In the beginning...

Cape Town Travel Blog

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The entrance to Robben Island

Monday 27th February

Today we went to Robben Island at 1pm, which took about 30 mins to get to. Upon arrival we boarded a tour bus and went around the island, learning about the political struggles for black people pre-1990. The island had four prisons and we were told about numerous jail break attempts. The bus tour also showed us the leper colony that was once on the island. The second part of the tour was given by a former inmate of the maximum security prison, who stood up for his rights and was sentanced for 20 years. The most famous inmate was Nelson Mandela and we looked at his cell and heard stories of how people coped in such horrific conditions. It was a very educational day and one that will not be forgotten.

Enjoying the vino in Stellenbosch
The whole tour cost 150 Rand (15 quid, which was a bargain!)

Tuesday 28th February

Today we hoped for good weather so we could go up to Table Mountain, however the combination of poor weather and a power cut meant that our attempts were futile and we drowned our sorrows on a wine farm! We got a bus to Stellenbosch, where most of the wine of South Africa is produced. We visited two farms, the first of which was Spier. Spier was a huge farm, which also had a craft fair, animal sanctuary and huge outdoor restaurant. I sampled five [very small glasses of] red wines and had a good time there, despite the overcast weather.

The worthwhile view from the top of Table Mountain
Whilst at Spier, we saw a Cheetah, in addition to the wildebeet, springboks and ostrich that we spotted earlier. After Spier, we travelled to Domdeya, which is a relatively new wine farm. Unfortunately, as we arrived there was a power cut (a common theme as you may have gathered), but we still managed a couple of glasses of Chardonnay, which were very nice indeed. The farm was beautiful you could see for miles all around. On the way home, due to the power cut, we ran out of petrol and broke down on a motorway about 10 miles from our hostel. We were stuck between a shanty town and a huge stretch of motorway, which was hilarious at the time! The traffic police arrived, and attempted to fill the tank, but to no avail so we just waited for a replacement service...

Wednesday 1st March

Today, we decided to go easy on the purse strings and have an easy day.

The V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
We headed to the V&A Waterfront and relaxed. I had a delicious pancake from the infamous 'Harries Pancakes' and then took some snaps around town. The weather was again disappointing, so we spent much of the time indoors, looking around shops before heading back to the hostel in the afternoon. We just chilled out, reading before dinner and then met a guy from London, who we chatted to and played pool with, playing cards and drinking Windhoek lager into the early hours.

Thursday 2nd March

Today we chilled out in the Botanical Gardens and went around the Art Gallery, in particular looking at the artist Sekoto. We also looked around the outdoor markets.


Friday 3rd March

Today we did it! Table Mountain was superb, and was worth the two-and-a-half hour climb of blood, sweat and tears.

Enjoying a stroll on the Cape Penninsula tour
It was very hot, and extremely windy at the top! The views were spectacular and it was a relatively clear day, so you could see for many miles into the distance. Certainly an experience I will not forget in a hurry. I also saw a dassie (a small animal, which looks a bit like a fat ferret at the top) which I tried to show to the girls, but they were having none of it, retreating to the warm cafe without giving a damn!! After getting the cable car down, we went back to the botanical gardens and sunbathed. A model shoot was taking place right next to us, which I certainly didn't complain about. It was also a great sporting day, as in Cape Town on that day South Africa stuffed the Aussies on a one-day international! Howzat?!

Saturday 4th March

Today was spent on the beautiful beach in Clifton Bay.

A cheeky monkey interrupts a picnic an stops for a Fanta!
This is an exclusive and very wealthy part of Cape Town, where the cheapest property is 300,000 GBP. Needless to say my offer for the penthouse was refused immediately.

Sunday 5th March

Today the girls left to go to Johannesburg and I celebrated the occasion is great style. I went on a day tour of Cape Peninsula, which included the beatiful area of Houts Bay and Camps Bay. I also cycled through Scarborough, which is a little warmer than the one back home (it was 40C when we went on the 'leisurely bike ride'!). We went to the Cape Poin National Park for lunch, but were threatened by a baboons who were stealing food and had a nasty temper so had to move. They were fascinating creatures and bore a striking resemblance to Mick McCarthy! When leaving the park, we were very fortunate to see Zebras as there are only seven in the entire national park! We then went to Cape Point itself, which was beautiful (the most South-Western part of Africa).

Simonstown and its native African penguins...
Afterwards, we went to Simonstown, where we saw hundreds of African penguins. I got back at 8pm, so it truly was an action-packed day and thoroughly worth the money. It showed how great South Africa was outside of Cape Town.

Monday 6th March

After an epic day beforehand, I was slightly relieved to hear that there was no availability on the Baz Bus that would take me along the coast of South Africa. Instead, I rested my aching calves and chilled out in Cape Town with my new mate Johnny. The highlight (or lowlight) of the day was meeting a nutcase called Harry, who suffered with verbal diarrohea and thoroughly bored us with his life story, which we had a good laugh at later on.

Tuesday 7th March

Today we got up nice and early and got the Baz Bus to Ousthoorn. This is a rural village, miles away from anything apart from Ostrich! The place we were staying was called 'Backpackers Paradise' and it certainly lived up to expectation.

Chilling out in the wonderful Knysna
We were made to feel very welcome and the place was so relaxed - a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Cape Town. We had a delicious BBQ that evening consisting of Ostrich steak and Ostrich sausage, both of which were superb. In the evening, we mingled with other visitors and played pool, took advantage of the reasonably priced wine and watched the Chelsea game.

Wednesday 8th March

This morning I finished the demolition work on the Ostrich by having Ostrich egg for breakfast. It was nice, but not very tasty. I then chilled before the Baz Bus came for the next location. This time, it was to Wilderness, in a place called Beach House. As you may have guessed, this was on a beach and had spectacular views of the bay.

The traffic jams in the floating markets of Bangkok
It was designed more for older people (there were mainly in their thirties!), but town was only a short walk away. I went there on the evening to have a few beers, some chilli and to watch the Arsenal game. The hostel was positioned so that when you woke up you could see the tide coming in - paradise part two.

Thursday 9th March

Today Baz and his bus took us to Buffulo Bay, a quiet area near Knysna. The hostel was on the beach itself and was called Wildside, mainly because of the partying and general madness of the place. When we arrived, we checked the place out - the location was fantastic, as beaches were everywhere. Again, the view from my room was that of waves about 30 metres away, so I prayed for a low tide!

Friday 10th March

Spent the whole day at Wildside and went to Knysna for a mooch and then returned for a nice walk along the beach.

The Bridge over the River Kwai
Buffulo Bay is renowned for its' waves and surfing, so I spent the afternoon on the beach and in the sea. After such a stressful and demanding day, we had a BBQ in the evening. No Ostrich this time though! Managed to catch the sunset in the evening with some fantastic shots.

Saturday 11th March

Another morning was spent on the beach, before we reluctantly went to the next area on the south coast of Africa. This time it was Plettenburg Bay. As I was leaving the next day, I didn't have the chance to visit the beach, but the town itself was very nice. I finally had some fish and chips, but they weren't as good as the Fish Quay back home! In the evening, we played pool, went to a few bars and had a good laugh with a few Irish guys.

Sunday 12th March

Today was pretty uneventful as I had to get the Baz Bus from Plettentburg Bay back to Cape Town (a nine-hour journey).

A golden Buddha in a Pagoda, north of Bangkok.
I arrived in the mental asylum also known as Long Street Backpackers and scrounged some more Pojkie. Also, found out that South Africa had beaten the Aussies in the one-day series, against all odds, so was chuffed about that! I had a beer to celebrate that and my last night in Cape Town.

Monday 13th March

Today I woke up at 6am to get a taxi to the airport. Sadly, when I arrived at the airport I found out that my flight was not due for take-off for another four hours (I had misread my ticket). I therefore watched South African sports, which repeats its' stories every 15 minutes. So, after being told that South Africa had won the cricket and that Newcastle had been humiliated by Man U about 100 times, I finally boarded my flight. The flight, although being 14 hours was superb. Singapore Airlines is great and I was fed around the clock, whilst watching the latest films and listening to the latest music, much better than the Virgin flight to South Africa (Branson must be really tight).

An evening on Koh Sarn Road, not for those wanting a peaceful holiday!

Tuesday 14th March

Arrived in Singapore early in the morning and headed straight for my connecting flight to Bangkok. Got a taxi to Koh Sarn road, which was amazingly noisy, busy, humid and packed. Through the chaos I tried to find a hostel that didn't resemble a jail. After much looking, I did find a half decent place with only a few cockroaches. After all of the travelling done in the past few days I was exhausted and had a gorgeous red thai curry for dinner. In the evening, I met a couple from Toronto and had got chatting to them only to find that the lady worked at KPMG! (Only 16 days in and I still can't escape it!)

Wednesday 15th March

Today I went on a full day trip in Thailand. The first stop was a floating market, which was quality and was a good idea of what non-tourist life was like.

'A symphony of lights' from Hong Kong harbour
I managed to buy a nice hat, which I bartered down to 150 Baht (just over 2 quid)! It was a great experience, although when returning to the bus, I managed to walk straight through wet cement with my brand-new trainers. The locals creased themselves as I found myself in the middle of an almost-set concrete pavement. I managed to free myself and after everyone regained some sort of composure, we salvaged the trainers to their former state, unlike the pavement! Talk about leaving your mark on a place... Anyway, the next part of the trip was to a WWII cemetry (not the most thrilling part of the trip, but a prerequisite for the River Kwai). I went along the Bridge over the River Kwai and went in a museum, recalling the event. The final part of the trip was a visit to a Pagonda (spiritual house for Muslims), which was one of the largest in Thailand and very impressive indeed.
The bustling Hong Kong by day
In the evening I returned to Koh Sarn road.

Thursday 16th March

This morning, I got some last minute things before yet another flight (this time to Macau). Upon arrival in Macau, it was dark and pretty desrted, but I managed to get on a bus from the airport and get into a hostel with a little help from the very friendly residents of Macau. The hostel itself was hilarious. It reminded me of Rising Damp, and the toilet and shower were outside! The room looked as though I was the first visitor this millennium and their were stickers all around saying 'No photos'. Always a good sign! The bed was also clearly designed for the Chinese, as it was only about 5 foot long. Therefore, in order to fit in, I had to sleep diagonally on the worlds' hardest mattress - heaven!

Friday 17th March

After waking up, initially thinking I was paralysed, I managed to stumble out of bed and have a nice refreshing shower in the outhouse.

The Cantonese Back Street Boys...
I then got another bus to the ferry terminal and arrived in Hong Kong by early afternoon. The area I arrived at was Kowloon (just outside of Hong Kong, but just as busy). The swarms of people and millions of shops made my task of finding an affordable hostel all the more difficult, but I did eventually find a hostel. In the afternoon, I checked the place out, and went on the very fast and ultra-efficient MTL trains to the town centre. The place was buzzing and the neon lights came on, I found a nice restaurant and stumbled my way through eating noodles with chopsticks, which built up an appetite itself. In the evening, I managed to find an Irish bar to celebrate St Patricks day and met a few Brits there, which was nice to see. We had a few drinks and I headed back to my hostel before the train closed for the night!

Saturday 18th March

This morning I checked out of the hotel after deciding it was way too expensive and checked into the Garden Hostel (which I quickly renamed Garden 'of Hell' Hostel). This was within budget but came at the expense of general filth and unpleasantness. Most notably, the walk through the corridors to the Garden of Hell, which consist of human pee and cat excrement. All of the neighbouring businesses are sweatshops to make the experience all the more amusing. I escaped bedlam to watch the pyrographical display from Hong Kong Island. I did meet one normal guy at the hostel and went to the Irish bar again to watch the England v. Ireland rugby game, which we lost (mental note: don't go to an Irish bar when you know the score).

Sunday 19th March

Today I went to Hong Kong Island to check out the commercial side of Hong Kong and generally mooched around. I then returned to watch Newcastle lose their latest game and returned to the Garden of Hell.      

Sarah says:
You missed the shopping in J-Bay!! And I agree with Alex, fool! Glad you're having fun... work is very dull, but off to Turin next weekend :)Hope the Chinese leg of the tour is just as eventful! Lots of love xxx
Posted on: Mar 21, 2006
alexandraglennon83 says:
Hello... Can't you post your entries under the correct headings? And you call me a retard?! Lots of love xx
Posted on: Mar 19, 2006
Sarah says:
Hey James,
Sounds like you're having an amazing time - so jealous you made it up the mountain though! Glad you liked the pancakes at Harries :) Can't believe Laura and Katy weren't interested in the Dassies (apparently they're related to elephants?!?!) Cuba was awesome, being at work again is rubbish but loving the updates. Have a fantastic time in Bangkok!
Take care, lots of love Sarah xx
Posted on: Mar 09, 2006
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The entrance to Robben Island
The entrance to Robben Island
Enjoying the vino in Stellenbosch
Enjoying the vino in Stellenbosch
The worthwhile view from the top o…
The worthwhile view from the top …
The V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
The V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
Enjoying a stroll on the Cape Penn…
Enjoying a stroll on the Cape Pen…
A cheeky monkey interrupts a picni…
A cheeky monkey interrupts a picn…
Simonstown and its native African …
Simonstown and its native African…
Chilling out in the wonderful Knys…
Chilling out in the wonderful Kny…
The traffic jams in the floating m…
The traffic jams in the floating …
The Bridge over the River Kwai
The Bridge over the River Kwai
A golden Buddha in a Pagoda, north…
A golden Buddha in a Pagoda, nort…
An evening on Koh Sarn Road, not f…
An evening on Koh Sarn Road, not …
A symphony of lights from Hong K…
'A symphony of lights' from Hong …
The bustling Hong Kong by day
The bustling Hong Kong by day
The Cantonese Back Street Boys...
The Cantonese Back Street Boys...
Cape Town
photo by: v10