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First meeting with Africa

First meeting with Africa

Old Feb 4th 2003, 6:16 pm
  #1  
Gard Karlsen
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default First meeting with Africa

Hi
This review of Joburg is a summary of my three trips to South Africa and
Johannesburg (or Joburg as it is often called). I guess it is a bit
different from my other "travelogues" because this is more based on the
impressions that I'm left with after going there in 1997, 1998 and 1999.

Regards
Gard
www.gardkarlsen.com

I didn't not go to Joburg as a ordinary "tourist" because I met up with an
internet friend...a friend that would become my wife but that is another
story :-) The first thing I did when I came to the airport in Joburg was to
go to the toilet. When washing my hands I saw this sign urging people to
save the water because it is "precious to mother Africa". I come from Norway
and most of the time water shortage is not a problem around here (it rains
quite a lot in western Norway :-). When I came out of the airport I
discovered that Joburg wasn't that much different compared to a typical
American big city: you have large highways, a downtown where you don't hang
out too much, big malls in the suburbs.

My wife and her family are from the Kelvin area, which is close to the
Sandton area (the northern suburbs of Joburg). I guess this community is
typical for many other communities in Joburg: you have your concrete house
and around your property you have a big fence. And the house has bars in
front of the windows and in front of the door to make sure that intruders
can't get into the house. Again this was a little shock for me because I'm
used to having a little hedge between the neighbors and people are not very
worried about people breaking in. The high fences around the properties with
matching barb wire/electrical wire and signs with "Armed response" or "Watch
dog on patrol" gave me a negative impression of Joburg and my wife thinks
that I haven't had an open mind when describing Joburg in the past. But it
was quite a change for me to come from little Stavanger to the big city
Joburg and see all this. But I have to add that I have not experienced any
crime in South Africa yet but I guess I have tried to be in the right
places. But I have to admit that I was a bit worried because my wife would
tell me horror stories about car-jacking, about people being robbed and so
on. The only time I experienced something was when I was taking out some
cash from and ATM machine in the Rosebank area. I had trouble getting the
card into the machine and this guy came over to me and said that he was
going to help me. Instead of putting the card into the machine he hid the
card inside his hand and he was very good at it and I didn't see it. But my
wife had experience with this so she told him to stay put and show us his
hands. We did get the card back and he didn't make any problems. There are
also some other images that have stuck to my brain. One day we were driving
down the freeway and an open truck drove past us. It looked like the truck
was moving something (furniture etc.) and on top of this was a person with a
shotgun to protect the load. I also remember going to the bank one day. My
wife was picking up a new credit card or something like that and we had to
go into a bank in the Sandton area. Well, to get into the bank we first had
to go through one door. Once we were in this lock and the first door closed
behind us, we were allowed to enter the second door to get into the bank
itself. I was also surprised to see that many shops had bars in front of the
door (even in some shopping malls) so you basically have to ring the
doorbell to get in.

I also got to drive quite a lot in Joburg while I was there and there is
obviously one thing that is different in SA compared to Norway: they drive
on the wrong side of the road :-) Well, you can debate if it is the wrong or
right side of the road but they do drive on the left side of the road and it
takes a few minutes getting used to. But I was surprised that it didn't take
more than that...just a few minutes and I was driving through the streets on
the suburbs (with a little help of my wife of course :-), using my left hand
to change gears and so on. The roads in Joburg are in pretty good shape but
(as always in big cities) there is a lot of traffic work. There is always
some part of the road that are being modified or improved. But the highways
(or freeways) are big and the speed limit was a 120 km/h when I was there
the last time but most people drove faster. And lots of people are being
killed in traffic each year I'm afraid. We also drove all the way from
Joburg to Cape Town, a trip that is about 1400 km long. And it is a loooong
drive of course but again I have to say that the roads are in pretty good
shape and people signal if they would like to pass you by flashing their
lights. Talking about cars: in SA and Joburg there are people that put
petrol on your car while you just stay in the car. This was another new
thing for me because at home you have to do everything yourself. Here in
Norway gas stations make more money selling normal groceries and hot dog and
they can hardly fix your car anymore. But in SA it was the car that was in
focus. People would fill gas on your car, check the water, and clean the
front window and so on.

Another image that I'm stuck with from Joburg is the red soil that seems to
cover the area. Whenever I saw people digging I would see the red soil being
exposed. Here in Norway we have a dark, dark brown soil so it is quite
different. And in Joburg you also see these big heaps around in town and
they are of course leftovers of the mining industry. Joburg itself is
located right on top of what is (or at least used to be) a very good gold
vein and there has been a mining industry here for quite some time. I did
get to learn a bit about this history when I went to Gold Reef City
(http://www.goldreefcity.co.za). Gold Reef City is a small themepark built
around the mining industry in SA and you can even go down in an old gold
mine for a tour. As I said the park is a bit small so it is not enough to
fill a whole day but I thought it was great to get into a real gold mine and
learn some of the history.

When I first met my wife by accident on the internet I asked her what it was
like to live in SA and what the situation were like when it comes to the
relationship between the white and black community. I also assumed that she
was white but I was of course wrong :-) She belongs to the colored and I was
a bit nervous on how people would react when seeing us together. The first
time I went to SA was in 1997 and I can't remember seeing that many other
"mixed" couples and we did get quite a few looks both from white and black.
But the last time I was there (in 1999) I felt that it had become better and
I do think I saw several mixed couples. I guess this is something that will
change gradually as the years go by. If I'm not mistaken it was strictly
forbidden for whites and black to be together in the apartheid period. At
one gas station a white guy (one of the people that were filling petrol on
cars) came up to me and asked me if the lady I was with was my girl friend.
I got a bit nervous (from listening to my wife's horror stories :-) and I
gave him a vague answer. I think that he understood this because he smiled
and told me that he also had a black wife and that he had been beaten up
because of this.

As I said the downtown area of Joburg is not a place where you go. As I
understand it there is not much to see or do there. But recently I saw this
story on BBC World about downtown Joburg and apparently they are trying to
get people back to downtown. To try and fight crime lots of cameras has been
put up and the police monitor the whole area.

If you drive around (and outside) Joburg you will see that there is a gap
between the rich and the poor. One the one hand you have the people
described above with the house and their big fences and on the other hand
you have "squatter towns" right outside town. People try to make a living in
different ways of course. It is very common to see kids running around cars
at traffic lights trying to sell different items. I was walking around in
the Rosebank area and this one guy came up to me and asked me for money. He
said that he picked me because I had a friendly face compared to all of the
other people that were just rushing by ignoring him. I guess he says this to
all the people he stops J I gave him some of my money.

I had a lot of good stuff to eat while I was in SA. The South African seems
to love to barbecue.or have a "braai" as it is called here. And one of the
best things around to put on the barbecue is of course the boerewors. The
boerewors is a sausage with great taste. I'm not sure how to describe it so
make sure you try it if you go to SA J And the hottest food I have ever
tasted was found in SA. One night we went out and we decided to go to a
pizza place. We ordered the "Indian Fireball" and it was HOT. I like Indian,
Thai, Mexican food and so on but this pizza was really HOT. I think I had
two pieces and then I had to give up. Instead I went over to cold coke and
Norwegian milk chocolate to cool down my tounge.

Most people are familiar with Sun City. It is located a bit out of town and
it is quite strange to drive in the dry environment and all of a sudden you
reach something that looks like an oasis. As I can remember there were not
that much on the way out to Sun City but when you get there you will find
big hotels, casinos, a water park and so on. We had playing around there for
a day and we even went to see a Bill Cosby show there.

Did you know that Johannesburg is located at 1769 meters (5804 feet) above
sea level? Well, I assume that the answer is "no" and I can only say that
neither did I. When I first went there I didn't have that many thoughts on
what the weather would be like. I have to mention that I have been to South
Africa in the period between February and April. The weather in Joburg was
pretty nice in my opinion. It was a bit cold in the mornings and the
evenings but in the middle of the day the temperature was nice.

I like playing mini golf and it have more or less turned out to be a
tradition to play when I travel somewhere. And one of the best mini golf
courses I have ever tried is located in South Africa. If I'm not mistaken it
is located at the Fourways Mall and it has three different 9-hole courses
(27 holes all together) and it is great fun. Talking about malls: my wife
also took me to different malls in the area. I have already mentioned
Fourways Mall but we also went to Randburg Waterfront and to the "king of
malls" (at least according to my wife J ) Sandton City. Sandton City is huge
at least compared to the Norwegian standard. You have lots and lots of shops
and like the American malls you have your food court and cinema.

Well, I hope that I have been able to describe a little bit of Joburg and
the life in SA through this review. As I mentioned earlier my wife thinks
that I have been too negative when it comes to Joburg in the past. We hope
to go to Joburg again in 2002 and we will try to get more around in Joburg
itself. I still haven't been to Sowetho and I still haven't been on a safari
in the Kruger Park. So there are still many, many things to see and do in
this great country.



begin 666 spacer.gif
M1TE&.#EA`0`!`/ ``/[^_@```"'Y! $`````+ `````!``$`0 ("1 $`.PT*
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end
 
Old Feb 4th 2003, 11:48 pm
  #2  
Hans-Georg Michna
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First meeting with Africa

"Gard Karlsen" wrote:

    >But I have to add that I have not experienced any
    >crime in South Africa yet but I guess I have tried to be in the right
    >places.

Gard,

thanks for your nice travel report.

Just a remark to the point above. When you stay for two weeks in
a city where everybody is robbed once every two years, then your
nominal risk of being robbed is less than 1%. Simple statistics
...

Hans-Georg

--
No mail, please.
 
Old Feb 5th 2003, 4:27 am
  #3  
Rdawta
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First meeting with Africa

Wow thanx for your trip report. Very enlightning.
Rdawta

"Gard Karlsen" wrote in message news:...
    > Hi
    > This review of Joburg is a summary of my three trips to South Africa and
    > Johannesburg (or Joburg as it is often called). I guess it is a bit
    > different from my other "travelogues" because this is more based on the
    > impressions that I'm left with after going there in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
    >
    > Regards
    > Gard
    > www.gardkarlsen.com
    >
    > I didn't not go to Joburg as a ordinary "tourist" because I met up with an
    > internet friend...a friend that would become my wife but that is another
    > story :-) The first thing I did when I came to the airport in Joburg was to
    > go to the toilet. When washing my hands I saw this sign urging people to
    > save the water because it is "precious to mother Africa". I come from Norway
    > and most of the time water shortage is not a problem around here (it rains
    > quite a lot in western Norway :-). When I came out of the airport I
    > discovered that Joburg wasn't that much different compared to a typical
    > American big city: you have large highways, a downtown where you don't hang
    > out too much, big malls in the suburbs.
    >
    > My wife and her family are from the Kelvin area, which is close to the
    > Sandton area (the northern suburbs of Joburg). I guess this community is
    > typical for many other communities in Joburg: you have your concrete house
    > and around your property you have a big fence. And the house has bars in
    > front of the windows and in front of the door to make sure that intruders
    > can't get into the house. Again this was a little shock for me because I'm
    > used to having a little hedge between the neighbors and people are not very
    > worried about people breaking in. The high fences around the properties with
    > matching barb wire/electrical wire and signs with "Armed response" or "Watch
    > dog on patrol" gave me a negative impression of Joburg and my wife thinks
    > that I haven't had an open mind when describing Joburg in the past. But it
    > was quite a change for me to come from little Stavanger to the big city
    > Joburg and see all this. But I have to add that I have not experienced any
    > crime in South Africa yet but I guess I have tried to be in the right
    > places. But I have to admit that I was a bit worried because my wife would
    > tell me horror stories about car-jacking, about people being robbed and so
    > on. The only time I experienced something was when I was taking out some
    > cash from and ATM machine in the Rosebank area. I had trouble getting the
    > card into the machine and this guy came over to me and said that he was
    > going to help me. Instead of putting the card into the machine he hid the
    > card inside his hand and he was very good at it and I didn't see it. But my
    > wife had experience with this so she told him to stay put and show us his
    > hands. We did get the card back and he didn't make any problems. There are
    > also some other images that have stuck to my brain. One day we were driving
    > down the freeway and an open truck drove past us. It looked like the truck
    > was moving something (furniture etc.) and on top of this was a person with a
    > shotgun to protect the load. I also remember going to the bank one day. My
    > wife was picking up a new credit card or something like that and we had to
    > go into a bank in the Sandton area. Well, to get into the bank we first had
    > to go through one door. Once we were in this lock and the first door closed
    > behind us, we were allowed to enter the second door to get into the bank
    > itself. I was also surprised to see that many shops had bars in front of the
    > door (even in some shopping malls) so you basically have to ring the
    > doorbell to get in.
    >
    > I also got to drive quite a lot in Joburg while I was there and there is
    > obviously one thing that is different in SA compared to Norway: they drive
    > on the wrong side of the road :-) Well, you can debate if it is the wrong or
    > right side of the road but they do drive on the left side of the road and it
    > takes a few minutes getting used to. But I was surprised that it didn't take
    > more than that...just a few minutes and I was driving through the streets on
    > the suburbs (with a little help of my wife of course :-), using my left hand
    > to change gears and so on. The roads in Joburg are in pretty good shape but
    > (as always in big cities) there is a lot of traffic work. There is always
    > some part of the road that are being modified or improved. But the highways
    > (or freeways) are big and the speed limit was a 120 km/h when I was there
    > the last time but most people drove faster. And lots of people are being
    > killed in traffic each year I'm afraid. We also drove all the way from
    > Joburg to Cape Town, a trip that is about 1400 km long. And it is a loooong
    > drive of course but again I have to say that the roads are in pretty good
    > shape and people signal if they would like to pass you by flashing their
    > lights. Talking about cars: in SA and Joburg there are people that put
    > petrol on your car while you just stay in the car. This was another new
    > thing for me because at home you have to do everything yourself. Here in
    > Norway gas stations make more money selling normal groceries and hot dog and
    > they can hardly fix your car anymore. But in SA it was the car that was in
    > focus. People would fill gas on your car, check the water, and clean the
    > front window and so on.
    >
    > Another image that I'm stuck with from Joburg is the red soil that seems to
    > cover the area. Whenever I saw people digging I would see the red soil being
    > exposed. Here in Norway we have a dark, dark brown soil so it is quite
    > different. And in Joburg you also see these big heaps around in town and
    > they are of course leftovers of the mining industry. Joburg itself is
    > located right on top of what is (or at least used to be) a very good gold
    > vein and there has been a mining industry here for quite some time. I did
    > get to learn a bit about this history when I went to Gold Reef City
    > (http://www.goldreefcity.co.za). Gold Reef City is a small themepark built
    > around the mining industry in SA and you can even go down in an old gold
    > mine for a tour. As I said the park is a bit small so it is not enough to
    > fill a whole day but I thought it was great to get into a real gold mine and
    > learn some of the history.
    >
    > When I first met my wife by accident on the internet I asked her what it was
    > like to live in SA and what the situation were like when it comes to the
    > relationship between the white and black community. I also assumed that she
    > was white but I was of course wrong :-) She belongs to the colored and I was
    > a bit nervous on how people would react when seeing us together. The first
    > time I went to SA was in 1997 and I can't remember seeing that many other
    > "mixed" couples and we did get quite a few looks both from white and black.
    > But the last time I was there (in 1999) I felt that it had become better and
    > I do think I saw several mixed couples. I guess this is something that will
    > change gradually as the years go by. If I'm not mistaken it was strictly
    > forbidden for whites and black to be together in the apartheid period. At
    > one gas station a white guy (one of the people that were filling petrol on
    > cars) came up to me and asked me if the lady I was with was my girl friend.
    > I got a bit nervous (from listening to my wife's horror stories :-) and I
    > gave him a vague answer. I think that he understood this because he smiled
    > and told me that he also had a black wife and that he had been beaten up
    > because of this.
    >
    > As I said the downtown area of Joburg is not a place where you go. As I
    > understand it there is not much to see or do there. But recently I saw this
    > story on BBC World about downtown Joburg and apparently they are trying to
    > get people back to downtown. To try and fight crime lots of cameras has been
    > put up and the police monitor the whole area.
    >
    > If you drive around (and outside) Joburg you will see that there is a gap
    > between the rich and the poor. One the one hand you have the people
    > described above with the house and their big fences and on the other hand
    > you have "squatter towns" right outside town. People try to make a living in
    > different ways of course. It is very common to see kids running around cars
    > at traffic lights trying to sell different items. I was walking around in
    > the Rosebank area and this one guy came up to me and asked me for money. He
    > said that he picked me because I had a friendly face compared to all of the
    > other people that were just rushing by ignoring him. I guess he says this to
    > all the people he stops J I gave him some of my money.
    >
    > I had a lot of good stuff to eat while I was in SA. The South African seems
    > to love to barbecue.or have a "braai" as it is called here. And one of the
    > best things around to put on the barbecue is of course the boerewors. The
    > boerewors is a sausage with great taste. I'm not sure how to describe it so
    > make sure you try it if you go to SA J And the hottest food I have ever
    > tasted was found in SA. One night we went out and we decided to go to a
    > pizza place. We ordered the "Indian Fireball" and it was HOT. I like Indian,
    > Thai, Mexican food and so on but this pizza was really HOT. I think I had
    > two pieces and then I had to give up. Instead I went over to cold coke and
    > Norwegian milk chocolate to cool down my tounge.
    >
    > Most people are familiar with Sun City. It is located a bit out of town and
    > it is quite strange to drive in the dry environment and all of a sudden you
    > reach something that looks like an oasis. As I can remember there were not
    > that much on the way out to Sun City but when you get there you will find
    > big hotels, casinos, a water park and so on. We had playing around there for
    > a day and we even went to see a Bill Cosby show there.
    >
    > Did you know that Johannesburg is located at 1769 meters (5804 feet) above
    > sea level? Well, I assume that the answer is "no" and I can only say that
    > neither did I. When I first went there I didn't have that many thoughts on
    > what the weather would be like. I have to mention that I have been to South
    > Africa in the period between February and April. The weather in Joburg was
    > pretty nice in my opinion. It was a bit cold in the mornings and the
    > evenings but in the middle of the day the temperature was nice.
    >
    > I like playing mini golf and it have more or less turned out to be a
    > tradition to play when I travel somewhere. And one of the best mini golf
    > courses I have ever tried is located in South Africa. If I'm not mistaken it
    > is located at the Fourways Mall and it has three different 9-hole courses
    > (27 holes all together) and it is great fun. Talking about malls: my wife
    > also took me to different malls in the area. I have already mentioned
    > Fourways Mall but we also went to Randburg Waterfront and to the "king of
    > malls" (at least according to my wife J ) Sandton City. Sandton City is huge
    > at least compared to the Norwegian standard. You have lots and lots of shops
    > and like the American malls you have your food court and cinema.
    >
    > Well, I hope that I have been able to describe a little bit of Joburg and
    > the life in SA through this review. As I mentioned earlier my wife thinks
    > that I have been too negative when it comes to Joburg in the past. We hope
    > to go to Joburg again in 2002 and we will try to get more around in Joburg
    > itself. I still haven't been to Sowetho and I still haven't been on a safari
    > in the Kruger Park. So there are still many, many things to see and do in
    > this great country.
    >
    >
    >
    > begin 666 spacer.gif
    > M1TE&.#EA`0`!`/ ``/[^_@```"'Y! $`````+ `````!``$`0 ("1 $`.PT*
    > `
    > end
 
Old Feb 5th 2003, 4:42 am
  #4  
DaniéL Palm
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First meeting with Africa

On Wed, 5 Feb 2003 08:16:38 +0100, "Gard Karlsen"
wrote:

Hi Gard.

snip

    >The high fences around the properties with
    >matching barb wire/electrical wire and signs with "Armed response" or "Watch
    >dog on patrol" gave me a negative impression of Joburg

Burglaries in South Africa are jokingly (sometimes) referred to as
"affirmative shopping" by those on the receiving end.

snip

    >Instead of putting the card into the machine he hid the
    >card inside his hand and he was very good at it and I didn't see it. But my
    >wife had experience with this so she told him to stay put and show us his
    >hands. We did get the card back and he didn't make any problems.

These chaps are up to all sorts of tricks. Sometimes they jam the card
slot on the ATM and offer to help. They watch when you enter your PIN
and switch the cards like lightning. Good for your wife for spotting
it!

snip

    >Well, to get into the bank we first had
    >to go through one door. Once we were in this lock and the first door closed
    >behind us, we were allowed to enter the second door to get into the bank
    >itself.

Imagine how I have to battle through those double doors with my
wheelchair. And because my right arm is also paralysed I can't always
reach the doorhandles to open or close them. At some banks the
security guys are helpful, at other banks they look the other way.

snip

    >I also got to drive quite a lot in Joburg while I was there and there is
    >obviously one thing that is different in SA compared to Norway: they drive
    >on the wrong side of the road :-)

Part of our heritage as a former British colony. Us, the Brits and the
Aussies all keep left. I wonder if they kept left in the days of
horses and ox-wagons too :>))

snip

    >But the highways (or freeways) are big and the speed limit was
    >a 120 km/h when I was there the last time but most people
    >drove faster.

Unfortunately many of our drivers like speeding. Speeding is a mayor
cause of what you mention next:

    >And lots of people are being
    >killed in traffic each year I'm afraid.

snip

    >We also drove all the way from
    >Joburg to Cape Town, a trip that is about 1400 km long.

Then you passed within a kilometer of my house! I stay in the Karoo,
about half an hour's drive from where you descend into the Hexriver
Valley where you get the first vineyards.


    >people signal if they would like to pass you by flashing their
    >lights.

Actually that's rudeness and arrogance, telling you to get out of the
way. Perhaps you didn't notice, they usually talk finger-language too.
Just one word all the time. One finger pointing upwards.

    >Talking about cars: in SA and Joburg there are people that put
    >petrol on your car while you just stay in the car.

Job creation in a country where millions need work desperately.

snip

    > And in Joburg you also see these big heaps around in town and
    >they are of course leftovers of the mining industry.

Mine dumps, all over the place. They're being recycled now.

    >when I went to Gold Reef City
    >(http://www.goldreefcity.co.za). Gold Reef City is a small themepark built
    >around the mining industry in SA and you can even go down in an old gold
    >mine for a tour.

Did you go to the apartheid museum? It's right by Gold Reef City.

    > I felt that it had become better and
    >I do think I saw several mixed couples.

It's quite normal nowadays. My wife is fairly darkskinned and many
years ago she was refused entry to a hair salon. She was furious at
the time and I was very amused. Which made her even more furious.

    >As I said the downtown area of Joburg is not a place where you go.

Hillbrow, which used to be the nightlife centre (nightclubs,
bioscopes, restaurants etc - the place never sleeped) in Joburg has
become a squatter camp. Most ordinary people avoid it like the plague
now.

But I must add that you get rundown "inner-city" slums all over the
world.

snip

    >I had a lot of good stuff to eat while I was in SA. The South African seems
    >to love to barbecue.or have a "braai" as it is called here. And one of the
    >best things around to put on the barbecue is of course the boerewors.

Now you're talking! A few steaks or "chops" and some boerewors on the
hot coals is of course a good excuse for having a cold beer or two in
the process.

snip

I'm glad you've enjoyed your stay in South Africa. I especially
appreciate the candour and the good impression you've given here.
There are far too many negative reports about SA and we don't always
deserve it.

Cheers, Danie.

Daniél Palm - South Africa
Disability is not inability
http://www.lando.co.za/pdp
 
Old Feb 5th 2003, 7:36 am
  #5  
Nick Roux
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First meeting with Africa

Gard Karlsen wrote:



Nice honest summary, I only have 2 comments:

1) If you would like to see those big mine dumps again you better come back
soon. They still contain a lot of gold that could not be extracted with
methods used in the past, but new extraction techniques make it possible to
reprocess them at a profit. I am not sure where they are putting all the
soil after reprocessing, but they are disapearing fast and the sites are
being treated and sold for industrial/business use.

2) A lot of people in Jo'burg tend to live a life of work/eat/sleep/shop.
Next time you are in Jo'burg, take a Sunday drive to the Lion Park or the
Cheetha sanctuary or Krugesdorp Nature Reserve or Hartebeespoort dam
or.....check the web for many more. All less than an hour's drive from
Sandton and it really is nice to get out of the city for a day.

Nick

--
I'm also against BODY-SURFING!!
 
Old Feb 5th 2003, 8:27 am
  #6  
DaniéL Palm
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First meeting with Africa

On Wed, 05 Feb 2003 22:36:48 +0200, Nick Roux
wrote:

snip

    >2) A lot of people in Jo'burg tend to live a life of work/eat/sleep/shop.
    >Next time you are in Jo'burg, take a Sunday drive to the Lion Park or the
    >Cheetha sanctuary or Krugesdorp Nature Reserve or Hartebeespoort dam
    >or.....check the web for many more. All less than an hour's drive from
    >Sandton and it really is nice to get out of the city for a day.
    >Nick

Amen to that.

The Hartebeestpoort area especially is very nice.

Daniél Palm - South Africa
Disability is not inability
http://www.lando.co.za/pdp
 
Old Feb 5th 2003, 2:58 pm
  #7  
Steve Hayes
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First meeting with Africa

On Wed, 5 Feb 2003 08:16:38 +0100, "Gard Karlsen"
wrote:

is review of Joburg is a summary of my three trips to South Africa and
    >Johannesburg (or Joburg as it is often called). I guess it is a bit
    >different from my other "travelogues" because this is more based on the
    >impressions that I'm left with after going there in 1997, 1998 and 1999.

Thanks. It looked like a pretty good review.

    >As I said the downtown area of Joburg is not a place where you go. As I
    >understand it there is not much to see or do there. But recently I saw this
    >story on BBC World about downtown Joburg and apparently they are trying to
    >get people back to downtown. To try and fight crime lots of cameras has been
    >put up and the police monitor the whole area.

A couple of months ago I had to go to a meeting in downtown Joburg. It took me
45 minutes to drive the 70 km from Pretora to the freeway exist, and another
hour to drive the three blocks from the freeway exit to the place where the
meeting was.

It was a good reminder of why I avoid downtown Joburg.





    >If you drive around (and outside) Joburg you will see that there is a gap
    >between the rich and the poor. One the one hand you have the people
    >described above with the house and their big fences and on the other hand
    >you have "squatter towns" right outside town. People try to make a living in
    >different ways of course. It is very common to see kids running around cars
    >at traffic lights trying to sell different items. I was walking around in
    >the Rosebank area and this one guy came up to me and asked me for money. He
    >said that he picked me because I had a friendly face compared to all of the
    >other people that were just rushing by ignoring him. I guess he says this to
    >all the people he stops J I gave him some of my money.
    >I had a lot of good stuff to eat while I was in SA. The South African seems
    >to love to barbecue.or have a "braai" as it is called here. And one of the
    >best things around to put on the barbecue is of course the boerewors. The
    >boerewors is a sausage with great taste. I'm not sure how to describe it so
    >make sure you try it if you go to SA J And the hottest food I have ever
    >tasted was found in SA. One night we went out and we decided to go to a
    >pizza place. We ordered the "Indian Fireball" and it was HOT. I like Indian,
    >Thai, Mexican food and so on but this pizza was really HOT. I think I had
    >two pieces and then I had to give up. Instead I went over to cold coke and
    >Norwegian milk chocolate to cool down my tounge.
    >Most people are familiar with Sun City. It is located a bit out of town and
    >it is quite strange to drive in the dry environment and all of a sudden you
    >reach something that looks like an oasis. As I can remember there were not
    >that much on the way out to Sun City but when you get there you will find
    >big hotels, casinos, a water park and so on. We had playing around there for
    >a day and we even went to see a Bill Cosby show there.
    >Did you know that Johannesburg is located at 1769 meters (5804 feet) above
    >sea level? Well, I assume that the answer is "no" and I can only say that
    >neither did I. When I first went there I didn't have that many thoughts on
    >what the weather would be like. I have to mention that I have been to South
    >Africa in the period between February and April. The weather in Joburg was
    >pretty nice in my opinion. It was a bit cold in the mornings and the
    >evenings but in the middle of the day the temperature was nice.
    >I like playing mini golf and it have more or less turned out to be a
    >tradition to play when I travel somewhere. And one of the best mini golf
    >courses I have ever tried is located in South Africa. If I'm not mistaken it
    >is located at the Fourways Mall and it has three different 9-hole courses
    >(27 holes all together) and it is great fun. Talking about malls: my wife
    >also took me to different malls in the area. I have already mentioned
    >Fourways Mall but we also went to Randburg Waterfront and to the "king of
    >malls" (at least according to my wife J ) Sandton City. Sandton City is huge
    >at least compared to the Norwegian standard. You have lots and lots of shops
    >and like the American malls you have your food court and cinema.
    >Well, I hope that I have been able to describe a little bit of Joburg and
    >the life in SA through this review. As I mentioned earlier my wife thinks
    >that I have been too negative when it comes to Joburg in the past. We hope
    >to go to Joburg again in 2002 and we will try to get more around in Joburg
    >itself. I still haven't been to Sowetho and I still haven't been on a safari
    >in the Kruger Park. So there are still many, many things to see and do in
    >this great country.
    >begin 666 spacer.gif
    >M1TE&.#EA`0`!`/ ``/[^_@```"'Y! $`````+ `````!``$`0 ("1 $`.PT*
    >`
    >end

Steve Hayes
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm
 
Old Feb 6th 2003, 9:56 pm
  #8  
Gard Karlsen
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First meeting with Africa

Hi guys

Thanks for the feedback. Glad to see that someone has read it :-)

Regards
Gard
www.gardkarlsen.com


"Gard Karlsen" wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
    > Hi
    > This review of Joburg is a summary of my three trips to South Africa and
    > Johannesburg (or Joburg as it is often called). I guess it is a bit
    > different from my other "travelogues" because this is more based on the
    > impressions that I'm left with after going there in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
    > Regards
    > Gard
    > www.gardkarlsen.com
    > I didn't not go to Joburg as a ordinary "tourist" because I met up with an
    > internet friend...a friend that would become my wife but that is another
    > story :-) The first thing I did when I came to the airport in Joburg was
to
    > go to the toilet. When washing my hands I saw this sign urging people to
    > save the water because it is "precious to mother Africa". I come from
Norway
    > and most of the time water shortage is not a problem around here (it rains
    > quite a lot in western Norway :-). When I came out of the airport I
    > discovered that Joburg wasn't that much different compared to a typical
    > American big city: you have large highways, a downtown where you don't
hang
    > out too much, big malls in the suburbs.
    > My wife and her family are from the Kelvin area, which is close to the
    > Sandton area (the northern suburbs of Joburg). I guess this community is
    > typical for many other communities in Joburg: you have your concrete house
    > and around your property you have a big fence. And the house has bars in
    > front of the windows and in front of the door to make sure that intruders
    > can't get into the house. Again this was a little shock for me because I'm
    > used to having a little hedge between the neighbors and people are not
very
    > worried about people breaking in. The high fences around the properties
with
    > matching barb wire/electrical wire and signs with "Armed response" or
"Watch
    > dog on patrol" gave me a negative impression of Joburg and my wife thinks
    > that I haven't had an open mind when describing Joburg in the past. But it
    > was quite a change for me to come from little Stavanger to the big city
    > Joburg and see all this. But I have to add that I have not experienced any
    > crime in South Africa yet but I guess I have tried to be in the right
    > places. But I have to admit that I was a bit worried because my wife would
    > tell me horror stories about car-jacking, about people being robbed and so
    > on. The only time I experienced something was when I was taking out some
    > cash from and ATM machine in the Rosebank area. I had trouble getting the
    > card into the machine and this guy came over to me and said that he was
    > going to help me. Instead of putting the card into the machine he hid the
    > card inside his hand and he was very good at it and I didn't see it. But
my
    > wife had experience with this so she told him to stay put and show us his
    > hands. We did get the card back and he didn't make any problems. There are
    > also some other images that have stuck to my brain. One day we were
driving
    > down the freeway and an open truck drove past us. It looked like the truck
    > was moving something (furniture etc.) and on top of this was a person with
a
    > shotgun to protect the load. I also remember going to the bank one day. My
    > wife was picking up a new credit card or something like that and we had to
    > go into a bank in the Sandton area. Well, to get into the bank we first
had
    > to go through one door. Once we were in this lock and the first door
closed
    > behind us, we were allowed to enter the second door to get into the bank
    > itself. I was also surprised to see that many shops had bars in front of
the
    > door (even in some shopping malls) so you basically have to ring the
    > doorbell to get in.
    > I also got to drive quite a lot in Joburg while I was there and there is
    > obviously one thing that is different in SA compared to Norway: they drive
    > on the wrong side of the road :-) Well, you can debate if it is the wrong
or
    > right side of the road but they do drive on the left side of the road and
it
    > takes a few minutes getting used to. But I was surprised that it didn't
take
    > more than that...just a few minutes and I was driving through the streets
on
    > the suburbs (with a little help of my wife of course :-), using my left
hand
    > to change gears and so on. The roads in Joburg are in pretty good shape
but
    > (as always in big cities) there is a lot of traffic work. There is always
    > some part of the road that are being modified or improved. But the
highways
    > (or freeways) are big and the speed limit was a 120 km/h when I was there
    > the last time but most people drove faster. And lots of people are being
    > killed in traffic each year I'm afraid. We also drove all the way from
    > Joburg to Cape Town, a trip that is about 1400 km long. And it is a
loooong
    > drive of course but again I have to say that the roads are in pretty good
    > shape and people signal if they would like to pass you by flashing their
    > lights. Talking about cars: in SA and Joburg there are people that put
    > petrol on your car while you just stay in the car. This was another new
    > thing for me because at home you have to do everything yourself. Here in
    > Norway gas stations make more money selling normal groceries and hot dog
and
    > they can hardly fix your car anymore. But in SA it was the car that was in
    > focus. People would fill gas on your car, check the water, and clean the
    > front window and so on.
    > Another image that I'm stuck with from Joburg is the red soil that seems
to
    > cover the area. Whenever I saw people digging I would see the red soil
being
    > exposed. Here in Norway we have a dark, dark brown soil so it is quite
    > different. And in Joburg you also see these big heaps around in town and
    > they are of course leftovers of the mining industry. Joburg itself is
    > located right on top of what is (or at least used to be) a very good gold
    > vein and there has been a mining industry here for quite some time. I did
    > get to learn a bit about this history when I went to Gold Reef City
    > (http://www.goldreefcity.co.za). Gold Reef City is a small themepark built
    > around the mining industry in SA and you can even go down in an old gold
    > mine for a tour. As I said the park is a bit small so it is not enough to
    > fill a whole day but I thought it was great to get into a real gold mine
and
    > learn some of the history.
    > When I first met my wife by accident on the internet I asked her what it
was
    > like to live in SA and what the situation were like when it comes to the
    > relationship between the white and black community. I also assumed that
she
    > was white but I was of course wrong :-) She belongs to the colored and I
was
    > a bit nervous on how people would react when seeing us together. The first
    > time I went to SA was in 1997 and I can't remember seeing that many other
    > "mixed" couples and we did get quite a few looks both from white and
black.
    > But the last time I was there (in 1999) I felt that it had become better
and
    > I do think I saw several mixed couples. I guess this is something that
will
    > change gradually as the years go by. If I'm not mistaken it was strictly
    > forbidden for whites and black to be together in the apartheid period. At
    > one gas station a white guy (one of the people that were filling petrol on
    > cars) came up to me and asked me if the lady I was with was my girl
friend.
    > I got a bit nervous (from listening to my wife's horror stories :-) and I
    > gave him a vague answer. I think that he understood this because he smiled
    > and told me that he also had a black wife and that he had been beaten up
    > because of this.
    > As I said the downtown area of Joburg is not a place where you go. As I
    > understand it there is not much to see or do there. But recently I saw
this
    > story on BBC World about downtown Joburg and apparently they are trying to
    > get people back to downtown. To try and fight crime lots of cameras has
been
    > put up and the police monitor the whole area.
    > If you drive around (and outside) Joburg you will see that there is a gap
    > between the rich and the poor. One the one hand you have the people
    > described above with the house and their big fences and on the other hand
    > you have "squatter towns" right outside town. People try to make a living
in
    > different ways of course. It is very common to see kids running around
cars
    > at traffic lights trying to sell different items. I was walking around in
    > the Rosebank area and this one guy came up to me and asked me for money.
He
    > said that he picked me because I had a friendly face compared to all of
the
    > other people that were just rushing by ignoring him. I guess he says this
to
    > all the people he stops J I gave him some of my money.
    > I had a lot of good stuff to eat while I was in SA. The South African
seems
    > to love to barbecue.or have a "braai" as it is called here. And one of the
    > best things around to put on the barbecue is of course the boerewors. The
    > boerewors is a sausage with great taste. I'm not sure how to describe it
so
    > make sure you try it if you go to SA J And the hottest food I have ever
    > tasted was found in SA. One night we went out and we decided to go to a
    > pizza place. We ordered the "Indian Fireball" and it was HOT. I like
Indian,
    > Thai, Mexican food and so on but this pizza was really HOT. I think I had
    > two pieces and then I had to give up. Instead I went over to cold coke and
    > Norwegian milk chocolate to cool down my tounge.
    > Most people are familiar with Sun City. It is located a bit out of town
and
    > it is quite strange to drive in the dry environment and all of a sudden
you
    > reach something that looks like an oasis. As I can remember there were not
    > that much on the way out to Sun City but when you get there you will find
    > big hotels, casinos, a water park and so on. We had playing around there
for
    > a day and we even went to see a Bill Cosby show there.
    > Did you know that Johannesburg is located at 1769 meters (5804 feet) above
    > sea level? Well, I assume that the answer is "no" and I can only say that
    > neither did I. When I first went there I didn't have that many thoughts on
    > what the weather would be like. I have to mention that I have been to
South
    > Africa in the period between February and April. The weather in Joburg was
    > pretty nice in my opinion. It was a bit cold in the mornings and the
    > evenings but in the middle of the day the temperature was nice.
    > I like playing mini golf and it have more or less turned out to be a
    > tradition to play when I travel somewhere. And one of the best mini golf
    > courses I have ever tried is located in South Africa. If I'm not mistaken
it
    > is located at the Fourways Mall and it has three different 9-hole courses
    > (27 holes all together) and it is great fun. Talking about malls: my wife
    > also took me to different malls in the area. I have already mentioned
    > Fourways Mall but we also went to Randburg Waterfront and to the "king of
    > malls" (at least according to my wife J ) Sandton City. Sandton City is
huge
    > at least compared to the Norwegian standard. You have lots and lots of
shops
    > and like the American malls you have your food court and cinema.
    > Well, I hope that I have been able to describe a little bit of Joburg and
    > the life in SA through this review. As I mentioned earlier my wife thinks
    > that I have been too negative when it comes to Joburg in the past. We hope
    > to go to Joburg again in 2002 and we will try to get more around in Joburg
    > itself. I still haven't been to Sowetho and I still haven't been on a
safari
    > in the Kruger Park. So there are still many, many things to see and do in
    > this great country.
 

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