A Travellerspoint blog

Jet Lag days in Bangkok

Shopping heaven....

It did not seem like we were off to a great start, I had ticked the "airport transfer" box when I booked our hotel on Agoda. After finding the hotel's shuttle person, we were not booked with them. We were tired, It was about 6:30 in the morning, and we were kind of 'over-it'. I did not feel like navigating my way by dodgy taxi to our hotel with a driver who had little grasp of English. I think it was a taste of what the contestants on 'Amazing Race' experience. (It's so much easier when you are sitting on your couch, vehemently telling them the bus stop is right there... where the camera keeps focussing...).
It turns out one of the welcome people had a friend (conveniently) who had just completed a drop-off at the airport, and would take us to the hotel for a few Baht. What a relief.

The hotel itself was well worth the fuss, although my feelings were somewhat dubious while driving through a bit of a ramshackle urban part of Bangkok leading almost up to the front door. Inside the doors, it was an oasis of luxury and calm. The Anantara Bangkok Riverside hotel is absolutely stunning. We paid a small amount extra and upgraded our room to a junior suite, which was just superb.

We slept off some of the jet-lag and freshened up in the afternoon to do some exploring. The first stop was the tour guide desk in the lobby. We booked ourselves on one of the temple tours. This required shopping - I'll explain: The concierge explained that in the temples, you have to take off your shoes. He said the shoes occasionally vanished, and that we should get some cheap flip-flops to take with. I did not want to risk losing my Birkenstocks and therefore we headed across the river on the free hotel ferry to hit the market. Instead of finding cheap flip flops, I bought a large thick cotton canvas bag, which would we could stuff our shoes into and I could carry with me through the temples. Call me a paranoid South African!

The following day we were up early to do the temple and Grand Palace tour.
In our group, there were a British couple - slightly older than us, an slightly aged mother with her grown-up Daughter from Brazil and ourselves.

The first stop was the Golden Buddah. 5.5 Tonnes of solid gold. The guide called it an image of Buddah (and all the other Buddah's we saw were referred to as images of Buddah).
It's pretty impressive. The value of the gold is said to be around US$250 million.
The Brazilian mum - who I am guessing is in her early 60's - caused a bit of consternation with the security guard. There was a mat for worshipers to kneel at, but this lady quite rudely contravened any signage that we were forbidden to step on the mat, making the little man gesticulate quite animatedly to the dismay of our guide, who informed me he could get into trouble and have his licence suspended because of their behaviour.


Next stop was the Emerald Buddah. Strictly no photography of the buddah... but the Brazillian lady was sure to ignore this instruction. She had a smug look after she'd taken a photo of the Emerald Buddah. We were allowed to photograph a postcard with the 3 seasonal outfits of the Jade Buddha.


Next stop was the Grand Palace, which is rather grand as far as architecture goes.
At the palace, the older Brazillian lady had to hire a sarong to core the exposed lower half of her legs. This she also contravened by removing the sarong once we were in the Palace grounds. I thought our guide was going to have a fit, because the Brazilians vanished amid the throngs of people at the grand palace. We waited and waited while he frantically searched for them. Very frustrating indeed. Mental note- don't be an irritating tour participant.

Back to the architecture: one king of Thailand absolutely loved French architecture, so hired in a French team to design and build the palace. A few years later the roof of the palace was destroyed in a fire. At that point the French team was either not available or not desired, hence there is a fusion of French and Thai architecture in the palace.


Final stop was the reclining Buddah - which is a grand 43m long. This is HUGE!!!! While making our way past the gigantic statue, I overheard an Afrikaans pair of blokes say "jy kan eintlik die skaal nie heeltemal waardeer nie". (This translates to "you can't actually appreciate the scale). I chipped in my 5c worth by telling them in Afrikaans - "Dis Moerse" - which would translate to "Frikkin". They were quite surprised I could understand them :-)


I found another photo of a Buddha... Not sure which one this was, but we were allowed to photograph it from the outside. The leaf shaped pennant in front of the tall tower the Buddha is sitting on is the flag of the monk that is looking after the Buddha- there are other flags positioned lower, which represent the lesser monks looking after the Buddha.


There are rows and rows of Buddhas in the palace grounds, which get adopted by the people who worship at the temples. I asked the guide why some are in pristine condition and others are looking a bit neglected. His explanation for this is that the families who adopt these Buddhas have passed away and no one is left or been given the task to care for the Buddha.


Throughout the whole tour, the Brazilian mum and daughter were out to contravene any regulations and laws. As mentioned, the mum removed her sarong in the Grand Palace grounds, which she was forbidden to do. They took photos when they shouldn't have, and generally vanished off, ageing our tour guide by a few months. I'm sure he might have two special grey hair which he can call Brazilian. No, I'm not a Buddhist, but being a person of faith, I felt the need to respect their faith.

Shopping shopping shopping.....
The tour was over, so we went shopping. Our destination was the MBK shopping centre, which is a temple to retail. Lower down the centre, there is a plethora of boutique and designer shops. The upper levels are where the knock-offs are to be found. Robyn enjoyed the the bartering and wondered aloud if there were place like that in Australia. Sadly our markets seem to be fixed price only.

The last day was a relaxing day at the pool. We made sure to watch the evening torch lighting ceremony, which is a lovely display. I will try and upload the video I took.

The pool is stunning.... I'll let you be the judge:


Soon it was time to be on our way back home. The concierge lady organised a shuttle (again - conveniently a friend who would do it for a reduced price). It was a pimped van which would not surprise me if it had a rim of blue neon around the lower end of the vehicle or if the front part could elevate as seen in American pimp-my-ride type shows.

It did not seem that six weeks had passed, but it had. What a wonderful odyssey it was.

Posted by Talytail 00:09 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Natal Midlands and Drakensberg...

Another Little Piece of Heaven (It's about time I posted this...)

Still at Coastal KZN......

New year was a quiet affair. We had been to uShaka on the morning of the 31st, having ANOTHER go at Snorkel Lagoon - IT REALLY IS A WORTHWHILE ATTRACTION!!! We stopped at The Gateway for a coffee on our way back to the hotel. The centre was very busy and it seemed that people were streaming in by the dozens. I'll interject at this moment, that the precinct is liberally dotted with fancy cars. We saw a carbon-fibre Mercedes. From afar, the colour seemed to be a matt black, like a Batmobile. Up close though, the woven carbon fibre was unmistakable - just like a mammogram bucky / DR detector with which I am very familiar. On that note... one of the ladies I performed a mammogram on, commented on the carbon fibre detector plate, saying it was like a car she had seen.... Hey - another distraction technique when doing mammo's
We also saw a Daimler, Ferrari and Maserati.
We removed ourselves from the bustle and had a relaxing evening at the hotel.

Robyn and I had a pamper at the spa late that afternoon. The Spa Staff were polite and professional.
However, there was a booking disaster: We had made the reservation for our pamper afternoon earlier in the week, and received a confirmation phone call at 07:30 am that morning to ensure we would present ourselves at the allotted time for our treatments. Robyn and I arrive at the spa about 10 minutes early - only to be told that "Your husband called earlier this afternoon and cancelled the appointment", to which I replied that I'd spent every waking moment with my Husband that afternoon and at no time did he make or receive a phone call. After a bit of a fuss and us going up and down from the Spa to our room and back again, Robyn and I were indulged. I had a facial with a head massage, Robyn had a massage.
[My suspicion is that they decided to try and get an early evening being Old Year's Eve / New Year's eve and did not realise what day it was and had already taken the bookings. The pile of towels in the passage way and switched off lights were a strong indicator that we were the last clients for the day.

After a week at Umhlanaga, we headed inland to the Natal Midlands. Part of the journey was off the motorway, to see some of the countryside. On the road, we passed a board pointing to Nelson Mandela's capture site. We saw a few odd shaped rods in the ground, but did not feel compelled to stop. Stop we should have. The site is a memorial to Mandela, and is quite a striking feature (If you take the time to stop and admire it!! Have to do it next time we're in KZN).


This is roughly what we saw from the road - my thoughts at the time were "That's a strange monument to Nelson Mandela".


When we checked in at our next lodging, we saw this on the cover of the 'Midland's Meander' magazine / guide - and had an "OH!! That's what it was!!! (Doh!!!)" moment.

This is what I found when I googled the memorial:

For one night (how I wish it had been more) we stayed at the enchantingly named "Granny Mouse's Country House". I did say on my FB check-in that it is a little spot of heaven on earth. It is a most gorgeous establishment set in lush gardens. The air is filled with birdsong, and as you make your way to your cottage along winding paths, you can't help feeling like a child in a fairy tale, wondering what is around the next turn. Dotted around the gardens, are secluded spots with a wrought iron table and a couple of chairs. The cottages are beautifully decorated with hanging baskets and have an "Anne Hathaway's Cottage" in Stratford-upon-Avon look about them. Our cottage was just perfect. Downstairs there was a kingsize bed, an ensuite bathroom with a lovely bath and shower. Aroma therapeutic bath and shower products are provided for your pampering pleasure. There was also a small bedroom off ours, with a single bed in it - but Robyn had claimed her room with a view. Upstairs she found a room with twin single beds and across the landing, a huge bathroom of her own. This will definitely be on my list of places to come back to.... For a much longer stay next time!!!

Granny Mouse have a spa. We did not have time to indulge in a massage or facial, but as I mentioned, this is on the to-do list for next time!
there are some lovely lounges at Granny Mouses's, with tall wing-back chairs, in which you can lose yourself in a book. There are fire places in the lounge areas (and cottages) for the extra cosy romantic feeling in winter. We did not need the fireplace as the days and evenings were balmy summer temperatures. The chef provides a visual and gastronomic feast with an excellent menu. Granny Mouse's have a Facebook page and website http://www.grannymouse.co.za/ if you're interested in learning more about this absolute gem of accommodation.




After that one luxurious night, we went further inland to the Northern Drakensberg, to join my older brother and his wife and their two sons at another wonderful place- The Cavern. My brother said it would be more rustic compared to Granny Mouse's - it was not a huge step down the luxury ladder. I guess it's just a bit more family orientated and therefore more robust in design. The rooms were large and comfortable, with large bathrooms.

The food was stunning (Andrew's word) and The Cavern is full board, including morning and afternoon tea.
There are heaps of activities for everyone. From the quiet reading room, games room, kids club, planned hikes for all abilities, horse riding for all abilities, mountain biking trails, self guided trails etc etc etc..... If you get bored there, it is of your own doing.
We did a 7km walk to a nearby adventure centre. The kids did a bungee-bounce and paintball target shooting (you shoot at a target instead of getting bruised). This place also offered regular paintball, quad-biking, and a zip-line to name a few things.

The Cavern staff are outstandingly polite and accommodating - especially if you are travelling with smaller children. We went along to collect our nephews at the supervised kids area. YES - you actually can leave your children in the supervision of the mindful carers, who will pamper your dear little ones. All the children were just finishing their evening meal (with dessert). Holiday bliss if you're feeling drained by your over-active pre-schoolers. Before the meal time, Robyn even joined her nephews for a scavenger hunt.... Not too 'cool for school' at the age of 12. I think she enjoyed the 'big sister' experience, helping the younger ones read the list of random items which would entitle the first team to collect all of them to be crowned winners. (Their team won!)

My sister-in-law says that people return time and again to the sanctuary of the Cavern. I can see why. It's a great place to take your family time and again, as there are so many nearby activities, you'll never have the same holiday twice. The service is outstanding. The scenery is also particularly stunning. You are right near the Amphitheatre, which is an awe-inspiring piece of God's creation. Truly majestic and breath taking!!

After two nights, we headed south a couple of hours, to my step-mum. We spent a lovely afternoon and evening with her and are hoping to see her in Brisbane soon. There was an almighty storm in Pietermaritzburg - evidenced by the debris in the roads and all the fallen trees and the power-outage the following morning as we left for Johannesburg. We stopped in Hilton to post some postcards and pay a bill. It looks so much like the Queensland Coast Hinterland. Hilton had a power outage due to the enormous storm.

The Natal midlands has a peaceful tranquility of its own. Rolling green hills of pastures dotted with dairy herds. A myriad of 'tourist trap' craft / art / curio shops. These are a delight to visit, if you have time to do the 'Midlands Meander'. Stop for lunch at one of the many eateries, where service is generally outstanding and the quality of the fayre is superb.

The last two nights were spent catching up with friends and family and I got to spend some time with my mother. Robyn spent some time with her favourite uncle and we had an early little birthday celebration for Robyn.

Five and a half weeks were over.
There is still so much to see in Africa, and I would like to come back to travel through Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. Maybe even venture up as far as Zambia. I guess it's one more journey to add to the bucket list. There's the Okavongo Delta, Victoria Falls, Lake Malawi, and many other awesome places. Africa will always be in my blood. I've mentioned the sunsets which resonate in my being and the smell of a thunderstorm that awakens the senses. The cadence of life is truly African. Leonardo Di Caprio's character was so right when he said TIA.... This is Africa.

Posted by Talytail 04:10 Comments (0)

Jo'burg - Durban

Festive week

The following stint around Jo'burg was for Christmas week and flew by very quickly. Washing needed to be done, and more shopping for Christmas festivities and socialising was also called for, as well as catching up with friends and family.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day again showed me what little resolve was left of my healthy eating plan.... It's a blessing that Christmas only happens once a year.

On the 27th we headed south, to Umhlanga, near Durban - this is a Zulu name and is pronounced OOM (like vroom) SHL - UNGA. We were booked into the Umhlanga Coastlands Hotel. There was a bit of a mix up with the reservation, but nothing that they could not resolve.

While we were based in Umhlanga we visited the uShaka Marine Park in Durban a few times.
This is a first class attraction, that - when compared to what you would pay at an Australian theme park on the Gold Coast - is very affordable and has some amazing activities, water slides, animal shows, restaurants (shopping) and facilities. Our favourite activity is the half hour snorkel at the appropriately named Snorkel Lagoon. For roughly $25 (AUD) all three of us got to snorkel in a large marine tank. There were even sharks in the lagoon- I asked the one employee (His name was Blessing) why we weren't being eaten by the sharks... He explained that these sharks only have molars and not the sharp front teeth required to eat humans. We weren't told that there were going to be sharks in the the water, so got quite a surprise when we saw the finned beasts below us in the water. They weren't huge... About 3 or 4 foot long, so I thought like the cheetahs, perhaps as we were bigger than them, we were not prey-size and therefore not on the menu (that was of course BEFORE Blessing explained the dentition)?!?

Robyn absolutely loved the snorkel activity - her exact words were: "I am going to remember this forever!!"

Robyn and Andrew also did many of the water slides in the park- I kept an eye on our belongings... Just being a paranoid South African...

The aquarium is set in an old ship (replica) and is wonderfully done. In my opinion, it is better than the Sydney Aquarium at Darling harbour. I am not being biased here, but I've been to Sydney aquarium twice now, and when I get to the lower levels, with the acrylic viewing tunnels, I almost experience claustrophobia due to the heaving masses of people and distinct lack of fresh air. The uShaka aquarium is beautifully air conditioned, with ample space in which you could swing a dead cat. There are also seats dotted along the way in case you would like to rest for a while.



One of the places where you can sit, is in front of a large tank which has big sharks in it - the human eating kind. You can go dive with them- in a Perspex-looking dive cage, where you get to use a swimming mask while you keep your body submerged. The challenge is to hold your breath for as long as possible while trying to stay submerged and view the sharks at the same time.
At a different spot, without seats, you are able to see the patrons in Snorkle Lagoon.

Another sitting spot was on the loo... These aren't functioning toilets, but the ship replica is accurate enough to include the head... With portholes through which you can see more aquarium fish.

There is also a dangerous creatures exhibit which is well worth a visit.


If you are planning on spending more than 2 days at uShaka, it is worth getting the annual membership. You also get great discounts on the snorkelling and other activities.

We frequented the cinema in Umhlanga, at the Gateway "Theatre of Shopping" as the mall is known. There was also time for some retail therapy. The shopping centre is absolutely massive!!! Andrew liked the Apple Store.

One can't go to the coast without having a day at the beach. This we did at Ballito, a coastal town north of Umhlanga. We took the scenic drive on the M4, avoiding the toll road. After stopping for some provisions, we were on the (hot) sand at about 1pm. This is where I pull out the "I am a spoilt Queenslander" card and say that I prefer the beaches in Queensland. The beach we went to at Ballito was very steep and the sea was VERY turbulent. The beach sand was somewhat coarse too. The one time I ventured into the water, the Indian Ocean dumped me on my posterior, reminding me why I have an immense respect for the sea.

In a very short space of time, making my way out of the water up the 30° incline and being dumped a couple more times, my swimming costume became filled with sand between the lining and the outer fabric. This brings to mind the question WHY do they have to engineer bathers with hidden pockets and folds that were not designed to see the light of day? That is, until you get tumbled and washed about by the merciless Indian Ocean current which is simultaneously encouraging millions of grains of sand to take up residence in your swimmies. The worst part was the kilo of sand that found its way into the gusset, giving me the appearance of wearing a disposable nappy that had not been changed for an entire week. I tried to ignore the weight 'down there' which would have looked quite obscene I am sure, and walked to where our little beach shelter was. Removing the sand took a whole lot longer than it took to fill up with sand.

Andrew's description of his refreshing dip was " it was like being hosed down by a Karcher pressure washer that was spraying a mixture of water and sand" and that it had removed several layers of skin. At least we can say we went into the sea. Sorry South Africa, but I do look forward to the silky fine soft sand of Bribie Island for my next adventure in the sea.

Posted by Talytail 06:39 Archived in South Africa Tagged durban ushaka Comments (0)

Free State Break

The Dell

The farmer's in the dell.....The farmer's in the dell.... Hey ho the dairy oh.... (Or whatever the lyrics are)

Free State Break
Sunday morning after check-out we were heading south-west of Johannesburg to the Free State town of Parys. A few kilometres outside Parys we had a reservation for two self catering units at "The Dell". This can only be reached by travelling about 5km on a VERY BUMPY dirt road. The sat-nav (TomTom) indicated time to destination would be half an hour when we turned onto the dirt road!!! The road wasn't that bad, but did make me wonder if it would have been better if our rental car was a 4x4.

Joining us were my brother, his wife, their two daughters and my mum. They were arriving after us.
After dropping off the luggage, we went into town to get some groceries. Back along the bumpy road.

The town of Parys has become an antiques Mecca. You used to have to drive through the town to get from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein or Capetown. The wonders of the modern motorway have removed it from the beaten track. The Antique angle brings much needed tourism. With that said, the town was reasonably busy. The roads leave a lot to be desired - They are pot-holed beyond belief. One particular hole was big enough for a four-year-old to hide in. This is obviously not a priority for the council. Perhaps wheel and tyre companies benefit too much from the dodgy roads?

There are many restaurants in Parys - but we limited ourselves,to The Wimpy- where we happened upon a free wifi network. This sadly meant that we ventured back into the town just about every day to make use of the wifi.

On Monday we took a drive into Sasolburg. This town is just a little east of Parys - and came about because of the political embargoes against apartheid South Africa: South Africa has no oil reserves, but heaps of coal. The apartheid government set a challenge for scientists of Sasol (a company) to extract oil from coal, to be refined into fuel. The plan was for Sasol to produce 25% of the country's requirements. The town was set up to house the people who were directly and indirectly involved in this industry. We thought Sasolburg was a bit lacklustre and would not venture back there in a hurry. The Wimpy did not have wifi!

The Dell was a nice rustic place to stay at. Our units were newly built and quite pleasant. The staircase to the loft / mezzanine room was rather treacherous. On arrival, we asked the staff to place the king size bed upstairs and the two single beds downstairs, as I doubted my mum would make it up the stairs. Just as well: when my mum saw the stairs, she said if she had to climb up those, she would rather sleep on the couch- and there was no couch. I imagine whoever had to heave the king-size mattress up the awful stairs cursed our request!!

Activities offered included (but were not limited to) kayaking, bush walking, game drives, cheetah visits.
Monday afternoon Andrew, Robyn and I went kayaking on the Vaal River.
This was very enjoyable, having a bit of a paddle down the river.... until we had to turn around. Paddling upstream was a touch harder than we had anticipated, particularly next to the grassy islands dotted in the middle of the river. I recon we paddled about a kilometre each way. We did not take photos - for fear of losing my iPad in the river.... We were even worried about the keys for the car- and the risk of them getting wet. Andrew hid them under the car- luckily The Dell is in a quiet spot and does not have wanderers though the property.

Tuesday afternoon Andrew and I went on a bit of a bush walk. We saw springbok, wildebeest, blesbok, impala and an ostrich. As pleasant as the walk was, the animals were a bit reclusive. The impala ewes ran off behind a thicket of thorn trees while some rams stood their ground watching us. The rams were accompanied by 5 wildebeest who seem to be a bit menacing in their stance. We gave them a wide berth and continued along our way. Our walk was cut short by a spot of rain. We did find out later that the owners do shoot the buck - hence their evasive behaviour.


Wednesday was uneventful except for our visitors...(see below) but included a trip into town to the Wimpy to exploit the wifi.

Thursday was the highlight for me: the cheetah visit.
We were given a presentation on cheetahs. The guide explained the differences between cheetahs and leopards, the talk included loads of other cheetah information.
Genetically, all cheetahs can be traced back too one female, who must have been pregnant. With the gene pool limitations, there are a number of health issues with cheetahs, including kidney problems and a low sperm count.
The gestation period is around 3 months, after which the mother will look after her cub /cubs until they are between 16 and 24 months old. She will not come into oestrus while she is looking after her cubs. Interestingly, the pregnant female won't have a "bump" as she still has to be able to run at over 100km/h to hunt for food. Or guide told us the foetal cubs are tucked up under the female's rib cage. I'm glad humans aren't required to run that fast-especially during pregnancy.
The cheetah numbers are declining dramatically, and in places like The Kruger National Park, they are being eradicated by the lions and the leopards.
For the cheetahs in the wild, their habitat is being encroached on by human habitation, which also diminishes their food supply. Cheetahs rarely attack humans, but will do so if cornered or if a female has cubs.

After the talk, we were able to go into the enclosure to meet the cheetahs.
We met a brother and sister team: Nala and Ramses.
There are obviously some do's and don'ts when it comes to meeting a predator. One of the don'ts is that you don't place yourself on the claw-side of the big cat - what I called the sharp end.... The guide would caress what I describe as the inner thigh of Nala, who would then lick your hand. Their tongues are rasp-like, much more so than a domestic cat. Small children aren't allowed in to the cheetah enclosures, because they are prey-sized. Sadly my nieces couldn't join us, but were able to see the cats from the other side of the fence.


The Dell Cheetah Centre are busy with a breeding program. They have successfully bred and hand reared dozens of cubs, some of which have been sent overseas to other cheetah information centres. Their plan is to breed cubs to be released into the wild, which is being delayed by the lack of funding. They have no government support and rely on donations and funds generated by their volunteer programme. This is explained on their website http://www.dccafrica.co.za/

On Wednesday afternoon we had some visitors at our unit.
A bushbuck pair- the ram had short fuzzy covered antlers. In the antelope world, next to the moose which has antlers which look like oven gloves, these look like large pipe-cleaners or those extra large chenille craft fuzzy things - but of a robust variety, these must be a bit of a joke. Poor fellas, they're not even pointy and sharp. They obviously do what they have to, as this chap's ewe seemed to be pregnant as her abdomen was decidedly more rotund than his. Being a grazer, she does not have to run at 100kmh and therefore the foetus is not tucked up into her rib cage... Just as well: if you've ever seen a calf being born (I have- on my uncle's farm) or witnessed the event on the discovery channel of any antelope young being born, they are VERY LEGGY- that would just not work being tucked up into a rib cage. We fed the bushbuck cut up bits of apple- which they loved, and some fancy lettuce leaves- which they ignored.
The ewe returned on Thursday- and I decided to see if she would take food from my hands. Armed with a few sliced apples, I carefully approached her and she happily ate many apple wedges from my hand, until she had her fill. Either that or a leggy calf/lamb was not making room for more apple chunks.


On this our last evening in Parys, my niece told me I had to come and see the spectacular "sunrise". She is only 4 after all and is allowed to mix the two up.... With an imploring look, she insisted I some see the "sunrise" and she promised there would be amazing colours like pink and orange. She was not wrong- and we were treated to a stunning African sunset.... The likes you only ever see in Africa.


Our primary task is having a holiday and we did indulge in relaxing moments and reading, as well as spending quality time with our family. Would we go back? Possibly- due to the proximity to Johannesburg and the ease of getting there.
I hope they tar the road before we come back.....

Posted by Talytail 14:07 Archived in South Africa Tagged parys Comments (0)

In and around Jo'burg

Dining and Shopping.

Five days at the Fairway was just not enough time to enjoy this suburban jewell.

As mentioned before, the hotel was outstanding. This was our base for a few days. Our days were filled with socialising and shopping and our nights were filled with more socialising. It's lovely when we are here and get to catch up with all our friends and family. We don't do it often, so tend to overdose when we're in the JHB Region.

With all the socialising came lots of eating..... South African hospitality is outstanding. Table service is standard in most places - I might have mentioned this before. Now service may be outstanding, but quality seems to have dwindled in a few places. We went to "The Spur" a couple of times- which used to be a reasonably good steak-house-tex-mex family dining establishment. For roughly the same price, you can have a far superior dining experience at an independent steak house. Here comes the "when I was young" schpiel.... We used to look forward to going to The Spur to enjoy a burger - or a "lazy aged steak".... But it just does not seem the same. The food seems pretty ordinary - which is how Australians describe something that is below par.

The Fairway were exceptional when it came to dining. From the oh-so-scrumptious business buffet lunch which had to-die-for mini Christmas puddings, to the fine dining experience of the alacarte menu and the sumptuous breakfasts. All delicious!

For home cooked fayre that week, my cousin made a lurvely Thai Green Chicken curry (her first attempt- good job, J!), my younger brother made a hearty oxtail stew(yum), we also had tasty takeaway pizza with some friends (hello K&M) and with Andrew's brother. It would be very un-South African to not have a braai, so thank you to B&C for the BBQ and the gorgeous salad with strawberries.... I'll make use of that idea in future!!

I had so much resolve to stick to our new eating plan before we came on holiday... It vanished somewhere between the carnivorous feast at Mabalingwe and the Thai curry... I resigned myself to the notion that we are on holiday and that the healthy eating will resume once we're back in Brizzie!

Shopping has been enjoyable.... Andrew did really well (for an anti-shopper) and managed a day and a half of shopping - this was interspersed with coffee breaks, giving him much needed succour. He really does not enjoy leisurely browsing of shops in a mall - but our shopping was not the aimless kind- it was Christmas shopping and I had a list on my iPad reminders app- with every person we had to buy for and gift ideas with that person's name. It was handled with military precision (OK- my perception of military precision...) and there were very few distractions.... Except for the pretty sparkly items adorning the windows of the countless jewellers stores.

Making shopping more enjoyable is the conversion to dollars. Some things seems to be sooooo cheap compared to Australia. (Including eating out). If I were earning Rands though, it would be a bit different.... The cost of living is rising faster than salary increases can keep up with. I live in hope that this does not become a bigger problem, as it makes it difficult for people to make ends meet.

Posted by Talytail 13:15 Tagged johannesburg Comments (0)

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