Category Archives: Johannesburg

Johannesburg

Johannesburg has a population of 3.2 million people (South African 2001 census), half of which live in Soweto and adjacent suburbs. The majority of the population is formed by South Africa’s black residents who mostly live in Soweto, while white residents amount to 500,000 (although the number is likely to be higher). There are also around 300,000 residents of other descent. Unlike other South African cities, no language group dominates, although English is the established lingua franca.

The city is the economic hub of South Africa, and increasingly for the rest of Africa. Although estimates vary, about 10% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP is generated in Johannesburg. Yet the city’s wealth is unequally distributed among its inhabitants causing the city to have, within its own borders, living conditions varying from first world standards to third world conditions. The contrast between rich and poor has led to one of the highest crime rates in the world. The more affluent tend to live in houses with a high level of security by western standards, whilst the less affluent live in less desirable housing conditions. Don’t avoid Johannesburg because of its crime however, since it is perfectly possible to have a safe and enjoyable stay if precautions are taken. Many South Africans choose to live here over other, safer parts of the country.

There are many things that are unique to Johannesburg. It features a distinct street entrepreneurship, and motorists can buy things from vendors selling goods at traffic lights, as in many other developing-world cities. This includes food, umbrellas, soccer balls, cellular phone accessories and many other goods. Barber shops consisting of nothing but a chair and an enthusiastic barber can be found on the sides of roads, although they tend to specialize in African rather than Caucasian hair. Mine dumps can also been seen throughout the city and are a reminder of the city’s legacy of gold mining. These dumps are fast disappearing as new gold extraction techniques have made it profitable for mining companies to reprocess these dumps.

With around 6 million trees, Johannesburg is most likely the world’s largest man-made urban forest. The city is certainly one of the greenest in the world, considering that the natural landscape is savannah.

The weather is generally regarded as excellent; temperatures reach the mid-30s Celsius (95°F) in the summer months (Dec-Feb) with little to no wind and with occasional, spectacular afternoon thunderstorms. Temperatures in winter can drop into single digits but snow is extremely rare.

(Taken from Wikitravel)

I enjoyed touring around Johannesburg and Witbank (a mining town), but I did notice all the security, and everyone has guard dogs.

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We were able to visit with a wife of one of Mark’s co-workers in China. A beautiful home with security, dogs, and bars on the windows.

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The poorer homes along the freeway.

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I was surprised to see the gold waste dumps surrounding the city. I learned gold mining put Johannesburg on the map.

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The shops on the streets in Witbank.

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I was fascinated to watch the women walking along the street with their packages on the top of their heads.

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Also surprised to see John Deere everywhere.

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We noticed all the people selling items at the traffic lights, so John opened his window and purchased some sun glasses.

I enjoyed my trip to South Africa, and would love to visit the country again.

The animals, the animals

Mark and I were able to see animals living in the wild just in front of our eyes.

We went on a three hour game drive (safari) at a smaller park, so we did not find any big herds of animals.

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Truly amazing.

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It was amazing to watch the giraffes walk so majestically.

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Interesting to watch them eat the leaves from the tall trees.

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The ostrich foot is very strong and powerful and could cause great pain on impact.

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The zebras were just strolling around near our tent.

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This elephant walked right out, so without any notice Mark was able to get this picture.

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From the tour guide, I learned that the lower jaw of the elephant weighs as much as the whole skull. The elephant in his life will use 6 sets of teeth. They do not grow up out of the jaw like ours, but rather from the back towards your throat to push the old teeth out. Towards the end of the elephants life it will start eating softer food to preserve his last set of teeth, otherwise an early death with out any teeth.

P1020760I found it fascinating to learn about the white and black rhinoceroses, of which we only saw the bones. The white rhino grows larger and lives more in the open fields, while the black one live in the scrub, and thickets.

So for the white rhino babies the mother follows them, because they are easy to see as they roam around. Just as most  white mothers push their babies in a stroller so the mom’s are behind the babies. In the thicket difficult to see, so the babies follow the moms around, just like most black moms carry their babies on their backs. (As told in those words by the guide). I think I will always remember this fact.

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This was the only bug that we saw, thank goodness!

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Louie and John have done some hunting. From left, springbok, kudzu, water buffalo.

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We saw many more animals native to Africa, but from a distance so difficult to get great pictures.

Next Victoria Falls which was breathtaking.

Pictures from the wedding

Mark and I had a wonderful time at Leandra’s and Hakkie’s wedding.

It was held out doors on a beautiful, breezy, sunny day.

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The ceremony lasted about 30 minutes, and was very nice for Mark and I as it was conducted in English, by a Christian minister.

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The flower girl, and ring bearer

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Debbie (bride’s mom) Hakkie, Leandra, John (bride’s father, Mark’s co-worker)

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Louie (bride’s younger brother, John’s son) Leandra, John

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After the ceremony we entered the building, to wait for the reception to start. What surprised Mark and I was that the dancing started before the dinner. The music started at 6:00 along with speeches, which continued until 8:00 when the dinner was served.

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The traditional speeches took place from the father of the bride and the best man. I was wondering what was going on when all the men picked up and moved their chairs to the front of the room for Hakkie’s speech. Tradition holds that the men heckle him during his speech, so he got louder but it was still difficult to hear him.

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Not the best picture of Leandra, but you can see the beautiful beading on her dress.

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Here the men are gathered around the groom.

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Father and daughter dance

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John and friend Krista

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Louie, John’s son is quite the dancer and singer, so he dedicated this Afrikaans’s song to Mark and I. We just loved listening to this song, even though we did not understand the words, we loved the rhythm of the music.

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The most memorial part from this wedding was the dancing at the reception. I learned that South African men LOVE to dance. Most weddings that I have attended have the women up on the dance floor for the evening. Here couples danced together every song, with a jazzy type of ballroom dance. It was never just all the women on the floor dancing to the fast songs. I loved just sitting and watching them gracefully move around the dance floor, for every song. The music was a great combination of English songs from the 70’s and 80’s, and Afrikaans songs. I should add that Mark and I also did a little dancing.

Sorry the video is a little dark of Louie singing, but you can hear the Afrikaans’s words and see the style of dancing.

Mark and I had a wonderful time, and one experience we will remember forever.

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I just wanted to let you know that I added more pictures to my previous blog, on our luxury tent. You will actually get to see the comfy bed, and see why the tent camping was fine with me.

The food the food!

I have fallen in love with South Africa. The following paragraph was written on the brochure at our hotel, and it sums up my feelings.
“You’ll feel the warmth of our African welcome long before it’s uttered. It’s carried on the breath of the wind dancing through bushveld grass. In a ripple of water and sun bursting through cloud. It’s in the shade of the trees, the sound of the distant song. It’s in the gentle eyes of the impala, the yawn of a hippo and the cry of the black-backed jackal.
It’s a place where water runs pure. Where earth and stars meet.” Impangelle Game Lodge

I have never seen the stars like I have here. It really does look like they reach the ground, as they seem so close, that you should be able to stretch out and touch them.
I have been learning a few Afrikaans words, danke for thank you. All the people we met were able to speak Afrikaans and English, which made it nice for Mark. During many of the meals, someone would say, “only English” so then it would turn into a combination of both.
Also fun to learn some of their English words, as intersection lights are called “robots”. Each time I would hear it, I was looking for some kind of robot. Liquor store is called a Bottle store, gas station a petrol station. I also fell I love with their songs, so Louie the brother of the bride sang an Afrikaans song at the reception, which I will show later.

I have pictures on my camera, and Mark’s, so will try and sort them all out, so here are just some of the delicious food we have enjoyed. All we have done is eat.
When we weren’t eating breakfast we snacked on beef and kidney pie, and South African style corn dog. I am usually not a fan of corn dogs, but this was more like a hot dog in the middle of a donut :)

For breakfast we started with delicious yogurt covering crunchy granola.

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Look what followed, fried fish, streaked bacon, hard boiled egg, soufflé, beef sausage, corn bread

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The next morning, eggs, guacamole, sausage,baked tomato with mushroom, minced beef, soufflé.

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I am in South Africa and loving it

Mark and I just arrived in Zimbabwe today, after spending a couple days in Johannesburg South Africa. We stayed in a tent!! For all of you who know me, this would not be my choice, so my mind was spinning when I first heard the word TENT.
So no Internet for the last couple days, but you will see from the pics, it was a “luxury safari tent”.
We had electricity and indoor toilets with running water. I absolutely loved it.
Every morning we were greeted by the friendly ostrich, and turtle.

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The shower was outside, but wonderful since it was warm out and the sun was shining.

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I was finally able to get some of Mark’s pictures of the inside of the tent.

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South Africa, here I come!

Mark and I will soon be packing to come home, but on the way we are going to stop in Johannesburg, South Africa for a wedding. Mark has worked with John at one of the rural mines in China for the last 6 years.  His only daughter is getting married, so I am thrilled to be gong to a wedding.

The invitation looked to be handmade, on paper with velvet trim.

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I was surprised when I opened the invitation and found out it was written in Afrikaans.

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South Africa has 11 official languages, and scores of unofficial ones besides. English is the most commonly spoken language in official and commercial public life, but only the sixth most spoken home language.

According to the 2001 census, Afrikaans is the third most popular language in South Africa, with 13 % of the population speaking it.

Tonight we will take the newly started direct flight from Beijing to Johannesburg, and it is only 16 hours!!

This will be my first time to visit South Africa and to be able to attend a wedding makes the trip very special. I am looking forward to sharing my adventures with all of you.

After the wedding we will be going to Zambia for a couple days to do some sightseeing. We only found out last week that we must get the yellow fever vaccine to enter the country, so after a few calls we found an office that had the vaccine. In my Chinese class I had just learned about going to the doctor, so I was quite proud of myself to understand some of what I was being told. The needle was quite painless, and no side effects, so we are good to go.