About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

09 January 2010

Music: To Bring a Gun to a Shark Fight, Sesling and Enmity

It has been a few months since I last went to a gig at a club, and Back 2 Basix was the only place I could find gigs at. I suppose, people are still recovering from the festive season. Last night's line-up was all metal bands

To Bring a Gun to a Shark Fight
They are probably the worst band I have seen in a long time. It is not only the fact that their vocals are entirely composed of screaming (there seems to be no change in tone to what they were screaming, so I assume there were no lyrics); but there was also no change in the music itself. In fact, I think there was a song in which none of the guitarists moved their hands for the entire song - they seemed to be plucking the same chords, over and over again. Now repeat that for 30 minutes. The testament to how bad they were, was how much of the audience just left (even the club) while they were still playing!

The warm-up and sound check for Sesling was more interesting than the full set of the previous band. Sesling, a 5-piece, Afrikaans band comprising of band-members from a number of a other well known metal bands. While they sing in Afrikaans, so I cannot say much about their lyrics, they have a very interesting sound - and the two vocalists combine well on stage. It was unfortunately a very short set; but definitely enjoyable.

A young six piece band, I think also from Cape Town, they have a really good combination of vocalists with their keyboard player Chloe providing melodic backing and their vocalist Alainite providing the usual angry screaming. Their lyrics are also interesting, although they are deffinitely the type that gets bands labeled Satanic. After-all, Alainite described every song being about serial killers. They have a great presence, and they play very well together. I think they still have to get set-up correct, as their mixing could have been a lot better - but it's a band that could do well. Their cover of the Beatle's Eleanor Rigbby, was also quite good - and different.

04 January 2010

Fuel price regulation

South Africa has in theory, regulated fuel price. In theory, there is a set price per region - and this should have both a stabilising effect on the price of energy in the country; as well as reduce the effect of distance/low population density areas on the price of fuel. In theory at least.

The following table gives the fuel price in the towns I filled up in.

TownOctanePrice per litre
Kempton ParkU 95R 7.92
VryburgU 93R 8.04
PofadderU 93R 8.28
Lamberts BayU 95R 7.79
BellvilleU 95R 7.69
Three SistersU 95R 7.90
WarrentonU 93R 7.97
MidrandU 95R 7.92

This table is skewed slightly by the fact that Unleaded 93 Octane fuel is the only fuel available in North West and Northern Cape (and unavailable in the Western Cape). That said, there is a massive difference of 59c per litre, between the fuel price in Pofadder and the price in Cape Town! What is also quite perplexing is the difference between Pofadder, Vryburg and Warrenton - especially as they are almost equidistant from each other!

I am not sure how the regions are broken up with regards to the fuel price; but there is certainly a big fluctuation in the price. I am not sure if this is the outcome of regulatory intent; or the bad policing of regulation.

All the data in a few graphs (click for a larger version):

03 January 2010

Roadtrip: Three Sisters to Midrand, via Kimberley

Until Potchefstroom, the road to Midrand was largely uninteresting and boring. That was not unexpected, but that does not detract from the boredom. Furthermore, the horde of cars I saw at the Three Sisters Ultra City (almost all with Gauteng plates, and all seemingly heading northwards); all seemed to take the N1. Thus, this road was rather quiet on the traffic front too.

It all changed in Potchefstroom - not because the scenery got more pleasant, but because of a massive thunderstorm which reduced visibility and thus at least made the driving a lot more interesting. The storm passed, just past Carletonville, but by then it was a slow merge into the N1 and then Jo'burg traffic shortly thereafter.

Including the driving around in Cape Town, it was a fairly long trip in total - almost 4300 Km, and about R3000 in expenses such as accomodation, fuel, food etc. Not bad for what ammounted to two weekends away (since I did work during the week in Cape Town).


Kimberley, is one of the main towns in South Africa. In some respects, it is known only for its diamond heritage; which has not only fueled the South African economy, but had an impact on other South African life; as the plaque by the Big Hole suggests. I was surprised how big the city was, but I shouldn't have been. It is not mentioned as one of the major cities in South Africa, but it clearly is.

Kimberley has also played a major role in the history of the ANC, and was Sol Plaatjie's (one of the core founders of the ANC) home towards the end of his life. His house is apparently a museum and a national monument, but the signs in Kimberley are confusing, and do not lead anywhere (one sign says left, then the next sign makes no mention etc). I did go to another museum (McGregor Museum, which documents the siege of Kimberley); but did not get any help their either.

As it was getting late; I decided to carry on to Jo'burg instead.

The Big Hole

It is probably the world's most famous hole, and also probably the richest. The Big Hole, in Kimberley is now also a proper tourist attraction, converted to a proper museum. There is a recreation of the old town, an ampitheatre that plays a 20 minute documentary on this history of Kimberley, a fake trip down the mine (you have to experience it to understand what I mean), a display on the formation of diamonds, a display in a massive safe of real diamonds (but the main attraction - Eureka, the first diamond to be discovered was on "leave") and off course the hole itself.

Roadtrip: Bellville to Three Sisters

I deliberately decided on a short first day for the drive back to Johannesburg. Yes, I could do the whole trip in one day; but the intent was to see the country - not get from A to B. If it was the latter, I would have flown - it would be cheaper; and faster.

I started in the adternoon, and spent a considerably amount of time on Dutoitskloof pass looking at the view and taking pictures (and trying things out with my camera). The Hex River moountains, which follow directly after, were fun to drive through also. But thereafter, it was a drab drive to Three Sisters, where for the first time in the trip, I had made prior reservations.

There is no town or village called Three Sisters - it is actually a very large sheep farm, named after the three hills. Apparently there are two accounts of the name - stemming from a San tale about three naughtly sisters turned to mountains as punishment and a rival account of being named by an English lady who alighted at the station here.

The farm has been in the same family since inception, 5 generations ago - and the current family also runs a small, cosy guesthouse - set in a great garden that makes you forget that this is the middle of the desert. Dinner was an interesting experience in some respects - myself and three other couples sat around a common dining table for a three course meal of chicken soup, lamb chops and ice cream. Quite a few guesthouse apparently have this, but this is the first time I have experienced it. The conversation was mostly dominated by one old lady, who was returning from Mossel Bay; and talked about the drought and the cost of liquid beverages (of all kinds) in Mossel Bay, and the surrounding area.

Dutoitskloof Pass

Start of the pass (left), N1 to the Huguenot Tunnel entrance (right)

In the seemingly mad dash between Jo'burg and Cape Town, the Huguenot Tunnel (part of the N1), is the popular course; with few people taking the slightly longer time to travel over the mountain on the stunning Dutoitskloof Pass. Absolutely stunning views of Cape Town and a brilliant road - why would anyone travel through the tunnel?

A view of Paarl

The curving road through the hills

There's a little village up there!

Ken jy die see?

The only poem I remember from matric (now over 10 years ago!) is in Afrikaans - a subject I was not good at, and still do not comfortably converse in. Uys Krige's "Ken jy die see", for whaetver reason, sticks to my mind (I had to Google the poet's name though).

Cape Town understandably has a strong fishing community and the poem is really about the difficult work entailed by fishing - especially the small fishing enterprises making up much of the Cape coast.

Kalk bay harbour is one of the freshest sources of fish - both ready made in the surrounding restaurants and takeaways; and for sale. It is a facinating place to walk around; and great place for pictures in my opinion. And the harbour, catches a lot of the emotion and context of the poem ...