I spent the last Summer Bank Holiday by the sea. It was a short trip, and unfortunately I did not had time to visit a bit more and get immersed in the life of locals.
Torquay is located in the English Riviera (Devon) and has been known as one of the Top 10 Holiday Destinations in UK (according to this).
It can be reached easily by train, bus or obviously by car.
And from what I could see, Torquay is a nice, little, posh city by the sea-side. People seemed more relaxed than usual (probably because of the sea-breeze) and it reminded me a lot of Lausanne (Switzerland) – one of my favourite cities.
I will definitely go back there some day, and do a bit more exploring and see what it has to offer. In the mean time though, enjoy few snaps I took while I was there.
“Round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate..” ~ Tolkien
Last week one of my good friends from UK came to visit me for few days. And it was all exciting, fun and it made me very happy to have someone from back home come to see me.
But that meant I was also busy as hell and with very little time for writing. But I’m back today, and I’m sharing few pictures from our adventure around Hangzhou.
We wondered around quite a bit, and because I’ve discovered recently how beautiful Hangzhou actually is, I’ve decided to take my friend to one of those places too. But because of our limited time together, and the fact that I had to work too during the week, I decided to stay closer to home and explore the nature scenery around my area (bare in mind, because is China – my area is the whole city of Hangzhou – which is HUGE).
That was how we got to Xixi National Wetland Park (Chinese: 西溪国家湿地公园).
This park is one of the most famous Wetland Parks in China, and the chance has it that is located in Hangzhou, and covers over 1,150 hectares. It’s mostly famous because it was the original site of the Chinese South Opera, but also for a yearly Dragon boat festival.
There are lots of things to do there, and you can stay for as long as you want. You can go on boat rides (which we did), you can shop for traditional snacks and obviously clothing and also just walk around and enjoy the scenery.
And I think the most impressive thing about this place is the fact that Xixi is a peaceful oasis in the middle of a very busy and still-developing town. The fact that you can come here and enjoy nature and that there aren’t as many people as everywhere else in Hangzhou – all of that make this place more worth it to visit!
I hope you enjoy the photos I took. I hope you like them so much that maybe one day you’ll visit this wonderful place.
It was a beautiful adventure, that thought me to go out and explore more and to be thankful I’ve been living in this wonderful city for the last 10 months!
“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.” ~ John Lennon
Peace & Love,
It's that time of the year again - the Pink celebration is back! I'm talking, of course, about Valentine's Day - the one day in the whole year where you can show your significant others how much you love them. And you can do all that by buying them chocolate, flowers, stuffed animals and/or dinners at expensive restaurants! Of course, nothing says 'I love You' like some material sh*t.
I will skip all of that this year, thank you very much. I’m choosing to do so, because first of all I’m single but also because I refuse to surrender myself to this massive capitalist trick of buying more crap that we don’t need, instead of talking to each other, instead of really tapping into our hearts and share moments, not things.
I’m going to tell you my plan for this Valentines, and you can even choose to join me – just bare with me here. I just need to explain few things first!
For me, Feb 14th marks the end of my first term of teaching in China. It was officially over at the end of January, but I worked almost all my holiday because I’m planning something big for the summer (more details to come soon) and I need the pesos. So this is my first day of holiday!
And so I decided I’m taking a day OFF. Literally.
I am turning off any electrical devices for 24 hours. Time to PANIC! What am I going to do with no internet?? No mobile?? Who’s gonna check all those Facebook posts? Whose gonna tweet for me?? Most importantly, who’s gonna Instagram my life for one day??
Simple: no one. Cause no one has to. You’ve been doing it because you want to do it, you silly goose! But you, as much as anyone, deserve a day OFF. A detox day.
I’m looking around me just now – there are so many distractions – I have about 10 tabs opened in Safari (on a chilled day, it’s probably 20), I’m also checking my mobile every 2 minutes, because I’m waiting for my friend to reply to my last 5 messages; I have 3 notebooks lying around, where I scribble ideas and inspiration as I read through my Safari pages on one, a shopping list on another and a to-do list on the third one. I’m doing all of this while humming to my favourite tune that has been on repeat for the last week or so. On top of this, I’m sipping on my coffee at a indecent hour (midnight when I’m typing this, but hey! I’m a writer – I’m allowed to do just that).
But no wonder that it’s so hard to fall asleep and I find it so hard to concentrate on only one thing lately – my mind is buzzing!
And don’t say I’m the only one doing this. We all know we’re doing most of what I described every day – texting, checking social media every 5 minutes, checking emails every 10, listening to music, reading e-books.
It’s safe to say that we’re taking the notion of multi-tasking to an extreme!
The point that I’m trying to make is that I think it’s exactly time for a detox – a tech detox.
And here are the things that I’m planning to do on Saturday. Hope it helps you, and even inspires you to do the same.
1. I will Write. I’m in a very good place in terms of inspiration right now. It’s also topped by the fact that I can finally work at late hours of night. So I will write my crankiness off (and I expect withdrawal – like feelings throughout the day)
2. I will Meditate/Pray/Sit in silence. I will light some candles and burn incense sticks to make the whole experience more authentic.
3. I will go for a walk outside.
4. I will pamper myself: do my nails, my eyebrows and maybe even a face mask.
5. I will read a book. A paper book – the best kind of book.
OR I’ll read a magazine.
6. Write some more. Reflect on my tech-detox day.
7. Clean my closet. Rearrange my wardrobe for the spring season.
8. Meet with a friend for dinner.
9. Love myself. Give myself a hug. Touch myself. Realise how beautiful this body of mine is.Because I’m worth it.
I know maybe some of you will call me superficial – because we need technology to live and work and make a living in this century. But let’s not technology monopolise our lives: there is life outside our mobiles screens, outside our laptops and headphones.
And sometimes, just taking a step back and looking at the whole picture from a different point of view is good.
Peace & Love,
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
It has been a while since my last post!
I started this one few times over the last few days, but life got a bit crazy!
But it is safe to say that I will always come back to my writing and to this blog. This is my cabinet of memories.
Sooo, with no further ado, a few words about my first few weeks in China!
China is big. China is really hot at the moment. China is crowded and Loud. But oh, so, so wonderful.
It’s like you step in a whole new world. The moment your feet step out of the plane, you are hit by a stuffiness that threatens to suffocate you, and a mass of people hurrying out to different places.
Everywhere you look you see something being built, something being developed. Hence the air pollution and the impossibility to see a patch of blue sky in cities like Shanghai or in my case, Hangzhou.
I think that has been my only complain since I have arrived: the absence of blue sky. I have spent my summer in Pennsylvania – heaven in terms of nature! So for me this is a big adjustment.
But other than that, my life here is a daily adventure.
I do not speak Mandarin yet – the only words I know are Hello, Thank you and Yes.
You can imagine, daily tasks like ordering food, shopping or asking for directions – they are converted into a ‘lost in translation’ adventure.
But I am being realistic, it could have been way, way worse! Thank God that I adapt really easy to new situations and I’ve been mastering sign language. Of course, my million watt smile seems to be helping in most situations!
I made it my goal this year – I will be able to have a decent conversation with someone in Mandarin even if it kills me!
In terms of ordering vegetarian food in restaurant – that’s a whole new challenge! It seems that for most Chinese people the concept of being vegetarian is completely strange.
And although is a bit harder than ordering any meat food, it is not impossible. You just need a really good dictionary or someone that speaks the language enough to order for you!
More about this in a different post.
I have started teaching about two weeks ago. I have 7 classes of students for both Speaking and Writing in English.
I honestly love it! My mum was telling me the other day that she can tell I like it – she can see the passion in my eyes.
I feel like a different person too. I wake up every morning knowing that I am doing something to help other people – that I am shaping futures. And honestly, you do not understand how big that is until you stand in front of 50 students that are eyes and ears to anything you are telling them.
Knowledge truly is Power.
I will end up with some photos describing my last few weeks, the friends I have made, the places I have been..
My school has palm trees. What else can I ask for.
Making friends! This girl is the best. Birthday Dinner
Shanghai TV Tower
West Lake, Hangzhou
The Little Things.
Military training month for Freshmen.
Birthday Card from sissy.
Of course, a new plant. Still haven’t named it.
Best vegetarian dry hot-pot in town.
And I went to a Chinese wedding. And I was taking pics of everything!
The view from my room. I live on the 11th floor. Coincidence?! (11 is my lucky number.)
More Birthday cards.
We also have a lake where lotus flowers grow. And fish.
Night Markets are the place to be.
I was a judge in a National Speech Competition. Because why not.
More updates over the next few days, but for now, I need to go back to lesson planning!
One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”
I fell in love with New York. Nothing much, nothing less.
And I thought of how I can put this better in words.
So I choose to let the photos and some very famous quotes speak for themselves.
I spent about 4 days there, but I can honestly say that I did not feel like a tourist. The city adopts you from the moment you arrive there. You never get lost there, you just wander.
It’s the city of artists and of people always willing to help you. At least it was for me.
It’s the kind of city where you want to stop in parks and listen to the stories the person on the bench next to you has to tell.
The kind of city where you should get lost in and embrace it. Because any street brings an adventure, a new colourful and powerful story.
And New York is the most beautiful city in the world? It is not far from it. No urban night is like the night there…. Squares after squares of flame, set up and cut into the aether. Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stars to our will. (Ezra Pound)
Remember this song??
It sums up pretty much all I’m trying to say.
New York through my eyes..
“There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless.” (Simone Beauvoir)
My advice for aspiring writers is go to New York. And if you can’t go to New York, go to the place that represents New York to you, where the standards for writing are high, there are other people who share your dreams, and where you can talk, talk, talk about your interests. Writing books begins in talking about it, like most human projects, and in being close to those who have already done what you propose to do. (Walter Kirn)
“Most of us think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, but we are actually feeling creatures that think.”
It came so sudden that our last goodbyes were met with tears running down our cheeks and promises that we will return to the beautiful place the Indian Head Camp was for the summer.
It was the place where I met some of the most beautiful souls I could ever meet.
Indian Head changed us. It had such a great impact on some of us that we promised even before we left camp, that we will return next summer.
We started missing it even before we got on the buses and we all went our separate ways, back to real life.
I won’t deny it, we had our bad moments. There were times when we said that we want to go. Moments when we were frustrated with ourselves or with people around us. But the most important thing here was that the good times, the things camp thought us overcome those tiny dark moments.
I will miss the night talks with the girls in my bunk.
I will miss the early morning walks on camp and seeing deers, rabbits or birds just living their lives.
i will miss the sunsets.
the friday night campfires.
Hearth attack hill.
I will miss the nights off in Scranton.
And the lake at sunset.
The early lunches at the Lodge.
I will miss the pizza sticks. And the brownies.
And sitting on the porch with a ‘cuppa.
The heavy rains that came from nowhere.
each and every flagpole.
But most importantly, I will miss each and every one of the beautiful people I have met there.
It’s impossible to describe the effect they had on me, on my life.
I will just say that I am so thankful and happy that I chose to do summer camp.
It might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Or more than one time.
It’s Magic. It’s Love. It’s Friendship. It’s Happiness.
My summer in photos…