Vietnam

The last time I wrote a blog was my Australia trip and so much  has changed since then. I have grown so much while I was in Cape Town and recently I’ve relocated in Dubai.

Anyhow, this will be for a different subject itself, but I’ve dreamt travel to Vietnam quite awhile. In general I love the idea of traveling in South East Asia. When Thailand last year, it was one of the goals I needed to visit.

I got to visit Hanoi, a trulls special city. It’s busy, yet quite rustic with a lot of french influence from the coffee culture to speciality cake shops from colonial days. The architecture around the Old Quarter is quite eclectic from the tradition to colonial day, and bustling organized chaos from the traffic and shops. On the weekends, the city in the night is family and tourist haven as some of the streets are closed. Very cool entertainment by local artists to a market with almost everything you think off. Surprisingly I found majority people are so friendly and welcoming. Even you don’t shop they still say thank you.

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I managed to visit Halong Bay on a day trip, what beautiful piece of the world. With mostly untouched islands, but in recent year it’s been popular to tourist. I highly recommend this.

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Overall, I would definitely go back for a visit and make it a longer trip.

 

Happy Travels: Noosa

20140218-231730.jpgNoosa is in north of Brisbane and close to Sunshine Coast. On Sunday, I arrived at the warmest welcome from my oldest friends, Pam and Tim Capp. I met them while I was in London. And it was cool to meet my new friend, Shaka, the dog. I really appreciated them opening their Queenslander on Sunday and Monday. A Queenslander is unique architecture building found in Queensland. Second one I’ve slept in on my trip. I am glad they were able to accommodating me, while in the process of moving and cleaning their home. Oddly enough I enjoyed sleeping on the floor. So far I think people have been so generous in this trip. Neds and Nick expecting in 7 weeks. That could be stressful indeed.

When I arrived Sunday noon, Pam shown me around the local Noosa beach and her local bar as we got to connect again.

For the first evening, they treated me, into my second barbie (Aussie braai). The first one was at Neds and Nick on the Friday, when I arrived. With me, ending up falling asleeping in front of the telly, jet legged with an Aussie beer in hand.

Pam and Tim took me by Noosa National Park close to Noosa Heads. On a park overlooking a marine with a barbie gas areas, common around the country. Perfect setting for the magnificent sunset. Even chatted with a local. Few minutes before the last of the sunset, we went over to watch the Noosa’s river mouth. And enjoying some lovely German beer.

On Monday, unexpected day of joy! First all, this was a day full of surprises. Pam, told me, we would do a hike to Noosa National Park a day before together. Due to the unexpected heaps of house clean up for their move. I had to do this on my own. I was unsure of it in the beginning since I had to do it by myself! In a area I don’t know. And I don’t usually do hikes.

That all changed, when I started hike and saw how magnificent the views of the Pacific Ocean and the surroundings. As I hiked the whole blue route, I was blown away with the nature and beauty of this place. I felt pitching myself and taking heaps of pictures which I promised myself not to in this trip. As I wanted to enjoy the Aussie moments without focusing on pictures.

I even passed the local nude beach on the blue route. With having blush moments and looking else where the whole time too. Sigh, as I was extremely hungry, I had to have my food on that beach. Since the stupid bird tried beforehand to take my food.

After finishing the last bit of the hike in the midday. I enjoyed my first swim in the Pacific Ocean. Also felt so safe leaving my bag unattended on the beach. While I enjoy the moment. Later in the afternoon, enjoyed time alone by the marine watching boats and sketching ideas for Moontu WaMoontu. Can’t wait to design these when I am back.

On the evening of my last night. There was a mentioned of a surprise. Well a great picnic that turned out. Little gem called Noosa National Park’s lookout view of Noosa. It was breathless. You’ll fight even mosquitoes to enjoy this view. Lovely seeing my first kookaburra too. And lastly, the evening ending with a stroll in in an idilic Noosa Heads town centre.

So many good memories. I was so blown away how beautiful this part of world. Missing this town. It was sad to say to goodbye to it.

I am not a morning person, awake at 5:30am today, for Pam and Tim’s move and clean up was a pleasure. And lovely Pam, going all out for dropping me off at Maroochyndore bus stop take my train in Nambour to Gold Coast. Melts my heart. Thank you. Till the next blog! Cheers.

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Happy Travels: Brisbane

Brisbane was my first starting point in Australia. On, Friday I got stopped at the airport immigration with as a sniffer dog checking my bags. Almost laughed as I was looking out for cameras as I though I was in ‘Border Security.’ But that was over within 2mins. And they let me through.

Otherwise, it has been a great start of my Australian holiday in Brisbane. Stayed in East Brisbane, a lovely neighbourhood, where my hosts, Neds and Nick are based.

The whole city is built around the river. The ferries, are one of the public transport used. On the Saturday, we used one of these and headed to Southbank. Similar to the London one. An amazing pool, park and entertainment area. This is ideal for tourists and a great summer hangout for the locals. Weather is also similar to Durban.

Everything in the city is modern and accessible. I couldn’t believe how easy and cheap to get your mobile number.

People are very chilled and laid back. As I noticed when we went to Eat Street Markets on Saturday eve. You’ll notice some of food and drinks are expensive. Example buying a beer would cost you around $8. Consider I would pay one third at home. We are lucky. Off course you have to understand the standard of living is different here too.

Just experiencing the short stay has been informative. I wish I could have stay longer. But next stop in Noosa.

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Spirited England

London's Big Ben

It’s been awhile since I’ve written something on my blog. I thought my trip to England would be a better choice as a start. Since I haven’t been over two years back I was excited for this trip. It was going to be a time to relax and catch up with mates. I took a direct flight that wasn’t bad consider it was my first BA flight internationally from Cape Town to Heathrow. On the morning of Saturday 30th July after an 11 hour flight, the check-in through to immigration was bit smoother in terminal 5. Even though I had a little mishap with my finger prints as they didn’t register till third time. It’s not the first time the fingerprint misread, not my luck again.

Arriving on a sunny summer day and travelling on the London Underground tube felt so familiar with a constant announcement of ‘mind the gap’ and  changing from Piccadilly to Central line. As I was heading to Bethnal Green station to meet up my friend and first host, Cara. After waiting for few minutes of waiting outside the station, we greeted each other with joy. We discussed about how our lives have moved on since I first met her with my friend, Miriam, on their visit to Cape Town, on our walk to Hackney where she was staying. To be honest, I never been to this part of London before when I was here. It’s a great and bustling area with interesting little markets. Later on, we went to Cara’s mate, Sophie, 30th birthday for drinks and chilling out in Finsbury Park. This ended up being a pub crawling and to her mate’s surprise party that stayed till 3am.

Next morning on a Sunday was bit of rest day. No comment how was feeling like. Well even worse since, I had to fetch the keys from my next hosts, Jill and Ross in Sloane Square. Who in my surprise I didn’t know were expecting. After being back, I took more resting but it all good after end of the day.

Southfield Station

On Monday, it was off to my next place to Southfields in south west London which I was back in my familiar tube line, the District line. That day, I got myself familiar with the area again, even going for a walk around Wimblefontain (South African term used for Wimbledon), to Wimbledon Village. Not much changed, except places like B&Q been replaced by Waitrose. Then I headed back the house, sorting out most of my travel plans. Finally getting to see my hosts and having a wonderful dinner outside in the beautiful eve!

Stonehenge
Beautiful scenery in Bath

Then my first adventure was going for Premium Tours’ Stonehenge and Bath, with all afternoon in Bath tour that departed from Victoria Coach Station. Since I was on my own on tour, I spotted out for the group to hang out. Our first stop, started in Stonehenge, a great historic site but what bothers me it’s not as grand in reality. Then on after walk around, I finally introduced myself to the group, the three Aussies – Ashlea, Libby and Courtney. We ended up doing all our tour together. Then the next stop was to Bath, a picturesque town. Where we spent our time at the Roman Baths; street browsing; walked at park; eating a local cafe; and even go to Jane Austen Center for tea. Then after the trip in London, quick shots of Westminster icon (Big Ben) and we closed off for dinner at the pub with their mate in Soho.

Lincoln College in Oxford

Well the the next day, it was early morning again to Victoria Coach Station for Oxford on a Oxford Express coach which I found out I over paid for my ticket I booked through National Express! Well thanks. It was nice trip since it was an hour or do of coach drive with a little snooze. I organised a walking tour on Monday online with Oxford Tourism Centre. We had a small group with a very informative guide and pro-Oxford. He was so brilliant showing us and guiding through the history of Oxford. Even went to dinning hall at Jesus College that looked like something from Harry Potter. Once the tour was done, I browsed around the town and heading back to the coach station back for a London.

Oxford

I made a quick dash to Southfields and then made my way to London Bridge to meet a great mate of mine, Louise, in the afternoon. We had few hours of chatting at a pub over my pint ‘Guinness’ and burger about how I’ve been since I have been away from London. She mentioned The Shard, as she works at the building site which soon to be the tallest building. It was great to catch up indeed.

The Thursday was a day of rest. Had a cancellation that day for lunch. Otherwise a much needed rest of catching up on UK telly I’ve missed and replays online on a BBC iplayer of Dr Who etc.

On a Friday, I planned to go Weybridge taking a South West Trains from Wimbledon to catch up with one of my close friends, Tam. Who I have known from years ago in Durban. It was so exciting to meet her precious little one, Emma again. We had amazing chats on her place for lunch and walking around this awesome town. Where there only apparently one shopping place, Waitrose! After that time, it was back to London Bridge again to meet up my old workmate and friend Patrycja. We just chilled and caught up at a pub called All Bar One. My last evening at my hosts place, it yet another amazing dinner.

Saturday, packing and moving places to my closest friends, Ellie and Justin, was cool. Later on the evening we ended up to night I organised for drinks at Suburban. Despite the poor showing it ended being an awesome catch up with Jill, Ross, Mike, Ali, Mike,  Nicole, Ellie and Justin. Even caught up with an old school mate, Jason. It was quite rad to not being overwhelmed by loads of people and turned out to be a night of loads of cocktails. The next day was the late Sunday sleep and basically a lazy day! I went to Starbucks for a short-while… but after ended up lying around the flat. Later on evening, went to check out my old church, St Paul’s Onslow Square (HTB Church wing), which it turned out I arrived at the end of the service. Lol. But it was good to check it out.

Brighton

On the Monday, I organised to go to Brighton to meet up with an old housemate and friend, Sarah. I left London from Victoria Station on the Southern Train. When I arrived in Brighton, I had two hours to kill till I meet up with Sarah and her little boy, Elijah! So I had a walk around the beachfront, taking picture and watching the world go by on the Brighton Pier. But I wasn’t impress with peddles on the beach. Love my sand beach! While waiting by the Clock Tower. I hope no one meets a vodka drinking man sitting by. Well he couldn’t stop swearing or complaining about immigrants. I couldn’t stop laughing about it while wating for Sarah to arrive. Then in time she arrived. We ended up all sorts of side streets markets just catch up along. I was quite impressed with especially the cup cakes shop we went too. Those were too nice to eat. Even more impressive part is that Elijah was asleep the whole the time and he only work up when I was heading off London. By the time I go home I was so exhausted. I watched a bit of telly about the London riots of Croydon burning burning with Ellie and Justin. It dishearten me to see this as I so much love for that city. Then I went to bed early.

Next was day, I headed near Battersea to take few photos of the Battersea Power Station which I really like the architect of it and took a little a bus trip to Tralfagar Square. While I was sitting, this crazy butch woman set next to me. Well she could stop talking and swearing to herself about incident that happen while getting in the bus. But so poor guy, who Somalian/Ethiopian descent, couldn’t get out from the seat as her dog was blocking her seat and scared of dog.  Asked the woman to move her dog nicely by calling her sir by mistake. But that turned to be an ugly shouting. Anyhow, back to the bus trip. I was surprised how many tourist actually were out that day. Since there was an uneasiness over the riots… but it was cool to see the positive.

Battersea Power Station, London

Getting back from London central to Earlfield, I managed to pass through my old work at a coffee shop, Refuel, seeing my old boss there.  I was so glad to chat to him while ordering my mocca. But he was uneasy that time, since the rioters or looter were rumoured to come around. I left the place with loads of memories of hardship on how grown from that place. Did a little walk in old neighbourhood in Earlfieds, love it since I last stayed in Gareth Lane in Tooting. On my way to Southfields, some shops had an early closer since the PM announced there are going to be 16000 cops patrolling on that night. Respect to cops they worked hard. I give a clap to ours honest SA cops, who do brilliant job to a very stressful job! Otherwise, it was a night in-front of a telly with my hosts!

Sunny day at a park in Holborn, London

On the Wednesday, another busy day had lunch with my closest friend and former housemate, Miriam, in Holborn for lunch. It quite cool to chill out and rest at a park near by, I think it was called Lincoln’s Inn Fields on an awesome sunny day with our eatery from Eat. Then later on the evening had drinks at Halfway House with am old friend JC for dinner in Earlfield at a place called Fyre, a steak house. We caught up with her husband and friends. I had really an awesome burger served on a wooden platter. Then later on, we said our byes.

On my second last which Thursday, I had arranged to meet with Colleen a mate I met in Cape Town for brunch. Ha ha… ending up having a miscommunication where to meet in St Prancas / Kings Cross Station entrances. It took at least a half an hour to find each other. Eventually we did, talking about all sort of things and sharing stories while having our English breakfast at a pub called O’Neills. Then I walked her off to Kings Cross Station with her pink suitcase as she was heading for Edinburgh, Scotland for a holiday. After that, I headed one of favourite places in London, Camden, doing a bit of shopping around the markets. Then organise to meet my friend / host, Justin, for coffee who work around that area. Heading to my friend’s favourite, Starbucks. To my joy it was full, we headed to my favourite coffee place, Costa. Mmm how I missed that coffee.

Thereafter I took my old friend, the Northen Line, to South Wimbledon where I was headed to do tech shopping at PC World in Wimbledon. Later on the evening, me and my hosts (Justin & Ellie) went out to an Italian place near Southfields station. We had to wait an awhile for a table but it worth it. Pizzas were great as we tucked in. Another early evening too.

Last day in London, said my goodbye to Justin as he headed to work. I started to pack up my rucksack, not nearly full and had few pound notes left to spent. So a little trip to Wandsworth Southside was needed, few new clothing sorted! So love Primark. And last minute dash to Wimbledon. Then in the middle of this I had to organise a lift to pick me at the airport, which was eventually sorted.

There was little sadness as I left but nothing can be changed. It’s been awesome trip I was thinking to myself when I was checking in a Terminal 5 in Heathrow. While at the terminal I picked a few things for my last few pounds left. We got a bit delayed since few passengers didn’t want to board. So they retrieve their baggage from the plane, But not the most exciting flight back home. In future, I will try to avoid sitting behind big load pro-hunting Americans ‘I have nothing against them,’ also getting issued a middle seat! I arrived safely in Cape Town on the Saturday, 13th of August with a little delay… I was so happy to be back.