Tag Archives: Eastern Cape

Running to Lesotho

I would’ve loved to stay in Hogsback for the rest of my life and become a tree-hugging hippie, but when a rancid strain of flu swept through my hostel and people started dropping like flies, I knew it was time to get out of there. I’ve spent a lot of time on the coast, so I decided to head further inland and point myself towards the world’s highest country – Lesotho. With every scrap of land above 1400 metres, it’s as close as you can get to the sky without a helicopter.

It’s a fair trek from Eastern Cape to Lesotho, and its made longer by the fact almost all the border crossings are inaccessible to anything but the meanest of 4WDs. The 481km drive from Hogsback to the Maseru border skirts around Lesotho from bottom to top, and heads through giant mountains, poverty-stricken towns, and endless desert.

There’s not much out there and it’s a fairly boring drive, being similar to a cruise through the Aussie outback (but without the persistent risk of a kangaroo jumping through your windscreen and kicking you to death). Sure, a monkey, cow or local might get in the way, but that’s to be expected. The towns are sparse and well spread out, and the roads are mainly as straight as a Nazi salute.

I was lucky enough to find a pie shop on the outskirts of a depressing village called Jamestown. South Africans get a big thumbs-up from me for loving their pies, but there is one unforgivable quirk of their pastry passion. They display them in the shop at room temperature, then chuck the delicious treat in the microwave after you order it, causing the pastry to go all soggy. Weird Saffas.

From Maseru to my final destination in Lesotho, Semonkong Falls, is only 130km, but takes three hours, so I decided to spend the night in the Saffa town of Ladybrand. Whilst it’s not poor and horrible like Jamestown, it’s not exactly a place any sane tourist would bother visiting other than for a one night stopover. There’s a nice church… some shops. Alright, I’m struggling to think of anything else.

Ladybrand is also home to the ugliest women I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been to Huddersfield. They all have the same big, round, dumb faces and out-of-date haircuts, and wander around looking like they just stepped in dogshit and then trampled it through the house. The bloke who owns the local paper bag factory must be laughing. I’ll be getting out of here at the crack of dawn to ensure one of the fugmos doesn’t make a rape victim out of me.  Sorry, Ladybrand, but you’re not my sort of place.

Everyone loves pineapples!

What’s big, spiky, and welcomes thousands of visitors a year? No, not your mum’s bush, I’m talking about the Big Pineapple. I mean the one in Bathurst, South Africa, because it’s the biggest Big Pineapple on the planet. Yes, bigger than Queensland’s much-loved Big Pineapple, and that’s hard to admit as an Aussie, because we like to think we have the biggest Big Things around.

The Pineapple is 16.7 metres from top to tail, making it 70 centimetres taller than the Aussie version. It’s set in a peaceful farm overlooking the ocean, on the outskirts of Bathurst, which is a delightfully traditional English village. It’s a great part of the world and worth visiting simply for how nice the town is. But Bathurst isn’t about the local pubs, it’s about the giant fruit that dominates the skyline.

The Pineapple is home to a museum dedicated to pizza’s biggest enemy, and whilst it wasn’t particularly interesting, half the appeal of ‘big things’ is the shithouse educational displays they all house. This place ticked all the boxes, and the view from the top was brilliant. I’m going to go all out and put the Big Pineapple into my list of Top Five Big Things Ever, along with Ploddy the Dinosaur, the Big Prawn, the Big Banana and Kew’s Big Axe. Righto, I’m off to have a beer – bye!

Doring: not boring!

After yesterday’s epic journey into the African savanna, complete with a near-death experience with a rampaging elephant, I woke up this morning with a hunger for more animals. So I headed to the shop to get a meat pie. But after that, I headed to one of Addo, South Africa’s, most popular hiking tracks – the 11km Doringkloof Walk, which promised all sorts of bizarre beasties. I was looking forward to climbing through trees with gibbons and swimming down a river with a black rhino. That didn’t quite eventuate, but I did see a mouse.

The walk itself was enough to fight off disappointment. Starting in the remote highland village of Zuurberg (population: 15 people and a very nervous-looking goat), the trail cascaded down the side of a rocky mountain decorated with kooky aloe bushes. It’s a steep trot down to the bottom of the valley, but the views out over the towering countryside are as kind to the eyes as an 18-year-old blonde in a bikini. A blonde woman, that is, not a man (unless you’re into that sorta thing).

The track plunges into thick scrub at the bottom and follows a stream, which was as dry as a nun’s nancy when I got to it. While it was still pleasant, the valley would look incredible with water bubbling along it. It’s a very nice and peaceful place, with a wide range of trees (and no exotic animals to eat careless hikers).

The trip back up the hill was bloody hard going and I was sweating like a Hebrew in a mosque, so I decided to strip off so I could cool down a bit. I even took some racy photos because my paragliding friend Mark (a flamboyant individual who has been suffering both physically and emotionally after botched gender reassignment surgery. I’m not sure whether he was going from male to female or female to male, but he wouldn’t pass as either) has been emphatic that I up ‘nude up’ more often for Drunk and Jobless. Hope I pleased you, Mark.

I was pulling my shorts back on when I noticed a long, tall black man leaning against a zombongi tree, drinking a long, tall bottle of Coke that wasn’t nearly as cool as he was. He took a big sip of his drink, gave me a wink, and said, “So it’s true what they say about white men!” I’m sure he didn’t mean it as a compliment.