謝謝 day and feeling grateful

Two years ago I had my first encounter with Thanksgiving. A bunch of work colleagues and I went to an Irish American pub in China and arrived 30minutes after they started serving dinner. Much to our surprise, they’d sold out of turkey, well, all but one plate of it. Thus, more than 10 of us dug into one little plate of turkey with all the trimmings. Even though we were starving, I guess that’s what Thanksgiving is all about, right? Sharing a meal with close friends. It was certainly a memorable first one.

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That year, Coldstone Creamery more than made up for it.

Then, last year, seeing as one of my best friends in Taiwan is American, we went all out. I’m talking the whole works- turkey up to my eyeballs, enough plates to feed all my colleagues from the year before, and then there was the dessert eating contest which resulted in me being put to bed with an overdose of Pepto Bismal. That’s right, we celebrated buffet style at The Grand Hyatt. Now that I think about it, I’m actually still full from that meal, so it doesn’t really matter that I’m missing out this year.

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I did, however, eat chicken with apple sauce and rice today, so I guess that kind of counts. And my new colleagues and I went around the table and said what we were thankful for. I’m actually thankful for everything! Especially my friends and family (awww) and all the new friends I’ve had the chance to meet and get to know throughout this year. Here are a few moments from the past year I feel thankful for…I don’t actually know if this is how Thanksgiving works…American friends, what am I supposed to do?

Well I’ll just share a few photos of friends and memories I’m thankful for (these are in no chronological order whatsoever):

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There are SO many more moments and friends, but I don’t want to overdo it in one post. Plus, everyday should be a day you’re thankful for things. I guess my final thing I’m thankful for is having the chance to experience working at Lomography Asia as it’s something I said I’ve wanted to do ever since I discovered Lomo.

Happy Thanksgiving American friends!

Rereading ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’

Muriel Barbery’s ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’ is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. Back in 2010 when I first read it I remember having a continual smile on my face for the three days or so that it took me to finish it from start to end. That may have had something to do with the fact that one of my best friends lent it to me, and thus it arrived filled with her signature scribblings in the margin and the typical nutella chocolate stain or two. Not only is the story itself bursting full of enlightened thoughts and philosophical characters, the pages too are brimming full of handwritten notes from a friend who floats through life on a very similar wave-length to me.

Now, three years older (and wiser?!), the book reads slightly differently. I can’t help but feel that my positivity is more on par with the characters in the book now, whereas before maybe I didn’t fully understand everything I read. This second time around there are messages shooting out left, right and centre at me and I feel I have to bookmark every page for a later date.

I don’t want to give any of the book away, as the words are such a treat to digest, and I most certainly won’t do them justice; rather, read it for yourself. It’s an easy read, with a very simple plot, and yet the issues brought up in the book are quite complex. Thanks to the whimsical, poetic prose though, it flows very easily and will honestly leave you grinning and feeling lighter, if only due to the dramatic nature of the younger protagonist (but trust me, she’s still a wise one).

I just want to share a few of my favourite snippets from the book and if you like what you read you can go buy yourself a copy and let me know what you think! Maybe we can start a ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’ fan group…!

“Tea and manga instead of coffee and newspapers: something elegant and enchanting, instead of adult power-struggles and their sad aggressiveness.”

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Image source: Lovely Elika

“When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?”

“Art is life, playing to other rhythms.”

“This pause in time, within time…When did I first experience the exquisite sense of surrender that is possible only with another person? The peace of mind one experiences on one’s own, one’s certainty of self in the serenity of solitude are nothing in comparison to the release and openness and fluency one shares with another, in close companionship…”

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Now, if you’ll excuse me, I still have a few more chapters left…

If you have any book recommendations, please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear what books are floating your boat right now. Thank you!

Love,

Luna

p.s Apparently there is a movie version?! Has anyone seen it? Is it any good?

Luna’s Letters

Cities can be pretty chaotic places. People come and go and sometimes it can be difficult to establish a real sense of community. I’m not entirely sure how long Hong Kong is going to be my temporary home but while I’m here I definitely want to make the most of it. Last week whilst discussing creative project ideas with my colleague, she told me about how when she lived in Vienna she would leave her old Lomo photos scattered around the city for strangers to find. I thought this was such a sweet idea and have decided to do something similar.

Luna’s letters is going to be my little project for the next month, right up until Christmas. I am writing one short letter a day, in both English and Chinese, and leaving them dotted around the city for a city-goer to pick up and hopefully in return, make them smile. I started it yesterday and left my first letter on the corner of Sun Street and Moon Street. Five minutes after I left it tucked under a candle on a table outside a closed cafe, it started to pour with rain! I sincerely hope my letter was sheltered enough to still be readable if anyone found it. I left a hashtag of ‘lunasletters’ at the bottom so that if someone finds it and wants to share it they can easily upload it to instagram.

I just want to remind people to stop and cherish the little things in life once in a while. Today I left my letter slipped under a bar of 99% cocoa Lindt chocolate. If Lindt lovers are anything like me, they’ll instantly pick up the letter and the chocolate and head straight for the till before popping home to read the letter, simultaneously delving into their sweet treat.

I’m probably being naive. My letters will probably get washed away or swept into the gutters by a street sweeper. I’m going to keep being optimistic though. Tomorrow I’m leaving one in Tai Hang- my new favourite area in the city, and then on Wednesday my roommate is going to leave one on the train back to China. Thursday I’m thinking the tram and Friday I’ll leave it at a concert I’m going to.

It’s kind of fun to imagine the people who might find my notes and maybe, just maybe, I can make one or two people feel a little bit excited by this mysterious bilingual letter they’re holding in their hands.

good morning you

another week of whimsy

Where does time fly to? Another Monday evening, another week of adventure gone by and slowly but surely, this city is growing on me. I’m starting to flow more with it’s crazy pace, I’m starting to keep up and I’m beginning to enjoy it. I even think my little Mandarin ear is starting to understand Cantonese- it’s like a whole new world has opened up!

Last week was really quite lovely. Autumn finally arrived, and with it brought deliciously crisp days with a sprinkling of fresh ocean breeze. I received my first package from Snail Mail Collective which you can read more about here. Basically you sign up and get given a penpal from across the globe. I haven’t had a random penpal since I was like 10 years old, so it was pretty cool to get to know a new blogger and send her a little package. I was paired with Heather who blogs here and she sent me this lovely package which you can see below. I absolutely love the notebooks which are perfect for carrying around in my bag and for quickly jotting down any moments of inspiration. Also, the sweets…yeah, I’ve already finished them. They were very yummy! Thank you Heather! I definitely recommend Snail Mail Collective to people who enjoy getting to know other like-minded people, and in the process getting the chance to send and receive a package. You can’t beat real snail mail!

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I ate a lot of dim-sum last week. It’s just so good. It’s one of the many things that I’m loving about being back in the Southern China and Hong Kong region. I love sitting around a big table and sharing little bamboo nests of petite goodness with my work buddies. Sometimes I haven’t got a clue what it actually is that I’m inserting into my mouth with my twitchy chopsticks, but that’s part of the fun of it I guess. I still won’t eat chicken feet though. There’s just something about nibbling on a claw with a sharp toenail that FREAKS me out. It’s just skin anyway, there’s no meat whatsoever. No thank you.

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IMG_20131122_233250 I then had the most delightful weekend! Italian food with some friends from South Africa. Actually, the first girl I ever met at Rhodes University now lives in Hong Kong too, so it’s been very nice catching up with her and meeting her friends who I seem to have already met through other mutual friends. Rhodes University: it’s a small place; everyone knows everyone. I then went hiking on the Pat Sin Leng trail with two of my best friends from China days. It felt so good to be wandering along the trail, inhaling the sweetest, nature-infused air, to be glancing at the ocean on one side and to be getting my hair caught in twigs on the other. I always feel lighter when I’m deep in nature, as if I’m home in Scotland and can breathe properly again. I feel so lucky that Hong Kong offers the best of both worlds. Funnily enough, right in the middle of the trail we bumped into a lady out for a hike with her dogs and I asked her for directions and straight away she was like Where in Scotland are you from? I was so excited to meet a fellow Scot high up on a Hong Kong trail. Once again, highlighting our small small world.

After the perfect hike, just reaching the road again as the moon rose, we headed back towards the city to the Christmas Garden in Shatin City Plaza. The colours weren’t the traditional Christmas reds and green, but I loved it. It was very chic and had a classical feel about it. I can’t believe it’s only 1 month until Christmas!

IMG_20131123_231509 You really wouldn’t know that Winter is upon us…

IMG_20131123_231634 While waiting for my friends to arrive, I took a wander around Tai Po Market station and ended up in a bustling fruit and veg market. Nestled right in the middle of the vendors, then tucked up a little alley was the cutest, dustiest little temple I’ve ever stumbled upon. There’s just something magical about the incense coils at temples in Hong Kong; the way the smoke billows up in swirls and settles in your hair, leaving you smelling spiritual long into the afternoon.

IMG_20131123_231753 Sunday brought another sunny day and I headed straight to Wan Chai for the rooftop market at The Pawn. The Pawn is actually one of the oldest 3 storey buildings in Hong Kong and back in the day it really was a pawn shop. Now it’s a bar and a restaurant with a gorgeous rooftop, perfect for a little Sunday market of cupcakes, wine and friends.

IMG_20131124_183147 IMG_20131124_183521 I had such fun exploring Wan Chai. In the past, I was a bit put off by the area due to the amount of sleazy guys that dominate Lockhart Road, but once you get away from that crazy debauchery and head up behind The Pawn you’ll stumble upon some dreamy streets which are actually called Sun Street, Moon Street and Star Street! To have Moon Street as an address, why that’s the dream right there. This area is built on a hill and is positively overflowing with vibes perfect for a sleepy Sunday. Little cafes and restaurants align the streets, squeezed in-between trendy boutiques and old laundromats. I certainly wouldn’t mind living there and being able to pop down to the tram line and come face to face with this beautiful multicoloured building that stands slap-bang in the middle of Wan Chai everyday.

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Another week of whimsy.

Love,

Luna

A Forgotten Film

Now that I’m working at Lomography again, it would be ridiculous not to make use of the discounted film processing. Last week I realised my Diana Mini had an old film in it from around a year ago. I decided to quickly finish it off at the weekend as I was so curious to see if any of the photos would turn out, seeing as it had been gathering dust on my bookshelf and had been carried halfway around the world and back again. I didn’t even remember that it was actually a black and white film inside. Now that I’ve gotten the photos back, I realised my little film started it’s journey in Taiwan, then went home to Scotland, then back to Taiwan again, then to Hong Kong and finally a little trip to Shenzhen. I think only half of the photos actually turned out, but I’m still quite happy with the ones that made it.

Here are a few snippets of my year spent with some special friends from all around the globe…

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Nostalgia is my middle name

Last weekend I took a trip back to Shenzhen in China, seeing as it’s just across the border from Hong Kong. Shenzhen is the city I lived in for a year and a half, and probably the place in my life that I changed and grew the most in. It’s the city I had my first proper full-time job in, in one of China’s biggest animation companies – Fantawild Animation. It’s the city that I dealt with heartbreak in, fell in love in, made big decisions in, multi-tasked a full-time job and studying in, and a city I just genuinely enjoyed living in, despite what people say about it being just another big Chinese city. Now, I am an extremely nostalgic person, but when I went back to visit I couldn’t help but feel that strong independence I used to feel there creeping back in and making me feel lighter. It’s a city filled with potential, filled with young entrepreneurs trying to make the most of their creative business ideas. It’s quite an exciting place to be and it’s changing and growing everyday.

I was happy to see that’s it developing in the right direction. They’ve now implemented a rent-a-bicycle scheme at main metro hubs, and I noticed more bike paths too. It seemed cleaner and greener, and less polluted. Infact, the sky was extremely blue.

But I was also a little nervous to enter China after having lived in my beloved Taiwan for the past year, but it seems my feelings haven’t changed. I still like China a lot. It’s very different to Taiwan, but it doesn’t make me like it any less. The opportunities in China are still very much thriving and I can’t help but feel that everyday in that crazy, cool country is one big adventure.

Here are a few pics of my trip back to Shenzhen:

IMG_20131116_182319 In China, I did voices for cartoons. I snuck back into the office on Saturday and left notes for my ex-colleagues to say ‘hi’.

IMG_20131116_183005 IMG_20131117_124017 This is the BEST Green Tea in the world, seriously.

IMG_20131117_124253 IMG_20131117_125127 Africa in China. Of course.

IMG_20131117_125246O.C.T. Loft, my favourite part of the city. It’s a big art district filled with cafes, creative working studios etc.

IMG_20131117_125510 IMG_20131117_152629 This is F518 Idea Land, another creative art district in Bao’An district. It’s also very cool.

IMG_20131117_153938 IMG_20131117_162339 IMG_20131117_213049 Old Heaven: my favourite cafe in the whole, entire world!

IMG_20131118_085542 IMG_20131118_184938 20131116_113512 20131116_113912 20131116_113928 20131116_114048 20131116_114116 20131116_114140 20131116_114430 20131116_114454 20131116_114535 20131116_124756 20131116_134034 20131116_141621 20131116_145449 20131116_16420020131117_150638It was so good to see my old haunts, hang out with my old friends and remind myself why I like China. It felt like everyone on the street was smiling, the sun was always shining and the little moments of chaos that I encountered, which are extremely common in Chinese cities, well, they’ve just inspired me to write stories in my head and turn them into hilarious tales to share with everyone.

China, we’re still good friends: 我還是喜歡你.

Love,

Luna.

Tang Yau Hoong

This morning I was searching for a Full Moon image seeing as I suddenly realised that I’d missed this week’s full moon, which occurred on Sunday. To be honest though, I knew. I mean what else could I blame my crazy emotions on this week?

Anyway, during this search process I stumbled upon this gorgeous Full Moon design by Tang Yau Hoong, a Malaysian visual artist/ graphic designer/ illustrator/ amazing all-round talented guy. He creates simple yet complicated designs, which is really quite similar to life in general. He is bursting with creative ideas and I urge you to check out his website, as well as his Facebook Page so that you, too, can enjoy his fantastical works.

Here are a few of my favourites, starting with the Full Moon design which sparked me to become his fan:

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Dawn-Tang-Yau-Hoong-500x500-wpf9be16b1936bdf1f936ef5b765c153d0Home-Tang-Yau-Hoong-500x500-wp Journey-to-the-city-of-no-horizon-Tang-Yau-Hoong-wp Moustacheville-Tang-Yau-Hoong-wp1 Well-Equipped Found-Anything-Yet-Tang-Yau-Hoong-wpAll of these images were sourced from Tang Yau Hoong’s website.

My deceiving tongue from Taiwan

By the end of the weekend I’d reached the stage where I was interspersing Chinese with English and switching between the two like some bilingual whizz kid, which, sadly, I am not. As we entered the lift, I noted the little girl with pigtails dancing in the corner and gave her a big smile. She reminded me of a little ‘me’, from years gone by. I turned back to my friend and continued to chat away animatedly in my newly-comfortable Chinese tongue. Halfway through our conversation, I felt a little tap on my back. I turned around and the little girl was beaming a wide, toothy grin back up at me.

“姐姐,我想問你一個問題” (Lady/Big Sister, I would like to ask you a question)

“好,你可以問“ (Sure, you can ask away)

“因為我跟我的爸爸一起聽你說中文, 我想問。。。你是外國人或是中國人?看起來,你是外國人,可是你說的時候,跟我一樣.”(Because my and my Dad heard you speaking Chinese, I want to ask…are you a foreigner or are you Chinese? It looks like you are a foreigner, but when you speak, you are the same as me.)

“那,你覺得呢?” (Well, what do you think?)

“我覺得你是中國人!!“ (I think you’re chinese!!)

With that, the lift had reached the ground floor and she slipped out of the doors with her chuckling father and ran into the sunshine.

I laughed. As someone who is no stranger to the continual “老外,老外“ (foreigner, foreigner) chant that ‘outsiders’ to this land face on a near daily basis, you eventually just learn to laugh it off and sooner or later it blends in with everything else, and becomes a natural part of your day.

This time however, my role in China was being challenged. What was I? An outsider or an insider? My tongue from Taiwan was deceiving these little ears and I could only take this as a compliment. It’s not often that a foreigner will be given such an exclusive role in such an inclusive society, and evidently this proved that my Chinese must have improved.

And after all the talk lately, of possibly having some smidgen of Chinese somewhere far back in the family tree- probably on the highest branch that fell to the tumbleweeds generations ago- perhaps her comment wasn’t so crazy after all.

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Escape from the City

A few weeks ago, when the city was beginning to take it’s toll, a few friends and I embarked on a little adventure to paradise. We traveled by MTR to Ma On Shan, then we took a taxi to the beginning of the magical trail near Sai Kung that would lead us to a secret beach. Never in my life have I hiked for two hours through a thick, fresh forest filled with curious, abandoned houses to reach a beach. Honestly, what shell have I been living under?! It was so much fun and mind-blowingly beautiful. With every corner that we turned, my squeals of enthusiasm got louder and by the end I was pretty much skipping above the ground. After three weeks of non-stop city life, what you see below was more than welcomed; I pretty much leaped into it’s arms and begged to stay…forever.

In between burying our feet deep in the sand and throwing ourselves in the ocean in all it’s tumultuous wave glory, we BBQ’d a whole chicken, fresh veggies, hot dogs and we even made s’mores under the moonlight. This was my first time to camp on the actual sand, with the sounds of the ocean lulling me to sleep (or rather not to sleep…seriously, how can a gigantic ocean be SO noisy?!). We saw a cow being chased by a dog, and whilst searching for wood for our fire (yoh, I sound like a real adventurer now) we saw a whole herd of cows grazing in the grassy meadows. We couldn’t have been further from the glittering city lights, and it felt good, really really good.

If you’d like more info about how to reach this slice of heavenly delight, feel free to email me or comment below and I’ll spill all the secrets on how to reach it. I can’t wait to go back. This is exactly why Hong Kong is starting to steal my heart. It’s not just a city of skyscrapers and sparkling lights; it’s filled with islands from storybooks and mountains and secret getaways galore. I’ve only just begun to discover it’s magnificence and I will continue to explore it until nothing remains to be explored.

Just look at these beauties…

IMG_5130 IMG_5133 IMG_5135 IMG_5136 IMG_5137IMG_5138 IMG_5140 IMG_5141 IMG_5144 IMG_5145 IMG_5149 IMG_5151 IMG_5153 IMG_5155I know, right?!

Love,

Luna.