Awards

14 Dec

We thought we would compile a list of awards for the trip, a “best of” and “worst of” of sorts. We came up with a number of different categories and nominations for each. We voted on the winner of each category to determine a winner (denoted by bold type). Most of the categories resulted in three different votes, so we argued and pleaded to narrow it down to one winner (except in two cases). Here goes…

 

THE MOST SURPRISING MOMENT AWARD

1)  Tahrir Square being peaceful and empty when we drove through it in a cab for the first time.

2)  Being split up at the very start of our trip when Typhoon Bolaven “forced” our flight to be cancelled.

3)  Having the exact same itinerary as Dan in Jordan and him offering to drive us through the country.

4)  Alan telling us he was flying to Australia.

5)  When Alan realized Dane and Eric would not be going to North Korea, and he was on his own.

comments:  It blind sided everyone, even Alan a little bit. Nothing else could top it.

 

THE CRAZIEST EXPERIENCE AWARD

1)  Being driven by a drunk taxi driver in India.

2)  Taking the local bus in Nepal with wooden floors that accelerated through the winding mountain turns that hugged cliff faces.

3)  Having to walk past a cobra in an alley in Varanasi.

4)  The overnight trains in India.

5)  Shark diving in Cape Town.

6)  Dealing with altitude sickness on our Everest Trek.

7)  Witnessing the training of young kids to perform at the Mass Games at the Children’s Museum in North Korea.

comments:  There were a number of crazy experiences on our trip, and any number of them could have been chosen as the craziest. We had to go with shark diving, though for the sheer amount of crazy we personally had to have in our own minds to actually go through with the experience, especially since we had seen a youtube video days before which showed a Great White breaching one of the cages.

 

FAVORITE PLACE AWARD

1)  Varkala, India

2)  Cape Town, South Africa

3)  Petra, Jordan

4)  Namche Bazaar, Nepal

5)  North Korea

6)  Mark’s Parent’s house

comments:  This one was unanimous. Cape Town is beautiful and there is lots to do there. We were meant to stay for four days and ended up staying for eight. We could have stayed longer.

 

FAVORITE SITE AWARD

1)  Mount Everest

2)  Taj Mahal

3)  Petra

4)  Pyramids

5)  Table Mountain

comments:  One of the ties. It’s hard to separate these two. Dane voted for Petra number one and Pyramids number two. Eric voted Pyramids number one and Petra number two. Alan wasn’t there, so he voted for the Taj Mahal number one. We had to overrule him.

 

MOST CONTROVERSIAL BLOG POST

1)  A Day in the Life of Alan

2)  India Wrap Up

3)  The post where Eric drank the finger water

comments:  Alan was in no part responsible for this blog, but it caused quite an uprising amongst friends and family because Dane and Eric failed to fully specify that it wasn’t written by Alan and it was a joke. Our bad.

 

THE “WEIRDED US OUT” AWARD

1)  When an Indian man looked into Eric’s eyes as the sun disappeared below the horizon on the beach and lovingly asked, “What are you thinking about?”

2)  Alan telling us he was flying to Australia.

3)  Ram getting jealous when we were interacting with another trekking group on our way up to Everest Base Camp.

comments:  As Eric said, only his girlfriend has ever asked him such a question. So, it was strange for a man who he didn’t know to approach him out of the blue and ask it. It definitely weirded us out. Still does.

 

THE “INCREDIBLE INDIA” AWARD

1)  Trash everywhere.

2)  The constant lies and the constant cheating.

3)  The drunk taxi driver who was allowed to keep driving after paying his fine.

4)  The overly crowded liquor store in Alleppey at 11 am on a Monday.

5)  The seemingly 496:1 ratio of men to women.

comments:  Unpopular opinion alert:  we didn’t absolutely and totally fall in love with India, which everyone else in the world seems to have, especially the other travelers we met along the way. We didn’t absolutely hate it, but we didn’t absolutely love it. That’s why we picked our “India Wrap Up” blog ended up on the most controversial award list. That said, the drunk taxi driver who was let off with a fine and handed his keys to continue driving has to be the most ridiculous thing we experienced in India.

 

THE BEST NIGHT OUT AWARD

1)  Dane’s birthday in Maun.

2)  Eric-Sean 2012.

3)  Long Street in Cape Town.

4)  The umbrella drinks only night in Kovalam.

5)  The braai and bar crawl in Kommetjie.

6)  Sunday night watching Home Alone and drinking beer in bed at our Cairo hostel.

comments:  Lots of food, lots of beer, lots of friends. A wonderful time that slightly edges out the other nights on the list (except #6, it blows #6 out of the water).

 

THE BEST IMPROMPTU JOURNEY (SITE) AWARD

1)  Australia

2)  India/Pakistan Border

3)  Dahab

4)  Mount Sinai

comments:  We were all there for this one, and it tuned out to be an absolutely amazing experience I would recommend to anyone. There were hype men!

 

THE MOST CHAOTIC PLACE AWARD

1)  Varanasi

comments:  No other place even comes close to making the list. It would be an insult to compare anything else to it. It’s the most chaotic place anyone of us has ever been times 100.

 

THE MOST STUNNING FIRST LOOK AWARD

1)  The Pyramids at Giza

2)  The Treasury at Petra

3)  The top of Mount Everest

4)  Varanasi

comments:  This was a split vote, but again anything on the list easily could have won the top award. The top of Everest is something neither of us will ever forget.

 

THE BEST IMPROMPTU CREW AWARD

1)  The backwater boat tour group

2)  The attendees of Eric-Sean 2012

3)  The A-Team on the first leg of the safari from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls

comments:  There were some great people we met along the way. The A-Team was an odd collection of people that really meshed together. They made the long drives between stops on the safari enjoyable, a hard task to do.

 

THE BEST ALAN REPLACEMENT AWARD

1)  Dan from Jordan

2)  Narelle aka the “oracle” from the safari

3)  Peter from India

4)  Rich from Bangkok

comments:  The chef from London takes this one. It was a heated race, but Peter pulled it out by a nose. He was wonderful company, and it helped that we met up with him days after Alan left.

 

THE BEST RANDOM GAME AWARD

1)  Throwing rocks at other rocks everywhere

2)  Playing catch with minnows in the Okavango Delta

3)  Converting a rugby ball into an American football for a game of catch on the beach

comments:  The reason this idiotic game wins is because we did this in every country we visited.

 

THE MOST DISAPPOINTING MOMENT AWARD

1)  Missing North Korea

2)  Alan leaving

3)  Alan returning

comments:  This one will haunt Dane and Eric. We really wanted a peak behind the curtain, especially after living in South Korea, but it wasn’t meant to be. All we have are Alan’s amazing photos and stories from his time there.

 

THE MOST ROMANTIC MOMENT OF THE TRIP AWARD

1)  Eric and Alan’s one year sleeping in the same bed anniversary

2)  Eric not going on any international vacations without Dane for the last two years

3)  Eric and Dane spending nearly every moment of three months together

4)  Alan flying to Adelaide to surprise his lady love.

comments:  No question.

 

THE WEIRDEST DAY AWARD

1)  The day Alan told us he was going to Australia

2)  Day one of the trip when Eric and Dane were still in Seoul.

3)  Day two of the trip when Eric and Dane were still in Seoul.

4)  Taking the coast road along the garden route and seeing the coast for a maximum of 10 minutes.

5)  Not knowing who the President of the United States was while we were camping in the Okavango Delta.

comments:  The day Alan told us he was leaving was still the weirdest. We went to the southernmost tip of India. It wasn’t worth it, and we were trying to piece together in our mind why Alan was leaving what we saw as a trip of a lifetime. It must be love.

 

THE MOST DIFFICULT DAY AWARD

1)  When altitude sickness hit Eric hard after the second rest day.

2)  The Trek down to Lukla from Namche Bazaar.

3)  23 hours of flight time, not including a four hour layover in Abu Dhabi, on the way back to America.

comments:  For the three of us, the trek down to Lukla was probably the most difficult. It was raining, we were tired, and the distance took us all day to cover. But what Eric went through with altitude sickness has to top it. And he continued hiking!

 

THE BEST OF NEPAL AWARD

1)  Base Camp

2)  Eating steaks in Kathmandu after returning from the Himalayas

3)  Having internet again after 10 days without it.

comments:  An easy choice. It’s where we literally were at the foot of the top of the world. It was the pinnacle of our trek and the reason we went to Nepal in the first place.

 

THE BEST OF INDIA AWARD

1)  The India/Pakistan border

2)  The Taj Mahal

3)  Varkala

4)  The Golden Temple at Amritsar

comments:  There is a reason everyone goes to see the Taj Mahal. It’s beautiful, and it dominates the surrounding sky. If you get the chance, go. You won’t be disappointed.

 

THE BEST OF JORDAN AWARD

1)  The road trip with Dan

2)  Wadi Rum

3)  Petra

4)  the Dead Sea

comments:  Jordan turned out to be a solid destination from top to bottom. We enjoyed everything we did there. But again, there’s a reason Petra is a wonder of the world. It must be visited by anyone who travels to Jordan.

 

THE BEST OF EGYPT

1)  Scuba diving in the Red Sea

2)  The Pyramids at Giza

3)  The Library at Alexandria

4)  Mount Sinai

comments:  Like the first two, there’s a reason people go out of their way to see the Pyramids, and none of them leave disappointed.

 

THE BEST OF SOUTH AFRICA

1)  Noel’s 75th

2)  Coffee Bay

3)  The drive down to the Cape of Good Hope

4)  Seeing old friends and their families and friends

5)  Kruger

comments:  It was nice connecting with people from Korea and Alan’s old friends and family. It’s always nice to know the locals. They give you the best advice about places to stop and visit and afford you the opportunity to do things most tourists miss out on.

 

THE THING WE’RE MOST LIKELY TO DO AGAIN AWARD

1)  Shark diving

2)  See the Pyramids at Giza

3)  Visit Cape Town

4)  Visit North Korea

5)  Go on safari

comments:  Alan, if he had not been in Australia, would have gone on his second safari already. As it is, we all stand at one. We hope, however, to run that number to at least two. Going on safari is terrific. Seeing wild animals is always fun.

 

MVP OF THE TRIP

1)  Dane

2)  Eric

3)  Alan

comments:  Alan disappeared for part of the trip. It’s as simple as that. He got a nice consolation prize, though, as he and his lady will be spending Christmas together in Ireland.

Farewell (For Now)

14 Dec

Our last day was spent in Johannesburg. Eric and Dane fly out today. Alan flies out tomorrow. So, our trip will end as it began, with the group split apart. This time, however, we’re ready for it. It will be nice to get back home. It will be nice to see old friends again and to be with our families for Christmas. We’re sad the trip is coming to an end. We’re sad to be leaving each other’s company for who knows how long. But it’s time.

Eric:  We’ve been traveling for 106 days. Me and Dane at least.

Dane:  Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

Alan:  It will be 109 for me by the time I leave tomorrow.

Eric:  Always trying to one up us.

Dane:  Part of that was spent in Adelaide, though, missing Petra and the Pyramids.

Alan:  I did get a pretty amazing girl.

Eric:  Wow!! What a suck up! You can write that, too. I must say, though, I am happy for Alan and Inyoung. And I’m happy he came back.

Alan:  So am I.

Dane:  So, Alan, what’s your favorite Eric story of the trip?

Eric:  There’s not many good ones.

Alan:  Favorite Eric story? When he drank the finger water.

Dane:  That’s 100% the right answer.

Eric:  Let’s not forget Alan abandoned us and should be the one we are making fun of.

Dane:  Go for it. Favorite Alan story?

Alan:  I didn’t put my foot in my mouth as much as you did.

Eric:  No one does.

Dane:  What about at Noel’s 75th?

Eric:  Oh yeah! When you were asked to say Grace at Noel’s birthday dinner, and you stumbled through it. You looked more nervous than when I talk to women.

Alan:  Now, we have to do Dane stories…

Eric:  Dane is so cool, calm and collected, he rarely does something you can make fun of him for. But, he lost his charm a bit, when he scared away Daisy from Botswana just because she had no shoes. She probably couldn’t afford them.

Dane:  I don’t respect the 47%.

Eric:  Which includes both Dane and myself.

Dane:  Not an ounce of respect.

Alan:  I would be a part of that, too, if I wasn’t Irish.

Dane:  So, it’s sort of the end of an era here. We have all been in Korea/traveling together for the past 2 years and 4 months. It’s been a helluva time.

Eric:  An amazing two year run. Because, yeah, our first trip was together, Hong Kong/Macau, and now, we’ve finished our last trip together.

Alan:  Hopefully not our last trip.

Dane:  When might that trip be?

Alan/Eric:  BRAZIL 2014!!!

Alan:  Or Vegas anytime.

Eric:  Alan’s bachelor party.

Dane:  I’m game. Any final tales of the trip to mention or closing remarks?

Eric:  I’d just like to say thanks to Dane and, even Alan, for everything, for the trouble we got into in Seoul to the drive through South Africa, I’ve enjoyed every second of it!

Alan:  The wolf pack shall be reunited in Brazil. We should tag James Finnie in that statement.

Eric:  Haha… We’re going to need someone to show us around.

Alan:  It really has been an amazing two and a half years. From the orientation class where I asked Dane how the hell does Eric drink like that and still have a smile on his face in class…

Eric:  That’s me, mom.

Alan:  …to being on the soccer team together briefly to the countless barbecues we had together on the weekend, it’s all been good.

Dane:  I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m going to miss you, boys. See you in Brazil or Vegas.

Alan:  Cheers to that.

Lesotho

12 Dec

We drove up from Durban to the Amphitheater Backpackers because they have a nice day trip they run into the Drakensberg. The day we were there, however, they weren’t doing that trip. Of course. So, we signed up for the one trip they were running, a journey into Lesotho.

Eric:  The two things I will remember most about Lesotho were the cute kids and the most expensive post card ever.

Alan:  I will remember Eric finally learning how to properly pronounce Lesotho.

Eric:  That’s not on me, man. They need to learn how to spell things.

Dane:  I will remember our crazy tour guide. Maybe insane is a better word.

Alan:  He used pretty crass language for a tour guide.

Eric:  And talked about his drug use on more than one occasion.

Dane:  He said he was kicked out of the army for being a schizophrenic.

Alan:  Or just claimed he was.

Eric:  That was weird.

Alan:  Dane, you weren’t there, but later that night at the bar we overheard a conversation between him and some girl where he said he delivered his own baby. The midwife just left or something.

Eric:  He claimed the most messed up thing about the whole thing was having to bury the placenta in the yard.

Dane:  You’d think that would be the least messed up thing. At that point, the job is done.

Eric:  What about the conversation we had with the people who were serious about the world ending with the end of the Mayan calendar?

Dane:  That was hilarious. And they came to Africa because that’s the one place where people survive. They came to that realization based on the movie 2012. Incredible. Then, we took shots with 17 year olds.

Eric:  I was stunned when I found out they were 17.

Dane:  I don’t think I could have handled traveling Africa at that age.

Alan:  They were all perfecting their English at some place in Cape Town.

Dane:  They were a group of two boys and two girls, and they got a little embarrassed when Eric asked them if they were dating.

Eric:  I’m looking forward to going to bars in America where everyone is over 21.

Dane:  Let’s get back to the rural villages we saw in Lesotho.

Eric:  Did I mention the expensive post card?

Dane:  Yeah.

Eric:  That’s all I care about.

Dane:  We met a medicine woman.

Eric:  She was awesome. I loved her enthusiasm.

Alan:  I would have loved to see her dance with the chicken on her head.

Eric:  It’s amazing she’s so revered. All she does is get into a psychedelic trance and ask dead people for advice.

Dane:  It’s quite a skill.

Lesotho was quite mountainous with small huts doting the landscape. It was a beautiful country, but a rough area to live. The soil was rocky, and the farmable land was minimal. It was also much colder in Lesotho since it was up in the mountains. It was an interesting final activity for our trip, even if it wasn’t our first choice.

Noel’s 75th & Durban

11 Dec

We arrived at Alan’s uncle’s house in Belitto, a town just north of Durban, just in time to help him celebrate his 75th birthday. Alan’s cousins and their kids joined the celebration as well.

Alan:  Pool party number 2.

Eric:  Things escalated, especially for a 75th birthday.

Dane:  You didn’t fall asleep at 10:30 pm this time.

Eric:  I wish I had.

Alan:  We were lucky it worked out for us arrive in time for the celebration. There was a nice spread of food and drinks. There was a braai by the pool and drinks were flowing liberally. I got to see the whole clan down in South Africa, and you two got to meet them all.

Dane:  Lovely people they were. Much nicer than you.

Alan:  Fair enough.

Eric:  More than fair.

Dane:  But only because they were so very, incredibly nice and welcoming and giving. You are just at the “very” level.

Eric:  They’re also looking forward to a future engagement.

Dane:  Thanks to you.

Eric:  I may have given them a wedding date for Alan and In-Young, and told them I started preparing my best man speech.

Alan:  Best man?

Eric:  Best man or not, I’m giving a speech.

Dane:  My favorite part of the night was when Alan’s entire family was in the kitchen chatting except for Alan’s uncle, Noel, and me and Eric.

Eric:  Noel said, “I never expected to be spending my 75th chatting with two Americans instead of my family.”

Alan:  Most of the party turned in around midnight.

Eric:  When did we go to bed?

Alan:  Around 1:30 am.

Dane:  We weren’t the only ones still out. Both of Alan’s cousins, Rory and Kate, and Kate’s daughter Siobhan also burned the midnight oil with us.

Eric:  From both ends.

Alan:  The next day, none of us wanted to do anything. Really it’s been a common theme throughout South Africa. We have a big night out, and the next day we accomplish nothing.

Dane:  We went to the beach.

Eric:  The swim freshened us up a bit. It had me feeling better.

Alan:  Then, we just returned back to Noel’s for dinner.

Dane:  The next day, Rory offered to take us out on the boat for some fishing.

Alan:  The boat could only carry two people at once, so me and Dane went out to fish first, and Eric had his manhood threatened when a 14 year-old boy offered to hold him up while Eric tried to surf.

Eric:  All I have to say is I didn’t wipeout.

Dane:  That’s all?

Eric:  I refused the offer too! He didn’t prop me up.

Alan:  Then, we went to Rory’s for another braai, and to watch the Man United game.

Dane:  We certainly didn’t go hungry during our last weekend in South Africa.

Eric:  Another terrific braai in South Africa.

Alan:  That was our last night with the O’Connor clan.

Dane:  They were terrific hosts.

Eric:  When we left this morning and hit the road, Noel gave us beers for the road for some reason.

Alan:  Moira gave us chips and peanuts.

Dane:  Perfect bar food.

Eric:  Unbelievably Irish.

Coffee Bay & Margate & Southbroom

10 Dec

We entered Coffee Bay under cover of darkness. The Wild Coast highway delivering us to our destination was in disrepair. Potholes, one lane for two cars, and packed-dirt roads were features of the drive there. It also occurred under heavy fog and light rain. It took us several hours longer than anticipated for us to arrive, but we eventually made it. The sound of tribal drums created an eerie backdrop as we searched for our hostel in the darkness. Trees and vegetation surrounded the road into Coffee Bay, forming a dense curtain of darkness. At any moment, Captain Kurtz could have appeared to greet us. We were in the jungle, lost in place and time. So were many of the other residents (for various reasons).

Alan:  We left from Jeffereys at 11:30 am and didn’t arrive at Coffee Bay till 10 pm.

Eric:  We also bungee jumped that morning, so it made the day even longer.

Dane:  I remember we were all tired when we first arrived because when we finally got someone to help us get the car into the secure lot, they told us they had to cut off the lock, making the lot where we would be leaving our car no longer secure. None of us cared.

Eric:  In the morning, someone offered to sell me ‘shrooms.

Dane:  Coffee Bay is an old hippie hang out. It’s kind of tucked away off the main roads and maintains much of the same mentalities of the old hippies. In fact, a few of them are still there.

Alan:  We decided we had to check it out when we were deciding where to go on our road trip.

Dane:  Why not?

Alan:  Coffee Bay also gave us one of our nice days on the road trip. It was sunny, so the beach was terrific.

Eric:  I just think hippies are nice people.

Dane:  Is that why you were constantly giggling in their presence?

Alan:  Laughing at them?

Eric:  (giggling)

Dane:  The hippies probably never realized you were laughing at them. They probably just assumed you were stoned.

Eric:  Because they clearly were.

Dane:  It’s all they know.

Alan:  They did know how to create wonderful lounge areas, though.

Eric:  That’s for sure. The lounge chairs and swings and things were wonderful.

Dane:  Our next stop was Margate and Southbroom.

Alan:  We drove up from Coffee Bay on another non-coastal coast road.

Eric:  We were going to stay in Margate, but the hotels were absurdly overpriced, because like at Plettenberg Bay, there were a number of recent high school grads raging on the beach.

Dane:  Our hostel down the road in Southbroom was quite interesting.

Alan:  I’m pretty sure the hostel was run by a hippie who had escaped Coffee Bay.

Dane:  Or wandered away one day and got lost.

Eric:  It was weird because we were basically just staying at his house. It was nice and cheap, though, and he had a pool that allowed us to throw a cool pool party!

Dane:  A pool party for three!

Eric:  The best kind.

Alan:  Eric fell asleep in a chair at 5 pm.

Eric:  Hey, hey, hey. It was at least 10:30.

Alan:  Maybe.

Eric:  After spending the day at the beach in Margate with all those young high schoolers, I was feeling old. You two made me feel young again when you drew something on my face, which is not mentionable here because it’s not blog appropriate, though any man would laugh at what it was. Waking up in the morning, and seeing that on my face, took the years away.

Dane:  You’re welcome.

Alan:  Then, we jumped in the car and headed up the coast to Durban to see my family.

Dane:  Yeah, we arrived just in time for your uncle’s 75th birthday.

Eric:  It was great!

Dane:  We’ll push that story to the next blog.

Eric:  To be continued…

Knysna, Jeffereys Bay, and Bungee

6 Dec

Our journey up the garden route brought us to Knysna and Jeffereys Bay, allowed for a short detour into Plettenberg Bay, and a chance to bungee off a 216 m high bridge at Bloukrans.

Alan:  Knysna is meant to be nice, but it turned into a bit of a dud for us.

Eric:  We got unlucky with the weather. It rained all day.

Alan:  We met some nice people and went out for drinks, but that’s basically the extent of our Knysna stop.

Dane:  Yeah, we were pretty unlucky with that. The day we left the weather cleared up a bit. On our drive, we stopped in a town on the coast called Plettenberg Bay.

Eric:  Hahahaha.

Dane:  We had been told by JP that Plettenberg would be full of young kids matricking, some sort of slang for matriculating, we think, and is a party for recent high school graduates.

Eric:  We were way too old to be there.

Alan:  Is there anything more to say?

Dane:  Yes!

Eric:  It’s basically a high school spring break.

Alan:  Or students we might have been teaching 4 months ago.

Dane:  Plettenberg had a red bull sponsored stage with a DJ setup. It had lots of high school rugby players. It had girls trying to outdo each other with their beach attire. It had kids trying to act older than they actually were by smoking cigarettes. It was hilarious. But yes, we were too old to be there. We left almost immediately.

Alan:  We tried to find a less youth dominated beach, but we couldn’t find a turn off for one. We got all the way to Jeffereys Bay before we got to the beach again.

Dane:  The beach in Jeffereys is really nice.

Alan:  It’s a real surfers town, though.

Eric:  Since the water was still really cold and we don’t surf, there wasn’t much for us there.

Dane:  The dolphins were nice at sunset.

Eric:  Oh yeah, that was really cool.

Alan:  I think Jeffereys is known for its dolphins.

Dane:  There were certainly a lot of them.

Alan:  We should also mention the bit where a kid went missing.

Dane:  And is still missing.

Eric:  It’s really sad.

Dane:  The search and rescue guides searched for hours.

Alan:  They were searching again this morning, too.

Dane:  At this point, they’re only looking for a body. There’s no happy ending there. Tragic.

Eric:  Yeah, it’s awful.

Dane:  So, let’s hear about your bungee experience off the bridge.

Alan:  Another thing you abandoned us on.

Dane:  The jump wasn’t too early like the meerkats nor was it too expensive. I just have no desire to do something like that.

Alan:  The bungee is great because of the way it’s advertised.

Eric:  Yeah, they don’t care that they’re no longer the world’s tallest bungee because they still claim that it is … or not claim but still call it the world’s tallest bungee. There was even a sign that said it hasn’t been the world’s tallest bungee since 2007, but it’s still known as the world’s tallest bungee. Ridiculous.

Alan:  It’s kind of like when American sports teams call themselves the world champions of something when they are only the champions of America. Ridiculous.

Dane:  That’s uncalled for.

Eric:  Yeah, Alan, it’s not like that at all.

The rest of the conversation (argument?) has been omitted due to inappropriate language and for brevity. Next stop on drive, Coffee Bay. Goodbye garden route, hello wild coast.

The Garden Route, Part Oudtshoorn

5 Dec

Oudtshoorn is an old town which was built up around the Ostrich feather boom prior to World War I. Back then, Ostrich feathers were like gold, but the market for feathers dried up. The town, though not as rich as it once was, is still there, and is still in the Ostrich business, only now the leather, not the feathers, is the most valuable product they export. Just outside of town there are also a few waterfalls, a meerkat ranch, and the Kango Caves. We did our best to see some of what the town had to offer one day by biking a 54 km route past many of the sites.

Dane:  We arrived the night before but only had dinner and signed up for the bike ride. The waterfalls and the meerkats didn’t fit into the bike trip, so they were saved for the following day.

Eric:  The bike ride was cool.

Alan:  It was long. Too long for a cobblestone rode.

Dane:  The seats were also too small.

Eric:  I liked the first part. The top of the mountain where we were actually mountain biking.

Dane:  That’s the part you wiped out on.

Eric:  I was going to leave that bit out.

Alan:  Your favorite part was the part where you messed up the most.

Eric:  I also had a flat tire.

Dane:  That wasn’t your fault, though.

Alan:  It might have been the baboons.

Eric:  I also like the beginning in the mountains because there were baboons.

Dane:  The worst part of the flat tire was that none of us knew how to fix it.

Alan:  And none of us had the app on our phone.

Eric:  Luckily we were near the caves at that point, maybe only two kilometers away, so I was able to walk it there and get help.

Dane:  The staff at the caves were so good at changing that bike tire.

Eric:  They put us to shame.

Alan:  The caves were pretty cool.

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Eric:  They were massive.

Dane:  At least for the tour we were on.

Alan:  Yeah, it would have been interesting to do the long tour and go crawling and climbing through the deeper parts of the cave.

Eric:  Where people get stuck.

Dane:  I thought it was cool that they used to have concerts down in the largest part of the cave and that the acoustics in there were naturally suited for such a thing.

Eric:  Until people started wandering away from the concert to vandalize the cave.

Dane:  People are such idiots.

Alan:  The ostrich farm was also fun. The best part was Dane got to ride one. Or maybe the best part was when the guy pointed to me and Eric and said we were too heavy to ride one.

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Eric:  No, that wasn’t the best part.

Dane:  We all know your favorite part, Eric, when the ostriches gave you a neck massage.

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Eric:  It was relaxing. What can I say? My least favorite part was when an ostrich bit my finger. My favorite part was how much water we got to drink.

Dane:  The bike ride was certainly exhausting. It was nice to stop at the ostrich farm and the Kango Caves as a break.

Alan:  It was a good bike ride, but most of it was on the road. It wasn’t really mountain biking, which is what I had initially pictured it would be.

Dane:  Yeah, the last 20 km of the ride were not that great.

Eric:  Let’s talk about the meerkats.

Dane:  I didn’t go on this little adventure with Alan and Eric because it was too early in the morning and too expensive.

Alan:  They were really cool to see, but we got unlucky with the weather.

Eric:  It was cold and windy, so the meerkats stayed hidden mostly, but it was nice to see them when they finally emerged. I also think it’s cool the way they stand straight up.

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Dane:  Anything else?

Eric:  Nope.

Dane:  Do we need to talk about the waterfall?

Eric:  I don’t think so. It was a waste.

Alan:  It was a long drive out of our way for not that much. I mean the waterfall was nice. It just wasn’t worth it.

Dane:  The bike ride, ostrich farm, and Kango Caves were definitely the highlights. Of course, I would recommend for people to stop there for the day if they get the chance.

Eric:  I agree.

Dane:  After the long detour to the waterfall, we headed down to the coast to a little beach town called Knysna, our next stop on the graden route.