241. Do stumble on the best banh mi shop in the whole of Ho Chi Minh.

There are some places in life where joining the back of a queue is not worth your while. For example, if you’re in a Taiwanese night market. I learnt pretty quickly that just because the Taiwanese think it’s amazing, doesn’t mean I will too – I’m talking about you stinky tofu. But there are occasions where jumping on the bandwagon pays off.  Continue reading “241. Do stumble on the best banh mi shop in the whole of Ho Chi Minh.”

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240. Cambodia is beautiful.

So here comes the biggest understatement of the century – Cambodia is incredibly beautiful. I’ve spent the last two years in Asia, I’ve seen some stunning places, done some brilliant things and I’ve only ever been moved by a country and its people in one other place besides Cambodia, the country which I now call my home – Taiwan.

Cambodia is full of stunning scenery, ancient temples, endless rice paddies and more sky than I’ve even seen in my life. But, the most beautiful thing about this place dwarfs any natural beauty of the landscape – its people. The Khmer people are some of the kindest and most humble I have ever met and there’s something truly touching about their way of life. Continue reading “240. Cambodia is beautiful.”

239. Help those even more disorganised than yourself.

I have grown to consider myself average to below average when it comes to the organisation spectrum. It isn’t my forte and I’m led to believe, from personal experience, that bumbling through life with very few plans leads to very little trouble when it comes down to it. It led me to Hong Kong, to Taiwan, up mountains and under waterfalls. I can’t complain. Sure, could that have all happened a little more smoothly, maybe, but where’s the fun in smooth sailing all the time? I also like to think that I have a good enough head on my shoulders to know how to get myself out of most sticky situations that I land myself in due to my lack of rehearsed organisation – but only time will prove me wrong.  Continue reading “239. Help those even more disorganised than yourself.”

237. It’s okay to walk around Angkor Wat shouting ‘Parkour’ even though you can’t do parkour.

Walking around ancient temples is kind of like seeing untouched snow, you simply have to run around in it. Once you move away from the main temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, things start to resemble more of a fairytale, or perhaps more of a playground. Nature starts to claw it back. Tree roots start intertwining with carefully carved rocks and once huge, magnificent structures grow moss and crumble. It’s everything you imagine when you’re younger and wrapped up in a fairytale world within your head. As a result, once you find yourself alone wandering around temples your childish spirit starts to take over. Our trip around a couple of those temples, was just a series of me shouting parkour and wishing that I could do a backflip.  Continue reading “237. It’s okay to walk around Angkor Wat shouting ‘Parkour’ even though you can’t do parkour.”

236. Do get up at sunrise and see Angkor Wat.

If you’ve heard anything about Cambodia, it’ll most likely be surrounding its most prized world heritage site, Angkor Wat. Let me start by telling you that it’s beautiful and awe inspiring, there’s no doubt about that one, but it is certainly not the most beautiful thing in Cambodia – I’ll save that for a later post. Continue reading “236. Do get up at sunrise and see Angkor Wat.”

235. If Taiwan teaches you anything, it’s how to deal with the roads of Vietnam. 

Taiwan’s roads can be a little bit touch and go at times but they’re nothing compared to the situation in Vietnam. We’re talking scooters literally everywhere, in each and every direction. It’s been over a year since I was last in Vietnam and in that’s time I’ve, for the most part, been in Taiwan, actively engaging in the scooter frenzy of Asia. Taiwan’s roads were terrifying at first, truly terrifying, and then they got more so once I got a scooter. Now I find the whole thing relatively simple – you just have to factor in every possible crazy situation into your reflexes because the chances are that every single one of them is going to happen within a twenty minute period. 

That outlook seems to have worked quite successfully after my first day back in Vietnam as I haven’t ended up being one of those tourists that waits for ages at the side of the road hoping that someone will eventually let them cross with their life in tact. That outlook simply doesn’t wash in Vietnam, you either go or you wait forever. 

234. You can always count on the locals in Taiwan.

I’ve said it time and time again, but Taiwan genuinely might be one of the friendliest places on earth. If you’re lost, people will help you; if you’re hungry, they’ll feed you and if you’re looking for a waterfall in the jungle, then they’re sure to show you how to get there. And so begins this story.. Continue reading “234. You can always count on the locals in Taiwan.”

232. Visit Penghu (澎湖)

Taiwan is still one of those places, thankfully, that tourists haven’t dug their feet into just yet. It’s filled with people who see foreigners and want to help you, places that aren’t too concentrated with touristy rubbish, and a culture that is still rich and evident on every street corner. I have a feeling sometime in the next few years, people will start realising what an amazing place it is and it’ll have a lot more tourists to contend with, so I’m taking full advantage before that happens. Continue reading “232. Visit Penghu (澎湖)”

231. Be grateful that you can swim.

I can’t remember the age at which I was first put in the water to learn how to swim. The only swimming lessons I remember are not enjoying learning how to do a forward roll because the water went up my nose, treading water for two hours whilst waiting for my brothers swimming lesson to end because I couldn’t be bothered to swim lengths and finally not being able to climb out of a lake onto a pontoon one time. That’s all the memories of swimming lessons I have. I wouldn’t call myself an especially talented swimmer, and I don’t fancy my strength against big waves, as most sane people don’t, but I feel pretty comfortable in most water.  Continue reading “231. Be grateful that you can swim.”

230. Kids will ask you surprising questions.

Right now, I’m an English teacher in Taiwan – I have no complaints. Every day many things happen that put a smile on my face and I can hand on heart say that I love to hang out with 7 year olds.

These past few weeks, over the summer holidays, I’ve taken on some summer classes, teaching even younger kids English and getting to experience their first doses of the language. Over those six weeks, one particular moment was my favourite, where a six year old, incredibly cute Taiwanese kid called Hank wanders up to me in the middle of class (which he has been in for the last four weeks and where we only speak English wherever possible) and he asks me 老師, 你聽得懂英文嗎?(lao shi ,ni ting de dong yingwen ma?), which means, for those of you that don’t speak a little Chinese – ‘Teacher, do you understand English?’. To which I replied, in English, ‘Yes. Yes I do Hank’, at which point he wanders off again looking content with having cleared that difficulty up.