The journey of living in sensational Asia

The Sights and Seeings of Hong Kong! – Big Buddha, Lantau Island. May 24, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — andikins86 @ 7:00 am

Having made a new friend who also happens to be visiting Hong Kong along with the fact that we both want to see the same sights (what are the chances), we made plans to meet up and get this sightseeing idea going! This awesome person is Francis Asprec! After an sms or many, we finally organised to meet up in Central and go from there. Where would we go that day? Hmmm…    The weather started off looking glum but as the meeting time crept upon us, so too did the sun creep out of hiding. Thus we decided on the Big Buddha statue on Lantau Island.

Excited, we clambered onto the MTR destined for Lantau Island and looking out the windows at it’s countryside was amazing. It really had a tropical feel to it. Soon we arrived at our destination and then the grumbling began. Food! Foood! FOOOD! our tummies cried out. Supposedly it was time for lunch and so we headed off to the mega Asian food court to silence those grumblings that were already disturbing the fun-filled day! After having stuffed our faces, we made our way to the transportation area to get to the Big Buddha Statue. The cable car ride had way too many people standing in queue, so we opted for the bus ride up. The ride was more thrilling than anticipated as the bus clambered up and down the steep hills on very narrow roads that contained other buses trying to commute tourists to and from the Big Buddha Statue.

Finally at the top, we offloaded ourselves from the bus and gazed around. The big Buddha statue captured our eyes and we eagerly started  towards it. Along the way we came across some statues where each statued man had one of the 12 zodiac symbols carved into their helmets. This wasn’t apparent at first glance as we were just so excited about being near to the big Buddha and as such it only came to our realization when we looked a second time after our examination of the Buddha statue. From the corner of my eye,  I espied a market that was selling colourful windmills. These windmills could be seen everywhere upon my arrival in Hong Kong and the build up to the New Year. As such, I decided that without a doubt, I had to get myself one too!

With my new possession in tow, we approached the Big Buddha, from the bottom of the loads of stairs reaching up towards the statue. OMW! Asia and their stairs!!! Mustering all my energy reserves and enthusiasm, we tackled the stairs and soon we were standing below the awing gaze of the statue. Looking up into that face, a wave of serenity came over me. I took deep inhaled breaths and released tension on the breath of my exhales. Amazing how things seem less overwhelming when you take the time to calm your thoughts and relax your mind and just embrace the now moment. It may sound cliche, but try it before you completely reject it.

After taking in our fill of the Buddha, we went down the stairs to the temple. Had some fun beating a large drum that brought child-like glee and giggles from both of us. And eventually after half an hour more, we made our way back to the bus, down the rickety road, onto the MTR and back to the comfort of our homes ready to face a new day of adventure…. though after some more good food and good rest!


Chinese Lunar New Year – Asian Style! March 29, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — andikins86 @ 6:12 am

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After that grueling hike that took it’s toll on my left ankle! Chinese New Year was upon me! Finally! Finally I could drink bubble tea and get red packets and travel to Bronkhorstspruit… wait a minute.. I’m no longer in South Africa. Finally I get to celebrate Chinese New Year in ASIA the Asian way! Here I can have bubble tea whenever I want!! I could get red packets from.. from…. from……. . Right, that’s one small thing I can forgo just this once.

The day of the Lunar New Year (Nóng lì xīn nián) was spent… sitting in the apartment and going out once to get something warm to eat and drink, as my ankle and feet were still really sore from the hike. Geez, what a boring way to spend the day! What was I thinking!? …….. oh that’s right, I was resting my feet so that I would be able to stand for the whole night whilst watching the annual Lunar New Year Parade that I had been invited to by a small group of friends. Smart me!

Soon evening came and Ackley and I headed out to meet up with the group that were already at the parade. Upon exiting the MTR at Tsim Sha Tsui, we were surrounded by a  flood of people that managed to squeeze themselves into the narrowed-out area to view the parade. Finding a small group of people in this crowd was gonna be… a lot easier than I expected. Fantastic! I got myself a spot and looked down the street to see what was coming… nothing. I could hear them.. but where in the world were they? That’s when it dawned on me.. the parade was happening on the other side of the double-lane street, and there was no way that myself nor the others were considering moving over there at the rate that any available space was being taken up. Just gotta make do with what we have!

Each time a group passed by on the other side, clappers and balloon hands were waved above viewers heads and the sound of cheers and laughter increased. I was rather sad that we weren’t really included into the high of the parade as the other side of the street was, but as the parade continued and people on our side of the road started to leave and space closer to the barrier opened up, myself and a few of my friends were able to grab the attention of some of the paraders. This was accomplished by being tall and by jumping around like a hyperactive bunny (especially as it is the year of the rabbit this year) and waving in a crazy fashion whilst whooping and cheering. This strange behaviour of the South African girl in the Hong Kong parade definitely caught paraders attention who returned said crazy waving and hyperactive jumping, which in turn increased crazy atmosphere. Absolutely AWESOME!

We stayed right through to the very end of the parade and the energy level was high and said sore feet forgotten completely. A reporter even came over and interviewed me, asking where I was from, how long I have been in Hong Kong and which part of the parade was my favourite. That said and done, we drifted home to snuggle into our beds to dream about enlarged, bunny floats drifting by.

It was magical to see, feel and be a part of this experience. Who needed hóngbāo (red packets with money) when an experience like this was priceless and I got to have it, not all to myself, but shared among friends!

Here are a few expressions that were learned during this time:

xīn nián kuài lè

guò nián hǎo

gōng xǐ fā cái, hóng bāo ná lái

Kung hei fat choi (also spelt kung hei fat choy or kung hey fat choi) and Hakka: Kung hee fat choi, which loosely translates to “Congratulations and be prosperous.”



Asian Hills… with Stairs! March 21, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — andikins86 @ 10:03 am

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After a week of settling quite comfortably into Asian time and especially into Hong Kong, Ackley (the friend I was staying with) and Julie organised an overnight hike somewhere away from the bustling city that never sleeps. Was that even possible!!? I was soon to find out.

After discussing the details with the two of them we came to a conclusion as to what we were going to prepare for the hike. Gluwein!! Something that will warm us from the inside out during the cold night outside. The night before the hike, Julie came over and we eventually (after much tasting and extra sampling) made the gluwein and we were happy with … or was it from… it.

Much jubilating occurred that night and as such, we were rather late on our “morning” start to the hike. We caught a number of public transport vehicles and had lunch in Sai Kung before setting off for our first part of the hike.

Hiking certainly isn’t fun if you’ve planned every aspect of it.. and luckily for us, we got our signals crossed and had two different ideas as to where we were headed. A solution was quickly found: we’d attend to those details when the time came.. for now.. just walk on the beaten track……

Beaten track!? What beaten track!? The moment we found the path that we wanted to take, all that i saw were: STAIRS? Ok, fine, I’ll bite… let’s see how long the stairs last and the hike actually begins. 1 hour later – stairs, 1 and half hours later- stairs….. 2 hours later – friggin’ more stairs!!! That’s when I realised the Asian logic. Why zigzag your way up or around a hill on a dirt path when we can provide stairs that will take you directly up and over to the other side! (Good theory?.. debatable)

If I had been on my own, I would certainly not have made it. It was thanks to the wonderful company of Ackley and Julie, who through most of the hike kept chatting about rather random topics.” How the hell do you climb those kind of stairs, and still find the breath to use your voice box! “, I thought panting even in my head. Nevertheless, the light banter and interaction definitely distracted me from the continuing climb up and down stairs through the hills.

Soon we came upon a road. Decision time had arrived. Looking quickly at the map, Ackley and I both surmised that we should head right.

Boy were we sooo wrong. After at least half an hour of walking on the road and watching the sun set, we soon came upon another sign board.. and that’s when it dawned… we should have gone LEFT! The three of us quickly turned tails and headed back the way we came, missioning as much as we could to reduce the time it would take to get us back to where we were.

By the time we were headed in the right direction, night had settled in and after quickly determining where we were going (with a triple check), we switched off our headlights and walked in the dark. It was an unbelievable experience and although at times a little daunting, it definitely was fun! Julie and I had done our one scary thing for the day, and it definitely felt like an accomplishment.

We soon came across a little village and a little further ahead, we finally arrived at our campsite. We quickly set up camp, ate our sandwich dinner (which was prepared fully before we left at the insistence of Julie – THANK-YOU!) and then drank some glorious gluwein whilst watching the stars. Soon the cold settled in and we quickly clambered into the tent and shortly fell asleep.

The next morning arrived and we started getting ready to leave, which took around 2 hours to do. Nevertheless, we soon headed off and came across the most beautiful beach that I have seen in Asia (so far). Ackley relented to Julie’s insistence to take some time to appreciate it (the dynamics fully displayed: Ackley keeping schedule, Julie ensuring time to appreciate and enjoy and me..? hmmmm not quite sure yet). I looked on and caught some collective moments of each of them on the beach. Julie especially looked in her zone and I couldn’t resist.

All too soon we were back on the trail. Once again we were met with stairs and concreted pathways. But today was to be a special day. We came across a pier and took some time to relax. We met some dogs that ignored us and carried on their merry way. We came upon some cows that we had to herd ahead of us to get them out of our way. We appreciated some of the bird life (which was truly wonderful thanks to Ackley’s bird book and binoculars) and came across some unusual creatures (a caterpillar and a mole snake) thanks to Ackley’s keen eye.

Soon we reached the end of the trail. My feet were killing me, I had blisters on both feet and they both felt jarred, but I felt a sense of achievement! We did it! We survived the Asian hills with stairs! We hopped onto a bus, arrived at Sai Kung and had some dinner (so far the best pork curry). Eventually got ourselves back to Sheung Wan and into our homes. Task: Hiking in Hong Kong – CHECK!


Hubbly Bubbly Beach Crazy March 6, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — andikins86 @ 2:15 pm

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The first night in Hong Kong I was unable to sleep.. go figures! I finally get to a bed after nearly 24 hours, and I can’t sleep O_O !!

When morning finally arrived, regardless of how tired I was feeling, I jumped out of bed and got ready. Today, I’d be meeting my new friend! It felt like the first day of school! All that nervous energy and excitement filling me up to the brim, on the verge of spilling over… I smiled a BIG sheepish grin into the mirror and headed out the apartment.

A couple of sms’s had lead to directions to this new friend’s place… apparently it was just down the road. Just down the road to me and everyone else appears to be completely different. I sms in panicked disorientation to determine if I was firstly heading in the right direction… affirmative! Right.. so where the bloody hell is this International Grocery Store!!? As I send a panicked message asking for more things to look out for, I look up and there in black background and bright green writing were the words: INTERNATIONAL!  Just my friggin’ luck…  and I roll my eyes to my own impatience. Eventually I make it to the building and in relief climb the stairs inside and get the friend to meet me downstairs. She came flying down and immediately gave me a huge welcome to Hong kong hug!

So that was Julie!!! She made me feel right at home in her apartment: made me tea, offered me breakfast and planned our day at the beach! She kept pace with everything I said and I did likewise. Soon we were ready to set off on our day of frolicking on the beach! I blindly followed her through the city to the MTR (’cause although I’d been there a number of times, I still had no idea where everything was in relation to each other) and soon arrived at Shau Kei Wan. There we bought some incredibly yummy iced teas and caught a taxi to Big Wave Bay (Shek O). And that’s where the seriously intense bonding began! We talked about almost everything and between bouts of conversation, a yoga and 2 jubilatory sessions took place!! Before we realised it, the day was ending! NOOOO!! let it go on and on! It was too soon to say goodbye (regardless that we would see each other the next day no doubt).

We made our way back to her place (which now i couldn’t go wrong in finding – or could i?) and eventually had to say our farewells for the day. Cutting that magnet bond was difficult but it had to be done. And thus began my adventures in Hong Kong as well as a jubilicious friendship!


The Race to Hong Kong Island February 5, 2011

Filed under: Pre-China — andikins86 @ 12:16 pm

Sitting at a coffee table, surrounded by friends and family and realising that there is a new friend waiting to be met.. I eagerly waited for the arrival of my departure time!

Farewell with a gorgeous lady

Farewell with a handsome man














That day I had received a suspicious mail from a lady in Hong Kong who happened to know the same people I knew there.. hmmm… and on top of all that, I had my doubting eye on her. I had opened the mail expecting something threatening, only to be blown back by her friendliness and hospitable nature! Is this person for real!!!? I responded my interest and was again blown away by the bubbliness of this woman’s reponse! Could it be possible that there is another person out there, just like me!!!? Well no, as I’m not really that forward and I border the line of being extremely shy… but the bubbliness was just too contagious to ignore! My eagerness to get there increased tenfold, for in Hong Kong was a woman waiting to meet me! he he he, sounded almost romantic!

After a gruelling 15 hour connection flight via Dubai and nearly  killing an older woman with cabin luggage that belonged to the child of the family sitting next to me (gulp), I finally made it to Hong Kong. 9pm January 25th, 2011! Wow, Emirates is a pretty good airline with regards to time! I was half-expecting to make my way on my own to my friend’s apartment, but as I emerged from the glassed off area containing the painfully slow conveyer of baggage and the shifty edginess of customs, there he stood with a casual smile that quickly turned to questioning as my jaw, by that time, was hanging open at my luck. I had finally made it to Hong Kong, with all my luggage and although exhausted, with my insanity still intact.

This was gonna be one awesome vacation….. after I caught up on much needed beauty sleep!


Hello world! February 3, 2011

Filed under: Pre-China — andikins86 @ 4:10 am

Journey Asia begins!

Why.. hello there!!

It seems I’ve taken a very long road to get to this point in my life. I’ve been through my basic education and managed to pass high school well enough to get me into university. After much internal debate whether to study the human animal or the ones you find in enclosures (though I know many human ones should be there), I decided to do a degree in Zoology and Botany. After completing that, and too scared to step my foot outside of the comfort of being a student, I continued my studies with animals getting my BSc Hons in Biodiversity and Conservation.. very big words when telling people my educational status.. sounds kinda smart-like (^^,) .

But my in my next step I did the unthinkable to any good student career.. I left university.. but not to get a job in the field I studied… oh no… but instead to branch into the other field… the human animal. I landed up becoming an au pair!!!!!  When that particular interest waived, I decided to do a little more studying and gained two certificates in Teaching English! I decided there and then, I’m gonna be a Teacher of the English Language (duh na na naaa)!!

With my love for most things Asian, it wasn’t hard to work out where I wanted to start this career. With my enthusiasm, degrees and certificates, I should be accepted anywhere I apply… my confidence high , I researched and applied online for positions available in Hong Kong.. I mean, why shouldn’t they want me… right? Hmmm… after a couple of weeks with no responses whatsoever, that confidence level slowly decided to drop a notch. One school was really nice enough to respond to inform me that in order to get a work visa for Hong Kong, I would need 6 months experience in the field I’m hoping to be employed in.  Right… of course… how could I be so silly…. I had part-time experience teaching.. but I had NO REAL EXPERIENCE in the teaching field! My dream of Hong Kong was shattered.

In the rubble of dream… an e-mail appeared before me in a glow of light… a school based in Guangdong Province in China had seen my online resume and were interested! Wait a minute, THEY want ME!!!! Needless to say, I applied immediately and have since then been offered, have accepted and am making my way to this school in China!

This is the first of many new and exciting experiences to come.. though first stop…. Hong Kong!! I need a bit of a holiday! (^^,)