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.
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
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.
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
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
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 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
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:
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.
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
Dictionary: A book or electronic resource that lists the words of a language (typically in alphabetical order) and gives their meaning. Inspired by a long (and sunny!) weekend in the home of Oxford University, here is a day in Oxford city as told through Oxford Dictionary definitions…
Muggle: A person who is not conversant with a particular activity or skill. Can often be found touristing around Harry Potter filming locations in Oxford.
1990s: from mug + -le; used in the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling to mean ‘a person without magical powers’.
‘she’s a muggle: no IT background, understanding, or aptitude at all’
Ashmolean Museum: A museum of art and antiquities in Oxford. It opened in 1683 and was the first public institution of its kind in England.
‘no, despite the empty tables you may not have a drink in the Ashmolean Museum Restaurant because of some vague excuse about an event or maybe allude to how it’s members only, but probably we’re just a bit snobby.’Read more
I have flown in and out of Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, a bazillion times, travelling to and from Hong Kong. However, for this flight back to the UK, I booked a long layover in Doha just so I could spend 24 hours in Qatar and finally see more than just the airport!
I’m not in any way sponsored by Qatar Airways (I wish I was), but they are genuinely one of the best airlines I’ve travelled with, hence why I’ve done it so often. They’re cheap, they fly where I need to go and their service is always of a high standard.
So, here is the story of my 24 hours in Qatar, how I made the most of a long layover in Doha and some travel advice for anyone looking to do the same:
24 Hours in Qatar: Hamad International Airport
The first couple of times I flew in and out of Hamad International Airport, it was nothing but a shack with a duty free section and nowhere to exchange money!
Now, the new fancy terminal is like a miniature city in itself. There’s so much to see and do in the airport alone that you could easily make the most of a long layover in Doha without venturing out into the city (and I have done that too).
Aside from the obvious restaurants and shopping, Hamad International Airport also has art galleries, lounge facilities (all-inclusive food/relaxation areas starting at US$55), an airport hotel and a spa that has massage packages and even a swimming pool! Read more
Hurrah! My #40days40blogs challenge meant I finally posted up all the details of my two months in Southeast Asia! Here’s a roundup of all the places I managed to squeeze into my two months solo and on a shoestring budget, including detailed itineraries, travel journal entries and more:
Two Months in Southeast Asia: Myanmar (Burma)
I started my two months in Southeast Asia with Myanmar, also known by its old colonial name, Burma (this confused some of the Brits back home so FYI).
This country is fascinating. I was intrigued by its history and the tragic stories of the governing military regime and the colonial wars.
Also, I personally found Burmese cities to be overwhelming, even for someone like me who had been living in Asia for five years. The traffic, the crowds, the business, the noise! It was chaotic, but beautiful. I really felt like I’d thrown myself into the deep end. Read more
“You’ve slept in a lot of beds,” one of my oldest and best friends said to me a few weeks ago. When I gasped in offence, he was quick to add, “I mean, travelling, of course!” That got me thinking about all the places I have stayed on my travels: some the best hostels in the world, the comfiest of pillows and… some of the worst places I have ever ‘slept’.
After five years of living in Asia, I have pretty much perfected the ability to sleep anywhere. But, there are still a few standout beds that (bed)spring to mind. Here are, in my humble opinion, some of the best hostels in the world and the places I’ve most enjoyed resting my head.
Oh, and a few of the worst, too:
Bad Bed – Noah’s Ark, Hong Kong
Did I ever tell you about the time I moved to Hong Kong and stayed for three weeks in a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark? A life-size replica of Noah’s Ark. How is that possible? Why is that possible? How could they possibly know it’s life-size? All very good questions that I have no answer for. Read more