Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Black & White Guys and Jumping Rocks

Penguins and whales don´t live in the big city so you have to be flexible in case you want to meet them. In my case it meant to rent a car and drive on the left side.

I had some absolutely great days in the Capetown region. Responsibly for a big share of the fun I had were some new friends I met in Johannesburg and in Kruger National Park. Some Emails, some phone calls with my South African cell phone and some luck and three respectively five of us stayed in the same hostel in Capetown spending some days together.
Prior to my journey I was concerned about spending most of the evenings and even the days on my own. Instead there were funny dinners and adventures in a multi-national rented car (USA, Italy, Germany) and a lot of deep conversation.

Some say that Capetown is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I have to admit that I have never seen a city with such a nice combination of two oceans, green hills and a perfect view point like the Table Mountain.

We went to Hermanus to spot some whales. OK, I doubted to see one but in the end I saw approx. 50 of them even jumping out of the water close to the rocks. The looked like jumping rocks to me. I was speechless.

One day later we went to Simon´s Town because made me smile all day long.

I know that I am a bit romantic but the sunsets while driving along the coastline were over the top. Every fives minutes I had to press the ´save´ button in my had for conserving the magic of the moment.

It will be hard for my next countries to outwit the weeks in South Africa. I had a really really great time there and found very unique new friends.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Buffalo Diet - Kruger National Park, South Africa

Click on photo to enlarge.

Can you imagine being waked up by the roar of a lion? I couldn´t but now I know what it is like.
For a few days I was camping in the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
I slept in a very small tent close to an electric fence that separated the camp site from the bush. The nights were filled with the roars of the lions and the screams of hyenas. For some reason I had confidence in the electric fence and wasn´t afraid.
The scare-meter went higher when I was forced to kill the first scorpion in my life. The guy was sitting inside (!) my tent just beside the zipper. After breathing very hard for a few minutes I murdered it with my Flip Flop. I am brave, ain´t I?
During the day I drove through the park on the back of an open 4wd truck together with a few other folks spotting for wild animals.
It was damn impressive to see herds of hundreds of zebras crossing the road just in front of your car or to watch a lion family having a buffalo for dinner. I wasn´t expecting that the elephants, giraffes or warthogs come that close to our car.
The most challenging thing was not to cope with the wild animals but to eat the food our guide respectively we as a group prepared on small picnic grounds.
Although I saw only 4 out of the ´Big Five´ (elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo - the leopard was missing) it was a great experience to be far away from civilization.
Well, not that far away - @Meix+Prinzinnen: In the shower room of the camp site in the middle of nowhere I saw my first tube of ´Tony & Guy´ shampoo. Weired, isn´t it?

South Africa - The Remains of Apartheid

I never saw such a mass of electric fences and high walls as in Johannesburg. It´s impossible for me to imagine how this country will ever find peace if one faces sings like ´Armed Response´ on literally every wall with barb wire on top.

It was very impressive to me to see how the people of South Africa got rid of the very inhuman regime of Apartheid without a civil war (although there was a lot of bloody fighting). Now the people rule the country that represent more than 80% of the inhabitants. Hm, is this true? Not really because all the big money is still in the hand of the so called superior race and money talks.
It´s so obvious what the default skin color of a waiter is and what the color of the guesthouse owner and this makes me sad and angry.
I had several talks to black people about the remains of Apartheid and it turned out that there are a lot of achivements but that there´s much too much junk left.

My visit to the Apartheid museum in Johannesburg made it even worse because as a German with all the crap in mind that the Nazis did in the Third Reich the Apartheid looked really really scary to me. I will not put Apartheid and the murder of millions of Jews on the same level but at least the road seemed the same.

I had the chance to visit the Township Soweto near Johannesburg with the Housekeeper Ntombe of my guesthouse. She lives there and gave me at least a little glimpse behind the facades. Unbelievable that wide areas of a city as big as Munich still have no electricity or canalization. Walking through the rows of tin shacks was weird because I got aware again how damn rich we are in Germany and how much of our all day life we take for granted. I guess simply with the value of my stupid digital camera one could build more than one brick house in Soweto.

I have to admit that things seem to improve a bit in the Townships. I went to a site where the government builds hundreds of little brick houses as replacement for the tin shacks. I talked to an old woman who sat on the concrete floor of her new house. Actually the floor was all that existed because the rest of the house wasn´t finished yet but I got the impression that even a piece of concrete could give a little bit of dignity and hope back to this woman. Ntombe was very proud to show me the freedom plaza of Soweto and the very decent houses of Desmond Tuto and Nelson Mandela and she has every reason to be proud of it. My respect for Madela is even higher now.

The floor of the new house. The woman washed the dishes on the spot where the kitchen will be.

Of course it´s easy for me to make pathetic statements because I had the luck of being born with a skin color that is considered as the superior one for absolutely stupid reasons. But after all this won´t pretend me to wish all the people of Soweto a better future.

Still Alive

Hey, it has been a while, hasn´t it?
For some reason I didn´t blog much in the last three weeks.
Probably because my mind was flooded with new impressions.
This is just a quick note that I´m fine and that my trip is a cool adventure so far.
More to come - stay tuned.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Around the World? Let's Go!

Important remark: NO I did NOT go outside with this socks/sandals!

My trip around the world is more than close now.
In 10 minutes I will walk out of my apartment towards the railway station.
I cannot believe that I really dare to do this - the biggest adventure of my life so far (excluding some visits to the dentist as child).
I will return in February 2009 after approx. 50.000 kilometers in the air and on the ground.
Right now I'm scared like hell and enthusiastic at the same time.
Stay tuned and think of me from time to time.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The World In My Living Room


Currently there's a big map of the world in my living room. A piece of string is pinned on it from side to side forming some zig zags over the continents. Some countries are marked with small flags.
Well, looks like a route, doesn't it?
Indeed it's nothing less than the planned route of a trip I'm about to start in a few days on Monday, September 08th.
It will take me unbelievable six months to surround this cosy little planet completely.
Somehow I wasn't able yet to realize what a big thing this journey will be.
Although I'm a bit scared right now I'm sure that it will widen my horizon a lot with thousands of glimpses into the unknown, hundreds of new people, a huge pile of new smells, colors I haven't seen so far and probably some smaller or bigger changes in my mindset.

Right now I'm in the last phase of preparations and my arm has a little plaster on it from the injection against rabies this morning.

I'll try to use this blog to keep you posted over the next months - as long as there are Internet cafés in Ho Chi Min City.