Picture this. 3400m or so high in a lodge on the slopes of Yushan, Taiwan’s highest peak, braving the torrential rain and freezing temperatures sit two wholly unprepared foreigners. Whilst they sit sporting every layer they own that isn’t wet, a kind local wanders over and places two glasses of homemade port on the table to warm their bones. Sorted.
I left the UK over two years ago but it feels as though I was waving goodbye to my Mum in Manchester airport security only yesterday. In those fleeting two years, I’ve had some of the most incredible adventures with some truly beautiful people and I can honestly say I’ve become a better, stronger, happier and more me version of myself than I have ever been. I’m sitting here today realising that in exactly three weeks, I’ll be on a plane heading back to the motherland, and as such I find myself to be this walking mess of excitement, the deep stomach butterfly kind of dread and, most prominently, sadness. Continue reading “245. Say you’re sad.”
I’ve never really been too bothered about Halloween. It all seems a little bit too commercialised and, if nothing else, far too American for me to willingly jump on board with. But, when you get to spend your Halloween with Taiwanese kids, you might change your tune pretty quickly. There are few things that are cuter and I’ve never seen any group of people quite so excited about the idea. Continue reading “244. Halloween is best celebrated with little Taiwanese kids.”
There are certainly things in life that I recognise that I am good at and bad at – certain characteristics I attribute to myself. I’ll begin by saying that a runner is not one of them. I am certainly not a runner. I’ve always been relatively into sports and I’m certainly very outdoorsy, but running has always struck me as being very boring, not to mention something that my body is definitely not designed for. I stand by those points. Continue reading “243. You can do anything you set your mind to.”
Pretty much the only way to get yourself around Cambodia, without having to hop on and off overpriced aeroplanes, is to take the bus. Let me tell you now that Cambodia is not the smallest of places, nor the most developed, and therefore getting from A to B can take a lot of time and a lot of energy. Continue reading “242. Sleeper buses are the one.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
You know what, if you’ve put in the graft then show off the result. I’ve been learning Chinese for about ten months now, with some time off here and there, and my Chinese is starting to get pretty decent. In the past, with learning languages, I’ve been a bit shy with talking to people at times, but Chinese hasn’t been the same – possibly because it’s entirely off my own back that I find myself studying it.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been in Vietnam and Cambodia, where, it turns out, there are quite a lot of Chinese people currently visiting. Instead of shying away from conversations, my friend and I were quick to initiate them, pretty much as soon as we met people who could speak Chinese. It’s so cool to impress people with your limited knowledge.
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.”