"making my way around the world" emmet7's Profile

just re-located to Dubai for work

I am usually interested in meeting other travelers for a drink or coffee, look me up if you will be in the UAE ;-) I have visited 125+ countries

happy to be out of Hong Kong, the air has become outright filthy and it is simply an unhealthy environment to live in these days

several trips planned in 2013, be in Kuwait mid March, in Tripoli Libya, in mid-May 2013, be in LA the last weekend of May, will be in Mexico City for 1st week of June, in Chicago for 2nd week in June

be going to Nigeria + Zambia later in 2013

I am single and would like to meet a 30-something lady who likes to travel, so please say hello if that might be you [;-o

Swaziland - Kruger Park to Durban

long drive

I was in south Africa on business and when my Botswana meeting was cancellled, I left Johannesburg for Kruger Park, about 3 hours away.

I was there on business so this was a weekend thing.

I started in White River and entered the park at Numbi Gate (sp?), meandered through the park to the southern gate nearest the Swaziland border.

The border crossing was uneventful and quite straight forward for Africa, I think I needed to 4 or 5 $ for my rental auto.

The roads were good and most of the ride was through low mountains, very pretty in some areas. It seemed more calm than South Africa with less crime, people/shops in the capital city definitely looked more affluent.

The souther half of the country was flatter, more arid with several large game reserves that I would have liked to visit.

The drive was longer than I expected and I stopped short of Durban in a beachside place called Salt Rock that was very nice.

Swaziland seemed much safer than South Africa and likely a good value for safaris and the like though it is scary that AIDS infection is 40%?

South Africa

was gorgeous!

The surrounding area even more beautiful.

Certain areas of the city are exceedingly dodgy and no-go areas for tourists. But the road leading up to Table Mountain was nice, good cafes and restaurants.

I drove to Hermanus to see the whales and was not disappointed, plenty of whales that seemed to be playing out by zillions of whitecaps as it was quite windy.

I then did a circle through the wine area (did not have time for Garden Route) I was amazed by the number of wineries. There were also huge farms growing other crops, roads were in great condition but most of the towns I passed through had very little tourist infrastructure and seemed to have a high rate of crime with all the electric fences and high walls.

I made it around to the West Coast and then continued back down to Capetown where I visited the Waterfront area to hear some good jazz and eat some fresh seafood.

Made it up to Mount Nelson Hotel for drinks which was cool, a classy place. I stayed at a boutique Hotel on Long Street which was a mistake as it is a noisy backpacker area and not my scene.

I moved up the road to a more modest place near Table Mountain which was a much better value

Moldova

I always liked the country despite being the poorest in Europe.

The country being a Soviet creation has a strange mixture of Russians, Romanians and Turkish people (Gauguz) with a mix of languages and cuisines, the chocolate, cakes, wines and soups are tasty.

I had not visited here since 7 years ago and it was a disappointment that there were not more improvements though there were some.

All the same it is a relatively pleasant city that has now become much more expensive for unknown reasons. I saw a very good jazz band at a club one evening and there are always other cultural activities and vineyard tours not far from the city.

I also visited the imaginary country of Transdneistr and it's capital city Tiraspol which is generally amusing. Of course I failed to get some piece of paper on entering that I needed to have when departing.

So there was a stand-off with the customs guards (with their Mussolini hats / uniforms) until I agreed to give them the princely sum of USD5.

I did pick up some excellent brandy near the Kvint factory in Tiraspol.

Still a poor place that is depressing in winter but offers hope in summer.

Scotland

My first visit and one of the coolest places I have ever travelled.

I started in Edinburgh where the airport auto rental did not have the vehicle I reserved; so after some bit of fighting I got a brand-new Mercedes for a week for a few extra quid.

Edinburgh is just awe-inspiring with the castle and various 'closes' in the central old city. Some great rock n'roll clubs and bars too, though the food was not too exciting.

Next stop was Glasgow that was not as impressive but quite interesting all the same; I really enjoyed the music scene and they had much better music radio stations than in Ireland.

As expensive as the UK can be they did have some great 'summer sales' in Glasgow and England. I was at Jones Bootmaker and Debenhams where I bought USD1000 in shoes for like USD200.

I then drove up through Glencoe and on to Aberdeen, it was a simply gorgeous drive. I pickel up some single malt whisky at the Kilcoyne Distillery and visited the Royal Burgh of New A????? near Glasgow.

Aberdeen also had a great club and music scene; I found it fascinating that a few ancient Gothic style churches had been transformed into night clubs.

Unfortunately the weather or the food were not more agreeable.

Ireland

fabulous country I really enjoyed my first visit and visited where some of my relatives came from after the famines.

I started in Dublin which was great fun, plenty of history, significant architecture and of course lots of pubs. I walked through the city to the Temple Bar and Grafton areas; up by the castle.

Good music scene, enjoyed some of the buskers and several of the 'live' acts in the pub during the evening, the food was so-so.

Ireland is not cheap but quite friendly and certainly an international place with tourist from afar and a great many immigrants from Central Europe.

Definitely a fun place!

I next drove down to Cork along the coast road for quite a distance with great scenery, then I cut over to Kilkenny which was just a beautiful old city that was quite well-developed.

Cork was a fascinating place despite being a little 'seedy' in my view. I liked the hilly topography of the city with good views and fresh breezes. The walking area in the city centre was expansive and vehicle free in several areas.

Next I went on to Galway driving up the west coast and then taking the car ferry to just below Galway which was not overly impressive, the incessant rain did not help my sightseeing activities.

The next day I drove to Belfast where you could sense and see there was a significant difference between the North and Ireland proper, the troubles have certainly not vanished.

Rich history there and more fabulous architecture but possibly even more expensive than Dublin but again a good club 'live' music scene. The castle was fairly impressive despite being small and the pubs were cool.

I returned to Dublin to catch my flight to Edinburgh, it was a good introduction to Ireland and I look forward to my next visit.

Maldives

gorgeous islands; not really Eden or paradise but nice. Forget going here on a budget, if you plan to go, add 20% to your original budget and go to an exclusive resort.

Luckily I travelled there on business and stayed at a nice resort not too far from Male but after 3 days of intimate buffet dinners with hundreds of Russian/Chinese/French package tourists, I had more than enough of Maldives.

The sea and the surrounding islands were incredible and snorkeling was unbelievable with the great variety of fish, coral reefs and clear water.

Wondeful place but happy I did not spend my own money to visit.

at home in Shenzhen, China

I work several days in Hong Kong each week but to live there seems to be a very poor value for the money. HK is a great escape from China that is both cool and fairly happening but it can be ridiculously expensive there to dine or go out to party despite me having a flat there.

So weekends I am usually in Shenzhen when not abroad on business. The city area is almost 80 kilometres wide with a assorted variety of city landscapes. To the east is a huge port of Yantian that is simply gorgeous just adjacent to where the Russia aircraft carrier Minsk is docked and the peninsula to the east of there has surprisingly nice beaches, Dameisha, Xiaomeisha and even nicer ones further south, this area was billed as the future Chinese Bali but hurry to visit, because unfortunately I predict they will destroy the environment there just as they have in all the surrounding areas.

Through the tunnel and beyond the small mountains to the west of there is Louhu the main crossing to HK and Shenzhen Railway Station, main business center with good shopping and restaurants but nothing particularly memorable.

Further west is Futian with their own large business centre, some surprisingly nice parks and golf courses. Huanggang port is here and is the largest crossing for buses, truck and cars into HK, it can be a little scary at night like many borders the world over.

Immediately west of there is Overseas Chinese Town (OCT) at end of Metro that begins in Louhu at train station. This area of the city is quite green and has several theme parks (i.e. Window of the World, Happy Valley, Chinese Culture Village....) and high-end homes.

Still travelling west is Nanshan, possibly the dirtiest and most congested area of SHZ with few redeeming qualities with the exception of Shekou (an expat enclave) at the far southern tip, probably the cleanest and most user-friendly place in China (though seeing so many foreign executives trotting out their local squeeze in the evenings can become tiresome) There are ferries to HK (Central, Kowloon & HK Airport) from Shekou and plenty of bars and restautrants plus a little taste of Pattaya on "Chicken Street" (use your imagination)

Then just up the coast the SHZ airport and a giant industrial park that seems to stretch even further than Guangzhou.

After a year in Shanghai, visits to all the provincial capitals in China, I quite like Shenzhen and recommend it as a relatively nice city with mild weather.

  • Intro Updated Mar 7, 2013
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emmet7

“"the view never changes if you are not the 'lead dog' in the pack"”

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