A Travellerspoint blog

There are no rain out here in Africa...

sunny 34 °C

Namibia is a country of everything. Deserts, beaches, mountains, culture and Animals. I have been spoilt by Namibia. Of all of the countries we visit, we spend the longest in Namibia. I am very glad.

So far we have stayed in amazing 'resort' like campgrounds, back country campgrounds, on rocks under the stars, in hostels and in cheetah parks among others.

We have hiked around the Fish River Canyon, been in the worlds oldest desert, taken selfies in the Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei, been quad biking, sand boarding, seen ship wrecks on the Skeleton Coast, and patted Cheetahs. I could die now and be happy. But every day there is a new excitement to find around the corner. We'll more like 200kms down a frighten dusty road.

There are a couple of very interesting people on my trip. I'm sure more details will follow as the blogs go on, but in the mean time I have:
- the most complaining and underprepared Canadian, who has been sick since day 2,
- the loud obnoxious one, who despite being 29 and a kiwi acts like a 21 year old Ozzie,
- the ridiculously overweight smelly one... With a stroke of brilliance, is my tent partner,
- the 'at-one-with-the world' silent hippy dreaded vegetarian, and
- a couple of 'I don't drink' 19 year old Danish girls, loads of fun.
It's a real mixed bag, after 10 days people are starting to loosen up, but I will be surprised if I connect with more than one or 2 on my return to civilisation.

So far we have seen oryx, springbok and kudu, mountain zebra, baboons, cheetah and a couple of cool birds (zazu from Lion King) a scorpion (under my tent). Of that count, I have eaten the first 3.

In terms of radhaz Kayleigh moments or stupid things I have happen to me (that I'm sure you have been waiting on). I almost flip the quad bike, I found out I am allergic to cheetah, I have twerked with locals to their hilarity, chosen the worst tent mate, got sand in my camera and fallen down a sand dune. So standard really.

We have a couple more days beef or we head to Botswana, but I feel like so many things have happened. My intention was to do blog a country, but if I do that, it ends up as lists. I have learnt an African country can not be simplified into a black and white paragraph for page 17. It is living and breathing, it is divided and united, it is varied further than I could have ever imagined. No one word can describe Namibia and it's people, nor should it.

Posted by kayles 09:28 Archived in Namibia Comments (0)

Cape Town, my new home?

semi-overcast 18 °C

After a 4 hour delay in Dubai sitting in a giant flying tin can with a broken computer, sitting on the runway in 40 degrees I finally arrived in Cape Town in the dark, rain and to a taxi that cost me more than 3 nights accommodation.

The shock of the cold from Dubai was not as bad as I thought, so the next day I headed for a hike up Lions Head and Table Mountain. I thought to myself a number of times (actually was talking out loud to myself at points) that maybe I should have told someone where I was going... But seen as I hadn't, I thought I had better man up and not fall.

When I arrived at Table Mountain car park the lady at the kiosk, told me the view from the top was rubbish because of the low lying cloud, so I headed off on a city sight seeing bus, and went up later in the afternoon, before hiking back to meet my crew.

The first day in Cape Town was great. I had lovely weather, amazing sights and it was generally a beautiful experience. I decided it would be one of the few places I could live in. In saying that, my liveability of a city based on three things:
1) Mountain and sea front ratio to flat land,
2) The requirement and adherence to the law for cars stopping at pedestrian crossings and red lights, and
3) The ability to flush toilet paper.

I don't ask for much.

However my second day in Cape Town was a very different experience. Still wonderful and unique, but of an area very much ignored by the city sight seeing tour bus. We all know the struggle for South Africa to rid itself from the shackles of apartheid, and from an international perspective they display that everything is fixed, everything is sorted now. They exude the image that 20 years since, the Rainbow country had caught up with the rest of the world. This image is so far from the truth.

The townships on the outside of Cape Town, particularly the original 'District 6' now named Langa was a harrowing experience. The so called 'past' is still very present to its occupants. The definition of township, is quote unquote 'where the black people live' and it is essentially slums. But unlike other slums that capture the world attention, these are removed from the tourist eye by proximity to the city. On the road between airport and the city is partitioned by 1 row of nice government paid for houses. To keep up he facade. Everything behind is a shanty town, houses made of corrugated iron or hostels where up to 6 families will live in 6 rooms. 3 beds a room. We were taken around by a guide who lives in the township, he told us the people in the community don't want anything apart from awareness. It definitely made me aware. Aware of a culture that portrays itself as 'fixed' but has a long way to go to mend the wounds of the previous generations.

But it's not an easy fix, Cape Town and the surrounding suburbs are 2 different ends of the scale, it's as if the city took the bit of the African culture it likes and forcibly excludes the parts it doesn't. It's sad to see a city so full of barbed wire and electric fences to keep the 'have-nots' out. The black and coloured communities are still in the lower service professions, and someone asked me, 'What jobs are Maori people allowed to have?' It's hard to shift something that's so endemic.

We head out of the city through a vineyard. I have always been told the only thing South African wine is good for, is cleaning the driveway. However on this occasion it wasn't half bad, not sure if the sheer quantity helped, or the delicious dinner that followed.

We head out to Namibia from here....

Posted by kayles 09:22 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

My Gold is so big, so strong and so mighty...

There is nothing my gold cannot do. That's how the song goes aye?

sunny 40 °C

I have been in conditions where your hair freezes instantly, and I have been in places where your hair instantly turns into one giant knotty birds nest instantly but this is the first time I have been somewhere where my hair dries instantly.

Dubai, is hotter than the sun. I am glad I came from 2 weeks in Greece and Italy to give me the time to attempt to acclimatise. Note the use of the word 'attempt'. I did not. I'm not sure if that's possible. The man running my desert tour yesterday said that they have 2 seasons in the UAE. Hot and hot. I don't doubt it. Apparently 'winter' still sits at about 32 degrees. Today I have been sitting on the runway waiting to take off for 3 and a half hours, with no air con, in a tin can that is meant to fly at 40 degrees. While yesterday the desert it was about 43. We went out at about 5pm and it was 37 degrees, and when we left at around 8.30 had dropped to 36. Mad. Too hot for a person that has a comfortable temperature range of about 19 +/- 3 degrees. I am the person that sits in the car and goes... Air conditioning on, air conditioning off, window open, window closed. Then repeat. Every 3-4 minutes. I'm a real pain in the ass.

Yesterday in an attempt to see the sights I made a fatal schoolboy error. I went outside. I am not the traveller that generally sits in air conditioned or heated building waiting for the perfect conditions to see the environment, I believe the weather is part of the environment, which should be experienced, good or bad. Hence previous blogs describing me attempting to snowboard in -37 degrees, standing out doing a rain dance in the middle of Hurricane Sandy and driving the Hana highway in what felt like a class 4 rapid. However I didn't take into account the oppressive nature of the sun, along with an oppressive long sleeves and a skirt below the knee I ventured out of the metro to see the sights. I felt like I was crawling along the concrete I was moving so slow. Moving from shade to shade. And I felt like I was doing a very average job at it. I was outside for about 2 hours, but it felt like a lifetime. I would pop into a shop to buy water every 20 odd minutes, retreating to the climate controlled environment for long enough that someone in the store would think I was trying to case the joint, before scuffing my feet back into the sun. The water I was consuming was pouring out of me. So I decided after about an hour that the only way to stop sweating was to be completely dehydrated. Seemed to work, but logically couldn't last for long.

I am used to London where the train stations are close together, and you can walk from point to point, here I had lost my ability to regulate my own temperature, lost my will to live and was beginning to lose my dignity as my white shirt became more and more see through. It's all well and good to conform to Muslim dress standards, but when it's sticking to you and is basically transparent I think it's bridging on pointless. I looked like an overweight middle aged man after a jog down he driveway.

Other than the mad heat, Dubai is mad in so many other ways. Muslim but super secular, much more than I was expecting. Religious, but seemingly driven by consumerism and wealth more than the Koran. The population is flush with immigrants at both ends of society, in the high rise buildings, dusting the pot plants outside those buildings (actually) and building those high rises from the desert to the sky. From what I can see there are 4 social classes. Some shop in the Gucci store, some work in it, some clean it and the others used there sweat to build it.

Like Singapore, it's outward appearance is so false you feel like you are in an elaborate version of the Truman Show, but filmed in a microwave. Until you realise people live here. Every day. And have their own quirks and routines; women only train carriages, playgrounds under the bridges - where the homeless live in London and watering the 'grass' that is actually sand, to ensure the desert doesn't take over.

Even with all of this, I really enjoyed it. It's contrived, fake and exhausting. Whilst being a juxtaposition of futurism, cultures and societal structures that is just so damned interesting to experience. Dubai is worth a stop over just to people watch, I will definitely do it again.

Posted by kayles 14:18 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

Hashtag travel

sunny 35 °C

So we all know about first world problems, or hashtag firstworldproblems as some of the more tech savvy of us understand. I have a new one. Someone has already probably thought about it, but I don't want to look for fear of people annoying me more than I annoy myself.

  1. holidayproblems

On first consideration you may think, Kayleigh your shoe laces must be tied together, you be tripping... Holidays can't have problems. By definition they are holidays and devoid of drama. But I tell you they do. Not noteworthy or irksome in the same way that the Middle East crisis is, or Ebola. But something that everyone has probably experienced one of whilst travelling. And now I am hash tagging it.

1) My swimwear is still wet from the last swim I had #holidayproblems

It sticks to your legs, it's as difficult to get on as getting an octopus into a wetsuit, and it smells a little funky. Also love when that wet bikini strap comes round and smacks you in the face.

2) My kindle has run out of battery #holidayproblems

I have been enjoying my life, doing the thing I enjoy for so long, that electricity wants me to suffer. I guess I have to read a real book, boo... Where I am I going to get one of those? In a library, don't be so silly! Ain't nobody got time for that!

3) My face is so tanned that my make up is the wrong colour #holidayproblems

Woe is me. I will have to either attempt to be Michael Jackson with white winter-like foundation, or consider the terrifying possibility of going sans 'face' for a day. Pity the fool that doesn't anticipate the browner complexion of holiday skin and ends up looking like a geisha going out for dinner.

Also added to the ever growing list is....

4) My mojito is giving me brain freeze #holidayproblems

5) All this gelato is making me get a food baby #holidayproblems

6) I have to wear shoes?? I am not going.... #holidayproblems

7) Can't find a beach chair in range of the wifi #holidayproblems

8) Sand in your bikini bottom #holidayproblems

There are lots more to giggle at... I want it to become a thing.... #probablyhavetobefamousforthat

Posted by kayles 22:38 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Sunny, pizza-y and Popey

sunny 28 °C

From a week of sun tans, togs and swims every day, we headed to Rome. Many of you regular blog readers.... (Mum... That's about it....) may note we have been to Italy before, a number of times. It's the pizza, you got me. However, this time we headed south. Rome, Salerno, Amalfi, Positano, Capri, Sorrento, Pompeii and Naples.

In combination with Greece, this is the first time the Orsums have really travelled in the summer high season. Not approved. It's hot, sweaty, with way more tourists, the prices are bumped up, especially for the essentials, namely accommodation and water and the worst part is everything smells a little funky. Rome was no exception.

I'm not sure if I have mentioned before, but Iain and I always joke about construct-ober. It's the month when all renovation, refurbishments and general fixings happen in Europe. Just after the high season, and just before it gets too cold to work outside. Apparently Rome didn't get this memo. Everything had scaffolding. Not only scaffolding, but scaffolding emblazoned with expensive watches and eye cream advertising. To fight for space on the metro, then walk 8 blocks in the blazing sun, dodging the slowest and widest tourists known to man, restraining oneself from punching these slow walking people in the back of the head, only to find what you were destined to see is not there is infuriating. But you know me, I rant about everything.

Luckily Iain had been to the Vatican before, so knew all the tricks of the trade to see everything we wanted, without crazy queues of people. Basically Iain just knows the tricks of the trade to stop me ranting, although I'm far less entertaining when I am calm and content.

My rants about the Vatican and the Catholic Church are for a less open forum, and would be served well with a port and strong cheese combo. Although, what isn't!

From Rome, we headed down to the coast. Originally Iain and I had looked at renting a car for this part of the trip to keep costs down. I am glad we didn't. I don't think it is more cost effective to rent a car and then smash it up driving in Italy. Italian roads are already a death trap full of semi suicidal drivers, but the Amalfi coast is a new level of insanity. You have to have a very good life insurance policy, a strong belief in a higher power and a complete disregard of life, to drive here. We took the bus, and even then I think there was a system where the drivers all lined up and downed their trousers to decide who had the biggest kahuna's for some of the routes.

The route to Agerola is for those with the biggest undies. And probably the brownest. Our bus actually gave up the ghost before the final destination. Kaput. Poked. It died a very fiery and smokey death, much to the alarm of the tourists onboard, and the hilarity of Iain and I. Agerola is the starting point for the Path of the Gods walk, amazing walk, could do with a couple more handrails.... But just the most stunning views, and a knee surgery inducing 1000 stairs down to Positano for a swim.

Capri was stunning, Limoncello has been purchased and Iain promises he will not drink it all before I return... Iain, I have at least 3 witnesses on here! I will strike you down.

Naples, as expected was scumtastic. Alright for a night. I found a good hotel right by the train station, and wasn't expecting much so was pleasantly surprised. Also dinner was amazeballs - note for other travellers, don't wait in the biggest line for the busiest restaurant. I was finally beaten by a dinner in Napoli. I can't remember the last time it happened. Those on our Greece trip will tell you I didn't flinch at the portions, Naples however gave me a good run for my money. Free aperitifs (with plates of food), Fresh bread, Caprese salad, Bruschetta to sink a small Navy vessel, 2 pizzas (yes, one each of course), 1 full litre of wine, 2 proseccos and 2 limoncellos all for less than €50 (all up).... There was a slice of pizza left. For shame Kayleigh. For shame.

Now I am on the train back to Rome for my flight to Dubai. Leaving Iain behind to pay the credit card for the last trip! Anyone who is in London between now and mid- October give him a call. He'll be lonely and in desperate need of a good meal. He may even be starving to death... Although I think the last week in Italy has given him a few additional resources round the midsection (...if you know what I mean). Just whatever you do, don't drink my limoncello. I'll learn some tracking techniques in Africa, and I will hunt you down.

Posted by kayles 19:22 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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