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For every tourist travelling to a new destination, shopping for souvenirs and keepsakes can serve as a way to preserve the experiences and memories of that trip. Shopping in a country like Vietnam provides tourists with a lot of exciting choices at very affordable prices.  

Travelers with a very strict budget can still enjoy the thrills of shopping while in Vietnam as prices can be bargained (let’s face it, bargaining is part of the purchase) to a less than a third of the original price. Shopping is just interesting.  

The shopping markets in the country provide the tourist with access to an endless array of bespoke garments tailored to suit each person’s style and requirements. The quality and variations of clothing materials that can be gotten in Vietnam are endless especially the national dress of Vietnam, the “Ao Dai” gotten from high-quality silk can as well be acquired.  

While everyone needs to shop for new materials to sew their clothes, the local handcraft, art, and jewelry in the Vietnamese markets are exquisitely stunning and can be used to for very stylish home decorations or strike a pose during a gala.  

There are quite a large number of markets that can appeal to any traveler and fulfill their memory-storing needs, some of which are;  

 

  1. Ben Thanh Market:

The Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) is usually the best location for any tourist seeking an awesome collection of locally made handcrafts, branded goods, art and other items. Like any other market around, the Ben Thanh market is very large with the smell of freshly cooked wok-fried noodles, barbecued fish, and meat filling the air as the restaurants open up in the night. The atmosphere is rich with exciting stories of the Vietnamese culture.  

If you are looking to stock up on lacquer wares, bamboo goods, arts, and crafts; the early morning market is the best time for you to be on the streets of the Ben Thanh Market and get all the best bargain prices on every item. Although you might want to be prepared for the items with a fixed price, those come with a sort of permanent price tag.  

 

  1. Saigon Square Shopping Mall:

What can’t you get at Saigon Square Mall? Shirts, shoes, handbags, swimwear, jewelry, textile, accessories and every other fashion item! If you are looking for a drastic continental wardrobe improvement, the Saigon Square Shopping Mal is your best bet. Although the price tags are a bit inflated, that’s the beauty of it; bargaining is allowed, never just accept the opening bid. 

You might find some kind of confusion with the haphazard arrangement of the mall, but it gives you room to just stroll around till something you fancy catches your eyes. 

So, yes! For every clothing souvenir or gift, the two-leveled building of the Saigon Square Shopping Mall should be on your list of places to visit. 

 

 

  1. Hang Gai Street (Silk Street):

Everyone knows that silk materials are elegant and gives the wearer a very refined look, plus the colours of the silk materials are so bright and exciting that you just have to have one or two or maybe six materials in your collection.  

The 300-meter-long street is filled with boutiques, tailors, fashion and household stores with some stores providing tourists the opportunity to buy ready-to-wear attires. 

 

  1. VinhLuongMarket: 

This market is located near the NhaTrang Port, so you would expect the display of seafood as you come in the market. The display of fresh seafood, meat, and vegetables is truly a sight for tourists who fancy trying out new cuisines and cooking on their own. There are also a few snacks like the Bun Cha Sua (rice vermicelli, jellyfish, and steamed sailfish fillet in fish broth), Ban Xeo (Vietnamese pancakes), and BemNuong (grilled fermented pork roll) available in case you get hungry. In case, you are not much of a chef (no one is judging you), there are quite a number of seafood restaurants to satisfy your food needs. 

 

  1. An Dong Market (Craft Market):

The awesome fact about shopping in Vietnam is that you can never run of shops to buy clothes and crafts. Every street, the market is riddled with stalls and shops selling a wide variety of items to fit your needs and budget.  

 

The An Dong Market is no exception, famous for its handicrafts and skilled artisans; you can experience firsthand the proud heritage of Vietnam as they work on the lacquer wares and woodwork. 

 

Jewelry made from gemstones like amethyst and jade are usually the appeal of the eyes as tourist move through the An Dong Market, plus the authenticity of these handcrafted designs are always spectacular. 

 

Food is also relatively cheap in this market where you can always get MiQuang (turmeric noodles) at any time of the day. And as always with most markets in Vietnam, bargaining is allowed. 

 

By: Abigail Mbuzi

Guide Michelin, as they are known in French, are a series of guidebooks that have been published by the French tire company, Michelin, for more than a century.  The guide is the oldest European hotel and restaurant reference guide, which awards Michelin stars for excellence to a select few establishments.  The acquisition or loss of a star can have dramatic effects on the success of a restaurant.  When a Michelin inspector comes to your restaurant, he is entirely anonymous and will give a detailed report on the food, hygiene, and service received at your establishment. Receiving a Michelin star is the greatest honour given to a chef or restaurateur in his lifetime.  In France, where the guide was first published, each year at the time of publishing, it sparks a media frenzy which has been compared to that of the Oscars or the Grammys.   Celebrity Chefs such as Gordon Ramsey have owned restaurants that in the recent past had been awarded and then stripped of two Michelin stars for quality issues, by the committee that sits to award the stars. It was later argued that Mr. Ramsey was not involved in the day to day running of the restaurant as he had licensed it to the London Hotel at the time of the controversy. But such incidences just go to show how prestigious a Michelin star rating really is.

France is known as the Culinary Centre of the world and in the early 1900s, two brothers; Edouard and Andre Michelin while travelling the country selling tires, decided to publish the first edition of a guide for French motorists – the Michelin Guide. The guide was free and provided useful information to motorists, such as maps, tire repairs, car mechanics listings, hotels and petrol stations throughout France.  Over the years, the guide went on to include other countries and a restaurant section.  The brothers recruited a team of anonymous inspectors to visit and review restaurants. In 1926, the guide began to award stars for fine dining establishments with a hierarchy from 0 to 3 stars.

1 – Being very good.

2 – Being excellent cooking, worth a detour.

 3 – Exceptional cuisine worth a special journey. 

The Michelin guide also awards rising stars, an indication that a restaurant has the potential to qualify for a star or an additional star. Restaurants that inspectors fail are not worthy, don’t even make it into the guide, let alone receive a star.

The guide has covered most of Europe over the years, giving out stars in France, Italy, England, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, and Portugal.  Only as late as 2005 did Michelin produce its first American guide and in 2007 crossed into Asia with a Tokyo guide. 

Moving with the times, the guide has a listing for Gastropubs in Ireland, Street food establishments in Asia. But surprisingly, to date, No African Cuisine restaurant in Africa or anywhere else in the world has managed to impress the Michelin Inspectors enough to be given a star.  The closest Africa has gotten to being awarded a Michelin star, is through South African Chef – Jan Hendrik Van Der Westhuizen.  He owns a restaurant called ‘Jan’ in Nice, France, which combines French and South Africa cooking. 

So what is happening to local African cuisine? From Cape to Cairo, all across Africa, our local cuisine is fresh, organic and deliciously served in the most ingenious ways.  What needs to be done to get the global foodie’s community interested in our local cuisine? Africa, particularly Zambia, is bursting with talent in the culinary industry and we are looking for ways to put our local food on the world map. As African Chefs, we would love to see authentic African food being awarded worldwide recognition. We have plenty of skilled and talented chefs that can turn our local fusion cuisine into fine dining menus.

Isn’t it time a truly authentic, African food restaurant was awarded a Michelin star?

In my next article, I will look at the factors considered in awarding Michelin stars and include reviews of some of Africa’s best restaurants to compare and contrast.  Do you know of an African food restaurant that you think deserves a Michelin star?  Contact me and let’s talk and get their story across the globe. You never know who is listening……

Have some new food ideas/recipes or new restaurants/events you would like to share? Let’s interact, email me on Abigail.Mbuzi@gmail.com and let’s talk all things food.

About the author: Abigail Mbuzi is a foodie. Founder and Motivator, she runs African Sunsets Events, marketing, and promotions and is Creator and Executive Producer of the MastercookTv shows, Editor in Chief of the Mastercook recipe magazine and teaches cooking classes for kids and adults at the Mastercook academy in Lusaka, Zambia.

END.

The Cotopaxi National park is a large forest in Ecuador that extends to parts of Cotopaxi, Pichincha and Napo provinces best known for its active, snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano and Limpiopungo Lake. Asides the existence of these natural landmarks, the park is home to a wide variety of wildlife like the hawks, condors, and weasels.

Towards the east of the park, mudflows and stones from past eruptions can be found around the dot Valle Encantado (Enchanted Valley) with a multitude of trails weaving through the pine tree forest which pass through the nearby El Boliche National Recreational area.

At a short distance from the park is Quito which could serve as a perfect day trip, although the stunning early morning and late afternoon views of the volcano can take your breath away, a night out at the park would be advised.

The best time of year to get clear views of the Cotopaxi Volcano is usually around mid-July and would last until early October during the dry, windy season. Although, for the full fun experience of the Cotopaxi, the best time to visit always falls during the rainy season around the months of March-April.

Relax by the Laguna Limpiopungo

For those who are interested in just sitting back to relax, the Laguna Limpiopungo is a seasonal lake that increases in its size especially during the rainy season and is home to the Andean Gulls which can be seen year-round.

Observing the Hummingbirds, tiny bunny rabbits and a wide variety of seed-eating birds can be a very relaxing pastime while you take time off at the lake.

With a walk around the lake, you could get an incredible view of the Cotopaxi as long as the clouds are not out. Although, there is a great chance you would definitely have clouds and rains during the afternoon. The unpredictable weather changes of the Cotopaxi would make the experience entirely exhilarating when you eventually get to see it.

For people who cannot handle changes in altitude or hike to the shelters, camping or relaxing by the lake Limpiopungo is a great place to also stay and enjoy yourself.

Reaching the Cotopaxi Summit

Climbing to the top of the Cotopaxi is not very difficult, but you would need a bit of training and have been acclimatized before making the trip.

At a height of 5897 meters which is roughly around 19,347 feet above sea level, most times only half of the climbers actually make it to the summit.

What to bring on your trip

Considering the terrain of the Cotopaxi and how unpredictable the weather can be, there are a few key essentials you must have in order to enjoy your stay and have a perfect day. Here are a few quick suggestions for you;

  • The right kind of clothing should be worn at all times which includes a warm hat, gloves, and scarf. Of course, you should also have a jacket to help keep you warm during the drastic temperature drop of the Cotopaxi.
  • Hiking boots are best suited for you if you plan to climb the Cotopaxi. You might find it easy going up with regular shoes, but the difficulty then comes in when you have to descend. You would need enough traction on your boots to get you down.
  • Lots and lots of water. Going up towards that altitude can find you going up against the equatorial sun which takes up most of the moisture in your body, therefore it is important to keep hydrated and have a tube of sunscreen handy for your skin.
  • Snacks rich in calories will be of much benefit to you as you make the climb. Try to have a good stock of dried fruits, and oil-rich nuts and maybe a little chocolate as a remedy if you have altitude sickness.
  • A basic first aid kit should always be readily available. If you are going as a group, you might want to go up with at least two kits containing the most appropriate headache medication for you. Note that once you start having headaches, it’s the first sign of altitude sickness.

Algeria citizens are predominantly Islam and this makes the observance of Ramadan in the ninth month of the Islamic year, celebrated as a national holiday.

During the observance of Ramadan which lasts for one month, Muslims are required to fast (this entails avoiding food and drinks) usually between sunrise and sunset. Although during this period, young and growing children, as well as pregnant women, may be allowed to eat a small amount.

At the end of each day in the month of Ramadan, sometimes as late as midnight, every family would join together and have a feast. Various kinds of bread and tea will most likely serve as refreshments before the meals are served.

A side dish that can be easily prepared for family and guests to snack on is the Algerian Cooked Carrot Salad.

With each serving containing an adequate amount of nutrients needed by the body to grow, providing a wide range of vitamins, fiber, minerals and sugar that your body needs, it is a very delicious and tasty meal to have on your table.

Preparation of the Algerian Cooked Carrot Salad is quite an easy process to go through; the hard part is getting all your ingredients in one place.

Ingredients:

  1. Carrots
  2. Garlic Cloves
  3. Salt
  4. Sugar
  5. Lemon juice
  6. Cayenne pepper
  7. Cumin
  8. Parsley

 

How to Make:

  1. Start off with scraping and washing your carrots. This will remove any dirt on the carrot.
  2. Then you slice up the carrots lengthwise. Note that there is no specific way the carrots should be cut. You are free to cut them as largely or thinly as you want. Cut them in whatever way suits you.
  3. Cook carrots for 15 minutes with a little water. Add garlic, a pinch of salt and sugar to the water before boiling.
  4. When cooked, drain the carrots in a sieve. Put in a bowl and chill.
  5. Before you serve, douse the carrots with lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon of salt, cayenne pepper, and cumin.
  6. To give it some more colours, chop your parsley leaves and sprinkle on your cooked carrots.
  7. If you want that gritty feel when you munch on this delicious meal, you can add a little couscous to it and voila!

The Algerian Cooked Carrot Salad is a delicious meal and can be eaten regularly which will be good for your skin and body.

By: Chimezie Anerobi

Yoga is a spiritual, mental, and physical practice that’s been around for centuries. While different yoga types feel different, yogis and scientists alike will tell you they are all extremely beneficial for your mental and physical health.

The great thing about yoga is there are very few limitations to start. While colourful yoga pants, support blocks, and fancy mats are nice, you don’t necessarily need any of that stuff to get started. Instead, simply pick a basic yoga routine that has beginner poses and follow along. You’ll notice your body and mood change in no time.

Yoga will definitely improve your health in the following ways:
Better Flexibility:An experienced yogi can twist herself into pretzel-like poses, which would be a marvel to watch. Seriously, who knew the human body could even bend like that?! Achieving this requires you to keep your body conditioned for such movements, which over time your muscles will atrophy and your joints will settle into a limited range of motion.

Maybe in your first yoga class, you might not be able to touch your feet or even tuck your feet behind your head, just give it time and practice, and you will notice your body begin to loosen up.

Better Posture:Has anyone ever told you to stop slouching or to sit up straight? Having a bad posture does not just only look bad, it also has some negative effects on your body.

With bad posture, you are prone to a wide number of body pains like; backaches, joint problems, muscle fatigue and neck pain.

Lucky for you, yoga is a good way to remedy this. Yoga does this by getting your body back into the proper alignment with forcing you into unnatural positions.

Better Balance:From easy beginner movements to more advanced stretches, you will need to concentrate and focus in order to hold yoga poses. Over time, though, you will notice that you don’t have to concentrate quite as hard. That’s because your balance has naturally improved. Every yoga pose helps improve your balance, even the ones that do not appear to require any balance. When you are sitting or leaning you are still required to centre your body.

More Strength:Other types of workouts might require you to pump iron or pull on resistance bands, yoga only requires your own bodyweight as resistance.

Since yoga requires you to enter into and hold various positions, you will naturally strengthen your muscles.

Don’t worry about your muscles getting bored with the same old poses. As soon as one pose becomes easy for you there is always another harder pose for you to begin working on.

While just about every yoga pose helps your body to build strong muscles, some of the best include planks, bakasana, and various headstands.

Tones the Body:Every woman wants a nicely toned body and yoga can help with that as it tones your body without using weights or exercise equipment.

One worry a lot of women have when they hear the terms “resistance training” or “strength training” is: “Will it make me bulky?” Take a sigh of relief ladies because yoga won’t make you bulk up. Rather, it will give you a nice, lean figure

The poses that work best are the ones that pit your body weight against you, so go for any pose that has you lifting any body part in the air and holding it there. You will definitely feel the burn.

Better Sleep:While sleep experts recommend getting between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, many people are suffering from sleep problems.

Yoga helps to relax the nervous system, which is the part of your body responsible for a restful sleep. Additionally, yoga’s meditative aspect comes into play to quiet the mind. So if a racing mind is what keeps you from getting a good night’s sleep then performing yoga at any point during the day may offer you some relief.

There are specific poses you can do that are known to help people sleep more soundly. Try uttanasana, halasana, or savasana before tucking yourself under the covers. These should put your body into a relaxed state, making it easier for you to drift off to dreamland.

Yoga has many benefits when it comes to keeping your body healthy and fit. A yoga class will definitely work wonders for you and give that body you have always wanted and kept you relaxed.

Source: Bembu

Dealing with the affairs of the house and keeping a full time job may at some point, take a toll on your body; it is therefore, always important to have a way to relieve yourself of the stress, and ways to let loose and shake down unnecessary thoughts.
A good way to de-stress yourself is to engage in activities that make you happy, increases your casual interactions with people and ultimately engage in activities that relax your body such as:

  1. Massage: Schedule a massage or give yourself a good long soak in a bubble bath while your favourite song plays. Doing something that relaxes all the tensed up nerves is definitely a good way to relax. A personal day from work to do something that you really love is also very relaxing; it could be taking a plate of pie to your next door neighbour, helping out at the community centre, or even going on a little bit of shopping for yourself.
  2. Now, depending on what you are keen on, reading a book or two is an experiential way to relax. Pick up a good book that interests you to read; it could be non-fiction to inspire you, fiction to ignite your imagination or even romance novels to getting your emotions flowing.
  3. Giving yourself a treat is also a way you can help yourself relax; change up your hairstyle or haircut, get a manicure with a colour that pops up beautifully or buy that shoe you’ve always wanted but couldn’t buy.
  4. Time alone with yourself or person(s) you really care about can be a very relaxing experience for you. Do fun things. See new places and be happy. These fun moments can wipe away any trace of stress.
  5. A little bit of exercise never hurts anyone; you could visit the gym and pull a few weights, get yourself into yoga, pick up a new hobby or even take a walk around your neighbourhood or a local park near you. Just keep your body active and your blood flowing.
  6. Asides the stress that comes with dealing with everyday life, people can be another factor that can cause you stress. So it is important that you let go of negative and toxic people and learn to say NO when it doesn’t serve you.
  7. When you are overloaded, overwhelmed, or overworked; ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness, it shows that you know your limits and are willing to get help to achieve the best working result.
  8. In your schedule, always make sure there is enough time for you to rest. Getting the right amount of rest can definitely put you in the right frame to get through any day. And if you feeling a bit down during the day; take a power nap, it helps.
  9. Never forget to always pray and be thankful for all the things going right in your life. Taking time to really look at the good things in your life can give you the right perspective and a relaxed mind.

By Anerobi, Chimezie Lotachi

Everyone deserves that opportunity to kick back and relax; do you think it’s that time? Here’s a great location to visit. Chiang Mai is situated at the foothill of Northern Thailand.

Located 700 km (435 miles) north of Bangkok in a verdant valley on the banks of the Ping River, Chiang Mai (which means New City) was founded in 1296 as the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom. Today it is a place where past and the present seamlessly merge with modern buildings standing side by side with venerable temples

Surrounded by a lush countryside and mountains, Chiang Mai greener and safer than its capital – Bangkok and is also one of the topmost picturesque places to visit. Although it has a significant expatriate population as well as cosmopolitan residents, the location can also boast of over 300 Buddhist temples and an array of vegetarian dishes and yoga styles.

Chiang Mai is a land covered in misty mountains and colourful hill tribes with lots of places to explore a treat and have an authentic Thai massage or cooking course. For the collectors, its wide array of handicrafts and antiques provide great additions to your collection

First Time?
There is so much to see and do around Chiang Mai, that it may seem a little overwhelming to first-time visitors. It is also a historically and culturally interesting city which has given it the fitting nickname as the “Rose of the North”.

Where to stay?
Chiang Mai is quite a large place, with a lot of options when it comes to hotels. Narrowing a choice of hundreds of properties down to just the one that’s perfect for you can be a challenge, but knowing your budget, location preference and style can help you decide the best fit for you as you prepare to embark on your adventure through the “Rose of the North”

Where to Eat?
Chiang Mai’s dining scene is outstanding with a wide array of excellent choices that range from first-class fine-dining restaurants with international menus to little local joints specializing in the area’s unique and tasty cuisine. Chiang Mai food is especially remarkable, with an emphasis on small shared dishes. Don’t forget to try to delightful khaosoi while you visit!

Where to go?
The historical city of Chiang Mai is quite a diverse place, with different neighbourhoods each having very distinct personalities. At its heart is the beautiful Old City. Outside its almost perfectly square moat and ancient city walls is the bustling Night Bazaar, the peaceful Riverside, and the modern Nimman Road. All these places prepare your mind for a wonderful experience in Chiang Mai.

Where to shop?
Bargain hunters rejoice! Chiang Mai has among the best selection of street markets from anywhere in Thailand. It’s also home to many unique handicrafts and designers, offering goods very different from those available elsewhere in the country. While perhaps a little lacking in malls, the city has a real artisanal vibe and a greater variety of boutique stores.

By Anerobi, Chimezie Lotachi