I know this title isn’t the hopeful, motivational rubbish that you’d love to see to get you through your day, but keep reading anyway. This weekend in Taiwan is Dragon Boat Festival – a celebration that traditionally mourns and celebrates the life and death of Qu Yuan, who according to legend, drowned himself in the Miluo river after being exiled from China. Locals were sad at hearing of his death and so rowed down the river searching for his body, hitting the surface with their paddles to scare away the fish and throwing lumps of rice into the water in the hope that the creatures below wouldn’t eat his body. Nowadays it’s acknowledged with rice dumplings and dragon boat races, or if you’re like me and my friends, with a camping trip to the east coast. Continue reading “211. Try, give up, go home. It’s okay.”
I know that somewhere along the line I’ve been told, or read somewhere, that being outside and doing exercise is a great way to lengthen your life. Those that run and those that hike tend to live longer than those that don’t, providing you don’t hike amongst poisonous animals when you attract every sting on earth (ask me if I got stung by a wasp and three jellyfish on the same day – go on) or on high cliffs when you have a knack for falling over (overall it’s a miracle I’ve made it to 23).
I’ve read that in Japan, there’s a genuine encouragement for people to go walking in the forest on the basis that the peacefulness will calm you down. I’ll be the first to hold up my hands and say that part of the reason that I love to be in nature so much is for that calm feeling – it’s just you and a hill and your thoughts can be left at the bottom. But, this weekend, I can’t say I got the thrill quite the same as on a normal hike. Continue reading “209. Walking through a forest is not always relaxing.”
It’s that time of year again – the humidity is up and the cockroaches are out, armed and ready to ruin your day wherever possible. I hope that any day now, I’ll wake up and realise that they’re just bugs that in the grand scheme of things do very little harm to my day, but as it turns out, I’m still in the zone of sheer panic upon seeing one. Yes, I am 23 and a ridiculous amount bigger than it, I know, but simply telling me this will have no actual impact on my reflex to freeze or bolt. All in good time. Continue reading “208. There is nothing to fear, but fear itself (and cockroaches).”
The classroom is a place with endless entertainment and endless blunders. For example, perhaps you might initiate a spelling race between your kids. Perhaps you might ask two of them to run to the board and spell ‘ship’ and per chance they mishear you and write the word ‘sh*t’ in big green letters on the whiteboard. At this point you will try to hide the instant reaction of belly laughing so that they don’t cotton on to the idea such a word has any associated meaning. But let’s say one of them is watching your facial expression ever so closely and sees that slight twinge of the corner of your mouth heading for a smirk before you can rectify it. And suddenly she shouts ‘sh*t’ at the top of her voice. And then before you know it, you’ve found yourself in a room with 20 seven year olds running around screaming sh*t, literally, at the top of their lungs, whilst you pray your boss doesn’t walk in before you get the situation under control.
Hypothetically, of course.
In a few weeks one of my best friends is making her first big move out of the UK. Being the bright spark that she is, she’s managed to land an internship for P&G and will be jetting off to Brussels to kickstart a career somewhere in the field of chemical engineering. I’d love to give you more insight into what that is, but unfortunately my brain is a little pale in comparison. I often wonder how we managed to stay friends for so long, given that when it comes down to it, a lot about us is so different – we didn’t take any of the same subjects, go to the same university and now we live on opposite sides of the planet and yet in many ways, we’re still the two shy 11 year olds on the first day of year 7 who share the same, sometimes questionable, sense of humour. Lots has changed, and lots hasn’t. Continue reading “206. Get out of your comfort zone.”
You know, I honestly can’t wait until the day that I find myself in an appropriate situation to get a couple of dogs to spend my days with. What brilliant creatures they are – forever loyal, much too cute and endlessly entertaining. Some of my best memories growing up feature my dog. There’s nothing quite like walking into a home where someone is always happy to see you, always ready to bound up to you, tail wagging and mouth smiling. Continue reading “205. You can always count on a dog for entertainment.”
Every now and again, you stumble upon someone that truly makes your mouth drop. I’m sure you recognise the people I’m talking about. The ones where you look at their lives in awe of their adventure and lifestyle. Nowadays, with the growth of social media, particularly Instagram, it’s easier than ever to fall in love with the adventures other people are having. Sometimes I feel like a slave to scrolling through my favourite accounts and watching strangers’ stories, gazing in at their lives on the road, living out of the back of vans, or photographing the most beautiful places that the world has to offer. Of course, I know our world’s aren’t necessarily how we portray them to other people, and with big lifestyle companies using Instagram to promote their gear, it’s difficult to tell how much of other people is staged for the sake of selling a product and a way of life and how much is a choice of the individual. But to an extent what’s the harm in me looking at a person and thinking, yes, that’s exactly what I want to do with my life, that’s going to be me in a couple of years, with my van and my dogs and a good camera. If nothing else, social media is doing a brilliant job of inspiring adventure. Continue reading “204. There’s adventurous living and there’s adventurous living.”
Amongst many of my friends, even those that live in Asia, a trip to Taiwan has merited only a brief few days in Taipei. For those that have stayed a little longer, the whispers of Tainan’s charm has drawn them to venture south and explore this incredible city.
Tainan’s history is an interesting one and this accounts for a lot of its architecture. It was occupied by the Dutch during the 1600s and was once the capital of this little island, before the Japanese moved it to Taipei. As such, walking down its streets can equate to walking down a long road from China, to Japan and then to Holland. Expats tend to fall in love with this city, myself included, because of its rich cultural heritage, its beautiful temples and its seemingly forever sunny weather.
But there is one other thing that attracts locals and expats alike to this city and that’s quite simply the food. Tainan is rumoured to have the best food in Taiwan and the sweetest food throughout the whole of Asia. In fact, Tainan’s occupants hold the prize for the highest rate of diabetes in the whole of Taiwan and once you have a chopstickful of anything on any given street, you’ll immediately understand why. In fact, I have multiple friends dotted around Taiwan originally from Tainan and upon telling them I was going, the first thing every one of them did was send me a list of things to eat and where to find them. Continue reading “Tainan 台南”
A few months ago, when my friend and I were wandering around Taipei, an older woman stopped us in our tracks and started jabbering away in Chinese. At the time, my Chinese was pretty dire, but I was pretty impressed to have managed to maintain a twenty minute conversation with her where we both had a vague idea about what the other was talking about. The conversation ended with her asking for my number, which I not so hesitantly handed over in the hope that I would then be able to get a little bit more Chinese practice in.