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 are 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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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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The Last Leg of my Cambodian Adventure – Phonm Phenh

After leaving my new favourite place Arcadia, it was a heaven sent that I found it so much so that the book I was reading was about travellers finding Arcadia. ( The age of Magic by Ben Okri) and the book was given to me by my first traveller friend Henry in Hong Kong  you can check out my Hong Kong post.

I headed off on the 20th of November to the capital city of Cambodia Phnom Penh I had heard mixed reviews about this town some people like it other people hate it. I also heard that you must be careful with your belongings I wasn’t going to take a chance with anything or listen too much to naysayers but rather experience it for myself each to your right!
I arrived and again being very lucky and blessed my uncle owns a hotel here. As I asked the tuk-tuk driver to take me to Hilary’s Boutique Hotel, he said oh Hillary Clinton and gave off a chuckle and he continued to tell me that people ask for Hilary Clintons hotel lol. I made my way in the tuk-tuk to the hotel.
I was so surprised I didn’t know what to expect but it was so charming and quaint a little slice of peace and tranquillity in the heart of the bustling city. I met up with my two Swedish friends for a drink and then I heard the sad news of my friends phone been taken straight out of her hand when she was looking for directions! So with that in mind, I was going to be more cautious!
The managers at the hotel were lovely treated me like royalty as soon as I walked in. It was so strange living in a hotel now; it’s so quiet and no bunk beds, but it was nice!

The next day we went to the Tusol Genocide Museum and it was heartbreaking to hear the history of what happened a good twenty or so years ago killing innocent people and children is never ok.
I later went to the killing fields the emotions I felt that day was unreal! I remember coming back and feeling so sad and shared my experience on Facebook.

This is what I wrote:
The feeling after seeing the killing fields: How do you put your feelings to paper or even make sense of it out loud it’s crazy! I didn’t know anyone who died but yet I feel as if I do. I watched people as they walked around and the look on their faces as if they were at a friend or family member’s funeral this is history and was people’s reality for many years! I sit here with a lump in my throat knowing now what I didn’t an hour ago yes this feeling of helplessness and sadness will pass but the harsh reality of the past will never! Every single Cambodian I pass by in the street has had a family member killed. What pains me Is it was unfair and there is nothing we can do about it now but pray that it will not happen again!! The killing fields a place of calmness and peace now; ironically it was a place of brutality and hate!
This is something I wish everyone to experience if you have the chance to visit this city.

I spent about a week in Phnom Phen it was great to unwind after the crazy three weeks I had just had. It was also boiling so spent most days in the pool watching movies, reading and when I needed some human contact I would wander down to Mad Monkey hostel get a beer, and people watch for hours.

I visited the Royal Palace too, it’s beautiful, and my tour guides the managers of the hotel were so kind explaining their culture and history to me. I am very grateful to them for taking me to exciting, authentic restaurants. I feel I got to experience the real city side of Cambodia also the Russian market is not bad for trinkets and clothes! I also got the chance to visit the Cambodian Children’s Fund to see the great work taking place here. An NGO that’s transforming lives of many children giving them a place to stay and education and something critical health care to many people in a small village in the city. I left feeling inspired and call to do more where I can.

I didn’t hate Phnom Penh I guess because it all depended on your experience with a place and I was very blessed to be treated to a real relaxing time in a beautiful place in a great location and highly recommend Hilary’s Boutique Hotel ( not being biased because I know the owner.) It’s a great place for families, solo travellers and people on business trips. They make yummy food too so defiantly check out the restaurant, and the staff is fantastic.

I entered Cambodia unexpectant, not knowing anything about the country but I truly left enriched and with many excellent friends.
Peace love and Happiness

Cherry ♥

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The Journey to the Beach was Worth it!

12249932_907436159305428_4727735287978012251_nSo if you know me at all you know I love the beach the soft sand between your toes and the crashing sound of waves, people frolicking around and sun tanners sprawled out along the coast. If you have not guessed, I am from Cape Town the city by the sea!
So being in China a million miles away from the beach it pained me so much. Not that I frequent the beach often I just like to know that the beach is nearby so I can go if that even makes sense.

Well, I was heading to the beach in Cambodia, and I could not have been happier not without a bumpy ride first, of course, it’s travelling. I had my first sleeper bus experience in Cambodia and what a strange experience it was.

So you get a double bed, and you share with someone. It is very comfortable but very strange they just assign you a number that entitles you to half a bed. So if you are travelling by yourself, you will be sharing a bed with a complete stranger just for your information. Luckily for me, I was with a friend, so I was in the clear lol. Siem Reap to Sihanoukville took about 10 hours and I hustled a ticket for eight dollars at one of the travel agents in pub street.

We arrived at the crack of dawn in a town called Sihanoukville an interesting place. Being the casual traveller as I am we didn’t book any accommodation, so sleep deprived and not knowing where we were going, looking for a place to stay was not the most fun experience.

After being taken to a few much-overpriced places, we found one and we were happy to call it home for the night. For the life of me, I don’t even know its name.
We then had some breakfast, and it poured down with rain I thought it would never stop, and all I wanted to do was go to the beach that I had been desperately seeking for months.

We made it down to the beach not the prettiest of places, but it was a beach. The area called serendipity is the cheap backpacker party area with stacks of beach bars along the beach and chairs all over the beach. The nicer side is called Otres Beach and apparently it’s beautiful. Since I was only staying one night, we didn’t venture down to that side. We booked a speedboat to Koh Rong the island of Cambodia, and I was so excited to head out for some island adventures.

That evening we went for a drink and watched live music which quickly escalated and I ended up at a beach bar covered in lumo green paint with some new mates we made. Randomly ran into the British girls I had been travelling with and we danced the night away! It just so happened that we had booked the same boat to head to Koh Rong the following day.

I ended up spending four days in Koh Rong it was a magical dream come true. Bungalow living which worked out to five dollars a night sharing with three others. All day tanning and swimming in the bluest of ocean waters at the perfect temperature to cool down. Watching mesmerising sunsets at Long Beach which is on the other side of the Island. Snorkelling, fishing and the best part swimming with glowing plankton at night in the open sea. The experience was unbelievable I felt like I was in avatar or something. As soon as you splashed or ran your fingers in the water the ocean would light up defiantly one of my best experiences of this trip.

Travel Tips
Go to Koh Rong its twenty dollars for a return boat trip and if you have more time go to the other Island. Koh Rong Samloem is quieter and not very developed if you want that natural tropical island feeling.
Visit Long Beach there is a hiking trail through the middle of the island or hire a taxi boat remember to nogatiate a price and the more people you can rally together the cheaper it is.
Swim with the glowing plankton at night.
Have crazy dance party at night at any of the beach bars and hangout with the locals.

You can also stay longer and work at any of these places on the beach for free accomodation, as they are always looking for western staff who speak English. You can also volunteer with the locals teaching English or with the children.

The best thing is expecting the unexpected. I often think back to when I was travelling and how easy things worked out even when you least expect it. I guess when you open yourself up to the world of opportunity things can change your life.

To stay up to date with what’s happening with me right now, Check out my Instagram Thals01, and my snapchat IamThalea. I post regularly. I hope you are still enjoying my travel posts and will be better at uploading posts more frequently and hope these tips are useful.

Hope all is well with all you thanks for reading!

Peace love and Happiness

Cherry ♥

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Getting to Cambodia

I feel like I am starting each post applogising for how late it is,So sorry about that but I do hope you enjoy it and promise the next one is coming next week.

While I was down and out trying to recover in Bangkok, my visa was running out, and I had to make plans to leave the country. I remember going to the hospital and telling the Doctor I cannot come back because of my visa situation, and she promised she would call me with test results before I left the country. I was still not 100% due to an allergic reaction to one of the antibiotics I was taking. I did the tests and said a little prayer.
I had no choice I had to leave, and all I could do is just trust that God would help me through this situation. I started feeling better, but I wanted the reassurance that nothing was wrong so I could enter this new adventure with no worries.

I booked a bus to Siem Reap from Bangkok on the 6th of November I stayed in a hostel the night before and had to get myself mentally ready for travel life again.
I was down and out for an entire month, and it is so easy to fall into depression when things don’t go your way. I had to snap out of my funk and learn to be happy again. Early the Friday morning I woke up and got ready for my 10-hour journey. We set off on the first leg of the drive to the border that took 4 hours.

We arrived at a restaurant and was told to get out and hand over our passports I was a little confused but then found out they were doing our visa. We were totally ripped off spending way too much money on the visas, but we didn’t know any better. Thankfully it was all done legally.

As we got back on the bus to take us to the border crossing my phone rang. It was the Doctor she had my test results, and it all came back clear. I was so relieved just the sign I needed to enjoy the next few months on the road alone.

We were then told a very odd story and thinking back now I was silly to believe it. If ever you find yourself in this situation, please don’t fall for it.
A Thai guy that helps you with the border cross and through passport control will tell you that there are no ATM’S in Cambodia, and the chances are very high that you will get your card stuck in the machines.

Knowing no better he then continued to tell us to draw out money at the Thai ATM conveniently placed near to us and then once we get over to the Cambodian side we can change it into Riel the Cambodian currency with no extra charge. About ten girls not knowing any better followed his instructions and we were so silly to do that. ( clearly he was getting commission from this.)

In Cambodia, they use their currency Reil and US Dollars. At most places they will have both prices, and the exchange is the same.

Tip change money to Dollars it will make your life so much easier.
So that was our scam we all made it across the border in one piece got onto the next bus, and the bus breaks down just our luck.

We were about 15 girls packed into a minibus with about 5 Cambodian men around us and we have no idea what’s going on. It was a scary but odd situation. With some hand gestures, we were told the bus was broken and we will use the other bus strategically parked nearby. We made sure we had all our belongings and made our way to the fourth bus of the trip. Along this 10 hour bordering on 12-hour journey in the dark now we finally arrived in Siem Reap.

What an adventurous journey from over priced visas to changing all our cash into Riel and a broken down bus later the bright side of this experience making 4 awesome friends! Three British girls and an Israeli. We then went to our hostel and made plans to meet up the next day to do Angkor Wat.

So I will end this post here and continue the next one with my temple ruins experience of the majestic Angkor Wat.

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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Finding Happiness

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I have been out of China for one month already time surely does fly and in that time I have been to 3  different countries met more interesting people than in my year in China and have grown up so much and I am really happy.

When on the open road by yourself you have nobody but yourself to worry about or hold accountable for stuff. You are dependent on yourself you decide what time you wake up, what you’re going to do that day if you are going to have a “me” day or make a new friend it’s your choice if you have a good day or bad day. Yes, there are external influences but at the end of the day it’s on you and how you react that will change every experience.

I have been extremely happy, and I can see how that radiates on to everything I do and my interactions with the people I meet I am the bubbly friendly girl I always knew I was. When you on your own you forced to step out of the confinement of what you know and take a leap of faith being nice surely never hurt nobody.

It’s more the freedom of allowing yourself to be in each moment and being happy not worrying about anything but just allowing yourself to be who you truly are and not being afraid of what others may think of you or what you think others expect of you.

We constantly bombarded with media and parents telling us what to do how to act and to think about our futures yes these things may be important but isn’t being happy equally as important.

Everyone is searching for happiness but why don’t you just stop take a second a minute if you have one and clear your mind think back to a real happy memory! How far back did u have to search for that memory if it was a year ago, or even a month ago it’s a problem? Happiness isn’t something you work towards, or you look for its something you should feel every day doing everyday things.

I always look at children, and if I have a low day I try to go somewhere where u can see children. (casually playing in a park, the street) Their happiness isn’t dependent on much they will find happiness in the smallest things listening to child’s laughter can turn my bad day into a happy day! So it’s not based on where u need to be or what you need to do to be happy. It’s where you are right now a simple attitude change is sometimes all it takes, and I know it’s harder said than done but seek solutions rather than problems and make every situation a happy one.

Don’t get me wrong I still have my brooding bitch days and still hate those extremely happy people, you know those people I am referring to, those people that fake happiness because nobody can be that happy all the time unless they are on some sort of happy drug lol.

Two years ago I was stuck at a desk job, and I didn’t hate it I liked it, but I was bored I needed more I wasn’t satisfied with clocking and clocking out every day.But that job led me to this, writing finding a passion I didn’t know I had and through my writing it led me to do things I wouldn’t usually do because I started seeing interesting stories to share in everything I was doing, and I wanted to do more experience more and inspire more.

Look at me now I am in a Coffee shop in Bangkok doing what I love sharing my life and experiences with you. So it’s all about making a change, and it doesn’t need to be drastic like skipping the country because I know everyone cannot do that. Find something that truly makes you happy or long lost passion and start doing it now. So even when life throws you curve balls and derails the happy train just keep smiling think of Dory from finding Nemo and just keep swimming preferably with a smile on your face. In true happiness style I will dazzle you with my smile. lol

Please comment below let me know how you feel about happiness I would be very interested yo know!

Peace love and Happiness

Cherry ♥

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