Hmmm...That Print Looks Small!
While finalizing my trip to South Africa as an International Hosted Buyer for the World Travel Market Africa 2018, I needed to call my Credit Card Companies to verify they had my travel places & dates.
While examining the back of the card with my Grandfather's huge magnifying glass to retrieve the number, it dawned on me - I might need reading glasses!
Where To Go?
In December 2017, while in South Africa for our 25th Anniversary, I had picked up a copy of Longevity Magazine. This magazine is quite good, promoting a healthy living and lifestyle. In the back of the magazine was a Health Directory.
Searching the directory, I found NH Optometrist in the Western Cape Listing. Located in the Plattekloof area of Cape Town, I went to their website. I liked what I saw. Very professional. They accepted cash payment. And, with a few clicks of an email, I had an appointment.
My appointment was beyond what I had expected. The staff were extremely professional. And, NH Optometrist had the latest State of the Art Medical Equipment. My last eye exam was when I had returned to the United States from South Sudan in 2013.
Little did I expect the most up-to-date equipment from my appointment in Cape Town. Dr Anni Brown understood some concerns specific to my genetics and background (double whammy of cataracts on my maternal side & many years working in SubSaharan African Sun!).
I had braised myself for the arduous pupil dilation. I expected the old fashioned, spend half the day nearly-blind, fumbling around from pupil dilation. Not in Cape Town - Dr Brown had the latest, greatest computer technology to check my eyes.
No drops. No dark sunglasses, needed for even indoor use after dilation. The most modern medical technology took some pictures of my eyes & that was it! This was one of the best eye exams I had ever experienced.
In the end, I did need reading glasses. Yet, I wasn't "over prescribed" as I have learned to watch out for. I would absolutely practice Medical Tourism in Cape Town and elsewhere again.
And now I can go back to enjoying reading the inflight magazines, fine print and all, on my longhaul flight to Africa. Medical tourism is awesome!
One of my Most Amazing Golf Experiences, Playing Golf with Zebras Great Rift Valley Lodge & Golf Resort, Kenya
Safaris with Golf & Wine Tours
We are working on some new Safaris in South Africa, which include Wine & Golf Tours. In addition to seeing the amazing wildlife, there are also world class golf courses and more boutique and luxury wineries than you could see in a lifetime.
Korea World Travel Fair
The 33rd Korea World Travel Fair, which takes place 14-17 June 2018 at COEX in Seoul. I will be attending again this year as Media. I look forward to researching and writing new travel trends in the industry. The travel show is sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; Korea Tourism Organization; and Visit Korea Committee.
New Safari Kit
I’m picking-up today a new Safari Suit I’m having made. Seoul Suits has a long, strong reputation in the Expat Community for top quality tailoring. I’ll do an update on how it turned out!
Naju City Historical Tour
On Saturday, June 16th I will be touring Naju City in role as a Member of the Foreign Advisory Committee of the Korea Heritage Society. This is a day-long trip and we will have to up early Saturday morning to hop on KTX and head to historic Naju City.
Happy Day! Safe Safari!
Banning Plastic Straws
More and more places, such as Taiwan, are banning various forms of plastic. As anyone who has traveled to the Maasai Mara by road can attest, Kenya's ban on plastic bags was long overdue. But, unlike plastic bags, which are easily replaced with cloth ones, plastic straws present a challenge to replace.
Going to a paper straw isn't always a viable option. Often the straws simply disintegrate. Taiwan is proposing metal straws in all restaurants. And while I think that might be a good solution, it churns my stomach from a Public Health perspective. And, what about for in-home use? I love using straws when I make frozen Margaritas.
Twitter to the Rescue!
Having filed into the back of my mind my concern about reusable straws, Twitter came to the rescue. One day while browsing Twitter I came across a retweet about a Copper Straw. It clicked. I would get our own straws! Reusable + Sustainable + Conservation = Copper Straws.
I quickly looked up the person making these straws, Monique Nienaber, a South African Goldsmith who owns Ebonymoon. I sent an inquiry, via their website, about the straws. They quickly got back to me and told me of two places where I could get the straws. Fortunately I was going to be in Cape Town in April for the World Travel Market Africa. There I was able to pop into The Blink Shop to get my Copper Straws.
Well, why stop there? Why not carry around your own utensils in Asia? So, my husband I came up with a kit we can carry when we go out to eat. This solution is not for everyone. I respect my girlfriends who want nothing more than "keys, card, & phone" when they go out.
But, for us, this is a good solution. Finding the Copper Straws will allow us to "walk the walk" of conservation. And, of course, having a cute Harrod's bag from Doha Duty Free helps a lot. Now they just need to add Copper Class!
In the Piedmont of the Simonsberg Mountain, between Paarl and Stellenbosch, is one of South Africa's most outstanding Boutique Wineries, Mitre's Edge Wine Estate. The Winery is family-owned and managed. They are a sustainable winery, "wholeheartedly committed to green and ethical winemaking." And, are members of the WIETA (Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trading Association).
South Africa Food & Wine
The May 2018 edition of South Africa Food & Wine Magazine highlighted as one of its top picks the Mitre's Edge Viognier 2017. The "Raise Your Glass" column, by Milu Lambert, praised the Mitre's Edge Wine as one of 5 outstanding South African Viogniers. This is a rare South African wine, as she points out in the article, as "...no SA brand is producing more than 500 cases of Viognier a year."
Jeff and I had the immense pleasure of meeting Lola & Bernard Nicholls of Mitre's Edge Vineyards in December 2017 on our 25th Anniversary Trip in South Africa. The tasting remains one of our all-time favorites. And, to make the day perfect, we were generously asked to dinner in The Nicholls' home on the estate. The Nicholls exemplify why we love South Africa & we are honored to have been blessed with their acquaintance,
Mountain Gorilla Numbers Surpass 1,000!
The authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Rwanda, and Republic of Uganda release new census results. has just issued a Mountain Gorilla Census and the count is now over 1,000. Click here to read the Press Release.
This is truly awesome news and proves onece again how tourism promotes wildlife conservation. Click here or the Alpha Male (above) from the Nyakagezi Group in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda to see a suggested Gorilla Trekking Itinerary.
The below short video is of two Mountain Gorilla Brothers playing. They are part of the Nyakagezi Group in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda. This was shot when I was hosted by the Uganda Tourism Board during the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo in 2017.
Happy Day! Safe Safari!
My preferred airlines, for flying longhaul flights to Africa, are absolutely one of the ME3. Attending the World Travel Market Africa in April, Qatar had an amazing deal for Roundtrip Seoul to Cape Town. One leg was even a Q Suite flight, which will be in a future review.
My flight had an 8 hour Layover. This was not long enough for Qatar Airways to provide me a room in Doha. But, it was longer than I preferred to stay in the Business Class Lounge. While the new lounge is spectacular, I wanted a bit more privacy & relaxation. So, I booked a room in the transit hotel in Hamad International Airport مطار حمد الدولي DOH - the Oryx Airport Hotel.
The 1st Room - Then the Suite!
My first room was spacious and nice. But, unfortunately (or lucky for me!) the Wi-fi wasn't working. So, they upgraded me to a Suite. They did so quickly and without complaints. As there were several people at the front desk asking for rooms, I had no doubt my room would be turned around & sold as soon as possible.
The Suite bathroom was spacious and offered a huge shower to refresh before my next 10 + Hour Flight to Seoul.
Comfortable Sitting & Desk Areas
The Sitting & Desk Area was extremely comfortable. I was genuinely surprised how quiet the hotel was. Aside from an occasional "Loud Talker" in the hotel hall, I heard very little noise.
As I was trying not to sleep, I had time to periodically chat with my Husband, order Room Service, & calmly repack my Carry-on.
One of the features I liked about the Oryx Airport Hotel was each television, of which there were two in the Suite, had a channel devoted to the Departure Times & Up-to-the-minute Departure Gates.
Traveling alone, I found this feature extremely comforting. With long layovers, when traveling as a solo female traveler, my worse case scenario is always falling asleep and missing the last leg of my flight. And, while the Qatari are an immensely welcoming hosts - I was ready to be home!
The amenities were what you would expect from one of the ME3 - luxurious Rituals Cosmetics. An extraordinary amount of towels and plush bathroobes.
But, handsdown, my favorite amenity was the Porsche Design Sleeping Eye Mask. How perfect! The card aptly had a note & map of where to find the Porsche Design Store in Duty Free.
The perfect touch for a relaxing 8 Hours in the Oryx Airport Hotel.
Can't wait for my next Stay!
In the week following World Travel Market Africa (WTMA) 2018, with the assistance of my South African Destination Management Company (DMC), I planned to do a tour along the famed Garden Route. While I couldn’t do the entire route, I did get a feel for this beautiful part of South Africa. Here are 5 unique discoveries I made during this super fun Road Trip through the Garden Route of South Africa!
1- Surprising History & Great Location
The first day of my post WTMA travels started with my checking out of my beloved Westin Cape Town. I only ventured across town to stay at the Protea Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Mowbray. The Marriott International had purchased the Cape Town based Protea Hotels in 2013. I was really interested to see how after 5 years how the integration into the Marriott fold had worked.
The Mowbray sits on one of the oldest Land Grants in South Africa. The main building is a converted Cape Dutch Manor House. For those who love history, this is a perfect place to stay in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town.
The River Club is nearby for those who love to golf. I attended a meeting at The River Club prior to WTMA and had a chance to speak with Jonathan, The River Club’s Sales Executive, tour the facilities, and see the course. The River Club, built in 1939 and now under new ownership, has undergone a deep renovation. Need a bit of inspiration for your game? If you hit a hole-in-one you win an Audi A1.
In addition, The River Club gets my award for one of the best named pubs in the world, “The Slug & Lettuce.”
2- The Best Afrikaans Sunday Brunch – Ever!
As we took off on a bright Sunday morning from Cape Town, we had a long 5 hour car drive ahead. I looked forward to traveling with my business colleague and family friend, Michael. Michael has all the qualities of the perfect traveling companion. He remains calm under pressure, and loves good food and luxury travel. So, leave it to Michael to find one of the best meals I’ve had in South Africa!
Located on South African Route 62, The Rambling Rose Restaurant in Montagu offers an exceptional Afrikaans Sunday Brunch. Having been traveling to and working in South Africa for 10 years now, the bar is set pretty high for delicious food. And, bar none this was the most delicious traditional Afrikaans food I have ever eaten. Their homemade Peri-Peri Sauce was so good, I ate half a large sized bottle. Nyom-Nyom!
3- When in the Western Cape, You Can Always Find a Local Wine!
The first overnight of our roadtrip was in the “Ostrich Capital of the World” Oudtshoorn. Here we stayed at Mooiplaas Guesthouse and Spa. In addition to getting the Estate Wine, another “Insider Tip” is to ask for “Guesthouse II.” If it is available this beautiful property is secluded across the road from the original Guesthouse. And, the staff is awesome. If you want to have wine with dinner, they will come and pick you and drop you off. And, be sure to take advantage of the Stargazing after dinner.
4- A Restaurant Who Can Even Cater To Jains
Located in the stunning town of Mossel Bay, Café Gannet Restaurant has a bright, relaxed-sophisticated interior and bar area overlooking the Indian Ocean. I met Managing Partner Janine at WTMA and was highly impressed with Café Gannet Restaurant’s ability to meet some of the most obscure dietary requirement, with one of those being the restrictive diet of Jains. The Restaurant has several stylish private rooms, perfect for a casual Business Dinner or privacy for a family traveling together.
We had a relaxing, delightful lunch and would make Café Gannet Restaurant a must-stop in Mossel Bay.
5- Small, Private Game Lodges Can Offer Niche Safaris
Would it come as any surprise that I believe each Safari experience has its merits? Located approximately 3 ½ hours (depending on road construction) from Cape Town is the Garden Route Game Lodge. The Lodge is going through a bit of an expansion. The owners of Garden Route Game Lodge are redoing the entire pool area, building a new spa, and adding more Villas. They are also acquiring more adjacent properties to increase their size.
We are placed in the Luxury Villas and the Owners’ eye for detail is clear. I found the amenities on par with 5 Star Luxury Safari Lodges. And, for those who are looking for a close Safari experience near Cape Town, Garden Route Game Lodge has exceptional Safari Guides. The other advantage with the location is that it is Malaria free. Thus, if you wanted to do a Beach / Golf / Wine South African Vacation, but still wanted to get in a Safari, this might a good place for you.
6 – Business Hotels Can Offer Great Services for the Weary Traveler
Nearing the end of my over two week Business Trip to South Africa, I chose to stay at the Protea Hotel by Marriott Stellenbosch. This is in what is called “Techno Park.” This hotel is a Conference and Meeting Center. It is so large they offer to take you to your room in a golf cart.
There is an additional Protea property in Stellenbosch, which has a spa. But, I knew I wanted to get laundry don, completely repack my two huge bags, and prepare for the 22 + hours flight home, which included an 8 hour layover in Doha, Qatar. Thus, I wanted a hotel which catered to the Business Traveler.
Disclaimer: I do get upgraded by Marriott Properties, due to my Silver Elite Status. But, I pay for all my rooms. None of the above hotels were comped. This way, I believe I can give an honest, full assessment. I do not “owe” the owners of the properties a good review.
The last two days in Stellenbosch were spent Wine Tasting & Touring. I will cover those in detail in another blog post. I had a wonderful experience on the Garden Route. This was the first proper “Road Trip” I had taken in quite a while. And, it made me want to go back and visit all the other great Lodges, Restaurants, and Properties along the famed Garden Route of South Africa.
While attending the CosmoBeauty 2018 Show at COEX in Seoul yesterday, I learned from a KICHO Korea - 키초 코스메틱 Executive that they are launching a new brand, Commleaf, in the United States. KICHO Korea - 키초 코스메틱 is already sold at Sally Beauty and Duty Free JFK in the United States.
KICHO Korea - 키초 코스메틱 is one of the first brands I discovered over 3 1/2 years ago when I arrived in South Korea. They make some of my favorite products.
Full disclosure: I was gifted the new Commleaf Set. I purchased the new Tea Pot Brush Set at CosmoBeauty. I love the color! And, for animal rights activists, they are synthetic - no animal hair in the making.
Also, pictured below is my absolute favorite KICHO Korea - 키초 코스메틱 Product, their Argan Brush Cleanser, which comes in Travel Packs as well. Perfect for my Business Travel!
I have a lot more pictures and ideas from CosmoBeauty 2018- but wanted to share the Insider Secret asap!
Having grown up learning to cook on a woodstove with Cast Iron, I have a deep history with and love for cast iron. Now living in Asia, I have embraced Asian Cooking, taking various cooking classes, and experimenting with my own variations of “fusion cooking.”
Thus, the moment I clicked the “Specialty” section of the Lodge Cast Iron website and saw the 14 Inch Cast Iron Wok – my heart skipped a beat. My dream cookware item was being manufactured in Tennessee. But, I needed to get it to South Korea.
Thankfully Lodge has some of the nicest customer service people on Earth. I wrote a frantic email asking could they mail to an Army Post Office (APO) address? Not all companies in the US do. Furthermore, this was one HEAVY piece of cookware.
I received a nice email back from Danielle F. who said “yes, we do ship to APOs, but that is a special order and you need to call to place the order.”
So, factoring in the time difference, I stayed up late one night and called the Lodge Cast Iron Company in Tennessee and guess who answered? Danielle F., of course!
There are several details which set this item apart from others. First, it is 100% Cast Iron. USA made Cast Iron is the ONLY Cast Iron that is guaranteed pure iron.
Second, the Cast Iron Wok, is a beautiful symbol of all that is good about America. Asian Cookware made in Pittsburg, Tennessee. They deliver what they promise – for a fair and honest price. And, they truly support the US Troops – thank you Lodge!
Now…on to the big event, the first time using the Lodge Cast Iron 14 Inch and the Mini Woks!!!
Both Woks are exceptional cookware. The Mini Wok worked surprisingly well in making just the perfect amount of rice for me and my husband.
The 14 Inch Wok performed to a tee. All the food was evenly cooked and the Cast Iron retained its heat inbetween servings.
One of the reasons I mention that this would be perfect in a Bush Camp is the depth and amount of food you can cook at once. So, for example, if there was a group of Koreans or Taiwanese who asked for a Stir Fry, this would be an excellent addition to any Bush Camp for that purpose.
I'm really impressed with these Lodge Cast Iron products. I already had purchased the 12 Inch Skillet. I added two of the 6 Inch Pans to my order. And, the Mini Wok was a surprising hit in my kitchen.
I'd love to get a chance to try cooking over an open fire with the Woks. Until then, I will just keep practicing in my tiny Asian kitchen on "Stir Fry Friday."
Dinner is Served!
Please note: I was not compensated for this review/blog post. I purchased the Lodge Cast Iron Products!
The Westin Cape Town has come-up with a great initiative to conserve water. For every night you decline room services, you get to choose from:
- R45.00 credit at F&B or
- 500 SPG Starpoints® or
- Donating 500 SPG Starpoints® to UNICEF
Well done Westin Cape Town!
Ostrich Capital of the World – Garden Route – “and, of course wine, there was always wine.”
***In addition to several privately owned Game Lodges & Guests Houses, I will be checking out several Protea Properties. As many of you may know, about five years ago, Marriott agreed to purchase the Cape Town-based Protea Hospitality Holdings. It is now time to see how the merger went!
Protea Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Mowbray
Mooiplaas Guest House Oudtshoorn
Garden Route Game Lodge Garden Route
Protea Hotel by Marriott Stellenbosch
There is a lot to be said about The Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel. Great food, friendly club floor attendants, amazing florist, etc. But, the Devil really is in the details. The brochure of Historical Buildings in Taipei was well produced and was exceptionally helpful during our stay in Taiwan.
I really wish more hotels produced items like this. A great benefit to our Taiwan travels.
Living in Seoul, South Korea, I love spending time walking along the Han River and listening to podcasts. One of the podcasts I enjoy is Alexa Meisler's "Break into Travel Writing" podcast.
One day, about three years ago, I was listening to Episode 82 with Amy Northard, linked here. OH MY GOSH! This show saved my company!
Well, at the very least, the episode, “Bookkeeping for Travel Bloggers with Amy Northard” saved me from a heap of heartache with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
My husband and I have, for well over a decade, had a brilliant accountant in Virginia who does our taxes. I had really great coaches and business advisers at the Alexandria Small Business Development Center. I even had an attorney, whose specialty is the travel industry, draw-up my legal agreements.
But…I didn’t realize, until listening to this episode, that I had to report to the IRS any and ALL “freebies” I was given for my business. In particular to my company, the travel and tours to Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa as a Fully Hosted International Buyer and the Travel Show Booths I ran on behalf of the Kenyan Embassy in Seoul. All expenses and costs paid for by Tourism Boards or Exhibition Companies are INCOME! That’s right, taxable income.
So, while I love my business and wouldn’t trade the lifestyle it offers for the world, my Familiarization (Fam) Trips are work and they are taxable. But, we won’t tell the Gorillas in Uganda. They think I was there simply for pleasure and to visit their remote jungle. They don’t need to know about the IRS. ;-)
Disclaimer: I am not a financial or legal professional and the above blog is from personal experience and you should seek out a Certified Public Accountant or Legal Professional for your own business.
Where I might be permanently living had I not listened to this podcast….
Flyga Twiga™ is honored to once again be asked to attend the World Travel Market Africa. Taking place in Cape Town, South Africa, WTMA is one of 6 shows offered by WTM of Reed Exhibitions. WTMA sees “…nearly 5000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading and only business to business (B2B) exhibition for inbound and outbound Africa travel and tourism markets.”
In addition to over 36 private one-on-one meetings Flyga Twiga™ is scheduled for the Speed Networking Session, exclusive lunch and aftershow tours hosted by Cape Town locals, and evening networking and entertainment events.
This year I’ll be staying at my favorite Westin Hotel - Cape Town! The staff at The Westin Cape Town is second to none. The food in the Club Lounge is delicious. Their laundry services are exceptional. And, the Westin is just an overpass walkway to the Cape Town International Convention Center.
Can’t wait and I will be blogging and posting on my social media some special tours that are in the works. So excited for WTMA 18 and to be back in South Africa!
Chiang Kai-shek led the Republic of China (Taiwan), in various roles, from 1928 until 1975. During his long and successful leadership of free China he repeatedly reached out to the United States of America. One of his generous gestures was gifting an entire bedroom set to the Army Navy Club (ANC) in Washington, DC.
As members of the Club, my husband and I were offered a night’s stay in the ANC’s accommodations. My wonderfully foresightful, history-buff husband suggested we spend the night in the “Chiang Kai-shek Room.” Upon check-in we were informed that they were glad to see someone stay in the room. The reason, they stated, for the room going “without guests” is a lot of the older members refused to stay in the bed.
Hmmm…Chinese ghosts from the Chinese Revolution and Liberation was my first guess. The clerk behind the desk burst out laughing. “No, the bed is Chinese and therefore is completely enclosed save for only one, small opening. The older couples have to crawl over their spouse to get out of bed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.”
And, that is how I got to sleep in Chiang Kai-shek’s bed.
The Taiwan Travel Act, passed by the US Congress on 28 February 2018 and signed into law by President Trump on 16 March 2018, states:
(1) allow U.S. officials at all levels to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts;
(2) permit high-level Taiwanese officials to enter the United States under respectful conditions and to meet with U.S. officials, including officials from the Departments of State and Defense; and
(3) encourage the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office and any other instrumentality established by Taiwan to conduct business in the United States.
The Taiwan Travel Act is good news for US – Taiwan relations. I am sure Chiang Kai-shek would be pleased. And, it is of particular good news to me, having reposed in the great Chiang Kai-shek’s bed.