Settling In..

It’s almost a month since I have moved to Harbin and I seem to be settling in now. I have my own apartment, I take the bus to school and pretty much every mode of transport available to go around, and I have become friendly with some of the people in my community.

I might live in a really old part of Harbin but my apartment is stunning and modern. Also, I like getting the feel of real local living. At the moment, I am looking after a little dog for three weeks before she runs along to her forever home – she is a rescue pup. She keeps me very busy.

I am finally getting used to the routine: the commute, long hours, eating out like its going out of fashion, lesson planning. All of it. I am taking it all in.

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I have been sight-seeing and have had some odd encounters so that will be coming up soon. But for now, I need to walk the pup and get ready for work work work.

With love, x

Hello, Harbin..

After a year of plotting and pondering, I am finally in China. Harbin, to be exact. Leaving Durban was a bittersweet moment – you know, knowing that you finally did it. But, leaving the people you love behind. It doesn’t make it easier that I am not quite a fan of flying. I often choose the window seat closest to the emergency exit. Then, I drink at least 3 glasses of red wine to help me sleep. It was comforting to sit next to another cryer (she was leaving her husband and daughter to teach in Dubai) so both of us had our tissues in hand as we took off.

I was a little silly to buy the cheapest ticket to Harbin; it was the longest 3 days yet. Arriving in Beijing was madness – that’s when the culture shock started. No queues. There were thousands of people at the airport yet it was way after 23:00. Then getting the taxi was even more daunting. I had the address written on my phone in characters yet no one wanted to take me to my hotel (I needed to rest on a bed and shower as I had a 9 hour lay over). It was time to use some Bing Translate. I asked a young gentleman to help me get a taxi to the hotel. To find that the reason why the drivers would not take me: the hotel was too close. Eventually, I made it. And, passed out straight after a much needed shower.

I went in to a restaurant at the Beijing Airport and asked for breakfast. I got noodles with an egg. Even though I asked for a vegetarian option, I still got a chunk of something meaty. I took the China Southern Airline to Harbin which was small and rattle-y. Thank goodness, I was so tired that I passed out. The food: a dry bread roll and milk and one dried prune. I am not even joking. As the pilot announced that we are descending in to Harbin, I looked out the window. Beautifully green.

Two hours later: what a warm welcome. Theo and Sara were waiting at the arrivals gate with huge smiles and somewhat, sighs of relief. With the stares and at times, the outright racism, I am glad I have come here for an adventure.

I have finally sorted my VPN and internet connection so I can write regularly.

With love,

xIMG_1668

 

 

Road trip to Bush Fire..

What a magical weekend.

Right, let us get the background first. I have been interested in attending the MTN Bush Fire Festival for the last three years. It seemed so worldly and care-free. But, I could never really afford it – very common issue, I’d say. This year (27-29 May 2016), the universe was on my side. In the shape of a very kind and fun soul, of course.

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This meant, R-O-A-D-T-R-I-P!! It is a little odd but I take them seriously. Snacks, a BOX of CDs to suit every mood, checking and double checking documents, more snacks and an endless amount of water. Also, a really annoying sing-a-long happy-go-lucky voice. I must sound like Donkey from Shrek. Oef…

After over six hours, buying an assortment of alcopops and getting a new stamp on my very bare passport, we were ready to set up camp in Mahlanya Market, Malkerns, Swaziland!

We arrived quite late in the evening but I had a smooth gin and tonic sippy cup to keep me warm in the long queue of campers. The music was pumping and boy, we were getting super excited to get in to it all.

The entire set up was absolutely phenomenal. Africa, you beaut! If you had to walk around the camp blindfolded, you would have no idea where you were – the languages, accent, diverse music! This is where my heart belongs.

Saturday morning. The one thing I never miss about festivals is the shower queue. After standing in a snaking queue to jump in to a cold shower but what’s worse is the cold water running out then having to dry your soapy body with a dry towel. Half loaf is better than no loaf, they say. Half clean and ready to eat, drink and dance through the festival.

 

A beautiful atmosphere, incredible talent and one of the best that I have attended with the absolute gem company.

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The image that captures the weekend: fun, colourful and just dance
Warmth fills my soul when I think about this amazing weekend.

With happiness & love,

x

My Mantra..

Spicy chai tea. Headphones in with shanti mantras calming me down as I attempt a stroll through the tornado – my mind.

It is insane to think that last night, I had so much to say. The words in my mind kept me up and woke me up in the wee hours. Settle.

I saw someone after almost two years. Startled is an understatement.

“Why are you here? This is my city!” shouting in my head last night. The eye contact I was not expecting shook me. However, it is alright now. You can stay. I mean, not that anybody needs my permission.

Shanti. Shanti. Shanti.

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I joined my yoga instructor and a new friend at the morning I Heart Market today. They make amazing mocktails from fresh coconut water and pineapple or orange juice. So many laughs and genuine happiness just by being with the right, positive people.

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Let’s continue this journey with some zest, shall we?

With love,

x

 

Voyage of Self-Discovery..

It’s an on-going journey. You learn something new about yourself everyday; especially during times when you have to deal with people that are not on the same wavelength as you are. Quite frankly, my face normally tells you exactly what I think. It’s not ideal, really.

Yesterday. Yesterday was one of the days when it felt like the world is caving in on me.

I have written in my notebook so I have let it go. This is what they mean by ” choosing your battles” and this was an unworthy one.

I am looking forward to the many beautiful places I will get lost in. Once that trust is gone, it is gone forever – with a partner, a parent, a friend, a colleague.

Life is certainly looking up. And, all of these bumps are life lessons and somehow, it all starts to make sense. So, chin up and enjoy your day; take it all as it comes.

Love & Light, x

Day Dreaming..

Day dreaming of the endless possibilities, personal growth and adventures. It is quite an exciting start to the year with so many avenues lighting up almost simultaneously.

So, it’s finally happening. A little bit of determination goes a l o n g way.

Never stop dreaming. Then, never stop pursuing your dreams. No matter who tries to talk you out of the ‘silly’ ones.

With love, x

PS: no such thing as a silly dream. pfft..

Roadtrippin’ to a New Year..

I have been procrastinating a lot lately. I’ve been on a two week break and I have been the best sloth yet. No, really. I didn’t know what date it was until it was Christmas then again on New Year’s Eve. It was incredibly beautiful to just be with my family (my mother and sisters, in particular). I pretty much tried to avoid shopping malls and people, in general. Where do ALL of these people come from? Surely they all don’t wait for the Christmas break to crawl out of their cocoons. Maybe they do… Who am I to judge?

I don’t quite remember the start of the holidays. I don’t know what I did, or what I got up to. It’s all a bit of a blur. The first night with my mum, I do remember being mauled by silent mosquitoes. You couldn’t see them, hear them but these itchy bumps kept on emerging on my skin. My sister smiled after seeing my horrified face and said, “Ah, they’ve finally got you too, I see.”

With my mind being on holiday mode already, I recall forgetting my handbag in my sister’s car and her driving off with it. There goes my cellphone, car keys, driver’s licence and purse with my money, oh and not forgetting my lip balm (seriously, how do people live without it?). That’s when I realised that I could be quite a write off of an adult. I made it though after a few phone calls off a landline.

I got roped in to going to Sea World with my nephew. The thing is, my family knows I love animals and I hate seeing them enclosed. I am not particularly fond of zoos, circuses and sea world-like places. Somehow though, they always talk me in to family quality time. Who can resist that? It was a fun day in the sun with some Dolphin giggles and splashes. I suppose I am incredibly fortunate to have seen Dolphins in their natural habitat when I was on the Rainbow Warrior in early 2015; happily swimming and splashing about and “chasing” the ship as kids would do.

My kind of holiday means travelling to a new place to meet new faces.

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Open roads, singing along to Green Day and making a couple of stops along the way. Okay, let’s not forget about getting lost for half an hour — driving in the opposite direction of our destination and ending up in the middle of nowhere. That’s all the fun, innit?

We were actually looking for the Nelson Mandela Capture Site (It is on the R103 in Howick, KZN). We found it, eventually 🙂 And, the entrance was f r e e !

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So happy to have ticked that off my list.

Then, next stop: Piggly Wiggly.

Fresh bread, cheese, red onion marmalade, pizza and locally brewed beer! Stunning day to have a gorgeous, fresh pizza (you watch them knead the dough to perfection!) and to people-watch! There are many shops to browse through and many more drinks to try and wine to buy. I didn’t get a chance to find it but I hear there is a Belgian Chocolate Waffle place on the same road; frothing!!

Final stop: The Bend in Nottingham Road. A 148 km drive from Durban. This would be the place I would be saying a slurry “hello 2016″.

It wasn’t a very slurry greeting. It was a stunning one.

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After breakfast and cleaning up, we decided to spend the day at the dam.

After tubing, zenning and making flower head bands in the scorching heat, it was home time.

Of course, the day was not over. I had to visit a dairy farm. I wish I hadn’t though. I watched a cow getting impregnated by a human! No, not that way but syringes and odd appliances were involved. It’s a really dirty job and I wish dairy farms were about lush fields and cows treated like royalty. It was awful and it reinforced my morals; why had become vegetarian. Consuming less dairy and ultimately becoming a vegan (ey, play nice – don’t roll your eyes at me) did cross my mind.

It was a glorious time away. Lord knows, everyone needs to take a break from the city.

This year is going to be a treat despite what the sordid horoscopes read! Ew! This year involves a lot more travel, relocation and a bit more reading. I would say 2015 was quite a splendid year, I would do it all over again.

With love & happiness,

x

Leopard Print..

The thing is, I try to not get attached to material possessions. But, this is not mine. So, I am allowed to enjoy its quirkiness without feeling odd about it.

When you are having a rather below average day, this metal box can put a spring right back to your step. When you’re driving the car, you feel like something wonderful is about to happen. Seriously.

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Many laughs in this old school Mercedes. It breaks down quite often, but that also ends in laughs. It’s the splendid, hilarious memories we will not forget. It is has been strangely temperamental lately; it has been with the mechanic for a week.

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Collecting these memories is way better than collecting things. I shan’t forget this anytime soon. I write this as I make plans for the next chapter. It is never easy. I have become attached to this lively environment that I am afraid that life out there won’t be as colourful. However, in my life, change and adventure are always welcome! Always!

Upwards and onward.

With love, x

 

Aging is Not Lost Youth..

So, the dinner that I was a little too excited about blew me away. It was phenomenal and way beyond my expectations. For once, I had an outfit co-ordinated (by myself, of course) with Purity Ring and Oscar & the Wolf as my background music.

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I arrived 9 minutes late. Fashionably so. My best friend organised such a beautiful affair! The dinner and drinks was at S43 in Umgeni. Quite the hipster place to be.

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I knew straight away what would be on my dinner plate – there was only one vegetarian option. That’s good enough for me! A giant-sized chickpea and spinach burger. They also have a banting diet option where the bun is replaced with large portobello mushrooms. There is something for everyone to enjoy.

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A cosy, friendly ambiance. A beautiful evening at S43 followed by a nightcap at a local pub to watch the Rugby World Cup 3rd Place Play-off.

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Biggest stoked face – thank you, thank you, thank you! I would not have had it any other way.

Also, I l o v e sparkles 🙂

With love from a 25 year old, x

Good Deed: Surfers Not Street Children..

I love being a good Samaritan. I love listening to peoples’ stories. I love seeing people change their lives for the better. So, I just love seeing human beings practicing ubuntu.

I have been involving myself in numerous projects. Great projects, where both parties benefit. Recently, I have become more drawn to the skating and surfing (board-riding) world. I mean, I grew up with friends that surfed but I could never afford the gear. So, I immersed myself in reading about the chilled board-riding culture.

Then, we found a unique organisation in Durban that gets children off the streets by teaching them how to surf. This is, of course, the extremely simplified version. Surfers Not Street Children is an organisation that exudes stoke! I have met young men that have gone through a tough upbringing that lead them to drugs and living on the streets but today, they always have smiles on their faces, travelling through surfing and have become quite the young gentlemen.

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I have been making visits to the Surf House (where the former street children stay) and I must say, if looks and feels like a large family house. The lads are all welcoming and so is their resident puppy!

I went there again recently with the Entrepreneurs Organisation to listen to Tom Hewitt talk about his organisation. He is really laid back and surely can talk for hours (we tease him about this).

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The great story is that these are former street children, they are black and they have changed their lives around! You have qualified surfing instructors, coffee barristers, trainee chefs and pro surfers representing South Africa all living under one roof! The phenomenal part is that they are making waves, inspiring other street children!

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I will be on the beach a lot more with the team. Such rad ous!

Feel free to drop me a mail if you would like to know more about the organisation.

With love,

x