Tuesday, 23 March 2010

more of SA

Following on from the running and blue-bottles....

Having not surfed yet and being a bit keen we decide to leave Jbay to head back west towards capetown. We remembered a smashing break on the way which Adam had mentioned he saw previously on another trip and wanted to check it out. The last evening in Jbay was quite hilarious, we had drank some whiskey and been enjoying the night views when Adam is overcome with hunger. He was fairly much over the limit (if SA has one... no-one that I know is sure) but we still decide to drive to the pizza take-away place. It really isn't far but neither of us fancy a walk in the dark considering the relative remote location of Island Vibe (http://www.islandvibe.co.za/island-vibe-jbay-in-a-nutshell.html) within the town which meant we'd be at a greater risk of being mugged and such like. Adam tries to back out of the fairly wide gateway and still manages to clip his wing-mirror.. nice one bru. Pizza was very good but we both wake up the next morning and think "What the f@#k did we do last night!!! Why!! They have pizza at Island Vibe...."

So we up and leave J-bay and head back down the N2 a very long straight road.

Which still takes us 2-3 hours to get anywhere... We thought we were going to head to Plettenberg Bay but it turned out we wanted Wilderness. This place is not really like it sounds... not that much Wilderness and more like a seaside village... for hippies.

"Dude... I'm so stoned right now... I can't feel my face anymore... ugh"

We stayed at the only existing campsite which was situated up a steep hill called Asante (http://www.asantecaravans.co.za/) which was a very cool place to camp (in fact it even got cold a couple of nights..). The guys who run it (Wikus is pictured above) were a family who grew a lot of their own food there which made for a nice change from the typical campsite and holiday destination. The beach itself at wilderness was fairly choppy but was nice sand to run on.

Here is what Asante looks like from where we camped. I have to apologise though, the panoramic picture I've created here won't show well.. if you know me on facebook it is there.

We also weren't to know that it is quite sharky and has many rips... ouchy stuff basically. There was a place just round the corner however which was amazing!! Victoria's Bay / Vicbaai / VBay... whatever you want to call it.. is a fantastic little break, once you get past the breakers. There is basically two positions to try this from, the tiny bit of beach that exists to walk out from or the rocks at the point. Both are mildly treacherous as the beach has strong enough breakers to pick up a 16st (100 Kg) man with board and spin him upside down. The rocks are.. well rocks! we tried these and fell over in the process, damaging one of Adam's boards. My fault as I fell but he did try to catch me. He is about half my size... why Adam why?

So we spent about 3 days here just surfing Vicbaai getting dunked, spending an hour trying to get out past the breakers. Adam is a fairly experienced surfer (he's lived in Cape town for a year now so that plus what he did here in UK is a fair bit) and he had plenty of trouble with it. Me being a fat beginner had more trouble but I did manage it with much greater ease by the end. It really was like trying to ride a storm in a teabag... not a lot can be done to be washed about and brewed to stupidity

So this is Vicbaai...

where they get Elfs... (they're a type of fish... made me laugh for hours though)

After a few days in Wilderness we decided to make a manouver to Stillbai. We arrive after a couple of hours drive and realised how desolate the area is. On way I saw an abhorrent sight... I saw a ginger sheep. What kind of fucked-up shepard would think to cultivate them!?

There are also lots of empty properties which evidently never lived in apart from for holidays. We spent a couple of hours trying to find a camp site. There was a site, with no guard and no-one at the reception. In the end we asked for directions to get to another one which turned out to be 5km away in Jongensfontein. This had an awesome break coming off a reef with consistent waves coming in. We saw one other guy go out onto the waves and so we thought to join in. Adam had been very nervous the whole time. The other surfer was pointing to us to come out round the breakers, I turn back to look at Adam. His face dropped so far and I looked back towards the other dude and see a fin crest over a wave. I couldn't see the dude. I turned back to Adam and started to paddle in. I was quite calm considering I thought there was a shark out there. I paddle in and we then see it was a dolphin. I was fairly keen to get back out at this point but Adam didn't so we stayed on shore. Little did we know that 2 months previous someone had indeed been eaten, at Jongensfontein... right where we were.

Next day we thought to try out StillBai... we get to town and the car gets a flat.

Me - "It's ok bud, just get your spare out and someone at that garage across the road will probably be able to help"

Adam - "Oh... I'm not sure if I've got a spare"

Me - Speechless.... in South Africa on a road trip in a car driven by someone not knowing if they have a spare... where no-one will stop to help you. We were SO lucky to have had this happen there and then... I was a bit upset with Adam. We re-inflated it and it got us back to the campsite and the next day it went again. This time there were plenty of very fat Afrikanas (white Afrikaans speakers)about who were more than happy to get manly and fix a car problem.... mmm .... ya!.... mmm

I decided to take a big step sideways and let them and adam get on with it as I had no contribution to make other than be angry. Thankfully no more mishaps... This is all sorted by about 4 and we are toying of whether to stay in this campsite where we can't surf and there is nothing to do. We've finished all our whiskey previously and it looks bleak... So we scarper back to Cape Town.

On the 4 hour drive back it rains and I get some pretty pictures

We then go about capetown until I leave... other than surfing Kommetjie it was fairly smooth and uneventful. We went for an all you can eat sushi one night and ate waaaaaay too much.

Bagged this all time awesome pic...

Loved it all... the frights and fantastic fun all rolls into an amazing holiday

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Howzit!? Been in South Africa for a couple of weeks...

Hello Hello Hello....

This is the first of a couple of posts to describe in words and pictures my trip down in South Africa.

The night before I left I was well packed, prepared and excited.. so much so that I drank a bottle of wine to myself and then wasn't able to sleep before about 1am.
I got up at 5:30 to have a shower and get the taxi to the airport. I felt particularly tired, the kind of tired that makes you itch and fairly sore upstairs... the driver was really happy and cheerful and kept talking to me. I should have laid down in the back and slept not played along and talked.

Arrived at Gatwick at about 6:50am having checked in online and was waaaaaay too early but that was less than the 'recommended' time to give. Despite my appreciation of the need to not have people blow planes up I do think the security culture we have here is a little bit over the top. I checked in luggage and proceeded to go through security and then sit in a busy departure lounge. Read my book for a long while - Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast : Lewis Wolpert - and listened to QOTSA amongst others.

Flight with Emirates to Dubai departs at 9:45 and I've pre-selected my seats and food. What this means is that I get the seat I want _ by the window _ and my meals are brought out before everyone else!!! If you weren't aware, flight meals are loaded with extra salt as at the lower atmospheric pressures you sit in the cabin your taste buds do not respond to flavour as easily. So I ordered the low sodium meals which were lovely and brought out swiftly much to the dismay of others around me as they had to wait until I'd eaten to even get theirs!!
I arrive at Dubai a little frazzled now as I've been awake a long time and on little sleep and a hangover... the only way to fly?

At Dubai I have a hotel booked overnight before catching my connecting flight. this comes with free shuttle to and from the Airport although you can see the place from the terminal! The shuttle is supposed to arrive every half hour at the departures lounge. However when you arrive tired and hanging left you think to just follow the 'AIRPORT SHUTTLES' sign which leads you to, well.. nowhere... so you go back into the terminal and ask where they are - "Oh yes, they are that way!!" - WHERE!!!??? - "Sorry sir, which hotel are you going to - THE FUCKING HUGE PURPLE ONE OVER THERE!!! - "Oh then you need to go upstairs and wait for the bus that comes every half hour" - Ok, thanks... - You wait..... and wait.... it's raining like smeg on toast... the rain is coming in at 5 degrees ... the police there say this is wher to wait... you wait more than 40 minutes... go and ask the 'information' desk who can't speak more than pigeon english and don't even know about which hotel you mean - WHAT THAT FUCKING HUGE PURPLE ONE RIGHT THERE!!??? - Eventually it comes after an hours wait which is making you annoyed as you now only have 8 hours of time to sleep and the driver picked up his mate for a quick lift on way... :¬[ . I got to the hotel and then thought why not complain until I get the room refunded? I then realised they can just play the 'oh I'm just so confused about what you mean' trick and that I've got no patience to think about moaning after this so I just loudly say I'd just like to get into my bed. Sleep was ok and I get up in time to eat a seriously dodgy 'full english' brekky in which the bacon was square and the sausages were a bit watery. Quickly make my way back to the airport to get onto the final leg of the journey to SA.

Put it this way... I'm not going to think about going to Dubai for a while.

The next flight was much the same as before but longer. I watched many films on route, one of which was 'District 9' which you HAVE to watch. This was especially relevant as I was about to find out as it was based on the infamous District Six in Cape Town where I was headed. Emirated gave out a nice little bag with sleep mask, toothbrush with a single serving of paste and a pair of brown socks.... not sure about the socks but it was a nice touch.

I arrive in Cape Town at 6pm local time which was about 40-something degrees celsius that day. I was wearing jeans, tee-shirt and a leather jacket. Why? Because I'm just so cool like that. I met my friend Adam Collins at the airport who's now been in Cape Town about a year.


I also get to meet his lovely girlfriend Candice and we drive off in his panel van(with me in the boot) to Stones where Adam was currently working as a bar man and DJ on occasion. Supped a Carling Black Label which was really good. Met Doug, Cliff and some others and proceeded to drink whiskey. Afterwards we went to meet Donovan who is a business partner and friend of Adam and they had a meeting for a while. Then headed to Adams for an early night and met his housemate/landlady Kate who is referred to as the Ogre... quite rightly.

We got up nice and early at 6 and headed off to get my surfboard. Adam had got one custom-made to suit my needs as a large man, beginning out and having to fit it into his car. It was perfect. I love it.. I love it I love it I love it!!!! On the top is a design I made from a photo and on the bottom is written "BITE ME - I TASTE GOOD" which I was inspired by the very recent eating of a man at Fish Hoek not 10 miles from where it was made which when I conjured the ideas was an incident about 2 days old. There are a lot of sharks in SA I'm told and the shaper makign the board thought it hilarous apparently. We picked up the board from a place called Kommetjie (pronounced kormikky) and headed on our way to Jeffrey's Bay a good 650km east. Not much to say about the journey other than it being hilly, there beign a fat toll road that was straight for 100km and that I did some of the driving which was my first experience of driving abroad. Pretty easy as we were out of town and just heading along a single lane road for a long time. There is a thing about the fact that many cars are rather shit and low on pushing power so when you come to a hill people will often overtake or you get double roads pop up just for hills. The roads are very acceptable however with good surfaces. We stopped a couple of times for coffee at Wimpy... no less.
After a 9 hour slog we get to J-Bay and book into 'Island Vibe' which is smack bang on the beach in front of the break 'Phantoms'. We get our tent put up and then head down to the beach party that night. I have brough a bottle of tequila and proceed to get smashed and dish out many shots to people to get them smashed as well... ace. Adam was sick... ha ha haaa.

Woke up feeling like you'd expect and headed into town to get some clothes, a wetsuit, leash and boardbag. Most of this was sourced from the Billabong factory outlet where you get everything for about 40% of retail price. So I got lots and lots of stuff as I'd taken a fairly empty bag so I could fill it.

Adam then wasn't keen to surf and wouldn't take me out. So no surfing in Jbay yet. Next time I will surf there and it will be good. We went for a run instead which was quite good as we got to see a lot and do exercise at the same time. the coast was lined with 'blue-bottles' a type of jelly fish which I was assured isn't the famous Portugeuse Man-Of-War but it is Adam.. it is. It's the juvenile sized PMOW that you get in SA. They do get a lot bigger but they definitely are them which I thought was the case... must be useful to have a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology after all eh? If you are really keen to know they are not true cnidarians like common jellies they are a siphonophore which is a colony of organisms physiologically restricted to form separate functions. So there... and they make a fun popping sound when you run on them by accident. Don't walk on the fresh ones though, they can hurt you still.

That's all for today.... next installment soon.