Living in Hong Kong for five years, I explored the city, the islands and the mountainous New Territories. I also explored the SAR’s history through popular books set in Hong Kong, from romantic novels to informative works of non-fiction. So, I’ve decided to compile a list of the best books about Hong Kong and my favourite HK writers, which I highly recommend you read if you are visiting. Read more
Oh yes, those all-American holidays Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are upon us! It’s the perfect time for travel addicts and travel bloggers (i.e. me) to take advantage of plummeting prices, so here is my personal wishlist of Black Friday travel deals, including gadgets, cheap flights and hotels, and even travel blogging courses:
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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
…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:
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
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.
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
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’ve been back in the UK now for four months. I’m still reluctant to say ‘back home’, but I’ll admit that it’s slipped off my tongue more than once. Like travel writer Pico Iyer says in his TED talk, ‘Where are you from?’ and ‘Where is home?’ are more complex questions now than they once were.
In fact, I’ve been wrangling with that word ‘home’ even since I breathed it in along with the crisp, British air outside Birmingham Airport.
I’ve tried on the word ‘home’ like you might try on a pair of jeans at a high street store; they don’t quite fit, but you try and justify the purchase anyway because you’re planning to lose a few pounds, right? So, they’ll fit in time, right?
And I’ve written. My lord, I’ve written about it! I’ve always found it easier to articulate through the written word than through the spoken word. I’ve typed the word ‘home’ and then hit the backspace key, paused, and then typed it again with quotation marks wrapped around it.
Trapping the letters between two floating apostrophes, like pegs on a washing line, is exactly how the word feels to me.
I meant what I said when I wrote that moving back to the UK is so much harder than moving away – so much more than I anticipated. There were parts I left out from that post. As personal as it was, there was stuff going on one level down, down in the basement, that I didn’t want anyone to see.
Because it is a struggle and it’s a work in progress and it’s more complicated than i thought. I’m rethinking everything. My goals. My dreams. How I should work towards them. How I’m going to get there. What I need to sacrifice in the short term for what I want in the long term.
Anyway, these four long months have been dragging and yet they’ve gone by in the click of my fingers. I applied ferociously for jobs for two months, but then stopped because it wasn’t the right approach and I was getting no where.
I worked on my CV and was more careful about the jobs I applied to. I worked on this blog. I visited other British cities to try and find my feet, eager to play the tourist and find a place to call my own, but I was back in that high street store. I can’t get anything to fit right.
I gave myself a deadline of three months to find a job before I would implement plan B and look at moving away again. But, then I found myself counting down the days until it could be a possibility. Because, if I was being honest with myself, wasn’t it always plan A instead of plan B?
The longer I deliberated whether to stay or go, the more I panicked that I was failing by doing nothing and the more I felt myself slipping into a routine that I had tried so hard to avoid. Freelance work. Sorting out rent with my parents. Doing a lot of nothing
I’ll be honest and say that the last couple of weeks have pretty much been rock bottom, most likely amplified by the passing of the three-month deadline and my 27th birthday. This was not what I imagined for myself after three months back in the UK. This was not what I imagined for myself at 27.
I was punishing myself for not managing to find my dream job and create my dream life within this ridiculous time frame of December to March. I was so frustrated that I had chosen to come home – not just because I was listening to my head, but also because I was listening to my heart – yet, the more I leaned into a life back in the UK, the worse I felt.
‘Why are you back?’ was a question a friend asked me just a few weeks after Christmas. I smiled and talked confidently about my plans, but I was surprised to see that he didn’t seem convinced.
‘Why are you back?’ another friend asked a couple of weeks ago, seeing how down I’d let myself become.
‘I don’t know.’ I tearfully replied.
It wasn’t until this past week that I really started to understand.
You know that quote: ‘Do the thing that scares you’? It’s one that I always think of when I think of travel and I think it’s good advice to live by. But, do you know what scares me most? Living at home with my parents, working two jobs and sitting still for a while.
So, Amy, maybe that’s the exact thing you should do.
I’m beating myself up for being neither here nor there; not fully committed to being back in the UK, yet not ready to just give up and move abroad again on a whim. But, maybe this is exactly where I’m meant to be. Maybe I just need to be still for a while.
That’s where Pico Iyer comes in. A fellow travel blogger commented on previous post and told me that she related to what I was saying, offering up some words of wisdom. She gave me a link to the below TED Talk by Pico Iyer and it completely resonated.
It’s 14 minutes long, so I appreciate if you don’t have time to watch it all, but his speech pretty much articulates everything I want to say about being back. Not just all the stuff about redefining home – that’s a whole other discussion for another day and he’s bang on about that too – but, what he says in the second half about stillness.
Pico Iyer says that movement is nothing unless you can be still. Home doesn’t need to be a nation or a house or even a family. It can be somewhere where you can be still for a little while. Still so that you can collect your thoughts. Still so that you can plan your next move.
That’s exactly what I’m doing. It’s frustrating because I’m so used to moving around and my feet are itching like crazy, but it’s exactly what I need. It’s what I need to do in order to collect myself and my thoughts, before I can move on.
Then, regardless of what comes out of that process, at least I know I’m not making a decision on a whim. Only when you’re still can you really listen to what you want.
I’ve lived out of a suitcase. I’ve carried all my belongings on my back. I’ve hopped from country to country literally without a care in the world. I’ve loved it all, but if you move that fast and that often, sometimes you lose sight of what you’re doing it for.
So, girl, if you can do all that then you can spend a few months at home binge-eating British food and catching up on all the TV you’ve missed! You’ve earned it. More importantly, you need it. You have some figuring out to do.
Notice that the quotation marks have disappeared.
My adventures aren’t over just because I’m taking some time out to reassess. Moving around means nothing unless I am still, somewhere, sometimes, even if it’s just as a point of reference.
So maybe I just need some time standing still.
The room is monochrome, classic.
A spotlight cuts silver into black.
In the conical light there is a table.
And on the table, a pen,
Outside, trapped in the ripples, I circle,
A predator, a vulture,
A moth dancing towards the light,
My arrow-hand stabs into the laser,
And retreats again, ashamed, afraid,
I anticipate a burning pain, but it doesn’t transpire.
In the dark, my grey hand shows no blistered skin.
Instead, it itches.
My eyes look up, back at the table,
And on that table, the pen.
A pen with my name waiting in the ink.
My feet push awkwardly beneath quaking legs towards the light,
My toes teasing into the circle,
Like they’re peeling over the edge of a diving board,
They dip into the pool.
A step. A jump. A dive.
Into the halo until my whole body is coated in white flames.
I’m a burning ghost.
My phantom-hand extends, hovers and snatches.
The spear is swallowed in the black wave of a shadow-glove,
A lizard-tongue lift with hungry thieves-fingers,
That tighten around the neck.
A child’s greedy fist.
I have the foil.
And I run.
Fingers vibrating like plucked cello strings,
The vibrato rises, trembles,
The opera opens.
A turquoise-gold blur of liquid transformation,
An Icarus-dance of feathers and phoenix flames,
Melting like wax in the hungry waves of the sun.
A metallic kaleidoscope.
And then… Read more
Yep, I’ve turned into that girl who starts all her sentences with, ‘When I lived in Hong Kong…’ My room is filled with knick-knacks from places I can’t pronounce. I can give advice on jet lag, travelling with only a carry-on and finding cheap flights online. I can speak in different tongues. If you know me, you’re probably bored of my travel anecdotes.
If you don’t know me, I should prefix this post by stating that, up until three months ago, I lived overseas. I spent five years in Hong Kong, with a few intervals in Italy (because I like to be complicated like that). I never planned to leave the UK or live in other countries, especially for so long, but it just kind of happened. Read more