Sunday, February 8, 2009

Goodbye Gauteng! (Part 1 of 2)

In an unprecedented move, I've just spent a good 48 hours of my life away from my laptop. Okay, not strictly away, but even though I've been carrying it around everywhere I haven't actually opened it up and used it. I guess it's up to this bumper blog post to address any withdrawal symptoms that may occur.

My most recent set of escapades began innocently enough: I thought that it would be a good idea to hang out with my cousin a little bit before leaving Pretoria, so on Friday afternoon she suggested that we sit down and have a drink of coffee somewhere. Of course, it turned out by 'drink' she meant 'paint', and by 'coffee' she meant 'her new student accomodation'.

A common misunderstanding.

Joining us was a guy from the US who I usually made a point of inviting along whenever I went horsing around with my dear cuzzie. I like him because he's fairly laid-back (regrettably, there are only two traits that I can identify with the average Gautenger thus far: heightened stress and scary driving tactics), but he's also great because he has a stronger accent than me, so my own peculiar manner of speaking tends to fall by the wayside whenever I hang out with him. Oh, I'm such a conniving little bugger.

Seriously, though, I've enjoyed several good times already as a member of this “three musketeer” group (actually, all of my best social exploits seem to be done in threes), and spending some time with a paint brush and industrial cleaner actually proved to be novel rather than harrowing.

In an unprecedented move, we actually managed to get more paint on the walls than on our shirts.

After a bit of brushwork, we had to pack up because my cousin was skipping off to work (well, “reluctantly shuffling” may be a better term). I accompanied my States buddy to the Cool Runnings in Hatfield (link semi-related) and met up with some Americans from the Peace Corps.

It turned out that, like my own associate, they stayed at a local lodge known as 1322 Backpackers International. Since I didn't have a clearly defined way home that night (and possessed a delightful mixture of adventurous inspiration and dead-beat laziness), I decided to leave Cool Runnings after a while and followed the company back to the lodge.

The place wasn't half-bad. Typically, I've always understood backpackers to be minimalist bedroom-in-the-back establishments. I mean, they're generally one heck of a lot cheaper than the average hotel room – a night in the dorms is usually less than R100, and the rate gets better if you prolong your stay.

However, 1322 (despite being a few sad numbers short of the oh-so-awesome 1337) seems to have a wide variety of cool extras which I honestly did not expect from an establishment with the 'backpacker' label.

I didn't actually swim, but it's the thought that counts.

Sure, just about everything here is self-service, but when you're offered a TV room, a fully-stocked bar, secure accommodations and even free coffee, doing stuff for yourself doesn't turn out to be half bad. Better still, there's an atmosphere of chilled-out friendliness and a level of interaction with the other guests that you simply don't find when booking into the Fancypants Hotel of Expensive Service (not a real hotel name). It almost made me feel like I was back in the hippie-strewn hills of the Eastern Cape.

Mmm, bed.

The sleep review for this establishment provides a thumbs up overall. The mattress is comfortable, the facilities are adequate and – most importantly – you even get the option of sleeping in a bunk bed.

Bunk beds are something of a holy grail. It's difficult to describe, but my inner child always squeals whenever I see a double-storey resting spot such as this. It's like a miniature playground set, complete with ladders, hiding spots and that ever-sought-after high ground. Truly a magical place to sleep, and quite a rarity in my world.

Unfortunately, being in a dorm has its drawbacks. Another resident (who I shall simply refer to as Sir Snoresalot Snorey of the Snoremore Kingdom) had a certain nighttime problem which I shall not disclose here. Suffice it to say, Sir Snorey managed to not only make the walls tremble with his crime-against-nature nocturnal grunting, but he actually managed to do so without waking himself up in the process.

I debated for a while whether or not it was a good idea to charge at Sir Snorey with a pickaxe. Then I realised that I had a lovely pair of earplugs that came with the spoils of my recent Menlyn trip, so I put those on instead. Great success.

Overall sleep rating: plus one billion points out of ten for the bunkbed. Minus one billion and two points for Sir Snorey. Plus another eight points for overall experience and comfort. 6/10 in all. 8/10 if you have the foresight to wear earplugs.

More blogging as soon as I can get the words onto the keyboard (and an Internet connection reliable enough to let me post properly).


  1. Psst.

    Accommodation has two ems.


  2. Well, um, yeah? :P

    "...but when you're offered a TV room, a fully-stocked bar, secure accommodations and even free coffee..."

    Seems to be that way already, unless I'm going mad or you're being sarcastic, Mr Sarcasty-pants.

  3. Nah, I left my sarcasty-pants in my other bag. Then someone stole it. Poor guy.

    But I meant the OTHER accommodation. Nearer to the top. Says "Of course, it turned out by 'drink' she meant 'paint', and by 'coffee' she meant 'her new student accomodation'."