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Why We Need Travel More Than Ever

I try to remain positive every day, and to remind myself that the majority of the people on this planet do not wish harm against one another. But fuck, it’s difficult sometimes. It’s difficult when you hear about a person with so much hatred inside him that he feels the need to fire a semi-automatic rifle into a crowd of people dancing, that he feels the need to detonate a bomb strapped to his chest while surrounded by families doing their daily shopping, that he feels the need to wield an axe on a train of commuters just trying to get home, that he feels the need to drive a truck through a busy street filled with children. It’s difficult when you hear about young men being shot just for reaching for their wallet. It’s difficult when you hear about casual post-Brexit racism happening in your own neighbourhood, to your own neighbours. And I sit down, and I read all the news articles I can, and I debate whether or not hashtag activism is insensitive or not, and I talk to my parents about it, and I talk to my friends about it, and then I just feel hopeless. I feel like there is nothing I can do.

But, in a way, I suppose there is something I can do, and something you can do, too.

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The Last Time I Saw You (Part Five)

The last time I saw you, you were walking away from me, your hair shining blue-black in the streetlights. I had turned back to wave again, but you didn’t, and so all I saw was the back of you, disappearing into the night.

***

We met at a beach party on another continent, a place where the water turned smooth as glass. The night we met the moon shone low, turning the sand a pale grey.

“You don’t need salt,” I said to you, reaching for the salt shaker in your hand. Those were my first words to you, leaning up against the bamboo bar.

“Oh, I don’t?” you replied, the shot of tequila in your hand full to the brim. You smiled a wicked smile, your teeth flashing like the Cheshire Cat.

“No, you don’t. It will taste better without salt, trust me.” I was flirting with you, my hand still lingering on top of yours, both of us holding on to the salt shaker, neither of us breaking eye contact. I was wearing a long turquoise dress; it brought out my tan and my blue eyes. I felt good that night. I felt like flirting with you, the most handsome man at the bar.

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The Perfect Holiday: A Villa in Mallorca

For those of you who don’t know much about Mallorca – often spelt Majorca – it is the largest island in the Balearic Archipelago of Spain, located in the Mediterranean. Perhaps you’ve heard of its neighbour, Ibiza. And the thing about these islands is… they’re known for their partying. For their stag-dos, hen-dos, their all-night hedonism. They’re known for amazing nightlife, for clubs and house music, for a really, really fun time… if that’s your definition of a fun time, that is. And that’s the thing – that’s not my definition of a fun time. I don’t want to go out and hit up clubs full of 18-25 year olds doing shots of unidentifiable liquid. I like to party, I like to dance, I like to drink, but, much as my friend Sam said, I’m not exactly a ‘Mallorca type’.

But yes, you guessed it, I was completely, 100% wrong. I am totally a ‘Mallorca type’. I just didn’t know the truth about Mallorca, and that the paragraph I just wrote only describes a very small part of the island. The rest of the island – outside the area of Palma/Magaluf – is absolutely gorgeous, filled with sleepy Spanish villages, olive groves, and secluded beaches, and I will be writing more about my time there (and how to spend the perfect week on the island) soon. It’s also home to some of the most beautiful villas I’ve ever seen.

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Bicycles in Denmark 3

On Bicycles and Brothers

I can remember holding you for the first time, your tiny pink hand slowly clenching and unclenching around my finger. By the time you were walking and talking we were inseparable. When you were old enough, we’d go out on long bike rides, riding to the convenience store for Slurpees and five cent candies. We’d then whip around the neighbourhood, going as fast as we could leading up to the hill down Crescent Drive, toward the golf course. People joke that you can watch your dog run away for three days in the prairies, and we had to make the most out of every minor hill, every chance to feel the rush of wind on our faces. We’d race each other through the pathways of Wildwood Park, stopping in each playground to eat candy while sitting on the swings. We knew those streets like the back of our hands, knew every crack in the sidewalk, every low branch, every yard that had a dog that would bark as we zoomed past. When it would be time to go home, we’d cycle down South Drive slowly, seeing who could ride with our hands off of the handlebars the longest, both of us showing off.

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Nine Mistakes to Make as a Traveller

I’ve made a lot of mistakes while travelling. A lot. I’ve been ripped off, I’ve lost things, I’ve spent too much money, and I’ve wasted valuable travel time on things that could have been avoided. There are certain mistakes I don’t think are worth making at all – things like spending too much on credit card fees, not checking if your phone plan covers data roaming, and drinking that damn glass of orange juice in Morocco – but there are a lot of mistakes I think are OK to make once or twice, or even ones I think that we should all make quite a bit in our travels. Here are a few of the “mistakes” I’ve enjoyed making over the past ten years of travelling, and some stories detailing when I’ve made them myself.

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For All the Places I Once Lived

I arrive in Osaka on a humid afternoon, my bags bulging with light grey office-wear and books by my favourite authors. I stand on the yellow footprints at immigration, waiting to be fingerprinted and photographed. I take a bus and then a taxi to my new apartment, led by an American representative of my company called Bruce. He has bleached hair and a sweat-stained polo shirt. I go to shake his hand, but he bows instead.

We walk down a long arcade filled with glowing shops, air-conditioning blasting out their automatic doors. I see rows of unfamiliar vegetables, walls of colourful stationery, a casino whose plink and plonk of slot machines resounds out into the night air. We stop at an inconspicuous building with a brown door, my new home.

The apartment’s larger than I thought it would be, although everything is steeped in brown and beige, the furniture chipped and dingy. Many people have lived here before. I pull back the sepia curtains and step out onto the balcony, looking over a sea of low buildings, the dim of lights stretching out as far as I can see. The air feels sticky, flat. It’s my first time in Asia.

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A London Meet-Up and a Request for Guest Posts

I’ve been thinking a lot about community lately, and about support networks. I’ve been thinking more and more about my blog’s tagline – “It’s not just the where and the how of travel, it’s the who and the why.” I’ve been thinking about what this blog is here for, and what on earth I aim to achieve from it beyond the (hopefully not but probably) navel-gazing stories about my travels, emphasis on the my.

And, of course, the more I think about it all, the more it comes back to this: the main reason I travel, the main reason I blog, hell, the main reason I get up in the morning, is because of the interactions with people I have from all over the world. Meeting new people and engaging with people from different backgrounds and cultures is the whole reason I am so addicted to travelling in the first place. I wrote a post recently about how I believe people are good, and in that I talked about how much I’ve gained and learned from interacting with people of all walks of life.

But I am just one person, and I represent just one kind of traveller.

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Book Review (and Giveaway!): Mother Tongue

One of the great joys of my life is, obviously, travelling. Another great joy – one that has always allowed me to travel, even if I’m sitting on my couch – is reading. Over the past few years, especially in the midst of my master’s degree, I read a heck of a lot of non-fiction, and, as I wrote the first draft of my own book, I read tons and tons of travel-focused non-fiction. I read great, inspiring books, books that made me want to plan trips to faraway lands, books that made me laugh and made me learn. I also read a lot of… well… not so great books, books that felt more like a poorly-written (and sometimes culturally insensitive) diary.

But someone whose writing I can always rely on is Christine Gilbert of Almost Fearless. I’ve been reading her blog for a long time and even considered spending some time in Mexico in order to do one of her writing courses (OK, and to eat a lot of guacamole). I had followed her journey of writing a book, and when she reached out to me to see if I wanted to read an advanced copy of that book, I was more than happy to do so.

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Cinque Terre on a Budget

If you’ve been following my Facebook or my Instagram accounts, you’d know that I’m not hiding the fact that I fell absolutely, head over heels in love with Cinque Terre, Italy. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know – I can be quite promiscuous with my travel love. But how can you NOT fall in love with a place that looks like this, especially when the sun is shining and you have a glass of wine in your hand?

I’m still going through all of the hundreds of photos I took from my four days there last month, so I’ll be posting a photo essay soon, but I wanted to write a post about some of the logistics of getting around Cinque Terre, especially for those who are on a bit of a budget (like I was…er… always am). I had quite a few people write to me to say that they plan on visiting the region this summer, and so hopefully this guide can help, or perhaps it can help inspire you to plan your own trip there. It is one of the most beautiful places in Italy, if not the world, and I truly believe that Cinque Terre can be visited on a budget. Here’s how.

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