Thursday, 17 July 2014

Moganshan.

SHai is wonderful, but sometimes you just need to get away from the constant 24/7-ness of it all.


Luckily, you don't have to travel far out of the city to discover a whole other world. Me and the man jumped on a train and 2 hours later we were sitting in the sun surrounded by bamboo covered mountains. 


Moganshan is a pretty popular destination for Shanghaiers looking to get a break from the humidity, the smog and the traffic. It gets very busy over Summer and on national holidays, but luckily we went on a random week and it was almost deserted! Which is exactly what we wanted. Going from a city of 28 million to a village of 100 and a hostel where we were almost the only guests. That's not to say that the hostel wasn't good- it was absolutely lovely. Think wooden cabins, sauna-like showers, big comfy beds and delicious local food. Heavenly.


We spent most of our time there eating, sleeping and walking. There was a lot of walking, climbing and getting very lost... However, all the calf-muscle work and sweat was worth it to see the views from the top.





Tangent: I've always walked around SHai wondering where the hell all the bamboo scaffolding comes from that is supporting the constant work that takes place here, on a daily basis. (Trust me, its a lot of work and all the scaffolding is bamboo). Well, as soon as I arrived in Moganshan, I knew. There is literally bamboo as far as the eye can see...more bamboo than, well, you could shake a stick at. It's in the ground, on your plate, it makes the furniture you sit on...its impossible not to take a million photos where bamboo is the unlikely focus. 




Another thing, the water that comes down from the top of the mountains is the cleanest, coldest, purest water I've ever had...and I'm half Scottish. My people pride themselves on clean water. But would I drink straight from the ground in Scotland? Not sure. Did I do it here, in China, where tap water is deadly? Hell, yes! (This may have also partly been down to the fact that we had been lost and walking for hours and had run out of water and I genuinely felt like a Franco-style 127hours scenario might be on its way).


God, even writing this and looking back at the photos is zen-ing me out. It was honestly one of the most relaxing holidays I've ever had. So beautiful, refreshing, peaceful and calm. Exactly what you need when you live and work like a crazy person in this city. I keep telling all my SHai friends that they need to get out there and I recommend it to anyone who is thinking about visiting China too. It's the misty mountains, crouching tiger place that every foreigner in China is looking for. Plus, it's cheap and easy to get to. Bamboo winner.




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Long Time, No See.

I have been absent for an extremely long time!

I'm aware that this many have hurt your feelings...and I'm very sorry. But the time apart has made me realise that I do care and I do need you. I want you back. I can change; I'll spend more time with you, I'll even upload real photos now I have a Mac. Just give me a chance?

Well, I suppose we better sit down and catch-up then?

I'm still in Shanghai! Of course, I'm not stupid, this place is amazing...


What's changed? Well...I'm in the same apartment, just with a few changes on the housemate line-up. I have a new job/jobs due to various dramas. I have a pretty nice man-friend who has made the big move to the Orient and I'm really very happy!

You may know that due to the extremely complicated process of obtaining a residency permit in China, I had to spend a couple of months back in the UK after Christmas. At the time this felt like the worst nightmare in the world. I'd just got into my stride in Shanghai and now I was back in Blighty with no money and no job. However, I'm a great believer that everything happens for a reason and actually those two months were some of the best of my life. Not least because in a dingy club somewhere down Peckham High Street I met a wonderful man.

That's really all there is to catch -up on for now! I shall be providing you with something more substantial soon. However, I do have some photos of the last few months to keep you going (hint- I still like food).












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Friday, 24 January 2014

Marrakech- Part 2.

I woke up on my 3rd day in Marrakech ready for another adventure in the Medina.

I was ready to find some galleries, museums and other beautiful things. I walked straight to the Dar Si Said, a museum of Moroccan Arts. It was a peaceful and airy haven away from the busy and hot streets.




There were some pretty interesting things to look at and I actually spent quite a while there. I think I want a house just covered in mosaics!



I wandered round to the exit, through the hot streets and back to the hostel.
Okay, so now I'm going to tell you about the hostel...or my new Marrakech home. 
Hostel Waka Waka is the most friendly, accommodating and wonderful place I've ever stayed. I think that most travellers are always searching for that elusive home-away-from-home where they can sit up all night with strangers talking about anything and learning more about everything. 
Waka Waka is this place! The guys who run it are so interesting, funny and generous. As soon as you sit down you're offered tea, biscuits, shisha and conversations that will stay with you long after the tan has faded. The Waka Waka Philosophie is all about giving: you give as much as you can to everyone that you meet, physically and spiritually, and you will receive back ten-fold. If you're travelling on your own the hostel is the perfect place to meet others, especially at the free dinner parties on Friday and Saturday (think delish food, crazy Berber music and dancing). 
I really cannot recommend it enough.

Through the hostel I organised a little day trip to Essaouira, a lovely little beach town, which designs itself as the capital of windsurfing in Africa. Sadly, when I went, it was more UK seaside town, because it was rainy and a little chilly. 
But, I didn't care...why? Because on the way, I saw this:


Just some goats chilling in a tree. Of course. 

Here's some photos from Essaouira, which still looks dramatically beautiful, even in the rain.




I spent at least half an hour just sat on the wall looking out at the sea, breathing in the clean sea air and feeling pretty content with life.


I went for some lunch and then a long walk down the beach (despite the weather, because let's be honest, I'm British and I'm pretty hardened to rain at the beach).




After a sleepy ride home it was time for some shisha on the roof under the stars, then sleep before an early rise to fly back to London.


I can't tell you all how beautiful Morocco and Marrakech are. They have a really wonderful feeling about them and being there made me feel like I was able to breathe and relax properly for the first time in a long time! Yes, there are a lot of pushy street vendors who can get annoying, but if you just smile and are chatty then you will always receive niceness back. I traveled there on my own and felt totally safe the whole time. It wasn't too busy or hot in January and I met some really inspirational people.
In short, I made a very good decision by deciding to go there. Trust me, you need to go. Book a cheap flight, stay in Waka Waka and have the best trip in a long time.


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