Blog » Damn those tourists!

2 May 2005

Damn those tourists!

Filed under: Personal — paulcook @ 6:39 pm

I finally managed to get the date booked for my ticket from JFK to Johannesburg in August. It turned out to be a lot harder than expected.

The cheapest tickets to Johannesburg that I can find are student fares from STA Travel, booked from Johannesburg, so I was changing the date of the return portion of last September’s ticket. Problem was, I have fairly specific dates I want to fly, since the family is planning a trip to the Okavango delta in Botswana in early August. No problem, right, since it’s currently April? But no, I go to STA on Friday, and EVERYTHING is fully booked for a week either side. Seems the South African tourist industry is doing VERY well for itself.

I phone today, and find a lonesome ticket on 28 July that has opened up. So I rush off, only to wait for 45 minutes behind this couple who are booking some extended trip to Serbia or Kazakhstan or Wastingmytimestan or somewhere. Cue 10 minute rants (from the couple) about having to book a particular seat, in a particular row, because of this bad experience they had with babies in the back of a previous flight.

But now it’s done. Me annoyed by the whole experience? Whatever gave you that idea?!?

At least the flight time is a little amusing: takeoff 5:55pm on 28 July, landing 5:05pm 29 July. Yep, a day later. Throw in a little time zone action, and it’s still an 18 hour flight. Thank goodness for on-demand movies on touch-sensitive seatback screens.

Actually, over the last week or two I’ve run into quite a few people who have been using up those New York-Johannesburg flights. A week and a half ago I was a panelist at a discussion at UCLA on “What America needs to know about Africa”. It was fun, and some interesting comments came out of it. But to return to the topic, I was talking afterwards to a guy who is part of a consortium planning to invest $10 million in a Johannesburg property development. I was able to reassure him that the South Africa legal system really does work in much the same way as the US one. So perhaps I’ve done my bit to promote foreign direct investment! It’s interesting how easy it is for people to assume that significant poverty must imply backwardness. For example, I believe it’s possible in Zambia to use your cellphone as a “credit card” — instant electronic payment without needing to have a card swipe machine handy. Now THAT is useful technology!

An aside: Yes, I know it’s been a while since the last post. I’m doing one too many courses right at the moment, so time is a little … constrained. But I’ve got some (hopefully) interesting things stored up to say!

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  1. America’s next top model is now showing the episodes they filmed in South Africa. They are talking a lot about the fashion industry in ZA. They just showed the first episode last week. So, there will be more south africa to come. It is on UPN (Channel 13) at 8pm on wednesdays

    Comment by UALboy — 2 May 2005 @ 9:39 pm

  2. Yes, and the models look UNBELIEVABLY rediculous. Granted, I don’t know a thing about fashion as an art form, but I do know when someone looks like an fool. (I was flipping through channels and it was so strange that I couldn’t avoid watching a little bit.)

    Hmm… I was going to troll about the comparison of South Africa’s legal system to America’s (something along the lines of, “That’s really a shame that they’re so similar”)… but I think I’ll just leave it at that.

    In fact, I really need to stop writing comments when tired. Everything seems to come out much more grumpy and sarcastic than intended.

    Comment by Adam — 2 May 2005 @ 10:25 pm

  3. South Africa really does seem to be in the news a lot recently. Cape Town was rated the world’s fifth best city for tourists in US Travel and Leisure, with no less than 5 of the world’s 10 best hotels being South African (including the top one). It’s obviously good news for the country, but I’m also pleased to see that people are increasingly interested in travel that involves experiencing different cultures and societies — I think that it’s important if we are to overcome the current wave of xenophobia and distrust that seems to be arising in a number of places. Now it’d also be good if the rest of Africa could benefit too — though it’s hard to compete with South Africa’s infrastructure.

    Now fashion … it’s weird. Seriously.

    Comment by paulcook — 2 May 2005 @ 11:47 pm

  4. They didn’t penalize the South African hotels for not having electricity or running water? That’s suspicious.

    (Just kidding, folks.)

    Comment by jjk — 3 May 2005 @ 9:33 am

  5. You mean it’s possible to rant and complain when booking tickets and you can get a seat that’s far away from babies?

    Why haven’t I tried this before?

    Comment by Dixie — 3 May 2005 @ 9:36 am

  6. Well, only on some flights apparently — I’m not sure what airline it was, but other legs they were not able to book specific seats.

    And jjk, of course there’s water — in the river, plus you get to ride an elephant to get there!

    Comment by paulcook — 3 May 2005 @ 9:39 am

  7. […] ed.” So if you want to meet the future, better book your ticket to Boston quick. Although, if you entertain aspirations to become a tim […]

    Pingback by tisiwoota :: Time-Traveling Rivalry :: May :: 2005 — 4 May 2005 @ 1:35 pm

  8. Hard to believe how backwards the world can still be sometimes. Just the other day I was reduced to calling a company (like, using a telephone) just to tell them my address changed.

    Comment by gv — 4 May 2005 @ 6:23 pm

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