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It's been almost two months in total since I came to West Africa. I never initially planned to stay this long, it just happened.
My next destination is South Africa and I never initially planned it either. I was thinking of going to Morocco after Senegal, but I changed my mind in the last minute.


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The below is the summary of my time in Senegal and Mali:

* Senegalese food was great, whereas Malian food was Umm.... I never found it enjoyable.
* I often had a baguette with some sort of mayonnaise-based paste and a boiled egg mixed in it for breakfast. Funnily enough, the yolk of an egg in this part of the world is quite white, not yellowish.
* If you ever step onto sea-urchins, take the thorns out as soon as you can and eat the urchins for Sushi.
* I took medication for Malaria-prevention only in Mali. Despite the fact that it was dry season in West Africa, I was just extremely lucky that I never got it.
* Haggling prices for fruits, veggies and taxis was extremely difficult, especially in Dakar. If I suggested a little lower price than the original price to street vendors, they always had a strong No and refused to sell me anything.
* Public buses in terms of comfort and punctuality are probably the worst amongst all the countries that I've been to before. There used to be a train between Senegal and Mali, but it's out of service as of January 2012.
* The long-distance bus between Dakar and Bamako was super exhausting. I highly recommend flying for everyone.
* Very few people in both Senegal and Mali speak English. Although the French language that they speak sounds much clearer to my ears than the actual French people, I hardly understand what they say: I'm not a big fan of French.
* Surfing in Dakar area can be fickle in December and January: the swells are fairly consistent, but it heavily depends on the direction of the seemingly seasonal trade-wind from the desert.
* I didn't explore much of Senegal this time. Saint-Louis and Casamance region as well as Timbuktu in Northern Mali should be on my radar next time.


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My very last night in West Africa was spent inside Dakar international airport. The departure time of my flight for Johannesburg was very early in the morning and it was that infamous SA208 again!


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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....

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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.

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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;

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* 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....

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




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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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

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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.

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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 :-)






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