Category Archives: Travel Adventures & Tips

I’m a huge travelholic and here I share my journeys and some insider tips that I hope will help you on your next adventure. :)

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town

We all have a list of places we’d love to visit one day. We have adventures on our bucket list that we day dream about constantly. There are just so many countries, cities, towns, islands – each gifting the world and touching people like us in their own unique and special way.

Now, if you were to ask me what’s on my bucket list or, more specifically, what are the places that I fantasize about? I could go on forever! But the one place that has always been at the top of my list is….Africa! The wild life, exotic animals and the diverse cultures has always drawn me to this mysterious continent.

Map of Africa

It was October 2013 and my hubby and I were manically trying to decide where to go for our year end trip. We have a tendency to wait til the last minute to plan and book things – Bad habit, I know, and we’re working on it, but luckily things tend to turn out ok….well, so far (knock on wood)! After a whole lot of hectic searching, asking friends, googling, scrolling through trip advisor, tossing ideas around we both thought – Hey, how bout Africa?!Africa

We didn’t even know where to begin so we emailed a few travel concierge services and went with the first one that replied, Jacada Travel. They turned out AWESOME!!! We usually plan our own itineraries and like to kind of ‘just wing it’ and plan our days when we arrive by asking the locals for recommendations (to avoid all the touristy hotspots). However, with Africa – I’ve heard some very good but also some VERY bad stories, so thought best to try out a travel service…and it turned out perfect!!!

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As it was our first ever trip to Africa, Tessa from Jacada Travel suggested South Africa would be a good first step. So South Africa it was!!! From point A to point B, C, D…..Z, they were so meticulous and everything was well organised. The majority of the trip was planned and booked for us according to our budget, requirements and expectations. We received our itinerary and even a personalised guide book before our trip. Impressed? Ooooh yah! Being a bit of perfectionist myself, not only was I impressed with their attention to detail, but my level of excitement went through the roof and I was ECSTATIC!

Personalised guidebook from Jacada

Aside from the safaris (which I’ll write about in a future blog :)) we spent most of our time in Cape Town. And WOW! Lemme just say, is this a gorgeous place or what?

cape townEverywhere you look, its like something straight out of a painting or a story book. Picturesque, filled with life, vibrant culture, beautiful weather, gorgeous natural wonders, exquisite (and very affordable) food and extremely friendly natives – even with our expectations set so high to begin with, Cape Town just blew us away and we automatically got the feeling “we could totally see ourselves living here one day”!

Cape Town

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Cape Town
If you ever plan on visiting Cape Town, here are just some of the things I would recommend……

The must do’s and must see’s:

  • Table Mountain– One of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World

On top of Table Mountain
On top of Table Mountain
  • Cape of Good Hope

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  • Wineries (Stellenbousch, Constantia, Franschhoek)
Wine tasting in Stellenbosch - Waterford Estate
Wine tasting in Stellenbosch – Waterford Estate
Wine tasting with chocolate pairing
Wine tasting with chocolate pairing
  • Hout Bay

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  • Penguin watching at Boulders Penguin Colony

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  • Waterfront for shopping and local arts and crafts
  • Whale watching in Hermanus – we unfortunately JUST missed it but if you’re keen, the season is June to November.
  • Lions Head – mountain with beautiful views of the city and the Atlantic Seaboard
  • Robben Island – where the late Nelson Mandela spent 18 out of the 27years he was in prison

As I mentioned, the food was excellent and I don’t think we had one bad meal there – seriously! The food is all made with fresh produce, paired with impeccable wines which were surprisingly incredibly affordable (compared to many other places). BUT be prepared – there’s quite a bit of game meat served at most restaurants, such as willdabeast, ostrich, wart hog and antelope. I personally didn’t partake and felt a bit sad to see them on menus, but apparently its very normal (I guess like beef, pork, and chicken for us?).

My top picks for great food:

  • Ellerman House – Western food. Apart from the incredible food and service, the view is amazing.

Cape Town (Ellerman House 1)

  • Boat House (now known as The Flagship) with the late Michelin Star chef Bruce Robertson. We were so honoured and privileged to have witnessed this culinary genius at work as he took our sensory palettes on a wild excursion through a combination of tastes from Africa all the way to the Far East.

Boat House

Chef Bruce Roberston preparing our personalised meals
Chef Bruce Roberston preparing our personalised meals

Tintswalo Atlantic

  • Buitenverwachting – Western, local food. Beautiful surroundings as it is set in the middle of the winery.

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Where to stay:

Ellerman House is a very unique and special place. A huge mansion with just about 10 rooms where the staff encourage you to treat it like your own home, it’s very different from other hotels, if you could even call it that.

Christmas at The Ellerman House
Christmas at The Ellerman House

From the moment you step foot into the corridor, you get a warm feeling like you’ve just come “home”. Being so exclusive with only limited rooms, guests aren’t required to lock the room doors and all the staff know you by name. Like a real “House” you can relax wherever you like, whether it’s in the living room, on a balcony, in the library or on the lawn.

ellerman houseCape Town (Ellerman House 2) copy

And one of my faves…..delicious homemade snacks, pastries and sweets that are prepared fresh everyday and are laid out in the pantry which can be devoured at any time of the day and to your hearts content (I’ll admit I may have helped myself to one too many cookies at times :p). The whole feel and ambience at Ellerman House was warm, intimate and very relaxed.

Ellerman House pantry


Tintswalo Atlantic
 “was” an incredibly beautiful, serene and scenic resort made up of about 10 villas perched on a beautiful isolated rocky beach right at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. I say “was” because in March 2015, I was so shocked and saddened to hear from a girlfriend of mine in South Africa that Tintswalo Atlantic had succumbed to one of Cape Town’s wildest bushfires and was completely destroyed! Since the fire, we have seen that works are underway to rebuild the resort which is great to hear!

tintswalo atlantic

The shores of the Atlantic Ocean
The shores of the Atlantic Ocean

Each suite had a different theme and was named after an island in the Atlantic Ocean. Our suite was “Robben” after Robben Island. We had an unobstructed view of the ocean and at night we would sleep to the soothing sound of crashing waves.

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I could just keep going on how and why I absolutely fell in love with Cape Town! It is definitely somewhere you just have to visit and take in its beauty in person. Breathtaking and so robust, this city offers something different and special for everyone.

Tintswalo Atlantic

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Earth Friendly Ninh Van Bay

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Our environment is precious to us and we all do our best to do our bit at home. Whether it be saving water and electricity, recycling, and of course, eating healthy…we try to do what we can. Even when we are on holiday, we can always aim to be be environmentally cautious, but some things are just usually not under our control. What if I told you that you can go on vacation and feel at ease because the entire resort follows an earth-friendly, body-loving motto? It’s like you are getting the best of both worlds, a two in one kinda package deal!  Staying healthy while vacationing, at the same time being cautious of the environment? Wooot! Sounds like a win, win, win to me!! 🙂

I recently enjoyed an amazing three night stay at the Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam and it was a total surreal and tranquil experience, to say the least. It had all the elements of a ‘feel good, ultimate escape’ holiday – privacy, relaxation, adventure, and the resort itself encouraged healthy living and an earth friendly lifestyle.

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The rustic nature of the resort embodies the ‘back-to-nature’ feeling without actually having to camp out with your sleeping bag in the middle of the jungle. The entire resort is open concept and when I first learned about this, I have to admit that I did feel a a bit hesitant and I wasn’t sure how bearable the heat would be, but honestly speaking it wasn’t an issue at all! I grew up mostly in countries with four seasons and spent most of my life in Korea so heat is one thing that I am quite sensitive about, but at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay I wasn’t bothered one bit. Now the bedroom does have air-conditioning, which is really all you need truthfully.

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The beach-front villa where I stayed was just a few steps from the beautiful crystal clear waters of the Anadaman Sea. In the evening I would enjoy the amazing sunset in my own lounge area upstairs and during the day I would relax on the sundeck chairs by my private pool. What else could one ask for?

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My private butler, Luan, was incredibly helpful and he took care of all my bookings, arrangements, or any questions I would have.

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Along with earth-friendly messages and reminders all throughout the resort, they encouraged healthy eating by even having their very own gorgeous organic garden with different herbs and veggies.

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The in-room dining menu also had sections of healthy dishes and alternatives. My favorite was the delicious fresh vegetarian spring rolls! 🙂

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To further the healthy vacationing experience, they also offer each villa two bicycles so you are able to cycle around the resort, to and from the restaurants or spa.

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What’s a tropical holiday without a massage? I indulged a bit and treated myself to a massage each day I stayed. I tried the Thai massage, Vietnamese massage, and the Oriental massage which was out of this world!!!

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The view from not only my room but the resort-wide was incredibly breathtaking – a collage of sights that I was getting very used to…..

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After my stay at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay I can definitely say that three days is nowhere near enough. Times flies when you’re having fun right? But I can surely say I will be going back! 🙂

Margaret River

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Australia is one of my favorite places to visit. There’s just so much greenery, great food made with clean fresh produce and lets not forget-awesome shopping! I’ve been to Sydney and to Melbourne several times to visit family and friends and its always such a treat. Apart from the big cities, I’m always hearing that Australia has so many other amazing places to visit. One of those being the infamous Margaret River, south of Perth, Western Australia. So last year, my hubby surprised me with a trip to Margaret River for my birthday and we headed down under to the lush countryside.  After about a three and a half hour drive, we entered arguably one of Australia’s foremost wine territories. Not only is it known for its exuberant and internationally renown wines, we discovered some of the most hidden goodness gems such as the Vasse Virgin olive oil farm and some amazing (and at times, indulgent!) cheese and chocolate family run businesses, that are just out of this world!

IMG_1444Before the trip we had to decide whether we wanted to jump on another flight, take a bus, or drive from Perth airport to Margaret River. Although it would take a bit longer, we decided to opt for the more scenic option and drive (and besides, having car to explore Margaret River is a must!). We had arranged the rental car beforehand, but there are a couple rental car companies available at the airport so it shouldn’t be a problem if you decide to just rent one on the spot. So once we arrived at Perth airport we went to pick up our car and the gentleman at the sales desk suggested we pay a bit extra for the GPS and insurance. The GPS is a no brainer since both my hubby and I have never been there before, but we weren’t too sure if we needed the insurance. We were a bit hesitant thinking that they were just trying to get a bit more off of us, but being the cautious travellers we are, we decided to take up the offer anyways (which proved to be a good choice as we did have a little incident with a wayward kangaroo – apparently this is very common!). The drive down to our “retreat” was so tranquil and peaceful and with all the lush greenery and animals to see along the way, time wasn’t an issue at all!!

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We stayed at the Injidup Spa Retreat, and as it was still quite new, it was in almost perfect condition.  Upon arrival, we were greeted by the cheerful reception staff and all in all, the “retreat” catered to travellers who wanted all the elements of hidden luxury but with complete and unencumbered privacy.  There are 10 retreats – all of which are self-contained with all you need to enjoy your stay  – such as your very own plunge pool, large living and dining area with a romantic open fireplace, beautiful and breezy view of the Indian Ocean and a large master bedroom. One of the quirky and unique things about our retreat was that it provided for a “self-service” style of living – meaning you bought your own groceries and made your own meals as there was no onsite restaurant – but…. they did provide a fabulous starter hamper filled with wine and plenty of organic goodness such as olives, chocolate, fruits, cold cuts, cheeses, crackers etc. In addition, the retreat was surrounded by great quality eateries and as obtaining fresh produce was so easy, if you enjoy cooking like we do, you would take advantage of this and cook in your retreat. Last but not least – you’re not in Australia if you don’t have the traditional Aussie “barbie” so on our veranda we had huge barbie which was on regularly for breakfast and for dinner.

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Like pretty much everywhere in Margaret River, or more so Australia in general, the front desk closed at 5pm so if you were to need anything urgent in the middle of the night you would have to call the emergency number. Also, one thing we realised was that our internet connection would get lost whenever the front desk would shut down for the night. Since the hotel was unaware of this issue it was obvious no one had complained. Yes, it was incredibly quiet (except for the hypnotic crashing of the ocean waves at night as we slept) and nicely secluded, such a great place to relax and take a break from the city life, but no internet? No emails? No Facebook? Is this possible? Once our panic mode settled, we thought why not take this opportunity to zone out and shut off from all the hustle and bustle. Well, at least for the time we were in the our villa. :p Never been done, but was a nice change!

Injidub spa retreat

Now that the hotel and internet issue was settled, it was on to explore!! Our stay was for  5days, but I could have seriously stayed for weeks! During those days we had copious amounts of amazingly fresh and organic food and wine. These are some of the places we visited and I strongly recommend. There are so many amazing places and restaurants, if I were to name them all it would take me awhile so here are my top 5 picks……

Leeuwin Estate-Besides the incredible wine and outstanding ambience, the food was phenomenal! We celebrated my birthday by having lunch here and it was just unforgettable! All the ingredients for the dishes on the menu are fresh from the farms nearby and together with the serene view-the experience is nothing short of amazing! Breakfast or lunch here is strongly recommended, followed by a stroll around the beautiful estate.IMG_1474

Cape Mentelle-Even if you’re not a ‘wino’ I’m sure you’ve heard of Cape Mentele. Unlike Leeuwin Estate, Cape Mentele was more catered to wine tasting and distributing. Having said that it is a must visit to try out the several different types of wine and to at least get a bottle to take back home. You must try a their wine made from Zinfandel grapes – for that extra earthy full bodied wine! We went in thinking to get a bottle or two but we ended up get a whole case and having it get shipped back home (together with the case we picked up at Leeuwin Estate!).

Vasse Virgin– The moment you turn in the side street you are guided by beautiful, statuesque trees that lead into the olive garden estate. So even before you arrive at the welcome centre you are already put in a calm state of mind ready to explore the world of olives. After about a 2-3min drive in, you reach a small welcome centre/souvenir shop where you can find pretty much anything and everything related to olives available. You’re free to sample all sorts of olive oil, olives, and even olive oil based organic beauty products for all skin types, which you can later purchase to take home with you. They even offer cute little homely souvenirs that perfectly reflect the vibe of Vasse Virgin.

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Gabriel Chocolate (Yallingup)-As soon as you step foot in the quaint little shop you are welcomed by a gush of chocolate aroma. From raw cacao beans and nibs, creamy milk chocolates, velvety dark chocolates (all that you can sample on the spot-AWESOME!) to freshly brewed organic coffee, Gabriel’s Chocolate is near heaven to any chocoholic, like myself! If the five different types of chocolates weren’t enough, we went back a second time to get some cacao beans to take back home as well.

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The Horse Resort-There’s no better way to set yourself apart from the hustle and bustle our bodies are naturally attuned to than taking in the beauty of lush countryside on horseback. The people at the Horse Resort make you feel totally comfortable and all the horses are very accustomed to people so it is even a great experience for those that have never ridden a horse before. We spent about 30min getting friendly and familiar with our horses and to learn the basic riding rules. After ‘Fortune’ (my horse) and I became friends and comfy with each other, it was off on our 1hr trail ride around the forest led by our stable guide. Such a calm and serene experience!

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Now, for my birthday I wanted to check an item off of my bucket list so thought SKYDIVING??! Took a bit of time to build up the courage, but since Australia is known to be one of the safest places to skydive thought this was the perfect chance. With lush green fields and a perfect view of the sparkling river and even a glimpse of the ocean, it just had to be done. Wow! I must say, it was THE most amazing experience I’ve had so far! Thrill, excitement, action and whole lot of adrenaline…..it was AWESOME!! So if you have some time you may want to consider giving the peeps at Southern Skydivers a visit.

The drive from where we stayed took about 1 hr to Busselton (2.5hrs from Perth). The professionals will walk and talk you through the steps, then after you are dressed and strapped up you take a 20min flight up to your drop point. We jumped at 14000ft! (YUP! FOURTEEN THOUSAND FEET!!!!), but you can choose to jump at 10,000ft if you’re not feeling so daring. The whole way up, the team jokes and makes you feel totally at ease (well,as much as they can whilst your whole body, mind and soul is completely enveloped with the insane concept that you will drive head first out of a plane!). Then about 5min before you take that plunge you get harnessed to your tandem pro diver, you say a prayer in your head (or a couple of hundred!), then off you go swimming in mid-air! My words are no where near close to what the actual experience is like! OMG! PHENOMENAL! After the jump, I’ve decided I will and MUST go back and do it again or even learn how to do it myself! EEEK!

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From the moment we left, I was miserable as all I wanted to do was go back to Margaret River!! 😦 It was one of the most idealistic escapes I have had so far; the amazingly fresh produce, Michelin Star quality cuisine, tasty and dreamy wine country, picturesque landscape and the warm and friendly locals provided for one of the most memorable holidays I have ever had. I want to go back and I will go back soon!

For more information on Margaret River check out  www.margaretriver.com

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