We flew on the 24th April to Bangalore from a pleasant 2night stopover in Kuala Lumpur. We now stay at the Sama Sama hotel a super hotel at the airport with golf type buggies to get you from inside the terminal to the hotel in 2minutes.

The airport express from KLIA to KL Sentral train station is a great service taking 1/2 hour and costing $25 return. If you prepay at the airport and pay with Mastercard you get 20% off the ticket price. We went into the city for the day.
The metro goes right into the mall now next to the Petronas towers and the free pink bus outside takes you straight to Bukit Bintang the main shopping/restaurant area in 15minutes. The transport system has improved over the last couple of years and the city looks more like Singapore all the time with good infrastructure and innovative sky scrapers.

The ‘Simple Life’ vegetarian restaurant next door in the mall near the very upmarket Isetan complex serves delicious food and is only a short walk along a long line of modern restaurants to the ‘Pavillion Mall’ where there is now another undercover area full of food choices and the best Italian icecream.
The ‘Johnny Rocket’ staff as well as staff in some hotels have taken to doing a choreographed 5 minute dance routine every so often which is fun to watch and the staff seem to also enjoy the performances. We took the monorail back to KL Sentral and the train back on the KLIA express to the airport.

We luckily got to the airport early as the check in staff wouldn’t take our confirmation of an e-visa for India shown on Maurice’s phone (even though they accepted people checking in for the flight showing their e-ticket on their phones) so it was a performance of going to the newsagent and the nice man there let me use his computer to print out the confirmations so that we could show the check in staff the piece of paper!
We then had little time to get through the long immigration queue so a quick chat with a security guy got us into the diplomatic passport checking booth where no one was waiting. We just boarded the flight in time and landed in Bangalore four hours later.

Our second fright was when Maurice looked at the wrong bus ticket on his phone and told me that we had missed our bus. We went to the bus counter and the officer pointed out that the ticket was for our last trip. After a short panic he found us on the list and we boarded the 11am, 4 hour trip on the Volvo flybus to Mysore.
We had a good meal at the quirky ‘Gupha’ cave restaurant in the ‘Pai Vista’ hotel and then were picked up for our 3 hour trip to our new Ayurvedic centre in Wayanad down the road from the ‘Karapuzha Dam’. The centre built and run by Dr Tony had treated Maurice before and he had good results in the 2 weeks there.
The whole area had had no rain for months but we had about ten days of unusually early torrential rain with dramatic thunder and lightning.

The good work the healer had done in Bali on our backs was rather undone by the long journey to the Ayurvedic centre so at least we were in the right place and Dr Tony and the good therapists worked their wonders on our backs. We received good massages and food prepared by Jaicy, Dr Tony’s wife and Jay Kumar, a lovely yoga teacher we had met previously gave us personalized yoga sessions. We had daily walks around the dam and saw a few tribal people who live in the area and who could have easily been mistaken for Australian aborigines. The locals were very friendly and we saw first hand the latex sheets made from the rubber plantations in the area which were formed using big old wringer like machinery.

A nice tradition of Dr Tony’s at the end of a stay is to have a tree planted in your name. We went to where his father has some land and Maurice and I
planted a small Jackfruit tree.
We left Muttil South on the 9th May for trip back to Mysore, flybus to Bangalore airport and the flight to Mumbai to see our friends Nidhi, Ashraf and family there for a few days.

Mumbai
Mumbai international airport is a very user friendly one with conveniently placed prepaid taxi counters which made transport to the city very easy.
We just happened to be in Mumbai again for the six week ‘Alphonso’ mango season and Nidhi had bought some for us to have which we enjoyed immensely.
Nidhi’s driver Shankar took us to an amazing baggage repair basement shop where the craftsmen there replaced wheels on my hand luggage and they do amazing repairs. Shankar dropped us at at the large Infinity 2 mall so that we could replace my sneakers. I left the old ones with little tread in Kerala after slipping on a smooth rock the previous day and giving myself a nice big bruise on my leg.

Nidhi’s mother in law is a great cook and she prepared my favourite masala dosas for breakfast one day. We opted for a north Indian restaurant one night after having had the very different south India food for two weeks. Mumbai is a city with an amazing number of high rise apartments under construction all over the city. Andheri West where Nidhi and Ashraf live on the 11th floor of a large commplex is a surprisingly quiet area with a lot of birdlife.

The locals were suffering in the 36 degree humid weather and it promised to be hotter in Delhi when we flew there three days later with cut price airline Indigo which proved to be one of the best flights we had been on in our five years of travel. They have the best on time record and all the staff from check in to cabin and flight crew could not have been more pleasant or helpful. It was a short bus ride from the terminal but their ramps to the plane are so much better and easier to navigate with luggage rather than the staircases that most airlines use.

Delhi
Jyoti’s driver Ravinder picked us up from Delhi airport for the trip to her apartment in Gurgaon, an large area of innovative company buildings and gated communities.

We stayed for 2nights with Jyoti our friend and owner of the Gratitude and Mantra properties in Pondicherry who lives in Delhi. She took us to her organic farm in Rajasthan which is a beautiful property developed from a barren area years ago into a lush and green oasis. It is also run as an airbnb property where guests can learn about bio and organic farming as well as relax by the pool and lotus pond. There are chickens and geese, squirrels, many bird types and colourful lizards on the property which is run by six staff. The cook prepared us a tasty organic vegetarian meal and the dry 40 plus temperature did not bother us. Maurice and I took the metro the following day into the city about an hour away and we wandered about, bought a couple of items and had a north Indian lunch at ‘Zafran’ restaurant. I also had a coffee at ‘Cafe Coffee Day’ which we know from Pondicherry and who train and employ young deaf people as baristas. It was decidedly hotter in the city with all the concrete buildings and bitumen roads but the metro was very well ventilated and cooler.
Our return to Gurgaon was not as we expected as our train broke down at ‘Green Park’ station and we had to find a way to get back to Jyoti’s apartment an hour away.
We were a bit concerned as the train was packed and everyone was trying to get taxis and auto rickshaws. We were lucky enough to find two lovely guys who called us an ‘Ola’ taxi and who waited with us until it arrived. We got to the airport in plenty of time for our 3 1/2 hour flight to Doha on Jet Airways.

Doha
We had only transited Doha previously so decided to spend a couple of nights in the city. We chose the ‘Arumaila hotel’ part of the’Souk Waqif’ group of nine hotels all located in the old quarter of ‘Souk Waqif’. On check in they kindly upgraded us to a room with a balcony which overlooked the souk. The hotel cat slept by the front door most of the time and took the guest movement in his stride. Golf type buggies moved guests to some of the other properties to have breakfast or to have the use of a pool. The staff were the most polite, friendly and efficient we had encountered anywhere and there was Arabic coffee and dates on hand in the foyer. Their new property Najd had an African flavour and a lovely fragrance greeted you as you walked through the hotel. The Souk area, Dhow harbour and Museum of Islamic art was opposite the modern city centre with it’s skyscrapers. Within a short walking distance was the ‘Falcon Souk’ where Falcons costing thousands of Riyals sat on posts in a sandy pit in the shops selling the birds and everything associated with Falconry. In the same area was the Falcon hospital which was specifically for treatment of the raptors. Around the corner was the Camel Paddock where camels were kept for tourists to admire.
A little further along were the horse stables and paddock, an elaborate set up for the horses some of which were used for racing. Rajasthani men took care of the animals. The hotel, restaurant and souk workers were a mixture of Arabs from various countries such as Tunisia and Egypt and there were also many other nationalities in the service industry there.
The Qataris in the main did not work and those that do usually own large businesses. I went looking for a Qatari souvenir but all the products on sale came in the main from either Turkey, Iran or Syria. I asked one Arab shop assistant if anything was made in Qatar. He said ‘Oil and Gas’. I ended up buying some carved glass Arabic coffee cups made in Turkey but used by the Qataris.
Like mad dogs and Englishmen we went out in the midday sun in the 40 odd degrees to walk around the Dhow harbour and then to the Museum of Islamic art which had a wonderful temporary
exhibition of ‘Imperial Threads’ displaying beautiful carpets and carvings from Iran, Turkey and India. The only other people outside were the poor foreign workers who were doing mass plantings along the Corniche. We made our way back to the hotel and later when it was cooler one of the staff gave us a free walking tour of the souk and surrounding area. The souk was quite extensive with pets, clothing, souvenirs, food and an area for elaborate gold jewellery.
The transportation of goods in the souk was done by older men with wheelbarrows rather than using donkeys or mules. The souk at night was very atmospheric with fairy lights and it was pleasant sitting outside with no mosquitoes. The souk stayed open until 10pm even though there were few tourists. The shop keepers were very pleasant and it was nice browsing without any pressure to buy.

The airport was only a 15minute ride from the old part of town where again staff were very pleasant. We flew the hour to Dubai with Emirates and then had a long trek (about 1/2 hour) to reach our gate for the flight to Rome on the 16th May. At the arrivals hall in Rome we had another chance encounter with friends who had flown from Sydney to Rome. We had been looking at the baggage belt for our bags for a long time when I decided to go and find an Emirates representative. As I turned and made my way through the masses of people our friends appeared walking towards the exit. Karma!

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It was great to be back on the 2nd March in such a familiar place. Bali has changed so much in the 33years since I have been coming here. The streets are no longer quiet in areas like Sanur,Kuta, Legian or Ubud and a lot of the quaint small warung and restaurants like Swastika and Telaga Naga have been replaced by large modern restaurants
and the boutiques in Seminyak and Canggu rival Australia for prices.

Candi Dasa where we always stay for a short while is like coming home with the same friendly staff who know our names and give us good service. Our friends Kay and Len came up for lunch and it was lovely seeing friends from home. Robert and Gay from Sydney joined us there also and came with us to Gili Air for a few days.
A main road runs through Candi Dasa but our small hotel which runs down through a lovely garden and to the restaurant and pool area over the water is a tranquil haven. The customary trip to the ‘white beach’ is always a highlight travelling by local boat the 20minutes along the coast where our boatman waits and then returns us to the hotel for AUD50 for the four of us.
Our friends Robert and Gay joined us there for a few days before we all headed off for the trip from Padang Bai harbour to Gili Air the second largest of three small islands off the coast of Lombok. We were told that the trip would take an hour and a half but a delay in leaving and having to stop at Lombok as well as Gili Trawangan saw the trip take nearly three hours.

The beauty of Gili Air is the lack of any noisy motorised vehicle and it’s crystal clear water. There are a few electric bikes on the island apart from the ‘Cidomo’or small horse and carts delivering tourists to their hotels and bungalows and building materials and provisions from the boats that arrive every day. The small Timor ponies are very sturdy and all look well fed in contrast to those in many countries where the horses look emaciated.

While we were there for the two weeks we saw many military and army personnel move onto the island to supervise the demolition of illegal buildings for which stall holders had no permits.The government is also now enforcing a law which will see any building on the beach side of the road demolished (again apart from those who apparently have paid enormous bribes). We spoke to Suzi the Indonesian owner of our Bungalows who was visited recently by the officials who told her that they would now begin this procedure in April 2017. She was suitably shocked and told them that she had 70 staff who would be out of a job and that she would comply with the new regulations but to give her a chance to let the staff find other employment elsewhere on the island or on the mainland.
Unfortunately they had before this law came into being just upgraded the wooden building on the beach side housing their bar and restaurant. She has luckily more land inland on which to put another restaurant but that would take time. Our bungalow and others were luckily on the other side of the road and therefore allowed to stay put.

The water around the island is crystal clear although there was a lot of coral on the other side of the island, much broken and washed up on the beach. We walked around the island which only took a couple of hours. It was hot and humid for most of our two weeks there but we had a small amount of rain one night and a strong wind one day.

The cats on the island all look healthy with the amount of fish that every restaurant serve every night. A strange sight were the terracotta – concrete actually – warriors found dotted along the seashore. On our walk around the island we also found a brand new 200room hotel with a hundred metre pool. I should imagine it would appeal to
the enormous number of Chinese tourists who have already surpassed any other nationality on Bali and who will undoubtedly find their way to the islands.

Apart from two weeks of relaxation, swimming, walking and doing yoga we decided to go over to Gili Trawangan two islands away for the afternoon and have a pizza at ‘Pizza Regina’ my favourite pizza place outside of Italy. We chartered a small boat and Fikri the very pleasant man who built and ran his boat took us first to a spot
where we could see turtles in his partially glass bottom boat and occasionally we could see the turtles pop their heads out of the water for air. They swim so gracefully.

Gili Trawangan had changed dramatically as the government had torn down all the buildings on the foreshore already and it was still in the process of being cleaned up.
Some of the structures did not obstruct the view of the ocean however they were all demolished and it all looked very messy.

We made it for the 5pm opening to ‘Pizza Regina’ We had sampled the pizza two years before and decided we had to go back and it was just as good as before.

The night before we left Gili Air we went to our favourite restaurant ‘Rubys’ walking there through the rain. I unfortunately slipped in the mud and did not hurt myself but was covered in mud down one side. When we got to the restaurant I had to hose my feet off and try and wipe some mud off my clothes. With luck the little
outdoor restaurant was not well lit. We awoke the next morning to the doors shaking from an earthquake off Bali. There was luckily no damage.
We left on the ‘fast’ boat the next morning which broke down just after we left Lombok about twenty minutes after we left Gili Air. We forced the captain after much discussion to return to Lombok where we waited for another boat to take us back to Bali where we arrived about 2hours late.

We spent the next month in Ubud at ‘Villa Jepun’ and had two lots of friends visit us there. We had a lot of torrential monsoonal rain which didn’t follow the usual afternoon pattern. It rained some mornings and sometimes overnight but we could at least have long walks and get to yoga when it wasn’t raining.
The day after we arrived there we had to take our passports and pay our AUD70 to apply for an extension to our AUD50 for a month’s visa. After a week we had to go to the immigration office in Denpasar and wait with hundreds of other hopefuls and have our photographs taken and every finger and thumb fingerprinted. After another
week we picked up our passports with our stamped extensions. It is a strange system now that with Australian passports we could enter Bali without a visa for one month but if you want to stay for another month you must pay for your first month’s visa. Only tourists wanting to stay one month or less do not have to pay for a visa on
arrival.

We had not been in Bali for two years and there was still more construction everywhere with disappearing rice fields giving way to more villas, cafes and restaurants.
There is also an influx of Chinese tourists who come up to Ubud by the bus load. They troupe down the street mostly evening wear during the day carrying umbrellas so as not to get a tan and the men wear Polynesian looking straw hats that are obviously supplied by their tour operator. There are now Chinese newspapers and magazines available and Mandarin speaking Indonesian guides. The Chinese are all spacially unaware so you have to be prepared to move around them or make them move as they take up all of the footpath.

I managed to contact the former Qantas manager Gustu whom I hadn’t seen for about four years and he and his wife Sri came and had dinner with us in Ubud. It was nice to catch up with him as I have known him for over 30years. The Qantas office used to be in the Bali Beach hotel and although the hotel is still there, Qantas closed
it’s office in Bali. Gustu now manages villas in Seminyak for a friend of his.

This year we happened to be in Ubud for three of the important Balinese religious days of Nyepi, Galungan and Kuningan. Nyepi is a day of silence where everyone must stay inside their hotel or house from sunrise for 24hours. No planes are allowed to arrive or depart for 24hours and at night all lights must be off or dimmed and
no noise should be heard. Our friends decided to come over to our villa for the day and they crept over and back luckily without being seen. We were off the road so it was relatively easy. If they had been seen by the religious police they would have been in trouble. It was pleasant not hearing the sound of noisy motorbikes
all day.

In our villa which has a DVD player we catch up on all the movies we haven’t seen in the last couple of years. We bought a dozen and all but one played well which was great given they are only $1 each. Memorable ones were ‘A United Kingdom’ ‘The Accountant’ and ‘Bridget Jones baby’ with it’s good English humour.

We both put our backs out on separate occasions which was unfortunate as we couldn’t go to all the yoga classes we had bought and instead went to a natural healer who fixed both of us over three sessions.

The number of Chinese tourists now visiting Bali was very evident at the airport where there were lengthy queues for immigration with the majority there Chinese.

Strangely although the internet states the departure tax is now 200,000 rupiah or AUD20, none was collected on departure. We flew Malaysian to Kuala Lumpur on the 22nd April for a couple of nights.

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We had a nice three days in Chennai over New Year visiting the beautiful Amethyst restored building on Whites road which is now a restaurant, expensive clothing and book store and a florist shop. We spent New Year’s eve at the Raintree hotel close to our hotel where we had delicious Indian food on the roof terrace on a nice balmy night. We visited our Chennai friends and had a nice dinner with them on New Year’s Day and then took the taxi to Pondicherry on the 2nd January for two month stint there managing the Mantra guesthouse. The first two weeks were peaceful before the French family from hell arrived with their two noisy children and totally obnoxious attitude.
Unfortunately due to an error (not on our part) they made our life a misery for the next three weeks trying their best to get us to leave. The husband would make the most awful noise on his clarinet only when his wife and two children were not there. We looked at renting another apartment but could not find a suitable one so after poor Maurice was verbally and physically threatened by the husband for asking him politely to try and keep the noise level down due to other guests being in the building we asked to move anywhere and after a few days we could move to a small room at their sister property ‘Gratitude’ for the remainder of our stay which allowed us some peace in the evenings and I was able to help out there before we cycled over to Mantra for 8.30am every morning. The family were away for most of the weekdays so that made it bearable during the day. We never want to have that kind of experience again with such ignorant and nasty people. We at least had a lovely couple (Chris and Gordana) move in to the guesthouse and also Aarti who was in one of the self catering apartments upstairs.
We were able to attend a couple of Indian movies at the auditorium of the Alliance Francaise.
It was much cooler in Pondicherry this year with some high winds and a few days of rain. I was getting over my extended flu so did not even use the lovely pool.
There were a couple of new restaurants in the French quarter and on the Tamil side which we tried out with some friends.
Maurice had more Ayurvedic treatment and felt much better after that. My flu persisted for the whole stay with a nasty cough and my right hand was also giving me trouble. All in all not a good few months this time in India. Better luck next time.
The owner of the properties broke her ankle and was confined to Delhi and her partner who was to return to Pondicherry stayed to look after her.
We were very much looking forward to our R and R in Indonesia where we were going to meet up with several friends over a two month period before making our way back to India for a couple of weeks and then back to Italy and Europe for our final time with the van in Europe. We had a nice night in Chennai, then at the Sama Sama hotel at the airport in KL and then a flight to Bali on the 2nd March.

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The Flybus from Bangalore took four hours and we were picked up in Mysore at the bus station. The parking area was underground and we were amazed at the number of motorbikes in the parking area. We couldn’t imagine how anyone could find their bike ever again.

We decided to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary early and in style so we stayed for three nights in the Dupleix suite at the Lalitha Mahal Palace hotel, a beautiful turn of the century palace built exclusively for the then Viceroy of India. In 1974 it was turned into a hotel. We had an enormous lounge dining area and a large bedroom, balcony and bathroom upstairs. It was a pity we didn’t have anyone to come for a party. It was slightly on the outskirts of Mysore so very quiet except for the lavish wedding which took place for a day and a half while we were there. It was an incredible affair with the whole place transformed with a large platform in front of the hotel adorned with thousands of flowers and the gardens were taken over with fairy lights,large tents serving food cooked in another large tent and seating for about 500 people in front of the platform and at tables and chairs dotted throughout the garden. The saturday night reception took place outside. Inside the hotel there were more floral displays along the staircase and at the entrance to the hotel. About 7pm the guests started to arrive and they lined up to meet the couple who stood in front of the cameras and as each group were greeted they had their photo taken with the bride and groom before adjourning to the gardens to have their meal. We watched some of the proceedings but went to the beautiful dining room for a quiet dinner.

The very loud Indian band started up the next morning at 7am for the preparations for the wedding ceremony in the banqueting hall which was directly below us.
They started the proceedings about 9am and these went on for a few hours with the groom then ushered outside to a small temple set up with priests and onlookers and even a drone taking pictures while the bride was involved in a ceremony with one of the hindu priests. She then joined her husband on the altar inside and the final wedding rites took place. There were many photographers and a professional video company presiding over the entire ceremony. By mid afternoon we were surprised to hear that the couple had already left to have more celebrations at home in Bangalore which was a four hour drive away and a lot of the decorations were already coming down. By Monday morning the entire palace and gardens were back to normal and you wouldn’t have known anything had taken place. It was quite amazing to experience the wedding from the sidelines.

We lazed by the pool on the Sunday for a couple of hours and were the only guests there which was lovely. Back in our suite the reception called and asked us to close the balcony doors as there were monkeys around and they were afraid that one would come into the room.

Mysore Palace was only lit up on a Sunday night for 2hours so we took a rickshaw and walked around the carneval like atmosphere with thousands of locals to see the lights and listen to the brass band. We then went to dinner at ‘Gufha’ restaurant at the ‘Pai Vista’ hotel which we had been to once before and enjoyed immensely. It is like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. Several rooms have been transformed into caves with African like statues and the seating is done in zebra motifs as are the plates. The little Indian waiters are dressed as hunters complete with pith helmets and bandana and look quite strange. The food there was excellent and very reasonable.

After another lazy day we booked a car for 4pm and drove out to the Brindavan Botanical gardens about an hour away. The gardens are divided by a dam where you could take a short boat ride to the other side or walk across the connecting bridge. The Royal Orchid hotel on one side was also a former palace. The musical fountains which were the highlight, started after sunset on the other side of the dam in the gardens and it was fun to watch them to Indian music with thousands of other Indians.
We were the only foreign tourists there. We unfortunately were stuck in a traffic jam on the bridge leading out of the gardens for an hour and we had left early but in true Indian style there was no one directing traffic with half of the bridge ripped up. We had a late dinner back at the hotel and a leisurely morning on Monday 29th November before being picked up at 12noon for the three hour ride up to our Ayurvedic retreat in the mountains at Udayagiri in Wayanad.

We were surprised to see the horse and carriage outside the hotel on the Monday morning as we thought it was brought in for the wedding but it belonged to the Lalitha Palace hotel and was from the turn of the century. For $2 each we decided to have a ride around the grounds never having been in a carriage before and surprisingly it was quite a comfortable ride as the carriage was well sprung.

We detoured to a ‘Cafe Coffee Day’ to have my last coffee for a month and they could not change my 2000ruppee note and nor could the hotel or restaurant nearby. Luckily a tour operator overheard me and changed my note for 100rupee notes. We went further along the road and managed to get 2000rupees (the maximum that you could get in one transaction) Most Indians and tourists were complaining because many businesses did not accept credit cards and most did also not have change for the 2000rupee note which was all that most of the ATM’s were issuing. They all had signs advising that you could only take out 2000rupees at a time but I found one ATM without a queue where I could insert my card several times to get some more cash. Indians in general were not happy with Prime Minister Modi’s demonetization which took place overnight by refusing to accept any 500 or 1000 rupee note. This was in his view a way to stop black money and many very rich people who had bags of the notes even burnt them to save prosecution. The ordinary people with little cash could go to a bank and exchange their money for 100rupee notes or coin but those with vast sums that didn’t equate to their earnings were up for prosecution. One politician was found with over 9,000,000rupees in bags in his car. We were glad that we were going to be in the Ayurvedic centre for a month and not have the problems of getting change. In the demonetisation move the 1000 and 500 rupee notes were no longer going to be used or issued. They had to be changed at a bank before the 30th December.
Only a new 500 rupee note was going to replace the old one and the 1000 rupee note was abolished.

We left for Udayagiri on the 29th November for one months’s treatment and we were looking forward to it. Maurice for the maintenance for his Rheumatoid Arthritis and me the usual weight management. The retreat has grown since we started going there five years ago and some changes are good but we both feel it was nicer with a smaller group of people. When we arrived there were fourteen people here, 3 from Alaska, 2 Germans, 2 French, 1 Slovakian, 2 Dutch, a guy from Mumbai, Sarah from England (who was my walking partner) and us. They were a pretty good bunch.

The staff had also grown but there were many familiar faces and they gave us a lovely surpise party for our 25th wedding anniversary on the 7th December, complete with an eggless black forest cake and we danced around a lovely fire. The manager even gave us a fun mug with our pictures and one of his family.
The biggest surprise was getting a lovely note and flowers from Craig, Maurice’s son and Yuko his lovely wife.
Our daily schedule was the same starting with yoga but earlier at 6am which was a bit of a struggle especially for the couple of days that it was raining and very dark. We had an hour’s treatment – usually pounding with medicated pouches or medicated powder rubs and some not so pleasant procedures to rid the body of toxins but it worked for us so we don’t complain.

I went for my daily walks down and up the mountain shedding 7kilos in the process about which I was very happy. The retreat’s cows were always out and about with their keepers and they were docile enough to be patted. They have such lovely faces. Some giant squirrels made a lot of noise flying from one tree to another and eating the wild figs. The monkeys were also around but scattered as soon as anyone approached. The locals were also about taking their goats to feed or collecting wood for the night. Life is very simple there for many people.

I had always admired one of the plantation owner’s house and garden from his driveway and happened to meet him outside one day. He invited two of us to come and see his garden. We went the next day and admired his amazing garden where he had every type of flower and fruit tree and luckily his property had a spring so he had plenty of water.

We decided to go to midnight mass, a very lengthy affair and all in Malayalam, the local language. Maurice was given a chair as were many of the oldies! but I sat cross legged, getting up and down from the rough coir matting floor. Most of the congregation brought presents which were then distributed to the children after the mass and the cakes that many brought were cut up and shared with cups of tea.

We will miss the staff especially the ones we have got close to like Martha, the only older cleaning ladies who brought us flowers from her garden every day. She was sobbing the day we left which was very touching but we assured her that we would see her again.
We left heavy hearted on the 29th December for the 3hour pleasant drive to Mysore, had a delicious vegetarian lunch at the quirky ‘Gufha’ restaurant and then caught the ‘Flybus’ to Bangalore for the night staying at the ‘Tranzotel’ before flying to Chennai the next day. Our flight was delayed due to thick fog for two hours.

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The Flybus from Bangalore took four hours and we were picked up in Mysore at the bus station. The parking area was underground and we were amazed at the number of motorbikes in the parking area. We couldn’t imagine how anyone could find their bike ever again.

We decided to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary early and in style so we stayed for three nights in the Dupleix suite at the Lalitha Mahal Palace hotel a beautiful turn of the century palace built exclusively for the then Viceroy of India. In 1974 it was turned into a hotel. We had an enormous lounge dining area and a large bedroom, balcony and bathroom upstairs. It was a pity we didn’t have anyone to come for a party. It was slightly on the outskirts of Mysore so very quite except for the lavish wedding which took place for a day and a half while we were there. It was an incredible affair with the whole place transformed with a large platform in front of the hotel adorned with thousands of flowers and the gardens were taken over with fairy lights,large tents serving food cooked in another large tent and seating for about 500 people in front of the platform and at tables and chairs dotted throughout the garden. The saturday night reception took place outside. Inside the hotel there were more floral displays along the staircase and at the entrance to the hotel. About 7pm the guests started to arrive and they lined up to meet the couple who stood in front of the cameras and as each group were greeted they had their photo taken with the bride and groom before adjourning to the gardens to have their meal. We watched some of the proceedings but went to the beautiful dining room for a quiet dinner.

The very loud Indian band started up the next morning at 7am for the preparations for the wedding ceremony in the banqueting hall which was directly below us.
They started the proceedings about 9am and these went on for a few hours with the groom then ushered outside to a small temple set up with priests and onlookers and even a drone taking pictures while the bride was involved in a ceremony with one of the hindu priests. She then joined her husband on the altar inside and the final wedding rites took place. There were many photographers and a professional video company presiding over the entire ceremony. By mid afternoon we were surprised to hear that the couple had already left to have more celebrations at home in Bangalore which was a four hour drive away and a lot of the decorations were coming down. By Monday morning the entire palace and gardens were back to normal and you wouldn’t have known anything had taken place. It was quite amazing to experience the wedding from the sidelines.

We lazed by the pool on the Sunday for a couple of hours and were the only guests there which was lovely. Back in our suite the reception called and asked us to close the balcony doors as there were monkeys around and they were afraid that one would come into the room.

Mysore Palace was only lit up on a Sunday night for 2hours so we took a rickshaw and walked around the carnival like atmosphere with thousands of locals to see the lights and listen to the brass band. We then went to dinner at ‘Gufha’ restaurant at the ‘Pai Vista’ hotel which we had been to once before and enjoyed immensely. It is like something out of Indiana Jones. Several rooms have been transformed into caves with African like statues and the seating is done in a zebra motif as are the plates. The little Indian waiters are dressed as hunters complete with pith helmets and bandana and look quite strange. The food there was excellent and very reasonable.

After another lazy day we booked a car for 4pm and drove out to the Brindavan Botanical gardens about an hour away. The gardens are divided by a dam where you could take a short boat ride to the other side or walk across the connecting bridge. The Royal Orchid hotel on one side was also a former palace. The musical fountains
which were the highlight started after sunset on the other side of the dam in the gardens and it was fun to watch them to Indian music with thousands of other Indians.
We were the only foreign tourists there. We unfortunately were stuck in a traffic jam on the bridge leading out of the gardens for an hour and we had left early but in true Indian style there was no one directing traffic with half of the bridge ripped up. We had a late dinner back at the hotel and a leisurely morning on Monday 29th November before being picked up at 12noon for the three hour ride up to our Ayurvedic retreat in the mountains at Udayagiri in Wayanad.

We were surprised to see the horse and carriage outside the hotel on the Monday morning as we thought it was brought in for the wedding but it belonged to the Lalitha Palace from the turn nof the century and so for $2 each we decided to have a ride around the grounds never having been in a carriage before and surprisingly it was quite a comfortable ride as the carriage was well sprung.

We detoured to a ‘Cafe Coffee Day’ to have my last coffee for a month and they could not change my 2000ruppee note and nor could the hotel or restaurant nearby. Luckily a tour operator overheard me and changed my note for 100rupee notes. We went further along the road and managed to get 2000rupees (the maximum that you could get in one transaction)Most Indians and tourists were complaining because many businesses did not accept credit cards and most did also not have change for the 2000rupee note which was all that most of the ATM’s were issuing. They all had signs advising that you could only take out 2000rupees at a time but I found one ATM without a queue where I could insert my card several times to get some more cash. Indians in general were not happy with Prime Minister Modi’s demonetization which took place overnight by refusing to accept any 500 or 1000 rupee note. This was in his view a way to stop black money and many very rich people who had bags of the notes even burnt them to save prosecution. The ordinary people with little cash could go to a bank and exchange their money for 100rupee notes of coin but those with vast sums that didn’t equate to their earnings were up for prosecution. One politician was
found with over 9,000,000rupees in bags in his car. We were glad that we were going to be in the Ayurvedic centre for a month and not have the problems of getting change.

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We flew on the 20th November 2016 to Cochin from Dubai and travelled the 1hr and 15minutes from the airport past the city of Cochin to Fort Kochi where we stayed at ‘Aroma Homestay’ a lovely house opposite St Anthony’s chapel which was a good landmark for the auto rickshaw drivers. Elizabeth (luckily her name wasn’t Mary) and Joseph were wonderful hosts and looked after us extemely well. We both got a nasty virus and I felt like a zombie for three days just getting out of bed for a bite to eat and retreating back to bed. I had a bad cough and our hosts treated me like family bringing me cups of honey, lemon and ginger tea
and grandmother’s remedy of chewing peppercorns with salt. It must have worked because on the fourth day I felt more like myself and less
like a zombie and we could venture out into Fort Kochi on foot.

It was an another of the colonial outposts first being taken over by the Dutch, then English and then the Portuguese. It has retained some of the Portuguese influence in their cooking but only a very few pieces of the original Portuguese fort remains in the basement of a small museum. Some of the old colonial buildings have been restored and some left to rot. There is an old Dutch cemetery which is locked and the old Governor’s house which is rather grand is now the Bishop’s house.

There are some handicraft and souvenir shops mainly run by Kashmiris and a couple of good boutiques like Fab India and Anokhi and many good small restaurants and a couple of cafes. There is a long concrete walkway running along the seashore where we could watch the fishermen lower and raise the old chinese fishing nets. There were many stalls selling souvenirs of all kinds along the way and plenty of fresh fish and seafood to chose from which could then be cooked for you while you waited.

We were surprised to find prices for rickshaws and meals much cheaper here in Ft Kochi than in Pondicherry with it’s large expat community in the French Heritage side of town. The fish in this area was also very fresh and very good with spices and lots of fresh coconut milk.

Our old friend Rohit Kumar whom we hadn’t seen for four years since the Ayurveda yoga villa where he was a yoga master came to visit us as he lived only a few minutes away so it was nice to catch up and share some meals later with him. A favourite was ‘Dal Roti’ a north Indian restaurant close to us.

Coincidentally we had a man from Perth with us at the homestay who was revisiting the place he lived when he was seven years old. Quite a trip down memory lane for him. There was also Alban a lovely French guy who was cabin crew for Emirates based in Dubai. We got on very well with him and had dinner at a local place where another Frenchman he met the previous day joined us. He showed us some magic tricks which he had been doing for 20years – he was very good. I think I was about ten years old the last time I saw a magic trick. The staff all thought it was fascinating too.

There are not too many attractions in Fort Cochin so we decided to see the other things that we had found online. One was the ginger warehouse where three poor women in a non ventilated room were covered in dust sorting the ginger and removing the sand in a room filled with ginger and waiting to be sorted and countless sacks of ginger ready for transporting all over India.
The other was an old palace (which didn’t really look like a palace) which had lost it’s tiled awnings years ago. It housed some interesting murals, many ornate palanquins and beautiful large paintings of all the previous inhabitants of the palace. There were workmen making some improvements to the building which was in great need of attention on the outside. The ornate wooden ceilings were impressive but no pictures were allowed. I managed to get one of the murals from a distance.

We ate twice at the north Indian ‘Dal Roti’ which served more varied dishes than the mostly coconut based curries and dishes of South India.
On the 25th November we caught a taxi from the homestay to Cochin airport and flew to Bangalore for the night. The flight from Cochin to Bangalore was only 45minutes but we were an hour late and our pick up was nowhere to be seen. Seems to be a common occurrence for us. After a couple of phone calls he arrived and as we had most of the day ahead of us we headed off to the city for a look around.
The former Sultan’s Palace was a very Tudor/Victorian affair and very ornate. A very elaborate and obviously expensive wedding was about to take place and there were extensive displays of orchids and all kids of other flowers. The groom in his gold suit and turban was already on the dais with his entourage. There were extensive displays of orchids and various other flowers to decorate the whole ground floor area. We drove on to the Indira Gandhi musical fountain park which was a peaceful, leafy place with many military vehicles, rockets and aircraft dotted about however the fountain was not in operation and we were told only operated at 7.30 and 8.30pm every day.
In every park there were ‘Trumpet’ trees with beautiful clusters of pink flowers. We drove through the interesting market stalls of Commercial road and by the enormous and interesting building of Russell market to the Lal Bagh Botanical gardens. A small temple on top of a gigantic granite rock on one side overlooked the city and the surrounding gardens. A staircase had been carved out of the rock half way up to the top.
A golf cart tour of the park for $2 took us around the large park complete with bandstand and it’s replica English Crystal Palace greenhouse built around the turn of the century.
Our driver then took us to the large ‘Mantri Mall’ and then in peak hour traffic to ‘A2B’,one of a good local restaurant chain serving good dosa and other Indian foods and sweets and then to our handy’Orange Suites’ hotel ten minutes from the airport. The hotel dropped us at the airport the next morning where we caught the volvo ‘Flybus’ to Mysore. We had taken this before and it is a very efficient four hour trip in airconditioned comfort with reclining seats.

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We were unlucky there with the weather as it was raining, a bit cold and very windy when we arrived at ‘Sea Breeze’ guesthouse in Plettenberg but it was nice to hear the waves crashing onto the rocks at night as the beach was so close. Plettenberg is a seaside town with many holiday houses high up on the hills and all along the coast and by the estuary which comes right into town.
Our guesthouse host recommended some restaurants so one night we tried a Lebanese place called ‘Off the Hook’ that served excellent portuguese type food. One day we explored the town and then went out to ‘Old Nicks’ specialty shops with it’s beautiful array of woven, good quality African goods and a number of boutiques. The weather had not improved so we kept indoors after a brief and cold walk down to the beach.
We had more nice fresh fish at ‘The Lookout Deck’ restaurant overlooking Plettenberg Bay. It was unfortunately not a balmy evening so we sat inside and enjoyed more fresh seafood. While there we tried the South African ‘roosterkoek’ or griddle bread and the ‘koeksister’ a syrupy type of donut. The bread was very dense but tasty.

It was spitting rain but we decided to go to ‘Birds of Eden’ a wonderful bird sanctuary. An enormous area of forest from a hill down to a deep valley was covered with netting which made a vast free flight area for a great variety of birds. The birds could fly long distances and get lost in the forest.
Not far away was Bramon winery, a lovely spot where we stopped for a delicious light tapas lunch. We ate dinner at ‘Fat Fish’ where the fresh fish was again delicious.
The quality of food in South Africa was excellent and the prices extremely reasonable.

On the 13th November we moved on to Bishop’s Cove on top of a cliff in the Tsitsikamma area. It was a beautiful part of South Africa. We stayed in one of only three cottages on the headland overlooking the forest on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other. It was about 12kms to the closest shop. There was a very strong wind blowing but we sat and watched the waves crashing on the rocks far below. Joe (Cocker) the caretaker’s very intelligent spaniel greeted us and followed us as we walked up to a viewing point to watch the sunset. He is an amazing dog – he sat like a sentinel looking out to sea and watched the sunset with us. The waves were enormous. It reminded me of an avalanche. It poured with rain the first night and we could hear the waves all night. The weather didn’t improve for the couple of days we were there but the sun was shining brightly the morning when we left for the 2hour drive to Port Elizabeth for our flight back to Johannesburg.

Michelle picked us up and we had a nice Portuguese meal at a restaurant in Boxburgh that night. Trevor dropped us the next morning on the 16th November at the airport for our flight back to Dubai.

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Our guesthouse in Franschoek the ‘Maison D’Ail’ was beautiful – only five years old with every attention to detail possible. The pool looked inviting but there was always a cool to cold wind blowing in the shade. Our room looked over the Franschoek mountains directly behind us.
We walked into town only a kilometre away the next morning and had a good look around the wine town with a myriad of souvenir, diamond and homewares shops as well as countless restaurants and cafes. We walked back to the guesthouse, had half an hour’s break and then headed out to do some wine tasting (well me anyway) at four different wineries. The whole area reminded us of Margaret River in the south west of W.A complete with many gum trees. I tried various wines at ‘Holden Manz’ La Petite Dauphine’ ‘Grande Provence’ and ‘Mont Rochelle’. Our favourite place with the friendliest staff was La Petite Dauphine. The staff at the other properties were OK but their spiel on the wines was very rehearsed and you knew they had said it countless times. We ate dinner at ‘Allora’ Italian restaurant in Franschoek. There were a few more South Africans working in this area and not as many Zimbabweans.

There was also a lot more Africaans spoken there and many of the guesthouses and businesses had French names which dated back to the Hugenots who settled the area many moons ago. The most widely spoken language in South Africa is Zulu.

After two days in Franschoek we took all day to drive via Hermanus (a whale watching area, however there were few whales to be seen this year) and Swellendam with it’s Cape Dutch style houses to Wilderness an area with a small village near an estuary and across the road from the ocean. From Franschoek it was a beautiful drive through rolling hills of grain crops for about at least a hundred kilometres. The grain and hay was being harvested and stored outside and in enormous silos. We stopped at the ‘Stone House’ cheese factory and bought some of their tasty cheeses, all of which we could taste.
We arrived about 8hours later at ‘Moontide’ bungalows some their thatch roofs overlooking the estuary at ‘Wilderness’. The owner and staff at ‘Moontide’ were a friendly and helpful bunch of people. Their three husky cross dogs were very placid and did not bother anyone.

The roads from Capetown and along the garden route were excellent and drivers were very polite, flashing their lights when you let them pass. The only radio stations we could get in the area were all in Africans with Africans and English music. There were a few African shanty towns on the way and more substantial local housing.
All along the coast were very large houses. We had more delicious fresh fish and calamari at ‘Salinas’ a huge two storey seafood restaurant right on the beach.
Maurice stayed with the car while I went to take some photos of the coastline a there was no car-guard around and when I got to the end of the pathway I found the sign saying ‘Be aware – high mugging area’ so I promptly walked back to the car along the road. We are careful everywhere we go in the world and for us South Africa was no more dangerous than anywhere else. We just had to keep to the main roads and keep some change to give to the unofficial car minders with their fluorescent jackets.

We went back about 20kms to Mossel Bay but it wasn’t a very interesting place apart from the lighthouse with an enormous rock cave below it and lots of Rock ‘Dassies’or Hyrax who scampered quickly up and down the rocks. We left there and went back to Wilderness and drove up the mountain to a viewing point called ‘Map of Africa’ and looking down the landscape with the river flowing around it did look like the map of Africa.
We drove also to Dolphin point but did not see any dolphins. There were many surfers at ‘Victoria Bay’ where we could walk along a boardwalk.
After a couple of days in Wilderness we drove to Knysna where both Maurice and I did some clothes shopping. There was a large mall with a great variety of clothing shops, most very reasonably priced. Every town in the world now seems to have the cheap Chinese shop whether it be in a village in Italy or in South Africa. They sell a bit of everything and all cheaply priced items.
We had to share an enormous piece of Lemon meringue pie. They have the highest meringue toppings on the cakes here in South Africa.

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It was unusually hot for Capetown with brilliant sunshine the day we arrived on the 2nd November. Our guesthouse ‘Radium Hall’ in Tamboerskloof was in a wonderful location overlooking Table mountain and the city. We walked down the steps into a vibrant restaurant strip and had a good Italian meal at ‘Mitico’ before getting back and admiring the lights of the city.
In Jo’burg and in Capetown there are electric fences around most of the properties or bars on all the windows of the houses and apartments. People are very vigilant and there is an underlying tension because of all the crime in the country. Very sad for such a beautiful and a country with so much potential.
A lot of the population want Zuma out of the presidency and there was a large protest in Jo’burg the day we flew to Capetown.

The cloud had rolled over Table mountain so instead of going up the mountain we walked down the road and after coffee at a quaint German Bakery/cafe we bought ‘my city’ bus tickets which could be topped up and we went into town. The buses were frequent and medium sized and offered a great intercity service. There were train personnel at the modern depot in the city and it was very secure. There were many street stalls selling fruit and vegetables and all sorts of goods in the large mall as well as many modern cafes.
We walked half an hour from the centre of the city to the V and A (Victoria and Alfred) Waterfront which was an enormous area in and around the harbour which was developed twenty years ago and was full of shops, restaurants and cafes as well as many apartments and a dry dock refurbishing Japanese fishing vessels. The boats to Robben Island
also left from there.

We had a good walk around and ate the most amazing sushi and prawn dishes at ‘Willoughbys’ an iconic institution that Michelle had recommended. It was an enormous restaurant both inside a large shop and into the arcade and it was packed. The value was incredible. I had the ‘Rock Shrimp Tempura’ a signature dish which was 14large prawns and a salad for ZAR13.50 about $13 which was absolutely delicious. There were scores of chefs preparing fresh sushi which was also very good. The food here in South Africa is very fresh and so cheap compared to the prices in Western Australia, especially the seafood.

We made our way back changing buses in the city and went back to our guesthouse on the hill opposite Table mountain.
There was so much to see in Capetown so we took hop on hop off – red,blue and yellow lines firstly doing the trip around to Hout Bay stopping at Kirstenbosch botanical gardens which were located in a wonderful setting overlooking the back of table mountain. It was classed as one of the ten best in world. From there we went through to
Hout Bay where we got off and saw a beautiful seal in the bay and a sand artist who had nearly completed a rhinoceros and lion’s head.
We took a taxi around the bay and had the best calamari at Chapman’s Peak hotel which was another good tip from our friend. After another reasonable lunch we took a taxi back to the hop on point and the bus took us along the beautiful coastline with the mountains on one side and houses and apartments close to the shore. At the depot
for the hop on hop off bus we took the yellow line which ran around the city and to District 6, an area of open wasteland which was bulldozed during Apartheid because it was a multi racial suburb.

We decided to go up table mountain as we had bought tickets for an afternoon departure online which were valid for a week but when we got there they told us that it was very cold at the top and as we didn’t have our jackets we put it off for another day and caught the free shuttle to a point further down and then a bus to near where we were staying. The weather could change in the matter of half an hour with the clouds and wind coming up out of the blue. We were very lucky overall with nice hot weather but with a cold breeze.

All the service people we met in taxis and wait staff were Zimbabwean apart from one taxi driver. Most were educated but had left Zimbabwe because there was huge unemployment there. Only twelve percent of people have a job. They therefore came to South Africa and can work there. Apparently a lot of South Africans especially the men do not work and do not want to work so there is plenty of opportunity for the immigrants. Most Zimbabweans we spoke to said that they would go back to their country if Mugabe was ousted. Most of the Africans we met were bright and friendly.

On Saturday, our last day in Capetown we went to the Waterfront to try and get on the Robben (meaning seal) island tour which had been booked out. We were lucky to get an 11am slot so we wandered about and left at 11am on a chartered luxury catamaran. It was explained to us that the old tubs operating the route routinely break down hence the replacement boat. The bus guide who took us around the island and showed us the penguin colony and the limestone quarry where the political and other prisoners worked.
His knowledge was good and after the bus dropped us at the jail another guide took over. He had been a political prisoner from 1984 to 1991 and he gave us a lot of information about the running of the jail and about how they all kept their spirits up in times of crisis within the jail. It was a very informative tour but sad at the same time. There were no windows at the jail and no hot water until 1978 and the inmates had no shoes or socks and blacks had only shorts and short sleeved shirts to wear even in winter. Until then they slept on a mat on the floor with two blankets. It would have been bitterly cold in winter.

Back on the mainland we went over on the V and A Waterfront to the ‘One and Only’ hotel and to Rueben’s restaurant for an excellent lunch. My smoked beetroot and walnut risotto with gorgonzola cream was delicious as was Maurice’s seafood risotto. The sky was blue and Table mountain was clear so we caught a taxi up to the mountain and up to it’s peak. It was a very smooth ride and the views over Capetown, the ocean and the mountains was amazing. We had a walk around the flat topped mountain and saw a couple of Rock Hyrax. When the cloud started to descend onto the mountain and a biting cold wind picked up we decided to descend and saw then that it was 8 degrees. The cable cars had a rotating floor to give everyone all the views and could carry 65 people.
Maurice was tired so he continued to our guesthouse while I went to see the German school bazaar which by the time I got there was more like an Oktoberfest with a lot of beer steins, bratwurst sausages and a loud band so I didn’t stay for a long time.

On Sunday morning we left our lovely guesthouse and caught a taxi to the Avis depot in town where we hired a car and drove up the coast to Melkbosstrand and had a meal at the ‘Damhuis’ an old establishment specializing in seafood and Cape Malay food. I had the traditional pickled fish in a cold curry sauce and a ‘bobotie’ a kind of spiced shepherd’s pie with an egg based topping and a spicy chutney to go with it. From there we went inland to Stellenbosch, a university town and wine growing district.
It was a nice hot day so we walked around the town before heading for Franschoek.

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We had a good flight from Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg on the 30th October and then stood in the queue to get through immigration for one hour with hundreds of people and only three staff to process us all. Our friend Trevor was there to pick us up for the quick journey to their house in Benoni in a semi rural part of Johannesburg. House security is very tight with high walls and or electric fences everywhere and locals are very vigilant if they see someone foreign near their property.
Michelle had prepared a great home cooked meal and we met her parents and we all had a lovely evening together.

Michelle took us to the Gautrain station the next morning which was very clean and well run and we changed trains to get to the modern Jo’burg Park station in the centre of the city. We had never been to Johannesburg before so we took the hop on hop off bus to get a feel for the city. The Kenyans were keen to tell us that Jo’burg or Jozie is the most dangerous city in Africa with one of the reasons being that it is a melting pot of inhabitants from all over Africa, some lawful and some lawless. We however had no problem in the city.

We were well looked after by the staff on the bus who asked us to wait on the bus at the Carlton tower until one of their staff came and escorted us to the 50th floor for a walk around the top floor to get views of the whole city. George was from Soweto and he told us that Soweto was now a safe place to visit because the community looks out for each other but to be careful in Jo’burg city. There were many large buildings in Jo’burg which were vacated when gangs started invading buildings and taking hostages and this included the two green glassed buildings of the Holiday Inn and the 600 room Carlton hotel in the city. These buildings have remained closed since then.
A lot of the streets close to the city were not very salubrious and many had food and other stalls all along the streets.

Our second stop was at the Apartheid museum where we spent a couple of hours. It was very well set out and we each got a ticket which allowed us to go through to the ‘whites only’ entrance or the ‘non white’ entrance. It really did give you the feeling of being segregated as we both made our way through separate corridors to the main museum. It was very informative showcasing the ANC’s struggle to abolish apartheid. There were screens where we heard many speeches by Nelson Mandela. It was a very moving place to visit.

The route around the city covered a large area and the audio on the bus was one of the best we had found which gave a comprehensive story about how Jo’burg grew in over 150years from a gold mining shanty town. There were numerous slag heaps still visible around the sprawling city, most covered with some greenery. The inhabitants over the years planted millions of trees in what was the very barren gold mining town.

We then stopped at Newtown Mall for a bite to eat and a walk around before continuing on up to Constitution hill with a view over the leafy suburbs and the myriad of stunning Jacaranda trees dotted all over the city. We completed the route back at the main train station and had a coffee before returning to Rhodesfield on the Gautrain where drinking or eating anything and chewing gum is prohibited. There were several guards on the train and it has remained in a pristine condition after it’s 3-4years of service. Michelle picked us up and we had another of Michelle’s nice home cooked meal and relaxed in the evening.

The African’s we encountered were all very helpful and friendly. After a leisurely morning we went with Michelle to the ‘Maboneng’ precinct in Jo’burg which was previously a run down warehouse area. A forward thinking young Jewish man financed the project to develop it into a cultural hub, converting the old warehouses into wonderful spaces for businesses, eateries, shops, boutique hotels and art galleries. We walked around for a few hours stopping at several galleries and for lunch before a sudden brief hail storm sent us scurrying for cover and a coffee while we waited out the storm.
Jo’burg is 1700metres above sea level and normally has a mild spring/summer climate of 27/28degrees however they had an unusual heat wave and it was 37degrees that day.

Had great Calamari and lively discussions at ‘Il Gusto’ an Italian/Portuguese restaurant with Michelle and Trevor and Michelle’s parents Mike and Marie.
Trevor was flying to Durban the following morning so Michelle took us all to the airport and we took an hour’s flight to Capetown and Trevor to Durban.

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