Back in 2009, I found myself on a bus in Tanzania, headed to Swahili Language School in Iringa. The bus flew around hairpin curves, going well above the speed limit, with no brake bars on the side. I promised myself that if I got back to Dar es Salaam (in one piece!), I would never, ever take a long distance bus again.
Well…fast forward to the end of 2018, nearly a decade since that promise to myself, and where do I find myself? On a long distance bus in Chile!
While planning our unusual getaway to Chile, we had our hearts set on going to San Pedro de Atacama. In fact, I booked lodging reservations before even firming-up how we’d get there from Santiago. Unfortunately, I quickly realized a “Road Trip” was simply out of the question. 26+ years of marriage has given us the blessing of knowing each other’s travel limits. Mine include avoiding 8 hours a day of driving in a country to which we had never been.
While we could have flown, our instincts were proven right when we got to the Calama Airport to pick up our truck for the short drive from Calama to San Pedro. While my husband had flown from JFK to Santiago on Aerolíneas Argentinas, I had flown Emirates from Seoul via Dubai. This included the 20 Hour transit via São Paulo, Brazil. A regional puddle jumper was not how I envisioned spending our vacation.
What to do?
While preparing for the trip to Chile, I had begun listening to Podcasts about the country. One good one was Passport Joy. In their podcast they mentioned how the wished they had taken a bus. Their description of the bus and the excellent infrastructure in Chile made me question my complete ban on long distance buses. And I am so glad I did. We found Turbus!
In less than 24 hours, you can board a bus in Santiago and be in Calama, the closest large town to San Pedro. If you book Premium – you are given a Layflat Seat, a comfortable pillow and blanket, and time to relax and enjoy the trip to the Atacama.
Light snacks were provided on the bus, with an occasional “local” hopping on and off to sell Empanadas. But, most importantly, it gave us time to acclimatize, in our attempts to avoid Altitude Sickness. While I had thankfully never experienced Altitude Sickness, in 2004 during a vacation in Sante Fe, New Mexico, my husband had. We knew to be extremely cautious.
And, sure enough, sitting on the bus, gradually ascending to the Atacama, religiously drinking water we had brought with us, we thankfully were not stricken with Altitude Sickness. We credit that in part to taking the bus.
Would I do it again?
In a heartbeat. Chile has long distance bus travel down. This was an extremely relaxing way to traverse the extraordinarily long country that is Chile. My husband and I had a chance to chat, enjoy being with each other, and try something we had not done together in our 26+ years of marriage – take a long distance bus ride together.
So, I did something I swore I would never do again and loved it. Thank you Turbus and Chile for such a great experience!
A wonderful evening at the Grand Hyatt Seoul celebrating the 55th Kenya Independence Day. Honored to be invited by the wonderful Ambassador Gello. An evening of warmth and friendship celebrating the truly magical Republic of Kenya!
World Travel Market Africa 2019
It is an honor for Flyga Twiga™ LLC to be invited for the 3rd consecutive year as a Fully Hosted Buyer to World Travel Market Africa (WTMA). Once again hosted by the City of Cape Town, South Africa, WTMA 2019 will bring together nearly 5,000 travel industry professionals, focusing on Africa and Middle East North Africa (MENA) Travel.
The World Travel Market will take place from Wednesday, April 10th through Friday, April 12th at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. WTMA offers Flyga Twiga™ an opportunity to meet in-person with In-Country Partners, Safari Lodges & Reserves, as well as the chance to take Familiarization (Fam) Trips to new and existing properties and ventures.
Thank you WTMA & Looking Forward To Seeing Old and Meeting New Africa Friends & Travel Colleagues in April!
First Fairfield in Korea
The first of Marriott’s Fairfield Properties in Korea, the Fairfield by Marriott Seoul opened at the beginning of April 2018. The Marriott Brand of Fairfield is named after their farm in Virginia, which is approximately 3 hours North from where I grew up in Virginia.
Therefore I found it extraordinarily fitting to call the new Fairfield by Marriott Seoul, my “home away from home” for nearly a month. The property is as modern as a new Korean Hotel can get. I love the parallels of having grown up in my family home in rural Virginia, and during a transitional move Seoul, and finding the hospitality that the Fairfield Brand represents.
I could not have asked for better hotel to call home.
There are 4 pillars to the Fairfield Brand – Stay Productive, Stay Balanced, Stay Rested, and Stay Fit. The Fairfield by Marriott Seoul generously provides each pillar.
The hotel was surprisingly quiet during the day. I work out of my home. Thus, when residing in a hotel, I need quiet to concentrate on working with clients & business associates, writing, and researching. The Fairfield by Marriott Seoul provided me with all I needed to live and work comfortably in my new hotel home, helping me Stay Productive.
With nearly 30 years of some form of travel for business, I can personally guarantee not all Business Travelers want to try some new, exotic Breakfast Food 2 hours before an important meeting. During my stay a large group of Indians came to attend a conference. The Fairfield arranged for the restaurant to provide, in addition to the regular Western & Asian Breakfast Items, special Indian dishes, such Vegan Options, Curry Samosas, Curry Chicken, and Whole Milk Indian Yogurt. Helping all guests to Stay Balanced.
And, Staying Rested is more than just about a comfortable bed with lots of pillows. Each room in the hotel offers a spacious rain shower, in addition to the traditional hand shower. The Fairfield by Marriott Seoul has three large handicap rooms with an adjacent room for the caregiver and family. An extremely thoughtful detail.
One of my favorite aspects of the hotel was the gym. While compact, as would be expected of a downtown, urban hotel, the gym offers all the amenities to Stay Fit. The facility includes numerous machines and an extensive choice of weights. The towels are replaced hourly, with water and handwipes on always on hand. The unique Stay Fit design to this property is the “Forest” to give a fresh, outdoor feel to the gym.
Best of Old & New Korea
There are three Marriott Properties in close proximity at Seoul Times Square - a Courtyard, a Marriott, and the Fairfield by Marriott Seoul. By far the one which offers the best of old and new Korea is the Fairfield by Marriott Seoul.
Less than a block from the hotel is Times Square, a beautiful, vibrant mall. Also next to the hotel are the Korean Department Stores, Lotte and Shinsagae. After you’ve shopped all the luxury brands such as Prada, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Gucci, and the rest, then step across the street from the Fairfield for authentic old Korea.
There are more traditional restaurants than one can count. From Korean BBQ, to Sushi, to ChiMek, to a plethora of Asian Dining of almost every variety. In the mood to see a real Korean market? Yeongdeungpo Market is two blocks away. As this is truly a traditional, functioning “people’s market,” be prepared for the sights, sounds, and smells of a market unchanged and untouched by modern Korea. This is not a tourist trap – this is the real deal!
Caters to Diverse Clientele
While it has almost become a cliché in the Asian Hotel Market of “East meets West,” it is vital in today’s market to cater to both Eastern and Western, Business and Tourist, Guests.
The Fairfield by Marriott Seoul has already hosted guests from America, Taiwan, Hong Kong, PR China, India, Japan, Italy, Portugal, Vietnam, Australia, Indonesia, France, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Brazil, and, of course, Korea! These include numerous Business Travelers as well as Leisure Tourists.
Only having been open 6 months, the Hotel Sales Team has done an outstanding job of cracking the competitive Meetings & Events Market. With seven levels of underground parking, the Fairfield by Marriott is an ideal location for local businesses to host meetings. The hotel offers meeting rooms of varying sizes, as well as the ability to cater meetings with full breakfasts, lunches, or dinners.
And, working with such a diverse clientele requires an immense team effort and a highly trained staff. I believe Koreans give the absolute best Customer Service in the World. Bar none. Even with that preconception, the professionalism of the staff – from maids to office manager to sales to the front desk staff at Fairfield by Marriott Seoul – have blown me away.
For the Staff to be so well trained and polished in dealing with such diverse clientele, in 6 short months, is amazing. It is one of many ways this property stands out among the 29 Brands under the Marriott Properties.
It’s a Find in Seoul!
Toward the end of my 28 day stay at Fairfield by Marriott Seoul, I was walking through the Lobby and heard a conversation which perfectly sums up how I and others are feeling about the hotel.
There was a nice Indian Businessman speaking with a female Vietnamese Colleague. She was asking him how he found the hotel. He proudly said “I found it myself on the internet. Isn’t it a great find?”
I thought, that is how many of us feel right now about the Fairfield by Marriott Seoul. We found an amazing property at the beginning.
The quality of the product, combined with the exceptional pricing and superb location, make the Fairfield by Marriott Seoul a genuine “find” in the competitive Hotel Market.
I truly found “a home away from home” in Seoul!
Seeking the warmth of the Arabian Gulf, leaving behind the Siberian High sweeping through Korea, in 2016, my husband and I sought out one of our favorite places, Abu Dhabi. During this trip, our tour guide pointed out the construction of the Abu Dhabi Louvre.
I have traveled numerous times to Qatar and seen its spectacular Museum of Islamic Arts, as well as their unrivaled Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art.
I was curious about the new entry in what I call “The Gulf States Arts Race.”
The Unexpected & The Architect
Open just under a year when I visited the Louvre Abu Dhabi, I was surprised at how I fell in love with the Museum. In the just less than two years since I was last in Abu Dhabi, the project had slipped from my sphere. From time to time I would see an article on its progress, but I was busy with other projects. I simply hadn’t made visiting the newly opened Museum a priority.
The Architect, Jean Nouvel’s vision sees "Bridging Land and Sea." He succeeded. I believe he created the perfect background of calmness with which to view "the cultural achievements of mankind from prehistoric times to the present day."
And, while I certainly wouldn’t call myself a Jean Nouvel “Groupie” I do have a bit of history with his work. I have had the pleasure of seeing his:
Museum Two, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea
Doha Tower Skyscraper, Doha, Qatar
100 Eleventh Avenue, Manhattan, NY, USA
Golden Angel (Zlatý Anděl), Prague, Czech Republic
And in my opinion, prior to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, one of his most iconic & my favorite of his work - Gasometer A, Vienna, Austria.
Even the Museum's Café was designed by the Louvre’s famous architect, Jean Nouvel. His vision for the Café was to create a space where, "visitors can hope for waves of the sea to touch the sky," while enjoying your dining experience.
Every detail in the Café has a nod to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, such as the paper placemats with the iconic roof design. The Café’s desire is to tell “international stories that highlight the similarities between us, in harmony with the spirit of the museum."
A New Light
Nouvel’s play on light in the Louvre Abu Dhabi I feel falls under one of those extraordinarily rare places where even the most vivid of descriptors cannot reveal the experience. Each corner of the Museum offers a new play on light, a new way of viewing the Arabian Gulf, Abu Dhabi, and the piercing Sun of the Desert.
This extends into the play of light in how he offers light for exhibits. During this visit to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, I was particularly moved by an Oriental Rug Display. Light plays on our souls in different ways.
And, while among the great works of art from van Gogh to Picasso to da Vinci and the multitude of early Islamic works and writings, this piece spoke to me of my childhood. The plays of light I grew up with in my family home in Virginia. Light from the sky, enlightening our home.
A Universal Museum in the Arab World
اللوفر أبو ظبي
The Art World and the development of Museums are nearly always plagued by controversy. As someone who incorporates Art into my Travels, I have been blessed with the confidences of those in the Art World who have shared their experiences and opinions with me about several new museums which have recently opened.
I view Museums as much like Theaters. Do I really care if the Director and the Leading Actress had a raging dispute before the play? No. I care about the performance.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi spoke to my soul. I found it to truly be a Universal Museum in the Arab World whose light offers new perspectives on as they had hoped in a "spirit of respect, curiosity, learning, and self-reflection."
Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
Next year will mark the 20th Anniversary of the founding of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital. Under the late patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, the hospital has become one of the largest avian hospitals in the world.
The history of Falconry in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) follows the rich path of the Bedouins. The first reference to Falconry in the Middle East appears in the ruins of Nineveh under the Assyrians in an engraving dated to 750 BC, modern day Iraq.
There are two types of Falcons used in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for hunting, the "Saqr" Falcon (Falco Cherruq), the Peregrine (Falco Peregrinus). In both cases the female is preferred.
Today in the Gulf States, Falcons can go at auction anywhere from $5,000 to over $25,000. It can not be overstated the love the Emiratis have for their falcons, viewing them as members of the family.
Touring the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
One of the most exciting and unusual tours offered in Abu Dhabi is that of the Falcon Hospital. Groups tours run throughout the day.
Guided by an Emirati, the Falcon Hospital Tour is comprehensive. With traditional Bedouin hospitality, Tourists are taken throughout the facility and shown the multifaceted programs, research, and patient care being offered at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital.
With no expense spared by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the Falcon Hospital offers:
Numerous clinical examination rooms
State of the Ophthalmology Unit
Entirely separate Falcon Pox Unit
2 Operation Theatres
Digital Radiography Unit
Intensive Care Unit, capable of handling multiple emergencies – in private rooms – at once.
And, in addition to the 200 air conditioned, private rooms, the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital also offers “free-flight aviaries of different sizes and free-flight moulting rooms,” during which time the falcons are given "special food menus and vitamin supplements." The hospital now sees over 11,000 Falcons a year.
Types of Surgeries and Treatments
One of the most fascinating part of the tour of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital comes when they give an extensive breakdown of the types of surgeries offered. From feather replacements to talon and beak repairs, the surgery is in almost constant use.
Falcons can receive their annual check-ups at the Hospital, as well as full Veterinary Services. While on tour, guests are shown a sedated Falcon and discussions of the various surgeries and treatments.
Throughout the tour, at the appropriate times, tourists are invited to touch the Falcons and even have an opportunity to hold one. For many visiting the UAE this is a once in a lifetime interaction with Falcons. The deep love the Emiratis have for their Falcons permeates every aspect of the fascinating tour.
The great Falconer, His Highness Sheikh Zayed, created the concept of the “Falcon Passport.” The passport is approved by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES). Issued through the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, Falcon Passports are more than a way to transport birds from one country to another.
Rather, Sheikh Zayed created the concept as part of his greater mission of Wildlife Conservation. The Falcon Passport was initiated to stop trapping in countries neighboring the UAE. His Highness Sheikh Zayed set up numerous Wildlife Conservation initiatives, both above ground and under water in the Arabian Gulf.
And, many people are surprised when they first hear about the UAE as a Wildlife Conservation and EcoTourism destination. Thanks in part to programs such as the Falcon Passport, the UAE has become a Wildlife Conservationists “must see” with the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital at the very top of the list!
Sheraton Hotels & Resorts
Thanks in part to the 1998 purchase by the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Sheratons, particularly those located outside the USA, have retained their grandeur. Add to this the 2016 purchase of Starwood by Marriott and you have all the power that comes from being the largest hotel chain in the world.
In the Heart of Abu Dhabi
One of the perks of staying in a Sheraton in the heart of the Abu Dhabi is the perfect mixture of work & play. Located on Corniche Road, the Abu Dhabi Sheraton offers, in addition to Adult and Children’s Pools, a private Lagoon. This provided me with some much needed beach & suntanning time, when I wasn’t working in the spacious office area in my room.
The Club Floor
One of the things I love most about many of the Marriott owned properties, and Sheratons in particular, is they have exceptional Club Floors. Each property, in my experience, interprets the design differently. The Abu Dhabi Sheraton had a relaxed, comfortable feel, as well as a separate Smoking Area.
I always make sure to book the Club Level. In addition to what I consider a full Breakfast, they also offer evening Cocktails & Canopies. I’m often asked if it is illegal to drink in the United Arab Emirates. It is not. Rather, it is illegal to be drunk in public. At the Sheraton Abu Dhabi I enjoyed delicious, well made G&Ts, as well as a nice variety of Australian Wines.
Nods to Traditional Islamic Architecture & Design
From intricate mosaics to dramatic arches, the Abu Dhabi Sheraton blends modern hotel design with nods to traditional Islamic Architecture & Design. Combined with the muted, Earth tones of the Emirati Desert, the marble details & features throughout the Sheraton provide the mood of how the UAE honors its heritage while embracing modernity.
Abu Dhabi Sheraton Hotel & Resort -
A Beautiful Respite in the Middle of the UAE Capital
Samsonite - My First Luggage Love
My earliest, wonderful travel memories with my Grandparents involve pulling out the hard shelled, green Samsonite Luggage. Cumbersome, no wheels, almost bigger than I was, my heart skipped beats when we pulled it out. The Samsonite luggage represented the excitement of travel - a passion for which I give thanks to my Grandparents.
Days would be spent carefully packing. Maybe repacking. And, each moment with the luggage held the promise of the journey ahead.
Time Marchs On
My travel needs changed. New products came out. Trends happened. And, I have to admit to being a bit snobby. I was "beyond" good ole reliable Samsonite.
Upon entering my fifth decade of travel, as a lifestyle and as a business, my checked luggage has become about as Utilitarian as you can get. Giant, black, wheeled international bags, most often purchased at the Military Exchange, get me from one side of the world to the other.
But, when it comes to my carry-on, I am as devoted as they come. I average about a half decade per bag. I only let go when the Next Generation of Carry-ons come out and I am forced by sheer practicality to move on. Although you can rest assured, the old carry-on is never disposed of, but rather “repurposed” in some way. We spent hours upon hours traveling together, often waiting for flights, with my feet propped up on my carry-on, how could I just toss my beloved carry-on aside?
So, last weekend, when touring the 17th Annual Korea International Art Fair, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the Samsonite Art Collaboration.
Samsonite X Hong Ji Yeun
Art Collaboration Volume 8
I immediately fell in love with Samsonite all over again. It was as if they had channeled me in creating this line. For their 8th Art Collaboration, Samsonite:
“Inspired by the works of Hong Ji-yeun featuring motifs like trees, flowers and birds, the new Samonsite collection is meaningful in that it symbolizes its social contributions activities. Sasmonite’s commitment to protecting the environment by creating forests in deserts and large cities is evident in the 2018 Art Collaboration. The Samsonite travel luggage created through this art collaboration contains our hope that someday flowers will bloom and birds will fly above the trees in the desert.”
“Imagine Their Own Travels Around the World”
The artists statement notes:
The artist Hong Ji-yeun (born in 1972) has worked on promoting harmony between East and West by combining Eastern motifs, such as trees, flowers and birds used in Korean traditional folk painting. Like an alchemist, she creates creates her own unique surrealist landscapes by fusing subject matters taken from East and West and from past and present. The birds and flowers in her work titled “Hwajobonbon 2” create, like “bonbons,” or candies in French, a sweet and splendid fantasy. The different birds from around the world taking a rest above the flower tree in the work titled “Dogamnamu” inspire viewers to imagine their own travels around the world.”
The Anticipation Begins
Just as it did when I was a child, Samsonite is once again inspiring me. And, just like the anticipation of travel, I must now wait for the Collaboration Luggage to be released.
The line will be released in 2019. Until then, I will take my current carry-on for some more adventures. Before I return to my first, childhood luggage love.
While we all know to check to see if we need a pre-Visa, or may obtain a Visa Upon Arrival, it is often easy to forget to carry the Name & Address of the first hotel for Entry Documents.
It is important to have the name of the first hotel, especially if you are entering the country at a lesser known Point-of-Entry, than say, the nation's capital. Local Customs Officials can be inexperienced with extensive Globe-Trotting, International Travelers.
DON'T DO IT! No matter how excited you are to be in your new country, photography & filming is STRICTLY PROHIBITED in all airport Customs, Immigration, & Security Clearing Areas.
Always wait until you have cleared customs and are on the outside Terminal before taking photographs.
Prescription Drugs & Vaccination Cards
Be sure to check which Prescription Drugs are allowed in the countries to which you will travel. And, do not forget official proof of Vaccinations.
Some countries, such as the Republic of Uganda, offer Yellow Fever Vaccines at Entebbe International Airport, if you don't have your Vaccination Card. But the shot costs money which must be paid in US Dollars & do you really want to start your Safari with a shot in the arm? And, this is rare, you can actually be quarantined or even "Denied Entry" without official Vaccination Cards.
And, once "Denied Entry," it can be nearly impossible to gain a new Visa. This is one case where forgetting documentation can go on your "Permanent Record"!
Don't forget your Vaccinations Cards & check on what Prescription Drugs are allowed!
Bathrooms & Bottled Water
Who knows how long it will take you to get through Customs, Immigration, & Security when deboarding a flight? Go to the bathroom before the airplane lands & be sure to carry a bottle of water with you.
While it is easy to assume this is only advise for airports in smaller regions, recent reports have clocked Heathrow International Airport Security lines taking up to four (4!) hours.
In addition, you may not always be allowed to get out of line to go to the bathroom and some airports may not have air-conditioning. Combined with dehydration from the plane, it best to be prepared by going to the bathroom before the airplane lands and having a bottle of water for the lines through Security.
Do not bring out your Smart Phones / Cellphones, once you have deboarded the airplane, until you are COMPLETELY through Customs, Immigration, & Security.
Once the Pilot has announced you can take your devices off of "Airplane Mode" & before deboarding, that is the time to make any telephone calls, send text messages, or message family, friends, or awaiting parties.
Once you have deboarded & are off of the airplane - DO NOT TAKE OUT YOUR CELLPHONE UNTIL YOU HAVE LEFT CUSTOMS, IMMIGRATION, & SECURITY AREAS & ENTERED THE MAIN TERMINAL!
I can not stress this enough. This has become a hot-topic, flash-point issue. One of the reasons for this is the recent number of high profile cases of Airline Passengers getting into arguments with Customs & Immigration Officials and deciding it would be a "good idea" to record these arguments.
If Customs, Immigration, & Security Officials see you on your Cellphone, in any airport in the World, they have every reason to believe you may be recording or taking pictures. This is simply a basic Security Issue.
Need the time? Look for a clock - there will be one somewhere. Need to communicate with someone? Do that before you deboard the airplane. Just so darn excited to be there you can't wait to take a Selfie? Wait. No Selfie is worth getting in trouble with local Officials.
And now that you have smartly navigated Customs, Immigration, & Security, it is time to have a
Happy Day! Safe Safari!
Please, if you have any questions regarding payments for Safari or Gorilla Trekking, even if you are not a client of mine, feel free to contact me with your questions!
We all want to have a Happy Day! Safe Safari!
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.