Cape Town was most definitely a nice change from the previous two ports. It was a passenger port, and it was safe enough to walk alone at night to and from the mall and nearby restaurants. We no longer had to take 20 minute shuttles to the entrance of the industrial ports. And it was modern, clean and plenty of wifi. And I could tell about all of this as we pulled in with the table cloth (clouds) slowly pulling away to reveal Table Mountain, and the sun slowly rose on the East.
On the first day of my adventures in the Rainbow Nation, I went shopping with a friend at the Victoria Mall on the Waterfront, she needed some clothing to go out that night. It was a great mall, quite large and much more high tech than many US malls. After a lunch of shrimp Pad Thai with spring rolls and APPLETISER (this delicious sparkling apple juice, there is also white and red grapetiser and peartiser, it’s a South African drink), we headed back to the ship.
Then I spent my afternoon doing a city orientation. I felt that it was necessary for me to do this because I could hardly recall any of the historical contexts of the various sites in Cape Town from my one trip to South Africa when I was in 3rd grade.
I am sorry to report that I did not take many notes during my 6 days in South Africa, because for me it was mainly a port for recollection of memories from my one trip to South Africa, reflection, relaxation, catch up (internet), and eating good food (the shipboard food is pretty good but it got so repetitive that my body was rejecting it for a few days between Ghana and South Africa). Furthermore, the history of South Africa is one that is well known and can be easily researched. Most of my notes from Ghana and Morocco were based on things about their culture which astonished me or was something new to me.
Back to my city orientation. Our first stop was the Castle of Good Hope, the first building in Cape Town constructed by the Dutch East India Company. Cape Town was always a rest stop and trade stop for the Dutch, they never intended to colonize it. It was later that the British had the idea to Colonize this nation with such a strategic location. The Castle used to lie on the shorelines of Cape Town but in the 1930s, the city was expanded with a large area of reclaimed land, and a majority of the city’s hustle and bustle takes place in these newer areas. The purpose of the Castle was to provide provisions and a place for rest for sailors and traders sailing around the Cape of Good Hope to the east. The castle was quite nice, and I visited the Museum of the Governor’s house and the military museum. There was a dining hall with a dining table seating 100 people in the Governor’s house! While we were there a movie or advertisement of sorts was being filmed, people were getting into medieval costumes outside the castle and there was a camera crew with heavy camera equipment inside the castle. Our guide did point out that South Africa’s advertising field is quite strong and quite large.
We then took a drive through Cape Town before arriving at the entrance to the Company Garden. This garden was originally farmland for the first Dutch settlers in South Africa. The legislative headquarters are also found within the garden grounds, and so is the main Church where Archbishop Desmund Tutu gave his sermons before he retired. Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa, while Durban is the Judicial Capital, and Pretoria is the Executive Capital. We also walked by the former slave house, where slaves from the East were housed and auctioned off. A statue of J. C. Smuts sat outside the slave house. We also walked by a historical government building where Nelson Mandela met with the late Princess Diana. There were many species of flora all over the garden grounds. We then came upon a café in the middle of the gardens where we sat down for some Tea and Scones, how British! It was delicious! We then walked to the South African Museum, in the courtyard in front of the museum we saw a music video being filmed. The South African Museum had an exhibit on the San People, traditional tribe people living in the Kalahari desert, they were nearly driven to “extinction” when the colonizers came and when the Apartheid government moved them off of their lands for national park purposes. Nowadays there are programs instated for the remaining San people to return to their lands. The exhibit displayed rock art, something the San people are known for. There was also a small exhibit on the history of the various tribes around South Africa, from the Xhosa to the Zulu. Then the rest of the Museum was like a small version of the Museum of Natural History in New York, displaying the various animals and fossils of South Africa. To Be honest this Museum was not the best, and I found it to be boring and not at all interesting, which I found to be sad because it was called the South African Museum. So it could do a better job of showing more of the hisotry and culture of South Africa, instead of displaying models of animals.
After returning to the ship, I headed to a nearby café to use some free wifi before returning back to eat some dinner. That night my friends and I headed to Long Street, where most of Cape Town’s pubs, lounges and clubs are located. We all decided to go out in Cape Town because we felt safer here and we had heard many things about Cape Town nightlife. It was a 20 minute walk, and when we got there at around 11:15pm, it was already hustling and bustling with lots of people, many were from the ship. We walked up to just about the end point before we decided to head into a Cuban bar. I believe the place was called Cape and Cuba. They had some amazing Mojito! While hanging out here, a group of Australian and New Zealand men all dressed in red polos with names on the backs starting with “Mac—“ came stumbling into the bar and ordered some drinks. Before we knew it they were talking to us, and we asked them about their shirts. Long story (and believe me it was long), short, they met one year at the Hong Kong Sevens Rugby event, and then every year they do some traveling together and made some shirts to commemorate each travel I think. They also brought a camcorder to record their nights to then show to family and friends and also for them to remember as they were quite drunk by this point. We talked and talked, and finally they asked for our names, and then decided they wanted to interview us. Before I knew it, I was no longer Gary, instead they were calling me “Mr. Chow” and asked me how was filming “The Hangover Part 2” in Bangkok. I did not find this offensive or annoying, I just found it super funny, and I went along with it. In fact when they interviewed me they asked me how “The Hangover Part 3” was coming along, I laughed and said we were filming it in Auckland (they all live there) and Cape Town and that was all that I could say. They were really funny, though there were some points where they made some rude and uncivilized comments, but for the most part they were quite a fun group. In the end they bought us a round of Springbok Shots, a local South African mixed drink shot. It contains cream and peppermint liquor, and it was delicious. We soon decided it was too late and that they were simply too drunk, so we left. On our way to finding a taxi we saw them again, and they took a picture with us. Im just hoping they don’t post that video on youtube, which would not be good at all.
From what I could see, and from what I experienced, I can say that Taipei Nightlife is still the best from what I have experienced so far.
It was a good and fun first day in Cape Town.