Announcement: This is A Quarter Life Crisis. Mind the Gap.

Growing up happens all of a sudden. I mean, gradually we’re all getting older and taking on new challenges like paying taxes and voluntarily taking ourselves to the dentist. Those things are easy. But one day something happens, and suddenly you realise this isn’t a game anymore. Shit gets real.

For me, that something was retrenchment.

I have been retrenched.

v. re·trenched, re·trench·ing, re·trench·es. 

1. To cut down; reduce. 2. To remove, delete, or omit. 

Surprisingly, I am not particularly upset about it. This final decision has come after a long (nearly) six months of uncertainty and instability and I made a personal decision several weeks ago that this is all one big, fat sign from the universe that I am too young to grow up.

I am twenty five. Unmarried. Unattached. Childless. Bondless. Educated. Free. I never took a gap year after school, I have never done anything crazy. I have a deep fear of sitting around a dinner table in my fifties and having no stories to tell, no mad tales of adventure and pure reckless irresponsibility. Cape Town is my soul city, my heart beats wilder when I climb Lions Head or take a stroll along the prom. This will be my home always and I don’t want to resent that one day. I never want to feel trapped by this city and this country, which I love so passionately.

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Cape Town, by Anna Simmons.

So, I’m off! I’m off to explore the world, to learn about other cultures and other people. I want to open my eyes and my mind and I want to grow myself as a human being. I am hoping for a lot from this trip. I am hoping to get a whole new perspective on my life and on the world, and I’m hoping to come home a different (and better) person. Hopefully with some major life decisions made, such as what the hell I’m going to do with the rest of my earning years.

My tickets are booked, I’ve had the vaccinations and researched my visa requirements. I have a pair of good hiking boots and my dad’s old backpack. I’ve downloaded ten books to my Kindle app and forced myself not to start reading any of them. I’ve given notice to my medical aid and to my gym. I’ve wrapped up my life.

My Great Big Adventure begins on 12 July 2014 in Singapore.  From there I travel by train and bus through Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal and India.

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Oh, India. Where this all started and therefore how fitting that it should end there too. My flight home from Mumbai is booked for December, but it’s not set in stone. I may sidetrack to New Zealand. I may push my flight out and try to squeeze a bit more out of my budget. I don’t know yet. I have no idea what’s going to happen along the way or when I get back and that is both terrifying and utterly exhilarating.

Watch this space.

 

Six Things I Did in London

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Having been to London few times, I didn’t feel the need to hit the touristy things again. I like Buckingham Palace as much as the next person but trying to get a reaction out of a guard gets old after a while. I only had four days and I wanted to make the most of it, to see friends and to get to know the London of Londoners.

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Austrian Cuisine: Guten Appetit!

“Oh my God, how was it?” is the phrase put to me most often today. I have just arrived home from a quick ten-day trip to Europa, to celebrate the momentous occasion of my Opa’s 85th birthday in Austria. My father hails from a small (ish), rural (ish) town called Dornbirn in the East of Austria. From the balcony of my grandparents’ home we look over the Swiss mountains and the Bodensee, which separates Germany from Austria.

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Soul and Surf and the cliffs of Varkala. India, Part Two.

I’ve developed this annoying habit of starting sentences with, “When I was in India.” I can’t help it.

I had zero interest in ever visiting India. You know those movies where the foreigner arrives in India and they’re driving around in a taxi and kids are banging on the windows? Yup, not my scene. So the split second decision to go to India came as a surprise to everyone, especially me. (Twenty-four-hour turnaround between deciding and booking. No jokes.)

I stayed in Varkala, Kerala for two weeks and people keep telling me I didn’t do ‘real’ India. I’m fine with that. ‘Real’ India terrifies the hell out of me, even now still. But at least now I have more of an idea of what to expect and I’ve already planned my next route. So if you’re heading to India for the first time, I highly recommend this little bubble as your first stop. Give you a few days to find your feet, get some tips from the great locals who work there and from other travelers who are passing through.

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Soul and Surf is a beautiful, colonial style house set on the south cliffs of Varkala. The hotel is owned by a lovely young British couple called Ed and Sofie, and run by a large staff of mostly British and Indian kids, who are there to surf and have a good time. My room was mid-range, a “Nice” room and was large and comfortable, with a private bathroom. I didn’t have an air-con and I didn’t need one.The hotel is only open during winter season (From November to May), as summer brings the monsoons. In December the weather was hot and sticky during the day and cool at night.

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My days were leisurely and lazy. We met at 6:15 am at the cafe in the garden for coffee and the tiniest, sweetest bananas imaginable. Then we clambered into the back of the old jeep , which was piled high with surfboards, and took off on the perilous journey to the beach at North Cliff.

I say perilous, because any journey involving Indian drivers can be labelled as perilous. There is a lot of hooting involved and very little observing of road rules.

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The walk from the car park to the beach was the second hardest part of my day. The first hardest part of my day, was the walk back. The boards are big (for beginners) and don’t fit neatly under your arm. It’s nothing like Blue Crush. So you hold your board above your head and when you’ve spent the previous evening in downward dog, your arms start to take strain. A very steep flight of crumbling stairs stands between you and the beach.

But I made it up and down every time. A few hours of surfing, with help from various (hot) surf instructors, before heading back to the hotel for a quick shower and breakfast. A plate of fresh fruit and a lassie of varying flavours, followed by a plate of either Indian curry or British eggs. Sundays is the best banana pancake you could imagine. I have dreams about those pancakes.

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The rest of the day is spent shopping along the cliffs, tanning on the beach and swimming in the sea. All of these are quite exhausting activities. The current in the sea is pretty strong so you get in a good workout and if you’re not careful, tanning on the beach can be interrupted by curious Indian teenagers who have heard that Westerners are easy.

My friend had at least one penis waved in her face.

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Lunch was eaten either at the cafe (they make the most phenomenal cakes, washed down by an icy glass of fresh coconut water – best) or at one of the many restaurants which line North Cliff. The menus are all pretty much the same and the food is excellent.

And so cheap. One dinner involved a seafood platter which included calamari, prawns, grilled fish and tandoori fish. Including drinks, my bill came to 500 Rupees. Which is about R70. We later discovered that the the restaurants in town were much cheaper and had a full, delicious meal for 35 Rupees.

With our Rand, India is a great option. Really.

We spent the afternoons exploring town, having Ayurvedic spa treatments, cooking courses, sari shopping and seeing what Varkala had to offer. The days were ended off with yoga on the roof, while the sun was setting. A quick shower and then off to the Cliffs for dinner and drinks. Drinks which were served in tea cups or with newspaper wrapped around them, because liquor licenses in Varkala are expensive and complicated. So most restaurants don’t bother.

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I highly recommend Soul and Surf. Tucked away from the chaos of town, it was a little sanctuary to escape to.The staff were great and it was a very sociable atmosphere, every night a group of guests met for dinner and I met some really amazing and interesting people.

My one and only regret, is not taking the time to travel further into Kerala. There is so much I want to see and do still. Although, having said that, I probably wouldn’t have felt so refreshed had I spent my two week holiday running around trying to see everything India has to offer. The country is too big and too complicated.

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It was a short trip, only two weeks, but it was a trip that has had a huge impact on me. My perspective on everything has changed, particularly on my future and what I want to do with it.

(For part one, click here).