I Quit Social Media for 30 Days... 14 days in.

I’m currently at the halfway mark for this 30 day challenge and straight up I can tell you the effects are only positive at the moment, well… almost all positive.

You might be asking, wait - isn’t blogging a form of social media? Well, Yes I guess it is but I’m treating this space as more of a diary and a way to write longer form, better thought out content. I define Social Media in this challenge as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn & Instagram as they’re my main vices. Yes, LinkedIn is a vice…

I’ve deleted the apps from my iPhone & iPad but have not restricted them from my mac as I still need the Facebook & Twitter log in for certain websites, which is a pain and I need to start migrating away from that.

So… why am I doing this? Well, After the 30 Days Vegan Challenge I felt I had the momentum to keep it up. I stood up from my desk in the office and exclaimed “That’s it. I’m not using Social Media for 30 Days” this came after a week of very heavy social media use, I felt drained and exhausted and thought to myself… there’s gotta be more to this. I often think of back when I was a kid (this seems to be a recurring theme on this blog btw) to when life was simpler, pre-social media, pre-mobile phones, pre-internet. Basically, I just want some more peace and mental clarity in my life. I’ve had a rough couple of years and I just need to purge. This whole thing has been made a little easier for me, because as soon as I exclaimed that my colleague walked into the studio and brought me on air to tell the nation what I just said, so now I’m accountable to a few million people, not just myself. That makes it… easier?

A common question I’ve been getting, aside from all the doubt, is HOW?!?!? People have been telling me, while glued to their phones, “I’m glued to my phone - I could never do it.”

I wish I had a magic solution for this but really I’ve been staying off my socials for the past couple of weeks purely for the reason that I’m really benefiting from it. I’m not trying to keep up with people. I don’t really know what’s happening in the news aside from what I see at work or what people tell me or send to me. I’ve been able to hold a coherent thought in my head for longer than 5 seconds, I’ve been way more productive at work and in my personal projects, I’ve picked up learning a language in my free time and I’m just generally and to a further extent genuinely happier.

Do I miss my “social life”? There’s two answers to this… Yes and No. I feel like I should be missing what everyone is up to but at this point in time I’m so occupied with other things in my immediate surroundings. I’ve replace the time that I’ve spent mindlessly scrolling with things that bring me a benefit or some sort of fulfilment. There are a couple of people that I exclusively talk to online through my social apps and I look forward to catching up with them when I eventually return but for now I’m enjoying everything that is happening around me and the opportunities that are presented to me.

Will I return after my 30 days? Well, yeah. I will… but I won’t be using my socials in the same way, I really think I need to set some hard and fast rules on how long I spend online and what type of conversations I’m having. I enjoy the frivolous and nonsense nature of my online circles and also the slightly more serious and active members but I need to spend more time doing things that are useful rather than just sharing memes or updating people on an inane thought that I’ve had.

I should write something more comprehensive or film a video about this after the 30 days are done but for now, I’m just jotting down some notes.

Have you tried a “Social Media Cleanse”? Let me know below how it went.
(I’ll reply after the 30 days, obviously)

Vanlifers I'm obsessed with at the moment


I don’t think it is any secret that I’m absolutely obsessed with Vanlife or #vanlife. My obsession, like a lot of things started in childhood on our family camping trips.

I used to absolutely LOVE camping… I mean, I still do but I rarely get to go anymore but that will all soon change.

It could be the novelty or maybe its being closer to the land or the fact that you’re just totally relaxed, disconnected from the world and not beholden to any 9 to 5, for that finite time away.

Oh, What’s vanlife you might ask… simply put, it is an alternate lifestyle where people live out of their vans so they can travel the world and not have to pay exorbitant rent. Some people live full time in their vans and they’re usually called “Van Dwellers” while others are “Weekend Warriors” and use their vans on the weekend. Tbh, there is a lot of terminology so lets just roll with vanlife for now.

The most recent vanlife trip that I went on was New Zealand in 2017 which I think was a transformative time for me. I travelled with my brother and his partner and my then partner. It was a trip I’ll never forget. Recently I’ve been trying to work out how I can do that full time. It has been a dream for about the past 4 years and I didn’t think that I’d be able to make it a reality… whilst on this journey I’ve been watching lots of vanlife YouTubers to get inspiration from and to see what life is like on the road full time, I’ve only ever been on 2 to 4 week trips at a time.

So I thought I would compile a list of my favourite van life youtube channels incase you wanted to see what life was like on the road, permanently.

Our Jucy Van in New Zealand, 2017.

Our Jucy Van in New Zealand, 2017.

The Indie Projects

Bee and Theo were one of the first vanlifers I stumbled across, they have sooo much incredible and useful content on their channel from van tours to build outs to things you might need to buy and they’ve even put a whole lot of info into a free ebook on their website. I love their journey from their VW Westfalia to the longboat and now to their new sprinter and land in Portugal. They also have an incredibly well behaved ginger cat, Ginjey bear.

Eamon & Bec

Hailing from Canada and now driving around Europe I’ve been following along with their journey and I can’t wait for them to leave Ireland and the UK and see where they head to as my plan is to drive a very similar journey. They also have a tea company, shoot really great footage and are fun to watch.

Zach & Kasey

I find these two to be very genuine which is a bit of a rarity among some of the youtube channels, they have a great style and their videos are alway aesthetically pleasing. Oh and their dog Charlie is incredibly cute, the cute dogs will be a recurring theme.

Kinging It

Craig & Amy are from South Wales and are just so fun to watch, they’re just embarking on their vanlife journey in their bus, Custard.

They’ve done a whole host of cool things which you can see on their youtube channel.

Max and Lee (& Occy)

I noticed there wasn’t a lot of GREAT Australian vanlifers. I didn’t really want to watch lots of videos of a place I know well too so I knew my luck when I stumbled across this 50% Australian 50% Canadian duo plus their doggo Occy. This episode in particular is great, their videos are also incredibly inviting and you feel as if you are right there with them, nothing pretentious at all.

Wild We Roam

Dana and Lou are a channel that I wish made a video every day. Honestly the most relaxing videos to watch and my favourite thing is the travel journals. A different way to make videos and its really relaxing to watch. I also love their van, whilst a lot of couples go for new vans this pair have gone the other way and drive a beautiful old beast around Europe.

Travel Many Roads

Herman, Sietske and Ferry have been on the road since 2017 and hail from the Netherlands. Most if not all of their content is in Dutch but there is a video which has English translations. Their videos are so beautiful and they have opened a cafe in Portugal which looks fantastic… or at least that’s what I can understand from my very limited Dutch.

Other notable mentions in this list are Trent & Allie, The Nomadic Movement and The Matneys all of which are in South America at the moment.

Have you been following any vanlife journeys… would you survive a year living out of a van?

Let me know in the comments below.

My Camera Setup... featuring the Fuji X-H1

This isn’t really a camera review for the XH-1… It’s more just a run down of the camera equipment that I have and use regularly.

In my digital kit I have my main go-to which is my Fujifilm X-H1 with Battery Grip and 16mm f/2.8 or Fujinon 18-135mm f/3.5. In addition to this my second cam is my trusty Fujifilm X-E2 which usually has the Canon FD 50mm f/1.4 vintage lens attached to it.

I used to have a 56mm f/1.2 which I will add back into my kit in the coming months.

In my film kit I have an Olympus XA3, Canon EOS 7 and a Canon AF35M II.

I really enjoy shooting digital and film but I don’t like to shoot both at the same time. Film is something I enjoy shooting if I’ve got a weekend free to explore or re-explore as I am not an expert in shooting film, so I have to really think and compose all the shots first so I don’t waste film. That being said, I have a roll in each of my cameras at the moment that I should really develop as I tend to shoot quite slowly through the rolls as compared to digital.

Singapore, Singapore: Shot on Olympus XA3 35mm Portra 400

Singapore, Singapore: Shot on Olympus XA3 35mm Portra 400

My digital shooting style, once again not expert, is a bit more erratic and I tend to just point and shoot at whatever I think is aesthetically pleasing at the time. My style of photography rarely requires any form of long thought out planning or composition and all of my cameras work well in these conditions. I choose fast lenses, shoot usually in 200/400 ISO, 250 Shutter Speed and a f/4 with a single focus point. There are probably better ways to shoot but this works for me.

I also shoot video from time to time and it is an area that I am trying to skill up in and get better at. The X-H1 serves this purpose really well, the X-E2 is next to useless and prior to this I used the XT-20 which was great for video too but not as versatile as the XH-1. I have the battery grip attached to my X-H1 for video, I recently used it on a trip to Istanbul where I was filming for a client and it performed well and the battery grip lasted for the two full days of shooting. I typically have the 18-135 attached for video as it is versatile enough for me to get those wide shots when needed and a bit of zoom when I need to get those shots a bit tighter.

Istanbul, Turkey: Shot on X-H1 with 16mm f2.8

Istanbul, Turkey: Shot on X-H1 with 16mm f2.8

The X-H1 is light enough for me weighing in at 673 grams without the battery grip and just shy of a kilo with the grip and batteries in. I carried the camera on my shoulder for two days straight and it barely was noticeable, I just switched shoulders every other hour.

One of my favourite things about the X-H1, after the incredible colour science, shutter sound and feel of the grip would be its two card slots. I know this is an odd thing to love but after shooting with the X-E2 and X-T20 for so long and using the X-T2 occasionally the luxury of now having my own camera with dual slots is great for me. Especially as I don’t like having to fiddle around with cards when I’m on the move or in the pit. A downside for some is that you can’t split raw and jpeg across the two cards but for me I’m happy to just have twice the memory in my camera.

The accessories I have for my kit are: Rode Video-Micro Microphone for video, a rode lapel mic, Artisan and Artist red strap, a handmade leather strap from etsy that I got as a gift, a few different Sandisk Fast 128GB Memory Cards, a Sirui Carbon Fibre Tripod, two ND Filters & a Think Tank Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. I will be changing my bag to a backpack soon, the retrospective 7 has served me well over the past few years but I can’t carry it on my shoulder for day trips anymore!

That’s everything in my kit. I try and keep it as small and versatile as I can. You obviously don’t need all of these things or even multiple lenses but these work for me shooting needs.

My ThinkTank bag and I on the side of a mountain in New Zealand, 2017. Photo:  @anameizing

My ThinkTank bag and I on the side of a mountain in New Zealand, 2017.
Photo: @anameizing

What are you essentials, drop a comment below!

Also, I’ve linked most of the items here so it is easier for you to find them :)

What is a Tiny House?

My earliest memory of Tiny Houses was when I was a child, this is where I can pinpoint my love for the small, accessible, multipurpose, economy of space living area. To me, there’s something strangely appealing about fitting all your belongings into a 400 sq. ft space. It is important to note that to me, tiny house living is as much about the architecture & interior design as it is about the social movement and environmental impact behind it.

As a child growing up in Australia I would build cubby houses or tree houses (wendy house in the UK/NZ or play house in the US) much like a lot of other people my age, we didn’t have the internet easily accessible to us, mobile phones were only just coming into popularity and we really just grew up building things out of what we had around us in the garden.

This is where my tiny house journey began… but obviously then, I was six or seven years old I didn’t know what a “Tiny House” actually was… I just wanted to build a little escape pod from the harsh realities of knowing that school was on a Monday - because lets face it that was the only thing going on in our simple lives.

I feel with Tiny Houses there are a sense of nostalgia, especially for me as they transport me back to that time in addition to this my maternal grandparents lived in, not a tiny house, but a relatively small self contained space which at points would be fed by various self sustaining things that my Opa would set up whether it was fruit trees, a veggie garden or solar. My paternal grandparents on the other hand had a large garden with copious amounts of potatoes and other veggies. It always baffled me why people would go to the grocery store instead of growing their own veg.

Fast forward a few years, many iterations of vegetable gardens, chicken coops and after many hours watching home make over shows and seeing Eco villages pop up around the country and abroad I had suddenly realised that living off the grid in a self sustainable house was an option. An affordable, realistic, viable option. Forward a few years more and I was stepping foot in a tiny house in Singapore, a company there was selling pre-fab units that you could purchase and install in nearby countries.

And lets catch up to the present day, My childhood dreams could be coming real sooner than I had once thought, I had it in my mind that I would have to wait until my retirement for my tiny house dreams to become a reality but after a bit of research and my new found ability to plan things, yes - it was taken this long to learn how to actually plan things for myself, it might be something that I could achieve in the next 3 years or so.

Land in Portugal is very affordable and there is a tiny house community that is popping up in the region that I could be a part of. This excites me to no end and I’ve been obsessively looking at properties to purchase. I can’t afford one at the moment but once I have worked out the legalities of owning a property and the ongoing costs to maintain the land I should have a plot that I can build my tiny house dreams on. I had also considered Ireland as a place to purchase land but after a little research it seemed to be less of a viable option. If you have any advice about that, please let me know!

What is Minimalism?

/ˈmɪnɪməˌlɪz(ə)m/ - minimalism
what does it mean? who knows.

The easiest and less controversial way to describe minimalism is by describing what it means to me… My journey with minimalism began many years ago when I packed up my belongings and moved to Singapore with a suitcase and a backpack. I noticed that when I moved I had only packed the things that mattered to me and a couple of other things that I soon realised I didn’t need. Fast forward a few years and a couple more international moves later and I have now learnt so much about minimalism and consciously practise it in most facets of my life.

photo: @lupcheong

photo: @lupcheong

I find it hard to start in one particular area but I guess the first and easiest place to begin is with the wardrobe. I basically wear the same colour and style clothes every day. Almost like a uniform and I’ve been consciously practising this for the last 4 years or so now. Typically you would see me in some black jeans, a white or grey shirt if not it’d be black uniqlo ezi ankle-length pants coupled with a pair of black vans or white converse. On weekends I usually just wear gym or bather shorts, sweat pants or light blue jeans. You know, just to mix it up a little.

Sentimental items where something that was difficult at first but I quickly learnt that a lot of the items that were sentimental were not really sentimental at all. Those items that were heirlooms or given to me by my grandparents or close friends and family were luckily practical items, thank goodness for a practical family, so things like a coin purse from my opa or an enamel mug from my travels - these are items that have uses, are aesthetically pleasing and sentimental.

Practical items… this was even tougher as I had this little voice in the back of my mind that was telling me about all the things that had uses and but I needed to keep them! Take my camera gear for example, before I moved to Dubai I had a camera shelf in my tiny apartment in Singapore which had 3 film cameras that didn’t work, 4 film cameras that did, 3 DSLR cameras, 3 tripods, 2 microphones, a box of film, a box of negatives & CDs and last but not least a million chargers. When I moved I only had a certain amount of luggage and no option to upgrade and I couldn’t afford to ship any more over so I had to make some sacrifices and more importantly I had to be honest with myself… Why am I keeping 3 film cameras that don’t work? Why haven’t I donated them yet? Why do I need 4 film cameras when I usually only shoot with one?

Other practical items included things in my kitchen, bathroom, living space and so on. I’m not saying you should get rid of all the things you own but by being intentional about your belongings and your purchases you can not only save yourself money but you can help the environment and give yourself a little more mental clarity.

In my latest move I have a much bigger apartment, much much bigger and the opportunity was there to fill it with so many things. I treated myself to a proper desk space in my office but I made sure that all other areas in my new apartment were intentionally filled and with only the things I will use or will bring benefits to me, for example; it is multi use or aesthetically pleasing.

Oh and one more thing… There’s a bunch of other things included in my minimalism practice such as use of water, grocery buying and what I choose to spend my time on but I’ll write about those things another time.

Are you a minimalist or secret minimalist?

How to start your Vegan journey...

Let me start by saying… I’m not expert and I’m just starting out on this journey myself so I’m really just documenting my journey here but I thought I’d share how I got myself started!

I hope this helps you in some way, especially if you’re finding the early stages and transition a little tough.

Firstly, I started this as a 30 Day Challenge which you can read about here. I was not really a stranger to the Vegan diet as I’ve got friends who are vegan and I’ve joined them for many reals and back in Singapore I used to frequent VeganBurg a lot. I even voiced their franchise commercials for their US expansion. I was also a vegetarian for a while as a kid, before I really knew what it was… I somehow just rejected meat. So to me, it wasn’t a weird or strange world, just not one I was conscious enough to be in.

I had begun my Vegan journey with a meal plan. I made all my meals for a week which made it very easy not to stray. I would and wouldn’t recommend this. If you love eating the same thing over and over then go for it, if you love variety then perhaps use similar ingredients but make different meals for the week - that way you won’t get bored. I chose some recipes from Gaz Oakley’s Avant Garde Vegan YouTube Channel.

Having your resources really helps in the crucial first stages. Know what you need to be searching for on the back of labels or just make shopping lists before you head out to the store. Know the brands to look out for and for which nasties you should be aware of hidden in the ingredients section. This could be very daunting at first, but really it isn’t and if you’re super concerned about it just opt for a raw diet to start, which is easy enough to achieve and processed foods aren’t great for you anyway.

At this point you might be thinking… you’ve only spoken about food… What do I do about my clothes, items around my house or practices that I take part in that aren’t exactly vegan. Are you just plant based diet-ing? Well… Yes and No… I started out just doing the plant based diet but as I learnt more and discovered the other areas of my life that weren’t as ethical as I had hoped. So what do you do about that leather wallet you have or the deodorant you use is tested on animals or the suede on your shoes. I can’t tell you to go out and burn all these items and never use them again because that would be just wasteful. The practice that I am using now is any purchase or consumption going forward will be run through the vegan filter.

My deodorant ran out, so I switched to a vegan one. My toothpaste is about to run out so I’m on the hunt for a better option. You can’t go back and change your past, so don’t lose sleep over it, put your energy into the future and your future actions. I believe that will be of the most benefit, and less wasteful.

Now at this point you might be a little overwhelmed or you might be losing steam. How do you stay motivated? Well, I reached out to friends and family that would be supportive of my journey. I fed off their energy, I did more research, watched shows, read articles and surrounded myself online with information and encouragement. It also helped that I was really just enjoying the new diet and looking into ethical fashion and alternative choices.

Click here for the most comprehensive list of Vegan resources.

I don’t have all the answers, I’m just starting on this journey. Any advice or questions, drop it in the comments below.

Finding UAE's Desert Ghost Town

I recently moved to the UAE after a few years back in Singapore… so naturally I’ve been having itchy feet and wanted to explore some of the lest “touristy” parts of the country. After a quick google and a red hot desire to get out into the desert I discovered this small village near Al Madam which is in the Emirate of Sharjah.

The village is really interesting to visit. Upon entering the now deserted town square you can’t help but notice the eerie silence that surrounds you and the realisation of how isolated this place is. You look out onto the desert which goes on for miles and miles. The two rows of houses sit parallel to each other with a mosque as the focal point at the end of the rows. Town planning wise its the perfect little village!

The story goes like this… the village was abandoned a few decades ago, construction was in the 70’s or 80’s, BUT and here’s where it gets interesting… No one knows why. Newspapers and bloggers have gone around asking why and they can’t get a definite answer from anyone. The village apparently belonged to a nearby Al Kutbi tribe.

My guess is that there isn’t anything sinister going on here and more so that it is just a difficult place to live. In the short time that we were there my camera was absolutely covered in the sand, in every nook and cranny and not only that but my shoes were covered and had buckets of sand in them.

I went Vegan for 30 Days… Here’s what happened

The first question that I get asked is… why?

So let me start - I didn’t set out to save the animals, the environment or get healthy. I was watching videos on YouTube where people or couples would take these challenges and in one of the videos, I can’t remember which one, someone was talking about accountability.

The big A is something I’ve struggled with over the years, I haven’t been accountable for my actions, the way I’ve responded to my emotions, how I’ve managed my finances, work related things and the list goes on. It is always someone else’s issue to fix and that’s how I’ve looked at many issues with the world and to a lesser extent, myself.

So for me, this is a journey of accountability. Can I stick to something for 30 days and not falter?

What I quickly learnt was, yes. What I learnt about myself in this time, I hope, will stay with me for a long time if not a life time. I know it is only 30 days but you only need 27 to cultivate a habit, or so they say. At the time of publication and I’m still sticking with the plant based diet.

As time passed through the month and I was realising how easy it was to eat a plant based diet I started to look for other motivations and research a little more into the benefits, down sides and general chatter around a vegan diet.

Friends, family and followers were asking why I’m doing this - I explained at first about accountability and then after researching the impact of a daily meat based diet on the environment I then went on to explain about the impacts of eating meat. The environmental impact of all facets of meat production and then I got into working out how big my environmental footprint is and how I can reduce that. I just wanted to live a more ethical life. That was daunting for someone as lazy as I am, I feel like my heart is in the right place but my actions are not always.

I had turned into the people I was witnessing on the internet and people I had gone to university with. That’s not a bad thing, I’ve always had admiration for people who live alternative lifestyles or non-conformists.

So… how did I feel after week 1? Simply put, I felt great. You can almost instantaneously feel the difference. I don’t know whether this was just a placebo like effect. I jumped straight into this by doing a meal prep for the first week. I bought all the ingredients I needed, cooked up the same meals for a week to ensure I didn’t have a reason to eat anything else. I was also working night shifts and didn’t want to have any opportunity to fail during this crucial first week. The only problem I had this week was 2 days in I was pretty bored of eating the same thing.

Week 2 was different, I started to feel a little tired but I now think that was from some other external things that were happening; partied on the weekend, changed from night shifts back to days and some other stresses. I had some friends reach out in this week to suggest more meals and snacks to try and words of encouragement - a big thanks to Vanessa, Janet & Harun.

Week 3 saw me getting lazier and lazier to cook. At this point I was really over having to cook every meal and painstakingly look through the list of ingredients on the back of packets or ask the waiter if the meal had dairy, animal products etc in it. I found that this made me way more conscious of what I was consuming and how I was consuming it. I also was a little anxious about having to ask every time I sat down in front of a new menu and I didn’t want to disturb my friends at the table or the waiter more than I needed too… but then I sat there and thought about the reasons why I’m doing this and the benefits it brings and that thought passed quicker I thought.

I don’t crave meat at this point, I’m sailing through into the next week.

Week 4… the home stretch… feeling great and thinking why didn’t I do this sooner! Except for a couple of moments where I was thinking about the certain tastes of meals. You know, those comfort meals from childhood or the good times! I did cook one of my all time favourites - spaghetti bolognese, my mum’s recipe of course, but this time I had to make it vegan. I used a mince alternative, I replaced anchovy for seaweed and voila it was vegan and it still had all those familiar and warm tastes of childhood. I even managed to make a vegan fish and chips with tofu and seaweed, with vegan tartar sauce, mushy peas… the lot!

The standout from week 4 was realising how often I want to snack now… That’s not a bad thing, just need to get a list of healthy snacks so I’m not sitting around eating trash all day.

After the 30 days? Loving it! I was feeling slight frustration about the access to vegan food out and about in my area but that frustration was quickly quelled when I was on holiday as I didn’t know the area or places to go in that country, made me thankful for where I’m at now and reminded me why I’m doing this in the first place.

After 30 days I am definitely more accountable, conscious and my mental clarity and anxiety are at places I have not experienced since being a 6 year old!

I’ve now decided I’m going to set myself more 30 day challenges to push myself to achieve more and live a better life… something I for some reason didn’t think I could do.