Today I decide, that I would make a trip up mid wales, so I could learn part of the route that I shall be taking later this month, for when I have my trip up to north wales. So I took my camera and head on my way (all though the best thing would be to check that you actually charged the battery for it before drive all the way up to realise that your camera was dead from the start) so I had to rely on my trusty phone for all my photographic needs.  Arrive in mid Wales and enjoying the beautiful landscape that it holds truly shows me that you don’t need to spend a great deal of money to see amazing sights most can be found just outside your door, in your own country instead of jetting off to fulfill your traveling needs (although foreign adventures are nice too and do help boarded your horizons) all you really need is a tank full of petrol to take you places or your trust bicycle to help you explore, the place around. So pack your picnic basket and head out and explore your maybe surprised in what you find.


Natures secrets: The Gnoll

I have visited the Gnoll, on many occasions but I have never left the beaten path to go wandering through the trees, and explore what it has to offer, reminds me of when I was younger where I would go exploring with friends, curious of what we could find or discover. So I decided while walking the dogs, why not go wandering for a bit, here a couple of photos I took while wandering.

Day 5 – Dongyue temple and Temple of the sun

Well today shall be a solo adventure, since my friend has some work that they need to sort out, pretty sure I can handle this, I’m a man in his early 20’s, in decently good shape, in a country’s capital, where no one speaks your naive tongue,no help if no one understands you  and if you go missing no one will miss me or look for me ……… on second thoughts maybe I don’t got this. 

Dongyue temple

Well though my disjointed walk towards the temple of the sun I stumbled across, Dongyue temple, and since I was lone, I approached the ticket booth with hesitation and doubt in my heart, that I could scramble what little mandarin I need to  buy a ticket, so I could enter the place, the temple was quiet and had a sacred feel to the place, many people had come to the temple to pay respects or wish the loved ones good fortune for the coming year, though my aimless wandering, snapping photos of what peaked my interests, petting both horse and donkey (which were bronze and iron by the way) which promised financial success to you and your loved one as well as good health, best of both world if you ask me. I then came to find myself in one of the shine dedicated to a influential figure from that time period, for the life of me I can’t quite remember the name of the person in the shine (I know, I’m being ignorant , I’m sorry) but I found myself deciding to kneel down and give an small show of respect to the figure. After which I continued wandering, before deciding to leave and make my way towards the temple of the sun.

Temple of the sun

After multiple looks on my map app ( I can rhyme yay) and a further 20 minutes I found my destination, the temple of the sun, and was happy to find it was free entry (what can I say I like free stuff). While journeying through I might have entered a place I shouldn’t have, where a small little Chinese women shouted at me, it was funny and also terrifying, like my Nan. The park was filled with people doing exercises, dancing and multiple groups of people Playing Go (and I’m mean the Board game go, not Pokémon go) the park had a unique feel to it during the winter months, the frozen ponds, the barren trees at a certain Beauty to the place, a beauty that can only be experienced during these times. 

Day 4 – Tuanijiehu park and Chaoyang park 

The plan of action was simple to visit two different parks, while learning more about how to navigate the subway, as well as seeing what Beijing had to offer.

Tuanijiehu park

The first park that we visited, was a tranquil little park situated in the Chaoyang district of the city, the park seem to be popular with retirees, couple and people wanting a bit of exercise, since there were multiple small little spots with apparatuses, designed for people to do stretches and lite warm ups. There was also a multiple people dancing throughout the park as we meandered through, taking in the sights the park had to offer. After which we started to make our way to our next location, and I decided to practice my mandarin by buying us some rather tasty doughnuts.

Photos courtesy of Amy Ellen Dunstall

Chaoyang park

The second park on today’s agenda was Chaoyang park, the only problem was finding the entrance to it, easier that it sounds believe me, we wandered for a good 20 or so minutes before we found the entrance, and then went we got into the park we ended up going the wrong way and reaching a dead end, might sound like I’m complaining, but this park has a secret to it and that secret was it had a amusement park in its centre which we quickly found, where I was persuaded by my friend to go on the rollercoaster that they had which included a loop de loop and a barrel roll, and I’m one that’s not for rollercoaster, don’t get me wrong I like them,  but I kinda have a thing when they go upside down on me, probably due to me thinking that we would get suck upside down, but we ended up going on it and we both loved it, acting like excited children as we quickly whipped around, and it was over before we knew, it we sat there and both when “again” which the operator clearly didn’t understand us, how would he, we spoke to him in English. After which we continued to walk around the park, taking in the sights, stumbling across a toilet shapped like a ladybird, looking in the logo store, watching people practising Chinese water dancing, then we came a cross, a place in the park that was like a mini ski resort, with artificial snow and everything the place was packed, but we didn’t enter we simply stood outside observed and took photos of the multiple people skiing, snowboarding and running across the snow in hamster balls (which i really wanted to try by the way). Then we head deeper into the park further taking in the sights avoiding the many geese on the frozen ponds surface, before deciding to call it a day and making our way back to where we were staying. 

Photos courtesy of Amy Ellen Dunstall

Day 3- Ditan park and Lama temple 

The plan of the day was to visit the Lama temple, which didn’t go as planned, as firstly jet lags a bitch, ended up sleeping though both my alarms and through multiple missed calls from my friend, who was trying to find out if I was awake and where we should meet, and here I thought jet lag couldn’t touch me. Plus I missed breakfast so I had to leave on a empty stomach and my mandarin isn’t good enough yet to simply walk into a place and order food, I can point and gesture, but then i just look like a crazy man frantically waving my arms about trying to get food.

Ditan park

The first stop of the day was Ditan park or the temple of earth, this was a accident stop as we first mistaken it for the Lama temple, I’ll admit maybe I should have listen to my friend when they said it was the other way, but I’m a bit stubborn on times and I was sure it was a right way, I’m a man we don’t ask for directions, we trust in our gut and venture forth, even though it can sometimes get us lost, but you can always find new things when you leave the beaten path. But back on point, Ditan park was situated just north of the station, as we entered there was a information board telling us all the history of the place mentioning that It was built in 1530 during the Ming dynasty. Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would attend the annual summer solstice ritual of offerings to the heaven. It also mentioned how sacrifices took place there during the summer solstice, they were carried out so that it would bring about a  good harvest, a strong stable nation, and good weather for the year to come.

Lama temple

The final stop of the day was the Lama temple where we were originally planning to started the day at, we both decided to take a couple of pictures of ourself at the entrance before we entered, like the couple of tourists we are. As we entered you could easily get the vibe that is was a spiritual place, as many people were pray and lighting incense, wishing there loved one good fortune to come, we decided ourselves to light our incense too, don’t know if my friend prayed for anything, but I sure did, I’m not a spiritual person, but I thought, while I’m here, i might as well give it a try, I would mention what a prayed for, but I know a certain someone, might read this, so it’s a secret. The artwork and building structures where a mix of both Han Chinese and Tibetan styles, though out that period. 

Photos courtesy of Amy Ellen Dunstall 

Day 1 and 2- setting off and settling in

Well today is the day I jet off, for my trip to Beijing, everything is packed and ready to go and I got to say I believe I’m ready.

Well actually I just arrived at Heathrow and I’m bricking it, so much is going though my head, have I booked my suitcase  all the way through the trip, will I miss the announcement for my flight. But here I sit on the floor of the airport waiting for my flight to arrive with a Starbucks tea in my hand, I could find a perfectly good seat to sit on but I feel my comfortable sitting here watching everyone else rush around, so I can see I’m not the only one slightly flustered.

Well I have arrived in Beijing, and I got to say the flight was a killer, I was fine for the first 8 hours but the last two dragged that and coupled with the fact I couldn’t get a wink of sleep, turned it into a lifetime. Lucky the flight had plenty of movies and tv series to watch, especially game of thrones (which I might have binge watched) these alone were a life saver. But I made it to the airport where my friend was waiting for me and quite happy to see me. So now just relaxing in my room and settling in to Beijing, one final point, drivers tend not to pay attention to traffic lights, so best advice just follow what the locals do. 

Every journey starts with a single step

For the longest I can remember I have always be a person who is comfortable in familiar ways , always set to a simple routine, get up, get ready, go to work, get home,relax, sleep, weekend comes, see your partner, see friends, rinse and repeat. The usual mundane 9-5, if it isn’t broke why fix it, and with this I was happy, I had a decent job, good bunch of friends, a beautiful girl who loved me and a loving family. 

But when you aren’t willing make changes/risks , things will being to stagnate and the rot will slowly start to creep in, there was never really never any fire in me, the ambitious fire that will burn away the rot and clear out the stagnant air. I was happy with what I had why change ? But eventually it will catch up to you and no matter how hard you try, when the rot sets in thing will begin to crumble. The girl who once loved me, confronted me, bring up the fire that she once saw in me was nothing but a dwindling flame, embers slowly dancing across the darkness. I was so engrossed with what I cared for, the simplicity of it,that I hadn’t notice it being to rot and wither. So one of the better parts of me left and never looked back, can’t really blames her, something I wish for back then that she confronted me sooner, before all the rot had set in, so I could burn it all away and keep things as they were, but to be honest if I did, I would have most likely acted for that moment, then simply go back to my simple way of life.

So for the best part of a few months I stagnated further, just living things from day by day, until I made a decision, that I would get back in contact with a few good friends, who I simply let things fade away with,leaving them by the road side, putting them out of memory. So I arranged to meet up during the summer. So when I time came to actually come to meet up I was nervous, scared that things might go, sour and that this would be a one off meeting, and I would fully lose good friends that had always been good to be, even if I was always a bit elusive. But I swallowed my fear and put on my mask, one that showed a small sense of confidence, not showing weakness that was with me earlier, so I made my way to the coffee shop where I would meet the first of my friends, walking into coffee shop I was filled again with the dread, but I managed to keep it together, so we started to catch up, ok it was a little awkward at first after months of not talking I decided to suddenly catch up, trying to make up for lost time, and it was a success I was able to keep in contact with my friends, and after another 1 to 2 meeting, it was like nothing had ever happened, as if time had never pasted, and the embers slowly started to stir and kindle, inside me again, the once darkness void of the ambition, had embers slowly dancing across it again, a feel I thought I fleeted, was being rekindled in me, after which I felt free, happier than I had been, In awhile, all do to those friends. 

Then a option showed itself to me, one of my friends had mentioned, that it would be nice if they had someone else on there journey, a journey halfway across the world to Beijing, the thought intrigued me at first, but I soon but it out of my mind, but the thought of a adventure, a fun journey with a good old dear friend, started to fuel the embers, and from that a small flame emerged from the ashes, so I took a leap of faith, and decide sure I will take this chance to explore the world, so here I stand on the precipice of going to China with only a few days to go, and I’ve never felt so much mix of emotion, happiness, excitement, fear, etc. But I have never felt so ready and excited for a trip in my life. And hopefully this is a start of many more things to come, a small step on a hopefully long journey.