Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Hanoi Street Stories

Been living in Hanoi Vietnam for the past 2 and a half years.  This is what I made of my first half of the time...

Friday, January 24, 2020

Happy New Year of the rat!!

The beginning of my second year in Asia.  Hanoi in Vietnam to be more specific.  Tomorrow will be the first day of the new year according to the Lunar Calendar and my second New Years of 2020.

I spent a month in South Africa over Christmas and enjoyed all the tasty food and fresh air SA has an abundance of.  To be back in Hanoi is to realize again how much these worlds differ. In Hanoi we mostly wear face masks for the pollution whenever we go out.  Also, it is winter in Asia right now, which means the sky is pretty much grey or white every single day and it is a bit cold and rainy.  The humidity has some interesting effects, like some floors just won't dry.  It always looks like it's just been mopped.  This happens especially on the lower floors.  The mirrors in the house also look like they've been freshly steamed up and just won't dry.  Clothes, shoes and any material can get moldy just hanging in the cupboard.  You really have to keep an eye on things.

What I appreciate most, being back here?  The ever interesting daily life, never a dull moment.  There is always something happening on the street.  Little fires where people are roasting sunflowers or cooking something perhaps.  Street vendors always being busy with something.  People carrying the most interesting loads on their bikes or bicycles.  Fruit baskets with colorful exotic fruits, big water containers, crockery, kumquat trees, peach blossom trees, whatever you can think of... 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Mama Grace.

Mama Grace.  Coffee Bay 2015

I have this photo of Mama Grace on a table in my lounge.  I look at it a couple of times a day and it always evokes the same feeling in me.  I've got to get back to Coffee Bay.  Mama Grace is calling me.
This year I need to make a proper mission.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Coffee Bay under the stars...

Okay, I'm just playing a little with a fun filter to see what would Coffee Bay look like if it was covered in stars... Pretty hey?

I sometimes think of Coffee Bay, this Paradise Lost, this little rural traditional Xhosa place that has the Western world crashing into it with giant yellow noisy machines wiping out everything in it's path to build a highway straight through it. Backpackers, tourists from all over the world visiting every day, as neglected people struggle to make a living from sunrise to sunset, as a place somehow similar to Bethlehem, where perhaps a baby could be born someday unsuspected, Messiah, born on the floor of a humble mud hut - stars bright in the sky, to grow up in simple surroundings, with the sole purpose of saving the world from darkness.  That's just my imagination running wild.

12 day visit to Coffee Bay 2015. Day 1: Thursday 130815


Ive just had my evening warm water bucket bath and Im clean and happy sitting on my bed in my little caravan.  Music from my ipod and mini speaker & kettle boiling for some tea.  I am slightly hungry but all is good really.  God is good! Gypsy girl is back! (Even though only for 12 days)

Arrived yesterday about 5pm after 18 hours on the Intercape and another 1.5 on Coffee Shack shuttle.  Yes, I was super lucky as the shuttle arrived in Umtata the same time as me and they had one seat open because of a cancellation!  So I didnt have to do the dodgy taxi mission (involving standing next to the highway holding a paper with XAE  for Mqanduli and changing there to another taxi) Good start! 

Arrived at the campsite to find my caravan in the exact same condition as I left it a year ago (apart from a little bit of dust and some gecko poo)  I have electricity (brought a long extension cable with me) and my lamp is working, yay! 

Had a bucket wash before Gavin fetched me for dinner at Noen and Tuppys house.  It was a bit of a festive occasion, celebrating Lindas 50th birthday.  I am by 12 years the youngest in this crowd but its cool, theyre always interested in what I have to say.  So awesome to see Robin again after a bit more than 2 years. 

This morning I caught a taxi to Ngcwanguba (the general dealers close to Coffee Bay) and the driver charged me only R10 instead of R14 just out of being nice.  Thanks man!  When I got into that taxi the memories came back to me of why I love this little part of Africa so much. To see the people, hear the taxi music, I felt so real and alive.  I felt myself and happy.  As we drove the 20km to the shop I felt like I wanted to cry.  Not for joy then, but for compassion for the people sitting in the taxi and walking on the road.  They are so rich in their suffering.  I dont know how else to explain it.

Got all the supplies I needed for the 12 days (tomatoes, onions, cucumber, broccoli, spinach, milk, cheese, yoghurt eggs etc. for under R300 (and that included a bit of a luxury item I couldnt resist – a mokha coffee pot for just R69!!! Ive always wanted one)  Transkei avos from Ngcwangubas own tree are just 79cents. For real!!!  Only thing I forgot to get was flour for chapatis and toilet paper.

Met Robin later and we walked to the backpacker side to meet some people.  Robin handed out reading glasses to the bead mamas.  I regret not bringing more as well.  There are never enough.  Or Xhosa Bibles, not to mention the beads.  I only brought wooden beads and wires that some mamas specifically requested a year ago.  My budget kind of ran out and I didnt get them any other regular beads which wouldve helped them a lot right now.  Ill have to buy beads from every single mama to support them equally.  Robin only packed one jean and one skirt for herself, for her whole trip from America.  The rest of her suitcase held items for the people, from clothing, baby blankets, glasses and Bibles.  I was a bit more selfish I admit, I only brought one bag of beads.  I would love to come next year with my car and bring a whole lot more stuff.  The mamas also need bags to carry their beads in.  Even their plastic bags are disintegrating.

We went to 'Friends Cafe' up the road to say hi to Linda and had some delicious meringue and coffee with a awesome Coffee Bay view...

Last night I was surprised by a familiar voice outside my caravan.  It was Ace, my night security guard.  Met him way back in 2011 when I first parked my caravan in this campsite.  He has a golden bear love aura.  It was so sad last year when there was another security guard here to replace him, because he was sick from having to spend every night outside in the cold.  Today we agreed that when I leave Ill give him the key of my caravan so he can use it as his shelter at night.  I shouldve done it long ago but I am so precious about my special little space.  Now I really dont mind, I would just love for him to be healthy and have some comfort.  I know that he would give his life to me in a given situation.  We are family.
Me and Ace and mama Gloria

Saw so many people in the day (Apart from about 8 of the bead mamas,Linda, Jo, Michael, Sarah and Capri, Kevin Nomonde, Ninti, Ayanda). Saw Afekile, Sinevuyo and Alithemba on my way home, they ran down the hill to greet me, I feel bad that Im spending my time with too many other people while they wait for me to go to the Reading Hut.  Soon!  Mama Gloria and Mavis waited for me by the gate when I got back, and it's great to see Joe, the faithful garden man of Villa La Bay and also of course Brandy the dog.
Mama Grace, Michael and Robin

The weather was slightly windy at some point but still much warmer than Cape Town, yay for sandal weather!  Approximate date of returning to Cape Town 24 Aug.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mr Bom Bom - July 2014

Mr Bom Bom is a man I have great respect for.  He is one of my neighbours and owner of much of the beautiful land where I live when I'm there in the Transkei.  I took a picture of him a week or so before this one but I felt that the picture just didn't do him justice, so I was very happy when I had another chance opportunity one late afternoon as I was taking a walk and Mr Bom Bom happened to come past on his way home.    

Monday, August 4, 2014

Coffee Bay Horse Trails, with Gavin

Whilst in Coffee Bay I was privileged to go for a good number of horse rides with Gavin.  
A must for anyone visiting Coffee Bay.  
You can contact Gavin to book a ride on 071 239 0976