Sunday 23rd of November 2014 and the called me at 4 o'clock, I had a back up wakeup call 20 minutes past 4, but by then I was already awake. I have a plan! I have been up early every day since I arrived to Africa and it is almost like being in Bangkok. 4 o'clock in the morning is 9 o'clock in Bangkok.
And I will ask for a 3 o'clock wake-up call in Johannesburg. My flight leaves 1 o'clock in the afternoon and I need to be tired so I can get some sleep.
We arrive to Bangkok 6 o'clock in the morning and it would be perfect to arrive with a few hours of sleep in my bag.
I spent the morning in my room eating the fruit while writing on my web page and sipping on a diet drink. At 9 o'clock I went for breakfast. The welcomed me back and I was soon having a pot of Earl Grey tea in front of me.
I had finished my breakfast 20 minutes later and there was time for a shower before my driver would come to pick me up. It will be the same guy that drove me to the border between Zimbabwe and Botswana when I went for my Botswana safari.
When he heard that I was Swedish he asked if I wanted to help him out and exchange 600 Swedish Scooby Doo dollars for him. He got it from a Swedish couple that was having trouble with their VISA.
I told him to bring the money when he picked me up at the hotel when I was back from Botswana. And here he was at 10 o'clock as we had agreed. He gave me the 600 Swedish Scooby Doo dollars and I gave him 100 US for the money and the ride to the airport. I asked him to drive slowly so we could keep an eye out for
- One of the best known trees in the World. Big tree is a huge Boabab ''Adonsonia digitata'' (also known as the upside down tree) in Zimbabwe close to the Victoria Falls. It has sometimes been called Livingstone’s tree erroneously. Unusually for a Boabab it has both an impressive girth and is very tall at 22.40 metres in girth (2004) and 24 metres tall (1985) The explorer and missionary David Livingstone who discovered the Victoria Falls for the British Empire (naming the Falls for his queen) carved his name in 1855 into a Boabab tree on an island (Garden Island) above the precipice of the well known waterfalls that is now an international tourist attraction.
Big tree is in fact roughly 2 km from the river, the falls and the island where Livingstone arrived in a 'makoro' dugout canoe made landfall and wrote his records. Apart from being the best known this impressive tree is possibly the oldest and biggest Boabab in Zimbabwe. Some as impressive, or more impressive trees were sadly lost under the flooding further downstream that occurred once Kariba Dam wall was finished in 1956. Unlike the animals rescued and saved by Operation Noah during the flooding the trees had to stay where they were, many were bulldozed so they would not become underwater hazards.
Big Tree may be about 2000 years old using estimates from its girth and growth ring data collected from other trees under Rhodesian rule. However it is deeply incised and there is speculation that it is three tree trunks (or trees) and it may be considerably younger.
wild dogs. He asked if I had seen the Big Tree.
- What is the Big Tree? I asked
My driver told me it was an old Baobab tree and that there might be wild dogs
- Where is this three?
- It is on Zambesi Drive. It is called the small game drive!
- OK, let's go check it out!
We drove slowly along the Zambezi Drive and we were keeping a sharp lookout for any wild dogs, but without any luck. And that's even though I had the sunroof open and I was standing up in the van keeping a sharp look out.
The BIG TREE at Victoria Falls
We reached the BIG TREE and there were no signs of any wild dogs and I gave up on the idea to catch sights of any wild dogs. OK, we continued to Victoria Falls Airport and South African Airways flight SA 41 to Johannesburg. One night in Johannesburg and tomorrow I will leave with Thai Airways flight TG 992 to Suvarnabhumi.
We reached the airport and I left a happy driver behind, he had never expected to be able to get rid of the Scooby Doo money. He had given 70 US to the Swedish couple and I gave him 70 + 30 for the ride so, yes, he was very happy. But this is how we operate
Victoria Falls Airport
I went in to the terminal and I walked around looking in some souvenir shops. Check in desk and there was placards saying British Airway and a desk with a placard saying Fly Africa. So my guess was that they would change on of those to South African Airways. But I discovered 2 more check in desks on the other side of the “Domestic Arrivals”
Turned out to be South African Airways and I could check in. I put my luggage on the scale and it was like I was taken 50 years back in time. This scale must have been as old as the first steam machine. As soon as I had checked in I went through the immigration (a girl playing with her phone) and then I passed through the security. Departure hall was almost empty and I went to the bar to ask for WIFI
- You can try, you might be lucky!
I asked for a bottle of water and a bottle of Minute Maid orange juice. I wrote a few words on my web page and suddenly the departure hall was full. The internet disappeared and I packed up my computer. I went to the gate and I kept a lookout for our plane to arrive.
There was an Air Zimbabwe plane on the tarmac and no sign of any other planes. It was 12 thirty and our flight was scheduled to depart at 13:15. I was happy when I saw a jet landing, but I was soon disappointed.
When the plane came closer I could see that it was a Fly Africa jet. But I didn't gave up, there was a glimmer of hope, South African Airways may have chartered the plane because of some strange reason. And no, it was not a chartered plane. Half the departure hall disappeared and the walked across the tarmac to the Fly Africa jet.
I think it was quarter to 1 when our plane arrived and I knew that we would never make it in time. And I was really looking forward to Johannesburg and some soft ice cream.
I was very happy when the South African Airways plan landed. The passengers came off and a guy got on board with a vacuum cleaner. So I was waiting for the vacuum cleaner guy to come off, then we could board the plane.
South African Airways arrives to Victoria Falls
South African Airways arrives to Victoria Falls
South African Airways arrives to Victoria Falls
Passengers comes off the plane
We start to board the plane
Leaving Victoria Falls
The plane was almost full, but I had an empty seat next to me. Most likely thanks to my GOLD card with Thai Airways. When I checked in I asked for a nice seat. The guy was nothing even close of being cooperative. Until he checked in the computer.
- You have a gold card!
So I guess he arranged the seat and the flight was quite comfy, but boring. And of course, we had to go by bus to the terminal when we arrived to Johannesburg. There had been heavy rain in Johannesburg in the morning and that was the reason for the flight to be late. But it was sunshine and 18°,C when we arrived just after 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Perfect weather. Well, now I just need to get to African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel so I can check in before taking off to look for some soft ice cream.
Yes, I hate to see that we have to go by bus when we arrive. But I have learned to like it, at arrival the buses always brings you close to the immigration. No need to trot around huge airports with your “carry on” Departures is a totally different story and I still hate it.
Bus to the terminal
South African Airways flight SA 41 at Johannesburg International Airport
Immigration, 4 Immigration officers and it didn't went as quick as I had wished for to get through the immigration. Luggage was soon coming so no waste of time waiting there. Getting cash money was another thing back firing, AMEX have an office and they claim to have a service second to none. Well, every time I take out my AMEX from my valet I'm thinking about cancel the stupid thing.
I never got any cash, they told me to go to an ATM on the second floor. Yeah, fat chance I will trot around the airport with my luggage to chase a ATM. Well, next time I will cancel my AMEX and I will save myself 7000 Baht per annum.
The Airport taxi would take me to the hotel and we would arrange cash there and we were soon on our way towards African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel.
The driver told me it would take about 45 minutes to get to the hotel.
We were on the high way and I interrogated the driver about “things” to do in the area. He told me that the African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel was situated in a nice area of Johannesburg.
But I could never figure out what was good about it, but there was a Woolworth store not far away. Yeah, this promise to be fun! But the most important is to find a soft ice cream. Maybe some pasta on top of the ice cream and my Johannesburg stay might turn out as a success.
I was soon to realise that my Driver didn't spoke very good English and I decided check with the staff at the African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel. We drove past an area and it looked to be expensive houses in the area. But there was FOR SALE signs on many of them.
As I told the Driver:
- They cannot afford their house, but expensive cars are everywhere
- Yes, cars are very important
I told the Driver that I didn't have any car, taxi is the best car. We were approaching the hotel and there were many restaurants in the area and a square with outdoor restaurants.
Not possible to get cash at the hotel so I had to walk up the road to get cash at a ATM machine. I gave the Driver 500 Scooby Doo dollars and I returned to my hotel to check in.
I also asked them to call a taxi for me. I wanted to go to Nelson Mandela Square and I asked for the taxi to be here in 20 minutes. I went to my room to leave my luggage. It was a very nice room and I was happy that I have choose African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel.
Bath tub and shower
Bath tub and shower
I left African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel behind and we were soon at Nelson Mandela Square. I walked around looking for a place selling soft ice cream and it seems like soft ice cream isn't very popular around here.
I passes a luggage shop and I went inside. My Samsonite carry on is 10 years old and I need a new. I looked at a carry on, the biggest Samsonite and I bought a matching Samsonite laptop bag to go with the carry on. I a new bag, but it was almost 7000 Scooby Doo dollars, but as they told me I would get the BIG discount, 6000.
Then I could get another almost 800 refunded at the airport I decided to buy the darn bags. Well, now I had to walk around the shopping mall looking for the “soft ice cream” looking stupid with my bags.
I paid my bags and I asked for a place selling soft ice cream and they told me that there was a Hagen Daz around the corner. I told them that I wanted soft ice cream and not the Hagen Daz and they told me to go down to the cinema, there should be a place called Milky Lane that sold soft ice cream.
I walked around for an hour or so without finding any place with soft ice cream. I saw a sign with cinema and I followed the sign and I went down the escalator.
A few fast food places and a 3D/4D movie. I asked the girl at the movie if she knew the Milkey Lane. She pointed next door and I went there to see if they had any soft ice cream. And I was very pleased to see that they had soft ice cream.
I ordered the biggest they had, not very big. Well, anyway, I ordered vanilla ice cream with caramel dip and nuts. It was very good, the nuts and caramel on top of the ice cream reminded me of how nuts tasted in Morocco.
There was a beautiful girl eye balling me, and that's even though I only had my safari uniform and not the helmet. I have left the safari behind and I'm dressed in civvies. Well, I never brought any other clothing, 4 safari shirts and 2 safari trousers.
But I brought a cap from Bangkok just because of the night in Johannesburg. Would look stupid to wear a safari helmet in Johannesburg. But they thought I looked dashing at the hotel when I arrived in full uniform. And I will have to wear the hat when I'm flying home because I don't want to keep my helmet in my luggage is the helmet might be destroyed.
I finished my ice cream and I went to check out the 3D/4D move next door. I asked which movie was the best and she told me it was something in a roller coaster. I paid her 45 Scooby Doo dollars and we went inside. I was placed in something that looked like a roller coaster sled or what ever they call them.
I took my seat and the girl asked me to close the security bar. I got a pair of 3D glasses and the show started. The sled jumped up and down and I was soon getting sick. Where is the emergency stop? The ride lasted for a few minutes and it was very nice when the show came to an end.
I went for one more “soft ice cream” with full additional at Milky Lane. I finished my ice cream and I was full, but I had seen an Italian Restaurant when I arrived to Nelson Mandela Square. I decided to go check it out.
I felt peckish for some pasta, tea, fresh bread and other snacks. I found my way out on Nelson Mandela Square from where I could locate the Italian Restaurant.
But first of all I had to take a selfie with Nelson Mandela in the back. I tried when I arrived but I failed, I gave up as I didn't want to stick out staying on the middle of the square taking selfies like a teenager.
I finished the photo session and I stepped in to the Italian restaurant. I was greeted by a beautiful girl and she showed me to a table.
I was soon to be disappointed, no fresh bread and no “pot” of tea.
So I asked for a small pizza and a smoked salmon Capriccio something as a starter. And as they didn't have a pot of tea I had a bottle of water. The smoked salmon Capriccio something was very good and the Pizza was good. And I only, yes, I surprised my self by asking for a “medium” size pizza only.
Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg
I took a taxi back to African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel with my new Samsonite bags (filled with diet drinks, but I never found any Pepsi) and I wrote a few words on my web page before going to bed at 9 o'clock. I have a wake up call at 3 and one “back up” call 20 minutes past 3.
Then I will be smack in the Bangkok time zone and I will be tired on Thai Airways flight TG 992 back to Bangkok.
And I'm a wee bit homesick and I have been since I was experience the disappointment in Kalahari. Well, the staff at African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel have booked a car for me and they will pick me up at 11 o'clock. So I will have a few hours I can spend writing on my web page. Well, that's it from Africa, I will be on the flight tomorrow and if you click HERE you will soon find yourself on the same flight.
OK, it has come to my knowledge that we have senior citizen visiting my web page. How hard can it be? So it's not very easy for them to see the blue coloured links to the next page.
Jiffy (also jiff)
noun [in SING.] informal a moment: we'll be back in a jiffy.
ORIGIN late 18th cent.: of unknown origin.
So as you understand, in a jiff pretty much depends on your internet.
So I put a “Next” button here and I hope that there isn't any problem to understand how to use that one. So just CLICK the “Next” button on your left hand side and you will be on the next page in a jiff!
Marunong ka mag-tagalog? Walang problema! Magpunta sa kabilang pahina pindutin ang “NEXT” button sa itaas
Faites vous parlez le français? Pas de problème! Pour arriver à la page suivante faites s'il vous plaît un déclic le bouton “Next” ci-dessus!
Haga usted dice el español? No hay problema! Ver la siguiente página sólo hacer clic el botón “Next” encima!
Farla parla l'italiano? Non problemi! Per vedere la prossima pagina lo scatto per favore giusto Il bottone “Next” sopra
Sprechen sie Deutsch! Kein problem! Wenn Sie die folgende Seite sehen wollen gerade klicken der Knopf “Next” oben!