Life Below Zero: Snowboarding

I now have a reason to love the harsh northern winter!

There are a few things you can enjoy when you are approximately 2300 km from the Arctic Circle…in the middle of winter.

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I seem to love early morning adventures; waking up at 05:15 am to catch the bus to the mountains is a breeze. Packed sandwiches, water and ready to roll. I bought a multi-coloured helmet that would probably match my primary school backpack – it’s worth a mention because I am so happy with the purchase! Mainly because it saved my life. A few times.

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As the snow season is drawing to an end, I have had my fair share of bruises, falls, rolls, aching muscles and and a sore butt! Coming from the sunny south, this was the highlight of a bitterly cold winter!

What an experience. And, it only cost me RMB 90 for an entire day on the slopes. This fare includes transportation and gear hire.

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An Outing: Harbin Opera House

A friend invited me out to see the grand Opera House. I absolutely love design and architecture that I had heard of the Harbin Opera House before I even had the opportunity to leave South Africa.

Well, we both had the day off, it was a beautiful sunny day albeit the 2 degrees celsius!

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I took three buses to get over the bridge to the location. I could have taken two – my mistake. I took bus 119 to connect to the bus 35 at Song Bei Road. Really easy. I even read that you can take the subway to Teiping Lu then take the bus 35 from there. I have noticed that many foreigners prefer to take the taxi (too costly) because it’s more convenient, saves time or you just show the driver the address without an effort. I prefer the buses, to be honest. They are inexpensive (1RMB) and if you had to get lost you get off the bus, cross the road and take the exact same bus to where you started. Then, back to the drawing board. Or, take a taxi πŸ™‚

I made it there after a lovely walk back to here I needed to be, the Opera House. I missed my stop. I was stopped by an overly excited Chinese woman – a photo with me, of course. She kept on saying how beautiful Β (mei nu) was so I couldn’t say no.

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Well, the Opera House is all that and more. Except for the ticket office. So, the friend and I wanted to know whether we can walk in to the building for a bit of sightseeing. There was a bit of confusion of “we can but we can’t”. Then, we wanted to know how to get tickets for the shows (I really want to see a ballet showing at the start of November). This ballet could be on showing at the end of October. Or, not. Could we get tickets? The ticket office didn’t know. Well, that left us confused. So what do you do at a ticket office if you can’t get the schedule or purchase tickets or enquire about future shows. Sanch and I walked out thinking, “did that just really happen?”

We continued to meander about and get some good shots.

dsc04574dsc04602dsc04612It was time for an early dinner and head back home.

After spending half the day outside, I now have sniffles and a sore throat. Layer up!

x

PS: crediting Sanch for his photography skills…

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Fast Track to Beijing

A couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed a weekend in Beijing. This was not much an exploration trip but a reunion trek. I hadn’t seen one of my good friends that brought sunshine to my university life in four years. So, you can imagine we had heaps of catching up to get through so I didn’t plan much sight-seeing.

As the lone wolf that I am, I booked a return fast train ticket from Harbin to Beijing which should take just under 8 hours. This is phenomenal as it would normally be a 20-24 hour drive! I had to be at the Harbin West Railway Station by 06:30 am – I am a morning person so I chose the first train out so I could be in Beijing for the afternoon and enjoy a night out in town in the evening.

Seeing Maya again as she she was waiting for me at the station exit. We both shrieked in disbelief. Four damn years!!

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The train ride was alright. I had a book, my travel journal and some sleep to catch up on. I had booked myself a second-class soft seater because a sleeper would have been a little awkward. A cabin always has four bunk beds so travelling as a lone female would make me a little uncomfortable. After my little nap against the window, I woke up to the gentleman sitting next to me watching me sleep. Then guess what? He smiles at me as if watching strangers sleep is normal. I couldn’t get myself to sleep after that.

I stayed at Peking Youth Hostel which is owned by a florist so you are surrounded by flowers and plants which is a winner, of course. This is on one of the ancient hutons (alleys) in Beijing, NanLouGuXiang. It was clean, cosy and the staff were friendly so I might be a regular. I say this because I fell in love with this part of Beijing. It is lively, youthful and friendly. My first meal in Beijing was a falafel pita! Oh My God! A small Israeli restaurant tucked away in one of the hutons. Heaven and reminded me of my Durban Night Markets which always ended in a juicy falafel wrap!

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The evening ended with some beer and food at a bar with live music. Well, open mic, to be exact. We moved out swiftly when we could no longer handle the croons of a shiny clothed expat with his Michael Jackson look-a-like friend. No, really! I really could not hold in my chuckles!

We enjoyed a slow morning and started off at a dumpling restaurant with a smorgasbord of delights. We should really practice eating with our stomachs and not our eyes. Steamed broccoli, fried dumplings, steamed dumplings, potato and aubergine goodness and tea! Don’t forget the rice!

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After waddling out of the restaurant, we took a beautiful stroll to the Lama Temple. There are so many hidden treasures. So many! I wanted to stop every 5 minutes just to explore.

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After meandering the hutons, exploring all the nooks and crannies, we made it to the Lama Temple. I loved the incense and looking at the ancient buildings. I found it rather peaceful to browse the information building with a monk reciting his chants in the background.

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Since it was a Friday night and two friends from Harbin were joining us, we decided to paint the town red. Well, not quite. We started off at a live music bar called Temple. My kind of place, really. Live rock music! We watched two bands play (the second band was a little strange) then decided it was time to check out the salsa bar! My goodness, what a jam! They had a reggaeton/latin dance band playing and it was awesome. I felt like I was in a Dirty Dancing scene.You know, a guy eyeing you across the room with the music in the background then comes over to the bar to talk to you..

It was time to leave this bar!

We went back to Temple and sang old school rock music at the top of my voice while having cheap tequila shots. Please note that I had to set my cellphone alarm to 03:45am so I could leave the bar to meet up with Maya to go to the National Day ceremony at Tienanmen Square! This ceremony takes place at sunrise so this is 05:00. So, straight from the bar to a family ceremony! It was hilarious!

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As a foreigner, the locals thought I should stand in front to see exactly what was happening! So, there I was, a black South African celebrating China’s National Day (the day China became the People’s Republic).

This was a memorable trip and I will be doing it again soon. I still need to walk the Great Wall.

x

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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..

Flip Flop Happiness..

Sanibonani!

Everyone that knows me pretty well knows that I love my slops.

Well, it’s either I walk around barefoot or it’s the slops. It’s just so darn comfortable..

It’s Friday, Spring and sunny. Why not?

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Oh, hello! So, the office got involved, too!

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Happy Friday πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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 americanoΒ 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 πŸ™‚ What a stunning day!

With Love,

x