The best of the Podcasts

Travelling equals many long ass journeys and podcasts seem to be the answer for passing loads of time (for me anyways). I thought I would list the best out there at the moment.

1. Number one has to be by the BBC called The Documentary. It covers all sorts of stuff across the world in a really interesting way by interviewing people. I feel like I’ve learnt so much and expanded my general knowledge vastly just by listening to these podcasts.

2. Woman’s Hour. This is just all round brilliant if you are interested in current issues facing society. A discussion is lead usually around three topics and guest speakers are brought in.

3. At Home With.. This podcast is run by two of the Youtubers that I watch Lily Pebbles and Anna Newton. They invite one celebrity (from youtubers to bakers to beauty brand owners) every week and the podcast takes place in that celebrities house. It covers that celebrities life and their backgrounds. I tend to only listen to those who I am actually interested in learning about.

4. Private Parts by Jamie Laing and Frances Boulle. These guys are off one of my favourite shows, Made in Chelsea so it was a given that I was going to like this. Each episodes discussed what Jamie has written in his diary. It’s laugh out loud funny.

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Hanoi

Goooooood morning Vietnam. I’ve wanted to do that since I knew I was coming here. Creds to Robin Williams.

So I’ve started my Vietnam journey in Hanoi. It was a hell of shock stepping off the bus and figuring out how on earth you cross the road whilst a million motorcycles scoot past you.

One you have the road crossing down to a tea then everything else is easy.

DAY 1: arriving fairly late afternoon I didn’t take on too much. Mainly just strolling and absorbing the lively atmosphere and the surroundings. Obviously I went for dinner and had the most delicious vegetable pho noddles with a local beer and finished off with a Nutella crepe. I really liked how at night time the locals would come out and eat their dinner on the footpaths with their families and watch the world go by. Shops would be bustling and road side restaurants packed.

DAY 2: After a delicious breakfast at the hostel we set out to go to the Vietnam Museum of History. It was super cheap to go in and very interesting. A worthwhile thing to pay for.

After soaking up sufficient historical knowledge we meandered along to the French quarter which was lovely. The buildings looked incredibly French and this area was situated near a large lake, a nice refuge in the middle of such a busy city.

We booked onto a Halong Bay tour for the following day. And then continued our walk back toward the Old Town towards the Dong Xuân Market. If you ever decide to go to this market just prepare yourself. It was crazy. The stalls were inches away from one another, people were shouting, there was so much to look at and take in that it was overwhelming, people were pushing and the sellers do not budge on price. It was an interesting place to see but it was too much for me.

After the market chaos we found somewhere quiet to sit and eat. I had Pho again because I love it.

After a very late lunch we decided to keep on wandering. We have an app called Maps Me which allows you to download the city map onto your phone so then when you are out you can use the map without WiFi or data. One of the best apps I’ve ever used. We looked in loads of shops which sold some funky clothes and we ended up buying a sarong/scarf thing for about £2.

After spending some time chilling in the hostel and packing for tomorrow we headed to the rooftop bar with our free beer tokens.

Whilst in Hanoi I tried one the Vietnamese egg coffees which was surprisingly nice although very sweet. The egg white is mixed with sugar and a tiny bit of the yolk and then added to the coffee, this creates a foamy texture. The coffee is actually really good but I couldn’t have it often.

I really liked Hanoi, the locals were friendly, food was amazing and the atmosphere was nice. A really great place to start our Vietnam journey.

Hong Kong

One of the places I was most excited for on my travels was Hong Kong. Finally two weeks in, we arrived.

I don’t know what I was expecting but it was waaaaaay busier than I could have even imagined. During the day wasn’t so bad but in the evenings it was crazy. I did like how at night everything seemed to come alive, the street markets opened, locals hit the streets looking for food and music was playing.

I liked Hong Kong for these reasons:

1. Friendly locals

2. Delicious and interesting food

3. Brilliant architecture

4. Not full of British tourists

5. The fashion

Let me expand.

Firstly the locals are super friendly, if you have any issues they will help you as much as they can.

Secondly the food is amazing. There is loads and loads of street food which way more reasonably priced than the restaurants. My only trouble was that veggie food was very difficult to come by, be prepared for either one or two choices in the places that offer veggie food. There are veggie restaurants however you’ll be paying about $130 rather than $30.

Thirdly the building are really cool. The architecture is right up my street with super tall new buildings mixed in with older buildings with more character.

My favourite things is going places where it isn’t full of British people. I like being submerged into a culture where I can hear the language and eat the local food without hearing English voices. And Hong Kong provided that experience exceptionally.

The locals sported some fantastic fashion. Everyone (somehow) wore completely different outfits which were all super stylish yet really out there. I had fashion envy the entire time.

So what did I do?

Hong Kong is unbearably hot and mixed with the humidity it feels like you cannot breathe properly. We walked a lot around the streets soaking in the atmosphere whilst also trying not to get lost in the crowds.

We ate a lot of weird and wonderful food including strawberry crisps, dim sum, rice and eggplant and noodles, filled rolls and pretzels.

We attended a bun festival on Cheung Chau island. We saw the big Buddha on Lantau island. We went to an acrobatics show. We went to Victoria peak (not worth the money). We went on the star ferry. We sat in a park. We went to a night market. We went to a couple of temples. We spent an hour trying to find somewhere with veggie food. We ate two McFlurrys to try to cool down. We were asked to be in photos. We filled out a questionnaire and won a $20 cake voucher. All in two days before it was time to move on.

Hong Kong it has been an absolute pleasure. You exceeded my exceptions and I will be coming back. But definitely not during the summer. Can’t deal with that humidity.

Johannesburg

Ah Joburg, where do you even start with this city. Firstly the regeneration project is incredible. The road that our hostel (Curiocity backpackers) was on had been rejuvenated in an amazing way, it felt like I was in Shoreditch in London. So many cool eating places, cafes, street art and people wandering around even at nighttime, probably due to the 24 hour security guards stationed at every street corner.

Walk either side of this street and you are taken to a completely different world. A world where violent crime, homelessness and dodgy streets surround you. The hostel advised us to stay on the road that it was on because the rest were too dangerous. This was so sad to me because firstly even locals are targeted as well as tourists and secondly because it is so dangerous that you can’t even explore the city, even though the city looks like it has so much to offer. I think that you could probably walk around if you wanted however I personally did not feel safe doing so particularly because if you asked the locals which streets were safe they would answer “only this one”.

We became regulars at a cafe on this street and went multiple times during the day but the food was just too good to be true. I would really recommend trying to go to the Art on Main because it’s got some really interesting shops in there including the ‘I was shot in Joburg’ exhibition which is photos taken by street children on disposable cameras and the pictures are very insightful.

We were only in Joburg for basically one full day where we decided to go to the Constitution Hill prison. It was a really good day out and really interesting. Another good thing about it is because the prison is so high up you are able to get incredible views of the city, particularly of the areas which are no go areas for tourists including Hillbrow.

The hostel we stayed at was very good. The location was excellent as the immediate area was fairly safe. There was also a lot of amenities nearby. The hostel arranged many different tours in and out of the city as well as bike hire and airport transfers.

The locals were so friendly and the people we met had incredible stories to tell. I would love to revisit this city in maybe 20 years to see how the rejuvenation of the city has progressed. It seems like the city is moving in positive directions and hopefully this can continue.

Durban

I think this was my favourite place I visited in South Africa. There was a strong arty vibe which overpowered the dodgy crime ridden reputation that the city possesses. We only had one full day in the city which was a shame.

One of my favourite things about the city was the incredibly cool architecture. Durban is an ugly city but it you can look past that, the mismatch of ugly buildings just works.

Unfortunately we were only here for one full day so couldn’t explore too much of the city. We stayed at Curiocity backpackers which although expensive offers a lot to travellers in terms of food, activities and most importantly it feels safe. The rooms are very spacious all surrounding an open air courtyard with fairy lights, chairs and tables.

Durban has a large Indian population due to the immigration of Indian workers to the mines and sugar plantations from 1860. We decided to visit the Juma Mosque which is the biggest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere. It was actually closed so we saw the outside then went to the Victoria Street Market. The market was quite cool with lots of traditional items as well as spice stalls. We met a man who actually owned the spice stall, he was telling us about the city and how the city has so much to offer however due to the crime and violence you can’t do anything anymore. He seemed so sad when he was telling us his tale which was quite heartbreaking as he clearly was just at a loss of what his city had become.

After walking back to the hostel we decided to grab a coffee down by the beach. The beach front was quite nice with loads and loads of surfers. Caroline and I sat and just watched these surfers for hours, turns out there was a big surf competition in a couple of days. Surfing is such a cool sport and so I’ve added ‘learning to surf’ to my bucket list. Eventually the rain came so we had to make a dash back to the hostel.

In the evening we just chilled. After dark outside is a no go. So we sat in the living area, listening to noughtys RnB and reggae and ordered a curry.

Durban, I will be back.

Cintsa

If you want to chill, Cintsa is highly recommended. I stayed at Bohemian backpackers hostel which had numerous activities including surfing, helping at a soup kitchen, free volleyball and wine everyday day and BBQs. Or if you didn’t want to do anything there was loads of places that you could sit and relax.

The beaches were beautiful, teeming with surfers and dogs running wild. Since my volunteering program I have become a naturally early riser, 6am and my eyes will ping open ready for the day ahead. This has its advantages as I was able to watch the sunsets on our balcony which were absolutely stunning.

We really just came to Cintsa for a bit of respite, to catch up on sleep and have time at the beach. The weather wasn’t too great so beach time was limited to the first day.

One of the gems we found here was at the top of the road, about twenty minutes walk from the hostel. It was called Tea in the Trees and it’s probably THE cutest coffee shop I’ve ever been to. It had loads of yummy cakes and drinks in a large thatched hut surrounded by trees. The place had loads of friendly dogs who wanted cuddles so that had me sold before I had even tried my brownie or lemon tea (but I can confirm both were delicious).

On the way from Cintsa to Durban I had one experience I will never forget. After feeling rather peckish I decided a Debonaires pizza was in order and although this was not in my budget I thought it was well worth it.

So I took this unreal smelling vegetarian pizza back onto the bus and bit into it before realising that there was chicken on it. This was absolutely devastating for me and genuinely thought I was going to be sick. I suppose that was karma for my greediness. I’ve learnt my lesson.

Port Elizabeth

I just want to start by saying that my experience with Port Elizabeth was so mixed. On one hand the activities that Caroline and I did were great but I wasn’t keen on the vibe there and also I was accosted at an ATM so it did put a downer on this city for me. On the positive side I suppose it showed me to be more vigilant.

DAY ONE: St George’s Park and Richmond Hill

We couldn’t find much that we wanted to do in Port Elizabeth. It was a nice day so we packed a picnic and sat in St George’s Park in front of the Victorian Glasshouse. We chilled here for most of the day, reading, sunbathing, listening to podcasts, editing the vlogs from the previous cities and eating. Port Elizabeth is an incredibly windy city as we had been told but I wasn’t expecting exactly how windy.

We left once all the food was eaten in search of a loo. Luckily we stumbled across an art gallery just beside the park and we went into the Nelson Mandela exhibition which turned out to be very informative so thank goodness we needed to pee.

We then walked to an area called Richmond Hill which is meant to be ‘hip’ with loads of cool eating places.

We base our travels around food basically so we had already looked up all of the menus and decided where we wanted to go. The area was quite cool, it reminded me of suburban east coast America slightly. We went to a restaurant called Muse which was on a new level of deliciousness. I had the lentil meatball pizza washed down with a glass of Merlot. And for desert we shared a brownie. I think my favourite eating place that we visited in South Africa.

DAY TWO: Addo Elephant Park

This was a day of fulfilled dreams and saddening despair. We hired a car and drove to the Addo elephant park which took us about half an hour to get to. We saw so many animals including warthogs, zebras, an array of birds, many deer like animals, buffalo and the star of the show was the elephant.

Elephants have always been my favourite animals, joint with dogs of course. Seeing them in their natural habit was something I’d only ever dreamt about and it was such a magical experience. I honestly could have watched them for days.

The elephants were showering each other, playing, bathing and cuddling. Such sociable, caring animals and it’s made me love them so much more.

After we reached Port Elizabeth on the way home I stopped at the petrol garage to fill up. The card machine was broken so I had to get out the car to get to the ATM and which point I was followed. After putting my card in a man started pressing buttons and pushing me out of the way. I was frantically pressing cancel on the machine because I didn’t know what he had done and so I think because there was so many buttons being pressed the machine swallowed my card. The man ran off and then I was left unable to lay my petrol bill and so had to reason with the staff to let me go back to drop the car back and then come pay the bill. Eventually they let me give them the money I had and to come back later to pay the rest. It was just a massive palaver all round. So a bit of a crap ending to a wonderful day.

Port Elizabeth was okay, I didn’t feel like the atmosphere was anything special and didn’t think there was much to do. I don’t think I would go back but I am glad I went.