Summer Travel Stories & Self-Reflection As A Traveller (July & August 2018 Blog Round-Up)
August wasn’t easy for me since I returned from my travels. I had many half-way-done contents lined up that I wanted to put them into words and videos to share, but my personal life has caught me in a whirlwind. Also, I was having difficulty putting thoughts into words as my mind was like a plate of scrambled eggs. It took me some time to be where I’m at the moment, but as I’m writing now, I’m already in a much better place. Therefore, I’m combining July and August’s blog round-up all-together. The post includes my summer travel stories and my self-reflection as a traveller.
The first 2 weeks of July
I was swamped with piano teaching work during the first 2 weeks of July. I’ve tried, and I’ve come to a conclusion that teaching a group of children isn’t really for me. However, After having taught kids in a group setting from age 4 to 10, now I know that I can handle a group of students when they are all above 6 years old, and there should be no more than 8 of them!
I’ve also been thinking about my work as a piano teacher. Teaching is something I’m good at and it’s rewarding. It’s always amazing to see how kids grow. However, like all jobs, it can also be frustrating. The past month, I have realised that besides offering my students skills and materials, the most important thing is helping them to realise what learning the piano means to them. After all, the students will need to meet me half-way in order to improve and thrive.
Travels and a brief self-reflection as a traveller
I was in Singapore and Bali with Jim for the second half of July, then I continued my trip to Kunming and Dali, Yunnan alone afterwards. Travelling to Yunnan was almost the first time I travelled to a new place alone ever since Jim and I began dating. (The last time was Nanjing in March 2017.) Not saying that I don’t love travelling with a partner, but going solo helped me to remember who I am as a human being.
I love having a fresh pair of eyes to travel with me. Let that be my partner, the locals I meet, or other travellers I encountered on the road. I love creating memories with different human beings. However, I also believe that even when travelling as a couple, we are still individuals. For me, it’s important to have the freedom and flexibility to explore a destination if I want to be alone.
My main reason for visiting Singapore on the way to Bali was because I wanted to see whether Singapore would be suitable to settle down after Shanghai. As I anticipated, Singapore’s cleanness amazed me, but how expensive things were also shocked me. A pasta with white wine sauce and clams (20 of them) on Santosa Island cost SGD 28 (Around 140 RMB and 20 USD!) That’s worse than NYC! The whole city was super organized to a point that was a bit boring to me.
I hate to judge a place with merely 3 days, but my wallet simply didn’t allow me to spend more time there. Of course, I loved how I could immerse myself in a completely different culture just by turning a corner. The historical houses in China Town and Katong were beautiful, but I still felt that it was lack of “something.” I also felt difficult to connect with the locals. People generally seemed distant and a bit cold to tourists or strangers, but that was just my experience.
We explored Ubud, Seminyak, Kuta, Canggu, Jimbaran, and Uluwatu during our two weeks in Bali. All the food we had in Bali were amazing. Even the worst food I had in Bali was fabulous.
In Ubud, we visited the Sacred Monkey Forest, enjoyed the tranquilness of wondering in the rice fields, went waterfall chasing and found a secluded spa in a hotel away from the centre. I also met up with local Balinese musician Nyoman and had the pleasure of meeting his family members who are also great musicians, dancers, and instrument makers. I’ll write a separate post along with a video to introduce my musical experience in his beautiful Balinese traditional house. We were also hosted by Backstreet Academy to participate in a silver making class in Ubud. We made some beautiful silver rings!
In Seminyak, we rented a scooter and explored nearby areas such as Kuta and Jimbaran. The furthest we went was Uluwatu Temple, and the view was breathtaking. Yet, the wild monkeys at the temple robbed my flip-flops off my feet violently, so I had to go barefoot until I could get a pair of cheap sandals outside of the attraction point.
In Canggu, Jim took the opportunity to learn surfing, so I had some alone time to work on my blog. Canggu is a cute little trendy beach spot for digital nomads and entrepreneurs. I could actually see myself spending a couple of months even a year in either Ubud or Changgu!
Kunming and Dali, Yunnan
I’ve always wanted to visit Yunnan, and financially, flying to Kunming just made sense after Bali. As one of the major cities in China, Kunming’s laid-back atmosphere had me.
After one and a half days in Kunming, I took a high-speed train to Dali. The route only began to operate at the beginning of this past July. The ride only took me 2 hours instead of 6 or 7 hours by bus. In the beginning, I was disappointed with how touristic Dali Old Town was, but my mind changed afterwards. I’ve shared a small travel guide and my thoughts on Dali Old Town. Check it out!
New musical discovery — Adrian Freedman
Adrian Freedman is a composer and a Shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) performer. I was introduced to Adrian’s music in July, and I quickly fell into the world of his creation. When listening to his music, the vibe immediately grounded me. That was a very peaceful moment in which I had been searching for in a while. I love how he fuses different styles of music and bringing musicians of different genres together.
We’re working on an interview together. I’ve received his responses to the questions I’m curious about, and hopefully, I’ll be able to put them together soon. If you’re interested in his music and want to know more about his musical journey before I finish the contents, you can visit his website.
I returned to Shanghai on the 6th of August. Since many of my students weren’t back from vacation yet, I had time to ease myself back into teaching. As I mentioned at the beginning, August wasn’t easy on me. I was dealing with a lot of personal issues, but I’m glad to say that I’m back in my elements. I finally had the courage to face who I am as a person and be honest with my core value. In addition, I was able to communicate openly with the people I love and care about. This was possibly the best gift I could give myself before I turn 30 in September.
I let go of a student who had really been fucking with my zen every single week. He’s a very sensitive child, and I simply don’t have the professional background to help him on his musical journey. It wasn’t an easy decision as he was one of my first students in Shanghai. However, I’m glad that I took the action because now I don’t need to stress before teaching him anymore!
Also, If you felt that you haven’t seen me on Instagram or Twitter as often, that’s because I needed a lot of time to myself. I invested the hours in practising the piano and meditation, and frankly, I haven’t felt this content in a very long time. I will be back on social media soon, but meanwhile, I am taking care of myself emotionally and physically.
I’m very excited about September as I have decided to relive my motto, the motto I once wrote on my Couchsurfing profile -
I believe that sometimes life just takes some love, craziness, impulsiveness, and embracement to go through, so go with the flow and follow your heart.
How was your summer?
Originally published at Notes of Jo.