I don’t claim to have travelled to as much parts of the world as other people may have, but I do claim this much: Everywhere I’ve gone to has been pretty damn good. And I’m immensely grateful to the forces in the universe that will these things to happen. From these trips, I’ve more or less managed to name a few signs that ultimately make me a happy little traveller.
Of course, we all have our own quirks and individual things of interest, so whatever rocks my boat might not necessarily sway yours.
Let me just put it out there:
Cape Town is majorly Hipster City. The locals know this too, as evidenced by the countless cracks made about Moleskin- toting, cafe- sitting ironic kids at the stand- up comedy show we caught there the other Sunday.
If hipster should mean great “gourmet” food and “artisanal” drinks, or an all- around awareness and appreciation for cleverly good design, then I really don’t mind.
What’s more, I think hipster Cape Town is very cool indeed .
You often ask me how I can afford to write you letters when I always seem at my wit’s end with the day job’s never- ending deadlines.
Simple: 45- minute daily commute (where I happen to be writing this to you right now).
Camps Bay can be found at the western fringes of the Mother City (a.k.a. Cape Town). It’s a luxurious area that dots the curvy shorelines of Cape Town’s western beaches with beautifully made houses, hotels, restaurants, and bars all designed to face stunning views of limitless sea and sky.
Behind this arrangement of houses and infinity swimming pools, you see the 12 Apostles (similar- looking mountain ranges tailing the city’s beloved Table Mountain).
We’d just gotten back to Cape Town from a two- day Internet and TV- free stay at the Karoo, when I read my phone messages at the hotel. One that was cryptic enough from a colleague all the way in Singapore saying:
“You go all the way there and he dies?!”
“Who died?!”, I asked.
Unbeknownst to us happily trailing animals at a remote wildlife reserve, South Africa’s beloved Tata Madiba (literally Father Madiba, in his native Xhosa name)- Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nelson Mandela to the rest world- had died at 95 in his home in Johannesburg.
It was like holding one’s breath underwater in a public swimming pool: when you stay underwater long enough, you lose sense of what is going on above the surface. And when you bob up after a few minutes, you realize that you’ve shifted elsewhere in the swimming pool and that the whole place has obviously changed. After confirming Mandela’s death on the television, we were suddenly walking along streets where things had obviously changed.
It’s hard trying to tell you about my recent trip to South Africa, just because it could possibly have been the most amazing of my life, so far: the passing of beloved global peace icon Nelson Mandela; or hanging out- chilling, as the locals would say- at the coolest (some, quite frankly and proudly, hipster) places unexpected in this side of the world; or driving for 400 kilometers and getting very lost at the top of a dangerous mountain pass ominously called Bain’s Kloof Pass; or personally seeing remnants of the shit storm that was the Apartheid system; or eating great food (“Some of the best meat in the world!”, so exclaimed my companion the carnivore); or drinking some of the world’s best beers and wines for a fraction of whatever we pay for, here in Singapore; or getting robbed of 400 African Rand and 300 Singapore Dollars inside our very own hotel room (yes, sir!); or seeing all that staggering natural beauty synonymous with the African wild; but of course…
What is the African experience without seeing its famous “Big 5”? There’s so much to say about amazing South Africa, and with that latter note, I shall begin to try telling you about it.
“Big 5” is what they call the most famous animals indigenous to Africa’s countless deserts, bushes, and Karoos (what they call a semi- desert natural area in South Africa) . “Five” consists of the African Elephant, the Rhinoceros, the Cape Buffalo, the Lion, and the Leopard. If only to get as much from our first trip there, of course we had to see them too. Kruger Park is supposedly the best place to see them in the whole continent, but it’s closest to Johannesburg (and too far from where we actually were). There are a good number of “Game Reserve” venues closer to Cape Town, though. And since we were going to be based in Cape Town for the most part, we did research on these other choices instead (read many reviews, more importantly) and decided on doing the safari experience at the Inverdoorn Game Reserve and Safari Lodge, a mere 3- hour drive away from Cape Town’s center. More on the 3- hour drive (which inexplicably turned into an adventure in itself, taking us a total of 5 hours to actually get there), and more on the lovely Inverdoorn Lodge resort later as well. For now, the safari.