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Travelog for: Pinky Bear

Teddy Bear Central, South Africa - 20th June 2008

By: MrsC

I am so tired of bears! This house is full of them, and every day new ones arrive. Fi has been promising us that more Toyvoyagers are due to arrive any moment, and they won't be bears. I wish they would hurry up.


Fi let us look at her new lot of postcards that arrived in the mail this morning while she went to fetch all the other stuff out her car...

Wish I could travel to these places...Hey! I can! I'm a travelling toy after all....


Oh my goodness...look what the 'stuff' in her car was!


More bears! I can hardly stand it...


That Threadbear has  a lot to answer for, this is all his doing.


Look at them all, smiling and waving. I'm having nothing to do with... HELLO! Hold the press...


Hmmmm! I...er...I...where was I? Oh bears...yes, of course I'll be helping tie bows on the new guy...er guys....

More parcels? Of course, open then up. Let's see who else we get to meet...

It's like Christmas! Cassiopeia, welcome, welcome! It is so nice to see someone from home. It is also wonderful to be able to speak German. Neither of us has been home for so long but we caught up on all the news we could.


Oh! Another one! A grumpy little mole from England. Maybe we should just post him right back...

Ooops, that was rude of me. Shame, he has been stuck in that box for an awful long time and I didn't realise that he was blind... Honest. Sorry Moley. I'll look after you.


* Posted Jun 20, 2008, 11:52 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Teddy Bear Central, South Africa - 25th June 2008

By: MrsC

Threadbear asked if we would go down and help him catch up on his  bear collection. Well why not, it is not like we have anything better to do this evening....

Here we all are, ready for action.


Fi had her i-pod on a bit loud... but the music was okay.


Fiona cut the tags off the bears, I took out the plastic barbs... a very important job, we don't want children getting hurt with them.


What a job! 75 bears worth...


Everyone else had a job to do too. Buttons was cutting off labels, he has been ignoring me lately, I don't know why... Moley was tying bows... Eloise performed emergency surgery on a bear, she is so amazing... just Cassiopeia could not help as she doesn't have paws.

She felt really bad about this but Fi said she would switch off the music and Cassiopeia could read to us. That cheered her up so much.

So Cassiopeia started reading us traditional South African tales


The evening went so fast, even once we had finished with the bears, we sat and listened... I loved these stories. Here is one I liked best...

'Kwasuka sukela' means once upon a time.

The Curse of the Chameleon (A Traditional Zulu Story)

Gogo breathed deeply of the cool evening air. She paused beneath the darkening sky, hands pressed into her back.

"Woza, Gogo!" called little Methembe, who, although he seemed to have unlimited energy, always waited for his granny. "Come on!" he encouraged as he turned and dashed up the final rise toward the homestead. Gogo chuckled, shook her head slowly and forced her feet to continue up the path. "Hawu!" she thought to herself. Soon she would no longer be able to make it down to the river and back. By the time Gogo came within sight of the evening fire, the children had put away the washed clothing and deposited the firewood where it was stored. They were now squatting in a tight circle, the older ones rocking on their heels, waiting for their elders to finish eating that they might then have their dinner.

After everyone had eaten and the pots were filled with water to soak, Gogo and the children settled down before the fire. "Gogo," asked Methembe rather tentatively, choosing to look into the fire rather than at his beloved granny, "why do people grow old and die?" The old woman looked lovingly at her grandson and smiled. She knew his unspoken fears.

"Ahh, my little Hope," she answered, looking into the fire herself. "That is a very interesting tale! Shall I tell you, my children, the story of why people must grow old and die?"

"Yebo, Gogo! Yes!" they all answered as if one.

"Alright then..." And Gogo began. "Kwasuka sukela...."

After God the great Creator finished making all things, he sat back and took a long look at the world he'd made. He smiled and decided that it was very good. He was especially pleased with the people, the first man and woman. They, after all, were the most like himself. "Yes," he thought, "this is good! Very good!"

But as time went on the Creator noticed that man and woman kept injuring their bodies. Oh, the skin would heal with time, but it always left scars. And after many years the first man and woman's bodies were looking old and tatty indeed! "Hmmm," thought Creator, "these bodies are wearing out! Time, I think, for new ones!"

So Creator called Chameleon to himself. "Listen, Chameleon," said Creator, "I have a package that I want you to deliver to man and woman. It is most urgent, so do not delay. Go straight to the people, tell them I sent you, and give them this parcel from me!" With that he pushed a small package into Chameleon's hands. "I trust you, Chameleon, for you are loyal and swift. Go now!"

So Chameleon set off to do as his Lord bid. In those days Chameleon was fast as lightning. He sped toward Earth, the parcel neatly tucked beneath his arm. When he reached the great river he paused to take a drink. And this proved to be his undoing!

Snake just happened to be drinking at the same time. "Hello, Cousin Chameleon," he hissed. "My, you are in a great hurry today! What are you about?"

Chameleon looked up. "Ah, yebo! Sawubona, Nyoka!" he politely replied. (sah-woo-boh'-nah nyoh'kah = "Yes, I see you, Snake!" or "Hello, Snake!" ) "I have a package to deliver for Creator. Something for the people."

Now Snake hated the people. They walked so far above the ground, often treading on Snake and his family members without even noticing. And Creator seemed to pay so much more attention to them than he did to the other animals. Snake was bitterly jealous of people, and when he heard that Chameleon was taking a gift to them from Creator, Snake began to scheme. How could he make sure that people did not receive this gift?

"Oh, dear Cousin Chameleon," Snake hissed, edging closer to Chameleon and the parcel. "It is so good to see you again! My family has missed you a great deal! All of our other relatives come often to share a meal. But you never seem to have time for us! One would tend to think that perhaps you thought yourself too good to associate with your close kin!"

Now Chameleon was a sensitive fellow. It worried him to think that Snake might have something against him. "Oh, no, dear cousin Nyoka," pleaded Chameleon. "I assure you that I hold you in high regard! I would be honoured to come for a meal sometime!"

"Well," Snake answered quickly, "why not now? My wife is at this very moment waiting lunch for me. She would be pleased beyond words to see you dine with us!"

"Oh, dear!" answered Chameleon, looking at the parcel still tucked beneath his arm. "I really have an urgent errand for Creator at the moment. Ummmm....perhaps some other time?"

"Yes, yes," hissed Snake turning away with a hint of disgust in his voice. "Just as I thought. Too good for the likes of us! Well, run along then with your all-important business."

Chameleon looked at the sun. It was still high in the sky. He could have the mid-day meal with Snake's family and have plenty of time left to deliver the package. Perhaps he was being too hasty. "Wait, Snake," Chameleon spoke quickly. "I was being too abrupt. I beg your pardon. I really would love to have a meal with you. To prove it I will dine with you now and do my business after the meal!"

Snake smiled to himself before he turned back toward Chameleon. "Oh, Chameleon," Snake replied, sounding quite humble indeed, "Thank you! It is we who will be honoured by your presence, I assure you!" And with that he led Chameleon off to his burrow.

Snake's wife had really outdone herself, as usual. She'd prepared a huge and sumptuous meal and truly was delighted to see that Chameleon had come to share it with them. She encouraged him to have more and more, and as it was so delicious, Chameleon helped himself until he was almost too full to move. He was having such a good time, and was especially enjoying Snake's outstanding utshwala (oo-chwah'-lah = a traditional Zulu beer brewed from sorghum), that he forgot all about his special mission. Snake smiled slyly as he watched Chameleon's head nod and his eyelids droop. Snake laughed aloud as Chameleon fell asleep with a satisfied little grunt.

"What is so funny, my husband?" asked Snake's wife, accustomed to the ways of nature to rest after the mid-day meal in the hottest hours of the day. She saw nothing strange or funny about Chameleon's behaviour. It was actually a compliment to her as a hostess, that she had made her guest so comfortable and welcome.

"Look here," Snake hissed, as he gently lifted the package from under Chameleon's arm.

"What is that?" she asked.

"A gift for us from Creator," Snake laughed. And with that Snake tore open the parcel. "Look, my good wife," he exclaimed, lifting something from the box. "Creator has sent us new skins! New skins, so that whenever our old ones wear out we can change into new ones!" Snake laughed again, louder this time, waking his guest. Chameleon took one look at the parcel and immediately knew what had happened.

"No, Snake!" Chameleon pleaded, a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. "Those are not for you! They are for people. You know that! Give them back!" Chameleon stretched out his hands toward the skins. "Please, Nyoka! Give them back!"

But Snake just laughed, holding the skins beyond Chameleon's reach. "No, my cousin. These are my skins now!" And with that Snake slithered away.

As the sun went down Chameleon was sick with sadness for the way in which he'd been betrayed and for the way in which he had disobeyed. He hid away from Creator in the braces of the trees, clinging to the limbs, moving slowly so as not to be detected. He was too afraid to face Creator.

"And so, you see, my children," finished Gogo, "how it was that people were cheated out of new skins by Snake. To this day snake will shed his old skin and don a new one whenever he is feeling his age."

"But that's not fair, Gogo!" cried Methembe. "Creator should make Snake return the skins!"

"Ah, well, my boy," Gogo looked at him and placed a hand on his head, "Life is not always fair. But while Snake got the skins, Creator did not stop the people from standing on Snake from time-to-time. In fact, when most people encounter Snake these days they give him what they think he deserves: a sound thrashing! And, of course, Chameleon is still hiding away in the trees, moving so slowly that he usually goes undetected. And as for people, well, Creator gave them another gift that was better than new skins!"

"What was that, Gogo?" the children asked

"Oh, my children," Gogo replied with a smile, "That is a story for another time! Now my weary old bones tell me that it is time for a good night's rest!"

And with a great heave Gogo lifted herself from her stump by the fire and walked slowly toward her hut.

"Lalani kahle, bantwana!" (lah-lah'-nee kah'-hlay bah-ntwah'-nah = "Sleep well, children!" )

* Posted Jun 25, 2008, 12:19 am [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

O.R. Tambo Airport, South Africa - 28th June 2008

By: MrsC

I have had enough of bears and other toys, so I put my paw down today!

I told Fi I am a toyVOYAGER not a toy repairer, counter or washer... I NEED to travel...

So she said, "okay, I'll organise something, pack your bags..."


Once again I am off to the O.R. Tambo International Airport, formerly Johannesburg International, formerly Jan Smuts International... I wonder what it will be called when I get back in a weeks time?

Ta ta Fiona, Moley and Cassiopeia, I'm OFF! Have fun sitting around, bored out of your brains with hundreds of bears for company... while I have fun in...hang on, she's done it again! I have no idea where I am going!!!!

* Posted Jun 28, 2008, 9:51 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Strachur, Scotland - 6th July 2008

By: MrsC

Well, well, well! This is more like it... I LOVE travelling...away from all those dreadful bears...

Fi has a travelling sister, but she mostly travels to the inside of hospitals...not for me thanks. This time, she was travelling to Germany (boring for me of course). BUT she had the weekend off, so she decided to hop on a plane and visit her family in Scotland. Fi was sick with jealousy, but happy that I could go with in her place (right Fi?).

The travelling sister travels light...no camera...honestly, how can her and Fi even be related? That's the first thing Fi packs! So no photos of Clydebank or Helensburgh(where Fi was born!), but she borrowed a camera from one of her aunts (thanks Sheila!!!!) and took some photos of me in a beautiful little town called Strachur where Sheila lives... in this tiny little hut...


...across the road from Loch Fyne, it is a lovely summer's day in Scotland! (The photo of the tiny hut was taken a while ago)


The travelling sister, called Morag, and I took the dogs for a walk through the woods. Or they took us for a walk...


Come back dogs! This is a dangerous stretch of...of...lane! Fi once wrenched her knee right here, and it still isn't better, though I hear from the other TVs that she climbed up a hill while I was gone! Wish I had seen that...ha ha ha...


Come on Odin, get down here, hey cool! How do you make your eyes glow like that?


Lots of sheep around here, look how fat they are.


Yes, I DID call you fat, what you going to do about it?


Does this bridge look like a big open mouth to you? It does to me, with two big eyes...


That looks pretty cold...


And this looks pretty too...Foxgloves? Can bears wear them too? I'm not being silly....


Oohhh! More pretty flowers, I wonder what they smell like?


Help me! AAAArrrggghhh! It has THORNS...I'm being PUNCTURED!!! I've been attacked by a thistle...


You look at all the other pretty things while I lick my wounds...go on...stop laughing, it really hurts!



Wonder how this tastes? Oh it might be poisonous, I'll skip it!


On my very first day in South Africa, Fi took me to a kids play area called Never Never Land and I was so tired I climbed up a tree and fell asleep on a mushroom, just like this one! But now, thanks to being a ursine pincushion, I'm wide awake...


Where are those dogs off to now? Wait, I tell you! Wait for me...


This must be the local church. Very quiet for a Sunday...maybe they are all inside.


Ah! A phone booth, I must phone Fi to let her know how I am...


Um, help? The door swung back and caught me...I'm stuck...and squashed...


Fi? Fi! Fi? Can you hear me? Your sister is abusing me... she let me climb a thistle and almost get pricked to death...Fi? And I got squashed in the door... and...hello? Hello?


Now look what she did, said I was a tattle tail!


But that was not the worst thing she did, just wait and I'll show you...

* Posted Jul 16, 2008, 11:17 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Frankfurt airport, Germany - 8th July 2008

By: MrsC

We left Scotland and returned to Germany.

We where staying in a town called Langen where Morag got me drunk! Oh, she's a bad girl...


THEN, when it was time to leave, she dragged me into a shop at the airport...and remembered that her cell phone had a camera.


Yes, very funny... a kangabearoo...




Man, there's another one!


Don't move a paw, please, I haven't recovered fully from the telephone booth door yet...


No, that's not the worst thing she did either!

* Posted Jul 16, 2008, 11:35 pm Last edited Jul 28, 2008, 8:43 pm by MrsC [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Jo'burg, South Africa - 10th July 2008

By: MrsC

I can't actually bear to look! Can you see them?


There, behind me, no, no, BEHIND me...


THAT was the worst thing EVER!

She made me travel home in a BAG with all of them! More bloody bears! I was trying to escape from them and ended up bringing more home from Fi's aunt Sheila.

Threadbear, you owe me BIG time!

* Posted Jul 16, 2008, 11:43 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Johannesburg City, South Africa - 20th July 2008

By: MrsC

Yesterday, Fi took all the other TVs to the Botanic Gardens. I had already been so I decided to stay home and make peace with the bears after having a chat with Eloise.

Then, early this morning... Fi packed us all into a bag with a picnic lunch, and popped us in the car. We drove for what seemed like ages. Eventually she stopped here to get a security pass...


I don't get it. What are we doing at the University? She is looking for the Planetarium... oh, there it is...


This is the prettier, original bit of the university. The rest of it is mostly ugly concrete buildings... it would be nicer if we could sit on one of the rocks that was in the sun you know, it is chilly down here in the shade!


Fi said we are not going to the planetarium at all. There is a big bus here and lots of...elderly people? What on earth....?

We are going on a tour of Johannesburg with the Geological Society. That should be interesting!


We have a seat right at the back and we are off!

* Posted Jul 24, 2008, 11:48 am [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Braamfontein, South Africa - 20th July 2008

By: MrsC

So, we are on the bus and the bus is travelling through the city centre. We are all excited because this is somewhere Fi has wanted to bring us all but it is not safe enough for her to do on her own. Much better to be sitting on a bus with a camera and taking photos out the window...

You need to bear in mind that Johannesburg only came into existence in the 1880s when gold was discovered. So it is a relatively new city.

Fi grew up in these parts and it was a real trip down memory lane. Some parts were just shocking for her to see how much they had degenerated in the years since she has been down here. Come, I'll show you.

We were heading for The Munroe drive, but we had to get out of Braamfontein first and travel through the notorious Hillbrow.

This is Park Station, is appears to have been tidied up a little since Fi last saw it. It is the main railway station.


This building has a distinct 1930s feel to it, though I think the man is playing a more modern tune!


Jo' burg central is pretty much a slum these days. What happened is that during the 1980s the world decided to impose sanctions on South Africa to force her to end Apartheid. Most foreign businesses withdrew from the country and left the buildings in the CBD vacant. By the time they had all come back, the CBD was pretty derelict and most large local businesses had moved to the more upmarket area of Sandton. The foreign companies decided (wisely) to move to Sandton too as the CBD was run down and unsafe. Although downtown Jo'burg is technically still known as the Central Business District, it is a misnomer. In truth, Sandton City is now the CBD. Some of the buildings in town have stood vacant for the last 20 years.

There has been an effort to revive the city centre in recent years. CCTV has been implemented to cut down the crime level and there has been an attempt to tidy it up in time for the FIFA 2010 Football World Cup.

But, like I said, it is still pretty much a slum...



This old synagogue, that is no longer in use, was a copy of a Catholic church called the 'Sante Fe' in Istanbul... There is a massive Catholic church and it seemed to be well attended as we drove past but we were on the wrong side of the bus to get a photo.


Then we went through Hillbrow and Fi was having too many flashbacks of her youth to take too many photos! The lady she was sitting next to had also lived in Hillbrow and they were both pointing out where all the places had been that they remembered!

The Professor mentioned that during the world wars, Brazil had remained neutral and had not had the same economic crises as the rest of the world, so it had developed architecturally. Hillbrow was designed loosely on the Bazillion style and was at one time known as 'Little Brazil'.

During it's heyday in the 1950s, Hillbrow was second only to Manhattan, as the finest built up city in the world. BUT, already in the 1950's an architect had predicted that the manner in which it had been built would result in it becoming a slum. The streets were too narrow and the buildings too tall and crowded, blocking the views that made high-rise living so attractive in the first place. Sadly, he was proved correct.

This is Highpoint, now more of a low point... Fi remembers shopping here, German delicatessens, Viennese tea rooms, and trendy boutiques. Hillbrow was very cosmopolitan at that stage, English, Scottish, Polish, German, French, Hungarian, Czech, you name them, they were here. It is still cosmopolitan but now its Nigerian, Angolan, Somalian, Congolese...


This is the side Fi used to live. It looks quite clean here, but up close, it is a different story...


This is the Fire Station, quite a cute little building.


Not long till we head up the Munroe Drive…

* Posted Jul 24, 2008, 10:09 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Munroe Drive, South Africa - 20th July 2008

By: MrsC

The bus came to a stop after a steep climb up the Munroe Drive, which starts in Lower Houghton and ends up in Upper Houghton.


From what I could understand, 374 million years ago, a bit before my time, two land masses called 'Cratans' crashed into each other in the area where present day Hawaii is. The one cratan ended up subducted under the other (it got caught underneath and then sloped up as a result - hope you can see this picture in your head!) Over time, with moving about and expanding and whatnot, they ended up right here! This area is called the Witwatersrand (white waters ridge) basin. There is some controversy as to how the name 'Witwatersrand' came to be, the most popular theory is that from far off the ridge shimmered and looked like water.


It was formed 360 million years ago. And it is massive. Now, way back in those days there was no atmosphere and this basin was a sea. Electrical storms (something that hasn't changed!) caused massive erosion over time, and caused the sea to fill with sediment to a depth of 8kms (almost 5 miles) - that is higher than Mount Everest! And that was the end of the sea. Pity, because it now takes 6 hours of driving to get to the sea....

Anyway, back to the ridge we were standing on... an interesting fact: when it rains, any water that runs off over the edge here, into Lower Houghton...eventually ends up in the Indian Ocean. Any water that runs off down the other side (which I'll show you soon) ends up in the Atlantic Ocean! Fascinating, Fi can't believe she had never heard that before. She needs to go on more of these tours, I think!

Another thing: GOLD! Gold forms in rock strata. The strata that Johannesburg gold formed in, is at a terribly steep angle as it formed in the 'cratan' that ended up tilted up at the funny angle under the other one. There was such a nice piece of exposed rock on the way down the other side that showed you how steep this strata is but Fi wasn't quick enough to take a photo, sorry.

This steep angle makes mining for gold very difficult and that is also the reason the mines here are so very, very deep.

Right, back on the bus....

* Posted Jul 24, 2008, 11:38 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Yeoville, South Africa - 20th July 2008

By: MrsC

We had to pass through Yeoville to reach our next destination. We were going to stop at two of the most famous schools in the area, but one of them, St John's College was hosting a huge church meeting where the Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was speaking and the other, King Edward VII School, was blocked off by all the traffic to the first. So much for that idea then! If you get a chance, read the history of KES, it is very interesting.

So, back to Yeoville. Yeoville used to be THE trendiest area, alive with arts and culture. It was at one stage also a predominantly Jewish area. And now sadly, it is just another slum. A lot of the buildings are bricked up, burned down or even condemned as unfit for human habitation.


This is Rocky Street. It used to be the place to shop during the day, and the place to go clubbing at night.


The rest of the photos are just too depressing so we'll skip them and head on over to the other side of Yeoville.

This is the road between Yeoville and Hillbrow. That really tall round building is called Ponte. It has gone through many phases. First as luxury apartments, then it became a bit more squalid, Fi remembers visiting once and the centre of the building (which is hollow) was filled with rubbish. There have been many grand plans with this building. At on stage they were thinking of turning it into a prison, complete with a police station and courts! Yes, Jo'burg has more crime than the current legal system can cope with and the jails are severely over crowded. Now it is going through another attempt at revival....someone has high hopes.


Now these apartments are still nicely maintained. They used to be THE place to live, only doctors and such used to live here because the view is quite simply spectacular....


This unfinished and abandoned building right next to it is where we stood to see the view on the other side of the Houghton ridge.


You can see all of Hillbrow to your right...


Sweeping across you can see Ponte again and all of downtown Jo'burg...


Ellis Park Stadium (probably has another name by now) where the 2010 world cup will be played...


A bit more of the vista...


Next we are heading over to this hill on the other side, where you can just make out a tower type structure on the top.


The view at night must be quite fantastic with all the lights, but sorry, it is not an option.

In stark contrast to that beautiful building, is this one right next door...


But then, a few blocks away from that...


Yep, "South Africa, Land of Contrast" indeed.

This underpass on the Joe Slovo Drive (formerly Harrow Road) has always been known for its dark and dreary appearance. But thanks to being the main road to Ellis Park, it has had quite a nice face lift! All the horrid concrete pillars, formerly covered in advertising posters and graffiti are now covered in sparkly mosaics! What a welcome change.


Now, you may have read before about the taxis in Jo'burg. They are mini buses that the masses use for transport. They have no true designated routes or ways of identifying where they are headed. So, with typical African ingenuity, they made a plan. The commuter makes a hand signal to indicate where he or she wants to travel to. If the taxi is heading that way he stops (usually abruptly after swerving in front of your car...ho hum...)

Now, very cleverly, the taxi rank in front of Ellis Park has the hand signals displayed so you know which queue to join! (A word of warning to anyone who decides to visit South Africa...do NOT under any circumstance, take a ride in one of these taxis…call Fi, she'll give you a lift!)



Just next to Ellis Park is China City. As with every major city, there was China Town in downtown Jo'burg. But as the area became more and more dangerous, business suffered. So the Chinese traders all moved here, under one roof, with safe parking for shoppers. This is just the one gate...the whole place is quite huge.


A little further on and we are in a suburb called Kensington. No where near as glamorous as its London namesake...


In the 1970s Mozambique had a civil uprising and a vast amount of Portuguese people fled to South Africa or Zimbabwe. They bought houses here and re decorated them to better suit their style. The sloping poles on the veranda are a give away... it is a decidedly old fashioned Mozambican feature.


There is still a massive Portuguese community in South Africa, but as with large amounts of the rest of the former immigrant population, a lot of them have returned home following the 'decline' of South Africa.

Okay, the bus is stopping, time to stretch our legs...

* Posted Jul 25, 2008, 10:09 am [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Reynold's View, South Africa - 20th July 2008

By: MrsC

The bus stopped in front of this pretty little garden that was on the side of the road.


We walked up a steep path of what was clearly once some ones house and garden. At the top we sat patiently and listened to The Professor telling us all about the history of the different suburbs and what terrible things were done to people all in the name of greed. Forced evictions, terrible living conditions, it went on but is actually too horrible to re- tell...


This is the spectacular view of the whole of Johannesburg City. Pity about all the people in the way...


Well, we sat here and waited quietly for the lecture to end so we could get a nice picture without the Archaeological Society members in. Then somebody said, "let’s rather walk THAT way back down through the garden". So they all came back our way and when we were spotted we caused quite a stir! Fi had to explain just what we (and she!) were up to...well that caused a ripple of excitement but they eventually moved on and we got our photo...then a mad dash for the bus! And remember we were right at the back of the bus, so we had to walk past everyone and be admired...luckily none of us are shy...


This is a very typical house from the early days of Johannesburg...I am talking about the style here, NOT the colour! Tin roof, square shape, pillars and 'broekie lace' trim ('Broekies' are girls’ panties or under pants, it is one of Fi's favourite Afrikaans words) I must also assure you that the house was quite level, it was the camera that was at a funny angle...


This is another prestigious school: Jeppe Boys the oldest school in Jo'burg and if you have the time, it is well worth it to read the history of the school through the ages.


* Posted Jul 25, 2008, 10:50 am [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Kensington, South Africa - 20th July 2008

By: MrsC

You can't accuse South Africans of not having a sense of humour...


Our next stop was up another koppjie (little hill) to visit the Scottish Horse Memorial. We all huffed and puffed our way up the steep steps to reach the top....


Sadly the memorial has been vandalised. Because poverty is so rife in this country, many people turn to illegal means to make some money just to survive. The latest trend is stealing any metal (in this case the brass plaques, but door numbers, man hole covers etc) that are then sold to unscrupulous metal merchants for smelting.


There are two interesting things to see from up here.

Firstly, if you look straight ahead in this photo, you can see a large mine dump (our man made mountains that are by products of gold mining). Just in front of it and to the right of it you can see all the colourful containers... well, that is City Deep, our dry inland port and the second largest port in South Africa. The largest port being Durban Harbour.


The second interesting thing if you look at this photo, is that you will notice that the high-rise buildings of down town Jo'burg stop quite abruptly, and the rest of the buildings are quite flat...


The reason for that is under mining. The mines are all in this area and they go extremely deep underground (for several kilometres). Any buildings over a certain height would just collapse because the ground underneath them is basically tunnels. One of the men on the tour with us, said he worked for a building firm and they were trying to build something over there and they got three support pillars down but the fourth could never be built because when they drilled through the rock there was no bottom! As you can imagine there are a lot of earth tremors in Johannesburg from all this underground activity... every now and then there are minor quakes to, but more to the west.

Right, I am starting to get hungry now, surely it is time to stop for lunch? It is? Yay! We hop back on the bus and it is a short trip to Rhodes Park for a picnic lunch...

Rhode's Park is quite nice. Fi hadn't been there for years. There is a lake in the middle, swings and things for the children, a bowling green, a soccer field, a restaurant...



Fi set us all up nicely for  a photo in front of the lake and then had to explain to two people all about ToyVoyagers. And then she was listening to the Prof talking again. It was only when she got home and downloaded all the photos that she noticed she had packed us back in her bag without taking the picture! Silly woman...

* Posted Jul 25, 2008, 11:38 am Last edited Jul 25, 2008, 3:06 pm by MrsC [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Jeppestown, South Africa - 20th July 2008

By: MrsC

Hmmm my tummy is nice and full, and I feel like going to sleep now, not travelling around on the bus. Surely I can have a quick nap, there can't be anything more interesting to see...

We are going back in the direction we came from. The Prof is telling us we are going to see some place called Jeppestown...yawn... Fi told me that , when he was still alive, her father worked in Jeppestown. She says it is really not such a nice area...

The Prof tells us that Johannesburg was expanding so rapidly, that they knew they would have to create more residential areas. They could not go to the South because that is where the mines were, no one ever considered going to the North as they never thought it would ever get that big, so the toss up was: should they build to the East or the West? The company that was to do the expansion was called Jeppe & Ford Estate Company. They could not decide which would be better so they chose to do both Jeppe decided to build up the east side and named it Jeppestown after himself, and Ford built up the western side and named it...Fordsburg... vain bunch, weren't they?

Well Jeppestown took off with a bang and became quite a residential area. Ford built his side slightly different, he made it both a residential and a business area, and it boomed too.

Today though, Jeppestown is a run down industrial area. We passed the original men’s hostel. Oh. My. Goodness...



I can't believe people can live in such squalor.

Here is one of the original buildings that still stands today.


Fordsburg has a bit of a sad history, which you can read about now, because the sun was at the wrong angle to take photos of by the time we got there...

Basically the government decided (under the Group Areas Act IE. apartheid) that all the Indians needed to move out of the area where they had built up their businesses and move to an area set aside for them called Lenasia, 32 Kms (20 miles) away. There was of course great resistance. The government closed down the schools in Fordsburg, forcing the Indian community to move or to travel to Lenasia every day for the children to be schooled.

Eventually the government built a huge shopping centre called the Oriental Plaza for the Indian businessmen to rent out and continue with their trading, in an effort to undermine them.  However, the Indians turned the Oriental Plaza into a huge success and the area is now quite a busy trading site again. In recent years Fordsburg has been affected by the same decline as the rest of Johannesburg.

Next to Fordsburg is a town called Vrededorp, which was an area set aside for the Malay people. It was built to the same plans as a black township called Orlando in Soweto. It comes as quite a shock to see it. It also has a very sad history , which you can read here. Sorry, Fi just could not take photos because it is one of those towns where each and every single family sit on the outside 'stoep' (veranda) on a Sunday afternoon, for want of anything better to do. Taking photos felt like an invasion of privacy. Especially in such a desperately poor community; and even more so as they were watching our great big bus with open mouthed astonishment. Clearly not to many tours go through there then! Interestingly it was a very mixed community but mostly white and coloured (Malay).

Well after that little trip I was wide awake again! Then the Prof said we were off to a market. Oh, I do like to shop!

* Posted Jul 25, 2008, 2:05 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Mai Mai Market, South Africa - 20th July 2008

By: MrsC

So, I guess there will be no shopping then. We were told to leave our bags on the bus and we were in Fi's bag...man...oh well we will wait till she gets back to tell us about it then.

I can smell something delicious....what is it? Pork chop?


Fi says to tell you that that woman's face is not that colour naturally, she has red ochre on it.

Okay, I am quite excited to see these photos of the market...


The Mai Mai market is the oldest market in Johannesburg. It is traditionally a Zulu market. In the 'old days' white people needed a special permit to gain access. Though truth be told, chances are these days none of them even know of its existence. Fi had never even heard of it after thirty odd years of living in Jo'burg.

Here is a little replica Zulu hut.


It is in a rather unsavoury part of town, but it has been taken over by some local council agency that is determined to rejuvenate and revive it to a pristine state. People actually live in the market, but plans are underway to relocate these families as it is quite unsuitable for children to be living in these conditions.

These two don't seem bothered at all! They are having loads of fun in an old crate.


Oh! It's not quite your usual market then... it is a 'muti' market. Muti is traditional medicine. When we read the other day at the Botanical gardens that 8 out of 10 people use traditional medicine, I bet you had pretty little visions of berries and flowers. Welcome to the reality.


I'll show you a closer look. WARNING: this is not for the faint hearted.


Those were ostrich legs, a crocodile and who knows what else...

These are various skins and carcasses...


These are roots and plants. Muti is not only used for headaches and tummy aches...but for all sorts of things you might consider  'witchcraft'.


Although this looks all nice and tidy and rather like an old fashioned sweetie shop, be warned, those jars contain things that will make you want to vomit! Read this for a bit more info on some of the contents. The shop they talk about in this article is this very one.


The whole place had been dug up to repair the sewerage pipes so it was a bit treacherous to walk through.


Two Zulu children.


Traditional bead work. As well as being a muti market, this is also a traditional crafts market.


Most of these hides are illegal, they are from endangered animals. That thing with its head still attached is a baboon. EEEUUUWWWW!


Oh well, it is Sunday after all...


These may be goat tails, they are used in traditional dress.


These sandals are a traditional design usually made from buck skin. The heart shaped cut out bit has buck hide in it but that little tick is a slightly modern twist... not so sure these are genuine Nikes!


The Prof told us that they have been making these wedding kists (or trunks) since the market first started...


But they are making more of these, and doing a booming trade because of the high AIDS death toll...


Right, time to leave, chicken for supper anyone?


* Posted Jul 25, 2008, 3:01 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Jo'burg CBD, South Africa - 20th July 2008

By: MrsC

You know, I am REALLY glad we went to that market AFTER lunch...

It is time to head back to the university through the CBD.

Look, great big buildings and a tiny little corner cafe!


Apparently, Jo'burg was designed on a tight grid system with lots of 'corner' spots for a...ahem... good reason. This was not the first gold rush that South Africa had experienced (although it was certainly the biggest and most enduring).

The authorities had seen what had happened in Standerton when the 'gold diggers' had arrived and had the foresight to plan ahead with Jo'burg before they disclosed the news of the gold. They knew for instance that the type of man who was going to rush over and forsake everything for dreams of riches was not your ordinary upstanding model citizen. He wanted three things: somewhere to sleep, somewhere to drink, and the company of (how shall we put this?), ladies of the night. Those corner properties were for the ladies and their large revenues collected in rent and the same with the beer halls.

This old building has a sign on it that says it is for re-development. Next door is Dr Zunga & Mama...bet he gets his prescriptions filled at the Mai Mai market...


The trouble with tightly built tall buildings, the sun never gets in...


Here is a rather modern building in amongst the old ones.


Sadly, there are lots of for sale signs. It will however be nice if the buildings are bought and refurbished to their previous glory.


Like these ones...


This is the rather nicely kept (on the outside at least) Magistrates Courts.


We got off the bus in Main Street, where the Mining Houses have their headquarters. They have done such a nice job of cleaning up the street. They have had the buildings sandblasted to remove a hundred years of grime, re paved the road, planted gardens, displayed interesting objects and put up information boards. Well done! Now if only they can tackle the rest of town like this...


This is a mine head on display...


Here we are in front of one of the buildings.


This is the detail above the door of the same building.


This relief goes round the entire wall of the building, showcasing all of South Africa's animals.


Aren't we brave? Staring danger right in the...actually, could we move?


Fi says she remembers this statue so well from her childhood, but it was in a different place then...


Oh, this explains it! The Oppenheimers are the South African equivalent of the Rockefellers. They are a very wealthy mining family.
The poor bucks were vandalised by those naughty people who steal metal that I mentioned earlier...


Here is a front view.


This building is slightly less ornate than the other.


You know, during the week it looks exactly like this, but with taxis!


This is Main Street almost a hundred years ago...


And this was used for crushing the rock to extract gold. It was also vandalised for the metal and the original beams were used for firewood! Honestly, some people have no sense of history.


Here is the description.


...and a close up.


This is a rather attractive building.


This is an unattractive building that they have disguised with artwork...


Here is an interesting board about the stage coach.


Can you read it now?


Here is something else Fi only vaguely knew about, the Mapungubwe Rhino. This is obviously a reproduction. The original one is only 15cm (6Inches) long!


Here is the write up on it.


We are being called back to the bus...

We pass the ANC building which celebrates Nelson Mandela's 90th Birthday.


..and the 'Trust Me Tavern', which we don't!


Our next port of call is Fordsburg and Vrededorp which I have already mentioned.

On the way, we pass through Newtown, which is also a 'cleaned up' area. This is Museum Africa, which Fi says she has to visit one day.


Here we are back where we started! Educated and exhausted, and it is a long drive back home!


* Posted Jul 25, 2008, 5:18 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

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