Hi! I’m Athena, a forager on an omnivorous learning diet. I roam far and wide with text, audio, transportation (land, sea, and sky agnostic), and on my two feet in search of nothing in particular.

Some of the side comments in my posts probably require some context. I was born in Vancouver and am a happy product of Canadian public schooling. I have studied in Vancouver, Toronto, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom. My degrees in East Asian Studies and public policy for international development heavily inform my opinions and writing. Professionally, I do content marketing consulting, mostly for East Asia, and mostly for tech companies.

I tend to live in places that offer views of the vast Pacific. I have personal bikes in various cities. The places I am fondest of are Japan, India, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. That has almost no correlation with where I spend my time. My time is spent on routines. One routine includes 7am squash every other day, followed by fresh soy milk. Another routine involves morning bouldering, followed by camping out at one specific cafe in Vancouver’s Chinatown, doing what most people do on weekdays: working (remotely).

You can find my past work on LinkedIn, personal interests on Twitter, and travel-related posts on Instagram. Of course, I am always open to work opportunities. You can contact me at athena [at] piccoloportfolios.com

I also get involved with side projects, some of which are listed below in case you are interested:

  • Business 3.0 which is a project I started with 3 other people in Hong Kong and Japan to share product and business development wisdom from business owners and startup founders in those two places. The focus is on peopel who have not been profiled much in English.
  • LGBTQ Glassdoor is an opensource LGBTQ-friendly workplace directory for Hong Kong that I had started with the support of many people from Oursky, a former client
  • Open-source maps at Niche Tokyo
  • Content marketing consulting
  • Personal & startup writing on Medium
  • Photography on Unsplash used by companies like Adobe, Xero, and Buffer
  • TEDxYouth@HongKong (2010-2018), which has since been rebranded to TEDxYouth@VictoriaHarbour

 


Background on the blog

Most people who know me associate me with being a digital nomad, which I am not because I do not see the world that way. Having said that, everyone is still right about me being a frequent remote worker by virtue of the privileges I have to travel.

I am always curious about how things came to be the way they are and am always on the hunt for different perspectives (including many that offend me). Travel is one of the ways I learn, through physical experience of places and their peoples. However, it is only one method of learning that I compliment with many others, usually reading and podcasts.

When I do travel, my assumption is that locals know best. This means that I try to search for information through key words in a local language, even if it is a language I do not know. As a result, I end up compiling information that is usually not available in English.

Though I am not a developer, there is a software engineering mantra that may be familiar: “Don’t repeat yourself.” Wouldn’t everyone benefit from more collective knowledge so that we don’t have to repeat ourselves? This blog emerged out of my sharing reflex in 2015.

The first post I felt really strongly about was compiling a list of free and budget lodging for the Shikoku Pilgrimage, which I have since updated. This blog was set up as an exercise to write. My first major project was writing my Shikoku Pilgrimage Diary. When I finished the daily entries, I covered Third Wave Cafes in Tokyo because there were dozens that had not yet been covered in English back in 2015.

This blog is an evolving personal experiment. For two years, I extended the idea of covering cafes, thinking that I could help other remote workers and digital nomads find interesting local places to work out of. I have since decided that there is enough information out there for that community, and I am not particularly interested in attracting their attention. Nonetheless, formalising a structure for posts was a useful exercise. After I finished, I deleted all the English-region cafe posts in a day. The places I still have are Tokyo, Taipei, and Seoul because it looks like people are still reading them. I look forward to the day when other websites cover them well enough so that I can delete my posts.

If you are a returning reader (firstly, thank you!), please do not be surprised with deleted posts. I like spring cleaning and happily remove my posts when I find someone else has done a much better website or post than mine.

The blog continues to be where I share the lists I make, from my 2018 booklist to favourite podcasts. I’ve also tried to provide some information on LGBTQ information in Asia, including city-specific information for Tokyo and Hong Kong, as well as LGBTQ podcasts for Greater China.

With a bit more experience now, I am more certain about what I like to spend time on. You can expect more posts that involve the following:

  • translated travel information
  • random, niche travel topics that don’t have posts on English Google’s 1st page
  • commentary on East Asia and overseas Chinese experiences
  • practicing writing and improving how I articulate personal opinions

If you actually finished reading this, you might like my (at most) monthly newsletter.

12 thoughts on “About

  1. hi athena, thanks for your travel blog on shikoku henro. i am currently preparing my 3rd trip intending to complete the round, your blog is so much fun to read and so helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Oliver,

      Thank you for the kind message! Where are you starting from for your last trip? Matsumoto? When did you take the previous ones? I think it’s been snowing quite a bit, so be careful and take care!

      Also, best wishes for 2017!

      Like

  2. HI Athena,
    I’ve been reading your Shikoku henro blog and appreciating it. I’m preparing to start in late June (middle of summer). All other websites and online discussions refer to this as the worst time. I see that this is when you went. Is the weather as bad as they say?
    Cheers

    Like

    1. Haha, yes it is. Rains a lot, then it’s super hot. But each to their own. It was tough, but I didn’t mind it. Too hot to sleep some times. Bring lots of mosquito incense…. That was what got to me most. Also bring a poncho so your belongings don’t get soaked. I also liked that there weren’t many people, but the flip side is places close for summer. That I wrote about in my Kagawa stretch.

      Like

  3. Hi Athena!
    I saw your article about entitlement/privilege and being a digital nomad on Medium when Kirsty shared it. Thanks for writing such a thoughtful piece. As someone from a similarly privileged background it’s taken being married to someone from a totally different background to open my eyes to so many things that I take for granted. Thanks again! Kate

    Like

  4. Hi there, I would love to see your food map of Tokyo!! We leave for there on Saturday from Boston. We are super excited! It said something about “put in your email” so I am hoping this works… Love your pages here!

    Like

  5. Athena,
    Yours is an amazingly well-organized and well-written presence on the web. I’ve enjoyed every word. I am looking for a Japanese/English speaking companion to undertake the 88 Temple Walk starting in September 2018. I walked the Camino a couple of years ago and I feel that I am in condition to undertake the Temple Walk. Do you know of any blog or other site that caters to walkers trying to locate walking companions? I appreciate any direction you can provide.
    Regards,
    George

    Like

    1. Thank you for the kind words!

      I think try the Henro forums? There’s also a Henro guide website that collects writers like David Gilbert (randomwire) and others. You should be able to meet some people.

      Like

  6. Hello Athena!
    My name is Aurora. I have used your blog intensily while helping out my parents while they were preparing their Henro. They are about to finish it, and many times your blog was an unvaluable help! I walked with them the first four days, and I must say I fell in love with it, despite the harshness of temple 12.
    I would like to make you a question on their behalf: they are arriving at temple 88 on Saturday, and they want to take a bus to Tokushima. I’m trying to find information online about the schedules, but seems unlikely to show up in english. Could you just give me the last bit of information? I saw on your post that you took a bus to the city, was it straight from the temple bus stop?
    Thank you so much for all your help, you made them feel safer while walking.

    Like

    1. There’s a bus at the base of the main entrance of temple 88. It is across the street from the temple stairs. If I recall correctly, there’s a restaurant or food stall in front of or nearby to the stall.

      Did they buy the Shikoku 88 Route guide in English? I remember the bus times and stop are marked there. There are only a few buses a day, so they do need to watch their time. If they are walking from 87, tell them to be careful as some parts of the mountain path are along a ledge.

      Like

    2. Hi Aurora,

      I’ve done a quick search and it seems that my entry was not clear. There’s definitely a community bus, by the company Ogawa 小川 that will go from the temple to Shido Station 志度駅. From there, all trains either go to Takamatsu or Tokushima, so they just have to get on the Tokushima train. That’s probably easier.

      The bus stop should be about the same spot. They should look for a gathering of people or just follow walking pilgrims. There will always be one or two. The bus stop from my memory did not have a clear marker.

      Like

    3. That bus from the temple to Shido arrives at 9:56 / 13:26 / 15:47. It departs from okubo temple at 10:00 / 13:30 / 15:51.

      All the best to your parents. I’m glad my blog was helpful to you on your journey.

      Like

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