About Boracay

Never heard of the island of Boracay? Well, this is a place you definitely want to visit. Boracay is a small island of the Philippines, located approximately 315 km south of Manila. It is a destination frequented by many young South Africans teaching English in both South Korea and Taiwan. Try to visit during the Amihan season (varies year to year but usually between September and May), as the climate during this time is characterized as having moderate temperatures and almost no rainfall.

Where to stay

If you are looking for budget accommodating that’s still very nice, go for Frendz Resort. It is walking distance from the beaches and shops like liquor stores, the outside mall, pharmacies, etc.  Here you can also be sure to meet lots of cool world travellers. They also give you a free beer on arrival, which is pretty damn cool.

What to do

Try to take a boat ride on the native sailboat, called a Paraw. There are hundreds of companies who trawl the beaches of Boracay, trying to convince you take a trip with them. Feel free to negotiate with them, as they will often agree. Boat rides take about and hour or so and are best at sunset.

Also try the motorized tricycles, which is the best way to get around on the island.

Make sure you visit Crystal Cove Cave (above). There are many companies who try to sell you a day trip here. Don’t fall for it, since this doesn’t actually take an entire day. You can easily just go there on your own for a few hours.

At night

For those seeking nightlife, Paraw (named after the sailboat) represents the ultimate in island partying. Right on the beach you’ll find nice seats where you can experience the vibe from under the stars. The club is inside, so this is where you really want to be. They serve the most delicious cocktails – try the Mojitos.


On White Beach you’ll find many many options for food and drink. Buffets are very big on the island, and seafood aplenty. You can also visit the local fish market, they have amazing fresh fish – some restaurants will even offer to cook it up for you.

To have a fully rounded Boracay beach holiday, you’ll need at least seven days.

Photos by Jacques Labuscagne

Hwaseong Fortress, galbi and soju in Suwon, South Korea

My friend Stephan Johan Matthee lives and teaches English in Suwon, just south of Seoul, South Korea. Here he tells us a bit more about this city:

In which area should you stay?

If you’re visiting Suwon for the first time, I’d recommend staying near Suwon Station or in Yeongtong, as both are linked to the Seoul subway line and are well situated for bus trips or longer rail journeys, too. Alternately, if you are looking for luxury, the Ramada Hotel in Uman-dong is a great option.

You simply must see…

No trip to Suwon would be complete without a trip to the Hwaseong Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site. In addition, there is a folk village with traditional crafts and exhibitions and Everland, Korea’s premier amusement park. In the warmer months, the adjacent Caribbean Bay water park is also a lot of fun.

You simply must eat…

Suwon features some great restaurants, but locals are most proud of their Suwon galbi, large beef ribs cooked on a grill embedded in the center of the table. Also be sure to try some samgyeopsal (thick pork rashers) dipped in ssamjang (red pepper and soybean paste) and wash it down with some soju and makkoli (a rice-based spirit and wine, respectively).

 Are the people friendly/ helpful?

Although English education is ubiquitous, you may find that not all Koreans are comfortable speaking it. Try learn a few basic phrases in Korean, but otherwise keep asking! You’ll stumble across a local who’s fluent enough to chat in English soon enough, and there are plenty of information booths and tourist assistants (in brightly coloured bibs) in popular tourist areas.

How many days do you need in the city?

Two or three days in Suwon should be enough to see all that there is, although it’s transportation links and adjacency to Seoul means you could use it as a base to explore further afield.

Any fun facts?

FUN FACT: Suwon was site of some of the 2002 FIFA World Cup games. The stadium is still in use, and you can catch the Suwon Bluewings there, who are one of Korea’s best soccer teams.

FUN FACT: Suwon is the home of Samsung, the electronics super-conglomerate.

Originally posted on Travelstart

Hong Kong: the details

My good friend David recently visited Hong Kong for the first time. He snapped away as I knew he would, capturing the most exquisite details of everyday life in this magnificent, hauntingly beautiful and vibrant city. He calls this series, Hong Kong: Of Gods and Monsters…





















23All photos by David du Toit

The streets of Hong Kong

I recently spent about 24 hours in Hong Kong on my way back from China. There’s only one word. Bustling.

Here are some lively pictures from the centre of the city, Langham Place mall (a shopper’s delight until 11 o’clock at night), Ladies Market where you can buy cheap Chanel, Celine and Gucci products or perhaps a crazy cover for your iPhone (I did), the taxis, the colours and of course the awesome people (who all dress REALLY well).

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The Bund, learning Shanghainese and Xiao Long Bao in Shanghai, China

One of my friends lives permanently in Shanghai, China. Here she tells us a bit more about this beautiful metropolis:

Which is your favourite area of the town/city. Why?

Shanghai basically consists of two parts, Pudong and Puxi. I used to stay in the area of 7 Pudong near Century Avenue, which is a bustling place that is also great for tourists. 

This is a relatively newly developed area featuring futuristic looking high-rise buildings. So, head here if you’re looking to be inspired by the new and innovative. Yet, I recently moved to Puxi where you’ll find most of the historical and scenic sites – ideal for tourists.

Must-see sights? 

The Bund (Waitan) is an absolute must-see sight – a breathtaking architectural structure of Shanghai. From here you can see so much. You will also see the Lujiazui skyscrapers across the Huangpu River, the Yu Garden, Tian Zi Fang and the East Nan Jing Lu. All worth your while for sure.

You simply must do…

You must learn at least three or more Shanghainese sentences in order to feel like you fit in (if only a little bit) with the locals. Using these sentences always make for a lot of fun.

Be sure to eat this…

You must eat Xiao Long Bao and many different Shanghai Dianxin – basically Chinese dumplings. So many varieties and flavours are available, it’s incredible.

Are people friendly/ helpful to tourists?

People are very friendly for the most part, but  most of the older people struggle to  speak any English.

How many days do you need in the city?

You need just 2-3 days to see the main sights in the city. But it’s worth it to stay for longer to explore the ancient towns like Qibao and Zhujiajiao.

Originally posted on Travelstart