Before coming to Cape Town, we had actually booked a half day township tour. The description said that it would include a visit to Bo-Kaap (the Malay Quarter lined with houses in cheery paints), District Six (homes of colored people forcefully removed by the apartheid regime) and several townships. It was also indicated that we would be invited into local people’s houses to see how they lived.
So we went for the trip thinking that we could take nice photos of Bo-Kaap houses and mingle with local Cape Malays. Sadly, the minivan carrying us and about 10 other tourists only passed by the area, no stop at all! The guide explained to us that there would be only two stops - District Six Museum and a township called Langa. Township, again?! The “invitation to local people’s houses” was actually referring to the houses at the township!
As I said earlier, we had no idea what a “township” was until we visited Imizamo Yethu yesterday. The only reason we signed up for the trip was because we thought that “township” was a general term for housing areas, which we assumed would include the houses in Bo-Kaap. Needless to say, our assumption was a far cry from the truth! Now that we knew that the word “township” in South Africa carried a very specific meaning, there was nothing left to do but to brace ourselves for another pitiful sight of how black people lived *sigh*
The first stop was District Six Museum.
White people marked their territories through signage on walls...
...and on benches.
There was a small bookstore in the museum, operated by a Cape Malay gentleman who was so happy to meet us.
Next stop was Langa township, where we were brought to a shebeen owned by this lady...
...and were given crash course on how local beer was made.
Some took the chance to try the beer, which was served in a metal bucket to be shared among the group.
A cute yet confused kid.
Shops by the roadside.
We then walked to the men’s hostels. Refer to yesterday’s entry on how these hostels came into existence.
We entered one of the hostels through its kitchen cum dining area...
...and looked at the rooms they stayed in.
There were also some recently built apartments nearby. We did get invited to enter one of them. Nothing interesting though, just like any low cost flat.
Langa township was a bit too touristy for my liking, just look at the number of tour vans around! Yesterday’s visit to Imizamo Yethu township was a lot more personal and impactful.
A few minutes walk away from the township was where middle class people lived.
I found that African squatters had some similarities with their Malaysian counterparts - even when they could afford driving nice cars and installing satellite TVs at home, they still preferred living in townships than moving to proper housing estates. What was the reason? Familiarity? Convenience? Sentimental values? Only they knew why.
If they agreed to move, the government promised them nice houses like these, complete with solar electric system.
Yet most of them chose to remain in huts like these, under messy electric cables, without proper sanitation system. The blue cubicles were portable toilets provided by the government, cleaned once a week.
On our way back to the hotel, we passed by a group of women doing laundry at a public tap...
...and an old lady skinning a cow’s head at a meat market.
Hey, someone just bought a new TV!
We reached the hotel hardly fifteen minutes before we were scheduled to go to another tour. Absolutely no time for lunch, so we just had lattes at the coffee house and bought some chips from a vending machine. I hadn’t even finished my chips when the tour guide arrived to take us for an afternoon trip to Cape Point.
Enough already with the depressing scenes. Let’s take a drive along the coastal road and enjoy the lovely view!
Warning signs like this (i.e. winding road, landslide, shark) could be seen along the way. Black flag meant no visibility (shark watchers couldn’t see if there was any shark). Dare to jump into the waters to find out?
Our next stop was Boulders Beach, the home of hundreds of cute little penguins!
Hello my friend! You’re not going to attack me, are you?
Then we proceeded to the most important stop of the day - Cape Point!
We could either take the funicular to the top or climb up. Since there was a long queue waiting for the ride and the tour guide only gave us 20 minutes to spend, we decided to go on foot. “It will only take 10 minutes to reach the top,” said the tour guide. So, amidst the strong wind, we walked uphill.. and further uphill.. and even further uphill.. and found ourselves reaching only the middle of the slope after 15 long minutes! 10 minutes to reach the top huh?! In our dreams!
See how far we had left the car park? Still more than a quarter of the track to go!
The furthest point that we could reach, given the time. From here we had less than 5 minutes to run downhill to the car park. Too bad we didn’t get to visit the lighthouse. If we went for it, the tour guide would surely leave us there!
Everybody who had been to Cape Point must take a photo with this sign!
When we got inside the van, we found out only four out of ten people in our group decided to climb up - myself, Fiza, a Brazilian guy and a German guy. Only the Brazilian guy managed to go all the way to the light house. There rest of the group decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Some stayed at the café near the car park, some enjoyed the scenery from the bottom of the hill.
Saw an angry baboon by the roadside on our way back to the city.
We reached the hotel feeling really hungry. For two days in a row, we were so focused on sightseeing that we didn’t have time to eat! Again we went to the Cape Malay restaurant near Nelson Mandela Gateway at waterfront for dinner and returned to the hotel.
We ended today’s activities with two major takeaways:
- One, a half day trip to townships was too long.
- Two, a half day trip to Cape Point was too short!