Hillbrow

A week ago Google SA invited a couple of us on a guided tour of Hillbrow and also as an opportunity to experience Google Photos, which was launched in 2015. Google Photos basically gives you unlimited backup of your photos and videos, and one of the features is that it also arranges the pics by place, date, even by things. Once your photos are backed up you can also search by say, “food” and it will bring up all the pictures of food in your library, it’s actually amazing. I wonder how they do this though because it happens without you even tagging the pics with any sort of description. Technology neh!

Google Photos Hillbrow

Free unlimited storage space for my high quality pics and videos, Yay, I don’t even care what Google is getting in exchange. Probably more of my data but they already know everything there is to know about me at this point, I’m just happy that I don’t have to pay for more icloud space, plus my dropbox space is also full and now they want me to buy.. huuu shem. This is important when you’re a hoarder like me, I currently have over 10 000 pictures on my phone. Most are backed up on a hard drive but I still can’t bring myself to delete them but perhaps having them on this Google Photos app will get me there, we’ll see….

Back to the amazing Hillbrow tour.

The tour started at the Google offices in Bryanston and yhooo the offices are everything you’ve heard about “Google offices”, I actually feel like I need to got back for a tour *hint hint* so I can show you guys what it looks like. So, we had breakfast then it was time to head out to Hillbrow where we were met by our guide Franck from Dlala Nje at Ponte.

Dlala Nje‘s inner city adventures are all about getting the visitor to experience the inner city first hand, dispel whatever myths preconceived thoughts you have about Hillbrow, Berea and surrounds. This tour was definitely an eye opener for us.

Ponte CIty Google Hillbrow

It was quite a thing to be up close and personal with the famous Ponte City building and an even bigger thrill to be inside and see how people live in there. The security is crazy. You leave your ID copy at the security and no visitors are allowed before 9am and after 9pm. If tenants break this rule, there is a fine to pay.

What I wasn’t ready for, however, is how amazing the apartments are!!

Hillbrow Google Photos

This particular apartment we went into is not “furnished” because no one lives there, Dlala Nje uses it to show their visitors what they look like. I took the following pic while looking out from that window…

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Pretty cool huh! Would you not like to have this view when you have your morning coffee?? Oh man! It is really breathtaking and he kept telling us where sandton/rosebank/etc was but I couldn’t see anything further than than Telkom tower heheh.

Google Photos Hillbrow

Depending on the size of the apartment, there are rules regarding how many people are allowed to live in there, and access is controlled by biometrics.

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Beautiful right? The building was refurbished recently by the owners, Kempston Group, and this was completed in 2012. According to our guide, the rental for a 2 bedroom apartment is around R4,500 per month, and that’s a bargain, by JHB standards.

Hillbrow Tour Pic

What also fascinated was being able to actually get to down to the core of ponte with all 450 apartments towering over us..

Hillbrow Pic
By Mich Atagana

To be able to stand at the core of Ponte where rubbish used to pile up back when it was a filthy place with drug lords and prostitutes, and see it looking so clean now..

Ponte City Hillbrow

The former “suicide central” has truly transformed.

The building is 173m tall and there are 8 floors of parking, so there is secure parking for residents, you don’t have to worry about parking on the streets if you are considering staying there.

Google PHotos

I took this pic as we left Ponte to start our walk…
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And then we came across this community board (also referred to as Post Office), which left me a little depressed and you’ll see why in the next pics. The board is used for people looking for accommodation and those who want to advertise available accommodation. Job seekers and community employers also use this board to recruit or find work.

Balcony

Living space is so sought after in this area it’s heartbreaking. “Sitting room for a couple at R2 000” and this lady in the middle posting is looking for a lady who will pay to share a bed with her… this is real! in 2016!

Ponte

A Balcony is available for rent here at these flats. Imagine guys, people are renting a balcony so if you drive around Hillbrow and see a mattress on a balcony, there is someone who sleeps there.

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I’m not sure what window space is, but I saw that people also rent out corridors as sleeping places and any type of indoor space is sought after because it beats sleeping under a bridge. That’s reality for so many of our people, yhuuuu. Even worse are the hijacked buildings (which were highlighted in the local movie Jerusalema) and the conditions in which our people live.

The story of HIllbrow is so rich and interesting, it is also continually changing as the community tries to make it a safe place to live in. They live as a community, they look out for one another and what that means of course, is that street justice is also high so if you hear someone shout ” vimba”, you know it’s on!

The area is still very much crowded so the most common type of crime at this point is pickpocketing therefore if you do decide to go and take a walk around keep your belongings out of sight and stay alert.

Hillbrow Tours

We had a long, interesting and informative day and what better way to end it than with a late lunch at one of the local spots! Sonnyboy’s tavern was the place of choice.

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I don’t know if it’s because I was super hungry by the time we got there but that was the yummiest “plate” I’d had in a long time. And as you can see, some were “washing” it down with iNgud heheh. Fun times! Really glad I got to experience this.

If you’d like to take one of these tours, you can contact Dlala Nje HERE. They offer different types of tours, you can even do a night one where you get to experience the Hillbrow night life. Next time you have out of town visitors and you’re stuck for ideas on what to do, this is pretty cool.

Thanks to Google for the invitation, this was refreshing and I love the animations Google Photos creates 🙂

By LeloB

Travelling Alone to London

I think every woman (and maybe man) has the dream and wish to travel the world with someone, be it a family member or a friend and sometimes lover but it doesn’t always happen that way. Firstly, planning group trips is always a hassle. You start out with 10 members and will end up with 3 or 1 on the trip, OR you just aren’t in a relationship; so chances are, at some point in life, you will need to travel alone.

Travelling Alone

I recently had a work assignment that allowed me to travel to the United Kingdom and boy what an experience that was. It was daunting enough that I was travelling to a foreign continent for the first time, never mind that I was doing it alone but it remains an experience I would not trade for anything else in the world.

I learnt a lot navigating my way around a whole new environment and more importantly, had the chance to explore a world unimagined.

Preparation is key

Like any other location, it is always advised to prepare your routes as much as possible. You will never really follow your itinerary completely but have something to work with. This way, you just ask locals to direct you or help you find what you are looking for. It can easily get daunting to walk around alone too and planning your routes just makes the experience better.

Technology has made life so much easier for us. Download transport apps that will guide you on which routes and modes of transport to are best get to where you want to get to. In England, you will most probably survive using “City Mapper” as well as “Tube Map”. These were my saving grace, I mastered their transport system in a matter of days.

The people are just as amazing. I was never shy to ask for directions or assistance from locals. If you are iffy about speaking to strangers in the street, I would suggest you ask people in safer places such as restaurants and shops.

Travelling Alone

Pack yourself a raincoat or umbrella

I have a friend that recently moved to the UK and in getting ready to leave, she made sure I packed an umbrella. The best thing I ever did. Boy does it rain a lot there. But what I love is that the rain doesn’t stop any of the fun. Europeans are used to the wet weather and for them, it’s still another day to wear flip flops and shorts. I quickly adapted.

Travelling Alone

My #MCM – The selfie stick

I have never appreciated my selfie stick as much as I did in London. I am short and most times, trying to take a picture of myself is tough with the arms that I have. When travelling alone, your selfie stick becomes your companion. If you forget to take one in your suitcase, make sure you buy one on the side.

Travelling Alone

Places to go and people to see

I had awesome colleagues who gave me a heads up about where to go and what to do but I also did the touristy thing and joined the “Hop on, Hop off” bus tours.

The benefit of taking such bus tours is the knowledge and history that comes with each building and site seeing arena. If anything, doing this in London has pushed me to want to take a Johannesburg city bus tour. Living in a city for 26 years can easily make you comfortable and not make the effort to get to know the history behind it.

Travelling Alone

Travelling for work makes it a tad bit more difficult to do a lot of site seeing but I made an effort to visit as many places and do as many fun activities as possible. Here are some of the places I think you should get up and go see while in the UK and luckily, you don’t have to buy any of the tickets in two’s, which is a single traveller blessing (LOL):

  • The Coca-Cola London Eye —> Madame Taussades (Wax crafted celebs)
  • Tower of London —– > Aquarium
  • Walk over Tower Bridge —-> Sea Life Acquarium
  • St Paul’s Cathedral —-> Buckingham Palace
  • Palace of Westminster —-> Oxford Street (wear comfy shoes)
  • Borough Market —–> Piccadilly Circus
  • London Bridge —-> Covent Garden
  • Cruise on River Thames —-> Manchester City (3 hour train)
  • Westminster

Travelling Alone

In part two, I share my experience on the food, the people, culture, shopping and a changed worldview, Brexit!

Travelled alone before? How did that go?

By Keagi

trip

Whenever I see an article that says “Trips to take” or “places to go before you die” or reach a certain age, I’m super quick to click and check because I’m always looking to add on my list of places and trips I have to take at least once.

Last year in August, Travel & Leisure published an article listing 25 destinations HERE but this list must be really great because it keeps getting republished over and over. Here are the trips and my thoughts on each of the destinations:

1. Santorini, Greece

Trips Santorini

I wanna go to this place just to see if it looks this great in real life. The white, blue.. the black sand beaches, is it all real! South Africans need a Visa to travel to Greece and the cheapest fligth (with about 2 stops) will cost you around R11 700.

2. Marrakesh, Morocco

Trip

There’s something exotic and mysterious about Marrakesh but I feel as though I need to have lots of money to go there. Well, the flight will definitely cost a little more as the cheapest flight is around R14 300 if you don’t mind 2 stops just to get to another country on the continent. I don’t understand this, seriously. Oh and we need a visa as well.

3. Galápagos, Ecuador.

I have never heard of this island before and it sounds like it’s for people who love the sea and its animals. I’ll move right along, if that’s you… say hi to my friend “Google” or read about it here.

4. Cape Town

trip

I’m yet to read a travel list that does NOT include the Mother City. Cape Town truly is our price and though I haven’t always been a fan, it’s one of the most beautiful places in South Africa, and of course, the world. If you can’t afford a trip overseas, save for Cape Town, it’s worth it. Plus you don’t need a visa 🙂

5. Provence, France

The list described this by using the words “sleepy”, “fishing” and so I stopped reading.

6. Egypt

trip

I would love to go to Egypt one day but I don’t know if I want to pay for it. I feel as though for me to truly get the most out of it, I must go on a spiritual trip and I do not have a strong desire do that just yet. Have you gone there, maybe to Cairo, just for tourism and to have fun or is it always about spirituality ?

7. Myanmar

trip

Formerly known as Burma, Myanmar is a country in south east asia and apparently only opened its tourism doors in 2011. There could be a lot to still explore about it if this is your vibe but I’d rather go see the Wall of China first. But… am I the only one who gets exhausted just by looking at pics of that long wall? Laziness aside, there’s something about Asia that doesn’t excite me as much..

8. Petra, Jordan

trip

The way I just got thirsty just by looking at this. You can read about Petra here, I’m good.

9. Zambia

Another African country, this is great. And I’m embarrassed to say that I have never been to Zambia, even though it is just a mere 2 hours away from Johannesburg and I do not need a visa to go there.

10. Tokyo

As much as Asia doesn’t excite me, I feel like I need to see Tokyo, perhaps partly because Hong Kong was such a bleh experience and I hope this one will have a different effect on me. I’m such a “connection” person, if it’s not there, I’ve been there good, but I’m done. Kinda like I feel I am with HK. Oh, we do need a Visa to visit Tokyo though it’s only R305 and a flight will cost a minimum of R11 700.

11. Lake Como, Italy

Trip

Oh Jesu! I have to go to this place… #thatisall

The rest of the list includes places such as Montana, Bali, Napa, Istanbul and Ireland. I fell in love with Ireland while watching P.S. I Love You, the Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank movie *hearts* but I think I’d be devastated if I go there and don’t run into Gerard heheh.

You can check out the rest of the list HERE and sorry SA, your Thailand and Mauritius are not on the list tltltltl

What is your “Must Do” place in the world?

Farren Roper

The famous poet Rumi once said “Travel brings power and love back into your life” and I totally live for that quote. One person that I know would also agree with that is my friend and ex-colleague Farren Roper. Farren is a Central Markerting Organisation (CMO) Lead at Microsoft, a qualified Lawyer who is passionate about education and philanthropy.

Here are Farren’s thoughts and tips on travel.

Farren Roper

LeloB: Tell us about your first trip & what about it got you to enjoy traveling?

Farren Roper: New York City was my first. I realized there is a whole other world out there that has got so much more to teach me than what I can learn in Jhb – and teach me things that money can’t buy.

LeloB: How do you decide where to travel next?

Farren: I decide largely based on where I have not been to before, but with over 100 cities traveled across 6 continents, the list is getting smaller! I am also now seeking more of a cultural experience more than the attraction of big lights.

LeloB: Do you budget for travel?

Farren: I budget based on not being less comfortable than I am back home. Sometimes I pre spend money I am expecting hahaha.  I don’t recommend that. The thing with travel is that the return on investment is so high! I would definitely say choose a location that’s central so you don’t spend all your drinking money on taxi’s. Use Uber and AirBnb. I have never had a bad experience with Airbnb but read the reviews before making a decision.

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LeloB: When travelling, what do you spend the most money on? 

Farren: I spend most of my money on going out. I love to eat local food and experience the place through the eyes of the local culture. Air tickets are also becoming expensive with the currency.

LeloB: You mentioned airbnb earlier, how do you decide on where to stay? 

Farren: Location, location, location! Think about where will you spend most of your time and pick a place close by.

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LeloB: Any Do’s and Don’ts you can share with first time travellers?

Farren: Yeah…

  • Do plan ahead especially if in high season.
  • Take a red bus tour when you first arrive to orientate yourself.
  • Get a local simcard as you arrive, keep your roaming off to avoid nasty surprises.
  • Don’t go unprepared.
  • Do some homework (safety, currency, what you want to see) but leave room for spontaneity.
  • Do not leave your passport laying around ever. Keep it locked in a safe.

LeloB: And what do you absolutely have to pack?

Farren: International plug, umbrella, sunscreen. And enough shoes darling!

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LeloB: What has been your best travel destination and why?

Farren: Barcelona, I love the vibe and the food. The people are attractive and the city has so many quirks. A must see!

LeloB: Would love to see it one day. Out of all your travels, what was your worst experience?

Farren: Sao Paulo because I booked a hotel in a bad area. There was a prostitute outside, I heard a gun shot and when I saw the sign in my room that said “If you don’t lock yourself in we take no responsibility for your safety” I checked out immediately.

Farren Roper Travel Madrid

LeloB: Hahahaha wow, I’d leave too. Money being no object, what is the one place you’d love to go to?

Farren: Antarctica. The only content I haven’t been to. It’s beautiful and pristine but they only allow a certain number of people on the ice so the demand and cost is off the charts!

Farren

LeloB: If you could pick anyone in the world to go on that trip with you, who would it be & why

Farren: I would pick someone who loves the cold and the quiet. If you come we could have a blast, otherwise my travel friend Neal Makadooj

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LeloB: I definitely won’t go anywhere cold lol. Thank you Farren for your time.

You can keep up with Farren on Social Media by following @FarrenRoper he’s currently travelling and his pictures are killing me!

man

Being in a relationship is a wonderful feeling. Let’s face it; no one was born to be alone. Hence at the Garden of Eden God decided to give Adam a wife and called her Eve. He knew that a man will never survive on his own.

Sometime ago at a friend’s gathering, we deeply debated about this topic and a few of my friends actually admitted that they had made their former Bae a project and forgot to love them.

Here’s a scenario we discussed.

You meet someone who is a professional, earns a decent salary, and stays at home with mommy or in a backyard room and drives VW Polo. It’s love at first sight. There seems to be a strong connection and he is cute as hell. Just exactly what you needed as you have just broken up 7 months ago with a bae you thought was the one. At the time you meet him; you don’t know anything about his professional/ work status as well as the car he drives.

He asks for your number, you give it to him and he starts texting you all these lovely poetic messages that you have never received in your life. You are smitten every time you receive a text or a phone call from him. You start responding and already you can tell that this one is for you. You go on a first date and he picks you up from your flat somewhere in Fourways to go have lunch together at some fancy restaurant. However, immediately when he pulls up driving VW Polo, you start having thoughts in your head, because you have already pictured him driving a fancier German car. And now you’re disappointed and your face tells it all.

Man

Because he is so sweet, opened the door for you and helped you get out of the car, you are charmed by his mannerism so you go ahead with lunch. He’s the perfect gentleman and you have now forgiven the car that he drives; however you have made a mental note that in a few months the Polo will have to change to an Audi, Mercedes or BMW. Project no 1.

You continue going out on dates and you are enjoying each and every moment you spend with him. After a month or so, he invites you to “his place” for a cosy indoor movie night. The excitement in your face as you were already asking yourself, when is he inviting me to his place and also your friends have been putting pressure on you asking “Kanti, when are you guys, you know….”. He promises to pick you up from your place, you are excited and can’t wait to snuggle and cuddle with pop corns and watch this movie. Mmh. 

So this day he picks you up and while he’s driving you suddenly realise that he’s going towards some “Kasi” in Gauteng. Your heart is pounding and you are hoping that he will say “Babe, we’ll just pass by my parents before we head to my place” but he says nothing. You get to this house and like he always does, opens the door for you and helps you to get out of the car with tender care and you both go inside the house. You are thinking, what the heck? But you’re still afraid to ask.

He continues and you both enter the house and he greets whoever is inside and moves swiftly towards his “room”. You get there. His room is perfectly made up with white linen. You are so nervous; you don’t know what to do with yourself. Oh well you start chatting to him trying to find out if he stays with his parents and so he confirms yes. Now you think “Project No 2:  by the time I’m done with him, he will be having his own apartment”. As the relationship continues you find other projects that you will be working on to get him to your standard.

Fast forward to a year later when your Bae is living in a townhouse and drives an Audi. However, you come to a realisation that you don’t have feelings for Bae, in actual fact you don’t love him but, because you have been so caught up in project managing him, you didn’t see this coming. You actually just loved the idea of project managing him and that’s what kept your adrenalin going.

You project managed him for someone else.

oops man

Ladies, I’m sure we are getting into relationships with adults not children; they know exactly what they need to do with their lives. Let’s not be trapped in this man project management and ignore our feelings along the way. I know some of you will argue that you’re trying to guide him towards doing what he is supposed to be doing and there’s nothing wrong with that. Granted but please not at the expense of your feelings. 

Any of this sound familiar? Ever found yourself project managing bae? Spill the tea, how did that work out for you?  

By Theo 

Menzi Thailand

Thailand while South African

You are South African, most probably daydreaming about your next holiday, but a tad bit worried where to go with your *cough* weak Randelas? You deserve nice things too and Thailand is the answer! Well, if you haven’t been there already.

Menzi Thailand

Let me tell you something, it’s not every day you come across a person who is really interested in knowing more about the destination they are visiting, besides the best restaurants, bars, beaches and shopping spots. Like most travelers, I found myself jetting off to Thailand excited to do and see all these awesome things people rave about. Boy! Did I see and do the most? The place totally lived up to its hype, however, more than just that there were a couple of things that stood out for me and thought I should share.

Respect and Culture

Thailand

South Africans are generally respectful, bless African moms! As we embody respect we typically expect to receive the same respect we give right? Right! I was taken aback in Thailand simply because everyone is so friendly, what’s the catch? I kept asking myself this question. Uhm, well yeah I guess they don’t call this place ‘The Land of Smiles’ for no reason. I was at a clothing shopping and couldn’t help, but wish I could call the shop assistant aside on some ‘is your manager always this friendly or just happy to see my cash?’ The manager went an extra mile to find me the perfect souvenirs; it was genuinely a beautiful sight. Thai people really do make you feel welcome and overall make your visit worthwhile.

You can feel the spirit of togetherness; everyone is made to feel important regardless of their gender. In Thailand you don’t give anyone a pat on the head nor touch their hair, it’s considered disrespectful. You know in South Africa you can touch someone’s hair to see if it’s real or store bought? Don’t do it in Thailand, it is invasive!

Food and Drinks

Menzi Thailand trip

Thailand is one place where you can never go hungry, there’s literally a street vendor in every corner and the food is dirty cheap. You know when you take a stroll in downtown Jozi and there’s a mama selling magwinya, a brother selling gizzards and a baba selling tripe? Bangkok is totally like that! The whole of Bangkok smells like Thai food, here I’m talking about aroma overload. Lemon grass, garlic, coriander, fish sauce? You’ll smell it everywhere; hopefully it doesn’t stick to your clothes (if you are lucky).

If you love spicy food you’ll definitely fall in love with Thai food, beer drinkers are also in for a treat because local beers like Chang and Singha are sold everywhere at a reasonable price. You know South Africans go to McDonalds after a hectic night out partying? In Thailand you make your way to 7-Eleven which is literally situated in every corner, all over Thailand – with their mouthwatering toasted sandwiches. I know right, a toasted sandwich at a convenience store? I was perplexed, but stuffed my face anyway after a hectic night at Full Moon Party!

Hidden Treasures

South Africans generally want to relax in Phuket and shop in Bangkok; you know the famous spots in Thailand! They have over 1400 islands, yes you read right! Wait until you see Samui, Kanchanaburi, Krabi and more. Although Samui is fast becoming the go-to island in Thailand it’s still not as popular as Phuket. The airport on its own gives you assurance that you are in for an amazing time the minute you land in Samui, it’s really amazing! You can literally find your way around Thailand with a scooter, 250 Baht to hire for a full day. You can’t leave Samui without visiting the famous Ark Bar beach club, European style with great music, loads of party people and it’s right on the beach! South Africans have Shimmy in Cape Town, Samui has Ark Bar!

Menzi in Thailand

I also spent one night in Kanchanaburi and the place stole my heart. A lot of people never visit Kanchanaburi, just a 2 hour drive from Bangkok, you then hop on a long-tail boat which throws you right at those jungle rafts. You can sense the change in the air the minute you arrive, the place is very laid back and you get to connect with nature.

Menzi in thailand

Very rich in history, with a village that will make you change your mind about your problems, they aren’t that big. People are living the simplest life, with less means out there, but they are very happy.

Weather

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Always pack light when visiting Thailand – March through to June are the hottest months, the humid heat is on fleek! I had applied almost the entire bottle of sunscreen, but still got burnt, that’s how hot it is. Water bottles are readily available on the streets because they know you’ll need it.

Quick info:

  • Currency – Baht
  • Exchange rate – 1 Thai Baht equals 0.43 Rand
  • Flights – Return flights from R7000
  • Language – Thai

By @MrMenziN

Seychelles

I know I’m not the only who dreams of visiting the beautiful Seychelles so I’ve been doing a little reading to find a info that will prepare me for that lucky day in the future when I can afford to go so I’ll share my findings with you!

The first thing I googled was “Where exactly is Seychelles?” and this is what my trusted Google revealed:

Seychelles

First of all,The Republic of Seychelles is a group of of 115 islands located in the Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar so we can say it is in Africa and time wise they are 2 hours ahead of South Africa.

Money

Seychelles

The currency of the country is Seychellois rupee and 1 South African rand is equal to 0,86 Seychellois Rupee so almost 1:1 there with a few cents change. Euros, Dollars and British Pounds are also widely accepted and travellers are advised to only bring in what they will need to use in cash because there are ATMs available and credit cards are a safer way to transact.

VISA Requirements

There are NO VISA requirements to enter Seychelles for us but a visitor’s permit will be issued free of charge on arrival at the airport and this will be issued for free of charge for the first month.

Below are documents that you need to show to immigration at the airport to facilitate the permit:

1. A passport valid on the date of entry to and exit from Seychelles
2. Return or onward ticket
3. Proof of accommodation; including contact details
4. Sufficient funds for the duration of the stay

Presentation of all of the above documents will grant you a Visitor’s Permit that will be issued upon arrival by the Seychelles Department of Immigration.

The Visitor’s Permit is initially valid for one month and can be extended for a period of up to three months from the date of issue and capable of further extensions for successive periods not exceeding three months at a time to a maximum period of 12 months, provided that you still meets the criteria of a bona fide visitor. If you want to stay longer than 3 months there is a fee to pay but hopefully you guys just wanna go for a holiday like me. Right?

 

Seychelles

 

Best Time To Visit:

The Seychelles islands are warm all year round so it really depends on what type of activities you want to do when you visit but if you just want to lie on the beach and read a book like I want to, then anytime is good.
In terms of pricing, the Seychelles does not have a conventional ‘high and low season’ and all year round is tourist season however, due to the ‘summer vacation time’ in most of Europe, the period June/July to August, and again from September to January may see more foreign tourists than other times in the year.  The hotel prices may vary during these times however restaurants and dive centre rates are not affected by these periods.

Activity Period
Bird-watching

April (breeding season), May – September (nesting of Sooty Terns) October (migration)

Diving March – May / September – November
Fishing October – April
Hiking/Walks & Trails May – September
Sailing Year-round
Snorkelling Year-round
Surfing/Windsurfing May – September

Where To Stay 

There are lots of options and islands when it comes to accommodation so do your research and choose whichever tickles your fancy and pocket!

List of places to stay at are listed HERE 

George Clooney and his wife chose North Island for their honeymoon… if you have that kinda cash.

Seychelles

Muso, Lira also had a beautiful holiday over there a few months ago… Heaven!!

 

Seychelles

Tipping:

Most charges already include a 5% to 10% service charge or “tip” and so tipping is not obligatory in Seychelles but if you receive exceptional service an extra tip is welcome.

Flights

Based on a check I just did now, the flights seem to range from R7 300 to R15 500 with a June return flight on SAA costing R7 835. I don’t think it’s bad at all..

Seychelles

Hope you have enough information to make a decision about your visit to Seychelles.. But here are 8 Facts about Seychelles from TCS World Travel:

  1. The Seychelles was once a pirate hideout, in particular Anse Forbans (Pirate’s Cove) on Mahé and Côte d’Or on Praslin. It is believed that famous pirate Olivier Levasseur hid a treasure worth more than $160,000 that remains unfound.
  2. Bird Island is home to the heaviest land tortoise living in the wild, Esmeralda, who tips the scales at 670 pounds.
  3. Moyenne Island in Saint Anne Marine National Park is believed to be haunted by a spirit that stands guard over buried treasure.
  4. The coco de mer, native to the islands, produces the largest seed in the world. The distinctly shaped nut can weigh up to 33 pounds.
  5. Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles, is the smallest in the world and can be easily explored on foot in less than a day.
  6. James Bond author Ian Fleming visited the Seychelles in 1958 looking for adventure and inspiration for his then-latest collection of stories, For Your Eyes Only.
  7. The Seychelles has some of the rarest endemic birds, including the bare-leggedScops-owl, which is so rare that it was once thought to have become extinct before being rediscovered in 1959.
  8. Breadfruit is very popular on the Seychelles and can be eaten in a variety of ways from fried to boiled. Legend has it that anyone who eats it while on the islands will return someday.

Seychelles

 

Sound interesting right?

Info & Images: http://www.seychelles.travel/

Jerry Mokgofe Travel

This week on CHICA Travel, we chat to Fashion Curator & Photographer, Jerri Mokgofe of the famous http://accordingtojerri.com, known for the most amazing fashion photographs!

There is something special about Jerri, definitely not your average Joe and I like that he’s so colourful and free.. and everything that’s good as you’ll realize when you read through this Chica Travel According to Jerri.

VENICE, ITALY

Lelo Boyana: Tell us about your first trip & what about it got you to enjoy traveling?

Jerri Mokgofe: I am not too sure if it was during the school days trips or the varsity days travelling trips that made me enjoy travelling. I am leaning towards the travelling trips organised with friends during varsity days (when they actually got to happen). The adventure, the experiences shared, memories made and most of all the company during the journey to the destination.

LeloB: How do you decide where to travel next? 

Jerri: Google maps is one of my favourite hobbies. I like  going on Google maps and just look at the world map and start calculating how far x is from y when travelling by plane, train, boat, yes even walking. The decision is always random or based on what’s happening in that city during the time I would like to visit. For example if I decided on Paris, I will go during fashion month so I can attend fashion week, fashion parties, fashion trade shows and so forth.

LeloB: I’ve never looked at it like that, that’s interesting. So how do you budget for your travel? 

Jerri: Honestly, I do not budget for my travels. Most of my travel decisions have been made impulsively. Planning, budgeting and the back-to-forth that comes with it kills the joy out of it for me. Subconsciously I always know that I wold love to visit this place and when I am ready (the feeling of readiness always pounces on me unexpectedly), I spend all night shopping for a cheaper flight to the destination.

I book my return flights and start planning my trip. My trips are often planned with a two weeks lead time before departure date so there is no budgeting process, if I have the funds and I am ready, I make the booking and just take it from there.

If I were to give tips I’d say extend an invite to friends or family but continue with your travelling plans. The worst thing is to have to cancel your trip because people pulled out on you. That is one of the reason I do not mind solo travels, I actually enjoy them. There is no rat pack mentality and no one to hold me back.

Start by purchasing your return flight in advance and that will motivate you to sort out the rest. Once you have committed and purchased your flight, you will not want to lose that money so that will force you to work hard for the rest.

Jerri Mokgofe

LeloB: Heheh that’s true. When travelling, what do you spend the most money on? 

Jerri: I think I spend most money on flights because my bookings are always last minute-dot-com without date flexibility. So I purchase a return flight with the exact dates I have planned for. Most of the money is spent on transportation; flights, uber, cabs. metro and airport shuttles.

LeloB: Do you have any Do’s and Don’ts you can share with first time travellers?  

Jerri: Do check if the destination you are travelling to requires a VISA or medical checks.

  • Do not carry your ID or passport around, make a copy and keep your passport (or) ID locked up in the safe in your hotel room.
  • Do make sure you have your passport with you when crossing the border and any kind of identification when travelling domestically. You’d be surprised at how many people pitch at the airport without a passport or ID.
  • Always be vigilant when travelling and keep your belongings close to you at all times.
  • Do not party and booze up until the early mornings and sleep all day. Rather go sleep early and wake up earlier so you spend the day exploring your destination.
  • Do research the culture and religion of your destination so you are not insensitive or get into trouble because you did not know.
  • Always buy travel insurance.
  • Do not over pack: Always try to pack 1x hand luggage and 1x hand bag or backpack. Over packing will slow you down and waste your time. Try not to have check in luggage – it can be lost, stolen or delayed.

LeloB: Great tips. What do you absolutely have to pack?

Jerri: 

  • 1x pair of sneakers – they must be flexible enough to run and walk in, and stylish enough to pair with an outfit.
  • 1x pair of denims in a darker colour. Good enough for the dinner table, stylish enough for the club and comfortable enough for everyday wear.
  • 1x jacket stylish enough for dress up and functional enough to keep me warm in the plane.
  • 1x universal charger
  • 1x portable charger
  • 2x pairs of sunglasses and an extra pair of optic frames

Jerri Mokgofe

LB: What has been your best trip/travel destination and why? 

Jerri: Namibia, man I just love that country, the people I have met and the friends I have made. I also love Florence, Italy because of the charm it has but I love exploring the African continent more. It is such a pity that it is much more expensive to travel within our continent than overseas. I would love to see and explore the rest of Africa, it is a long dream of mine.

LB: Yeah, real pity about the expensive travel in Africa. What was your worst travel experience? 

Jerri: I suppose it is some of the worst things that have happened to me whilst travelling that takes the little joy out of the trip. Some of the highlights are:

Like that one year my bag was stolen at O.R Tambo when I was on my way to Italy.  Or that one year on a road trip to Namibia and the petrol attendant in Jwaneng, Botswana did not close the bonnet door of my car properly. As I was picking up speed on the highway, the bonnet door flipped open and smashed my windscreen. That was intense.

Or that one time in Milan my smartphone got stolen, I was hacked, so I decided to buy a new one the following day. I did not read the box so I ended up buying a European region locked smartphone.

That one year when we went on a road trip to Maputo, Mozambique and being hustled for bribes by the cops the whole time because GP number plates!

LeloB: Oh my word, sounds like you’ve been through the most! Money being no object, what is the one place you’d love to go to?  

Jerri: Travel through the whole of Africa and South America

LeloB: And if you could pick anyone in the world to go on that trip with you, who would it be & why? 

Jerri: I would go with my family because it would be precious to experience the world with them OR definitely go with my friend whom I have travelled with before and am certain our travel spirits are strong enough to be tried.

LeloB: You make an interesting point Jerri, travelling tests the limits of your friendship. Thank you so much for your time.

_________________

To follow Jerri as he navigates life through travel, fashion and art catch him on his website accordingtojerri.com 

Twitter: @JerriMokgofe

Instagram: @AccordingToJerri

Nondumiso Sangweni Travel

Our guest on CHICA Travel is an adventurer of note, Nondumiso Sangweni who shares all about her travel experiences and passport gang membership!

LeloB: Who is Nondumiso & what do you do?

Nondumiso Sangweni: Young South African woman who is in constant wanderlust with life. I am a Construction Manager for an Asset Management company in Johannesburg.

LeloB: Tell us about your first trip & what about it got you to enjoy traveling?

Nondumiso: Thailand & Hong Kong! I went with my friends and it was so good to completely forget about the life I had in SA and become anonymous in a different country. We partied every day, ate so much, explored different islands with exotic beaches, got to meet people from different countries (PS: we going to Peru in September for a friend’s wedding that we met there a few years ago). And Thai people were so warm and welcoming.

LeloB: Wow, you sound like the ultimate travel partner. How do you decide where to travel next? 

Nondumiso: This sounds so weird I know, but I just grab the world map and choose whatever country based on whether it will be their winter or summer when I get there. I’m more of an explorer, give me a good city where I can shop till I drop, exotic beaches and rich architecture, the latter always do it for me though.

Nondumiso Sangweni 6
New York, October 2015

LeloB: Doesn’t sound like you budget for your travel then?

Nondumiso:  I’m that person who is always carrying a lunchbox at work even on payday, just to save that extra rand. I buy clothes and shoes on sale, otherwise my wallet is stashed somewhere deep. I’ve reduced eating out a lot, I turn to hang out with friends at markets now, compared to meeting at some expensive restaurant. Save, save, save, it is possible! Open a 32 day account or unit trusts and put something away every month. Hotels are not the only form of accommodation, try AirBNB, rent an apartment.

LeloB: Wow, that’s incredible. So when travelling, what do you spend the most money on? 

Nondumiso: Do check the currency of the country you are visiting, compare it against the Rand, USD. Stop converting everything to rands before you buy it i.e small things such as coffee, water otherwise you will not eat……okay maybe for big purchases like designer shoes, bags you can convert to our currency. And stop over-planning your trip, for some days, just go with the flow and explore the city on foot. When you go to markets negotiate don’t just take the first price they give you. Chat to the locals, ask them where they go for the best food in town, shopping etc. 

Nondumiso Sangweni Travel 1
At a market in Marrakesh. December 2015

 

LeloB: What do you absolutely have to pack? 

Nondumiso: Camera, lip balm, comfortable sneakers (for all the walking), scarf(in case you visit any mosques or for those chilly nights), journal(sometimes)

LeloB: What has been your best trip/travel destination and why? 

Nondumiso: Hahaha….such a tough question. It’s a tie between Paris and Morocco. Paris for its charm, chicness, class, glamour…you name it. I used to sit at a restaurant for hours just to watch people going on about their day to day activities, couldn’t believe how they could be so fashionable and classy every single day. Morocco for its rich culture, architecture (I’m in the construction industry, so for me this is important), art etc. I had a certain notion about North Africa but that changed completely when I got there, the people were so warm, genuine, filled with humility. Everyone was so helpful and they wanted us to feel at home. Morocco taught me that we might have different cultures, languages etc but beyond that we have so much in common as human beings. People in our continent might not have much to offer but they are always filled with so much love and gratitude, you will see it when you leave your cynicism at home.

Nondumiso Sangweni 69
Dakar, Senegal, August 2013

LeloB: Tell us a bit about your worst travel experience. Where did you go & what was so horrible about it?

Nondumiso: Italy, the people were so rude and unfriendly, maybe I shouldn’t have stayed with the locals.

LeloB: Lol sorry about that. Money being no object, what is the one place you’d love to go to

Nondumiso: Will definitely do a road trip through our continent from the Cape to Tunisia (via West Africa) or Fiji

LeloB: And who would you pick to go on that trip with you?

Nondumiso: These two friends, Nondumiso Mathenjwa & Refiloe Malete , simple because they are free spirited, open-minded, explorers of note.

LeloB: Thank you Nondumiso for sharing your amazing stories with us. 

Nondumiso Sangweni 32
Lake Malawi, November 2015

 

You can check out Nondumiso on IG @nondumiso_s | Facebook Nondumiso Sangweni | twitter @ndumi4k 

Rethabile Ramaphakela Travel

Travel is going to be a big part of CHICA coz I love it so much and I think it’s the coolest thing anyone can do! Whether local or international, it teaches you so much and opens up your world to a bunch of new and different things!

For our first feature on CHICA Travel we chat to traveller of note, Rethabile Ramaphakela who is a Creative Director at Burnt Onion Productions. Now grab a cup of coffee, relax and we promise, after this you’ll be saying you want her life!
Lelo Boyana: Hey Rethabile! Please tell us about your first trip & what about it got you to enjoy traveling?
 
Rethabile Ramaphakela: I was fortunate enough to be able to travel overseas for work as a KTV presenter and my first major trip was to Los Angeles with a quick stop to New York. I remember the words of the producer at the time, “You’re screwed because now you will always want to travel.” And she was so right.  I was not impressed by Los Angeles but New York was something else and I wondered about the rest of the world and the other cities that I needed to experience.

So I planned my first trip in honour of my 21st birthday. It was to France, Croatia and Germany. I wasn’t really excited about Croatia but I was going with a friend who was Croatian and she had a grandmother with a house there which meant that I didn’t have to pay for accommodation. So it was a no brainer.  We started off in Paris and then jetted off to Zagreb in Croatia and took a long bus ride to the coast, we thought it would be a 6 hour journey but we only arrived In Dubrovnik 14 hours later.

The trip included crossing into Bosnia and driving back into Croatia. It was so trippy and yet interesting because we were travelling with locals as well.  We went from Dubrovnik to Hvar and I have literally never had such an amazing holiday but the thing that really got me about Croatia was the reaction to the fact that I am black. The men worshipped me and would call me “sunce” which apparently meant sunshine. Kids would stare in bewilderment.  Some would even come up to me and try touch my skin, thinking that I had spent too much time in the sun. It was crazy. And that’s what got me about travelling, we live in a bubble when we are home and when we step out into the world we get to see how other people think, feel and do things.

When I get my passport stamped I love knowing that nobody knows me in that particular city. It’s a liberating feeling.

LeloB: Oh man, what an experience that was! So now how do you decide where to travel next? 
 
Rethabile: I like to travel around my birthday as a gift to myself. The destination usually depends on who is available to travel with me. My travel list is long and there isn’t really an order but I try to go somewhere, anywhere, at least once a year. What I have learnt is that I can travel on my own and I did in December of 2014. When you wait for people to confirm if they will travel with you, you may wait forever, so now I just go.

LeloB: Hahah I know all about that! How do you budget for your travel? 
 
Rethabile: I budget 1-2 years in advance, depending on where I want to go. It’s literally about putting something away each month. The main thing that you have to do is research. Start looking at the cost of the average flight and accommodation. Look at not staying in the main cities so that you pay cheaper rates. For a good year, I research. I alert friends a year in advance so they can start planning. Usually, the more of you that there are, the better.

Airbnb is also your best friend. It’s a great service and self-catering is always the best option when you are on a budget.  If you book hotels, try get a meal inclusive package.

A big tip (which I always use) when looking for flights/accommodation online is to make sure that you clear your cookies when you search. Just go to your delete history option and ensure that you delete cookies every time you search. When you search they track what you searched for and store that in the history so when you search again the prices are usually higher because the Internet knows that you have searched for this item before. So deleting your cookies helps. (This is obviously not a very technical explanation.)

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LB: That’s a great tip, I didn’t know that, thanks. What do you spend the most money on when travelling?  

Rethabile: The flights are usually the most expensive. I think I’m good at finding accommodation deals but that’s because I do stupid things like search for deals at 1am. I will specifically wake up at those kind of hours to try find cheaper flights. It’s a long process but when I’m actually travelling, food and alcohol is where my money goes. And then I come home and eat two minute noodles for a month. 😉

LeloB: Hahahah oh my word! So besides saving to avoid Noodles, what Do’s and Don’ts would you share with first time travellers? 
 
Rethabile: Do all your research.

  • Don’t just go with what the travel agent gives you, do your own search based on the itinerary that they gave you.
  • Don’t spend all your time at the hotel/resort. Go hangout with the locals.
  • Do make friends with the hotel staff, they know a lot about the city and can give you tips and ideas on things to do that don’t cost tourist prices
  • Don’t be afraid to travel alone.
    If you are booking accommodation via a booking.com or similar, ensure that you email the accommodation spot to confirm that they received your booking. This is NB!!!!! I have arrived at places and they have had no knowledge of my booking.
  • But the most important thing is to never convert the money in your head. Ever.

LeloB: Or else you’ll be miserable the entire trip! What do you absolutely have to pack? 
 
Rethabile: The one thing I always have and have to have is my iPad with all my movies and TV shows for the layovers and flights (when the inflight entertainment is no good).  I also do recons and keep up to date with my budget on excel on my iPad. I’m a geek.

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LeloB: Yhuu the Admin! What has been your best trip/travel destination and why? 
 
Rethabile: This is like asking me to pick my favourite child. Each place has such epic stories.

Croatia sits on top because of the reasons I listed above and then I think Zanzibar is next. I travelled alone for the first time, it was epic. I think Namibia sits up top with Zanzibar because of the locals. We always make friends with the staff and they end up taking us into the villages and the townships. It’s here where I get sad because of the negative view the people have of South Africa because of the Xenophobic attacks.

Mexico is another favourite. This was just an interesting experience because literally no one spoke English (we didn’t really stay in the major cities) and so we needed Google translate a lot. It was hilarious. We also pretty much drove across the country. The long drives made me think that rural Mexico is like rural South Africa — it reminded me of Segwelane.

Then there is New York City. Urgh. This place. It has all of my heart and soul. Every time, I go there it’s different.  I even went to go study there just so I can live there. I’ve been there 4 times and every time has been completely different.  I think everyone has to put NYC on their travel list. EVERYONE.

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LeloB: Tell us a bit about your worst travel experience. Where did you go & what was so horrible about it?
 
Rethabile: I have never had anything bad happen because everything always ends up being an adventure. But the most frustrating tri was Zanzibar once my friends joined me.

One of the accommodations we had booked was suddenly “overbooked” and they transferred us to the lodge next door that was like a one-star place. The fact that it had many rooms available in December was a big indication of what we were in store for; there were holes in the mosquito nets (that time I’m paranoid about malaria), no aircon in the rooms (and then you have to be covered because of the holes in the net) and bugs in the bathroom.

(DISCLAIMER: The staff at this place was what made the stay worthwhile. They were amazing and accommodated our every need and took us partying and drove me back to the lodge when I was practically dying on New Years). But because that accommodation was so bad, we had to find different places to stay at every day (it was December and everything was booked so we took one night anywhere we could) and that caused us to travel all over the island which was actually the best experience.

I think on that trip we stayed in 5 different accommodation spots. A new one each night.  It was a trip. The worst was on new years eve, there was no room for us at all anywhere else and we ended up back at our original location and it ended being the best night. (Minus the fact that I got an ulcer in my eye and had to wait to get to Dar Es Salaam to treat it and I cut my toe badly on new years and had to clean it with vodka. War Stories that I will treasure).

Another place I didn’t like was Paris but with bad comes good.  AirFrance kicked me off a flight because I was apparently the last person to check in, even though my friend didn’t get kicked off and we checked in at the same time. We sat at the airport for about 6 hours waiting for the flight to Croatia, the staff said they were calling my name over the intercom the entire time. Imagine French people trying to say Rethabile Ramaphakela. But in the end they put us up at the Hilton and gave use 300 Euros each?!?!?

This is why I travel. For these stories.

LeloB: And they are amazing stories indeed! So money being no object, what is the one place you’d still love to go to? 
 
Rethabile: The CARIBBEAN. I’m an island girl and I want to go to Jamaica and party with locals… I don’t know why it’s so expensive. But one day.

LeloB: One day! If you could pick anyone in the world to go on that trip with you, who would it be & why? 
 
Rethabile: All of my single besties because we know what happened to Stella.

Ends.

 

By @MsLeloB

Thank you Rethabile for sharing these incredible stories with us!

 

You can catch more of her travels through Twitter & IG —> @Retini