Hypothesis: South African Sights for South African Vision

While I was in beautiful Cape Town for my leave (wow, that was a long time ago), my sister and I mused about how we have access to this gorgeous country simply by virtue of being born here. “Just think,” she said, “people pay thousands of rands to see Table Mountain, and here we are, just walking around and seeing it as much as we want!” She was quite right, of course – at the same time, the MV Explorer was docked in Cape Town.

But for a long time, I’ve been thinking how not all who are born in our country have access to these attractions on a very basic level.

Virtually everywhere I have traveled, foreigners pay more than locals to see attractions. I saw this for the first time in China in 2011, where foreigners are very clearly divided from locals wishing to visit the Huanglong caves.

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Ten Books for Readers who Like… The World

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and the Bookish is called Top Ten Books for Readers who Like ___________.

I know that with things like We Need Diverse Books a lot of people are trying to read beyond their own milieu. I think for me, the biggest problem as a youngster was that I was constantly reading narratives about young people in the USA or the UK, and so I was getting a very narrow view of the world and indeed of what I could be.

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Travel Throwback: Walking Aimlessly

It has been well over a year since Semester at Sea Spring 2013 and I find myself thinking about it more and more. It was fantastic, and I can’t wait to travel again.

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Because I was on a fairly limited budget, I tended to stay in the cities where we docked and I tried to walk as much as possible. Of course I had plans and short trips, but I often spent some time just walking through the city without much of an agenda. I would like to say that I took really deep HONY-esque pictures, but most of those pictures are in my head, safely. Continue reading “Travel Throwback: Walking Aimlessly”

Armchair BEA: More Than Just Words

I’m joining Armchair BEA for the first time this year by participating in a few discussions. My dream is one day to attend the real deal… but till then, this will suffice. Today’s discussion is about books that are “more than just words”, and to this end I’m sharing three mini-reviews for books I recently received via NetGalley. (Links click through to longer GoodReads reviews.)

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang

I was a bit worried about reading this because I’m not a gamer and I feared that not understanding the culture would hinder my enjoyment. I need not have worried. In short, Anda is a bit of an awkward, seemingly unhappy teenager in a new town, who gets introduced to the world of Massive Multiplayer Online Games, where she joins an all-female guild and becomes known as a kick-ass player. But she also encounters “gold farmers”, a very real occurrence in MMOs. It becomes her mission to “kill” gold farmers, until she befriends one gold farmer from China and realises that most of them are playing long hours just to make a living. Continue reading “Armchair BEA: More Than Just Words”

“Water, Water, Every Where”

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I live in a water-scarce country on a water-scarce continent. I grew up with a little ditty, “Kinders moenie in die water mors nie, die ou mense wil dit drink” – “Children, don’t mess with water, the old people want to drink it”. Parts of my country has had water restrictions in the years that I have lived.

And yet, I have never really wanted for water. When I open a tap, there it is. Cold and ready to drink, albeit chlorinated. Cape Town has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world. I could run through sprinklers as a child. I could swim in swimming pools.

Continue reading ““Water, Water, Every Where””

Book Review: China Underground

China Underground by Zachary Mexico was the third book I purchased on Semester at Sea. The book comprises a series of anecdotes of various Chinese citizens, whom the author met and interviewed while in China. These include sex workers, minority groups such as the Uighurs (a Chinese Muslim minority), art lovers, film makers, drug dealers (and users) and more. Their commonality is that they are outsiders, and that each sees their country and the world through a distinct lens.

The book is almost like a collection of short stories that can be picked up at any point and any time. There is something for everybody, although I would of course suggest reading the whole book. Continue reading “Book Review: China Underground”

Africa Needs More Books

I was walking through my home suburb (read:village) with my brother the other day. We went to the local library, sampled some books (slim pickings) and as we walked home, I asked about such-and-such a bookshop, and such-and-such a used bookshop. They were all closed down. Anyone wanting to purchase books needs to go to town (literally). A town which, incidentally, has only generic chain bookshops.

And I said to my brother, “This place needs more bookstores.”

And then, “Our country needs more bookstores.”

And then, “Africa needs more bookstores.”

morebookstores3 Continue reading “Africa Needs More Books”

Booking It Around The World

Last week I posted about books for travelers, and I realised I never wrote about my forays into bookstores while traveling. Most Semester at Sea students decide to collect ONE THING in each country. One girl decided to buy a copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in every country, preferably in a local language. Another chose Alice in Wonderland. I thought this was cool, except that a) I don’t have an all-time favourite book and b) I prefer books that I can read. So I decided to buy a book in every country, either about that country or by an author in that country. In English.

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Continue reading “Booking It Around The World”

TTT: Books for the Traveler

I am changing things just a little for today’s Top Ten Tuesday. The topic is Top Ten Books that feature TRAVELLING in some way. I’m choosing books that I think travelers would like. Whether you are traveling, have actively traveled, or dream about traveling, these books are all set in foreign countries and are great to read (whether you’ve been to the countries or not). And since they transport the reader to another world, I’m thinking it’s not too much of a cheat ;).

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Continue reading “TTT: Books for the Traveler”