‘The World Travelist’ Category



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.


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.



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.



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.


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.



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 .



 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! “




Ada, You Beauty!

Ada, You Beauty!

On the last day of our trip to Accra, we got invited by friends to spend the day in Ada. Ada is a small coastal town in the Greater Accra Region, about an hour’s drive outside of Accra.

It turned out that a friend of a friend has a family home right on the water, and every fort night or so, a group of them spend a Sunday afternoon there. We were promised a relaxed day in the sun, accompanied by good company, food and drinks. We excitedly accepted the offer. And we are so happy we did!

With that said, we embarked on the road trip to Ada on a smoldering hot Ghana Summer’s day. The drive to Ada was beautiful. Open road, fields that went on forever, grazing livestock, and small markets were all part of the scenery on our way there. Through all our chit chat and plenty laughs, there were moments of awe-invoked silence. I for one, just felt a calming sense of serenity, appreciation, and just felt so blessed to be able to experience this marvelous piece of our African continent.

When we arrived in Ada, were were certainly not disappointed. It was everything we had been told, and more! The house was gorgeous. It had a long and spacious wooden deck that led to a thatched gazebo right on the river. This was where we would spend the rest of our amaaaaaaazing day. We enjoyed a long afternoon of wine, food, hookah, laughter, and water sports. We rode on jet skis all day and at sunset took a ride on their speed boat.  As we rode further away from the house, the views became more spectacular. From small villages which were literally right on the water, to beautiful palm tree-lined beaches, the boat trip truly opened our eyes to the beauty of Ghana.














By the time we got back to the house, the sun had set. And as if our surroundings couldn’t get any more beautiful… between the beautiful moon’s reflection on the water, the perfect weather, the perfect company, a delicious traditional Ghanian meal, we may as well have been in paradise!





However, the reality of our lives was that there was a flight to Johannesburg which we had to board shortly. After toying with the idea of “missing” our flight back home, we dragged our feet to the car, and hit the road back to Accra.

If there was ever a perfect day, this was it. Ada, you are a beauty. Really, you are.

Accra – The city that won’t let you sleep

Accra – The city that won’t let you sleep

Accra, Ghana – The city that won’t let you sleep

As October swings around every year there is general pressure to finalise December holiday plans, get those leave days sorted and choose a destination. We decided to not go to Cape Town for a change and instead spend 10 Days in Accra, Ghana.

I am a pretty nervous traveler so after annoying my fellow companion with packing 3 days in advance and wanting to get to the airport 3 hours in advance, we boarded our flight to Accra.

On arrival we were greeted by what I can only describe as a wall of humidity, and some friendly smiles. We settled in at one of The Love World Tour Travelists’ family homes in Accra and in true Love World Tour fashion we got ready for a night out on the town, which proved to be the first of very many.

Accra has a buzzing and vibrant night life, which is always on, Sunday – Sunday, Bars and Restaurants are filled with usual and unusual patrons ready for good food, and good music.

My three favourite places were The Lexington, Fire Fly and Twist, which became as familiar to me as my living room.

The Lexington Accra was the first club we experienced in Accra. We went back there twice and it never disappointed us. After a long flight all we needed was good music and a drink. Drinks we got, but what we underestimated was the level of awesome that the music would reach. Playing a mix of some great international Hip-Hop, R&B, and South African House Music, we did not stop dancing for a second, You know it’s a good night when dancing feels like a full on workout. Having walked in there with our hair down, make up done, looking quite cute, we left with our hair up in messy buns and praising the make-up G-ds for the good quality make-up we had bought.



Nothing beats a fully stocked bar

Pretty Girls - Before the dancing began

Pretty Girls – Before the dancing began

Our night didn’t end there, we moved on to Twist. At the time we had no idea just how well we would eventually get to know this night club, as I said, it became like home, but I digress. Twist is a small and intimate club whose patrons became familiar faces, and DJ’s became our friends. Playing a mix of Hip-Hop and West African music, the DJ’s at Twist had us singing lyrics we sometimes didn’t understand and shaking our asses until the sky was light some nights, well mornings. We eventually learned that heels were not the way to go when it came to Twist because the music was enough to make you forget your sore feet and keep going. With great service and tequila shots that came in shot glasses that resembled tea cups, it’s a no brainer as to why this spot became a regular feature in our visit.

Stace and The Boys

Stace and The Boys



Sitting down was never an option

Sitting down was never an option

Firefly Bar reminded me of the clubs/bars in Cape Town. It had a very European feel to it, from its bar set up to the Electro and Funky House music coming from the speakers. This is where we met many tourists and ex-patts from Europe. This place was always buzzing, with a line out the door with people waiting to get in. Firefly has a supper club theme to it. Dinner is served until midnight and there after it’s a party till the music stops playing, allowing you to have a civilised conversation and exchange with friends in a place with a great vibe, before the debauchery starts. With a fully stocked bar and a great compliment of waiters and barmen, there was never time to be dehydrated at Firefly.

En Route to a GOOOOOD time

En Route to a GOOOOOD time

BELVEDERE and Cranberry Juice - never disappoints

BELVEDERE and Cranberry Juice – never disappoints

Me and My Stace

Me and My Stace

All in all our nights out in Accra were always epic, filled with music, laughter, a good vibe and sometimes sore feet. Everything a great night is made of.

For more information of the clubs mentioned here visit the links below, we hope you have even more fun than we did at these great places.

Twist lounge
The Lexington
Firefly Lounge Bar

Ghana, beautiful Ghana.

Ghana, beautiful Ghana.

After hearing my friend Adj saying “Katiso can you be serious about life and come to Ghana” and Bobo saying “Friend, you will love Ghana” I just had to pull myself together and mission to Ghana. 2012 could not go by with me not having traveled a bit of Africa. Having friends visit there before and them go on non stop about how beautiful and in love they are with Ghana, I could not but have high expectations for Ghana.

This trip meant more to me than I realized at the time. My heart had taken a bit of a beating and I’m grateful I have friends who know what is good for me to heal. I needed to go somewhere to feed my soul and nurture my heart.

I have to be thankful that we actually made it onto the flight after they had closed the gates, so you could imagine that all I wanted was to get to Ghana and make memories.

We arrived in Accra in the evening awaited by perhaps the most funniest guy I have met. The hospitality that I received at the airport already left me feeling warm and fuzzy. Everyone was happy, the officials would crack jokes with you. The men greeted you with such respect. And boy was it hot. It had to have been the smoothest immigration process I have gone through coupled with such an amazing reception.

As Africans we have a great sense of pride, however being in Ghana I experienced a pride on an inspirational level. I was fortunate to meet people who told me about their countries history and hearing the excitement and faith they had in their country was humbling. Ghanian’s pride themselves on educating themselves and giving back to their country.

Unlike my friends, I don’t eat hot and spicy foods, so being in the land of hot food, the local cuisine was going to be quite an experience for me. When you are in another country you have to indulge in their local dishes. Talapia was what Adj and Bob recommended to me, which is their specialty fish. Its delicious. The experience you have with the food is out of this world. Its tasty and it feels like a whole lot of love and soul goes into preparing the meals.

The men, oh the men. Now I heard many people rant and rave about Ghanian men, so I thought it best to experience a sea of them. They are gentleman, they care about your well being and are always asking if there is anything they can get for you, not because they want to jump you, but because they genuinely care. And to cut to the chase, they ooze sex appeal. They are well built and their dark skins make them more appealing. They are REAL men without causing any controversy. There are other reasons why I can’t wait to go back to Ghana but I have to speak the truth and nothing but the truth in saying that I will save up for a flight ticket to just be surrounded by them again.

It sounds strange but I feel I get a true sense and feel of a place when I walk the streets. Walking the streets of Accra in search of a spot to go wind down was a lovely experience. The girls showed me a few of their favourite spots until we settled on one. Having the locals greet you in a respectable manner was truly humbling. There was a buzz that one was not meant to understand but take it all in. We take for granted the freedom of walking streets so freely without a care until you get to a place where you can and you realize that is how you truly experience a place.

From City to quaint beach and lake atmosphere is what one can experience in Accra. Just an hour outside of Accra we went to Ada. Its serene, its breath taking, and its just beautiful. With the perfect company, amazing views great drink and food what more could you ask for from this stunning place. I was adventurous enough to hop onto the Jet-ski, why not. When you are on holiday you need to throw yourself into being adventurous. It was loads of fun. Spending the day in Ada was the best way to close off my Ghana experience.

It is always comforting when your expectations about a place have been met or better, exceeded. I was and am still in awe of Ghana and its people. We always here people raving about how Africa is a place of beauty. Ghana made me appreciate what our continent has to offer. We are rich with such amazing people, we have a plethora of cuisines and beautiful cultures, and our souls are what keep us singing.

Thank you Ghana for the beautiful experience. I will sing your praises for as long as my heart keeps beating. You are beauty and you are incredibly inspiring.

IMG_3977 IMG_3985 IMG_3990 IMG_4000 IMG_4001 IMG_4005 IMG_4009 IMG_4014 IMG_4017 IMG_4022 IMG_4024 IMG_4025 IMG_4032 IMG_4049 IMG_4055 IMG_4083 IMG_4086 IMG_4108 IMG_4116 IMG_4117 IMG_4159 IMG_4199 IMG_4224 IMG_4234 IMG_4261 IMG_4271 IMG_4317 IMG_4339 IMG_4349

I realized that the most powerful time in my life is now and here, so I need to make it count for something truly great. Ghana, thank you for that.

Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam

Arriving at my final destination was overwhelming.  When my sister and other people told me that its a city that is busy, I underestimated them. Crossing a street is no joke. Hi Chi Minh was nothing compared to Hanoi. I felt like I was going to see my last days on the streets of Hanoi the way I was soo petrified of crossing. But after some time, I mastered it. I realise that all I needed to do was just walk and that the motorbikes will make a plan., and they sure did.

Staying at Hanoi Backpackers was the best choice ever. It is situated in the Old Quarter. After checking in we went to the market where they literally were selling chickens that had just been slaughtered and other strange animals. It had the feel of an old market. People were sitting on the floor and everything was sold from the floor and not on tables. What was great was that you can walk through the market and you exit onto a main road, so exciting.

We then decided to walk the rest of the day but could not continue without having a beer break. Because you can drink and walk in Vietnam, we walked into a convenience stores and each bought three beers. We stopped at the Hoam Kiem Lake which is sooo beautiful. Our stop ended up being quite entertaining when Aurelien was approached to have his shoes shined. Him and the shoe guy agreed on a price, but once the job was done the price shot up to $40. Such chancers.  Jono and I were entertained to see how Aurelien was going to get himself out of the situation. Eventually he did. Sitting by the river was exactly what we needed.

Art galleries was then our next stop. Aurelien wanted to buy a painting so we spent time going in and out of galleries, one thing that Hanoi is famous for.

It started to rain so we ended up finding a place to go have lunch and more beers of course. ‘BEER O’CLOCK’ was calling again. After that we all needed to get some rest before a big night out as Janine, Jono and Paul were heading off to Halong Bay. I missed out because the boat was arriving back to Hanoi when my flight back to Bangkok was scheduled for. I was rather bleak so I made sure that I had an epic night.

One thing about the evenings is that they are much calmer. The place feels completely transformed. We found a place which was on the corner of the street. Beers were 3000d, just my cup of tea. Paul then suggested that we drink out of a shoe, some tradition from some country, I can’t remember. So a new pair of shoes was bought and we each took turns drinking out of the shoe. It was soo silly but we had soo much fun doing it. That night we went bar hopping and drinking loads more beer. It was our farewell seeing everyone was going their separate ways. I was bleak, very bleak. I had made such amazing friends, met Jono who traveled Vietnam with me and our journey was ending. So we ended it off true trooper style.

The next day I spent partly on my own and with Aurelien. One thing about Hanoi is even with a map, the streets are so darn confusing. Be prepared to get lost a couple of times. I spent doing touristy stuff, I went to visit the Ho Chi Minh museum which is filled with contemporary artifacts as well as paintings. I have never seen such beautiful and detailed paintings before. We spent about 3 hours there. You definitely cannot rush and don’t want to. There is soo much history and knowledge in there its unbelievable. I developed a new sense of appreciation for art.

Then I read that there were a few dished you have to try when in Hanoi. So I opted for a fish dish called Cha ca la vong I hope I have the spelling right. It was fish with peanut and some fish. Probably my most expensive meal in Asia., but I was leaving soon so I had to try it out. I can say I have ticked off one of the 100 things you need to do before you die.

I then just walked the streets and got myself lost quite a couple of times. Bought pineapple from the ladies selling it and just roamed.

The highlight of the day was that I realised I was sharing a dorm with a fellow South African from Cape Town, Abbey and then met another Canadian in our dorm who had quit his job and was traveling for a year. You have to love meeting people. The stories you share are priceless.  Abbey introduced me to some people she also met and then we all decided to go out. We found a spot not too far from the hostel. A kebab spot was there so we ordered pork kebabs and drank 3000d beers. It was my last night there so it was sure to be an adventure.

As I sat there laughing, sharing stories and taking in the moment, I realised that I could not have asked for more.  Hanoi was my last stop in Asia and my last place I could experience pure joy. I spent my last day having breakfast with Abbey and wondering the streets to get in at least some bit of shopping. It was in that on this day I found myself walking down the streets smiling with myself. I was happy, I was blessed, I had joy in my heart, embarked on the best and most meaningful trip of my life.

I truly experienced adventure, I immersed myself in every situation. I tried different things. I learned more about myself. I made life long friendships. I did it on my own.

I’m notorious for ending off my holidays coming back home with no money. That is how I know I have had MAD times. A trip of a lifetime. I had to fly out back to Bangkok. No brainier that I would be overweight, but the only problem is that I didn’t have money to pay for my fine. So I spent 20 minutes negotiating. I had to spare money for the airport for one last meal and beers. I couldn’t bare having to leave my belongings behind considering I had to cart two bags through Asia, it wasn’t happening. Eventually the official realised he wasn’t getting anywhere and they were telling him that they need to close check in. I ended up paying $20 out of the $70. It aint an adventure if everything runs smoothly. Word of advice, don’t be silly and travel two different continents on one holiday thinking you can get away with two bags.

I have unfinished business with Halong Ba, so I will be back.  Thank you a million times for the best times of my life. Hanoi was the perfect place for me to bow out of the most epic holiday I have ever been fortunate enough to be on. Vietnam lived up to the great reviews. Asia is perhaps my favourite holiday destination, and I know that before the year ends, I will be back in Asia.

















Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam


The place where love finds you and you embrace it. Hoi An is the town I fell in love with. It is the one place that wasn’t affected by the war. The buildings are ancient and have so much character. A city where you truly weave your way through it. Before I left most people spoke about Hoi An as the place to get things tailor made. Undoubtedly so they were correct, but I felt that they were so overwhelmed by being able to have clothes made within 24hours that they didn’t see that that the town was majestic and romantic and quaint. Once we arrived, we checked into Sunflower hotel which from just the warm reception received, I knew I was in for a wonderful time.

We rented bikes right across from the hotel. The last time I rode a bicycle was years ago so I was quite weary of driving it into something or better yet falling.   We would find a spot and park our bikes and then would wonder and explore the town. An ofcourse I would get on after a couple of beers later. Our first stop was at the Japenese Covered Bridge. The bridge is the main tourist attraction of Hoi An and most importantly thr symbol of Hoi An. We then decided to walk along the river taking in the heat and seeing what the town had in store. We then stumbled across a place called Cafe 43 that had a sign saying 4000 for a beer. There was no hesitation at all and it was ‘beer o’clock’ anyway. Its here where we met the Canadians. Lunch was on order and I tried their specialty which was fish, laid on a bed of leaves it was a generous sized portion which was fresh, spiced just right and perfect for the hot weather.

We spent the remainder of the day exploring the town. Walking the streets is when you really see the beauty of the Chinese, Japenese and European ancient architecture which the town is so desperately trying to preserve.  We found ourselves at the Handicraft market where I found myself doing pottery, something that I thought took time to master but it proved to be quite easy if you have the right teacher. It was soo hot that we decided to stay for one of the shows where you have dancing and a short skit is presented. There are tons of shops selling lanterns, so beautiful. Every second shop is a tailor so one would have no problems finding a place to get suit or dress made.

I loved the idea of getting lost in the street because every street had something different to offer. The streets were not packed, there weren’t motor bikes everywhere where you felt like you would get run over. Its quiet, calm and peaceful. Jono and I toyed over the fact of getting something made, but I wasn’t overly keen to get something made, perhaps because nothing came to mind and also because I realised that I wanted to have my own experience of Hoi An and not review it solely based on having clothes made for me. That’s the comforting thing about Hoi An, there isn’t that much to do which is what makes it great. Its a place to just be and take it all in. We walked and we walked and we spent a lot of time talking and taking beer breaks along the river.

In the day time the town is quaint and peaceful, in the evening its totally transformed to being romantic and magical. They light the lanterns which then float in the river. Just the perfect romantic setting. Janine and Paul told us that they went on a dinner boat cruise which was just absolutely beautiful.

We decided that dinner and the rest of the evening would be best spent if we left the bikes behind seeing we knew a great deal of alcohol would be consumed. We spent quite sometime trying to find the perfect restaurant which eventually was because Jono had had enough of comparing atmospheres and prices. It was small place we found on the corner of the street. The meal was refreshing and it was my first glass of wine since arriving in Asia. We ordered many dishes and decided to share amongst the four of us. After two bottles of wine, laughing, story telling, we decided we were good to go for a night out in the town. We ended up Nam Bar where we bumped into Janine, Paul and Mark again. Yip Hoi An is that small. After several boozy card games we decided to go check out another place. With about 6 scooter drivers parked outside, all the new people we made friends with that night we all hopped onto the bikes and weaved through the streets to get to the next bar. It felt like a scene from the movies, first bike off then the next and so it went on. What an experience. It was this night that I fell in love. For just that night, love felt beautiful, no judgements, no rules, just pure love.

Undoubtedly we woke up with screeching heads, so we went to grab breakfast and then headed to Cua Dai Beach. It seemed like the better option in terms of distance and I don’t think my skinny legs were going to make it far out. It was approximately a 15minute cycle to the beach.  Peddling along the way felt so peaceful. There were a couple of times I thought I was going to fall over because I kept waving at the locals. Once you arrive at the beach, you have to pay to park your bike just before you enter. The beach was not crowded which was lovely and the water was warm. It was the perfect way to spend our last day in Hoi An.

We then stopped off into town for one last meal for lunch before catching our next bus to Hanoi. Hoi Cafe was just perfect. It had a variety of food. I realised though, that I was still rather hung over so a burger and chips was the order of the day. And I couldn’t resist having coffee. Vietnam has the best coffee. I think the coffee was what brought me back to my center.I really wish I had time to go to the fish market which apparently is superb because it isn’t flooded with tourists. But because I fell in love with Hoi An, I will definitely return.

The tranquility of this place puts your heart and soul at ease. It truly is my gem of Vietnam. Hoi An is truly a remarkable place, it combines culture, beach and tranquility together just perfectly. Its only a mad person that wont see the magic in this place.





















Nha Trang, Vietnam

Nha Trang, Vietnam

Thinking about my experience here makes me smile soo much. I met an amzing Irish man and at the same time broke another man’s heart. My philosophy was that I am here to go through experiences and not regret anything.

Arriving in Nha Trang was a breath of fresh air. From the buzzing and busy city to just pure serenity never felt so calming. After trying to figure out where to stay we eventually found a backpackers spot called The Backpackers house in the Backpackers area. It was situated 5 minutes from the beach with restaurants and shops along the way to the beach. All I wanted was a hearty breakfast and yes I said it, a gin and tonic to quench my thirst. Found this stunning restaurant right on the beach called Nha Trang Sailing Club. It’s just perfect. They have an area for lazing around as well as the restaurant section. Prices are reasonable.  We lazed there for some time before going to look for a bikini for myself.

I was having so much fun negotiating prices for the bikini, I wasn’t really focused on why I was there. Poor Jono had to sit there and tell me which one looked better on me. All bikinied up, we hit the beach. You have to pay $1 or something like that for a beach bed. Did I mention that you can drink on the beach and that there are people who walk around selling beer, ah I was in heaven. That’s not the end of it, we never had to get up for anything. A lady came around selling, prawns and lobster. I had the two things that made me smile, beer and seafood, and to end it off, I was basking in the sun on such a beautiful beach.

I met a fellow South African, Janine with her boyfriend Paul from Zimbabwe. They were off to Hoi An later that evening, so we decided to go looking for some sushi. We found the best spot about a 4 minute walk from the beach called Surai Sushi. The sushi was the freshest i’ve ever had. They had soo much variety. We were all sushied out. We exchanged numbers as we were also heading to Hoi An in the evening the next day.

My fun times were only just  beginning. We started off at The Red Apple bar where we made some new friends. I a bucket which the call ‘The Bucket’, what a lethal drink. With our new friends, we headed off to the next place called The Jolly Leprechaun Irish Pub where I drank the biggest fish bowl ever with total strangers I met on my way to the bathroom. Gotta love travelling alone, everyone wants you to share an experience with them.

Mark (The Irish man) and I decided to leave the rest at the pub and head off to a beach party at The Sailing Club. I can safely say that it was my first proper beach party. Shoo did I dance or what. It was so much fun being the only black person there I had shots flowing for DAYSSSS. Needless to say this night was the start of something exciting. What was lovely is that everything is in walking distance.

Word of advice, don’t pay to go scuba diving and drink the night before, because you and wake up late. Scuba Diving was the one reason I was excited to come to Nha Trang and I didn’t even make it. So my consolation was  to go on a booze boat and  just go snorkeling. And also don’t wake up with a hangover because the rocking of the boat will just shatter you and you which forces you to keep drinking.  Before we went snorkeling we stopped off at the Aquarium, which for me was a much needed stop over. Snorkeling was just bliss. The water was crystal clear and the weather just perfect. But what a lovely day on the boat eating fresh sea food, drinking beer and meeting amazing people.

The highlight though was swimming in the middle of the ocean with nothing in sight but water and boats passing by. Wait for it, we had a floating bar to continue the madness. The smartest idea ever, you don’t have to start and stop, there is a bar swimming with you. Ah, the sheer joy that was in my heart.

After soo much swimming, eating and drinking I wanted to have a calm rest of the day. So I headed back to the beach to nap and read a book and yes of course have a young beer. Had to freshen up for a quick dinner at the Green Apple restaurant before hoping onto the sleeper bus to make my way to Hoi An.  Thank goodness for smart Asians and their sleeper buses, otherwise I would have been a broken soul. We had one shot at the backpackers bar to say cheers to a lovely time in NhaTrang.

Nha Trang has the best beaches in Vietnam, is the best place for scuba diving, has the coolest nightlife, but of all, it was here where I met the most amazing people who made my stay unforgettable and memorable beyond words. I am definitely coming back here for memorable experiences.




















The Dopeness of This Photo!

The Dopeness of This Photo!

Dope.Pic FINAL

New York. July 2012.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

So I received my passport in time just to leave Cambodia for gorgeous Vietnam. Got onto a bus for another couple of hours to get to the border of Ho chi minh City. Another border experience will make me an expert off crossing into borders. I was sidelined and then they searched my bag claiming there was something which after 20 minutes of making the bus wait for me, they eventually let me go because they couldn’t find anything. I wasn’t bothered its just that I had so much crap it was a mission repacking my bag. But I was in Vietnam, that was all that mattered, I was in Ho chi minh the capital of Vietnam.

After that we made our way to the city.  Now people were not lying when they said that the motor bikes there have taken over the place. They are everywhere, an invasion of the motor bike I tell you. Its another New York but on serious steroids, busy oh so busy. I met a guy by the name of Jon from New Zealand on the bus whom decided it would be a great idea to stay at the same place and mission together. We were dropped off at Mien Dong bus station and had to find our way. All we knew was that we wanted to be in District 1. I forgot to tell Jono that we need to be careful about the taxi’s. We were almost scammed by one of the taxi drivers.We got onto a private taxi which tried to rip us off. You should only take Mai Linh which is green and white or the yellow and green ones. The private ones will make you broke before your trip even begins. Sies on that man.That is the amazing thing about Ho chi minh city, there is accommodation everywhere ranging from dirt cheap to expensive.  We found a place that had only been running for 6 months tucked away in a tiny alley way. On your way to the hostel there a small shops, a salon, and a restaurant. It was then that I felt the heart of the place. Thank goodness Jono was attentive because with so many alley ways I was sure to get lost.

Done with freshening up we hit the streets. Now it was at this point that we realised that crossing a street was an adventure.”ok, 1,2,3 lets walk” You literally are walking while the bikes are weaving around you, its phenomenal. We decided to explore a bit of the Ben Thanh Market. We came across bottles of alcohol that had snakes and all sorts in them, not my kind of vibe. The market has clothes, jewellery, food, fresh fruit, its amazing. The knockoffs there are so on point you cant tell the difference.  Mind you I was keen to try anything, I was in Vietnam dammit but I was not going to drink something that had a snake in it. After lots of exploring and markets and stopping for beer breaks we decided we were famished and needed to have some Vietnamese cuisine. We found a place not too far from Saigon Square. Our meal was delicious, mouth watering and oh so cheap, my kinda stuff.

Jono thought it would be great to get full body massages which cost us a whole $7. I was like “get out of here, let me start getting undressed”. If you never thought there was value in a full head, body the whole shebang massage, my experience should get running to one. I was feeling rejuvenated, but it was time to go hit the nightlife. The city had such a buzz we did the bar hopping thing. Had dinner and went back to it.

A new day and we went to the Vietnam War  museum. There is something about hearing about war, but seeing the impact of the cruelty of war just cuts at you and you feel numb. I could only stomach a few floors and skipped the section “Agent Orange” which affected children. I don’t deal well with seeing suffering. I did take away with me witnessing how a country rebuild their country to build it into one of the most beautiful countries. To ease my soul we went shopping for sidewalk food and more beer and we came across a place called Cafe lam. They sold Tiger beer for $1 that is freaking awesome. Because we had already snacked from the food we collected while walking, we couldn’t indulge in their cheap dishes, like $3 cheap.

Our last night was a bit of a blur, as according to Jono I drank lots of shots with random folk we met at La Habana. But we started off our evening having dinner at Lemon grass also in District 1 and then decided to go hit the streets. I had to rely on Jono to tell me how the evening ended up because I was rather pumped from free shots. He said, the minute you said “Hi I’m Kats” things got crazy. Everyone was buying me shots. Not remembering your evening, now that is what I call epic.

The city dubbed the heart and buzz point of Vietnam treated me well, oh soooo well. Ho chi minh is where ‘Beer o’clock’ came to life.


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Phnom Pen, Cambodia

Phnom Pen, Cambodia

On the morning of my journey to Phnom Penh I realised that I had lost my passport. After realising that, I went straight to the local convenience store, bought a beer and regained calmness. John decided to take me to the consulate. Lodged a report, left my copies and told them no matter what happens I’m on that bus to Phnom Penn. I told them I will start to panic when I have to make my way to Vietnam. Indeed I made my way to Phnom Penh. 6 hours later I arrived in Phnom Penh, the capital and biggest city of Cambodia, still without a passport. I had one of John’s friends waiting to pick me up. Off we went checking out hostels. I eventually negotiated a room. Can you believe you can negotiate accommodation. So much fun.
I roamed the streets of Phnom Penh which is completely different to Siem Reap. Another city full of loads of scooters and TU TUK’s. I just spent the first day drinking cocktails eating great food and meeting people. Had dinner on my own. I tumbled across a pub that had a $1 cocktail special. I was in the right place. With a band playing, the room filled with foreigners it was a relaxed evening. I think I went through 5 different pubs in one evening on my own. You would think a girl walking on her own in dark alley ways was not the smartest thing, well I did it. I had fun getting lost and not knowing where my hostel was. During trying to find my way back I met 3 Cuban boys drinking at this hidden spot. Without them I would have woken up without a hangover, but with them I had a blast.
I spent day two doing the touristy stuff. I visited the ‘Killing Fields’  which was such a heart breaking experience. It feels so strange to be walking through a place where thousands of people were killed. The section where women and children were killed was the most painful. This is where they encouraged you to leave a bracelet in memory of them. After that section I brought my visit to a quick end. I had heard and seen enough to make me disgusted. The Genocide museum wasn’t any different. There is that Eerie feeling when you visit the holding cells. Its different when you see numbers, but when you see faces of the people who suffered, its something else. When you stop and think about the amount of cruelty and pain that humans inflict on each other is disgusting. The quote “Power corrupts absolutely. Absolute power corrupts”  is so true. Through all of the suffering and pain that the Cambodian people had to endure they still rise, they are committed to building a better life for their country and making sure they never have to go through that again.

My Tuk Tuk driver thought I was that girl who likes shooting people, so he took me to a shooting range. I saw some serious guns there. I didn’t have the money to shoot any of the guns so I spent some time chatting to the people who run the place so that they can tell me about the guns. If I had enough money I would have opted for the grenade and some other gun that looked like it weighed more than I do.
After that experience I needed a pick me up, so I was dropped off at my hostel, freshened up and took to the streets again. I roamed the busy streets, popping into shops, stopping for fresh fruits. I loved the fact that I walked everywhere, everything is so accessible. With a mixture of boutiques, department stores and your cheap stores, Phnom Penn is lovely to go shopping. I spent the rest of the day and evening trying out different cocktails, roof top bars and sidewalk restaurants kept me occupied.

My stroll along the Mekong River was peaceful. I was soo hungry from all the walking I decided to stop for some fresh fruits and sit and watch the happy couples walking by, the kids playing so innocently.
The highlight of my evening was that I spent my evening chatting to a guy named Wayne who has been living between Vietnam, Cambodia, Bali and Thailand for the past 15 years. He is an Englishman who has never been married and his no intentions of doing so, but he believes in love and feels that you don’t need a certificate to prove your love. He believes that people are always expecting to get something in return, that we don’t do things from the bottom of our hearts. Reason why he loves Asia and never plans to leave is because the people in Asia are genuine, true, happy, they are just happy despite their plight they are happy.  His words of advice, “Be you, be happy, explore, take risks and never ever stop loving”. Needless to say we spoke about everything right till 4am. So much for wanting an early night.
I closed off my Cambodia experience with gratitude and a sense of rejuvenation. I realised I have soo much to be grateful for and so much living to still live.


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