Photos by Arnold Cheung
FULL DISCLOSURE: Cynthia Luo used to be an URBANEBLOC.com writer. And in that duration of time, I’ve always marveled at her enthusiasm, her boundless creativity, and general hunger for life. It’s a little ray of sunshine to find someone so adaptable, adventurous, and eager to learn / see / do new things. You should get a taste of this Cynthia sparkle too.
Currently stationed in Thailand (yep, far far away), Cynthia works on content and marketing for a company called aCommerce. It’s officially been about a year or so, being across the globe, and she’s not about to look back anytime soon. Oh, and she’s managed to launch a lifestyle site called EyesUpCo too in the interim. Read on for a little glimpse of her unapologetically exotic life.
You packed up and moved across the world in 10 days. What’s your key to adapting?
I’m eleven months deep and I’m still adapting! Adjusting to a foreign country, especially coming from a developed place like Canada, is really an ongoing and conscious process.
I’ll walk down my street and see children playing in the middle of a construction site and remind myself not to freak out because that’s how life works here. The key is keeping an open mind because if you’re too set in your ways, you’ll never adapt and you’ll never feel settled.
In Thailand, I’ve adjusted to cultural considerations like standing up for the King’s anthem before a movie and resisting the urge to prop my feet up on a table. It irks me when foreigners are so ignorant to such simple etiquette. You’re a guest in their country, the least you can do is respect their customs.
You’re so great at capturing moments while genuinely enjoying them (sometimes we get swept up in just stylizing our photos etc). How do you keep capturing digital moments in check?
Thank you! I can still be quite guilty of staging photos but I try to catch myself. I work hard at portraying genuine emotion, no fake sh*t(fluff), so if whipping out my camera kills the moment, I’ve learned to be ok with forgoing a great photo op.
I’m also a big believer in the contagious powers of laughter and positivity. No matter what I’m working on, I like knowing the people around me are having a good time. If that means cracking a couple of lame jokes, I’m all in. Ecstatic that it shows in my images.
“I’m also a big believer in the contagious powers of laughter and positivity.”
What’s the big opportunity in Asia all about? How do you see that market being different from ours, and how you’d like to take control of your experience in it?
I can’t stress enough how much opportunity exists out here in Asia, it’s actually all anyone in my industry can talk about. The magic lies in the region’s current stage of development. In an already established market, it’s hard to build something that hasn’t already been done. Your contributions feel less impactful.
What blows my mind is the abundance of entrepreneurial spirit. Majority of these people don’t even realize they’re building a business, they’re doing it as a means to an end. You can easily open your own Instagram shop selling mangos or sell home-made salads on the street because there aren’t any concrete laws to restrict you.
I want to absorb as much knowledge as humanly possible and expose myself to the unknown and the uncomfortable so that when I build my own startup, I’ll have the local expertise and ability to pinpoint what type of problems need most attention.
“I want to absorb as much knowledge as humanly possible and expose myself to the unknown and the uncomfortable”
How do you choose your next adventure?
Surprisingly enough, most adventures sorta, kinda fell into my lap. I’m very fortunate to have a circle of friends here who are always, and I mean always, down for an adventure. Whether it be a spontaneous trip to a neighbouring island, wakeboarding, rock climbing, zip-lining, waterfall trekking or traveling to a new country, you really need to be willing to say yes when the opportunity arises. The best moments are usually unplanned.
What would you say to those people that are intimidated to have a lifestyle of travel and work?
It’s good to have that fear but don’t let it hold you back. Even if you try it and hate it, at least you took a step forward and not back. Travelling and working is challenging and definitely not as glitzy as the airport shots might look but I will say that it really taught me to take responsibility for myself. No one’s there to hold your hand throughout the journey, if you screw up, it’s on you. Once you find a balance, I swear it’s hard to stop moving. You should see me in the early morning trying to hail a cab, such a nightmare but hey, I’m getting better!
You recently launched eyesup – what is the site about, and what’s your mission?
Launching eyesup was a challenge to myself. After the excitement of being an expat wore off, I adopted quite a lame routine – wake up, work, binge on Netflix, sleep and repeat. I was living in the great metropolis that Bangkok is and not taking advantage of any of it. Funnelling energy into a new channel allowed me to reignite something that got lost in a mundane routine. It was a great excuse to put down my phone, take in my surroundings and actually live.
We’re so glued to our screens, we miss a lot of what’s going around in real time. Eyesup.co is about keeping your eyes up and your mind open. It’s about sharing experiences from all over the world. It’s funny because I recently met someone who told me we’re known as the “look down” generation so I guess eyesup came at a perfect time.
What’s the best way to take advantage of your experiences and your youth in the digital age?
Being in the startup world really instills a sense that you can do anything with a single idea. You’re constantly surrounded by extremely determined individuals whose attitudes inspire you to be better – I don’t care how cheesy that sounds, it’s the truth. We literally have all the tools to create anything we want and for any purpose in this digital age. It’s beautiful and I don’t want to let it go to waste.
“We literally have all the tools to create anything we want and for any purpose in this digital age. It’s beautiful and I don’t want to let it go to waste.”
I recently watched a video of Gary Vaynerchuk, highly successful serial entrepreneur, sum up the opportunity available to our generation in a single sentence: “There is dumb money chasing any kid in a hoodie with a half-assed idea”
Basically, now is the best time to be an entrepreneur, you just have to be willing to put in the work.
Big thank you to Glo and the UB ladies for always keepin’ it real and letting me start my content journey those few years ago.