“Its a light weight treasure when you’re far from home”
When travelling solo I have become accustom to wearing a clueless expression, confusion is predominantly in the twitchy brow and the oval-shaped mouth formed from constantly muttering “what?” And as with any new place the most simple of tasks first need serious consideration, like making a cup of tea: where’s the cup, the bag, the sugar, the milk? Shit, let there be milk! No spoons though, just plastic knives and straws. I opt for the straw then investigate the eatery court; the special is Hong Kong fish ball soup. I nod in agreement and hope they don’t think I’m an English snob with my cup of tea.
There is a line in the film Starksy and Hutch where they arrest an Asian guy and the gist of the line goes: “I can’t help you, you all look the same to me!” to which Owen Wilson replies, “that’s hilarious you guys all look the same to us!” It really makes me question perspective: what do they see? As I order some Hong Kong soup, the fish looks like (and tastes like) starched tofu with fish flavouring in a delicious creamy liquid drowning in noodles, topped with spring onions. I wonder if the British roast baffles them, too. The array of meats: chicken, lamb or gammon? Why are there two gravies? The selection of sauces – mint or cranberry – is it a dip, a side or a what?
The things I have become so accustom to can be alien to others and it’s always fun to remember that first time you sample any one thing because your reaction is slow and measured and careful.
I take my beige looking soup to a table, along with my tea and straw, and observe the way others consume their meal – head ducked to bowl height, chop sticks poised, shovelling the noodles in with little elegance – this is a sign of enjoyment here. It still looks a little messy though and I revert back to normal height and grab a spoon.
I’m taken to a chair. It looks like the kind you find in a mental institute. The ladies hand gestures to sit on it, or somehow in it. I climb, fully clothed, as she places a small towel over the areas that will be patted, thumbed, knuckled and smoothed over. This covers my back, shoulders, arms, neck and head – which is my favourite, total bliss!
Then suddenly the dear lady judo-chop-thumps the shit out of my back, it doesn’t hurt, but it’s such a surprise that it causes a very British response of “oh right.” The buzzer alarms us that the fifteen minutes are up, the towel is whipped off and she sweetly says “finish now.”
I reply with a thousand thanks, but she doesn’t speak much English and just nods awkwardly – I hope she understand my gratitude for literally pounding the anxiety out of my spindly body.
This was my first experience of Hong Kong and an Asian style massage. It certainly did the trick!
Next up: hot shower.
I recently read the article: “A Route to Facing Your Fears” by backpacksandbunkbeds.co.uk. This piece caught my attention. The 5 fear factors set out have either been on my list previously (Needles, Fear #1 – check!) or remain, yet to be challenged on this coming trip.
As my flight deadline to Sydney beckons I am reminded by friends and family, almost on a daily basis, that there are really big spiders out there: fear factor #4 Spiders/Bugs. Though there are more than just spiders out there; they say I’m trading goldfish and moles for alligators and sharks. Perhaps it’s just coincidence that the section “Creatures in Oz” hasn’t yet been read and has in fact been avoided completely as though it doesn’t really exist.
In the first few months of being in Oz I’m hoping to endure some fruit picking work, a ticket to face #4, as my dear friend encourages:
Im afraid there will be bugs but feel empowered and in harmony, and always remember….you are much bigger than they are!
TOP FIVE FEARS TO FACE THIS TIME ROUND
#1 Creepy crawlies
#2 To do something daring – water sports based preferably
#3 Not having an exact plan, but a sketch
#4 Work and live in a place (or rather a country) I’ve never set foot in
#5 Face the birds
In between returning home and booking my next, swift exit out of Hampshire I made a point of setting myself the following goal: to get stronger!
This goal has been influenced by travelling solo, meaning that you have to rely on your own physical strength. From a pidderly girl in the country: thank-you for wheels on suitcases and that extra backpack strap – oh, and that lovely man who helped a struggling weakling.
Counterparts will agree that my physical strength has upped dramatically in the last few months…OK, so I’ve only really put this idea into motion ever so recently, with departure getting closer jogging is becoming an everyday event and every-other- day I try this new fitness programme, BBL – the Brazil Butt Lift.
There are various programmes to choose from, depending on the area you’d like to shape up: lose weight, gain stamina, tone up a few squeegee bits or regain upper physical strength. I have personally been using the ‘sculpt’ session, which focusses on upper arm strength. It’s taken a few weeks to learn the routine but it’s slowly coming together, the biggest challenge not being the programme itself but starting it. Motivation? Please.
The Brazilian Butt Lift programme surveys a group that pop their hips like Shakira and manage to hold the plank ten minutes too long – while the trainer constantly shouts:
“Love your moves!”
I can’t wait until the sweat crystallises into a breezey-easy-peasey-work out.
The sessions last about 40 minutes and can be downloaded onto your computer/hard drive for portable use, so that when you travel you can keep tip-toned-up! That is of course if you have decided to indulge in the luxurious item of a laptop whilst travelling, something people only seem to consider if they’re going for long periods of time, although the I-pad is rapidly replacing the lightweight laptop.
If carrying around your treasured technical goods isn’t an option then an alternative could be to memorise the routine for the road. I often find that swimming is a more tempting option when abroad anyhow and this tends to keep me fit when my diet will fluctuate with food and drink consumption rising and falling with budget and effort.
I’ll let you know how I get on maintaining this programme…
What fitness tips do you have before/during travel?
Flight 101 have yet again caught my eye with this Spacepak Toiletry Bag @ £27 ($42)
LOOK FOR: Fold away, light weight with attached hook to hang up
IN THE BAG
Lip balm – Skin cream – Shampoo – Shower gel – Deodorant – Toothbrush/Paste – Condoms – Razor & Shaving cream – Cotton buds
Nail clippers – Hand sanitizer (think of your location) – Dental Floss – Mouthwash – Alcohol pads – Bandages - Plasters
Miniature travel bottles are available in all supermarkets and health stores for a compact fit.
Sometimes it’s a big bite situation
One of the many taglines from our trip to New York, just before we inhaled our last breath before devouring the American sized version of bagels – please indulge yourself, too.
* Found in every other diner, along every other street in NY City. Spectacular.
You may well know that deep hair conditioning sachets have become my new best friend. Well, I’ve now found a mini-tub of the stuff and it works out cheaper, so it’s stored ever so neatly in my wash bag ready to jetset.
Also try Umberto Giannini, Scrunching Jelly - its creating a less frizzy finish, although the gel does make hair slightly crunchier than serum, the gel tightens the curl and makes the ends look healthier.
The sleeping eye mask has often seemed like a waste of time and it is not until you experience a sleepless journey that you find a secret love for this tiny piece of cloth.
Now I would swear by them and feel sorry for anyone that has to deal with those glaring TV screens on bus journeys or natural light peeping in through those mini-aeroplane windows. There’s only one solution (other than sunshades) and that is the sleeping eye mask.
A friend of mine has decided to re-design her own, which is pretty cool, but for those of you who aren’t quiet as crafty (like me) just pack the squash-able mask into your carry on and enjoy a good snooze! They’re often handed out for free during flight.
Flight 001 have recently come on my radar and though there products can be expensive, they are very groovy. Here are some inspirational designs if you want to look slightly less boring while you sleep. The following products ranging from £14.00, eek!
For those who also suffer from frizzy curls, I write to you not with a defined solution to this awful issue but with some roundabout ways I get through such frizzle dizzle moments.
If having hair down means the air increases the expanse of my hair width-ways, opting for hair to go up with these 2 styles helps hide the madness:
- The big ballet bun: it’s a messy elegance and can look better with a pretty hair accessory and dangly earnings
- Plait it: sideways or sitting to the back, this doesn’t require you to pull all your hair away like the bun, which can be severe if you’re not used to having full face exposure. You can finish this off with a colourful, simple, tie or ribbons if you’re super girly.
They all say the same thing, promising to rid of the frizz as long as you use hair straighteners shortly after you’ve used all of their products. Erm, no. I´ve recently discovered hydrating hair conditioner and this is helping.
You can buy them in sachet form to test try (Boots or Superdrug) for about a pound and then you can fully commit once you´ve found the one that suits your hair type and budget. Tresemme is doing me big favours at the moment but Aussie is also a good one looking at a fiver for a bottle.
SUN AND SEA
Warm – not humid – temperatures will do wonders for curly hair. Playing in the sea, letting the salt absorb while the sun dries every curl into definition is the only sure thing that helps frizz. When you´re away get as much beach action as possible!
I’ve been told about sea-salt spray, does this work for thick curly hair? I´ve never tried it but it may be the next best thing for that holiday hair look.
* Please note image is loaded from google with: www.fabuloustravelguide.com