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Imagine Marilyn Monroe and Nicki Minaj in one body. Retro-classic sexuality, if there is such a thing, crossed with contemporary female vulgarity. This is Mimi, but with a Mickey Mouse heart. I met Mimi during my 10-week Thai massage course. She was that tough, outspoken woman who, from across the room, transcended every boundary of femininity that I knew.

I recently added “Forward Thinker” to my character adjectives on my website. To represent it as a proper noun is an attempt to treat my newfound trait with the importance it deserves. And to perhaps use it to replace a less-attractive trait, like Unsuccessful Decision-Maker or Occasional Flosser. It is a New Year’s resolution of sorts.

As I drove a friend to the airport a few days ago, I realized that one indicator that you live in a good place is the length of time it takes to drive to the airport. And I write that with all seriousness and anyone who lives in a big city will understand why. Hours of your life can be lost to airport drives. I live in Chiang Mai, a village-like city in Northern Thailand.

On the final day of Thai massage school, four of us listened as our teacher talked about herbal medicine for treating common ailments. “How do you treat heartache?” One woman asked. She’d recently broken up with her partner over the course of our ten-week training. His name was still scrawled in ink on the top of her right breast.

Self-transparency or self-disgrace? When is exposing our vulnerability just too much?

Travelling alone is a lot like life–you’re never actually alone. Meeting people might be one of the best parts of travelling solo but so is the chance to “face yourself”, as a friend of mine describes it.

Travelling alone might be one of the best things you can do for yourself. Yes, it gets lonely, especially when you’re at an age seriously underrepresented in the travel world, and yes, it is sometimes scary. But loneliness and fear are a bit like mosquito bites, they affect everybody at some point but they only bother you if you give them attention.

Rudyard Kipling wrote, “the first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” No kidding. I’ve spent a great deal of time in South East Asia. My senses have been abused beyond what I thought possible, to the point where the sight of some things don’t affect me like they once did.

I read a book to my very young students regularly because it’s a favourite of theirs. It’s called “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt”. It’s about a family that, together, faces several challenges on their walk to find a bear, such as very tall grass, a river, thick gooey mud, a blizzard, and eventually, a bear.

“Know the rules well so you can break them effectively” - Dalai Lama XIV

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