Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Protea...flowers beyond the ordinary

The King Protea the National Flower of South Africa

Fynbos is the major vegetation type of the small botanical region known as the Cape Floral Kingdom. The smallest of the six floral kingdoms, the Cape Floral Kingdom is a global biodiversity asset of great importance. It is home to more types of indigenous plants than any other similar sized area on Earth. At least 70% of the 9,600 plant species of the Cape Floral Kingdom are found nowhere else on Earth. One of the fynbos plant families are proteas. I was fortunate to see many different kind on my recent trip, above photographs were taken at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site –it is the first botanic garden in the world to be included within a natural World Heritage Site.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

St. George's Cathedral

When I travel I make a point to visit at least one church, and if time allows I go to the service and Cape Town was no exception. St. George's Cathedral is known as the People's church, and it was central in the fight against apartheid and at the time many people gathered to listen to Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other speakers. Since English was not the only language the service was conducted in, the person next to me helped me find my place in the program. This person had the prettiest lavender fingernails that I had to take a second look.. He was... yes, he was dressed very dapper. Little later, a young black couple came in and sat on my other side. They were very serious and followed the sermon with an intent look on their face, but very kind expression. This church was like the melting pot of the Cape Town, where all different race, black or white, or whatever came to listen to the service...I knew that AIDS is a big problem in South Africa, I don't know that statistics, but many families are raised by a single parent because of AIDS. The service talked about how Jesus healed Lepers with his hand. While AIDS will not be healed by our beliefs we can help heal the victims' hearts with our prayers. It was very moving service...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Groot Constantia Vineyard and Winery

Groot Constantia is the South Africa's oldest winery estate (established in 1685)and is easy drive from Cape Town. After you go through an impressive gate you will come to the visitors center. It is a Cape-Dutch white washed building and inside is just as impressive. Here you can purchase bottles of wine, art, and you can taste wines for R35, about $5. I decided to take a cellar tour which was few kilometers up the mountain through the Vineyards. Once I reached the tour area I was told to come back in one hour because of the big private tour. But you know me, after talking to the manager, I was allowed to tag along, of all things, 35 Japanese tourists from Tokyo....I don't think anyone suspected that I was not with the tour, even the Japanese tour guide helped me find a seat at the wine tasting. How was the wines? it was probably the best, well balanced wine I have ever had... not that I drink awfully a lot..

More photographs can be viewed on my flicker site. Just click on the flicker badge to the top left......

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bo-Kaap the colorful neighborhood

Bo-Kaap (means above Cape Town) was one of the place I had marked as the must visit for a photo shoot, and as it turned out it was a walking distance from my hotel. So early one morning, I grabbed my camera and walked up a steep hill for several blocks to reach this colorful, very unique area. I thought I would be the only one with the camera walking around, but several tour buses had already beat me to it, and there was a fashion shoot going on as well, so I took this opportunity to visit with the street vendors that were selling breakfast, and talked to a self appointed mayor of Bo-Kaap and it's welcoming committee until they left. This area is mostly associated with the Muslims who arrived in the Cape from 1658 and onwards and today's residents are the descendants of skilled craftsmen.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

African Penguins ( Part - 1 @ Boulders Beach)

Only 10% of the 1.4 million population of African Penguins estimated in 1910 remains. At the Borders beach, it has grown from two breeding pairs in 1982 to about 3,000 in recent years. Because of their donkey-like braying call they were previously named the jackass Penguin, but now the local birds have been renamed African Penguins. Peak moulting time is December, but this year they were in the mid-peak moulting season in early October. While they are moulting, they do not go out to the sea to feed so all of the Penguins at Boulders beach were on the land, and it was delight to see them sunning nearby....

Monday, November 1, 2010

My travel to Cape Town, South Africa

I was very fortunate to be able to travel to Cape Town, South Africa in October. For the next month or so I would like to post my wonderful and exciting experience of traveling solo to the other side of the earth. I had some anxious moments starting from arriving into the foreign country at midnight to an empty airport, having couple of huge baboons jumping into the rented car to steal bag of potato chips, huge Rhino with long horn charging at the jeep I was sitting in, but I also had many wonderful memorable moments.. By far the best experience was just being able to talk to the warm and very welcoming local people.. I did see that South Africa is still very much divided racially, at some instances I was totally ignored (I am Asian) until upon hearing my American accent, I instantly became Okay because I am an American.... but overall, It was a fantastic trip and one that I will never forget.....

So I hope you will enjoy my journey to Breathtakingly Beautiful South Africa .....

Photo above is of rose garden at Company Garden with Table Mountain at the back ground.