Tuesday, February 18, 2014

These Walking Boots

If you like what you've seen on this blog, pop over and follow my new blog, These Walking Boots, where my journey continues.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New Chinatown

Chinese New Year was a month ago, but I've been so busy I haven't posted any of the pictures yet. I went down to Cyrildene in the day to scope the scene and buy some things before the evening celebrations. 

I always find Chinatowns interesting, in any city. They're these sudden little enclaves hidden away in unexpected parts of the city. Derrick Avenue in Cyrildene is no different; lined with beautiful buildings and frequented by the local Chinese community members. The shops are filled with unusual ingredients like preserved chicken feet, fish flakes, bok choi and prawn crackers; and the restaurants serve all manner of delicious and strange sounding Chinese delights. 

I also popped down the road to China Mall in Bruma Lake, which houses the more conventional array of cheap merchandise. Sometimes I like to visit these kinds of stores to buy silly things in large quantities. Who knows when one might need a thousand tiny rubber chickens?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Top of Africa

At 50 floors and 223 meters, the Carlton Centre is Africa's tallest building (but apparently not for long). Completed in 1972, it's not much to look at, despite its big Transnet crown that glows red at night, but the views from the top are superb! 

Finding the ticket office and lift shaft to get you to the 50th floor is not easy. The attraction seems somewhat forgotten, which makes the experience all the more special. After getting very lost, and stuck in the service lift of a neighbouring building (which was terrifying), we eventually found the tiny ticket office that issues little receipts for the R15 entrance fee through a small window. We were unceremoniously shown to the lifts, which took us to the 50th floor in a matter of seconds. 

The 360 degree views are punctuated by warped and faded photographs that point out some of the land marks that can be seen from each window, and viewing telescopes that you can use to hone in on points of interest. The walls opposite the windows are lined with fascinating pieces of the city's history and information about the construction of the Carlton Tower. Nothing is in great shape, but it's quite an endearing experience, and the views from that height are breathtaking!

Unfortunately I didn't have the best choice of film in loaded in my camera at the time, so I didn't get the best snaps. You'll have to go and see it for yourself. 

Anecdotes from Another Argus

35 000 cyclists left the starting chutes on Sunday to attempt the 109km Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Cycle Tour. I was one of them; and I did it in 5 hours and 40 minutes, a time that I'm rather pleased with, really. I had a wonderful ride. It was hot, and at times a little windy, but the stunning views and crowds of spectators kept my spirits high. 

A highlight is always conquering Chapman's Peak. As we came around the corner that conceals the daunting climb, cyclists around me let out moans of anguish as they realised the task ahead of them. The road winds up relentlessly ahead of you as you round that corner. Thousands of bicycles glint in the blazing sunlight as they crawl up the mountainside. It's a beautiful sight, but by no means comforting. And, having done the Argus twice before, I knew the climb continued to rise even higher around the other side of the mountain, a realisation which dashes the hopes of many as the round the last bend at what appears to be the crown of the hill; more moans of anguish as another snaking climb rears its head.  

Halfway up Chapman's I had goosebumps looking around me at the sheer effort and determination. It's the breathtaking views, and the anticipation of that feeling of victorious accomplishment as you reach the top of the infamous Chapman's Peak that keeps you going. There is nothing as sweet on the Argus as knowing that you conquered the beast! As I neared the top, and my excitement began to bubble and fizz, I looked over my shoulder at the river of bicycles behind me and shouted "Don't forget to look at the view!" I had done it!

There were many other heartwarming and entertaining scenes along the way. A man stood 100m in front of a water point in Kommetjie, holding up an aluminum teapot and offering cyclists a free cup of tea instead of water or Coke. Many spectators clanged wooden spoons against frying pans or biscuit tins to cheer us on, and several residents stood spraying riders with their garden hoses as we passed them by. There were signs offering Richard Branson and Helen Zille free sandwiches, and supporters offering to push tired cyclists part of the way up Suikerbossie hill. One particularly interesting man stood holding up a small LED strip which read "Go cyclists go :)". I wondered how long he had been standing there alone, cheering on the masses as they pushed on up the very last climb in Camps Bay. "It's all downhill from here", he was pleased to announce. And I am always humbled by the dedication of the Claremont Rotary Club members who sit for hours in the hot sun, often alone in remote areas, marshaling the race. 

I was proud to be part of the Chaeli Campaign team, which was very well represented and supported. This being my first time riding for a charity, I definitely think I'll do it again. I felt a great sense of determination and pride to be riding for such a worthy organisation, and the support and encouragement that I received from the team and spectators was gratifying. I didn't get to meet Chaeli, but I feel a strange sense of connectedness to her, and to the Chaeli Campaign. Thank you to all the sponsors who helped me to reach my fundraising goal. You are also connected to the Chaeli Campaign now, and I am sure your contribution will make a big difference in someone's life very soon. 

I can't wait for my next Argus. Another charity, more ambitious fundraising goals, and a faster time. Watch out 2014, here I come!