The site’s been pretty quiet as compared to how it was before the start of the year. I didn’t expect it to get this way, but it did, for better or for worse. The first major leg of my holiday went smoothly, and I had a great time. I returned to Sydney for about three months to take a breather, attend a few events, process some photos and get ready for my next adventure. This post will be a bit of an update on how I’m going, and what’s happening in the future.
Milestone: 2.5 million views!
First thing’s first – a little bit of patting myself on the back. As of writing this post, we just ticked over 2.5 million views since the site launched at goughlui.com on the 25th January 2013. That’s a lot more views than I expected, although there is a precipitous drop in visitor numbers at the beginning of the year since I started my holidays and was on blogging hiatus. Will the numbers recover? Maybe not. But I’ve still got more than the 7-views-a-day I started with, and that makes me happy to see.
This is the list of posts with more than 20,000 views. No surprise, the home page sits at the top, but the posts on the list all have their own “appeal” in a way. This list alone accounts for 35% of the total views. The bandwidth consumption is still a staggering 390GB a month, which is a lot of data for a personal blog.
Holiday 1.0: Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea
After completing my PhD, I promised myself to spend this year on vacation to recharge myself and immerse myself in more culture. It was a necessary sea-change, and the first set of trips was to Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea spanning 30th January 2017 through to 12th April 2017.
Needless to say, that is all over now but it was a marathon effort that went surprisingly well. I took about 18,000 photos, carried home about 7TB of data including various recordings of radio and TV broadcasts; and didn’t end up losing anything even though I had feared I did. I did manage to damage one of my lenses, so I ended up buying a replacement. I also ended up buying a few Xiaomi products which are part of my day-to-day arsenal, and that’s been quite good.
While on holiday in Hong Kong, I stayed with my relatives and found my way around with relative ease. Travelling in Taiwan was also with family and by a one-week round-the-country tour, which didn’t require much initiative on my behalf.
When I got to South Korea, I was on my own for the first time, and I enjoyed it immensely. I chose the self-directed tour route – I decided what I wanted to do with each day, and I felt free to let myself get distracted along the way. I found many times where I would wake up wanting to go to a few destinations, but had somehow been diverted along the way by a sign to something even more interesting that I didn’t have any idea of.
I felt safe, despite the protests in the capital at the time, and even though there were a few instances of a language barrier, I could cope for the most part. Due to convenience, I spent a lot of time eating fast food (which, in itself, is quite interesting to see the regional variations) but due to the vast amount of walking (3-4 hours a day) and a meal-skipping regime, I even lost 6kg (which has since been put-back-on since I returned home). With the good connectivity (for the most part), I was not far from digital help even though Google Maps was hilariously wrong in places.
But the biggest surprise to me was just how adaptive I was – in a place completely devoid of test equipment, on a small and limited laptop screen, in a room in a different country, no longer blogging on a regular basis I had absolutely no feelings of missing home or my elaborate set-up in my room or even my old day-to-day schedule. I felt liberated in a way, that I could find happiness in entirely different pursuits I had never had the time to pursue in the past.
South Korea feels very much like a homely place to me now, after spending about 6.5 weeks there and knowing some of their culture from TV and learning bits and pieces from visiting museums. Every country has their own differences – they seem to be very much prepared for any situation, but they also have an obsession with numbers which means that engineers can delight in knowing everything about their infrastructure and facilities without having to ask! I had the time to ride on every single subway line in the country except one. I also rode the full length of the Busan, Daejeon and Daegu subway systems, and delighted in riding their driverless lines (of various different technologies) especially.
After my return, I had a bit of a holiday hangover – I was confused about which side of the road to walk on, I looked the wrong way for oncoming traffic, etc. But for once, I felt less safe about riding the public transport at home compared to when I was overseas. It’s odd to feel like a stranger in your own hometown. But at least I knew where everything was, and how to get around …
I spent a good slice of my time processing my photos and compiling a large photobook to celebrate. In-between that and planning the next holiday, getting into vinyl records, attending events, doing the odd review, updating and maintaining the computers at home, peer-reviewing papers and fixing up a few publications for the uni, my three months had disappeared leaving no time to actually post the photos online along with their story. I hope to do it sometime in the future, even if it does come very late as I did see and document some rather interesting things (at least, in my opinion).
Holiday 2.0: Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong (Redux)
My coarse plan for the year had me touring Australia in between my overseas trips. Once I saw how much it cost for domestic airfares and accommodation, I seriously reconsidered the plan. If it costs me about the same to tour overseas, I would obviously prefer that. Through good timing and a choice of dates that landed my flights with budget carriers (Scoot, Tiger, Jetstar), I set the plan to visit Singapore, Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka) and Hong Kong (since it’s on the way in a way). All of these are countries I had wanted to visit for one reason or another, although given the North Korean situation, I’m hoping there won’t be any trouble in the meantime.
In fact, it’s coming up so soon that I’ll be flying out on Wednesday. Expect a lengthy silence from then – but if you’re in Singapore, Japan or Hong Kong and want to meet, give me a shout.
The Optical Disc Corner
But before I leave, I’ve got a present for all my readers. I spent a few days hunched in front of the computer and a scanner to bring you The Optical Disc Corner, which is similar to the CPU corner, and the VHS corner. This shows you the retail-print/packaged recordable/rewritable optical discs I still have. Unfortunately, many years back, I did throw out many of the earlier examples I owned (e.g. HiCo, Pyrod, Princo, etc.) so it’s only a shadow of what I once had, but it still comprises over 400 scans. I just hope no companies have any objections to its posting.
There are many discs I know of, but don’t have, so if you have anything particularly interesting, I’m happy to accept donations too.
Unfortunately, it’s likely the site will stay somewhat quiet for a while still, and once it “stirs” back into life, it might not be the same site it was before. After all, I’m not the same person I was before. Maybe I won’t be as prolific about posting as before, but despite this, I hope that some readers will still enjoy my postings.