My festive season hopscotching through Korea!

Where have I been? (good question) I have been living life in the fast lane but its time to get back to this sharing some tid bits from my life abroad and other travel and inspirations that inspire me to write. I promise to be better at updating I have big hopes and dreams for this blog I best get the started no more excuses. So here we go first of many posts I have lined up. To set the scene let’s go back in time to about  Late December early January.

My festive season, it was such a crazy month of hop scotch through Korea as if I was the KTX going at high speed!

Started off with a 12 pubs of Christmas bar crawl singing Christmas carols in the streets of Downtown Daegu a week before Christmas and then my Christmas spent in Cheongju with my girls we dubbed it “Queensmas”it was a fun weekend we even had a proper Christmas meal from turkey to roast beef and all the trimmings.

 My first Christmas in years that felt like Christmas from gifts to the food and the friends that felt like family!! 

Then my best friend from home came for a visit it was great to have a piece of home with me and show her around! We celebrated New Years in Busan lit lanterns on the beach (clearly a new tradition of mine) and danced the night away making new friends and great memories! Needless to say, a very hungover New Year’s Day was filled with tons of greasy food and laughs about the night before.

The next week I had to work but it was nice coming home and taking my friend for walks and listening to her tell me about new discoveries she found wandering the streets of my new home she even got a cheeky tattoo from the infamous Daegu Tattoo from Artist K who speaks no English and has a side guy who does all the speaking this place is very well known especially around the expat community.

I was so proud to see her get lost and dive into a very foreign country nothing like South Africa or the touristy stops that everyone is used to. She got to truly experience my new life and made really good memories.

We spent our last weekend in Seoul shopping eating way too much and buying all the crazy Korean socks! As soon as she arrived she left again but we had great fun!

One of the highlights was having her here for my birthday too she really did spoil me from breakfast to gifts and it really made me feel special. The last thing anyone wants on their birthday is to be alone and even better I had my best friend from home. I am not a big Birthday person but it was nice to have a low-key Korean BBQ and drinks with my close friends.

And just like that the year was kicked off at record breaking fast speed I didn’t even know what was happening all while working our extended hours because my hogwan (korean after-school academy) does a winter camp program while the kids are on their winter break.

While I was truly happy and living life I was burning out quick trying to burn the candle on both ends of the stick in my social and work life. I needed to pause take stock and get out of the depressing cold so what did I do I hopped on a plane to the Phillippines for a week of rejuvenation more about that soon.

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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My slice of Pai

I was excited to head to Pai now having a few friends there too it was good to keep moving my last stop before returning to Bangkok. I had no idea how long I would stay in Pai but was making up my mind as I went.( which may I add was working out pretty well.)

I remember being picked up at my hostel and taken to the bus stop we picked up another guy before we headed out and we started talking about our travels. I miss how easy it is to strike up conversations with strangers in a strange place.

We were then awkwardly moved from bus to bus with no one speaking English thankfully we were together laughing and hoping we were on the right bus going to Pai.
I sat next to an old Thai lady, and we communicated in broken English, and I managed to confirm that we were going to Pai. She then kept feeding me random fruit, and I managed to sleep. I will say this journey is a winding one and can make you feel a little sick. A little tip if you suffer from motion sickness make sure to take something.

We finally arrived it was dark, and we stopped in the middle of the town on a very busy street. I loved Pai at that very instant I call it love at first sight. I felt so free and at ease it was so strange I had not felt that feeling ever before. I said goodbye to my new friend as he was off to his hostel and me mine.

I arrived at Spicy Pai. It was awesome, and it was night time. Sometimes it’s the best to come at night to a new destination, so you get a nice surprise in the morning. Spicy Pai is no ordinary hostel it’s up on a hill in a field of open land with wooden bunk beds draped with mosquito nets and a fire pit, outside toilet and showers. I loved it. I put my bags down and went to grab a beer before trying to find my friend who was also staying at this place.
He found me, and I joined the rest of guys playing drinking games and met some new people, we ended up heading to the town. It was a fun night, but I had no clue what the next few days had in store and I was excited to explore.

The next few days were filled with scooter rides up mountains, hot springs, waterfalls,photography missions, (nearly getting arrested to get a good shot of the airport runway lol), elephant feeding, rice field meditation, body massages, fishing with locals, random puppies, sunrise missions and many friends good laughs and good food this was by far the best way to spend five days.

I loved being carefree, feeling like the gypsy I am. I remember sitting on the sidewalk one evening and a random guy was walking by and just stared at me I smiled at him, and my friends asked him if he wanted the girl or the dog who was sitting next me. He laughed and said, she just has such a good energy and a beautiful smile. I will never forget that moment; I radiated pure happiness, and everyone could see it.

This leg of the trip I reconnected with old friends and made plenty new friends, but I was never this happy in all my life.
Today I still talk to some of my friends from this trip, and they are my reminder of a good time in my life a moment when I was truly happy.

I was happy not because of anyone or anything, so much beauty surrounded me that only God could create, and I was around real people only God placed on my path. I was happy because I wasn’t thinking about what is, and what’s yet to come, I was truly happy in every moment I was experiencing.  Every morning I woke up with no idea of what my day was going to look like, but I trusted that it would turn out great because I was confident, happy, and the energy of everything around me was amazing.

I remember just sitting around a campfire and watching a guy play guitar and singing and feeling so content in that moment, not a single worry.

The final night a group of us stayed up to watch the sunrise, we didn’t see the sunrise that morning it was a cold misty morning. I remember all of us being tired but fighting the sleep so we could all spend the last moments with each other before departing on our journeys and share one last extraordinary adventure together.

That morning looking back now was somewhat metaphorical in a sense. We always search for blue skies and happy smiles, but that’s not life sometimes we do get the cold, cloudy days, but it’s how we deal with the cold, cloudy days that help us appreciate the blue skies and sunny smiles. We will always have that misty morning even though it wasn’t the perfect sunrise we had hoped for it was a magical ending in the end.

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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Stop the search and just be 2016!

This post is about 20 days late and I do apologise life has been busy but finally finding time to recollect my thoughts. I wrote this on the First of January 2016 to put it into context I just haven’t had time to post it so here it goes!

Stop the search just be as I enter into the new year I never make resolutions because I never keep them, so I rather prefer to set a motto of sorts a theme for the year.

I started this tradition three years ago! 2013 was get busy living, and I lived large went to every concert and music festival I lived and had fun. In 2014, my motto was Make it happen and boy did I! I got my TEFL to teach English abroad moved to China which was the hardest most rewarding adventure of my life! I even managed not to live abroad but to achieve another goal of mine long term travel. In 2015, my motto was Expect the unexpected and I could not have chosen a better theme for that year as to what I have experienced I could never have expected in a million years.

So that brings me to 2016 the first day the eve of my last day in Thailand which will be a travel day back to South Africa and my home Cape Town! I don’t know how to describe how I feel about this, my life as I know it changes again and I don’t know what will happen and I am ok with this!

This brings me to my motto for 2016 stop the search and just be! The reason I left home 15 months ago was to find myself go on a eat pray love mission of sorts.

By doing exactly that this is what I have come to learn from people from all walks of life; everyone is always searching for something, love, money, success, fame you name it they searching for it. They never truly invested in just being present in the moment taking it all in! I fall victim to this too always distracted by the background noise.

Put the phone down go off the grid and be and through that I believe the answers we so desperately searching for will just come we will be more open to taking risks and live than constantly on a search, aimlessly looking for something you not even sure you want or need!

I say Thank  You 2015 for teaching me all these valuable life lessons some of them extremely painful and pricey, but I wouldn’t change a thing!

Happy New year to all! Remember to stop searching and be grateful for how far you have come, remember to celebrate small victories and stay invested in the now. It’s the only time we truly have tomorrow isn’t guaranteed!

I am back on track now adjusting to life as I know it before the next big life changing event. Stay posted for next post all about my Cambodian Adventures!

Peace love and Happiness

Cherry ♥

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