October 2006

:: 36 Hours Of Blood In The Bank…

Today was the firs time in a while that I’ve been in to donate blood. It was really convenient when I was at Uni because the Red Cross Donor truck used to come around once every three months and during a break I used to go down and pay them a visit. It’s been a long two years since my last donation so I went down with a crew from work… The Red Cross is in dire need of donations. There’s only 36 hours of blood supplies available in the Perth Blood Bank so everyone that is capable should make a booking as soon as possible!! Unfortunately because I’ve been to a malaria prone country and have had a skin piercing in the last 12 months they’re only able to use the plasma from my blood.

Donating Blood

Best part about donating is the fact that you’ll be helping to save someone’s life… plus you get a free meal after your donation! :)

Donating Blood

So visit the Red Cross Website, make the call (13 14 95)… or just pop into the Wellington Street Headquarters.

:: Shark Dive @ AQWA

:: Diving With The Sharks @ AQWA

So while we were in South Africa I lost count of the number of indemnity forms that we had to sign… there was the camping one that said if we get eaten or injured by a wild animal the company isn’t responsible… there was the lion encounter one that said if a lion chewed my butt off it’s my own fault… oh, and the micro light one that says if I fall out of the sky and plummet to my death they aren’t responsible for scraping me off the pavement with a spatula. The common element here… if anything bad happens… they aren’t responsible…

Scuba Diving 

Seeing that I’ve signed so many indemnity forms it’s become a reflex to just sign anything that has been put in front of me without actually reading what was on the form. It wasn’t until AFTER the lady took the form away, it set in that I had signed a form that would put me in a giant tank full of sharks during feeding time…! This is my belated birthday present from Tash… and a very spontaneous one at that! We were at AQWA to do the food taste testing trial for our wedding and while we were waiting in the lobby we met a guy that was doing the shark dive. After a quick flurry of questions before I knew it Tash was at the counter and I was signed up to do the Shark Dive!

Scuba Diving With Sharks

I’m quite excited to be able to do this because I love scuba diving and hardly get a chance to do it… but at the same time… it’s going to be in a tank full of sharks! I’ve done lion walks, had close encounters with wild bull elephants… but for some reason sharks scare the bejebus out of me! hehe

Awesome pressie Tash… I’m sure I’ll be peeing in my wetsuit once I dive in… Oh and for anyone that wants to come along to watch… my dive is at 1pm on 5th November 2006… 

:: Introducing The Allstar Team Players…

“Laaaaadies and gentlemen…  Introducing your 2006 West Coast Allstar Player line up…”

Sahan Elangasinghe playing the position of The Best Man… his killer cross over will definitely leave your head spinning as he glides past you…

Jamie Lau aka Jimmy representing the Brethren Crew from the Dirty South will play hard in boxing out the defense and dominating the boards as the power forward.

Last but not least…. The final member of this year’s Allstar Crew… Heath Parish aka Beef… who’ll be blazin’ up the three point line from way down town… who said that white men can’t jump…

The Allstars

It’s great to have the support of both old and new friends… including newly aquired family members through the preparation of our wedding…

You guys are a pillar of strength and I appreciate everything you’ve done for me…

:: Passport To The World…

Passport To The World 

After coming back from our trip to Africa it took a while to unpack everything. I sat down and flicked through the pages of my passport looking at all the stamps for the countries that I’ve been through. At last count I think I’ve been to about 23 countries my whole life… and in this trip alone I managed to make it though 5 (Singapore, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa).

To most people traveling is not something that they can afford to do very often, and I guess we’re lucky to have the opportunity to do it… then again… some people are just happy with the little world that they live in and don’t have any interest in experiencing other cultures or the slightest urge to see what the rest of the world has to offer… 

Me…? well I’ve been bitten by the travel bug and I don’t think I’ve found the right cure… (maybe its Tibet… or the Russia)… I’m really looking forward to the next few months and all the traveling that Tash and I will be doing together…

Can’t wait for it all to happen…

:: The Safari Escapade… (Part One)


After three weeks in the motherland, we’ve finally come back home. South Africa is such an amazing place… Other than the awesome wildlife and breath taking scenery, it was a very humbling experience learning and experiencing the culture of the people. I know that I was born in Africa and had lived there for 11 years… but back then as a child your focus is aimed elsewhere and you can’t really appreciate things for what they are because your life is so much simpler. Personally the highlight of the trip was learning about the history of the countries we visited and the struggles that the people faced from day to day. It was definitely a moving experience.

Flying to South Africa

After spending almost 24 hours traveling and being in transit we arrived in South Africa. Things aren’t as efficient in this country in comparison to the places that we’ve visited. We spent almost 3 hours waiting to go through customs, collect our luggage and to be picked up by our courtesy shuttle… I guess we worked out why the shuttle was free… after waiting almost 1.5 hours for it we finally got picked up. When we arrived at the Gemini Back Packers Lodge we were so tired that we crashed and slept for almost 12 hours. We had an early start the next day being picked up at 5am ready for our big drive to Victoria falls which is located on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. This was the start of out Acacia Africa Tour which was a 10 days camping/traveling tour though Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Botswana Border

The first day of our tour we drove 900 Km’s in one day and it took us about 13 hours!! Even though Botswana is the “dust ball of Africa” it had some amazing wildlife out on the plains along the roads we drove along. We had lunch in Francistown which is the second largest city in Botswana and camped overnight in Nata which is a town close to the border of Zimbabwe..

We arrived in Livingstone (Zambia) the next day and had plenty of tours/trips available for us to choose ranging from white water rafting, canoeing, bungee jumping, quad biking etc. On our first night in Livingstone we did a sunset cruise along the Zambezi River and were provided with dinner and free alcohol all night long! We spotted pods of hippos and elephants that had come to the riverbank to drink water.

Sunst Cruise On The Zambezi River Elephants Drinking Water At Sunset

The next day Tash and I decided to do the Lion Encounter. We were taken to Zimbabwe at a site where we were able to walk with 3 lions who were “tame” and were part of a breeding/conservation program. It was a bit scary when you think that these guys are at the top of the food chain for a reason. After being briefed we began our walk and were met by 2 male lions and 1 lioness who were roughly 18 months old and weighing in at about 120kg each! Phoenix the dominant male was such an amazing creature. Even though his mane was not fully developed you could see the prestige that this creature bestowed. The commanding power that was evident when you looked into the his eyes was intimidating at times, yet he still played  around like a house cat playing with pieces of bark jumping and climbing up trees. The second part of the tour introduced us to 3 cubs that were 6-9 months old. They were much more playful and one of the cubs started to gnaw on Tash’s leg. Since the cubs looked like oversized cats Tash didn’t mind until it started to get a bit carried away and the trainer intervened. Walking with the King of the jungle is one experience that I’ll never forget… 

Phoenix Phoenix

Saj n Phoenix Tash n Phoenix

Victoria falls is known to the locals as “Mosi Oa Tunya” which means “The Smoke That Thunders.” The falls were a disappointing sight at this time of the year because it is the dry season. From the Zambian side of the border there was not much flow at all and I didn’t realise how bad it was until I took to the skies… I did an optional side tour through a company called Batoka Sky who offered a 15 minute flight over the Victoria falls in what is called a Micro light. It’s basically a hang glider with an undercarriage that can seat 2 people and is driven by a propeller. It was such an amazing view flying 1500 feet over the falls and though the canyons. I got to see why everyone said that the falls are much better when viewed from the Zimbabwe side of the border… even though we were so high up you could still feel the spray from the thundering falls. We weren’t allowed to take cameras up for safety reasons, but we had plenty of shots taken by the pilot using a wing mounted camera.

 Victoria Falls Dr Livingstone

Micro Light Flight Over Victoria Falls Victoria Falls

:: The Safari Escapade… (Part Two)


As Saj was doing his microlight flight over Vic Falls, I wanted to make the most of close animal encounter as I can-this is why I chose the elephant back safari. The ride was about 1-1.5hr and there were 6 adult elephants and 1 calf. I’ve done quite a few of elephant rides, and I give 2 thumbs and toes up for this one. One of the reasons was that they treat the elephants very well, they never hit/abuse the elephants on training, instead they reward them when they do well. The elephants are there by choice, they could easily leave their home and join the many wild herds of elephants that they meet everyday, however, they chose come home to their stable at sunset, that’s gotta say something.

Tash n Bob Feeding Time

I have never seen African Elephants in real life before, so I was anticipating to see how HUGE they are. My elephant’s name was Bob, he happened to be the biggest bull in the herd. He weighs about 5 tons (5000Kg), is 32 yrs old and he is so tall. Initially, I was a little nervous when I had to climb up on his back, if I slip I could be in a lot of trouble. But after 10 mins went by, I was thoroughly enjoying the ride. We went through the open savannah and through the hills and small lakes. There was a guy with a rifle that walked along with us, just in case if we encounter wild herds of elephants. Wild African elephants can be very aggressive, especially when they have calves to protect. Don’t get me wrong, the rifle is not used to shoot them, he just needs to make a couple of shots in the air to shoo them away if they get too close to us.

After the ride, I had a chance to feed Bob as a thank you for the smooth journey and took photos before I said goodbye. Below is a photo of me and Bob and you can see how extremely huge he is  in comparison to the Asian bull elephant.

Tash n Bob Lil' Baby Elephant

The next day we left Vic Falls and made our way down to Thebe-Kasane where we stayed overnight in a campsite. Chobe National Park is the 2nd largest NP in Botswana and is well known of its elephant population. (approx. 120,000). We were picked up by an open vehicle suitable for game drive from our camp site. It was a 3 hour game drive and true enough, we saw an abundance of elephants. There were literally thousands of elephant herds and they were everywhere..! We encountered many elephants crossing the river, road and even about 5m in front of us, sometimes you get a mother and a baby walking closely together. What an exhilarating feeling to observe them in the wild as opposed to in the zoo with the cages around them. This time, we’re in their territory, this is where they live and they rule the house. So if we get too close to their personal space or especially their young, they will tell us to back off by flaring their ears or giving us a sharp look and shaking their heads… we have to respect that, otherwise someone will get hurt and it won’t be the elephants that’s for sure… 😛

Elephants Warthogs

We also spotted other wildlife such as baboons, warthogs, hippos, giraffes, buffalos, impalas, kudu, etc. We finished viewing just before sunset and arrived at the camp in time for dinner.

Impala Baboon

:: Kruger National Park, The Cheetah Project & Cultural Village

Kruger National Park is roughly the size of Belgium and has approximately 3000 Km’s of roads throughout the park. My feelings of the experience there were a bit mixed. It was great in the sense that we saw “the big 5” – Buffalos, lions, leopards (twice – a very rare sighting at the best of times), elephants and a rhino. The down side about the park is that when people make a sighting word gets around quickly and before you know it there are 100 cars trying to get a glimpse of a pride of lions that is laying camouflaged in the grass 200 metres from the sealed roads. People get frustrated and you get some idiots cursing and yelling while tooting their horn. *great tactic for keeping the wildlife around* – NOT!

The Cheetah Project is a private organisation that is interested in the preservation of this endangered species. We were taken throughout the sanctuary and were shown their breeding project as well as the facilities and local friendly faces. Other than cheetahs, this place is home to the African Wild Dog which is another endangered species, most species of antelopes and plenty of wild birds, cats and lions. It’s very touching to see the work being done at places like this in order to preserve the animals of today for our kids…

Cheetah Cub Cheetah

The final leg of our second tour was a stop at the Mafunyani Cultural Village. We were greeted by the beating of African Drums and the sweet smile of little children as they sang us a welcoming song. We were taken on a tour of the village and were shown how the women weaved mats, prepare meals and ground maize corn to make Nshima (the staple diet – sorta like rice for asians). Later that night we were treated to a tribal dance complete with authentic costumes and later on we were given a chance to get out boogie on! We slept over night in a traditional hut which was an awesome experience. It’s great to see that even in this day an age where countries are developing there are still places where the youth can still stay in touch with their roots. The children that descended from the tribes within the region who live in the town and cities are able to come and stay at the village to learn about their traditional way of life.

Cultural Village Tribal Dance

As the son of the chief told us; “you won’t know where you’re going… unless you know where came from.”

We met a great bunch of people on this trip: Yana, Peter, Kevin, Tom, Freda, Maria and Yuri the crazy Brazillian! It was good fun learning about each other and sharing stories. It was such a crack up to see Yana scream for Yuri as he plunged 68 metres on the gorge swing… it was even funnier finding out that Yuri didn’t know that there was a free fall of 2.8 seconds before you start swinging… anyways… the photos in the gallery says it all… Hope you guys keep in touch and I’m sure our paths will cross again…

Yuri The Crazy Brazillian's Gorge Swing

While staying in Johannesburg I was lucky enough to spend some time with an old friend from Zambia. Eitzaz and I went to nursery, lower and upper school together and we lived across the road from each other. It was great fun watching old home videos, reading old school reports and reminiscing about our childhood in Africa. I’m so happy after 13 years apart that we managed to pick up where we left off, as if it was yesterday… Your mom’s cooking is tha bomb (just how I remembered it) and it was great seeing Amara as well.

Until next time… It’s goodbye once again…