Susan left her native Ireland in 2010 on a six month backpacking trip around Asia. It didn't take long for her to fall in love with the continent and in the end this trip turned out to be six years.
She spent a year in Southeast Asia, settling in Thailand to teach English. Spurred on by her need for new experiences, she journeyed to Korea where she worked for two years. Her love affair with life on the road didn't end there as she then spent nine months exploring Central Asia, the Middle East, Mongolia, ending her trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway.
She had always been intrigued with Chinese society, especially after spending a month in the country. It was therefore no surprise that she then decided to find work there and immerse herself in the culture. She lived in Shanghai for almost two years and her passion for China never faltered. Shanghai remains her favourite city in the world.
I'll never forget when…
My most memorable travel experience was witnessing the morning market in the village of Xizhou. This market isn't set up to attract tourists, it's a genuine bazaar frequented by locals, shopping the aisles for hundreds of colourful products. I'm a keen photographer so the market was an absolute dream for taking pictures. The village is home to a large Bai community, one of China's many ethnic minorities. I was fascinated by the Bai people in their traditional dress, complete with beautifully embroidered head adornments. Old women half my size lugged huge baskets on their backs filled with anything from fruit to clothes. I watched people distilling oil in a rickety machine, boys shredding noodles by hand, girls making rice flour bread, and grannies arguing over live chickens. The vibrancy of the spices and the sheer array of unusual vegetables were a feast for the senses. It was an authentic slice of Chinese life and a truly wonderful experience.