53: MCR

UK: Northern Quarter, Manchester

Amidst the election, the UK has recently witnessed horrific attacks in both Manchester and London.  I attended a job interview last week in the Northern Quarter and felt a strange feeling of anticipation returning years after graduating from University in such a distressing time. I was excited to come back to my former home yet also saddened to see the aftermath of  recent events as the city was showered in flowers, tributes and the symbol of Manchester – bees. Despite this tragedy, there is no doubt that the bees are still buzzing, love conquers hate and the Mancunian spirit will indefinitely live on.

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52. Ninh Binh

Vietnam: Hao Lu, Ninh Binh

Dubbed as the inland Haolong Bay, Hao Lu Tam Coc in the Ninh Binh province lies a couple of hours outside of Hanoi. The excursion to the former ancient capital (Hao Lu) is a world away from the honks, narrow streets and chaos in the old quarter.  Meandering through incredible mountains and caves, these small boats are steered by men and women using their feet. This shot captures a lady wearing the non la (Vietnamese hat)  just as we’re about to leave the cave.

51. York Minster

UK: York Minster, York

For the rest of the country, ‘The North’ doesn’t get a look in past the hub of Manchester. If the North East is ever on TV, images of chimneys, Geordie Shore and smog portray the region as if it’s been stuck in the mines for decades in an industrial black hole where we all get smashed and eat pies to get over the grimness. Well…as my mum says, let’s let everyone believe that.

York Minster is the largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe and takes pride of place in this historical centre. Having been away for so long, when I revisited it was like being a tourist in my own country. Filled to the brim with quaint tea shops and an alley which inspired J.K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley, York and the minster is really a must see.

50. Hanoi

Vietnam: Old Quarter, Hanoi

Hanoi stole my heart. A little rough around the edges but with plentiful charm where European and Asian architecture merge. Hanoi is still a working city, making the place feel somewhat more dynamic and raw. This city, particularly around the bustling streets of the Old Quarter is so fun to get lost in.

Here are some of my favourites from Vietnam’s capital.

49. Baltic Centre

UK: Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead

2 months later. Emptied my apartment, said goodbye to beautiful Busan and set off on a month of traveling around Thailand and Vietnam. Now I’m back in the UK and reverse culture shock is real. It’s a strange thing being able to understand everything around you, queuing up in an orderly fashion and ordering tea without having to ask for milk.

These British nuances are both comforting but after two years feels like taking a giant step backwards. Nothing has really changed at home which is in some ways nice and also strange. I feel like so much has happened for me in those 2 years and yet it feels almost like time has stood still at home.

Now my blog will be taking a different turn. I used my camera for the first time in Korea and explored some wonderful countries. Now it’s time to explore my own turf as a tourist and get snapping.

This picture is from the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead. It’s a landmark of the North East region and commonly mistaken for being in Newcastle. It’s actually just a walk across the Gateshead Millennium bridge – a width of the Tyne away from Newcastle ‘toon.’

48. Kep

Cambodia: Crab Market, Kep

Sometimes on vacation, there are just things that happen which you simply can’t plan. I was in Kampot and got sick for about 2 days, recovering just in time for our next move to Koh Rong. However, the night before we were meant to embark my friend messaged saying half of the people were getting very sick on the island and it had effected her too!

After having only just recovered we decided to stay safe swapping the white sands of Koh Rong for the nearby sleepy town of Kep. Now, Kep is a tiny place. There really wasn’t much to do, but it was just what I needed. Our days were spent swimming, whizzing round on tuk-tuks and watching sunsets.

The food here is the real star of the show. In Kep, I had THE best amok. I also chomped down on its famed crab, looking over the water towards Vietnam as the sun set. I mean, it was a real breath of fresh air away from the cities. Who’d have thought this place which I overlooked would end up being my favourite part of Cambodia.

47. S21

Cambodia: S21, Phnom Penh

In 2 weeks we’ve seen the temples of Siem Reap, sampled Kampot pepper and watched an amazing Kep sunset. Whilst it’s been easy to get swept up in the holiday, Phnom Penn was perhaps the most memorable experience and left us with a disturbing insight into life under the Khmer Rouge.

Tuol Sleng, otherwise known as S21 was a prison run during the revolution. Those who entered were interrogated, tortured and many were then took to The Killing Fields. A mere 7 people survived. The place is now a museum where you can learn more about what happened here, but eerily these rooms have been left mostly untouched. This image is from outside of Block A. Inside,  bed frames and shackles remain.

It was a sobering experience and so hard to believe such tragic events happened not so long ago.

46. Tomb Raider

Cambodia: Siem Reap

Hello! I’m currently in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Winter break has arrived and the weather is hot hot hot. The past few days have been spent in Siem Reap. When I was a kid I really wanted to go on ITV’s ‘Jungle Run’ and visiting these temples made me feel like I should have been gathering ruby monkeys. We hired a tuk-tuk, heading to Angkor Wat for sunrise (it was cloudy ㅠㅠ) then onto more. Having gotten up at 4am I think I was too tired to really appreciate it by the fifth one. However these historic monuments are amazing, particularly Bayon and smaller ones such as this one.

45. The Dojang

Korea: Jangsan, Busan

Taekwondo is Korea’s national sport. In 2005 I stayed with a family in Cheongju and practiced in a local dojang. 12 years later I’m still doing the sport. As the only foreigner in the club it was initially a daunting endeavor. Moving from the UK to Korea and deciding to carry it on has felt like going from top of the class to the bottom. I feel like I should trade my black belt in for a white belt here, yet they have made me feel so welcome. The students are unbelievably determined, training for 3 hours at a time (sometimes longer) for up to five or six times a week.

44. The Birds

Korea: Bujeon Market, Busan

On New Years Eve we revisited Bujeon market. Bujeon market feels like stepping back in time. It is a real slice of old-school Korean flavours and a chaotic maze, bustling with locals getting the best kimchi, fish and fresh vegetables. On the way out I spotted these birds hanging out above us. It was kind of creepy. Cue Hitchcock’s The Birds, I kind of felt like I needed to move quickly past them.

Apologies for the late post. It’s been a hectic week. TGIF!