Truffle Journal Guide to Chiang Mai, Thailand

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

When the offer came up to experience Chiang Mai, Thailand as part of my travels I jumped at the experience without hesitation. I had previously spent several weeks exploring the south of Thailand and island hopping with endless sunshine and ocean. However, a part of me felt deprived after departure back home without having explored the cultural mecca of Thailand. Known for its beautiful temples and rich history Chiang Mai always called and I finally received the chance to answer.
Here is a list of some of the amazing experiences I had in Chiang Mai that I would highly recommend. They are in no particular order and can be easily achieved with a shuttle tour bus. I stayed in the center of town on the banks of the Ping River at X2 Riverside Resort. Chiang Mai is a city that captured my heart and that I would easily return.

Temples;

Chiang Mai is known for its elaborate beautiful Thai temples. When visiting the temples make sure to wear something that covers your knees and your shoulders. It is respectful to local monks who live within the temple grounds. When you are at the temple you are able to explore quietly appreciating the history and the culture on offer. You can purchase lotus flowers or incense and offer this to the Lord Buddha. If there is a local monk giving blessings then you can approach the monk and receive a blessing.

The first temple I visited was the magnificent gold gleaming Wat Phra That Doi Suthep found on Doi Suthep the 8th highest mountain in Thailand coming in at 1685 meters, bigger than table mountain. Considered a national park driving up to the temple is simply beautiful! The thick lush greenery engulfs you and then the temple stands tall covered in the most magical gold, overlooking the city with the most amazing view. It is considered one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Thailand. This awe-inspiring temple is crowned by an elaborate Chedi (Monument), 24 meters tall and gold plated from top to bottom. It is quite something to behold. Allow enough time for exploring the temple ground and to see the elaborate murals that adorn the walls as well as learn about the history. Make sure you have cash with you for the entrance and the offerings. If you have questions regarding the temple or in general about Buddhism then visit the Buddism Center. The Thai are friendly and helpful and would love to answer any questions you may have. This spiritual place offers retreats, meditations and lighting the candle at the offering was an immensely special moment for me.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

If you are feeling for more of an active experience that involves you literally getting into the ring then why not step up and visit the Buakaw Village. Set up as a sustainable village and training Gym by Buakaw, the K-1 Muay Thai World Champion of the World and Thailand title holder for over a decade. This establishment offers training camps whereby you can come and stay and train in Muay Thai. The accommodation is simple and the training fierce. With a relaxing area overlooking rice paddies, there are moments to relax and take in the beautiful grounds. We only did a day visit and minimal training however, judging by the number of muscles on site - this training camp means business. You can find them on facebook here.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Further up in the lush green forest of Chiang Mai you will find the Hill Tribe Villages. Showcasing a simpler and more rural life. These tiny little villages are so small that many are unmarked on maps. Some villages are as small as up to 20 households. We explored a little village taking in all the beautiful hand woven items created by the local tradesmen in order to make a living off the tourists that pass. The fabrics are beautiful and purchasing an item was a must. The site we visited had manicured gardens and a gaggle of small children playing outside. A very peaceful way of living. With some of the original huts and information about the tribes inside you can explore this foreign world. Just make sure to be respectful and ask if you may take photos. It is not an animal zoo but rather a place where you have the opportunity to step into someone's world, so vastly different from yours and see how they exist.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai has a variety of bustling markets filled with a selection of common and unique fresh foods and more. We visited the busy Warorot market place on the banks of the ping river. This market place is where the locals do their shopping and is an authentic experience that submerged me in the Thai culture. Surrounded by street food stalls and busy vendors the sights, smells, and sounds are an assault on the senses in a wonderful way. Getting there by tuk-tuk or going on foot is best. The market opens early in the morning and closes after dark. You can buy almost anything at the market from clothes, condiments, fresh fruits, meat and more! Visiting the flower and fruit market was my favourite and yes, of course, a coconut was had. The fruit section was my favourite with the display of so many unknown bright coloured fruits. You are going to want to get out and explore all areas so make sure you have the time and don't forget that cash is king. Don't forget the side streets where you can find hemp textiles and fabric woven by the hill tribe people.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Once the home of the Emerald Buddha (Thailand's most sacred and ancient relic), the Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai is one of the most iconic parts of Chiang Mia's skyline. This magnificent structure was built somewhere between 1385-1402. This beautiful chedi at its peak measured 60 meters across and 80meters tall. After a devastating earthquake, the Chedi remains but the staircase and elephants had some restorations done and one can only begin to imagine seeing such a magnificent structure in all its glory! With several culturally significant pieces on the temple premises, I would highly recommend taking a walk and exploring.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Dine at X-2 Riverside resort with Alex Dermard. This was one of my favourite experiences. To see this master at his craft was a true delight. His food is beautifully plated and each plate a complete work of art. The only thing to stand tall against the beauty of each plate is the flavours of the dish. Well thought out and elegantly executed whether you are staying at the resort or passing by making a reservation is a must!

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Stay at 137 Pillars, Chiang Mai. This establishment quite literally took my breath away. It was just beautiful from the moment we arrived. Each and every detail has been thought of in this colonial historic boutique hotel. The original teak house that has been restored to glory dates back to the 1800s. The details that have gone into the grounds makes it a dream destination for travelers. With different room options, you can choose to stay with a room that has a built-in lounge, bedroom, walk-in wardrobe, and private pool.

The interior is colonial and elegant with warm finishes that will make you feel at home. With giant trees towering over the walkways you feel tucked away from the world. I stayed for lunch and it was a very good decision. The authentic Thai menu was utterly delicious and I enjoyed every bite full! I could very easily have moved in and never left! Especially with the look of the private pool.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

For those of you that are down for the spa treatments and being swaddled in a happy fuzzy bubble then I have the place for you. Oasis Oriental Secret Spa offers traditional treatments such as the Thai Hot Compress massage. Of course, I dived into experiencing this amazing offer and it was fantastic. With scents of lemongrass, ginger kafir lime, salt, and camphor oil, a hot compress is an aromatic escape from reality. You will be in a relaxation coma post-treatment with an offering of herbals teas and fresh fruit. They believe in being so much more than just a massage spa and that is exactly what they have achieved. Owners Pakin and Toby Ployphicha and thought of all attention to detail and have had a hand right down to the interior. I couldn't help but recognize traditional hand-woven textiles that had been included in the design of the hotel. With amazing products and an array of treatments, this is my must visit Spa of Chiang Mai. With mountains as a backdrop, Oasis Baan Sean Doi Spa Resort has spacious rooms that are elegantly decorated. Situated on a quiet street this hotel will make you want to sleep, spa, eat and repeat! Did I mention the heavenly pool? They have several branches so if you find yourself in Thailand look them up and treat yourself.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Lunch at Organic Cafe Ohkajhu. A local and sustainable organic farm that is being run by three friends that have a fierce love of food and farming. Situated on the outskirts on town this was one of our first stops after we landed in Chiang Mai. This restaurant has it going on with one of the biggest salad menus I have seen to date. Each and every bite was scrumptious and just so fresh. But how could it not be? It is grown on site and made into beautiful meals that are healthy. It is so amazing to be able to travel and eat healthy fresh whole food. It is a top priority for me and I loved experiencing a place away from home that allowed me to eat healthy and fresh organic food! Look them up if you are in the area or if you are in Bangkok or downtown Chiang Mai as they have branches there too.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Feast on Thai colonial cuisine at The House by Ginger. Possibly my favourite lunch whilst I was visiting Chiang Mai. The food is perfectly made and the flavours are out of this world. With a menu filled with traditional items I highly recommended the Pad Thai. The food was so moreish that I couldn't help myself. Each dish was just better than the last. To top it off? They have a gorgeous store.

I am sure you will find your way there - just be prepared to swipe the credit card because the clothing is so beautiful you will find yourself defenseless.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai has so much on offer that I only touched the surface in my short stay there. I love offering up guides but I am a firm believer in going and getting lost. Let the music find you, meet new people and explore new paths. Each experience is unique and taking in the sights and sounds of Chiang Mai is something I will never forget.

Did you know that there is a Thailand Tourism office located in Johannesburg? Don’t think only beaches (Phuket), as there is so much more to Thailand.  So if you need info or digital brochures etc, be sure to contact them or better still follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

-Melissa

Jarryds Eatery

Jarryds Eatery
Jarryds Eatery
Jarryds Eatery
Jarryds Eatery
Jarryds Eatery
Jarryds Eatery
Jarryds Eatery
Jarryds Eatery
Jarryds Eatery
Jarryds Eatery
Jarryds Eatery
Jarryds Eatery
Jarryds Eatery
Jarryds Eatery
Jarryds Eatery
Jarryds Eatery
Jarryds Eatery

I have an unquenchable thirst for travel. I don’t know if it is my constant involvement with the world of social media, following awe inspiring accounts or the fact that I have this insatiable appetite to try as many foods as possible. 

I can go down the rabbit hole that is Instagram for hours on end admiring the talented creatives that share their world of food from all over the world. 

One particular place that has piqued my interest to visit is Melbourne Australia. The restaurateurs, food photographers and bloggers coming out of that corner of the world are mind blowing and constantly feed my creative process. 

Aussies are constantly pushing boundaries with food and their unique cultural fusion of east meets west can be likened to an artists ever evolving muse.

Having said that, you can only imagine how happy I was to find Jarryds eatery in Sea Point. 

A spot owned by two Aussie brothers Jarryd and Ariel, who, not only take their food seriously but their coffee even more so. 

They have brought their food knowledge and inspiration right to our doorstep and with their attentive service and perfect coffee they have a recipe for success. 

The space is unassuming from the outside. Marked by a simple board bearing the name JARRYDS, you might miss this spot if you don’t know what you are looking for. 

The first thing that suggested I was about to experience something great was the interior. The space is minimal and elegant with a masculine touch of dark surfaces and wood. As you enter you are greeted by a bustling barista station and soft lighting that compliments the space. 

I usually visit Jarryds for their out of this world breakfasts. Scratch your South African scrambled eggs and bacon and welcome smashed Avo with corn fritters, poached eggs and banana bread with espresso butter and quinoa breakfasts bowls. 

On this occasion however, I decided to give their dinner and cocktail menu a go and I wasn’t disappointed. 

For those of you that have visited for breakfast, it's time you pop in for dinner. For those of you that haven't been as yet for either, best you do.

Jarryd's is open for dinner seating Tuesday-Sunday with the average spend of R250 per person depending on how many cocktails you decide to sip on. 

The menu is inspirational and reads as a what's hot on the international food scene with an Aussie brothers twist. It is unpretentious yet elevated bistro food that will leave you with a hankering for more.

I worked my way through the menu and explored all the flavours and influences. 

There are the stock standard crowd favourites, such as cheeseburgers (which are a must) and slow cooked juicy lamb shanks but then the quirkiness of Jarryds really starts to shine through and you'll find the less obvious pulled pork buns, beef tacos and vegetarian lasagne. 

The pork buns and the beef tacos are my personal favourite; the buns immediately took me on a journey to Asia. I closed my eyes and saw myself standing in a little eatery across the continents. I am all about ordering two starters and sharing them or having them both as a meal (why not.) You can clearly see that the Asian influence in Australia has resulted in a perfect symmetry in the dishes. The flavours are balanced and the meat is tender and juicy. It is about the little touches and the sesame crusted fresh lime to squeeze over the taco meat perfectly cuts the flavour and offers the dish its final touch in achieving a perfectly rounded flavour balance. I paired my food with a delightful Gin Fizz that had a little of New York in it. The tacos are soft and the beef is tender, lashed with sour cream and salsa - they had me at hello. 

The menu is constantly under scrutiny from the brothers, as they want to keep things fresh which is a major draw card. I love an evolving menu with new ideas that stops a regular spot from becoming mundane. The soft shell crab burger was something that I haven't experienced before and I could picture it being served at a beach spot in Bali. The crunch was perfect and the red cabbage it was served with offered that sublime freshness.

Jarryd and Ariel hold themselves to a high standard. If you want to be the best then you need to constantly push yourself on an international level to achieve it. With every bite I was experiencing a different cultural influence that they have made their own. With Indonesia, Mexico and New York under my taste belt where was I off to next? 

The perfect ending to my meal was something that appeared deceivingly close to a cappuccino, but turned out to be a light and airy hazelnut mousse, amoretti crumb, salted caramel ice cream and Italian meringue. Things are not always as they appear. I jetted off to Italy with the first mouthful and sharing with my partner wasn’t an option! 

The dessert left me with the realization that if you close your eyes and savour what you are eating at that very moment, you can find yourself anywhere in the world.

I was grateful to the eatery for that very experience as it somehow momentarily quenched my thirst for travel. After all who doesn’t want to see the world in one spot from the comfort of your own seat while enjoying utterly delicious food?

Wanderlust cured. For now.

-Melissa

*This blog post is sponsored by Jarryds all opinions are my own. 

Source: www.thetrufflejournal.com/jarryds-eatery

The Hickory Shack

The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack


When last did you take a road trip? 
With spring in the air and blossoms showing their pretty faces in the country side, I recently took a shot left to Elgin. Just an hour outside of Cape Town, on the N2 over Sir Lowry's pass, the countryside changes rapidly and before long, you find yourself amidst mountaneous hills dotted with pine trees, waterfalls, rocky outcrops and lakes.
It is an exceptionally beautiful part of the country that plays host to a plethora of outdoor activities.

Did I mention the area is also rife with glorious apple orchids and vineyards?
I could not help but get lost on the farm roads and between the little dexter cows (you are going to have to google them) and the ducks waddling down the road, I was swept off my feet by Elgin. 
I had been threatening to take a trip to explore the area for the longest time, but it was only until I found a suitable gastronomic reason to put my procrastination to bed did I eventually "bust a (proverbial) move"
Whoever said food is not a grand motivator has obviously never been to The Hickory Shack.
Owned by Jay Haupt this spot is all about slow cooking Texas style. Their wildly talented pit master, Eugene nurses the pit flames like a new age alchemist to ensure the perfect, tender, juicy meat. From brisket and ribs to chicken wings and cowboy beans, I guarantee that your taste buds will never be the same.
It is a carnal, sensory and simplified space with emphasis on the quality of the meat, both in taste and ethics.

The atmosphere is as relaxed as your favourite pair of jeans with country blues playing in the background while the fire place crackles in in agreement. This is a place where you will get drawn into the slow lane and end up staying for a while.
The decor is beautiful with wood at every turn. I couldn't help but think it pays homage to the beautiful forest surroundings. 
The tables are generous in seating and definitely built for extended family style feasting. More is more at the Hickory Shack and I loved it. 
Now lets get down to business and talk food. It was absolutely phenominal. 
The meat is prepared with a Texas dry rub. No sauces or artificial flavours are added to their product. 

Locally sourced meat is smoked in a huge smoker for several hours prior to serving. The duration dependant on the cut and type of meat; namely chicken, brisket, ribs and pork with the brisket demanding the most attention at 30 hours.
The meat mains are accompanied with sides that are true to texas flavours. The cowboy beans are a labour of love and take 3 days to make. They contain brisket cut offs and their smokey flavour coupled with another side of buttermilk mash is what I would call a match made in heaven. 
They have a sweetcorn salad on offer and (my favourite) coleslaw which is prepared with vinegar, cut through the richness of the meat with such sweet perfection - I wondered how I would ever eat anything else again. 

Every side is a well thought out addition with a clear intention to compliment the meat perfectly. 
The average spend is around R250 per person including a beer or two.
I had to try the pomegranate cider which I highly recommend (and to be honest if I wasn't driving I would have had another five or ten)
So if you are wondering what to do this weekend - why not take a road trip and experience slow cooking at its finest! 
Just remember more is more so you will need an empty stomach and very big eyes.

-Melissa

*This blog post is sponsored by The Hickory Shack all opinions are my own. 
 

Source: www.thetrufflejournal.com/the-hickory-shack

Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style

Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style

Have you ever visited a destination where, from the minute you leave, you're already planning on how to get back there? 
I recently visited Bartholomeus Klip in partnership with Miles For Style
Miles For Style in an online platform that offers a shopping experience like no other. You can shop luxury products, five star wines and of course beautiful accommodation like Bartholomeus Klip. The added bonus? They are a loyalty programme in partnership with SAA voyager where you can convert an (unlimited) amount of voyager Miles into their very own Style Miles and use them to shop the amazing offerings they have online. From craft beer to electronics, homeware products, destinations and more. 
Basically - what this means for us regular folk is, instead of banging our proverbial head against the wall because we couldn't get a specific flight or upgrade there is an alternative option. You can use miles for a weekend away or shop to your hearts content. And if you don't have enough miles? You can simply top up with cash. A perfect shopping experience if you ask me. 

Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style

Bartholomeus Klip is situated a mere hour outside of Cape Town where it rests at the foot of the surrounding mountains of Riebeek Kasteel and Wellington on the Elandsberg nature reserve.
This spectacular farmhouse simply took my breath away. 
On arrival we were met with bubbles and a fireplace to warm the cockles (it was cold after all). 
Not a bad start to a two day getaway. 
The house has 5 gorgeous bedrooms and the property has two additional self-catering cottages hosting up to 8 guests luxurious rooms and true country charm!
The farm also boasts the more contemporary comforts and a quick dip in the pool is compulsory for cooling down on hot summers days.

Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style

The farmhouse is famous for their food. 
To put it bluntly, I was utterly blown away and I don't think I stopped eating for three days. 
The breakfasts, (which made me redefine my entire understanding of the term) were nothing short of decedent. 
Tables were opulently adorned with everything from baked muesli pies to chocolate waffles, cheese, tarts, pastries, stewed fruit, granola, charcuterie, nut spreads and more! 
The food throughout the stay was amazing. At every sitting we were spoilt for choice; be it vetkoek or eclairs at high tea or the perfect muffin before the early mornings game drive. 
Dinner was a 4 course affair showcasing the star of the show; fresh (and seasonally accurate) local produce.
Highlights were the smoked tomato soup with confit garlic, the fresh seafood chowder and of course, not one to shy away from desserts...the chocolate mousse with fennel ice cream was exquisite. I highly recommend visiting to experience the fantastic food. 

Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style

The farm is a hive of activities. You can choose to go on a nature walk, take a game drive at sunset or go bird watching. The gardens are teeming with birdlife and sitting on the patio pretending to be Sir David Attenborough was certainly a highlight.
The game drives depart every morning and you can expect to see bontebok and buffalo.
We took in sunset with g&t sundowners and sat overlooking the lake of breeding blue cranes. 
If game drives aren't your cup of tea - then take a canoe out onto the lake at sunset and admire nature from a unique lookout point. 
The property is on a 10 000 acre nature reserve so there is plenty to explore and see.  

For the more foodie orientated types (like me) Batholomeus Klip offers the ultimate opportunity to step into the kitchen and receive instruction from world class chefs. We were treated to a cooking class and a parting gift of the farmhouse's cook book (which I am most definitely going to be using)

Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style

Just 15 minutes away is Riebeek Kasteel, a quaint little town that offers craft beer tasting, great little stores and one of my favourite lunch spots, Mama Cucinas. Unpretentious Italian cuisine thats an absolute must if you are in the area. 
If you are in the mood for Wine tastings, Bosman wines and Kloovenburg are worth the visit. 
Bosman have a wonderful family history and although they don't have a restaurant, their wine more than makes up for it. 
Their single block Chenin blanc is crisp and fresh and I couldn't resist buying some for home.
Kloovenburg wines and Olive products are also fantastic. 
I am a huge fan of their quality Olive Oil and believe it or not they produce the only olives that I actually eat. 
If you don't try their blueberry olives then you are missing out. 

Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style

Isn't it fantastic that all of these activities and destinations are only an hour outside of Cape Town? 
If you take a drive out around this time of year, you will be sure to catch the rolling canola fields. 
Oceans of yellow will surround you on your drive... With a good song and good company you are in for a great adventure. 
So, the only question remaining is; what are you waiting for?

-Melissa
 

Getting festive in Stellenbosch

Sometimes I find it slightly scary meeting new people. I am one of those people who wear their heart on their sleeve.  This is a good thing in many ways but it can also result in unwanted vulnerability.

I read this quote the other day, “If you are scared, it is because you are about to do something really brave!”

I was invited by a group of really fantastic visual storytellers recently to a tour of Stellenbosch. Young bloggers and influencers that are making waves as they go. As you can imagine meeting everyone and not knowing them from a bar of soap was rather daunting. Daunting until they shared their various handles with me. Isn’t it strange that living in a world of social media sometimes results in people knowing me more as The Truffle Journal than Melissa Delport?

Well I can’t exactly criticize because I am one of those people that will recognize you quicker by your Instagram handle than your real name. Once I had matched the "virtual persona" to all the real live persons I quickly settled in for an adventure that involved a group of really dynamic and fun people.

The hashtag for the day was #festivestellenbosch, which quickly started trending on twitter just by the influence of everyone combined. This is my photo journal. A little look-see into what Stellenbosch has to offer.

A walking tour through Kayamandi that in my opinion, every South African should do hosted by Bites and Sites.  It ended up being the best excursion of the day. Why? Simply because it forced me to look across cultural boundaries and to see that in truth as a young South African I had never actually been into a township. Yes to be honest it was out of fear. Now I see it was the fear of the unknown. To see how my fellow South Africans live was not only humbling but also enlightening.

The smiles and warm energy that we were received with was something I will never forget. To see another human being live in destitution but still smile, laugh and face each day with bravery made me feel foolish for the amount of times I complain in a day. So you will have to excuse the amount of photographs but I couldn't help but capture this experience!

Walking into a little nursery school with broken windows and worn off paint I couldn’t help but have flash backs about the privileged education I received and how different it was. I could not begin to compare.

My heart almost burst when I entered the nursery. Happy little faces greeted me with smiles and cheer. They called us Teacher, as it is a standard for anyone who visits them. They sang us songs and performed dances for us. All the while the walls covered with posters about sexual abuse and how it isn’t their fault, teaching these tiny little humans to speak up and communicate to the adults teaching them. Again it made me think of my fairy tale up bringing.

With prominent events like our #feesmustfall in headlines recently it makes me think how we as a nation need to stand together. Yes, tertiary education should be affordable to all South Africans but in my opinion every single child of our nation should have access to the fundamentals; the ABC’s.

We stopped by an elderly gentleman called Jimmy who does pottery from his shack. He was illiterate and yet had forged his own path in life the best way he could – to be honest I don’t know if I would have survived as well as he has. He worked at a pottery studio sweeping floors and one day asked his boss to teach him. He now has several spinning wheels and offers classes for those who are interested in the craft as well as selling his beautiful little bowls, plates etc. His laughter and his eager attitude left me wondering how different his world would be if education were an option for him.  I thought about how something as simple as a Facebook page and a great location would swing his life around or at least create the possibility of change.

Of course after this amount of walking I was starving – not that it was far! I am just always game for lunch.

We were whisked off to Tokara wine estate to juxtapose our township adventure. The Deli is one of my favourites. With plenty of great products on offer their Olive Oil made on site is one of my favourites. We all sat down and had a chance to finally chat and get to know one another more as fellow online Bloggers. Of course I decided to take it easy and get their burger for lunch. A giant patty of goodness served with the perfect potato fry. An ideal lunch to wash down with some of the finest wine Stellenbosch has to offer!

With our bellies full we set off to take a guided tour through Stellenbosch. It is amazing how something can be right in your back yard and yet you can have such little knowledge of it. Walking through the town and learning of its history and landmarks was just fantastic. I must admit I had house envy for some of the historical landmarks. They are simply magnificent and I wouldn’t mind moving in!

I’m no authority and it's no rule - here it is, a list of the places I went to and loved.

Stellenbosch Dorp Museum
Tokara Deli
Bites & Sites cultural food tour
Schoon De Companje
De Warenmarket
Spier wine farm & Eigh

-Melissa

Source: www.thetrufflejournal.com/getting-festive-in-stellenbosch