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This domain name was used for the Get Happy Tour back in its original run around 10 years ago, when I used to do work for BFS and AOF. However, for the past 5 years it has been used for my travel blog as I never thought we would have another Get Happy Tour and I didn't want it to go to waste.

But as a favour to two bands who have done a lot for me over the years, and so you don't miss out, ticket info is:
O2 Presale: 10am on 25 September
General Onsale: 10am on 27 September.

Tickets available from ticketmaster.co.uk and bowlingforsoup.com
 


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Posts Tagged ‘Gibeon’

The blog of my 2002 Namibia trip is back online

August 22nd, 2016 No comments

I am pleased to report that the blog for my month-long trip trip to Namibia with World Challenge Expeditions in 2002 is back online after being taken down temporarily since May. If you read the blog you will notice that there are some references to an anonymous group member, as opposed to naming the group member being talked about like I do most of the time, and that some photos have black boxes on them or are cropped to non-standard dimensions. Let me explain.

Some of you will know the details by now, especially with the worldwide media interest generated by his story, but a member of the group who travelled with us to Namibia was recently convicted of some serious crimes that he committed while living abroad. I won’t go into details, or mention him by name in this post, as I would prefer not to receive web traffic from the sort of people who might search for his name online. However due to the media interest over the summer I found it necessary to take the blog down to protect my own privacy.

I now feel that sufficient time has passed since his conviction and so, 14 years to the day from our final full day in Namibia on this trip, I have returned the blog to my site. Where possible I have found new photos to replace ones that he was featured in but where this was not possible I either cropped the photo or added a black box to cover him in photos where he was recognisable. I have also removed his name from the blog itself.

Our group

(Most of) our group

In the school hall

In the school hall of Oaseb Senior Secondary school in Gibeon

For the purposes of any media that may find their way to this blog, in the event of any future interest in his case, I have no information to give and will not be making any statement or providing any further information. However I will point out that the fact I have edited a 14 year old blog in ways described above should make my feelings about this issue perfectly clear.

The original text of my blog has been archived to my computer should it be needed by anybody, for a valid reason, although the changes to the content itself were fairly minor other than removing references to the one group member.

I am glad that I have finally been able to put my blog back online as this was an amazing trip, one which probably started my love of getting off of the beaten path and delving deeper into the culture of places I visit. Without this trip I would probably never have visited many of the places I have seen since, had some of great experiences that I have had or met most of the amazing travel buddies that I have met. Plus the people and scenery of Namibia are great as you can see from the selection of photos below.

Four Fingered Rock

Four Fingered Rock

Amazing views on the Waterkloof Trail

Amazing views on the Waterkloof Trail

Tallest sand dune in the world

Tallest sand dune in the world

Leaving Gibeon

Leaving Gibeon

If you have not read my blog from this trip then feel free to have a browse as I really enjoyed it. It contains details of our time improving the sports facilities of a school before travelling around the country seeing the sights and having fun. Sights and experiences from the trip include visiting Gibeon, Mariental, Hardap, Sesreim, Namib-Naukluft, and Windhoek in addition to trekking through Fish River Canyon and Dune Boarding in Swakopmund. It is a trip that I will remember for the rest of my life.

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“Table for 18 please”

August 8th, 2002 No comments

Right now we should still be in the school in Gibeon but we decided to leave due to the ongoing issues that I mentioned in my last post. We did as much as we could for the school and enjoyed every moment there but the Principal was making us feel less and less welcome every day and made it obvious he was looking for a financial contribution which we just weren’t prepared to give. One of our leaders made some calls back to the UK and we were told that within a couple of days somebody from the trucking company would be there to take us on to a temporary campsite while we waited for our main truck driver.

We decided to make the most of our time there. On the 3rd, the day after the BBQ, we had a last day of work on the school before making a castle and giant domino set with the remaining bricks. Harley made a video – I’ll see if I can add it on my site later. In the early evening we made a giant bonfire with any loose wood or dead plant material we could find by wandering the local area. All of the material was dry and easy to light and we quickly got a big bonfire going. Some of the kids joined us until Dan, the instigator of most of the drunken behaviour so far, decided it would be funny to throw a full cigarette lighter onto the fire which exploded and scared all of the kids away. Thanks Dan :(.

Later that evening after the bonfire went out the two American teachers at the school invited us out to sample the local nightlife. Most of us accepted, although we didn’t know what to expect, and we were taken into the centre of Gibeon in their cars. We didn’t spend much time with the teachers but they were great and were the only other white people to visit the town in the last few years – something we found out the second time we went to the post office last week. That day we stopped in the cafe next to the post office for some cold drinks and one of the kids said something to the lady behind the counter. She said “he says he wants some money for you burning his eyes out” before apologising and sending him out. We didn’t take offense – we know he didn’t mean anything by it.

Although back to the nightlife. Their local nightclub was basically a shack with a bar, pool table and DJ inside and a courtyard outside. The drinks were incredibly cheap as is everything in this part of the world and it was only the equivalent of 8p for a 500ml bottle of Fanta! Some of the others had beer but I stuck to the Fanta. We enjoyed the surroundings for probably about an hour before gunshots started sounding outside. Our leaders decided it would be a good idea to leave before anything happened so we walked the quarter mile or so back to the school. Apparently what was happening was there was a fight outside and the police arrested them both. One of them got away and went running off so the police fired some warning shots into the air to make him stop…. but better to be safe than sorry I guess!

On the 4th we were scheduled to have another football match but our transport arrived early to take us to the Hardap Dam resort – just up the road next to Mariental. It was only a small minibus so it had to make the trip 3 times. I was given the job of going into town to the one remaining phone box that worked to make the reservation. On arrival back in the school the kids were disappointed to see us go, and the feeling was mutual, but we told them due to a problem with transport we had to go to our next place now or we wouldn’t have got there at all. We took some photos with the kids, exchanged addresses, had the principal ask for money again and then went off to Hardap. We spent that night setting up camp and eating at the restaurant there. I was in the last minibus so got a lift back to the restaurant. The 5 or 6 of us that arrived first were the only people in the place so the waiter got a shock when we said “table for 18 please” although the others came along after a few minutes. After dinner we mainly tried to work out what these weird creatures were that were running all over the park. We found out later they were called “Rock Dassies” but we nicknamed them “Monkey Hamsters”

Leaving Gibeon

Leaving Gibeon

Leaving Gibeon

Leaving Gibeon

Hardap Campsite

Hardap Campsite

Monkey Hamster!

Monkey Hamster!

The next day we took a short trek to get used to the idea of trekking in the Namibian climate before our main trek of the trip. We had a group of Springbok run behind us, just as Will was moaning he hadn’t seen any wildlife, but they were too fast to get a photo. Apparently somebody saw a Scorpion and Baboons but I didn’t see either of those. After returning we relaxed by the swimming pool which was bar none the coldest I have ever been in! Needless to say we didn’t stay in long just mainly relaxed and enjoyed the evening before having curry for dinner and an early night.

Simon on Trek 1

Simon on Trek 1

Trek 1

Trek 1

On the 6th we took a longer (10 miles) trek around the other side of the park and over the Dam itself. We had random spam sandwiches for lunch before having to turn back early because a few of the group were starting to feel a little ill from the trek. We took it easy that night before taking a longer trek the next day – with full rucksacks to prepare us for the longer treks ahead. We returned to the campsite to find another World Challenge group had set up camp near us. We chatted for a bit before heading off to the restaurant again. I was a little more adventurous this time and tried Crocodile Goulash – the meat felt weird but tasted like Pork. That evening there was a bit of an incident involving Dan again where he decided to attack me with a bog brush – don’t ask. He denied it so we had a little mock court case to liven things up this morning. The whole thing was very pointless but was also very random which I like.

The Dam

The Dam

Sunset over Hardap

Sunset over Hardap

Eating Crocodile - I know I look bad - I was tired

Eating Crocodile – I know I look bad – I was tired

Some of us in the restaurant

We will be leaving for Sesreim soon – Rod just turned up with a big green truck for us all to travel in!

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Gibeon project – week 1

August 2nd, 2002 No comments

We’ve been in Gibeon around a week now and are having a great time in some respects but not in others which I’ll explain more about in this post.

After leaving the hostel last week we made our way into the city centre. Our main priorities were to exchange money and get supplies. The supplies aspect wasn’t too difficult as our truck parked in a huge car park right in the centre outside the Namibian Supreme Court and right next to a supermarket. It wasn’t as big as the Sainsbury’s you would be used to in the UK or the Wal-Marts you would be used to in the USA but sold everything we needed. The exchanging of money took a little bit longer due to all of the local regulations. I didn’t need to exchange so much money as I had already purchased some South African Rand before leaving the UK and Namibia accepts it as a dual-currency which has come in handy. While the others were still inside a few of us were outside and were approached by a Namibian beggar. In the UK we are used to people holding signs while begging – this guy had what looked like a flick-knife in his hand. Not as scary as it might have been though – we told him we weren’t interested and he accepted this and walked away.

Windhoek

Windhoek

After finishing in Windhoek we made our way out of the city, past a petrol station that was on fire, and into the country towards Gibeon. The countryside is amazing here. It’s not as green as in Europe but there are still some plants around and some wildlife. We arrived in Gibeon in the afternoon and went straight to the school. They were happy to see us as they were expecting us the day before and had called the British High Commission in Windhoek asking if they knew where we were. They said they didn’t – even though we left them an information pack with our itinerary. Although maybe they never found it – they didn’t open by the time we left Windhoek so it was just thrown over the front gate and into the grounds.

Driving

Driving

The school said we could have some spare rooms in the school if we wanted but we decided to camp as we had brought the equipment with us anyway. We had to be careful when setting the tents up as there were some really evil things on the ground that looked like thistle heads but were sharper and if you put your tent on them they hurt!

That evening we were invited to the school hall where the kids gave us a presentation. They sang and danced and also performed a scene depicting life in Namibia (although that part was in Nama so we didn’t understand it). They then sang the Namibian National Anthem before inviting us on stage. We all introduced ourselves before singing our National Anthem – WAY worse than they sang! One thing I will always remember from this evening is how embarrassed Dan B looked. He’s the smallest member of our group but has one of the deepest voices which some of the kids found this hilarious although Dan went all red 🙁

Setting up camp

Setting up camp

Our campsite

Our campsite

In the school hall

In the school hall

The next day (28th) we played a football match with some kids from the school. We won on penalties after a 3-3 draw but they quite obviously let us win and were a LOT better despite none of them wearing shoes during the game. We found out later that the school team was the best in the region! We were then shown around by the school Principal – Mr Fleermuys. We were shown the facilities, teaching rooms and accommodation before being told his vision for the school. He’s thinking big!

Playing Football

Playing Football

In the afternoon we started getting to know some of the kids. Bradley is the one that stands out the most. He’s only 4 years old but has attached himself to a few of us, including Sam and myself, as if he’s another member of the team – he doesn’t speak English and we had to ask him his name in Afrikaans but he’s great! There are other kids that are hanging around that I get on well with overall – Kakashol and Sebu…. although they have outstayed their welcome after ruining somebody’s sunglasses and biting me. That evening we sampled the local beer (Tafel) but unfortunately some of us the team got very drunk and caused us to miss the church service we had been invited to that evening. An alcohol ban came in place quite quickly!

BRADLEY

BRADLEY

A bad pic of me and Bradley

A bad pic of me and Bradley

Some other kids at the school

Some other kids at the school

Teaching Rugby

Teaching Rugby

The next couple of days were mainly dedicated to working on the projects in the school, getting supplies and sending letters to people. We won’t finish the projects on this visit but Mr Fleermuys said he knows this and that his vision is a five year project incorporating several visits by groups from World Challenge Expeditions. Supplies have been a little more difficult to find. The shops in town only really sell everyday essentials so groups of us have gone to the nearest town a few times, Mariental, which is almost 70 miles away. The first time we went to the post office it was closed by the time we found it. We got lost in the town but some local kids showed us the way and we gave them a small amount of money for their help. The next day it was open and we sent letters home.

They got this in to help

They got this in to help

Starting work

Starting work

Working on the volleyball court

Working on the volleyball court

Bradley trying to help

Bradley trying to help

Walking into town

Walking into town

Phoning home

Calling home

Over the last couple of days things have been going downhill. The principal seems to be more interested in the money we have than our help and we recently found out he has been hiding things from us. The school does need improvement but one of the students showed us to their computer room – it only has one PC but we were told there were no computers in the school. Lots of little things like that, too many to list, have just been making us feel a little unwelcome although nothing that is enough to make us leave on its own. We’re going to do what we can do realistically then move on somewhere else I think.

However tonight was a good night in that we were invited to a BBQ (braai) that some of the teachers had set up for us. It was fresh goat that had been slaughtered that day for us and I’ve never had such fresh food. They could have been a bit more tactful and not said “Do you like our goat? We slaughtered it for you this morning” while I was eating a mouthful but it was very tasty. We all sat around the BBQ eating goat and homemade bread while talking with the teachers – the food was a lot better than the random cardboard chicken we have been having and a lot more successful too (see below)! I showed them the school prospectus and they were thrilled to see it and asked if they could keep it. I knew it would be a good idea. A fairly late night tonight but it’s been a good day although these little things have been mounting up a lot.

BBQ with the teachers

BBQ with the teachers

Dan makes fire!!

Dan makes fire!!

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