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Three years ago this Christmas, my family and I embarked on our traditional end of year trip. Among one of our many stops was Myanmar, a country so different to any I had encountered before. We didn’t just stay in the capital city of Yangon and marvel at the Shwedagon Pagoda or the Chauk-htat-gyi Buddha Temple, but chose to travel around and fit in as much local culture and sights as possible.

My favourite part of the journey was exploring the very heart and soul of the country: the Mandalay River. We embarked on a nearly century-old boat and began our trip downstream, stopping off to visit artisan villages and temples. I have never seen such richly decorated temples, with each space covered in neons, gold and bling, resulting in a surprising mix of overt gaudiness and piety. I was also amazed at how the temples were not just for worship, but also encompassed every aspect of daily life, especially commerce. Indeed, on the way into the temple, there were sometimes corridors filled with stalls selling all kinds of objects, just like an indoor market.

In contrast to these bright, bustling and garish temples were the ancient archaeological sites, such as Bagan. We were fortunate enough to have a private candlelit dinner among the Bagan temples, whose sheer quantity is a testament to the historic religious devotion of the Burmese people.

The most magical time of day there for me was sunset, especially when we were on the river. We would gather on the upper deck of the boat and watch the orange and yellow sky melt into the water, the hundreds of temples and hills outlined clearer than ever.

A big part of our experience in Myanmar was the interactions we had with the people we met along the way, from the potters in a small village on the bank of the Mandalay to the women who showed us how to tie our longyi (traditional skirts) and applied thanaka paste on our faces, or even the gloriously elegant and beautiful Padaung woman who was selling jewellery outside a temple, her many neck rings gleaming in the sun.

Myanmar is a beautiful place filled with beautiful people and I can only hope that the current political and humanitarian situation there will be resolved in earnest.

Today on La Fête our founder, Charlotte, is offering her inspirational list of ’10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago’…

10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

1. BE KIND AND ACCEPTING OF YOUR FAMILY

I didn’t always have the easiest relationship with my parents and sister as a teenager. What I learned in my twenties was to take people as they are and not as you’d like them to be. That changed my relationships for the better and I couldn’t ask for a better support system than my family: remember to always cherish the people closest to you and treat them well.

10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

2. DON’T STOP TRUSTING PEOPLE BECAUSE OF ONE BAD EXPERIENCE

Bad experiences shouldn’t close you off from people and building a relationship with them, romantic or otherwise. Don’t let negativity define your future interactions with people. Live your best life and open your heart to trusting again, even if it’s a challenge.

10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

3. IT’S HEALTHY TO TALK ABOUT YOUR EMOTIONS AND ALWAYS BE HONEST

Vulnerability is not a weakness. It’s beautiful and raw and it should be shared. Speaking about your emotions will not only teach others about you, but also yourself. Always be honest no matter how sensitive a topic of conversation maybe. People will value your voice even more.

10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

4. VALUE EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCES

I’ve never been the most academic person, but education is the foundation of everything in my opinion. Working hard and learning can lead to incredible experiences and projects. Appreciate every single thing to come your way, big or small. You may not realise it, but it all plays a role in building you and your future.

10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

5. LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT YOURSELF AND BE UNAPOLOGETICALLY YOU

You can’t please everyone so just rock being yourself and love every single unique flaw you have. You have to love yourself and trust me, it will make you magnetic

10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

6. BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR CAREER PATH, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT SURE WHERE IT WILL TAKE YOU

Questioning your career path is normal and essential, but do not veer into crippling anxiety, as this will only sabotage you. Be confident and humble simultaneously: take criticism and advice, but stand your ground when necessary.

10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

7. PRIORITISE MEMORIES AND LIFE OVER WORK (SOMETIMES)

Work is an important part of my life, especially as a business owner. But I remember missing out on family events as a teenager because of revision or having to choose a seemingly urgent work situation over dinner with my friends. Remember to take a step back and learn how to prioritise: the email in your inbox may not be as important and urgent as you think it is, but your outing with friends has been a calendar highlight for a month. Find a balance and separate both your working and personal lives, with a healthy form of compromise between the two.

10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

8. KNOW WHEN AND WHAT TO SAY NO TO

Too often I’ve said yes to things that haven’t been right for me, just because it was an opportunity. Learn what is right for you and what isn’t. Don’t be afraid to say no and equally, don’t be afraid to say yes to something different. Also, timing is key in life, so learn how to say things and when is appropriate.

10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

9. TRUST YOUR GUT

This point is pretty self-explanatory. Trust that little voice in your head, or the feeling in the pit of your stomach. However it manifests, listen to it and keep an open-mind. I’ve been in situations where my gut has told me the opposite of the general opinion and I’ve followed my instinct and been right. Everyone has a gut instinct, but it’s how you develop it and cultivate it in your daily life

10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

10. DON’T FEAR JUDGEMENT

It’s easy to let fear hold you back. Don’t fall into that trap and especially don’t let people’s opinions of you control your life and career. No matter what you do, people will comment and have their opinion one way or the other, so do not do anything but what is right for you. If you’re a doer, people will sit back and judge. Unless it’s constructive criticism, pay it no mind and just do you, unapologetically.

10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

You’ll find lots of wonderful wedding inspiration, planning advice and travelling adventures on the La Fête Blog right here. Now Charlotte has shared her ’10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago’, what would your list be?

Image Credits: Image 1 via Emily Ricard Photography / Image 2 via La Fête Weddings & Events / Image 3 via The Kitcheners Photography / Image 4 via Nicola Thompson Photography & Boho Weddings / Image 5 via La Fête Weddings & Events / Image 6 via Sincerely Jules / Image 7 via Serena Clarke / Image 8 via La Fête Weddings & Events / Image 9 via La Fête Weddings & Events / Image 10 via Red Fairy Project / Image 11 via Miss Getaway

Known for its chocolate, watches, finance, technology and international organisations, Geneva, and Switzerland in general, is known globally for its high-end exports and position on the world stage. But Geneva is so much more than the city itself: the Canton of Geneva is filled to bursting with rural villages, forests, vineyards and rolling fields as far as the eye can see, framed by snow-topped mountains.

The Travel Diaries: Geneva

The city is built around the Lac Léman, which houses one of the most famous landmarks of Geneva, the Jet d’Eau. This powerful manmade fountain has become a symbol of the city and its presence attracts many tourists, keen to experience it in person. But don’t count on seeing it in the dead of winter, the fountain is often switched off when the temperature drops too low in order to avoid it freezing!

The Travel Diaries: Geneva

Despite the newer part of Geneva hugging the banks of the Lac Léman, the old city is built 25 metres higher than the level of the lake. It is packed with antique shops, galleries, libraries, museums and restaurants. The cobbled streets and the facades hark back to a rich history, from the site of the Roman market to the Reformation Wall portraying Calvin, Cromwell and Knox among others. The Vieille Ville (Old City) also showcases canons (that my sister and I would always climb on as children), Maison Tavel (the best museum to visit if you want to learn about the history of Geneva) and of course, the St Pierre Cathedral; which is not just historically interesting for its religious past, but also for the archaeological site beneath. Indeed, you can see the remains of the 4th century churches that the cathedral was built on, as well as indicators of how Geneva’s occupants used to live.

The Travel Diaries: Geneva

The Vieille Ville truly comes alive once a year during the celebration of l’Escalade(The Climbing) on December 12th. This event commemorates the Duke of Savoy’s failed attempt to take over the fortified city of Geneva in 1602. The story has many ins and outs and I truly recommend researching it, as it is a tale that people are still extremely proud of. In order to commemorate the people of Geneva’s fight and victory, there is a period costumed parade each year, as well as an organised run through the Vieille Ville.

The Travel Diaries: Geneva

My favourite part of the festivities though was the one involving chocolate of course! It’s customary for each family to purchase a chocolate cauldron, (Marmite de l’Escalade), available in every kind of size imaginable, fill it with marzipan vegetables and then the eldest and youngest in the room smash it with a hammer whilst saying, DzThus perished the enemies of the Republic.dz This originates from a woman known as Mère Royaume (Mother Kingdom), who having been awakened by the attack on Geneva poured the vegetable soup she was boiling over soldiers climbing the city’s walls.

The Travel Diaries: Geneva

Geneva is full of traditions but also technology and new developments: the CERN is a prime example of that. I could keep talking for hours, but now it’s your turn to go and experience the history, the innovation, the architecture, the scenery and the food. You won’t be disappointed!

Images via Pinterest. For more wedding inspiration and travelling adventures, head over to the La Fête blog now.