years, be it 8-10 hours of driving across Central America, a 12-13 hour train journey across Europe, or a 24, or even 36 hour flight halfway around the world. They are definitely not journeys I look forward, nor ones I enjoy, but they are often a necessary part of travelling, especially when on a budget. Long journeys do have some benefits though; you can forget about your problems or obligations for a while, and just relax, since you can't do anything about them while on the road. So, these are some of my suggestions for how to make long haul journeys a little easier, whatever means of transport it involves.

"Surviving Long Haul" text on background of airplane with gate attached on airport runway beside terminal building

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Civilised or Savage?

     Are we civilised or are we savages? It all depends on your definitions of those words, really. With our houses, cities, businesses and commodities, we seem to be a developed (or developing at least) world, advanced enough in our technology to be 'civilised'. We control our emotions, our tempers, our desires, and attempt to blend in as functioning members of this civilised society. But underneath, our primal desires continue to burn; we are creatures of passion and sex, we resort to violence and war to solve problems, we have selfish, greedy desires, and by these accounts we are still savages. But are these things savage, or simply part of being human? Is 'civilised' really who we are, or just a facade constructed by society to dress up and disguise our basal instincts?

"Civilised or Savage" text on campfire at night background
(source - with my text edit)

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Outfit - On The Move

     This is a very active variation on this dress; it's pretty short, even for me, so it can be a bit restrictive in terms of movement when worn alone. However, leggings make it so much more versatile, and both items are very comfy, stretchy, and easy to move in - leggings are also great for preventing summer chafing without getting too hot in them! Although a dress feels a little smarter than a top with leggings, this is so simple that it's definitely casual wear, and I'll even wear it for more energetic activities, like walking or hiking; it's a favourite of mine when travelling, as it's easy to throw on for long days of sightseeing, or comfortable for long travel days. My Converse have taken a beating already; normally I get a new pair every 12-18 months, depending but these ones have a pretty sizeable rip after just 7, most likely because I wear them to work a lot. I'm hoping to hold them together with some rough needlework for the summer, and then perhaps replace them after my long, upcoming trip. I threw on some jewellery too, just for fun really, since I never wear any through the week at work, but the outfit is still simple and versatile.

On The Move | outfit of short grey skater dress, black leggings, and red high top Converse

Sunday, 9 July 2017

30 Days of Yoga

     So, I'm not exactly known for being an active, sporty person. Honestly, I hated sports all through school (wth the exception of swimming, since we holidayed abroad, though I was never interested in doing it competitively) and stopped doing any after leaving. I walk a lot though, since I don't have a car, and started doing more hiking in the last few years, especially here in Hong Kong. Yoga is one of the other exceptions, even though I'm quite on-and-off in my practice. I've never actually gone to classes, instead learning via the internet. I used to use an app called Yoga Studio a lot, which was pretty good, but I got really lazy about practicing. I'm also limited sometimes depending on living conditions and whether I have the space to practice. But about a month ago, I came across this yoga YouTube channel, Yoga with Adriene, and decided to try one of her 30 days challenges, in an effort to get back into some regular (albeit gentle) exercise.

30 Days of Yoga with Adriene, YouTube series banner art

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Songs That Saved Me

     Ok, so "saved me" is a bit of an exaggeration, but we all understand what I'm on about here, right? These are the songs that had a profound impact on me, emotionally at least. They are songs that made me feel better when I was feeling terrible, or songs that I strongly relate to. They are songs with a great deal of emotional and psychological depth to their lyrics. Most of the songs come courtesy of my favourite bands too, as I have a stronger attachment to them, and most are bands I've listened to for years, to have built up this attachment. It's a two way thing really; the songs are my favourites because of the bands, the bands are my favourites because they write songs like these. Anyway, I've picked ten songs (by chance actually, I wasn't aiming for a number), in no particular order, which have strongly affected me, and perhaps in my toughest times, even saved me.

"The Songs That Saved Me" text on starry night sky background
(source - with my text edit)

Monday, 3 July 2017

Outfit - Girl of Steel

     I call this my "Supergirl off duty" look, and I never refer to this as a Superman shirt (even though that's what it was advertised as when buying) - Supergirl kicks ass on her own! I actually bought it to use as part of a costume last Halloween (Kara Danvers, so it would have been along the same lines as this look), but got sick and never ended up using it, so now I just wear it when I feel like. It's a nice lightweight top for these hot summer months, so it made sense to pair it with shorts and my new espadrilles. It's really too hot to wear the checked shirt over the top, but I wanted to channel that Kara Danvers disguise - tying it around my waist is also a good option too, though it makes the 'disguise' pretty redundant. I went with little jewellery too, with only the earrings to match the top, as Supergirl needs to be ready to jump into action, not weighed down with accessories!

Girl of Steel | outfit of Supergirl logo top, blue checked shirt, denim shorts & flower print espadrilles

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Happy Valley Races | Hong Kong

     Hong Kong has many things which make it unique, from locations to traditions to simple daily quirks observed in the street, with both Chinese and Western influences at work. One of its well-known events is the horse racing - the city has two tracks, where races are usually held twice a week through most of the year. Sha Tin hosts the day races, on weekends and holidays, but its Happy Valley on a Wednesday night that is the more popular choice for most people. It's one of these things I've been intending to do here forever, but only just got around to now! Horse race is not typically, but this is such a popular event here, and I thought it would be a fun one to tick off my HK bucket list. (NB: photo quality isn't the best, as I only had my phone and the zoom is rubbish).

Wednesday night horse racing at Happy Valley, Hong Kong

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Top Five iPhone Apps

     I like to think that I'm not one of these people who is constantly glued to their phone (though I do spend an awful lot of time online, be it with my phone or computer), and certainly compared to many people in Hong Kong who play games with the volume up loud on public transport or who collide with you in the street because they can't tear their eyes away from the screen, I don't think I'm that bad. I do use it plenty though, and would be a little lost without it by now! So today I'm listing my top 5 favourite and/or most used apps on my current iPhone. The Facebook and Twitter apps are probably my most used, but I use their websites just as much, so they're not exclusively apps, and not my favourites - they're just easy for scrolling and checking in with people and news. The links here go to the iTunes store, for anyone wanting to check them out - no commission or affiliation attached - and the images are screenshots from each app.

Top Five iPhone Apps

Monday, 26 June 2017

Outfit - Shades for Days

     I am obsessed with my new sunglasses, and it's definitely the time of year for them (when the rainstorms Hong Kong is prone to let up). This pair was very kindly sent to me by SmartBuyGlasses, in exchange for including them in this post. I chose the Ray Ban Denim Wayfarers, as I've always wanted but never had a pair of Ray Bans, and these were a little more unusual than lots of other sunglasses. Their website also has a huge range of eyewear from various other brands to choose from, and they are based here in Hong Kong, so my delivery time was fast. I didn't actually realise that these had denim material covering them, as from the photos I assumed it was a pattern on plastic, so I was surprised to see the fabric, but I still really like it. My only complaint is that the frames are a little wide for my head on one side, so I have to hook them well behind my ear.

     The rest of this outfit is all pretty new too as a matter of fact; I didn't do a big summer shop, since i'm budgeting, but I refreshed a few items. All my old shorts were getting a bit worn out, so I picked up some new pairs from H&M. I like to have at least one black or grey pair, such as these, that can be dressed up smarter, but still keeps you cool in summer. This top has been in my wardrobe for months, as I got it in last year's sales through the winter, so it's only hot enough to wear it now. I really like the pattern, and the floaty back is especially nice when I get sweaty in the humidity here. The sandals were also new, as I only had flip flops and I wanted something a little bit smarter. These will match anything in my wardrobe, and are good for both day and night (an we also appreciate that I painted my toes for the first time in forever for this post?).

Shades for Days - outfit accessory details of Ray Bans denim wayfarer sunglasses, silver padlock earrings and double silver fang necklaces

Saturday, 24 June 2017

A-Z of My Favourite Albums

     I was brainstorming what else I could potentially make an A-Z list of, now that I've covered quite a few already, and settled on choosing my favourite albums for each letter. This produces an interesting list, as it means some of my favourite bands are featured multiple times, while other letters throw up albums I don't listen to as often, but I have few other options for that letter - or some letters have nothing at all! This is by no means my all-time favourite albums, because of that fact, nor is this the best albums of all-time, as everything is chosen from my own iTunes library. It's an A-Z of my favourite albums, from the bands I listen to. I've linked back to some of my own reviews, for more details on some of these, and linked to Amazon for those interested in purchasing any of these (I'm an affiliate, so I will receive commission on purchases).

(image source - with my text added)

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Your Feelings Are Valid

     Your feelings are valid. Always remember that. We exist in microcosms and macrocosms, affected by the events of the wider world, and by the small day to day occurrences of our personal lives. Yes, there are terrible things happening in the world, and yes, there are people out there who likely have it far worse than you do. But that does not negate what you feel. That does not mean you aren't allowed to feel sad or scared or angry or anxious. Your feelings matter.

Quote "You have a right to your thoughts and feelings. Your feelings are always valid." on ocean sunset background

Monday, 19 June 2017

Outfit - Tropical Storms

     Summer in Hong Kong means heat and humidity; but that humidity also means rain. And by rain, I mean torrential tropical thunderstorms! It hasn't stopped raining for the past week, and is scheduled to continue for the next one too. Since I finally got my camera back from the repair centre, I was ready to start outfit posts again, but the weather forced me to take my photos indoors again, with my tiny room and less than ideal lighting, but I think these pictures came out a little better than expected after editing, honestly (yes, I'm standing on the bed, it's the only way to get everything in the light!). I got this top a while back, and it's really versatile to mix and match with different bottoms. The rain makes it cool enough again to wear jeans from time to time (by cool, I still mean mid-20s degrees), which I'd been avoiding a few weeks ago in the sweltering heat. And these shoes were a recent purchase; I like the fun print for the summer, and they're super easy to slip on and off, while being just a bit sturdier than sandals, or a good option for situations requiring closed-toe shoes (work, temple visits etc).

Tropical Storms | outfit of purple striped t-shirt, blue skinny jeans and floral print espadrilles

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Summer Tag

     The temperature is rising, and so too is the humidity, at least here in Hong Kong anyway. This does mean some tropical thunderstorms and typhoons, but overall, the weather is hot, sunny, and humid, and I'm having to get used to being a walking bucket of sweat again for the next couple of months. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with summer, as it's normally when I travel most, and I like being on the beach or in the ocean, or able to spend some more time outside in general. What I don't like is being said walking bucket of sweat, nor the bug bites that accompany this weather. So, I thought this would be an appropriate time to answer some summer tag questions.

"Summer Tag" text on a beach backdrop, from Boracay, Philippines

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

An Afternoon in Aberdeen | Hong Kong

     Despite having lived in Scotland for the first 21 years of my life, I've never been to Aberdeen - I lived in the Lowlands, and just never had reason to go. So imagine my surprise to discover that Aberdeen also exists in Hong Kong. There's actually a lot of places here named after places in the UK, but Aberdeen was the first place that the British landed in Hong Kong, all those years ago (don't ask me the exact date). It's a popular tourist site these days, as it was one of the oldest fishing villages, and you can still see lots of boats coming in and out its harbour every day. The local boats are called sampans and there are now dozens of them offering tours around the floating village in the harbour (many people live on boats moored here). Aberdeen is also home to Jumbo Kingdom, the largest floating restaurant in Asia. And I finally visited the area last weekend, after at long last getting my camera back from the repair centre!

Boats in the harbour of Aberdeen, Hong Kong

Monday, 12 June 2017

Yellow | Colour

     It's bright, cheery, and happy. It's vibrant and energising. It's sickly and nauseating.

Yellow flower blossom in tree top, with sky and sun behind

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Travel Inspiration - Costa Rica

     I feel like Costa Rica has been gaining in popularity as a travel destination a lot in recent years; it's certainly the country I'd heard the most about in Central America, prior to my trip there (Mexico excluded). It's got a bit of everything I guess, beaches, jungles, volcanos, and a boatload of adrenaline based activities. I didn't get to see all of the country during my time there - we were inland, so no beaches - but I spent time in two of its most popular locations, Monterverde and La Fortuna. I'm not much of an adrenaline junkie myself, and my fear of heights put me off activities like zip-lining and canyoneering. If a harness is required, I'm probably out! I did go white water rafting though, which I'd done before, and is great fun - kind of hard to take pictures of though! I also explored the hanging bridges in the cloud forest, took a tour of a coffee, chocolate, and sugar cane plantation, took a boat tour in Caño Negro, and visited a hot springs resort (again, no photos of that last one, being in the water and all).

Hanging bridges in the Cloud Forest, Monteverde, Costa Rica

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Top Five TV Shows of 2016-2017

      I'm a TV junkie, I really am. It's appalling how many shows I try to keep up with, and every year I say "oh I won't start many new ones this time", yet I still do. Or I binge watch something over the summer, then add it to my list for the new season (i.e. I just finished every episode of Brooklyn Nine Nine, so I'll be watching that weekly come September). Sometimes shows start to decline, and I stop watching, others I persist with, mostly because I've probably been watching for a few years already. But which of my many shows were my favourites this year? In the last couple of years (14-15, 15-16 seasons), I've been a big fan of the DC comics shows on the CW (yes, I watch way too much American TV), and while I still watch and enjoy them, they've slipped from my list this year, as they didn't really stand out for me this year, and many have become too serious all the time, losing the comedic elements I so enjoyed. I've also left off shows like Orphan Black and Game of Thrones this time, simply because they're both starting later this year, in the summer. So, in no particular order, here's my top five from the last year.

TV screen with text - Top Five TV Shows of 2016-2017

Monday, 5 June 2017

Review - All Time Low: Last Young Renegade

     Seven albums is an almighty achievement for bands these days, many not making it that far, especially in the non-mainstream genres such as pop-punk and alt-rock. So I'll start by applauding All Time Low for making it this far, after more than ten years together, and still with their original lineup. Recently their contemporaries, like Fall Out Boy and Paramore, have turned their sound towards the pop music of the mainstream, sounding very different to their earlier releases. And after hearing the first few singles from Last Young Renegade, it shouldn't come as a surprise that All Time Low have turned down a similar direction. So how does this release stack up to the rest?

Album cover art work for Last Young Renegade: All Time Low

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Hiking: Mui Wo to Pui O

      I will never get enough of public holidays! It's so refreshing to have a midweek break, and splitting the week in half like that makes it far easier to get through the whole thing. This week it was Dragon Boat Festival on Tuesday. I went to Stanley last year to see some of the races, but when you don't know any of the teams competing, I found it got a little boring kind of quickly. So this year I opted to skip it, and steer clear of the major racing locations (mostly on the south side of the island, or out towards Sai Kung), and use the sunshine for a hiking day. I picked one on Lantau Island, to steer clear of the holiday traffic as much as possible, going from Mui Wo ferry pier to Pui O beach.

Ocean views on the Lantau Trail from Mui Wo to Pui O, Hong Kong

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Summer Sun

     Summer is most definitely here. It is so hot now! Well, it's hot, yes, but it's actually the humidity that lets me know summer has arrived here in Asia. It's been muggy for days now, and the moisture just builds and builds until it has to rain; which arrived today, and will continue for the rest of the week. And then the moisture will start to build again, keeping up the cycle all summer. It's tough to do anything on the really humid days, as you just feel so sweaty and lethargic, and a bit grumpy in my case about it all. But on the not-so-gross-and-sweaty days, Hong Kong is out in force, enjoying the sunshine.

Chung Hom Kok beach, Hong Kong Island

Monday, 29 May 2017

How Does The World See You

     We are unique human beings, each unalike in our personalities and behaviours. Our appearance, our opinions, our various character traits. These all combine to create the sum of who we are, how we perceive ourselves, and how others see us. Each of us projects an image of who we are into the world, radiating our dominant traits. But is that image who you really are?

"Be yourself" quote on colourful paint splatter background

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Musically Inspired - Being Brave

      Let's face it, life isn't easy. It's hard, messy, and complicated. Life knocks you over and kicks you when you're down sometimes. And all of it can make it hard to stay positive, and hold on to the hope that things will get better. Being brave doesn't mean going thrill-seeking or taking huge risks. Being brave can mean just getting up and living your life as fully as possible, despite whatever setbacks you have or may still face. Bravery is not fearlessness. Bravery is doing things despite your fears.

Bravery quote "You're not a mess, you're brave for trying"

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Hong Kong Island on Instagram

     The most famous sights in Hong Kong include The Peak, the Big Buddha, and Central skyline viewed across Victoria Harbour. Sights which have been photographed millions of times, plastered across tourism adverts all over the world. But Hong Kong also has various hidden corners, locations less frequently included in the tourist guidebooks, but of which hundreds of photos still exist, if you know where to look; Instagram. There are so many unusual, interesting locations that are captured and shared online, but it can sometimes be hard to find them yourself, or they're in far-away locations, requiring a long trek for the sake of that one Instagram post. But, last weekend I decided to find some of the most popular of these spots, as well as a couple artsy sort of streets I'd read about online, all located along the Island MTR line. And since this is Instagram themed, and my camera is away for repair, these photos were all, rather fittingly, taken on my phone.

Instagram Pier, Hong Kong

Monday, 22 May 2017

5 Things Tag

     I know I've been doing quite a few tag posts lately, and I'll be honest, it's partly due to a lack of inspiration, beyond my travelling adventures - this post from a few weeks back explains where I'm at in this sense. And now I've got several months without travel, and I've already seen so much of Hong Kong, so I may continue to struggle for a while. But I do think tag posts can be a fun, light read, in between some of my lengthier travel pieces, or slightly more serious life-related ones. And they are a little more personal sometimes, so hopefully some readers can get to a know a little more about myself. The content of this blog varies a lot, depending on whatever had piqued my interest at any given time, but a lot of posts can be a bit impersonal at times. Anyways, this tag in particular seemed fun, and a little different than just answering questions. So, here are some different groups of 5 things related to me.

"5 Things Tag" text on background of 5 differently coloured socks on a washing line

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Life Update: 4 Months in Hong Kong

     It's been four months since I moved back to Hong Kong, with a new job and having found my own apartment, and I realised I haven't really given a proper update since then. I was only returning to Hong Kong for about 6 months, and I'm more than halfway through that now. In some ways, settling back in was pretty easy, since this is a city I'm already familiar with. But things are still very different to my first year here, so there have been some other changes to get used to.

"Life Update: Hong Kong" text on background of harbour view from Kwun Tong, Hong Kong

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Pink | Colour

     It's soft and delicate and airy. It's bright and vivid and vibrant. It's happy and brilliant and fun.

Pink milkshake and cupcakes

Monday, 15 May 2017

How to Move to a New Country

     A title like that makes it sound so simple, but I can assure you, it's anything but. Having moved country 3 times now, to France, Hong Kong, and Korea (4 times if you count returning to Hong Kong), I've dealt with everything it entails, and the accompanying stress, in spades. So, for anyone else considering a move, and unsure where to start, I'm going to try to write a rough guide. Every country is different of course, and so is every person's experience, so I can't provide specific information, and your experience may not look exactly like this one.

"How to Move to a New Country" text on background of stacked suitcases and airplane taking off
(source - with text editing)

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Review - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

     Me reviewing a Marvel film? Unheard of! Haha, anyone who's read this blog before likely knows that I'm a pretty big fan of the MCU films (though I'm not a comic book reader), and I always check out each new release. Obviously there are some I like much more than others, but none have majorly disappointed me thus far. The original 'Guardians of the Galaxy' struck me as quite unusual at first, as it was a departure from the films that preceded it, but it ended up being one of their best films, and one of my favourites (second only to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I think). So of course, I was eager to see how the sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, held up.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 - Marvel Cinematic Universe movie - film poster

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Shanghai Disneyland | China

     This is my last post about my trip to Shanghai (see parts one and two), and it only features one day, but what a day it was! I've already been to Disneyland parks in both Florida and Hong Kong, so I couldn't visit Shanghai without going to their's too (Tokyo will hopefully be the next!). It was a good choice too, as the rest of the trip was so laid-back, it was nice to have an exciting day in the middle. We were taking a gamble though, as we chose to go on a public holiday, and we were bracing ourselves for it to be rammed, but it was actually fine! We later thought that maybe the crowds were there the previous days, as it was now the last day of the holiday weekend, and many of the domestic tourists would be returning the home. It suited us fine, as we didn't have to wait more than about half an hour for any ride.

Enchanted Storybook Castle, Shanghai Disneyland, China

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