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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cape Peninsula & Cape of Good Hope (II)

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Cape Peninsula & Cape of Good Hope (I)

We thought we could drive around the 60km-long Cape Peninsula and back in half a day. How wrong we were! Cape Peninsula is a varied destination by itself. We wre awed by the spectacular mountain and cliffside scenery, had wonderful seafood at picturesque fishing towns, watched penguins on the beaches and visited the fabled Cape of Good Hope and the stone crosses erected by Portuguese explorers Vasco da Gama and Bartholomew Diaz.

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Cape Town's Table Mountain

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Cape Town (II)

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Cape Town (I)

Cape Town is a world class destination. It is a pity that South Africa's crime situation has deterred many from visiting this amazing city. Set in the shadows of the magnificent Table Mountain, Cape Town not only offers a spectacular natural setting but also a vibrant cultural life and impressive range of architecture. The colourful Bo-Kap Muslim quarter, delicious Cape Malay cuisine and the solemn recent history of Robben Island - this is a city that I have enjoyed the foremost on this journey and certainly would return to some time in the future.

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Harare, capital of Zimbabwe: Faded Elegance

Really enjoyed our time in Zimbabwe. The people of this country are the friendliest and most polite and courteous among the 9 countries in southern Africa I have visited on this journey. A pity they have been misgoverned for so long.

Strange dream 5 weeks away from Singapore: I was about to have my Shunfu Mart prawn noodles but suddenly found the plate empty except for a few slices of prawn and pork. Thank goodness that was a dream. Eight more days to home cuisine.

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The ruins of Great Zimbabwe (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

During the 13th-16th centuries, there arose in southern Africa a powerful Shona empire centered on a walled city located in the southeast of Zimbabwe. The city is known as Great Zimbabwe. It was a major trading centre which traded actively with the Arabs and the Portuguese. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and yes, this city gave the modern state of Zimbabwe its name.

The grandeur of Great Zimbabwe was a pleasant surprise. I had anticipated nothing more than a pile of stones with a hyped Unesco listing. Instead I learnt about a little-reported civilization with wonderful stone masonry and a rather chic sense of aesthetics.

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On the road in Zimbabwe: Bulawayo to Masvingo

After Hwange, we stopped briefly at Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city whose name meant 'Place of the Massacres". This was where the old Ndebele kings executed thousands after the conquest of the land. Today, the city prefers to nickname itself the City of Kings.

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Rhode-Matobo National Park of Zimbabwe

From Bulawayo, we proceeded to Rhode Matopo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its bizarre rock formations, bushmen rock art and wildlife (home to rhinos and 1/4 of the World's eagle species). Eminent 19th statesman, mining magnate, colonial empire builder (had two colonies named after him by the age of 40) and founder of De Beers Diamonds, Sir Cecil Rhodes, was buried on top of a hill here, at a spot with a panoramic view appropriately named 'World's View".

What a fruitful and enriching day!

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Hwange National Park (II)