The first stop on this trip is Johannesburg, South Africa. I will be staying here 2 weeks. The idea behind staying here is that it is on the “way” to South America and is about the halfway point between Thailand (my starting point on the tour) and Argentina. The total trip time was 23 hours (factoring travel time to the airport in Bangkok as well as the travel from the Johannesburg airport to my condo). I arrived around 3pm local time I was able to get a bite to eat, walk around and was fast asleep in the early evening. The place I rented is in part of Johannesburg called Maboneng, which in the new trendy area of Joberg (what the locals call Johannesburg) that has many small cafes, restaurants and art studios. My flight transferred from Bangkok in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with a 2 hour layover. The flight itself was pretty uneventful, although I did get to see Mount Kilimanjaro on the Addis Ababa to Joberg leg of the flight that was pretty cool.
I breezed through customs with no issues and proceeded to get a sim card for my iPhone 6s (phone / internet). I only have 14 days in Joberg, so I elected to get 5 gigabytes of data which was right around $35 (including the sim card). As of this writing it remains to be seen if this will be enough data. The taxi driver did get lost, but between Google maps and my AirBnb host I made it.
Day 1: Sunday May 15th, 2016
I managed to get a full night of sleep (and maybe then some) and was up and ready at 7am. The first order of business was to get an adaptor as South Africa uses a plug type that does not work for any of my power connections. I elected to go to the Rosebank Mall, which is just over 30 minutes from where I am staying. I initially tried to use Uber to book a ride to the mall, but it locked up my credit card and ended up calling a taxi. The taxi charged me 200 South African Rand ($13) from Maboneng to Rosebank. It is amazing the disparity I seen in that 30 minute drive. I counted no less than 50 people I seen sleeping on the street but as I got closer to the Rosebank Mall area, I seen more neighborhoods with million dollar plus homes. I arrived at the Rosebank mall and it was as promised. The area was very modern and outside the place I had breakfast, the first Starbucks in Africa had just opened 3 weeks earlier. The line was at least 50 people deep to get a taste of American coffee.
After getting food supplies and the much needed adapter, I proceeded to find a place to eat. I settled on the “News Cafe” which is a trendy cafe / restaurant inside the Rosebank Complex. The food was great and after I talked to the taxi driver out front and explained where I was going and I wanted to make a couple stops to take pictures. He stopped on the hill overlooking the Rosebank area and it was amazing the home in that area. I snapped a couple pictures and we were on our way again. I arrived back to my condo in Maboneng and got my computers set up knowing I would have to work in around 24 hours. The place I am staying at has a large desk, so I was able to set up my MacBook Pro and two 23″ monitors with no problems.
Day 2: Monday May 16th, 2016
Today I went to the Mall of Africa that just opened up. It is the biggest mall in Africa and it is just north of Johannesburg. I took an Uber taxi to get there, which was my first Uber trip! The only thing I needed was socks and to figure out how to check on my data load for my iPhone, but it was good to check it out and take some pictures. While the Uber trip to the Mall of Africa was uneventful, the return trip (or attempted trip) was an exercise in frustration at the very least. Due to banking fraud protections from my bank in the US, my account was locked up and I was not able to use Uber on the return trip home. I asked the security guard and he was able to find us a taxi and back to Maboneng I went. Monday afternoon I just relaxed as I had to work later around 4:00pm local time (9am CST).
When I arrived back at the condo, I found the power to be off. I was unaware that the electricity was pre-paid and the “load” had run out. My Airbnb contact was very helpful and she got it resolved within the hour in time for me to make it online for work. She runs a startup tour company so her and her partner came and visited me to talk about their different tour packages and what I would like to see. I could have opted for the standard tour on the “red double decker bus”, but for $25 I thought I would be more interesting to get a guided tour from a local. The plan is to start around 11am on Saturday and visit some of the museums and more notable attractions in and around Joberg.
Day 3: Tuesday May 17th, 2016
Today was very uneventful. I woke up around 8:30am local time and cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast. Around lunchtime, I went and walked around a bit and found a small cafe and had a cup of coffee. While I was sitting here a street vendor came up to me and I bought a warm hat and pair of gloves. I came back to the condo to catch up on some project work I wanted to get ready for later. For dinner I had Ethiopian food which was pretty interesting. It was a traditional Ethiopian place where there is no silverware and you are required to eat with your hands. When you’re eating with your hands it is pretty difficult to multitask on a smartphone, but the food was delicious and would highly recommend it.
I already feel the difference in my new working hours. Working during Asian hours was so hard for me. I think that there are people that can adjust to the “graveyard shift”, I never seems to be ever able to mentally and physically function at 100%. I start every day around 4pm local time (9am CST), which gives me time to run around, but does not keep me awake past 1am. I have a few website builds that have very non-flexible delivery dates, so the extra focus is going to be a big help. The internet is definitely not cheap here. I pay 300 Rand ($19) for 15 gigabytes of internet. I checked as of this posting and I will need to reload before starting work tomorrow. The overall speed / stability of the internet here is pretty good, but I have found that voice calls are a little “choppy”.