What Does it Mean to be an Expat? | A Few Thoughts on Living Overseas

Orange sunset on the beach in Asia

In a strange turn of events that involved an exchange with a friend of a friend, this week I was a guest on Keith Petit’s Expatriate Act podcast. (Sorry, Keith, I mean internet-based-radio-show!). This somehow turned into a two-hour discussion over Skype on what it means to be an expat and the weird and wonderful experience that is living overseas.

You can listen to the Expatriate Act – Episode 9 – Amy Poulton (Hong Kong/Italy/Mexico) on SoundCloud or download it from iTunes.

I highly recommend that you give it a listen, even though it’s pretty long (maybe save it for a long car journey?). However, I warn you the language is strong (read: lots of swearing, sorry Mom) and the discussion touches on some rather controversial topics. Read more

The Best Mexico City Bookstores for Books in English

Best bookstores in Mexico City for English Books - El Pendulo

I have an addiction. I arrive in a new city and plan to see the sights, but when I stumble across a bookshop en route, I can’t help but pop in “for five minutes”. Several hours later, I leave with my purse much lighter and my backpack significantly heavier. Yet, despite my lack of Spanish, this has not stopped me in Mexico – “Tiene novelas en Ingles?” And through my illness, I have discovered the best Mexico City bookstores (for books in English, that is!)… Read more

That Vancouver Lifestyle: One Week in Vancouver, City of Hipsters

Vancouver lifestyle - one week in the city blog cover

This past July, I spent one week in Vancouver, getting a little taste of Canada and visiting fellow ACLE alumna/travel blogger The Global Shuffle. But, the city wasn’t quite what I expected. This is the story of how I learnt to put down my old faithful Lonely Planet, stopped sightseeing and starting experiencing what can only be described as the Vancouver lifestyle:

One Week in Vancouver: City Sightseeing vs the Vancouver Lifestyle

Lonely Planet had never disappointed me until I spent one week in Vancouver this summer.

I’ve clung to the pages of my beloved LPs for years, like a travel comfort blanket. From my five-years-out-of-date copy of Southeast Asia on a Shoestring, to library-stolen Japan guides, to my dear beloved dogeared guide to Italy, guidebooks in general are special to me. Read more

A Tale of Two Earthquakes in Mexico City

earthquakes in mexico city cover

So, in my short time in Mexico I have managed to survive not one, but two major earthquakes in Mexico City. Of course, there have always been earthquakes in Mexico City and in Mexico in general, but these were some of the biggest that the country has seen. This is the story about what happened to me during and after both of these huge earthquakes in Mexico City.

Before I start, if you are looking for practical advice about what to do during earthquakes in Mexico City, then please read Northern Lauren’s The Anxious Girl’s Guide to Earthquake Etiquette. The first part is tongue-in-cheek (and a hilarious read), but there’s also some important and practical information about what to do during earthquakes at the end. Read more

My Favourite Quotes from Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I’ve been quiet for a few months on this blog. This has been partly an intentional break and partly because I’ve struggled to find the right words to articulate the reasons behind my hiatus. However, if there are any words that can best describe the tumultuous swinging between wanderlust and a craving for home that I’ve been feeling, they can be found in quotes from Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

Ironically, I read Strayed’s travel memoir in my hometown, rather than on the road. Yet, in six months of hibernation back on British soil, I found that I couldn’t concentrate on reading Wild when I was sitting still. Instead, I turned the pages on trains and buses.

It was as if I needed to be in transit for the journey to resonate.

It seems apt that now that I’ve left home once again for the next adventure (more on this to come), that the time is ripe to share some of my favourite passages and quotes from Wild on this blog. Read more

The Best Buddha Quotes About Life

Buddha Statue

Who else loves a good Buddha quote? *Raises hand* Yup, sometimes I just need a little pick-me-up from the B. Man. So, if you’re like me, then please enjoy this little compilation of the best Buddha quotes about life that have finally pulled me out of my blog slump.

After #40days40blogs I kinda burnt out on blog writing. My week off turned into two… or maybe three… and then four. I’ve still been working on here behind the scenes, polishing up content and improving the site in general. But, I’ll admit that I’ve been putting off the actual writing for a while.

Then, last week was the ole Buddha’s Birthday, a public holiday in Hong Kong, though sadly not back here in the UK (Corbyn, add it to the list?). I found myself getting sucked down the rabbit hole of Pinterest ‘Buddha Quote’ pins with equal amounts of procrastination and (p)inspiration…

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.

Buddha Quote Peace- Young Buddhist Monk With Umbrella Read more

Blog Number 40: The #40Days40Blogs Challenge Finale!

Blog Number 40 - Cover

…Aaaaaaaaaand blog number 40! Yay! Although there were times I thought this day would never come, Easter is finally here and I am finally writing and hitting Publish on blog number 40 of my #40Days40Blogs challenge.

It’s been a bit insane, but all worth it in the end. Of everything that I’ve even given up for Lent, ‘being unproductive’ was definitely the toughest. Just in case you missed a few, for blog number 40 I’ve included a roundup of everything I’ve written as part of my #40Days40Blogs challenge:

Travel Catch-ups

Blog Number 40 - Laos

One great thing about challenging myself with #40days40blogs is that it gave me the kick up the butt I needed to finally post all my stuff about my trip around Southeast Asia. I had loads of notes and thoughts lying around, but I just needed the time and dedication to edit and publish. Read more

Things I Learnt From Writing 40 Blogs in 40 Days

40 blogs in 40 days - Cover

Say it with me! One more blog! One more blog! ONE MORE BLOG! That’s right. This blog is number 39, which means that it’s the penultimate blog of my #40days40blogs challenge! It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride, but here is what I have learnt from writing 40 blogs in 40 days…

1. 40 is a really, really, really large number.

40 blogs in 40 days - #40Days40Blogs
Blog 1: #40Days40Blogs | This Lent, I’m Giving Up Being Unproductive

OK, duh. But, writing my first post about committing myself to this challenge and creating a cute little hashtag for myself made #40days40blogs seem like a great idea at the time. I’d given up chocolate for Lent before and it was fine. 40 days is long, but it’s doable, right?

Skip forward a couple of weeks and I’m realising that writing 40 blogs in 40 days means dedicating three or more hours every day to writing a decent post (and it’s mostly more). That’s a minimum of 120 hours. That’s at least five whole days I’ve spent on WordPress. Read more

What Are Beg-Packers & Are They Really That Bad?

Beg-packers - backpacks

Beg-packers are everywhere in the media at the moment. They’ve been around for a while, but a rise in numbers (and a rise in blatant insensitivity) are getting people really mad. So, what are beg-packers, why are they asking for money and are they wrong to do so?

Here are a few answers to those questions and my own personal opinion, which argues that beg-packing is pretty ridiculous, but it isn’t all bad (read first before you get angry at me too).

What are beg-packers?

Beg-packers - begging
By @Joop_nl via Twitter

Beg-packers are Western (majority white) tourists who are asking others to fund their travelling. Beg-packers are raising this money through crowdfunding websites such as fundmytravel.com, hawking postcards or busking on the street, and in some cases, just begging for money. Read more

Chasing Home | A Few Thoughts On Being Between Places

Chasing Home - Cover

Hey guys. So, I recently participated in the World Nomads Travel Writer Scholarship programme, where I wrote a piece on the theme ‘a place that is unfamiliar to me’. Devastatingly, I didn’t win the scholarship (next year, perhaps?), so here is my entry published here instead, entitled Chasing Home:

Chasing Home: Big Buddha, Hong Kong
Chasing Home: Big Buddha, Hong Kong

When I first arrived in Hong Kong, I described the city as a sensory overload.

Fresh durian and fermented bean curd in the steaming streets of Mong Kok. Strobing neon signs on Nathan Road. Soup noodles slipping from chopsticks held between clumsy fingers. The telltale salty tang of MSG. Tonal Chinese languages with staccato one-syllable words.

I loved it.

Chasing Home: City Lights, Hong Kong
Chasing Home: City Lights, Hong Kong

The longer I spent in the city, the more it felt like home. Weekends spent hiking in the New Territories or lapping up the sun on the trio of Tai Long Wan beaches. Evenings spent in TST or Central or Wan Chai, drinking overpriced cocktails in tiny bars or sitting on the waterfront with cheap beers from 7-Eleven.

Summers were coated in a thick layer of smothering humidity, while winters sparkled in red and gold, auspicious signs for the coming Lunar New Year. The sunlight was thick and creamy like milk tea in the day, then deep orange like the peel of a mandarin in the evening. Read more

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