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    How To Move To The Other Side Of The World: A Retrospective

    I honestly can’t pinpoint exactly when I actually decided to move 18,764 km away from the only home I’d ever known, all on my own.

    I was the ripe old age of 19, and not really enjoying my architecture degree. My grades were pretty good, but I remember being frustrated at only learning from books and idealistically thinking ‘how on earth am I supposed to create these amazing spaces if I’ve never actually experienced them?’ 

    I guess looking back that it was just something in my soul that felt right, so right that I announced to all and sundry that I’d be packing my bags, letting my tenancy agreement expire, moving back in with my family and working as hard as I could for year, or until I’d saved up enough to book my flights (and qualify for the visa) – which ever came first. That way, I’d be able to see more of the world, experience some of the most amazing buildings in the world and perhaps get experience working with ancient buildings. 

    Perfecting the blogger pose a decade before it was a thing…


    Running a gamut of research, I soon realised that as I missed out on an ancestry visa by a generation (my parents Grandparents were British) and I didn’t have the right qualifications to apply for a sponsored visa, I had to select a Working Holidaymakers visa – although at that time you were only allowed to work for one year of the two years you were allowed in the country*.

    Saving Up

    I interviewed for a pretty basic job in a sleepy town where everyone knew my family, somewhat surprising the interviewer by replying to her query of ‘what are your career aspirations within the company’ with “oh, I just want as many hours as you can give me for about a year – I’m disappearing off to England.” She was surprised, but luckily for me simply nodded and said ‘Huh, fair play to you. When can you start?’

    Getting Inspiration

    Somehow managing to get a 45+ hour roster, and then working a day and a half a week in a second job in a nearby restaurant, with my first pay check I bought a beautiful map of the world, hung it on my wall and measured the distance from New Zealand to London on a long piece of wood. I calculated how much I’d need to save, how long I thought it would take to me to save that up, and marked out the same number of sections on my piece of wood, keeping a marker nearby to colour in every time I caught up to a goal. The name of the game was keep an eye on the prize from the moment I woke up in the morning, to falling asleep at the end of the day.


    I can’t tell you how many lunchtime hours I poured over travel guides, devoured tales and daydreamed about balmy evenings on European balconies, a glass of wine in hand. If anyone even mentioned travelling, I would stop them in their tracks, insisting that they tell me every single detail, right down to the sunburns they would end up with and what tacky souvenirs they would bring home. The best advice I was given was to stop in Singapore – as a first time solo female it’s a nice taster of Asia without being too ‘authentic’ whilst on my own.

    Booking Flights & A Hostel

    Eventually I hit my savings target – almost – and began painstakingly researching flights. I plunked myself down in a travel agent’s chair, and we nutted out the best return fare I could get, and I slid out my debit card with an excited shake of the hand. We booked a popular antipodean hostel for the first week I was in London, assuming (wrongly) that I’d be able to find a flat pretty quickly.

    Telling Your Family

    This is quite an important step. They obviously all knew what my end goal was, but somehow I managed to forget to tell my nearest and dearest the date that I’d be flying the nest, or even that I’d booked the flights. I remember standing one late afternoon in my Dad’s kitchen, right next to his calendar, when the subject of travelling came up. ‘Um, Em, are you saving enough to go to England then?’ I turned to him in surprise, and exclaim ‘erm, I’ve actually booked the flights. Did I not tell you?’


    Planning to fly out just after my 20th birthday, we threw a triple party – a joint birthday for my sister and I (the first in over a decade) and a going away shebang that left us with high spirits and surprisingly mild hangovers. Many of my nearest and dearest attended, new friends, old friends and those self same people that I had been terrorising for travel tales for nearly a year.


    This was almost the hardest step. How on earth do you condense your life into 76cm (30 inches) by 48cm (19 inches), and a soft carry-on bag? Having never done it before, I must have repacked a thousand times, got rid of a fair amount to charity, second guessed every remaining item and then sat on it to finally do the zip up.

    Backing Up

    Not changing my mind – that was never going to happen – but literally leaving copies of all my important documents offline with family, and online in secure email accounts, as well as a paper copy that folded into my carry on bag.

    Checking In

    This was it. The moment I’d been waiting for – and I managed to mix up the take off time. Somehow I misread the (copied in triplicate) airplane tickets that said my flight left at 23:00, not 11:00, and we rocked up at Auckland airport, only to be laughed at (fairly) by the airline staff. We wandered off, had lunch, saw friends who worked nearby and then re-queued for the most exciting journey of my life.

    10 days exploring Singapore was a revelation – and hilariously turned out to be the home of one of my many cousins, settling into life in England definitely had highs and lows, but a decade on I still love it as much as I ever did. I might do another post at some point, with a few musings on settling into life in London. Perhaps. What it did teach me was that anything is possible with a little hard work, and a lot of luck (I landed a job within a week of landing, and sub-let a flat within a couple of months.)

    And that is my tale, of how I decided to change my life. And what not to do when moving to the other side of the world…

    * So most people just worked cash in hand for a year, entirely bypassing HMRC and a host of laws in favour of having enough money to survive the full two years allowed in the UK.


    48 Hours Sashaying Around Singapore

    When I planned my round the world trip (the New Zealand one – don’t worry, I’ll get to my recent US/Canada trip sometime soon, maybe) I plotted my journey around a few of the brilliant people I’ve met over the years.

    Hopping through Doha, Australia and New Zealand, my last stop was Singapore. And, in only 48 hours I managed to take 983 photos.

    What to do on a 48 hour stopover to Singapore Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Arriving into Changi Airport at 7am, I freshened up in the spa and then shot to my home for the first night – the horizon dominating Marina Bay Sands. With only two nights to spend in Singapore I made sure to make every moment count, and dropping my bags off with the concierge, I took the 57 floor lift and enjoyed a breakfast with an incredible view.

    I shan’t blather on too long about this hotel (well, this time, I’ll save that for a separate tome) because more excitingly…

    What to do on a 48 hour stopover to Singapore Adventures of a London Kiwi

    …I got to spend a load of time with two gorgeous bloggers – Sarah from the Wanderblogger and Dee at A Deecoded Life.

    What to do on a 48 hour stopover to Singapore Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Showing me around her new/old home of Singapore, she guided me around all of the classic tourist moments;

    Admiring the Supertree grove, planted with 25-50 metre tall metals ‘trees’, structures threaded with real plants waving in the breeze.

    What to do on a 48 hour stopover to Singapore Adventures of a London Kiwi

    From both near & afar!

    What to do on a 48 hour stopover to Singapore Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We stopped in for a coffee, and wondered at one of the more magnificent mall decorations I’ve ever seen and the surprising addition of a Venetian canal.

    What to do on a 48 hour stopover to Singapore Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We wandered around the bay, stopped by the MerLion (a “well-known marketing icon of Singapore depicted as a mythical creature with a lion’s head and the body of a fish”) and enjoyed a sundowner cocktail at the Lantern bar in the Fullerton Bay Hotel overlooking the calm waters.

    What to do on a 48 hour stopover to Singapore Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We stopped in for dinner at a local food hall and then ran back to Marina Bay Sands for a sunset swim.

    The next morning (after an early night fighting off jet lag) I checked in the iconic Raffles hotel, a longtime dream of mine, and stopped in with Sarah for a Singapore Sling complete with peanut shells strewn on the restaurant floor.

    What to do on a 48 hour stopover to Singapore Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do on a 48 hour stopover to Singapore Adventures of a London Kiwi

    She took me on a another mini-tour; nipping around the infinitely instagrammable Chimes Church and stopping for a shoefie.

    What to do on a 48 hour stopover to Singapore Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do on a 48 hour stopover to Singapore Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I wandered into the original Singapore Cat Cafe (called Neko no Niwa) but it wasn’t my favourite that I’ve ever been into – it was lacking a little soul that we’ve been treated to in the past.

    What to do on a 48 hour stopover to Singapore Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Searching for another coffee, we wandered into the magnificent Fullerton Hotel. It sounds like we spent a fair amount of time drinking and chatting, and quite honestly that was the absolute pleasure of  our time together. We could have rampaged all over the island, but spending time with her Tennessee smile made my expat heart happy.

    As the sun began setting on my last day, I met up with Dee – who took me to Platform 1094, a Harry Potter themed cafe. The food was excellent, the company delectable and my actual flaming Goblet Of Fire cocktail was brilliant.

    What to do on a 48 hour stopover to Singapore Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I feel like our grins say it all…

    What to do on a 48 hour stopover to Singapore Adventures of a London Kiwi

    But before my eyes became heavy lidded and I made my way back to Raffles…

    What to do on a 48 hour stopover to Singapore Adventures of a London Kiwi

    …Dee and I took in a evening cruise covering Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Marina Bay. Seated on our bumboat, we taken back in time to when they were used as a means of transporting goods and cargo back in the early days of Singapore history.

    What to do on a 48 hour stopover to Singapore Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Have you visited Singapore yet? It’s a fantastic stopover destination – especially with the Butterfly Gardens in Changi Airport.

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    What to do on a 48 hour stopover to Singapore Adventures of a London Kiwi


    My travel journey – beginning in Singapore #travellinkup

    My first ever taste of travel was probably the craziest if I’m honest. I had decided – despite only ever taking 2 internal NZ flights in my life – to pack up my life and move to the UK. On my own. Only knowing one person on the other side of the world. At twenty years old. So, so many things could have gone wrong.

    My travel journey - beginning in Singapore #travellinkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    To temper things slightly, I booked a week layover in Singapore between the long haul flights crossing the planet.

    I arrived after a 12 hour flight into Changi airport at 3am, not knowing a soul, never having experienced jet lag or been confronted with security guards wearing scary guns strapped across their chests. (I wasn’t confronted by them I hasten to add!)

    My travel journey - beginning in Singapore #travellinkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I didn’t own a smart phone – so checking in with my worries parents was by text message on one of those amazing Nokia phones (one that still works today, and I suspect is hardy enough to survive the apocalypse.)

    Having decided that getting into a taxi in a strange company in the middle of the night was too crazily adventurous for even my blood, I booked into an airport hotel and languorously (it’s possible in your twenties) stretched out the kinks of my economy cricked back.

    Waking up the next morning, and trying to open a window only to realise just where I was, I raced through getting dressed to head out into a tropical island city I had only ever dreamed about.

    My travel journey - beginning in Singapore #travellinkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Armed only with my carry on, having trusted my most precious stuff in all the world to customs officials, I meandered through passport control to, well, nothing.

    As far as the eye could see there was no massive red suitcase anywhere. Freaking out slightly and grabbing the nearest friendly looking airport official, she smiled at my predicament and goes “oh no, don’t worry, it will be with lost and found. Just go over there…”

    My travel journey - beginning in Singapore #travellinkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    After a touch of gesticulating, I was thankfully reunited with my worldly goods, and strode out into the Singaporean humidity. Making friends with my cab driver (I ended up partying with him and his friends at a club that night) and discovering that one of my (many, many) cousins was living in the island – and amazingly running into him on Orchard Road, I learned that some times truth is stranger than fiction…

    10 years on I visited as a 48 hour stopover, and the city has undergone a complete metamorphosis.

    My travel journey - beginning in Singapore #travellinkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Some things though have never changed…

    My travel journey - beginning in Singapore #travellinkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What is your travel story?

    An InLinkz Link-up


    Sunset over Mount Fuji, Japan – pinch Me. Travel Linkup

    A cool wind whistled over the hilltop. Sunlight glinted the surface of Lake Hakone on one side and dappled the surface of the Pacific Ocean beyond the grey stone building nestled at the peak of the (terrifying) cable car wires.

    In front of us cloaked in Winter splendour, Mount Fuji. Her peak mostly bare of clouds we took several long moments to simply breathe in the auspicious and rare sight.

    I’ve never felt more alive than that moment (and standing with my Boy at the Church altar). Just a moment of profound depth, one that will never be forgotten, and I have treasured in many quiet times since.

    We were even luckier for the simple fact of making it to the first level of the Mountain (there are two levels ascendable by vehicle, and a third often trekked on foot in Summer) as the winter weather only cleared enough 20 minutes before we were due to arrive. After the coach trip back, we headed towards the Ryopponen tower and watched the sun dip behind Mount Fuji’s silhouette in the distance. A wonderful end to a blissful day.

    The Pacific Ocean (to the left) was calling my name. So close, yet so far…)  

    What is it about Japan that so captures imaginations? Everyone we know who has visited adores the country, the customs and the food, and everyone that hasn’t been desperately wants to go.

    Whilst we were staying in Tokyo, this was the only thing I absolutely had to cross off the list – besides eat conveyor belt sushi – and had booked it far in advance of the plane tickets. We caught a day coach trip, and it was the easiest thing in the world.

    Rebecca, Kelly and I have been treated to the most wonderful roundup of travel “Pinch Me” Moments for this Month’s travel Linkup (see below). By this, we meant those moments that are so wonderful you feel you must be dreaming. In this case, I think I actually got Mr Kiwi to physically pinch me.

    As ever, my offering with Adventures of a London Kiwi is a touch late to the party due to travel, ironically, but better late than never, right?

    I’m lucky enough already to see many wonderful countries, and experience many fantastic moments throughout the few years we’ve been travelling. Enough to well and truly convince me that travelling expands you in a way that you may never understand with each an every experience. It does leave you with a serious case of wanderlust though, an almost anxiety to discover the next corner. And sometimes a delicate tummy – but that’s entirely another story.



    > ‘);

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    Nara, Japan #travelthursdays

    Spending time reflecting on trips to the British Museum with it’s Japanese Gallery, the beautiful Netsuke and the glorious art of tea drinking, has me homesick for Japan, and in particular our memories of Nara.

    It is a lovely historical oasis. Serenity, respect and beauty are the words that come to mind.

    These Sika deer were lovely. They eat out of your hand (this one I especially loved – he had worked out that he should stand by the cart selling the deer food discs. Smart beastie) then they bow to you. They were regarded as sacred messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion. 

    According to local folklore, deer from this area were considered sacred due to a visit from one of the four gods of Kasuga Shrine, Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto. He was said to have been invited from Kashima, Ibaraki, and appeared on Mt. Mikasa-yama riding a white deer. From that point, the deer were considered divine and sacred by both Kasuga Shrine and Kōfuku-ji. Killing one of these sacred deer was a capital offense punishable by death up until 1637, the last recorded date of a breach of that law.

    After World War II, the deer were officially stripped of their sacred/divine status, and were instead designated as National Treasures and are protected as such. (Cheers Wikipedia!)

    By the end of the day we were drinking sake in a local stand up sake bar (they are called tachinomis) surrounded by locals who spoke no English whatsoever and some of the tastiest food we had whilst in Japan. That memory alone epitomises travelling for me.

    What travel destination can’t you get out of your head?

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