Cat Island 猫島

I like to choose my pictures from OneDrive’s ‘On This Day’ function. This time four years ago, I was in the second half of my year abroad in Japan and I went with a friend to one of the country’s famous Cat Islands.

a kitten playing with its mother's tail
Oh, I just can’t wait to be king!

We took our chances with the low-speed train system and had a blast planning for and actually going on this day trip.

Black and White Cat, Chilling

At the time, I had a fear of domestic animals and I felt relief that none of these cats was afraid of me, nor I of them. If anything, they were too endearing, but that was a problem for later on in the day, when we were on our way home.

a ferry back to the mainland
Goodbye, Cat Island!

Notes: Today’s #PhotographFriday was taken using a Canon EOS Kiss X7 camera on the 24th of June, 2017 at Sanagi Island, Kagawa Prefecture.

Hiking Qingcheng Back Mountain 青城后山

Surprisingly, Miley Cyrus’ hit song The Climb wasn’t constantly playing in the back of my head as I hiked up this mountain. Thank the gods for small mercies.

Work has been stressful in recent weeks, what with various work projects and training sessions and the mighty company head honcho deciding to visit from his throne in Shanghai (or Beijing?) all the way to my lil ol’ school. All the managers have been anxious, and the energy seemed to trickle down to us lower folks and so, given how dramatic I am, I decided to run away to the countryside once everything was over.

Despite being an up and coming city with tall skyscrapers and an exhaustive subway system, there’s a wonderful bit of countryside just half an hour away by train outside of Chengdu’s city centre limits.

Qingchengshan is a mountain located in Dujiangyan city and it is very, very beautiful. I would compare it to Emeishan since I’ve been to that city, too, but unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to climb that particular mountain. That story is reserved for another time where I’m less angry.

Anyway! This would be my second visit to Qingchengshan, since I spent some annual leave days relaxing around some hot springs and climbing the front of the mountain last February. This time, I’ve decided to tackle Qingchenghoushan, the back mountain. It’s said to be more natural and less tourist-y, and is aimed more towards hikers and nature-lovers alike.

a lush green mountain with clouds resting at the peak
a breathtaking morning view from the terrace at my hotel room

LiberaTarts Hikes 青城后山 and Tries Not to Slip and Fall

Continue reading “Hiking Qingcheng Back Mountain 青城后山”

How To Get Away With… Teaching

I once (against my will) had to make a very public presentation about my journey from university graduate to my current job role as an ESL teacher. I was knee-deep in the Shonda Rhimes cinematic universe at the time – or the SRCU, if you will – so I cheekily titled my presentation: “How To Get Away With… Teaching.”

I like teaching ESL to children because they are fun to have in class and they absorb knowledge like a proverbial sponge. What I don’t like, on the other hand, is giving presentations to other teachers and higher-ups, where they get to judge me outside of my known skill-set of teaching but on things like…

  • public speaking skills
  • how to deliver a presentation in public
  • speeches with an audiovisual aid

… do you see a pattern?

I don’t like public speaking.

More specifically, I don’t like being put on the spot and be expected to perform well coherently in front of those who are essentially strangers. When it comes to teaching a class, it follows a very simple order where teachers scaffold vocabulary, sentence structures, grammar, and so on. Each lesson builds up from the previous one, and each year group content builds up from the previous year group’s content.

Easy stuff. Pretty simple.

Talking about something arbitrary like “my teaching journey” is a little less so. Who would even like to hear how I became an ESL teacher? By this, I mean listen to my story with the intention of following my footsteps: graduate university, faff around in the marketing sector, decide to run away to rural Spain, somehow find out you’re decent with teaching and apply for a job in China… it’s not quite a straightforward Point A to Point B road trip.

Continue reading “How To Get Away With… Teaching”

Skincare is Winning Care

I apologise for that dreadful play on words. It doesn’t even make a lick of sense?

There’s more to care – self or otherwise – beyond the skin. It just so happens that I’ve dedicated quite a bit of my time looking into skincare, given how terribly acne-prone I was when I was younger. And let’s be honest, I’m still a little acne-prone though at least that’s calmed down some as I traverse through my twenties.

Whoever said acne was A Teenage Thing is a lying liar who lies seven times a week. I developed spots / pimples / whiteheads in middle school, a whole chunky year before I was even thirteen. Acne didn’t miraculously stop being a problem the day I left nineteen, either, so sucks to be me I suppose.

Nevertheless, it’s only been in the last six months or so that my skin has shown visible improvement regarding dark spots, old acne scars, and general pimple occurences. My only conclusion (aside from my body chemistry finally calming down, the traitor turned prodigal son) is that I found the right combination of lotions and potions to keep my face happy and loved.

LiberaTarts and the Multi-Step Skincare Routine

Continue reading “Skincare is Winning Care”

The Work-Life Balance and Love Languages

If you’re here expecting a ramble about romantic love, then you’re in the wrong blog babes.

It’s a Sunday and my work is having a non-production day, which means all six of my classes are cancelled for the day! Unfortunately, it still means I have to show up at the office but my line manager is pretty loosey-goosey with office hours as long as you do you work and – let me humble brag – I am efficient as fuck when it comes to lesson planning, classroom prep, et cetera.

So I spent the morning having a relaxing breakfast, took some time with my skincare routine instead of rushing through it like normal, and I even had a few minutes to reflect over some things as I watch the city skyline get brighter.

LiberaTarts Ruminates: Life, Love, and Other Ls

Continue reading “The Work-Life Balance and Love Languages”

(Don’t) Shoot the Messenger

I’m no stranger to online communication, such is the life of someone who has friends and family spanning the entire globe. From Facebook-inclined family members to Weixin-reliant colleagues, just name a random SNS and I’ve most likely used it.

That is, except for TikTok. You can drag me kicking and screaming and I’d still refuse to use TikTok.

Regardless, here is a pros and cons breakdown of the various SNS I use and how popular they are in my social circle. Not to say that my social circle is extensive by any means; I can name only five or so friends I chat with on the regular and exchange meaningfully meaningless memes with and, to no one’s surprise, they all use different SNS.

SNS and LiberaTarts: What I Use and With Whom I Use Them

I can feel y’all judging me for that title
Continue reading “(Don’t) Shoot the Messenger”

2021: Let’s Try This Again

2020 has been a genuine clusterfuck of a year, so let’s take the passage of another year and claim this as a chance for a fresh-ish start.

I never did quit blogging, I just stayed away from it due to several reasons. An increased workload was one of them, having transitioned to online work during the height of COVID-19 (and therefore experiencing screen fatigue) and then transitioning back to offline teaching with reduced staff members has left me a little slightly burnt out.

The second reason was that, quite frankly, I had nothing to talk about. I wanted to fill this blog with my trips abroad and the wonderful new experiences I’m seeking out and yet… 2020 crushed all those dreams into fine dust. I’ve only very recently started reading books again – and by this, I do mean listening to audiobook because, as I’ve said, screen fatigue is real and I value my eyes.

The third reason, and the very reason why I did most of the things I did in 2020, was because I wanted to build closer relationships with my family and friends. I’ve set up weekly Skype sessions with my immediate family, monthly catch-ups with friends from Sixth Form, college, and university, and a virtual book club consisting of friends from the UK and the US – all of whom have not met each other but have me as a mutual friend as well as a love for fantasy fiction.

But now that things are slowly and steadily gaining traction again, I’ve made the executive decision to log back into WordPress. I’ve found joy in my life once more and I want to share this… not quite happiness, but contentment… beyond my immediate social circle. And to be honest, I’ve missed the friends I’ve made here online. I hope you’re all doing well!

LiberaTarts is Back… Late and with Starbucks

Continue reading “2021: Let’s Try This Again”

Hot Air Balloons 熱気球

Hot Air Balloons 熱気球 #PhotographFriday

This is a series of photography projects posted on any given Friday, told with a brief description of how the photographs came about. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/liberatarts/message
  1. Hot Air Balloons 熱気球
  2. Autumn 秋
  3. Flowers 花

Summer of 2018, I had an internship at a small digital marketing agency and it drained the life out of me. I wanted a break from the mind-numbingly repetitive nine-to-five schedule, so I booked a weekend getaway to see the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

I’ve always wanted to go to one of these things. The bright colours? The clear skies? The physics magic?? What’s not to love?!

The obvious answer is capitalism. It was a tiny bit annoying that most of the balloons were advertising a business venture or other – I wanted to get away from marketing, not to immerse myself in it again!

Also, Bristol in early August is cold. Having lived in the UK for as long as I have, I should have known to bring something warmer than my raincoat.

I had a fun and glorious time, regardless! Bristol was full of history, culture, and delicious local-style food.


Notes: Today’s #PhotographFriday was taken using a Canon EOS Kiss X7 camera on the 11th of August, 2018 at Ashton Court Estate in Bristol, England.

Be a part of my International Blogger Friends Directory and let’s collaborate! The world is your oyster.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

My Daily Quarantine Schedule

Being stuck at home, unable to go outside and go about your day-to-day life, might be a challenge for some people. There’s this joke floating around on the Internet, saying “Introverts, check up on your extrovert friends during this time of crisis! They don’t know what they’re doing.”

It’s high-end trash of a joke.

Not to be That Person because I did find this joke funny at first, but seeing it being bandied around on various social media platforms made me realise how patronising it is. “They don’t know what they’re doing”?? Presumptious, much. Also, let’s be honest, as a self-proclaimed introvert even I don’t know what I’m doing.

Where I live, the local government imposed a community-wide quarantine where residents are discouraged to leave their apartments but if so, they could only leave and re-enter through the front gates once a day.

Sounds drastic, right?

Perhaps. But my personal experience with self-quarantine is this:

  1. Late January, everyone in China goes on mandatory break for Spring Festival and I, in turn, sequester myself in my apartment to become a socially adverse hermit. All the restaurants close, the malls are empty, and there isn’t much to do except go to the public parks.
  2. Then I hear word that people are asked to stay at home to prevent the spread of this new coronavirus, but this doesn’t change anything for me because my plan was already to stay at home and continue being at home.
  3. Work resumes and we are asked to deliver lessons using an online video conferencing platform.

And that’s the current state of my life. The strict quarantine conditions may have lifted two weeks ago, but I am still working from home and I’m still limiting my time spent outside of my community because, frankly, there’s nothing I can do outside that I can’t just also do at home. So my day-to-day schedule remains similar to that during self-quarantine.

Wanna know how I survived with my sanity intact? Read on, my dears.

LiberaTarts: A Day in the Life, Quarantine Edition

Continue reading “My Daily Quarantine Schedule”

Weathering With You 天気の子 (2019)

Who cares if we can’t see any sunshine? I want you more than any blue sky.

Morishima Hodaka, Weathering With You (2019)

Given how I don’t read movie reviews and therefore do not know what a layout of one should look like, this entire post about Weathering With You will be akin more to a commentary rather than any kind of opinion piece. I have no other anime movies to compare it to, either, except perhaps the 2016 movie Your Name, which I don’t quite count because the two movies are by the same writer / director.

As my regular readers might know by now, I have a basic knowledge of Japanese because it was part of my university degree – a minor, to use the American collegiate term. I also lived in Japan the year Your Name was released in theatres, so that particular movie has a very dear place in my heart.

Finding out that Makoto Shinkai has written a ‘sequel’ to one of my beloved movies was a delight, but it was overshadowed by my move to China for work. The stress of moving countries, starting a new job, and being overtly social to combat the onset of homesickness took a toll and I missed the cinematic release of Weathering With You. There’s nothing quite like experiencing a new movie for the first time on the big screen, and one of my regrets in life is missing out on the cinema showings of both Your Name and Weathering With You.

Which is why I’m so glad that the latter movie was chosen as my post collaboration with Gurezu. I now had the excuse to buckle down, find a copy of the movie, and enjoy another of Makoto Shinkai’s masterpieces. If you want to hear my thoughts about 天気の子 / Weathering With You, grab your preferred hot beverage, settle down on a comfortable chair, and continue reading!

LiberaTarts Watches 天気の子 and Tries Not to Cry Immediately Afterwards

Continue reading “Weathering With You 天気の子 (2019)”