Travel Diary: the yellow fever fever …

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‘Drama!’ I had thought when I read that safari planning takes a year.
Rather, a good safari planning takes a year.
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Rolling my eyeballs, my brain clicked the cynical switch that processed an internal justification for Eugene Fodor’s non-spy subordinates that had written it with the all-so-hoity-poity-retiree-Brits or American flare; the very target market for safari go-ers who have saved a lifetime for this lifetime experience – yes, yet another phrase frequently peppered on the pages of “The Comprehensive Guide to African Safari Planning”.
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Well, naturally I would have concluded that, when one entire page was devoted to ‘potty talk’ and a third of a page on ‘what the heck do you do with your domesticated 4-legged furry ‘family’ member before you embark on this journey of a lifetime?’.
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Point is, say what you want … judge me.
I simply do not have one year to plan. Heck, in my typical Penelope fashion, I don’t even have a month to plan.

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So within 3 days I had ‘mastered’ the 101s of safari …
  • what to expect,
  • what to wear {definitely not Ralph Lauren or any Sophia Loren inspired fashion spreads we have grown up with visualising what safaris are},
  • what to pack,
  • what to do with a charging hippo {oh boy, watch Madagascar – Gloria did run a lot in that movie … and err… she did the rumba too!}, and
  • what happens when your gaze is locked by the returning gaze of a lion!
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What I hadn’t accomplished by then was to get my ‘Home Ministry’s’ {read: mom} “VISA” to scoot off and shake my bon bons in the bush, which I had been assured that even the most impoverish leopard will not be enticed … hmmm… I am suddenly feeling insulted, while typing this down.
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What I hadn’t know at point of booking too was there’s a distinct difference between a safari operator, tour operator, travel agent and safari ranger.
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More embarrassing are the following discoveries:
  • the BIG 5 does not include giraffes – it doesn’t??!?!?? It is BIG, well, tall.
  • Hippos do live in Africa – not that I knew where they lived in, but I do know Gloria lives in New York!
  • Hyaenas do not smell, but nonetheless meeting one is no laughing matter…
  • Leopards and cheetahs are not interchangeable names for those “spotted” feline with super sharp “fangs”; one is a permanent “cry baby” with a tear line “stain” and did you know that leopards looks different depending on which part of Africa they come from? Well, thanks to the shape of their {ahem!} rosettes (that’s what they call the ‘spots’!)

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The thing that I still can’t figure out is: why is the leopard considered a BIG 5 and not the cheetah?

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– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
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oooooouch!
As I write this: Self Confession of a Safari Moron, I remembered something: binoculars!!!
great! who has one?

errr… as a matter of fact, I do know of two people who would have them, but how do I ask for a loan. Theirs ain’t the Chinatown ‘Made in Gemany type.
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Man … {here’s the regretting bit coming …so brace yourself}
I sooooooooooo should have entered the Leica photo contest. The one I had been bugging H.I.T to compete in but I never gotten around to it purely because I was in my ridiculously impossibly high self esteem state of mind thinking that I should only participate on the 2 months of the calendar year where the prize was a 3-Day Leica Workshop in Londo;, ignoring the months where telescopes, binoculars and Leica X1 camera were the prizes.
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But see, you can only win once. And I had no idea why I’d want a telescope or a binoculars. I neither envisaged myself to cultivate a hobby in birding, nor saw myself as a peeping tom. Besides the Leica X1 is a crap camera. There I said it. Yes, I actually uttered that a Leica camera is crap. Happy?

However, back to the point: given the above considerations, I decided to only participate on the two months where the workshops were given but naturally I forgot all about it.

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That aside, the biggest shocker for me was to discover that I must have a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate at the 11th hour.
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I had thoroughly checked through the “needles” requirements other than Visa needs prior to booking the trip, knowing my distaste for the needles. I had unnecessarily made myself all queasy doing what seem now like a premature yipee-hoop!laa somersault turn in the air when the World Health Organisation website and the local Quarantine and Ministry of Health website had declared the countries I am visiting as non-endemic countries for malaria and yes, yellow fever.
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… and then the below appears when I double clicked on the trip’s booking document’s font size 9 disclaimer nicely tucked at the bottom of the document that seems to go on forever:
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“important notice for those traveling to South Africa” 

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As I had extensively berated in the past about the size of disclaimers’ fonts that has a reverse co-relation with its importance, I shall spare you that ranting today but say:
thank God for my banking training!!!
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With that I have been running my fingers like a headless chicken in search of clinics / hospitals / medical halls / medical centers who could stick a damn needle into me and issue the Yellow Vaccination Certificate pronto. The second shocker of course was to discover the cost of the damn immunisation which though in the nurse’s best attempt to sound friendly and encouraging, the fact that the vaccine lasts me 10 years still does not make up for the exhorbitant cost … not to mention the possible side effects and the number of lead days I have to give to ensure that the vaccine has kicked in and South Africa does not throw me out.
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I am already running the yellow fever fever
tic toc tic toc

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5 thoughts on “Travel Diary: the yellow fever fever …

  1. it's called a zoo of chinese landing in a very big impoverish zoo!!!:)luckily i have chinese tour group allergy so i won't be encountering the chinese zoo … but i think my aussie and brit mates will have that stereotype on me.

  2. heard this story, relatedly unrelated – a safari lodge person once told me that many chinese/taiwanese going to see big 5, started demanding seeing all of them immediately! where's the leopard they demanded, take us to it!

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