Wednesday, June 12, 2013

South Africa 6: CapeTown: Of Scuba, Sharks and Penguins

In continuation from South Africa 5: Garden Route: Of Knysna, Paragliding and the Horror

When the car arrived, I believed that they would inquire me regarding the accident but I was pleasantly surprised when they just gave me the papers for the new car and asked me to just simply sign on a paper as an acceptance of this car. Interestingly, this was a new car with only a temporary number as of yet. Pleased with the new car, all of us jumped into it with me on the driving seat again. Considering the intensity of the accident, I was a bit conscious driving again. To add to that, even my fellow passengers were throwing words of caution at me at the slightest opportunity. After driving for sometime, I finally decided to give up the steering to someone else to drive. On our way, we also stopped at the point where we met with that accident and took some photographs of the site while also looking for any of our stuff still strewn around from last night.

Our karaoke room at Daddy Long Legs
The shortest route to Cape Town from Gaansbaai passes Hermanus. However, as there was a huge fire in Hemanus, we took a longer route but we could still see the huge plumes of smoke as the road crisscrossed the yellow fields to finally merge with N2 at Caledon. It was only a short ride from Caledon and soon we could see the well known Table Mountain with its top covered by clouds. While looking at the intimidating Table Mountain and taking its pictures, we didn't even realize when we entered the city and were hovering in the City Bowl section of Cape Town. We were to stay at Daddy Long Legs hotel on Long Street which is a boutique backpacker hotel where each room is tastefully designed by an artist/musician etc. We stayed in the room titled 'Do Not Disturb', pretty ironic considering two guys would share the bed. However, it is named so as this is a Karaoke Room fitted with 5 microphones across the room. Once we checked in, the first thing we did was sing songs at the top of our voice until the hotel staff told us to calm down. Another session followed at a lower volume and then we slept off for a while.

Long Street is one of those streets of CT with lots of nightclubs and bars all around. Considering that we had been a bit out of the party circle for last few days, we decided to pay a visit to some of these clubs in the area. About 3-4 hours were spent club-hopping by us and then we came back to the hotel, sung a few more songs and slept to rest our tired bodies.

Seven-Gill Cowshark (Photo from http://ctdf.co.za)
Next morning, we woke up early as we planned to go scuba-diving. For diving, we had to go to Pisces Divers in Simonstown. The early morning sea-side drive to Simon's Town was pleasant with least traffic and a cool breeze blowing in our face. Once at the dive centre, the guys who were to do the Discover Scuba Diving Course were given a short training session and then all of us picked our diving gear. From our past diving experience, we picked the basic gear needed to dive in tropical waters (where I had dived before this). However, when it came to picking and trying the gear needed to dive in the chilly waters of CT, we got a bit perplexed. Diving with a jacket, gloves and hood on seemed too restrictive and made all of us a bit uncomfortable. Finally, we reached the beach from where I would be picked for my dive at Photographer's reef. Photographer's reef is an inshore reef on the False Bay side and as the name suggests was supposed to be a paradise for under water photographers. As I was the only certified diver of us all, I was stranger to all other divers on board but was provided a buddy nonetheless. I was still not confident considering this was to be my first dive after the certification where I won't be with a instructor. Also, all the jackets and gloves to protect myself from the chilly waters restricted my movement and made me even more nervous.

Underwater kelp Forest that we have to negotiate to see Cowsharks
Finally at the dive point, I back-flipped off the boat and was immediately shaken by the icy cold waters. Once inside the water, I realized that the visibility was hardly 2-3 metres and I could hardly see my buddy. As expected, soon I was without the buddy and struggling to control buoyancy in the completely different diving environment. It was clear that diving in temperate waters is a completely different ball game. However, soon I was taken control off by another diver who ensured that I don't get lost and move the right way as the group. For most part, he was also controlling my buoyancy. Thanks to my haphazard diving, I was breathing rather quickly and was out of air in just about 20 minutes. Out of air, I also came out of water. It was only when I spoke to some other divers, I realized that this dive site has depth varying from 3 metres to 17 metres  and it wasn't me struggling with buoyancy as the lack of visibility ensured that I don't see the gradient.

A thoughtful Penguin
When I came back to the beach, I was told that my friends couldn't dive as they were least comfortable with the conditions. I could understand their condition and told them to dive only if they feel confident enough as it was surely not easy. They decided not to dive and went for lunch while I prepared myself for another dive. This time I was to dive with Seven Gill Cowsharks who are known to move in up and down in a channel. These sharks are prehistoric apex predators and grow about 3 metres in length. Considering the visibility condition in my last dive, I was really worried of becoming a meal even though I had heard that they haven't been known to attack any divers. This time, I told the dive instructor beforehand that I was struggling with the conditions and he decided to be my buddy himself. Once down at the sandy bottom, I realized that I was feeling more comfortable in this dive though the conditions were quite similar. Soon I was enjoying swimming through the underwater kelp forests while observing the sharks passing by us. Maybe because of the cold conditions, my air ended earlier compared to other divers even in this dive and I was out on the boat feeling much better after this dive having seen these predators from up close.

Curious Penguins
Post scuba-diving, we went to the Boulders Beach considering we were already close to it in Simon's Town. This is a sheltered beach with huge granite boulders along it. Boulders beach has become a popular tourist spot in CT for a colony of African Penguins that can be observed from close distance here. Here, there was also an option to go on a board walk where one gets to get pretty close to the penguins. However, as we could see a group of 10-15 penguins on a boulder right next to the beach, we decided to hop onto it and were almost at a touching distance to the penguins. These penguins are relatively very small compared to the size of penguins we see on wildlife channels mostly but they are equally cute and seem to express a variety of emotions.

Lazy Penguin
After this, we went to check-in at our Service Apartments at Green Point. This was a 2 bedroom apartment located on the main road bang in front of Cape Town Stadium. There were a number of bars, cafes located within walking distance to the apartment and even Victoria & Alfred Waterfront was a 10 minutes walk away only. In short, I loved the location and would recommend it highly to anyone looking for a mid-budget accommodation in CT.

Soaring into the Sky
In the evening, we visited a club for drinks and decided to dine at Bukhara, an Indian restaurant, as we wanted to have a filling Indian meal to soothe our appetite. No matter where we Indians go, we feel satisfied only after eating a proper desi meal. Considering that we hadn't had chapatis for quite some time, we ordered more than our appetite and still finished all of it. With tired bodies from the long day and a full belly, we went back to the apartments and dozed off soon after.

The Two "Sachins" in our Service Apartment at Green Point
Continue to the next part: CapeTown: Table Mountain, Clifton Beach an NY Bash

6 comments:

Sachin Jain said...

Being the part of this trip ;I can say that this was one of the memorable trip of my life.It was all because of Sachin Dixit's planning I was able to see the other part of the world.Whenever I feel tired of my work ;I usually see these blogs to freshen myself. Good work dude. Hope we gonna have some more trips in future.

sachin dixit said...

Thanks Sachin. There surely are many more trips to come unless you get married too soon! ;-)

Nikhil said...

For one Scuba Diving is a life altering experience ...and damn u clicked penguins !!!! Lucky Bastard .......Of the things money buy ...travelling is indeed the most enriching

sachin dixit said...

Haven't you tried scuba diving yet? Go do it ASAP dude!!

Nishitha KM said...

hii..nice post.Thanks for sharing with us.I liked the way you put up the information.I visited br hills resort and also bandipur resorts last weekend with my family. really enjoyed a lot.Do visit once its really awesome..

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