Archives for October 2013

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On our way

19th October 2013 Happy Birthday Lek.

Is this Sydney?

Is this Sydney?

Looks like we have a few days to kill before our car arrives. Today we drove about an hour west to the Valley of a Thousand Hills. Beautiful rolling, green hills reminiscent of the Southern Highlands of NSW. Some very upmarket communities here, all guarded with a lot of electric fencing. It was foggy and cold, 11 degrees. We drove through the area using various tourist routes one of which took us down-hill through an African area. What a contrast. It was the complete opposite of upstairs, a very poor area. A lot of Africans walk along the road to get to their destinations and you can see some interesting sights. Dapper men in suits with umbrellas or women carrying great loads on their heads out in the middle of nowhere.

25th October 2013

Mediteranian Shipping Company

Mediterranian Shipping Company

The MSC Tomoko birthed  two days ago and we are eagerly awaiting the phone call to come and collect our car.

For the last two days we have driven up the coast to the towns of Umhlanga and Ballito. If there were three sides to a coin this would be the third. These two towns are as up market as it gets with even fewer electric fences. It is a sophisticated Gold Coast (A famous Australian resort area). We just wandered around the shops and beach taking it all in. On one bush track we got talking to a Zulu park worker who took us around his park and was very enthusiastic and happy in his descriptions. There were about thirty ships on the horizon waiting to enter Durban harbour, all delayed due to the high winds. Apparently Durban harbour is tricky to enter. We actually saw our ship floating around out there off the coast and then moving at a rate of knots, pun intended, south. It must have got the word. We have been able to track the progress of the vessel from Sydney via a shipping website and so had a good idea of where it was positioned off shore.

27th October 2013 Yesterday we went for a walk to the Lagoon area called Green Hub and then all the way to the city. The wind here was ferocious and we could hardly walk against it. The Indian spice market had every imaginable spice, variety of lentil, incense, all other things Indian and of all things Kellogs Corn Flakes. By the time we got back to Gibela, our backpacker lodge, it was 4pm, nearly time to watch the Rugby grand final between The Durban Sharks and Western Province (The Cape Town team).  The proprietor, other guests and myself settled down in front of the TV and Judy, not a huge fan of football, read her book “Questions of Travel”. After ten minutes a huge electrical storm erupted, the TV went blank for one hour, groan, but came back on just ten minutes before the end, allowing us to see the final score, live. The “Sharkies” won and Durban put on a fireworks display to equal Sydney.

By the way Gibela means “Hop on“ in Zulu.

Judy watching the Rugby

Judy watching the Rugby

Gibela has given us a very comfortable place to stay while we wait for car to arrive.

28th October 2013

Oh what a feeling!

Oh what a feeling!

We got it. The car arrived. No Damage. Did a little dance with the stevedores and Maurita, the shipping agent and took it for a bit of a drive to recharge the battery.

We unpacked in the afternoon and tomorrow have a couple of legals to attend to, then we truly start our holiday. In a way we are on our way home.

The unveiling

The unveiling

 

 

 

 

29th  October 2013 Our first day of travel with the Troopy. Flat battery had to clutch start it and the small chip in the windscreen ,from our test drive, has developed into a sizeable split. So off we go. We travelled to the Drakensberg Mountains and camped overnight at the White Mountain Hotel, which has a camping area out the back. What a place this is. It is a “Camp Granada” for private schools with multiple Afrikaner dorms and lodges, an artificial lake and a huge restaurant and bar. This place is A1 and can cater for up to 2000 guests. We were their only guests, out of season perhaps? Prices were very reasonable.

30th October 2013 Stayed at the Sani Pass Lodge and met Rupert, a motorcyclist adventurer who gave us a lot of valuable information about the road ahead. We met up for dinner with other travellers at the restaurant there and before too long everyone was swapping stories and info. It was a real travellers rantan.

 

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Around Durban

We arrived about 5pm and were processed reasonably quickly receiving a 90 day tourist visa at no charge. I probably didn’t get a great exchange rate but in the wash up about 8 rand per Aus. $. So far Durban is still cheaper than Sydney. We are staying at the Gibela Backpackers Lodge. It is clean, comfortable and reasonably priced with outdoor terraces,pool and daybeds. We are within walking distance to an upmarket restaurant area.

9th October 2013   3.30am can’t sleep jetlagged.

Buffalo

Buffalo

We travelled to the down-town area on a mini bus for 5 rand each where the conductor  operates the door and touts for business as the bus moves along, all very funny as the bus driver stops and has a chat with someone he may know or stop and do a hi five with a mate, meanwhile the conductor is leering off every “chick” in sight and of course the bus is full, but there is always room for another passenger or chicken.

Getting into down-town Durban we check the port area and note where the first gas station is, as the troopy has about 30k’s of diesel in it (tanks emptied for shipping) and we will need to fill up before too long after the car is unloaded.

Durban is a busy place and gives the impression of former glory. We roamed the beach and walked back to our lodge via the new Moses Mabhida Stadium. We saw some back streets and got a feel for the place.

10th October Walked to the beach then went to sort a sim card and withdraw some money.  Call me a hillbilly but I really thought there would be trouble here. I put my debit card into the ATM dialled in the details and out came my money. Got a really good exchange rate to boot. SMALL WIN.

Tomorrow we go to the Doctor to get our Malaria script and then do some dockside business re; Troopy, and then we plan to hire a car and drive north for a few days. Might go to a National Park.

White Rhinoceros

White Rhinoceros

11th October 2013 Sorted our GPS and Tracks4Africa map. Same whingy voice as our home GPS, it gets annoyed if you take a wrong turn.

17th October 2013 Returned to Durban this afternoon. We drove up to St Lucia on the 12th, monkeys and mongoose down Main Street with some Giraffe and Hippo in the evening in the game park just out of town.

Giraffe at sunset

Giraffe at sunset

It was raining next morning so we drove up to Cape Vidal, Zebra etc. then to Huhluwe-Umfolozi Game Park. We really were overwhelmed. We saw it all, straight away, rhino, buffalo, different types of antelopes, a tortoise, elephant and giraffe all up close.

From our breakfast window at Hilltop Lodge we saw a passing parade of elephant, white rhino, baboons, antelope and an unidentified white apparition in the distance. We haven’t seen a snake yet. They have a big problem with Rhino poachers and have armed patrols and choppers moving around to try and intercept them. I thought the poachers were up in Central Africa but when a Rhino horn is worth about $300,00.00AUS it’s easy to see the temptation.

Rondavels

Rondavels

 

We were treated like Kings up at Huhluwe-iMfolozi, great value and the service could not be faulted.

Tomorrow we will take stock and sort out my debit cards and Wi Fi connections, malaria tablets.

The troopy seems to be at Port Elizabeth and should arrive in Durban soon???? Raining and miserable at moment, in foothills it was 13 degrees.

 

 

 

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Sydney Airport Farewell

Sydney Airport Farewell

Dubai

Sydney first. We had an early start to get to the airport for a 6am flight.Our daughters,Glenn, the grandchildren and Lee made the effort to see us off. Thank you for that. It didn’t hit us until a bit later that we wouldn’t be seeing them for a year or so. Thank you to Bonnie and Stephen for the Dubai tips and prepaid Metro day tickets.

I might add that our daughters paid for our accommodation in Dubai as a Father’s Day present. We need more of this activity.

06 Oct 2013  Had a long but good flight from Sydney to Dubai. Emirates, good food, friendly service. Went to Dubai market section, gold, fish, (not goldfish) and spice all good. The natives are friendly. They have a great Metro rail service, easier for us to use than Sydney’s. Clean and new stations, no graffiti and clear destination announcements in English and Arabic. Someone stood up for Judy in the train and then a bloke stood up for me, I’m impressed, and it only costs a few Dirhams for a day pass. In general prices here are cheaper than Sydney. All signs and shop fronts are in Arabic AND English. Haven’t seen a tat’ or piercing all day. Been up for about 26 hours now, bit sleepy. 10pm.

07 Oct 2013    3am can’t sleep, jetlagged. Having got the lay of the land yesterday we are going to do some serious touristi today.

Yasser?

Yasser?

Went to Dubai Marina which is a beautiful waterfront with contemporary Arabic architecture and Dubai mall with the highest building in the world all very spectacular then back to the old market area where we took a river cruise along the “Creek” we were the only passengers on the dhow. I bought an Arabic headdress from a merchant, I look like Yasser Arafat, which protected me a little from further harassment from the vendors (by the way I bargained the price from 270 Durham’s to 30 and other vendors said I got a good deal).

08 Oct 2013   3.30am  can’t sleep jet lagged. Off to the airport soon and Durban.

A funny thing happened at the airport. We had been through passport and luggage checks and sat in a big hall waiting for our flight to be called. I noticed that people were drifting off to one end of the hall, Judy had gone to the powder room and by the time she had returned I was alone in the hall. We proceeded to follow and ended up rounding a glass partition. We, and all the rest of the people (about three hundred passengers) ended up at our original place. A classic case of following like sheep.

 

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Preparations

 

I started out by honing down my set to something that I thought the locals from any one place might like to hear, so I included material from “Original Contemporary” to “Colonial”.

I have taken a Mini Maton, which is a 3/4 scale accoustic, and tuned it to a modified “G” ( I call it “Buliak Tuning” or “Lower delta Rosedale Juke Joint” tuning………………how presumptuous) Blog me for the details. I have always been an Urban Rocker but whenever I go bush I find myself playing things like “Pub with no beer” and “Raining on the Rock”, funny that.

Oh you meant “Practical preparations for the trip”.    A lot of info here from the Legals to the Mechanicals, I wont bore you with the details but it took us about a year and I am happy to answer any questions via the blog or “Get in touch”).

The car itself is a 2006 78 series “Troopy” (Toyota LandCruiser) with 74,000 Ks on the dial (It was still in warranty when I got it.) with a 1HD-FTE turbo diesel engine (one of the best they made). In hindsight an earlier model may have been easier to repair in remote places but Im hoping a “close to new car” will negate the need for repairs. Sounds like famous last words, doesn’t it?

I have nicknamed the car “Yoda” after the “Star Wars character” as in “Toy Yoda” “Toyota” I even have a small Toy Yoda hanging from the rear view mirror (the name was Glenn’s idea). Judy doesn’t approve of this and has named the car “Girt” as in “Girt by sea” from our national anthem Advance Australia Fair.We will see what name it becomes as we travel.

Our Northern Territory trip was a good dress rehearsal and it showed me what not to take rather to “what more should I take”. I was able to dispose of about half a tonne of unnecessary weight. Its not to say I have lost capability but having thought about some of the uses of the things I took I was able to get around their usefulness in other ways i.e.. instead of carrying a spare 20Kg steel cable (for recovery use) I have decided that I can bury a wheel and use it as a land anchor for winching ( a whole lot harder but better than lugging 20Kg for 80,000 k’s. (does that equal 1,600,000 kilogrameters? ). I also made my own recovery “Traks”-saved about $600 and 2 Kilos.(off the car,not my waist)

We ended up sending more unnecessary gear back to Australia from Walvis Bay, Namibia and on returning back to Sydney found that there were many other items that we did not actually use during the trip, however these items could have been important given the opportunity.

We both did the Toyota LandCruiser 4WD driving course and it is to be recommended as it not only gave us valuable information and techniques but also showed us our car’s capabilities.

 

 

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