31 August 2016

Inspirational Interviews: Queenie Lee

Hello! I'm incredibly excited to share my newest feature with you.

You see, I have this dream where I can use my blog as a resource for all things inspirational and positive. Part of this plan is to talk to inspirational people and share their stories on here. My blog's become a bit of a mix in recent years: fashion, feminism, baking, dating, beauty, lifestyle, food, travel. Why not throw interviews into the mix? 

There are so many brilliant people I'd like to introduce to you. Although you might have to bear with me to begin with, asking for interviews can be a little bit daunting - especially when most people scoff at the very notion they might be inspirational.

She wanted to see the world, so she did

My very first interview simply had to go to my good friend Queenie. You've probably met her before - like last year, when we visited Paris together, and when I wrote about dealing with long distance friendships.

Three and a half years ago, Queenie moved to Hong Kong to start fulfilling her ambition to see the world. In that relatively short space, she's travelled all over Asia, sampling more culture, cuisine and creativity than I could imagine. Luckily, she's documented them all on her blog, Peanut Butter and Mussels, so I can live vicariously through her adventures.

I've always been in awe of her bravery (I mean, how scary does it sound to uproot yourself and move thousands of miles away!?), unfailingly positive attitude and unstoppable tenacity. So, despite the fact that she's currently travelling across Vietnam without her laptop, I managed to bag an interview.

Have you always been set on travelling the globe?

Yup, there's so many exciting things to see and do in the world and I want to experience it all, especially while I'm still young and not tied down with a career or a family!

What made you decide to move to Hong Kong?

I decided to move to Hong Kong because I didn't know what kind of work I wanted to do in the UK. Straight after graduating, I worked part-time at Wetherspoons and a Chinese takeaway. My friends were scattered all over the country so I guess it felt quite lonely too, especially since I was used to seeing my friends every day. 

My mum suggested teaching English in Hong Kong and I figured it would be more fulfilling than my current part-time jobs. Also, it would be exciting to live in another country, especially a hot one as I hate the cold and England is cold about 85% of the year, haha!

Was making the move scary? I’d be terrified!

Making the move wasn't scary at all as I'd been to HK many times before and most of my relatives live over there. 

What’s your favourite thing about living there?

My favourite thing about living in Hong Kong is how compact yet diverse it is. The public transport makes it so easy for you to get around. You can be in the middle of the city one minute and at a beautiful beach the next. 

Also, the food here is incredible, with restaurants serving food from all around the world. I love the Japanese buffets!

What do you miss the most about the UK?

Obviously family and friends. Also: fresh air, charity shops, car boot sales, big houses, roast dinners, proper fish and chips and fry ups, British supermarkets and my beloved Primark.

What are your top 5 travel tips?

I'm by no means a pro and I guess this depends on what kind of travelling you’re doing!
  1. If you're backpacking, staying in hostel dorms is a great way to meet like-minded people and get some tips on where to go next. I'd recommend going for highly rated ones on sites like hostelworld or booking.com. However, if there's a big group of you, or you want to feel a bit more like a local, book an airbnb. I've had such great experiences with these in Korea, Bali and Japan!
  2. Try to learn a few key phrases in the local language. Although English is used in most countries around the world, don't rely on locals to speak your language. Plus, it's always good to learn a new skill ;)
  3. Try all the local delicacies. I know it can be tempting to stick to what you know, especially since so many restaurants around the world cater to Western tourists, but make the most of the food that the country is known for, not something that you can get at home.
  4. Take lots of photos and take notes on where you've been so that you'll have lots of great memories to look back on. It can also be fun to take videos. We used a Go Pro to film our time in Bali, Kuala Lumpur, Borneo and Tokyo - you can check out our videos on YouTube ;)
  5. Send postcards to friends and family. In the digital age, everyone just sends photos and messages online but I personally love writing and receiving something tangible through the post.

What’s your biggest inspiration?

My biggest inspiration is probably the photos that I see from travel bloggers and Instagram. When I see an amazing photo of a country, I always want to go and see it for myself.

Also, I can't answer this question without a cheesy inspirational quote now, can I? This is one of my faves: “the world is a book and those who don't travel read only one page”.

Tell me about your favourite trip:

The best trip I've ever taken was last month's visit to Tokyo with Ry. It was my favourite trip because we stayed in an airbnb near the Shibuya Crossing, which was a really good location for getting around the city and made us feel like locals. Also, as this was our second visit to Tokyo, we had quite a good idea of what we wanted to do. Having 11 days there meant we didn't have to rush around trying to fit everything in.

We did a spot of vintage shopping around Shibuya, Omotesando and Harajuku, ran around the Tokyo Imperial Palace, walked around the beautiful Ueno Park and Yoyogi park, visited the Ghibli Museum, the old town of Yanesen and Tsukiji Fish Market. We checked out the anime stores in Akihabara, visited a cool comic book exhibition about Le Louvre at Mori Museum, and took a trip to Asakusa and the Tokyo National Museum. We also had the best ramen at a restaurant in Harajuku called Kyusu Jangara and an awesome seafood restaurant in Shibuya called Kaikaya.

All in all, I would definitely recommend Tokyo to everyone! Everyone I know who's been has loved it! ;)

And your five favourite blogs? 

Last question! What have you got planned next?

I'm currently travelling around Vietnam with my friends from school for a month. I'll be heading back to Hong Kong to end my flat contract at the beginning of September and then I've got a single ticket to Australia for mid-September - I'm really excited about it! I may stay to work and live there if I like it enough ;)

Thanks for interviewing me, these questions were lots of fun to answer xxx

Keep updated with her travels

If you've fallen for Queenie a little bit - and who wouldn't - you might want to follow her on social media. Here's her Twitter, Instagram and Bloglovin. And don't forget to read about her adventures on Peanut Butter and Mussels.

All images courtesy of Queenie Lee.

12 August 2016

Pretty new dress

Have you ever picked up something beautiful, knowing full well you don't have an occasion to wear it but buying it anyway because you just can't resist it? 

For me, the object of my sartorial affections was a full-length floral-printed maxi dress. It's not my usual get up but something drew me to it. Perhaps it was the tropical hues, the floaty skirt or the glamorous cut-out back.

Determined to give it a special first outing, I pondered an occasion to wear it. Tea party? When do I ever attend those? Cocktails? Hmm, my friends and I never get that dressed up. Wedding? Nope, none this summer. 

So I decided to wear it for an evening stroll on the beach. Just because I can.

Sometimes I forget how incredibly fortunate I am to live just ten minutes from the beach. The second my bare feet hit the sand and I catch a glimpse of the seemingly endless turquoise-tinged waves, I feel relaxed and happy. For me, there's no better place to spend an evening - it was the perfect place to debut my pretty new dress. 

And my dress nearly matched the sea - what a stroke of luck! 

7 August 2016

July round-up

July has been a pretty great month. I don't always write a round-up, but sometimes there's just too many things to celebrate!

The Last Shadow Puppets

One morning, eight years ago, I switched on my little box-shaped TV and saw a music video quite unlike anything I’d seen before. It featured ice skaters, the bright lights of Moscow, an army of tanks and a chorus of Russia soldiers. And two boys with shaggy, Beatles-esque haircuts, drainpipe trousers and Chelsea boots. 

That’s how I discovered (and fell in love with) The Last Shadow Puppets. 

After releasing a beautifully-crafted debut album, the band - a side project of Arctic Monkey’s frontman Alex Turner and ex-Rascal Miles Kane - dispersed. I still listened to them religiously, counting Standing Next To Me as my all-time favourite song. 

In the coming years, I saw the Arctic Monkeys live. And I saw Miles Kane live. But I never thought I’d get to see them together. That is, until they released a second album and announced a tour - completely out of the blue!

Word can't describe how quickly I jumped on those tickets. I'd recently hooked my friend Jaz on the band, so I had a ready-made gig-buddy. And we had an absolutely brilliant time. Pre-show cocktails, screaming 'YAAAAAAS' over the orchestra, swooning over Alex's crooning and singing along with our favourite tunes. In the scrapbook of my mind, that evening is absolutely covered in glittery hearts and stars. And from me, that's pretty high praise. 

Pizza on the beach

If you've read my Mini Food Guide post, you'll recognise The Wood Oven. But pizza on the beach is just too amazing not to mention twice, right?

My work friends and family spent the evening sipping drinks from plastic cups, gorging ourselves on freshly-baked pizza and admiring the gorgeous pink-and-blue sunset. It was my idea of heaven, so I'm planning on recreating the experience at least twice a month until it's too cold to sit outside. 

New job!

Remember my 25 by 25 resolutions? Well, I had a secret one. I really wanted to be an Online Editor. 

Guess what? I DID IT! I started my new job two weeks ago and I'm absolutely loving it. I don't talk about work too much on here, because a girl's got to keep some things private (and I don't want to go through the 'the views expressed here do not represent the views of my employer' agro). Suffice it to say, I really like my job. Two thumbs up. 

Oh, and I had a Magnum at my desk on Day One, because that's how you make a first day really great.

More beach trips

I was also lucky enough to be reunited with my old housemate for an evening. We ate pizza (obviously) and took a walk on the beach at Sandbanks. It's wonderfully photogenic, isn't it? 

Tex-Mex party

Nearly two months after I turned 25, I celebrated with a big birthday bash. Why so late? Because me and my friends decided to club together and have a joint party!

We went for a Tex-Mex theme, which meant piƱatas, BBQ, quesadillas and beautiful decorations. There's an awful lot to say on the subject, so I'll be saving that for my next blog post ;)

I hope you had an absolutely wonderful July - and I'm wishing you all an exciting, inspiring, happy August! 

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