November 29, 2010

Honeymoon: Video of Our Time in Africa

POST #    3080

Honeymoon in Africa from tienmao on Vimeo.

Our honeymoon to South Africa (Cape Town area), Kenya (Masai Mara) and Tanzania (Zanzibar).

As it's taking me forever to put up photos of our honeymoon, here's something to keep you entertained for at least nine minutes. Shannan put together a video of our time in Africa using clips that she shot on her iPhone 4. It features white sharks, lions, leopards, elephants, me dancing and many other things. Fun times!

Posted by tien mao in Kenya, South Africa, Travel at 4:15 PM

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October 11, 2010

Honeymoon: Wines and Cheetah in Stellenbosch

POST #    3077

Our final stop on our whirlwind tour of the Cape Town area was Stellenbosch, the "Wine Capital of South Africa." It was an awful day, weather wise, with rain, rain and more rain. Despite the rain, we were able to visit the cheetah outreach project at Spier winery. At Spier you can get close enough to pet a cheetah — something that you obviously can't do while on safari.

In addition to cheetah petting and lunch at a winery, we sampled the wines of several wine farms, including Delheim (the 3rd picture).

Posted by tien mao in Honeymoon, South Africa, Travel at 9:06 AM

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September 25, 2010

Honeymoon: Lion's Rump in Cape Town

POST #    3076

After recovering from cage diving with great whites, we made our way to the Lion's Rump, also known as Signal Hill. This flat-ish hill is right next to Lion's Head and Table Mountain. The hill offers views of Cape Town and Table Bay.

Posted by tien mao in Honeymoon, Photos, South Africa, Travel at 12:46 AM

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September 20, 2010

Honeymoon: Shark Cage Diving in Gansbaai

POST #    3075

One of the main reasons we added South Africa was because of the great white sharks that swim in the country's waters. I've been fascinated with sharks since I was a kid — probably because of the Jaws movies. While the movies portray the great white shark as a terrifying creature, I was always interested in seeing them (as well as other sharks) up close. Not where a shark is taking a piece of my leg, but close enough to observe.

Our time in South Africa provided us with this opportunity and it was one of the highlights of our honeymoon. Shannan even says that it was her favorite part. We were originally scheduled to go white shark cage diving with the White Shark Diving Company the day after our arrival in Cape Town, but the waters were too rough to venture out. Thankfully, the water on the second day was "calm" enough for our adventure.

After an early-morning pickup (before 6 AM) at our hotel, we were transported about two hours to Gansbaai (Bay of Geese) where we would be viewing the sharks. Following breakfast and an orientation ("we've never had accident while using this cage"), we were off to find the great white shark. The White Shark Diving Company provided us with all the gear we would need for the cold water (it's still winter there), including wet suits. They didn't provide any sea-sickness pills though, which is something that I should have purchased before going.

Once we set out and found the spot that we would anchor, the crew of our boat, "The White Shark," started to add chum to the water (crushed tuna/skipjack or sardines). The smell was pretty awful, but similar to Chinatown in NYC on a summer day. Sure enough, the sharks arrived shortly. In groups of 6 people (I think it was 6), we made our way into the cage to view the sharks from the water. The crew would yell "down!" whenever a shark was close, occasionally adding a direction to look once we were underwater. We did this several times. On occasion, we saw more than one shark once submerged.

The most frightening part of our time in the water was when a smaller shark managed to get its head caught in the cage between me and Shannan. The shark was lured in by a fish on a rope and as it went for the fish, the shark managed to lodge itself in the cage. The shark seemed to be stuck for minutes, but it was more likely just a few seconds. Another group had a white shark land it's front quarter on top of the cage.

All told, we saw eight sharks, the largest one at 3.5 meters (11.5 feet). I think I came out of the experience a little more scared (at least of snorkeling in the trip), and missing my breakfast. But it was an awesome experience and I'm very happy that we were able to do it.

Posted by tien mao in Photos, South Africa, Travel at 6:50 PM

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September 16, 2010

Honeymoon: Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

POST #    3074

Also in Cape Peninsula National Park is the Cape of Good Hope. As you can see in the sign (taken at the tail end of golden hour) is that it's the most south-western point of the African continent! Yep, we can say we were there.

Not only can we say we were in the most south-western point of the continent, but we also saw ostriches walking next to the road. Shannan was a big fan of the park (and the ostriches).

Posted by tien mao in Honeymoon, Photos, South Africa, Travel at 6:53 PM

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September 15, 2010

Honeymoon: Cape Point, South Africa

POST #    3073

The destination that we were driving to on our first day in South Africa was the Cape Peninsula National Park, which is home to Cape Point. Cape Point is thought to be the meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, but the actual meeting point varies in an area between Cape Point and Cape Agulhas in the Western Cape of South Africa.

But what Cape Point does have is a lighthouse (ooOOOooohhh)! Two, in fact! One is still in operation. The historic lighthouse, which has many visitors and signs marking distances to other cities, was in service from 1860-1919. It was found to be somewhat ineffective during fog, causing some ships to come dangerously close to land. In fact, a 1911 wreck of the Portuguese boat Lusitania resulted in a new lighthouse being built that is closer to the water and closer to sea level.

If you visit the lighthouse, you can also walk on a path that gets you very close to the new lighthouse. You can easily see the new lighthouse in the last photo.

Posted by tien mao in Honeymoon, Photos, South Africa, Travel at 6:42 PM

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September 14, 2010

Honeymoon: Boulders Beach, South Africa

POST #    3072

After our stop in the surf town of Muizenberg, we made our way down the coast to Boulders Beach, home of an African Penguin colony.

The penguins roam the area around the beaches, but are largely fenced in. Despite that fencing, park signage asks those visiting to check under their cars for the birds.

Posted by tien mao in Honeymoon, Photos, South Africa, Travel at 5:51 PM

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September 13, 2010

Honeymoon: Muizenberg, South Africa

POST #    3071

Ahh. Wedding done and we're back from our honeymoon in Africa. Now you get to live through all the photos I took! We went from South Africa to Kenya and finally onto Tanzania.

On our first day in South Africa, we drove south from Cape Town towards the Cape of Good Hope. On the way, we stopped in the beach town of Muizenberg. On the beaches of Muizenberg are these colorful beach huts that weren't open while we were there. Perhaps it's because they cater to people during the summer months (it's winter in the southern hemisphere).

Posted by tien mao in Honeymoon, Photos, South Africa, Travel at 7:30 PM

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