Hello from Doha, Qatar

It has been a while since my long blog post… I think it’s because I’ve been so busy trying to settle into my new environment, my new job, and my new way of life in the Qatari city of Doha. It has been almost four months, and it’s time for my blogging hiatus to come to an end.

A quick recap… A lot of you still may not have realised, but I no longer live in SA. I moved to Doha, Qatar on the 11th of August. I was yearning for an adventure abroad and so when the opportunity to come out here and work on a very exciting project (well four), I simply couldn’t turn it down. It scared me to no end. I mean I knew one old university friend was based here and besides her, I knew of a few people who knew my people in some way. That’s part of the adventure huh? Some of the things I’ve done since I’ve been here:

  • Been a #YesMan… Go meet people from all walks of life because why not? And boy have I met some incredible humans.
  • Use apps like Internations, Meetup or dare I say it, even Tinder
  • Tenpin bowling. It’s not novel, but it’s fun and a good way to let your hair down
  • Go smoke shisha at the Souq Waqif
  • Walk and explore (not in the height of summer because it’s revolting). In my case, it’s run ’cause you know… Triathlete
  • I went dog walking… I love dogs, I needed some attention from our furry friends, and they needed some love and affection too. The fit was right. So fulfilling, special and I met some awesome people too
  • Tried a vegan restaurant. Absolutely delicious!!! IF you ever come and visit the city (or me) we’re going to Evergreen Organics
  • Desert safari with friends
  • Visited the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA)
  • Kayaking around Katara Recreation Centre
  • Mall shopping (there are malls for days in these parts)
  • Joined a triathlon club

Some of you might think that’s what I do back at home. Yes, you’re right… For some of these, but for most of the listed items above, I’ve taken for granted. Before coming here, I slipped into a routine, a comfort zone if you like and that’s made me somewhat complacent. Life is about living and I’ve become a strong advocate of the idea of growth only being possible when you’re out of your comfort zone. There’s a limit though and we need to be able to draw the line or strike a balance between what is possible and what isn’t. No experience is ever wasted, but I’d much rather be doing stuff and fail, then to live in a bubble and wonder what if? Or worse, have regrets.

I went back to SA a few weeks back and that was good for the soul. Seeing your family, your friends… Your people is best. Having said that, I was pretty excited to head back here. I think that’s a good sign, right? 🙂

And so with this massive change in my life, I feel like it’s only fitting that my blog content shifts  slightly too. There will be more adventure, more news on health and wellness (my journey in this space), more on the city of Doha, but there will still be entertainment too. I hope you’ll my #DesertDiary and this project I call #AVonVoyage.

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Mumford & Sons in Pretoria, South Africa

If you’re going to see Mumford and Sons in Pretoria tonight, you are in for a treat. I’ve been a fan of this band since album number one, which if you know me you’ll kinda scratch your head going really? This genre? I absolutely adore them. Album two wasn’t my favourite, no lies but number one is so hauntingly good, timeless, emotive, classic really. Their latest offering, Wilder Mind is different to what most are used to, but it works for me… And clearly 25000 (according to Marcus) at the gig last night.

On stage? Amazing. There is nothing I can fault them on, other than not playing all their songs. They could’ve played for ten hours and I would’ve been happy. At first, I was hanging out at the back… Bad move if you want to be with the dull bunch. I was singing and dancing, as you do at a concert right? Damn but the side eyes I was getting from the two couples standing next to me was so strong. Eventually, I told my friend that we had to ditch this bunch and head forward. Best move ever! We weren’t right up front, but the view was much better, the crowd was epic and the timing in terms of the set list but perfect! My voice is a little hoarse today and I’m going to be nice and tired later on, but it doesn’t matter… The band made up for it.

If I had a ticket for today, I’d go back BUT I’d do things a bit differently. Read this if you’re going, PSA:

– The queues are ridiculously long. So if you’re looking to get drinks or food, rather get there at 3 pm and eat early, get your drinks then too. Don’t waste time in the queue. Organisers, I’m giving you this feedback so that you can avoid such in future. The cashless system, in theory, works nicely… in the real world, it is stupid. We stood in a queue for the bar for forty minutes… That means we missed Beatenberg! We heard them but that was it. The queue mess meant my group split up, with some opting to stay in the queue. It took them, at least, another half an hour to get the drinks and then it was like finding a needle in a haystack because the signal was jammed and it was dark. It also meant that they bought all they could buy on those cards because let’s be frank, who wants to stand in a queue that long? It’s really stupid that you can’t have one drink in your hand like a normal person, but rather you have to walk around with as many as the hands can carry in order to avoid the queues. FYI, this includes water and soft drinks if you’re wondering, just so you know. We didn’t even bother trying to get food

– Parking is a mare. We did the bus thing so nobody had to worry about driving. Responsible all the way. But it meant that we were stuck in the traffic to get out for almost two and a half hours. The band finished just before eleven, I got into bed after 2:30. So if you’re going to the gig and you’re Ubering, walk down to the main road and request your driver down there. If you’re in a bus, message your driver just before the show ends and tell him/ her to drive out the venue and meet on the main road. If you’re driving and you’ve parked in the venue, best you leave before the last song. Trust me on this one. Again I go back to logistics… These organisers knew how many people were coming. Between them and the city of Tshwane officials, there must be a simpler way to ease the congestion.

– Toilet queues are BAD. If you have a weak bladder, you are not going to enjoy this. Stay hydrated yes, but just be aware that the queues are so long. Organisers, have more toilets around the venue and if there were more, your signage needs to be better

– Take a black bag, or a rain coat and not a brollie. They’ll take it away! While singing and dancing in the rain at the end of the show was amazing and we were all in it together, you can get over it. So have this just in case 😉

– Have fun! There were some people who really looked like they had been forced to go to the gig. Do you know how many others didn’t get tickets? Seriously it’s a concert with live music. It’s going to be loud and people are there to jol. If you’re boring, rather watch the boring 8 pm movie on TV.

Mumford & Sons, despite all the queues and long wait to leave, you were everything… Come back!

#AVonVoyage to Durban for Tsogo Sun Amashova race

A few years ago if you’d asked me to do 106 kilometres on a bicycle, I would’ve laughed in your face and thrown the duvet over my head in defiance. Things change, however, and now I do triathlons, run half marathons (still only half yes), I swim long distances, I ride both road and mountain bikes… and I do long distances at that. Is it hard? For sure. Do I love it? Couldn’t be happier. Health is wealth and I’ve been afforded so many incredible opportunities (Futurelife, Ride4Smiles, traveling to Brazil with Nike, joBerg2C and #NissanMagic) as a result of such a lifestyle change. It’s a blessing to travel, see the country (world) and keep healthy while doing it.

So at the weekend, I set myself another challenge… the Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic cycle, in which I would attempt 106 kilometres, from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. Tick! It was a challenge, to say the least, but I absolutely loved it. I’ll definitely do it again and hopefully improve even more on my time, which, by the way, came as a shock. Sea level is the business! I had a great weekend with friends, but old and new and Durban is just what the soul needed. #TsogoShova 2016? It’s on!

#VonVoyage to the Kruger National Park

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I recently decided to leave my job of five years. It was never going to be an easy decision to make because of the nature of the company and the work I was doing, but after five years it was definitely the right time to move on. I leave with fond memories, but a new outlook on what growth, development, challenges and change await me. It’s very exciting, daunting too, but more positive.

I thought before I go straight into the new job, I’d take some time out and with us having so many public holidays in the month of April, it was the perfect opportunity. I looked at taking a trip to Thailand, a trip to Zanzibar… I spun the globe around and landed on South America, Chile to be precise, but after closer inspection, I really the costs attached to such weren’t favorable. So I decided a bush trip would be best. If you haven’t done the bush in a while or you’re from a different part of the globe, in which case you might be considering a “Safari”, do yourselves a favour and BOOK it. It is good for the soul, the mind. You will have no other choice but to enjoy the peace and quiet, the tranquility, reflect on what really matters and enjoy the beauty that you find yourself in.

I booked at two camps in the incredible Kruger National Park, two nights at Satara and two nights in Skukuza. Satara is pretty much in the middle of the park, while Skukuza is a little further south and the biggest camp in the park. I haven’t been here in years, but it’s just still as awesome. Satara is a small, well run camp. I booked into my bungalow, which is perfect for two people. It’s comfortable, fitted with AC and has all the utensils you need to enjoy your self catering unit. I also managed to see all five of the big five in one day… That is pretty much unheard of, but it can and clearly does happen. Check out the pics below.

Skukuza is about 96kms from Satara. Take into account that you will need to stick to the speed limit of 50km/h, so it will take you time to get there. In true Virgo style, I was worried that I wouldn’t make the gate closure times, so I set off early. Needless to say I made it with more than enough time. In fact I had six hours to mill around before the gates closed, so don’t be a nerd like me. I actually enjoyed seeing all five of the big five again, crazy and I had the most spectacular leopard spotting. Check out the leopard shrine below 😉

I used to come to Skukuza when I was younger. I remember it being big, but not this big. Airport, golf course, convention centre… What??? Yeah, it’s huge. Satara has a Mugg and Bean and a Debonairs, so I thought the biggest camp in the park would also have these chain restaurants. Apparently not, which isn’t a bad thing. It still is a little weird to me that they’re in the park in the first place. Again the facilities in each bungalow are perfect is suitable for a couple. The unit was also a quick walk to the river, which is great. You can grab a book and sit on the benches, chill and enjoy the peace and quiet. Apparently you should take your binoculars too because there’s a resident leopard nearby. If I had an extra day, I would’ve done that for sure.I also did another night drive, which was super quiet. There were impalas, impalas, ellies, impalas and then some more impalas. Not as rewarding as the first night drive, but it was pleasant none the less. The only thing I would prefer is if we went off road and the ranger did some spoor tracking. That is always fun and exciting. Next time.

If you’re not into the basics, you can upgrade to one of the more luxurious camps and on the contrary, if you’re into roughing it, then bring your tents or caravans and check into the camping the site. Just come. The bush is one of the most special experiences anyone can ever have. Trust me when I say this. I’ve traveled a lot and this, next to NYC of course, will also be one of the best getaways I’ve invested in and will continue to do so in the years to come. The Kruger National Park is a national gem and I highly recommend it… Go on and #VonVoyage

Would you like me to review or visit your resort, camp, tourist destination? Email me on jason.vonberg@gmail.com

Our first #Unscreening event: Maps To The Stars

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Last night I hosted an #Unscreening movie night, in conjunction with Times Media Films and my radio family, Cliff Central. The movie in question is called Maps to the Stars, which hits South African cinemas on the 23rd. The film stars the fantastic Julianne Moore, John Cusack and Robert Pattinson, among others. Here’s a short synopsis:

 A tour into the heart of a Hollywood family chasing celebrity, one another and the relentless ghosts of their pasts.

Moore plays the role of Havana Segrand in this one, an actress who is ageing – and in Hollywood terms this means fading. Segrand battles to remain relevant in the competitive world of showbiz. Moore’s portrayal in this film has scored her much acclaim from the critics. She also won Cannes’ Best Actress award, as well as a Golden Globe nomination for the role. The film is directed by the highly acclaimed, David Croneberg. I must admit, I’m not familiar with his work so I didn’t have any expectations… And maybe that’s for the best. The movie is WEIRD!!!! Dark, twisted, but oddly fascinating at the same time.

 

I think a lot of my guests were like, what the actual fuck? Some left early, others giggled nervously and many left scratching their heads, wondering what on earth just happened. Bless. The film hits cinemas on Friday, so if you’re into movies like this, go and check it out and then let me know what you think 😉

 

Prior to the screening, we had the good folks at Martini South Africa providing cocktails for the guests. I invited a lot of my friends, industry peers and some of SA’s most loved – and they all turned up! Stars like the lovely Jay Anstey, Shashi Naidoo, Chad Saaiman, LeAnne Dlamini, Tamerin Jardine, Thenji Stemela, Hayley Owen, Khabonina Qubeka, Seline van der Wat, Nicole Da Silva and many others were all there to enjoy the drinks, festivities and hopefully the movie too. And what would an event be without some kick ass prizes too:

 

  • @Converse_Africa gave us away ten varsity jackets and five hoodies. Just look how cool these hoodies are on the right:
  •    10013571_10205799139239360_8109223946360538883_nBig Concerts gave away four double tickets to The Script, along with their special guest Phillip Phillips. There was an awesome sing off between two guests, who were both eager to go and see Mamma Mia and then we had tickets to Lord of the Dance to giveaway too… All of that entertainment coming to SA this year, not shit at all J
  • One of my favourite channels on DStv is BBC Entertainment. They have some of the best talent and shows on television and the team there were more than happy to share some giveaway love. So two lucky people walked off with two very heavy hamper bags, packed with loads of cool goodies. Check them out on Twitter for all the latest news and show updates: @BBCEnt_SA
  • Sony Max gave away three sets of headphones, which is never terrible. People bugging you in the office? Drown them out with some awesome headphones… Well three of my guests will get that opportunity
  • Two very lucky guests walked away with watches from 1 Face Watch. These watches are not only awesome in terms of design, but they’re attached to good causes too. They have several different colours, each of which is attached to a certain cause or charity and last night we gave away a team #HayLeigh, Smile Foundation watch because it’s a cause I believe in and have worked with for almost a year now. We also gave away an education watch. I believe in the power of education and also the importance of learning and educating our young South Africans. We can only move forward and compete globally if we’re empowering our people with the necessary skills to go out there and shine. Love their work and I love these watches. If you want more details, please visit them on 1facewatch.co.za or on Twitter: @1FaceWatchza
  • 100_3745 (800 x 600)

All in all it was a fun evening. I think if there’s to be a next time, we’ll focus more on rom-coms or something a little lighter. This was supposed to be a way for people to ease into the New Year, not scratch their heads or do too much thinking. Haha. Good times though. Thank you to everyone involved.

 

Gallery: Foo Fighters live in Johannesburg, South Africa

American rockers, Foo Fighters wrapped up their first (at long last) tour to South Africa. They played to a very hyped-up, energetic crowd at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. For over three hours, the band rocked out, playing some of their new material, but balancing that with the classics that have made them who they are today. They were supported by SA band, BLK JKS as well as the Kaiser Chiefs.

Did you go to the concert? What did you enjoy the most?

Gallery: #CliffCentralRocksChristmas at Gold Reef City

Last night my #Unradio family at Cliff Central held the first of many event at the Lyric in Gold Reef City. The event saw the ‘president’ of Cliff Central, Gareth Cliff sharing the stage with the likes of Jennifer Su (my co-host), Hlubi Mboya, Tumisho Masha, ProVerb, the fantastic, amazing Soweto Gospel Choir and many other personalities from the station. I manned the ticket desk in fear of making all the guests evacuate their seats at the sound of my singing voice 😉

Check out the gallery below: