Why you shouldn’t give money to beggars

Why you shouldn’t give money to beggars

Cape Town

You are likely to find a fair amount of beggars in Cape Town and most of South Africa. They are usually homeless people who turn to begging for survival. Their sad appearance makes them hard to ignore. And circumstances that drive people to the streets can be heartbreaking. But before you give money to a beggar or street urchin, consider the following.

Our mayor – Patricia De Lille – is committed to keeping her election promise and is doing her utmost to improve the lot of displaced people in Cape Town. That is aside from the many NGOs and religious organisations who work tirelessly to uplift homeless people.

Here are just a few NGOs –

  • Straatwerk
  • The Haven
  • The Homestead
  • Girls Town and Boys Town 
  • Onsplek
  • Salesians
  • The Salvation Army
  • The Carpenters Shop
  • SANCA
  • The Big Issue 
  • The Caring Network

Even the CCID which is an organisation that coordinates core functions, are involved in initiatives to help displaced people such as Give Responsibly. In essence, if someone doesn’t want to be on the streets, there are many avenues they can follow to secure help.

Why then would people remain on the streets and continue to beg? Because many homeless people have substance abuse problems and a place of safety requires them to be sober. But the biggest reason, is because people keep giving them money. Street people are unlikely to address their problems and find alternate income if they obtain money easily from begging.  Each time you reach out and give a beggar money, you are actually helping them to remain trapped in their miserable life. Not only that, it encourages even more people to beg on the streets.

But . . I will admit, I always give money to Congolese car guards. Now why after all I have said, would I do that? They have no social status in South Africa and they are refugees with very little other opportunity to make money. Many of these guys are highly educated, polite and provide a service. I wish the opportunities offered to South Africans was extended to these refugees.

Image sourced from Google images

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

20 Best Money Saving Travel Tips

20 Best Money Saving Travel Tips

1. Visit the local tourist information office and get brochures for the tours they have on offer. Then do them yourself for free. Walking tours are also usually cheaper than bus tours. Sure, they take a bit longer, but you get to explore a city or the countryside up close and personal, and you get some exercise.
  
 2. Use local public transport. Catch a bus or train to the furthermost end of the city and back to get a sense of what the whole city looks like. A day pass allows you to hop on and off to explore sections of a city.
  
Simonstown
3. No need to eat at restaurants or cafes. Pack snacks such as dried fruit and nuts in your backpack or buy a sandwich and a bottle of water at a supermarket.
  
4. Save on Wi-Fi costs by having a coffee at a Starbucks or cafe with free Internet access. They often have free newspapers so you can read the local goings-on.
  
5. You don’t need to buy a travel guide. Visit your local library to see if they have a travel book for your destination. You can also try Lonely Planet or Wiki Travel for free on-line travel guidance.
  
Boulders Beach Simonstown
6. If local tap water is safe to drink, then refill your water bottle at the end of every day, at your accommodation.
  
7. B and B’s are often cheaper than hotels and include basics such as Wi-Fi that many hotels consider extras. More often than not, you can stay at a B and B for less, or not much more, than a Backpacker place. And B and B’s are safer than a Backpacker spot, as you are not sharing amenities and rooms with unknown people.
  
Town centre Simonstown
8. You can go online to find out just about everything from where to go, restaurant reviews or weather reports with regard to your holiday location. There is no need to buy local restaurant and wine guides.
  
9. Eat in your room. Get yourself a healthy take out meal plus a great bottle of wine from a supermarket and skip overpriced restaurants, plus taxis and tips, by eating in.
  
10. There are always plenty of free museums. Avoid the ones that make you pay.
  
11. Book in advance. There are often huge savings to be made by booking in the right window period. Think long haul bus trips, train trips, car hire and flights. They all have early bird specials.
  
12. Many credit cards and insurance companies have free health travel insurance. Find out what you are eligible for.
  
Penguins Simonstown
13. It should be obvious but hiring a smaller car is cheaper and lighter on petrol than a big gas-guzzler.
  
14. Avoid travel agents. Booking yourself and booking on-line is always cheaper.
  
15. Don’t look for a taxi when you arrive at your destination. Most major cities have an airport shuttle bus or train service. Use keywords to do an online search for the best one at an airport. We hardly ever use a taxi. Taxis are much more expensive than public transport. Most taxi drivers are surly and unhelpful too.
  
Harbour Simonstown
16. Consider self-catering if you have 3 or more days in one place. You may well find your accommodation comes with a washing machine. You save on laundry costs and its way cheaper to cook for yourself than eating out.
  
17. Travel credit cards and traveler’s cheques don’t always work out cheaper. You are paying twice to change your money. We pre-arrange with the bank to clear our debit and credit cards so we can use them when we travel. We’ve been able to draw cash out of a “hole in the wall” in locations such as Thailand and India. The only thing to remember is your daily limit. 
Do the maths and work out what it will be in local currency. Credit cards are also safer. You can always query a transaction with your bank if things go wrong.
  
18. Look for holiday specials. A Google search will yield some surprising specials. Use keywords like bargain, specials or budget and see what comes up. Many spas have off-peak rates and shipping companies sometimes do specials when the ships travel unusual routes.
  
19. We join all the loyalty programs that we can. It costs nothing to fill in the forms. We have managed to score a few free flights and hotel discounts that way.
  
 20. If you are up to it, camping is by far the cheapest way to see a country. It should be obvious; but make sure you pick warm months and avoid the rainy seasons when doing a camping trip.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

20 Top Travel Packing Tips

20 Top Travel Packing Tips

1. Don’t pack light colours. They look grubby in no time and you don’t want to be worrying about your clothes getting dirty. Pack mostly black or dark colours. They probably also get grubby but at least you can’t see it. Black is also versatile. It goes from day to night easily. And it all goes into one wash load. No one wants to sit waiting for different loads of washing to get done on holiday.

Robben Island – Nelson Mandela’s cell

2. Choose lightweight hand luggage and suitcases. The limit for most airlines is 23 kilograms. If you start with heavy bags, it doesn’t allow you to pack much. Plus you might have to carry your luggage around. Not all destinations are suitable for a wheelie suitcase. Think of the stairs to the London Victoria underground station. Not fun!

3. Running shoes are perfect for walking about and the odd run if you are up to it. Wear them on the plane in case your feet swell. Pack flats or lightweight shoes for going out at night or visits. Heels are best saved for when you are at home.

4. If you have over-shopped then pack heavy items like toiletries and shoes into your hand luggage when you fly home. The limit on hand luggage is on size, not weight.

5. A cloth tote bag is perfect replacement for a handbag or in-flight bag. It’s squashy and you can fit lots into it. It’s also light.

6. Weather can be unpredictable so pack clothing you can layer or clothing that is versatile. A tank top can be worn alone on a hot day or as a pull-over on a cool day. You can also sleep in it. Cardigans are light and fit snugly under a jacket on cold days.

Robben Island – prison cells

7. Use your casual wear to sleep in. Why pack pyjamas as well?

8. Pack drip dry and easy hand-wash fabrics. You can rinse your clothes at night and they will be dry in the morning.

9. Scarves are light and an easy way to give a repeat outfit a fresh pop of colour.

10. Don’t pack heavy gold or silver jewelry. Rather take lightweight plastic for a bit of fun; or pack rope and string type accessories. Plus, you don’t want to have to insure your jewelry. You are going on holiday to relax and have fun.

Robben Island – guard tower in distance

11. Always, always, make sure you can manage your luggage. As in, don’t take tons of suitcases. You just might have to carry your own luggage and if you have more than you can manage, you will not be happy with yourself. Don’t bank on someone else carrying for you. Things do go wrong.

12. Ensure you have copies of all your important details with you at all times. Think flight details, addresses of accommodation, medical insurance, passport, etc. Not everyone is welcome when they arrive at a destination and immigration officers can ask some really obscure questions. If you have all your information on you, you can refer to it. You could get lost or have an accident. Then you will need it. Keep it all in a clear plastic Ziploc bag or water proof file and – keep it on you.

13. You have to accept that if you are travelling, perfectly styled hair might be a challenge. Practise easy hairstyles before you go so you can relax and enjoy your holiday rather than getting hung up about hair. Think easy pony tails or a classy chignon.

14. Pack products that do double duty. Some soaps double up as shampoo. Hair conditioner can also smooth dry skin. And pack your toiletries in clear plastic Ziploc bags. Toiletry bags are bulky and don’t always contain leaks. With clear plastic bags you can see at a glance where your toiletries are.

Robben Island – prison

15. Pack make up that works harder. Lipstick for example can be used as blush. Avoid heavy powdery make up on holiday. You will either be on the beach or working up a sweat walking about. Face powders can look a mess in no time and touch ups aren’t easy on the move. Plus you are likely to be wearing lots of sunscreen so cream based make up is your best bet.

16. Do pack plenty maximum factor sunscreen and a lightweight sun hat. Chances are you will spend a lot of time outdoors and you don’t want to get burned.

17. Keep a spare set of underwear, wet wipes and a toothbrush with you, along with your important documents. Flights run late; baggage goes missing; tours end far later than planned. Stuff happens. You might have to wash and freshen up in a hurry and you will want fresh underwear and clean teeth.

18. Slip slops are super handy. They double up as slippers, plus are a really good idea when walking around in communal areas such as on the beach or at a spa. On a hot day they can be worn out. They are light and take up very little packing space. Haviannas come in a range of fun colours and they last forever.

19. Yet one more thing to consider carrying is a lightweight, water resistant windbreaker. Umbrellas are a nuisance to carry and they get confiscated at the airport. At least if the heavens open, you are dry with a windbreaker. And if it gets chilly it keeps you warm.

20. Never, ever pack valuables such as cell phone, camera or lap top into your main luggage that goes into the hold of an airplane. Keep that sort of thing on you. You luggage will be scanned and insider thieves might help themselves to your new I-Phone or inheritance jewelry. Always lock your suitcases if they are out of sight.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

21 Handy Health and Safety Travel Tips – Cape Town & South Africa

21 Handy Health and Safety Travel Tips – Cape Town & South Africa

Crime statistics are vastly different from area to area in South Africa. You can access the numbers on-line by going to the South African Police Services (SAPS) website and having a look at their reports. Certain areas are no-go zones; some are only bad at night, while other areas are perfectly safe to walk around at night.

Most governments and authorities say South Africa is a safe destination with few complications – provided you observe the basic safety recommendations. Most of these safety tips would apply to any destination. The areas that tourists tend to visit in Cape Town are on a par with London or Paris with regard to personal safety.

Here are 21 basic health and safety tips for Cape Town and South Africa.

1.Do not carry and wear excessive amounts of high value items or openly flaunt valuables in your car or on your person. Keep them in the safe at your hotel or guesthouse.

2. Do not talk to strangers, hitch hikers or allow beggars to accost you. Avoid eye contact and ignore street people. They will leave you alone if you walk on, or if you drive past them. Keep car windows closed and doors locked if there are people milling about at traffic intersections.

3. Don’t go up a mountain without a guide or unprepared and always let someone know if you intend climbing a mountain. Weather can turn in under an hour and thick mist can make it impossible to see your way down. There have been muggings on the mountains.

4. Don’t think wild animals are cute. Baboons can get violent and lurch at your car to access food. Hippos and elephants have been known to charge and flatten people.

5. Malaria kills hundreds of people in Africa every year. You don’t have to swallow drugs but do take precautions. Artemesia, an herbal supplement, is an alternative to drugs. You can also rub citronella oil on exposed skin and wear light clothing to cover exposed body parts.

Relaxing on the banks of the Orange River

  Some say the quinine from gin also helps keep the mozzies away. Others say mosquitoes favour people with a sweet tooth and high blood sugar. Skip dessert in high-risk areas.

6. Mini bus taxis might be an affordable form of transport and the choice of most locals, but think twice. They have the highest number of vehicle accidents and are not worth the risk.

7. On the subject of mini bus taxis. They are known in South Africa as “one more” buses, because no matter how full they are, there is always room for one more. By using public transport such as mini bus taxis and some of the trains where people are packed in like sardines, you are also at risk of contracting tuberculosis.
  TB rates in South Africa, and in particular the Western Cape, are high. You only need to be next to someone with TB who coughs or sneezes to become infected.

Canoes waiting to go river rafting on the Orange River

8. Pedestrians are unpredictable on South African roads and more pedestrians die on South African roads than any other category in South Africa, including mini bus taxis.

9. Avoid darkly lit or quiet places at night. That should be obvious, but for some reason, people still stroll through parks alone after midnight.

10. If you are unsure about an area, ask your guesthouse or hotel first, before venturing there.

11. Make sure you wear full factor sunscreen and even better a sun hat as well. South Africa has high rates of skin cancer. Fair skins and skins that are not used to sun are the most at risk.

12. Packing your valuables like jewelry, cameras, cell phones, net book or note book into your main suitcase is not a good idea. Certain airports in South Africa have a reputation for insiders who work together once your bags leave your hands.

Stopping to enjoy ice cold watermelon on the Orange River

   The X-ray staff inform the handlers who help themselves to your possessions. Keep those items on you in your hand luggage and don’t leave any handbags or hand luggage unattended. In Africa, if it’s lying around, it’s up for grabs. Always lock your suitcases.

13. Unprotected sex with a stranger is not a good idea. Sub Saharan Africa has the highest HIV infection rates in the world. And there is always the Hepatitis family that you might be exposed to. No glove, no love.

14. Think twice about swimming in a river. Especially water used by rural settlements. Cholera and Bilharzia do occur in South Africa. And definitely don’t drink water in rural areas, unless you know it is safe.

15. Make sure there is a lifeguard present when you swim in the sea. Some beaches have strong back-currents and even good swimmers can struggle to make their way to the shore.

16. Patting pets can sometimes be a bad idea. Every now and again it happens that a domestic animal is infected with rabies.

17. Street kids might seem sad and you may want to reach out to them. Don’t! They are skilled pickpockets and crime is how they survive. You can make a much bigger difference by donating money to a charity that educates and rehabilitates them, than by appeasing your discomfort and giving money. That money only goes toward gang leaders or drugs and the kids do not benefit one iota. That’s not all; by giving beggars money, you teach them that begging is a lucrative way to survive. There is no dignity in grovelling for money on the streets.

Claiming a space to sleep for the night – under the stars

18. There are illegal moneychangers who promise great exchange rates. They take your money and you wait. And you wait. And you wait. They never come back. Change money the way you are supposed to. With a reputable agent or bank.

19. It should be obvious that drug dealers are criminals and if you are inclined to recreational drug use, just know that you are making yourself very vulnerable and exposing yourself to criminals. You can’t cry if you get done in. Likewise, prostitutes are often drug addicts and desperate. They will look for a chance to grab your money and run. Happens anywhere in the world and it happens in South Africa too.

20. Keep an eye on your credit card if you are using one. Watch it from the time it leaves your hand until it comes back to you. There have been instances of credit card skimming in South Africa.

21. Finally, if it sounds too good to be true. It is. There are foreigners operating in South Africa who run advance fee fraud or 419 scams. They promise amazing stuff and all you have to do is advance some of the money up front. With hindsight most people who get caught realise that it should have been obvious that they were being done in. If you are on holiday, relax and have fun. Forget wheeling and dealing and you wont get caught off guard.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

20 Best Travel Tips – Cape Town

20 Best Travel Tips – Cape Town

1.Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate. Hot in summer and wet in winter. Average summer temperatures are around 20’C and winter temperatures average around 15’C. Daytime temperatures are warm to hot. Winter rainfall is around nine days a month. Summer days are usually dry.
 
2. Tipping is expected. A tip of 10% on the total bill is customary. If a 10% “service charge” is added to the bill for a party of six or more, then an additional tip is not required. We once had a “service charge” added to a light breakfast for two at a well known vegetarian eatery in Long Street. That was really cheeky. Keep an eye open for this “service charge” so you don’t end up double tipping.
 
3. The five traditional MUST SEES are Table Mountain; Robben Island and the V and A Waterfront; Cape Point and Chapman’s Peak Drive; The Winelands and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
 

Camps Bay Beach, Cape Town

4. Since everyone is trying to see the same attractions they do get crowded. You can buy a ticket in advance from – Webtickets to avoid queuing up on the day.
 
5. Table Mountain and Robben Island are weather dependant attractions so make sure you get them done early in your stay in case you have to come back due to bad weather.
 
6. The MiCiti bus from the airport to town is an absolute bargain at just over R50 a head. It takes you to the Civic Centre in the heart of Cape Town. From there you can catch either a train, another bus or a taxi to your accommodation. MiCiti are also worth considering for getting about Cape Town. A trip from the city to Blouberg costs around R10 and covers more or less 20 kilometres.
 
7. I recommend Rikkis taxis for getting about. They are London style cabs. You can ride a “share cab” from one end of the city to the other for approximately R40. Find them on-line at Rikki Or you can phone them at 0861 745 547.
 
8. Search through this Cape Town oriented travel blog for loads of ideas about where to go and what to do. There are photos accompanying each post. Fancy a train ride to Simonstown right alongside the sea; or a bike ride to Blouberg passing Milnerton lighthouse and Flamingo Vlei? It’s all there in older posts.
 
9. While most locals use mini bus taxis, and they are without doubt the most cost effective way to get around, I don’t recommend them. They are inclined to be a law unto themselves and have the highest stats when it comes to vehicle accidents. They should definitely be avoided at night.
 
10. Hiring a car is easy in South Africa and most airports have the usual companies well represented. Do be aware that is illegal to park on a yellow or red line anywhere in South Africa. It is also an offence to park on a pavement or facing oncoming traffic. You must park facing the direction you were driving. South Africans drive on the left hand side of the road. Roads in South Africa, particularly in the urban areas are good. Be aware that some regions have an abundance of toll roads.
 

Milnerton Beach, Cape Town

11. Although South Africans have not done enough to counteract driving under the influence of alcohol, authorities are committed to cracking down hard. Roadblocks are becoming more and more common. Stop and searches for drugs are increasing. Just say no.
 
12. The sale of alcohol is forbidden on Sundays in South Africa. It is possible to find the odd place with a special alcohol license if you are stuck on a Sunday. Ask around. And you can’t buy beer or spirits in supermarkets. Only wine.
 
13. Tap water is perfectly safe to drink in the major cities in South Africa. Avoid drinking water in rural areas, unless you know that it is safe.
 
14. Not all petrol vendors accept credit cards. They have only recently been introduced and some places have catching up to do.
 
15. It’s illegal to consume alcohol on the beach or public places. But, you can take a basket of snacks and a bottle of wine up Table Mountain or to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. I can’t explain this discrepancy.
 
16. People forget or don’t realise that South Africa has 50 million people. Cape Town alone has close on 4 million people. We get asked if our guesthouse is close to the beach or the mountain. There are lots of beaches and mountains in Cape Town. I suggest that people allow at least 3 – 5 days in Cape Town. It’s best to be centrally located as most of the attractions are in and around the city.
 

Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town

17. South Africa has self-appointed car guards all over the place who “guard” your car. Some of these people are desperate refugees from Africa with no status in South Africa. Being a guard is the only source of income for them. Others are common criminals or drunkards who wouldn’t be able to tell a car from a rock. Do you tip them? It’s your call. If they can stand on their feet and speak coherently, I tip. If not, I don’t.
 
18. Cape Town has some excellent Blue Flag beaches but the seawater is cold. The Indian Ocean is warmer and is on the False Bay side of the Cape Peninsula. Muizenberg and Gordon’s Bay will have warmer sea. On the Camps Bay side of the peninsula is the Atlantic Ocean and it is definitely cold.
 
19. The standard of accommodation and restaurants in South Africa is generally high and usually great value. You should find South Africans are a friendly and helpful nation. You can expect good service.
 
20. Cape Town International Airport is approximately a 20 to 30 minute ride from the city centre. If you are driving, make sure you budget extra time during peak hour traffic. The N2 highway to the airport can get very congested and traffic stands still.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

Garden Route South Africa and getting about

Garden Route South Africa and getting about

Garden Route steps leading to beach

The Garden Route is a popular holiday and retirement destination. Coming from Cape Town, it begins around Albertinia which is a tiny and not too exciting place. Give it a miss. The first coastal town is Mossel Bay (Mussel Bay). Mossel Bay is hardly a town. It is a big place and the road passes through the outskirts of it.

The other end of the Garden Route is at the Storms River Mouth. Place names like Natures Valley and Lake Pleasant give a clue to the beauty that this area holds. A mix of lakes, lagoons, estuaries, rivers, forests and mountains are what make it such an attractive place.

Dwarf and mini horses for kids to stroke. This is Henry.

You can get there by hiring a car and driving. Visit these links for price comparisons of the various car hire companies in South Africa – option 1 and option 2 and lastly option 3. The roads have recently been re-done and long queues seem to be over for the most part. The views along the way are special.

Bus companies to consider are Baz bus which is a hop-on hop-off bus. Links to other inter city coach bus operators are IntercapeGreyhound and Translux.

Maybe you might like to do a motorbike trip through the Garden Route? Follow these links – MotoBerlin and AdMo. Have yourself a Harley holiday.

Garden Route sand and castles

I would be wary of the intercity trains. I read the local news and I don’t feel I can recommend them. The Blue Train or a special train is fine.

There are organised cycle tours. I have included a link for those who would relish a chance to sit on a saddle and cycle – mountain biking in South Africa.

I would strongly discourage anyone from hitch hiking in South Africa. And I’m not sure I would couch surf either. I know of people who have done some couch surfing in SA, and maybe it’s just me, I don’t like to take that sort of risk.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

Pin It on Pinterest