After an incredible trip, I now find myself at home, in my room, on my own computer.
Today's seen me sleep about 14 hours... through sheer exhaustion.
As expected, there's plenty of mixed emotion and feeling towards returning to my native habitat.
The comfort of reasonable routine and association with what i know returns.
Yet on the other hand, the prospect to explore, discover and learn is drastically minimised.
In reflecting on my adventures, I decided to consider, what was best. What were the top 5 experiences, the highs, and lows of a holiday to remember. Without too much thought, here is what i think.
Top 5 African Experiences;
5. THE 2010 WORLD CUP, South Africa (Various)Obviously a huge part of the reason i was here in the first place. Attending World Cup matches was pretty special. It was awesome of course just being around the world cup, not just watching random matches at my leisure, but seeing the impact, the great impact it had on a nation. Watching in bars, restaurants and fan-parks (at normal hours) was awesome.
Attending the games, was of course even better. I had the pleasure of seeing 8 matches in total, in Cape Town, Durban, Nelspruit and Rustenburg. The Australia and Holland games were particularly special to be at (along with Portugals demolition of DPR Korea).
4. BLYDE RIVER CANYON, Mpumpulanga, South Africa
This was definatley the biggest 'shock' spectacular of my tour. In fact, prior to departure for Africa i didnt even know I would be seeing it. The Third Largest Canyon IN THE WORLD (Behind 1. Grand Canyon US, and 2. Fish Creek Canyon, Namibia), and the LARGEST 'Green Canyon' due to its sub-tropical foliage, made it an incredible sight to behold. It is also known as one of the great wonders of nature on the continuent.
3. TABLE MOUNTAIN, Cape Town, South Africa
Just an incredible natural monument I wont soon forget. It wasnt only spectacular from the top, but brought a smile to my face whenever I looked at . The awe-inspiring mountain face could be seen near anywhere from Cape Town, towering over the city, making it such a spectacular place to be.
Flanked by Devil's Peak and the Lions Head on either side, it was a massive flat plateau which offered spectacular views for miles. A place you could explore and hike time and time again.
2. VICTORIA FALLS, Zambia
It was a big sacrifice giving up the World Cup Knock Out phase, to explore Africa, however in hindsight, not the least bit regrettable (3 out of 5 of these African experiences being out of my World Cup Route). Any tour I was to take, HAD to see Victoria Falls, and im ever so glad of that decision and committment. Theres waterfalls, and then theres this; an incredible, breathtaking Wonder of the World. Whilst niether the highest or widest, it is the LARGEST (width x height) forming the largest sheet of falling water on the planet. The awe inspiring (and drenching from close proximity) power of this waterfall was incredible to behold, as was the spectacular views from above, on my scenic helicopter ride.
1. KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, Mpumpulanga/Limpopo, South Africa
Given its hype, I was somewhat skeptical this would live upto its name. It did, easily. Being an avid animal-lover, there is nothing more spectacular than seeing the greatest animals to roam the planet, in the wild, doing their own thing, at their own pace. Never again will I feel the same satisfaction from any zoo, crowding around a cage to catch a glimpse of a lion resting behind a bush.
Not only was i treated to seeing EVERY possible animal i could have hoped for, my tour group was acclaimed by our leader as 'The Luckiest' he had ever seen in his 6 year career. We saw each and everything we could have hoped for, on multiple occaisions and at near touching distance. Its an experience I'll never forget. Additionally, given its massive size, its a place you could visit again in the future, for a whole new set of sightings and experiences.
Pros and Cons of the World Cup in Africa
+ Relaxed Attitude - Definatley not a stressful place. People seem very carefree, approachable and mostly helpful.
- Africa Time - Relaxed attitude comes with a cost. Everything here happens at its own pace. Forget efficient, punctual service. It dosnt exist. Yes, there might seem like the resteraunt is WAY overstaffed, and theres no customers, but you'll just have to wait.
+ Primal Nature - Everything is built by convenience, and neccessity. Whilst the main cities are somewhat westernised, much of civilization is spaced out and simple. Sometimes you wonder just how many human feet have touched certain areas.
- Chaotic Nature - Much of Africa is disorganised, and unplanned. Road design and networks are often unsafe and confusing. Street names have been changed without notice. Drivers change lanes and often run red lights without warning.
+ Good Security - Security for the World Cup period was solid. Apart from occasional beggers, none of myself nor my travel companions encountered any sort of danger or fear.
- Crime Still Prevalent - This largely applies to Durban, but there were still plenty of examples of mass police arrests/ apprehension. Road blocks, people being handcuffed, pulled over. When you look into a doorway in an un-populated street and see an extensive amount of blood, this is somewhat concerning.
+ Local Enthusiasm - Aside from a few low-key matches, the World Cup generated tremendous support and enthusiasm from Africans. Especially admirable was the togetherness support was for the African nations (despite doing poorly). This meant for incredible atmosphere and excitement for every match watched out, and every goal scored.
- Vuvuzelas - Initially an amusing novelty, the sound of these horns still rings in my ears. Even if you were to argue they were decent as background sound AT World Cup Matches, they destroyed any of the culture or class of national chants/ atmosphere, drained out by what sounded like mosquitos buzzing around your head. In addition, you would hear these EVERYWHERE you went, Shopping Centres, having a quiet drink, Resteraunts, ANYWHERE
. The instrument itself requires no skill, and develops no rythm. Hearing them at 2am when ur trying to sleep, just sealed the deal for my hatred of this instrument.
+ Australian Performance - Aside from terrible tactics, and a thumping in their opening game, it was certainly inspiring watching the two subsequent efforts. A draw against Ghana with 10 men, which they almost could have won, and then deserved victory over Serbia, with two incredible goals.
- The Fanatics - Made you truly ashamed to be Australian. A Tour Group, that had no idea. Not only the worst tour company i have experienced, but possibly the most incompetent organisation, period. The organisation sucked as much as 99% of those who signed up for their World Cup experience. The Group itself; picked us up for transport at stupid times, were unorganized, gave us match tickets ON THE DAY the tournament started, didn't have answers, didn't meet itinerary, lost people, winged it, and didn't know what they were doing.
The Fantics fans; were rude, only pride was how smashed they could get, ignorant, arrogant, quick to anger, naive, selfish, thew beer bottles on the field, could be found urinating in crowded areas as they exited the stadium, ungrateful, unintelligent, embaressing.
+ World Cup Discoveries and Surprises - A world cup of surprise and discovery, a historical first for location, and historical first winner in Spain. Several teams surprised and dissapointed, and new players were discovered, like Tomas Mueller (young player of tournament and golden boot winner). Holland delightfully overachieved, finishing second, Spain lived up to their potential and Germany played beautiful football. England, France and Italy provided epic dissapointment, and Uruguay somehow managed to finish fourth, thanks to Forlan, deserved player of the tournament.
- Diving and Poor Referee decisions, Again - Lampard's disallowed goal was as close to actually touching the back of the net, as it was to not crossing the line. Could Tevez have been ANY MORE offside against Mexico? Once again, on Several occasions the refs got it horribly wrong in South Africa; so wrong, it changed or ruined games. There was an overkill of red cards, and rash decisions. Additionally, the old 'fall to the ground holding ur face when tapped on the ankle' was painstakingly prevalent again. It gives football a terrible name when the 'new follower' catches a glimpse of it. We need video replays as refereeing is just not good enough. We also need these replays to give stiff suspensions to players 'exaggerating' injury.
So thats about it for now. A quick reflection on what has been the month of a lifetime. Memories i'll never forget, and cherish always. Now all there is to do, is plan my next adventure, and there will certainly be plenty more to come.
On top of that, theres no way i'll be missing the next edition of the World Cup in four years time. Bring on Brazil 2014!!Read more