‘Features’ Category

Get to know: Sphume Sibeko

Get to know: Sphume Sibeko

What is the best early morning experience you’ve had while traveling?

It was a very early morning… we had heavy breakfast after a beautiful night out, cracking up with my girls as the sun came up. We then sat looking at the view of New York from the fire escape, and I remember thinking “ya ne, this is what this life thing is all about”

Have you experienced any disasters/crisis while traveling?

Well… except missing a critical flight from NYC to Jozi when we were literally dead broke? No

Have you ever “mysteriously” survived a critical situation?

Missed this flight and again, we were super broke so we weren’t even sure how we were going to figure this one out. When we ran into the airport and looked for where our airline’s section is, we asked the guy wrapping luggage and he immediately laughed so hard at us! Luckily, when we went to go find out if anything could be done to get us on this flight, we were given a flight the next day, an extra day to spend in NYC, and were charged absolutely nothing, not even an admin fee!

What is your travel style?

Down for whatever, relax and enjoy the ride!

Which songs best describe your travel experiences?

Slum Village – ‘Disco’

A Tribe Called Quest – ‘Like it like that’

Common – ‘Its your world’

Nas feat Lauryn Hill – ‘If I ruled the world’

Most profound lesson learned through travel?

Open your mind

Favorite Town/ Village?  Why?

Went to this awesome small town about an hour outside of Rio de Janeiro called Itacuruca. Beautiful quaint town embellished with the gorgeous ocean. From there we got on a boat and got to experience the surrounding islands, jump into the middle of the ocean, and then rest and eat up on Sepetiba Bay. One of the best experiences ever!

Favorite City? Why?

New York. Coolest place on earth. Ask me the same question in a few years though, still have a lot of world touring to do ;)

Who is the most unforgettable person you’ve met or interacted with while traveling?

Gorgeous little girl named Camilla in Brazil who was totally fascinated by black skin. Also met some amazing souls who’ve become like family

What are some of the things you don’t like about traveling?

Long layovers!

I had my best night’s sleep at:

Iguassu Falls, Brazil

What are the 3 top eating experiences you’ve had while traveling lately?

Waffles from Petite Abeille & cheesecake from Magnolia Bakery in New York; Seafood in Mozambique from Sagres Shellfish Restaurant; and the cheapest tastiest cheeseburgers from a corner store at Copacabana Beach, Rio.

Best place to get tipsy:

Standard Hotel, New York. I simply cannot get over that place.

What’s the craziest stereotype you’ve heard about South Africans while traveling?

That we wear animal skins so we bought clothes at the airport coming into America. Learnt English at the airport too.

If I had only 24 hours to live, I would spend it in:

New York! That way I could play hard, eat hard, listen to the best hip hop while checking out some super fly types

Best Cities to fall in love

Haven’t been to Paris or Hvar but those seem like the spots to catch a feeling.

Cities you want to see with a lover?

Barcelona, Paris, Prague, Hvar

Cities you want to see with the girls?

Montego Bay, Accra, London, Istanbul

Best Cities to travel on your own

Haven’t been to any of these either – but wouldn’t mind doing Milan, Mumbai, and Beijing as a lone ranger

What city best suits/ embodies your personality?

New York! Encapsulates the diversity and beauty of the world, even the flaws are cool.

About Yourself:

Excited; all in with this life thing; completely love my people, travelling, eating, basketball, music, and I have the biggest sweet tooth on earth.

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TBT: Amsterdam ‘10

TBT: Amsterdam ‘10

 

June 2012. On a whim, Katiso and I decided that we wanted to see Amsterdam. Within 2 weeks, we made this trip happen. What an incredible city. So beautiful, so interesting, and so colourful! We spent just over a week in Amsterdam. We enjoyed our time trying different food and beer, shopping, exploring, partying, and learning more about the city’s rich history. I’m not done with you Amsterdam, my heart yearns to know you better….

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This house is so beautiful, straight from a fairytale!

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Shopping in Dam Square

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Music for cash monies!

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Houseboats…so lovely!

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Katiso walking them streets.

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The infamous Red Light District!

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We even managed to catch a N.E.R.D show :-)

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Hello there Pharrell!

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:-)

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Katiso getting down!

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People Watching.

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The canals are so beautiful!

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Public toilets in the Red Light District. True story.

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More houseboats. I could so live like that!

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Our reward after a long day of walking!

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Bicycles seemed to almost be the primary mode of transport.

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Love it.

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Canal cruising.

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And another houseboat.

 

 

 

Get To Know: Lerato Makume

Get To Know: Lerato Makume

Lerato Makume GTK

1.What is the best early morning experience you’ve had while traveling?

Waking up to a cold one in the morning…. Don’t have the pleasure of doing that on my daily routine at home.

2. Have you experienced any disasters/crisis while traveling?

Flew 18 hours on an airline (EgyptAIR to be exact) with NO BOOZE and one in-flight movie ….Needless to say, I will NEVER travel with that airline EVER AGAIN!

3. Have you ever “mysteriously” survived a critical situation?

Forgot the pin to my bankcard after taking a beautiful tour around Cairo, Egypt. I couldn’t pay the taxi driver. I was so scared. Seriously thought he would leave me in the middle of nowhere. Rough times. But in the end, he was accommodating and let me go without paying.

4. What is your travel style?

No specific style. I think my style would be classified as really chilled. I go with the flow, I love partying in different countries, and location based lunches and champagne

5.Which songs best describe your travel experiences?

Let me get back to you on this. It changes every single time. The last trip to New York was M.I.A “Bad Girls”. It embodies the whole essence of traveling with a group of girls. The ups, downs, and all the random in-between moments

6. Most profound lesson learned through travel?

I just have a good time when I travel…..Will think about the lessons later! Questions like these bore me…..

7. Favorite City? Why?

Johannesburg. Its my foundation. My core. No where else can compare.

8. What are some of the things you don’t like about traveling?

a) No alcohol on planes
b) Going to the toilet during a flight
c) Missioning from one place to another with too much luggage

I know it seems trivial but, all the above can ruin an experience.

9. I had my best night’s sleep at:

On the sleeper couch in our apartment in New York…

10. What are the 3 top eating experiences you’ve had while traveling lately?

1. Loved Sant Ambroues in the West Village ( NY) New York, (259 West, 4th Street, New York, NY 10014. Tel. 212-604-9254)

2. Rafiki’s (meaning ‘friend’ in Swahili) Cape Town. 13 Kloof Nek Road | Tamboerskloof | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 426 4731

11. Best place to get tipsy:

I would imagine Amsterdam, but I have never been…. It’s on the list

12. What’s the craziest stereotype you’ve heard about South Africans while traveling?

Not all South Africans have AIDS.

13. Cities you want to see with a lover?

Not just cities….The World!

14. Cities you want to see with the girls?

Where I can get shattered  (Mom, if you are reading this- “Shattered” is slang for reading) and my lover won’t find me….or even hear of me. So I think Scotland.

15. Best Cities to travel on your own

Durban, there is nothing much to do but lay on the beach!

16. What city best embodies your personality?

Johannesburg. And New York is up there too. The contrast and extremes. The hard vs soft. I am all these things

17. About Yourself:

Another question I hate…this is not an interview! But hopefully we can hang sometime so you can get to know more about me

JAMBO!!!

JAMBO!!!

When my dear friend Mathapelo told me she was headed to Kenya for a few days this past December, I had to hold back on my envy, take a deep breath, and be happy for her. I’ve heard so much about the beauty of Kenya, its people, and its culture, and I’m dying to see it for myself.  I made it a point to catch up with her upon her return to hear all about the trip.

This is Mathapelo’s account of what she says was a life-changing trip.

On arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi at 5:00am Kenyan time, the plane’s exterior windows were immediately beaded with humidity. Inside the airport, there was no air conditioning, which further heightening the oppressive humidity. After going through passport control we proceeded to claim our luggage and then we were off to boarding gate 1 where we boarded a flight to Mombasa.

When we arrived in Mombasa, we were met at the airport by Roger our tour guide, Roger generously handed out bottled water and mint scented face cloths for us to wipe our faces and took us on a two-hour bus ride from Moi International Airport in Mombasa over a long and narrow road. It was during this trip that I noticed how hard life was for most people, from my comfortable seat in an air conditioned bus, digital camera, iPod in hand and oversized shades, we drove past mud huts and houses on the busy road, hawkers begging to have their goods sold and children running after the bus waving at us.

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Drive from Moi International Airport to Malindi

After 120 kilometres northeast of Mombasa we had reached our destination, I remember thinking to myself “this must be Kenya’s or should I say Italy’s best kept secret – Malindi”. It is the ‘little Italy’ of Africa. Billboards advertise in Italian, Kenyans speak Italian including Kenyan kids, grocery stores stock shelves of olive oil, salami and prosciutto, and tanned Italian men wander the beaches in skimpy bikini trunks with tall, skinny dark model like Kenyan girls young enough to be their granddaughters. Did I mention pizza, pasta joints and fine wine?

In typical Maasai Manyatta village-style, with chalet-like rooms made out of indigenous wood and the roofs covered with palm branches (Makuti roof) was our home away from home – Sandies Tropical Village. Crystal clear, tranquil waters, white beach sand, the coconut palm trees, free flowing booze 24/7 all add to this paradise. Here we were warmly greeted with the phrase “Jambo” Swahili for “hello”, this became our way of greeting for the duration of our stay in Kenya. We were welcomed with drinks, drums, dancing, singing and I immediately felt my heart smiling as this reassured me that I was home. The staff were friendly and offered to take our bags up to our rooms while we were whisked away to have lunch.

 

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Sandies Tropical Village, Malindi Kenya

 The days that followed my arrival in Malindi were filled with nothing but adventure from weaving through traffic jams while holding onto a metal rod for dear life and zipping by Malindi’s distinct architecture on a tuk-tuk on the narrow back streets with beautifully carved doors, shops stacked with metres and metres of colourful kikoy cloth, coconuts being sold by market women,  a trip to Mombasa to have lunch with friends with the ocean and charming boats as a backdrop, sundowners as we watched the sunset, feeding bananas to over enthusiastic monkeys in a forest  by the Gedi Ruins, dancing the adumu “jumping dance” with the maasai around the fire, long walks on the  white sandy beach of Malindi, lunch at old man and the sea, celebrating a friend’s birthday party at Pata Pata, one of the finest upmarket  clubs in Malindi , discovering Soweto Bar in the middle of a remote village in Muyeye on Christmas and visiting a marketplace full of local handicraft, paintings and beautiful maasai cloth.

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Christmas in Muyeye spent with villagers/Soweto Bar – Malindi Kenya

However, one of the most rewarding experiences of my trip was experiencing a completely different culture than my own, becoming the minority, being reminded of how privileged I am, making friends and getting to know my fellow travelers out of their comfort zone.

Ofcourse I will always remember the more tourist excursions that I took while in Kenya like the famous Vasco da Gama Pillar which is believed to be one of the oldest European monuments in Africa and having been built in 1498, Francis Xavier Church which is the first Portuguese church in East and Central Africa and the  Gedi ruins, what was once a rich trading hub from the 13th to 17th century and was mysteriously abandoned and taken over by the forest until the 1900´s when it was excavated amongst other things. The ornaments that were found inside the ruins are on display in the museum next door which we visited.

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Feeding monkeys at the Gedi Ruins

However, I think what stays with me more and what impacted me more was the spirit and kindness of the Kenyan people, the smiling faces of the children and enthusiastic waves as we drove/walked past and more importantly Hashim, an unassuming kind man whom we met outside our hotel as we were looking for a tuk-tuk to take us to the Vasco da Gama Pillar, Hashim became more than just our driver, we became friends, he made our stay in Kenya a rich, vibrant experience. This man shaped our memories of Kenya more than the place its self.  Hashim shone light on our ignorance and taught us about Malindi and ourselves in ways that he himself will never know and for this I will be forever grateful.

 

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Hashim – This man really took care of us

 It was also at the Vasco da Gama Pillar were we met Festo aka Captain Vasco who was to show us around. Festo is a care free soul who seems to enjoy the simple things in life. We exchanged numbers with Festo and asked him to take us to a spot where locals chilled for a good time. After a long day of touring Malindi, we finally went back to the hotel to have dinner and freshen up. We then hit the town with Festo and Hashim. They took us to Club Kienyeji which is situated along Tsavo road in Malindi, here, we entered a small, well-outfitted room and we were greeted warmly, we discovered a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of people dancing to the greatest Kenyan new generation music, bands we’ve never heard of before. Some playing pool while the boys were sipping on cold Tuskers. It was at this club where we left with that authentic Kenyan clubbing experience and it felt amazing. This is a real downtown gem!

 

Untitled7-1Me and the boys at the Vasco da Gama Pillar, Malindi – Kenya

My experience in Kenya did not leave me empty, I take home with me the spirit of the Kenyan children, the humility, courage and kindness of the Kenyan people and  the strength of the Kenyan women who carry wood on their arched backs and walk long distances  to make fire and feed their families .

 

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 My love for Africa and my desire to contribute to the development of this beautiful continent strengthens more with every trip I make within the continent. This experience opened me up to the idea that, even in a blink of an eye, you can make lifelong friends. I can only try to paint a picture with words or capture these moments through my lens but some experiences can only be understood and felt through the naked eye. Africa is definitely the place to be, best believe it! “

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