I’m not attracted to communism, after all what’s in it for me? Likewise I’m a little put off by what passes for capitalism today – conspicuous consumption, a high degree of cosying-up to the state for contracts and favorable terms and the inevitable corruption that arises. Remembering of course that corruption requires two parties to occur – the official and the beneficiary. So I’m interested to witness the “socialist capitalism” or “managed embracing of free market principles” here in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
What’s to be said about Ho Chi Minh City that’s not been said before? Described in romantic sentences filled with superlatives in any guide book you care to look at, the city is everything that’s said about it, and more. The Viet Cong toppled Saigon so that Ho Chi Ming City could rise from its ashes. And rise it certainly does.
Three sets of escalators descend through concrete tunnels and braces to platform C; the departure point from Sandton to O R Thambo International Airport.
There’s a dusty, musty smell that increases in intensity as the escalators descend deeper. Layers of dust coat the tops of struts and braces that hold the tunnels and escalators and structures in place and there’s a gentle hum of machinery and fluorescent lighting.
Day 2 of cyclone Irina’s thrashing of the east coast of South Africa was a gray, rainy, miserable affair, unless of course you’re a big wave surfer and you get your kicks from taming growling waves that crash around you.
March 3, 2011 – day 1. Cyclone Irina moves near the east coast of South Africa
Day 1 was a practice day for the big boys – the big wave tow in specialists. Leading the charge was Jason Ribbink pulled by his big-wave partner, Clinton Cilliers.
On the afternoon of March 8 2011, cyclone Irina’s winds finally dropped to 35 knots reducing it to a storm. At this point it was still in the southern Mozambique Channel, south east of Maputo, Mozambique, and heading westwards. On 12 March what was left of Irina made landfall over the Gaza Province, and simply dissipated.
They “see” us before we see them. Yet we become aware of their presence almost immediately on entering the water. Despite the near twenty-metre visibility, their whistles, burst pulses, bubble trails and chirps “inspect” us well before they come into view.
Dugongs are slow-moving, large, cow-like creatures that like to spend their days munching on sea grass while occasionally luring ancient mariners to their doom by pretending to be mermaids. In Mozambique, and especially during the civil war, dugongs were hunted for their meat, much as the Australian Aboriginal population does. After all, a dugong can feed an extended family for many days, even weeks.
Mostly I dive Aliwal Shoal and Landers Reef, both of which are just south of Durban. However I dive Sodwana Bay, just south of the Mozambique border, a lot too. But every now and then, when the planets line up and the world seems too busy and hectic I feel the need to cross the Mozambique border and slow things down a bit. And there is only one place I know in Mozambique where the world does not seem to spin crazily, where cell phones do not work and the Internet seems worthless.
The reefs of Wakatobi are an underwater photographer’s dream.
The diving is pretty much unlimited and there are more than 43 mapped and named dive sites to keep you and your camera occupied for days on end.