Second Try at Roomorama: Hong Kong

Her brow furrowed with concentration.  Having fallen once already – the result being a scraped knee – determination had set in.  She pushed off wobbly at first, but eventually managed to steer straight for a few seconds.  A lightness danced across her face – she was sailing on two wheels – her pigtails flapping against the breeze.  Until the handlebars veered left and her concentration lurched to a dead halt.  She wailed in frustration.  Her mother ran over, cooing soothing words, setting the bicycle upright.

This was the scene I witnessed as I made my way along the streets of Yuen Long, a suburb of the New Territories in Hong Kong, far from the bustling alleyways or shopping centers of Mong Kok.

If you recall, my first try at Roomorama culminated in a semi-disappointing stay.  Though Yuen Long had a decidedly gated community feel, with surreal signage (Melrose Place in Hong Kong?) the single thing that suppressed any doubts were tiny grey birds chirping in the leafless trees.  The quiet was a pair of warm arms to slip into.

By |February 29th, 2012 |Categories: Hong Kong |9 Comments

Facing Failure in El Nido

Breathing. We take it for granted.  Every 15 to 25 minutes air is drawn in and out – through our nose and mouth.  Lungs expand to take in that precious air.  As it travels, our lungs process air into oxygen, which is sent to our bloodstream, jump starting our cells – giving us energy.

Carbon dioxide, the wasteful byproduct – is pushed from our lungs once we exhale.

Nature’s dance to keep our cells and bodies in harmony.  So simple.

Yet, I couldn’t do it.

John, my scuba instructor subtly gestured to me – indicating we meet at the bow side for a conference.

“I’m sorry, we don’t’ have enough time to finish the certification.  I can’t certify you today in good conscience.  Your airway control is erratic.. and well, you seem scared down there.”

My throat constricted.  Fight or flight.  Instinct prodded me to deny it.  Me?  Why… I’m cold, blue steel.  A courageous woman who leaps first, asks questions later.

I gazed beyond the bow.  Flints of sunlight skimmed the choppy waters rocking the hull viscously. The water was unmanageable that day, so was his searing honesty. Slicing to the bone.

Are You Conquering the World?


Terry Fox was a natural athlete, excelling at long distance running and basketball.  He also had one leg.

I was nine years old when I watched him take his first step of the Marathon of Hope.  Every mile he finished, favouring his natural leg, pounding down on the artificial one equated to a dollar for each of Canada’s 24 million people.  Even my adult self still thinks that is a daunting number to tackle.

He had a vision though, nothing was going to stop him.  His dream was to raise money for cancer research, introduce more effective treatments and track the causes of this often fatal disease.  His quest started in St.John’s, Newfoundland, as far east as you could get.  I remember very little people cheering him on, maybe his mother kissing him and wishing him luck.

By the time he reached Ontario, he was a hero.  Me and my siblings would battle for space in front of the TV, as Terry talked about his cause, met politicians or athletes to raise awareness.  We wanted to be him.

Chicks Conquering the World: Revolution Apparel

I love it when chicks make things happen: in other people’s lives, on the planet or for themselves.  Which is what Chicks Conquering the World is about.  It’s fitting that the first interview in this new series involves revolution.  Please meet Shannon Whitehead and Kristin Glenn, the talented designers behind {r}evolution apparel, a sustainable travel clothing line for women.

Q)  You ladies love travel and design, so how did you come up with the idea to start a clothing company, instead of going the traditional boring route of round-the-world travel? 

A)  We actually went the “traditional boring route” of round the world travel first! Our experiences abroad directly inspired us to design the 10 pieces of our clothing line.

While traveling to different countries and living out of a backpack, we realized there was an untapped market for versatile travel apparel that was actually fashionable — we don’t do cargo zip-off shorts!

While in Central America, we started sketching out preliminary ideas for 10 different pieces that could be mixed and matched to create over 100 different looks. The ultimate travel line for women looking to minimize their wardrobes (or their backpacks!).

Q)  Tell us about your new product, the Versalette?

A)  The Versalette is the signature piece of our line and the first piece we debuted to the world. It’s one garment that can be worn over 15 different ways, as a skirt, dress, shirt, scarf, hood, purse, poncho and more.

We recently launched a Kickstarter project to initiate pre-sales of the Versalette, and we were blown away by the response we got. We ended up beating our 20,000 dollar goal by over 40,000 dollars!

My First Try at Roomorama

As a solo female, I’m always seeking interesting accommodation options that offers variety or safety considerations.  Last month I discussed the potential benefits of short-term accommodation, noticing an explosion in the travel market with services such as Airbnb, 9flats or HomeAway – given a loving hand by Lara Dunston and Terence Carter of Gran Tourismo in 2010.

It seems there are benefits to swapping a hostel for an apartment.  And perhaps the quest is to not only visit the places we are curious about, but to also immerse ourselves.  Soak in culture until we’re shivering to the bone, fully enlightened for having the experience.

My first attempt at Roomorama, targeted for the discerning traveler was a testament of discovery.  In the video, I discuss how Roomorama works and show you my room in Taipei, Taiwan:

As you saw, the type of accommodations does vary from city to city.

By |February 13th, 2012 |Categories: Taipei |14 Comments

You Make Me Uncomfortable

Her eyes were sparkling, chartreuse in color and distinct as she surveyed me.  My backpack, my clothes.  She glanced behind me, prompting me to do the same.  Did she spot something amiss? About my person or an eminent disaster aimed towards me?

Then, she started to speak to me.  Asked if I had been to Shanghai before, a befitting question as we both stood in line at Chinese immigration.  I confirmed I had.  She wanted to know where she should twiddle away five hours of stop over time, as she moved closer to me, leaving little room for me to step away.

I sensed a fascination or a forthcoming lesbian proposition.  Within minutes, I finally understood the root of her obsession with me – I was a woman alone in China.

My sense of self left – moved outside my body – until I finally saw myself as she saw me.

My slouch and expression sang of someone practiced, a player who has endured immigration inspections in several countries – too many times.

I must have oozed with some level of confidence. Guess it also helped I reminded her of a good friend from England.

We began to walk together towards the metro; I volunteered to show her how to navigate getting to the Bund and onwards to Hongqiao airport.  Her plan is to travel for a year and she vibrated with enthusiasm at this prospect, commenting how amazing it was that I just bounded into the middle of the street, barely looking for a scooter or car.  As though caution was a forgotten vow.

By |February 10th, 2012 |Categories: Uncategorized |16 Comments