Wednesday, December 28, 2011

from sandton to soweto

After doing five countries in five days, not to mention catching a nasty case of bedbugs and unmerciful mosquito bites, I was ready to lay low for a while in Johannesburg. Johannesburg has kind of become my break from “Africa” in quotation marks in a certain way: it’s a land where businesses take credit cards, where there is an abundance of McDonalds, where there is public transportation, where skyscrapers blot out the sky, and many parts of it are virtually indistinguishable from, say, York Mills in Toronto. It’s a pretty good place to lay low after trekking around waterfalls getting robbed by baboons. Especially with Joseph, who seems to share the same idea of laying low.

Deep down inside Joseph and I are actually forty-something-year-old rich white housewives, as is evidenced by our activities in Johannesburg:
  • going for refreshing runs in the morning
  • enjoying Joseph’s signature breakfasts of nutella-banana-bacon-beans and Lebanese salads
  • mending our sore backpacker backs with a Thai massage
  • eating a healthy lunch of Moroccan wraps and mango juice at Benmore Gardens
  • getting pampered with facials (Joseph’s facial was done by Luna Lovegood herself)
  • going shopping at Sandton City, a huge luxury shopping centre which is where you would go to get your Louis Vuitton/Chanel/Gucci fix (I bought some sunglasses at Mr. Price)
  • sneaking into the fanciest hotel we've ever seen
  • complaining about our maids
  • having a laundry party with a bottle of wine.

shopping at Rosebank

nelson mandela square

joseph also likes dinner for breakfast, like me

fancy hotel!

Sandton city: more shops than you'd know what to do with

As you can see, I’ve been enjoying the more luxurious side of Johannesburg. As a major contrast to Sandton though, I decided to spend Christmas and my birthday in Soweto, the famous historical township where blacks were relocated to during South Africa’s apartheid. It also became the main headquarters of resistance against apartheid, culminating in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 where hundreds of teenage students were killed while protesting apartheid policy in their education. I’d learned about Soweto while visiting the apartheid museum the last time I was in Johannesburg, and thought it’d be a fascinating place to visit. Over the next little while I'll be posting about my adventures there.