The Philippines an Enlightening Trip

The Philippines an enlightening trip; I saw glimpses of the person I was and the person I am while seeing who I was becoming. I have traveled near and far for a long time now I have opened myself to the full experience of travel. I let people in, I make fast friends with people I will never see again sometimes not even catching a name as we pass by as strangers in the night!

But this trip was a fast one I didn’t have loads of time to do as I please but I didn’t do too much either. I spent more time with me truly with me even when I was with others I just wanted to be with me. This is why this trip was so different, I needed this break more than I knew I did!

 Last year was a hard year 6 months questioning life and 6 months living life in fast forward! This trip was the universe telling me to slow down take stock of where you have come and where you going and truly start loving you and be present! Being so busy for the last  7 months I experienced every emotion in this whirlwind of life in Korea I started lacking true motivation life was starting to be lived for me and I was just in for the ride!

I had one of those deep connections with someone by a chance call it the universe sending the right person in at the right time.

I didn’t know my Soul craved a deep connection someone that knew what I was thinking before I uttered the words and vice versa that unexplainable connection that’s so real and so deep it’s scary! How can two people with very different stories but be so much the same just connect in such a profound way thats the beauty of travel.

I remember staring at the night sky and it was as if the sky was performing for me never have I seen the twinkling stars shine so bright. I was awestruck lost in the beauty of the world I felt so big and small all at once!! As the wind blew through my hair as I sat at the back of a friends motorcycle I watched the stars dance for me filling the sky with its beauty!

As the night progressed first we were strangers but in the end, we were so much more! We spoke about life, love, happiness, sadness and everything in between fuelling each other’s tanks that needed motivation and inspiration!And that was just one serendipitous day.

Like I said I only had one week in this beautiful country and I spent one night in Manila then flew to  Palawan. I took a bus up to El Nido a delayed flight and my van to El Nido knocking a couple on a motorcycle delayed my arrival by at least 3 hours. Standing on the side of the street in the middle of nowhere waiting for the police to get to the scene.Luckily I wasn’t alone I was with a group of great Irish guys also on vacation heading to the same spot.So we were all confused luckily nobody was badly injured and eventually headed to our destination. So a casual 5-hour journey turned into 10.(welcome to my travel life.)

I stayed at the best hostel I have ever stayed at called Outpost Beach Hostel recently opened the sad part was they were still busy with renovations so I will have to go back when it’s completed. This place is right on the beach they serve a killer breakfast and the staff is a bunch of eclectic nomads made up of some good looking guys with great stories to tell from all over the world. They also give you a free shot of the famous Filipino rum at sunset so make sure to stay for that. I stayed here for 3 nights spent one day island hopping booked through the hostel another at Nacpan Beach and the third day chilling about and then missioned off to Port Barton for 2 nights.

Port Barton is your quintessential small beach town. luckily I was told about the no electricity during the day and I was used to the cold showers by now and really bad wifi. It was just great to unplug and soak up the beauty and quiet. Going to sleep listening to the waves, waking up and watching the sun kiss the beach was great. Here I also did another island hopping tour snorkeled and sunbathed ate an awesome meal on the beach saw the biggest starfish ever it was great day making new friends too.

I finally got time to relax, read, take pictures, go for walks and be alone with no noise around me no crazy nights out and hardly any drinks. Just the escape I needed from the freezing snowy Korea. and just like that my time was up I flew back to Manila for one night before heading back to Korea and jumping into my year.

Peace love & Happiness

Cherry ♥

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How My life has changed after two years living abroad!

When I decided to leave home about two years ago, it wasn’t an easy decision but one I am euphoric I made. I don’t think I would have experienced or become the person I am today if I had not have left home in September of 2014.

Now one year out of China and 5 Asian countries explored I am extremely grateful and do not regret my decision for one minute.

I remember the person I was two years ago heading into the unknown afraid but masking it by putting on a brave face.Heaven forbid I let my parents and family see my fear as I head into China a country we do not know very much about other than the fact it is extremely far from anything we are used to. Fast forward one year, I learnt to teach, I grew in confidence with being around children.( something I was not confident in), I managed to communicate in a new language, travel around China speak to many different people and make amazing real relationships with the best people.

As eager as I was to leave and try something new I was not prepared to leave a place so unfamiliar but an area that had served as home and the friends I had made my new family. Filled with tears of sadness but tears of excitement it was a strange time.

China was just stepping stone in my bigger picture I had no idea how China had prepared me for life outside of China until that day I packed up all my belongings and left for the greater unknown.

China taught me never to give up especially when the going gets tough.

China taught me to be confident.

China taught me to be strong.

China taught me to be brave.

China taught me to stop hiding.

China taught me patience.

Slowly as the year manifested and did its thing full of ups and downs I left with my head held high and the confidence knowing I hacked China for a year one of the hardest places to live.

I remember leaving for Hong Kong feeling like I was superwomen like I had some magical power. As if I was in prison for a year and finally saw the sunshine (ok not that dramatic but you catch my drift) I was sole alone just me against the world needing to figure out how I was going to travel around Asia for three months, and I wasn’t afraid of anything. I would not be able to do this if it wasn’t for the lessons I had learnt in China.

I ventured through Asia for three months came out with a few scrapes and bruises a few hospital visits but alive living the best version of myself. I had appreciated everything the beauty I saw was indescribable the joy I felt was magical. The saying hard work pays off became real I was so proud of myself for reaching this point. The best part was that my true happiness I was feeling on the inside showed on my face in my confidence to strike up conversations with random people. The law of attraction to bring the best people into my life at the right time made me believe more and more in the mighty God I serve.

I believe now more than ever that God has a plan for my life I don’t know my end destination, but I love that this journey has brought me to now South Korea. It wasn’t an easy task after having the beast journey and going home seeing all my loved ones. Getting to eat everything I missed and do all the things I told all the travellers I met to do when they visit Cape Town. It was good. The high I was on quickly subsided and felt depressed again. 28 with no job living at home with mum and dad it did depress me but also it motivated me not to give up on the dream I just lived.

It has lead me here to this very apartment where I live by myself still living an incredible adventure all while giving back to the kids I teach every day.

China has prepared me so much for South Korea I am a confident teacher, teaching and talking to kids is easy for me now and the job is easy compared to how I struggled back in China. Travelling around a country where I don’t speak the language is a piece of cake it is still frustrating from time to time, but I am so used to it it’s normal for me now. I am just more confident in myself and the people I have met have been special blessings in my life.

I am only 3months in, and I feel I have done and seen so much. Not for one second have I doubted my decision to be exactly where I am.  I thank you, China for leading me here and I thank God for keeping me safe and showing me I am on the right path.

Let’s see where this journey shall take me!!

Peace love & Happiness

Cherry ♥

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5 Tips to make it out of Khao San Road Bangkok Alive!

My love-hate relationship with Bangkok still continues as you can read from previous posts you can find here and here.

The first time I visited Bangkok in 2013, I never visited Koh San road the 2nd time I visited Bangkok I did for a very brief moment. I was alone and felt incredibly overwhelmed by everything.

If you have never been to Khao San road, you won’t know what I am talking about. Give me a second to paint you a picture. Koh San Road is the main backpacking touristy area. It is one street that stems off to many other streets equally as busy but not as crazy as the main Khao San Road.

Khao San Road is lined with hotels, hostels, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, ping pong shows, clothing or anything you can imagine markets. It is incredibly overwhelming as I have mentioned before, with people trying to lure you into their bars and individuals selling you things you don’t need. I remember the first time the taxi dropped me off I was afraid holding onto my bag but as you keep wandering and getting to grips with the area it’s not as bad as what I thought it was. Don’t get me wrong it’ still pretty crazy to say the least.

This time, around I got to experience Koh San Road in all its crazy glory with some of my friends I have been travelling with from Pai. We arrived at 6 am from a 12-hour bus journey that completely messed my neck up, delirious and confused we hopped into a very overpriced taxi to Full Hostel about a 5-minute walk away from Koh San Road.

Follow these tips below and you will be just fine 😉

  1.  If you plan to stay in this area try to find a hostel nearby to Khao San road because if you find a place on the actual street you will never get any sleep with loud music going all night.
  2. If you planning on drinking pre-drink hit 7/11 as the drink prices can get crazy in this area due to the fact it’s one of the main tourists hot spots.
  3.  Remember where your hostel/hotel is or stick with a friend the last thing you want is to get lost on your drunken walk home or not being able to tell a taxi or tuk-tuk driver where you are staying.
  4. Take only the essentials with you, money, phone and keep it in a safe place. The area is reasonably safe but it does get very busy, and it can make pickpocketing very easy.
  5. You will be proportioned to go to a ping pong show or any seedy strip shows. If this is your thing have fun but just be careful. They will often say the show is free you just have to buy a drink or two they make these drinks expensive and challenging if you cannot pay. So keep an eye out for this.

Needless to say, Khao San is a fun place you will make heaps of friends dancing on tables drinking one too many buckets than you should but as long as you keep my handy tips at the back of your mind I am sure you will have a blast of a time. Until you wake up the next morning with a deadly hangover and wander down Khao San road again and think to yourself: was I seriously having the time of my life in this mess of a place lol. It’s one of those things you have to experience at least once in your life.

We had so much; we were all safe and have good blurry memories of that night lol.
The rest of the weekend was bittersweet spending the last days with my friends that have become a family saying my Goodbyes as we all dispersed back to our own parts of the world.

While I was still hanging about in Bangkok for another week and then off to Pattaya and Krabi with my family who came to join me.
More about my family adventure in my next post. Hope you all are still enjoying these travel posts and welcome to all the new followers that have come to join my travel journey.

Let me know if any of you have any crazy Khao San Road stories in the comments below.

Peace love & Happiness

Cherry ♥

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Discovering a hidden Gem!

Like I had mentioned before I set off on my solo adventure with no plan. I bought a lonely planet guide book that I lost and didn’t even know I lost it; that shows how often I used it lol!

My guide was talking to people getting real life recommendations on places to see and stay! When I was in Siem Reap, I met a fellow traveler who recommended an area called Kampot to visit! So after my week of island adventures and sad goodbyes to my new besties who were off to Vietnam I set off back on my lonesome to Kampot!

To my surprise, I wasn’t alone for long! Moments like this exact one is the moments I live for when travelling! As I packed my bag into the back of the minivan I was taking on my 3hour journey to Kampot, I see three friends of mine I made on the island all heading to Kampot too! So I was alone for an afternoon before my next adventure with my new friends began!

After arriving in Kampot, I would describe it as the countryside, a nice contrast from the beach island style I was just on! The weather still piping hot we checked into the Mad Monkey hostel got food settled in and relaxed for the evening!

I loved the small country town feel the relaxed atmosphere the cafe, restaurants along the main road overlooking the river and good company. No better way to start exploring this side of Kampot!

We hired scooters the next day and just scootered around exploring the countryside found a river and abandoned train track asked many people for directions ventured off on dirt roads it was fun day of exploration! Another recommendation we got was to stay at Arcadia, but it was booked up! We went to visit this place to see what the hype was about; it’s about 7km away from the main town area! As we walked in we were all like we are defiantly staying here, so we booked a night when they had space!
It was a hidden gem wooden bunks in cabins along a river with different water sports and fun atmosphere I can’t explain how incredible this place is. I am so grateful I met the traveller who told me about this place! You will see in the pictures they don’t do it justice, but it will give you an idea of what I am referring too.

The next day we did another day adventure to Bokor National Park a lovely new road perfect for scootering around on. We visited a waterfall cooled down in the fresh water then explored an old abandoned casino; it reminded me of the Great Gatsby with a stunning view! Then the most amazing thing happened as we were heading back we stopped to look at the view, a Cambodian family was having a crab picnic and offered us crabs and beers and didn’t want us to leave. We sat talking to them with the broken English and lots of gestures! It was so sweet of them to show us the warm hospitality and a fond memory I won’t forget.

The next day we headed off to Kep a neighbouring town not too far away famous for fishing and home of crab fishing! We wandered through the fish market and then the beach. On our way back collected our bags and headed to Arcadia to relax! I stayed for two nights but the scooter squad only for one I said my goodbyes but I was meeting up with the girls again in Phnom Penh so it was; see you later not goodbye!

I spent the next few days chatting to people relaxing in hammocks and just chilling out after the adventurous few days we had! The perfect spot for some R&R made friends with nice German girls and it’s always sad when you make a real connection for one day but better one day then never at all right!

Then before I knew it, I was back on a minivan off to Phnom Penh.

I highly recommend that you do not skip Kampot on your visit to Cambodia it was truly one of my hidden gems I probably would have overlooked because I had no idea about it and go to Arcadia you will thank me after.

Travel Tip 

Learn how to ride a scooter or make friends with someone who does it saves money and you have the freedom of venturing on your own.

Peace love and Happiness

Cherry ♥

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Exploring the Great Wonder of the Ancient world – Angkor Wat!!!

After the great expedition to get to Cambodia which you can find here if you have not read it. I finally arrived safe and sound and checked into a very nice place. The Garden Village Guesthouse a recommendation from a fellow traveller I met along the way.

Another key tip is to stay connected to the people you meet on your journey as the chances are pretty good that they have been to the destination you headed so they can give you valuable tips, what to see and what to avoid. Best thing is recommendations on places to stay.

Getting back to my point the Garden Village Guesthouse is amazing. They have different room options and prices to suit any traveller. I chose a dorm room for six people and paid 5 dollars a night. They have a pool and a stunning bar and rooftop chill area too.

The next day I met up with my new friends, and we met up with a guy that was helping us arrange a tour for the day to visit the famous Angkor Wat temples.

We agreed on set price, and we would have the tuk-tuk and the driver for the day.
Another great tip is finding a group to go with so you can split the transportation cost.
We set off at about 10 am. It was the hottest day I have experienced in a very long time and to visit these temples one must be modestly dressed covering your shoulders with a sleeved shirt, not just a scarf and knees. I saw many people wearing shorts though but to be safe, I wore my new pants I purchased in Vietnam with a plain black T-shirt. I was dying in the heat before the day was even over.

We purchased a one day pass the total cost is 20 Usd, and I was all templed out by the end of it. If your sole purpose of visiting Cambodia is visiting these temples, then get the two days or 3-day pass. This way you can take your time navigating through the temples, but it will work out very expensive. In my opinion and based on how hot it was one day was more than enough.

There are also many ways to get around the temples. I saw many people hiring Bikes and cycling around also be weary of the weather as it can get sweltering and the last thing you want is to be dying of dehydration when trying to take in the majestic beauty of the temples.

We started off with Angkor Wat it was breathtaking to see in real life. Minus the crazy amount of tourists it was still a site to witness. To avoid the crazy crowds of midday, I would suggest going at sunrise.
We visited Bayon, Ta Phrom( Tomb Raider Temple), and Angkor Thom the more famous temples.
I wish I had taken more note of where we went exactly, but it was such a scorcher of the day that I was dying of the heat all while trying to be in every moment as we roamed freely around the ruins of these incredible temples.

We stopped for lunch and had some authentic Khmer food. Curry based and lots of noodle options very similar to Thai food ( same same but different.)
Then we continued the exploration we visited five temples in total. I remember at one of the temples we saw heaps of monkeys and at one point a random dog came running by and had the monkeys screaming and running toward us, and we all huddled together in hysteria scared we were going to get eaten alive. That was hilarious, and I am sure for the bystanders watching they must have thought we were ridiculous.

We made it to the final temple Phnom Bakheng, and it was a little walk up a hill there were large lookout decks to watch the sunset along with thousands of tourists who all had the same idea which is the only disappointment but to be expected.

We then left and headed to Pub street a self-explanatory name for dinner. Had the best Prawn Curry I can remember the taste now as if I had it yesterday. I, unfortunately, cannot remember the name of the restaurant doesn’t help that I can picture it in my mind now does it.

After a long day and a full stomach, we went looking for a travel agent as the British girls were off to Phnom Phen (The Capital of Cambodia) and needed to book a bus. Myself and my friend from Israel decided to stay one more night in Siem Reap before heading off to Sihanoukville a beach town along the coast. We had foot massages after being on our feet the entire day I feel as though that was just what the doctor ordered. It was an  incredible way to end the first leg of my Cambodian  adventureI didn’

I didn’t leave the hostel the following day. I met some interesting people and we spoke for hours sharing travel stories and just hanging out getting used to being a traveller again. One thing I like about long-term travelling is there isn’t a set time to do anything, and you can take your time.

Not knowing much about Cambodia or where to go, after chatting with new friends I had mapped out my next adventure. I will say I met a fascinating traveler a fellow female who had been and most likely still is traveling around Asia on her bicycle.

I will leave you with snaps I took of Angkor Wat and continued with stories from the coast in my next Cambodian Post.

Hope you all are still enjoying my chronicles of a solo traveller and feel free to ask me any questions about the East. I haven’t been everywhere, but the little I do know can sure help you out.

Peace love and Happiness

Cherry ♥

 

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My Vietnam

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My Vietnam from the moment I arrived you welcomed me with open arms a solo traveler with no plan but the vast beauty of your country to explore. Your people touched me with your kind nature and even when I was feeling ill I didn’t feel more at peace and home.

My first encounter with the street was shocked horror I remember my very first night as if it was yesterday sitting at a corner cafe and just watching bikes and more bikes shooting off in all directions I just sat there gobsmacked that I haven’t witnessed an accident yet. But yet in this madness and chaoticness things seem to work!

I had know idea what I thought Vietnam would be like a big village not as build up as it actually is, that was a huge surprise for me. Getting to explore the beauty of Halong Bay seeing thousands of untouched islands swimming in your warm sea and running my toes through the sand was a good treat again.

Waking up every morning and hoping someone would not shake me awake and this heaven on earth was all but a dream because that’s what every moment felt like a dream.

I sat on your boat in disbelief of the beauty I was seeing trying to capture every moment on my camera so I can explain it to friends and family back home, but the pictures don’t do it justice at all. I remember getting a little teary as I looked out at the sea and by the power of the heavens above for giving me the courage and strength to take a leap of faith and cross the road and give up the comforts of home for landscapes not even dreams could capture so vividly!

That was all only on day three now three weeks in and the eve of my departure I am filled with bittersweet emotions because around the next corner something else awaits me.

I have made real relationships with people quickly had deep talks about everything, and nothing more than my entire life in China could capture this trip has given me a new found confidence and I am living for each moment cherishing every second as I don’t want these memories ever to fade.

I thank you Vietnam for your beauty your kind people and yes everything isn’t perfect but for allowing me to have this amazing experience I thank you and I will be back!!

A glimpse of how a country can touch you when you open to trying new things being positive and allowing people in. Traveling alone can be scary but also one of the best experiences you can have. Next post I will give you a run down on the places I visited.

Peace love and Happiness

Cherry ♥

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Hong Kong where Mainland China meets the Western World

A few months before my contract in China was coming to an end I decided before picking up a new job or heading back home I would travel for a bit around Asia because it’s pretty cheap, and I love to travel.

So with no real plan I decided on theses destinations Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia Loas, and Thailand.

On the 13th of September after the saddest week of my life I had no idea saying Goodbye to the country as confused as it is would become my home. I made so many friends who became family, and it was tough to say Goodbye. I ripped off the band-aid and cried by the time of my departure I was all cried out and ready for the next adventure.

I took a sleeper train from Hangzhou to Shenzhen Sunday night at 9 pm. I arrived at 8 pm after packing all day. To my surprise, all the ticket counters were closed to collect my ticket. After some gestures and pointing to my phone to show I have purchased a ticket, they let me through security. Said a quick goodbye to a good friend and off I went. (no turning back China was behind and Hong Kong was in front)

The train was comfortable I could sleep pretty well and At about 5 am the hostess came to wake me up to inform me we will be arriving soon. When I arrived, I needed to figure out how to get to Hong Kong. I mentioned Hong Kong to the security guards, and they just pointed me in the direction of the metro. So off I went lugging my life in a suitcase and a really heavy backpack down the escalator. By this time, it was reaching 7 am and the peak time morning hustle was fast in effect.

Still not knowing how to get to Hong Kong I asked the information lady who pointed me in the direction of the ticket machine. So off I went lugging everything I own looking for a stop that said Hong Kong and to my prevail nothing. Now becoming quickly frustrated with the lack of English and my translator app not working I sat down for a few minutes took a few deep breaths and started again. I approached the same lady who then gave me a metro map and all I could think was why the HELL did you not do this the first time and please can I get out of this country.

So fast forward I made it Hong Kong and the hostel I booked the previous night was very easy to find thank God because carting a 20kg suitcase around is not the easiest thing to do. I arrived around 10 am and my room wasn’t ready, so I sat on these comfortable pillows and charged my phone.

Then I experienced it the greatest thing, the one thing, I was longing for, for so long Internet freedom! I could browse VPN free the WiFi was fast, and I could access all my favorite social media platforms it was amazing.

The hostel seemed very nice people were very friendly, and they could speak English what a blessing. While minding my own business bewildered by the new found freedom I just found. A friendly gentlemen walked in and offered me some tea I accepted his nice offer, and we had some tea followed with a nice chat. He was Australian and my first foreign friend on my adventure of a solo traveler.

Things escalated quickly I then met two other friends a Canadian and American they had planned to go on a mini hike and asked if I wanted to join. Not having much of plan I accepted, checked in and off I went.

It was great, nice to be outside in the sunshine and greenery. My idea of Hong Kong was just a big city like Shanghai which I love but after being exposed to it so frequently you kind of get bored of the city life seeing shops and malls everywhere reminding you of things you cannot afford gets old quickly.

We walked on this path that had no real destination got attacked by Monkeys well not me thank god lol. It was great just walking taking pictures having a laugh getting to know these three very different people all brought together by the love of travel. I was happy.

We then took a normal bus around the city pretended it was a tour bus for half the price it was a great to start to a great vacation.

The next day we went to an Island called Lamma Island it was a nice fishing village feel small quaint shops with many trinkets. We found a beach it was nice to put my feet in the actual ocean and feel the sand in my toes. Walked up to a windmill and then back down to the village center. Stopped at a bar for Tuesday $20 pints which is cheap. We spoke to this old Scottish woman who was serving the drinks. She had been on the Island for 22 years I then followed up with the inevitable how did you get around visa regulations. Her answer was the best; she asked one of her gay friends to marry her, and they have been married for 11 years lol.

I love listening to the stories of others another draw card of traveling everyone has a fascinating story to tell you just have to be open to listening.

Back on the Ferry to the mainland and we went to Mong Kong for street food and market browsing found a local soccer game sat and watched that for a bit then continued wandering the crazy lit up streets.

It’s crazy how strangers are brought together by travel I felt like I knew these guys my entire life.Sharing stories and having a laugh with old friends.

I ended up staying up most of the night. The Australian guy had an early flight the next morning, so we decided to crash on the communal couch on the 5th floor spoke to some more interesting people and watched Mad Max in French lol Luckily both of us had seen it before but this time even in French it made more sense lol. I then had to say goodbye to my first friend of the trip a little sad, but we have planned to meet up again somewhere in Asia before he goes back to Australia.

The next day we went to Macau an interesting place this is the so-called Vagas of Asia because you allowed to gamble. So many casinos everywhere beautiful 5-star Hotels too. We went to the tower where you can bungee jump watched a few crazies. Then found the church remains and museum and ended off with a very luxury buffet dinner at one of these 5-star establishments.

The next morning before my flight I managed to get to the I-store to buy a new phone that I have been saving up for and my Canadian friend accompanied me offered to help me with my luggage what a sweetheart. I grew close to him in the short four days we spent together I felt like he was a little brother I never had. His first time on a solo trip and he surely got bitten by the travel bug. We went out for breakfast said our sad goodbyes and on the airport bus I went on my way to Hanoi another long story for another day.

This is my new series of events called the Adventures of a Solo Traveler where I will hopefully post weekly travel stories photo diaries and insider tips I have learnt from others along the way. If you have any questions about anything you think I could assist with please feel free to contact me by commenting on this post or any of my social media links you can find above. I post Instagrams regularly and you can follow me on Snapchat (ID: IamThalea) for real up to date feeds on where I am and what i am doing.

Peace love and Happiness

Cherry ♥

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