Russia students see future for Afrikaans

“Afrikaans is a beautiful and emotional language. It is very unfair that it is being suppressed in South Africa.”

These are the words of Valentina Kim (22), one of six Russian students who study Afrikaans as first and second additional language at the Lomonosov Moscow State University’s Institute for Asian and African Languages.

The student group visited the offices of the civil rights organisation AfriForum and the trade union Solidarity as part of a cultural tour that was arranged by the Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge (FAK) to teach them more about Afrikaans and Afrikaans-speaking people.

According to Johan Jansen van Vuuren, Project and Communications Officer at the FAK, the students attracted the attention of the organisation after Prof. Deon Geldenhuys from the University had visited Moscow. The organisation then invited the students to visit South Africa to learn more about Afrikaans and Afrikaans-speaking people.

“For me, Afrikaans has the most beautiful sound patterns and pronunciation,” says Alisa Balikhina (22), one of the students who also studied Afrikaans at the North-West University in Potchefstroom for six months during an exchange programme.

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“I stayed with an Afrikaans family in Potchefstroom and felt very safe and at home. It had a great feeling of unity and a nice student life. Even today I still say that I am a proud Pukkie (a student of the NWU).”

She tells Forum Nuus that Russian institutions do not experience the same pressure to anglicise as is the case in South Africa. She feels there is huge potential for Afrikaans to blossom world-wide.

“There is no way that English will ever become an official language of Russia. We are simply too proud of our own language and culture.”

The Lomonosov Moscow State University is the oldest educational institution in Russia and has a long tradition of academic excellence. Afrikaans is one of five African languages that students of this university can study.

Stefan Loekjanenko (21) says that he decided on Afrikaans as it sounded to him like a beautiful language. He tells that the visit to Cape Town has so far been the highlight of his visit. “This town has it all: mountains, sea and so many people from different cultures. It was an unbelievable experience to have visited it.”

Warvara Smirnowa (22), also one of the Russian students, tells Forum Nuus that it was challenging at times to learn to speak Afrikaans, as its sentence constructions are so different from Russian. She also says that she enjoyed attending an Afrikaans church service at the DR Church Lyttelton. “The service had a wonderful feeling of unity. I enjoyed it very much.”

The students have already visited the Centurion High School, the Protea-boekhuis (bookstore), the Voortrekker Monument as well as the set of the Afrikaans soapy Binnelanders and the offices of Beeld in MediaPark, Johannesburg.
They will also be visiting various other attractions in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

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Where South Africans abroad feel at home

Worldwide, an initiative of the civil rights organisation AfriForum, has for the past five years already been an online home for South Africans who have settled in other countries.

This initiative is the ideal platform for every South African who lives in another country, but who still wants to stay in real touch with his homeland.

The initiative involves a website that helps people to keep abreast of news events in South Africa. Here you can also get reliable advice, just hang out with others, share your experiences and tell more about the interesting places where you are living and working.

Our Worldwide team conducted thorough research to determine exactly what is important for South Africans in a foreign country, and therefore precisely this information is available on the website. This includes current local news, contributions – photos and stories – of South Africans living in interesting places in all corners of the globe, as well as a one-of-a-kind World Guide.

This guide is also the place where South Africans abroad can shop for authentic South African products such as biltong, Ouma rusks and traditional chutney. It also contains a database with details of businesses and restaurants serving South African food, people offering help with financing, as well as the names of South African lawyers abroad.

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The World Guide aims to help people who do not feel at home in a foreign country, to meet other South Africans, while supporting their businesses at the same time. The demand for a more user-friendly and interactive guide has grown and South Africans abroad can now include their businesses in the World Guide free of charge.

Worldwide also has a free weekly newsletter, Spotlight, to which you can subscribe free of charge. This newsletter contains, inter alia, reports of the Afrikaans media house, the latest news on festivals and foreign performances by well-known South African artists, as well as important information on citizenship, passports and tax.

Worldwide continually strives to keep South Africans informed of the best events in foreign countries where you, your friends and family can get together and celebrate a shared heritage. Therefore Worldwide will this year be the main sponsor of the Afrikaans is lekker concerts in Australia and New Zealand as well as the Barry Hilton tour that will be held in Canada in May.

In the past few years we have already involved several partners and made friends Worldwide. Our partners include, among others: South African events, Texas Potjie, Kuier in Dubai, Cashkows, Merise, Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants, and Showmax.
We look forward to continuing this tradition and want to serve South African citizens to the best of our ability – no matter where you find yourself.

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South African Expats (SAFFAs) with Kids Take Six Months to Settle but it Makes Families Closer

Despite the benefits of raising a family abroad, parents and children alike take time to settle into their new life. However, the challenge can bring families closer together, according to new data.

Almost half of expat parents say their children take longer than six months to feel at home in their new country, with 25% saying they take more than a year, according to the HSBC Expat Explorer survey. South African parents find the adjustment even more difficult, with 67% taking longer than six months to feel at home and 49% taking more than a year.

Settling into life abroad comes with special challenges, especially for children leaving friendships and school behind. Parents of older children (aged 11 to 16) say settling into a new school is particularly difficult, with more than half highlighting it as a major hurdle.

Parents report that missing family and friends is the biggest challenge for children across all ages. Half of expat parents say missing friends and family is one of their children’s top three challenges. Other difficult experiences for children include making new friends and understanding the new language.

Raising a family abroad also presents financial problems for parents. Sixty two per cent of expat parents find the overall cost of raising children abroad more expensive than at home, with 58% saying the cost of childcare in particular is more expensive.

In the long term, however, this may be money well spent as the majority of parents say life as an expat has had a positive effect on their family life and child’s lifestyle. Three in five expat parents say their children’s overall quality of life is better as a result of the move, while 27% rate it the same.

Indeed, the challenges families face in moving to a new country can help bring them closer together. Forty-six per cent of expat parents say that moving abroad has brought them closer to their children, with only 14% saying it has not, while 48% say that life abroad has brought them closer to their partner, with just 16% saying it has not.

The experience of growing up abroad also helps the wellbeing and development of children. Just under half of expat parents say their children’s health and wellbeing has benefited by moving abroad, while 69% find that their children are open to new cultures and experiences and 45% say that their child is a more well-rounded and confident individual.

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When does a tourist become a traveller?

To be a tourist is almost as bad as to be a terrorist, some smart people say. Tourists are eating, swallowing, consuming zombies who visit attractions and leave a place without understanding a thing about it. A traveller, on the other hand, will drink in the local culture like a connoisseur.

Recently, I was a tourist in New York.

Believe me, a piece of sea foam, à la the end of The Little Mermaid, is all you can be while floating with the crowds on Times Square. Usually all you see are other tourists watching, like you, the jaw-dropping skyscrapers stretching up and up into the sky, the man walking around with a pineapple on his head (see the picture above), and the woman boasting in only a G-string, an ‘N’ on her one um… “cheek” and a ‘Y’ on the other… (unfortunately no pictures of that).

If you fork up $35 for the seventy floors with the elevator in the Rockefeller building, you are still only a tourist. With American efficiency (‘stay two in a line, guys, there are many people, click click, snap snap,’) the guides get the crowd to move upward. At Top of the Rock everyone is interested in only one thing: a selfie with the Empire State in the background.

Look, we tried to be good travellers. When we, children of Africa with souls fed on space, could no longer stand the throng, we hopped off the red Hop-On, Hop-Off bus at Central Park. Our mission was to find Cafe Lalo, where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan had their great fight in You’ve Got Mail. Now that’s something original, I told my husband and kids.

Unfortunately, even there we still were only tourists. Almost twenty years after parts of the movie were shot in the restaurant, photos from the movie are still emblazoned outside the restaurant. It seems Nora Ephron’s movie was a good break for the restaurant. The place was crowded, but the service fast; my frittata was fair, the olives my son stole from my plate were apparently delicious and the cappuccino very nice. I received a matchbox with the restaurant’s name for free. Nothing to blog home about. The pizza and tiramisu we ate at Capizzi, a little restaurant as big as a shoebox in Hell’s Kitchen, the next day, was more memorable.

Back home in Maryland, after our very expensive New York excursion, I kept wondering how I could be less of a tourist and more of a traveller. I remembered the French family who took a photo of our family at Top of the Rock. We returned the favour. Then the father and mother, no longer spring chickens, have taken a selfie while kissing each other. Okay, well they made sure that the Empire State was in the picture. But you could see how happy they were to be there together. Did they plan as long as we did for their journey to New York?

Our Saturday in New York was a little miserable because it suddenly started to rain. Hurriedly we bought four $5 umbrellas that we carried with paralysed arms for kilometres through Central Park. When we were completely exhausted and everyone’s irritability level as high as Top of the Rock, we smelled a wonderful aroma. We looked around and saw a booth where a man fried candied nuts. We bought a $3 packet of almonds and tucked into it right there under our black umbrellas on our way to the bus stop. Those hot nuts, my daughter told us later, was the best thing she has ever eaten. She was so tired and the nuts were just what she needed.

Now I know what makes you a traveller – the shared memories: the laughter because everyone’s nerves have gone to bits that we would end up on the wrong train, the excitement of our first ride with Uber, the nuts in Central Park.

Hit the road with your loved ones – they are the ones making you into a real traveller.

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The Treaty of Waitangi gets Afrikaans translation!

A major event of great importance for South Africans and Afrikaans especially has occurred the previous weekend in New Zealand. New Zealand’s ground document, the Treaty of Waitangi, or the Tiriti o Waitangi, is now officially available in Afrikaans.

In fact, it is now available in 30 more languages than the two (and English) that has been the case until now. The Afrikaans translation is a product of the hard work of three Afrikaans New-Zealanders, namely Alta Rall (a member of the NZSTI), Dina Cloete and Philip Langenhoven.

A major event of great importance for South Africans and Afrikaans especially has occurred the previous weekend in New Zealand. New Zealand’s ground document, the Treaty of Waitangi, or the Tiriti o Waitangi, is now officially available in Afrikaans. In fact, it is now available in 30 more languages than the two (and English) that has been the case until now.

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The Afrikaans translation is a product of the hard work of three Afrikaans New-Zealanders, namely Alta Rall (a member of the NZSTI), Dina Cloete and Philip Langenhoven.

The Treaty Times Thirty Project was launched about 18 months ago by the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters (NZSTI) to translate and publish in book format the Treaty of Waitangi in 30 other languages in New Zealand as part of its thirtieth anniversary.

17 February 2017 saw the culmination of their efforts when the book was presented to Dame Patsy Reddy, New Zealand’s Governor-General, by Stefan Grand-Meyer, a representative of the NZSTI.

The translation process required each translation to be independently carried out by three translators, who afterwards worked together to compare their translations and present a final, best version. An authoritative person from their community who is proficient in the target language then had to review their final translation and comment on the flow of language and the register.

The team approached two reviewers, Mr Gregory Fortuin of Parirua and Dr Stanley Theron from Auckland, as they felt that the honour was due to them for their ground-breaking work in New Zealand..

Mr Fortuin used to be New Zealand’s Race Relations Conciliator (appointed by the New Zealand Government) and was South Africa’s Honorary Consul in New Zealand – an appointment that he had accepted a volunteer as there had not yet been a High Commissariat in New Zealand.

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Dr Theron was co-founder of the first Afrikaans congregation in New Zealand under instruction of the Dutch Reformed Church. Within months, the congregation, who was active in Howick, amalgamated with the Afrikaans Christian Church North Shore in Auckland. Dr Theron is an emeritus minister who has been active at his Bible Academy that facilitates non-English church leaders.

Most of the translators and some of the reviewers came together to celebrate the historic event under a painting of King George V looking very sternly down on everyone in the great function hall, as well as a beautiful painting of Queen Elizabeth that added more brilliance to a splendid, stately evening’s events. Exquisite wines and finger foods, carried around by dashing young waiters and waitresses, made you feel well-treated.

But more about the Treaty of Waitangi. It was written over a period of seven days and took seven months to be signed by all possible Maori chiefs (that is, every chief who couldn’t attend the historic first day). It has also been debated from all sides for almost 170 years.

The Treaty was signed on 6 February 1840 by representatives of the British Crown and various Maori chiefs of the Northern Island of New Zealand. A direct result was that Lieutenant-Governor declared British sovereignty over New Zealand in May 1840.

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Because the Treaty was drafted so quickly (in a few days) and was translated to Maori literally overnight, the translation of certain core words missed the mark – an issue that lead to many court battles over more than a century. And because of these interpretational differences between the two language versions, the Court realised that certain principals exist in the Treaty that had to be highlighted to promote unity in terms of the true rationales for the Treaty, an understanding of what had been agreed to and the honest meaning behind the Treaty.

These principals were then neatly explained and helped New Zealand to develop its unique, bicultural character.

The Court of Appeal decided on the following in the ruling by the then President of the Court, Sir Robin Cooke:
Obtaining sovereignty by the British Crown in exchange for the protection of the rangatiratanga, or absolute sovereignty over Maori interests, as agreed on.
The Treaty established a partnership and with it made the partners responsible for acting reasonable and in good goodwill.

Freedom of the Crown to rule over New Zealand.
The Crown’s obligation to actively protect Maori interests.
The Crown’s obligation to rectify violations of the past (in terms of Maori interests).
Maori retains rangatiratanga over their resources and treasures (taonga – including cultural treasures) and obtains all privileges of citizenship.
The obligation of the Crown to consult Maoris on all matters that may potentially implicate or concern them.

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From the Drakensberg to the Jungfrau slopes:- A story of a beginner world traveller!

From a WhatsApp message in December to boarding the aircraft in March … from the Drakensberg to the Alps! My first tour overseas was really an eye-opener; something that showed me how small my world really is.

And how I only thought that I was informed. It was an experience of learning how much there still is to learn. An experience to make friends with fellow-countrymen whom I never knew we had lost. An experience to move about comfortably in another world because of my language.

My first trip abroad had its origin in a WhatsApp message. Thanks to my friend Jannie, his sister and her four pals, who were strangers to me at the time. But now they are anything but strangers!

Jannie and I – like many others – never even thought of venturing into the world across the oceans any time soon. But that message got the ball rolling.

That message was an advertisement of the Alpenrose Hotel and Gardens in Wilderswil, Switzerland, in which the hotel marketed its South Africa week. “How peculiar!?” I at first thought. The ad offered very affordable prices and even an evening with bobotie! The South Africa week is held in Wilderswil each year at the beginning of March.

After some research I learned that the hotel was owned by two South African expats, Carel and Ryan. Carel also owns a business called Expat Explore Travel, which took the tour to a next level. They also offer tours around the world, which are joined by many South Africans.

The ad hooked me and the decision was made! I’m going skiing!

Then came the hard part …
Ask anyone who knows me whether Leomar likes flying, and the answer will be a loud NO! But after a day’s thorough research on the safest airline with the most legroom, we bought the tickets. Nevertheless, my 193 cm long body did not sit too comfortably. The tickets from Johannesburg to Geneva via Zurich were purchased at the last minute (a month ahead).

With the help of friends’ knowledge I also had to run around for a new passport and visa, because the expiration date of my passport was too close to the date of our return flight. But the procedure was quick and smooth, and within two weeks I received both. TLScontact was excellent with the visa process.

With that, all arrangements were in place. All I still had to do, was to sort out my money at the bank. That was also fairly simple. I learned that although Switzerland used the European visa, namely the Schengen, the acceptable currency was Swiss Franc (CHF) and not euros. My savings were therefore converted to CHF.

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Always try to ask someone knowledgeable what is required for such a tour. A friend’s mother gave me a list of items of which I would need on a skiing holiday. It was worth the effort! And voila – I was ready for Switzerland! My leave was organised and my suitcases were packed.

As fate would have it, I was diagnosed with bronchitis on the morning of the flight. After a call to the doctor, I was sorted out with medication and with a prescription to take with me on the plane – as evidence that I had permission to carry the medication.

On the flight I had to resort to Rescue drops and a fizzy drink or two for my state of mind, however. And with that, I could tick off yet another item from the bucket list: flying overseas. Fortunately, we were on a night flight.

After our delicious meal, Jannie and I took our sleeping pills and only woke up for breakfast just before landing – not at all the type of flight to which I objected all these years. A quick connecting flight, and we were in Geneva.

Jannie and I were nine hours ahead of the rest of our group; so we could explore the essentially francophone city and even tick off a few more items from our bucket list – like the UN building Palace of Nations, with the broken chair as a symbol of the international opposition to the use of landmines; and the Jet d’Eau fountain in Lake Geneva. It took us a while to get to know the transport schedule.

We could indeed feel that we were no longer in our homeland. But after a hilarious incident, we learned that Afrikaans-speaking people were to be found all around the world!

After that, we welcomed our tour group at the airport as though we knew Geneva and the country like the palm of our hands … Full of bravado, we got on the train to Wilderswil, although not after struggling to get tickets to our destination: we kept mispronouncing the name of our destination when talking to the agent. It turned out that the name of the town actually should sound like “Vealdersveal”.

The route took us along Lake Geneva to Bern, where we boarded the train to Interlaken, with a short trip from there to Wilderswil. Wilderswil is barely 4 km from Interlaken. On the way we saw everything from city graffiti to rolling hills, and the only connection with our home was the Afrikaans we were speaking to one another.

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As a South African, it is difficult to understand how such a small country can be so famous. People in Switzerland do not travel much locally, but due to the long distances in South Africa, the situation is different in our homeland. Switzerland is only 41 285 square kilometres in size, compared to South Africa’s 1,22 million square kilometres.

Upon arriving at our hotel, we rushed to go get our “ski armaments” as the New Zealand supplier calls it. So we found out that many of our rugby enemies live here. On our return we explored the hotel and we met our tour guide and owner of the hotel, Carel. Carel briefly explained to us how the skiing and the area worked. The next day the group faced their first lessons, while I remained behind, sick in the hotel.

Back at the hotel, Jannie explained with childlike excitement how the first day proceeded.

On day 2 we met the other tourists and learned that we had a lot in common – with one or two exceptions, we were all born in South Africa. There were 24 South Africans in the group, and Afrikaans was heard everywhere in the hotel.

During the eight days that we were in the Alpenrose in Wilderswil, we went skiing in different villages in the Jungfrau area each day. Carel’s skiing lessons quickly made us capable skiers. Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Männlichen, Kl.Scheidegg, Grindelwald and Murren are some of the towns we visited and where we went skiing. One can ski from one town to the next, and the towns are connected via cable cars or trains.

It was a big adjustment for me to ride the ski lifts and gondolas (another item ticked off my bucket list!). My fear of flying is accompanied by my fear of heights, and that fear was severely tested when we tried out the gondolas to the James Bond museum and Piz Gloria Restaurant at Schilthorn, which lies on 2 940 m. The restaurant turns 360 degrees in an hour, making it a breath-taking viewpoint.

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We put away our skis for two days to explore Interlaken and the northern banks of the Thunersee (Lake Thun). In German, Interlaken literally means “between two lakes”. Interlaken got its name because it lies between the Thunersee and Breinzersee. The town and the lake are picturesque. And for a while I could put myself in that picture too, at the Italian restaurant in Beatenberg. Here we could see the difference in terms of lifestyle and culture, because here we met local people and not other tourists, as in the mountains.

We spent our last day in Interlaken, where we bought gifts to take back to our loved ones at home. We began missing home, but at the same time could not believe that our short time here had come to an end.

What I noticed …
People here ride bicycle or walk to transit points. Pedestrians enjoy priority on the roads. Even in busy streets, vehicles would stop for pedestrians at pedestrian crossings. Children walk to bus stops or to school on their own, without being accompanied by a parent.

People walk in the streets drinking a beer, although we felt like criminals when we dared to do it – especially when we came across two policemen on the bus! Teenagers may drink beer or wine from the age of 16.

Only small quantities of meat are used in the food, but there is a wide variety of food cultures to choose from, for instance Italian, Indian, Irish etc. And many restaurants serve everything from pizza to kebabs; from pork schnitzels to horse steak!

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The Swiss are very set on being on time with everything. Yet, nobody is rushed for anything, because it is not necessary to hurry anywhere if everything happens on schedule. There is no African time here.

Wilderswil …
Wilderswil is a small, quiet town just before entering the mountains. The town is characterised by unique wooden houses, decorated with personal items, with the snow-covered mountain in the background.

The town follows a minimalist lifestyle, and has few shops. All noise (if any!) must stop by 10 in the evening. Even the fountains in the gardens must be switched off punctually at 10 pm. The residents are quite comfortable with the situation in their town, and they meet up with one another at the restaurant or bar each week, to keep in touch.

Carel and the Alpenrose staff managed to create somewhat of a “’home” for us South Africans in Switzerland, but we were also taken on a journey of food and drinks every night. Everything was served, from real Swiss fondue (a little salty for my taste), to a German dinner with schnitzels, to South African bobotie and banana salad. And every meal was complemented with the appropriate drinks.

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The mountains …
On our arrival, the foothills were still rather colourless, but the steep uphill train ride was nonetheless beautiful. The towns higher up showed signs of snow here and there. But after it had snowed, the pale green hills were covered with a thick layer of snow. The towns became more colourful and vehicles sounded different with their chain wheels on the tarmac.

One experiences a totally different feeling. The snow brought calm over the area, but that calm faded quickly as the train went higher up the mountain. The calm then made way for the excitement and fun of hundreds of people who thoroughly enjoyed themselves on skis, snow boards and sleds. Tourists took thousands of pictures, hoping to capture that feeling through a camera lens.

Final thoughts …
My first tour abroad made me realise that there is a world out there that of which I would like to experience more. I want to tour places where I can meet new people and have new experiences. The people I met on the tour, gave me a different perspective on life. And I know some of them will remain my friends for a long time to come.

Even though those people no longer live in South Africa, they are very well informed about what is going on here. The expats we met, still have an emotional bond with the country. It makes me proud to say that this country is still my home.

The experience also made me aware of how narrow one’s mind-set can be here in South Africa. There are people in other countries who also think and live like we do: we are not alone.

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Howzit my China, Philippines

Long, long ago there was consensus among humankind about which natural phenomena represented the cream of the crop on our small planet. The Seven Natural Wonders of the World – the Great Barrier Reef, the Victoria Falls, Rio de Janeiro Bay, Mount Everest, the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights), the Grand Canyon and the Parícutin Volcano – were the world’s finest examples of geographic excellence, and no one would ever dare to question the eminent status of the Super Seven. Right?

In 2007, a Swiss non-profit organisation, the New7Wonders Foundation, decided on behalf of all earth dwellers that the Seven Natural Wonders of the World had lost some of their wonder, and the organisation launched a global campaign to identify the “’New” Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

After four years of eliminating rounds, during which more than 100 million votes were cast in 220 countries, seven natural phenomena were once again elevated to the status of Mother Nature’s crown jewels. In addition to our own Table Mountain, the new list included the following six: the Amazon Rainforest, Halong Bay, Jeju Island, the Iguazu Falls, Komodo Island, and the Puerto Princesa Underground River.

It is the latter which is relevant to our story, because Puerto Princesa – the capital of Palawan – was next on our list of destinations. I did indeed look forward to coming face to face with one of the official New Seven Natural Wonders of the World, but where I come from, an underground river can only be accessed through a borehole, and I therefore struggled to understand how we were all going to fit through a hole in the ground to see this wondrous phenomenon.

The confusion was, however, cleared up rather quickly. This natural wonder is not literally an underground river. It is a 5 km long cave with a river at the bottom. And instead of crawling through a borehole, we could gain access to it in a rowboat that was rowed by a guide.

In our row boat we were taken from one giant hollow to the next. In each of these “halls” stalagmites and stalactites formed the decor, and our guide tried hard to convince us that these distorted mineral formations looked like all kinds of imaginary objects, including vegetables, a pulpit, a lascivious young lady, and even a litter of kittens. However, I neglected to swallow a hallucinogenic pill before embarking on this journey, and therefore I could not really see these objects.

Our visit to the Puerto Princesa Underground River was an entertaining trip, and I would not call it a waste of time. But it baffles my mind why this natural phenomenon is one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World, whereas the Grand Canyon, Mount Everest and the Great Barrier Reef are not. The Swiss are not at all notorious for this kind of thing, but I suspect that serious election fraud was committed in this case.

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