Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tuscany moves to Johannesburg

I had to go to Johannesburg again this week for work. The thing about travelling locally for work is that there's absolutely ZERO glamour involved.

Domestic flights are pretty much glorified bus rides except travel time is much longer - it takes you 1 hour to get from home to the airport; you sit and wait for an hour to board the flight; the flight itself takes 2 hours; and getting to your destination in Johannesburg pretty much takes you another 1 hour (and if the traffic lights are out because of Eskom's infamous LOAD SHEDDING... forget it - it'll take you up to 3 hours to get anywhere). This means one-way travel time is anywhere from 5 - 8 hours.

Then you get to the client's office, sit for a meeting anywhere from 1 - 3 hours and then it's time to head back to the airport again to make that long journey home. Yes, all this happens in ONE day. Suffice to say that any day trip to Jo'burg basically means starting your day at 3.30am when your alarm clock in Cape Town goes off, and ends at midnight when you finally unlock your front door to get home in Cape Town again.

If you end up having to stay the night, company policy dictates you stay in the Protea (3-4 star hotel. aka not bad, I've stayed at worse) or Garden Court (2 or 3-star motel. aka this really sucks, almost the worst). The thing about me is I HAVE TO STAY IN A NICE HOTEL!!!!

Having been used to working on regional jobs around Asia where nice hotels are dirt-cheap and a dime-a-dozen, it took a while getting used to hotels/ motels that used horrible felt blankets under a flat sheet instead of down feather quilts (y'know, the kind of felt blankets they hang up at Chinese funeral wakes); where shower curtains are used instead of glass shower doors (I check for mould on those curtains and won't let any part of my body touch it); and where they only give you a bar of soap instead of body gel (Jo'burg's dry enough already and they want me to use SOAP?!)

So when I had to spend the last 4 days in Jo'burg at an offline edit, I was stressing over which crappy little place to stay at when someone suggested a guest house (aka B&B) instead. My life has changed and I'm never turning back from the Guest House again!

People always joke that Johannesburg's architecture is full of bad taste - the nouveau riche move in and build huge homes complete with marble arches and columns (Hey! Sounds just like Singapore!) ...except they seem to have a penchant for Tuscan architecture and nowhere is that more apparent than in the suburb of Bryanston. To the point where our guest house was actually called "Little Tuscany".

At half the price of the crappy Garden Court, with rooms that are TRIPLE the size of the crappy Garden Court - Little Tuscany wins, hands down. Plus, they even had an overweight Golden Retriever and affection-junkie Daschund on hand to greet you at breakfast.


I like that they also had those oldskool milk packets in the triangular shape - the kind you used to get as part of the school milk program back in the day. Except these packs were shrunken-down, mini triangles, enough to add to 1 cup of coffee only.


The only thing that really bugs me about being in Jozi is the constant security issue that keeps niggling at the back of your head, which isn't helped by seeing signs on the back of your room door like this:

...are they only talking about the pool, or am I just being a paranoid Singaporean?

Whatever it is, security there's pretty tight (but that's life in Johannesburg for you - everything happens behind high walls and electrified fences)... as long as within those walls everything's as rosey as this, it kind of makes staying in Jo'burg a wee bit nicer.

1 comment:

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