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Best travel blog - Jan 2010

It's been a while since we had such high quality blogs during one month - here are the top ones, but there can be only one winner...

2 Jan 2010

Anybody planning a trip to South Africa should read Charles' details of his thorough preperations for his trip to Cape Town. Charles was going to be consulting to a group of newspapers based in Cape Town (probably Naspers, given his comment that they'll be speaking Afrikaans). After checking that he didn't need a visa (as he's staying for less than 90 days), he got hold of some luggage locks, electrical adaptor plugs, and a ton of books about South Africa. Charles flew Norfolk to Washington Dulles with United Airlines, and SAA from Washington to Johannesburg. In Cape Town he stayed at the Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays right next to the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

9 Jan 2010

Jrobenalt had one of those horror stories which should serve as a warning to people of what not to do. His lack of sleep on his one-way trip from Detroit to Cape Town, with KLM, didn't help when he was informed by South African immigration that in order to be allowed into SA he would need to have a return ticket out of SA, and that if he did not have enough money to immediately purchase a return ticket he would be deported. An on-the-spot return ticket from KLM cost him R10,000 (which goes to show it's usually cheaper if you buy in advance).

15 Jan 2010

If photographic beauty was the sole criteria then this photography blog containing photos of Cape Town would be a runaway winner this month.

Cape Town beach

22 Jan 2010

Stephen Hayes shares his childhood memories of growing up in Ingogo, Northern Natal.

29 Jan 2010

Charles Apple compiled the the most thorough account of his trip to South Africa. In Johannesburg Charles stayed at the Garden Plaza Milwood, a part of the Southern Sun Hotel chain of South Africa (until recently this hotel was was a Holiday Inn), and dined at the MacRib at the Hotel. Here's some tips he gave to the Southern Sun group:

  • " The front desk of the hotel is always busy. At nearly any time of night or day, you’ll walk by to find guests three- or four-deep, waiting to do business. My advice to these guys, should they want it: Double the desk staff. Especially from, say, 6 to 9 p.m."

  • "Every day, I have to stand in a long line at the front desk in order to purchase bandwidth... This is a good example of a hotel not really having a clue as to the needs of the modern international traveler. When this place is packed next year with Americans and Europeans — then, they’ll understand. "

As regular readers would be aware, we are looking for something a little different for our winning posts, and Stephen Hayes' met our criteria with his touching account of growing up in Ingogo, a small spot in KwaZulu-Natal (then Natal), about halfway between Johannesburg and Durban, overlooked by three hills - Majuba, Inkwelo and Mount Prospect. Stephen spent several months in 1948 (a pivotal year in South Africa's history) at the Valley Inn Hotel. He swam in the river, learned how to play marbels, went for rides on ox wagons that came past laden with fire wood and went riding on donkeys. They were in Ingogo during the landmark 1948 general election when the National Party got in, and according to the "grown-ups" the one good thing coming out of the election was that they would be able to buy white bread again (the Nats had promised that they would bring back white bread if they were elected. During the war Stephen's mother used to buy brown flour and sifted it to make white bread). Thank you Stephen for drawing the past out into the light, for sharing and for ensuring that these memories are not lost to the sands of time.

donkey ride in Ingogo, South Africa

Best travel blog posting in 2009

The size of Sean Brown's heart and the power of his pen made him our winner for travel blog of the year for 2009:

  • "My mind could not escape the thought of the deplorable conditions that the hundreds of thousands of people that lived in what they call townships, but we would call slums or shacks."

  • "Living in Camden, a city known for its violence and poverty, the bad experiences can stretch from annoying to dangerous. I will never look at my home the same again. In South Africa, including Johannesburg, 1 out of 3 women are raped and never report it."

  • "Traveling on the bus, watching young girls walk home from school with their dusty school uniforms, I could not help but wonder how long it would be before those young ladies had their innocence snatched from them."

  • "I asked a friend that I met in Cape Town about public transportation. Trains? “That’s what you get on if you want to get shot,” he remarked matter-of-fact

  • "I am glad that my first time out the country, I was able to be a proud ambassador instead of an ashamed tourist, forced to explain the actions of #43."

  • "I want to be more patient and forgiving. I want to take advantage of the blessings and privileges of being an American. I want to use my education to get a job where I can learn from the world’s mistakes and be an active part of a movement to bring social, economic, and environmental justice around to world. I want to do whatever I can to assure that no more girls are raped, no more activists are jailed, and no more oppression expands. This is what I owe the world for allowing me to inhabit it."

Best travel blog posting in 2008

With dreadlocks forming from a buildup of Namibian sand in his hair, braving a cruel 12 hours in a combi-trip from hell (filled with sweaty people), and having chats with a philosophising englishman amongst Swakopmund's lego-like structures; Sebastian Modak's account of his Namibian travels was our travel blog of the year for 2008.

Sebastian at the ocean in Namibia

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