The storm after the calm

Thick, like day-old coffee, my head feels fuzzy, but I know the words are in there somewhere. They float around my mind so freely and yet when I come face to face with this big, blank screen I just freeze and close the tab, close my eyes. I’m tired. I can’t remember what it feels like to just sit and have no place to rush to, and yet wasn’t I just sitting on a beach a mere two weeks ago with nothing to do but read my book and watch the waves? Why then, does it all feel like a dream? Like it never actually happened? When I reached Singapore after eight days of blissful relaxation in the jungle and on the beaches of Bali, my friend commented on how ‘zen’ I seemed. Calm. Still. Content.

Now, with a cup of black coffee sat in front of me (only my third coffee in my entire life!), I frantically try and find that girl. The one who woke up smiling with the rise of the sun, the one who fell asleep to the sound of the waves and the beat of the drum. The one who had no worries, only dreams and opportunities lying just around the corner. Is she hiding under the autumn leaves, or has she disappeared forever? Was she just a figment of our imagination? Is it actually possible to feel that calm? I crave it. The restful nights, the soft dreams, the sunshine, the fruits, the patience that never lingered, was always present. I crave it all.

This fog will lift soon. It always does. And in those lighter moments, when this haze miraculously evaporates, I will feel calm again, even amongst the beeps and horns and lights that vibrate throughout this city everyday non stop and all night long.

for the love of seasons

Dusty little tangerines lie next to rosy-cheeked pomegranates, and as the moon falls deeper into the sky, the fruit man pushes his cart away and all the fruits slip and slide and socialise. I walk quickly home and sneeze once. Maybe someone is thinking of me? Superstitions aside, I must say though, I really do believe in this mercury retrograde malarky. Weird, unexplainable things keep happening. A foot-bridge in Shenzhen just collapsed, an apartment/office block went up in flames, my colleague is stuck in America because of some silly visa procedure changes, my phone deleted ALL my photos, my computer randomly shuts down whenever it pleases, I hear people fighting more often and my nose is a waterfall. But come October 9th, when mercury is no longer in retrograde, everything will go back to normal, right?

This too shall pass and autumn is here, so at least we’re not dripping sweat all over the city anymore. I love the slight chill that is becoming more present and the way the morning light coats the trees in a rusty shade of bronze. Everything seems softer and there is a warm, romantic glaze settling over the tops and tips of the buildings on my street. Is it strange that I’m getting excited for winter already? I like wearing big, cosy cardigans and being able to see my breath drift up into the air. I guess once a Northern Hemisphere baby, always a Northern Hemisphere baby. Seasons make the world go round, and mine too. I always struggled in South Africa where everything was reversed. My June birthday was spent shivering and the run-up to Christmas was a sticky, stifling bubble of heat. It’s nice to mix things up a bit once in a while, but oh my, for me Christmas should be a little snow globe.

Before I adorn my winter coat though, I will first embark on a tropical adventure to Singapore and Bali. Seriously, I love Chinese public holidays. This will be my first solo trip in a long time, so I’m really looking forward to having no plan and just going to wherever the rice paddies lead me. I want to swim with turtles on Gili Meno and read my book next to the green fields. Just looking after my wanderlust, you know? She is extremely greedy and is already mischievously plotting the months ahead, and I have to fulfil these needs she has, because she is feisty! Sometimes she books trips without me even realising…Well, at least for Oct, Nov, and most of Dec I won’t be going anywhere. There are some exciting projects taking place in Shenzhen that I’m a part of, and so during those months my wanderlust will be taking a backseat until I whisk her off to Scotland and Ireland for Christmas. Yay!

This year has been a whirlwind. Actually, this month has been a whirlwind, hence the lack of writing here. I just haven’t had time, or maybe I’ve been lazy? I’d say both. Chiang Mai was just what the doctor ordered, and in between climbing up waterfalls, eating the most delicious home-cooked Thai food you’ve ever tasted, getting massages and talking non-stop with old and new friends, there was even time for a road trip to see the incredible White Palace in Chiang Rai and the creepy, but cool Black House. It passed so quickly, and feels like forever ago, even though it was just a couple of weeks back. The fun didn’t stop there, as only a few days later my best friend popped up to China to say hello for the weekend and an early morning hike with a dip in the ocean quickly led to a moonshine-fuelled night and a hazy day spent under the dusty sun in cafes. And I get to see her again in two days in Singapore. I feel lucky. Sometimes there is no time to sleep, but that’s OK because then there is more laughter, more memories, and I have all winter to hibernate under my mountain of books.

Last weekend I didn’t really go anywhere. Those weekends are fun too. The ones where you lie in bed until 2pm just doing nothing but dreaming, smiling, reading. There might be a sneaky trip to a rooftop that doesn’t belong to you to take some photos, but otherwise you will probably stay in bed looking at the clouds, listening to music and hugging. That’s when you know summer is coming to a close, when hibernation takes a hold of you and there’s no escaping those cosy claws. Embrace it. It’s good to just rest.

Singapore and Bali await, so see you when mercury is flowing forward again. Be safe and go kick some backward mercury butt!




Photo by my lovely friend Olya.


As the evenings get a little darker and the mornings a little cooler, my body struggles to adjust. Leaves start to change colour and my hips begin to ache. I am tired and no amount of hiding beneath the covers with my head buried in a book or a blur of dreams can pull me out of this mini hibernation. Impromptu planking sessions that slowly turn into child’s pose beneath my desk give a temporary boost of energy, but it quickly fades and I fall back into my inbetween-seasons slump. It’s the city life. It doesn’t bode well with the changing of the seasons. You can’t smell halloween on the horizon and there are no conkers trickling along the path at your feet. Leaves fall and turn a shade of gold, but there’s no crunch to them like there is back home, in the countryside. Oh man, I miss fresh air. Yes, I know I sound moany right now, but sometimes you just need to acknowledge your feelings and be honest with yourself. I miss nature. I kid myself that I can survive in an urban jungle, but I’m not sure I really can. Panic crawls around in my insides when I’m squeezed onto a bus with hundreds. Car fumes and nicotine swirl around the air and creep into my lungs. I am actually beyond craving the smell of wet grass and clean rain drops, I need them in my life right now.

A few weeks ago I had a massage for the first time in about a year and the lady was shocked by all the knots in my back. No amount of kneading could untie them, and deep down I know the only way to get rid of them is to run through an emerald field with no other people around me. That’s when I am myself, when everything slides away, when the stress rolls back to the city and I am left, light and free, in nature again, where I am supposed to be.

And it’s all my fault. The knots and the grey hairs and the heart palpitations. I brought it on myself by choosing to live in a city. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret it for a second. I love the convenience of life here, the buzz, the opportunities. But most of all I love it because I know it won’t be forever. I know that sooner or later I will slip back to a simple village life where the only sounds will be the wind blowing through the trees and the waves flirting with the seashells lying on the beach.

We are seriously crazy to live on top of each other in cloud-tickling towers, with our neighbours so close we can hear their every breath, but we choose to do so, and so let’s rather be content with it and find ways to enjoy it. And I must admit, it is pretty handy to be able to be awoken by my neighbour’s alarm clock every morning. I guess this city life does have its benefits…

But really, let’s get back to the root of things- to nature. The smell of the forest and moist earth. Mud caked on your shoes or even better, between your toes. The wind in your hair and salt on your lips, fresh from the sea. An elephant just around the corner, not behind a cage, and cats roaming the alleyways like kings. Strangers smiling and laughing, just because. Mid-afternoon monsoons that cleanse away all the dust and stress you brought with you from your urban jungle. Let it all go.

It’s gone.

And on that note, I am off to frolic and flirt with nature in Chiang Mai tomorrow.



p.s. Any tips on dealing with Urbanjungleitis, as I like to call it?

Five Years Time

“Oh well in five years time we could be walking around the zoo with the sun shining down over me and you…”

Or…you could still be living in China.

You blink and take a few trains, too many planes, and before you know it, you’ve been here for five whole years.  For 1,825 days, give or take a few, you have been frolicking on this Asian soil. A journey that began on a swelteringly hot day back in August 2010 with a broken-down bus in a city called Guangzhou. Fast forward five years with a skip to the south of that city and a hop to the right and you are smack bang in Guangzhou’s little sister Shenzhen. I would like to say I have spent the entire five years in one place, but that would be an absolute lie. I have mainly been in China (mainland) but there is of course my ongoing love affair with Taiwan and there was a brief but beautiful fling with Hong Kong. Oh, and there was a moment last year where I questioned why on earth I wasn’t living in Japan? I always do wonder if my university in South Africa had offered a Japanese course, would I find myself living in that quirky Murakami world instead of crazy China? I will never know, but hey, I could always move to Japan some other time…

Five years in Asia. Five years with my head bursting at the seams with all the new words, new cultural quirks, new places, new faces. Five years and thirteen Asian countries worth of stamps, memories and love. Five years older.

And I am nowhere near done. I don’t think I will ever be done with a place that has been my home. It will always be my home even when I’m not actually living there. My ears still twitch whenever I hear a South African accent and I haven’t lived there for five years. I see Scottish flags everywhere, even in the clouds and whenever anyone mentions Taiwan my eyes light up and my heart beats a little faster. I feel at home in Asia where it’s always a little warmer, where people show their gratitude through a bow or an ear-to-ear smile, where incense coils burn in mysterious corners and float along the alleyways, the dust settling on the red lanterns that hang from every eave. Monks swim by in the rush hour crowds of suits and old people play on the swings. The pungent scent of durian pierces your senses and there is no escaping stinky tofu. It will chase you down the chaotic streets and sooner or later you will end up chasing it. Things you could never imagine enjoying will become normal. You will swap your coffee for matcha tea and you will master chopsticks like a ninja. Oh, and you will most certainly start dreaming in the local language, and maybe you will even begin to use your feet to trace Chinese characters on your sheets while you sleep. It’s a weird and wonderful land here. It’s hard to actually comprehend five years worth of Asian adventures. This blog is also five years old if you don’t count the thousand mini interludes that I took from writing…

Well anyway, here’s to the next five years and wherever they may happen to take me. For now though, I am here. And no, there is no ‘five year plan’. I’m not sure they really pan out the way you want them to anyway because if I look back to my first day in China, I certainly didn’t think that five years later I’d still be living here. But that is life. It’s always surprising us. Just focus on being happy and spreading that happiness around wherever you happen to be, and the rest will fall into place.



The Art of saying Farewell 再見

Everyone knows, to put it simply, that saying goodbye sucks. After leaving Scotland in 2007 and having lived abroad ever since, it’s suffice to say that I have almost mastered the saddening task of saying farewell. It’s almost not such a big deal anymore. There’s actually a few tricks to make it feel more like a ‘see you in a bit’ kind of goodbye.

Firstly, don’t plan how you’re going to do it. In fact, rather pick an obscure nondescript location, like a bus stop on a bustling street filled with rush-hour traffic, or some back alley with adjoining lanes that you can quickly scamper down to prevent nosy neighbours catching you mid-tear flow. Not so long ago, I embraced my friend in a little lane behind our university, in a crowd of friends, next to a small antique market. As we said goodbye, his bag strap dug into my neck, and before I knew it the hug was over and he was on his way. With a quick glance back, and a smile, I knew I’d see him again soon. I almost always see good friends again. Another occasion that sticks out in my mind was when I left Taipei. It was the hottest day of the summer. The steam was actually rising off the ground, mingling with the dust particles and floating up towards my eyes. I could blame the waterfalls of tears that erupted from my eyes on the dust, but I’d be lying. I was absolutely distraught to be leaving Taiwan and all my amazing friends. I clung onto my friend desperately on the street outside our apartment and I think the taxi driver had to scoop me up and put me inside with a big packet of tissues nestled on my knees. My other friend came along with me and I cried the whole way to the airport. But then suddenly, when the moment actually came to hug her goodbye, we both just burst out laughing and high-five’d each other. I knew I would see her again.

In Chinese goodbye is zai jian 再見 which directly translates as ‘again see/meet’, aka see you again, we will meet soon. This is SO much better than our English ‘GOODBYE’. There is absolutely nothing good about saying bye, nothing at all. And even just a quick, simple ‘bye’ doesn’t work for me. I always say ‘see you soon’, because chances are, I will see you soon. It’s definitely gotten much easier over the years, and it helps if you just don’t think too much when it’s happening. I am prone to overthinking things, and usually in the last few hours leading up to my departure or a friend or family members departure, I will go all quiet and not be able to look anywhere except down at my hands for fear of a sneaky tear or ten hundred that might happen to slip out and roll down my cheek. Whenever I leave my family in Scotland, I usually can’t eat the last meal we share together. I just feel so sad. I’m trying to overcome this, but it’s tough. We have a ‘farewell ritual’ that consists of me giving them each a handwritten letter and the quickest hug and squeeze possible. However, I know that they will never stop waving until I am completely out of sight and through immigration. I squeeze the tears back into my eyes when I walk away from them and when I glance back, there they are, waving and grinning.

I think that’s what we have to start doing. Just make our farewells more casual. No dramatic tears, no airport scenes of falling onto the floor crying. More high fives, more laughter, more sneakily looking back and sticking out your tongue and winking. Life is too short to make a huge deal out of saying goodbye. And as the mighty Chinese would like to remind us, it’s not ‘goodbye’ it’s see you soon. It really is. So now, instead of dwelling on your impending departure or thinking about your departure 5 minutes after you’ve only just arrived (you know you do this), start living in the moment. Enjoy the remaining minutes you have with your loved ones instead of jumping ahead to the moment when you will need to leave them again. But when it is time to leave, laugh with them all the way to immigration or all the way to the train platform. Make it easier for both of you by doing something silly like doing a crazy dance from the window of the train as you glide off into the sunset, or throw them a paper aeroplane letter as you walk through immigration (just don’t get arrested!!). Keep it simple. Saying farewell doesn’t need to be a traumatic experience. And actually, it just means that you can get even more excited for when you next see this person. I might not be a fan of airport departures but I certainly love an airport arrival, and watching other peoples arrivals too. There’s something so romantic about it, even if there is no one there to collect you. I personally like pouncing on whoever is waiting for me. Be it my Dad, my Mum, a lover, my sister, a stranger (no, just kidding with that last one! Again, you don’t want to get arrested!).

Anyway, the point is, don’t over think it. You will see that person again because the Chinese say so, and you don’t argue with the Chinese, OK! Haha. No, but seriously, you don’t. They have 5,000 years of history, people. They know.

And so, on that note, I shall bid you farewell for now my beautiful friends, and to those who live across the oceans, I shall see you soon. 再見!



Photo by Gamy Wong

upside down and back to front, for fun

Not so long ago, just a few moons back, things felt a little out of balance around here. A dart pierces through the light-hearted air, but instead of landing smack bang in the middle of the board, it slices downwards, smashing every inch of the glass table. Cups crumble between my fingers. The pavement seems to be waiting for me to trip. The buses are deliberately crawling along at a snail’s pace and there is nothing any of us can do about it. The world is battling between flashbacks to days gone by and glimpses into the future. It seems impossible to just ‘be’ right now. To lie back and read a chapter without having to go back and reread every single word again twice, because the first time around the words seemed to slip off the page and fly away. And good luck retaining any of that freshly inhaled knowledge because brains are just in their own little world at the moment. We’re trying to go forward but we’re constantly being pulled back. Computers crash. Phones freeze. People say things they don’t mean. We’re all confused. But there must be a reason for it all, right?

Sometimes we need to delve back into the past to be able to move on in the way that we want to. Washing away all those old ghosts and signing and sealing with a kiss any old unfinished business. When the same problems arise over and over again, let’s be honest, you need to deal with it. Even if it means falling over a few times to get there. Just have faith that all will work out the way it’s supposed to. And if all else fails, blame it on the moon, or on whatever retrograde happens to be gracing us at the moment. Those retrogrades can be hectic, especially mercury ones. My entire life flips upside down during mercury retrogrades. Everything flows in the wrong direction and I end up just hanging there, afraid to move a muscle in case it changes direction and I’m stuck in a backward, upside down, higgeldy-piggeldy world forever.

Eventually though, things cool down. The bus comes on time and the cup that smashed is magically whole again. You find yourself galloping though books, digesting every last word. Now you can independently choose to flip your world upside down, just for fun. In the form of inversions. Headstands just for the crack! You start to enjoy that mad rush of blood to the head which ignites every last morsel of imagination hiding in that old brain of yours. You suddenly have epiphanies on every corner. Things start to make sense and you tuck the past away at the back of your dusty cupboard, or even better, you sweep it up and sprinkle it out of your window, watching as it lands on nearby tree branches. That’s lucky for you because if you wake up one Saturday morning and have a particularly strong bout of nostalgia, you can whip open the window and breathe it all back in. It’s always there. You just need to learn when it’s best to leave it alone. Nostalgia is a beautiful thing, but sometimes it’s totally unnecessary. And as we know, the most important thing is right now. How can we make life beautiful in this wonderfully unique moment in time? Well, leave the past lingering on the treetops, or at the back of your cupboard. Leave the future exactly where it’s supposed to be- in the future, in an unknown world, just out of reach. Nobody knows what’s in store, so instead of worrying about it all, let’s celebrate together, right now.



Illustration by the talented Lucy Evans

Bliss in the City

The weekend floats away as quickly as it started and before you know it, it’s Monday again and you awake with a smile, drifting on the last remaining fragments that made up the last two blissful days. Oh, but if only the weekend could be longer, the stars a little brighter, the air a little cooler. Sunday night creeps out from the shadows of the blinding sunset and carries you along in a state of longing to jump back to Saturday night and do it all again. To sit in a flower garden adorned with big, fierce candles that are burning below delicately draped fairy lights that twist and hang amongst the trees. A sweet scent of waffles wafts around the plants and comes to settle on your curious little nose. A glass of cold, white wine perfectly compliments the French melodies rising out of the accordion, the musician serenading the crowd with his talent and his charm, and you sit back and just enjoy this little moment, this secret, magical garden party, deep in the heart of the city. Later, as you wander home, the electronic beats carry over the tree tops with the full moon and follow you, resting on your shoulder, making the journey to bed a little more upbeat than normal.

You sleep in a daze of moonlight and birdsong, mixed with a dose of acoustic songs from the night before. The morning brings a wispy blue sky, and a serene kind of stillness. You buy fresh lilies and a coconut and lie back to rest your eyes, because it’s a Sunday and naps are compulsory. Travelling across the city, you alternate between dipping in and out of a book you can’t stop thinking about and watching the other passengers get on and off the bus. You arrive in the real city where skyscrapers tickle the sky and construction replaces trees. Climbing to the top you spend the rest of the afternoon on a high, with more naps for good measure. When the sunlight is reaching its limit and the light is just perfect, you run up to the roof to romance with the sunset which pokes out from buildings creating a kaleidoscope of rays, bouncing off rooftops from glitzy new towers, and also from the village, way down below in all its dilapidated glory. It’s in this exact moment that you feel a sense of calm wash over you. It is possible to feel at ease high above the chimney tops, even when you’re a villager at heart.

You take to the streets to discover more delights of the city. Cars whizz by and children frolic at your feet and old people play mahjong cross-legged on the curb. The streets of China are never ever quiet, even on a Sunday night. It’s hard to feel lonely with the constant buzz all around from fruit shop vendors and karaoke houses. Eventually though, you escape the noise and if you were to believe in teleportation you might think you’d just landed smack bang in India. Between bites of spice and rice, you indulge in deep conversations and feel like this is exactly where you’re supposed to be, right now. In a slice of India, deep in a Chinese city with someone from just across the chilly, Irish sea.

‘The View’ by PascalCampion (I loveeee this artist’s work!)

Kindness…once in a blue moon

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

- Dalai Lama

I just finished reading a book compiled by Lonely Planet called ‘The Kindness of Strangers’ and it got that old brain of mine thinking. The book was made up of 26 tales of kindness from wanderlusting travellers trotting the globe. I thoroughly enjoyed each story, especially because it more than ignited my wanderlust and had me prowling flights late at night, searching for the cheapest deal, but what struck me as a little odd was the way in which each story implied that the simple act of kindness was something out of the ordinary, something totally unexpected and almost shocking to the receiver.

Is that what has happened to us? Is an act of kindness now something so rare we actually feel surprised by it? Don’t get me wrong, no act of kindness should be taken for granted, but it should be something that happens so frequently that it’s on par with a shared smile or a friendly ‘good morning’ to your neighbour. I couldn’t help but wonder that if the little Turkish boy who had offered the only food in his family’s kitchen (a chunk of old cheese and stale bread) to the travellers who had run out of petrol, was instead a rich person, would the act of kindness still be viewed in this way? The fact that he was a child and clearly poor, and yet still happy to share his cheese and bread with strangers from a foreign land is of course a pure act of kindness, but it’s also just human nature is it not? To want to care for other people and make them feel at home in your country. We shouldn’t want anyone to go hungry and that little boy is no different. And yet he is a rare gem in this world. What if the strangers had run out of petrol outside a rich man’s mansion? Would he have come running out to offer them some bread and a place to rest? Chances are, no. And that is so sad. But if he had, would it have been featured in this book? I doubt it. Why? Because for most people it might not be such a big deal. What’s a loaf of bread to a multi-millionaire? And yet to me, I’d actually be more surprised if the rich man were to do it because in this day and age it’s the rich people who tend to be the greedy, selfish ones. Not all rich people are like that, but in my personal experience, it’s usually the people with nothing that are the most humble, the kindest.

I wish we were all kind. I wish we weren’t such selfish, self-absorbed, materialistic, greedy pigs. Sometimes when I smile at strangers and they don’t smile back, I get upset. But then I remember the world we’ve created where it’s not really accepted to just smile or say ‘hi’ to people you don’t know. It’s ridiculous. When a stranger does smile back, I want to run up and hug them because it’s that rare. Every single day I thank the cleaning lady at our office for emptying my bin and she always laughs. No one else in the entire building thanks her. It’s her job to clean, right? She’s getting paid to do it. So what…does that mean I shouldn’t thank her? Absolutely not. I will always say thank you. I, however, have learnt that I mustn’t expect the same from other people. If I hold the door open for the guy behind me, he probably won’t say thank you, but I don’t dwell on it. It’s not my fault that he forgot those 2 little kind words. It can be particularly challenging here in China to remain kind all the time because from the outside it seems like everyone is only thinking about number one (themselves, duh!). I can’t tell you how many times I get shoved off the bus or banged into on a daily basis, and sometimes I just want to scream, but I contain it. I don’t shove back. That would go against my religion, that being kindness, of course.

Anyway, I’m getting carried away. All I really want to say is that wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all just learn to be kind again? Genuine kindness. The kind that doesn’t need a story to highlight how special it is because the mere existence of it in itself is enough. Clearly though, it might do the people of this world a whole lot of good if they were to get their hands on books about kindness. Perhaps schools should integrate a new class called ‘The Art of Kindness’ into their curriculum. Because guys, clearly we’ve forgotten. We’ve forgotten how to be kind, how to give without expecting something in return, how to love, to care, to think about someone other than ourselves. Not all of us, of course, but a lot of us. I feel like people are weary of acts of kindness done out of the goodness of our hearts. A young man offering to help an elderly lady across the road could be viewed as a perfect mugging scenario. Helping to clear the table you’re eating at could make the waiter look like he’s not doing his job properly, that he somehow needs assistance. I mean, come on! Are you kidding me? It’s human nature people! We are supposed to be a gentle, kind, caring species.

I have many tales of kindness that would be worthy of a place in a Lonely Planet book, especially kindness from strangers, and yet these strangers gave me their kindness in such modest ways, that I genuinely believe there are still good people out there. People who aren’t jaded by the evils of this world, people who will offer a helping hand without thinking twice, people who truly feel happy making other people happy. I want to be one of them. I don’t want to be dragged down by the masses of people who shove and claw their way to the top, screaming “ME ME ME”! Oh, but it can be hard to keep yourself from getting submerged in that embarrassingly selfish world. Sometimes I feel I’m on the verge of it and then I remember who I am, and where I come from and how to be human, to be kind. And I think of all those people who have shared their kind hearts with me and me with them, and how we are on such an interesting journey in this big old world. I wonder if the Canadian man who gave me money to take a bus back to Maputo in Mozambique after my bag was stolen has ever received such an act of kindness in return? Maybe he doesn’t even remember it because he is that kind all the time, or maybe karma did something beautiful for him. I hope so. I know for sure that I won’t ever forget that act of kindness. Nor will I ever forget the Indian man in Kuala Lumpur who helped me find my great uncle’s gravestone in a cemetery of thousands of headstones, after he found me in a heap of tears, lost on a street with a dead phone and no way to communicate where I wanted to go with the locals.

There really are kind people in the world. In fact I’m sure everyone is born kind, but somehow they get lost along the way and that cruelty spreads like wild fire and kills all the kindness. But today is a blue moon and I have a feeling that the kindness will creep back out, because as the saying goes: “once in a blue moon…”.



p.s. Be kind, yo’!

Stop thinking and just Write

Dear Luna Finula,

It’s Siobhan here. That girl who appears to have abandoned you. I’m sorry, I really am. I have so many scribbled thoughts, travel tales and random figments of inspiration to share on your little space, but I have neglected to actually write them here and have instead been putting ink to paper and sharing them with only myself. I don’t know why. It could be procrastination, it could be laziness, it could be that I think publicising my thoughts for all the world to see is a bit weird and why would you all want to read what I have to say anyway? I kind of miss the way I blogged back when I first started in 2010. I did it almost everyday and I did it for myself. I would write about how I thought a skyscraper was magical or how a taxi driver was psychic or the beautiful way in which old people danced on the streets here in China. I wrote without abandon. I didn’t care if anyone even read what I wrote. It was something I did while eating peanut butter on crackers. A way of processing the crazy day that had just occurred. Perhaps hoping to make someone laugh or inspire someone to notice the little strange things that happen every single day, the things that make life so special. Lately though, I’ve almost lost that part of myself. Don’t get me wrong, I still absolutely revel in the delights of little things and all their simple beauty, but I’ve stopped sharing them, haven’t I? I need to write. Even when it doesn’t make sense, or when I’ve nothing worthwhile to say. Because what I think isn’t worthwhile, might mean something to someone else. So I’d like to start writing here again Luna Finula, if you’ll take me back?

I have a gazillion adventures I’d like to share with you. Simple adventures and big, rollercoaster adventures. I want to tell you about the hilarious monsoon rain that we had here in Shenzhen last Friday. There was something utterly fantastic about running through the rain, screaming and laughing as it lashed down into my boots and broke my umbrella with the sheer weight of all its droplets. The moment where I locked eyes with an old, frail man who was jogging through the rain completely barefoot. As I caught his twinkling eyes with my own, we both burst out laughing. Completely raw, gut-wrenching laughter. He threw his head back and howled and I screamed like a 5 year old child. It is those moments that make me want to write again and to fall in love with this country once more. China is absolutely, mind-blowingly crazy. After 5 years, I still don’t understand half of the stuff I see on a daily basis, and yet I must love it nonetheless, or why else would I still be here? Well, I think I know why and it doesn’t really have anything to do with a specific location. I could be anywhere, but as long as I have moments like laughing in the rain with a stranger- and an old, short, frail Chinese man at that- then I’ll be OK. At the end of the day, isn’t that what this silly, old world is all about? Living life to the full. Even if it means getting totally drenched along the way, so much so that you have to take your clothes off and wear a sarong in the office for the rest of the afternoon.

Luna Finula, I’m back. I’m going to stop thinking so much and just write. Write about laughing attacks with old men, write about purple flowers growing out of the pavement, write about love and how we seem to have forgotten how to be kind to one another, about mind readers and the simple innocence of kids. Actually, about anything really. I just need to write again. Maybe I’ll even share some of my ink ramblings from the past few months.


Siobhan- your apologetic neglecter who owes you many an adventure.

Some people buy drugs. I buy plane tickets.

As I sat down at my desk after a beautiful two week holiday spent exploring Malaysia, my boss peeked his head around the computer screen and gave me that look. You know the one. Eyebrow slightly raised, curious but sly smile turning up the corners of his mouth ever so slightly. And then he asked me outright- “Alright, tell me, where to next then…?”

It’s inevitable. No matter how much I try and fight it, I can’t. It’s not that my life is monotonous so that I feel the need to ‘escape’ to other places, in fact it’s anything but. It’s just that somehow I am completely and utterly besotted with travelling and exploring and all that those encompass. Some people tell me I have a problem. That I’m addicted to travelling the way some people can’t get out of bed without a shot of vodka, or the way some people will happily puff their way through at least one pack of cigarettes a day even though we know they can kill you. I call them suicide sticks. Anyway, the point is, addictions are not healthy and they are actually harmful. Travel, therefore, cannot possibly be an addiction. It harms you in no way whatsoever and it is extremely healthy, in fact I’d call it a necessity. To me, it’s as natural and essential to my well-being as 2 litres of clean water a day is. It nurtures my mind, body and soul in so many different ways that I actually wish I was a doctor sometimes so that I could start prescribing people with a flight ticket to Taiwan or South Africa, as opposed to a daily dose of numbing antidepressants. Instead of drowning your ‘sorrows’ in those nightly bottles of wine, why not go skinny dipping in the ocean and feel your sorrows float away, deep into the waves?

Some people think that to travel you must be rich. This is not true and never has been. To travel, you don’t have to go to the other side of the world and stay in a 5 star resort, eating at Michelin-starred restaurants every night. You could take a day trip to a town 30 minutes away from your home, you could stay in a basic hostel and you could eat cheap, delicious local food.

Some people buy fancy cars and big houses with 4 bathrooms and 2 kitchens. Some people buy drugs. I buy plane tickets. (And yes, I’m well aware that my carbon footprint must be absolutely atrocious and so this year I hope I can do more local travel and make use of the plentiful supply of trains and buses in China.) I travel a lot, and I am in no way rich, well, not financially anyway. I have a 9-6 job, just like almost everyone else, and I save my money so that I can go and travel. It’s all about prioritising and OK, having a travel agent whizz kid for a Mum is definitely an added bonus.

Maybe that’s why I’m so travel obsessed. All those months chilling in my Mum’s womb, listening to her organising people’s travel itineraries. Perhaps the first phrase I was exposed to as a little growing human was “Where would you like to go Mr. Smith? How about India? Have you seen photos of the Taj Mahal? Oh, and that food…those spices! I hear their curries are just to die for!” Now that I’ve written that, I’m even more certain this whole travel malarky stuff happened before I even popped out and gazed upon this fascinating planet. My little ears were bombarded with foreign sounding places from before they were even properly formed.  And maybe it goes back even further, to my ancestors who no doubt dabbled in some form of travelling, whether for survival or fun. Actually, on my trip to Malaysia I went to visit my great uncle Ian’s gravestone. He sadly died in a plane crash in the jungle in Malaysia when he was only 19 years old. That’s a story for a separate post, but it was such a special moment to be able to take him flowers and sit with him for a bit. If there really is a gene that makes some people more prone to travelling and adventure, maybe it skips certain family members, because my Granny (the sister of my great uncle Ian) had no desire to travel whatsoever. She said “As long as I can see the square tower from my kitchen window, I’m happy.” She did travel a fair bit around Scotland, but I think that was more a social thing as opposed to fulfilling some deep wanderlusting curiosity.

It must be a gene. I can actually feel the wanderlust being pumped around my veins darting back between my brain and my heart as they decide where to go to next. How can it be called the ‘travel bug’? Isn’t a bug something you can treat? A quick trip to the doctor and a box of antibiotics later and voila, your health has been restored. A bug is something that needs to be treated, something that is usually curable. If we really want to use some kind of ‘medical’ term to describe what we wanderlusters have, then we need to use something much stronger, something like DISEASE. The travel disease. Or The Staying in One Place Deficiency Disorder. An allergy to never leaving the place I was born in. And so on and so forth. Or we could just say we are the healthy ones. The ones who are natural born explorers, who thrive off new places and new faces and know that there is no way they were put on this mind-blowing planet to sit on a sofa and watch tv and eat the same food every single day and drink in the same pub every Friday night. Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with being content with the daily grind and routine, I love it too, but there’s always something more out there to explore too, don’t you think?

My toes have only touched a smidgen of the places on this planet and I don’t think they’re going to curl up on the couch and stop any time soon. They already booked two more plane tickets this week and they have plenty of books of adventure to dip into in the meantime. Seeing as it’s something inborn (or so I’ve decided) there’s no point in ignoring it, right? It would be like neglecting my health, to neglect my wanderlust. You can’t fight what is meant to be. And I think I’m meant to travel. To see how other people live, to learn new languages, to practice patience and gratitude while on the road, to smell, touch, taste, hear everything that this world has to offer. And I never want to stop. One day I want to take my kids travelling the way my parents did with me, and I want to travel until I can’t do it any longer.

For me, travel is to live and to love and to learn, around each and every corner of this vast, magical land. I won’t judge the people who spend their pennies on designer handbags or drugs, and in return, please don’t judge me. Drugs make you happy, travelling makes me happy. I guess we could say travelling is ‘my drug’ and I’m going to keep getting my fill of all the highs and lows (yes, sometimes there are lows while travelling and especially after- hello post holiday blues, you are very much a real thing!) until my energy is all used up and my curiosity is well and truly satisfied and my mind is overflowing with beautiful moments and memories. But I don’t think that’ll be happening any time soon. I mean, have you even seen how huge this world is?

And on that note, I’m going to go look at my world map and have a bite of chocolate. Travel isn’t my only drug you know.



p.s. Have you been anywhere lovely recently? Where did you go?

Image of my favourite Audrey sourced from here.