In the Woods..

The first opportunity to get hiking outside the city was granted, I grabbed it with two hands! There was no way I could let that pass, no matter how exhausted I am. Since I have arrived in Harbin, I have made a deal with myself to travel as much as I can. Even if it means that I live like a peasant. I have planned a number of big trips in the coming months so I am finally getting to live my dream.

It all started with a small Moon Cake and a cup of coffee. I packed a light backpack with all the essentials for a day trip: sun screen, wet wipes, tissue, water (!!), a rain jacket, lp balm, a spare plastic packet, lunch and snacks for the trek up.

Destination? Xiang Lu Shan. To get there, we had to take a train to the end of the line (Hadongzhan) then two buses thereafter. It gets rather rural and the air becomes cleaner and fresher! Score!

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I thought this would be a walk in the walk, really. It started off really well with stunning Buddhist prayer rooms and flat walks with trickling streams. After the iron swing path way, it all went uphill from there.

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I honestly thought I was relatively fit. Halfway up, I was sweating and panting and asking myself why I do this to myself.  Why?

To put it quite simply, that is the reason. The challenge, the fresh air, the forests and appreciating mother nature. I resembled a tortoise walking uphill. Eventually, I caught up with the gang. The final battle going uphill was worth it. The view from the top was breathtaking – it was worth every curse I said under my breath. Note to self: Anele, cut down on the Harbin beer, noodles and rice. 

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Aaaaah.

If you ever make it to Harbin, I would recommend that you spend a day Xiang Lu Shan for a day hike. If you are coming in the winter months, then you can ski down the mountain after trekking up.

A day well spent. I love sore thigh muscles after a good work out!

With love, x

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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,

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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

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..

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

 

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

Let’s Go Skate..

If you’re not skating for fun, what are you skating for?

A dearly beloved and I had a lunch catch up at the beach on a splendid Saturday afternoon. It started off a little strange with Marc Jacobs’ Promo Girls surrounding me asking to take a photo and asking some questions. That was fun. Then I had people staring at me; I am not quite sure why.

It sounds a little strange but I normally park my car about 2 or 3 km away from where I will be having lunch. I build up an appetite by walking to the location and digest the food on my way back to the parking lot. Also, I fit in a bit of exercise that way 🙂 s n e a k y

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I enjoyed a ridiculously delicious mushroom burger with heaps of rocket. I could not take photos. I ate everything; messy, with a cheese sauce all over my face and hands. Ah! Worth it. With my americano in hand, we enjoyed good conversation and a bit of people watching. It was a hilarious kind of windy – where everything blows away. The little milk container (because we drink coffee all day, everyday) blew on to Nick’s crotch so it looked a little dodgy. Someone’s rocket blew off their pizza and on to my face. All of the serviettes blew off our table that I had to sit on one just to save it for later. Then, I was distracted by a little charmer.

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He looks tough but he was the sweetest little dog. He even posed beautifully for this photo.

I went back to the windy table. The bill blew away. A side note, Surf Riders has a rad DJ set on the first Saturday of each month. If you love beer (or cocktails), burgers and electronic music; you would really enjoy it. Actually, who wouldn’t enjoy such a happy, vibey afternoon.

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I bailed on our way back. Laughed on the floor. Gravity prevails sometimes. Carried on. We took turns.

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Look at the show-off 🙂 What a stunning day!

With Love,

x