Tales of travel gone wrong – Maputo to Tofo

Going abroad and travelling the world is full of its challenges and quips. It is the most rewarding experience but it can also be the most infuriating, frustrating and the most memorable part of your trip. So let me paint a picture for you of a road trip that lasted 500 kilometres and nearly 14 hours.

We left Maputo at around 5 or 6 AM to get to Tofo which is located 500km north of the African Jewel’s capital city. We set off together, two full cars and two members of our touring group on a bus directly to the backpackers inn where we would be spending 5 days partying, eating and lying on the beach sipping cocktails that became as hot as coffee in 5 seconds. En route to an awesome time.

We were just about 230km into the drive, so close to the halfway point when we get a phone call from our companions on the tour bus:

‘Two of the tyres have gone and the bus has no spare tyres.’

This was the sentence from hell! First of all, what kind of bus departs for a 500 km journey WITHOUT any spare tyres what so ever!? Also, what dumb luck this driver had, that of all the things he had to hit he decided to pop two tyres in one go. So back we went, two cars full of everything the two bus companions could not carry to locate this bus. We stopped by the bus emptied out one of the cars who took the bus driver and two tyres forward another 50km to find a place that either sold new bus tyres or could repair the tyres to drive back 50 km and then put the tyres on to then carry on. This little section of our adventure took long enough as it was, adding 2 and a half hours to our journey time by waiting in the sweltering heat. But no matter, we were pleased as we saved the day and were known as heroes for the remainder of our time in Tofo.

Yet you would think that this alone would be enough of a deviation from our initial plan. Oh no, there is more to come. Having saved a bus full of people and been deemed heroes, we still had around 300 km to get to our destination – yes because we had to go backwards to find this bus and that in itself took a while. And during the festive season it was quickly pointed out to me that police officers like a quick financial fix to add to their merry jolly end of year. It is apparently quite common – I can testify as I witnessed it – for officers to pull up cars who are on their long journeys to spend the festive season at the beach or to visit family and fine them for speeding, incorrect overtaking – a variety of things! And so as to not fill out paper work they can quickly solve the issue by asking for payment and the problem for the driver will simply disappear.

What a phenomenal thing to do for the officers but just our sheer luck one of our cars go stopped TWICE! Paid his fine and then in the second time got his license removed! Said police officer told our dear friend he had a pending fine from a previous journey in 2013 which had appeared in the system and he would have to find a local authority and pay it within 48 hours then contact the officer 200 km away from where we were heading to to go and collect his license. This is all too much at this point for my brain to deal with and as this situation unfolds our dear companions on their now repaired bus zoom past us.

Now I am a true believer in fate and destiny and in this occasion the timing could not have been better. Mr Bus Driver is related to the Police man! Having seen us in distress and one of our own about to have his license removed Mr Bus Driver quickly rang his cousin who at the time was still with us and told him about our bus situation. Not only did our friend get his license back he didn’t have to pay a second fine!

Happy days! The heroes heroically saved by the original victims and we were now on our merry way to the backpackers inn. Nearly 14 hours later we arrived at our destination and it all seemed worth it to dip my toes in the warmest sand I had felt since the Philippines and to dive into the warm clean waters of the Indian Ocean.

No travel adventure comes without its ups and downs, however it is all worth it once you arrive there and these mishaps often make for the best memories. We for example got free drinks for 3 nights of partying thanks to saving the tyres of a bus that was owned by the backpackers inn we were lodged at. It was phenomenal and that road trip was part of a brilliant trip. What felt like a truly awful journey actually has turned out to be one of my fondest memories and stories from that trip and with this I move on from Mozambique to my up and coming city break.

Happy travels and reading!

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Maputo, Africa

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the Tofo section of my African adventure, well it now time to share with you my adventures through the capital city of Mozambique, Maputo.

A bit of historic background

Mozambique was a Portuguese colony that then became a Portuguese province and state of Portugal, finally gaining its independence in 1975. The country which is 9 years from celebrating its half a century anniversary of independence, continues to be working through its political circumstances and according to many locals, there is still a great disparity in conditions offered to both classes in society. In fact a class system is very much still in place which is sometimes quite an odd experience.

In architectural terms, it is like walking into 70’s Lisbon with a mix of modern buildings. Ruins everywhere, buildings falling apart at the seems, but always reminding you that it was a colonial area. It is absolutely a home away from home for me, it felt so familiar yet so distant from everything I know and love.

Museums

I had the chance to visit two beautiful museums whilst out there. Granted in London we have some of the biggest and most renowned museums, the National Art Gallery, the Tate, the Natural History Museum, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert, the Science Museum and I could go on and on until we have covered every nook and cranny of history and culture in the capital. However, nothing is more charming and original than the Art Museum in Maputo.

We are not allowed to take photos of any of the paintings inside, but it was stunning. Many of the paintings depicted the struggle and strife of the black community with dreary dark colours that made the spectator sense the suppression. Others were very bright and reminiscing of the colours of Africa, the bright and varied scheme depicting traditional scenes as well as modern African life. A small but truly fantastic and captivating selection of art.Below you can see a small selection of photos of its exterior.

I also got the opportunity to go to the Natural History museum, which I could completely recommend to everyone for the following 2 reasons:

  1. The ONLY museum in the world that shows the fetus progression of an elephant – with real fetuses
  2. The entire section of the museum which shows the development of Tribes in Mocambique. Honestly the most interesting section with real objects of their lives.

All the animals in the museum are stuffed, as in actually using their skin and skeleton, toes and teeth. It is a fascinating jungle to visit and learn about the species that roamed the Mozambican territory.

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Gardens

As I mentioned on my previous post about Tofo, I did not expect Mozambique to be such a green country. Naturally one of the things I enjoyed most during my stay was to roam to city gardens and get lost in their beauty. I got the opportunity to visit the Jardim Tunduru and the Jardim dos Namorados (lovers garden.) Note, do not go to the lovers gardens with two other couples, I found myself playing photographer for four hours and seriously considering jumping off the cliff in which the garden is located down to rocky seas below. The Jardim dos Namorados is also located close to the Miradouro – which is at the top of a cliff with a spectacular view of both the city and sea surrounding it.

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Historical Buildings

Aside from the museums, I always like to visit historical buildings. They often hold small exhibitions in these spaces that give you some context and sense of political history and how it has shaped the country you are currently visiting. Here are a few of the buildings I loved and would recommend you visit:

  1. Fortaleza – the fortress built by the Portuguese settlers. It is small but ripe with Portuguese influence and pieces of history. Canyons and ammunition galore as well. Also an awesome place for gorgeous views to the sea.
  2. Caminhos Ferreos de Maputo (CFM) – this building is STUNNING. It is the old railway, home to still some functioning train lines, but now mostly used for merchant lines rather than service lines. It has some old steam trains on display, a little history section and some awesome restaurants, check it out.
  3. A Casa de Metal – the metal house, one of 7 around the world by Gustave Eiffel, it is said that these buildings were all built and transported exactly as they are across the world. It is a tin house basically but it is very cool and again there is a small museum section that shares the history of the house itself as well as the city of Maputo – located next to the Tunduru Gardens
  4. Igreja da Polana – Polana church, very close to Feima (Feira de Maputo) it has a unique structure and it just a beautiful building. At night the light shines through its 8 axis of stained glass windows and it looks mesmerising.

Taking Africa home with you

If you are the sort of person who visits a place and absolutely has to take it home with you, you have to visit FEIMA, the arts and crafts fair with EVERYTHING Mozambique. I visited during the holiday period and felt it was only right to take presents home that were Mozambican themed, plus a batique or two (the paintings in tapestry that you see below) to hang on my walls. Our home is such an eclectic mixture of decorations as my parents and I are all globe trotters, that a bit of southern African artisan pieces fit very nicely.

GO TO MOZAMBIQUE

It is historical, it is gorgeous, green and full of inviting people. I think it was mostly made by the fact that I was surrounded with friends who are locals and knew exactly what they were talking about. I could not believe how little money I spent there, so in terms of a flight and visa it might cost a bit of money but staying in Mozambique and enjoying Mozambique to its fullest, eating out etc, it works out as a very accessible and cheap holiday full of opportunities for everyone to experience. It is a beautiful place with beautiful people and I don’t feel I got my complete fill of it. So I am already plotting my return in 2017/2018. Keep your eyes peeled for two more posts on Mozambique before I put this adventure behind me for a while and move on to the next travel adventure. 

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Mozambique – discovering Africa for the first time

So 2015 ended with a bang and 2016 started with one! I embarked on an awesome adventure to visit my best friend in Mozambique this year, so we could spend our 3rd consecutive New Year’s Eve together. (Now if that is not love, I do not know what is!)

After months of preparing to head over to the land down under, taking additional jabs (not as many as anticipated as apparently Asians have very similar diseases floating about) sending out visa requests, my passport going in a brown envelope with a ton of sellotape and me thinking it would never come back, mentally preparing myself to have hallucinations and daily sickness on malaria tablets (did not happen HOORAY!), packing and re-packing to consider winter to summer conditions, and trying to find clothes to suit the weather conditions considering it is UGG boots season in England. FINALLY I was ready!

So I boarded a plane, expecting nothing at all but an awesome time and warm weather. Instead, I had love affair with Mozambique.

Tofo, Inhambane

The first section of the trip took place about 10 hours after a 500 km drive up North… or further north in the southern region of the country… details.

There is not much to describe this place, but absolute paradise. It is hot, the cleanest whitest, softest sandy beaches, warm and wavey waters and not to mention the friendliest people ever. The music in Mozambique is amazing, and we were staying in a little backpackers inn, with live music and a club every day that really did just make you want to dance along. Other things that added to the atmosphere was the incredible amount of vegetation, lots of coconut trees and mangoes galore.

Fatima’s, the little backpackers inn, is a really cool quirky place to stay in, and the huts are awesome, but I would suggest going in one of the larger shared rooms as the huts are SO HOT in the morning, even with a fan switched on inside – not to mention these are definitely not sound proof, hello club music in my sleep!

Near Tofo we also had the opportunity to walk to other locations such as Tofinho, which is a small secluded beach with some rocky structures and a few more pebbles but otherwise continues to be the same, gorgeous water and picturesque view.

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In terms of costs, etc, getting here from Maputo is not so bad, Fatima’s has a shuttle bus that takes you straight there and it is 800 Meticais for the ticket, that is £12.30 for a 500 km ride. Take it. Food and drink costs nothing, but Fatima’s has kitchens so you can take a bunch of groceries and cook for yourself majority of the time which is a HELL of a lot cheaper. We found a place near by called Branko’s which had pizzas for 190 Mets – yes that works out at 3 quid for a HUGE thin crust fresh home made stone oven cooked pizza SO DO IT! and Here you can also try to eat the Bife na Pedra, which is stone cooked beef and it is truly divine. The rest of the time just eat as much fresh fruit as you can, because it is sweeter, bigger and nicer than in any European country, and forget your dreams of cheese, cheddar cheese, until you get back to Europe. Also, I would just accept the fact that you will swallow one or two microscopic ants, just don’t look, it is protein after all.

Aside from all the travelling details, the absolute highlight of this quick escape to the beach was getting to know this incredible group of people. My best friend is happy and I felt like I had spent a lifetime with these people, I felt like I was in a home away from home. I made a whole new family and group of friends that I hope to come and see again. I think that a huge part of travelling the world, in whatever terms you do it in, is that you have the opportunity to start affecting lives elsewhere, and see that your life is affected by these people too. I do not want to set these people aside or forget the amazing time I had with them, and I will keep in touch and I will see them again… in 2017/18 according to the best friend. Still, it is always good to come home to the loved ones, leaving little threads of your heart in other places in the world.

Going here was just beautiful and an absolute delight, a true place of relaxation. So today I leave you with photos of this beatiful side of the world, and in a few days, will you be ready to see Maputo? We will see!

Happy reading, writing and travelling!

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Discovery Friday – Sugarcane juice and Coconut water

So, this week’s Discovery Friday pays tribute to my very recent first ever trip to Africa. I had some amazing experiences out there, met amazing people and was faced with such a fascinating history and culture. Mozambique is truly a mess of a historical country, with so many outer, Asian and European influences bombarding it left right and centre, you are sometimes at a loss to where exactly you are. Still at its root, it is full of African charm, warmth and bright, colourful and happy people who make the experience ten times more than any European country I have been to so far.

For me, a true part of experiencing a country to its full potential is embedding yourself in the culture and THE FOOD! This includes drink too. So here is my discovery for this Friday, Sugarcane juice and coconut water. I already knew that these things existed, of course, but these are discoveries for me as they were a total first.

Sugarcane juice is officially one of the most refreshing naturally sweet drinks I have ever drank. It is honestly beautiful. When people talk about drinking from the pool of life the water that will you make you live eternally, this is what I imagine it would taste like, pure, refreshing, untainted, sweet life. I took some photos of the guy preparing it too, he cut canes and squeezed the juice out of every single one. And if you have a cold, like my friend did you can even add some lemon and ginger. Glorious! Try it!

The coconut water was also fantastic. I love coconut milk, but I despise the texture of the actual coconut fruit, so I do not eat it. This was my first time trying coconut water, straight from the coconut might I add. Those things are so heavy, I genuinely was amazed by how heavy it was, which explains why people get seriously hurt if a coconut falls on them. I was also surprised by how much water there is inside the coconut, it was delicious. It tastes something like a cross of light and nutty… is nutty an adjective ever applied to a coconut? I wonder what you guys think, if you have ever tried it please tell me your thoughts.

Happy Friday and until the next one!

 

Preparing for my first African Adventure!

I am so excited, I am going on my first African adventure as the last adventure of 2015.

As you all know I am a lover of travelling, and this year I have had the pleasure of going to a lot of places I hadn’t encountered before, such as my 2 trips to France in a month, Cebu in the Philippines and home to Macau in China. However, this is the trip I have been most excited about and saving for for 3 months to pay for my flights.

I am going to Mozambique at the end of the year! It will be my first time spending New Year’s Eve in a beach and in the heat, and it all adds even more to the fact that this is a visit to one of Portugal’s colonies and my best friend’s home country.

Now, I may be Asian and a lot of our stuff crosses over with Africa, but I have never actually been to Africa and am extremely anxious and preparing things way in advance. I have done research into disease outbreaks in the last 20 years, what tablets and jabs I might have to take, precautions, dangerous areas, money/currency, where can I source said money/currency. I have looked into the best airlines to fly with, where their layover locations are, how long I have to change and pick up my luggage. The visa requests, passport updating, you name it I have looked into it.

So this is really a small announcement to share with you that the next big adventure is Mozambique! And that I will be writing small posts, quick-bits like this one, about the little things I have been preparing for this incredible trip.

What’s your next travel adventure?