Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Backpacking in Port Elizabeth

Okay, so now I'm on the road and pretty much backpacking for the first time (okay, not strictly the first time, but this is the first time that it'll actually count). Right now, I'm staying at a place known as the King's Beach backpacker's lodge, situated in Port Elizabeth. Amidst the towering hotels and fancy-schmancy complex buildings it seems not only homely, but remarkably out of place too.

A place to sleep that looks like a house instead of a business. Oh, the novelty!

The King's Beach lodge is a former family home which has now been converted to run as a full-time backpacker's establishment. Staying here is probably best described as pretty much like living in your very own house, except that it's ninety bucks a night and hogging the toast means that somebody will probably end up swearing at you in Spanish. Or French. Or Esperanto.

Beware! There's foreigners hiding behind the couch.

Heck, hearing a plain old South African English accent (or even a hearty dose of Afrikaans) addressing you here is something of a rarity. To my knowledge, I'm the only local aside from the owner who has set foot in this place for a while – the rest of my companions mostly hail from Europe and other far-flung environs. I suppose it's only foreigners who really have the money to maintain a lifestyle like this, but I still find it quite strange how I'm often considered the “odd one out” for engaging in a bit of domestic tourism.

The map is full of pins. Amazingly enough, they remembered to put one of them on South Africa.

Mind you, it's not as if I dislike the foreigners at all. In fact, it's damn interesting staying in this little slice of global heaven. I spent yesterday evening sitting in the living room and chatting with a couple of Swedish exchange students (who gave me some mad liquorice stuff to try), a cricket player from Holland and an eccentric old gent with a powerful Welsh accent who wears a nice hat and goes by the name of Robert.

Robert, like me, appreciates good headwear: this automatically makes him cool. I share a dorm with him and one other fellow who arrived on the same night as I did.

I don't have a fancy national flag by my bed. Everyone else does. I feel a bit naked.

The beds are pretty humble, but they make a refreshing change from couches. For a start, they're bunk beds, which is automatically cool. The furnishings one gets, however, are fairly Spartan: there's a single fluffy blanket to keep you warm and one fairly flat pillow to rest your head on. I didn't mind this all terribly much, but I hope that they provide extras during winter: it looks like it could get a bit cold otherwise.

I give it a 6.5 out of ten. Preferable to many couches, definitely, but I always have to be stricter when I'm scoring beds. And if you stay at a backpacker's, you can't expect royalty unless you're looking to pay for a private room.


  1. THAT liquorice... My dad bought some salty liquorice in Norway, it was crazy strong, I thing he managed to finish it, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

  2. Even though you have left Gtown, you are still in our hearts and minds... keep on blogging in the free world!