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
(source)

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
(source)

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

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