Two Thousand and Thirteen, farewell.

Dear Two Thousand and Thirteen,

I wish I could say you were a walk in the park that was sprinkled with sweet-smelling blossoms, sunlight peeking through the branches and warming up my freckled skin, or a tall, dark and handsome lover that seduced me under the stars with a picnic of delight, but Two Thousand and Thirteen you were more of a hike in the snow with a sharp wind that tested my balance every time I reached your peaks, dotted with an unstoppable rain without the quirky kisses. You were ready to throw me off course at any given chance, and you did- over and over again.

I’m not defeated that easily though.

I decided to give you one last chance on your last day before Two Thousand and Fourteen came and took over. I climbed one last peak, known to the masses as Ellie Mountain. As I got higher and higher, your sunshine got brighter and brighter and I realised how far I’d come (literally speaking, that was a lot of stairs, and of course, without trying to be clichéd, I have most definitely grown and matured over the past 12 months). I packed my suitcase far too many times this year, said numerous goodbyes- only to return a few months later, got my heart a little broken, repaired said broken heart, spent what seems like the entire year trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, all the while growing more and more positive throughout all of the confusion and haze that seemed to attach itself to me continually.

Sometimes I think I must be crazy to be so content without any kind of master plan, without the stability that we all so badly seem to crave, and yet the minute we do have it we’re ready to throw it all away for some spontaneous adventure. Actually, even if I did seem to fall into a never-ending maze of uncertainty in 2013, I had a darn good time trying to find my way. I wasn’t looking for the exit or entrance or whatever you want to call it; I was just meandering through the twists and turns of everyday life. I let those curve-balls fly smack bang into my little life and then I threw them right back where they came from. I embraced the unknown and I cried a lot, but mostly I laughed and admitted, that, yes, this year I have absolutely NO idea what I’m doing, but it’ll figure itself out, it always does. And it did. And now I can look back on what was, yet again, another fantastically, fateful year full of extreme emotions, ridiculously fun adventures, challenges that pushed me to the max and memories spent with friends and family that I will cherish forever.

Life is a pretty funny journey, but I wouldn’t change mine for the world.

Two Thousand and Thirteen, let’s not forget the time we…

*Brought in the new year and ended the old year on the same street in our beloved Taipei with some of the bestest friends from our sweet days spent in Taiwan, whilst watching fireworks in a whole array of colours come flying out of the majestic 101 to shower luck on us for the coming year.

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*Cycled around a bend in South Africa to come face to face with six elegant giraffes.

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*Plucked up the courage to approach Lomography Taiwan about a possible internship all in Chinese!

*Started to dream in Chinese and forgot how to speak English properly…

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*Took an overnight train to Green Island and fell asleep on a harbour wall, awakening to sunrise on our faces.

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*Partied so hard with amazing friends the police had to come and tell us to be quiet…in Taiwan.

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*Dressed up as Minnie Mouse and danced through the streets of Edinburgh.

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*Celebrated my birthday ceilidh-dancing with the most special friends from far-away lands.

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*Spent a day searching for Nessie and faeries with a friend from days gone by.

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*Played Bridesmaid to my best friend and laughed, cried and smiled all day from happiness.

*Frolicked around London town and attended my first, magical bilingual wedding.

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*Road-tripped around Portugal, getting lost in the tiniest, cutest villages with my beautiful, hilarious family.

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*Landed back in Taiwan in the rain and spent a wonderful, strange month job-searching, cycling around mysterious alleyways, and eating some of the most delicious food you could dream of.

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*Put on my brave face and flew to Hong Kong to start an internship with Lomography Asia.

*Hiked, camped and laughed until I ached.

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*Started my Luna’s Letters project. (Stories to follow…).

*Took a little trip down the memory lane of China, and loved it!

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*Manoeuvred the city like a boss, embracing the glittering skyscrapers, the cows on the rolling hills by the sparkling ocean and the new Cantonese tongue.

*Learned a bit more about what I want from life, and what I don’t want. (I’m a simple creature really.)

*Flew back to the beloved Taiwan to spend another Christmas and New Year with some of my favourite people in one of my most favourite places on the planet. (Blog post to follow).

*Realised how cyclical my life is. I even wrote my 2012 round-up post on the exact same day last year…take a peek.

That pretty much sums up this delightful life; the world’s a’turning and so are we, around and around and around. And you know what? I like it like that!

Love,

Luna

A Four Year Friendship with an Angel

It’s funny the way friendships can begin. I still remember it so clearly. It was 2009 and I was doing a 6 month exchange programme at Jinan University in Guangzhou, China. It was my second week in China and everything was overwhelming. I can’t explain what it feels like to be a newbie in China, especially a 22 year old foreign exchange student who has the Chinese vocabulary of a 1 year old and is missing everything that isn’t with her in China, namely her boyfriend and all her friends from Rhodes University. Thus, it was on a hot and humid day in September that I stepped into the lift and tried to wipe away my tears of frustration before I reached the 9th floor and had to explain (yet again) to my Korean roommate why I was crying (again). I didn’t even notice that there was anyone else in the lift with me until a sweet voice appeared out of nowhere…

“Hi, my name’s Angel, I think we have an English Literature class together.”

Out of thin air, what would become my guardian Angel during my time in China, just appeared. And of course her name would be Angel.

We quickly became close friends, and throughout my six months in Guangzhou we embarked on many an adventure together. She took me to Hong Kong when we had our first week off from classes and I experienced the city for the very first time from a local. We traveled across south China on a night train to Yangshuo and spent an amazing week cycling around the countryside with her boyfriend Benson and eating all kinds of delicious food. We spent Christmas eve together in 2009 and I even got the chance to visit her Chinese hometown of Huizhou.

When it came to say goodbye in January 2010 we both cried and had no idea when we’d be able to hang out again. Luckily for us, in August 2010 I decided to move back to China and as soon as I arrived in Hong Kong we went for dumplings and I stayed with her family for a few days.

I didn’t see her again for a while, despite now living very close. Actually it was by sheer coincidence that in May 2011 when I was partying with two of my best friends who were visiting China, that I bumped into her on the street in Hong Kong’s party central. This fateful encounter rekindled our friendship and after that we saw each other every couple of months, either in Hong Kong where she lives or in Shenzhen where I was living at the time.

I moved to Taiwan in August 2012 and during the 9 months that I lived there she came to visit twice and we traveled to many places on that magical island together and had such a ridiculously fun time.

Now I’m living in Hong Kong and as soon as I landed, she picked me up from the bus stop and instantly made me feel at home. It’s so good to live in the same city as her and be able to have dinner together on work nights or have a weekend day out, such as last Sunday’s Clockenflap music festival. Yesterday it was her birthday and I’d like to dedicate this post to our friendship that continues to blossom no matter the distance or years that go by. Tonight we ate dinner at my apartment and it felt so great to have such a close friend who’s seen me grow and go through so many changes over the past four years, and vice versa, actually be living in the same place as me. There’s nothing quite like catching up with an old friend over a cup of green tea and a big bar of chocolate to make you feel at home.

Angel, thank you for being such a loyal, kind, fun-loving friend! I am so grateful to have you in my life and to be able to experience living in the same city as you again! Here’s to many more fun, spontaneous adventures in the future of our friendship! Who know’s where the next step of our journey might take us?!

8433_188355155099_7984755_n Cycling around Yangshuo in China. One of my best memories from my days in China.

10029_173838431417_2931557_n First time in Hong Kong ever!

10836_194664841417_2350931_n In our element. Chilling in rural China.

19948_289129476417_992535_n Making pottery in Angel’s hometown.

19948_289151661417_352473_n Classmates!

19948_289151801417_4633086_nChristmas 2009!

59388_473523221417_6464949_nAt the Big Buddha in Hong Kong, 2010.

249971_10150269512121418_666757_nOur fateful encounter in Lan Kwai Fong, 2011.

309772_10150383436725100_49524793_n Shenzhen, 2011.

417718_10150723664445100_1255001464_nHong Kong Lomography Store, 2012. Funny, that’s where I work now!!

599287_10151016664790100_1624644322_nThe Jezabels concert 2012, just before I left Hong Kong!

430909_10151344904035100_1674095859_n Reunited in Taiwan, Christmas 2012

538620_10151354256885100_516120348_n We are pretty awesome!

543965_10151354237070100_155438151_nGrandpa Rainbow’s Village in Taichung, 2012

282941_10151354251525100_292244586_nStrawberry picking in Taiwan.

602705_10151354269920100_241653260_n Watching the most spectacular sunset above the clouds at Alishan.

1454905_10152024077190100_1480318065_nAnother sunset! This time at Clockenflap music festival in Hong Kong, 2013 (last Sunday).

Wow, talk about a trip down nostalgia lane! Angel and I certainly have some freaking amazing memories, and these are only a handful! Here’s to the memories to come!

Clockenflap 2013

Last weekend, Hong Kong’s largest Music & Arts Festival- Clockenflap took place right on the water overlooking the epic Hong Kong Island skyline. With a line-up including the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Chic, Cui Jian (Chinese rock legend!), Metric, 2Manydjs as well as many other fantastic bands, it was definitely a weekend people have been excited about for months! Clockenflap used to actually be free. I remember back in 2011 all you had to do was register online and wait to see if you got tickets. I did, but unfortunately they went to my junk inbox and I didn’t check it that week, so I missed out big time. Anyway, this year’s festival was a weekend of perfect weather, magical music, delicious cider, a whole range of different food stalls to choose from and thee most unique festival location I’ve ever experienced. I can’t quite explain the feeling you get when you’re watching one of your favourite bands playing (Metric) and the sun is setting over the glittering city and you’re just dancing around in a huge crowd of happy people; it’s really something special.

When Tegan and Sara were performing, in between songs they admitted that the night before they’d been a little drunk and had told everyone they saw that they were planning on moving to Hong Kong because it’s just so freaking beautiful. They woke up in the morning and had google maps open on their browser with neighbourhoods pinpointed that’d they like to live in. That’s the kind of thing I do and I was pretty happy to discover I’m not the only crazy dreamer out there.

The photos don’t really do the day I spent at Clockenflap justice, so you should probably make a little trip to Hong Kong next year and go along and see this surreal beauty of a festival for yourselves!

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p.s I’d just like to add that this is supposed to be Winter in Hong Kong. I know, I know, we are very lucky!

Love,

Luna

Check out this song by the Danish band Efterklang. I saw them play at the festival and I was pretty impressed. That’s probably because they announced their love for Taiwan after playing a gig in Taipei the night before. They even threw gifts from Taipei into the crowd. I may have screamed like a girl…It’s the Taiwan love, I just can’t help it. Thus, not only is their music brilliant, they also love Taiwan. We’re best friends already.

Cheung Chau Island 長洲島

When I woke up on Saturday morning to a sunbeam shining on my face through the gap in my clumsily-pulled across curtains, I knew it was a day for an island adventure. Living in Hong Kong is pretty amazing because whenever the urge takes you, you can jump on a boat and be washed up on an island within 20 minutes. Thus, after letting what can only be described as a pre-pubescent teenager cut my hair (let’s just say he was a stranger to scissors before Saturday), I dashed off to the ferry terminal to jump aboard the next boat to Cheung Chau island.

25 minutes later I found myself on a swarming harbour-front. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the big M for McDonalds, the 7/11 sign flashing in my peripheral…this was not what I’d been expecting. I imagined a sleepy little fishing village, no tourists in sight. I was wrong, but I had an idea. I scouted the horizon for a clearing and made my escape. I found a bicycle rental shop, picked the prettiest purple one I could find, complete with teapot shaped bell, and made a beeline for anywhere without people. Pretty soon I was riding downhill, the chilly winter air slipping through the wool in my jumper, my new haircut the epitome of windswept. I spotted a patch of sparkling sand and smiled to myself at being so clever for knowing that if I just cycled 5 minutes away from the crowds, I’d find my slice of paradise.

I spent the rest of the late afternoon cycling and carrying my bicycle uphill to all the look-out points. Let me tell you, this island is BEYOND BEAUTIFUL. Standing at the tip of the north look-out pagoda and seeing the Hong Kong skyline behind you, while down below fisherman go about their simple day, and farmers potter about on the land, that is how I want to spend every Saturday. Once again, I realised how much my heart beats countryside. The smell of cut grass mixed with incense and freshly-caught fish, meddling with the salt of the ocean and a hint of suntan lotion, that is what Cheung Chau smells like.

I cycled long after the sky had turned pink, as the smell of BBQ’d seafood started to blow through the lanes and the ukuleles came out to play. I ate fish balls on sticks and red bean buns sealed with a lucky red stamp and chose apartments that I’d like to live in if I could move to such an island. There was a feeling of community that must have settled over the island many years ago, that still lingered in the old, crooked alleyways.

I certainly wouldn’t mind living somewhere so special. As the sun was setting, I caught an older lady taking photos of me sitting on the rocks. I went to collect my bicycle from the path and we started to chat in Mandarin. We walked back to the village together with her dog and she even carried my bag up the hundred steps as I struggled with my bicycle. She was so friendly, and it made such a nice change getting to chat to a stranger which doesn’t often happen in my daily life in Hong Kong, at least not on such a personal basis. I even made friends with a group of teenagers who helped me tie up my bicycle to theirs while we went to look at some cave that pirates used to frequent!

Island people are really quite lovely. I think it’s all the fresh sea air and lack of traffic. If only we could all live like that…

Cheung Chau, I can’t wait to visit you again.

Love,

Luna

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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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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…

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Love,

Luna.

 

freshly-peeled oranges, Cantonese and a cackle.

Every time I enter the building the fan blows cool, soothing ‘you’re home’ air directly onto my face, tangling my hair and letting it stick to my strawberry lips. As I peel my hair back, the security guard always greets me with a real smile. Sometimes he sings and silently sways along with the drone of the fan. I like him. He’s one of the most down-to-earth souls I’ve met in this new land so far and he keeps me feeling positive.

Actually, all of the security guards in this city seem to be genuinely lovely. In the first building I stayed in they would wave to me morning and night and say ‘hello miss’, ‘goodnight miss’. When I moved to dingier quarters, the security guy smelled like freshly-peeled oranges and he replied to my Mandarin with Cantonese and a cackle. Those were both short, but sweet friendships.

In my office building there are two men. One is very tall and one is very small. They both bid me farewell in unison and we always share a group smile. Their energy levels never dwindle, even under the moonlight, and this is why I have a soft spot for them.

It’s the people in a city that give my life continuity and meaning. I don’t live by the rhythms of the forever-changing cityscapes, the towering skyscrapers that seem to jump out on a daily basis; I live according to the rhythms of people that surround me. I am still fairly new here so I haven’t quite got to grips with it all yet, but there is definitely a string of familiarity in my everyday. Today the lady I buy breakfast from tried to get me to buy a different flavoured bun. Being a creature of habit, this upset me a little. I just want two red bean buns every morning, nothing more, nothing less. Perhaps in Hong Kong people mix things up a bit more. Even my juice lady threw some cabbage into my orange juice last week because she said ‘oh, try something new, girl.’

In Guangzhou I’d ride the metro with the same people everyday and eventually we’d share a ‘good morning smile’ and look out for each other when we were shoved on or off the train by the morning-rush. In Shenzhen, without a doubt, I’d buy a newspaper from the skinny, happy man with funny, quirky teeth, and immediately after I’d go to the next stall for my daily vitamin water. I’d feel bad if I bought from anyone else but that gentle, old man who slightly resembled my Grandad. I became really close to the lady I bought juice from in Shenzhen, so much so that when I left China, she gave me blue roses along with my last juice.

I think it’s important to have some kind of small friendship with the people you see on a daily basis. They are the ones who see you every single day and even though you might regard them as ‘strangers’, actually they are still a part of your life. I shudder at the thought of living in a place where I never learn my neighbours names, or the habits of the old people on the block. I want to be able to greet the security guards by name and ask about their lives. I want to buy my fruit from the same lady everyday and get to know her. Just exchanging coins and a few fake niceties isn’t enough.

In Taiwan I think I befriended everyone. One particular place stands out for me, that of a Taiwanese restaurant in Yong Kang Jie. I would go there quite frequently with my classmates so it was only natural that the waitresses would begin to remember me. Infact, when I went back this Autumn, one of the older ladies who works there ran up to me and told me how much she’d missed me. I was so touched. It’d been three months and with the influx of foreigners who come to Taipei to learn Chinese, I thought surely she’d have forgotten me. Anyway, one day during the Chinese New Year festival, I was eating in that restaurant. I ran down the stairs as I realised I was going to miss my train to the lantern town. I tripped on the bottom step and the heel of my boot went flying off. I wobbled back to a stance and red-faced, made for the door. The kitchen is all open-plan and I was standing right in the middle of it. Suddenly, all the chefs stopped working and came running over. They pulled up a little crooked stool for me and sat me down. They proceeded to pull out their tool-box to try and screw my heel back on. One chef started hammering a gigantic rusty nail into my boot and the other chefs screamed at him. They thought it would go straight through to my foot. Another younger chef whipped out an industrial-sized bottle of super-glue and glued my heel back on. It worked! There were honestly about 8 chefs standing around trying to help. They stopped their work to help me glue my heel back on. Something so small and yet there they were, straight to my rescue. It amazed me.

That’s what I’m talking about here. I want to be friends with these people. If they play a part in my daily life, no matter how small, then they are not strangers. I think that’s one of the keys to maneuvering a big city life. Who knows what kind of memorable friendships might blossom.

I don’t know if any of the people I’ve written about here, or any of the other numerous souls that I think of fondly from time to time, still think of me, or if they even noticed me in the first place, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I am so grateful to them for colouring my life a shade brighter and making my everyday in these cities feel a bit more like ‘home.’

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