Reflections on 2 months of travel, and a farewell letter to Joburg

Hello everyone! I haven’t had much time to really focus on the blog. I’m writing from the Slow Lounge at OR Tambo (I wish I could just move in here- I LOVE this place.) Our flight is delayed for an hour and a half- I’m secretly glad because I really wanted to write this post while still in JHB.

Even though it’s only been 3 months since I left work, I feel like I’m a different person already. When I was at work, I was so focused on money. I would constantly think about how much money I had, how much I was spending, and ways to build up wealth. I had a lifestyle in line with my salary, with debit orders to pay and things I “needed” to buy, so I was somewhat trapped by my job. I hadn’t been happy at work for at least a year, not because the job sucked (in fact, it was a really nice job with really nice people), but because, as I’ve come to realise, I am not wired for an office job. My heart and my soul need to be outside, in the sunshine, driving or walking around, eating and chatting to people. I’m a free spirit and being forced to be in an office all day was killing me.

However, I couldn’t leave because I needed the salary.

Or at least I thought I did.

Over the past few months, I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve heard people tell me “you’re so lucky”, or “I wish I was you”. I’d always respond: “you can be me, just sell everything you own and do what you really want to do”. I know this isn’t for everyone though, some people need security and instability freaks them out. Others thrive on the idea of an adventure and feel stifled being in one place. The point I’m trying to make is: if you want a life different to your current life you need to create it.

You can create it.

Don’t ever force yourself to work because of a salary you need because of a  lifestyle you have created. Just as you created these expenses, you can make them go away. You may have money, but it is pointless having money and being unhappy everyday.


Life is about waking up in the morning and being happy and excited for what that day holds. Otherwise, what is the point? I can honestly say that despite not having a salary, over the past 2 months I’ve been the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. Not superficial happiness from a new handbag or a fancy meal, that dissipates in hours until my next splurge, but real happiness, from the position my life is in and the way I feel. I can make money from freelance writing, but I have no desire to earn more than what I need for my living expenses, which are basically just food, petrol and soon, rent.

I almost feel like this MBA is unnecessary, like I could have left work a year ago and just started up some projects in JHB or I could have moved overseas anyway, and I would have figured a career out. However, I am a bit of a nerd like that and I actually like studying, it makes me feel productive. There’s only so much schmoozing, lounging, travelling and writing I can do before my brain feels like it’s dying. What I hope to get from the MBA is solid business knowledge, and then after I’d love to open up and run my own boutique hotel with a really fantastic restaurant. I think I’ve stayed in enough hotels to know what works, and that would allow me to use my love of travel, meeting new people, and finance/ business all in one job.

For a long time I felt that because I studied a certain degree, I needed to use that degree and work in that field. I’ve now learnt that again, that’s just a trap that I  was imposing on myself. Nothing is a waste, everything you do adds to your experience as a professional so I’ve let go of that now.


I’ve had mixed feelings about leaving Joburg.

I had a few days of depression where I kept wondering why I’m doing this. I have so much in Joburg, and South Africa, an amazing set of friends and family who I see often, chat to even more, and who are a HUGE part of my life. Long distance friendships really aren’t the same. I felt like I was letting go of so much, and for what?

I’m not too phased about letting go of my Jozi- based writing because I feel like I’ve exhausted the city 🙂 I’ve eaten everywhere from Roodepoort to Pretoria, reviewing fine dining, street food and everything anyone told me was good. I think it’s time for a new set of bloggers and writers to discover the city in new ways and share it. Over the past 3 years, I’ve loved sharing my version of Jozi with you all, and inspiring you to get to know the city you live in, because it really is amazing.

I’m going to miss the restaurants, mostly. The food in JHB is world class, provided you know where to go. In Singapore, I know I’ll get good noodles, but in Jozi, I can have that plus amazing pizza, burgers, Mexican food, seafood, Asian food and everything in between. I spent countless Friday nights on the sidewalks of 4th Avenue in Parkhurst, had tea at Tasha’s dozens of times, tried every single high tea this city offers, and loved every bit of it.

I love living in a city as diverse and welcoming as Joburg. People are go-getters, we want to be more and do more. There are always new businesses popping up and I loved being part of a developing city that is growing so quickly.

I’m going to miss the Highveld sunsets that made my drives home in traffic that much bearable.

I’ll miss how affordable everything is- from a movie to a cappuccino, I’m going to have to think twice before buying pretty much anything from now on.

I’ll miss the convenience of having a car that doubles as a bakkie when I need it to 🙂

I’ll miss our amazing weather which is probably the best in the world. Singapore humidity is going to kill me, my hair and my makeup.

As much as I’m feeling sad about leaving because of all these reasons, I’m in no way making the decision not to return. I think SA is prime breeding ground for budding entrepreneurs, and I’d love to make a difference in a positive way to the country that made me who I am. I’m quite partial to the idea of living in a few different places all over the world for a few years at a time, and then returning to SA when I’m “older”.

So here’s to the next 10 months, which will no doubt be gruelling, and to a brand new life once I’m done.

Have you wrestled with a similar tough decision? Let me know!

xxx H