Loyiso Bala is billed as SA’s king of R&B, with singles such as Girl Without A Name and Gimme The Night. His awards range from five SA Music Awards, three Metro FM Awards and an SA Film and TV Award for Best Musical Score to You Magazine’s Sexiest Man, GQ’s Most Stylish Male in the country as well as Men’s Health Best Man for Arts & Culture award.
Bala has performed alongside artists such as Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, John Legend, Brian McKnight, Elton John, Will Smith and Akon, but his most memorable performances have been performing for Nelson Mandela, Richard Branson, Gordon Brown, Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey.
He recently became brand ambassador for Freetrade, which tackles poverty and empowers small-scale farmers and farm workers by facilitating better trading, working and living conditions. He loves to travel. He shared some of his most memorable experiences.
How widely have you travelled?
I have travelled to over 20 countries on all the continents except for Antarctica.
Where was your favourite holiday?
My honeymoon in Phuket. Thailand was amazing. I had so much Thai food that I had withdrawal symptoms when I got back home.
Your worst experience on a holiday?
On a trip to Kenya with TKZee, the promoter claimed that we owed him money from our hotel bill and we had to check out of the hotel at 1am because he sent people – not the police – to arrest us. We ended up at the SA High Commission and had to be escorted to the airport with government cars.
Your funniest experience?
Travelling to Germany in winter with the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir; as we were about to disembark we all decided it would be freezing outside so we started layering and put on all our winter clothes, including thermal underwear, ear muffs and gloves. Only to find out that we were not actually going to be exposed in the cold but would walk through an airport tunnel to the interior. The funny part was that it was boiling hot when we got inside the airport because there was so much heating and we were dressed so warmly. So you can imagine the sight of 36 schoolboys trying to take off all their warm clothing simultaneously.
What do you avoid during a holiday?
Drinking the local water from a tap because I can’t take the risk of falling ill while on holiday or a working trip.
Best meal abroad?
My best meal has to be jollof rice with fried Tilapia fish and plantain, which I had when I visited Ghana with my wife. My father-in-law is from Ghana and lives there so I was able to experience local cuisine first-hand at all the best places. I gained 3kg in a single week.
Your favourite place to drink a glass of wine or to have sundowners?
On Paradise Beach in Phuket. This has to be the most romantic and picture-perfect “boutique” beach in the world. They also serve one of the best virgin mojitos ever.
What have you learnt from your travels?
What might seem respectful to you may offend someone in a different country, so always learn about the culture of the country you are visiting.
Ideal travelling companion?
Definitely my wife, Jen. We work together and spend a lot of time travelling for work. She is well travelled and knowledgeable in lots of areas so I know that even if I fall sick, I am safe.
Culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
Culture vulture. I grew up in the Drakensberg. While some enjoyed climbing up and down the mountain I enjoyed writing songs while gazing at the mountain.
Greatest travel luxury?
My iPad. There’s no better way to put those foreign apps to good use.
Whatever I’m reading at the moment.
From Rome to Zurich by bus. The beauty of Europe during winter is unimaginable. We drove for about eight hours.
Your dream trip?
To embark on the new Virgin Galactic space trip one day.
Any travel tips?
The less you can take with you, the more you can bring back. Beware of cellphone roaming; I once got slapped with a R30 000 cellphone bill for (I still maintain) hardly making a lot of calls. Holidays are best enjoyed feeling healthy, so apply the same eating habits away as you would at home.
Hopefully Israel in September. To swim in the Dead Sea and to walk where Jesus walked. - Weekend Argus