7. Johannesburg, South Africa

It’s been almost 5 months since my first step into Southern Africa. It’s so different from Morocco though, and at the same time many of my conceptions towards the continent has been challenged. It wasn’t as… frightening as I thought it would be. I didn’t see starving children, malnourished, mud cookies, which were part of my Geographical Imagination of the continent. It almost surprised me to see those huge supermarkets with shiny floors and rows of fresh fruits, french fries and meat and cakes and SUSHI behind the glass counters, tall air-conditioned malls, inter-city buses that were just like all the others – air-conditioned, sometimes promising wifi, with music occasionally blasting in the trip. Was I that ignorant, to feel this surprised? I suppose so. Nonetheless I do acknowledge that as a tourist, I saw the shiny bit of things.

Some things poignant to me was how my notion of animals have changed. Wild animals, not the ones I’m accustomed and largely exposed to, locked in the zoo. My notion of fearing wild animals, and the idea that I do not have to worry about HIV in my home country, and the large network of land transport services in my homeland, these were great.

​ Summing up my first evening in Johannesburg – emerged unscathed, had a Joburger, and listened to the various stories about getting and avoiding attacks/carjacks (18 times, he counted). Despite these, the driver and Peter both shared the sentiment that they enjoyed the energy of the city, and loved the city in ways – a ‘un-boring’ place amidst the ‘chaos’, they found a place for themselves.
Free education, free healthcare (even the HIV pills are provided by the government) unemployment benefits, pensions. 11 official languages.
Observing blacks speaking English, or Zulu (the next most common?) language to each other. Medium in schools dependent on which schools you go to.
So many cars, seemed like everyone had a car because of a lack of public transport systems. Didn’t see any bus stops around (although there were those mini-buses), nor motorbikes (too unsafe, Peter suggests).

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6.2 Swaziland – Sibebe Rock

Sibebe rock was quite an easy hike, we didnt really need a guide, to be honest. Nonetheless we did – and we would have been pleased to support the local economy, if not for a grumpy guide that wanted to leave us halfway, while overcharging us from the start which got us off to a rather unpleasant vibe at the beginning.

Nice view at the top, breeze.

6. Swaziland! (Ezulwini)



Swaziland! A small, landlocked kingdom, an absolute monarchy, where the current King was crowned at the age of 18, and married with 14 wives (his father had more than 70, and an estimated 180 children and 1000 grandchildren). People are friendly, weed grows freely in the wild. I feel like lazing all day in this cooling climate, surrounded by all these hills and greenery. Love this place!

​ Tucked in a corner of Mbabane, Cz found a shoe repair shop owned by a Deaf man and operated by two Deaf employees. In 10 minutes, the loose and broken seams were fixed for $1. I tried to sign ‘thank you’, he smiled and I think he understood.

​ It’s funny though, how our notions of ‘modern dressing’ and ‘modernity’ immediately shifts to that of the States. Cultural outfits are perceived as ‘traditional outfits’, even ‘primitive’ was my thought when I think back on the Swazis with their animal skins loosely draped over their bodily parts. The good place

Couchsurfing with Kingson was one of the BEST CS experiences EVER. Hotel-style bedroom, laundry, waking up to breakfast, aircon and duvet – THE BEST!!!!

4. Okavango Delta, Maun

Such a beautiful place, such a beautiful day!
love this

​One thing I took away with me was the heightened awareness of getting cuts, and the fact that I’ve taken for granted the sanitized environment I am in, the lack of a need to test for HIVs.

Testing for hiv together before entering a relationship.

Having / testing for children before getting married

Back when my main conceptions of elephants were that they were ‘interesting’ and ‘cute’. Now I’ve lost one of my sandals, and I’ve added ‘terrifying’

When I first heard the lady at the border telling me that hippos were one of her biggest fears, I thought that was almost amusing, because it was such a foreign concept to me. Similarly when I heard the guide telling us that the local woman over at that boat was very scared of elephants. Now that I’ve had this encounter, my mind flits back to how it raised it’s trunks and lifted its enormous body, and brief charging after the rocks were thrown, I remember my heart thumping furiously, strands of regret swept through my mind. The tour shouldn’t have happened today, it did because I pushed for it, but the initial cancellation must have been a warning sign, and now I may be one of the tourists that perished in the wilderness of Africa. Melodramatic as it sounds, I was honestly terrified. If it had charged at me, maybe if there wasn’t a river hindering its crossing, it’s game over for me.

Botsang, our mokoro guide, shared with us the time he was a guide for an American tourist for 21 days in the delta. On night 11, he was woken up by the loud roars of lions; the ground trembled from its volume. With the other guide, he grabbed a rifle and headlights, shone and spotted the lions 10m away. They shot one; the other fled. The next morning, they found the lions’ tracks just outside of their tents.

I love the colours in this series of pictures.

Freedom!

crew!

Housing

Botsang, 30 years old, built this house made out of reed grass, sand and mud found in the Okavango Delta himself. It keeps him cool in the summer heat. He uses the solar panels to charge his cell phone. Sadly, 2 weeks ago, his wife was cooking and a fire broke out. This is his temporary home; it took him about 4 days to build it. He’s starting to build a new, bigger one now.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Victoria Falls (Zambia / Zimbabwe)

Too many of my favourite pictures at one of the world-renowned waterfalls :’) I am incredibly lucky, I know!

Dry season – apparently in wet season you get all soaked!

spare me the melodrama, Mr Gan

We waited for the bus to Kasane, Botswana from here.


Feeling incredibly lucky to be able to hear the rushing waters from one of the most spectacular curtain of water in the world! Can’t decide if the Zambian or Zimbabwean side was better, both were absolutely awe-inspiring ❤️

2. Kruger National Park, South Africa

Safari –
The diversity of wildlife.
The park gets about 15-20 poaching attempts a day. Some of these poachers drive in with their rifles, leave them hidden in an area amidst the bushes, and come back for them again at an opportune timing to poach wildlife such as the rhinos for their valuable horns. While park rangers roam the area daily, it is hard to monitor an area this huge. One pair of rhino horns can be worth 40,000 rands to a poacher, an amount considered significant to them. The ‘peak period’ for poaching takes place on full moon, when the moonshine helps with visibility. During this period, park rangers, often from the military, are stationed at various areas and patrol throughout the night.


​ Poaching is the illegal hunting or capturing of wild animals. Poaching is a problem in the national parks of South Africa; there are 15 to 20 poaching attempts a day, threatening endangered species like the rhino. While park rangers roam the area daily, it is hard to monitor an area this huge. One pair of rhino horns can be worth 40,000 rands (~ $4000sgd) to a poacher, an amount considered significant to them.

AFRICA!

One of my favourite trips to date. It brings back fond feelings as I carry with me all the (mis)conceptions, broken, now that I’m back.

“Bush is not alone in thinking that Africa is a single nation. Often, people refer to Africa as a country, when instead it is a hugely diverse continent comprised of 54 independent nations. Each country has its own currency, flag, anthem, history, cuisine, music, identity and blend of cultures. In fact, more than 2,000 languages are spoken in Africa, and its 1.2 billion inhabitants represent more than 3,000 distinct ethnic groups. Africa is also bigger than most people think it is, with a total area of 30,244,049 square kilometers/ 11,677,239 square miles. It is the second largest continent on Earth, both in terms of area and population, and the USA, China, India, Europe and Japan would all fit simultaneously within its borders.”