MARK'S (NOT SO) DAILY BLOG

Mark Pilgrim Kia

TRAVEL BLOG: Ghana, the friendly country

I travel a lot to African countries for business. In the last 2 months alone I've been to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Nigeria. This week it was Ghana.

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Of all the places, this has to be one of the happiest nations on the African continent. I went with a camera crew to film Standard Bank Ghana receiving an award. Jubilation was so infectious that at every branch we went to celebrations spilled over into adjacent shops and everyone just sang and danced!

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Ghana itself is a lot calmer than a country like Nigeria, partly because there are much fewer bodies per square metre. English is the primary language and most people in Accra are exuberantly Christian, remnant of Baptist congregations in Missisippi. During moments of celebration they traditionally wear white clothing (like in pic above), and at weddings are known to anoint guests with white powder to symbolise happiness and praise to God. I got powder placed on my bald head during one of the events!

Road infrastructure is quite advanced and moving around is a lot less congested than some other African countries.

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A lot of the big South African brands are here such as Shoprite and Mr Price. We traveled around in a huge Ford van that resembled a combination of the one used in the A-Team and Scooby Doo!

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Ghanaians are very proud and unified with their culture.

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Wherever we went we were showered with Ghanaian paraphernalia. On the first night I got a scarf, tie and bangle from different people:

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The airport is large and seemingly organised, and unlike the DRC, Angola or even Swaziland, there is nobody trying to fleece you as you leave. The only downside to travelling back to SA is that you leave Accra at 12.30am SA time and get back about 6am. After being served dinner at 1.30am and them switching the lights off around 2.30am, you'll be lucky to get 2 hours sleep before they switch the lights on again as they prepare for landing.

Thank you for the hospitality Ghana! I look forward to the next visit!



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Yes, that's MY kid screaming on the plane

Years ago, before becoming a devoted family man, I used to do gigs out of town, and on only 2 hours sleep get back on a plane and fly back to Johannesburg. If there happened to be a crying baby near me I would turn around and give the parents a scolding look as if to say "are you that bad a parent that you can't even control your kid on a plane".

Fast forward to 2013 and I am now that parent with the screaming child on the plane... and I realise how wrong I got it all those years ago!

Believe me, as a parent, by the time you turn around and give me that scolding look I'm already doing EVERYTHING in my power to calm the child down so that you don't need to pop a headache tablet at 33000 feet. If anything, your death stare makes me want to rip YOUR eyeballs out of your skull. Instead I turn into even more white trash... and glug down some red wine straight out of a dinky bottle to calm myself down...


Being a 4 hour flight back from Mauritius, eventually we get Alyssa to sleep for a short while and Nicole passed out from the stress as well...

Actually I'm not sure if she conked out from the stress or simply the bad odours that kept wafting past us because we were in the seats right next to the plane's toilet. Seriously, it must be the altitude that causes some people to give birth to dinosaurs in those loos. In fact the only thing that smells worse is SAA's poor excuse for an on-board meal. In fact, there is something even worse than the insipid food... it's the horrendous apathetic service you get from the SAA crew. It's as if they are doing you a favour by serving you. Give me Kulula ANYDAY.

But, the days prior to the flight from hell were amazing. We love going to Mauritius and quite often land up going to Sugar Beach because the resort is child friendly. Besides the beach and pool (including kids pool) they have large lawns for them to play on as well.

The girls had a lovely time playing in the sand and sea.

Nicole and the girls were there for 8 nights. Because of work I was only there 4 nights, but it was still enough to unwind and come back home relaxed. But as Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz... there's no place like home!
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Mauritius here I come

I can't take being home alone. There's only so much conversation I can have with Charles my chihuahua. With the girls overseas the home has no soul and it's now just a house. There's also only so many Woolies ready made meals I can eat!

One of the things I have been able to do though is watch quite a few movies over the past few days. One of the most enjoyable was 127 hours, about the hiker who got his arm caught under a boulder and eventually just cut it off.

I also started watching The Impossible, which follows a family at a holiday resort who are devastated when when the 2006 Tsunami hit. After 10 minutes I had to stop watching though considering my girls right now are holidaying at a similar resort!

I'll be joining them for a few days next week, so there won't be any blogging for a few days. Thanks for always popping onto the site. In fact, I've been spending the last few days designing a facelift for my website and hope to have it up and running in about 2 weeks time. I would love to hear your comments when it does go live (this site and the new one is designed using Rapidweaver for MAC).

Bye for now!


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Home alone

Along with Nicole's family, my girls have all left for a family vacation to Mauritius. I stayed behind as I'm the working smurf... well that is until Sunday, and then I join them for a few days.

I don't envy the passenger sitting next to my wife on the flight there this morning. A noisy baby is one thing, but Alyssa is still quite nauseous so they might get an extra deposit next to their soggy blue egg SAA breakfast tray.

It's weird though suddenly having an empty house after being so used to the daily chaos. I must admit, I got more admin done this morning in 1 hour than I usually do the whole day, but it's going to be a tough couple of days without my girls. I have a feeling beans on toast will be on the menu on more than one occasion!

At least now I will be able to get through those movies my wife doesn't want to watch like "Planet of the Apes" and "The Hobbit"!
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The weekend that was

Do you ever get obsessed with a TV show that you can't stop watching even though you can't keep your eyes open?

Nicole and I are trying our best to get through the Homeland TV seasons so we've been doing some binge watching. Friday and last night were spent in front of the television!

We're almost done, the final episode of the final season gets watched tonight... we're looking forward to it being over so we can get our lives back again! Maybe even start having dinner at the dining room table again!

Speaking of eating, on Saturday night we went to China Town in Johannesburg and celebrated Chinese New Year with 1000s of other revellers! There were a lot of fireworks, dragons, chopsticks and sweet & sour pork.
My chihuahua looked at my strangely when we got home, so I had to assure him that I didn't eat his Aunt Fifi at the restaurant.

I'm dashing off now to do a photo shoot for the Reach for a Dream Foundation and then later a TV ad for a "Stop Rape" campaign. I'll post pics of them tomorrow.

Bye for now!
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