Friday, March 27, 2009

Kruger National Park -South Africa!

I got back from Inhambane on Sunday and stayed in Maputo for a night before heading to Kruger National Park in South Africa for two days. Kruger is about a 2-2.5 hour drive from Maputo to the Crocodile Creek Gate (which is the closest to Mozambique). We got to Kruger around lunch time and just chilled out a bit, since you can't go anywhere on foot in the park since the animals are just free to roam wherever. There are no gates expect to keep the animals out of the campgrounds. On Monday we went on a evening safari which started at about 4:45pm and ran for 4 hours, it was a big open truck that took us around the game park. Once the sun set, we used lights to spot animals in the park. It was pretty cool with the exception of one guy who felt the need to ask a question every minute which caused us some major delays in seeing animals but I guess that is what you get when you go on a group tour.The next morning we got up at 4:30am to do a morning safari which was just Tim and I and our guide and driver. It was pretty cool, no one was in the park yet since the gate doesn't open till 6am so we got pretty far into the park to see things that other people would not have been able to. Right about after the sun came up we rode up next to four baby lion cubs! They were adorable and we were within 10 feet of them, it was amazing, they were just relaxing and playing together.After the morning safari, Tim and I rented a car and drove around the park for about 6 hours and saw just about every animal but the cats (no leopards). It was pretty cool to see all the animals just going about their daily business of eating, sleeping and hunting....I didn't get to see any kills which just means I have to come back to Africa another time!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The second week in Mozambique, we headed to the province of Inhambane to visit another field office location. In order to get there we headed from Maputo to Vilanculos and then Vilanculos to Inhambane. As I have learned there are not direct flights anywhere in Mozambique and you can only fly via one carrier called Lam. We left Inhambane and headed to Maxixe which is the exactly location of the office and was about an 1.5 hour drive around the bay on a bumpy dirt road. After the week in the office we headed over to Barra beach for some R&R over a long weekend.
It was beautiful, the beaches were amazing, white squeaky sand, no one around for miles on end and the water was a perfect temperature along with have amazing visibility. All and all I would say I was a bit shocked to see how beautiful it was there. I had a great weekend there, went for some nice runs on the beach, got to see amazing sunsets from various locations, swam with WHALESHARKS (that's right!!!), went horseback riding and managed some time resting on the beach. So I would say it was a huge success.So just a bit about the whalesharks, apparently you can only swim with them in like 10 locations around the world and we happened to be staying at one of them. They call it an ocean safari since they take you out searching for animals. When we first got out there they thought they spotted one but it turned out to be a shark, luckly no one had jumped into the water yet. After checking him out we went around for about an hour looking and looking and they couldn't spot a whale shark anywhere and then finally when we were able to get back they found one. So we all put on our snorkling gear (there were about 10 people on the boat) and hop into the water and you basically swim right above and next to the whale shark. It was completely amazing and UNREAL, I could not believe it was happening. These animals are bottom feeders and so they don't harm humans but they are huge, I would say about 30 ft long maybe longer. What am amazing experience and we were really lucky to find one.
After all that the resort we stayed at had a little evening dance routine and live music from local artist. Then all was said and done and we headed back to Maputo but not before we stopped to try some cashew fruit that some local kids were selling on the side of the road...there is a great video of me trying it for the first time that pretty much sums up the taste but thats for another time.


Maputo is an interesting experience,I am not sure why I am constantly surprised at the capital cities of developing countries. I keep thinking they will not be built up as much as they are, so the same goes for Maputo. It is a developed city with ok infrastructure, some of the main roads are paved but the side roads are not or if they are have many many pot holes. The first weekend here we headed to a jazz bar on Friday night and listened to some local music as well as went out to a great local Portuguese restaurant.

Then Saturday we got up and went to a crafts market. As you can see there were tons of wood carvings and just lots of people walking around. I was actually surprised by the amount of people selling items, I didn't normally think of Mozambique as a huge tourist destination but I guess it has gained popularity with British and South Africans lately.

Then sat night we headed off to the Africa bar for a couple of drinks and as it turns out they were having a release party for some local artists. It was pretty funny, Tim and I were the only ones in the bar drinking and it was filled with guys from the age of 15-20, who for the most part were sampling some of their music. It was classic, oh and of course we were the only two white people in the entire bar but that is nothing really new.

Then on sunday we headed to the cos do sol or the beach. We actually didn't get to far along on the beach because we met a local guy who started to talk with us as soon as we arrived. We decided to sit around with him and his friends and chat with them about mozambique and america for a couple of hours before we headed to the seafood market for some fresh seafood. ok thats all for now, more to come....

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I am very very very behind in my blog updates but its been a busy couple of weeks with leaving Indonesia and arriving in Mozambique. I arrive in Mozambique on Sunday, March 1st, and it was raining unfortunately when we arrived. We checked into the hotel and then headed out with a coworker from the area who showed us around Maputo and gave us the do's and don't's of Maputo. The rest of the week was pretty much getting adjusted to work and sorting out where things were in the city. For starters there is excellent seafood! I mean some of the best if not the best seafood I have ever had, so incredibly fresh it was unreal. I have pretty much eaten either shrimp, calamari, about 5-10 different varieties of fish while I have been here, yum.

Maputo is a fairly developed city and was not what I was expected when I came to Africa, luckily there are not many chains here (there is a KFC so far but I don't think much more). There is a decent catering to the expatriate community here, so there are alot of restaurants with a western feel and I was actually surprised at how many westerns there actually are in the city. The city itself is a bit rundown but nothing terrible, almost all the roads are paved however there are huge pot holes in about 75% of most of the paved roads, which means driving is usually done very slowly or in a 4 wheel drive car. They drive on the left side of the road like most of the other places in the world. Mozambique was colonized by the Portuguese and that is the official language of Mozambique and I would say about 50% of people living in Mozambique speak English as well (even though they all say they don't speak it very well which is a lie).

Maputo is pretty safe in terms of developing cities, but you just need to be smart about where you do and do not go. So there are a couple of streets which we can walk on during the day and night but we were told to stick to them for our own safety. The Mozambique people are pretty laid back and chill people who are not about to invoke conflict by any means.

Some general facts about Maputo, the other important one is that the internet is not very reliable at all! It pretty much goes and down on a constant basis which would explain why I have not updated my blog on a more regular basis. I will be writing more shortly about my first weekend here at the beach, fish market and wood crafts market, all good times!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Yogyakarta, Indonesia

My last weekend in Indonesia I decided to head to Jogjakarta (which has many different spellings as you can see). Jogja is a city east which is about a one hour plane flight from Jakarta. It is a pretty popular tourist destination due to the major Hindu and Buddhist temples near by.
Jon and I flew in to Jogja on Sat morning and then went to see the Prambanan Temples which is a Hindu temple. A large percentage of the temple was destroyed during the 2006 earthquake which hit Jogja. They are currently in the process of trying to fix and replace the temple back to it's original shape and as we were told by our guide, they must only use 30% new materials for the site to still be considered a historical landmark in Indonesia. They actually mark the blocks with a long nail going through it at some point to show that this piece of the temple is not apart of the original structure.

It was pretty interesting to see and learn how everyone came to pray and how it was a pretty magnificant temple to build during that time. Of course there were tons of indonesian boys and girls who wanted to take a pictures with me and then with jon as well which is always fun.
After this we headed to another part of Jogja where we took a local cooking class. It was probably the highlight of my weekend. The class was at this little cafe called Viavia cafe which is a chain of local cafes that help to support the local economy through sustainable practices. one of the main drivers of the organization is to give back to the community through local programs they offer. So it was Jon and I and a local teacher, who was great, she explained everything to us and spoke pretty good english so luckily Jon didn't have to do too much translating. We made Gado Gado (which is a traditional Indonesian dish made of veggies and a peanut sauce) and a chicken coconut curry along with carmalized tempe. It was all AMAZING and now I can come back to the states and make this on my own which is the best part.
After that Jon and I headed to Borobudur which is a Buddhist temple about 1.5 hours from Jogja. we spent the night there and then got up at 5am in order to see the sun rise over the temple. It was pretty cool and we got some amazing shots with the sun coming up and the volcano and temple in the background. After a quick nap we headed back to Jogja where we went on a bike tour through a local village. It was pretty cool, I learned about the entire rice process from field to milling along with how tempe is made, how they make local bricks and these sort of fried crackers. It was a pretty cool adventure to ride around this little area and see all these sites. After all that we headed back to Jakarta for my last week of work in indonesia.

Thats all for now but more to come :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bali Bali Bali

Sooo I spent Valentine's weekend in Bali with Jon and some of his friends. So as I have mentioned it's rainy season here in Indonesia, so all day Thursday it was raining in bali and we had a 50% chance it would rain each day over the weekend. We got in on Friday and it was raining in the morning but it all cleared up in the afternoon. Luckily we had amazing weather all weekend long, it was sunny every day except sunday when it didn't start raining until 4pm. We had some good Karma thrown our way!!So Friday we spent in Ubud which is a art, shopping, historical district of Bali. It is also very geared toward tourist so it has it's ups and downs. We spent the afternoon walking around the city, looking in shops and then getting some duck which is what that area of Bali is apparently known for. The cool thing about Ubud is that the temples are all mixed in with the shops so there would be this really old amazing temple next to some little art shop which was pretty neat. After our bit of walking around we headed to feed some monkeys. I have to say a bit scary especially if you are holding the bananas. After some monkeying around we headed to this little bar in Ubud for a drink and wouldn't you know it, we ran into a guy who was from NY/NJ, he was born in NYC and moved to NJ many years ago. It's a small small world!
The rest of the weekend consisted of 4 hours in the spa on sat getting about 5 different treatments (thank you Jon!!) and then dinner overlooking the ocean. It was a pretty relaxing and different way to spend a weekend in bali, well very different from the first time I went. Sunday consisted of going down the water slides at the hotel and sitting by the pool drinking pina colodas and soaking in some last minute sun. All and all a perfect weekend especially b/c I didn't plan a thing.
One crazy thing which I unfortunately didn't get to take any pictures of was the rain storm that came through on Sunday night as we headed to the airport. It was a pretty heavy downpour and b/c there isn't much infrastructure in place in Bali the roads floated immediately. It was crazy to see all these motorbikes going through water that was up to their waste. The water on certain streets was easily waste high, pretty crazy stuff, thankfully we left tons of time to the airport since we knew it might be a long ride there.

Well more to come after next weekend, off to dinner now...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Indonesia Part Two

So I am back in Indonesia for a second time with work and it's actually a bit different this time for many reasons. It is actually seems to be the height of rainy season right now, which means it rains in Jakarta just about every day. Most of the time it rains for a couple hours and then clears up but the sun doesn't really come out much in the city which is good and bad. Good in the sense that it's ALOT cooler then when I was here in August and bad well thats obviously why.

So the first weekend I got here, I just got acclimated to being back in Jakarta and spent the weekend hanging around with Jon. Then after a nice long week at work, I headed to the beach with Jon and his friends. It was a great spot and on my list of maybe one of my favorite spots so far and definitely a great place to go with alot of people. The second half of the drive was beautiful, it passed some tea planations, palm planations and other beautiful greenery.Once we got to the spot there were little cabins located right on the beach and they also had these little huts right next to the water where you could get a massage while listening the ocean for $5 USD (including a tip), yeah thats what I said $5 and the massages were soooo good, I decided to get one on Sat and Sunday! AHH so great.
Pretty much spent the weekend relaxing by the beach, getting massages, watching some Australia Rules Football and playing a silly game apples to apples. All and all a good weekend! Below are some pictures of a little late lunch time spot on the side of the road were I tried Martabak, yummy (basically an egg mixture inside fried dough).More to come, I am off to Bali this weekend for some more R&R :)