Tag Archives: Wanderlust

Potential reasons why the blogging stopped

1. I hit a slump and never came back. (Never say never?)

2. I became a full-time primary school teacher and feel weird about how readily available my  inner thoughts are (which have been known to include ‘drugs’ and PG encounters)

3. Who knows what’s acceptable for a teacher to say or write.

4. Its an endless game getting Facebook and other social media sights to cooperate and show your content to people. #algorithms #paidposts

5. If I write something good and stats are low I die a little inside. I put so much effort into each post and then Facebook plays hide and seek with it.

6. I became increasingly unsure of my brand and what I was bringing to the table. It became less about travel and more about me and my opinions. Perhaps I needed a new space.

7. But I love my space! Just look at it!

8. If my personal online behaviour and click-through rate is anything to go by……. no-one reads things anymore! So what’s the point.

9. Someone I Once Met was the most continually successful dimension of the blog. Somewhere along the line I lost my nerve writing about people I know and who know me and who I can potentially insult. I need a formula.

10. The haters. People are violent bullies when they have a cyber facade to hide behind. Just like I left South Africa before I became a statistic, did I stop the blog before people said shit I couldn’t handle?

11. I find it very difficult to ignore negative comments/feelings/cybervibes. Things stick with me and ruin my day!

12. I’m lazy.

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Conversations in Japan

I had two very interesting conversations while in Japan. They were with the same person and were not exactly separate from one another. In fact, it’s incorrect to consider them ‘two conversations’. Instead I might say that two very important points were raised during one conversation.

First, intrinsic motivation came up. A year ago I wouldn’t have been able to properly appreciate a conversation about intrinsic motivation, and I can thank my teaching degree for changing that. Essentially, we humans are motivated in one of two ways – intrinsically or from within – or extrinsically, by outside factors.

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Somehow, as only conversations with strangers in a hostel can do, a relatively deep issue was raised…. The psychology of why I started blogging. And in that moment I realised, or finally admitted to myself, that documenting and sharing my life of travelling had more to do with the recognition than intrinsic motivation to do so. Of course I might be selling myself a bit short here, a huge factor was that I was and am completely inspired by the new, intense, experiential nature of being abroad. I wrote because of that. But the gratification from climbing stats, likes and shares was a solid feeling. Ahhhh sweet recognition. (Is this delayed middle child syndrome?)

Ultimately, extrinsic motivation rather than motivation that comes from deep inside you will almost always run out, fall short. While it’s 100% true that I don’t have it in me to be a ‘struggling writer’, it is also true, for this time of my life anyway, that I’m in a motivational lull. A point where the extrinsic motivation has exhausted itself. It’s had a good 4 years! The aim is to find that internal, substantially more powerful, internal will to write and share.

No more blaming Hong Kong for sucking my creativity dry.

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The next point raised was the importance of experience. Not the kind of experience needed to grab that mid-level job; rather the idea that living vicariously through instagrammed photos is just not enough. It’s plain, old uninspiring. Perhaps I speak for myself, but I don’t think I do, when I say that scrolling through all the social medias hardly ever leaves me feeling inspired. It’s all just so abstract, not even real. And how sad because pictures are supposed to speak a thousand words and nothing is usually more real than a photo. (debatable with Photoshop) But en-mass they become overwhelmingly untrue.

“The Grand Canyon was the wind in my face the birds swooping into the gorge, thunder rolling in the distance. When I looked at a 2D picture of it afterwards I thought – this isn’t where I went.” Wouter. The Netherlands. Spoken in Japan.

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Of course I’ll probably never stop sharing my work. There’s absolutely zero to gain from that! And as for social media – streamlining rolls of beautiful imagery into your brain isn’t always a huge bore 😉

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Someone I Once Met: Mr. Marijuana

Let me begin by excusing myself for allowing my wanderlust and creative writing to fall by the wayside. I also want to take my hat off to anyone who has ever worked full time and studied on the side. Or even better, anyone who has worked full time, raised a family and studied on the side. I have no family to raise and still I find it tough to find time for creative projects. So here’s to all you go getters doing all the things to better yourselves, altering priorities and giving things up. For a while.

So in today’s short little introduction to someone I once met I bring you Matt. Matt sprang to mind the other day when I was pondering my new and improved mindset regarding my stance on the legalization of marijuana. For those of you who are not yet aware, I recently decided to be more vocal about my position on the topic of legalizing pot. I’m all for it. I have many reasons and perhaps I’ll focus more on them in future posts.

I realized that the reason Matt holds a special place in my memory bank is because of marijuana. You see, once upon a time in 2013, I arrived in Barcelona for an extended vacation. I booked into a hostel and continued to stay there for a little over a month. At some point, my path crossed Matt’s.

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Barcelona is one of Europe’s biggest tourist attractions. Everyone comes to admire the works of Gaudi and the fantastically historic gothic architecture. What people don’t realize is that Barcelona is the new Amsterdam. One is able to buy marijuana over the counter so long as you’re a member of one of the many ‘clubs’ (Think ‘Amsterdam coffee shops’). The laws regarding pot are hugely relaxed in this area and as a result there exists an intriguing and ever-growing cannabis culture. For this reason, I beg any potential reader to understand that my, or anyone’s use of pot in Barcelona, is not an illegal activity.

(For a better understanding of Barcelona’s weed scene- I go into more detail here.)

Matt is a fan of weed. I realized this when I walked into our shared dormitory and was hit by a pungent, yet not offensive aroma. Matt, the culprit, had been puffing on the balcony. At some point during his stay we must have had a conversation about it and our respective stances on the plant, although my memory of it seems a bit fuzzy.

Since no-one’s hostel stay was as long as mine, Matt and co. came and went. I didn’t get to say goodbye, but under my pillow I found a small gift. Since he was flying out and since one can legally transfer the toxic liquid that is alcohol from one country to another but do no such thing with marijuana, He left me a little surprise.

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There was no accompanying note and there was no need for one. Matt had left me his pipe and left-over ‘stash’ as a parting gift. All I have is a faded memory of him, in and out the dorm room, and a strong appreciation for his simple gesture. I don’t have much more to say about Matt or our mutual experiences, it’s literally that small little anecdote. But I do think the fact that it has stayed with me regardless (the impression not the weed), speaks volumes for how much this subject means to me.

Marijuana/weed/pot/The Devil’s Lettuce is completely and utterly a symbol of peace and healing (and friendship), and so far from the demonized ‘drug’ we’re made to believe it is. If I think about it, I’m actually impressed by the power of propaganda- because that’s all it is. False information fed to the masses which we in turn lap up. But let me leave you with this; if you truly believe in the offensiveness of marijuana then you’re showing the same ignorance as Nazi lovers did when they blindly followed Hitler and his colossally unfounded bullshit. And I think Matt would agree. *Ends rant.

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Someone I Once Met: Douchebag Deluxe

The struggle is real to dig deep into my memory bank for the purpose of Someone I Once met. Sometimes it takes a really random stroke of genius to realize that so-and-so would be a good candidate and ‘why had I not thought of them before?’

Its not like I can only write about people from the past, I am still actually meeting interesting people, however I’ve started to realize that not everybody likes being written about. Initially I hadn’t really thought much about whether or not folks would mind, my reasoning being that I was focusing on (mainly) positive things. But then someone asked me if I wasn’t worried about lawsuits??! And the odd subject asked me to remove this piece of information and that from a post.

And so came the slump in my will to write awesome little anecdotes about the random and not-so-random people I meet. Honestly- those who get written about are generally quite prominent parts of my life rather than an interesting passer-by. This because you only really get to know if someone is truely interesting after knowing them a while.

But here’s a guy who I really don’t care to expose. I’m not even the first to write about him. In fact, this article I came across a few months ago has been the inspiration for this post. In this article, Andrew is listed as one of ’10 “if we’re not married by” pacts that actually panned out.’ There he explains;

“My wife and I met in high school at the age of 16. We told each other that if we weren’t married by 30, then we’d get back together and tie the knot. I moved off to a different state for college and after graduation I moved to Chile for four years. I moved back to the states when I was 28, we started dating again and just got married this past May before my 30th birthday. But not because we said we would, but because it just happened that way.”

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The funny part is that when I met him in Chile, he was the doting American boyfriend of my British friend. We all traveled to a surf town one weekend. He seemed like a nice guy. When my friend and I went on a longer trip to Chile’s Lake region and he stayed behind, he came across as very possessive. He came across as in love.

Not long after my arrival in Chile and the meeting of these people, Andrew took a trip back home. Texas, USA to be exact. His trip worked out well for me, I thought, because I needed a new camera so I’d buy one online and get it sent to his house in Texas. He’d then bring it back to Chile with him. So I did that.

Andrew began to delay his return from the States. My poor friend was on the receiving end of elaborate excuses for his not returning home immediately. Weeks turned into months and the constant reassurance of his love and certain return began to seem somewhat…..untrue. My poor friend, completely confused by it all, was particularly irate about the rent for the apartment. That they shared. Together. But no, according to Andrew, all was well and he would soon be home.

Eventually, out of the blue he asked her to move out. He was coming home and she needed to be gone by the time he got there. There’s a lot more to this story but I won’t go into it. There was a lot of back and forth, a lot of lying from his side and a lot of hurt on hers. In the end Andrew returned to Chile. With my camera. He came, collected his things, told my friend he still loved her and buggered off back to Texas.

Now if you’ll recall, according to Andrew; “I moved back to the states when I was 28, we started dating again and just got married this past May before my 30th birthday. But not because we said we would, but because it just happened that way.”

Aaaahhhhh! The more I read that the more I want to kick him in the nuts. While, in its essence what he’s said is true, there’s just so much more to his story. The beautiful story of how he and his high school love came to be husband and wife after years of separation is so lovely from the outside and such a crock of shit from the inside.

Because of his complete lack of common decency, I witnessed the girl he left behind in Chile turn into a shadow of a human being. He devastated her so completely that it took the better half of a year for her to show sings of improvement. Now I’m not saying he should have stayed with someone he didn’t love. But be a man- seriously. 

I hope your new wife makes you very happy, Andrew. Asshole.

 

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Bringing You Bingin – Finally! Indonesia 2015

While I wait patiently to finish my teaching qualification (that I’ve only just started), I will continue to enjoy only 13 days annual leave on account of not working at a school. When Chinese New Year came along this year, and all the teachers enjoyed their extended two or so week holiday, I put in for some leave and got the hell out of the city to enjoy a week on some islands.

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Indonesian Islands to be exact. There had been some discussion about where to jet to but we finally settled on Indonesia and put Malaysian Borneo on the backburner for a bit. A quick outline; we spent 5 days on Gilli Trawangan. Note: It’s very hard not to say ‘island Gilli Trawangan’ but this would mean that you are, essentially, saying the ‘island island Tranwangan’. Not dissimilar to ‘tea tea’ when you say ‘chai tea’.

Anyway, after that we headed back to the bigger and better known island of Bali to enjoy three days in a pretty sweet surf spot. This spot was carefully picked out by my other half, the water-baby who lives for waves. Today I tell you about this second half of the journey and leave Gilli T and my PADI open water dive course a mystery for now.

So, about Bingin, Bali. Bingin is famous among surfers for the sublime waves it has on offer. According to a non-descript Bali and surfing related blog, “Bignin is one of the famous surfing breaks of the Bukit Peninsula. The short, fast barrel is a joyride for those who dare. Its ideal for advanced surfers and has a beautiful wave, that works really well during the dry season (June-September).”

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The observant reader, or someone who knows when Chinese New Year takes place, will realise that our trip to Bingin fell nowhere between June and September. And thus nowhere close to the time when Bingin enjoys that famous fast barrel ideal for advanced surfers. Unfortunately, we were stuck with very unpredictable, small waves. I say ‘we’ but really ‘he’ because this part of the trip was all about views from balconies and 400 pages of a cringy chick-lit book (that I found).

Those three days were so relaxing time almost went backwards. We did manage to fit in a cultural activity in the form of a visit to a nearby temple in Uluwatu.

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We also managed a walk along the beach to neighbouring Dreamland which is less like a dreamland and more like a package-holiday for taking selfies and hanging out with friends from China and India. No, Dreamland was a nightmare and we were eternally grateful to be strolling back to our Bingin ten minutes later. Other than those two strenuous activities, I sat, lay, swam, photographed, read, ate and drank smoothies. All while watching my man trying to find a good wave with about twenty to thirty other surfers. I shudder to think how difficult it is to get a wave to yourself in high season.

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Arriving to Bingin is interesting. Its not the easiest place to find and I was happy to sit back and be guided by my surfer who’d actually been there before. After the narrow winding roads come to an end and cars can go no further, you get out and walk the rest of the way. Winding through small concrete paths shaded over by great big leafy trees.Eventually you’ll start your decent towards the beach, and you’ll arrive there through the back doors of various accomodations.  

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Bingin is small and set against a cliff which means you don’t have to go very far to find a place to stay, everything is very much layered and within arms reach. This can all be pretty ideal if you arrive looking for a bed. Note; this is a dangerous way of going about it if you’re visiting in peak (dry) season. I don’t expect you’d find a bed as easily as we did out of season. The place is tiny and popular so keep that in mind. 

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With all the doing nothing I couldn’t help but imagine myself at Bingin as a teenager. While I felt completely at ease there now, I know the young me would have been unnecessarily self-conscious and constantly aware of how I paled in comparison to everyone else. Literally. I would have felt uneasy about my lack of knowledge and involvement in the world of surfing and sat watching from the sidelines as the more bronzed and toned surfer girls rubbed up against their male equivalents. 

I suppose what I’m saying is I’m stoked I got to experience Bignin going on 27. I soaked up whatever unwritten surfer rules came my way from Reece and enjoyed my first attempt at surfing photography, although nature wasn’t on my side. Things are always better experienced hang-up-free. In some ways, being on the dangerous side of 25 is so much cooler than being a youngster. Young me was always questioning….. older me is very stoked on life. Not that younger me wasn’t.

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The One With The Boerewors Making Competion in Hong Kong

A few weekends ago a local establishment, The Butcher’s Club, held an event that saw various Saffas, and a Brit, go head to head in a boerewors making competition. $550 got you in with unlimited food and booze for the afternoon, as well as a duty to taste and rate each competitor on their boerewors.

Obviously no matter what happened our votes were to go to our friend Steven. And while his boerewors contained more spice than a winning spiced sausage should, he received numerous votes based on the amount of buddies he had there to support him. Unfortunately the rest of the voters did indeed have taste buds and could detect a slight overworking of the ingredients and a liberal-to-extreme amount of spices.

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No, that day a South African spiced sausage competition was won by a Brit. However, in true South African style, the MC abused the free alcohol and misread the winner’s name. A Brit hadn’t actually won, but he did go home with the prize.

The rooftop event on the south side of Hong Kong Island was a fantastic day, well worth the money spent. Of course we were concerned about this; over-indulged and left feeling disgustingly over fed. Low carb/no sugar went out the window upon sight of the confectionary stall and I’m pretty sure beer and gin are also not exactly on the green list either.

Are you in Hong Kong? Keen to give the Butcher’s Club a visit? Find more details here:

http://www.butchersclub.com.hk/

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Faces That Say “I Just Finished the Hong Kong Marathon”

As a tidal wave of marathon finishers surged past me, I waited for my marathon runner to appear. Unfortunately we were not able to find each other in the sea of 75 000 people and had to rendezvous back at home a couple blocks away.

I had an inkling this might happen but I also had a feeling I’d get in some good practice with the zoom lens I hardly ever use. Asians to the left and right of me obviously put my weighty lens to shame with their stereotypical telescope look-a-likes. With the zoom I was able to put faces to the otherwise faceless crowd. I found Caucasians, Asians, Africans, celebrants, wincers, stretchers, sitters, elders and all the combinations of adjectives you can think of from ecstatic to defeated and everything inbetween.

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Wild: Part Book Review, Part Self-Analyses

I was hoping to swap an old book for a new one, but that’s not how this sleepy bookstore somewhere in the Indian Himalayas worked. I’d have to part with some rupees if I wanted to leave with any new reading material. There wasn’t much to choose from, but one did catch my eye. Judge a book by it’s cover and go from there is what I often do. This one had a pleasant look about it – white and pink and with the image of a well used hiking boot on the front. Red laces.

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The story was about a young woman, called Cheryl Strayed, who decides to walk over 1000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail , on her own, in an attempt to overcome the death of her mother. The PCT allows hikers to walk from the Mexican border to the Canadian one- or the other way round. Incorporating California, Oregon and Washing states in all their glory.

This book ticked a lot of boxes for me: uniquely travel related with just the right amount of adventure, set in a part of the USA I could easily visualise because I’d been there before. I liked the book. I liked that it was written by a woman, I liked that she climbed an actual mountain to deal with her demons, I like how she took condoms with her for in-case. I like how, since reading it, I’ve watched the book gain popularity and be tuned into a screenplay starring Reese Witherspoon. I like how I didn’t know if it would be a good read, then I wasn’t sure the movie would be any good, and I love that its turned out to be Oscar material.

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I feel like I’ve journeyed with Cheryl from a random bookshelf in a Tibetan refugee town in India to her glamorous appearance at the Golden Globes, attached at the hip to Reese Witherspoon. Even more so, Wild has kept me awake at night thinking about that book I’d like to write. I’ve always loved writing, I’m inspired by travel and I’ve lived on 5 continents over the past 4 years. But i didn’t get married at 18. My mother didn’t die when I was 22. I didn’t become an adulterous sex and drug addict and I didn’t trek over 1000 miles to fix myself. 5 continents in 4 years but what the hell would I write about?! It’s a conundrum that’s got me thinking about writing fiction for the first time.

Then there’s the very real issue of having never finished anything longer than article before. I don’t think I could even claim to have written a short story. Any longer piece of writing I’ve ever considered writing has died not long after it’s birth. This does not bode well for undertaking and executing the huge task that is writing a book.

Wild is not about to be the next Harry Potter- read by billions- or turn into of the the great classics. And I’m sure it was never meant to be any of that. But what it has achieved, certainly in me, is a heightened appreciation for the average woman doing something for herself, thinking not much of it, and turning it into a source of inspiration for others.

I am increasingly of the opinion that anyone can be inspirational – just not everyone knows how to go about it. So good on you Cheryl. you were just another lot girl with a bleeding heart who navigated through various mountain ranges all alone and now everyone, including Reese Witherspoon, loves you.

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How to Grab Some Quiet Time in Hong Kong

There’s not much opportunity to get away from it all in Hong Kong. It is the most densely populated part of the planet and boy can you really feel it sometimes. Every now and then you’ll find a place all to yourself – but you’ve gotta make sure of a couple things first.

Don’t go in search of quiet time on the weekend. Seriously- rather just stay in doors or you will be competing for sidewalk space with the rest of them. We went to the seaside village of Shek O last Monday {which we’re lucky to have off every week}. Everyone else is working which kind of makes up for having to work Saturdays.

Go in winter. In the summer, Shek O will be crawling with people- Monday included. Like anywhere else in the world, summer means no school and no school means packed beaches and other fun places. Winter vacations seem bearable since everyone heads out in search of snow…or sun for that matter. Neither of which Hong Kong tends to offer in winter.

Not a long list but a fool-proof one. See how uninterrupted and glorious it all looks? The sun coming out to play helped a lot too of course but that’s not something us mortals have much control over.

So just remember- if you’re looking for some quality quiet time outside of your house in Hong Kong – make sure its a Monday, absolutely not during summer vacations and organise some elusive wintery sunshine and you’re good to go!

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On Trying to Fuel my Creative Fire in Hong Kong

I don’t blog enough about Hong Kong. I can’t put my finger on it exactly but its probably got a lot to do with the fact that I’m not a city girl. As far as cities go, Hong Kong is supposed to be up there with the best and yet I find myself lacking the inspiration to produce content on it. Also my teaching job leaves almost zero hours in the day to work on my hobby. Valid excuses but excuses none-the-less right?

That being said I’m going to do my best to change my ways. I won’t be here forever so it really is in my best interests to take a deeper look and let myself be inspired and challenged to document this Gateway to the East.

I started my new leaf turning by taking my camera to work one day so that afterwards I could stroll past the arts festival/mardi gras happening in the famous Victoria Park. Finally I was being proactive and exploring (the bf was away and this was a better option than Saturday night in an empty apartment). Luckily my hopes weren’t high since the majority of stalls and activities had already shut down, and although there were a good amount of people around they were 70 percent infants and I felt like I was back at work.

I stayed a couple minutes photographing the mediocre dance routine on the main stage before continuing my walk in the direction of home. There’s a great little modern art museum/gallery on the way and I noticed it was still open so I popped in. I’m hesitant to label it ‘modern art’ since I really don’t like modern art – least not their museums. So lets call this a hands-on cultural center, with a current showcase called ‘Imperfect’.

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I’d been in a couple months before to finally get a closer look at a very cool installation they had up. It was a massive mirror erected at a 45 degree angle to the ground. Below it was the facade of a building. The cool part? That you could lie on the facade and by looking into the mirror above you it would appear that you were dangling, standing, posing on the side of a building. (No idea what I’m talking about? see here) Naturally this would have made a fantastic photo opportunity but naturally by the time I got my ass there it no longer existed. This was when I discovered the ‘Imperfect’ exhibition.

It was too hot to explore so I drank some free hot tea on the hot day and took part in the exhibition by writing something on a coaster which was there to be written on and soon went on my way again.

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That exhibition was still going strong the evening I strolled onto the property again. This time I was game to have a better look around. I was pleasantly surprised at what I found. In an Asian country focused on education, good grades, math, shopping and banking, I was intrigued to find a little artistic sub-culture manifesting itself inside these walls. I was more compelled to photograph then than I had been in a long while.

The idea behind it, I believe, is to partake in various activities, whatever tickles your fancy, or none if you just wish to wander around. There’s a room full of old sewing machines available to the public to make use of and donated clothing with which to sew. Or you can make a post card with hand made stamps which is what I took ten minutes doing. I was told though that the volunteers would help me if came by and wanted to sew. Maybe I should do that.

Upon further investigation, this arts and cultural center is called Oi! and you can read more about it here.

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