I blogged photos and a more detailed blog post about the Debeers mining ship previously on SA Rocks.
I know have a video from the day up on Zoopy! Here it is, watch and let me know what you think of Peace in Africa, the offshore mining ship. It really was a wonder of technology in Africa and the World.
Over the past ten days I cannot express to you effectively the magnitude of incredible things that I have done. But the trend that I seem to have been following on my excursions is to be dumbstruck and in awe of the smaller things, the details that make me African and not the grand gestures and excursions.
One such moving and riveting experience was a trip to Soweto.
The first thing that really struck me is how embarrassed I am that I have not spent more time in Soweto just going around the places that defined the uprising and struggle through apartheid. I literally felt embarrassed.
Then there was something that really bugged me. Most of the trip I have enjoyed travelling the country as a tourist, not a local, but this part of the trip I actually felt ashamed that I was sitting in a bus filled with [relatively] wealthy American tourists looking out of a window in to the lives, the real lives, of so many people just going about their days in Soweto. I didn’t enjoy that at all and have a disdain for these “white bus trips” through Soweto. But moving on.
We got to see the only street in the world where two Nobel prize winners have lived, Vilakazi street. We saw the spot where the ’76 Soweto uprising began and the memorial built in honour of Hector Pieterson. This is the part where I began to feel affected.
During my three year journalism and politics degree i studied in great detail the Soweto uprising, I have met with journalists who were there, I have met with photographers who took the photos that we reviere today and I have debated the ins and outs of the happenings of that period at length. But I had never been there, seen it, done it, felt it, watched the people who survived it. I had just never done it. And I was shocked at myself for never having done it, I think that was half of the feeling.
Hector Pieterson Museum
The other half was self-depricating white hate. I am not really classified as a white male if you were to look at me, I am more coloured than anything else! But I truly felt shocked to my core and riveted by the images that I was seeing at the Hector Pieterson museum. They are printed out on a massive scale, they follow you, they haunt you and taunt you. But the most surprising thing for me was how many of the photographs featured smiling, happy and peaceful looking youths.
If you step outside at the museum there is a demarkated area for those who died in the uprising, mini tombstones if you will. They area is eery and has a sense of sad upliftment about it. I read each and every name on the ground, many of which were simply marked “unkown”. We have come a long way.
Soweto Holiday Inn
We then headed to our hotel for the evening; the newly opened Holiday Inn in Kliptown.
It is a uniquely South African Holiday Inn that I can promise you is not replicated anywhere else in the world. This makes it a wonder to behold. It is decorated as one would imagine a Sowetan Hotel should be, with images of the struggle heroes plastered in every possible corner, African jazz whistling in the background and a sense of accomplishment evident in every staff member. A phenomenal experience if you have the time and money to venture in to the soul of the city.
That evening we headed to Namisa’s for dinner and a bit of a party. The food is exquisite and once again uniquely South African. Pap, Samp and dumplings featured and I was grateful that the US Bloggers on the trip got to experience a truely local meal and not one prepared at some five star hotel.
The funniest experience at dinner was seeing a table of Soweto locals laughing at all the white American tourists sitting at the table across from them and taking photos of our group. I can only imagine the stories being told the next morning while looking at those photographs!
We then moved next door the more happening part of Nambisa’s. Unfortunately the masses seemed to have found a hotter spot for a Friday night jam so the place wasn’t as full as one might’ve hoped but nevertheless we got to dancing. Hilarious to see rigid white folk jamming it up with the sultry, grooved out locals.
The next morning, hangover and all, we took the streets of Kliptown with Bolo, our tourguide for the walk. Bolo is a Kliptown local who insists that if you cannot speak at least 5 African languages in Kliptown you are in trouble. We saw the living monuments erected in remembrance of the struggle, the uprising and those who died fighting for our freedom. We went through the monument erected in honour of our constitution and the massive X’s laid in brick to honour the “X” vote of democracy which is laid out throughout Kliptown square.
The markets in Kliptown are thriving although Bolo told us that majority of the market stalls are run by foreigner Africans because locals in Kliptown are too lazy to start their own businesses on the streets. Nonetheless the place buzzes and exudes potential.
It’s a very unusual feeling. Rocking back and forth, back and forth and back again. No land in sight and a boat that has been cut in two and rebuilt with an actual mine in the middle beneath your feet.
The rocking back and forth can be dealt with via a strong stomach and some anti-nausia tablets. There is nothing to be done about the mine below your feet however.
The once-in-a-lifetime experience of visiting the DeBeers offshore diamond mining ship is something that I will most definitely never forget. Firstly because only a handful of people in the world will every visit this masterpiece of modern technology and engeneering. I could probably say that about many of the things I’ve experienced travelling the country over the past few days but more on that subject in posts to follow. For now let’s stay above the ocean but only barely.
To reach the offshore diamond behemoth involves a 20 minute helicopter flight (my second in so many days) there and another 20 minute flight to return to land. So 40 minutes there and back which in itself is an experience.
Once on the ship it quickly becomes apparent that sea sickness is inevitable, so I popped a pill and bit my tongue trying not to upchuck breakfast.
The tour around the ship was expansive and the staff were exceptionally helpful, clued up and ready to answer any questions that we might’ve had.
Here are some photos to illustrate the tour better than I could probably describe it in words.
One thing that everyone neglected to mention was the body search which bordered on a cavity search if you ask me. See the thing is, in spite of all the precautions and months (literally) of safety planning for a 4 hour tour of the ship, one can never be too careful when it comes to diamonds according to DeBeers. So the body search is essential. The smiling gentlemen gleefully took apart anything he could. My shoes, socks, denims, shirt, mouth, arms, legs, toes, ears and any other crevice which isn’t too intrusive, that can be searched is searched.
I escaped relatively unscathed from the grand searching finale and boarded the chartered flight to Johannesburg.
I finally managed to string together the video of my trip around Cape Town via the sky.
The helicopter ride (my first) was smooth and absolutely incredible.
I honestly didn’t ever realise how absolutely stunning and unique Cape Town is until this trip. I envy Cape Town folk and honestly don’t even think that they realise how stunning their city truly is. A world class city if I’ve ever seen one.
3.8km is a long way whether you look at it vertically, horizontally or any other way you can think of. Now think of going down. Deep down in the pit of the Earth.
TauTona is AngloGold Ashanti’s Mine near Carletonville in Johannesburg. Let me be straight with you here, it’s deep and you don’t really grasp the magnitude of how deep I mean until you travel down and further down and yet still further down.
As you descend down the shafts your ears pop, the heat becomes progressively more intense and the humidity is stifling, in fact I am becoming short of breath now just thinking about it. I cannot stress enough how deep this is. Jokes were flying around about descending toward hell because no one would ever get closer.
As you finish your trip down the third mine shaft you realise that the it’s over 30degrees Celsius and you are soaking wet from sweat.
That is not, unfortunately, where the trip ends. After exiting the third mine shaft you are a whopping 3600 meters below the surface of the Earth. Then you start a slow 200 meter walk towards that final active mining area in the west of the massive mine. This is still an active area and the tight, enclosed space where some of the mine workers are still active is scary as hell. The men are chipping away, embedding explosives, drilling, grinding and more. I couldn’t do it, I was so proud that I’d made it that far but got to the final 50 or so meters and freaked out. I turned back to what now seemed to be a very open space and waited for others to return.
Here is a video of the experience. The quality is somewhat lower than I’d have hoped for but the people in the now suggested that we leave all high-quality tech stuff at the surface as the humidity could damage the equipment. So this was shot on my little digicam.
What for the end, it’s a hoot to hear me wig out.
I am exceptionally proud of myself for keeping it together for the massive 4 hours that we were down there. I don’t think I’ll ever do anything like that again and I don’t think that there are many people in the world who can say they have traveled that far underground.
Two days ago we traveled to the Darling Windfarm. Sounds nice and quaint I suppose. It is magnificent. It’s astounding and huge for four fans spinning at a rate of knots to create energy.
Another highlight (yes there were many) of yesterdays Cape Town trip was this Windfarm. It’s called a wind farm I can only suppose, because four windmills are being farmed for energy in a matter of speaking.
Here’s what was said to us by the person in the know.
Not only is this stuff sustainable and clean energy but it is scalable and will produce almost as much power as Koeberg. I’m in. On top of that there is talk of wave-generated power. fantastic stuff.
On top of the video I also managed to snap a few pictures:
Keeping with the blogging of the world posts for the next week I sincerely believe that Lanzerac Hotel needed it’s very own blog post.
Situated in the heart of the Cape Winelands this hotel boasts a five star rating and with very good reason. The service staff is always smiling, seem to really love their job and are absolutely helpful in the true sense of the word absolute. You want something, they deliver.
The first and most astounding thing about the hotel is the vastness of the setting. I can’t tell you how many acres of land it occupies but it appears o be absolutely massive.
The very next thing that you’ll notice is the very old looking victorian-styled design of the hotel. Don’t mistake me, it’s not like the architect thought that the victorian era was a winner. It’s that the hotel is over 300 years old. Yes, that’s right. 300 years. I saw one of the logos on a menu and it had a date printed on it, 1692. I can’t verify if that is the date of building, hotel establishment date or what, but it’s a very old date.
Nevertheless, onwards. The rooms were really something to behold. Massive hotel rooms make for very comfortable living let me tell you. A desk for those who want to work with multiplugs for almost any nations power points to plug in to, a coffee table and two chairs, immaculate bedding tucked, folded and neat just the way I like and ofcourse a television for those of us who were too tired to do anything else.
I was fortunate in a strange way. I had planned to stay up and work at my night at Lanzerac. This took me to about 2am the next morning which meant that I really got to enjoy the magnificent room and setting.
Breakfast the following morning was incredibly laid out and once again supported by smiling and caring staff. The hot breakfast was design, but of course, and the esspresso was one of the best I’ve had in a long time.
Unfortunately that was it. We were literally only in the hotel for 12 hours sadly and had to depart.
I will be returning to this Cape Winelands gem, not for the wine although there is plenty of that.
This post is a few days late but nonetheless deserves to be written as the Rosebank Hotel really is worth visiting if you get the chance.
Working in Rosebank I have, over the past months, driven past men and woman working at a steady rate at rebuilding and developing the renowned Rosebank Hotel. I was pretty excited to see that it was the very first stop on the bloggers tour.
My excitement was not misplaced and the hotel absolutely blew me away. Not cheap I am more than certain but if you have the time, inclination and money this hotel is well worth the night.
If you don’t have a night or the money for a night then I would definitely suggest going for coffee or a drink, sunrise or sunset (jokes).
The rooms are funky and different, the highlight of which is the massive glass shower that looks on to the room or over the view of Johannesburg depending on what side of the hotel you are situated. I love double showers with massive heads that pour water down, I also love it when a hotel recognises that I don’t want to bath at a hotel unless the bath is jacuzzi size. If it isn’t that big, leave it out as the Rosebank Hotel did. Nice moves.
The reception, bar area, conference rooms, entrance and every crevice down to the toilet signage are all decorated to perfection to create a new age African fusion feel to the entire hotel.
In other words do yourself a favour and take the misses for a toot.
I absolutely love Stormhoek wine. Why? Because they sponsor blogging events, they are online-conscious and to put it plainly, they just get it.
What is it that they get? Social media. The value of giving to receive.
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the Stormhoek wine farm in Stellenbosch, South Africa. What an absolutely pleasure. I had almost forgotten how much of an incredible guy Graham Knox (Stormhoek owner) is. He also has fantastic support from Chris Rawlinson who has helped Stormhoek become a brand of note in the online market.
Stormhoek has taken SA, the wine market and marketing online by storm over the past 2 or so years.
The most incredible part of the story is that they did it all using dial-up internet in the deepest, darkest and most incredibly stunning part of Stellenbosch.
To give you the story of Stormhoek winery I present you with Graham Knox: