Saturday Series / No. 40

kilwa ladies

04’05’14 >> Ladies on Kilwa beach. I twish I could document all the things that I’ve seen Tanzanians carry on their heads.

This photo was taken last Sunday, when a few friends and I were lazing on Kilwa beach over a three-day weekend. More info and pictures about Kilwa coming up in a couple posts next week!

False Bay Beach


As the rainy season approaches, I am holding onto thoughts of endless summer days and bright blue skies. Something about this beachy little town of False Bay was just so idyllic on the day we visited back in January. Maybe it was the crystal blue sky, maybe it was the green waters, maybe it was the perfect little puffs of cloud in the air, maybe it was the dozens of beginner surfers out on the water.

Doesn’t this seem like the most easygoing place in the world?






Along the water

I’m so much happier when there’s a body of water nearby. I’ll chalk it up to my California bones, and if that’s not enough, then well, my parents were born in Taiwan and my grandmother in Japan so I’m just genetically predisposed for a lifestyle on a tiny land mass surrounded by water. So there.

There aren’t many hiking trails around Dar, but the DiploMan and I did carve out a little path along the ocean this weekend, and though the sun was out bright bright bright over our heads, a very breezy ocean wind helped us walk swiftly along 3+ miles of oceanside cliffs. I typically shy away from taking photos of scenery and opt for shooting street scenes instead, but I’m not one to deny a beautiful image, and there were many on that day.








IMG_1503 I don’t think I’ll ever get over the clarity of the water here. Let’s all dream about a private beach, shall we? Also, those cacti, how random, there were huge groves of them scattered throughout. Oceanside cacti, hmph! And finally, those huge airplane tires…so very LOST, isn’t it?

1st trip in Dar >> Bongoyo Island

IMG_0804 Hit the ground running.

That was the plan for Dar es Salaam. After a short two years in China and an even shorter nine months in the States, I’m becoming very well aware that our time at any post is forever fleeting. Dilly-dally on settling in, and before you know it half your time is up.

“So, let’s hit the ground running,” we said, with no plans other than to arrive. And as we soon discovered, there’s only so much proverbial running one can do in a city where things progress at a proverbial saunter.


So when running only goes so far, the DiploMan and I do one thing: we take a trip to the beach.

Shockingly, Africa has beaches! It is not Sahara from one tip of the continent to the other, which is what the infographic map of the world in that is my head leads me to believe. And luckily for me, the beaches off the coast of Tanzania and it’s little sister Zanzibar are some of the best on the continent.

Bongoyo Beach

The area where we live, “on the Peninsula” (never just peninsula, always preceded with “on the”/ I live “on the Peninsula”/ The shops “on the peninsula”/ I am trapped “on the peninsula”), is aptly moniker’d. On the peninsula, where the land juts out to abruptly meet the water, there are sweeping views of the Indian Ocean, and of many tiny islands that are scattered just across the way.

Bongoyo Island

[on the peninsula] Three major islands dot our view: Snake Island, Bongoyo Island, and Mbudya Island. The first is uninhabited and unvisited – it’s supposedly named after a nasty infestatiion of slithering snakes, and I don’t need to see for myself. The last island is supposedly the nicest, but requires more foreward planning than a last minute weekends’ trip. Namely, a car, and more time, and stuff. So when we noticed that a ferry departed from a nearby shopping center made daily trips to/from Bongoyo Island, it was settled – a daytrip to the beach would be made, to celebrate the end of our first week in Dar.

Ferrying to Bongoyo


Bongoyo Fisherman

Bongoyo Island is a long, branch-shaped island, dotted with gnarly trees and fisherman who ride in rickety canoes just off its shores. The main attraction, undoubtedly, is a little nipple of a beach that juts out of the island’s otherwise forested land.

Though the very small size of the beach might be unimpressive to those accustomed to seeing miles and miles of sweeping shoreline (ahem, Pacific Coast!), the beach on Bongoyo Island makes up for its small stature with stunning views from the sand. Standing at the tip of the island, on the beach, one can view a 300 degree vista of ocean and waves. A pretty breathtaking sight.

Just up the sand 20 yards or so, sticking out from the white sand, are hand-made umbrellas, here called Bandas. Lounge chairs made from sticks and woven with natural ropes were rented for a few thousand Shillings, and some local beers and sodas were bought from the bar just a ways over, a few more dozen yards inland. We spent most of the day laying around, napping, sipping, splashing, talking, and attempting headstands in and out of the water.

Bongoyo Bandas

Though certainly not an adventure-seekers’ beach, for those of us that were craving a little more activity than a dip in the ocean, we took a 40-or-so minute hike to the other side of the island. After what seemed like an endless trail of rock and brush, where the end of the trail seemed less plausible with each step, we were at last awarded with another beautiful, serene beachscape. How are the most remote, difficult-to-reach places always the most stunning?! For pictures of that view, you’ll have to come, visit, and see for yourself.

So yes, even though our beach day was a little thin on activity and adventure, it was not completely without. And what a fabulous way to hit the ground running in Dar es Salaam. If this is what the next two years are looking like, I’m going to come home a pretty happy and relaxed individual.

A Trip to Coney Island

Nathan's Famous Signage

I lived in New York for five years, and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit: I had never been to Coney Island.

Coney Island Mural

It’s not like Coney Island was that hard to get to; it’s a 45-minute train ride on the Q, and it takes you right to the boardwalk. My excuse? Sometimes you just get caught up in yourself and the life you’re leading. Here are the 5 lessons I learned from our recent visit to Coney Island

1. Eat hot dogs (or, chili fries)

I don’t even like hot dogs, but I really like the idea of Nathan’s. Along the lines of In’n’Out, Tommy’s Original Burger, Skyline Chili, or Deep Dish Pizza, the menu at Nathan’s is a throwback, reminding you of the best summer you’ve ever had. Even China knows this.

Nathan's Dog and Chili Fries

2. Always pay for amusement (parks)

Guess what, we spent $60 at an amusement parks, for rides and games. Actually, we only went on 3 rides, because after two of them back to back I started to feel a little nauseous. And then a third one really put me over the edge. Then we spent the rest of our time at the arcades. (Did you guys watch that Modern Family Episode where Phil gets sick from the rides at Disneyland? That’s me now!!)

Ferris Wheel

3. Go for a walk, ya’ lazy bum

The DiploMan is good about making me do things that I don’t want to do (for some reason, us being together has made me realize I don’t want to do a lot of things…). I never want to, but always end up, going for long walks. In the end I’m always glad I did.

Coney Island Beach View 1

Coney Island Beach View 2

4. Get over your fears by doing it (and closing your eyes, and screaming)

Okay, so I’m never going to get over my fear of heights and of falling. My knees will always give out and my stomach will always drop when I’m more than 15 feet off the ground. See that huge pendulum swinging thing below? I was on that, first at the very top, and the soon after at the very bottom. It went like that for what seemed like forever. But, at least I can have something to brag about. And usually, in between the god-awful moments, there was also a very pretty view.

Scary Ride

5. Not everything is always good to eat

Just for the record, I didn’t buy cotton candy (or sausage, as the sign behind indicates). Nor would I ever, since it’s disgustingly sweet. Though things are beautiful and tempting, this serves as an excellent reminder that they are not always good. Also, see above mentions of scary rides and feeling sick.

cotton candy

Just Beachy

One thing I will certainly miss about living in Guangzhou is our proximity to Thailand, and beautiful white sand beaches.

Of course, Thailand also has great food, is insanely cheap, and Thai people are some of the friendliest I’ve ever met. In fact, the DiploMan and I love Thailand so much we’ve discussed bidding for a post in Bangkok in the (far) future. You’d come visit then, wouldn’t you??