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[personal profile] emmelinemay
At 10am on Friday 26th August I set off for Gatwick, with a large but surprisingly light backpack (having packed and unpacked 3 times, and ended up with a bear minimum of clothes) to start my epic 24ish hour journey to Mum's b&B.

This was the itinerary:
2pm flight to Dubai from Gatwick - 6 hours
Arrive midnight (Dubai is 3 hours ahead of UK)
4am fly to Cape Town - 10 hours
Arrive midday (South Africa is one hour ahead of UK,2 hours behind Dubai)



I was quite excited to discover on the first leg of the journey that the in-flight entertainment was digital; you could chose what film you wanted to watch and when. The last time I flew to SA I flew British Airways and the options played over and over on the same channel, with no time guide, so you just had to flick through and hope you caught the start of something you wanted to see. There was also a channel where you could watch the view from below the plane and the view ahead thanks to onboard cameras, but I couldn't get this working. Boo.

I went for:

Thor:
Better than expected, with a rather attractive male lead, great effects and rather well done. The end credits informed me that it was directed by Kenneth Branagh WTF?

Sucker Punch:
Unusual, strange, beautiful - really beautiful.Very stylised. I wasn't sure at all what I thought while I was watching it, but afterwards I wanted to watch it again, and the visuals stay with you, so I think I liked it. The more I think about it the more I realise I liked it. The end credits tell me it was directed by Zach Snyder (300, Watchmen) which makes a lot of sense. Also, brilliant soundtrack.

Bedknob and Broomstick:
There was only an hour and a bit left of the flight so I had to watch something short I knew the end of in case I missed it. I must have seen this film over 30 times, I loved it when I was little. It was just ending as we landed, so it was a good choice!

I then had to sit for 4 hours in Dubai airport, which is HUGE and blingy and a little bit soul-less. I guess airports often are - I usually love airports, that sense of being in-between places, with everyone there excited and travelling; but I didn't get that sense in Dubai airport. Maybe because I was so tired and confused (is it 10pm? 1am? midnight? no idea.) Also, it was REALLY COLD. I guess because Dubai is so warm (59 degrees according to the pilot when we landed) they have the aircon up full blast inside.

Once the gate finally opened we were boarded super fast, and got away 15 minutes early. This plane was clearly a lot older than the one of my first leg - it had ashtrays in the armrests! It also had the old style entertainment. I was lucky enough to catch the starts of:

Rio:
Very funny. I'd already played Angry Birds Rio without realising it was anything to do with the film. FAIL. It made me laugh out loud several times which is a little embarrassing on a plane. Cute story, nothing new, but it's got some great laughs and some great performances from side-kick style characters.

Sleepless In Seattle:
I know. But it was starting and I thought I might as well.

Dumbo:
Another one I've seen a million times. I must have been really tired at this point because it made me well up a little when he goes to see his mum and she's all locked up in the Mad Elephant cage.

I slept fitfully and got very confused at the times they served the meals, breakfast at 5am? or was it 2 am? or 4 am? no idea. VERY glad I bought one of those neck pillow things at the airport! My injured knee didn't like any position I sat in though, and this was mainly what kept me awake, there was just no where to place it that wouldn't become painful after about half an hour.

We got in half an hour early, and any worries I had about having to wait for Mum were quickly banished as I saw her as soon as I came out of the tunnel - there's a walkway with a glass wall so you can see the arrivals lounge before you go through passport control and there she was. We saw each other at the same time and leapt up and down madly waving and blowing kisses. Bad knee forgotten, I set off at a great pace with a strange sort of limpy run, made it to passport control ahead of nearly everyone else so didn't have to queue at all.

There was a brief moment where I was walking through "nothing to declare" when I was stopped.
"Do you have any alcohol?" he asks. No, I tell him. "Do you have any cigarettes?" he asks. No, Isay. "Then what is in this bag?" he asks, suspiciously. only camels, I reply.

Then I ran straight out into Mum's arms!! "We'll be arguing in about 6 hours time" she says. "probably sooner than that" I say, "I've only had 2 hours sleep". Mum then tells me I won't be getting any now, as we're going to Spier for lunch, and you can see some cheetahs! SO I neck a bottle of diet coke and off we go to Spier, stopping briefly to see the the elephant outside the airport.



At Speir there is a Cheetah outreach centre where you can acaually touch a cheetah. Please don't try this with a wild cheetah or you may never be able to touch anything again on account of having no hand. I went in with Mum's housekeeper's Daughter, Nosi. She speaks no English, only Afrikaans, so the nice chap you can see in the photos came in and spoke to her. She's normally very shy with strangers (but not with me, I assume I looks so much like Mum she just accepted me as part of her!) so I was really impressed with how he spoke to her.



It was amazing to be this close to such an incredible animal. Cheetahs, I learnt, leave no scent on their skin which helps them be such effective hunters. In addition, the fur on their spots is of a different texture, which gives a 3D effect when hiding in grass, which makes them almost invisible. When we got back, I discovered that Beauty (Nosi's mum) had already paired me up with the nice chap so he is now known as my 'African boyfriend'

We then had a beauitful African buffet; everything I ate was delicious. The local woildlife clearly thought so too as we were covered in bees, and at one point I returned from the buffet to discover some beautiful birds stealing our food!

We got our faces painted:


and we got serenaded by Xhosa singers. As you can see, Nosi was unimpressed. When we went to get dessert the poor woman serving was having to deal with an invasion of the bees. The staff were burning coffee which was meant to keep them away, but the lure of the deserts was too great and they were everywhere. I made a joke (of which I am very proud) and said that she was "bee-sieged". No one finds this nearly as funny as I do.

The whole place was beautiful, with angels everywhere made from shards of mirror, tables up in trhe treetops and the trees decorated with beautiful iron lamps. I would highly recommend taking a trip here if you ever come to South Africa; it's only about 40 minutes from the airport by car and you can take a train to Spier which stops right across from Moyo and the cheetah outreach centre.

Sadly we didn't have time to go over to the birds of prey centre next door, where you can have an owl sit on your head, because we had dinner plans with some of Mum's friends.

We headed home, I slept for most of the journey, and must have been half asleep for most of the meal as all I remember is discussing the recent riots in the UK - which were big news over here.

Finally we got back to the B&B and I settled down in the Zebra room (you can't actually look in any direction and not see something zebra related. You can even dress up as one, should the mood take you) and went to sleep.

I woke up to bright warm sunshine (not bad for winter!) and this view:



No plans for today (I could do with a rest, tbh!) but tomorrow we are going on to Bontebok National Park and wine tasting.


Check out my facebook for the full gallery of photos!

Date: 2011-08-28 11:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] smogo.livejournal.com
Jealous of the cheetah encounter, but I did stroke a cheetah's tail once, while it was washing itself right at the edge of its cage in Barcelona Zoo.

Date: 2011-08-30 06:16 pm (UTC)
miss_squiddy: (Default)
From: [personal profile] miss_squiddy
Wowee, It's already an amazing adventure!

Date: 2011-09-03 10:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ephemera.livejournal.com
STROKING A CHEETAH! Awesomecakes :D

Date: 2011-09-03 03:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emmelinemay.livejournal.com
I know! Once in a lifetime opportunity; seriously amazing. His name was Enigma (his buddy was called Hemmingway!) and he really did feel just like a great big kitty.

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