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.

IMG_2254

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

F1180023

*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…

IMG_2264

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

F1070001

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

1011717_10151656732110218_339101273_n

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

IMG_20130616_174349

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

IMG_20130623_222906

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

IMG_20130722_185258

*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.

IMG_20130817_000132

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

IMG_20130823_090313

*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.

IMG_20130905_145814

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

*Hiked, camped and laughed until I ached.

IMG_20131027_172503

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

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

IMG_20131116_183005

*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 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…

R1-00 R1-01 R1-02 R1-04 R1-05 R1-06 R1-07 R1-09 R1-11 R1-13 R1-15 R1-16 R1-19 R1-20 R1-23 R1-24 R1-28

summery lomo love

This song by Yeasayer is amazing. It has been so hot recently that it really feels like the beginning of Summer. There are no Autumn leaves in sight and I’d rather eat mango ice for breakfast than have a cup of hot green tea, or anything remotely hot. The sand in my shoes is only just beginning to build up and my new freckles are starting quite the collection.

I thought I would share some summery Lomo photos with you while I wait for my recent films to be developed.

F1070002 F1070004 F1070009 F1070014 F1070029 F1250023 F1250026 F1250032 F1250037 F1250008 F1250014 F1250016 F1080017 F1080021 F1080013 CNV00007 CNV00011 CNV00018 CNV00033 CNV00034 CNV00035

There’s something about analogue photos that no editing programme or instagram, or any other kind of app can beat. Even if the quality of my photos is a little grainy, it’s a kind of grainy that I like. Everything just seems softer and dreamier, which kinds of sums up the past few months for me.

When was the last time you experimented with an analogue camera? You might be pleasantly surprised. Check out Lomography to get started. They have a camera to suit every personality and need. All of the above photos were taken with my LC-A+.

Dear Green Island 綠島, love Lomo and Luna

What is it about analogue photography? Every picture just seems so much more real, so much beauty is captured. I don’t even care that they’re a little grainy. Each one is so special because I had no idea what was being snapped, what light would leak in, or how they would turn out. The colours are saturated, but in no way do they change what it actually looked like in real life. It really was a bluer-than-blue sky, and the ocean really was that deep and sparkly.

I love using film. What do you think? Does it give you a different feeling from looking at a digital print? It makes me want to run out the door right this minute and experiment with double exposure. Infact that’s exactly what I’m going to do tomorrow.

Take a peek…

F1240003 F1240004 F1240006 F1240007 F1240008 F1240010 F1240011 F1240012 F1240013 F1240015 F1240017 F1240019 F1240020 F1240021 F1240022 F1240024 F1240025 F1240026 F1240027 F1240028 F1240030 F1240031 F1240034 F1240035 F1240036 F1240037 F1240038 F1240039

If you’d like to visit here, which I really recommend you do, here are a few travel tips:

Transport

* Firstly, take the train to Taitung 台東. You can pick up a really good deal using Taiwan’s TR Pass. We went for their 5 day pass for a bargain 599NT, which covered our return journey, saving us 400NT. The only downside with these passes is that you are only permitted to travel on the slowest trains and you don’t get a seat. Well, saying that, we had a seat the entire time. I recommend taking the night train from Taipei. You can snuggle down and wake up in Taitung at 4am, bright and early. And you’ll probably score a seat or two.

* Secondly, take a taxi from Taitung train station to the Fugang Harbour. It takes around 15minutes and if you arrive at 4am like we did, it will cost you 350NT, otherwise during the day it is 300NT.

* Thirdly, pick a good spot to make a nest. The first ferry is at 9.30am and well, you might as well make yourself comfortable. We chose the harbour wall and settled down, amongst the mosquitos, to watch the sunrise over the bay. It was very pretty, and before long we were passed out.

* Fourthly (wait, is that even a word), we bought our return ferry ticket- 900NT, and hopped aboard the first ferry- 9.30am. I warn you now, it is not a fun journey. If you are prone to sea-sickness, pleaseeee take a tablet. We had to deal with people vomiting all around us, and seriously that is the last thing you want to deal with after a night train and a harbour- wall bed. Luckily, the ferry is only around 50minutes, and truly it is worth it in the end. Alternatively you can fly on a mini 4 person plane from Taitung Airport. I hear it is around 1000NT one way. Up to you!

* Fifthly (yup, totally not a word), once you arrive on the island you will probably have dreams of hiring a scooter, yes? Well, unfortunately you can’t. Not unless you have a Taiwan driving license and even then you’ll be so lucky. Two foreigners drove off a cliff a couple of months ago, and since then they’ve tightened the laws. However, you can still hire bicycles, and the crazy-cool invention of electric bikes. The latter ROCKS. For 300NT a day (worth every penny) you can hire one of these beauties and sit back and be lazy while the battery does all the work. It’s actually ridiculously fun, and easy. I can’t recommend these enough! The shop you hire from (right next to the harbour) will give you chargers and after a day of cycling (sitting back and enjoying the ride) you can plug the battery in at your guest house and prepare it for the next day.

Accomodation

* Before we arrived we booked Lijing Hostel which Lonely Planet had recommended. I’m not going to lie, this place was a little old and dusty with a few too many bugs for our liking, but at the end of the day it’s a friendly place to rest your head and for only 500NT per person, it’s cheaaap. It’s actually pretty fun to be living with so many spiders… No, but really, the owners are awesome and we called them as soon as we arrived and they whizzed over to pick us up.

* I personally wouldn’t worry too much about booking in advance, there are tons of hostels, guest houses, hotels etc, dotted around the island. Why not just arrive, take a stroll and see what floats your boat?

Food

* Deer. Yeah. A lot of deer. It’s the island of deer. There is even deer burger. Yup.

* Seafood. Yum. You saw that sea above, that is a fresh blue sea. Eaaaat.

Fun

* It’s an island. Go here and roam around. Frolic. Dance. Cycle. Picnic. Laugh. Be free. It’s beautiful.

* Scuba-dive or snorkel. Apparently it’s world class here. Stupidly we skipped it as we were feeling pretty lazy, but you can get your scuba license here and a snorkel sesh is only 300NT. Wow!

* Hot springing. Green Island is home to one of only three salt-water hot springs in the entire world. Take my advice- when you get there and they tell you you can’t use the real hot spring right next to the ocean, don’t listen to them. Skip on down the steps and hop on in. There are no crowds of tourists there and it’s the real deal. Otherwise, of course you can still enjoy the bustling springs near the entrance, even if they do feel a little fake and hotel-esque. It costs 200NT to get in. Go at night and enjoy the stars. It’s open until 2am right now, and possibly 24hrs during the summer months. Yay!

If you have any questions about this little gem of an island, feel free to comment below and I will be sure to bombard you with my enthusiasm! It really is a wonderful little getaway, and it isn’t too touristy (yet..go quick!).

p.s It used to be an island for prisoners, just incase you wonder why there are prisons etc dotted around. Don’t let that freak you out though, it just shows how much history is lying around.

p.p.s Enjoy!

Love Luna.

mystical music moments

Ever have those moments where you’re listening to a song on your iPod, whip out your earphones and realise the song you were listening to is playing in the shop you’re now standing in? Or how about hearing a song and instantly being transported back to a time and place from days gone by?

Even cooler, I was sitting in the office at Lomography on my first day and a familiar song came on, aka the one above- Kick the Bucket by Charlie Winston. Now, I have no idea where I found this song, who recommended it, or why it was even on my iPod. All I know is that I listened to it a lot on my trip to Korea back in 2011, and for some reason it stuck as my song of that specific trip. I remember listening to it on the bus as I traveled along bumpy roads to stay in a temple high in the mountains. I remember listening to it as I happily sailed through the streets of Seoul. Most importantly, I remember listening to it when I bought my first Lomo camera- the Diana mini ‘en rose’.

Why is that cool? Well, because this song ties in very nicely with my first ever Lomo purchase, and it also just so happens to be the first song that played as I sat at my desk in the Lomo office here in Taipei, 2 years later. Life.

I swear everything in my life is connected, or maybe I just love making these little connections…either way, it makes life pretty interesting!