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February 2017

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China’s cities are those of perfect contrast, old meets new on every street corner, modern stands alongside tradition. But the one that stands out the most in Fuzhou in my opinion is it’s architecture. You are surrounded by towering blocks of cement and glass reaching for the sky. Of course there are also buildings that have questionable stability and leave you wandering as to what type of health and safety regulations China has with its construction. For me though, wandering through the ancient buildings of Sanfang Qixiang is what strikes a union between the modern city and its history.

Sanfang-Qixiang literally translates to ‘Three Lanes and Seven Alleys’. It is a beautiful and lively district that is steeped in history, dating back, I believe, to the late Western Jin Dynasty. Wandering through the twisted lanes and quaint courtyards you can lose the bustling sound of it’s main street that is now the dwelling of restaurants, stores and coffee shops. Instead, you find yourself absorbed in the history this museum of architecture presents, down to the very seashells embedded in the walls, collected amongst the sand used to make the bricks.

The alleys of Sanfang Qixiang become narrow in places as you glide alongside the white walls, until you come to either another turn, an open courtyard or a hidden museum, often free, that opens up the history of the ancient residential complex that has been, and still is
home to many famous poets, politicians and military leaders. The delicate grey tiled rooftops are perhaps my favorite, curving and being just as decorative as every other aspect of the buildings.

At night, Sanfang Qixiang is more alive than the day, often you can here opera singing competing with the excessively loud pop music bellowing from the clothing stores. Artists practice their craft at their open stalls. Small children eat the sculptured candy as they walk in and out of the bustling crowd. Coffee shops are always alive in the evening and even Starbucks sits in the style of the old buildings. This truly is one of my favorite spots in the city and should be on any tourists or expats list of things to do in Fuzhou.

 

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For those of you who have read Solo Beginnings, you will know that my first experience of solo travelling planted an irrevocable seed that grew with such fever, the long wait for another vacation was never going to satisfy these itchy feet of mine that find it impossible to stay rooted to the ground. The direction I found led me to obtaining a TEFL certificate, and the path I followed brought me to my first expat destination; China.

Apartment views

Admittedly, China was not my first choice. I longed for the beaches of Thailand but I couldn’t wait for the next hiring period of November. Staying true to my impulsive self, I looked for countries with an earlier start date and within a week had set up five interviews, four in China and one for Vietnam. Vietnam would have won me over if it wasn’t for the lack of confidence in the school after having the skype interview. And so China became my number one choice. The Schools were all in different provinces, I chose Fuzhou as it was described as a city surrounded by mountains. I am fortunate to also have a base here. My step mother’s family reside in Luoyuan, an hours bus journey from Fuzhou. And so here I am, an expat in Fuzhou, Fujian, China, since July 2016.

From accepting the teaching position in Fuzhou to moving to China was a six week time frame. I gave five weeks notice to my employer, moved out of my apartment in the North West of England, and ventured home to Wales to spend a week with the family and store the little I had decided to keep. I drifted through the majority of this time, feeling quite void. Preparing the paperwork, having the conversations with everyone about where I was going and what I would be doing, making all necessary arrangements. I completed everything that needed to be done but none of it felt very real, I was simply going through the motions of it all.

Community Gardens

The moments when my attention was focused solely on uprooting my entire life to a country I didn’t know, gave way to absolute panic. I think I experienced two panic attacks during this six week haze, once pulling myself together the numbness allowed me to continue with all the preparations. I don’t know how better to describe how I felt as I didn’t allow myself to dwell on the fact that this wasn’t a vacation, this was a new life. I wasn’t going to be a tourist this time. I was going to be an expat, in a country who’s language I couldn’t speak and who’s culture is very different from my own. The excitement didn’t really take hold until after I arrived in the city I would now call home.

My first two weeks were hectic to say the least! I needed to go to the hospital for a full medical check, including a psychological test to ensure my condition was satisfactory to become a resident. The first thing I was told was to look past the fact the hospital would not be as familiar in standard compared to a western hospital. Although efficient, I to give this advice to new comers. I also needed to report to the Public Security Bureau to obtain a residence permit. Again a slightly uncomfortable interaction. You sit there with a representative of your employer, not really understanding what’s going on while you and all your documents are analysed. There’s no guarantee of a yes. Another thing I quickly realized was that I’ve never handed my passport over so often and for great lengths of time as I have since being in China. Obviously always getting my passport back but feeling slightly uneasy nevertheless.

Exploring at night

Also on my to do list; Set up my bank account, buy a Chinese sim card (you need your passport for this also), figure out my bus route, master the art of chopsticks and realize that traffic can always turn right in Fuzhou regardless of the false security given by the little green man! Becoming familiar with my surroundings became interesting in my first week when I was able to experience my very first typhoon! The intense rainy season that coincides with China’s summer months was like nothing I had experienced before. The warm rain barely lifted the balmy heat that left a permanent layer of salty sweat on your skin. Skip to winter and prepare for a cold that the buildings here are not designed to cope with. If you’re lucky your air-conditioner will be able to produce heat but don’t rely on your room having the ability to retain that heat. All I can say is layers.

Once becoming slightly more accustomed to the heat I began exploring the local area. My spare time was familiar to what I would do back home, read in coffee shops and go out for lunch, except now I could also walk around temples daily and wander up small mountains to find locals practicing what I assume is a type of Tai Chi. Fuzhou is a fairly westernized city and so if you feel like a break from Chinese food there are plenty of western options. There is also a variety of dining to enjoy from other cultures available around the city. Its simply a case of wandering and discovering.

Dancing in the park

One past time here that is unfamiliar is the dancing. There are a variety of parks all around the city where the older generation gather to listen to music and dance. There are many different styles from traditional to ballroom, and not a single hesitation from all to stand and dance as though no one is watching. Its a very moving experience, to be granted an invitation to watch a joyful expression in motion. This just wouldn’t happen in the UK, you wouldn’t see it and if you did it would be sneered at and considered weird. It is these experiences which take you from feeling like an expat on the outside to becoming part of a community.

Of course you are quickly reminded that you are in fact an expat when you realize how you took for granted the simple things in life. Like asking how much to pay for anything, ordering a coffee and being able to request no sugar, or being able to ask the person next to you if you were on the right bus. The immediate loss of general communication isn’t something I’ve experienced so profoundly before. In Europe I’ve always got by knowing only English, China is not the same. I smile and point and hope for the best a lot of the time. I keep my address laminated in my wallet for those moments I find myself completely disorientated. And when it comes to food, I’ve stopped trying to guess what I’m eating and just chew and swallow. The language requires serious dedication, learning the tones and how to read pinyin, to moving on to characters is a challenge no other language has presented to me before.

Water Calligraphy

Considering there have been days I’ve barely spoken when out exploring solo, I have by no means felt invisible. Fuzhou is not a cosmopolitan city like Hong Kong and Shanghai, many locals here haven’t seen or interacted with a foreigner and so there is an obvious curiosity surrounding the expat. My first time being filmed at a bus spot was an uncomfortable moment. I had become used to the staring and the random ‘Hellos’ that would be audible in many different directions, but being filmed felt like a violation and to be blunt, rude. Over time I have found it easier to ignore this and except that it is a curiosity and not an intention to be offensive. Besides it is mainly my height that draws the attention, my build and dark hair often allow me to blend in without being disturbed. Not so easy for my blonde friends I can assure you!

Exploring Fuzhou’s Temples

So far with all the ups and downs, I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to call this ancient country, steeped in history my home for now. The locals I have met here, and the insight my family has been able to give me in the variety of lifestyles here in China is an enriching experience I will never forget. Moving to another country changes you. You move through the world differently, enlightened to the world outside of your individual life. I am further reassured that to stay in one place is a detrimental and conscious choice to stay ignorant to the world and it’s people, for me personally. It is not easy to leave everything you know behind, I am fortunate to have little ties and no responsibility that cannot be fulfilled from anywhere I choose to be. Although wanting to take everything I can from being in China, I am also looking forward to my next destination. Wanting to live life as a permanent expat calling the world home.

 

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Since I was a child I can remember feeling restless, my mother claimed I must have belonged to gypsies. My hair always unbrushed and often retaining leaves from moments of day dreaming about the future. Staring up at the clouds, drawing out images and watching their hypnotic movement. My feet often bare, unable to hide the image of my toes curling, clenching into the ground as my body stiffens to prevent a feral instinct to run. I’m never running away from anything other than my own inability to remain in one place.

As I have gotten older this feeling has only deepened. More aware of what is out there yet to be experienced, but burdened with the realization of the boundaries that are set. Running to a plane, a country, a hotel is not quite the same as running through an open field with only wild horses to witness that more simple pursuit of freedom. But how to keep exploring on the open road and avoid the bumpy old tracks familiar to trains? How to satisfy a desire to continually experience new cultures, countries and walks of life?

There are many factors that stack to create a wall to this future. Money being the top of the list! How will I afford transport, accommodation, food…? Confidence to do it alone is also dancing around the top. Can I really roam around Asia by myself? Won’t I get lost? Aren’t experiences better when shared? I don’t speak the language! Strangely enough another factor I’ve spent much time anxiously strewing over: What would I pack!? How much can I realistically carry? How to accommodate every season in one case?

With so many things to consider and organize its a wonder how I ever got started!! Now I’m on the right path the road ahead should be easy right? Wrong. Sure I’ve made steps in the right direction but there is still so much uncertainty surrounding the future. The reason for this post is to put down all the ideas in my head, collect the information gathered from researching and try to figure out my next move, if it helps anyone else in a similar position, prefect! So where to go from here? Perhaps firstly, where did I start…

China

While still in my former employment I decided on my first destination: China, Fuzhou of Fujian province to be exact. The first thing I considered was a health check and consultation into which vaccinations would be appropriate to get. This can be quite costly. For example, Hepatitis B is £120 with Rabies and again Japanese encephalitis reaching a cost of £190. After speaking with my soon to be employer I decided to get the higher cost vaccinations out in China for a fraction of the price.

STEP 1: UK Vaccinations. Hepatitis A & B, tetanus, polio, MMR, typhoid.

TO DO: China Vaccinations. Rabies, Japanese encephalitis, flu jab (flu jab = check, the other two, I’ll get on it)

The second thing I needed was insurance. My employer would be covering my insurance once I had received my residence permit, but this was a slow process following an interview at the embassy and transfer of my work visa. The last thing I wanted was to get sick or lose my luggage or worse! So I put this as an essential. I went with Outbacker who promotes itself as ‘Travel insurance for the young adventurer’. For £72 I was covered for trip cancellation, travel disruption, missed departure, medical, dental, lost or stolen possessions, and so much more for a total of two months.

Next I needed to have my degree notarized, a requirement for VISA purposes. A visit to local Notary and use of an agency to forward the documents to the Chinese Embassy reached a cost of £146. This was to be refunded by my employer soon after arrival but is an initial cost I had to take into consideration.

A tourist visa was also something I needed. Unfortunately there were delays in the notarized documents reaching my employer due to a holiday in China, leaving my documents sitting in the post office in Beijing, as far north of the intended destination as possible! Again, this was to be refunded but it doesn’t change the fact I had to account for it in my budget. This came to £151, ignoring the cost of the two trips to Manchester to obtain the Visa.

Moving on to flights. I flew from Manchester – Abu Dhabi – Hong Kong – Fuzhou. The total cost came to £460. Again, this is ignoring the cost of getting to the airport. My employer would cover the flight cost in two installments. 4000cny to be paid after six months and another 4000cny to be paid upon completing the years contract. A total of 8000cny which is roughly £936 is intended to cover the flight out to China along with the return flight home.

I DO WANT TO ADD THAT ALL THE FEES COVERED BY THE EMPLOYER ARE A BENEFIT TO COMPLETING THE YEAR CONTRACT. IF YOU LEAVE BEFORE COMPLETING 6 MONTHS, ALL FEES ARE TO BE PAID BACK. IF YOU LEAVE AFTER 6 MONTHS, HALF THE FEES ARE TO BE RETURNED. I’M CURRENTLY AT SEVEN MONTHS SO FINGERS CROSSED…..

So if we ignore the little extra costs of moving my belongings out of the apartment I rented and into my brothers attic, the train ticket to the airport, the international postal charges for sending documents, etc. We are looking at a cost of £949 (the little extras easily took this over the £1000 mark) before I even left home soil.

So for my next move, destination yet to be decided, and all future moves, the initial budget I will always want to start with is £1000. Add an extra £1000 for the first months cost of living before receiving a pay check and we’re already at £2000. Of course certain things will be payments I won’t have to make for sometime, like with vaccinations already covered, but you can guarantee with every new country there will be at least one recommended vaccination that I would rather have than face the consequences.

So the current ideas floating around my head are ‘how can I keep my costs down so that I can continue my dream of traveling the world?’ and ‘How can I make money while being location independant?’

My first destination of China has been a comfortable move. I have taken employment as an English teacher, the job comes with a furnished apartment and, as stated above, the majority of my fees being reimbursed. This is my first role teaching and I’m not 100% sold on the idea of doing this as a career long term. The experience is great and I’m acquiring new skills but I’m not convinced the role is a fit for me. The opportunity to teach English is worldwide, often with the same benefits as I have gained with my current company, York English . So there is no regrets at all in obtaining a TEFL certificate. I got mine while still in the UK and studied online. There are many options on how and who to get certified with. One thing you may want to consider is doing a TEFL internship in another country, you gain teaching experience while working towards being certified and you start your travelling from the get go! Just add another £1500 minimum to your budgeting plan.

Future

So where to go in the future? I still haven’t decided on my next destination. So far the top choices are Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bali or Columbia. All these countries offer a wide choice of English teaching jobs for various length contracts with added benefits, but do I necessarily want to teach full time again?  An alternative is to teach online, this way you can chose your own schedule and essentially work from anywhere with a good enough internet connection….BUT no benefits like a work visa and apartment.

Considering this alternative option got me looking at ways to budget for accommodation. Hello Workaway. This has opened up the world to me in a whole new way! In exchange for 3-5hours work 5 days a week, you receive free accommodation and in the majority or cases, food! This is in a wide variety of industries such as hospitality, catering, marketing, teaching, farming, etc. So not only are you getting accommodation you’re getting a cultural exchange and acquiring new skills that can forge a new career path, all while travelling! With so many hours spare in a day you can explore and teach online at your own schedule.

I haven’t really considered the hospitality industry before now. Although I enjoy stared hotels as much as anyone I’ve never felt a desire to work at one. Hostels on the other hand….I hadn’t experienced staying in a hostel until I came to China, Hong Kong’s Yesin being my first. Since then I have stayed in various hostels in a variety of cities in China and loved everything about it. Meeting people from all over the world, hearing guitars play in courtyards, finding a random yoga session in hallways, most of all…snuggling up to the resident cat! This is where Hostel Travel Jobs comes in. Similar to Workaway in that in return for working you get accommodation except its much more suited to long term stays in one area, so you can relax and explore a new city without worrying about moving every couple of weeks. Also a great way to meet a diverse group of people from all over the world, perfect for networking for future travel plans.

If neither of those sound appealing, there is always house sitting. Free accommodation, home comforts, short to long stays before moving onto explore again. Trusted House Sitters is one of the most reputable websites for house sitting and the locations are worldwide. This is also perfect if, like me, you are missing having the family dog around. The difference with house sitting is you aren’t acquiring any new skills or experience to benefit future job opportunities , and if teaching online doesn’t appeal what are the other options? Well it turns out, there are many!

With so many websites out there to offer your skills for a fee or to find home based employment, it was easier to just include a link to Forbes who have done the hard work already. This article highlights the growing number of people opting for working from home and the reality that there is a growing demand for this to be possible. If you’re looking for something slightly more unconventional start thinking outside of the box. For example, virtual bridesmaid. If ordering flowers and arranging hen parties is your thing there is a job out there for you.

Although I want to stick to that figure of £2000 as being a minimum before my next move, researching has given me a whole new insight into the possibilities out there for leading a location independent lifestyle. The main battle will be keeping productivity high. If you choose exotic surroundings, chances are you will easily become distracted or lazy. Self monitoring will be the biggest challenge but totally worth it in the long run. I have tried staying in one place to build a career and it hasn’t managed to satisfy these itchy feet of mine. So the only thing left to start the wheels in motion towards the future is to decide on the next location.

Firstly I should probably explain the title. Japanese dining is self explanatory; the ‘Banyan City’ is the name often given to the city I currently call home, Fuzhou in Fujian province. During the Song Dynasty many banyan trees were planted that now provide shade to the entire city. Fuzhou, which is the capital of Fujian province, has over a 2000yr old history and is home to art industries such as lacquer work, stone sculpting and cork cutting. Although the city boasts many sights for the global tourist, it immediately felt like home. Of course there are many famous temples and gardens, but for me what makes this city  home are the many coffee shops and restaurants, parks and night markets. I FEEL that I live here and not that I’m on an extended vacation.

interior garden

This weekend a friend took me to dinner at his latest discovery, Tiangoushan; a traditional Japanese restaurant. Before entering the restaurant, you are greeted by two, almost life size, cartoons of a Japanese boy and girl. I shouldn’t be phased by this by now as it is the norm in China it seems to have this type of advertisement, yet it does make me slightly skeptical as to the quality dining experience I am about to become involved with. As with many similar moments of hesitation I was not disappointed.

Almost traditional dining

Passing the questionable graphic “art” you are transported into a type of zen garden scene. Parasols shading cherry blossoms and decorating the ceiling. Water and fountains creating the perimeter, and a friendly front of house to guide you through to the dining area. The restaurant is divided into two, to the left is the open dining area where you have booths designed to aid privacy, with modified traditional seating. You have the tatami floor where shoes and slippers have to be removed before stepping on the tatami, and the low dining tables that are the custom in Japanese dining. However, rather than cushions the tables have been set into a rectangle hole and simple western style wooden seating is provided to give familiar comfort for the more western experienced diner. This is where we were seated but not before I had wandered off like an excited child exploring the unfamiliar. To the right are the private rooms which have the traditional shōji screens which almost silently slide open.

Tea ceremony

We are assigned our own host, dressed in the simple geisha style. She immediately presents us with slippers and guides us to our seats. The table setting provides a beautiful aesthetic that embraces the essence of Japanese culture, fine attention to detail. Every object on the table is placed with a purpose. My attention is brought immediately to the smaller than expected tea set as the tea is poured gracefully by our host. We are quickly shifted out of the historic dream this setting gives way to by the modern interruption presented in the form of a tablet holding the menu choices. I look at the pictures while my friend works with our host to order in Chinese. I’m happy not knowing whats coming as it all adds to the excitement of discovering a new place to dine and a taste of a culture not yet experienced in a country that is already  overwhelming at times with all it has to offer.

elegant table arrangement

As the dishes start arriving you are again reminded of the attention to detail so relevant to the approach to life in Japanese culture. So far, Japanese dining is the most artistic presentation of food I have experienced yet. Our host is guiding us through with the absence of English which dishes to use for the various meals, with no wish to offend we attempt to learn the customs quickly. There are a variety of sauces to pour into small ceramic dishes to dip the food into before tasting. The flavors offered by each delicate dish is nothing short of exquisite. Japanese food certainly has a very distinct flavor that I am struggling to best describe. The flavors seem cleaner and that there has been less toying with the ingredients, there is a quality to this cuisine that is allowed through its simplicity and purity.

Delicate cuisine

With the last round of tea poured and all the plates emptied our evening is drawing to a close. I end my first Japanese dining experience suitably full and smiling at the evening. I’ve always enjoyed dining out, from getting dressed for the occasion, sampling dishes beyond my culinary skills, and being able to relax with the absence of dishes to clean! Although ironic that my first sample of Japanese dining takes place in China, I have a new destination to add to my future travels inspired by this little snippet of what Japan has to offer. If you ever find yourself in Fuzhou, be sure to sample more than just the amazing local dishes, this city is full of hidden gems and tastes of other cultures.

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Causeway Bay Hong Kong

My first trip to Hong Kong was exhausting. It was August 2016, I was visiting to change my visa and a typhoon was due the day I was to leave. I arrived following delays, stumbled around the city looking for WiFi as I was lost trying to find my hostel. This resulted in my first Mc Donald’s meal in five or so years. Finding the hostel around midnight I was immediately challenged to getting ready in 10minutes to join a party I apparently shouldn’t miss. Too tired to argue I freshened up and allowed myself to be shuffled out the door with a group of strangers, searching for a tall building whose top floor hosted the party. Needle in a haystack echoed in my mind. Despite the odds of finding the right building we succeeded.

I stumbled to my hostel, disorientated through tiredness mainly. This was the first chance to really take in my environment. I had never stayed in a hostel before and I chose Yesinn on Causeway Bay from recommendation and convenient location to the immigration center. I stayed in a mixed dorm room of nine people, I turned out to be the only girl but was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere. I was invited to dinner and to site see and left to my own devices if I preferred. Unfortunately my only aim of this trip was to catch up on sleep and obtain my new visa, so I remained solo and wandered the city to take in its diverse and contemporary architecture.

visions of glass and steal

Hong Kong’s skyline is considered by many to be the most impressive and at present is the worlds biggest with a total of 7,681 skyscrapers, placing it ahead of even New York City. Although Hong Kong holds many styles of architecture, in my short visit I decided to explore it’s examples of a more modern design, taking in the aesthetics of glass and steel. It would be easy to miss this city at eye level, the relentless vertical heights reached by Hong Kong’s skyscrapers often leave you with no where to look but up, in awe of the construction. It was pleasant however to see areas of green life entwined in contrast with such magnificent design.

 

This year I shall revisit Hong Kong and follow up this post with more varied examples of this city’s spectacular architecture. For now, here you are…

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Bank of China Tower
Lippo Centre
One International Finance Centre

a dramatic, lonely and extreamely worthwhile coastal path walk

My family and I have very different view’s on camping. Give me a bivvy bag, a three season minimum sleeping bag, the means to make a fire, and adequate company as I am ashamed to admit on all my wanderings I have never learnt to read a map. My family on the other hand has adopted this new wave of “glamping” as their preferred escape into nature. All the modern conveniences and comforts we have become accustomed to placed in a beautiful scenic landscape. The location of choice for this latest trip that I have somehow find myself apart of is Glan Y Mor on the Mid Wales coast. The saving grace for me will be leaving the family in the early hours of the morning to explore the Ceredigion coastal path.

It’s 6am. The sun is starting to fill the sky giving the illusion of warmth but the chill in the wind is sharp enough to cut glass. Needing both sunglasses and a down layer under shell, I quietly pack my bag, make a flask of coffee and sneak out of the little cabin. A few key things I always pack for a hike are my kuksa; a gift from Finland that gives port particularly a finer taste. A foil blanket for emergency, along with a knife, some basic first aid and waterproof matches, a poncho with eyelets that can easily become a tarpaulin with para-cord, and a few extra base layers for warmth. I’m aware a map and compass should also be in my basic pack but neither would assist me; this is a skill I do plan to acquire at some point though rest assured.

The Ceredigion coastal path passes directly through Aberystwyth, it is a 60-mile route from Cardigan in the south of the county to Ynyslas in the north. Glan Y Mor is my starting point which is in Clarach; Clarach to Borth being a challenging yet popular section of Heritage Coast, Borth to Ynys-las by contrast is a much easier flat path. If any true ramblers come across this post all I can do is apologize for the lack of technical information, I can only state that I am not a rambler, I am a wanderer. I was not looking for an extensive walk that day and so did not do the full route, I headed in the direction of Llanrhystud, the appeal being the promise from the official website for the Ceredigion Coastal Path that it will be a “dramatic, lonely and extremely worthwhile” experience.

I love to wander with only the company of wildlife, kestrels and ravens haunt the sky and below glimpses of seals and dolphins can be caught by those in tune with the sounds of disturbed waters. I can spot a solitary fishing boat in the distance, other than that there is no other sign of human presence.

The initial climb to the cliff top awakens the muscles of my thighs, fortunately every ascension I have encountered has been rewarded with views that far out way the burning heat that promises a lasting ache; this time is no exception. The weather was perfect that morning, the cold wind fierce and fresh carrying the scent of salt, the sun giving life to all the greens and blues you find on a country coastal path. The path is quite varied, some areas provide a clear walking route until you come across areas of erosion and vertical drops that require scrambling down. For my rest stops I chose to test the integrity of the cliffs edges and hang my feet over, pouring my coffee into my kuksa and feeling quite content. The combination of the wind and wooden drinking vessel means little time can be spent taking in the scenery if I wish to drink my coffee hot, and so I continued on, pausing for photographs and to admire the ravens appearing like shadows out of the cliffs.

The first sign of human habitation comes at the crossing of a beautiful white farm house that sits on the cliff and over looks the ocean. I feel almost like an intruder as I stumble over a little bridge to continue on the path ahead. There are occasional entry points spotted where I can descend to the pebble beach below. The waters are like ice and threaten to close in if I linger here to long. The ocean has an exceptional ability in claiming its territory, ensuring you are aware that you don’t belong between its waves and cliffs.

To avoid being swallowed by waves I scramble back to the cliff top and continue walking. I took my last coffee break on the boarder to Borth.  Albeit a beautiful town, I had no desire to be social with anyone but the ravens. The sun had began to gain strength and I would have to pack a few of my layers into my day sack for the return, wanting to continue walking over taking the bus back to Aberystwyth which is then only a short walk to Clarach. I decided to pass the camp site which now showed signs of life and take in the view of Aberystwyth from Constitution Hill; it seemed wasteful to neglect a descent to the beach and walk the pier that passes the ruined castle and ends the path. True ramblers must be thinking what a ridiculous route to go one way, turn back on yourself to go another and turn back again to your original destination; nothing of this landscape with it’s views can be considered wasteful though.

Now reacquainted with civilization again it came the time to rejoin my family and continue the day in a more social setting. There is always a slight hesitation to leave a rural landscapes in exchange for towns or city life but, until next time. I often wander where the future will see me roaming, although I want my legs to carry me to many oceans and mountains, there is a reason Wales is home.

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