Lesotho Wild Flower Route

Lesotho Wild Flower Route

The stunning beauty of Lesotho, and why when so many CHAI colleagues ask me if I like being based here I always say yes! The pictures say it all. If your a motorbike enthusiast and want to know the logistics, please refer to the map. A demonstration video of how NOT to ride very rocky terrain is attached below for your viewing pleasure.

 

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Beer festivals!

Summer is beer season, and this summer past I was able to celebrate the season by attending three boutique beer festivals! Happy days of sunshine, crisp brews, camping, brisk morning swims to clear the cobwebs, and delicious festival food. A lot of reminders of another day, and other times at the Australian Boutique Beer Festival with the boys. Speaking of which, I hear that the 10th Annual Australian Beer Festival to be held in Octob er this year  will also celebrate the Australian Hotels 100th Birthday!

Of the beer festivals attended this season, the first was the Komo Caves Glamping and Beer Festival in Lesotho, the second the Sands Boutique Beer Festival in Johannesburg and the third was the very popular Clarens Boutique Beer Festival. All were good in their own way, The Komo Caves setting was stunning, facilities impressive and the partying the most passionate of the lot, with revelers dancing through until at least 2am. The Sands was convenient, being in Sandton and their was a pool, which earns bonus points all ways. Clarens was the classiest, with the most and best beers, good food, and a easy, laid back setting with great organisation. Real shame about the rain this year.

Enjoy the video and pics

The Komo Caves Beer festival, Lesotho

The Sands, Sandton Beer Festival Gallery

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The Clarens Boutique Beer Festival

 

Drakensburgs

The Drakensburg mountain range is known as the wall of spears that peacefully separated the Basotho (People of Lesotho) from the Zulu (Of North East RSA). Here are some clips from a sneaky long weekend I managed for a friends birthday thanks to a public holiday in RSA way back in the start of spring.

We stayed at the beautiful Inkosana  Lodge, which is on the road to the Monks Cowl National Park, with a great view of Cathkin peak at sunset over the pool. After doing one of the day hikes to the waterfall under Monks Cowl, we headed further South West to the Amphitheatre Park, and hiked into the base of the Amphitheatre. Topped the long week of driving around a small game park which is situated at the site where the British armed forced incurred a significant loss to the Zulu.

A very action packed and worthwhile long weekend.

Nozawa Onsen snowboarding

It is a year since I first went snowboarding with Arnault at Nozawa Onsen. During January and February 2013 we made numerous trips into the deep fluffy snow on the north west slopes of the Torogi pass in Nagano Prefecture. Arnault, a university friend of Nicks’ from Singapore has been a regular at Nozawa onsen for the past 7 years and returns year on year for the ease of access from Tokyo, deep powder, often unused off-piste trails, and local, non-touristy feel that the place has. He stays at the same family Ryonkan each year, and they view him as a favoured son. Ina ddition, the town is historic, with 17 public onsens scattered throughout the tiny town, it is one of few places  where these public onsens are still maintained, free of charge.

We had blue skies for 2 of the three visits, which is apparently pretty rare, and good snow. On one occasion, we had almost too much snow! Check out the gallery and two video clips I have put together below. Unfortunately, both times I went off-piste with Arnault and Delphine, I crashed too many times to make sure the camera was operating appropriately! One of those occasions I managed to get a little air just prior to hitting a tree at pretty decent speed, so a good thing it is not on camera!

Click to see the pictures in large format.

Cape Town Open Street festival and neighborhood markets

Cape Town is a beautiful, vibrant city with a large and growing activist community. There is always a buzz about people and places that are trying to make themselves better. I was lucky enough to pop into the Open Street festival in Cape Town at the end of May when all my gear arrived. I was doubly lucky to have the energetic Cecile to show me around and introduce me to many of the exciting and interesting people that are improving the social equality in and around Cape Town.

For more information on the open streets project you should visit: http://openstreets.co.za/

For more information on the Old Mill Neighborhood markets you should visit: http://www.neighbourgoodsmarket.co.za/

Enjoy the pics.

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Tanzania!

Well, I finally made it to Africa, although not how I originally expected! I have started a new job which will involve a lot of travel around Africa and one which will hopefully have a significant impact on the TB death rate. Although it is not my preferred mode of travel I’m happy that one of my travel goals has been achieved and that I’m here in Africa.

So what to do on my first weekend in Africa? Go on Safari of course! We visited the Ngorogoro crater and nearby lake Manyara. Both are closely situated to the Serengeti National park, which was just a little out of reach this weekend.

The checklist of animals we spotted was impressive, and the Ngorogor crater itself very impressive. I’m struggle to reconcile how green Tanzania is with my expectations. Then again, it is situated just below the equator and has both Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru, towering on the border with Kenya to the north, that drag down the clouds and the rain.

Mind you I still managed to get sunburnt even though I was wearing a rain-coat! Enjoy the pictures, it was a pleasure taking them! Lake Manyana photos will come in a post soon.

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Chiang Mai and the International cricket 6’s

Chiang Mai and the International cricket 6’s

After leaving Japan I was lucky enough to have some time in Northern Thailand and Laos before starting my new job here in Tanzania. Part of the time in Northern Thailand was taking part in the Chiang Mai international cricket 6’s tournament.

About 26 teams competed this year, represented by over 120 players plus about another ~100 social participants. The competition was held at the Gymkhana ground in Chiang Mai, which was beautifully prepared, and an immense amount of fun was had by all, on and off the ground. Some pics from competition are included for your enjoyment – for t

he record the Tokyo Wombats did pretty well, especially since they were carrying yours truly who seems to have forgotten how to bowl!

In addition to playing cricket, drinking beer and vodka slammer ‘fines’ and gathering collective wisdom about Northern Thailand and Africa, I did manage to have a look around Chiang Mai and the nearby Doi Suthep national Park.

Bigger adventures were to follow and you can look forward to more on that in the future. Following that, yet bigger adventures in Tanzania and Africa! Enjoy for now.

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Food from home

The food in Japan is renowned for its quality. What people may not realise, is that it is not just the food in the restaurants that is good – it is the food in the markets and the supermarkets and the basement floors of the department stores.

For me the food in Japan represents two of the virtues most synonymous with the Japanese –  value and quality. Lucky for me, I think that flowed through to my cooking!

Dinner Diary: Ginza, LIME Balinese aqua bar

These pictures are from two dinners I had at a fusion Japanese-Balinese bar and restaurant in Ginza called LIME. The restaurant is located upstairs (2F) in the Ginza Corridor arcade under the metropolitan expressway and Shinkansen. A map and review is available from Metro.

LIME has  floor to ceiling fish-tanks running the length of the restaurant and provides most of the restaurants moody lighting. The tanks are chock full of tropical fish, including a beautiful zebra striped moray eel, which hides up near the cashiers.

The food was good. Not fantastic and not expensive, it was good value, interesting fusion food. If you want Japanese food, go somewhere else. If you want pure Indonesia food, go somewhere else. If you want something that sounds familiar but is a little different – same same but different – then give this place a try.