Jeepers! What a Round Road Trip

7 years 8 months ill …
Physical: Advantage ED / Mental: Advantage ED

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I Remember …

… Two weeks ago, Sean mentioned that he may need to deliver a Jeep to a client in Johannesburg (there and back, some 2000 km and twenty hours travelling away from Port Elizabeth)

… My overseas friends: Johannesburg is to Africa what New York is to North America – our powerhouse and economic hub. It’s the City of Gold – both literally and figuratively. Situated on the Witwatersrand ( white waters ridge), it even lends it’s name to our currency, the rand!

… I offered to go with Sean for two reasons: everyone knows my penchant for travelling by now; but, more importantly, he has never driven to Johannesburg nor in Johannesburg ( and I couldn’t imagine my booytjie doing it by himself!) He, of course, turns 22 today, so a very happy birthday son!

… The arrangements for the trip changed by the minute. Then it was on, then it was off, then there were holdups at the bank, then unsigned documents, then a change of heart by the customer, then problems with the delivery time, then time constraints, then … then … then …

… Each time the change in arrangements necessitated a change in the logistical arrangements for travel and sleep overs. Phone calls and BBM’s and WhatsApp’s and and and. The help of friends and family all over the country was called in! Thanks so much for all the assistance!

… Eventually, last Friday was departure scheduled for 4am, then 9am, then 1pm, then off, then on, then postponed till Saturday 9am. Each change brought a change in delivery time to the client and a change in route, change in sleep over arrangements, etc etc.

… We left Port Elizabeth at 9am Saturday morning and Rory Duncan, ironically, was in the lane next to us as we left the City.

… From PE, we travelled via Cradock, Hofmeyer, Steynsburg, Venterstad (not to be confused with Ventersburg or Ventersdorp!) and the Gariep Dam to Bloemfontein, arriving at 4pm Saturday afternoon.

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… Then at 6pm, thanks to Rory, we went to watch the Cheetahs play the Brumbies at Free State Stadium. Cheetahs won 27 – 21! Afterwards, we visited the Castle Corner, then the Players Den (where the players relax post match) and then the local night club Barbas and The Office ( just a drive by as it was getting late in the morning!)

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… At 8am Sunday, after a gourmet Rory Breakfast, we left for Johannesburg via the N1, leaving the Free State behind and entering Gauteng Provnce, the land of the big smoke, at about 11am. We had the car washed in Cedar Road, Four Ways, and delivered it in Broadacres at the agreed time of 12h30 … okay 1 minute late because of a holdup at the security gate of the gated complex.

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… Fifteen minutes later, we had delivered the new and collected the old car.

… At 1h15pm, we were at the Ocean Basket in Modderfontein had lunch (fish from the coast!) at the Ocean Basket with friend and erstwhile colleague Graeme Gathmann.

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… We finished lunch at 3pm, completed the ring road around Johannesburg on the N3 and then headed back south on the N1 to the Free State, with thunder cracking and lightning flashing and rain pouring all around us.

… A pit stop at Kroonstad, and another in Bloemfontein (to pick up a friend returning to Port Elizabeth) took place before we reached Springfontein at 8pm, where we stayed overnight with friend Sandra Staples at the Kuilfontein B&B.

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… After breakfast on Monday morning, we headed for PE at 9am, via Colesberg ( pitstop), Middleburg and Graaff-Reinet (pitstop), arriving home at 2pm.

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… From the Friendly City to the City of Gold, we had completed 3 days, 2000 kms, 53 hours, driven two vehicles through four of the nation’s provinces (Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State and Gauteng), gone through 6 toll gates (there and back), paid R200 in tolls, (and who knows how many e-toll collection gantries and e-toll fines!)

… ED is in tirED!

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Phi Phi (Thailand Day 10: Monday 2 July 2012)

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Written on Tuesday 21 August 2012: 5 years 11 months on … Deuce

Swim and sleep to end our rest day, and to prepare for an early start for our boat trip to Phi-Phi on Monday!

One of the excursions that we all wanted to do was a boat trip to Phi Phi Islands – the location at which the Leonardo de Caprio movie “The Beach” was filmed and often the postcard pictures that get used to advertise Thailand.

There are actually two islands – Phi Phi Ley and Phi Phi Don.

Tickets for these various excursions – besides being able to arrange them from home – are available all over Thailand, from Travel Agents through just about any of the shops to “sidewalk sellers”. The prices vary considerably and depend on number of people travelling, the add-ons and add-ins that one requires (like pick-ups at hotels, meals, type of boat, snorkelling, equipment, etc etc) and of course, how good one’s negotiating skills and endurance and perseverance are.

Alison and Pera had purchased our tickets at a sidewalk seller at Patong Beach on the Sunday. We were to be collected at the hotel at 7h30, transferred to the harbour at Phuket Town, taken to Phi Phi on a speedboat (no more than 50 people!), stop at a few places and eventually returned to our hotel at 17h00 that afternoon – all at the price of BHT900 per person (just less than R300).

And the tour operator through his agent commanded “Let there be Phi Phi Tour”. Evening passed and morning came – it was Monday and there was tour. And we were very pleased with what we saw and it was good!

We were picked up (again punctually!) and went eastwards across Phuket Island, through Phuket Town to the harbour. There we were given an orientation programme by our tour guide, a flamboyant ladybird,  as to the day’s events, safety etc and sea-sick pills for the hour long trip over the Andaman Sea to Phi Phi Ley.

The sea was not calm, as I believe it can be, and it was not rough, as I believe it can get. But we did bump a bit and on the way there and we did experience our first rain shower of the trip. Soon we turned the corner into Maya Bay and expecting a lonely beautiful tropical beach, I was quite shocked when I saw the hundreds of people on The Beach and the numerous boats offloading more and more! As some left, more arrived.

But what exquisite beauty to behold – beach, cliffs, sea, sand, vegetation! The photos tell it all …

We swam for a while (and dodged boats) before we departed to Viking Cave, Monkey Beach and Phi Phi Don Island.

After lunch on Phi Phi Don Island, we snorkelled  and then left for Khai Island. The boys were a bit disappointed that we did not find the 20m cliff that Mr Rory Duncan, their rugby coach, had challenged them to jump off! Maybe next time!

We had about an hour to snorkel on Khai, swim or just to gape at the hundreds of people who were lying on the beach under a myriad of umbrellas.

Then we headed back to Phuket Town and onwards back to the Hotel in Patong City. We were a bit bumpier for the boat ride but it had been so well worth it. What an experience!

A swim in the hotel pool was followed by the obligatory nap, and then we had supper at the hotel. For some or other reason, still not quite known to me, we were given “apology” complimentary tickets for hotel dinner (which are normally much more expensive than meals obtainable at restaurants).

The Bryants went to town for supper (Subai Subai!) and we had dinner “in style” in the diningroom overlooking Patong Bay. There was just one other couple there and we were joined by an Aussie who was travelling by himself and who I had met earlier in the pool. Dinner came complete with an evening of Thai entertainment (spot the “lady boys”!) and a drinks bill for a round of drinks that was far more expensive than had we gone for a meal and two rounds of drinks on the town!!

Ha! Ha! Caught again! But the buffet of Thai food was excellent, and we really did fill up, so I guess it was well worth it (and anyway, so much cheaper than back home.)

We were very “Thai-ED” when, after the usual late night swim, we eventually went to bed and drifted off to sleep. Tuesday, the next morning, would see us having to move to our next hotel at Kata Noi Beach.