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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thaba-Bosiu: The Mountain where the Basotho Nation was founded

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Maseru: the dangerous capital of Lesotho

Nearly robbed by gang on the main street of Maseru, Lesotho on broad day light. I was pushed onto the ground; one even brandished a knife, but they lost their nerves with the commotion and fled. Shaken. And 300m down the same street towards our hotel, we spotted a different gang that followed us yesterday. We ran past them before they could react, all the way back to our hotel.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Johannesburg, Apartheid Museum & Soweto

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Lesedi Cultural Park, Gauteng

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Pretoria II

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Pretoria - Voortrekkers Monument: Trials & Tribulations of the Afrikaner People

Pretoria, capital of South Africa with 3 million people.  Flew into Johannesburg Airport after an overnight flight from Singapore and was driven to Pretoria by the guesthouse affiliated driver-guide. A city with straight streets and a few grand government buildings.  

I visited the Voortrekkers’ Monument, built to commemorate the 19th century Great Trek  of the Afrikaners or Boers (Dutch descend farmers) to leave British rule in Cape Town into the African wilderness in search for their new Promised Land. Along the way, they were attacked by African tribes, massacred but eventually emerged triumphant to establish Pretoria and the Boer Republics of Transvaal and Orange Free State. The museum contains flags, documents and objects of everyday life of the era, including the gigantic bibles that these farmers carried with them, which are testimonies of the religiousness of these people.  In fact, the Boers attributed their success to their faith with God and later even used the Bible to justify the dreadful Apartheid system.  

Also visited the Paul Kruger House – interesting museum about this great Transvaal president who fought hard for the independence of the Boer republics – and Union Buildings – grand government buildings overlooking the city.  When I asked if President Zuma stays there, I was told yes, when the President is not out looking for girlfriends, referring to the president’s notorious promiscuity. 

Tswana, the same language as Botswana’s Setsana, is the main language of the black people of Pretoria.  In Johannesburg where there are many Zulu people, the Zulu language is the linqua franca there.

In the evening, I went to Lesedi  Cultural Village for a touristy cultural show and dinner.  Typical cultural show but nice, pleasant.  I like the Ndebele houses with their cartoon-like patterns and bright cheerful colours which were among my first images of South Africa for many years.  Exuberant African dances of the type one expects. Buffet dinner was good, included crocodile and ostrich meat.

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South Africa from the air



Sunday, June 05, 2011

To Kluang, Johor by KTM Train

A day trip to Kluang, before the KTM stops running to Tanjong Pagar station, Singapore.  It's interesting that one passed Malaysian Immigration before the Singapore one.  Malaysian Immigration merely stamped the words " Tanjong Pagar Station" and the date on their entry card. No complete stamp, probably because Singapore opposes it.

As for Kluang, it's a small, sleepy town.  Most shops were closed on Sunday.  The eateries we noted online weren't that amazing, maybe a matter of expectations management.  I have to say that the local coffee, or at least the one at the Rail Cafe, was good.  It was a wet, rainy day, hence not pleasant to walk around.  After some food, we decided to take a bus to JB to return to Singapore (instead of waiting another two hours for the train).

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