Life lately…

It’s nearly August.

Can you believe it? Life has flown by like a tidal wave lately.

So, I relaunched this blog back in October 2014, which was just before I set sail on my adventures (you can read about that here). I started a blog as a destination where I could log my experiences, create a scrapbook and to look back on my life.

I told myself that I would update my blog regularly.

Did this happen?

In short, the answer is no.

I’m going to have a heart to heart with you, and I’m going be honest. I love blogging — I do. I love creating content, and I enjoy the journey that goes into a blog. The truth is, I work full-time and even though I have a creative idea every day, I haven’t found a chance to put my dream content into reality. When I’m not where I want to be, I’ll stop at nothing.

I’ve always thought that if you love something, you will naturally put your efforts into it. You can achieve anything you want, with hard graft. It turns out that my priorities have had to be reallocated elsewhere. And I hate being behind.

So I wanted to update you guys and keep you in the loop. The good news is that I do have a plan of action, and hopefully, I will be to where I want to be with this blog.

By the way, if you can’t stop staring at my shoes, they’re from the lovely team at Kurt Geiger Beautifully cut black leather, they make me feel like the Black Swan. Every lady needs a pair of tie-ups; they secure your footsies for that after dark event.

If you’re a blogger, I would love to hear your experiences and frustrations. Please do leave me a comment down below and let me know! In the meantime, you can follow my adventures here.

 Location: Mayfair, London

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 Photographer: Toya Berry

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Eco

As a kid, I wanted to be a superhero that fights bad guys.

Then I grew up to realise that I couldn’t fly. Damn.

So how can we be our childhood heroes & help save zi’ world? I could tell you to volunteer abroad, foster a dog or to give up on civilization altogether and join a hill tribe.

I’m never going to be a barefoot forest dweller called Theresa Green or Ivana Makepeace — and look like this weird chick:

Yeh, she’s weird, isn’t she?

Without coming across like an organic-hipster-vegan-tree-shagger, I (try to) make a conscious effort to be eco-friendly to our world.

But let’s be realistic, most of us have busy lives.

You don’t have to whip your bush out to tap into Mother Earth’s rhythms. There are many micro-activities that you can incorporate into your everyday life.

Here is my lazy and modern guide to saving the world:

Recycle

The amount of waste that currently permeates our planet is a good starting point. Let’s stop throwing reusable things into landfill. And no, I’m not asking you to be a hoarder. It’s the opposite: sell, donate or recycle.

Sell it: eBay and Gumtree are my handy friends, I started selling things online as a young’un and I learnt how to turn it into a good secondary income. It’s a win-win situation: earn pocket money and reduce waste. Before you put it in the bin, ask yourself, would someone buy this?

Can’t sell it? Donate it. Wherever I live, I look out for my nearest clothes bin or charity shop. I usually hand in bits on my way to work or on the way to town at the weekend. You can also pop your items in those clothing bags that you get through the door. Donate barely used makeup to Give and Make Up which helps women escaping domestic violence. Send your used stamps to the Royal Institute of Blind People (they can sell them by the kilo and raise vital cash). Recycle your old ink cartridges to Tommy’s which funds research into miscarriage and premature birth.

Recycle: Freecycle is an amazing recycling site. The best part about it? People will come and collect your items from you. If you have an old wardrobe, desk, blankets, anything, stick it online. You could be helping someone out: whether they’re a DIY Guru, just moved into a new home or are looking for supplies for their business, you’re helping out your community in a cost-effective way. Swish: swishing.com, swishingparties.co.uk, bigwardrobe.com are great sites to find your local clothes swap parties and any clothes that don’t get sold go to charities like Cancer Research UK. Oxfam & Save The Children has some of the best of pre-owned designer fashion, I’m always surprised when I browse their online sites.

Plastic

You may have seen the video of the turtle with the straw up its nose. When you think about it, it’s easy to reduce your packaging intake. Do you need a plastic tea stirrer or plastic knife & fork? And yes, I’m just as perplexed as you are about having to pay 5p for a plastic bag. I’m from an Asian family; we reuse plastic bags for everything. I was outraged because I genuinely do reuse them. But the government does have a point; plastic bags are not biodegradable. We, as a nation have learnt to use them even when we buy a small chocolate bar. By sticking your items in a reusable bag, we will save millions of tons of waste — 32 million tons.

Apps

Download an app which supports causes like the Cancer Research UK Genes in Space app, every time you play; you’re contributing to the development of spotting DNA data which will help scientists in their research.

The Charity Miles app encourages users to raise money for charity every day as part of their usual exercise daily routine like walking, running or cycling.

If you like playing games on your phone like I do, the My Life As Refugee app is an educational download. Based on real-life experiences of families torn apart by conflict; It raises awareness of the plight of the refugees and gives you insight into the work that UNICEF does.

Clicks: For every donation you make online, Google will match it on One Today.

Hungry?

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy eating meat. Meat is (scientifically) nutritious for you. Our species survived by eating it. If you read my blog regularly, you will know how much I love food and ah, burgers. Err sorry, got a bit distracted there. Anyway, in today’s world, we don’t go hunting for our food anymore (looking for the half price in the meat aisle doesn’t count). Today, due to the high demand, we have very advanced industrialised animal agriculture. Meat production has caused the cut down of 260 million acres of forest, and it’s responsible for a high amount of greenhouse gas emissions. These reasons mentioned, are only a few reasons why Veganism is growing. I have realised, I do eat a f**k load of meat, so I’ve cut back. I won’t tell you to be a Veggie or Vegan (unless you want to), not because I’m not — but because it’s your choice. Just be aware of your intake. Fred, the photo bombing deer, (behind me), agrees.

Food waste

Surprisingly, lots of people don’t know the difference in food expiry dates.

Best before: it’s preferable to eat said item before that date, but it won’t kill you.

Use by: throw it out mate, by the stated date. None of that ’30-second rule’, none of that ‘but it looks fine’ biz, no buts, just no.

  • Crush old bananas and make muffins.
  • Didn’t finish that roast chicken? Make a hearty pie or curry.
  • Make a yummy fruity smoothie when you’ve got bits of fruit and veg that are on the verge of going off.
  • Heading off on holiday? Throw all of the remaining veg’ into soup, create stock or cook stir-fry.

Places like The Real Junk Food Project are great; they are ‘pay as you feel’ cafes, this concept is growing in the UK, the money they raise goes to homeless charities, you can volunteer or donate. Check out a spot near you.

When I go for a meal, and I can’t finish it, I always ask for a ‘doggy bag’. Then if I see a homeless person, I leave it beside them. If I don’t see anyone, I put it in my fridge and have it for lunch.

And that’s that!

See? I didn’t even have to tell you to egg a politician.

You’re welcome.

Superheroes, feel free to comment any of your tips to share with my lovely readers, I’d love to hear them. Monica x

 

Location: Zi Planet

Real location: Richmond Park, London

Photographer: Hattie Day at Wild Young Minds (FB here)

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The Wong Diet


I often get asked (always when I’m scoffing my face in), “you eat so much, how are you not fat?”.

It’s a stereotype that East Asians are naturally ‘skinny’. Some say that we’re lucky; we’re mysterious creatures who possess magical genes that aid metabolism. While genes are a contributing determinant, I’ve been doing some digging and besides being Maybelline ‘Maybe She’s Born With It’, there are the lifestyle and cultural factors that help us maintain a healthy weight.

I’m going to share them with you. Welcome to the secret tips of Asia.

No. I’m not going to give you some lame faddy diet. All that maple syrup, air, baby food & no-carbs-after-six bullocks, is not good for you.

I don’t want to shock your body drastically because any weight you lose temporarily, will just creep back up on you — like that creepy stalker that just won’t take the hint.

These nuggets (not the chicken kind, soz) of wisdom have been passed down generation to generation.

It’s about the facts, nutrition, science and food coming together. I’m going to split this post into three sections: food, mentality and fitness.

Food

First of all, it’s important to keep in mind that I don’t want you to eat because you have to; I want you to eat because it’s delicious. If you don’t know how to cook, then there’s your starting point. Learn how to prepare food from scratch: start watching YouTube recipe videos, give foodie Facebook pages a ‘like’, buy cookery books, go to cooking classes  — do what you find easiest to learn, then maintaining weight will become a lot easier.

Steam

In the same way, that the Chicken Korma is not native Indian, foods like Sweet & Sour Chicken is not authentic Chinese, it’s British. Yes, I agree with you, it’s delicious, but we can’t eat that shiz every day. Authentic Asian cuisine is steam every-thang. I remember when my sister was born, my daddy made a Chinese hot pot and popped it in an old Carte D’Or tub (hi Asian parents). It has everything you need nutritionally for a baby: fresh meats, vegetables, tofu and seafood. The origins of the Chinese hotpot has been around for over 1,000 years. Packed with flavour, I love a good hearty hot pot. My favourite one is on this blog.

Brown rice 

Asians eat white rice every day. I’m going to talk about a healthier alternative: brown rice. I don’t get it when people say they don’t like it — I honestly can’t taste the difference! Brown rice = fibre. Genuine quote from my mummy who told me when I was six, “fibre helps you poo”. Err thanks, mum. We need fibre for digestion, and it reduces high cholesterol levels. Fibre helps out by keeping blood sugar levels under control, so brown rice is an excellent grain choice for people with diabetes.

Vegetables

To state the obvious, eating a lot of vegetables keeps you slim. The Chinese, Japanese and Korean diet is predominately rice and vegetables. Korean people consume a lot of raw cabbage -i.e., Bimibap. The Chinese eat a lot of greens like Pak Choi, lettuce, radish and spinach. I hated vegetables as a kid. I hated it so much that when I got to University, I got carried away and ate everything that looked beige, speaking of beige, there’s food out there that isn’t green and is good for you. If you’ve realised that you’ve over done it with the meat treats that week, why not replace it with tofu? It gives me lots of energy and is high in protein, vitamins and fibre. It’s all about learning how to balance. I missed my parent’s cooking so much at University, when I graduated, I ended up naturally eating 70% good food and 30% junk. Find your method of balance.

Fish

East Asians eat a lot of fish; there are endless benefits, the fresher, the better. (Fish fingers don’t count, don’t let Captain Birdseye try and flirt with you in frozen aisles). Always eat fish off the bone because natural fatty fish contains the highest source of natural Omega 3.

Soup

Soup is essential in the Asian diet. We drink it either before or after our meal. Our soup is essentially bone broth (made with boiling meat bones in water). It’s packed with vegetables, beans and natural Chinese herbs (you should see mummy Wong’s cupboard). Broth takes hours to boil but is super easy to make. Why bones, you ask? The gelatin from the bone marrow contains glycine that is anti-inflammatory and helps to regulate metabolism, maintain lean muscle mass, preserve bone strength and control cellular health. The vitamins, proteins, and minerals from the ingredients dissolve in the water — giving you a balanced supply of nutrition which helps to keep you full. The Chinese love to poach chicken feet in the soup because it has a lot of collagen that is good for the skin. It’s not uncommon to see an old Asian woman ask the local butcher for meat bones (I totally see myself doing that in thirty years). Centuries ago, we needed to make use of limited resources to their full potential. These days we boil our veg to death and then chuck away the mineral water containing all the good bits. If you’re vegetarian, veg broth works just as well (don’t forget the spinach for iron). If you’re not brave enough for trotter soup, don’t worry, there’s always Pho (Vietnamese rice noodles).

The most traditional soup from Hong Kong is Pork Bone Vegetable Soup:

Pork bones 1.5-2 lb
2 potatoes
2 tomatoes
2 carrots
1 onion
1 tbsp salt
2 bay leaves (optional)

Wash the bones and chop all the veggies.
In a stock pot, fill up with water almost halfway up the pot (around 2.5 litres).
Throw in the pork bones and bring to boil. Once it starts to bubble, reduce heat to low-medium and stew for 1.5 hours.
Turn heat to high and pop in all the veggies, salt, and bay leaves.
Reduce heat back to low-medium and boil for another hour.

Fruit

You know what? I’m not going to lie to you; I love a sweet treat. My Instagram is a collage of cake. I’m addicted to cake and breakfast tea. One day, I substituted my breakfast muffin for a banana and realised that the satisfaction I got out of both were similar — it helps if the texture is comparable. If you crave sugar, you can get it from the healthier sugars in fruit. Asians have either soup or fruit after dinner. The way I balance it out now is by having dessert for breakfast or as a dessert after dinner, never both.


H2O

Drink lots of hot water; it cleanses and boosts your immune system. If you’re not keen on hot water, try adding a lemon. Herbal teas contain antioxidants, and they’re best mates with your metabolism. My favourite green tea is Jasmine tea. I love the blossoming flower ones; I always end up staring at my cup & I have the same reaction every time, ‘Oooh, so pretty!’.

Not a fan of the hot beverage? Make a homemade tea cordial. Experiment & mix different tea leaves: Lemon & Ginger, Raspberry Blaster, Baked Apple & Sticky Toffee, they could help you steer away from those naughty processed sugary soft drinks. When I went to Thailand, I had lots of fresh coconut water. It suppresses your appetite, the fat content is low and makes you feel full because it’s rich in taste. It also made my skin glow; I couldn’t stop touching my face! I also drink lots of almond & soy milk which have lots of iron and calcium.

Sometimes, your body will tell you, ‘Yo, give me food!’, But actually, you just need a refreshing beverage, so drink lots of cold water too. H2O helps us distinguish between being hungry and being thirsty so always stay hydrated.

Diet food

When I went travelling in Southeast Asia, I rarely saw any diet food. ‘Light’ options in the supermarket annoy the s**t out of me. Like ‘no added sugar’ yoghurt, or ‘low fat’ cereal, or ‘light’ mayonnaise. If there’s less fat in there, it usually has to be replaced with something else to keep the flavour. Dear food brands, you can’t fool us with your extra sugar, sweetie. Diet Coke is one of the worst offenders, less sugar but more Aspartame. I’ll leave you to research and make up your own mind on that one.

I’ll end the food section with a poem from Japan called Hara Hachi Bu which is the Confucian philosophy for ‘eat until you’re 8/10 full’. Derived from Okinawa, the Japanese leave that little bit on their plate.

Hara Hachi Bu

‘The Okinawa Diet‘:
Fill your plate with plants.
Consider the sweet potato.
Eat soy every day.
Learn some recipes that call for turmeric.
Make meat a rare treat.
Drink green tea like it’s going out of style.
Forgo the “all-you-can-eat buffet” mentality.

Ceramics

The size of your plates and bowls determine (unconsciously) how much food you eat. If you buy small plates and bowls, you’ll eat smaller portions. Without thinking about it, lighter servings give you time to enjoy your food, and you reflect on whether you want to grab a second helping.

I love the Japanese bento box; It’s like picking things from a sweet shop (I’m like a child). Speaking of picking things up, you eat smaller portions with chopsticks.

The slower you eat, the faster you’ll be full. East Asians feast with a bowl of rice in hand and select from a selection of entrees. They pick one piece at a time from the middle of the table and tend to eat how much they want rather than finishing everything that’s on a plate.

Mentality

In the Asian culture, there is no liability for eating. Guilt leads to anxiety and stress leads to overeating. Eating brings people together; it’s supposed to be a joyous occasion.

(Vs. Western culture) Asians talk so openly about weight which eliminates guilt. If I’ve gained or lost weight, my mum will tell me. I don’t get offended. If I’ve gained weight, I’ve gained weight. If I’ve lost weight, I’ve lost weight. Who gives a f**k if we’re chubby this week?

Counting calories is not fun. Fixating on measurements can lead to a reverse effect on your objective. We all know the type, ‘Oh I had 300 calories today, so according to this fitness app, I can have this chocolate bar to meet the recommended daily allowance’. You could argue that you’re the person who’s more like, ‘Ah I’ve gone over my daily allowance so I won’t eat any more’, but that’s so tiring, isn’t it? Question your mindset, you know what works for you.

Mentality and way of thinking determine your diet. It’s about feeling comfortable with yourself as a person. Accept yourself, for what you are. The aim is to have a healthy relationship with yourself (and food).

Fitness

Okay, so you need motivation. You know your body & mind more than anyone else. You know what motivates you. What motivates me is to refer to an image that is the end goal.

You need to get off your ass. If you work in an office, you need to get off your bum even more.

I’m not going to tell you to join a martial arts class and become a ninja (unless you want to).

The best way to lose weight without realising is to find a sport / active activity that you’ll fall in love with. Asian parents take their kids to sports classes when they’re young, I mean the culture in China is a bit extreme because they want their kid to be the next Olympian, but as an adult, sweating it out in the gym is not fun.

Martial Arts, Basketball, Football, Netball, Rugby, Swimming, Cycling, Running, Boxing, Yoga, Zumba, Ballet, Ariel Silks — the list is endless.

Once you’re addicted to your competitive sport, you’ll be fit and you’ll feel good about yourself.

And that’s that!

Quit weighing yourself. It’s not a reflection on how you’re doing & you’ll feel crap one day and then endure short-lived happiness the next. Go on how you feel.

Don’t stress about your weight. Food is for enjoying, not for worrying about. East Asians tend to eat little and often. That’s why people think we eat all the time.

Start looking up sports classes that you’ve always wanted to join. Trial some on Groupon and let me know which ones you like.

Decide to love yourself today.

Zen

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University

I still remember as if it were yesterday. I was young; I was smart, I was dumb, audacious and annoying.

Oh University, thank you for three incredible years of lame jokes, award-winning fancy-dress parties, and sleepovers at the library.

They say it’s the best years of your life; it was for me.

By the way, if you’ve already decided that university isn’t for you, fly over to my backpacking story. My ‘career’ blog post is currently climbing the corporate ladder (my blog feed) and is due to a promotion.

It’s been a few good years since I graduated. For those of you who have just finished college, there are a few words of advice that I wish I had been given when I left home to become a ‘real, live, fully-functioning adult’. Hey, it’s okay if you haven’t reached the stage in your life, where you can find your socks.

Network

I know, I know. You’re fresh outta’ college, and you’re a tiny bit nervous. I’ve been there. Don’t worry young Fresher. Everyone is as lost as you are. Fortunately, Uni’ has sneaky ways of bringing everyone together. You’ll naturally befriend your fellow peers in halls, seminars, lectures, coffee shops and societies. Oh and ladies, you know when you’re drunk, and everyone becomes your best mate? The student union toilets are the official networking zone*. I saw friendships blossom from a simple “I love your bag, where’s it from?”, Or (and here’s my lame attempt to guy-speak) ‘Nice watch mate’ — you get the gist. Photos are an excellent excuse to add people on Facebook, without being weird about it. Strike up a conversation by asking for directions to your lectures. The best friendships start in the strangest places. You will meet your lifelong friends at University.

*Disclaimer: the student union toilets may not be an official networking zone. You may just be very drunk.

Societies

At the Fresher’s Fair, scribble your name down on every club that interests you. Okay fine, I initially did it for the freebies. Alongside the free stuff, you may end up picking up: life-long skills, friends, and wonderful experiences. I fell in love with cheerleading (don’t laugh — it involved extreme body flexibility), and it became one of my biggest passions.

Research

There is only really one thing I wish I did more of, and that’s some digging. I will pass on a little pearl for you: delve deep into your career prospects in advance. Find out what qualifications and experience you need to get your desired job — before the other grads get there before you do.

Job

Unless you’re rinsing the bank of mum and dad (most of us aren’t), a part-time job is handy. For flexible working, your student union is a good starting point. Employers will be impressed with what you did with yourself alongside your studies. During the summer period, go and bag that scheme/internship, you’ll thank your grown-up self later.

Wonga

Every time my loan appeared in my bank account, I would scream ‘f**k yeah!’. I was terrible at money management. I firmly believe that at school: we should have been taught about credit ratings, interest rates, bank accounts, mortgages, insurance, and why you should start saving like £100 per week, because by the time you’re 50 you’ll be a quadruple-gazillionaire. That’s a rant for another day. It’s a skill you will learn and value after you graduate. I don’t want to sound like your mother but always set aside some dosh for the future.

The not-so-serious survival guide (debatable)

1. Do not attempt to bring your whole room with you.

I brought absolute useless crap with me to my halls. It took five trips from the car to my new room. Not only were my new flatmates seriously confused, but my dad (bless him) also had to carry my stuff with a lorry cart! You do not need, I repeat, you do not need five pairs of PJ’s and fifteen pairs of shoes. Pack wisely young’uns. Pack carefully.

2. Wash. Please.

It’s not sexy to let your personal hygiene go in the bin (I’ve Wheelie bin trying not to think up some rubbish puns, sorry). Aside from the obvious health implications, smelling like you’ve not had a shower for a few days is not a great icebreaker.

3. Don’t get with your flatmate unless you’re planning on marrying them. (And for the nosey posey, this isn’t from personal experience, I’m observant / watched the tears roll in).

I don’t care if he has a big room (wink), six-pack and looks like a Model. Guys, I don’t care if she looks like Mila Kunis. If it doesn’t work out? Awkward. You have to live with them for the rest of the year. Mega lolz.

4. Freshers love rumours.

If you do something silly, expect it to spread like wildfire. You might even get a new nickname.

5. Make use of the time you share with your flatmates.

You will remember the fun times more than when you stayed alone in your room (obviously, organise your time to revise). I was lucky. In my flat, we all got on well like a house on fire (literally, we set the microwave on fire). We played pranks, cooked, watched films, went for meals and played silly games together. Don’t worry if you don’t get on with your flatmates; another flat will eventually adopt you.

Leaving home

You will be homesick in your first few weeks; there will be tears when your parents drop off their ickle pickle munchkin to grown-up school. Awww, I feel for you, I really do. There will be tears after that. Don’t worry, I promise you, it gets better.

Pop your photos of your family and friends on the wall. Open up your boxes and lay out your duvet. Once you’ve unpacked your life in your new room, go and introduce yourself to your new mates.

Plan a trip to Ikea with your new mates, avoid the temptation to play Narnia in the wardrobes, gobble up some meatballs and buy: extension lead, laundry basket, kitchen equipment and stationery.

When you’re skint, resist the temptation to wander into town, search for bargains on eBay and buy your books from Amazon. Where else can you shop naked and it is appropriate?

My favourite places that offer student discount are ASOS, Topshop, Waterstones, New Look, Currys, Apple, HP, Spotify and McDonalds (free cheeseburger with every main meal, you’re welcome buddy). P.S I do not endorse McDonalds, but it hits the scrimp spot for your student cravings.

My flatmates got sick a lot (a few of us were in sports societies which had insane socials). Mummy Wong recommends lemon, ginger & honey in hot water. It works.

There will be times when you’re revising, and your inner crazy will come out to play. Don’t stress too much, work to the best of your ability and everything will eventually work out.

Time flies faster than you will ever imagine.

University has a way of slowly shifting your identity, like sea sand getting pushed around by the ocean, slowly accumulating into new contours to form the person you’re supposed to be.

Have a wonderful time and take lots of pictures. You’ll be entering the most life-changing chapters of your life.


Location: University of The Wong Blog
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Wanderlust

Floating high above the waves, my body drives through the air like a white cloud over the ocean. Surrounded by layers, upon layers, of endless shades of blue in the sea and into the sky. My yellow bikini mimics the sun, pushing the island farther and farther behind.

Through rose tinted sunglasses, I’m living in a realm of vivid colour. The horizon bisects sheets of fire, the beautiful kind.

It’s the only time in my life where my current experience is quite literally a magical romantic novel, with me in love with the earth.

I know, I’ve handed you a plate of the finest cheese there, but it’s how I felt at the time, in paradise.

Eight months ago, I decided to quit my job to travel the world. Welcome to my blog post on real Wanderlust.

It’s a personal post, but I’m happy to share my experiences and to remind myself of why I did it. I’ll re-read this post when I’m a little old lady.

Why did I just pack up my bags and leave home? Here are eight reasons:

Dreams

I was a miserable, and grumpy cat. I needed to make a drastic change. Quitting and leaving is a significant risk. Things just kept happening, and they pushed me to the point where I had to do something about it. I have always believed in signs. If you aren’t living life as you should, the universe will make it clear somehow. If there’s an opportunity, you’ll find out.

I hadn’t done the one thing I wanted to do before my next Birthday. Every day, I woke up and I asked myself (whilst poking my island desktop computer screen): if the world ended tomorrow, would I of been happy? Had I done all the things I wanted to do? Have I ticked enough of my bucket list? The answers were no. Always, always, chase your dreams.

Adventure

I crave adrenaline. As a kid, theme parks were my second home. I was a naughty and weird kid. I always had a “bright” idea. Travelling allows you to express yourself and channel your creative outlet. It enables you to do amazing things all the time and every day. Our world is filled with ventures that if you take the plunge to do, you’ll remember forever. My bucket list was extensive but to a name a few, I wanted to go temple hopping, visit an orphanage, cuddle a koala bear, skydive, jump into the ocean and visit at least one world heritage site. I’ve now done all of those things and loved every second.

Culture

Travelling allows you to see that there is the world out there and that there is just so much more than your everyday routine. Learning about other cultures changes the way you think. Your mind will open. You’ll learn that diversity is a strength and the spice of life. Travelling at least once for a good amount of time will change your perspective forever.

#ProjectMfood

Not just because I’m a food obsessed individual, but food is an essential ingredient of human life – survival, culture, tradition, lifestyle and relationships. Go and explore a hodgepodge of ingredients and intoxicating aromas. I’m still salivating over fresh, and fragrant broths in Asia. I shamelessly ‘Foodstagram’ because my images remind me of how I felt at that time. And yes, that hashtag above will link you to my foodporn Foodgasms.

Poverty

I wanted to see poverty. We’re very lucky but sheltered in the Western world. We see media behind tinted glass. I saw struggles that you wouldn’t think were possible. Being present physically in a third world country is a real eye opener.

Heritage

I wanted to explore my heritage. If you’re an ethnic minority living in a multi-cultural society, go and visit where your parents are from — you will learn so much about yourself.

Appreciation

You’ll appreciate your friends and family a lot more; you’ll appreciate the comfort you never knew you had.

Future

Lastly, it (hopefully) helps you figure what you want out of life. Once you’ve seen what’s available in the world, it makes decision-making so much easier. You can decide whether you want to relocate abroad, continue travelling, volunteer or go home.

While backpacking, I started to blog and this was my first post. I said I would let you know if it was the right decision. I can confirm wholeheartedly; it was the best decision of my life.

Am I suggesting that everyone should travel? Well no, it’s not for everyone. If all-inclusive package holidays to Shagaluf is your thing, then go for it, but it won’t be life-changing. Travelling is physically demanding and will throw you out of your comfort zone. If you’re not willing to engage in another culture, then travelling will not work for you.

Yes. Of course, I asked myself “what if I get kidnapped, like in that film, Taken?”, But when you get there, everyone else is in the same boat as you. It’s safe if you’re smart. Always be vigilant.

Everyone has different dreams and aspirations: you may love your job, have the itch to start a business, buy a house, start a family — all of these things are life-changing experiences that people do in their own time. Do what you want to do. It’s never too late to follow your dreams.

If you are going travelling, have a wonderful time and take lots of pictures. You may be homesick at first, but it wears off, I swear.

Every day is different, exciting and you’ll want to live it with intensity. You’ll meet so many people from all over the world from diverse backgrounds and cultures who will have many stories to tell you. It all happens so fast. I get so excited when I hear that someone has decided to go backpacking.

Have so much fun and don’t forget to Skype your parents from time to time.

There’s a lovely quote by author J.R.R. Tolkien that pops up a lot, “Not all those who wander are lost”.

In Asia, I travelled with G Adventures on the Indochina Discovery and LOVED it. Dare to book your dream adventure? If you’re heading to OZ, pop into your local PeterPans branch, while hopping onto their free internet, I booked several tours with them as they always had the best deals. I booked all of my hostels through Hostel Bookers and Hostel World.

Ps. If you’ve already headed off and think you have a little nugget of wisdom to share, please leave it in the comment section below. I would also love to hear your adventures whether in you’re in the planning stage or you’ve just landed home.

Location: Zi World

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