Sunday, March 29, 2009

Backpacking in Knysna. Also: food

Ah, Knysna! That peaceful, lagoon-side gem of the South African Garden Route! A place where even a walk through the dirtiest, most tin-roof-laden township can be slapped with a price tag and become a tourist attraction. This place is the very reason why I decided to go for a backpacking trip between PE and Cape Town, and while it may not be everybody's cup of tea, I'm quite intent on soaking up the shoreline ambience for a few days.

I'm currently staying at Knysna Backpackers, a converted Victorian household which is somewhat small and creaky, but nevertheless a good place to stay at if you're reasonably price-conscious like myself. The only buggery bit comes in when you realise that the dozen nubile young women that arrived with you in the bus are actually heading for the ever-so-trendy Island Vibe backpackers instead, making you wish that you'd forked out ten or twenty extra bucks instead of being condemned to hang out with old people for three days.

A charming Victorian house on the lakeside. I could pretty much sense the old people from here.

Not to say that it's entirely bad hanging out with a more mature and relaxed crowd: it's just that I set out on this trip mentally prepared for interaction with people closer to my age and ready for the wild parties that would inevitably result. Not so. Since my sojourn at Storms River, I've been pretty laid back: just been wandering solo and tapping away on my laptop for a few hours each day. I'll see about hitting the more popular youth hostels on my next few stops, but prediction is rather difficult and ultimately my wallet is going to be the boss.

My portable bank account is rather peeved already, and with good reason.

Anyway, on to the lodge itself. The facilities here are reasonable, though use of water is restricted because there's apparently a dangerous shortage of it around Knysna. I tried in vain to point out the gigantic body of water that the settlement had sprung up right next to, but nobody really paid any attention to me, so I've satisfied myself with going the enviro-friendly route anyway.

I've also – for the very first time ever ever EVER – learned how to use a gas cooker. Although the technology is inferior to that used in a modern stove, I'm nevertheless far more fascinated with how the contraption works, and was delighted to see how I could adjust the release of gas to create fire that seemed to be suspended in the middle of thin air.

Oogah! Magical flame machine!

The beds are also pretty reasonable, though I'm not looking forward to the prospect of spending a night under an occupied top bunk: the beds are horrendously creaky, and I'm not even sure how anybody would climb to the upper mattress without an incredible amount of juddering and step-on-another-person's-facery. So yeah, they're pretty bare bones, but they do the job. 7 out of 10. That'll be minus 4 points if I end up getting my face stepped on before leaving Knysna.

Victorian cottage on the outside, army barracks on the inside.

So yeah, my final note on this post is that I'm getting hungry. I don't mean in the normal “oooh i could hav a spot of dinner rite now hahaha” kind of way, either. I mean that my angry wallet is forbidding me from living on a cent more than R15 a day, and my diet of instant noodles, canned beans and peanuts really isn't working out for my system.

Is that a loaf of bread I see in the background? Sheer bloody luxury!

I don't really eat that much to start with, but this journey has proven to be the first time that my body has stood up, slapped me in the face (let's just forget for a moment that my face is, indeed, just another part of my body) and told me that I need more nutrition. I've been going for about a week on a less than sterling diet, and it's getting to the point where I occasionally think about food more than I think about women. Something has obviously gone horribly wrong here.

Although I've never strictly overeaten before, I've rarely been in a spot where money for meals has been a problem. Even as a student, I've always earned my own money and been able to pick and choose hunger-busters at my leisure. I now look back at all those times when I would willfully spend in excess of R40 for takeaway meals. My tummy laments, but the amount that I've spent on this trip forbids me from indulging that much. A great exercise in being more frugal for a change, but two cups of noodles and the occasional handful of peanuts is not a good daily plan in the long term. I'm trying to diversify a little to see what cheap options I come up with.

When I get to Cape Town, I'm definitely going to be hitting another Panarotti's all-you-can-eat night to console my poor system for the punishment it has recently been going through. And I'll drag my friends kicking and screaming with me, even if I have to pay for half of their food.

1 comment:

  1. Hahaha, well, look forward to some food here. Panarottis... that poses somewhat of a problem, both Erika and Kaps are having their birthday on the Thursday you're here... Will be one INTENSE night.