The Drakensburg mountain range is known as the wall of spears that peacefully separated the Basotho (People of Lesotho) from the Zulu (Of North East RSA). Here are some clips from a sneaky long weekend I managed for a friends birthday thanks to a public holiday in RSA way back in the start of spring.
We stayed at the beautiful Inkosana Lodge, which is on the road to the Monks Cowl National Park, with a great view of Cathkin peak at sunset over the pool. After doing one of the day hikes to the waterfall under Monks Cowl, we headed further South West to the Amphitheatre Park, and hiked into the base of the Amphitheatre. Topped the long week of driving around a small game park which is situated at the site where the British armed forced incurred a significant loss to the Zulu.
It is a year since I first went snowboarding with Arnault at Nozawa Onsen. During January and February 2013 we made numerous trips into the deep fluffy snow on the north west slopes of the Torogi pass in Nagano Prefecture. Arnault, a university friend of Nicks’ from Singapore has been a regular at Nozawa onsen for the past 7 years and returns year on year for the ease of access from Tokyo, deep powder, often unused off-piste trails, and local, non-touristy feel that the place has. He stays at the same family Ryonkan each year, and they view him as a favoured son. Ina ddition, the town is historic, with 17 public onsens scattered throughout the tiny town, it is one of few places where these public onsens are still maintained, free of charge.
We had blue skies for 2 of the three visits, which is apparently pretty rare, and good snow. On one occasion, we had almost too much snow! Check out the gallery and two video clips I have put together below. Unfortunately, both times I went off-piste with Arnault and Delphine, I crashed too many times to make sure the camera was operating appropriately! One of those occasions I managed to get a little air just prior to hitting a tree at pretty decent speed, so a good thing it is not on camera!
Another eventful year has ended, and more memories piled atop old. I’m struggling these days even more to hold them all in my head, and find that some leak out as others enter. I hope this post immortalises some of them, capturing an hint of them to serve as a future prompt, a link to a sight, a story, a smell that still lingers in my brain. Before all that though, here is a little clip of how we ushered in 2014 in Germany!
Pictures and videos for some of these memories to come soon! All links below are to existing blog posts on the topics.
Snowboarding with Arnault, Delphine and friends at Nozawa Onsen on multiple weekends
The green shoes with pink laces finally paid off when I met Julia
Completed my first marathon, the Tokyo Marathon in 4 hrs 12 minutes and achieved my goal of running the whole 42kms.
A big month for work, with the INPEX, IFC and both JICA BoP projects all being wrapped up at the same time
Off-piste snowboarding with Arnault, Delphine and friends.
March (Japan and Thailand)
A weekend trip to the Boso peninsular and the fire festival at Takao-San with Julia
10 day return bike trip to Osaka and surrounds and return via Route 19 with Julia, including a catch-up with Lloyd-san.
A sneak peek into Christmas in Bavaria. After visiting the Christmas markets in Munich We travelled to my girlfriends family farm in Bavaria.
I didn’t get to capture much of the food, but rest assured the two meals included sausages of various kinds, potato and bread dumplings, saur kraut, brussels, spätzle (home made pasta), and also rolled beef filled with pickled cucumber and boiled eggs. To bring a little bit if Aussie tradition to the party I whipped up a Christmas pudding with assistance from a Country women’s Association recipe and mums skype assistance.
To top the whole day off we took a short drive into the foothills so that we could claim it was a white Christmas!
Cape Town is a beautiful, vibrant city with a large and growing activist community. There is always a buzz about people and places that are trying to make themselves better. I was lucky enough to pop into the Open Street festival in Cape Town at the end of May when all my gear arrived. I was doubly lucky to have the energetic Cecile to show me around and introduce me to many of the exciting and interesting people that are improving the social equality in and around Cape Town.
It has been a whirlwind 2 months since I went on Safari on Tanzania and I have neglected to post the remainder of the photos from the Tanzania experience! Please find further wonders of the wild Tanzania!
Well, I finally made it to Africa, although not how I originally expected! I have started a new job which will involve a lot of travel around Africa and one which will hopefully have a significant impact on the TB death rate. Although it is not my preferred mode of travel I’m happy that one of my travel goals has been achieved and that I’m here in Africa.
So what to do on my first weekend in Africa? Go on Safari of course! We visited the Ngorogoro crater and nearby lake Manyara. Both are closely situated to the Serengeti National park, which was just a little out of reach this weekend.
The checklist of animals we spotted was impressive, and the Ngorogor crater itself very impressive. I’m struggle to reconcile how green Tanzania is with my expectations. Then again, it is situated just below the equator and has both Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru, towering on the border with Kenya to the north, that drag down the clouds and the rain.
Mind you I still managed to get sunburnt even though I was wearing a rain-coat! Enjoy the pictures, it was a pleasure taking them! Lake Manyana photos will come in a post soon.
The Moonflower provides a wondrerfully relaxing, rustic and pleasant dining experience. It could hold its nose in the air and be irritatingly pretentious, but it doesn’t, it is friendly and down to earth. I think it is the smiley, uber friendly waiters and staff that deserve credit for ensuring those that show up in jeans, tshirt and thongs still feel comfortable amongst the finery of the decore and clientele.
I had the grilled snapper on seasonal veggies.
The grilled options, which also includes lamb chops (also delicious) come with a selection of sides including mashed, roasted or fried potatoes or rice. I asked for extra green vegies and was ingormed I could have spinach, which I received sauteed in a white wine and cream sauce. Perfect.
Best yet, Moonflower does not break the bank. Mains are about 1200 Kenyan shillings, incidentally the same price I paid for a custom smoked salmon sandwich for lunch! I think that is about $15.
After leaving Japan I was lucky enough to have some time in Northern Thailand and Laos before starting my new job here in Tanzania. Part of the time in Northern Thailand was taking part in the Chiang Mai international cricket 6’s tournament.
About 26 teams competed this year, represented by over 120 players plus about another ~100 social participants. The competition was held at the Gymkhana ground in Chiang Mai, which was beautifully prepared, and an immense amount of fun was had by all, on and off the ground. Some pics from competition are included for your enjoyment – for t
he record the Tokyo Wombats did pretty well, especially since they were carrying yours truly who seems to have forgotten how to bowl!
In addition to playing cricket, drinking beer and vodka slammer ‘fines’ and gathering collective wisdom about Northern Thailand and Africa, I did manage to have a look around Chiang Mai and the nearby Doi Suthep national Park.
Bigger adventures were to follow and you can look forward to more on that in the future. Following that, yet bigger adventures in Tanzania and Africa! Enjoy for now.