Teaching English in Asia

Teaching English in Asia

I have been back home in South Africa for two and a half months now. It’s been great having time out in my family home, spending time with my dogs (they are basically my children), and catching up with my friends of course. But now the time is approaching for me to go away again.

Steven and I have been in big discussions about where we should go to. The consensus is Thailand/Vietnam. So, we are going to do our TEFL (Teach English Foreign Language) course now, then celebrate my brothers wedding in Jan, and after that, it’s time to hit the road at the end of Feb 2015.

Any advice for us on the best place to find jobs?????? I’ve already been given the following links for advice, but any other help would be amazing!!

Oh Asia I have missed you.  ♥

 

City to do lists: 2 week trip from Cape Town to Coffee Bay

My friend Hayley (British), came to visit me in South Africa. After backpacking together for 6 months, I know pretty much what she likes and dislikes. We spent 2 weeks exploring Cape Town together, and then I sent her and another friend, Braden (Canadian) off on a two week trip from Cape Town to Coffee Bay. Because they had limited time before Hayley flew back to England, we had to fit a lot in for them in that time. So I made them a plan of action, and it goes a little something like this:

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Since I’ve been home…

I’ve been home for 6 weeks already. Time. Where does it go? It’s crazy to think that 6 months ago I was all covered in banana sap on a grubby, sweaty, humid, spider infested banana farm in Australia, living in an 8 bed dorm for 3 months, and counting those days away with so much resentment. Now, the days are flying by quicker than I can even imagine.

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no more bananas

The past 3 months of living in Innisfail and working on a banana farm have probably been the shittiest 3 months of my life. It’s been a roller coaster of squished rats, spider bites, cockroaches, frogs, rat piss and long hours of physical labour, working side by side with the stinkiest Frenchman of all time. To top it all off, I have also been living in one of the worst towns I’ve ever traveled to, in a hostel that I probably wouldn’t recommend to anybody else, ever. The job on the banana farm has been by far the worst job I have ever had (so far), but it has also been the job that I have been most scared to lose. This job, doing 3 months of regional work, enables me to extend my working holiday visa in Australia by an extra year. Continue reading

Must do list for: Cape Town, South Africa

  • Table Mountain – Whether it is hiking up or cable car, it’s just a top attraction, filled with panoramic views of the breath taking city that I call home

    Table Mountain and Cape Town City Centre

    Table Mountain and Cape Town City Centre

  • Boulders Beach – Penguins penguins everywhere. A beautiful beach off Simon’s Town, with huge boulder’s and nosey little penguins. And be sure to stop in at the famous Brass Bell for lunch in Kalk Bay on your way home.

    Boulders Beach

    Boulders Beach

  • Kirstenbosch Gardens.  – Be sure to go check out the Botanical Gardens, they are magical. There is a bridge walk you can do over the tree tops. Bring a picnic basket, wine (lots of wine), friends, and enjoy the magic. If you’re here over Summer, you’re in for a treat. The botanical gardens offer sunset concerts every Sunday through Summer. Live music, in a natural amphitheatre, surrounded by trees and Table Mountain as the backdrop.
  • Go see a Jeremy Loops concert. By far my most favourite musician that has grown up on these shores, your heart will melt as he captures the essence of Cape Town through his music.

    Jeremy Loops playing at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

    Jeremy Loops playing at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

  • Mosey around the Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay for a cruisy Saturday brunch with a glass of bubbly in hand and some great local music.

    Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay

    Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay

  • Go to The Assembly to see a live show. I can’t explain it. It’s just a must do.
  • Go to Robben Island and see where Nelson Mandela lived for so many of his prison years. If you have time before coming to South Africa, you should read The Long Walk to Freedom while you’re sitting on one of your many flights/busses/trains around the world.
  • Hike up Lion’s head to watch the sunset

    View of Cape Town from Lion's Head on a Full Moon

    View of Cape Town from Lion’s Head on a Full Moon

  • Another great market to go to on a Saturday morning is the Old Biscuit Mill to the Neighbourhood Goods market. Great food. Craft beers. Happiness.
  • Drive along Chapman’s Peak Drive. The views are incredible. The road was closed for a number of years because of dangerous rockfalls, but now that that’s all fixed up, take advantage of the scenery.
  • Looking for a tip top beach to soak up some South African sun? Llandudno beach is the one for you. A local surf spot, a small beach, lots of boulders to clamber onto, white sand, and the only thing you could try fault it on is the crisp cold ocean, but even that is hardly a fault.
  • Go SKYDIVING!! Cape Town has one of the most beautiful settings in the world. Mountains, Ocean, City. Why not do a jump out of a little aircraft and take in all the sites from the sky. These guys are great www.skydivecapetown.co.za
  • Go to a music festival. Cape Town is know for it’s PsyTrance music scene, and the parties are world class. When it comes to other music festivals, Rocking the Daisies is a brilliant one.
    Rocking the Daisies 2012 during Bloc Party's performance

    Rocking the Daisies 2012 during Bloc Party’s performance

     

birthdays and other weekends

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Banana farming is not for the faint hearted. My heart might be faint. Everyday while I am working, my mind is in a spin. Why am I doing this???? The money is great, 3 months of this regional work and my working visa for Australia gets extended by a 2nd year. All the right reasons. TRAVEL! But still, my mind is starting to doubt that that is enough.  I hate every moment of every day here. I’m in week 7 now, with 8 more weeks to go after this. Only 8. I’m almost half way already. But still… sometimes I wonder if it is really worth it.

Why am I doing this????

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30 hours of travel. 9 time zones of confusion. I made it to Australia

When I first ventured off on this journey 6 months ago, I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would end up in Australia. But here I am. I am in Australia!

After 2 weeks spent at home after my South America trip, I was more than ready to be reunited with my backpack again, and setting off on the next part of this adventure.

The past 2 nights I’ve spent at my friend Michael’s house, getting over my jet lag after 30 odd hours of traveling and 9 time zones of confusion to get me from South Africa to Australia. Michael’s family have been absolutely the kindest to me and I’m so grateful to have a place to get my bearings…but now it’s time to explore. It hasn’t even hit me yet that I’m actually in Australia because everything seems so normal. The shops are the same. The people are the same. The pubs are the same. No culture shock yet. But then again, I have just been hanging out in the suburbs. From tomorrow, the adventuring in Sydney begins.

almost in australia

Is it weird that I am so incredibly frustrated at being home? Home should be a happy relaxing place to rejuvenate before my next journey. Instead it’s making me more and more anxious and restless.

My previous post touched on how, upon returning home after 5 months in South America, it felt like I had changed so much, but everybody else had stayed the same. But now, after being home for almost 3 weeks, I’ve actually come to realize that everyone else has changed to. Of course life doesn’t stop, and I understand that, but I’m no longer a permanent feature in my friends lives and therefore I’m not a priority. Lots of friends have actually blown me off since I’ve been home, choosing rather to hang with the people that they know will be there in the long term. People move on. Life moves on. Everyone moves in their directions.

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#selfie with my Boston Terrier Willow

Don’t get me wrong though, I have had some absolutely magical moments while being at home, I’ve been to a beautiful music festival out in the wine lands of Cape Town (Origin Festival), I’ve been to one of the most prime up and coming electronic music festivals in Cape Town (Cape Town Electronic Music Festival), been to food markets, eaten incredible food, swam in the ocean and spent time with my family and been for countless walks on the beach with my beloved doggies. All of that said, as much as I still love all of my friends at home, it’s become very clear to me since I’ve been home, who my true friends are, friends that are my friends no matter whether I am at home or not and which people have moved on from our friendships probably without them even realising it themselves.

It’s been a weird trip being home, and I kind’ve wish that I had’ve gone straight from Ecuador to Australia, but such is life, and here I am in South Africa. Three more sleeps, a few goodbyes, and I’m off on the next part of my adventure. I am beyond excited.

Have any of you other long term travelers had any similar issues with friendships and reverse culture shock and settling back in at home? I’d love to know if I am being over sensitive or if this is a general trend.

Happy travels xx

Hitch hiking through Ecuador with a Colombian drug dealer called Juan Pablo

My next stop on my journey was Quito, in Ecuador. A brief stopover in the city, then I split up from my happy family. Elle was heading off to Panama, and Mike and the two Dutch girls, Carolien and Inge, we’re heading to Colombia. I joined up with some others that I’d met along the way, and we heading to the little surf town of Mompiche in Ecuador. I’m not even going to bother describing in detail my bad luck on this trip, because I feel like it’s becoming a theme, but of course, the bus broke down, we had to stay in a dodgy town called Esmeralda’s for a night of extreme sweating and no ventilation, but we made it to Mompiche, and it was great to be back in the sunshine with sandy toes.

Edd (French), Marissa (American) and little Sammy (Aussie) are all super enthusiastic surfers. So we spent the first day going on adventures to find amazing surf spots on beaches covered in the softest black sand I’ve ever seen in my life. Mompiche isn’t filled with travelers and holiday makers in the same way as all the other places I’ve been. It’s a quiet little town where nobody bothers you or tries to sell you things. You’re left at your own device to buy fresh fruit, eat fresh fish, and relax. Tranquilo.
Months back, when Sam and I were still traveling together, we made a memorable stay at the Loki hostel in Salta in Argentina. For the week we were there, we had formed a group of friends who we giggles with for days on end and drank infamous amounts of Loki “Blood Bombs”. My favorite person of the bunch we were hanging out with, was a British girl called Hayley because we just got along childishly well. Her and I always promised we would meet up again at some point on our journeys, and finally the time had come. She came and found me in Mompiche. Instantly, we hit it off as of before, laughing until our ribs ached, laughing at nothing, laughing at everything. Together we are a ridiculous pair. We shouldn’t travel together. People look at us funny because we are in hysterics non stop. We make impulsive decisions. We are carefree. We are two silly blonde girls far away from home.
When she arrived, her and I went for lunch. During lunch we started toying with the idea of heading back down to Mancora in Peru for a couple of days of fun and silliness together before I was to fly back to Buenos Aires in Argentina and before she headed on to Colonbia. By the end of that lunch, we’d found a lift with a man named Juan Pablo, his dog Jax, and his driver (whose name is unknown). They were going to take us half way down Ecuador. We packed up our bags and set off with these strangers who conveniently just happened to be going in our direction.
We probably shouldn’t have been so impulsive about hitchhiking with this guy. During the trip which seemed to take way longer than planned, we stopped to take photos of a giant paper mâché iguana, we took a detour through a beach town called Canoa (just so we could have a look) and Juan Pablo even kindly (creepily) offered to give Hayley a foot massage.
K: Juan Pablo, what do you do for a living
JP: importing and exporting
K: Oh cool, of whaaaaat?
JP: consumer goods
K: not drugs though right
*awkward silence*
JP: drugs are bad
We made it alive to Manta (it took 4 hours), then hopped on a bus to Guayacil (3 more hours), slept in the Guayacil bus station (for 7 hours), then caught a morning bus to Manocora (9 more hours including border control). And then we were home in Mancora…

Mancora Madess

The past couple of weeks, I’ve been hanging out in the little beach town of Mancora in the very North of Peru. Everyone moans that the water is cold, but they know nothing until they’ve felt the icy shores of Cape Town. The water temperature is in-between that of Durban and the Cape, so probably Port Elizabeth temperature. For me, it is perfect. Every morning, I woke up and went to swim in the sea, to wash away the festivities from the night before. Every night there was a big party at the hostel.

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In the days, I work, 4 times a week, 7 hours a shift at the Loki Hostel in Mancora. It’s more of a resort than a hostel. People don’t even need to leave the hostel because it provides you with everything you need. Working at this got me free accommodation in the crazy staff room, more commonly known as “the jungle”. The jungle is one of two staff rooms and is the wilder of the two. There are always people coming in and out, partying in the dorm after the bar closes. It’s barely possible to see the floor because everybody’s stuff if just strewn across it. There is graffiti and love notes written on all the walls. It’s so dark in there and the lights are so useless and the window faces a dark alley. I have to use my phone light to try get into my locker to find my belongings. All my stuff is neatly thrown into my locker and locked away. My personal mess. Words cannot describe this place. It is crazy and frustrating and amazing and some of the best weeks I’ve had in my life. Everyone that works there is amazing and we’re a big happy family. People work, then leave, and new people come, but it’s always family.  I also get free breakfast and one other free meal a day, plus 40% off any other food or drinks I buy. I lived their pretty cheaply for three weeks and it’s been a wild ride of so much fun and happiness, but after three weeks of this wild lifestyle, I’m done and happy to move on.
Christmas was spent at the hostel, then on the night of the 26th December, I got a bus to Montanita in Ecuador with a Kiwi friend, Elle. I thought that the border crossing was going to be scary, but it turned out to be easy as pie. We planned to head straight up to Medellin for New Years in Colombia, but last minute we changed out minds and decided to meet up with a bunch of other friends in Montanita in Ecuador instead. I would never have ever thought that I’d spend a New Years Eve in Ecuador.
And that’s all the news for now…
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all. xx