Since we had only two working days, today was cubs day for us. Did the usual stimulating, feeding and meat cutting, and spent as much time as we could with all the cubs.
Somehow the cubs were a little too crazy today. By the way, I just found out how to spell my favourite lion’s name is spelled… It’s Koa! :) First, Dave started biting a visitor’s camera bag, and when we wanted to take it back, he got extremely possessive, like it was food! He was growling and snapping at anyone who tried to go near him, and even when there was 4 of us trying to pry open his jaws and hold his paws so that he couldn’t struggle, we couldn’t get him to release the camera bag. In the end we left him alone for a while, and snatched the bag the moment he put it down. Mind you, this is a 10 week old lion and he put up such a fight!
Then in the afternoon, Koa went crazy chewing or sucking on my bag and refused to let it go… And Koa is bigger than Dave and one of the over-possessive ones during feeding, so it’s even more dangerous when he gets possessive. In the end we had to use a rake to scare him off, and even that took a while because he was running away with the bag in his mouth. I got my bag back with a load of lion drool. Luckily I was already intending to throw it away.
Speaking of which, my slippers has become the lions’ favourite chew-toy. Look what has become of it!
Thank goodness I got it cheap, and I was also already planning to throw it away here.
Went over to Michelle’s house to play with her pet meerkat for a bit! He’s super fast and agile, so we had troubles trying to take a good photo. He can climb really well, and it loves digging holes -.- so it was kinda scary to have him climb up your chest towards your nose and ears :\
Leaving tomorrow already. This really sucks……. :(
This morning, before breakfast, we went into the devils enclosure (where our room was previously) and when the lions saw us, they all ran towards us! Not sure if it’s because they actually recognize us, or they were just feeling playful. Haha :) Now there are 7 in there. Zoey and Ben had been transferred to Piggy’s enclosure, so they’re really happy together now :)
So we’re on rangers today. Fetched a load of chicken from a crocodile farm, and had a mini tour while we were there.
Got back to Ukutula and fed some hungry lions, had lunch then cleaned a lion enclosure, then we were done for the day. The enclosure we cleaned today were of the lions that are about between 6 months to 1 year old, so there were pretty large.
We cleaned out their play/drink pool and they were having a ball playing with the clean water! <3
One of them was adopted by Kylie Minogue, and her name is Kylie. She had an infection in her left eye when she was little, and they had removed it just a couple of months back.
Spent the rest of the day with the baby cubs! There are more now! When we left, there were 4. Sadly, one died while we were away. :( But the week after, 3 new babies were born! So there are 6 now.
Stimulated them and fed them as usual, and they fell asleep on us before we had to wake them up for the next stimulation. I actually wanted to spend more time with the devils (the ones in our garden previously), but because Peishan had 2 cubs sleeping on her lap, and later on her chest, she refused to leave the cubs. Hahaha.
Just as we were done with stimulation and we walking to see the devils, Ben and Helga brought the baby caracals out for a walk!
The babies were 2 weeks old as well, and they were tiny!!!!! Just slightly larger than my palm! They were already very nimble and were trotting around like rats, unlike the lions who were still stumbling around at the same age.
Look how tiny they are! Smaller than Peishan’s boots!
When we finally tore away from the caracals, we walked towards the devils enclosures and saw Marie-louise running away from the gate, TOWARDS US! She had managed to climb over the gate! Previously we already knew that she was climbing gates, but the other bigger lions would somehow get her down before she got too high up… Guess she had learnt to climb it much faster now. We quickly caught her and before we even manage to get her back in the enclosure, Dakota had followed suit and was out of the enclosure as well! My gosh these lions! After some struggle, we finally managed to put them back in and close the gate, but Marie-louise was STILL trying to climb the gates, and we had to have people hitting the gate from the outside, and people pulling her off the fence from inside. In the end, Willy took a tazer and tazed the gate when Marie-louise was on it. It took 3 times for her to finally give up trying!
Just as all that drama ended, dinner was ready, and I did not get to play with the devils. DAMN. Never mind… we still have tomorrow.
So glad we came back! Although it’s only been two weeks, there had been some changes, like new cubs (lions & caracals) and new volunteers, and the lions have all grown since we saw them… And it’s really nice to see all the rangers as well. Just 1.5 more days and we REALLY are heading home. :(
Just visited the cubs in the dark and got my first fresh welcome back scratch! It’s still Dave, Ted & Chalky at the cub interaction area. But they’ve really grown since we left! They’re even bigger than Marie-louise and Dakota when we left. Haven’t seen any of the other lions yet though… Can’t wait for day light!
Today has been pretty…stressful. Got to the airport on time and had one last dozen of oysters and a seafood platter at Ocean’s Basket. The flight to Johannesburg took 2 hours, and when we arrived, we found out that we could make payment for our flight changes at the airport. We almost had a heart attack when the person at the counter told us the amount we had to pay was $245 per person, instead of the $130 I was told! So the guy at the counter called up Dubai to clarify, but shockingly, after he hung up the phone, the amount became $390! That’s 3 times the price I was told! Obviously we weren’t prepared to pay the difference, not when it’s such a huge one! So after an hour of explaining and debating, we came to the decision to leave a day earlier, on Thursday night, as the fare for that flight was the same as the first one that we booked. The guy was actually nice towards the end, and he only charged us for 1 time adjustment fee of $100 per person, when he actually wanted to collect $200 at first.
So with that settled, we collected our rental car and set off for Ukutula at 5:30pm. Boy it’s no fun to drive in South Africa at night! It was dark by 6:30pm, and the roads are so dark and narrow and you just never know when there are potholes. But the drivers are crazy. I seriously don’t know how they can drive at 100km/h (maybe faster) in such driving conditions!
Almost 3 stressful hours later, we finally arrived in Ukutula!!!! So awesome to have dinner waiting on the table for us. Isn’t this place great?!
I keep telling Peishan, I can’t believe we’re back here. Hahahahaha. Think it’s gonna be even more difficult to leave this Thursday…
Visited the Two Oceans Aquarium today and I was a lot more entertained than I expected to be. After all, how different could it be from our own Underwater World?
There was a tank with tropical fish, which affirmed that tropical waters are so much prettier to dive in. In comparison, the fishes were so much more colourful, unlike all the silver-coloured fishes we see in the colder waters.
Then there was a tank completely full with clownfishes (better known as Nemo), and you can crawl under and pop your head up in the middle of the tank! So that was pretty cute (:
We were in time for the penguin feeding, and I have to say the rock-hopper penguins are so damn cute!!!!! You know how penguins usually walk… erm… like penguins? Like being unable to bend their bodies or knees? These rock-hopper penguins HOP like that, and the bright yellow feathers at their eyebrows would swing and bounce as they hop! Hahahahaha! Isn’t that fucking adorable? Watch the video in the next entry for proof. They actually swallow their food, a whole fish, whole! That’s so weird. Wonder if they ever choke.
There was also an exhibit of the kelp forest, similar to what we dove in a couple of days ago, and a large tank called the predator exhibit with rays, sharks and some other large fishes. The sharks and rays were huge man!
Spent a good 2 hours in the aquarium! Almost feel like a child again. Hahaha!
After that, we went into a frenzy of getting souvenirs! That’s almost the worst part of travelling… trying to hunt for suitable and affordable souvenirs for people back home. And then you need to think about how you’re gonna squeeeeeze them into your already exploding luggage, and if they’ll break on the way home. Anyway, we finally got done, and we went back to the backpackers for some home-cooked lunch.
By now we’ve heard back from Ukutula about the availability, so we rushed through lunch and headed for the airport! We went from the Emirates Airways office to the check-in counter and back to the office, only to find out that they couldn’t help us change our flights, and we had to wait till tomorrow when the customer service office in town is open. But we were given the headquarters number in Dubai, so we tried our luck. And we got lucky.
It’d only cost us SGD$130 each to change our flight, which is actually pretty reasonable, in my opinion at least. So we went to the domestic flight counters to enquire about the rates for flights to Johannesburg, which turned out to be around SGD$215 per pax… which is pretty alright as well. At this point we were feeling extremely bummed because when we missed our flight to Cape Town previously, British Airways actually offered us a complimentary one way ticket to anywhere in South Africa, but we just didn’t think we’d have needed it at all! That would’ve saved us $200!!!! Ugh… but let’s just try not to think about it. :(
Made the final calls to Ukutula and Emirates in Dubai, and finally after almost 1 hour of overseas airtime, we have confirmed our extension! Just hope that phone call didn’t cost a bomb……………
Really looking forward to seeing the lions and Gill tomorrow! Only bummer is that we’ll definitely have no internet once again… But I’d totally trade internet for 3 days with the lions :)
Penguin feeding! These are the rockhopper penguins. As you will see, they swallow their fish whole without chewing, and they actually hop to the back of the queue when they’ve had their turns. Real cute!
The Robben Island tour was a little disappointing. It was shorter than we expected, and it wasn’t as detailed and in depth as we wished it would be. But it was really cool that the prison guides were actual inmates back then, so it was a true account that we heard from the very people who lived in the cells.
Had to take a 45 minute ferry ride to the island.
Our prison guide/ex-inmate, who was a political prisoner. Quite the character.
This was the very cell that Nelson Mandela lived in for 18 years!
We wanted to have some oysters at V&A before heading to Stellenbosch for some wine and cheese fondue, but after we sat down, ordered the oysters and started eating the complimentary bread, the waiter came back to us and said they didn’t have oysters today. !!!! Felt bad leaving without paying after eating half a bun, but WHY NO OYSTERS! ):
Took away Pad Thai for lunch in the car, while we made our way to Stellenbosch. Sadly, no place seems to have cheese fondue, so that was another disappointment for us today. Had chocolate and wine pairing at this winery called Lourensford though, so that was pretty interesting.
Bought another 2 bottles of wine from another winery called Avontuur, so right now, we have 4 + ½ bottles of wine sitting in our room, waiting to be drunk or packed into our luggages. Let’s see how that goes!
Decided to head back to Camps Bay for the R8 oysters, and on the drive back, we suddenly had a crazy idea to extend our trip for a week to go back to Ukutula! Started thinking of the possibilities and how we could go about doing it, and realized that we NEED internet… To ask Ukutula if they have room for us, and also check how much it’d cost us to change our flight itinerary. I didn’t mention previously that the wifi in our current backpackers is down. How freaking unlucky are we with wifi?!
So after 24 oysters, we went to an internet café near the backpackers. Unfortunately the Fly Emirates office in South Africa closes at 12pm on Saturdays and all day on Sunday. ): So we might make a trip to the airport tomorrow and see what we can do.
Stomach’s feeling a little weird… Wonder if it’s the overdose of oysters or there’s something wrong with the food we cooked. Haha. Hope it doesn’t get too bad.
Got in our car this morning, realising that the passenger door wasn’t locked, some stuff were in the wrong places and there was a foreign plastic bag with a smelly jacket inside. That was really scary. We thought the car had been broken into, but we realized that we didn’t even lock that door in the first place. The car is really old fashioned and it can only be locked with the physical key. And even if you try to lock the passenger door from inside before closing it, it’d unlock itself once you shut the door. Thank goodness we didn’t leave anything valuable in the car, so nothing went missing.
Drove ourselves to a dive shop in Muizenberg this morning. The weather was really warm, which was great! We were telling the divemaster that we’re really afraid of the cold, and he said it’s been pretty warm, around 18 degrees or so. HELLO!? That’s a whole 10 degrees colder than what we’re used to! Anyway, we had two layers of wetsuits on, a total of 10mm, complete with a hoodie! The only thing missing was gloves…
The dive site we were at is called Windmill Beach, and we did 2 shore dives. I actually felt pretty okay walking into the water, with my wetsuits and booties on… until my hands touched the water. It was freezing!! Duh! And as we descended, I felt the area around my mouth go numb. At the end of the dive we found out it was 16 degrees. Seriously! I don’t know how I survived 43 + 21 minutes underwater.
I have to say, tropical waters are much better! Or maybe it’s just the dive site. The deepest we went was 10 metres, and although we were told some gully sharks live here, we didn’t see any. We were practically swimming through a dense kelp forest! Saw some, not many, boring fishes, like red romans and super klip fishes. Did see a cape crab though, and it reminded me that I was hungry. Haha!
At the end of the first dive, I was trying to take a picture of a fish on the seabed, and when I looked up, the divemaster and Peishan had disappeared! Did my own safety stop and slowly ascended, and they were already on shore -.-
Took some videos and photos trying to distract myself from the cold, so there, enjoy.
After the dives, we drove a bit further down to Kalk Bay for some crepes!
Notice how we fit in so nicely with the cafe’s decor!
Really yummy crepes! And the owner was really nice about it when they got the order wrong. :)
Walked around the area, which sold many knick-knacks and some antiques before heading to V&A to get our tickets for the Robben Island tour tomorrow, as well as check out the aquarium.
Saw 2 really fat seals sleeping at the waterside while walking along the quay!
Cooked up a storm for dinner today. We had stir-fried veges and omelette with mushroom and tomatoes, and RICE! That was one satisfying meal.
Tomorrow’s gonna be our 2nd last day in South Africa! Oh sigh ); I don’t wanna go home!
Woooo… So tired right now. It’s been a long day!
Weather was perfect today. Nice and warm… We started with sandboarding at a sand dune, which was a natural reserve, 45 minutes away.
Sandboarding’s pretty easy. It’s similar to wakeboarding and snowboarding, with your feet stuck to the board, just on sand. The sand was really soft, so falling wasn’t painful. We pretty much got the hang of it by the 2nd ride down, but I can’t decide if the walking back up was worse, or the having to re-wax our boards after every 3-4 rides was more irritating.
We were at it for about 2 hours, then we took a short drive to a beach nearby.
Was really glad that it was so warm today, but because it’s so dry here, we hardly sweat. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it wasn’t windy, so as long as I’m not touching the water, I didn’t feel cold at all. The water was really cold though, probably as cold as shark diving yesterday. Peishan thinks it’s even colder. We felt our toes go numb within 5 seconds of entering the water! But maybe it’s adrenaline, we forgot about the cold once we started surfing, or rather trying to surf.
Surfing after two hours of sandboarding is no joke! First you need to fight the waves to get out far enough to catch a wave, then you need to climb up your board, paddle (rather) furiously while arching your back as much as possible, then push yourself up and balance on the board!
On my second try I actually managed to stand up for a while. After like 3 tries, I was beat- I couldn’t even push myself up the board and I just ended up body-boarding back to the shore. Hahaha. Felt like every single muscle in my body was aching.
Rested for like 10 minutes, before summoning all the energy I could and went for my next round of surfing.
We did okay, managed to stand up quite a few times. The instructor was pretty damn impressed by us, because most people usually start to get the hang of it after an hour, but we actually managed to stand on our boards by the 2nd try.
Surfed for almost 2 hours and we called it a day and we headed back to the backpackers to shower. Had KFC for late lunch, collected our rental car and went to Century City for some shopping. It’s a huge mall just 15 minutes away, with a theme park and casino next door. And the best thing is that it closes at 9pm, way later than everywhere else!
Walked past Ocean’s Basket and saw that the oysters platter costs R99(SGD$16.30) for a dozen! We were totally sold so we returned after we were done with shopping. Haha! And we realized that since we arrived in Cape Town, we’ve been having oysters every other day. Spoilt or what? Hahaha.
When we got back and parked the car, some guy wearing one of those bright yellow-coloured bib came up to us and said he’d look after our car, and asked us to give him something, some change or anything. We didn’t really know how to react to that, because we’ve been told not to promote begging by not offering when people beg. In the end we just walked away… hopefully nothing happens to our car :\ we’ll see tomorrow.
Alright, I’m dead beat and I’m having a headache. And my back hurts from all that exercise. Praying for great weather tomorrow too!!!
The day started real early today. Woke up at 6:30am to get ready to be picked up by the shark diving company. The drive up to Gansbaai was 2 hours! Breakfast was provided, so we ate, then took a 10 minute boat ride out to the dive spot.
It wasn’t diving really, nor snorkeling. We were just suited up in masks, wet suits and booties, and put in a cage half-submerged in water. Mostly we kept our heads above the water, because it was sooo freezing cold- 15 degrees Celsius to be exact. A bait was thrown into the water, and when the sharks swam past, the guides on the boat would shout ‘DOWN LEFT!’ or ‘DOWN RIGHT!’ and we will push ourselves down to see the shark underwater.
There were 5 people in the cage at one time, and we had 18 people on our boat. We were the third batch to go, and reluctant as I was to go into the water because it was already so cold on the boat and on land, I put on the already wet wetsuit, mask and booties and climbed into the cage. It was mind-blowing!!! The cold… And the sharks of course. I started shivering the moment my face first touched the water, but I got lucky. The moment I went in, the sharks just kept coming! I stayed in the cage for around 10 minutes, and I saw 5-6 sharks up close! The sharks ranged from 2.5metres to 3.5metres, according to the dive master. We thought they looked larger though.
The view from the deck is actually better though, because you can see the sharks approaching from the surface of the water.
Towards the end of the trip, we also spotted a seal just about 10 metres away from our boat, so that was a bonus. Headed back to shore, had lunch, then we were on our way back to Cape Town.
Can’t believe we’re still gonna go surfing and diving in the next few days! Hopefully the water at those places wouldn’t be this cold!
The rafting people didn’t get back to us, so we were free today. The weather seemed fine, so we dressed up for the beach and headed to Camps Bay!
When we arrived and stepped out of the car, the sun suddenly went hiding behind the clouds. The wind was pretty strong as usual, and I was like, okay, maybe not such a good day for the beach! The beach was pretty quiet, although there were still a few crazy people who were in their swimwear. It was so cold there was vapour when we exhaled through our mouths!
We brought a spare blanket to use as a mat, but we ended up using it to wrap ourselves up. Hahah. However, that didn’t stop us from having a good time enjoying our wine & cheese. :)
At noon, we gave up battling the cold (and after we were done with the wine & cheese) and crossed the road for lunch.
Guess what we had for lunch? Oysters, escargots & smoked salmon! Hahahaha. No mains, all appetizers. Sure is hella appetizing! And the oysters were so cheap, only R8(SGD$1.30) each!
By the time we finished lunch, the sun seemed to have appeared and looked promising to stay, so we went back to the beach, and spent a good 2 hours sunbathing. There were a few white guys throwing a rugby ball around right in front of us, and they were pretty hot. Cherlynn would have had multiple org—— if she was here. Hahaha! Sorry, didn’t take photos. Oops ;p
As we didn’t have sunscreen on, we figured we shouldn’t stay in the sun for too long, so we did some grocery shopping, and then some shopping, before returning the car near our backpackers.
It’s been a real good move to have shifted to this backpackers. The car rental is just on the next street, and there is a mall just down the road. There’s also a better mix of restaurants and bars on this stretch, unlike previously where most were more upmarket. And talking about market, there’s even a market near where we are now.
We are going shark cage diving tomorrow! Kinda excited… but damn nervous about the cold water. I really hate the cold with a passion. Hope it’s not too cold!