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Monday, September 24, 2012

Africa: Safari and Cape L'Agulhas

Cape Town. On our last day, just before our flight at 3pm, we did something that just about made us to the airport for our flights. We went to the southern most tip of Africa. No, not Cape of Good Hope, but Cape L'Agulhas. 

Cape L'Agulhas is around 3 hours drive(2 hours on a good day) from Cape Town. Cutting it fine, we went at 7 in the morning, with our little car a dust mite compared to the giant Range Rovers and Prado's. A 3 hour drive down windy roads listening to our I pod touches was a god way to spend your morning. Unfortunately, I am not one of the cars best companions as I get queasy when going down windy roads (its taken me ages to get used to Hong Kong) . The landscape was definitely peaceful as we cruised down the small towns, passing Hermanus; A well known town known for whale spotting, but we didn't see any as we went in the wrong season. Finally, after encountering some puddles and rocks, we arrived at Cape L'Agulhas. 

If you had taken everything else but the waves away, then your senses would have enjoyed every element. Of Course, being the Southern most tip, it was quite freezing and my thin cotton sweater did no good there. The waves clapped and eroded the many rocks that lay, and walking on pebbles while watching the cold waves splash. Another interesting fact: Cape L'Agulhas is where the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean meets. Some say that you can see the different colours of the Oceans and can distinctly tell them apart, others like me, were probably too blind too see that as we were wowed by the whole atmosphere. 

Another 3 hour journey back early for our flight, we reached Johannesburg for the next leg of our journey. 

Safaris. Say the word and people can recount their stories to you. I had been on Safaris before in Tanzania, Serengeti and Masai Mara, Gorong Goro when I was four. Obviously, I am 12 now so I probably can't remember anything now. We went with our friends that lived in Johannesburg to a place called Madikwe Game Reserve, literally a stone throw away from Botswana. In their big white Prado, we all went to a place called Thakadu River Safari Lodge, where you stayed in Luxury tents and had one morning Safari and one night Safari. The actual Game Reserve was pretty much unplottable on a map. As soon as we arrived we had lunch, which was ostrich meat-luckily I am vegetarian  so I ate soup instead- as well as returning to our tents and unpacking our stuff. Then came afternoon tea, and straight after, equipped with our torches and layers of clothing, we set off for out night Safari. 

Thepiso. Sound like gibberish but means Promise in the local tribal languages. That was our Tour guides name, Thepiso. Not only did he know about everything in the park(as well as how Rhinos poo and where Hyenas leave their mark) but he kept up with current affairs and had something to say for everything. He taught us about Poo-ology, how Elephants poo, as well as astrology, and different constellations. 

The following night we had a big scare. While in our truck, we were just about to cross a river on a small bridge when about 20 Elephants surrounded our truck. Even though it was night time, we could still see the fury on the Elephants faces, if not even feel it too. The women Elephants were more protective of the children, and they started to trumpet out. Clutching on to each other(I know, we are Drama Queens) we said  our last wishes and our wills. Luckily, I am still here today to recount this story so it was a happy ending. 

Big Five. Lion, Buffalo, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino. Most people only see 4 out of the Big Five. They don't normally see the Leopards. Well, we are 'most people'. Despite searching for the Leopards for 2 hours or so , we still didn't find them, instead, coming  back for dinner at the lodge with a massive warm fire. Warming our hands, and butts (it was freezing at night and early in the morning) we ate dinner and returned to our lodge for a good nights sleep.

I will never forget this Africa trip, the goods and bads made the overall experience worthwhile. If you ever get the opportunity to visit Africa, take it, as it is a wonderful place.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Africa: Cape Town: Part 2

Out of the many travels I have done in my 11 years of living, I have never quite come across a city that was like Cape Town. It was my first time there, and naturally, I was very excited. We arrived very late at night, but nevertheless saw the never sleeping city. Fortunately, we were staying at the Radisson Blu which was 5 minute walk from the football stadium (Yes, the one where The 2010 World Cup was hosted), and we could see Table Mountain from our room.

On our first day we went to the world famous Nelson Mandela's prison on Robben Island. Educational? Very, and you could see the most spectacular views of Table Mountain. Anyway, the museum was quite like you would expect it to be; Grimy, dirty showering stalls, narrow and cooped up cells etc. The dock where you go to to catch the ferry is on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront(more commonly called V & A waterfront, because of the long name) is where we went next. The sun was so hot and everybody was wearing shorts, but to my surprise people were walking BAREFOOT into malls and on the waterfront!!!! The day closed with a quick visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium.

We had hired a car so we could get around faster, and it certainly helped on the second day. On our way to the Cape of Good Hope (which, by the way is NOT the southern most point in Africa)  we stopped at several beaches, one of which was Boulders beach. As may of you might have heard, Boulders beach is where all the African Penguins are. And that statement is true, because we saw over 100, running around in their little squatty way, posing for the camera or just generally laying about. After, we went to the Cape of Good Hope, which was the most scenic place I had been. We went up the cable car and into the Lighthouse, where the wind blew so much that we got knots in our hair! Speaking of scenic routes, after Cape of Good Hope, we drove to Chapmans Peak, a beautiful drive to enjoy the dazzling African sunset.

Table mountain always has a cloud on top or covering it which is known as the tablecloth (ironic!). On this paticular day, when we went up Table Mountain, which almost felt like the heavens because there were so many clouds covering it. Did you know, that Table Mountain is higher than the tallest building in the world (The Burj)!!!! That's why many people are afraid to go up there, whilst some are climbing up the side with ropes!!! Table Mountain can be covered in 1 or 2 hours, so next we went to Stellanbosch, where the finest wines of South Africa grow. We actually had lunch in a vineyard, where the most delicious organic food I have ever tasted comes from. Not only great food, but they do (and I mean compulsory) paint you face with traditional dots. The good thing about vineyards is even if you don't like wine, the scenery around it is breathtaking. It is like in the Disney movies, where there are birds chirping and luscious mountains. After the scenery, we went back into Cape Town to go to a restaurant called The Gold of Africa. At the start, they have a compulsory drumming session, where everybody gets their own Djembe to bang. When the food comes, there is some thing for each different course that comes from a different part of Africa! And of course, why would it be called Gold of Africa without any gold! They sprinkle gold on you when you leave (apparently 20 carat!). 

Last and final day, we went to Botanical Gardens, which again looks like a painted landscape among the mountains. The flora and fauna were amazing, but they looked even better in rain!  

The end of the Cape Town trip was sad, as my whole family would remember it as one of the best cities in the world (it is actually voted top city of the year 2010 or 2011!) and miss it rightly so, but what better reason to come back!

Africa: Zimbabwe and Zambia: Part 1

Geography quiz: What waterfall is on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia?? The answer: Victoria Falls, one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. We saw this amazing waterfall in Africa, Easter 2012.

Not only being showered, but completely wet as we exited the Zimbabwe side to our hotel, which was a short 5 minute walk away. When we first arrived, we were giddy with excitement, as we were excited about seeing the falls. We couldn't hear the falls from our hotel, but once we got closer, we heard what sounded like thunder. Before we actually entered, the men at the entrance asked if we wanted a raincoat, but as newcomers we didn't feel the need. As we set along 2 mins along the dirt path, we saw our first glimpse. We had heard it was among the worlds biggest waterfalls; Iguassu falls and Niagara Falls. Apparently, Iguassu has the longest width, Niagara has the most volume, and Victoria has the longest length(down). It was like watching a tap gush out water, and like you were going to fall into the everlasting clouds below you. The water below you couldn't see, but on the bridge separating Zimbabwe and Zambia, the water below was churning in different directions.

On the news a while ago, a woman Bungee jumped from that bridge. Yes, remember that story? The bungee snapped and she fell in the water, apparently infested with crocodiles. But she came out alive, with a broken neck and collar bone (I think).

Anyway, there is also a Zambia side to the Falls which is way closer. This time, we had to wear coats, and if you slipped, you would definitely fall into the falls. Note to anyone who goes to the Zambia side: Never take pictures. I took pictures with my I Phone, though it got water in it and then stopped working. I could still connect it up to the computer, just couldn't use it anymore.

On the last day before going to Cape Town, the second leg of our trip, we went on a small game drive, where we saw one of the most endangered Rhinos, the White rhino.

Cape Town next!!!!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Yogyakarta (Jogjakarta), Java, Indonesia

The title sounds funny, doesn't it? Well, in actual fact this is a place, in Indonesia, home of the 1000 temples of Borobudur.

As many of you might know, Borobudur is the world famous 1000 temples, which was found hidden in the rain forest and put into restoration a few times. When I first heard my Mum and Dad talk about Borobudur, the initial idea was " Oh no!!!! Temples! And I have to wake up at 4 am!!!!!!" but in the end, after going there I was reciting the history like the Wikipedia Page. Mainly, it is based on Buddhism, as it is a shrine to Buddha. There are 10 levels; The first few are for people who have desire, as it is only carvings and stories about people who always want something(us). The second level is people who are in the middle of desire and enlightenment, neither of the two. The top 2 or 3 levels are Enlightenment, and that is where you get to see the stunning sunrise or the dazzling sunset, as well as Stoopas, these mini shrines like upside down ice-cream cones. Borobudur is one of the World UNESCO sites, the second one in Yogyakarta (also Prambhanam) .

We went to Yogyakarta in February, and it was boiling hot, and I mean literally. Imagine walking more than 100 steps,and walking around the temple, that is what it would have felt like. Though, once you get to the top, you feel a light breeze and a sigh of relief. The picture below is a view of Borobudur, you can't see all 10 levels, but once you go inside you can. The one below that is the stoopas, there are about 72/73 on the top few levels.

If you want to go, it is a great educational place, and historical place to go to, and we all had lots of fun there!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Hunger Games: The Movie Review

I am constantly on the search for good movies, and I can tell you, that if you like all the Potters and Twilights, then you are sure to love The Hunger Games.

The books are as equally as good as the movies; it is based on 12 districts, a male and female contestant chosen from each, have to compete to stay alive. Thrilling, with a touch of romance, this movie is a great movie to watch, and appeals to any age above 12, (if you like violence). Though as I said in my previous sentence that  if you like violence then it is good, I now say the opposite, that you can like it as well if you don't like violence, it is a movie that grips all. The sequel Catching Fire is as equally as amazing; as is Mocking Jay, the 3rd and Final book of the Hunger Games.

The book and the movie are in the voice of Katniss Everdeen(a tribute from the 12th District, which is the poorest out of all), and it is about her trying to survive the Hunger Games.

Look out for either the book or the movie, as both are fantastic!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 2012!

I am sorry I haven't been blogging for a while, it's because I've been tied up with the excitement of the month December! Anyway, Have a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!!!Have a great 2012!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Back to Beijing #2!

Beijing again! This time there was no lush greenery, not even a leaf of green on either side of the Great Wall.  Because it was winter! But I went for a different reason other than tourism. Not for a business trip, but for the Fobissea Music Festival. Each year a different school hosts, this year it was The British School of Beijing. Mainly, the focus was on music, as on one night each school had to perform, or on the other night there would be a Chinese music concert, showing the different instruments they play to us. There was a Gala Concert(The final concert in which all the songs and preparations lead up to this big night at the end) a Gala Dinner and then a Disco. We all enjoyed ourselves immensely, taking an independent trip with our teachers. The only tourism places we went to were the Great Wall and the Forbidden city, and as always the Great Wall had a breathtaking view. Will post some pics and vids to go with this article……. The picture above is all of us dressed in our concert outfits. Looking Smart!!