Welcome To South Africa

5th of March 2016:
As we awoke I couldn’t believe we were in Africa. The realisation finally hit me. Nick had gotten up earlier to watch the sunrise but I was still satisfied having an extra hours sleep. Our first day in Cape Town and our plan was to hike Table Mountain. However this did not go to plan when I had a bad reaction to my malaria tablets. The day before I had felt like there was something in my throat. The feeling you get when you eat a chip and it goes down the wrong hole. However this all changed for the worse once I ate. I had two pieces of toast with peanut butter and all of a sudden through the first piece of toast I had a pain in my chest. I didn’t think much of it until it became unbearable. The pain would stretch across my chest and it felt as though my throat would seize up, making it difficult to breath. I wish I could have said this happened once but after a week I still have pains (mild now) but still there when I eat dense foods. This pain sometimes brought tears to my eyes. For this reason we didn’t climb table mountain and would give me a day to get over it. We did however walk to the waterfront where there was a massive shopping mall and beautiful restaurants along the water overlooking the million dollar catamarans and speed boats. As 3pm came Nick wanted to do something but I just couldn’t do anything more even lying down was painful. So Nick went to climb Lions Head by himself whilst I rested for 2 hours rather than pushing myself and feeling ill for the rest of the week. I was so envious of Nick’s climb, the view looked amazing and I hated feeling debilitated and not able to do it. I knew I really couldn’t eat but if you know me you know that no matter how I’m feeling I always want to eat. We walked 20 metres down the street to a little Mexican place. I ordered nachos and Nick ordered a beef taco. What came out literally made me laugh. I have no idea what kind of taco that was but it was non I’ve ever seen. It was a tiny circle bread (more like a burrito) with the toppings in the middle. He was struggling to say the least, everything was falling out and going everywhere. What he paid for that ($30 Rahn) was definitely a waste of money. I would probably feed an infant this and even they would cry at me for wanting more. So he ordered 2 more. I however was once again envious that he could eat and I couldn’t so I ordered a chicken taco. The pain was most definitely present but I got through it anyway. 

6th of March 2016:
Today was the day of the biggest amateur bike race in the world. 35,000 people cycle 100km around Cape Town. We walked down to the waterfront where we thought we would get a good view but unfortunately it was near the end and we had no idea where to stand. After wasting 2 hours and it becoming 11:30am we jumped in a taxi to drive us to the base of table mountain. Taxis in Cape Town are way too overpriced. He said the standard was $150 to go to table mountain. We were literally only 4km away. He was astonished we were walking it. I don’t know what we looked like but apparently not fit. Clearly 2 months in Asia hasn’t served us well then! There were no clouds in the sky and the reflection off the bitumen was brutally hot. It took us 20 minutes to walk to the beginning of the trail. At this point I was absolutely exhausted and hot. I was still having issue with my chest and breathing but I was determined non the less. As we were just about to take our first step two people came down praising the lord that they had made it. They then exclaimed that they were so happy they weren’t doing it now as it was so hot. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t make someone determined to hike a mountain when all they hear is 5 bad things and no good things about it. Non the less we headed off. After 30 minutes I wanted to be done. I was bright red from exhaustion and my breathing had become increasingly worse. I felt so unfit, having to stop every 5 minutes just to try and open up my chest. At this point Nick said that I could turn around and go up the cable car. I was astonished, there was no way I was turning around and going back down now. As much as I had really wanted to I knew how amazing I would feel once I made it to the top. After 50 minutes we had finally reached the shady area where the mountain blocked the sun. It was as if you had finally walked to heaven. We still had 20 minutes to go but the fact that you weren’t walking on rocks that were reflecting a blistering heat that you couldn’t escape is amazing. Once we had reached the top the feeling of success and determination was a overwhelming feeling. 

 

Table Mountain: Cape Town
   
The view was absolutely breathtaking, and the fact that you knew you just climbed it became even more rewarding. I honestly hands down don’t think I would have appreciated the view half as much if it wasn’t for that horrifying walk. The walk is 10km up (apparently) and normally takes any where between just less of an hour to two and half. We arrived at the top in 1 hour and 20 minutes. However we both hands down still believe it was 3 hours. Just as we reached the top the clouds started to come through. It looked like fog was chasing you every step you took it would engulf your space even more. If you’ve seen game of thrones you would be able to picture white walkers walking through the fog. As stereotypical tourists we took so many photos on different rocks. After a good 30 to 45 minutes the clouds were becoming thicker and the visibility was becoming worse so we lined up and bought a ticket to ride down the cable car. The cable car was massive and fit 50 people. Not only this but the cable cars bottom rotates so everyone gets to see 360 views of the mountain, beaches and the city. It was amazing but unfortunately it only took 30 seconds to get down. At this point my feet were aching, and I was ready to get into a taxi. The taxi driver tried to charge us $80 Rahn for a 2km drive on one street. He didn’t have to make any turns and only had 2 traffic lights. This would have taken us 5 minutes max to get back to our hostel. He wasn’t allowing us to use the meter as he knew he would be losing money. So we jumped out and walked. I don’t think I’ve ever walked so much in one day! 3km to waterfront (plus walking around), 10km walking up table mountain and then 2km walking back to our hostel. We however had to change hostels that morning so we hadn’t even checked in. All I wanted to do was crash on the bed. However we had to pick up our bags from luggage storage and then organise payment. Once this was all done I was happy to take my shoes off and collapse on the bed. Nick fell asleep for 40 minutes whilst I was just relaxing on my iPad. I became very hungry though as we had walked through lunch time and even though there was a restaurant at the top once we had finally reached it I wasn’t hungry. However, the thought of having to sit up sounded exhausting enough let alone walking to a shop. However we finally pushed our selves out of bed and walked down to the first restaurant we saw (only 100m away). It was a burger bar and what we ordered looked like we hadn’t eaten in a week. We ordered two burgers, onion rings and chicken wings. Dear god what we had lost in calories on that walk we regained it in 20 minutes. The food was absolutely delicious though. Even just writing this I want to teleport back to eating the burger and chips and everything else. As soon as we were done we headed back to bed. 

7th of March 2016:

Yesterday was so exhausting that we needed a rest day. Surprisingly my muscles weren’t aching, but I was happy to have a lazy morning. We went down to Woolworths to buy some supplies for breakfast. I was so excited with yoghurt and fruit as we haven’t eaten the best foods on this trip. However, Nick bought coco pops and I haven’t had them since I was a kid so 5 bowls later I stopped myself. We decided to rent a car for two days. However at this point it was 12pm. We found one within walking distance (20 minutes) as we finally worked out all the paper work etc. it was already 2pm. I was so hungry, so we quickly went back to our hostel to make a ham and cheese toastie. We set off down the road to the botanical gardens. It was only a 30 minute drive. The gardens were absolutely beautiful, the blooming flowers and table mountain in the background was picturesque. The garden is huge, and a perfect place to have a picnic next to the lake as it reflects table mountain. We spent a good hour or two here, and you could quite easily spend the entire day. As we went back the sun was starting to set, so Nick drove us to Lions head, where we went to a look out that overlooked the beach and houses. For dinner we went to the same beach to a seafood restaurant. This seafood restaurant had obviously seafood and not so obvious sushi. I have never heard of the combination before, especially not in a restaurant but it made the decision making that much harder. I couldn’t decide on the seafood basket or the sushi basket and after 15 minutes of back in forth we finally picked the seafood for 2. As the platter came out it was huge filled with prawns, fish, chips, calamari and so much more. It was so satisfying and worth the money. 

8th of March 2016:
Today we definitely had a fully packed out day. We started nice and early at 6am where I climbed out of bed still in a daze. After another bowl of coco pops we jumped in the car to head to Lions head. It would have been beautiful to see the sunrise from the top but we weren’t that dedicated to climb in the dark. The walk is very beautiful and a lot easier to say the least than table mountain. The walk begins with a gravel/ dirt road around the mountain, as you reach the other side natural steps form. The path becomes narrower and narrower as you get closer to the top. At one point you reach a t-intersection where you can go left and keep walking all the way around the mountain till you reach the top or straight where you literally climb up on chains and metal bars in the cliff side. Obviously we chose the second option. It got your heart pumping when you knew if you slip you will fall down the entire mountain. If you are scared of heights I wouldn’t recommend it! As we reached the top the 360 views of the entire city it was amazing. Everywhere you looked was breathtaking. There is no better feeling than knowing that you’ve just climbed to the top. Once again we became stereotypical tourists taking. numerous photos on rocks over looking the city. By the time we came down it was only 9am. We quickly checked out and found a nearby hostel on loop street. Our next journey was to the aquarium at the waterfront. I don’t know why but we always seem to go to aquariums when we visit somewhere. They had an entire tank of Nemos! Then after seeing all the fish we went to the penguin area where they were feeding them. The girl in our dorm has been doing a internship there for 2 months already. Next was the big sharks. They have this eerie feeling when they swim. They were just moving so slow but seemed to know what everyone was doing. They gave me the shivers. This was the moment that we knew we had to do shark cage diving. After an hour we were done and ready to head to south point. It was 12pm by the time we left, the gps predicted 45 minutes. Unfortunately it didn’t tell us about the heavy construction going on so we were delayed an hour, moving as slow as a turtle. At one point I contemplated walking to the shop, ordering then jumping back in the car. By 2pm we were starving so stopped at St. James at a tiny little cafe. We ordered two burgers and honestly had no idea what to expect, but our expectations weren’t promising. To our surprise they were actually delicious, they tasted like dads bbq burgers back at home. We still had another 15 minute drive ahead of us and by the time we reached the national park it was 3pm. We drove to the lighthouse, and as we were driving it looked identical to Marion bays national park. The lighthouse is where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet. Even though you can’t see anything you can imagine. Then with only 30 minutes to spare before the national park closed we stopped at the most south point of Africa. As we headed home we went a completely different way to avoid the construction and I’m so glad we did because it was beautiful. It was a narrow windy road on the cliffs edge over looking the ocean. This took us only 30 minutes and we were back at the beach we had dinner at the night before. 

 

Cape Town
 
The sun set was one of the best sunsets I have ever laid my eyes on. The sky turned into a gorgeous pink and yellow colour as the clouds scattered the sky in a bright pink. The wind however was a different story. The sand on the beach was not always sand but a combination of shells, as the wind was blowing a gale the shells would pick up and spike you in the back of the legs. This pain felt like a 1000 needles stabbing you. Everyone on the beach was running for shelter and screaming as they were being attacked. I think this was one of the fastest I’ve ever ran on sand as I looked like I was in the war running away from someone shooting me, rather than sand. Sadly we had to return our little polo. 

9th of March 2016:
Yesterday was a packed out day to say the least. It’s amazing how being a tourist visiting sites is exhausting. We had no plans for today and had a very lazy morning. As it neared 11am and we had no achieved anything apart from walking downstairs for free breakfast, we decided to go for a walk. No plans of where to go just headed down one direction. We found a market with clothes, bags and beaded animals. I bought a cheap throw over bag as the one I bought in Laos broke in a week. After aimlessly walking around for an hour we came across a indoor alley way that sold cheap Indian foods. It was as if it was a food market but in one big lane. I bought butter chicken and naan bread for $59 Rahn, which equates to $5 dollars Aus. We then had to try and find apparently the biggest camera store in Cape Town. This walk took us 30 minutes walking through random streets of Cape Town. When we arrived and walked through the doors it was equivalent to Nicks heaven. Endless Tri pods, cameras, you name it, it was there. However, miraculously we only walked out with a memory card. We walked back to our hostel where we spent another few hours writing and putting photos onto the computer. Today I can quite easily say was a bludge day, but I feel like everyone needs that every now and again. There was no waste to the day though. 

10th of March 2016:
Today we were in for a thrill of our lives. We had booked to go out in a little steel cage in the middle of the ocean to swim with great white sharks. This thought process hadn’t actually completely crossed my mind until we were on the boat and I saw the eerie murky water. We were in the third group of the day so we departed at 11am. It took 2 hour drive in a very squashed mini bus. Even my legs hit the seats in front of us. As we arrived at the office we had a lovely sand which whilst watching a slideshow of horrifying photos of other cage divers. I started telling myself that, that wouldn’t happen the shark would not come up to my face with its mouth open. As we all jumped on the boat the sky’s on the left had turned dark as if a storm was brewing. Looking down at the green murky seas I thought to myself, “what the f*ck am I doing?” I wish I was more upbeat and excited for this adventure but the nervous had gotten the better of me. As I looked over at Nick I know he was thinking the same thing but we both wanted show a poker face. It’s the only way to settle nerves. Until the boat stopped and the man yelled out, “there’s a shark, quick first 5 people get in.” My wetsuit was on but my legs weren’t moving forward towards the shark. I’m pretty sure I just span around in circles trying to look like I wasn’t ready, but mentally I wasn’t. In truth when are you ever ready to jump in the cage with sharks swimming around you? Nick of course was in the first group ready for the action. He was pushed up on the right hand side, right next to where the man throws the tuna head. If you want action definitely go on that side. At one point I thought his hair was going to get chopped off as the shark went straight for him. 

 

Shark Cage Diving: Cape Town
 
Now after seeing Nick nearly get eaten it was my turn. I was exhilarated but the nerves were still bubbling across my body. As I put my feet in the man yells, “shark, down… Down” as I screamed out “I don’t want to go in the cage when there’s a shark there!” Might I just explain my valid point, if I shark is next to it and you jump in the cage your not prepared you can’t see it, you don’t know where to put your hands yet and once again you can’t see it! Non the less he pushed me down. The water was a mere 15 degree celcius and I could not feel a thing. Yes I was wearing a wet suit but my feet and hands made it seem I was swimming in a bath. As the man yells, “down” you hold your breath and look through your googles to stare at the Sharks eyes as he swims past you looking back at you. The water visibility was only a metre which made it scarier because you never knew where they were until they were a metre away. After 5 minutes of screaming, laughing and winning the world record for holding my breath we were out. Now I got to watch them for upstairs on the boat. This was actually more terrifying cause you realised how big they were, and to add to it the rails were falling out as the boat leaned to the side of the Sharks. Luckily we got another chance to go in the cage. I was actually more nervous the second time somehow. Nick went in the first group that went twice and this was where the action happened. Nick was once again in the action seat. I ran off and said, “oh I need my phone I wanna watch my boyfriend get eaten.” 

 

Shark Cage Diving: Cape Town
 
The next minute a shark came straight for them as the man pulled the tuna head up above the water and over the cage the shark jumped for it. Nick said all he could see under the water was his belly but what I saw was much more terrifying. I saw the jaws of a great white on top of the cage above Nick. As the shark came back down it swiftly swam away flicking its tail to the boat sending a huge splash of water over everyone. However, now it was my turn again. As I jumped in the cage I was the second person from the right. We saw nothing exciting for 5 minutes. The water was so cold that I was shaking uncontrollably. Then Nick says from above, “Hey sharkies come get her.” Well… From this day onwards I’m calling him the shark whisperer. A shark appeared out of no where, and literally went straight for my face with it’s mouth open. It swiftly turned before its jaws hit the cage cm from my face. I would have only had to put a finger nail out of the cage for me to touch it. It was a interesting experience though it wasn’t as if I screamed or my heart pounded in that moment. It was like everything went still, in slow motion. I was surprisingly calm and wasn’t afraid at all…under the water. Once I came up out of the water we all screamed! By now the storm had set and it was raining. So we quickly went back to shore. It was one of those days where you can’t even comprehend why you did that but it was one of the most adrenalin rushing experiences and one I will never forget long after this journey.

11th of March 2016:

Tomorrow we begin our tour trip through Africa. However we still needed to buy certain items before it began. So we went back down to the waterfront. After spending an hour in the massive camping store I only came out with a sleeping bag and a warm liner. The only other things on my list were running shorts, because somehow they went missing somewhere along the way and a casual dress. To my surprise Nike and Lorna Jane did not sell any bike shorts. At this point Nick had given up and just sat down with our sleeping bags in the middle of the shopping centre. I ran off to H & M and somehow found shorts. We then went outside and got a taxi back to our hostel. Even we had walked it numerous times our bag they gave us for camping would drag along the ground if you held it properly so we opted for the easier option. By 3pm we grabbed a taxi to go to our final hostel in Cape Town, Ashanti Lodge. This was where we were going to meet all the people on our tour for the next 41 days. I was actually nervous about meeting everyone though. Just because I wanted a good group of people as 41 days is a long time. As we opened our dorm room a Australian girl named Kate was half sleeping. She had just arrived an hour ago from South America. Two Danish people walked in, Michelle and Meds. They seemed shy and was more interested in speaking in Danish than English. Then a third Danish guy walked it, Thomas. It made it difficult to get to know everyone when half of the room was speaking Danish. As our meeting began at 6pm we walked out to the front and it felt like everyone was instantly judging you. All the eyes would turn swiftly as a new person would walk in the room. Instead of the introduction to our tour making you feel excited and ready for the adventure, it did quite the opposite. We started thinking what have we done, this was a mistake. Can I back out now. She somehow made it sound horrible and there were no nerves before but now I felt like I was trapped in a nightmare for 41 days. At the end of the meeting we broke off, some people just went straight back to their rooms whilst others were more friendly and wanted to actually get to know you.

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