My flight from Dakar to Johannesburg (hereafter Joburg) was just over 8 hours and then I caught another flight from Joburg to Durban.
It was just after 10pm when I finally arrived in Durban. No problem and no drama on these two flights other than the fact that I had a massive headache as I only slept a couple of hours inside Dakar airport last night and I could never sleep well during the flights....


Very fortunately, Jeremy - my South African surfie friend who was born and raised in Durban - kindly came to pick me up at Durban airport. I'll be staying at his apartment for the next few days.

Jeremy's apartment is located right in front of Dairy Beach, and I was woken up by him the next morning at 6am, "Esky! Good morning!!!"
The massive headache was gone by this morning, but I wanted to sleep for a few more hours. Yet Jem's calling was actually a good kick up the arse as this view (pictured below) came into my sleepy eyes from the balcony at his apartment.



Jem had to go to work this morning and gave me a bit of his local knowledge by saying "Winds usually come out after 9 or 10am. You should get out there as soon as you can!" My answer then was "Yes, my master!"

Unlike Senegal and Mali, both of which were dry hot when I was there, Durban is sticky hot and the humidity here seems as high as (or even higher than?) the middle of summer in Nagoya. Needless to say, the water temperature is also high and it is so good not having to wear a wetsuit anymore.





I went surfing at North Beach this morning, next to Dairy Beach. Waves were about 3ft on sets with light winds. As for my very first time to surf in Durban, this was good enough (Oh, it was also my very first time to jump off the pier with my surfboard!)


I came to South Africa for surfing, simply and purely for surfing. And I chose Durban for surfing, warm-water surfing.

My surf-trip in South Africa has begun from here in Durban.


My initial plan was to stay in Durban for only a couple of weeks, but I ended up staying there for four weeks. This is mostly because the surf here has been quite consistent with warm water.

Even though I may sound mad only about surfing, the below are some of the things that I have done or have taken place over the past four weeks;

1. Bed Bugs

I still can't believe that this has happened to me. I did hear from other backpackers before about getting bitten by bed bugs, but it never occurred to me until I got to Durban. It was this famous hostel in Durban (I don't mention the name in this article). I was bitten by them crazy loads, especially around my neck as shown in the photo below.


These nasty bugs sucked my blood and the bite-marks became so itchy, they lingered on for a week or so.
The photo below was what I captured right underneath my pillow.


I eventually notified the hostel owner of this incident and then I was placed into a new dormitory as well as having all my clothes washed and getting reimbursed for the past couple of the nights.
No more bite-marks on me after I moved into a new dorm, but I'm quite paranoid now.

2. Cricket Game

I used to live in Australia for three years and I always told other people that the least interesting sport for me to watch was Cricket.
Jeremy one day took me out for a cricket game and I now have changed my opinion on it.


While Jem and I were eating chips and burgers as the game was going on, Jem eagerly explained the rules and the scoring system of Cricket to me. The scores of both teams were tight and the whole game turned out to be quite intense towards the end. It was actually very fun.
Now Cricket is probably more interesting to watch than Baseball to me.


3. Wave House

Gateway Shopping Mall located just outside Durban "used to be" the largest shopping mall in the southern hemisphere and this is where surfers can go when the surf is completely flat.


There is indoor surf to be had at this mall and it's called "Wave House".

Did I give it a try? Of course! But it was bloody hard and totally different from surfing. It was actually flow-riding, not wave-riding. Those South African instructors made it look so easy, though.




4. Bunny Chow

Such a funny name and a funny looking dish, but this is Durban's speciality.
So what the heck is it???
It's basically a loaf of bread with a big hole in the middle where any kind of curry is poured in. Durban apparently has the biggest number of Indian immigrants in the world. No wonder curry is everywhere in this city.


5. Sin City Durban ???

Having spent four weeks in Durban, I actually start to like this city.
The beaches are beautiful and clean with warm water. People are laid-back and friendly. However, there is also the downside of Durban and it needs to be mentioned;


* Not Quite Africa
South Africa is indeed a part of the huge African continent, but compared to Senegal and Mali, Durban (and all other major cities in this country) seems well developed. The infrastructure is good, everybody speaks English, and shops and supermarkets have everything I need. I feel a huge gap between here and my time in West Africa.

* Crime Rate
Unfortunately, the crime rate of Durban is very high, not only petty crimes but also felonies. Quite a few South African people who I have met before have been either robbed or had their valuables stolen at least once before. Yet, they would still emphasize the fact that they were lucky enough to get away with it alive....


Getting bitten by bed-bugs is actually a piece of cake for people in Durban, I guess.


My South African friend Jeremy has been very helpful - picking me up at Durban airport, letting me crush at his apartment for a few days till I found a good hostel, and driving me around the north coast of Durban every weekend for surfing with no crowd.



We first met each other in Taiwan a couple of years ago and now we are reunited here. It's great to have a surfie friend like him who has such deep knowledge in surfing around Durban areas as well as this southern Africa. His past trips to Mozambique, Madagascar and Namibia are very inspiring and making me also want to go to these countries one day.


The above photo shows Jeremy surfing at Dairy Beach.
Despite the fact that he lives right in front of this beach, he rarely surfs here and often drives up the coast by himself in search for a lone-session. Perhaps it's a whole different story if you live here permanently.
I actually wish that I could live here for a while as the swell-consistency seems incredibly good at this part of the planet.

Waves such as those shown in the photos below are quite frequent here in Durban. No wonder the standard amongst South African surfers is extremely high.




One of the highlights during my stay in Durban was undoubtedly that enormous surf generated by tropical cyclone Irina (Refer to this Wikipedia article for more details about Irina).



The photos below were all taken on the Saturday (March 3rd) - one day before Irina landed on the coast.




It was actually very clean in the morning, but was busy due to the weekend crowd.
Waves were 5 ~ 7ft on sets with occasional bombs. They were very powerful and sometimes closing out like sand-guillotines.






It became quite windy with thick dark clouds late in the afternoon. On the following day it actually became too big, too wet and too windy. I still went surfing with my blue Al Merrick epoxy-board at Addington Beach, the south-end of Durban's city beach. It was super-stormy with violently strong winds and tons of rain. Unfortunately, I could not take any photos then.

Funnily enough, I remember asking Jeremy on my first day in Durban whether or not the south-end of the Durban beach would ever be surfable;

" Oh, that part is called Vetches. Sharp reefs at the bottom! " he tole me and went on saying " It only works a couple of times a year, you know. "

It only works a couple of times a year....?

I saw Vetches cooking on this Sunday :-)

I took a BazBus for the first time since I came to South Africa to go to East London.
Honestly speaking, I didn't like it at all. It was just a tour-bus for young / inexperienced backpackers and no local South Africans seemed to be travelling on this bus. Furthermore, all the seats were not reclinable and the driver was constantly advertising tours for Cape Town with a loud speaker! The only good thing about BazBus was that they did a door-to-door service.


The photo below shows the house in Transkei where Nelson Mandela currently lives.
A pity that it was a bit rainy and the sky was hazy, but Transkei was beautiful with vast greenish lands and deep valleys.


It took me over 12 hours from Durban to East London by BazBus.
Sugar Shack located right in front of the main beach of East London was where I stayed for three nights.

Andre - the owner of Sugar Shack - was very kind to drive me to Yellow Sands on my first day in East London.
Yellow Sands is a river-mouth just outside East London. It doesn't look really good in the photo below, but I actually had some fast and hollow waves here, very typical river-mouth waves with only Andre, two of Andre's friends and me in the water. And no shark sightings while we were out there!


The wind direction wasn't right on the second day and it was predicted to be much windier in the afternoon. No surfing but Andre drove me to the museum of East London where there was one thing I was very interested in checking out.


It was this enigmatic fish (?) called "Coelacanth" shown in the photo below. It was discovered in the 1930s here in East London and has become the main attraction of this museum ever since then.
I remember becoming very intrigued in this ugly species when I was a kid as the mummified version of a coelacanth was brought to my hometown for public display then. Luckily, I've never become geeky about fish, though.


Later in the morning, I strolled around downtown East London, aka Buffalo City. Nothing really interesting for me to see and no buffaloes in the city. Instead, a number of South Africans were demonstrating like buffaloes on the main street.




The photo below shows the main beach of East London.
I never surfed at this beach but saw a few guys in the water today. Sugar Shack is located right in front of this beach.


The wind eased off on the third day and Andre drove me to Nafoon Reef - one of the world-class surf-spots in South Africa and it's seriously sharky.
The photo below was taken before we paddled out. It was very very low-tide and the waves weren't big at all, about max 3ft on sets then. No crowds and no sharks in sight today.
Even under Andre's expert guidance it took me a little while to position myself for a proper take-off on the peak here at Nafoon. Waves weren't powerful enough but running long. Like surfing at Yellow Sands two days ago, I had some good fun waves here.


Many many thanks to the owner of Sugar Shack - Andre. He sort of took me under his wings, and despite the fact that I only spent three days in East London, I made the most of it in terms of surfing in this little city.
East London is somehow very little known by international surfers, but this city is definitely a swell magnet. If you ever stop in East London, I highly recommend that you stay in Sugar Shack. Watch out for some suspicious shadows in the water, though!



Port Elizabeth (hereafter PE) was my next stop.
I wasn't interested in this city at all and my real destination was Jeffreys Bay, about an hour from PE by car (hereafter J-Bay), but there was no direct bus from East London to J-Bay unless I made a stop in PE and changed to another bus.
I took a coach bus called TRANSLUX from East London as shown in the above photo. I got off this bus at the railway station in PE and ended up in a hostel located in the middle of PE Central where there were only a few decent restaurants, a couple of gas-stations and a SPAR (South African supermarket).


On my third day at the hostel in PE, I met three German tourists - Reuben, Patricia and Christian. They were renting a small car and going to Addo National Park in the morning. I really just met them at the hostel while we were having breakfast in the kitchen and I simply asked if I could join them to Addo. Their reply was quick - "Yes, that's no problem!". There was one empty seat in their car and I was small enough to fit in it. Lucky me!


Despite the fact that it was still early March and also that we were in AFRICA, it was quite chilly with some clouds in the sky in Addo National Park.


We were thrilled to see animals so close to our car such as zebras, antelopes, jackals, buffaloes and elephants (elephants are what Addo is mostly famous for).






Interestingly enough, what made us even more thrilled than anything else was when we spotted a dung beetle on the road as shown in the photo below. It was quite amusing.


The only disappointment about our visit in Addo was the fact that we did not spot any lions. We actually had no idea if they were resting under the trees or hiding deeply in the bush. By midday we decided to leave Addo and drove to Schotia Private Game Reserve which was famous for a night safari with lions to be spotted.

To be continued.....