RHEA Boutique Hotel

Due to an issue with the electricity supply to our apartment, I booked a room at the nearby RHEA Boutique Hotel until the situation could be resolved the next day.

Much like my stay at the Puxi New Century Hotel, I simply needed a place where I could shower, have access to Wi-Fi and cofee-making facilities, and sleep. With these simple requirements in mind, I found RHEA Boutique Hotel more than adequately suited to my needs – at roughly half the price.

I had booked a double room but upon my arrival was informed that only twin rooms were available. Though I imagine many people may have been annoyed or even angered by this, I’m fortunately a rather easy-going guy. The individual beds were more than sufficient in size, so this was no problem for me at all.

The staff at the front desk, I found, were friendlier than at Puxi New Century Hotel and their English proficiency, though still very basic, significantly higher. They were able to sort out my Wi-Fi connectivity issue with relative ease, answer my question about where to find a small convenience store (they have a tiny one on-site), as well as give me directions to the nearest McDonald’s.

Don’t expect to be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a place to eat. The surrounding area feels a bit… desolate. The McDonald’s is two to three blocks away, but there seemed to be very little else around the hotel in terms of supermarkets and restaurants other than that. I believe the hotel has its own restaurant, though I never checked it out and therefore cannot vouch for its quality or service. Continue reading

Puxi New Century Hotel

The very first night I arrived back in Shanghai, I stayed at the Puxi New Century Hotel in Zhabei District. It’s supposedly a 4-star hotel, and although I don’t really care about these things, I was nevertheless somewhat surprised that there was no doorman or porter anywhere in sight as I walked through the revolving door.

Finding myself in a long, rectangular-shaped lobby that was largely empty, it wasn’t immediately clear to me where to go. To my left, at one short end of the room, there was a limited seating area. Towards my right, on the other end of the room, there was a row of desks that I rightfully assumed to be the concierge.

Unless you speak Mandarin, expect some difficulty communicating. Unsmiling though helpful, the staff’s English skills are very limited. So, be prepared to simplify your language to the point that you feel you are speaking to the mentally handicapped.

Despite requesting a smoking room at the time of booking, I was allocated a room on the non-smoking floor. This, however, was rectified without much hassle.

I had booked the most basic room, so I pretty much got what I expected. However, there were some spots that were definitely in need of some maintenance/repair work. Overall, though, the hotel wasn’t that bad. I was simply looking for a place to sleep one night, so the room was more than adequately suited to my purpose. Continue reading

Social Networks Linked

Let’s face it: much of everyday life is way too mundane to warrant standalone articles. So, for the benefit of those who wish to connect with me in a more superficial way, I’ve linked to my social media profiles in the header of this blog. Also, there are links to my e-mail address and Skype username for people who may want these.

Skyscanner

I realise that there are numerous flight comparison websites out there, but I’m quite a fan of Skyscanner. Supposedly, Momondo and Kayak are also good contenders, but since Skyscanner searches Kayak anyway, it seems rather pointless using it by itself.

As for Momondo, I’ve only learnt of them today. I had a quick look at their website, though, and it doesn’t seem to offer the feature I really like about Skyscanner: the ability to search for flights to all airports at one’s chosen destination simultaneously for the cheapest tickets. (I did this when I booked my flight to Shanghai and wasn’t very particular about whether I wanted to enter via Pudong or Hongqiao airport.)

Skyscanner allows one to be very vague. Feeling adventurous and want to get the lowest airfare to, well, anywhere? Simply leave the “To” field blank. Skyscanner can help you find the cheapest prices with as little information as a departure country.

Babylonstoren

I visited Babylonstoren last Saturday. Though lunch at the Green House left me feeling overcharged and underwhelmed, I found the farm itself to be quite picturesque.

Considering myself more of a photograph-taker than a photographer, and despite not really being in the mood to take pictures, the scenery somehow made me feel compelled to take a few snaps anyway.

With absolutely no effort at all, I managed to capture these few images that I feel are not half bad. I imagine more enthusiastic photographers – both professionals and hobbyists – will be capable of so much more since the farm offers plenty of opportunity.

Bare Necessities

It’s been almost three weeks since my return from what was meant to be a short 5-night stay at a naturist-friendly farm near the village of Suurbraak in the Western Cape – but which had turned into a 15-nighter instead. Yes, I realise that this is a new year and all, but it was an enjoyable experience that I feel is worthy of sharing despite it being “so last year”.

Anyway, I had wanted a change of scenery and searched online for budget accommodation somewhere fairly isolated but not too far from Cape Town, available on short notice, and in December of all things – quite a tall order – but I was eventually rewarded with a find that ticked all the boxes for me: Bare Necessities

How it works is that whoever books first determines the dress code for the duration of the visit, so I specifically checked that they had no naturist bookings for the same time period so that I wouldn’t feel pressurised into going clothes-free if I didn’t want to.

Bare Necessities is a very apt name since accommodation is totally no-frills. There is a choice between camping and one of two self-catering rooms. I had booked what they call Pine Tree Cabin, which turned out to be a great choice for me since it’s located a short distance from the main house and offered me quite a bit more privacy than the Dam Room would have.

Bare Necessities Main House Viewed from Pine Tree Cabin
The main house as viewed from Pine Tree Cabin.

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Nicci S Photography

The photos I had taken at Nicci Scheepers’s home studio were finally delivered to me via Dropbox a couple of days ago. I hated every single one of them.

Basically, I only really needed two good photos: a casual one to be used wherever a profile picture is required online, and a slightly more professional-looking one to accompany my CV to prospective employers.

I wanted my photos to be free of background clutter, so taking a few selfies against a blank wall may seem like it would’ve been the obvious way to go. However, for someone who generally detests having his picture taken, the thought of struggling with lighting and composition was enough for me to decide that it was a job best left to a professional.

Nicci was a totally delightful person to work with. Her personality seems ideally suited to her profession: warm, outgoing, and she’s clearly a people person. She managed to really put me at ease, got me to genuinely smile – even laugh – for photos, which I thought was impossible. (I’d stopped smiling for photos a long time ago because it always ended up looking really forced and fake.)

So, what went wrong? Well, excluding the possibility that her technical skills are lacking, which is obviously not the case, it can only mean that I’m woefully unphotogenic – something I had long suspected but which now appears to have been confirmed. Continue reading

Home-Based Waxing Studios: Watch Out for These

Based on my experience, there are a couple of things you probably want to watch out for when picking a home-based waxing studio. I highly recommend that, if at all possible, you first arrange a meet-and-greet before settling on one because a screening visit allows you to enquire about and check out all of these:

Hygiene

I’ve read somewhere that the person performing the waxing is supposed to wear latex gloves. That’s because, when the hair is pulled out by their follicles, you are left with microscopic open wounds that are vulnerable to pimple-causing bacteria.

Also, the spatula used for application is not meant to be re-dipped into the molten wax. The reason for this is to prevent bacteria from the surface of your skin contaminating the wax that will be applied to other areas of your body (and those of others).

However, at neither of the two home waxing studios I’ve been to have I witnessed these guidelines adhered to. Personally, I’m not particularly pedantic about either of these because I feel that the supposed dangers are exaggerated, but if you are somewhat of a mysophobe you probably want to ensure that these best practices are being followed by your prospective waxing specialist. Continue reading

Why Choose a Home-Based Waxing Studio?

Overall Price

One of the main advantages of picking a home-based waxing studio over a beauty salon or spa is obviously the price. These owner-operated establishments have lower overheads and generally pass these savings on to their clients in order to draw in more people and grow their businesses.

Familiarise yourself with prices and compare. Theoretically they should be, but don’t just automatically assume that the prices are lower than you’d pay at the regular places.

More Discreet

Barring a bright neon sign proudly proclaiming, “Scrotum Waxes Done Here!”, you’re likely to enjoy greater privacy at a home waxing studio than at a larger establishment.

These home-based waxing studios area mostly situated in residential areas away from other businesses and shoppers, are usually devoid of any advertising on the building exterior, and you would normally only have to deal with a single person – no receptionist or cashier, and no other clients seated in a waiting area. Continue reading