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This is kind of like the first time I’m actually writing such an entry for this blog/website of mine and I’m a little fumbling on what concept I should be using. I’ll just go with the flow because I seriously have no idea – that’s something that sums up a huge portion of my life this year.
“Seriously have no idea”
2012 had been a rather amazing, dreamy and floating year for me. Graduated, had an amazing grad trip to Europe, started working full time, won a trip to Korea and a couple of things here and there. Overall, it was the start of the second phase I had in life and it had been a very good year – setting a high expectation for my 2013.
With huge powers comes huge responsibilities. However, with huge expectations comes huge disappointments. 2013 started on a really low note, especially right after Chinese new year. Shan’t elaborate much, it was a terrible multiple climax car incidents(s) which happened in Malaysia.
Well unhappy things should just be forgotten *bleep*
I started the year with an impulsive trip to Hong Kong with my cousin. Just as I was feeling so proud about my supposedly cheap tickets to HK last year at $260, my friend dropped me a message saying that she has gotten her HK tickets at $150 during Scoot’s Christmas 2013 sale. To calm myself down, like how i call it the sour grapes theory, scoot’s flight timing is bad bad bad.
Stayed in a ridiculously cheap accommodation at $58/night for a mini private room at Fortress Hill Metro, HK island.
My trip to Hong Kong was all about food. The best tangyuan I’ve eaten my whole life, the most value for money sashimi and the longest wait I’ve ever waited for food – claypot rice. Also, there’s this awesome frozen yoghurt in HK known as Crumbs. It’s to date, my favourite froyo.
Ocean Park was pretty awesome too. The hair raiser ride was pretty cool and caused a mega brain freeze. So did the mine train and a couple of others. thumbs up for the scary rides!
Island hopping in HK was fun too. We cut down a lot on the shopping though, but it was fine since it was winter anyways. Chengchau was a lovely place together with that random waterfall we discovered while walking around Lantau island.
January really has the best weather to visit Hong Kong. Cooling and not so humid. Perfect.
Went to KL/Genting in March. There was this sudden flash deal which resulted in $0 air tickets to KL. We only had to pay $56 for taxes. It had been 8-9 years since I last step into genting so it was pretty cool. I was pretty wow-ed by everything and of course the cooling weather. Cable car was scary yet adventurous. Main agenda: Short getaway; Hidden agenda: Concert and eating Imperial Rama. The best part of the is I got to visit the Crumbs outlet in KL. FYI, the Crumbs outlet has shifted from Pavilion to KLCC, Isetan Level 1. You can check their facebook page for further updates.
Next up was a Groupon deal to Batam @ Harmonie One hotel @ $39/pax excluding $26 taxes. Funny it might sound, but it was actually an over the sea grad trip I have with my clique in school. We couldn’t accommodate to anything more than a 2D1N escapade. Ha.
It was the first trip that I brought along my cute pinee pineapple bag from H&M.
Despite the less than 48 hours stay in Batam, we practically did everything from going on the shopping trip, visiting a mall, playing in the pool and the gym, had A&W, cheap magnum etc. Pretty decent and somewhat a closure to my education with this group of friends 😉
Can’t recall if it was March, April or May where I started to have plans to actually create some forum/website thing which helps people to plan their free and easy trip better.
Well, flyhoneystars started off as a blog as I wanted to have something to look back on when I’m older. Also, instead of repeating all my travel stories to my friends, they can actually just read it themselves. Furthermore, I’m pretty much a want-to-record-down-everything person. I have a whole collection of calendars and books and letters and blah blah blah.
*photo taken at Sausalito, San Francisco, USA
So Work & Travel USA entries were done weekly. It was done on a backlog basis, during the school term after I returned back from the states. I remember I was trying hard to recall our itinerary, our problems, our concerns, each and every detail and to write and post all entries before 2010 ends.
*photo taken at Farm Tomita, Hokkaido, Japan
Then after that, I went on to write a post about Hokkaido. Back then, I wanted to write about Hokkaido as I went there during the post-nuclear thing in June. Poor Hokkaido, their tourism was affected so badly and I wanted to write something, hoping that it would explain the situation well enough and perhaps increase people’s interest into Japan again. Ambitious it seems, but Japan’s did tourism improve. Together with the falling Yen rate today, more and more people are choosing to visit Japan, growing oblivious to the fear they had years ago.
*photo taken at Hae dong yong gung Temple, Busan, South Korea
Next up was my oh-so-complicated-and-long trip to Korea. I had so much planning and complications to handle and I thought it would be good if I just list everything out as a guide, to help myself and to help others. Having a place which contains links to everything important is really good. Even till today, I refer back to older posts instead of googling cause I know the information that I want are inside. True to my purpose, my planning posts turned to be a great hit, often coming up in top in search engines search, generating traffic to my blog. I’m glad to see the comments and questions in every entry as it kind of indicates to me that someone is actually reading it which it feels worthwhile to spend time writing. I guess I had too much to share, my weekly entries became daily ones, writing an entry for my every single day in Korea. Couldn’t keep up with the daily entries and ended up doing backlogs again. Once again, similar to all my previous entries, the posts were mainly informal and messy, yet again. Somehow I think that my blogging on Korea, especially on things relating to KPOP, brought the views all the way up.
*photo taken at Cinque Terre, Florence, Italy
Then came my grad trip to Europe which almost couldn’t happen.. aka the shortest yet most expensive summer vacation I will ever have. Europe’s planning was a mega headache and I think I started like 5 to 6 months earlier. It was a massive planning of interlinking transportation within and between 10 cities. The booking of domestic flights, trains, buses, hotels, hostels, guesthouse. Sieving through search engine results for the most value-for-money accommodation, read ratings and reviews and compare everything in an attempt to scrimp and save as much as possible. Blogging wise, I did it as 1 city 1 entry hoping to neaten up the information as far as possible, sharing all my save money techniques to everyone =p Not sure if I get much readership for my Europe entries though, but it comes in handy when my friends ask me for recommendations when they are visiting Europe, usually for exchange or for their grad trip.
(This entry seems to be going way and way off my initial purpose, turning into rambling once again =/ Since NYD is coming I shall give myself a break.)
*photo taken at Yangpyeong Rail Biking, Yangpyeong, South Korea
Then, in end Sep, came the turning point in my blog. I won the blogging contest and went on an all-expenses paid trip to South Korea. It was only then where I realised there are so many other individuals who have been pretty established in the online scene.
Chee Ching – Malaysian illustrator with cute comic entries and now doing free lance jobs. Apart from illustrations, she’s also an active bloggers, bagging invitations and freebies and she also blogged her way to New Zealand on a blog exchange organized by Hosteling International.
Liz – Hong Kong girl who got together with a Korean she met while on a working holiday in Australia. Has a facebook page, with almost 10k likes,where she shares her story of her relationship and experience in Australia and also together with the bf. Now, she has opened an online shop selling korean cosmetics and I think she’s doing pretty well.
Apart from these three, there’s a handful of others with more than 1,000 friends on facebook and a couple of others who has a lifestyle blog and blogs regularly. As much as I try to learn from their successes, seems like I am no where near what I hope I can be.
Yes, I tried creating a facebook page, but it is falling short on active posts and my initial idea of engagement and having original and interesting articles is not realizing at all. Now that I recall, it took me a few months to come up with the name of “Follow my Footsteps”. At that moment, I thought that name was pretty suitable as people google information in order to learn and Even so, I couldn’t get a .com or a .net for it because it was all taken. I don’t know why I went ahead with that name. Sighs. But it might be history anyway.
Anyways, during my long break from work, I tried to discover the options I had by browsing through successful (mainly travel) bloggers and websites and facebook pages. Then, I look back on my own blog and pondered upon why I am not a successful blogger (inspired from Curly Traveller). I’m not really a fan of self-criticism to be honest, but it’s time I solve the problem.
1. I don’t show my face, reveal my real identity or any other information in my blog or any other online platforms.
I don’t know why but I’ve been rather protective of my identity right from the beginning, on my first email, first neopets account, first irc nickname, etc. Yes if you realise, ‘honeystars’ appears very often and do i really like the breakfast cereal that much? Doubt so and I think I kind of outgrew it already. The most embarrassing moment that I ever had with ‘honeystars’ is when I first heard an online friend asking me face to face “Are you honeystars?” I took a 3-second pause as my brain deciphered that I had actually just been called out by an online name which I only responded via my computer screen. The taiwanese were even funnier. They called me 哈尼星 which made my hair stand. So why do I keep using ‘honeystars’ ? The truth is I can’t think of any other nicknames. Creative runs dry as you grow older. So now I have flyhoneystars which is this blog and honeystars spree for my spree site for a couple of years already. Sadly, as tipped by the online community, one should stick to the online name which made you the way you are as any other names would dilute search engines. FYI, i do see from the stats insights that people actually google ‘flyhoneystars’. This means that there are people actually really searching for my blog. *wow*
Anyway, that’s not it. When I attended the asian on air program, I even didn’t want the reporter to review my full name in the article =/ I have absolutely no idea why I have that fear but I do. A huge part of me wants to be as low profile as possible and I attempt, and still attempting to keep my online life separate from my personal life. I don’t even update my linkedin account anymore, neither do I update my occupation on Facebook. I don’t know why and what I’m afraid of. Perhaps it could be a new type of ‘phobia’ but it has not been named yet.
So, why does my decision to remain ‘anonymous’ makes me a failed blogger? A blog without photos wouldn’t capture attention. A photo without faces/humans makes the photo lifeless, without the connectivity, without the emotions. Look at the successful bloggers out there, I’m pretty sure 90% of them are photo centric with 50% of the photos with their faces. I… just can’t do it. Maybe one day I’ll be comfortable but.. I doubt so. Treasure my anonymity more than fame =/
2. I don’t have a direction, at all
I’ve been struggling with this ‘lack of direction’ mainly with my life and for my blog, this thought only occurred in recent months. If I could just accept myself being ‘just another blogger’, I don’t really have to care a shit about whatever ‘direction’. It started off at my travel documentation for myself and my friends and slowly, as I gain viewers and interaction, I started having random ideas of how I can expand/enhance/improve on my blog. That resulted in the outcome of my poorly constructed facebook page and website. It was just too “random” and impulsive and without proper planning. After six months of pathetic results, I started analyzing the successful ones and then I became demoralized as every supposedly niche idea I hope to have has already appeared in the market.
Until I find the direction that I want to proceed in, I’ll continue to help the interesting websites that I have discovered because they had ideas so similar to mine.
(1) Qiito (Quick, Interesting, Interactive, Travel Organizer)
It is a fairly successful interactive website which has able to attract like-minded travel enthusiasts to contribute itineraries, photos, directions and address. The favourite part about this website is that it allows you to create a travelogue with pins compatible with google maps.
(2) Trazy (Travel Crazy)
This korean-based travel website is similar to qiito as it has the map function as well, allowing us to pin locations down. Furthermore, they have categories for other important details such as “Opening Hours”, “Directions”, “Website” which can be really useful for their Spot. For now, their focus is still within South Korea, having explored Seoul, Busan and Jeju already. I like this website very much as their main focus is on the quirky places that are more locals-oriented. You can explore interesting itineraries and themes and they come up with short description for each individual attraction and this makes reading easy. The best part is that they even introduce on the local food and recommended restaurants to go to. Hopefully I’ll get to do some collaboration in future. The team seem to be really lovely.
3. My style of writing is informal and unprofessional
I have to agree, this is a major weakness of mine. Since young, I’ve not been a language person and it is common for me to have grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, phrasing issues etc. I’m trying to improve by vetting each post before it gets published but I know I’m still far from good. Most of the time, my posts are tiring to read because I’m so long-winded and I like to beat around the bush without going straight to the point.
Well, I’m trying hard to improve on this point and the first thing that I’ve been doing is I started to plan before writing some of my entries..
(It’s now 31st December, 5 hours to a brand new year and I’ve yet to complete this post and I guess I won’t get to finish it either cause I won’t be home.)
All in all, 2013 has been a “could be better” year and I’m expecting a little changes in 2014, however exciting it may be, however mundane it may be, I’m gonna make a change; at least to this blog/website.
Looking forward to my next vacation next Feb and (hopefully) a more impact full holiday somewhere mid or year end. Who knows what the future holds? I might just start farming cause I really want to know how does it feel like to live life with nature and nothing more than that. Still thinking about it and the options available and I’m not getting any younger for another adventure of a lifetime. *fingers cross*
Thanks for reading, if you made it till the end! Each and every view and comment means a lot to me and I hope that 2013 has treated you well and may 2014 be an even greater year.
Happiness to infinity ヾ(＠⌒ー⌒＠)ノ