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TRAVELBUCKET

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NONG KAI (THAILAND) & VIENTIANE (LAOS)

Late afternoon we boarded the train at Don Muang train station in Bangkok for an overnight trip to the less touristy Nong Kai in the Nothern parts of Thailand. The purpose for the trip is a surprise visit to one of hubby’s Aussie friends who lives in Nong Kai with his wife and children and at the same time hop over the border to renew our visas as it was about to expire the day before we were scheduled to leave Thailand. First trying to find the right train and coach at Don Muang  tested our nerves because not a lot of the locals who use the long distance train system actually speak English.  So a lot of hand signs and Nong Kai, Nong Kai was going around and at the order of the day!  At last we did find the train and our clean compartment that we booked via… Read more >

THE FOREST VILLAGE

Hubby spoiled me with a quick, but welcome, road trip while he was on his home break  from his bush work somewhere in Africa.  We zippied  along the N2 in the Garden Route and through the green Tsitsikamma forests to the adrenaline filled little village of Storms River situated halfway between Port Elizabeth and George. Walking in the village you cannot imagine that yellowwood was actually used for railway sleepers in this forest community in the early 1800’s.   At the turn of the 1800’s Frank Mangold purchased several properties in the village and built a house and established several other businesses.  Today there are still not a lot of businesses in the sleepy village, but if you are an adrenaline junky this is the place to do a canopy tour and maybe catch a glimpse of the rare Knysna Loerie with its reds wings gliding from tree to tree or… Read more >

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES …

Once home after the epic journey from Johannesburg to George Livingstone (as the Landy was named) was taken to a friend’s shed where the restoration project started.  Rivet by rivet and bolt by bolt Livingstone was stripped of it seats, canvas canopy and all its panels, nuts, bolts and springs – right down until only the rusted chassis remained. Sometimes the surprise was big that something was still in such a good and original condition and the next moment the moods were down on the ground when rust appeared to be worse than expected.  There were also some mystery finds such as a couple of bones in the chassis … Every panel and part was stacked and packed in neat little heaps waiting for the time when it was ready to be assembled again. Within days the Haynes owner’s manual, which was ordered by mail from a bookshop in South… Read more >

SANCCOB PORT ELIZABETH (PREVIOUSLY KNOWN AS SAMREC)

SAMREC (SA Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre) is Port Elizabeth’s marine rehabilitation centre situated in the Cape Recife Nature Reserve. At the centre you can interact with some African penguins, (also known as the jackass penguin and black-footed penguin) a ganet and cormorant or whatever type of bird that they rescue and is on the road to recovery.  Once extremely numerous, the African penguin is declining in numbers due to a combination of threats and is classified as endangered. (In fact more endangered than our precious rhinos).  Penguins mate for life and they recognize each other according to the amount of black spots on their chests – it works something like the human’s fingerprints – not one penguin’s marking is the same than the next one.  Penguins have an average life span of 10 to 27 years, but in captivity they easily reach the age of 30. The African penguin is only found… Read more >

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE

With the ongoing ebola outbreak in West Africa I am pretty sure most of the world now knows where the once forgotten Sierra Leone is located.  My first experience of Sierra Leone in 2011 was ten years after a bloody civil war (1991- 2001) and before the horrendous ebola outbreak in 2014 which is the largest in history.  Sierra Leone – a struggling country filled with friendly people with warm and welcoming hearts. Crossing Africa on my flight from Johannesburg (via Nairobi and Accra with Kenya Air) to Freetown I sat next to a proud soldier who was on holiday from Afghanistan. He was super excited to see his family back home in Freetown after an absence of three years from his home country.   His eyes were shining bright and he could not wait to put his feet on home soil and hug his family once again. Oh yes, and… Read more >

GRYSBOK TRAIL @ NMMU

It was an early rise and shine on a Saturday morning for a walk on the Grysbok trail.  The whole of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) campus was declared a Private Nature Reserve in 1983. The 830 ha is dominated by the St Francis Dune Thicket vegetation.   This fynbos vegetation is highly threatened due to agricultural clearing and coastal development. Despite some problems with invasive Australian Acacias the vegetation is in very good condition.  The trail meanders through the reserve, providing opportunities for observing the exciting fauna and flora of the area. Do take time to visit the reserve on different times of the year to experience the whole spectrum of the flora and fauna.  There are two trail options that can be walked, a 3.2 km or a 2.5 km loop. Both trails cover relatively flat terrain and are suitable for moderately fit people and no bundu… Read more >

REVISITING BELVIDERE, KNYSNA

On an overcast morning, with all the holiday makers gone, and the schools starting today I took the drive to Belvidere near Knysna.  I had the streets almost to myself except for the garden services mowing the lawn and the odd resident walking their dog. As with so many places near your home you tend to seldom visit them, because they will always be there, but as I slowly drove into the village at nine o’clock a Knysna loerie was spreading its red wings as it crossed the road in the tree tops.  What a welcoming sight!  This alone was worth the visit. When I arrived at the Holy Trinity Church, designed by Sophy Gray, with its romantic setting and history there was a service.  So I strolled around the village to make up time, because I wanted to visit this historic church after reading its story.  Luckily the church… Read more >

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