Hong Kong is an exciting city. It’s completely different to anywhere else we’ve lived. There are things that we like, things that we love and things we’re still getting used to. One of the biggest adjustments when moving from almost anywhere else in the world to Hong Kong is the bijou nature of the accommodation. It’s shall we say….efficiently compact. Continue reading
It’s been woefully quiet on the blog front. Woefully, pitifully quiet. That’s because during the long summer break, we’ve been in transit. It was our turn to pack up, ship out and move on. After five fabulous years, the sun has set on our South African adventure. It has been a huge wrench to say goodbye.
Since those first stumbling days where one child got a little too up close and personal with a lion cub and the other innocently asked whether Nelson Mandela was the guy on the red and white KFC boxes our kids have learned, experienced and grown (quite literally, height wise they are both catching up with me at an alarming rate) an enormous amount They’ve encountered many of the wild residents of African bush, learned about the unfairness of apartheid, ridden an ostrich and can recite the alphabet in Zulu.
The holiday is over and it’s back to reality. New posts are already in the works. In the meantime, just incase you missed them the first time around or just really really want to read them again, here’s a quick round-up of Expatorama’s top posts from 2017.
- Ponte Tower – A Tale of Glamour, Garbage and Gritty Regeneration. I read about Ponte Tower before moving to South Africa and was intrigued – an unusual hollow cylindrical building with a checkered history. I didn’t realise you could visit the tower until early last year. The tour is fascinating and I highly recommend it if you’re in town (i.e. Johannesburg).
- Hair Raising and Hair Razing Experiences Abroad. This post falls under ‘lesser known challenges of expat life’ that don’t normally get covered on expat blogs. Getting a haircut may be a lesser known challenge and yet the struggle is real.
- Expat Life Through Rose Tinted Glasses. This was a fun post to write, it involved wine and LEGO. When it comes to expat life, not everything is always as rosy as it seems.
The most read post ever is Why Expat Partners are Like Dung Beetles – a post basically detailing how completely awesome both expat partners and dung beetles are.
South African wildlife is off the scale, but you don’t even have to go on safari to experience it, there is plenty (sometimes a little too much) right here in our neighbourhood backyard.
I’ve variously written about and/or where possible photographed the spiders, snakes, birds and the scorpion that we’ve encountered around the estate and occasionally in our home. However, I’d never managed to get a really good look at our resident monitor lizard, until now…
Check out this bad boy heading off to chomp on his fish. He (or could it a be a she?) lives just down at the end of our road in a small nature reserve where I walk our dog. Easily two metres or more from top to tail, he could easily be mistaken for some kind of small crocodile.
What the most ‘exciting’ wildlife encounter you’ve had in your neighbourhood?
Although I very recently lampooned a fictional stereotypical expat called Charity Charity who is hopelessly devoted to helping all the causes, in reality I have a great deal of respect for the expats who go out and make a genuine difference to their host country.
Expat Leslie Randolph is someone who has done just that. She is making an admirable contribution to South Africa through her involvement with Lawyers against Abuse. Leslie is a fabulous individual, warm and kind and great fun to be around. Here she shares her story and her passion for the cause she has been fighting for:
The culture here in South Africa is ‘early to bed, early to rise’. Is it because the sun rises so early? No, it’s because of the delightful hadeda bird that serves as a daily alarm clock.
Have you ever heard the ear shattering screech of the hadeda as it pierces the the gentle quiet of dawn? This is but a timid sample, yet if you turn your volume up as high as it will go, you too can appreciate this special sound.
Good morning and you’re welcome.
You can learn more about just a small selection of birds we’ve encountered in Johannesburg, including the hadeda, the weaver bird and the go-away bird by clicking here.
Johannesburg’s Ponte Tower is infamous, notorious and really really interesting. It embodies the former decadence, ensuing decay and current regeneration of the City of Gold. It’s a brutalist, concrete hollow cylinder of a building in the city’s Central Business District (CBD). The tallest residential building in Africa, it rises 55 stories tall and along with the Telkom tower is an instantly recognisable feature of Joburg CBD’s skyline.
Ponte started life in the mid 1970’s as luxury real estate dubbed the ‘Vegas of Africa’, where the plushest apartments spanned three floors and had built in jacuzzis. To see a smattering of photos from those bygone I only found this one article: Buildings are Geological Agents. There are only a couple of images and you have to scroll most of the way down through the post.
When decay set in and the original hipster residents moved out, the empty buildings were broken into and hijacked. Ponte became a complete no-go zone. It was an overcrowded den of iniquity with a direly severe rubbish problem in the 90’s. There was no running water, no electricity and when the rubbish collections stopped, residents would lob their waste into the central void. Unfortunately, there it stayed until it rose a festering 14 stories high (or 2 or 3 or 5 – I’ve read different things and I’m not sure which is factually correct, but 14 is the number given by our guide on the day). Ponte was a slum in the sky.
In recent years, Ponte has changed again. The illegal tenants evicted, the rubbish has gone and the building has been refurbished to a good standard and is now home to a mixture of families, students, working and middle class residents. It is possible to tour both the inside (marvelling at the views from the top) and the eerie core with a circle of sky high above. Continue reading
For a city as gritty as Johannesburg, you might be surprised to find out just how many fab hiking spots there are in and around it. My friend, American expat Becci Monge has kindly written a guest post with her top local hiking picks.
Becci got hooked on hiking last year when she decided (and by the way successfully succeeded – enormous kudos to you Becci and the rest of the Jo’burg based She-Trek team) to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. In preparation for Kili, the She-Trekkers explored (and continue to explore) the best hiking spots on offer in our local area.
Over to Becci: Continue reading
This is a passenger announcement. Regular blog services are running late. Normal service has been severely disrupted by The Christmas Holidays…and a scorpion on the line.
Regular service will resume shortly.
In the meantime, just incase you missed them the first time around, the most popular 5 posts on Expatorama in 2016 were:
- Why Expats are Like Dung Beetles
- The Escape Room Phenomenon hits South Africa
- 10 Things I’ve learned from running and Expat Facebook Group
- Ladies who Lunch
- Which School? An Expat Parenting Dilemma
The scorpion has now thankfully left the building and I’m busy working on some brand new posts for 2017.
Happy Christmas – Here’s a little Expat Christmas Ditty to the tune of We Three Kings….
We four Expats travel afar
Metro, funicular, airplane, car
Veldt and fountain, fynbos and mountain
Always seeking the next bright star