Pros and Cons of Travelling Solo

Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa

Traveling alone can be very daunting for most people and I do agree that it is not the easiest thing to do. I have been traveling solo most of the time and have learnt a couple of things through my travels. You always end up meeting lots of people while traveling alone, and I have often enjoyed a big collection of fun temporary friends throughout my trips.

Traveling solo has its pros and cons — and for me, the pros far outweigh the cons and here are some of the pros.

  • When you’re on your own, you’re independent and in control of the when and where of your travels.
  • You can travel at your own pace, spend as much time as you want browsing through shops or sitting at a cafe enjoying a cappuccino and a good book. You can spend hours in an art museum or at the market getting to know the people of the city.
  • You can do the things that interest you and dont have to come to a compromise with your travel partner.
  • You’ll meet a lot of people as you’re seen as more approachable because you are sitting there all alone. If you stay in hostels, you’ll have a built-in family and there will always be someone who would like to join you.
  • You can eat where and when you like and nobody is going to make you feel guilty about having chocolate mouse for dinner.
  • Another benefit is that your mistakes are your own, and your triumphs all the more exciting. There’s no worrying that your insistence on trekking all the way across town to a museum that was closed ruined your partner’s day; it’s your own day to salvage or chalk up to a learning experience
  •  A lovely advantage is that you can splurge where and on what you want. You can spent the afternoon looking for the perfect souveneir or bag in the market and not feel as if somebody is willing you to hurry up.
  • You don’t have to wait for your partner to pack up, which while traveling with my mom I learned can take quite a while.
  • There is no need to negotiate when to call it a day or feel guilty about wanting to take a midday nap.
  • Traveling on your own allows you to be more present, absorb your surroundings and indulge in the new culture without distractions.
  • Solo travel is intensely personal. You end up discovering more about yourself at the same time as you’re discovering more about the country your traveling through.
  • Traveling on your own is fun, challenging, vivid, and exhilarating. Realizing that you have what it takes to be your own guide is a thrill known only to solo travelers.

Of course, there are downsides to traveling alone and everything is not always roses and sunshine.

  • When you’re on your own, you don’t have a built-in dining companion. I usually spend my meals dividing my attention between my food and my book. I have found that good book,or even just postcards to write or your travel journal to jot in – are all legitimate activities at a bar or restaurant if you get to feeling a little bored/lonely/exposed, so carry one of them with you at all times.
  • You’ve got no one to send ahead while you wait in line, or stand in line while you go to the bathroom. Believe me that can be torture.
  • You have to figure out the bus schedule and train times on your own and this way end up at some very strange places.
  • There is nobody to help you when things go wrong or someone other than yourself to blame for taking the wrong bus or train.
  • Traveling by yourself is usually more expensive as you have to pay a single supplement in hotels. The supplement can range anywhere from 25 to 100 percent of the trip cost, meaning that you could end up paying twice as much as someone traveling with a partner.
  • Other things become cheaper too when you’re splitting costs, such as groceries, guidebooks, taxis, storage lockers, and more.
  • In much of the world, solo travellers – and single people in general – are seen as strange, even a bit unfortunate.
  • Sometimes, especially in more hospitable and foreigner-fascinated cultures like Egypt and Turkey, I’ve found the attention I got as a solo traveller to be a little intense. I had to learn how to say “no, thank you” in the local language, as well as “absolutely not” – plus the local nonverbal gesture for no, which was often more effective than both.
  • You are on hardly any of your holiday photos unless you ask a stranger to please take a photos of you. So definitely get a camera with a time delay setting as that way you at least have a couple of photos with you on them.

I can imagine what you’re thinking. You’ll be lonely, isolated, it’s dangerous, and only the young Birkenstock types travel by themselves. Think again.   If I can travel solo, anyone can. I’ve never been lonely, bored or felt threatened. Traveling solo is not necessarily more dangerous than going to the movies and dinner by yourself in your home town.

Janaline starts her ART journey!

I have been addicted to travelling, seeing the world and doing art as long as I can remember. I grew up in a small place called Mposa, near Richards bay, in South-Africa. I grew up surrounded by art as my mother did ceramics, organized art exhibitions and encourage us to paint and draw. I did ceramics with my mom throughout my school days and loved every moment of it. My favourite subject at school was art and I devoured every book about art that I could lay my hands on. I developed a love for oil painting and before I left for University I had already sold 2 paintings.

I fell in love with art at a very early age but was torn between my love for art and my desire to travel and see the world.

After University I decided to travel while I am young and unattached, before I focus on my art again. I travelled and worked my way around the world for more than a decade before returning to South-Africa, and have had some amazing experiences along the way. When you live in a country you get to experience it from a different view than that of the ordinary tourist, I think it’s the people of the country and the little crazy everyday things that keep it interesting. These travels have changed me and my view of the world.

I loved travelling and exploring all these foreign countries and cultures but have reached a point where I want to focus a bit on my art and not have to move around for the next couple of years.  I found it quite difficult to find time and space to be creative while travelling. Actually, I think that taking photos and blogging about my travels was my artistic outlet while travelling.

I have made the big move back to South Africa where I now teach English online and have a lot of time to focus on my art! I have family in the Western Cape area of South-Africa and decided to buy a little place of my own in Cape Town. While looking for a place of my own I stayed with my aunt, Karen Kieviet, on their small wine farm in Stellenbosch. Karen has her own ceramic studio and it is here that I again uncovered my love for ceramics and working with clay. I had forgotten how much fun it is to create something with your hands from scratch and seeing how it takes form. The end product is either surprisingly beautiful or not what you had in mind but with a beauty of its own.

Once I started it was all I wanted to do again. I couldn’t think of anything else but pottery, painting and art! So I bought a two bedroom flat in Parklands, 8 min drive from Blouberg strand, and converted the one bedroom into a studio for myself.

I now teach English 4 days a week and in between and the rest of the time I either do ceramics or paint something. Every Friday I drive through from Cape Town to Stellenbosch where I spend the weekend working with Karen Kieviet in her studio on Aan de Vliet farm. At first it was only for fun until Karen suggested that I should start selling my bowls.

Travelling to so many countries and experiencing all these different cultures has changed the way I do art and I am sure you can see the colourful influence of the world in my art now.

The thought of actually making money with my art has always been a very distant dream and I always thought it was something that might happen in the far off future. I didn’t really think that my bowls were that good yet and wanted to wait a bit until I felt they looked a bit better. But my aunt convinced me to take a chance and see if they sell.

Karen Kieviet has been selling her art in a couple of different art galleries for years now and with her help I got my ceramic bowls into two galleries. It was and is a dream come true!! I am actually making some money with my art!

I have been doing ceramics with Karen Kieviet for a bit over a year now and working from my own little studio the past 6 months, and I love every moment of it.

You wont believe how many kids I sent to the nurse

I taught little 5 year old kids English during winter camp in South Korea in January ’08. I had  a class of 18 little kids who only had a basic or no knowledge of English and there was no teacher assistant available.

I actually had great fun teaching them but wouldn’t want to teach them for longer than 1 month. It doesn’t matter what kind of teacher you are you always end up referring to your students as your kids. well, my little kids were quite well behaved and they all followed all the little rules that I set up for them. They would all walk quietly in line and not make too much noise when were out playing as I would always let them stay out longer the better they behaved.

It was snowing most of the time so all the teachers took their kids to the gym for playtime. This was my first winter teaching job and I was quite new to snow and the cold so when my class pleaded to go outside I agreed and loved accompanying them.

During the 1st week one of my kids slipped on ice, fell and scraped her knee, so a visit to the school nurse followed. The next day another kid got a snowball in the face and it had some small stones in so on to the nurse with small scrapes in his face.

I had a little girl who kept building snowmen and by the end of the week she had “winter hands”, her little hand were red and cracked and bleeding. I didn’t even know that could happen and had never heard of it before so thought there was something seriously wrong with her. Off to the nurse with her. After that I made sure all my kids kept their gloves on while outside.

During the 2nd week a little boy climbed onto a desk, jumped of and hit his head on the corner. 5 Stitches later he returned from the school nurse. After that I didn’t dare leave them alone for even 5 minutes. One thing I still don’t know how to handle is when the little ones cry. I am not good at consoling little kids as I am not good with physical contact. After a while they got that I didn’t understand them and didn’t know what to do with them when they cried. If one cried they would go the bathroom, wash their faces and then come back and it would all be ok.

During my 3rd week, I looked over and saw one of my little boys crying. I just pointed to the bathroom and off he went. He was gone a long time so I decided to go and inspect what was going on, he might have gotten lost on his way back to the classroom. I walked into the bathroom and was actually shocked at what I saw. This little 5 year old boy was standing at the sink washing his nose while blood was pouring out. He looked over at me and said: “blood not wash away…” A visit to the nurse immediately followed. Turns out the little boy next to him hit broke his nose over a pencil.

I was told at the end of the camp that they have never had so many kids at the nurse from one class….Probably a sign that I should not teach little ones.

 

10 Tips for Dining Solo while Travelling

Views from Table Mountain
Me standing on Table Mountain!

Eating alone isn’t so bad. The thought of eating alone is sometimes terrifying especially for solo travelers. What will people think and how can I eat out without someone to talk to or share a bottle of wine with? Throughout my years of travelling I have learnt a couple of different ways to overcome what for many travelers is the most unpleasant aspect of going it alone.

  1. Chat with the service people. Waiters and waitresses are some of the best sources to find out about the local city you are exploring. And it feels good when someone greets you with a smile the next time you go there, it helps make you feel a bit at home in a foreign country.
  2. A lot of guides include a section on the “Singles Scene” in many cities; you might not be out to meet someone special, but this should offer some options for socialing nonetheless.

 3. Cafe and outdoor dining is some of the most attractive places for single travelers. Sitting alone with a book in a cafe isn’t as unusual as a table for one at a fancy restaurant and its a great place to sit and people watch.

4. Choose a counter seat or a seat at the bar. Here you usually end up talking to the barman or to the other single diners who end up sitting at the counter.

5. Go to a restaurant that has booths, which offer more privacy. This way you can have a booth all to yourself where you can hide with a good book and your hot chocolate.

 

6. You might be tempted to live on fast food, just to avoid awkward restaurant situations. Don’t. In fact, fancy establishments are fantastic places to dine alone. Waiters are happy to help solo diners who smile and say, “I made a special trip just to eat here. What do you recommend?”

7. Bring reading materials. If you start to feel uneasy sitting alone and staring down at your food, you can crack open a book, whip out your Kindle or read a magazine. One hint: The more high-minded your pursuit appears, the more likely folks are either to ignore you, or to become intrigued and maybe say hello. If you sit there studying the local city guide you will be surprised how easily other travellers will come up to you and offer some advice.

8. If you don’t want to endure yet another meal alone, use room service. It’s often no more expensive than local restaurants and you can watch a movie while enjoying your dinner.

9. Eat well. Just because you’re alone and on the run doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time for sit-down meals. Enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee or a decadent dessert in one of the beautiful cafe’s of the city.

10. Seek out an ex-pat bar where you can hang out and speak your native tongue with some fellow expatriates and travelers. Here you will always be able to find a fellow solo traveller to share a meal with.

Do you have any other tips you would like to add?

Tips on Riding a Motorbike through the Chaotic Streets of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh
Me on my Yellow motorbike!!
Bikes of Burden from Vietnam
Chaos on the streets of Ho Chi Minh!

Ho Chi Minh City is a world where old and new competes to survive in this dense populated city. It’s a city filled with skyscrapers, ancient temples, motorbikes, people on bicycles and every inch of it covered in tall slim buildings.

The streets are overcrowded with motorbikes, piled with up to 5 people each fighting for way with taxis and even trucks. The streets look like organized chaos with motorbike drivers talking on cell phones, not abiding traffic signals, and not even driving in the same direction as the traffic flow.

Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh
Me driving through the countryside of Vietnam

I dared to brave the streets of Ho Chi Minh City on my bright yellow Honda cup only after about a month of living there. The first couple of weeks just crossing the street felt like a brave life risking thing to do. I have never seen so many people on motorbikes in one place, and they don’t actually stop at the traffic lights. You have a mere 30 second gap in which you have to weave through the motorbikes to the other side before they start moving again.

Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh
Just crossing the road is a dangerous mission!
Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh
My “buttercup”!

I got myself a canary yellow 1969 super cup motorbike. It couldn’t go faster than 60km per hour but in a city as crowded as Ho Chi Minh City you don’t need to go faster. And the up side of this was that when I got into my first accident I wasn’t hurt too bad because I was going at a snails pace. The down side was that my motorbike had no petrol gage so I did get stranded a couple of times without gas. But then you didn’t have to walk far before you saw a brick with a white paper cone in it on a corner. This was where you could quickly buy petrol on the street. The first time this happened and the little Vietnamese dude brought me a bottle of green petrol I thought they were trying to trick me, petrol should be red shouldn’t it? Well in Vietnam you get dirty unrefined green petrol, the cause of all the black fumes in the city.

Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh
I just love my yellow bike!!
Bikes of Burden from Vietnam
Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh

I quickly learnt to never leave the house without my little fog mask…looks like a dentist mask but it helps you from chocking on all the fumes you will be inhaling while driving.

Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh
The streets of Ho Chi Minh City

If you do rent a bike in Saigon, and if you’ve never ridden one I don’t recommend to learn here, remember a few tips here;
1. Traffic will come from all directions, no matter what side of the street you’re on
2. Red lights don’t always mean stop here, so keep you eyes peeled when you go through a green one and don’t try going through an orange one
3. Large trucks often don’t have brakes or don’t use them.
4. Watch out for the boy racer coming towards you, he will likely swerve all over the place to impress mates or the poor girlfriend on the back.
5. Be careful when driving along side busses, especially mini busses, as Vietnamese are notoriously car sick and a face full of vomit is not pleasant
6. I advise wearing a helmet everywhere especially on the Highways
7. As a foreigner in an accident it is more than likely, no matter what happened, you would be in the wrong. If it’s not your fault get the hell out of there as quickly as you can. If you do stop make sure you remove your keys and put them in your pocket.
8. Puddles in the road often hide very deep holes, don’t drive through them, it is not a very enjoyable experience.

Safe driving

Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh
Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh

If you are not renting a motorbike there are a couple of other transport options available, namely, taxis, “xe om” (motorbike taxi) and “cyclos” (bicycle taxi) otherwise known as a rickshaw. Xe means motorbike and Om is cuddle, cuddle bike because you have to hold on for dear life, also check for BO before you get on.

Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh
On the back of a xe om!
Bikes of Burden from Vietnam
Bikes of Burden from Vietnam

General advice on these guys: on the whole they are reliable and safe, I always look for the oldest bike mainly because with a foreigner on the back they can’t go fast. Otherwise they go as fast as they possibly can and you end up holding on for dear life in the hectically busy streets. Late at night is not a good time to use them, especially around Phan Ngu Lao, there are lots of reports of dodgy dealings so either use one you know (used before) or get a taxi.

Taxis services have dramatically improved in the last few years with some professional companies opening up such as Mei Linh and Vinataxi. But still there are a few rouges out there so here are some tips: You don’t need to bargain for a taxi, if the driver tries, get another taxi. The most common trick is for them not to start the meter, if he refuses get out and get another.

Someday cars will overtake the streets in Ho Chi Minh City, but for now, motorbikes rule, and cyclos(tricycle rickshaws) co-exist. The bicycle-like contraptions that are a quick mode of transportation for both tourists and locals are almost a national symbol. They cover the streets, they cover postcards, and they employ about 60,000 people.

Motorbikes in Vietnam
Motorbikes in Vietnam

Enjoy your travels around Ho Chi Minh City.

Throwback Thursday, is a weekly reminiscent movement where you re-post past events or photos. They can be from years ago or from just a few days ago. Its a great way to look back fondly on some of your favorite memories…… 

My struggle for my first cup of coffee in Moscow

My apartment building, it looks exactly like the 20 other surrounding it!

My Russian adventure officially started September 2010!

The unknown, the secretiveness of Moscow acted like a magnet for me. Since I can remember I have always been interested in finding out what actually goes on behind the “iron curtain”. I grabbed at the chance to work and live in Moscow and couldn’t wait to start my adventure. Although I was already scared of the cold winters that I knew lay ahead.

I soon found out that Moscow is a city of superlatives. It boasts the most billionaires, the most expensive cups of coffee, at £4 a cup this is definitely true, and the most churches located in one city!  It has also been voted the most unfriendly city in the world, although I have to disagree with that last statement. The more I got to know the Russians, the more I realized they are actually friendly and helpful in their own way. It just takes them a while to warm up to strangers.

The View from my room over the park

Not prepared for KONKOVA, the suburb where my flat was situated.

I knew that I was going to be living in an old Soviet flat but was still very shocked when I actually walked into my flat. The apartment complex looks like it should have been demolished years ago. It is one of 5 identical apartment blocks all a row. It’s going to be easy to get lost was one of my first thoughts. As predicted during that first week I tried to enter the wrong apartment block a couple of times! Personally I think each apartment block should at least have a different coloured door to make finding your apartment a bit easier.

My flat looked like something out of a horrible 60’s movie – brown wallpaper and some squishy orange stuff that covers the doors and the cupboards. The toilet was wallpapered in some yellow and blue 50’s motive that gave you a headache every time you had to go in there. I had no kettle or microwave and my fridge wasn’t working. It suddenly dawned on me that I was all alone in this strange flat and in this foreign country. Causing me to question my sanity for a moment.

The flat’s Toilet with yellow and blue 50’s motive wallpaper

I definitely needed a cup of coffee to cheer me up and so my first buying adventure in Moscow started. I walked to the nearest grocery store which was about  15 minutes away and bought some coffee and what I thought was milk and sugar. Seeing as nothing has any English written on it I had to trust that I was deciphering the pictures correctly. Nobody in the store spoke any English so I couldn’t even ask for help. I should probably have studied a bit of Russian before coming over which would have made life a lot easier for me.

My very shabby looking Soviet kitchen with an “outside fridge”.

 Got home, boiled some water in a pot on the stove and discovered that I bought salt and some sour yogurt stuff. So I headed back to the store, this time I found some sugar in a clear plastic bag and bought some new “milk”. Back in the flat again, I proceeded to make myself another cup of coffee. I soon discovered that yet again I did not buy milk, this time it was something strawberry flavoured. I really did not understand why they have all these flavoured milk. I had picked the white carton with a cow on, you would have thought that it would have been milk.

By this time I really needed some coffee so I took the cup of black coffee and walked all the way to the store with it. I then continued to ask the clerk to help me by pointing at my coffee and the milk rack. I took her to the milk isle and then pointed at the cartons and asked which one I could pour into my coffee, she did laugh at me but at least helped me out.Third time lucky I guess.

Must add that after the milk incident whenever I came into the store the clerk was standing close buy to help me, which I admit helped a lot since my Russian was nearly non existent at that time and trying to decipher what a product is from the pictures on it does not always work.

I quickly made an effort to learn the Russian alphabet and some basic words so things got a little bit easier after my first failed shopping experience.

Small bedroom with very ugly wallpaper that really does not work.

  Throwback Thursday, is a weekly reminiscent movement where you re-post past events or photos. They can be from years ago or from just a few days ago. Its a great way to look back fondly on some of your favorite memories…… 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art

 For this week’s Photo Challenge, we had to stimulate the creative process and imagine which of our images we would like to see gracing the cover of a book, an album, or a magazine.

I would love to write a book about all my adventures through the world and all the “blonde” moments that have filled my journeys. I would definitely choose one of my own photos as the cover of this book but deciding on one photos is extremely difficult so maybe a collage of photos would be better. But there in lies the dilema that a collage might not be as striking as one very moving or striking photo.

Maybe you could help me choose between these two.

A single photo to represent Janaline’s world journey?

This photo that I took in Santiago, Chile is still one of my favourite, capturing street art, peaceful and interesting steet scene all in one while I am out exploring the city.

The Beautiful Streets of Santiago
The Beautiful Streets of Santiago

Or a collage for my world adventure?

Plant a Thyme or Chamomile Lawn

Thyme or Chamomile Lawn
I am standing on a beautiful Chamomile lawn!!

In an effort to reduce water use and time spent caring for lawns, some gardeners are replacing their turf with thyme or chamomile! It is hard to believe that thyme is an ideal grass alternative. I would never even have suspected you could have a lawn of thyme or chamomile if I hadn’t come across them at Babylonstoren here in Stellenbosch.

I was told that Thyme lawns require less water, and is generally tough so“walking on thyme” doesn’t hurt or destroy it. Thyme is drought resistant and will spread easily to fill in most of the space that you want it to. Best thing: it becomes a carpet of attractive, lavender-colored flowers that lasts long into the season. So it looks as good as it feels and smells! 

The down-side to putting in a thyme lawn is that it can be expensive. When you’re planting plugs of thyme 6 to 12 inches apart, you can burn up a lot of cash fast. Most sources recommend planting smaller areas. 

Thyme or Chamomile Lawn
Relaxing on the Thyme and Chamomile Lawn

Chamomile is great for  open, sunny lawns. Unfortunately new chamomile lawns tolerate only occasional light pedestrian traffic, and become patchy when walked on excessively. Both these lawns can be trimmed with a mower or shears in the late summer but only to remove dead flower heads and the occasional ragged shoot. There is not usually an actual need to mow in the way you might mow grass if you are using a non-flowering dwarf cultivar,although flowering cultivars will need to have the flowers assiduously trimmed off or dead patches might result.

Thyme or Chamomile Lawn
Just watch out for the bees while walking barefoot

When you do walk on these herb lawns you get to enjoy the soft  texture and the beautiful thyme or chamomile smell that rises from your feet!

I would love a Thyme or a Chamomile lawn someday, wouldn’t you?

Wordless Wednesday from Moscow

The Red History Museum of Moscow.

This is published as part of Wordless Wednesday

Weekly Photo Challenge:Signs

From the street signs we see on our commute to work each day to the random signs we come across during our travels, signs are functional, but can also be decorative or entertaining. Signs can direct us where to go, but they can be very confusing when translated wrongly or with a sense of humour.

Dont Hurt Me For Your Pretty
Dont Hurt Me For Your Pretty

I have come across a couple of different entertaining signs while travelling through Asia and the above one I found in China in one of the beautiful parks there.

Why can the fire escape not squeeze?
Why can the fire escape not squeeze?

Some signs are just confusing. Like the above one found in a hotel corridor next to the stairs and the one below found on a garbage can?!

Then what should I throw aeay?
Then what should I throw away?

One of my favourite signs is this sign I found along the path I walked through Miyajima Island in Japan. This shrine filled island is very peaceful and people were all strolling around and appreciating the peaceful atmosphere. I couldn’t imagine anybody being in a hurry while exploring this lovely island. But just in case you were, it was good to know that you could reach the ropeway station in 7 minutes if you were pressed for time!

Just in case you were in a hurry, you could reach the rope way station in 7 minutes....if you run a little!!
Just in case you were in a hurry, you could reach the rope way station in 7 minutes….if you run a little!!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime in Snow covered Moscow!!

Winter in Moscow is truly beautiful especially when everything is covered in snow.  I just love walking around the neighborhood late at night when everybody is wrapped up warmly in their apartments and the streets are quite deserted.

Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
Does not look very inviting to take a seat
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow

During winter I suffered from insomnia and sitting still inside my little apartment was not an option. So I wrapped up warm and went for walks in the snow covered streets, hoping that this would help.

Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
What a lovely lane to stroll down
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
A cold winters night out in Moscow

These are some random photos I took while out on my nightly walks.

Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
The sidewalks were covered in a layer of ice

The streets were covered in a layer of ice which made walking quite a challenge for me.

Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
On a chilly night like this a warm fireplace sounds like heaven
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
Everything is covered in a fresh layer of snow
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow

A fresh layer of snow covering everything.

Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
Walking through the park near my apartment block
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
This car is definitely not going anywhere in a hurry

A taste of Cape Town’ s Bohemian Long street

Cape Town' s Bohemian Long street
Cape Town’ s Bohemian Long street
Cape Town' s Bohemian Long street
I could spend hours in this place

Who wouldn’t like to stroll along a street filled with beautiful buildings, art and strange little stores? Luckily for me Cape Town actually has more than one street that fits this criteria and which is perfect for a morning stroll. One of these beautiful streets is Long Street, located in the City Bowl section of Cape Town, only a 10min walk from my little flat. It is famous as a bohemian hang out and the street is lined with many book stores, various ethnic restaurants and bars. Long Street attracts tourists from all over the world and is up to now one of my favourite streets in Cape Town.

 

Architecturally this street is noted for its Victorian buildings with their beautiful wrought iron balconies. But it is also known for the beautiful art that covers some of these buildings.

Chez Ntemba night club.
Chez Ntemba night club.

One of these very beautiful buildings is Chez Ntemba night club. There are actually Chez Ntembas all over the world and plays a fusion of African and modern music. I do like the beautiful mosaic statues and noticed that they are covered in tiny pieces of mirror. I wonder if they are lit up at night. I think I will definitely come by one evening to see and to listen to one of the live bands that often perform here.

 

 Mama Africa Restaurant.
Mama Africa Restaurant.

Another very ‘arty’ building is the Mama Africa Restaurant. I love the beautiful paintings that cover the whole restaurant and would love to see the inside. Unfortunately it was closed this Sunday morning so will have to come back another time to explore the inside and to try out their well known menu.

Mama Africa is a Pan-African treat, boasting a live Congolese band and as much meat from feathered, scaled and furry beasts as you can eat, all served with a side of samp and pap (mealie meal porridge). 

 Mama Africa Restaurant.
Such beautiful pieces of art

They say that Mama is a strange old soul whose ambition is to offer warm friendly hospitality in a totally relaxed way. She loves happiness, laughter and joy and the satisfaction that goes with a full belly.

Her advice is to leave all stress and pressure on the threshold, to appreciate her unique warmth and enjoy her vibe. If the decor of the building is anything to go by I think this should be a very enjoyable evening.

Cape Town Hostel!
Cape Town Hostel!

Even the Local Hostel is a piece of art!

The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town

The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town
Walking up Wale street I am greeted by the colorful houses of the Bo Kaap

The Bo-Kaap is definitely the most colorful part of Cape Town and a great place to explore. I think I wouldnt mind living in one of these brightly coloured houses either. This part of the city, situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city center was formerly known as the Malay Quarter. They have a lovely view over the city especially at night.

The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town
Looking back down the hill I just walked to get here

The colourful Bo-Kaap with its romantic cobble stoned streets is actually a multicultural area, very rich in history. Many of the residents are descendants of slaves from Malaysia, Indonesia and various African countries, who were imported to the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch during the 16th and 17th centuries. The slaves were known as “Cape Malays” thus is Bo-Kaap still known today as the Cape Malay Quarter.

The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town
I just love these Bright colours!!
The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town
I just Love this neighbourhood

I followed Wale Street uphill from the Company Gardens until I got to the brightly painted Georgian terraces where wandering down the narrow cobbled streets is the best way to experience the area. I didnt realize that it was all up-hill to get there and the cobbled streets arent flat either. I learned the hard way that it would probably be a good idea to wear sneekers next time as my sandels caught in the cobbles and I tripped, nearly falling down on my face. 

The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town
I would love to live here!

These steep streets are all lined with colorful traditional houses, painted in vibrant colors. Not only do they look cheerful but the people who live here are also very friendly. As I walked around with my camera people were more than willing to talk to me and to tell me a bit about the area and the history. I was surprised to find out that the owners often change the colours of their brightly painted houses and what is today a bright pink might be a pale blue house next year.

The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town
Each street I turn up is more colourful than the last

It surprised me that most of the people spoke Afrikaans until one of the ladies told me that the Afrikaans language was developed here in the Bo Kaap as a language for the slaves, as well as their masters, to be able to communicate effectively. Today Afrikaans is actually widely used in the Western Cape and the surrounding areas.

Many of the inhabitants of Bo-Kaap are descendants of the people from Indonesia (Batavia), Sri Lanka, India and Malaysia thus many were Mulims and others were converted to Islam by the Cape Muslim community. No wonder Afrikaans has so many words in common with Malaysian and other random languages. Even in Russian we have a couple of similar words which helped me a lot while living there.

The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town
There are loads of tourists walking around Bo-Kaap

As a result of Cape Town’s economic development and expansion, and after the demise of forced racial segregation under apartheid, property in the Bo-Kaap has become very sought after. This is not only because of its location but also for its picturesque cobble-streets and unique architecture. While the majority of Bo-Kaap’s residents are still of Cape Malay origin, the housing boom in the past fifteen years has seen an influx of foreigners buying up the beautiful, quaint, historical homes of Bo-Kaap.

The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town
I was quite lucky to get shots without loads of people in them

But despite the apparent “gentrification” the residents say that they are still a very close knit community and not only help each other out but also work together to keep their neighbourhood safe. According to the residents the Bo-Kaap is one of the safest areas to live in Cape Town because they all look out for each other and they even have a neighbourhood watch to keep things orderly. 

“Cape Doctor” the creator of slanting trees

slanting trees
These slanting trees are definitely a first for me

Cape Doctor” or “die Kaapse dokter” in Afrikaans is the local name for the strong, persistent and dry south-easterly wind that blows on the South African coast from spring to late summer. Although the wind smites a wide area of the sub-continent, it is notorious especially in and around the Cape Peninsula, where it can be unpleasantly strong and irritating. My first encounter with this strong wind I lost my umbrella and nearly got blown over while walking along the coast. All of these trees I found in Sea Point.

slanting trees
Cant believe these trees actually grow this way

This wind is known as the Cape Doctor because it has long been held to clear Cape Town of pollution and ‘pestilence’ and is the reason for the slanting trees found all along the coast. It is quite unique to see all the trees along the coast slanted inland as they now grow away from this fierce wind that would kill them if they didn’t adapt. 

These trees are the most severe I have seen up to now and maybe the wind is just worse in this spot or these trees are not as strong as the others along the promenade.

slanting trees
They do provide excellent shade though

Spring in the Company’s Garden, the Green Heart of Cape Town

The Company’s Garden is like the Green Heart of Cape Town and on the first sunny days of spring this is where most people spent their days. Not wanting to miss out on the first warm day of spring I also headed out to the Gardens.

Spring in the Company's Garden
Spring in the Company’s Garden

This Garden was formally established in 1652 by Dutch settlers to service and re-provision the company’s spice-trading sail ships. As Cape Town grew the Garden expanded becoming famous for its plants which were increasingly exported. The garden was left to fall into neglect at some time but today they take very good care of it and it is a very pleasant park to spent a sunny afternoon.

Spring in the Company's Garden
Spring in the Company’s Garden

This Garden is a place where you can sit en relax, watch passers-by, feed the squirrels and appreciate the joys of nature right in the middle of the bustling city. I have had loads of fun feeding the little crazy squirrels and even fed the pigeons here the other afternoon.

I love spending some time exploring the Company’s Garden, it is a great break from city life. Luckily access to this public park, which contains a rose garden, fish pond, aviary and tea garden, is free, so there is no excuse for not making use of this space. For a public space in the middle of the city it very clean and well kept.

The tree-lined paths are the ideal place to relax while enjoying  the more than 8 000 species of plants contained here. I was more focused on the butterflies and ducks than the plants actually.

Wordless Wednesday: Ladybug antics

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

China’s “Small Venice” or ‘Garden of Clear Ripples’ at the Summer Palace

The Summer Palace in Beijing started out life as the ‘Garden of Clear Ripples’  in 1750. It served as a summer resort for Empress Dowager Cixi, who diverted 30 million taels of silver, originally designated for the Chinese navy, into the reconstruction and enlargement of the Summer Palace. Personally I think it was money well spent for this is such a beautiful part of this palace structure. People come from all over the world to see this “Small Venice” of China. 

The old town with all its canals
My mom waving from the old town with all its canals
The old town with all its canals
The old town with all its canals

This beautiful town with its waterways is situated behind the hill that the main palace buildings are situated on. We reached this tranquil spot after spending hours walking through the crowded palace and it was the perfect way to ens our Palace exploration. This area is called the old town and with all its canals and walkways gives you a glimpse into what it must have looked like here 200 years ago.

The main canal filled street is known as Suzhou Street and it is here that you will still find Chinese artisans busy with their calligraphy or the art of making Chinese lanterns.

Lotus flowers have also found their way into these canals but is part of what creates this peaceful atmosphere.

The Rear Hill area to the North
The Rear Hill area to the North of the Summer Palace
This canal filled street is known as Suzhou Steet.
This canal filled street is known as Suzhou Steet.
Artisan captured at work
Artisan captured at work

In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List so we will not see any modern gadgets around here. I caught a calligraphy artist at work here. This canal filled town is the ideal place for artists to work without much distraction and its such an amazing experience to watch them create these pieces of art.

It declared the Summer Palace “a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value.” 

 It was built as an exact copy of Shantang Steet for the Empress Dowager,
It was built as an exact copy of Shantang Steet for the Empress Dowager,

“Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

This weeks photo challenge is Silhouette!! A silhouette is the image of a person, animal, object or scene represented as a solid shape of a single colour, usually black, its edges matching the outline of the subject. The interior of a silhouette is featureless, and the whole is typically presented on a light background,

Silhouette

I took this photo while canoeing in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.

This week, share a photo with a silhouette. Revisit Wenjie Zhang’s post on the quality of light for quick tips on backlight, or dive into silhouette tutorials byDigital Photography School and PetaPixel for more guidance.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture in Nature

We are surrounded by textures man-made or natural.

Moss has such a warm, soft almost furry texture. The above moss I found in cracks between the paving stones in our garden. Moss adds a sense of calm, age, and stillness to a garden scene that is hard to achieve otherwise.

I love that clammy feel of moss on the ground against the contrast of the rougher moss found on branches in the garden. Here it grows close together in clumps or mats in the damp and shady areas protected by the canopy of trees.

Lake of Sighs or Sorrows, home to Vietnam’s own Romeo and Juliet story

Lake of Sighs
On my way to Lake of Sighs on a rented motorbike

Renting a motorbike and heading off into the Vietnamese countryside was one of my favourite ways of spending a long weekend. My 2 Vietnamese friends and I headed up to Dalat from Ho Chi Minh city for the weekend and spent the weekend enjoying the fresh mountain air. The mountains and lush green forests that surround Dalat offer the ideal getaway from the hectic city.  We spent our weekend driving on winding mountain paths through pine forests and appreciating the fresh air.  We drove past countless small streams and even came upon some waterfalls while on our way to the Lake of Sighs.

Lake of Sighs
My friend Chi clambering down the path leading down to the Lake of Sighs

 One of the things that I love about Asia is that a lot of places have either a myth or a legend attached to it and this makes visiting these obscure places so much more interesting. If it weren’t for my Vietnamese friends I would never have seen half of these strange places as they are not always mentioned in guide books. Most of the legends surrounding the romantic city of Dalat have a love connection and hardly any of them end with a “happily ever after”. 

“According to a legend this is the sight of Vietnam’s own Romeo and Juliet story. ” A young couple met here and fell in love. They sought their parent’s permission to marry. Unfortunately Vietnam was at war with China and the young man was called to arms and left without telling the young lady. She sent word for him to meet her at the lake, and when he didn’t come she was so sad that she threw herself into the lake. Thereafter it was known as the lake of sighs.”

Lake of Sighs
What a beautiful sight. Definitely woth the drive and search
Lake of Sighs
Lake of Sighs is less of a lake now that they have built a damn wall but this is where it used to be

 The lake is not a huge tourist attraction but is frequented by locals especially local couples on a date due to its “romantic” history. The Lake is definitely smaller than what I expected but its peaceful and such a contrast compared to Ho Chi Minh city where I was living at the time. 

There are many walking trails around the lake that lead through the Pine forests and I am sure they are a favourite with couples for a romantic stroll. After driving around on a motorbike all morning it was great to get off and stretch our legs a bit. This walk of ours turned into a photo opportunity with my friends, Chi and The’ posing at varies points along the path. 

Lake of Sighs
What a lovely view as we say goodbye to the Lake of Sighs

Wordless Wednesday: Morning coffee

Perfect way to start your day with an ice coffee
Perfect way to start your day with an ice coffee

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

Overgrown Ta Prohm, the “Tomb Raider” Temple

Ta Prohm
The overgrown Temple of Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm Temple

The overgrown Ta Prohm temple is maybe best known for the part it played in the movie “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”. And yes, this is where I first learnt about this beautiful temple so I was quite excited at getting to explore this temple for myself.  Although it is known that the film took visual liberties with other Angkor temples, its scenes of Ta Prohm were quite faithful to the temple’s actual appearance. Only afterwards did I think that I should have dressed “Tomb Raider” for photos at this temple. Hopefully there will be a next time and then I will be prepared.

 

Ta Prohm
Thick roots crawl all over Ta Prohm temple

Ta Prohm  is a bit more than one kilometre from Angkor Thom but this time my mom and I made use of our trusted tuk-tuk driver instead of walking. I think both of us were still recovering from our adventure through the jungle in search of Ta Nei temple the previous day.

Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm

This beautiful temple was founded by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. What a magnificent structure to have learnt and studied in. Although if you want to enter it now you should bring a torch with as its quite dark inside with all the narrow passages. Mom and I opted for exploring the outside of the temple as I don’t like tight spaces and mom is scared of any dark spaces so together we probably would have freaked out within a minute of trying to find our way inside this huge temple.

 

Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm  itself is a quiet, sprawling monastic complex and only partially cleared of jungle overgrowth and intentionally left partially unrestored. Unlike most Angkor temples, Ta Prohm has been left in much the same condition in which it was found. After the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 17th century, the temple of Ta Prohm was abandoned and neglected for centuries. When the effort to conserve and restore the temples of Angkor began in the early 21st century, Ta Prohm was left largely as it had been found, as a “concession to the general taste for the picturesque.” It is said that Ta Prohm was singled out because it was “one of the most imposing temples and the one which had best merged with the jungle, but not yet to the point of becoming a part of it”. Although they have left it unrestored a lot of  work has been done to stabilize the ruins, to permit access, and to maintain “this condition of apparent neglect.”

 

Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm

There are massive fig and silk-cotton trees that grow from the towers and corridors offering some of the best ‘tree-in-temple’ photo opportunities ever. The combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings gives this temple a very eerie quality. We had a great adventure climbing over the fallen walls and rubble everywhere to get close to the overgrown ruins.

Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm

The trees growing out of the ruins are perhaps the most distinctive and definitely most striking feature of Ta Prohm, and the one feature that sets it apart from all the other temples in Angkor Wat.  All over the place there are endless roots coiling more like reptiles than plants over the ruins.

 

Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm

Some roots are as wide as oak trees, the vines at Ta Prohm cleave massive stones in two and spill over the top of temple ramparts. The effect is striking, especially where the roots form an enclosure around entrances to the temple. I couldnt help but feel a little like Indiana Jones or Lara Croft as we picked our way through the rubble and over the fallen blocks.

Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm

Another popular site is the “Tomb Raider tree” in the central sanctuary, where Angelina Jolie picked a jasmine flower and was sucked beneath the earth. There were no jasmine around but other than that the place looked exactly like in the movie!! This was the perfect way to end our Ta Prohm adventure.

Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm

Wordless Wednesday: Glass Grass

Glass Grass!!
Glass Grass in Jerusalem, Israel!!

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

The Giant Smiling stone Faces of Bayon

Giant stone Faces of Bayon
The beautiful Bayon Temple

The giant stone faces of Bayon have become one of the most recognizable images connected to classic Khmer art and architecture. The state-temple, Bayon is set at the center of the city Angkot Wat.

Giant stone Faces of Bayon
These Giant stone Faces of Bayon are massive!
Giant stone Faces of Bayon
Bayon temple is one of the few that still has levels intact

As we approached Bayon my mom and I stopped and stood stunned before it. It was like nothing else I had ever seen before. The Bayon was built nearly 100 years after Angkor Wat in late 12th century to early 13th century, by the King Jayavarman VII.

Bayon remains one of the most enigmatic temples of the Angkor group. Its symbolism, original form and subsequent changes and constructions have not yet been untangled making it a magical place to explore.

 The architectural scale and composition of the Bayon exudes grandness and creates balance and harmony.

Giant stone Faces of Bayon
The grand entrance of Bayon temple

Despite this seemingly simple plan, the arrangement of the Bayon is complex, with a maze of galleries, passages and steps connected in a way that make the levels practically indistinguishable and creates dim lighting, narrow walkways, and low ceilings. 

The surrounding jungle makes Bayon a bit dark so its best to visit it during the day. This dense jungle camouflages this temples position in relation to other structures at Angkor. Because of this it was not known for some time that the Bayon stands in the exact center of the city of Angkor Thom.

 The best of Bayons bas-reliefs are on the exterior walls of the lower level The bas-reliefs on the southern wall contain real-life scenes from the historical sea battle between the Khmer and the Cham. Even more interesting are extensive carvings of unique and revealing scenes of everyday life that are interspersed among the battle scenes, including market scenes, cockfighting, chess games and childbirth.

Giant stone Faces of Bayon
Giant stone Faces of Bayon

The best part of Bayon for me was the upper level where the stone faces are.

Giant stone Faces of Bayon
Giant stone Faces of Bayon

There are 54 standing towers, most but not all sporting four carved faces oriented toward the cardinal points North, East, South and West. Over 200 large faces give this temple its majestic character.

Giant stone Faces of Bayon
Giant stone Faces of Bayon

Walking amongst these larger-than-life carved stone smiling faces is truly an experience that everyone must have when in Cambodia. Being next to all these smiling 13-foot tall faces, with all 432 eyes closed, was quite intriguing.

The faces of Bayon temple
The faces of Bayon temple

The faces with slightly curving lips, eyes placed in shadow by the lowered lids utter not a word and yet force you to think. It is generally accepted that four faces on each of the tower are images of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara and that they signify the omnipresence of the king. The characteristics of this faces – a broad forehead, downcast eyes, wild nostrils, thick lips that curl upwards slightly at the ends-combine to reflect the famous ‘Smile of Angkor’.

Giant stone Faces of Bayon
The smiling Giant stone Faces of Bayon

I read that the smiles and closed eyes possibly represent “an all-knowing state of inner peace, and perhaps a state of Nirvana.” I also read that, “according to Mahayana doctrine, Avalokiteshvara is the bodhisattva who has made a great vow to assist sentient beings in times of difficulty, and to postpone his own Buddhahood until he has assisted every sentient being in achieving Nirvana.” No wonder I was intrigued with the smiling faces.

Giant stone Faces of Bayon
Getting close and personal with the Giant stone Faces of Bayon

The multitude of faces at different levels affords endless fascination.

Wordless Wednesday: Good Night Jerusalem

Last look at Jerusalem before the sun set.
Last look at Jerusalem before the sun set.

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

The Devas protecting the causeway to Angkor Thom

causeway to Angkor Thom
Approaching the Gates of Angkot Thom

Before entering the amazing city temple of Angkor Thom  we crossed the causeway spanning the moat in front of each tower.

Devas protecting the causeway to Angkor Thom
Devas protecting the causeway to Angkor Thom

These bridges have a row of devas on the left and asuras on the right. They are huge and towered over me as I stood next to them.

Devas protecting the causeway to Angkor Thom
These Devas are Massive!!

Each row holding a naga in the attitude of a tug-of-war. This appears to be a reference to the myth of the Churning of the Sea of Milk.

Devas protecting the causeway to Angkor Thom
Devas protecting the causeway to Angkor Thom

The temple-mountain of the Bayon, or perhaps the gate itself, would then be the pivot around which the churning takes place. The nagas may also represent the transition from the world of men to the world of the gods (the Bayon), or be guardian figures. 

Devas protecting the causeway to Angkor Thom
Walking through the entrance and looking back at the beautiful gates
Devas protecting the causeway to Angkor Thom
Like a naughty child I always try and climb onto everything

The Crazy House of Vietnam was my favourite place to explore!!

The Crazy House of Vietnam
Arriving at the Crazy House of Vietnam

The Crazy House of Vietnam is a house and a guesthouse slash café slash art gallery and looks like something out of Alice in Wonderland. The Vietnamese version of one of the Gaudi building of Barcelona. It looks more like a Disneyland attraction than a place you would actually live and made me think of Dali and his crazy creations more than once.

The Crazy House of Vietnam
This is actually a house and not a haunted amusement park?!

This topsy-turvy piece of work was designed by eccentric architect Ms Dang Viet Nga who is said to draw paintings of her ideas then give them to local craftsmen to make a reality. She has stated that the design of the house is about bringing people back in touch with nature. I think it definitely brings you in touch with some lovely crazy!

 

This is definitely one of the strangest and most extraordinary places I got to explore in Vietnam and turned into my favourite. The bizarre structure rises several stories above the buildings around it, and from some angles it looks like a kind of convoluted tree stump. The place is filled with caves, giant spider webs made out of fairy lights and wire and even concrete tree trunks that turn out to be the steps leading up to your bedroom.

The Crazy House of Vietnam
I love that all the windows are round or misshapen

One very unique feature is that there are no square windows in the whole house and the whole place is covered in bizarre wooden sculptures. Each room in this crazy and bizarre place is themed after a different animal, including the ant, tiger, kangaroo and bear. Some of these rooms look like caves on the inside and one even has red velvet walls with a mirror above the bed. Unfortunately none of my photos that I took inside this marvelous building came out so this gives me a great reason to visit it again someday!

The Crazy House of Vietnam
Steps leading up to the Guest House rooms

As you can imagine this place caused quite a stir with the locals in the beginning, but they have since grown to appreciate the odd construction. I think it is because it brings a lot of tourists to the area and is a great topic for conversation. 

It has a concrete giraffe with a tearoom inside and even a nude female statue (very rare in Vietnam).

The Crazy House of Vietnam
The Crazy House of Vietnam
The Crazy House of Vietnam
I like the giraffe peeking out in the left hand corner!!

Business manager Thang Viet Nguyen, 38, said: ‘At the beginning most of people did not accept Crazy House because it was too abnormal, odd, and strange.

‘Gradually people understand it more, little by little.

‘Now Crazy House has become acceptable, and is a place that attracts tourists from many other countries.’

The Crazy House of Vietnam
The Crazy House of Vietnam

Wandering around and getting lost in this maze of buildings and rooms is definitely part of the experience. I ended up seeing some rooms more than once and do hope that I didn’t end up missing a room during all my wondering.

The Crazy House of Vietnam
The Crazy House of Vietnam
The Crazy House of Vietnam
Even the passages inside the buildings look like flowing lava

I got to meet the gallery designer, Mrs Dang Nga, who looks like a 1960’s French hippie, and believe me she is just as crazy as her Crazy House. She actually has a PhD in architecture from Moscow and has designed a number of other buildings around Dalat. One of her earlier masterpieces, the ‘House with 100 Roofs’, was torn down as a fire hazard because the People’s Committee thought it looked anti-socialist. Luckily I got to visit it before it got torn down, here is a photo of the entrance.

The Crazy House of Vietnam
This is the cafe of 100 roofs they burned down- luckily I got to visit it before it happened

You can see that she really enjoys designing these strange and outrageously artistic rooms and structures. The Crazy House is a maze of slim bridges, and “flowing lava” that you get to crawl through as you move through the place.  Mrs Dang Nga is still actually busy building on this ” Crazy House” and says that she hopes to finish her vision by the year 2020. I would love to come back once it is finished to see the end result.

The Crazy House of Vietnam
Me peeking out through the “flowing lava”