Quick Update: Camp and New York City

Hello everybody,

I hope you are enjoying your summer at the moment and that the weather is good. In Long Island the weather great, even though it gets quite humid here and we sometimes have a 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) which is a lot when you are running around the whole day and do activities with the kids.

My third week in the United States has just begun (this blogpost will probably be published a bit later) and it is great so far. We had orientation for one week and the campers arrived the second week. We are a small camp in comparison to other camps in the United States, some of them have up to 7000 campers each summer. During orientation we prepared everything for the campers, for example we planned activities, games and different sessions, but we also had First Aid and CPR lessons. Additionally, we talked a lot about child behaviour and how to cope with difficulty situations, trust me – there will be difficult situations. It might depend in what kind of camp you are, just be prepared.

However, I can already tell that working with kids is an amazingly rewarding experience. One moment you think you are too strict and then suddenly they hug you, or draw you something and tell you that you are their favourite councellor. At the moment I feel like I am in a bubble because I don’t really feel like I am on earth right now. I am somewhere else, a save place that only exists to create great summer memories. It is amazing.

Yes, I am also exhausted sometimes. Coping with difficulties is sometimes really hard and sometimes I worry that I am not good enough for this job. But this is fortunately not often the case and when it happens I try to turn my thoughts on standby and focus on the kids, I am responsible and I want them to have a great time. Camp is about the campers, they are the most important piece in this great puzzle and it’s amazing to see how they change during that time. Kids who are bullied in school suddenly smile and laugh a lot. Introverted children suddenly become the loudest. It is a great community and I get up every morning with a smile on my face and am excited for the new day.

However, we also have off weekends when one sessions ends and the other is about to begin. On those weekends people go visit other places, which we did on our first day off. We took a train to Penn Station in the middle of Manhattan and spend our day in NYC. I know it sounds so stupid but it felt like coming home. There is no city like New York City. People from all around the world walk on these streets, it is always busy and overwhelming. This day we ran around a lot and visited some tourist attractions and even went to a thrift store in Soho. It was great! We don’t really have nice thrift stores in my town but the ones I visited in Amsterdam, London and NYC were amazing! Our day off was nice 😊

However, something happened: my camera broke. After six years of picture taking, something in the body is not working, and nobody can tell me what it is. I will have to wait till I’m home and figure something out for my time in the states. It’s sad but it can happen. We will see…

Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy my NYC iPhone pictures 😊

Have a good week!

Sophie

Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island is a beautiful island next to Townsville in Queensland, Australia.
You need to take a ferry in order to visit „Maggie“ and they have busses on the island which means you can get from A to B quite easily.
The island’s actual name is Yunbenun but when James Cook explored Australia, his compass didn’t work properly and that’s why he called it „Magnetic Island“, or „Maggie“. The reason we wanted to go to Magnetic Island is, apart from the beautiful national park, the Bungalow Bay Koala Village.

This is a Koala Sanctuary where you can meet Koalas and other animals like big lizards, crocs and even snakes and wombats. I am still not sure if I really like the idea of carrying a Koala or a snake (animal rights -wise) but they follow a set of regulations in order to protect the animals. All in all, it was a great experience and Koalas really smell like eucalyptus!!!

Maggie also has many beautiful beaches and snorkeling routes. Make sure to feed the Rock Wallabies in the evening near Geoffrey Bay. You can get appropriate Wallaby food at your hostel and spend your evening with these cute creatures!

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Thanks for reading, have a great week!

xx, Sophie

Bangkok, Thailand – experiencing a contrast

Bangkok, the capital of beautiful Thailand in the northern part of the country with 8.281 million residents (wikipedia). But can you imagine this city to be an empty, silent ghost town? I couldn’t, but I’ve experienced it.

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We left Bali on Wednesday the 25th of October 2017 and took a plane to Bangkok. At the airport in Denpasar I had my first Mac’n’Cheese and it was delicious, even though the idea of cooking pasta in milk and cheese does not flatter me.
After having arrived quite late in Thailand, we took a taxi to our hostel for 450 Bath.
The hostel was quite nice but the air in the dorms was not fresh at all but we didn’t care – it’s only a hostel and we were so excited to be in Bangkok!

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The next morning we decided to walk around and get some water and were really confused since the streets reminded us of a ghost town. We always expected BKK to be a bubbly and active city with lots of traffic jams, millions of people running around and street food everywhere. It was the opposite: no people on the streets, no cars, all Thai people dressed in black.
We went back to the hostel and the scells fell from our eyes: it was the anniversary of the death of the beloved King Bhumibol and the day of his funeral.
Walking around, a police officer even yelled at me because I took pictures of the streets… well I get it, it was a bit rude…

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However, we talked to a travel office and booked some flights and a night train to Chiang Mai. The next day we were supposed to leave in the evening and spend the day in the mall. The Siam malls are a big mall complex with different buildings and stores, those malls are amazing! There are so many different shops and all kinds of food – we had lunch at a backery 😄
We later went to the Lumphini Park, a big park in the heart of BKK were many people do sports during the day. The park itself was really beautiful, but again, no people around. Only a turtle on the pedestrian walk and monitor lizards in the pond instead of ducks.
In the evening we were happy to be able to finally take the night train to Chiang Mai, it felt inappropriate to be in a city where everyone grieved for a good king.

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– Three weeks later –

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The Grand Palace

At the end of our travels in Thailand, we returned to Bangkok in order to spend another day in the city and then fly to Australia. This time we booked a very cheap hostel at Khaosan Road, well it was the worst we had (besides the 16 bed dorm in Brisbane). But we weren’t surprised, I mean we paid 3,50€ per night which is cheaper than buying one kilogram of apples in Australia.

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Khaosan Road is an amazing street – very busy, many people, a lot of delicious street food stands and loads of cars and taxis driving around the neighborhood.
By the way, here are two tips for your BKK experience:

  • Someone told me that it is more secure to buy street food from women rather than from men. Women usually care more for hygiene which means that you can reduce the risk of getting sick
  • If you want to cross one of the busy roads in BKK, wait for a native to cross the street and simply follow him/her
  • If you want to take a taxi with a taximeter, make sure that you track where the driver is taking you because they often take a longer way round which will lead to higher costs for you. Also make sure to negotiate a fixed price when taking a Tuk Tuk or a usual taxi. Basically, everything under 100 Bath is totally fine.

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We spend the last 36 hours in Thailand exploring the (now bubbly) city and went to the Grand Palace and took a Tuk Tuk. Unfortunately, we failed to visit other temples, since I fell asleep in the taxi and the driver drove us to the other side of the city and there was no time left to visit Wat Pho 😐
The day we left Thailand was a total mess, we had booked a transfer to the wrong airport and consequently had to take a very slow bus to the other airport… nevertheless, we made it 😊!

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Hope you enjoyed reading!

Have a good day!
xx

Yee Peng Festival #1

It’s the second of November 2017, we are in Chiang Mai and excited for the annual Yee Peng (or Yi Peng) and Loy Krathong Festival. We met a Scottish and an American guy in our hostel (Gonkaew Hostel Chiang Mai, very nice place with free tea, coffee and toast the whole day, they even have free breakfast) and spent the day with them.

During Loy Krathong, people build small floating boats and release them on the river. I even made one myself in our hostel, they taught us how to build these little boats out of a trunk of a banana tree, banana leafs, flowers, joss sticks and candles. The women at our hostel told me that adding a hair to your boat is supposed to save you from bad luck.

Yee Peng is the famous lantern festival where thousands of people release floating lanterns into the night sky. It is magical! There are actually two different „kinds“ of Lantern Festivals, one is celebrated in the city and the other one is at Mae Jo University.
The second one is especially for tourists they told me and it costs about 80-100$. The festival we attended in the city, was completely free (besides the lanterns of course).

We went to a ceremony with lots of lanterns in the city and later went to the East Gate of the city, in order to get to the bridge across the river, where most people release their lanterns. It was magical to see all the lights rising into the sky and thousands of people celebrating.
In this post I am sharing with you the pictures I took at our first stop, in the second post, I will finally show you the other pictures I took at the bridge.
Hope you enjoy ♥️

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Chiang Mai by Night

If you plan to travel Thailand, make sure you won’t miss out Chiang Mai in the north of the country. We took a night train from Bangkok for about 10€ which brought us to the beautiful city. The night train was more comfortable than expected and to be honest, a very cool experience. We booked the train a day in advance in our hostel and it was so easy to take the train.

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We arrived in Chiang Mai at around eight in the morning and took a red cab to our hostel. Travelling in Thailand was quite easy to be honest, there are always tourist offices and people in the hostels who will love to help you with your planning. Additionally, it is very cheap! Just make sure to compare the prices and don’t forget to negotiate a bit!
Our hostel was the „Eco Resort“ which was really beautiful.
However, there were almost no other guests and it was quite a ghost town.
The people weren’t really nice, since they accused us of towel stealing which was really unkind. My friend forgot her towel in the bath room and didn’t bring it back to the room. Consequently, they found only one towel in the room and thought that my friend’s white hoodie was missing towel and asked her to show it to them. I was so annoyed. They finally found the towel in the laundry but didn’t even apologise for the circumstances.

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„Downtown Chiang Mai“ is surrounded by a „creek“ which forms a square.
Inside of this square, you can easily get from one temple to another by foot, if you plan to visit Doi Suthep you need to take a cab.
There are different night markets, almost every evening – every night, another spot.
We visited one of these markets and were really impressed. There was such a big variety of fresh cooked foods. Thai food, vegetarian food, desert, fruits and smoothies. We totally fell in love with the Thai version of Crêpes with Mango!
After we had dinner, we had a look at all the different stands and bought lots of souvenirs.
They had everything one could wish for: sarongs, customised leather bracelets, platesand bowls, clothes, art, bags and more – I bought a petite wallet for only 10 Bath (≈0,25€).

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After having filled our bags with gifts for family and friends we discovered some beautiful temples and attended a ceremony in memory of the former King Bhumibol Adulyadej who died in October 2016, it was beautiful!
Looking back, I totally fell in love with this magic, bubbly city!

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I hope you enjoyed reading this, have a good week!

xx, Sophie

San Francisco 1995

If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you’re going to San Francisco
You’re gonna meet some gentle people there

San Francisco, Scott McKenzie

I am not very good with words and writing at the moment, so I am sharing my Mum’s old San Francisco photographs with you today. I would love to go to San Francisco, wearing some flowers in my hair…

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Sendepause, Jubiläum und fünf Tage in Sydney

Guten Morgen Ihr Lieben,

ich bin heute Morgen um fünf Uhr aufgestanden, einfach so weil Morgenstund‘ hat ja Gold im Mund. Oder auch „Der frühe Vogel fängt den Wurm“… meine ich mal gehört zu haben. Das Projekt, um fünf Uhr morgens aufzustehen, gehört zu meinem „Changing my Life“ Projekt, welches ich gerade gestern gestartet habe.
Etwas ironisch oder? Ich glaube sein Leben verändern ist heutzutage ein Trend, genau so wie jeden Tag grüne Smoothies zu trinken, Instagram zu seinem Tagebuch zu machen und Reisen zum Inhalt seines Lebens.
No offense, ich finde mich ja selbst darin wieder. Wie auch immer, ich werde in Zukunft sicherlich über diese -um fünf Uhr morgens aufstehen- Tortur schreiben und darüber, wie sich jetzt alles in meinem Leben zum positiven wendet (okay das hört sich gerade sehr sehr deprimierend an, vielleicht eher „noch mehr zum positiven“…).

Spaß bei Seite. Ich bin nun seit fast zehn Wochen wieder Zuhause, das ist fast schon die Hälfte der Zeit die ich weg war – schon ziemlich traurig.
Seitdem habe ich mir einen Job gesucht, wieder angefangen zu Tanzen, meine Ballett Stange repariert und mir 120cm breite Spiegel ins Zimmer gehängt, acht Bücher gelesen und das Reisen sehr vermisst. Auf der anderen Seite habe ich bemerkt, wie sehr ich mein „Zuhause“ zu schätzen gelernt habe und wie wichtig es für mich geworden ist, einen place to be zu haben.

Arbeiten ist anstrengender Reisen und meiner Meinung nach auch anstrengender als Schule, was vielleicht auch einfach daran liegt, dass ich nicht für die Gastronomie gemacht bin. Sophie arbeitet jetzt nämlich im Bio Gewerbe und das nicht wenige Stunden die Woche.
Daher fehlte es mir die letzten Tage, oder auch Wochen, oft an Kraft und Motivation mich hinzusetzen und etwas zu schreiben.
Die Motivation und die Ideen kommen zwar wieder, aber wie einige vielleicht beim Lesen bemerkt haben, schreibe ich gerade auf Deutsch und nicht wie sonst, auf Englisch.
Immerhin möchte ich auch nicht meinen Blog gerade nachdem er ein Jahr alt geworden ist (jaa, am 28. März hatte Aperture & Wanderlust Geburtstag) schon wieder hängen lassen.
Außerdem erstaunt es mich immer wieder, dass es tatsächlich so viele liebe Menschen im Internet gibt, die mein Gedanken- und Reisewirrwarr doch tatsächlich lesen mögen. Für manche mag es natürlich nicht viel sein, aber ich bin sehr glücklich und dankbar für die positive Resonanz die mich im letzten Jahr erreicht hat.

Passend zum Thema beendete Reise, hier ein paar Fotos aus Sydney, unsem letzter Stopp in Australien. Sydney hat mir wirklich sehr gut gefallen, unser Hostel war super schön, günstig- und es gab sogar Frühstück.
Zwar gab es verschiedene Zimmer Kategorien und nachdem wir in zwei schönen Zimmern geschlafen haben, landeten wir in einem acht-Bett Zimmer.
In jenem wachte ich eines Morgens auf und musste eine platt gelegene Kakerlake auf meiner Matratze finden. Doch Gott sei Dank war ich nach fast fünf Monaten relativ abgehärtet was sowas angeht und bekam keinen Schreianfall oder ähnliches.
Außerdem war es ja nicht ich, die von einem Riesen im Schlaf zerquetscht wurde…trotzdem nicht sehr appetitlich.

Sydney an sich ist eine sehr schöne und aktive Stadt, wir konnten viele Ziele zu Fuß erreichen, oder auch mit Bus und Bahn. Infrastrukturell ist Sydney meiner Meinung nach auch sehr gut ausgerüstet und man kommt schnell von A nach B.
An sich reichen auch drei Tage in der Hafenstadt, denke ich, durchaus aus.
Immerhin gibt es auch nicht unendlich viel zu sehen.
Ein Muss für mich als Ballettliebhaberin war natürlich das Amateur Tanz Foto vor dem Opera House!

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Danke fürs Lesen und HAVE A GOOD WEEK ♥️!

Sophie