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Krys's Travel log

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Welcome to my travel log! You will find here a lot more than in the travel reports, stripped from political correctness. Enjoy!

Log entries 101 - 110 of 1158 Page: 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Jan 20, 2012 09:00 PM Is Globosapiens dying?

Is Globosapiens dying? This morning, when I logged on, I saw a message on the home page of that for the last 24 hours there was absolutely no activity! I have been a member only for few years, but I have never seen a screen like this. What is going on? Our community was more lively in the past...

Is this a symptom of the global crisis and no-one travels these days? I know that I have not been overly active in the last few months, after I caught up with all the material after joining as a newbe. But there was always someone else on the wire for Globo...

Jan 06, 2012 09:00 PM Gabon - the last day

Gabon - the last day Leaving. Rolled out of bed after noon and pre-packed. The maid handed me freshly pressed laundry I had given her the day before, and I took a taxi to the beaches again. But to my surprise, the coast was less animated than on a weekday. Perhaps the school kids and high school students made up the crowd during the week.

Late lunch and a hike in the Quartier Louis in search of Gallery Olima. I saw very nice sculptures of giraffes at the Le Meridien's lobby, and thought I could get one for my flat. But when I eventually found this place, the prices really shocked me! For a small wooden giraffe (a wooden log with one end sculpted into giraffe's head) measuring about 15 inches they wanted over €100! I loved the concept but I really could not justify the expense. If it was, say €20, I would have spent €100 to buy five of them (they really looked great in groups). Otherwise, I thought it was too expensive. There were other animals sculpted really nicely, too. But the cost of them was stupidly excessive; an 6 inch leopard was €230, 5 inch round elephant was €155, 4 inch small sea turtle was €70. I have to admit that the ideas were lovely and the quality was superb. And yet, I thought there were limits of how much a bloke could spend on useless things and house decorations.

A short stop at Maringa for a bottle of Régab, and a conversation with handsome 23 year-old Mike, a waiter there (and a father of a three year-old daughter), all in French, and a taxi home to finish packing. A quick chat with Xavier, a handshake with the guard, who had to wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning to let me back in, and I was sitting in the lounge at the Leon M'ba International Airport of Libreville.  Uh, and I spent the excess of my CFA on fragrances at the duty free shops...

Jan 05, 2012 09:00 PM Gabon - Birthday After Party in Libreville

Gabon - Birthday After Party in Libreville Birthday After Party. Again a late start. Hike to the beaches, conversations (in French!) with the students on the beach; about the weekend, my travels, their future plans, snapping some pictures with them... all until the sunset. A taxi home, shower, an aperitif, and a taxi back to the Quartier Louis. Ben and his friend Davy joined me for the evening. They had plans to go night clubbing, and so they twisted my arm to have a birthday after party. It was Friday, and my last night in Gabon, so this actually did not sound like a bad idea. A visit to cash machine, and we started at the Aqua Room for some pizza (c.CFA7,000) and Cuba Libres (CFA6,000). Then, a short hike to the New Cotton Club. When we arrived (CFA5,000 cover charge, first drink free, then drinks CFA5,000), the karaoke was just finishing.

The club had a collection of the tallest girls I have seen in West and Central Africa. Some of them were as big as Berlin's transvestites! And, sadly, some resembled them, too. And these were just the waitresses. Many of the paying customers were also tall girls. Plus a good number of them were also big (i.e. heavy). It was a bit of a shock to me as on the streets and beaches of Libreville, one could spot mainly smaller people. It was very strange, I thought.

The club got packed! They played really good music, some sort of Africanised 1970s and 1980s disco. Very special! By 4 a.m., I got a bit tired. And the groups of heavy drinking burly oil platform workers, who invaded the club by that time, kind of ruined my experience. I gave Ben and Davy CFA20,000 to continue partying, as they were in no mood to stop yet, and took a taxi home.

Jan 04, 2012 09:00 PM Gabon - Birthday in Libreville

Gabon - Birthday in Libreville Birthday. It started slow. There were no specific plans until the evening. Rolling out of the bed late smoothed things with killing time in the afternoon. A long hike from Carrefour GG all the way to Quartier Louis, about an hour or so, was a good exercise. A few stops along the way on the beaches, chatting to students playing on the beach, were all good experiences. I stopped for a longer while at Maringa again. The guys already know me there, so as soon as I sat down, a beautifully chilled bottle of Régab lager was promptly delivered to my table without even having to say anything.

In the evening, I went to the Aqua Rhum. I had plans to go to a proper club, but conversations at the Aqua Rhum were too good and I was too plastered by 2 a.m. to go clubbing.

Jan 03, 2012 09:00 PM Gabon - In Libreville

Gabon - In Libreville Late start of the day. A morning double nesspresso, and I was out hiking back to centre. It was a long walk. And hot! Along the walk, apart from passing the airport, I met hundreds of school pupils dressed in uniforms. Some of the kids looked like grown-ups, so I guessed some of the schools were secondary or senior high schools. Some of the kids said hello, as if they sensed that I was anglophone. How they did that, I'm not sure. But later a couple of them asked me if I was German. Perhaps I looked German and not French.

On the way, just passed the airport, I stopped for a cold soda. It was a nice little cafe on the beach serving cold drinks, sandwiches and crepes. The beach was very nice. From that moment, I stayed on the beach, walking towards the Port-Môle, or rather the Quartier Louis, where I wanted to see an African craft and decorations shop. I paused for a while near the large Leon M'ba Lycee (a high school), at the beach. The kids were taking a dip in the ocean on their break. They were very funny and played like kids. Four of the kids wanted their picture taken. I obliged and one of the young gents wanted to ... pay me! He handed CFA2,000 to me and when I refused to accept the money, they could not believe that the picture was free! That was something new in terms of my African experience. Normally, if that is the case, the photographer pays for the privilege to take a photo.

Later, I went to the main art market to have a look around. It was not very big (located near the Presidential Palace) and I managed to visit all stands twice in some 10 minutes. I was thinking perhaps of acquiring a mask or two, but really I was looking for a nice sculpture of a giraffe. I had something specific in mind, and therefore I did not like anything else on the market. There were a couple of interesting masks, but the starting price was CFA50,000 ($100 or €76), on which I took an offence. The shop owners quickly dropped the price to CFA10,000 ($20 or €15), but the damage was done. I did not buy anything.

I stopped for a snack and a local Regab lager. And continued back to the beach. I passed Port-Môle as the sun was setting behind a thick layer of dust a few degrees above the horizon. There was a nice club called L'Eau Rhum and a simple beach bar, which I did not think had a name, but the locals called it Maringa. I had a sundowner there. The Assala boatman, Ben, joined me later for a snack and a couple of beers (he had to come all the way across the city) - it was him, who told me the name of the place. We spoke about his plans for life and the relationships between the black and white people in Gabon.

Jan 02, 2012 09:00 PM Gabon - Pointe-Denis to Libreville

Gabon - Pointe-Denis to Libreville Pointe-Denis to Libreville. After the entire day of lounging and walking on the beaches of Pointe-Denis, I boarded a small boat bound for the capital. There were a few issues with disembarking, as the concrete embankment of the harbour was too high for a small boat like this. Eventually, the not very clever captain, docked to the side of another boat and we were helped out.

I got very kindly invited home by the owner of the Assala Lodge. It was a bit out of the centre, passed the airport, a long walk back to the action, I thought. Yet, there were always cars offering a lift back to the centre (at 3,000 CFA). It was a great house, nicely decorated, equipped with a nesspresso machine and with wifi... I could also wash my clothes and relax.

Jan 01, 2012 09:00 PM Gabon - an extra day at Pointe Denis

Gabon - an extra day at Pointe Denis At Pointe-Denis. I decided to stay an extra night at the Assala Lodge. The turtle viewing the night before, really the main mission for Pointe-Denis was accomplished, and yet it felt rushed to leave just a few hours after the event. Plus, I really did not have a plan for Libreville and the area. Gabon was really extremely bad in the tourism department. They created so many national parks, which of course is commendable, but created no means to get to them to admire their beauty. There were no travel agents to speak of. One or two, whom I contacted over email before my arrival, actually advised me not to come to Gabon at all. All due to logistical challenges and the unpredictability of which hotels and lodges would eventually open for the season, and which would not. Really, quite a ridiculous advice and completely devoid of business sense!

Whilst in Libreville, I thought I might make a hop to a small national park, just north of the capital, but I found nothing about its qualities, facilities, trails, etc. Nothing. So, for now, I parked the idea. When, I return to Libreville for a the last three days of the holiday, I might revive the idea of trying to do something on the side of nature again. Since Libreville, sadly, was not the most exciting of African cities that I have seen so far.

I rained this morning. All five minutes. Then, the sun came back with a vengeance. Typical equatorial string of weather events...

Dec 31, 2011 09:00 PM Gabon - a big sea turtle

Gabon - a big sea turtle At Pointe-Denis. Day of strolling on the beach, mingling with the locals, who came for a day from Libreville (including some rather predatory females), snapping more photos of the island, eating fish, wading in the sea. And preparing for a viewing of sea turtles.

After a few enquiries with the locals and the owner of the Assala, I was convinced that I could do the turtles sighting on my own. All I had to do was just walk along the shore northbound, pass the presidential home, pass the pier, pass the 'rasta bar', pass the Maringa Hotel, and the giant logs lying on the beach, just before the tip of the island. And then, turn left (westbound). And keep walking towards the Baie des Tortues Hotel.

I already made this trip, so there was no challenge for me. It normally takes about 45 minutes to the tip of the island. At night, it could take longer. Particularly as the sea would be at high tide, and certain stretches of the shore would be impassable. One needed to have to navigate giant rocks positioned to prevent more erosion of the shore, and protect the properties.

I set out at about 11pm. I put on my hiking boots, just in case I was going to step on something at night, which could make me have to call my travel insurance. And like everyone on holiday, I would rather not have to do that. And it was a good idea, it turned out. As I managed to stumble on a few branches sticking out on the beach! When, I passed the giant logs at the tip of the island, the sea was too high to walk along the water's edge. I had to climb onto the beach. And then, I almost stepped on the giant sea turtle just finishing laying her eggs! She was massive! At least 1m70cm (5'4") from head to tail. I must have startled her, I'm sure. But I was also a little shaken that I almost tripped over her. She was just covering her eggs with the sand. She looked exhausted. I could swear I could see tears in her eyes. I did not want to disturb her too long. I lingered maybe 5 minutes and then turned back to the Assala Lodge. I think she was happy to see me go. The sea was just receding, so there was time for her to go too.

Dec 30, 2011 09:00 PM Gabon - New Year's Eve at Pointe-Denis

Gabon - New Year's Eve at Pointe-Denis At Pointe-Denis. Rather unexpectedly the clouds disappeared. The sun made it a perfect beach day. It was perhaps a bit too hot, but occasional blow of the breeze from the sea made it bearable. The Assala Lodge got filled with loads of people, who arrived for the New Year's Party. The venue charged CFA90,000 per head for this privilege. Not cheap, but it included oysters and foie gras for dinner.

The day was made easy. Just snoozing at the beach, talking walks, dipping feet in the warm waters of the Atlantic, playing with sand, slapping a bit more sunscreen, sipping Castel lager, snapping locals, snapping rich colonialists on their jetskis, snapping palm trees, slapping some more sunscreen, wading in water a little, etc.

When the sun set, I thought I might have a chance to take a photo of the Milky Way, but the Moon was too bright, and the occasional cloud spoiled the view. However, three planets came in line, the Venus, the Jupiter and the Uranus. For a while they were all in the same line with the Moon. What a view! (the Uranus not really visible to the naked eye, though).

The Assala Lodge really made an effort to make it a real last day of the year party. There was a DJ, unlimited amount of lethal punch, and a variety of nuts and prunes as an aperitif. But they had a slight problem with the genie. It kept failing every now and again. The owner, Xavier, tried a new valve or something, and it did not work well with Diesel. Still, with all the candles and the proximity of the ocean made the ambiance electrifying on its own!

Now, imagine a very fine line of flickering lights a large Third World city, some six miles away across a giant river. All ten miles of it, running from left to right. Here comes midnight. The very first seconds of the new year. Suddenly, the long, very fine line of flickering lights gets a boost. Thousands of minute boosts. There are countless blasts of tiny but mighty flashes that light up every few hundreds of yards of the line, every few fractions of a second. As if someone followed Diana, Princess of Wales, trying to take her a photo at midnight, all the way across the city, there and back, all in an instant. That was Libreville on 1 January 2012 seen from Pointe-Denis. This spectacle lasted for like ten or twenty minutes. Very long! And in the middle of it, the presidential palace put on a show. Several minutes of Hollywood style fireworks that light up the sky all across the six mile-wide estuary. All at once. So ghastly flamboyant and over the top.

The party at the Assala kicked off after the fireworks. It was curious. Almost no-one boogied before midnight despite many invitations from the owner's wife. And she was on fire! And she could move, too. She might have been perhaps sixty years of age, but she never broke a sweat! Then, at 00:20 hours, somewhat magically, the entire dinner party stood on their feet and started jumping, twisting, shaking.

Dec 29, 2011 09:00 PM Gabon - At Pointe-Denis

Gabon - At Pointe-Denis I got transferred from suite no.7 to hut no.1 this morning. I think I was supposed to be in hut no.1 in the first place but madame chief might have made a mistake yesterday. And today, realised that she might need the extra bed in suite no.7 for the extra guests she was getting in the next couple of nights. The hut was about half of the suite's size, had one large bed (with mosquito net) and a lockable bathroom with shower. It had high ceiling and a porch with a basket swing overlooking the water with the views all the way to Libreville. Classic holiday picture really.

The equatorial weather today got a bit worse. There were many more heavy dark grey clouds and in the distance, they were producing downpours. The sun rays sheepishly tore through them. The air felt cool with the gentle breeze blowing from the water. And it was not until 2pm when the sun started coming out more often burning skins as it does mercilessly on the Equator. With each sunny spell, however short, the air seemed to boil instantly. With the humidity at almost 100%, the effect was easily achieved. Sticky!

At lunchtime, I took a stroll to the 'village'. It consisted of maybe three houses, where locals lived; a string of huts donated by the local queen to poor foreigners from Togo, Ghana and other African states; and one nightclub complete with a hotel. Hmm... I just heard how this sounds - I meant a hotel, which had a nightclub. The poor foreigners, according to one other foreigner from Cameroon working at the Assala, were very lazy. They just went fishing, ate and slept. Their kids did not go to school. They did not trade. They did not make any money. They lived from one day to the next. Apparently, one woman I met in the village, at her forties, also never went to school.

The nightclub looked fine! It had plenty of seating, a central dance floor, two small private rooms, and a small bar with tall stools, serving CFA5,000 drinks! I was corrected when I voiced a theory that only white travellers and business people attended. Apparently, Pointe Denis had a sufficient population of very rich Gabonese, who could afford CFA5,000 drinks and who would comfortably fill the entire venue. Apart from the president, who of course had a residence on the beach, there were also a few ministers, who lived here, including the Minister of Internal Affairs. And they definitely could afford expensive beverages.

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