In My Travel Bag: Nu-Tan

Probably you will laugh at me a bit but when we decided that we were going to Thailand one of the first thoughts I had was “Oh yay I can take my Nu-Tan with me and actually use it properly this time!” Last time I used it I kind of sucked a bit. Partly because it rained a lot when I first attempted to use it, but mostly because of who I am as a person. As in: I’m not the kind of person who pops out to her back yard for a tan. Especially not when there are three children in the house who look at you like you’ve lost the plot when you pop out to the garden in your bikini for no apparent reason.

Despite my first failed attempt at using Nu-Tan I did discover their biggest plus: My skin isn’t so sensitive when I use those patches! And THAT is why I am taking those babies with me to Thailand. Because this prone-to-looking-like-a-tomato-after-a-minute-in-the-sun skin of mine definitely likes those little patches.

So yes. I’m using Nu-Tan as part of my sun protection now.

I should try to explain this in a way that makes me sound less like a rabbit on speed…

Nu-Tan has a sort of hormone patch that you stick on your arms for a minimum of two hours before you go out into the sun. Then you get your tan on for half an hour and after a bit of regular use (patch plus 20 mins in the sun or 10 mins on a sunbed) you start to get an actual tan. This is great for doomed-to-be-pale folks like myself. And it does actually work.

Now I’m not too worried about my closely-resembling-death pallor (Drucilla and Morticia have been my #stylegoals for years) but, I am VERY concerned about how the sun tends to affect me. So, it is my hope that along with my sunscreen and my usual head-to-toe coverups, my Nu-Tan patches will help to keep that mean mean mean sunburn at bay.

And probably I will even get a tan for the first time in about 20 years.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Yes, I Use Credit Cards to Fund My Travels

This is in no way advice on how anyone should go about dealing with the financial aspect of travelling, but yes, my guilty “secret” is that I use credit cards to fund my travels.

Maybe it’s not the smartest plan, and I definitely don’t advocate it, but traveling on credit cards works for me. I have this thing where I am REALLY good at paying off debt but I’m super freaking terrible at saving. I can guarantee you I will pay a 20k credit card debt off in half the time that it would take me to save that same 20k. I don’t know why. Most likely it has something to do with being convinced that eliminating debt is a priority, while not feeling quite as convinced that saving is.

Actually it’s more like: I have a crippling fear of debt.

So, of course, the “fear” plays a role in making my travels a little more stressful than necessary. But, the credit cards kind of help to make it possible and the whole yolo thing helps to keep the demons at arms length for at least 49% of the time.

Also: free travel insurance when you purchase plane tickets with a credit card.

I do harbour a fantasy where I pay off my credit cards and then start a nice little nest egg, but so far the temptation of adventure has kept me at its mercy.

I’ll get better. Or maybe I won’t.

For now I’m just trying to love my life.

How do you make this stuff work for you?

I Totally Bought Hiking Shoes

Seems like a bit of a weird thing to announce that I’ve bought hiking shoes I suppose, but guys, I haven’t had a new pair of takkie-type shoes since about 2004. If not before then. To be honest I don’t even have “workout” clothes.

Generally my “walking shoes” consist of slops or pumps and lately I’ve been wearing these cute lace up things that Mr Price sells for really cheap. They’re good enough for walking. Last year I actually got a pair of “walking shoes” from Mr Price Sport and Lord if they didn’t chew massive holes in both of my feet on day one of my trip to Turkey. They’ve been in the naughty corner ever since.

But the thing is, I’ve been on a bit of a try-and-get-a-bit-healthier kick lately and thanks to my Herbalife journey as well as my Body20 journey I am at a point where I am legitimately strong and energetic enough to feel freaking keen to take up some hiking.

I’m going to Kanchanaburi while we are in Thailand and there are these crazy beautiful waterfalls that you can hike to and I am so so so so excited to see them.

So I bought hiking shoes.

For hiking.

I’m a hiker now.

My hiking shoes even have all these tiny holes in them so that you can walk in water and not feel like you’ve just messed up your shoes.

And they’re comfortable.

They’re ugly af. But they’re comfortable.

If you’re curious I got them online from Hi-tec for R299 which was kind of awesome because I didn’t have to go into a shop and try to pretend to be someone who buys things like hiking shoes, and also they were cheap (yay -sales!) which is great because I’m super stingy.

Now I just need hiking pants…

Anyone know what those look like?

In My Travel Bag: Oh So Heavenly

So I have this thing that I’ve been doing ever since I dragged my husband with me to Thailand back in 2014. I’ve been kind of…well…let’s call it Collecting Scents. I know it sounds mad. Maybe it is even. But I really love it and it’s become one of my favourite travel traditions.

Every time I go on a trip, I find myself a brand new scent to take with me. And ever since I started doing it I have to admit that the Oh So Heavenly range from Clicks has been a huge feature in the tradition. I have absolutely loved OSH ever since I discovered them years and years ago (the lavender and the pomegranate range especially remind me of the early days of my relationship with my husband) and I’ve been using them for nostalgic purposes on my travels.

You see, the Pretty in Pink range reminds me of our fantastic family roadtrip around the Eastern Cape in 2016.

And the coconut body spray reminds me of being in India.

The Moroccan Argan Oil range reminds me of Turkey.

The shampoo with the berries on it reminds me of Zanzibar.

And it’s so nice because every time I use any of these products in my mundane day-to-day life, they transport me back to a beautiful memory that makes me smile.

So I take the tradition very seriously. 

This time I got a little bit extra indulgent and got myself a whole range of Oh So Heavenly’s Lily Lovely. And I can’t wait to use it. Of course it’s all politely on hold in my toiletry bag, waiting to be used for the first time on the morning of our flight.

Am I silly?

Do you have any strange travel traditions that you like to indulge in?

 

Rainy season? Oops!!

So when I booked tickets to Thailand on a whim in February this year I didn’t really consider much other than “it’s my husband’s birthday in June” so colour me a little mortified right now as it dawns on me that June is kind of rainy season in Thailand…

Dude… I don’t have money to spend on raincoats! And I don’t even think you’re allowed to take umbrellas with you in your hand luggage on planes. So…

Wait… Do I even own an umbrella?

Hmmm. I think there might be a few floating around here…but I prefer to use umbrellas for photo opportunities rather than actual dryness… The whole holding up umbrellas as an act of self-preservation does not work so well for me.

Then again: At this point I’m so looking forward to our trip that I might even be happy hanging out inside Seven Eleven all day and just eating ice creams and toasted sarmies while I wait for the rain to die down. Or bedroom picnics with junk food and a book? I might be daft but that doesn’t sound too bad.

It’ll be fine, right?

We don’t need clear skies to have fun, do we?

Lort I might need to sell my pancreas and buy a damn raincoat…

Freaking rainy season. Damn.

Although…. Cloudiness makes for great photography so perhaps it won’t be too bad after all?

Thailand? Again? Have you lost the plot?

Well, probably, but that’s besides the point. Yes, I’m going to Thailand again. Yes, I’ve already been there twice in the last five years. And yes…. I’m excited as hell.

When I went to Thailand for the first time in 2013 I went with my folks and my brother. Of course it was glorious, but it took me three seconds to realise that I had to bring my husband back, because that’s what happens when you find your soulmate, I guess. You kind of get a little bit grumpy about not being able to share the extra good stuff with each other. Of course that trip solidified a kind of wanderlust that neither of us have been able to quench.

Ty turns 40 this year. I think we’re both low-key having a crisis about it. Ty originally wanted to take a roadtrip for his birthday. But June is in winter and roadtrips are a lot of work (and at least 1.5 times more expensive than you expect them to be) and after a few thousand thoughts on the subject we decided that maybe, just maybe, we could get ourselves to our soul country instead.

See, ever since we went there together we’ve been longing to go back. And every time we sort of tell ourselves “no, we must go somewhere new”. But this time we kind of thought that sometimes it’s ok to indulge in the comfort of the familiar. We want an easy slow pace. We want to sip on watermelon shakes and eat dragon fruit in the streets while walking hand in hand to the beach. We want selfies in the swimming pool (as you can see we need the practice) and long explorey walks and bedroom picnics. We want “us” time that doesn’t come with a strict schedule (although we do have a kind of schedule that we need to stick to – apparently we can’t resist making plans!)

And seriously: My love, I can’t wait to take this trip with you. I’m even looking forward to the cuddles on the plane.

I’ve Been Keeping Secrets

So for the last two months I’ve been kind of sitting on some news. Why have I been sitting on it? Honestly because I’ve been a little embarrassed to admit what I did, and because once I had done it I sunk into an anxiety pit that I haven’t quite been able to climb out of yet.

In February all the big travel companies were pushing flight sales, right?

Believe me… they were…

And I kind of had a little wiggle room on one of my credit cards….

And my husband is turning 40 this year…

And we’re not really about the parties…

But we do really really really love and adore Thailand…

So…

I charged two non-refundable tickets to Thailand to my card.

Which basically means that right now we’re in the “hold thumbs and hope for the best” part of trip planning.

Because YOLO…

Right?

Longing For Home

I’m having weird feelings. I just shared a competition on Facebook for a stay at a bush lodge near Knysna somewhere. And now my head is going: Imagine a nice cold few days, snuggled up in a lodge somewhere. Hot chocolate in hand. Book on lap. Electric blanket keeping me warm. Husband snuggled up next to me.

It’s the only time I love the cold. Inside those lovely cabins, with fireplaces that smell of warmth and smoke. And when the next trip through the bushes to discover more of our animals wonders is just around the corner. Scarves and jackets. Sherry. Home cooked meals waiting to be served. Fellow travellers in awe of the day’s sightings.

This particular picture in my head is one of my favourite things about “around here”. The cozy lodge with the animals just over there. The sound of nature. Sometimes even a lion roar. I particularly have our stay at at Hlosi Game Lodge in mind right now, but pretty much anywhere around here will do. Kragga Kamma Game Park would even work. They have so many new babies this year I really should get myself out there and say hi.

Bloody hell we live in a special place.

And so in this moment I find myself appreciating here with fervour. Because I do so love this part of the world that we call home. As much as I am dreaming of our next exotic destination, it’s good to remember how here is like comfort food.

And comfort food is the best kind of food, isn’t it…

This Thing That I Love

I miss my husband. How stupid. It’s not like he’s gone anywhere. No. This baffling creature, this kind soul, this giant love of my life is right here. And yet I miss him.

When our relationship started and the kids were younger, even though they all lived with us from the beginning, they tended to go away a little more often. They’d spend weekends and holidays with their other parents. Seamlessly flitting between two homes, giving us the alone-time to cultivate what I think is a pretty solid, albeit sometimes should we say volatile, marriage.

But the babies have grown. And their lives have settled quite firmly on our side of the fence. Which is fine, of course. It’s not like I’m under the impression that regular nuclear families are getting the weekends off from parenting. I’m aware that we were spoiled once upon a time, even though we aren’t so much anymore.

The thing is, though, that we miss being spoilt. Because being spoilt means “us” time and we love “us” time.

The other day, in the midst of a family vacation in Port Alfred, we wandered off for a walk on our own though. And it was quite glorious. That hour or so where we played with out camera’s and each other while taking in the sights around us and exploring someplace new. We strolled along the pier. Watched some oyster catchers. Observed the fisherman. And played photographer/model when we realised that the wind was doing crazy things to the dress I was wearing. Then I discovered the most infuriating setting on my bridge camera: Creative Mode (don’t do it – gosh you will go mad).

It was only for an hour and yet it was so good for us. And so I wonder if we should not perhaps just change our approach a little. Instead of thinking longingly of the days when our freedom was a little more flexible, we should instead look back on those days with gratitude (which we do) for those days played such a great role in turning us into the couple we are today. And then, instead of feeling sad, we should resolve to carve out new freedoms. More short walks, just the two of us. Because they still count.

Just because the “us” time doesn’t look the same as it used to doesn’t mean that it no longer exists.

We just need to embrace the change.

My Favourite Way to Celebrate

It seems my book blog and my personal blog are getting most of my attention these days. And here my poor main blog must be feeling neglected! Do blogs feel neglected? Or do they kind of quietly just go “oh thank goodness she’s left me alone a little”?

Probably…

I’ve been meaning to touch on this topic for almost a month now! On the 19th of February my momma bear turned 60. Instead of a party she chose to celebrate by sponsoring a trip to Port Alfred for the whole family. And there are 12 of us so my mom is like a superhero but better.

I kind of love the way my family is when we’re together because it’s always kind of casual with no expectations. You never feel like you’re about to screw up somehow and earn yourself a spot on the naughty list. It took me a while to figure it out but I have definitely learned that we are kind of lucky.

We’ve done a few “getaway” celebrations over the years. March brings back many honeymoon and anniversary memories for Ty and I. And then of course last year the two of us went to Turkey for (around) my 35th.

So trips instead of parties have kind of been on my mind, lately. Like yeah, this is a thing we should strive to keep doing. Celebrating with exploration. I hope we can manage to keep it up, as a couple as well as as a family.

Thanks Mom (and Dad) for spoiling US for your birthday this year, and for allowing us to have an extra getaway to indulge in for 2018. I hope we do this kind of thing more often in the future, all of us together. Because it was really damn nice! It was nice to just hang out and eat and chat. It was nice to be in a space where there were no expectations. I could nap and read all I wanted. Vanessa could knit her knitting. The boys watched sport or whatever. Folks went for walks and went swimming when they wanted to. Cameras were played with. Many selfies were taken. Games were played. It was glorious.

I love you guys all so much.

 

Don’t Let Strangers Clean Your Ears

So of course after writing the post about things that you should consider before going to India, I remembered a whole bunch more stuff that you might like to take into consideration. Of course the only one of those things I can remember right now is this: Don’t let strangers clean your ears!

Ok perhaps I should broaden that rule a bit. Because that one seems a little oddly specific. I assure you though, when walking the streets of Mumbai it is a relevant rule!

Something I learned very quickly in India is that you need to take care of your space. I tend to lean towards a bit of a less-than-safe politeness when it comes to other people. I am a little naive, sure, but I am also perhaps a little too open to interaction with strangers. As is my husband sometimes.

And this is how it happened that a man walked up to my husband and just started cleaning his ears. Without a doubt this is probably the most WTF moment either of us has ever had. Like a rude schoolchild I couldn’t stop giggling and he of course might as well have had “what the hell is happening right now” tattooed on his forehead.

Now in India, this happened to us quite a bit before we wised up. You see, someone will walk up to you and just pin something on your shirt, or give you a dot on your forehead, or clean your ears. At first you’ll get a fright because you’ve been accosted by a stranger. Then you will relax because it is clear that they have no intention of hurting you. Then you will wonder if it is some sort of cultural experience that you are having. And then your accostant will demand money. And THAT is where it gets awkward. Especially if you look like you come form a place where you earn Euros or Pounds or Dollars. Because they will tell you how much money you owe them for this service that you did not request but have already received and if you’re a not-that-wealthy South African like me it is most likely that they will be demanding more than your budget for the entire day.

It’s awkward. Arguing about it when there is a language barrier is even more awkward. The best is just to avoid the situation altogether and if someone tries to christen you or clean your ear or pin a flag to your chest just politely but firmly say no.

Unless you actually want your ears cleaned. Which is also a valid choice.

10 Things You Need to Know Before You Go To India

I may have gotten a little carried away with the nostalgic, wishy washy, and ultimately unhelpful India posts in the last while,  so I figured probably I should write one of those one-in-every-hundred-or-so posts that might be the tiniest big helpful. Obviously I only spent three weeks in India, and I only visited a handful of places, so I know next to nothing. ButI wanted to share the little that I do know.

Would I recommend India as a place to visit? Yes! But…I also admit I would recommend pretty much anywhere as a place to visit because go places, dude.

Anyway, India is incredible. Like crazy incredible. I would happily spend six months or even a year there exploring as much of what the country has to offer as possible. Everything about it is an adventure for the senses. But man, if you’re a little fussy about stuff, or if you’re a stickler for realistic expectations, there are a few things that you need to consider.

1.) Customs at the airport will make you rethink your life

When Ty and I landed at Mumbai airport at 4am we were convinced that it would be a sort of quiet version of the place because hey, it’s 4am. Holy cow (see what I did there?) we were so wrong! I have never seen so many people shoved into such a large-but-feeling-small space. That said, customs in Mumbai is efficient as hell and even though you’re standing in a queue of about five thousand people (ok I admit I don’t know how to estimate crowd size) the line goes really quickly and I think we spent only about an hour in a queue that we expected to spend three days in.

2.) The food really is the best you will ever eat

Sometimes I’m not even sure I like Indian food. My attempts to cook it always fail, for one. I get away with Indian-ish, but only ish. And the small town dorpie version of curry always used to make me super unhappy. After having a baby though, I started liking things like Indian food and coriander (birthing babies makes you go all weird, apparently) but I was still worried about having “only” Indian food to eat for three whole weeks. But guys, that food is so incredible I actually can’t deal. So good. So so so so so good. And the vegetarian options are even better than the meat options so wow. I wish I could cook like that.

3.) Delhi belly is not what you think

Ok so I know that food poisoning is not exactly an uncommon occurrence amongst those who travel, and it is certainly something that is feared within the community. But Delhi belly is not food poisoning. Food poisoning is cramping, vomiting, gastro, sweating, fever etc, accompanied by the need to be near a bathroom at all times. Deli belly seems to basically be the ability to shit through a straw without all the other unpleasant symptoms. In other words, even though your morning ablutions will be a little more lyrical than usual, you can still enjoy the rest of your day without feeling like you need to tie yourself to the toilet.

4.) Everything about India is Extra, with a capital EXTRA

Yup, all of it. The colours. The smells. The tastes. The sounds.

5.) It’s really dirty

Like really dirty. Like you will be surprised at how dirty a place can be. But you can either let that offend your uptight sensibilities or you can kind of go with it. It is what it is. And you might go mad wondering how on earth there could possibly be so much garbage everywhere, but you might also remind yourself that it’s none of your business, you’re just a visitor.

6.) The women will make you feel like an old shoe

Yes. The women of India are so beautiful and they all dress like princesses and have the most exquisite hair so it’s kind of hard to feel any sort of superficial external confidence while surrounded by all of that. On the bright side those babes are way out my husband’s league so it’s all good. (I’m kidding obviously my husband is God’s gift to women and I have special voodoo powers and I feed him magic potion on a daily basis to keep him under my spell)

7.) Take note of what things cost

The street vendors and tuk-tuk drivers will overcharge you. And not just a little. A lot. Like a lot a lot. Like so much that I still have anxiety over how much I overpaid for some stuff while I was there. With tuk-tuk drivers we started a habit of telling them how much we were willing to pay. And with vendors…honestly I just found one dude in Goa who didn’t do the haggling thing he just told you his price (which was decent) and I just bought most of my souvenirs from him because I appreciated the lack of hassle. But like in Mumbai I totally paid like 40 bucks for a pomegranate because man I am so white sometimes.  Let me assure you: I am too stingy to spend 40 bucks on a piece of fruit.

8.) You might not be understood as well as you’re expecting

Even though English is a compulsory subject in Indian schools, I have to admit that I was surprised by how difficult it was to be understood in India. My attempt at procuring water pills for my really bad water retention ended in me consuming anti-inflammatories for days and wondering why the relief was so slow in coming. Then again, English people don’t usually understand me either so this could have been my fault.

9.) Don’t eat the beef

Eventually you’ll need some less spicy food. Don’t bother. Just eat the spicy. It’s far better than whatever Western-inspired meal that you’re considering ordering. And cheaper. Eat home food at home.

10.) Just go with it

If you’re going to go to India with expectations, don’t. Leave the uptightness behind. Leave the pictures in your head behind. Go and enjoy it for the wondrous experience that it is instead of bemoaning it for what it isn’t. You’ll miss so much if you get too caught up in your own self.

Hope that helps! High five to me for trying, right?