Yoga started as a ‘weird’ little secret – as I needed time to get comfortable with being in silence – but the way it has taught my mind has in consequence taught my life to become greater by how I look at it and the actions that arise from that decision.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“YOU CANNOT CONTROL WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU, BUT YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU, AND IN THAT, YOU WILL BE MASTERING CHANGE RATHER THAN ALLOWING IT TO MASTER YOU“.

Calm your mind 🧘 (With images) | Yoga illustration

Brian Tracy

Ultimately, meditation is not a doing or a practice… It is a way of life, a loving, compassionate attitude towards our pain and our heartache.

Meditation means slowing down, consciously responding to the intensity of the present moment rather than reacting to it, feeling and blessing our discomfort rather than running away into stories and blame, lovingly observing our negative thoughts rather than being sucked in by them. Meditation means awakening to the heart-breaking preciousness of every moment, discovering Oneness in the passing scenes of this ordinary life. This is the meditation I live and breathe and teach, and this is the meditation that ultimately saved my life, the meditation that says YES to our gorgeous, broken, fierce and tender human hearts, YES to our imperfections and flaws, YES to us, exactly as we are, in this very moment of our lives…”

– Jeff Foster

The scientific reason why mediation can be so beneficial to someone’s life is the re-structuring it does inside your brain and the way it perceives the outside world. Molecules of the protein drag a ball of endorphins along an active filament into the inner part of the brain’s parietal cortex, which produces feelings of happiness.

I initially discovered Meditation from my travels in China. It started when I ran into a public Yoga class at People’s Square on my way back from work. I remember asking myself how could all these ‘oldies’ master such ‘ridiculous’ poses so gracefully… so I decided to go back to my room and try them. I still don’t feel quite ready, but that’s okay, That was the purpose of meditating for me. Its’ purpose changes depending of the person’s subjective goal.

I can see the difference in the way my mind processes information and in consequence, how it has taught my life to become greater by how I look at it and the actions that arise from that decision.

It is revolutionary, mentally and also physically. I couldn’t recommend it more often. If you decide to try it out, just prepare yourself to pay attention to –every-singledetail you make, how your body moves, how your lungs breathe, time slows down pretty quickly after and that will help you keep focused for longer.

Hong Kong, China

In summary you will find yourself constantly surrounded by tall buildings, narrow streets and hectic crowds – specially in the Kowloon area – But if busy makes you ‘stressy’, you can always take off to Lantau Island where you can find quieter local beaches and less people around.

Hong Kong

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Many expats travel to Macau (澳門) or Hong Kong (香港) as a means to renew their entry-visa to the country, it also tends to be cheaper than going back to Europe to do it. When I started getting closer to running out of days, I took the opportunity to visit Hong Kong and see how much resemblance could this colony have with their UK friends. I loved the fact most people I asked directions responded in English straight away, something I couldn’t find in Shanghai.

You will find yourself constantly surrounded by tall buildings, narrow streets and hectic crowds – specially in the Kowloon area

But if busy makes you ‘stressy’, you can always take off to Lantau Island where you can find quieter local beaches and less people around. In Lantau you can also find the main Big Buddha, which will take your breath away -it shows you the power of silence and respect when visiting such sacred places-.

If you want to see the most iconic views of the city, Victoria Peak is where you want to go. The wait can be long -I queued around 5h. to get into the tram- but views are beautiful and worth every second waiting.

The views in Hong Kong are something hard to get used to. So make sure you check out some rooftop bars like the Wooloomooloo (Wan Chai); with tasty food and great music while watching the city’s sunset.

Hong Kong In Pictures

Credits to unsplash

Beijing, China

There’s so many stories behind the people you meet along the way and so much culture bursting out of every item you find and get gifted with. I can’t recommend it enough. Try think about going before it disappears.

Raving on the Great Wall of China

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Back in the day, people in China used to take the Mid-Autumn festivity as a time to cherish the moon and it’s full cycle. In Mandarin, this holiday is called Zhōngqiū Jié (中秋节) and Jūng-chāu Jit (中秋節) in Cantonese. Some colleagues at work used to call it Mooncake day, and used to bring lots of sweets to be thankful for. Although Mooncakes aren’t my favourite thing, you should definitely try them out if you’re travelling to China during this time.

So a couple weeks prior to Mid-Autumn I was invited by a bunch of crazy expats to a party called the Ying Yang Festival in Beijing.

Their intention was to gather very different kinds of people but having all one thing in common: knowing how to have a pretty damn good time and our collective love for music. So I had to start planning how to get from Shanghai to Beijing with less than $50 in our pockets. Did I mention we’d be raving together right on top of the Great Wall of China?

I got into this ¥200 entry-coach that went from Shanghai to Beijing in 7-9h. Or that’s what was advertised, we ended up in there for over 16.5 hours, with a long 4h stop caused by the fog.

But the coach ride was also the perfect ice-breaker to get to know others going to the same festival & also to learn how weirdly deserted petrol stations can be in the middle of China. Oh, and time can really fly when you’re discovering what Baiju is.

Overall the Great Wall wasn’t just fun and music. There’s so many stories behind the people you meet along the way and so much culture bursting out of every item you find and get gifted with. I can’t recommend it enough. Try think about going before it disappears


Looking Into the festival


Shanghai, China

It is sometimes decisions like these the ones that save someone from biasing themselves to believe that what their most proximate environment shows is, in fact, what reality is.

Shanghai

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Travelling to China at only 17 was the most impactful change I have ever got to endure. At that age, things don’t make much sense, and I couldn’t bare my own narrow-mindedness. I craved for a while going as far away as I could, somewhere completely opposite of what I have been told ‘the world’ was.

I decided to use my savings to book the flight from Barcelona -Moscow- to Shanghai. It is sometimes decisions like these the ones that save someone from biasing themselves to believe that what their most proximate environment shows is, in fact, what reality is.

After experiencing my own struggles out there, it served me purpose to gain respect for other people’s journey, to transform what I dislike into understanding, compassion and love, above all, no matter what. For any solo travellers out there, just wanted to say, I respect your journey so much.

Read more below.


My personal journey to Shanghai

I chose Asia as my destination for several reasons, first, I didn’t want to travel to a country where I had friends or family as for me personally, that wasn’t challenging enough. Secondly, China was just starting to sky-rocket themselves globally, and that just sounded fascinating. Thirdly, my young 17 year-old stubbornness of risking all and more to prove to the world I could do it, worked to my advantage. Only at the end of my trip was when I realised that the world I tried to prove was living inside.

When travelling to China, I had to ask myself what did I want to take from this experience. I would have loved to travel with fancy luggage, go to fancy restaurants, with plenty money in the bank and sticking to Expat groups where you find English speakers to talk with, that would have helped me feel safe, home, and within my comfort zone. But a sum of different factors pushed me the opposite direction. At that time, I secured a non-paid internship as the excuse to go, I had enough to buy a ticket, get a pre-paid phone, get snacks from Seven-Eleven and pre-book a hostal for the first 2 weeks in Shanghai, that’s as far as I had this planned before getting into the flight. I had enough to survive, but not to thrive, which is why I ended up getting a couple side-jobs outside my Internship hours that helped get extra income.

My urge to fit into the Chinese community – or any other – would come from growing up. No matter to what country me and my family moved, we could not escape the ‘outsider’ perception of us. We’d be the ones ‘only staying there for a bit’ or the kid in class from ‘who knows where’ and who can we blame when kids were not being taught to not fear the unknown. The power that comes with it makes you want to try find the deepest values of connecting with human beings, to build relationships, to bond and deepen our understanding of the world. That’s the part of China I was aiming to explore and what fuelled me to adapt into their culture. I tried learning to speak Chinese with local Chinese groups, signed-up to my first Badminton championship, tasted a variety of foods (this meant finding out what food-poisoning is) and met people I would have never thought I would be lucky enough to meet. I was given a chance to go through the deep pains of human life, and transforming it into understanding…. there’s an unexplainable magic when speaking about connecting, it goes beyond the scarce 25 letters forming our alphabet.


I understood the value of such friendships when I met this wonderful girl who became my flatmate, her English wasn’t perfect, but once I met her, she helped me identify the thieves, she introduced me to her friends, she helped translate council documents for me to sign, and she showed me a part of China I had never imagined possible.

Her story was incredible to listen, I remember going to the Marriage market with her. At first, as any feminist, I struggled to understand the need for her to go there just to find a husband. But that’s when she opened up about her family, a father who hoped he had a boy, a mother who saw her as a lost case just because she was not married yet – she was only 29 at the time -. It’s hard to forget when ‘ballsy’ people show you how to keep doing what you think to be the right thing even if that means getting criticism later on.

In a nutshell, I urge you to make good friends with the locals – If you don’t speak Chinese or even if you do -. You will meet some of the most obliging and helpful people which at the end, can become pretty crucial for when you meet the sneakiest kind (avoid legalities, foreigns always lose).

Some highlights worth noting are the Bund, the Pearl Tower, and the beautiful Yu Garden. If you’re going to China for work, just be aware you can end-up working long hours as a matter of respect for others working as much. As a consequence I met many European workers who’s friends would leave China within 2 years of work, burned-out.

If you’re looking for rental flats, try SmartShanghai and locate places nearby People’s Square, you can’t get more centric than that. Any social events can be easily accessible through WeChat (no other Social Media can be used there without VPN).

If you’re into loud but fun bars, check Perry’s, which is pretty low-end and provides drinking quizzes, open chats across all tables, pretty good service and cheap drinks (too cheap some might say). If you’re more into the crazy fancy clubs, check M1NT and you’ll walk through tank-walls full of sharks, surrounded by dancers in high-heels walking around with fire and eccentric dresses. If you want to go for something different, you got to check out The Mansion, it’s literally an underground house-party you can access through a little hidden route behind their garden, with many rooms to get lost in. Other places are Hollywood, and Bar Rouge (for amazing views to the bund).


Shanghai in photos

Photos are such a beautiful way to express your perception of the world, and I hope these ones show you a glimpse of how I remember Shanghai.

All photo credits to Unsplash.







Rotorua

it can be described as smelling distinctly like rotten eggs, and truth be told, it is indeed an odoriferous city. The smell however grows on you

Polynesian Spa

Rating: 4 out of 5.

We got our entry included to this beautiful hidden gem in New Zealand when we bought a travel package from Peter Pans, which is great for low-budget backpacking. You can also visit direct and pay a one-off ticket entry which range from $10 to $50 – depending if you want to visit the family pool areas or you’d rather a private one for your own-.

We went in the evening right after a long day of walking and exploring around. Once arriving they kindly come and greet you to show you the way inside. The scenery is incredibly beautiful and worth the $10 general entry we paid.

The only downside is the strong smell, which can be hard to get used to. As they reference “it can be described as smelling distinctly like rotten eggs, and truth be told, it is indeed an odoriferous city. The smell however grows on you”

Credits to Klook for the picture.

Queensland, Australia

Pirates of the Caribbean filmed one of their latest movies here, and I’m not surprised why. “This-is-paradise”

Whitsunday Islands

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Pirates of the Caribbean filmed one of their latest movies here, and I’m not surprised why. This. Is. Paradise.

The Whitsunday Islands are located in Queensland, Australia; They hold some of the purest sands on earth, in where you can witness stunning sunsets and beautiful fauna all around the seas.

Apart from being Australia’s largest cluster of offshore islands, it is also one of the top 5 beaches in the world.

While it has gained a lot of attention from many travellers around the world, let’s make sure you know that there is not much Reef remaining there, sadly, which – if you go there with high expectations- it can be a bit of a bummer. Don’t expect a Finding Nemo scene, not just quite.

If you’re really into exploring the beautiful fauna under water, you can get a hired-boat that departs from Cairns into the north islands.

It is extremely challenging to keep hydrated and find a shadow to protect you from the sun, which is stronger here due to the oz hole, If you don’t want to be dealing with strong headaches and really bad sunburns: Come prepared – Bring Suncream 50.


Airlie Beach

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Airlie Beach is the closest you’ll get to Whitsunday Islands. Normally people stay there before embarking in a 3 day trip to the Whitsundays. Airlie is a pretty small place where you’ll spend most of your time bathing and tanning in the esplanade.

After staying in Airlie Beach, you’ll get into a boat to sail around the Whitsunday Islands. Price wise, you could get any boat for the same range of prices, however I strongly recommend the Tongarra boat. Why? Because of their community vibe, their friendliness and happy mood, so refreshing.

Also, I had a couple friends sailing with other boats, and they complained about not being able to do stuff, about being restricted and having to go to sleep at 10pm “no alcohol allowed”.

At Tongarra, we felt like a family, did games together, had beers and ciders and even went for a couple dives at night.







Middle East, Dubai

You can see the vision and effort put in every building built in Dubai; Attention to detail in every path, every mall and with top “la crême de la crême” in variety of restaurants

Dubai

Rating: 3 out of 5.

You can see the vision and effort put in every building built in Dubai; Attention to detail in every path, every mall and with top “la crême de la crême” in variety of restaurants.

You can visit the Aquarium which is a great environment for families with kids. If you’re like me, avoid the underwater zoo, as the lack of space in which the animals are living will make you rage like the millennial you are. Don’t buy tickets, you’ll only make the owners richer.

We also got to ride camels as a ‘fun’ activity to do, only to realise how poorly the Camels were being treated. A woman in our group even refused to get on them claiming she could see the struggle they were going through.

If you are staying in Sharjah, just know alcohol is extremely prohibited. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a single drink, but you’ll need to grab a cab and leave the area to find one.

Even when you do find an alcoholic store, you’ll be asked to show an alcohol tourist licence valid only to visitors who are non-Muslim and 21 years and over. The Emirate of Dubai offers a free 30-day alcohol licence for tourists, to ensure visitors will not be penalised for breaking the law.

Read more about this here.