A few of the crazies and I took the recent very conveniently placed holidays to take a real break from, well, everything we know, and packed up and headed off into the deep Transkei.
As South Africans, we are always itching to dash off overseas for a holiday when we actually have such amazingly beautiful places right here in our own country. All we need to do is rough it up a bit, go off the beaten track and we will find places like this for a ridiculous fraction of the price of an overseas holiday.
Okay, this one was quite FAR off the beaten track, I won’t lie about that, but the treacherous bends and a few encounters with near-death on the mountainside gravel dongas (I’d like to call them roads, but that would be lying), was well worth it.
Absolute untouched, unspoilt, rural beauty.
We stayed at Swell Tours Guest Lodge, a modest and rustic “lodge” on the north side of the Mdumbi river. We lived amongst the locals, minutes away from the untouched beach, with the locals helping us out wherever they could.I would highly recommend this place if you are interested in this kind of holiday – the owners are unbelievably supportive of their neighbours and in return very well respected in the area as well. It was just so easy and quite perfect, really.
The Xhosa people are so friendly and accomodating and I was quite touched by how happy they were with the little that they had. Well, depending on how you look at it, they are probably the ones who have so much and we are the ones that have very little. Humbling.
Life in the fast lane came to a grinding halt and we were very quickly forced to slow down, relax and feast on prawns, crayfish and oysters for next to nothing. Oh, and take a slow stroll down to the beach every now and then. If you’re into more than that, there are plenty of activities like surfing (the lodge is actually a surf lodge), kayaking, hiking, shebeen tours, horse-riding (although you may have to catch your own horse – true story), etc.
All in all, a truly memorable holiday that I hope you will also get to experience in your lifetime.
Support our country – there is so much untouched beauty here – you never know how long it will last.
Okay so my first real more-than-a-day hospital experience finally came and went (well, almost…check-out is tomorrow, based on my good behaviour). If it weren’t for the pain, it would actually be such an entertaining event.
My ‘cellmate’ is a really rough Afrikaans, tattooed, 40-something year old woman with wild hair whose pastimes included snoring, grunting, and occasionally farting. If the curtain between us happens to part, she takes that as a cue to complain to me how badly run the hospital is and that she has diabetes and that and that and that. Absolutely charmed to have met her.
On the other side of the Nutter is a window to a beautiful garden filled with birds. 17000 birds that all start screeching at 4am and continue throughout the day, singing songs to the sick.
And while I am napping ever so lightly to the songs of screeching Indian Myner birds, I can rest assured that all the metal ware in the hospital is being cleaned vigorously by the staff, who are so happy to be doing that, that they clang the metal ware together in happy chants, as if they are the tap dogs of the hospital.
They do serve some nice tea, though, so I have heard. I asked for some last night when my vegetarian meal came as a beef casserole and decided to give up on explaining what ‘no meat’ meant. The problem was that I could not move to shift myself high enough to actually drink the tea and could not reach the nurse’s bell to get some help, so dinner was the fresh aroma of a nice steamy pot of tea.
My crazy friends have saved the day, though, promptly arriving during visiting hours to say inappropriate things really loudly (I hope my cellmate doesn’t beat me tonight) and to fill my cupboard with Lindt chocolate and Woolies goodies.
All jokes aside, I need to go prepare myself for a stranger to stick painkillers up my ass…again.
Dahab, Egypt has to be second on my list of favourite places to trave to. It is situated on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt and is the only place that has really been able to put me at peace. It’s a ridiculously lazy diving town that sucks you in and wills you to stay. What was meant to be a few days there ended up being over a week. We also managed to lose a day to the town and nearly missed our flight home.
The sunsets over the still Red Sea against the backdrop of the Saudi Arabian mountains on the other side of the coast is something that everyone has to see in their lifetime. Put it on your bucket list now! As soon as the sun starts to fade and the sea turns red, while you’re sipping your traditional bedouin tea with the smell of fruity-flavoured shisha pipes, you cannot actually imagine being anywhere else!
It’s also an amazing diving town and there are many, many diving schools where you can do a huge range of certified diving courses at your own leisurely pace. The underwater world of the Red Sea is definitely something that you want to see.
I found a kind of magic there that I have yet to find anywhere else.
To steal a line from a fortune cookie from my good friend, Big Daddy:
It’s happened quite a lot lately, where I get a sudden realisation of how fortunate I really am.
I was just sitting at the car wash now, having a little woe-is-me moment and immediately realised how silly that really is. I’m here with my Mac, my Blackberry and my Gucci sunglasses, waiting for other people to finish washing my car for me. Seriously?? I need a wake-up call!
There are so many people all over the world in such a state of despair that I cannot even begin to understand. I saw a blog post from The Big Picture (one of my favourite sites) the other day that touched my heart – it’s a post portraying pictures taken of Lybian refugees: Faces of the Displaced. The expressions on the faces of those refugees are emotions that I have probably never felt before in my life, and hopefully never will.
The travel bug has bitten again. Hard and vicious.
So to psyche me up to spend all my money again on seeing the world, I thought I’d write a few blogs on some of my favourite travel experiences. I hope you enjoy them and it inspires you to go experience whatever it is that you need to experience!
The country at the top of my list of travel memories right now, is Cambodia, which I like to refer to as ‘The Land of Smiles’.
Khmer people are the friendliest people that I have ever met…and I’m talking genuine friendliness, you know…the kind where you feel that they are genuinely happy to meet you? As a traveller in a third world country (I mean real third world, not South Africa-style third world), you will always encounter the unpleasant hasslings of locals who want your money, but Cambodia welcomes you with open arms and a big, big smile. Okay, the exception would be a border post between Thailand and Cambodia, but even that was enough of a bizarre experience to think I’d do it again.
Considering what these people had been through with the Khmer Rouge brutality (a visit to the killing fields left shivers down my spine to this day – which is why you will not see any photos on this blog post of this), still seemingly unknown to a lot of the world, the genocide and absolute inhumanity that they experienced seems to have made them stronger and they still manage to smile and forgive. Insane.
Okay, enough ramblings, a picture tells a thousand words…
Travel, travel, travel! That will be my mantra from now on…watch this space!
I participated in my first spinathon for charity this past Saturday, hosted by Virgin Active in aid of raising funds and awareness for the The Bigshoes Foundation. The foundation is an amazing initiative to provide medical assistance to orphaned and vulnerable children, especially those affected by HIV/AIDS. I was quite humbled that my participation in this event helped to raise funds for a foundation that is so full of heart.
It was such an awesome vibe and there were loads of goodies and prizes (although I would have much preferred if those freebies were rather converted into funds and donated to the charity), and really quite relaxed. I was even tweeting and facebooking from my bike!
Well done to the organisers – it was great fun! Support the foundation in any way you can. You can also follow them on Twitter @bigshoessa and join their Facebook group – Friends of Bigshoes.
Here’s my personal take on the whole concept:
It started as a grudge purchase…”must go to gym so that I can keep enjoying my food without getting fat”. It then became an escape from an unhappy relationship and exercise is now an essential part of my life! Not only does it feel good, but the side effects are really quite a bonus! Starting a day with a wonderful rush of endorphins never hurt anyone.
So when I decided at the last minute to join a 3 hour spinathon, I didn’t really think twice. Spinning is easy for me and lots of fun. I woke up and rolled out of bed into my spinning gear, not even bothering to have breakfast on the way out the door. Apparently it was actually quite a challenge, but it surprisingly wasn’t that difficult for me…huh? 3 Hours non-stop on a stationary bike at intervals of high and low impact…there is something wrong with my head, I think.
This then bears the question – was it a case of mind over body, or body over mind? Did my mind tell my body it was easy, or did my body tell my mind to shut off and just do it? Either way, I think it made me realise that our bodies are far stronger than we believe that they are. This then also means that our minds are definitely stronger than we think!
Exercise is powerful.
I’ve had numerous signs over the past few days since the spinathon to tell me that I’m stronger than I think – something is definitely shifting in this mind of mine.
I encourage you to do something this week that moves you, in body and mind. It’s how we feel alive…