Asia: 22 days – 3 countries

In an effort to keep my 2015 promise to myself to Shop Less, and Travel More … I’ve taken the bulk of March off work to explore South-East Asia.

In my last post, I reviewed the 5 essential things to know before you go ….the importance of planning BEFORE a big trip.  I’m happy to report that I’ve been able to book all my flights, determine a budget for the overall trip, topped up my travel insurance, and have made an appointment for all necessary vaccinations with a travel clinic for early next week (giving me plenty of time to begin any early doses of meds, if required).  I’m feeling pretty accomplished friends. 🙂

Now, the big question remains … WHERE the heck am I going?

The Huffington Post recently put out an article entitled: The Top 50 Cities To See In Your Lifetime.  I’m sad to report that I’ve only been to 8 out of these 50 cities so far. Buuuuuut…come March 2015, I’ll be able to check off #26 from this list!

DESTINATION #1:  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Kuala Lumpur

This is the capital and most populous city in Malaysia. The main religion there is Islam, with significant Buddhist, Hindu and Christian minorities.  With tropical super-summer-heat weather from March through to July.  I’ve gotta keep both of these elements in mind when coming up with outfit choices.

Sadly, there won’t be any major festivals being celebrated while I’m there.  This is the first destination of this trip as I’m meeting a gf of mine who currently lives there.  Once I’ve recovered from the 29-hour flight there (yup…29-hours of solo travel – two stopovers – ew!  That’s what you get when you book big travel on points friends.)  After taking a few days to adjust to the time difference, she and I will head off together to ………….

DESTINATION #2: Boracay, Philippines

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Boracay Island

This is a small and most famous island in the Philippines –  known for its beautiful beaches, and pricey resorts, with a major party scene.  Woot! Woot!   We’ve decided to book a more modest hotel for the bulk of our stay here, but do a two-day splurge-o at a fancy spot before we depart.

Thinking I might even don my very first bikini on this beach …let’s see if my online order arrives on time…and if my body confidence is at an all time high by then.  The main religion here is Roman Catholic, so I’ll fit right in – catholic guilt and all 😉

DESTINATION #3: Hội An, Vietnam

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Hội An

Our last trip will be to this historic Old City in Vietnam, with a unique mix of Japanese, Vietnamese, and European influences.  Turns out, there’s a community of swing dancers out here and they are hosting a dancing weekend while I’m there!!!

VLX – Vietnam Lindy Exchange, is a fun weekend of Swing dance exchange hosted by Saigon Swing Cats annually since 2009 in different towns in Vietnam. (Mui Ne, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Saigon).  

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2015 VLX – Swing Dancers Nationality

Apparently for the first time in the history of the VLX, this year, the Vietnamese represent less than 10% of the dancers.   We have signed ourselves up for the full weekend – which means we don’t have to do much research for hotels – yay!    I’m also determined to find a fab tailor to make me some custom threads too while we’re in Vietnam, I just hope there’s enough time.

There you have it folks – high level overview of where and what I’m planning on doing in South-East Asia.  Weeeeeee!  Writing this post has been super helpful – It’s really REAL now and I’m getting excited.

Full Disclosure: I’m freaking out!!!

This will be the first time I’m flying completely solo — I’m a nervous flyer in general, and these multiple connections I’ve gotta do alone is making me very anxious.  Plus, don’t the airplanes of Malaysia have a recent history of disappearing all together!?!?!? 😮

A tourist inadvertently destroying the place he is visiting

Packing right is going to be incredibly important.  With all my many flights and connections, I’ve decided NOT to check any luggage.  Which means, I’ve gotta come up with 22 days worth of outfits that are cultural respectful, yet summertime comfortable that fits into 1 piece of carry-on only … yikes!

That’s gonna be challenging.  Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll cover just that friends.  Dun dun dunnnnnnn…

What are the MUST pack vs. Nice-to-pack items that YOU’D recommend I take along with me for this upcoming adventure friends? Would love your packing tips and thoughts and tricks — leave them in the comments below.

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Article: Let’s Stop Disguising Body Image Prejudice as ‘Concern For Wellbeing’

I recently found and shared this article (from The Huffington Post) earlier this week, I shared it on my Petite Plus, Meow’s Facebook Page  – it got a ton of views!

So I thought I would share it as a post on this space as well.

Personally…I do my best to live a healthy lifestyle, in a flexible way.   My hatred for the Queen Streetcar has made me TTC token-frugal and WALK everywhere.  Between Yoga, Swing Dancing, Country Line-Dancing…..shoot, I’m up for any kind of dancing….. multiple times a week, I seem to maintain the size I am now.

I enjoy cooking and eating, appreciate and savour a gourmet meal out and when I need chocolate, I allow myself chocolate.   🙂

THIS is the body I was suppose to have, and I’m determined to actively celebrate it …. now …. and as I see fit!!!   It’s taken me a long time to get to this level of self-acceptance, it’s a work in progress, but I’m thrilled to finally be here.   After all, isn’t owning your body  the healthiest thing of all?

Let’s Stop Disguising Body Image Prejudice as ‘Concern For Wellbeing’.  Good read ahead folks.

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Let’s Stop Disguising Body Image Prejudice as ‘Concern For Wellbeing’ – Written by 

I’m going to tell you something now which may shock you. Brace yourself. It is so utterly opposed to everything we have been conditioned to believe as a society that it might cause you a moment of absolute discombobulation… Ready?

There is absolutely no verified scientific evidence linking health to body shape.

That means every time you have heard some sanctimonious televisual pundit or journalist quoting stats on how much money ‘obesity’ costs the NHS every year, they were doing so on a flawed premise. It was *deep breath* incorrect.

I’ll allow you a few seconds to recover from what is undoubtedly some very disorientating cognitive dissonance…

Now, it would be utterly remiss of me to suggest that being completely sedentary and sitting on your backside all day eating huge quantities of lard is not terrible for your physical and mental health. It absolutely, irrefutably is. But we must remember that being sedentary and eating lard are not synonymous with being obese. There are plenty of obese people who eat well and take regular exercise, just as there are plenty of thin people who happen to have high metabolisms but are unknowingly storing potentially fatal fat around their internal organs by existing on super high calorie diets.

Making huge, sweeping generalisations about the particulars of a person’s lifestyle based on how they look is not only fist-gnawingly unfair, it’s preventing overweight people from getting the medical care they need and deserve (and it’s keeping theDaily Mail in business).

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There’s a secondary problem, too, of ‘overweight and obese’ people always being quoted in the same statistic. Here’s what always happens: TV show cuts to a VT of a person so large they are having difficulty walking down the street, wearing clothes three sizes two small (always filmed from behind, whether with their permission or not we do not know). TV presenter then says “One third of British adults are overweight or obese” before smoothly cutting to “obesity is linked to heart disease, diabetes blah blah blah”.

…SH*T! WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE AND OUR LEGS WILL FALL OFF! (You are supposed to think).

Let us be clear. Being consistently slightly overweight is far healthier than yo-yo dieting, a pattern of behaviour which, sadly, a huge proportion of British people have been locked into based on a skewed notion of ‘health’ incessantly shoved in their faces by an industry with a multi-million pound advertising budget at its disposal.

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I have a BMI of 27, putting me firmly in the ‘overweight’ category. Putting aside for one second how flawed BMI is as a measurement of, well, anything (condemning as it does most professional athletes, mixed race and black people to the Siberia of the dreaded overweight section, forevermore to be told they’re going to die and their legs will fall off) a recent comprehensive health check at a Harley Street clinic revealed I am 30% LESS likely to develop heart problems in the future than my peers. This is because I exercise three or four times a week and always ensure I get my five a day (fruit and veg, too! SNARF!). I have low cholesterol and low blood pressure – officially. And I’m a size 16. I’m the sort of seeming-anomaly that should make Katie Hopkins’ head implode (and nearly have, on numerous occasions, which was of course tremendous fun).

Despite this, my NHS GP is always telling me any ailment that happens to befall me (from anaemia to eczema) is ‘more common in overweight people’ and then she ticks her little box on her little flipchart which no doubt says ‘this condition was ENTIRELY self-inflicted by this STUPID fat person on her STUPID fat self’. Presumably, thin people are never poorly. Ever.

The prevailing confusion surrounding health and body shape is what allows people who are body Nazis, people who believe the slender are intellectually, emotionally and genetically superior, people who are *whisper it* quite obviously battling their own demons because no one should really care about anyone else’s body that much, to cover their inherent prejudice under a false notion of ‘caring about your wellbeing’.

As a body image campaigner, I’ve only ever wanted people to be healthy and happy. Crucially, I understand that health is a precarious balance between the mental and physical variety and that anyone sticking to a completely rigid regime of food and exercise is neglecting the former. I also understand that bodies are diverse organisms and that humans can live a healthy lifestyle and exist within the confines of huge variety of shapes and sizes.

I understand that body image insecurity stops people partaking in physical activity, from concentrating in school, from going for the job they really want or dating the person their heart desires. It stops us functioning, as a nation. Fat shaming rhetoric does not help our collective mind-set and, despite what we are so often told, it will not improve our health.

So, here’s my advice: Live a healthy lifestyle, in a flexible way. Laugh and love (because both giggling and shagging are fantastic for the abdominal muscles), exercise sometimes, eat a rainbow. Then see how your body ends up. Whatever it looks like, that is the body you are supposed to have and it is your right to celebrate it how you see fit.

Owning your body is the healthiest thing of all.

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So what are your thoughts on this friends?

Use the Comments section ….. would love to hear from you 🙂

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