Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Adventures in Taipei!

Oh hi! It's been just over a week since I left Bangkok and arrived in Taipei and I'm loving it here. It's amazing how a change in both pace and climate have reenergised me and reignited my passion for exploring. Whilst I loved the time I spent in SE Asia this past year, 8 fun-packed months in total, I've definitely learnt that hot weather is just not for me in the long term. Good to know! Relentless heat seems to sap my energy in a way that even the darkest winter days don't manage to do and there's only so much exploring I can get done in the heat before I just want to curl up and hide in an air conditioned room or, when I reach breaking point, in another country with much milder weather. This weekend's cold snap aside January in Taipei is very similar to March or April in the south of England, drizzly and around 17°. I find it so much easier to explore a new city wrapped in a few layers and with an umbrella to hand than I do when the mercury is hitting 30° plus every day. 

I'm going to be spending a month in Taipei and this marks the start of a slightly different style of travel for me. Over the next 6 months I'll be spending longer in each place I visit, a month here, a month in Tokyo, a couple of months volunteering at a cat sanctuary, some travel in-between and an open month in South Korea at the end... maybe by then I'll want to be moving constantly again? For now though I've definitely been missing some of the great things that come with being settled somewhere more long term - making friends, cooking breakfast at home, having the occasional chilled day, getting to know somewhere properly, actually unpacking my backpack. And on top of all of that Air B&B style accommodation is cheaper if you stop somewhere for a month or more.

This is my new street, I love it! I'm definitely still in that stage of being somewhere new where literally every single sign and doorway and shop front is fascinating. I love that feeling! 

It's sometimes hard to know where to base yourself when you've never been somewhere before so a good bet is to pick something within walking distance of a couple of different MRT / metro / tube stations, that way you can get almost anywhere in your new city easily.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Lost in the Supermarket

One of my favourite things about travelling long term is the ability to stop and just breathe for a while. After a bout of travel fatigue brought on by some unexpected travel challenges Nick and I decided to come back to Thailand and to stop in Bangkok for a month. It's been great to get to know the city better and to live in a more chilled way rather than trying to cram as much exploring as possible into every single moment. We've even been to the movies! We have a favourite restaurant (more on that next week!), we've been meeting friends and Instagram buddies when they've been passing through the city, we've started learning Japanese and we've even had the time to start planning our next adventure(s). These are all challenging things to do when you're living life of perpetual movement! To enable us to do this without breaking the bank or driving ourselves crazy looking for last minute Priceline deals every day we've been Air B&B hopping all over the Sukhumvit BTS line. To help us save some cash for the next leg of our adventure we've also been eating in which I've loved. I don't always want to get my shit together to go out for breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day and we all know I'm not gonna be skipping a meal. Having a kitchen means that I can eat a proper breakfast in my PJ's - you have no idea how happy that makes me! My breakfasts range from soy yoghurts (you can pick these up at 7/eleven now!) and cereal to fried tofu or a big bowl of noodles but lunch tends to be where the fun comes in. I love wandering around supermarkets looking for exciting vegan products and having a kitchen with a fridge, freezer and cooking facilities means that so much more of the store is open for consideration.

The Gourmet Market chain is one of my favourite places to look for fun vegan food stuffs, their freezer sections are particularly interesting and my favourite location is the one inside the Terminal 21 Mall. Not only do they have some Amy's boxed meals, including the Daiya Mac & Cheese and the chocolate cake, but if you dig deep you can find all sorts of delicious dumplings. My favourites include the Taro Bao, the Shiitake Bao, the Tofu and Vegetable Crispy Dumplings and the Oishii Taro Gyoza which are totally a dessert dumpling. Genius. 

Tofu & Vegetable Dumplings

Aside from the Tofu and Veg dumplings which are a Korean import all of these have the Jay logo printed on the packet which makes picking up something vegan easy - just make sure you turn stuff over, you never know where the sticker will be lurking! 

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The Taco Cleanse Review and Giveaway

I'm hungry! I'm often hungry, at least three or four times a day, and when I'm not hungry I could always eat. I'm munching on onigiri as I write this. When everyone's rolling around clutching their bellies after a big lunch and talking about how there's no way they'll have room for dinner I know that an afternoon snack is probably in my future. In our fucked up society this is something that, as a woman, I'm meant to feel ashamed of and it's bullshit. Diets, cleanses, detoxing and clean eating are shoved in our faces at every turn especially at this time of year and more and more of my peers seem to be jumping on the bandwagon. It makes me sad. Why are we made to feel guilty for needing, no, wanting, to eat? Why are we made to feel like we need to "cleanse" ourselves after a food based celebration? Why is eating associated with guilt and "being naughty"? I'll tell you why, it's because as women we're meant to make ourselves as small as possible, to take up the least space and to conform to societal beauty ideals so that we don't offend anyone with our fat or body hair or perceived ugliness. I don't want to see food as "a treat", as something to reward myself for "being good all week" or because it's my god damned birthday and I don't want to try to diet & exercise my body down to a certain size or weight because that's what society deems acceptable. I've been there and done that and I don't want to do it again. Food is a necessity damnit! We need to eat at least three times a day if not more and I want that food to be filled with nourishing and tasty carbs, proteins, fats and sugars and I want it to be delicious. I'm not suggesting that health is unimportant, I try to get my 10,000 steps in most days whilst I'm exploring the world and I actually enjoy going to the gym but that's because these things are good for my mental health as well as my physical health. The way most people seem to be approaching cleanses, detoxing and "new year new you" diets seem far from okay from a mental health perspective.

That's why I decided to embark upon a New Year Taco Cleanse! I think that regular me is pretty rad, belly fat and all, but life can always be improved by more tacos. I want to show people that cleansing can be about fun rather than about restricting fun.