What They Don’t Tell You

I have had a fantastic weekend in Beijing to see one of the best humans I know. This is enough to keep you happy, right? We explored the ancient hutons, ate amazing dumplngs, danced the night away and caught up. This should be enough to keep me happy.

But something happened.

When I was back in my apartment. Alone. Missing familiar faces. Receiving a cold text. After hearing my mother’s voice on the phone, chatting to my nephews, missing eating breakfast with my family after arguing about who will make it.

I broke down.

What we show you about our expat lives is always about the fun and exciting. Always about discovering new amazing foods, exploring the landscapes and meeting amazing new people. But, we are almost too ashamed to tell the world, to tell our families and friends that we are missing them incredibly that you find yourself pacing up and down your apartment trying to breathe. I had never had a panic attack before. I wish someone had told me that it feels like someone is squeezing your heart and you cannot breathe. Then you have insane thoughts – I can’t die here, I am 11 000 km away from my family. Then the thought of death just makes the entire situation spiral.

What they don’t tell you is that sometimes, amidst all of the amazing adventure, you will sorely miss familiar foods, familiar faces and familiar landscapes.

You will break down.

But, this will make you stronger. You will regroup then think about the mission and purpose. The reason why you opted for this lifestyle. You will have a cup of tea and appreciate the little things all over again.

It happens. It happens to everyone.

With love, x

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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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

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

Markets. Sushi. Gardens. Family..

What a beautiful weekend filled with laughter, dances, Thai spring rolls, sushi, family braai, a walk with monkeys and Hadeda Ibises and a relaxing Sunday.

I started off the weekend with a catch up at the Musgrave Roof Top Night Market. I have moved away from just eating Falafels. I have discovered amazing Thai Spring Rolls with glass noodles! What?! So. Good.

My Saturday started off quite mellow. I didn’t really want to get out of bed. I did. Otherwise, Nick would have been bleak with me.

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I bought sushi from my local take away spot run by three young Chinese guys who have asked me out on a miso soup dinner date.

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A feast more than a light picnic. Go big or go home, eh?

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We pretty much could not move for a while. All we could do was lie flat on our backs, look at the sky and listen to the birds sing.

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When we had been bitten by enough mosquitos, we decided on a walk around the Botanic Gardens. We have always had this place available to us but we just do not visit it often enough. It is the best picnic spot in Durban. Also, seemingly the place to take wedding photos.

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A walk with Hadedas and monkeys in the heat seemed like the most perfect moment. All life living in harmony.

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After the lazy stroll. It was time to see my family for a late afternoon/evening braai. It is always so lovely to see my cousins. We literally sit outside, have beers and talk utter nonsense. For hours! It is the best!! 🙂

I would not have had this weekend any other way.

“Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like & celebrating it for everything that is.”

With love, x

Munkay in Town..

“I am here for a good time, not a long time.”

Yes, I did just quote a hip hop/rap song. It’s quite catchy and so true. Better make the most of it, right?

This has made me realise, once again, that this year has been rather wonderful. Gratitude is all I can offer at the moment; I am so ridiculously thankful of how things have turned out.

Thursday morning, I received a “I’m on my way to Durban to see you” text from one of the world’s best human beings! So, there I was thinking, “weekend made!”

Unfortunately, I could not clear my calendar as I had a traditional family ceremony that was coming up on Saturday. We had some major preparation to get through. So, family during the day, Joel in the evenings. It worked out well.

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We enjoyed a cosy candle lit dinner with two other mates (thank you Piro for such a lovely dinner and for making a special vegetarian meal for me!) The image below shows that you really are royalty 🙂 Your hospitality and generosity – you truly deserve a chair fit for a king! Straight outta Benoni! Haha..

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Wine. Great conversation. Durban fast food (Johnnies Roti’s which are the size of an arm! An entire arm!). And, meeting a beautiful black Great Dane named Pieters.

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What a treat. What a pleasure. What a beautiful send off and I did not want to see you leave so soon. This is when I also realised how darn short weekends are!

“Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won’t have to hunt for happiness.”

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

Green Fingers and Dirty Hands..

I enjoy being outside, as you may have figured out. Beautiful Saturday morning at the Green Camp in Umbilo, Durban. Naturally, being a hippy.

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This space is the epitome of the recycling concept! The building itself is recycled! It is an old dilapidated house that has been transformed in to a homey, relaxing space. A place for artists to gather their thoughts, for avid gardeners to grow their own vegetables, for inspiring meetings and a home.

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Everything here is recycled or upcycled. The clothes and pieces that are gathered from people all over Durban will soon be on sale or available to swap (still an idea!) to uplift the area. It is such an incredibly happy place. I felt at ease here; basking in the sun and playing the Kalimba poorly.

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Personally, it is Durban’s best kept (free) secret. Everything grows so wonderfully. It is a great concept that is still being revised and improved as they go along. A little bit of trial and error.

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I will be visiting this place a lot more. Share some ideas on how we can turn this in to a self sufficient zone. We spoke of having a solar training where we can learn how to make our own solar generators, recycle zones, making our own grocery bags, etc. There is just an endless list of ideas.

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Or, you can just relax under a beach umbrella and read.

With love,

x

 

 

 

 

 

Roof Top Night Market..

All things that make you feel warm and fuzzy in the belly..

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No. Not just the wine. It is the food, live acoustic music, laughter AND the wine.

Naturally, I was a bit of an eager beaver and arrived a little too early that I had to sit in the car and read while I wait for a beloved friend.

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I absolutely loved the music. Young, talented local artists. So passionate about what they do and you could see it on their faces.

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Support Local. Wherever you are.

With Love, a Falafel wrap staple and wine,

x