Claire in Taiwan, health, Personal

Escaping reality, fighting depression

In Taiwan it seems like everything happens in Starbucks.

Business lunches, lawyer meetings, dates, mum-mornings and more.

For me, it’s my escape.


Although Taiwan doesn’t seem as ‘foreign’ to me as China did, it’s still far from being home. Thus, I need to find somewhere I feel a little okay. People don’t stare at foreigners in Starbucks, because the locals assume that they’ll see one here anyway.

So here you are,

Too foreign for home

Too foreign for here.

Never enough for both.

-anon.

I’m one of those people who always encourages others to be honest and open about their mental health, and I’m always honest about mine too. I spent years suffering in silence, or posting anon on Tumblr and it’s so destructive.

I know that just one of my posts could help just one person, and that is enough of a reason for me to speak up. That one person could become two, or ten, or even twenty. Too many people are fighting battles we will never know about and that is something I strongly believe has to end. We need to speak up.

And today, it’s my turn again.


Day 16 in Taiwan has hit me hard. Day 14 and 15 were touch-and-go, but today’s full force battle up the Himalayas.

Why? I couldn’t say exactly. It’s just another one of those days where those sickening feelings of anxiety and depression slowly seem to be seeping back under my skin and into my brain. If you know, you know. If you don’t know, you may never understand. I hope you don’t ever have to.

I don’t think you can ever truly be free from depression or anxiety, or PTSD, or any other illness. I believe that you can recover, that you can have months and years without a glimmer of them but at some point, and maybe only briefly, you will feel those intense, sickening, panic-inducing feelings once again.


I just want to sleep forever. I want the world to go quiet and leave me alone to sleep. Yet I need a friend. I need someone to sit across the room and make stupid jokes, or to sit on the sofa with me and watch a movie, or to sit with me in Starbucks and talk about nothing but nonsense. But no one is here. Who can I call? When my friends are inundated with work, when my mum and dad are out enjoying their new home – why should I bother them? My friends are travelling, having babies, watching football games, working, whatever. Why do they need to hear about me, again?

So I’m reaching out to the black-hole of the internet and maybe someone will hear me.


What do I do?

I’m still learning how to cope, how to adapt, how to accept and how to react to these feelings. My instinct is to run. My body tells me I’m not safe. From what, Claire? You are perfectly fine.

I keep reminding myself that just 13 months ago I was sat in an apartment in Taipei, crying myself to sickness, hysterical, panic-ridden and beyond miserable. Why? I don’t even know. I didn’t even know then. I spent many nights of my 3 week holiday lying in bed. In pain, in depression, in a state of mind that I couldn’t escape from.

Yet here I am on my own, living, working, travelling. Not a single day of my new life has been spent in bed, not a single minute has been spent crying and no, I don’t feel like giving up. I feel like pushing through, but how? I feel like I’ve forgotten all of my techniques. I’ve forgotten so much Chinese I can barely communicate anymore, I feel swamped with paperwork and course books in my new job, I feel totally ill-equipped to teach children and grumpy teenagers. I feel overwhelmed. I know everything is new and I need time to adjust, but those waves just keep crashing down on me.

I know I’m not my old self. I’m stronger, braver, tougher, kinder, less bitter, more patient.

I’m not the old me, and I know the old me would never believe I made it this far.


I have spent the afternoon reading, listening to music, napping in the sun, streaming through the window. But it’s been too noisy to relax. The noise of people’s raised voices which will never ceases to frustrate me. I wonder if you can have counselling or therapy for noise tolerance levels? Because I could do with that.

I feel like I’m too old for my time. I hate noise. Yet I hate being stuck in doors all day.

I’m in the middle. Party-people are no longer my people (I really wish I still liked to party) but stay-home and do nothing people aren’t my people either.

Is there such thing as quiet adventures? If so, tell me where.


I’m struggling constantly.

Since I left my last teaching job, where one person made me feel completely inadequate, I have felt like I’m continuously battling to be better. I’m in that bitter cycle where I don’t care what people think of me, yet I desperately want to be good enough for anyone I meet. The pathetic predicament of wanting to be good enough, yet knowing how ridiculous that is because you’ll never be good enough for everyone. And neither should you want to be.


My final thought comes down to this:

Talking to my friend the other night and she said,

I have to tell you, I’m sad.

Even though I’m in this new city, I’m sad too.

Oh no, the magic of Instagram, where we look happy.


And that’s exactly it. The magic of Instagram, Facebook, snapchat, where everyone looks happy. Everyone is showing their highlights reel and very few are showing their average days, their bad moments or their mishaps. All of us fall victim to the comparison of our bad days to others’ best… I promise I’m trying to stop doing this, because I’m so aware that it’s not a true reflection of someone’s entire life.


Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling refreshed, relaxed and completely free of this black shadow, but maybe it’s here to hang out for a while. If anyone has any advice, please feel free to reach out, as I’m feeling a little lost.

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Claire in Taiwan, travel

Teaching in Hsinchu, Taiwan [2]

I’ve been here for fourteen days already – wow! It feels like months. Is that a good thing?

After my lovely trip to Taichung last Sunday I felt ready for the new week. I felt positive.

I went out early to find some new coffee shops, and near the FE21 mall I found Do Wut on Hefu street, just off of Ximen street. Wow. It is an absolutely lovely place with plenty of space. They advertise it as a relaxing place and it really is. It’s quiet, they have mist sprays and amazing coffee.

Coffee prices range from NT$80~160

My boss pre-planned my Monday classes for me, which made it much easier as I teach 3 x 90 minutes, without a break! They’re alright classes, but my second class are a higher level and they’re just lovely! I definitely like them.


Tuesday, I was swapping classes with a colleague so my boss planned that class, and I planned the other. Then after work the three of us went off in search of a bar – it wasn’t a difficult day but I was ready for a drink. After a long walk (30 minutes) we found The Red – Lane 33, Minzu Road

The bartender was awesome. He spoke perfect English and was really friendly, and the prices were decent!

NT$200~250 for a cocktail

NT$130 for a corona

And between NT$200~350 for food from a Thai style menu.

They had 3 tv screens with darts, baseball and football and the atmosphere was lighthearted.

There are another two bars down this lane, so you can always pick and choose.

The funny part of Tuesday came at home time. After we’d finished our beers the guys cycled home. I couldn’t find a bus or a taxi, so I thought I’d rent a bicycle and try that. Big mistake.

It took me about 30 minutes to get out of the city centre – I just kept going around in squares, not having a clue where I was and not easily able to check google maps. Eventually, I found the massive road that leads straight home. Another 45 minutes later and I was home, drenched with sweat and barely able to walk. I’m so unfit it’s embarrassing.

Here’s a little video of my trip.


Wednesday morning I wanted to go back to Do Wut but on the way there I passed a cafe called Schäfer on Ximen street. It was sooo peaceful and relaxing! The coffee was NT$30 for a take away, but I wanted to stay in. I paid NT$160 for a pour over and NT$15 for a cookie. Both were delicious and you could smell the chocolate from the cookies as the lady brought it up the stairs! I spent ages playing about with the wooden figures too, what a child!

Thursday. ugh. Thursday, I’ve already written about my teaching part of the day, which you can read hereeee if you like.

In the city I found HILA – A small company that have five coffee shops around the city and only charge NT$75 for any type of coffee. They are a take-away only cafe but use recyclable materials for their cups and lids. Their coffee machine is bright pink and they have an array of multi-coloured cups on top – it just looked amazing and the coffee was fabulous. So rich and delicious!

After that I stumbled across K.more and fashion – a lovely little cafe that also sells fashion items like purses, hair things, phone cases and jewellery, and the guy was lovely!


Friday was a good one,  I couldn’t sleep for some bizarre reason, maybe delayed jetlag? I was talking ‘boys’ with my friend. After that I really needed to clear my head so I went for a jog / walk / hike around my apartment, in an area I hadn’t yet explored. It was up a huge hill, but once you dropped down through the trees there was a small trail that overlooked the city and it was just beautiful.

I stumbled across at least five coffee shops, which were all closed as it was 7am, but I also found the most amazing Starbucks I’ve ever been in. So I stopped for a blueberry bagel and a mango&passion fruit smoothie, which was sickeningly too sweet. I definitely felt better and then went into the city to wander around.

It was too hot for me to drink coffee and as I was leaving Big City I saw a cute, floral hole-in-the-wall. It was a brand new tea and cake shop that served cakes in little trays on top on your tea. (See pictures, it’ll make more sense). They had 50% off everything which meant my peach tea and chocolate Madeline was only NT$42 – about £1 !!

I started walking towards the train station but I was starving. I noticed a fake garden, that still looked lovely, and decided to sit and enjoy my tea and cake there. On the road behind me was a row of restaurants – the western style one was extortionate and next door was a Burrito cafe.

I ordered a veggie burrito without thinking anything of it, and when it came up it was full of egg, mustard and another sauce. It t atsed a bit funny but I knew i’d be sick. I had to pick it apart and try and eat around the dairy products. Ugh. Anti-dairy/meat/fish is a real problem sometimes!

Thankfully my classes were decent, although I had to send one boy out for being a little bugger! But my final class on a Friday are 16-17 year olds and they’ve all got a really good sense of humour, they work hard and they’re lovely people.


AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND finally. Saturday. Today.

Despite getting woken up early, I was able to relax a little by browsing through instagram and finding some more coffee shops to visit. The bus ride in was awful. Remind me not to take the bus on the weekends. Kids and parents and old people all shouting over each other, bustling and what-not.

I found Caves bookstore (at the top of Dongda Road, Section 2) and thankfully they had a decent selection of English books and also Chinese language study books. I didn’t buy anything today (#proud) but I know they’re there if I want them.

I walked back via the Aircraft museum – SO COOL!!!

and the cafes that were closed last time, were finally open today! I chose FIKARAST – and I’m so glad I did!

I had the most delicious Colombian pour over and a banana and chocolate pound cake, topped with chocolate sauce, bananas and whipped cream (Both NT$120) and got to sit and relax for a couple of hours. The owner David is also a really nice guy. They’re open 11am – 8pm and serve a range of coffees, teas and I think, beers in the evening too.

I had a class to teach today, which I wasn’t looking forward too but it actually turned out to be my favourite class yet. There were 14 students ages 15-17 and they were brilliant. Funny, inquisitive, open-minded and genuinely lovely people. They asked me questions about my life and my tattoos – they seemed fascinated with them! So it was really positive.

After work my housemates and I searched for somewhere local to eat, and found a hole-in-the-wall style place where no one spoke English and they didn’t seem to understand my Chinese – all I wanted was 2 beef noodles and 1 bowl of vegetables but it wasn’t that straight forward. SO embarrassing! 

Then we went to BARFLY – (Ren-Ai Street) to watch football, which was streamed online with youtube music in the background #awkward and pretty expensive drinks. I don’t think my housemates were impressed and we left at half-time.

And now, it’s time to relax a little.


I’m thinking a fair amount about how to make my posts, and this blog in general, as interesting as possible – so if you have any suggestions please leave me a comment on send me a message on Insta / FB / Twitter. I’d really appreciate it!

Thanks for reading and happy Saturday! xo

Claire in Taiwan, Education

Testing Teacher Troubles

Yesterday was a tough one.

I woke up feeling a little off, but put it down to being woken up at 7. I cleaned the flat, did my washing and made coffee, before heading into the city.

I accidentally discovered another amazing coffee shop, although this one is take away only. The coffee was so fantastic!!

HILA – step

I wandered around the department store and found the coffee machines… they had the most amazing offer which included a grinder, knock box and a cold brew dripper (and the machine too) but it was still £1,500… it was SO tempting.

I ended up down one of the streets I found earlier in the week, but couldn’t re-find. Tadaaaa! The cutest little fashion shop / cafe was in the middle of the intersecting roads and the guy was just so lovely! It was 36°C outside and I picked an iced peach tea (with too much syrup – eeeeek.)

K.more

I felt so ill around lunch time. I think it was the heat, but I had to run to the bathroom thinking I was going to be sick. I knew I’d have to eat a proper meal so I gave up on my usual salad and and went to 春水堂 and had veggie noodles with green tea cabbage (SO DELICIOUS!) but no bubble tea for me. (NT$160 – £4)

I took the bus to work and tried to relax but my boss had left post-it notes on my lesson plan and I just instantly felt so much more stressed.

Fast tracking on, the classes were hell.

Disastrous.

Chaos.

Manic.

Painful.

So many of the kids were badly behaved and it really annoyed and stressed me out. Rude, answering back, hitting each other, making baby noises when I asked them questions. Ugh.

I have to keep asking myself why I signed up to teach children because on days like these I really have no idea what I was thinking. And it makes me miss my old BEET students so much. 99% of them were absolutely amazing.

Thankfully I ended the evening with dinner with my housemates, and that was lovely at least.

So if you’re a teacher – I’m asking you…

How do you deal with bad behaviour in the classroom? Any tips or advice?

The children are allowed to speak Chinese in the class, which for those at 6-10 years old with almost no English knowledge, it can be very helpful for me to use Chinese with them. But it also means they have no incentive to only speak English. They’re not practicing enough sometimes.

The favourite word across the classes at the moment seems to be ‘poo poo’, for just about everything.

And then you have the sour-faced, moody, snarky teenagers that refuse to talk or do anything at all.

I just don’t know what to do! Help?!

Claire in Taiwan, travel, Uncategorized

First trip in Taiwan, Taichung

WHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE SPLAT.

That’s how my day started.

The rain was so horrifically torrential that I skidded on the path outside my apartment and grazed half of my leg and landed awkwardly, and painfully, on my left hand. (It still hurts now, 10 hours later 😢)

I also had to give in and buy an umbrella, which I inconveniently left in my friends car!

I made it to the bus station and attempted to buy my ticket in Chinese. I managed the first bit, until she asked me if I wanted a seated or standing ticket and I really didn’t have a clue what she was saying.

Our conversation then went like this:

Me: Ni hui shuo yingwen ma? (Can you speak English)

Her: a little

You want stand up ticket?

Me: no, seat please

Her: no! Stand up ticket

Me: okay, stand up ticket.

Straightening my hair was a complete waste of time and the effect lasted about 20 minutes… ugh.

The train into the city centre is extremely easy and only takes 12 minutes, it costs about 50p a trip. 50p!!!! And thankfully my friend came to meet me at the main station. I was worried about standing up for the journey to Taichung but she had kindly bought me a ticket yesterday, which meant we got to sit together! And, she was able to refund the ticket I’d bought this morning. It was just SO EASY.

The train journey was beautiful. There was so much nature, traditional houses, fascinating buildings… it was lovely. And surprisingly people were really quiet. No one was shouting or talking on their phones and it was a really pleasant trip. It took an hour and five minutes so it’s not far at all.

The further down we got, the better the weather became and once we arrived there were clear blue skies and not a raindrop in sight. Which also meant I was bloody boiling in my jeans!

ChiaoYun came to pick us up in the car, which was great because she obviously knew exactly where to go and it was much easier than me trying to find my way around. Taichung is completely unrecognisable from my last visit 15 years ago. I’d never have known it was the same city!

We walked around the market streets, which are brilliant in the day time! And got bubble tea (珍珠奶茶) and the girls also got chicken 🐓

before we went to this amazing restaurant called Jai 宅 – Although we had to wait 40 minutes for a seat, it was worth it. It’s a selfie paradise and everything is decorated in flowers or other little things. I didn’t look or feel my best, so I didn’t take selfies, but we took a few group photos.

We wandered around passed bookstores, contact lenses stands (you can buy them like sweets here) and tonnes of food stalls! And after checking #台中咖啡 on instagram we found FUXING COFFEE.

Check out what we ordered: ($690 in total, £17!)

Then we went to the train station, refunded my NO SEAT ticket and then bought a bus ticket instead. The bus ticket was £1 cheaper and an hour longer, but I had a seat and air con so it was worth the change!

I decided to enjoy the cool air and walk home from the station in Hsinchu, stopping at Poya (an everything store) to buy soap, face wash and more stickers…

I’m now sat in bed eating pot noodles before I read and go to bed. I’m exhausted and it’s fair to say I’ve had a brilliant day in Taichung thanks to my lovely friends!

Top tips for travelling around Taiwan

  • Always have a small umbrella or rain coat with you (the rain comes out of nowhere, fast!)
  • Always carry a packet of tissues and / or wet wipes
  • Always carry a bottle of anti-bac hand gel
  • Be prepared for no western toilets, although this is rarely an issue these days.
  • If you take a long distance bus, keep your ticket!! The drivers collect it from you before you get off the bus. My driver was furious I’d lost it! Woops!

Happy Sunday all xo

P.S YOUTUBE VID HERE

Claire in Taiwan, travel

Teaching in Hsinchu, Taiwan [1]

Week one round-up

Hey everyone!

I arrived in Hsinchu exactly one week ago today and so far, honestly, it’s been great!

Naturally I’m comparing my first week here to my first week in China, back in March. It’s absolutely different. There are no similarities. I love my shared apartment, the neighbours are so quiet, there’s enough veggie food for me here and there’s plenty to do! I haven’t even seen half of the city yet and I’ve been out exploring every day!

Of course I miss my family and my friends, but I am not homesick. In fact, I haven’t cried once! Whereas in China I cried uncontrollably for hours at a time for over a week. There’s just no comparison. I went into work on Monday and I observed 3 lessons, 2 on Tuesday and 1 on Wednesday. Then I taught 1 on Wednesday, 1.5 on Thursday and 2 on Friday – eek!! It was a fantastic week and a solid start to a new job.

My boss has a good system set up to ensure all new teachers get the opportunity to see how the school runs, how the class systems work and to meet all the students before you really start teaching. My only concern is I have so much to learn! But that’s great, because I need to keep pushing myself.

There are no similarities to BEET at all and I miss that terribly, but I was comfortable there and I didn’t feel like I was progressing much in my teaching. Not that I’m complaining, I wish I could have stayed there forever, but I have to keep moving.

I’m teaching ages 7 to 17, and I’ve always said I’m not keen on teaching that age group but Taiwanese people, students, are so different. There’s so much respect, discipline and dedication to studying that at any age, they’re pretty well behaved. So far, not in any class, have I spotted a potential problematic student. (Thank god for that, too!)

The best part of it is that my 3 classes in a row are on Monday, then I only have two a day for the rest of the week. On Fridays I seem to have the best two classes. The most adorable group of 7 year olds, and a really great bunch of Intermediate 16-18 year olds. So no matter how tough my week is, I know I’ll be able to end on a high note.

EEEEEEEEEKKKKKK.

OH YES. And I have 3 Taiwanese, an American and an Australian colleague, who are all lovely. Hopefully next week we can grab a beer or a meal together. We were all pretty wiped out yesterday evening.

So, what have I been up to this week?

My housemates and I are on pretty different schedules. They’re travelling around the area and to different cities and I’ve been working 2-9:30pm, so I haven’t seen much of me, but they’re lovely. Last night we finally had time to grab some street food together! Only £1 for a huge pot of noodles. Can’t complain, right?

I’ve been out from about 9ish most mornings, grabbing a Starbucks coffee and blueberry bagel (贝果 bei guo) and exploring different parts of the city. I can get 5 different buses that a free, although the bus fare is only 15 元 (50p) a trip anyway. It still means I’m saving money!

On Tuesday I had to travel nearly an hour to get to HSBC to try and withdraw money, as the local banks wouldn’t accept my card and I owed my housemates nearly £500 in rent. Thankfully they were great about it! (Obviously I was panicking like mad that they were going to kill me for it…)


The weather has been insane. Up to 38°C with 90-96% humidity every day. Making it impossible to stay cool or really relax when out and about, but I’m quickly adjusting.

And by that I mean, wear as little as you can get away with and take smart work clothes in your bag. Drink 10 bottles of water per hour and don’t walk any faster than snails pace! #problemsolver

I know Taiwan has a tonne of decent coffee, amazing baristas and wonderful coffee shops, so of course I’ve been on the hunt! Three that I’ve so far come across are extortionate!

£5-7 for an Americano. It’s safe to say I did not buy one.

I have, however, found two amazing cafes that only charge 90元 (£3!) and the staff are wonderful and both have a lovely, relaxing atmosphere.

  • Stay by Coffee, on Dongmen Street

  • Mooor coffee roasters, on Zhongzheng Road

  • Mountain House, on Dongnan Road

In a month or so I’ll probably do a round up of Hsinchu coffee shops because I’ve seen at least 20 on the map so far and I’m sure there’s even more! They’ve been saved on google maps.


I haven’t met any other foreigners and there doesn’t seem to be many around, so that’s a shame so far. But tomorrow I’m going to Taichung and in two weeks time I’ll be going to Taipei!


Today I met up with one of my dad’s old colleagues. They e been friends for 21 years now! He and his wife took me to a vegetarian restaurant on the other side of the river, in Zhubei, and we had an amazing lunch! (I was trying to be polite so sadly didn’t get any foodie photos!)

    The V F restaurant, Jiafeng South Road, Sec 1 – prices start at 200元

Then because I’d mentioned that I didn’t have a pillow, they drove me back to their house so they could give me one of theirs that was still in a package. I just find that so sweet! There we face-timed my dad and drank Earl Grey tea before they drove me back to my flat. It was such a wonderful afternoon and I feel so privileged that my dad has such kind friends who are looking out for me too.


The rain was torrential all afternoon and I thought I’d nip out when it stopped, but that was a big mistake as it started up again so quickly that I got caught in it. I did buy some brilliant bits though. I think I’ve spent about £40 on craft things in a week! But I’m really, finally, into my scrap booking again. I bought so much in China but was far too miserable to do anything, there’s only 3 completed pages. But my Taiwan one is looking great so far.

The good news is there are loads of book and stationery stores here, although an English book costs about £10. And yes, I did buy one. I can’t help myself, ok?

  • Kingstone, on Dongmen Street
  • Eslite, in Big City Mall
  • Tien Chiao Shi, on Zhongzheng Road

To end this post on a funny note, here are some odd things I’ve seen or heard this week.

  • My hairdryer is called Adam.
  • I teach children called Sky, Star, Shark, Sun and Summer.
  • One boy said, I am thirty years old! Turns out he’d heard it on the tv. He’s 8!
  • I bought ‘plain’ bread rolls and when I opened them to put salad inside they were full of weird stuff that looked like tobacco!
  • Vegetarian noodles (Not suitable for vegetarians. This noodle contains pork)

Happy Saturday xo

ppppppst… a little video I made walking around… a YouTube thingy HERE

Claire in Taiwan, travel

Taiwan: Day 1.5

Well guys, I made it! I arrived in Taipei at 7pm last night and my drive to the flat was only 35 minutes.

The flight was fantastic (okay, slight exaggerations!). I chose Turkish airlines for the first time because they allow you 40kg luggage allowance, and damn did I need it! On the flight to Istanbul I had 3 seats aaaall to myself. I watched Everything, everything – adapted from Nicola Yoon’s wonderful book. It was such a moving film. I loved it!

I wasn’t impressed with the airport in Istanbul. It was completely overcrowded, there were queues for everything and the staff were so rude! When I finally got on the plane for Taipei I had 4 seats all to myself! And for the first time that I can ever remember, I slept! I slept for 7 out of ten hours and I didn’t even watch a film! It’s an actual miracle. Unfortunately the food wasn’t very nice though.

When I arrived the heat hit me like a tonne of bricks. 29°C and 92% humidity at 7pm! The drive was lovely and calm, nothing like the horrible drive I had when I arrived in Shanghai for my China trip.

My housemates seem absolutely lovely! They’re not too chatty but still really friendly. They went to get food at a local restaurant and I wanted to find McDonalds, which ended up being closed. So I stopped at 7-11 and bought a salad, oreos and green tea – so nutritious!

I had about 3 hours sleep on and off throughout the night, all that sleep on the plane took my tiredness away. I read, and finished, a book I’ve been reading for weeks. Finally! And waited for sunrise.

I dressed, packed a little bag and headed for the highway (literally, I use the highway to get to the city centre. On foot.) There are NO PATHWAYS in HsinChu, it’s bizarre!

At 7am people were in the temples, setting up fruit stalls or heading out to work. Everyone I spoke to was so sweet and friendly – smiling, nodding, waving or just saying ‘zao’ (Chinese for morning). I felt wonderful. The complete opposite to how I felt on my first day in China.

I walked. And walked. And walked. Passed temples, gardens, parks, highways, trains… until I finally found a Starbucks!! Coffee & WiFi stop. I contemplated going to Taipei but by the time I’d walked the extra 40 minutes to the bus station it was 36°C and I was dripping with sweat. It was disgusting.

I forgot that most places don’t open until 11am, so I wandered around little parks, side streets, market stalls and just the city in general. It had an odd calm to it. Not too busy, not overcrowded, just about right.

Eventually I wandered through three huge malls! Thankfully there’s plenty to buy here, local and foreign products! I won’t be short of anything.

It hit 12:30 – I’d been out for 5 hours. Sweating, starving and my knees were killing me yet nothing seemed edible. I wandered back the way I’d walked this morning, trying to find a rental bike, but my ‘easycard’ needed activating online. After another hour of walking I gave up and hailed a taxi. 5 minutes later I was home in an ice cold shower!

(Hello Kitty edition for my sister!)

I rested a little before going out to buy cleaning products and some food (packet noodles), then back again to find a SIM card, but without luck. It’s so frustrating not having the internet!

I’ve spent a bit of time unpacking and sorting out my room this evening, as when I moved to China I was so unhappy I couldn’t bear to unpack. Even after 5 weeks, when I was leaving, I still hadn’t unpacked more than a few clothes and my coffee kits.

I’m desperate for this experience to be positive and lasting. Everything that went wrong in China, I’m going to try and make sure it doesn’t happen here. I love Taiwan and I have so many opportunities to travel around the island and Asia, at very low prices.

My only concern is the job, but I’ll find out all about that in less than 24 hours.

And my only problem is that I keep looking backwards. I can’t help it. I have been overthinking too much lately and I can’t seem to stop.

Once I have internet at home, hopefully I’ll be able to organise meeting new people and go out and make some friends.

Eeeeeeek. Wish me luck guys.

And please come and visit. This place rocks!

(Tonight’s dinner 😂)

xo

P.S. My mum is the best person in the entire world.

travel

Goodbye Bournemouth, Hello LLanrwst!

By now, many of you will know that my family and I recently left Bournemouth for North Wales! After spending one third of my life in Bournemouth, I felt a huge bag of mixed emotions about leaving. But mainly I felt sad about leaving my amazing colleagues and students, who I really miss!

However, I was extremely excited to finally move to Wales. Ever since visiting Swansea 9 summers ago, I’ve been in love with Wales, Welsh people, their accents – everything! I kept trying to convince my parents to buy a home in Wales, and they considered it on and off, but now it’s finally happened!

The little town we live in has around 3,000 residents and it’s called LLanrwst (pronounced Lan-rOOst). There aren’t many shops but there are three cute cafes, a few hotels with restaurants and at least a Boots and a few charity shops. I don’t even mind the lack of shops because the area is just SO BEAUTIFUL. The scenery is unreal. The valleys, mountains, lakes, rivers – it’s all amazing.

Plus, everyone is wonderfully friendly!

My parents seem happy and my mum is busy decorating their house.

AND My dad has one of his childhood friends living not too far away – and that’s wonderful! I met the family for the first time ever yesterday and they are just amazingly lovely.

I’ll leave you with some photos of this beautiful place… (more to follow or head over to my Instagram gzxklair)