Friday, 29 December 2017

2017: Best Of

     Can you believe 2017 is almost over already? Can you believe that kids born in the 00s will start turning 18 next year? This must be a side effect of becoming an adult - or a 'sort of adult' as my 4 year old cousin called me last week - that times flies by so much faster, and you start to feel old! Anyways, the end of the year means it's time for me to reflect on what's been happening. My personal year in review will be coming in a few days, but first, here are some of my favourite things from the last year. I've mostly stuck to the same categories as last year, though I have cut out a couple that I felt didn't really apply  but I'm always open to suggestions, if anyone wants to know anything else!

'Best of 2017' text on fireworks background

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Merry Christmas

     Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, whatever you prefer or celebrate! I hope it has been filled with love, happiness, and family, in whatever form that takes for you. The actual day may be over, but for many people, it's still the holiday season until after the New Year. Unless you're me (or many others in the same boat), and were back at work today already!

Christmas Tree

Saturday, 23 December 2017

7 of Edinburgh's Spookiest Ghost Stories

     Edinburgh is one of the most haunted cities in the world; every other street or building has tales of spirits or presences lurking in the shadows. With such a dark, gruesome, and very colourful history, it should come as no surprise that these spooky characters still roam the city streets. Especially during these winter months, where the sun only shines for about 8 hours each day, exploring the most haunted parts of the city by night can be a very eerie experience. Edinburgh's dark and ghostly goings-on are some of my favourite stories of the city's past - not all of them have any factual evidence to back them up, but there are plenty eyewitness accounts! - so here are 7 of the spookiest locations and stories from around the city...

'Ghosts of Edinburgh' text on background of Edinburgh close at night

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Outfit - Leather Look

     Do you ever see someone else wearing something and think, that looks amazing, but I could never pull it of? I know I have, many times, but today I'm here to tell you that you can pull it off, so give it a go! I used to think that about my leather shorts, but now I'll rock them whenever I can, and I had the same thought about these faux leather leggings - my areas of concern were chunky looking thighs and/or a muffin top. But here I am, having bought them, at that same fashion show as last week's items, and I am obsessed. They look way better than expected! They're a pretty dressy item, so I've balanced it out with this oversized band t-shirt, which I got at that Deaf Havana concert a few weeks ago. I've pulled out my new favourite boots, as featured last week, and topped it off with some black and silver jewellery, to keep within the colour scheme, and a bold lip colour.

Leather Look | outfit of black Deaf Havana t-shirt with skull print, faux black leather leggings, and black high heeled ankle boots

Monday, 18 December 2017

Review - Star Wars: The Last Jedi

     Two years ago, we were gifted with 'The Force Awakens', Episode VII in the Star Wars franchise, and the start of a new sequel trilogy. Now, here we are at Episode VIII, the second instalment of the new trilogy, entitled 'The Last Jedi'. How does it fare alongside its predecessor, and the existing franchise thus far? Some mild spoilers ahead, but no explicit reveals!

Star Wars Episode VIII The Last Jedi movie poster

Saturday, 16 December 2017

A Day in the Life | Juggling Jobs

     So if you read my recent 'Life Update' post, where I filled everyone in on what I've been doing since I moved back to the UK, then you may know that I've been juggling a couple of different jobs recently. Basically, none of them could guarantee a full 40 hour working week, and all are hourly salaries, so I need more than one to sustain myself at the moment. In some ways it's interesting, because no two days are the same for me right now; however, it can also get a bit complicated and frustrating trying to coordinate shifts between the two of them. I can't give one hard-and-fast day in the life, since my shift patterns are constantly changing, but I'm going to give you a couple of examples of different working days for me - these are both busier, double shift days, whereas other times I might be off all day and only work 5-8 hours at night in one shift. Also, days off are kind of at my own discretion now; sometimes my shifts land so I get one off anyway, other times I have to decide myself to not take shifts that day and give myself time off, and other times I end up working like 10 days in a row without anything off!

'Juggling Jobs' text on background of Edinburgh viewed from North Bridge at night

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Outfit - Oversized

     One of the things I was excited about with moving back to the UK was wearing winter clothes again, as Hong Kong gets cool but never that cold. I actually got these items a couple of months ago, at a charity fashion show that took place in my home town, put on by a company called Colours, who sell the clothes after the show at discounted prices. I love the oversized shape of this jumper, with the bell-shaped sleeves and hemline (though the sleeves can get in the way sometimes), and the warm, mossy green colour is a little different for me. I counterbalanced the bagginess of the jumper with these slim leggings, which are thicker than most leggings, and have interesting seam patterns up the front, if you can see it here. This could be a pretty casual outfit overall, but I fancied it up a little with these new ankle boots, which I am absolutely in love with. I stuck to the natural shades of the jumper with the jewellery, all bought back in Central America, and finished it all off with my new go-to daywear lip colour. (Sorry for dodgy lighting again, struggles of staying in different places all the time!)

Oversized - outfit of large, loose green jumper, black t-shirt, black seam detailed leggings, and black heeled ankle boots

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Find Your Sparkle

     It's the most wonderful time of the year... I hope you all read that in a sing-song manner! Yes, Christmas is upon us, a time of merriment and joy and love, of family and friends and gifts, of delicious food and festive decorations. Christmas may mean something slightly different to everyone, but there's little escaping its presence. Edinburgh now is a mass of sparkling lights, bringing a festive atmosphere to the city. Everywhere you look, there is something sparkling, twinkling, glimmering, or shining.

Shining star Christmas lantern decoration

Friday, 8 December 2017

Life Update | 2017

     Ok, let's start off with a very, very brief recap of the last couple years. Graduated university in 2015, moved to Hong Kong for a year, moved to South Korea, didn't enjoy it and moved back to Hong Kong, travelled for 2 months, moved back to the UK. Everyone keep up with that? Good. Now, the moving back to the UK thing happened over 2 months ago, so, what have I been doing since then, I hear you cry? Well, actually no, I don't hear you cry, but I'm going to pretend people might be interested in my life, for my ego's sake!

'Life Update' text on green farm hills background

Monday, 4 December 2017

Outfit - True Blue

     Does anyone else think this counts as a festive jumper, or just me? Firstly, warm, snuggly jumpers are a must at this time of year anyway, but I think it's the sparkly threads running through this one that make it feel a little more festive to me. I've gone monochrome here too, pairing the blue jumper and dress, in slightly different shades - not my usual thing, normally I mix and match my colours a bit more but it's always interesting to try different combinations. I like the jumper-over-dress combo too, as it's so easy to just throw on a couple of items, and not worry about finding a top to match the rest etc. I've kept the jewellery simple too, with just a pair of earrings, in yet another blue-ish shade - these are one of the beaded pairs my homestay mother handmade and sold to me while I was in Guatemala a few years ago!

True Blue | outfit of bright blue sparkly jumper, dark blue lace dress, with black tights and brown ankle boots

Friday, 1 December 2017

A Guide to Edinburgh's Royal Mile

     Just because I'm living in my home country again, doesn't mean I can't still write travel posts! Plenty of people can, and do, come to Scotland as tourists, and as a native of the country, I'm probably even better equipped to write about it than I am in the other destinations I've been to! Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities, because it has so much history and culture and stories in its streets, which fascinate me, and that I love to share. I could write a whole essay of Edinburgh's stories, but today I'm going to confine myself to the most iconic street in the city - the Royal Mile. I took a walk up it to snap some photos, and I'm going to give you a guided tour of it the same way. 

     First of all, the Royal Mile runs along the ridge between 2 extinct volcanoes - Arthur's Seat at the bottom, with its popular walking trail for fantastic views of the city, and Castle Rock at the top, with Edinburgh Castle built on it, funnily enough. The Mile also has 5 other names, splitting it into sections, which are handy to know so you do't get confused about where you are - from bottom to top, they are Abbey Strand, Canongate, High Street, Lawnmarket, and Castlehill. Despite what its name may lead you to believe, it's not actually a mile long. It's 1.12 miles, or 1.8km long, which is known as a Scots Mile. The 'Royal' part refers to the royal residences at either end, Edinburgh Castle at the top, and Holyrood Palace at the bottom - we're going to start with the latter!

Royal Mile, Edinburgh

Monday, 27 November 2017

A Weekend in Aberdeen | Scotland

     I meant to write this post so much sooner than now, but Ive been super busy over the last week or so, and blogging has slipped a little bit. More on what's keeping me busy will be coming soon, but for now let's all rewind to last weekend. Some of you may have already seen my post about Deaf Havana's concert date in Aberdeen last week; some of you may even have wondered why I was at the Aberdeen date instead of the Edinburgh one the following night, considering I live in the south of Scotland. I was actually in Aberdeen for the whole weekend, from Saturday until Tuesday, as my sister now lives there for university, and we were going to the concert together. Having never been to Aberdeen before, nor having seen her since I moved back to the UK, it made sense to spend a couple of nights there. This also completed my goal to this year visit both the Aberdeen in Scotland, and in Hong Kong. So without further ado, here's what we got up to!

King's College, Aberdeen, Scotland

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Deaf Havana | The Garage, Aberdeen

      It's been so long since I've been to a concert! Anyone who might have read this blog for a few years may recall there used to a lot of concert reviews published - take a look through the Music tag for more of them - but I haven't gone to any while living abroad, mainly because no bands I listen to tour in Hong Kong! I'm back in the UK now though, and wasted no time getting myself to a live show. I've been listening to Deaf Havana for years now, and they're definitely ranked among my very favourite bands. I've seen them live before, as a support band for You Me At Six, and I absolutely loved their latest album, 'All These Countless Nights' - read my review of that here. They've been touring the UK over the last couple of weeks, and my sister and I got tickets for the Aberdeen show in The Garage, as my sister is living there for university right now. I plan to write another post about what else we got up to in Aberdeen, so keep an eye out for that!

Deaf Havana live in concert in The Garage, Aberdeen

Monday, 20 November 2017

Outfit - Bundled Up

     It's damn cold in Scotland. I keep saying I'm still acclimatising after living abroad, but it was below freezing point the other morning, so I'm not just imagining it! It can be quite easy for me to revert to jeans and hoodies, and anything big and warm, but I also like playing around with layers again, after living somewhere warm for so long. This dress is pretty short and lightweight, but the dark colours and floral print feel appropriate for these dark winter months (seriously, it's black outside by 5pm). And I've bundled up for the cold in this big, chunky cardigan, and these thick woollen tights. I managed to rip them the first time I wore them though, on boot zippers, but it's covered by these tall, practical boots. I also pulled out some jewellery I haven't worn in forever - the earrings are some bright fun in an otherwise dark outfit, and the pendant is a reminder of travels in warmer climes.

Bundled Up - outfit of short, purple and black floral print dress, chunky grey cardigan, woollen tights, and tall black riding boots

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Get to Know Me Tag

      Life has suddenly gotten really busy this week and next - more on that soon! I'm also off to Aberdeen (Scotland this time, not Hong Kong), for the weekend so I'm scheduling a few posts for while I'm away. These had to be brief, and I hate posting for quantity rather than quality, but I've been slipping in my schedule lately, and I didn't want another week where I only posted like once. So, I've done a quick tag for now. These questions didn't have any particular title, but they're sort of introductory questions about oneself. Read on!

Get to Know Me Tag text on ocean background

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Travel Inspiration - Hong Kong

     After two years living in Hong Kong (wait, have I mentioned that before?), I've accumulated quite a lot of photos from my time there, as you can probably imagine. Narrowing them down for this post was no easy task - I found myself 'narrowed down' with still 90 options! So these are a very, very small selection of those I've taken. Most people know Hong Kong for it's dense living conditions and towering skyscrapers, but there's a surprising amount of other sights to see too, so I've included quite a wide selection here, covering all the different areas of Hong Kong, and a few special events that you may be lucky enough to see, depending on what time of year you visit. The goal of these posts is to inspire you to want to see this country for yourself, and I think Hong Kong has something on offer for everyone. If you want anymore specific suggestions, take a look at my Top 10 Sights in Hong Kong and 5 Day Hong Kong Highlights!

View from The Peak, Hong Kong

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Loch Ness Day Trip

     One thing I've realised while I've been travelling over the last few years, is how little of my own country I've seen! Scotland may not be huge in size, but there are a lot of amazing sights to see - so many in fact, that it was recently voted most beautiful country in the world in this Rough Guides reader poll. Most of the areas I have been to have been in the Lowlands, where I live, and the central belt of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Stirling. The Highlands and Islands largely remain a mystery to me though, so I'm hopeful that I'll be able to visit more of these over time (as I've previously mentioned, being unemployed gives me a lot of free time, but limited funds!). However, I was lucky enough to be able to go on a day trip to Loch Ness last week, on a coach tour company. Loch Ness is one of the most famous places in Scotland, yet I've never been before, so I was eager to go monster spotting! I did take limited photos from the coach though, as there's always reflections ruining the views, so I couldn't capture everything I saw.

Loch Ness, Highlands, Scotland

Monday, 6 November 2017

Outfit - Back to Black

     Wearing all black is such an easy go-to for an effortlessly cool outfit. Each of these items is individually pretty simple, but combined with some statement jewellery items, and a classic red lip (pay no attention if my lipstick isn't perfect, I kind of did this in a hurry), it becomes a more dressed up outfit overall. This isn't quite a crop top, but it is a shorter cut than I normally wear, so I like it best with high or mid rise jeans like these. It's a little hard to tell, but it's actually a t-shirt and I'm wearing a little jacket over the top, since it's getting chilly back here in Scotland! The jeans are un-hemmed at he ankles too, so I like them paired with ankle boots like these, that show off that detail rather than hiding it, and I love the grey colour of these jeans, which makes them look a little smarter than blue jeans would. Also, thoughts on this hair? I was playing around with this side braid, just for a change (the other side still looks a mess though, oops!), and am undecided if I'd wear it out like this?

Back to Black | outfit of black shrug jacket & short top, grey skinny jeans & black heeled ankle boots

Sunday, 5 November 2017

A Day in the Life | Unemployment

     My previous 'day in the life' posts all centred around my various jobs at the time - find them here - and I wrote them thinking to give an insight for other prospective ESL teachers. However, my life these days largely consists of job hunting - filling in applications, sending emails and making calls, and going to interviews and trials. None of it has led to an actual job yet though, obviously, so it's getting very boring and repetitive (yes, I've been to Berlin, but otherwise I can't be spending too much money on fun stuff until I have an income again!). So this day in the life is my average day at home (not applicable for day trips to Edinburgh for interviews) while living with my parents. Disclaimer: this is meant to be a somewhat humorous post, so times are only for indication, and details should not be taken too seriously! I've also only been job hunting for a month or so, and living with my parents, so I know I'm still in a fairy fortunate situation - I'm more fed up and bored than stressed or panicked! And I'm sure there's plenty of other people in this same situation (with degrees and transferable skills, but not enough relevant experience) who can relate!

"Looking for a job" cardboard sign, from unemployed job hunter.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Musically Inspired - Adulting

     I'll be perfectly honest with you all; I have no idea how to be an adult. Does anyone? Sometimes I wonder if we're all pretending we know what we're doing, but inside we're all just screaming "Why am I allowed to be in charge of my own life? What the hell do I do?". At least I hope that's the case, so I'm not alone. Being an adult is tough. I've got the basics down, like food shopping and doing my own laundry, but I only learned how a mortgage works and why credit scores matter like a week ago. I have neither by the way - am I supposed to by this age?!

Walt Disney quote - growing old is mandatory but growing up is optional - on sunset mountain background

Monday, 30 October 2017

Outfit - Mystical Mischief

     When I was exploring the old clothes in my wardrobe, and planning outfits, I didn't intend this to be a Halloween look - I just wanted to use this Harry Potter top that I haven't worn in forever, over a pair of simple black leggings. However, when I realised it was coming up to Halloween, and I bought this new lipstick recently that I'm obsessed with, it was too good an opportunity to pass up, especially since I'm not doing anything for Halloween, so don't have a costume this year. I decided these knee high suede boots were suitably witchy, as it this cape-like cardigan that I've used many times before. I haven't been paying much heed to the choker trend, but when I rediscovered this one at home - bought way back in my 90s childhood, that's some vintage accessorising there! - it seemed to fit the outfit well, as does my chain ear cuff. The bracelet is also very mystical, as the charms are also Harry Potter themed. And of course, I finished off with some dark eyeshadow, accented eyeliner, and this gorgeous deep purple lip colour. A little witchy, a little mystical, and a little Halloween fun.

Mystical Mischief - Halloween witch inspired outfit of Harry Potter top, with black cardigan, leggings & knee high boots

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Best of Berlin | Part 2

     After ticking of many of the city centre main attractions on my first day in Berlin, and spending the second day doing not very much, the second half of my trip was spent visiting the other attractions that are a little more spread out around the city. Berlin's transport systems, including the buses, U-bahn, and S-bahn, make it a pretty easy city to navigate, so the distances between these sights didn't matter too much. I'd bought a week pass for the transport system too, so I could hop on and off and changes lines as much as needed, without the cost being an issue. Day three was spent on the east side of the city, visiting parts of the Berlin Wall in particular, and day four was a slightly scattered mix of whatever was left that I hadn't seen. It would probably be possible to visit most of these sights in fewer days than I took, or equally, to spend longer in Berlin going inside more locations and museums than I did, for the real history buffs. I felt it was a good amount of time for me though, able to see a lot, without feeling too rushed.

Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin, Germany

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Best of Berlin | Part 1

     I really do have a terrible case of wanderlust, don't I? I arrived back in the UK from my Asian trip about a month ago, and here I am, hopping on another airplane to another country! This time it was only a short break though; five nights in the German capital city of Berlin. There was logic to going sooner rather than later though! One of my best friends, who I used to live with at university, is now living in Berlin, and I haven't seen her in over a year. We're both job hunting at the moment, which is annoying, but does mean we both have plenty of free time, so I figured why not visit her now, while we both have the time? It also meant I only had to pay for my flights, as I was able to get free accommodation by staying with her. I flew in and out of Edinburgh, and with the timings, I had four full days to spend in Berlin, with her acting as my guide (i.e. I was lazy and didn't do much research myself).

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany

Monday, 23 October 2017

Outfit - Lilac Dreams

     I had completely forgotten I owned this top until I found it in my wardrobe again back home. I can't remember when I got it, or how I used to style it, but I quickly realised that the loose, tunic style would be ideal for wearing over leggings (I never used to wear leggings much, which I why I think I styled it differently long ago). I thought the delicate, lavender colour of it would pair best with brown boots, instead of black, and the tall, heeled boots echo the long length of the top. The necklace is one I don't wear often either, as I typically wear pendants, but again, its length suits this top, and the amethyst stones match the colour perfectly. I stuck to purple for the earrings too, though I went a few shades darker with these origami cranes I bought in Japan.

Lilac Dreams | outfit of long, tunic style purple top, black leggings, and tall, high heeled brown leather boots

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Lyrics to Live Your Life To - Part 3

     I'm currently away on another adventure (just a short one this time though!), so I wrote a few posts ahead of time to tide things over until I'm back. I realised the last Lyrics post I did was over three years ago, and I've listened to plenty more new music since then, so here's a new list of lyrics I like (maybe not always the best to live your life to, but I'm not changing the title now), mostly from stuff that's been released in the last few years.

Lyrics, You Me At Six, Take On The World

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

642 Things - The Red Cape

"What a character wearing something red is thinking"

Little girl wearing superhero red cape and eye mask

Monday, 16 October 2017

Outfit - Rock 'n' Roll

      I have missed some of my clothes! I couldn't take everything with me to Hong Kong, so now I've come home to a lot of things I haven't worn in a long time, but still like a lot. I don't wear this waistcoat often, because I prefer it with a short sleeved top underneath, so it's not very appropriate for many months in Scotland, but I love the over-sized, ripped round the edges style of it. Teamed with my purple combat boots, I think it's quite a rock 'n' roll influenced outfit, a side of myself I haven't channelled in a while (as my many band shirts didn't come round the world with me). These trousers I would class as 'jeggings', as they have the detailing of jeans, but are as stretchy as leggings - I actually used to wear these to work, and have now sort of re-purposed them for this look. Finally, to add to the rocker look here, I've gone with pirate influenced jewellery - the necklace actually came from the Pirates area of Disneyland, while the earrings were a Thai purchase, but feathers felt appropriately piratical too.

Rock 'n' Roll - grunge rock outfit of ripped denim waistcoat, loose grey t-shirt, black skinny jeans, and purple combat boots

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Top Five East & South East Asian Countries

     Over the past two years, I've travelled through 14 countries, covering most of East and South East Asia (promise, I will shut up about it all soon!) - the only major countries I haven't been to are Myanmar, Mongolia, North Korea, and various island nations. So, in the spirit of my many top five posts, I'm choosing my five favourite countries from those travels. It wasn't easy to make these choices, since I enjoyed everywhere I went really and would recommend them all, but these were the places where I saw the most interesting things, or learned a lot, or encountered the nicest locals (I'm mentioning a con for each place too, as nowhere is perfect). I ruled out a couple places that I really enjoyed, but I only saw a tiny portion of, such as Taiwan and Singapore, wonderful as they both were. And of course, this post is littered with links to more detailed posts from my time in each location. So, in no particular order...

Sunrise at Mt Bromo, Java, Indonesia

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Three Stateside Events to Visit in 2017

     Today's post is little different to my usual fare, so I'm starting with a little introduction and disclaimer. This is a guest post submitted to me as part of a collaboration - so thanks to the guest author (bio below) for getting in touch! An extract from myself will be featured in an article elsewhere, in exchange for this post, which contains an advert (disclaimer: I received no other payment) for a company I've used myself in the past, and am happy to recommend. The events featured in this post were all chosen by the guest author, and I haven't been to any of them myself, though they do sound fun! So, without further ado, here we go...

     2017 has been a year of record-setting events in many respects, and it's not over yet. There are definitely events worth visiting before the ball drops on 2017 in Times Square. Following, are three events worth attending before the year is done.

Stock photo - black crow on orange Halloween full moon

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Blue | Colour

     It's calming and refreshing and clear. It's cool and icy and frosty. It's deep and endless and mysterious.

Blue sky with clouds above ocean sea with mountains on horizon

Monday, 9 October 2017

Outfit - Lost Summer Nights

     Oh, it's been a while since the last outfit post! They kind of got pushed aside while I was doing travel posts, but I'm back home now (my childhood room, to be specific - apologies for the not-so-great lighting) and I have a wardrobe full of clothes that never came to HK with me, to make new outfits from! We're actually kicking off again though with an outfit left over from HK, that I never had time to photograph and post there. I've worn this skirt previously, normally paired with tights - which is definitely necessary back in Scotland in October! - but I was able to wear it like this back in Hong Kong's summer heat. I wore a version of this for the kindergarten's graduation, but was required to have a white top - I switched back to red here, as I stained that white top after just one wear (which I why I rarely wear white). I like the red and black pairing though, darker colours being more my usual fare, which I think makes this a dressier, evening outfit for the summer. I've also added some silver jewellery, all of which were newly purchased in Indonesia. The earrings and necklace were from Celuk, the silver village outside of Ubud, while the ring I made myself during a workshop in Yogyakarta. I love having pieces like that, with specific places and memories attached to them.

Lost Summer Nights - outfit of loose red top, sheer layered black skirt, silver sandals & jewellery

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Next Steps | Returning Home

     Alright guys, this might be a bit of a rambling post, as I try to explain what's going on in my head these days. Anyone who's been reading this blog regularly over the last few months will know that I just finished a crazy, two month long trip through Asia, which also closed off my two years living there. So, I assume some of you may be curious as to what I'm up to next. And the answer is, I don't really know. Well, I have plans formulating, but - as I've updated all my online bios to say - I'm still trying to figure the whole 'adulthood' thing out.

View of clouds high in the sky from an airplane window

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Legian | Bali Part 3

   Well, here we are. Nine weeks, seven countries, and this is the twenty-fourth, and final, blog post about my travels - Taiwan seems like such a long time ago now! I was actually in need of a holiday after my holiday at this point, so my top priority for these last few days in Bali was to rest and relax. After the group tour finished in Ubud, I made my way south for the last four nights of my trip. Kuta is one of the most popular destinations in Bali, chock full of hotels, restaurants, and bars. It seemed much too hectic and touristy for my tastes though, so I was staying slightly further up the coast, in Legian. Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak all line the same beach, and it's not clear where each one starts and ends really. They're all busy with tourists, but it's noticeably quieter, and with less partying, the further north you go.

Sunset on Kuta beach, Bali, Indonesia

Monday, 2 October 2017

Ubud | Bali Part 2

     After a peaceful couple of days by the beach in Pemuteran, there was only one night left of my group tour, which concluded in Ubud, in the heart of Bali. Aside from the beaches in the south, this is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island, known for its art scene, yoga retreats, and its famous rice terraces and temples in the surrounding area. We drove here from Pemuteran, which took just a couple of hours, as traffic was on our side luckily. We made a few stops along the way though, to see as many aspects of Bali's culture and scenery as possible.

Valley & rice terraces in central Bali, Indonesia.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Pemuteran | Bali Part 1

     We've finally reached the last location of my two month long summer trip which started way back in July, and that's Bali. My tour through Indonesia had already covered Java over the last week and a half, and now there were a few days in Bali before it ended, followed by a couple of extra days there by myself, giving me a total of a week spent there. We crossed from Java on the ferry, arriving at the port at Gilimanuk, and then taking a bus transfer to our hotel. Bali's traffic can be pretty hectic at times, with lots of narrow roads and not many alternative routes available, but the north west region that we arrived in wasn't too bad; it's around Ubud and Denpasar where you can be grid-locked for hours at a time. We were spending our first couple of nights in Pemuteran, on the north west coast, and were greeted at our hotel (Kubuku Ecolodge), with frangipani flowers, welcome drinks, and our names spelled on our beds with flower petals, much to our delight.

Pemuteran beach, Bali, Indonesia

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

East Java | Java Part 4

     After three nights in the centre of Yogyakarta, we continued on our journey east across Java, to spend our remaining nights there in three different, much more rural locations. Each of the places we stayed only needed a night there, and we typically arrived late in the day, did our activity the following morning, and continued to the next destination in the afternoon. The most popular tourist location in East Java is Mount Bromo, which was our second of the three locations; before that, we spent a night at a nature reserve in Seloliman, and afterwards a night in Kalibaru to cap off our time in Java. We departed Yogyakarta by train, and then transferred from the next station to the nature reserve by bus, the same bus which would be with us for the remainder of our time on Java.

Rice fields & volcano in East Java, Indonesia

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Yogyakarta | Java Part 3

     After a couple of days of quiet and natural scenery in Pangandaran, it was time to head inland to another city again. Yogyakarta (sometimes spelled Jogjakarta, often nicknamed Yogya/Jogja) is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Java, with plenty of options of things to do and see (more so than in Jakarta generally). There's lots of culture and history here, from local industries and crafts, to ancient temples and famous sights, like the Sultan's Palace. We were back in the middle of a busy city here too, and after we arrived on the train mid-afternoon, it took a while for the bus to get us to our hotel, in the hectic, sometimes grid-locked streets of traffic. Although it's a big city, Yogyakarta felt easier to get around to me, compared to Jakarta anyway, which felt massive. Our hotel was near Jalan Prawirotaman, which has plenty of restaurants and bars, and a few shops, and there were plenty of motorbike or bicycle trishaw taxis to get to other parts of the city. On the first day, we arrived at the hotel in the late afternoon, and spent some time relaxing before heading to that street to have dinner and a couple of drinks, and get accustomed to the city a little.

Batik workshop, Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia

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

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