I've gotta tell you guys, trying to pursue your passions isn't all unicorns and rainbows all the time. Not everyone is going to pat your back and validate your efforts. But when you are really making an effort to stay true to you, stars do align in the most amazing ways. You may make an invaluable connection or find inspiration on the side of the road. What I'm trying to say guys, (well to yall and myself actually) is to keep your chin up. Off and on in ruts lately, I just stumbled upon (thank you stars) an article with the most coincidentally and situationally applicable quotes I've read in a looooooong time. They've kept me swimming and I hope that they might serve you well too. Here they are :)
Travelling alone. It's already a little nerve racking. Travelling alone when you have lady parts...things get a little more daunting. Living in a different country for a few months where you have only three acquintences and no knowledge of the language...Ohhh here comes the anxiety driven queasyness xD So this situation could've gone two ways in my head. Number one, keep to myself and the people I already know (if I haven't mentioned this yet, I'm sort of an introvert), "explore" the places I already know about, and develop a routine. Number two, grow some dangly man bits, accept whatever reasonable open invitation that come my way, explore new places, take chances, and get to know new people. Now which road looks more Lisa Frank to you? I admit Id fall into ruts and revert to scenario #1 (I really am my own worst enemy), but when my mind set existed in scenario #2, I got to know the most extraordinary people and had the greatest time of my life. The best metaphor I have for you guys is what I observed watching people cliff jump off of St. Nikolas. The longer we all contemplated the jump, the more time our fears had to invade our confidence. Sure, take a look down to make sure your trajectory isn't pointed straight at a rock, but then take a deep breath and go for it. Every time I hung out with someone new, explored unfamiliar territories on my own, or said what I truly felt, the results were phenomenal and the feeling so completely liberating (like jumping St. Nikolas). The more I broke down my discomfort barriers, the easier it was to have a good time. I think that's all a matter of perspective too. (It's like how you shouldn't go into mushrooms with anxiety or you'll have a bad trip). You can be in the most beautiful of places and not have room in your mind to appreciate it and the company you're with when all you think about is how you have no idea who the s&%* these people you're with are, wether or not they like you, or wether or not you're acting like a weirdo. So here, being present is key too to having a good time. You can do so much more than you think, and it's all worth it I promise, just don't think so much.
Alright wanderlusting, restless party people, I took a nice long walk up a big, big hill today and decided, "I've come all this way, and what am I doing??? It's down right time to set some goals down (in stone and eternally on the Internet) so I can really, truly change my life (as I had set out to do in June). Enough lolligagging! Let's get down to business! .... To defeat the hunssssss (oh yes, you were thinking it, I know you were ;))
In the meantime...
• Move to Austin. Why? Because this is where I want to be. So...
• Get an apartment
• Work to pay the bills (preferably lulu because I love the work environment and the people)
• Yoga teacher training asap: why, because I love this. Ahhh a good stretch and the opportunity to help others
• Learn to code and become a developer: why? To add to my skill set and get a better job that relates to my degree (mommy I love you this is for you)
• Continue Restless and Free
Develop Etsy Site: why, because I want to keep making beautiful things with my hands gosh darnit!
For a typical young female such as myself, the prospect of travelling alone can be both exciting and scary.
Some thoughts I had before this trip:
"omfg Im going to get 'Taken' or kidnapped and mutliated like those kids in Hostel 1, 2, &3!!!" (...stupid scary movies dampering my solo travel groove :P)
"I'm going to somehow lose all of my shit and end up in big doo doo...." (this one I don't mind so much because it has precautionary use)
"Yippee!! I'm going to be freeeee!!!" (Awww yeaaaaah)
All in all, I have to say travelling solo has way more perks so far than downfalls. First, you get to make your own schedules, you don't have to consult anyone else, booking on the fly is way easier and cheaper, and it makes you get the heck out of your comfort zone. Sure, sometimes it's lonely and uncofortable, but I'm learning to take those moments as personal growth fertilizer (organic and non gmo of course). Another little plus, you meet people much easier because they see you and they go , " hey there little lady, what the heck are you doing travelling all by your lonesome?" Okat that sounds a little creepy the way I put it just now, but you get the jist - approaching others is waaaaayyy easier when they're not surrounded by a horde of compadres ;)
Some key tips for you lone wolves out there:
1. That stupid fanny pack thing your mom gives you to wear under your clothes so your you don't get your valuables stolen - I know it's ugly and probably won't go with any of your skin tights or crop tops, but wear it anyways damnit! Wear it proud! Ok but don't make it so obvious that you've got that thing tucked under because then all the pick pocketers and cute guys will know and that's no good, but you get my flow, right? XD
2. Carry at least 3 locks with you:
lock your bags, lock your wallet, lock your make up case, LOCK IT ALL UP!
Sure they may make you seem a little overprecautious, but who flippin cares if you're the only one in the hostel who has never gotten their stuff stolen! (Whooo! Go you!)
3. Love the Hostel, Embrace the Hostel, because Hostels are Awesome!
Really they are, you'll meet lots of people, end up doing all kinds of fun things together, and learn to branch out and try new things. Yes some are not as fancy as others and yes you most likely will need to use a communal shower, but who cares!!! It's fun and it's not forever ;)
5. Have a budget and a backup plan for that budget
Seriously, you never know what kind of smack will happen to your funds. Carry cash, a credit card, and a travelex card (it's a prepaid, reloadable, travel savvy debit card). Currently Im missing the third, and the second is being renewed so this is a personal lesson I am bestowing unto you, lucky, lucky wanderlusting reader. Know what kind of traveller you are, (Life of luxury, treats themselves from time to time, tight budget, or a cheese and crackers type), plan your budget accordingly, and pack your suitcase according to how much shopping you anticipate doing (Im seriously restraining myself at the moment, but ohhh man do I miss a good shop til you drop day)
5. Keep an open mind (to try new things, accept new people & cultures, and most importantly - eat new foods) and keep open eyes (to make sure you don't get sick, injured, or robbed, and so you can take pretty pretty pictures).
I hope this helps! I'll keep you guys posted about my latest adventures within the week ;)
May your imagination never cease to grow my lovelies <3
Twelve years ago or so, my Dad built a golf course on this paradise island. I remember spending time there, rolling around in the fareways and greens, drinking fresh coconut water, and playing in the hotel. Years later, this island has grown into a holiday destination for many Russians, golf aficionados, and spa lovers.
These were my favorite things about Hainan this time around:
1. Mission Hills Resort
- this massive establishment is home to around a dozen different golf courses and a hot spring spa. Let me tell you something friends; if ever you wish to put your patience and emotional limits to the test, play a round of golf. Phew, I admit that I'll my head a little at least once every time I play. Nevertheless, the courses are absolutely gorgeous and also quite challenging due to the nature of the terrain. After a long but rewarding day of golf, I highly advise an evening visit to the spa. The hot springs are free to hotel guests but additional fees apply for the spa treatments. Honestly, you won't be needing to pay for a massage because the fifty different mineral, herbal, and jet baths will be sure to turn the achiest muscles to jelly. The fifty or so baths are divided into sections themed via different continents in the world. In the Americas, you'll find the jet baths where each is configured to target a different area of the body. You can soak in a tequila bath, or steep yourself in flower water. The Asian section was hands down my favorite, specifically the Turkey baths (no goofballs, not the tasty bird, but the country). In each bath is a floating bag filled with a certain spice. I swear I took a dip in every spice in my mothers multicultural panty - and it was fabulous!!! :D (so yes, you absolutely must go)
2. The Old Main Street
- here you'll find architecture you would never expect to find in China (at least I didn't XD). It's fun to explore and shop around. Vendors there sell all kinds of souvenirs and lots and lots of beads (but watch out, some are fake!).
3. Boundary Island
- oh this place is so neat! If you stay overnight, chances are you'll stay in a bungalow on super tall stilts. The island is owned by an old man who used to be a dive master and dive shop owner. He's very humble and hosptable. Just looking at him on the street you would never guess that he owned this amazing vacation spot. The island is small and mountainous, with beaches, water sports, and an open water aquarium. The aquarium is home to dolphins, jumbo grouper, sea turtles, sea lions, and whale sharks! (I'll try to post a video soon ;)
My Favorite Things about Shanghai 2015:
1. Tian Zi Fang
- a network of alley ways full of cool shops, bars, and fantastic snack foods
- highlights: macaroon ice cream sandwiches from C&C Unicorn, finding a unicorn skull at Enigma (heck yes they do exist!), & the teeny tiny leather book shop.
2. The Alley of All Thing Cute & Fuzzy
- a little girls ultimate dream
- Everywhere you turn in this area, they sell: kittens, puppies, tiny turtles, crickets, bunnies, mice, gerbils, rats, hamsters, chinchillas, fish, and squirrels...yes, squirrels, but I'm not sure if I'd highly recommend one as a pet...as they were scurrying about inside their cages as if jacked up on mountain dew and an endless supply of pixie sticks...
3. Bar Hopping
- Bar Rules: look for a red telephone booth and enter through the right wall ;)
- Magpie: they make their own liquor by soaking the alcohol with various fruits
4. Bath Houses
- ridiculously affordable multi-story spa establishment complete with mineral baths, various treatments, really comfy chairs, and fooooooood
5. The Bund
6. Garden Sightseeing
6. Making your way around the city via your gastronomic intuition
- Dumplings....All the Dumplings...
- Street food
- Tea tasting
Lions, and tigers, and fu dogs oh my!
Ten years ago, I visited this same city with clouded eyes full of anger and resentment of being in a foreign country with an inability to speak the language, no friends, no freedom to roam, and a full hot, mosquito filled summer ahead of me. Aside from visits to the bath houses, little about Shanghai appealed to 12 year old me.
Lucky for me and you, times have passed and things have changed. For one, I've seemed to have developed a much more optimistic view on life so than now I can report back from my travels with witty and fun things to say about the people I've met and the things I've seen. But it wasn't just my attitude adjustment that mad me appreciate the visit this time around more - Shanghai changed too. International commerce increased so the city grew and meta morphed into a delicious, multicolored, hub for business, tourism, and innovation.
My favorite thing about Shanghai now is that it is chock full of good design - and its not just one certain style either. As an international city, you'll find futuristic Japanese skyscrapers next to Roman stone structures on an avenue of traditional oriental homes. In between all of this, you might find exquisitely peaceful gardens and temples. It may be a crazy mishmash of textures and forms but somehow the stark blend of old and new within the city just works.
As a buzzing international cities, Hong Kong and Shanghai are ever changing. This visit, I learned that both cities had developed a pallet for fine coffee. Everywhere now, you can find all sorts of café's that offer siphons, ice drips, nitrogen coffees, exotic blends, and as always a traditional cup o' jo. Serendipitously, my brother and my father have both become very interested in coffee recently. This being said, every day included a visit to a different coffee shop. I loved experiencing each café's unique style, from their architecture, interiors, and baristas, to their offerings. My absolute favorites of the trip were Coffee Lab (HK), Arabica (Discovery Bay, HK), and Coffee Academics (HK).
Coffee Lab is a double story shop with a narrow interior. The color palette centers around cool greys and blue accents with concrete, metal, and wood elements. This is where you can find an exceptional nitrogen coffee, and if you're up for something new, a lemonade coffee (you'll have to tell me how that one turns out for you, I was not quite brave enough this time around). Their iced espresso's are gorgeous, arriving in a gold rimmed glass atop a matching china plate. The coffee is roasted in house on the upper level, which gives the café a lovely caffeinated aroma.
Arabica has a similar feel, however it is probably best described as having an industrial, minimalistic sort of style. Any industrial designer would step inside and feel right at home - (the design geek inside of me was squealing with delight). Chemex's housing Edison bulbs were hanging from a wooden plank suspended from the ceiling, creating an ingenious coffee-themed light fixture (ahhhhhh I love it so much), and I cannot even begin to describe the wonderfully clean, modern-with-a-vintage-twist audio system…(drooling)… The fresh, yet-to-be-roasted coffee beans are displayed on the wall in glass and silver dispensers. The main counter integrates a display and description of each type of bean the café features. Walk around the counter and you're in the coffee kitchen, where bins of beans line the back wall, a large wooden table with industrial fittings welcome guests who wish to sit and enjoy watching the beautiful, artfully, precise way in which their coffee is created by the owner of the shop and his spunky protégé.
Coffee Academics is a chain café - there are two in Causeway Bay - that stole my design heart as well as my taste buds. Though industrial in its style, it maintains a cozy feel with its warm wood tones and greenery. Their light fixtures are fantastic, and their ice coffee (served in a wine glass) is delicious. However, I have to say, the crème de la crème of the menu is absolutely, hands down, the churros with ice cream. Warm, and fried to crispy perfection, these churros make you think twice that you're in Hong Kong…Pair it with an espresso and you're in heaven. The cool thing about Coffee Academics is that its also an education hub for coffee lovers. Much like wine tasting classes, it is my understanding that they teach you how to develop your taste for coffee.
Though we consumed a ridiculous amount of caffeine on this trip, I'm sure we had only experienced the tip of the coffee culture iceberg in Asia. To all of you coffee nuts out there who want to broaden their horizons, I would highly recommend a venture to the East.
May your imagination never cease to flow.
Ahhh Hong Kong.....The first things that come to mind at the mention of this city are:
1. Mystery Water - (the random drop of liquid that falls from some unknown origin above you, onto your person....just keep telling yourself that its water)
2. Street Food - it may look a little sketchy, and you probably wont have a clue what any of it is, but if you're not a strict vegetarian, open your mind and open your mouth.
3. Shopping Malls - my favorite thing to do, is visit one bathroom in each mall. Why? Because they are BEAUTIFUL.
4. Public Transportation - I have never seen a system so clean and efficient in my life. Ahhh if only we had the Hong Kong MTR's, trolleys, and busses in the US, we would have so much less traffic and pollution.
The best thing about this segment of my journey was that I got to travel with my brother. Mind you, five years ago, I wouldn't have been caught dead saying this. As children, we fought all the time, stabbed each other's eyes out of a majority of our family pictures, and refused any physical contact. Now that we've gained a little more maturity (emphasis on the little), we get along much better. As a travel companion, Evan tops the charts. He's always on the lookout for adventure, new foods to try, and different people to meet. Though he has a love for the finer things in life, he is able to travel on a budget when absolutely necessary. So upon arrival in our father's motherland, he wasted no time establishing a list of to-do's this time around.
Evan's Hong Kong Must's of 2015:
1. Eat a Night Wolf from Oddily
2. Have a Michelin Star worthy bowl of ramen from Jo Ramen
3. Take the AquaLuna tour of the harbor to see the light show in the evening
4. Go Shopping (one of the reasons why we get a long so darn well
5. Party in Lan Kwai Fang (an area of central notorious for the nightlife and foreigners)
I'm happy to report that we checked everything off the list, with each activity living up to its expectations. If I had to relist them in order of priority (and personal preference) this is how it would go: 2, 5, 3, 1, 4. Hopefully ill figure out how to post pictures soon so you guys can see. Until next time!
May your imagination never cease to flow
As my first post to Restless & Free the Blog (yay!), I would like to set the intention for this journey. During my 2.5 months abroad, I hope to begin again, develop a new worldview centered on an unconditional love for life, and find my bliss - whatever that may be. For some, this may all sound like love, peace, and hippie nonsense, but to each his/her own. We must all find our own way to enjoy the gift of life.
Why have I decided to do this? Well, after a recent family trip and a combination of circumstances, I took a good hard look at my life as it was. I was unhappy with my situation, and figured that it was up to me to change it. Around the same time, one of my dearest friends and confidants, sent me a blessed book called How Yoga Works by Gesne Michael Roach (I highly recommend it to anyone in search of happiness). It basically provides readers with pathway to the end of suffering through the understanding of yoga.
During the time between the climactic family vacation and this journey, I spent most of my time planning, practicing yoga daily, and focusing much more on the development of my jewelry. I found that these things brought peace into that turbulent period of in-between-time where I worked on reconstructing my relationship with family and friends.
Right now, I am in Asia, working on my relationship with my father, brother, and also myself. After all, before you can truly begin to love others, you must first love yourself.
With Restless & Free the blog, I will keep you all updated on the progress of the new world view, share my journey, and hopefully discuss various existential and design related topics with you all :)
- May your imagination never cease to flow