Accommodation Guide in South Africa (Garden Route)

Hunting for accommodation is my favourite part of travel planning. I absolutely love hunting for places that are gorgeous yet value for money. Also, I like to mix up the types of accommodation on my travel, from B&Bs to apartments and backpackers or value for money boutique hotels. Friends have been asking me to provide more information on my trip to South Africa, so here’s a guide to where I stayed during my South African road trip, done up according to my itinerary. Before I begin, I would like to say that the hospitality I received throughout my stay was simply remarkable, probably the best I have experienced out of all my travels. Thank you South Africa for making my trip so wonderful. It was a blessing to have interacted with the people I met on my trip and I yearn to be back again.

Disclaimer: Do note that the prices I quote in SGD are what I paid for during my trip, per person, per night. Prices for accommodation are seasonal (and there might be promotions to take into account as well) and hence you should not rely entirely on my quotation. Please check with the respective hosts for their most current rates if you are planning a stay with them.

SIMON TOWN – DAY 1 (29/06)
Activities: Penguins (Boulder Beach), Simon Town

AQUATERRA B&B

Aquaterra is probably my favourite B&B. I’ve never ever stayed somewhere with such a million dollar view and I wish I stayed longer. The place is essential an apartment that has been converted to a B&B. The owner’s mum is the host and she’s a lovely lady that makes really awesome breakfast.

How much I paid:  SGD$61
(R995/$122 per room)

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photo credits to AquaTerra

HERMANUS – DAY 2 (30/06)
Activities: Whale-watching from land, diving with the sharks

HERMANUS BACKPACKERS

Staying at Hermanus Backpackers was an absolute steal. Being a backpackers, the rooms come in various types, from dorms to en-suite. Hermanus Backpackers offer a R100 discount on their accommodation for guest who opt for the shark cage diving trip so since we were going to do that, we booked the double en-suite. Like most backpackers, it is a vibrant place with people from all walks of lives. There is always something happening and I’m sure you won’t be bored there!

How much I paid (after discount): SGD$11
(R95 per pax)

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photo credits: Hermanus Backpackers

MOSSEL BAY – DAY 4 (2/07)
Activities: Game reserve, Mussels + Wine

LINKSIDE 2 GUESTHOUSE

This is another accommodation with a beautiful view and a carefully thought out interior design. Petra our host was  yet another lovely lady who was so kind to us. She was great a giving recommendations and we really wished we had more time for Mossel Bay.

How much I paid: SGD$43
(R700/SGD$86 per room)

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photo credits: Linkside 2

KNYSA – DAY 6 (4/07)
Activities: Oyster Festival, Sightseeing (Lagoon)

BRIDGEWATER MANOR GUESTHOUSE

As you can tell, I have the tendency to pick accommodation with great view. Bridgewater Manor was no exception. The view from our room overlooked the Knysa lake. Pat was our host at Bridgewater Manor and she went all out helping us make bookings for our cheetah walk and making sure we get it. The hospitality was just impeccable. Not to mention, our breakfast was stupendous (never thought I would use that word, but yes, stupendous.)

How much I paid: SGD$52
(R840/SGD103 per room)

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photo credits: Bridgewater Manor

TSITSIKAMMA – DAY 7 (5/07)
Activities: Tenikwa, Tsitsikamma Forest/National, Bungy

AT THE WOODS GUESTHOUSE

This guesthouse is situated within storms river and it almost makes you feel like you’re part of nature. The lovely couple who owns this guesthouse actually built it on their own and the end product is a prize winner.

How much I paid: SGD55
(R900/SGD110 per room)

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photo credits: At the Woods Guest House

GRAAF – REINET – DAY 9 (7/07)
Activities: Valley of Desolation, Addo Elephant National Park (slight detour but on the way)

QUEEN MANOR BOUTIQUE GUESTHOUSE

Graaf-reinet was a tricky one but we eventually settled for this accommodation and had no regrets! It was a HUGE room for the price we paid, and yet again, we woke up to a fantastic view.

How much I paid: SGD$43
(R700/SGD$86 per room)

Photos of Queen Manor Boutique Guest House, Graaff-Reinet
This photo of Queen Manor Boutique Guest House is courtesy of TripAdvisor
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photo credits: Queen Manor Boutique Hotel

OUDTSHOORN – DAY 10 (8/07)
Activities: Ostrich & Cango Caves

DIE FONTEINE GUESTHOUSE

Die Fonteine was slightly out of Oudtshoorn town but we didn’t mind as we were planning to head to the Cango caves nearby. Die Fonteine is much adored for its seclusion as it is a serene little cottage in the middle of nature. It’s nice and quiet and the rooms were cosy and thoughtfully decorated to make us feel at home. The breakfast served was also a treat and the owner’s friendly dog couldn’t agree more!

How much I paid:  SGD$43
(R700/SGD$86 per room)

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photo credits: Die Fonteine Guest House

CAPE TOWN – DAY 11 (09/07)
Activities: Robben Island, Table Mountain, Long Street etc…

ADDERLEY HOTEL

Last and final stop for our South Africa trip we wanted somewhere comfortable after driving around for close to 2 weeks. We were going to stay in Cape Town for another 4 nights so we didn’t want somewhere too expensive as well. Adderley Hotel was hidden gem. Not only was it cheap for a hotel, the amenities it provided were so valued for money. The room was big and it came with a kitchen so we could cook. The interior was without a doubt very idealistic for me as it was clean and minimalistic.

How much I paid: SGD32
(R520/SGD64 per room)

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photo credit: Adderley Hotel

I know that most of the pictures here are taken off their website but having stayed at each of the accommodation, I can vouch that they are as accurate as can be. Hope that this list of accommodation will be of great help to your next road trip on the Garden Route, or even just a visit to any of the above towns. I wish you all a pleasant trip and I hope you enjoy your stay in South Africa as much as I did, if not more.

Peace & Love,

Eileen x

How to Maximise Small Spaces

Singapore is very limited in land space and new residential developments are being built smaller and smaller. Whether you’re living in a private property, condominium, or hdb flat, learning how to maximise small spaces will definitely come in handy at some point in your life.

The reason why I even started researching this topic is because I’m going to be moving next year and I was told my new room will be smaller than my current! Having done quite a bit of research for the past couple of weeks, I figured I shouldn’t let the information go to waste! Here is my compilation of little affordable tips on the DOS and DON’TS for MAXIMISING Small Spaces:

1. De-Clutter

Out of all the tips I’m giving, this is the most important. Seems logical and is something you will do, but you’ll be surprised at the amount of (inner) hoarders out there. The minute you have clutter around the house, clothes all over your room, it will shrink in size. Why do showrooms always look bigger than it actually is? Why do interior design magazines always make the room so much nicer? Because there is no clutter!

DON’T

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photo credit: jessica wilson {jek in the box} via photopin cc

DO

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photo credit: freshome

2. Utilise Air space

Quite often, we focus on the space we see and we forget the invisible space that is available around. Maximise space by using air space and not just furnishing based on floor area. By raising things up higher, you are creating light and space and preferential for a smaller room.

DON’T

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photo credit: tachyondecay via photopin cc

DO

  • Prop the bed higher and you can use the space below for storing bulky items such as clean pillows, casings and linens. If you can, make the bed even higher into a loft bed and use the bottom area as study, storage or chilling space.

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photo credits: Lush Home

  • Float your desk, drawers and even your shelves!

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photo credits: Apartment Therapy

  • Hang things. Hang your lamp, hang you potted plants, hang you bed side table or clothes rail. Because you are suspending your objects in the air, you allow increase the area on the floor and  thus creates the illusion of space.

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photo credit: monsterscircus (click to learn how to make this)

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photo credit: shelterness (click for more cool bedside lamp)

3. White/Light colour scheme

I’m pretty sure many of you have come across nice white scandinavian themed rooms on pinterest, tumblr etc… And for the above “DO” pictures, the common theme is white. White and light palettes make the room look brighter, hence expanding the space. It’s the same logic as clothes, wear something dark it makes you look slimmer, paint the room dark it looks smaller. Also, white and light background will be a great neutral tone to match your furnitures.

PLEASE DON’T

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photo credits: uglyhousephotos

DO

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photo credit: ooh_food via photopin cc

4. Reflection

Mirrors definitely double the size of your room. Place an oversized mirror somewhere and see it work it’s magic.

MAGIC WORKING

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photo credits: progression by design

MORE MAGIC

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photo credits: blog.comfree

TIP:

  • Place the mirror by the window so it reflects natural light back into the room. The more natural light into the room, the bigger it looks.
  • If you don’t like waking up to mirrors in your face, make a curtain across a full ceiling to floor mirror and draw it at night when you’re sleeping. If it’s a small mirror, simply place a shawl over.

5. Be Bold & Creative

This is very important as you have to make use of every area you are given. It is very natural to want to push all the furnitures to the wall in a small room but that might not be the best way to enhance space. Can you turn your bed around? Do you need that table at the side? Try placing it somewhere else. You’ll be surprised.

Also take note of hidden spots that can be utilised. Make hooks behind your door and hang your bags or coats and accessories. Place a tall standing rack in an awkward corner. Be creative.

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photo credit: apartment therapy

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photo credit: design sponge (click for more AMAZING storage solution)

And here is a video from the youtube series, “Small Spaces, BIG DESIGNS”. It’s great, take down notes.

I hope that this post have inspired you in one way or another. Do click on the links if you want to learn more as they take you to even more inspiring articles.

PS: I’ll be going on a 2 week hiatus as exams are here! But I will try and do up a couple more post after my exams (or 1 in between if I need a break from books) and before I leave for Sri Lanka. 🙂

Peace & Love,

Eileen x

Cut the Crap, Do Yoga.

Let me first start by admitting that I was one of those people who gave the lamest excuses before I tried out yoga classes. Having been there, I understand your plight to a certain extent. However, I’ve since signed up and I’m loving it so much!

Now that I’ve reaped the benefits from doing yoga, I want to spread it around! The objective of this post is to encourage all of you to give yoga a chance. To the people who are just like how I was before, I just want to say to you, “cut the crap, do yoga”. I promise you, there are way more pros than cons. (Honestly, the only downside I can think of is how irresistible Lululemon appears to me now.)

large_2242940421photo credit: Andrew Kalat via photopin cc

Here are the worst and the most common excuses heard:

1. “I can’t touch my toes!”

You don’t have to touch your toes to do yoga. It’s precisely you can’t touch your toes THAT’S WHY YOU SHOULD DO YOGA! I couldn’t touch my toes either and still can’t but yoga is one activity that can help you work the muscles you neglect and therefore increasing your flexibility. You shouldn’t aim to touch your toes if you can barely go pass your knees. Instead, look at yoga as a way to stretch better than you can right now. Inch by inch, bit by bit, you may end up touching your toes, that’s a bonus!

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photo credit: J. Star via photopin cc

2. “Yoga is so boring, stretching about for 1 hour?”

There is this great misconception that yoga is all about meditating and stretching. Yoga goes beyond that and works your entire body. Different types of yoga cater to different body type and needs. For instance, try Ashtanga yoga if you want something more dynamic and gets your heart racing. In yoga, you can be calm like an eagle,  zen like a tree or fierce like a cobra. One day you may even find yourself upside down. How is that boring?! On top of that, different instructors will have different styles. Here’s a special shout out to Yun (credits: Stretch City) who was the instructor for my very first hot yoga power class! Every class that I’ve attended of hers since are fun and different! If you need more exciting ideas and information relating to Yoga, Stretch City is a good place to start. Remember, Yoga is everything but boring.

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photo credit: Alex Dram via photopin cc

3. “It doesn’t make me sweat! I need cardio workout.”

Have you tried staying in a 40 degrees room for an hour? Not doing anything, just being in there. Trust me you’ll sweat buckets. If you enjoy sweating it out when you exercise, try the hot yoga classes. Birkram classes are 90mins. If you enjoy being in a hot room for a longer period, go for it. As mentioned above, yoga will get your heart racing. If you want cardio workout, try the power flow classes. It’s fast pace, it’s about being strong, working your core and still maintaining a calm breath. Not as easy as it sounds!

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photo credit: daveynin via photopin cc

4. “Too expensive to sign up for the classes”

Times are hard I understand, yoga classes can be pricey and membership is hard to keep up. BUT, these are not legitimate excuses! There are so many youtube videos that guide you step by step. The only bills you pay are those to your service provider for internet and utilities.

You don’t need a yoga mat as well, you can get by with a towel. You must have at least a towel at home. If you have friends who practice yoga, meet up at someone’s place and do it together! If you have a small budget, consider classes at the community centres. Or find a yoga instructor and trade skills. Seriously, you don’t need money to start doing yoga.

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photo credit: angela7dreams via photopin cc

5. “Haven’t got time for yoga when my schedule is so busy!”

Worst and most common excuse of the lot! Everyone is busy, EVERYONE. But people find time to go for yoga! The busiest profession I know have a large number of people practicing. Men or women. Whether you are a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher or just busy with tonnes of client meeting, it’s not about having time, it’s about making time. The classes are only an hour. For Singaporeans, it’s lesser time taken to travel across the island (via public transport). For everyone else, it’s about the same time as an episode of a standard TV series. Whether you’re waking up slightly earlier to do yoga before start your day, or just doing a quick routine before you shower and hit the sack, being busy shouldn’t be an excuse.

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photo credit: Kris Krug via photopin cc

Having said all that, HERE’S WHY YOU NEED TO DO YOGA:

And here are more articles to convince you:

12 Benefits of Yoga by Health is Happiness

How Yoga Changes your Body by Huffington Post

A Men’s Guide to Yoga by Men’s Health (it’s not just for the ladies!)

10 Benefits of Prenatal Yoga by Babble part of Walt Disney Co.

the list can go on forever.

Namaste.

Peace & Love,
Eileen x

[Book Review]: Fish Eats Lion

This is my very first book review! I was fortunate to be given this book by the Singapore Writer’s Festival team and I want to share what I love about it. I’m only half way through the book but I’m really enjoying Fish Eats Lion.

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photo credits: Books Actually

Fish Eats Lion edited by Jason Erik Lundberg, is a collection of fiction being written in Singapore today. I was given a few books to choose from but I made this pick because I’m always excited to embrace the works of homegrown talent. My country is often regarded as a strict city where law-abiding citizens, leading average routined lives, make up most of our society. However, contrary to this perception, Fish Eats Lion takes you on an imaginative ride and turns this city into fantasy. What I love about this book, is how the authors tap on Singapore’s unique culture and history to create a tale that captures the heart of its readers. Being Singaporean myself, I like the sense of belonging as I picked out familiar references along the way. It is refreshing to see a unique mix of short stories, from sci-fi to political satire crafted by talented local writers.

I still have some pages to read on but I know for sure that it will be a good and satisfying read, it already is. For non-Singaporeans, this book is an interesting way to be introduced to this vibrant city. This book is whimsical, new-age and dark at times but it is definitely worth a read.

Here’s a sneak peak at one of the pages in the book. An extract from Big Enough For the Entire Universe by Victor Fernano R Ocampo. Rather intriguing piece of writing.

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Fish Eats Lion is published by Math Paper Press and you can purchase it on Books Actually web store.

Thank You SWF Team again for your generosity. 🙂

Peace & Love,
Eileen x

10 Useful Apps When Traveling Abroad

Many people own smart phones these days and since we have the technology, why not make use of it! There are plenty of applications out there designed to enhance and/or simplify your traveling experience. As an avid traveling, and having used both the iPhone and Android phone, I have sieved out 10 useful travel apps that you may find useful when you’re traveling.

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photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

1. Offline Map

Offline Maps are brilliant. It doesn’t rely on data roaming so you don’t have to worry about being charged for it. More often than not, we may find ourselves lost in a foreign land with no one around to navigate (i.e. lost in the middle of friggin no where especially on a road trip). During times like this, Offline Maps are extremely useful. I relied on it so much on my South African Road trip. The iPhone version of the Offline Map allows you to download the maps of different continents. As for the Android Offline Map, I downloaded RMaps which seems to have pretty good reviews. I’ll give it a shot in Sri Lanka and update this section on how well it works for me. And if in doubt, Google Maps is now available for offline use if you pre download the maps!

2. World Lens

When I first found out about this app, I was trying hard to comprehend how advance our technology is today (or maybe I’m just an idiot when it comes to IT). Anyway, this app literally translates foreign words you see into a language you understand instantly! It is AMAZING. Just watch the video.

3. Google Translate

Following up from “World Lens”, Google Translate allows  you to give a go at communicating in a foreign language. We all know how google translate works, so here’s a video of an April fool’s Joke by Google on a Google Animal Translate app, just for fun.

4. XE Currency

Money makes the world go round, and when we’re spending money, we want to know how much we’re burning a whole in our pockets. With the XE Currency exchange app, this works offline as well and you instantly convert the amount you are spending in a foreign currency. I personally use this app a lot.

5. Stay City Guides

Stay City Guides is useful when you have no time to plan for your trip and you have absolutely no idea what to do when you get there. If you feel like you’re short of time and want to see the most you can, Stay City Guides will provide you with offline city guides on where to go and what to do. The best part of it is that it allows you to plan your itinerary with your friends if you are traveling together.

They do have a substantial list of cities available for download but there are some still missing. Alternatively, there are a lot of other individual city guides for specific cities. Timeout and Guidepal are good alternatives that I’ve tried.

6.Kayak

Another fantastic guide that helps you search for the best flight and hotel deals at the tip of your fingertips. This is especially useful if you haven’t got access to a computer when you’re overseas but need to plan your trip on the go. Kayak app allows you to book through your app. The app is available free for iPhone and Android users.

7. Toilet Finder App

Do not belittle this app. I bet you had moments when you needed the toilet desperately but don’t know where the nearest one is. The Toilet Finder App does exactly what it says, find the nearest toilet and it tells you if it is free or not (Europe is notorious for expensive public toilets!) This app will also come in handy for mums traveling with young children and need to find a place to either change the nappies or just for their children to wee (since young children seems to pee a lot). Different versions of this app are available on both iPhone and Android.

8. FlightTrack

FlightTrack is great for people who fly a lot and for loved ones to be aware of each other’s flight status. It provides real time data on flight schedule and notifies any anticipated delay. It can also find alternate flight routes if you need to and share flight locations. This app has been very well received and you might find it equally handy!

9. GateGuru

There has been mixed reviews for GateGuru but nonetheless, I still find it a pretty useful app, especially for people who are always at various airports around the world and some airports are huge and confusing. GateGuru maps out airports around the world and where the gates are. It also gives you information on the services available at the airport and where to eat and shop. There is also an additional feature to record your trips like the “TripIt” app. Check out the review for it and decide and see if you’d like it!

10. TripAdvisor

Last bust certainly not least, the TripAdvisor app! It is a must have for every traveler with a smart phone. The only issue I have with TripAdvisor is that some reviews are biased, but other than that, I’m very satisfied with TripAdvisor. I use this pretty much for every travel experience I have.

This list is certainly not exhaustive and doesn’t include apps that help you plan your trip in advance (i.e. airbnb), but it is a great place to start if you’re searching for travel apps.

Good luck on your travels and feel free to share any travel apps that you have used and found useful. Bon voyage!

Peace & Love,
Eileen x