Malaysia a Lonely Paradise

Since my last travel post in January and enlightening trip to the Philippines. I knew I had to go somewhere for my summer break after the rocky start to this year I have had. Saying goodbye to best friends and deciding to stay another year in Korea it has all been a bit rough trying to navigate through my life. The ever-busy Korean life I lead I felt it was just time to reset the clock.

I wanted to go to Bali for like ever, but the prices were just insane, so I had a dream about Malaysia googled some spots and booked a ticket all in the same week. I am still dreaming of the bustling city of KL and the dreamy beaches of the Perhentian where I went.

Like most trips I take this one was off to a rocky start after booking the wrong date for my bus to the airport which I will add is four hours away. I had no choice but to take a cab or risk the chance of missing my flight, so a very very expensive taxi ride later with some panic at 3 am in the morning I made it and caught my flight at 9 am.

After my bumpy start, I cast my fears aside and decided to turn this trip around and enjoy a new city. I arrived in Kuala Lumpur and headed to my hostel which was in a bustling part of town the tourist district, I checked in spoke to my new roommates and then headed out for a wonder. The place was bustling full of people many places to eat and markets and shops everywhere. It all seemed somewhat familiar reminded me of Cape Town in a small way for starters they drive on the same side of the road as I do at home, so that was a little comfort.

I found the food market just behind my hostel, and it was a vast array of every type of middle eastern and Asian food. It was great I walked around then found a spot and had some Thai food in Malaysia, yes I know I was silly, but I just could not make up my mind with all the smells and people all around.  That night I sat and just watched as everyone enjoyed.

The next day I went to the Batu Caves and walked up all those stairs it was beautiful and getting there using public transport was so easy. It was also nice to be in a place where most people can speak English. My Malay Indian roots did stick out as I got mistaken to be Malaysian on numerous occasions.

That night I went to the Petronas Towers it was so magical to finally to see it up close and personal after seeing it on blogs and pictures and textbooks for ages. I sat and watched everyone get their pictures and then I made my way back to my hotel. That night I just sat chatting to the guys in my room one guy was at the end of his trip heading back to England another in the middle of his, I helped him plan bits of his next leg of the journey as I had been to the places he was to visit next.

Then I was off early the next morning to the Perhentian islands for a week of rejuvenation sun and relaxation. I had paid a pretty penny for my accommodation as I was told the usual hostels are not the cleanest. After a flight and long drive and boat trip, I successfully made it to my new home for the week.I checked in at the Ombak Resort in Coral Bay on the Perhentian Kecil Island the smaller island there are two.

It was lovely spot on the beach now these islands are a very popular diving spot it’s one of the biggest drawcards. On my arrival I was asked if I was alone, I said yes then went to the bar restaurant area for my welcome drink I got two because they assumed I was not alone haha score for me.I went for a swim in the warm waters just a stone throw away from my hotel and watched everyone around me. There were many couples and families it was nice just to finally be still.

Each night they screened a movie at my hotel outside, and I would sit and watch while having dinner and a drink then as the evening came it started to thunderstorm as I made my way back to my room. I did pretty much the same thing each day went on one snorkeling trip that was fun made it to the blue lagoon the most beautiful bright blue waters I have ever seen it was a magical day.

I quickly had to remind myself that this was just a moment, not my everything and that being comfortably alone is good for my soul especially taking a break from my busy life in Korea. That being still is needed to restart and refocus.

I enjoyed this trip, but it was very different to most of my other solo trips where I meet people and make friends this trip I was alone for most of it as most of the travelers all went out doing their diving certification, and every night it rained so I was inside. I felt very lonely watching couples in love and families bonding. It made me miss my family so much and miss having a partner to share this magic with.

Looking back now even though I enjoyed my trip I wish I was more present and mindful of everything even when not much was happening. I wish I didn’t long for what others had like a partner, a friend or my family. I wish I was more content with me and being there.

So my lesson that I learned from this trip is that every adventure doesn’t have to be a crazy party, or enlightening encounter or something mind-blowing to be enjoyed. That being still and quiet I can enjoy it. It just takes a shift in my mind a moment of refocusing that the real joy is sometimes lying dormant inside. If I can take a single moment to just be more present, I can be overjoyed without having to depend on a moment or a person or a thing to make me enjoy a trip or anything in my daily life.

Peace Love & Happiness

Cherry ♥IMG_9017

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My First 547.5 Days in Korea!

I have wanted to write this for ages but just didn’t know where to start you know… So much has happened in the last year and a half that I still don’t quite know how to put that all together but anyways here is my attempt.

When I arrived and settled into my city made a few friends reconnected with old I felt like I belonged somewhere for the first time ever. Many of my nights were a blur too much partying and having a good time one would say, but I loved every crazy moment of the emotional roller coaster I was on. I was happy, and I was becoming more and more the person I am today. My last year in my 20’s young wild and free, I traveled to many amazing Korean cities from the North (not North Korea) to the south and everything in between.

Every weekend was another festival or adventure (nothing much has changed it still is) This is what I like about living here no time is wasted. I do get exhausted and feel I need a break from my own life but this is living to me from camping trips to the beach to international music festivals in Seoul life here is good, and the people I have met are great.

Then you get the sad goodbyes because the reality of this life is nothing is stable you continue living an unstable life trying to somewhat be stable. But just like life where ever or however you choose to live it nothing is guaranteed even in the mundane routine of life, change is inevitable and will happen when you prepared or not.

This past year also brought so much joy my best friend from home got to visit me earlier this year and my cousin not too long ago, so that was amazing getting to show them the life I have made for myself here. I also got to marry my best friends in the most amazing impromptu beautiful lesbian wedding ever. I have never felt so much love in one room and a memory I will cherish dearly forever. Even though the marriage is not legal, it was real to everyone present in that place.

What else happened in this past year, after my extreme high I hit real low questioning life should I stay or should go.I decided to stay, and I know financially that was the smart move.I don’t have much of a plan moving forward if I choose to leave I want to be financially stable on my own. So I have stepped up the saving game, so when I do go, I have a nest egg to fall on where ever my journey may lead me.

I also went to Malaysia a short but well-needed trip as I did not get a break between contracts more about that in another post.

The best news yet I gifted my mom with a trip to visit she came in October during Chuseok Korean Thanks, Giving. It lined up perfectly giving us a week off including two weekends. I spent a few days in Seoul showing my mom the best spots and boy did she love the shopping, don’t think she was a fan of all the walking we did. We did a few day trips to Gyeongju and Namhae my favorite little island and then spent a great weekend in Busan. It was great two weeks bonding with my mom and showing her the life I have made for myself here.

So yip this year was challenging work is still treating me fine and generally, I am happy. I miss my friends that have left and the year, and a half that has passed, but I am excited to see what the next few months have in store for me and maybe some more clarity on what to do when this year draws to a close. But for now, I will continue to live life loudly and proudly because every day on this earth is a gift from God. So I am thankful for my last couple of hundred days grateful for family visits, friends, skiing for the first time dancing and laughing until my tummy hurts. Thank You, Korea!

Peace Love & Happiness

Cherry ♥

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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 own 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 are 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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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset