Among the Strangest of the Strange: Military Watch Tale

We’ve pretty much heard and seen it all. But then every time I think that, lo and behold, I’m proven wrong by something entirely new that gets Pete and I scratching our heads. Running this bed and breakfast in this, our seventh year now, we get some perfectly bizarre guest requests, to say the very least. There have been some that were relatively tame; like the couple who wanted their bathtub filled strawberry flavored milk, the man who booked a second room just for his little pet pig (who’s name also happened to be Pete, by the way,), and there were the three girls who asked if we could get them three male strippers for the evening. The answer was no, we didn’t know any male strippers at the time. (Though we do now. Lovely boys. One of them works in the copy store down the street.)

Then there have been the downright strange requests. We had a man in here once who asked us to lock the door to his room from the outside for fear he’d sleepwalk right out of the building. Another couple who asked if we could have a variety of, adult-themed, toys waiting on the bed when they arrived. I had Pete take care of that one. There were the two men who asked if there was someone who could warm up their beds for them before they arrived. The family who wanted to let their kids trick or treat in the inn. The man who wanted his room decked out in full Christmas attire; stockings, trimmed tree, tinsel, lights, the works…in August.

A very nice man from Melbourne had another weird request for us. It was really a first for us. It had to do with his watch. He arrived on a Friday night, he’d had a long flight and was eager to go to bed. But before he could go to sleep he said he had to know if we could be trusted with his watch. We, of course, said yes and told him that we had a safe on-site where it would be secure. But that’s not what he wanted. He took it off and showed it to us. It was a military watch of some kind, very nice. Looked expensive. He asked to look at our wrists, mine and Pete’s. With his wrist being much bigger than mine, the man looked entirely relieved.

He said he needed Pete to wear the watch for the duration of his stay, four days long. We don’t normally ask our guests questions about their odd requests, we either grant them or politely decline and explain why. But this man was very insistent or else he couldn’t stay here. It was crucial that Pete wore the watch, the man assured us that it was indeed his watch – he even showed us his receipt of sale, from four years ago. It was well-worn and wrinkled. He had held onto it all that time and this obviously wasn’t the first time he’d made such a request. Well at least he could prove it wasn’t nicked from someplace, it was his watch. But he couldn’t have it in his possession during his stay. I looked to Pete, he didn’t seem to have any problem with it. The man looked about as relieved as anyone I’d seen and handed the watch over. Pete put it on and not only did it fit him, he quite liked the way it looked.

Pete wore that man’s watch all four days straight. Never took it off once. The thing was waterproof, shock resistant, had all kinds of fancy features on it. I didn’t know much about military watches, like these, so I looked them up. His wasn’t among the ones I’d found but there was obviously something awful special about this man’s watch to him.

The man checked out and Pete handed him the watch back. We had tried to ask him why he couldn’t wear the watch while he was here. But he left the lobby before we got an answer.

Now that request was definitely among the strangest of the strange.

Memorable Guests: Henry, the Binary Options Trader

As the proprietors of a bed and breakfast, my husband and I have had our fair share of very memorable guests. Some of these guests are memorable because they are celebrities; others are memorable because they had very amazing stories. In this post, I am going to talk about one guest we had last month who really proved to be interesting. I am go to withhold his name, though, as a matter of privacy – for the sake of this post, I am just going to call him “Henry.”

Henry booked a room in our bed and breakfast for a week. During that whole week, he was able to visit a lot of the tourist spots around the area. Although he was always on the go, we noticed that he always brought his laptop with him. We couldn’t resist asking him about it, and thankfully, he was more than eager to tell us why he did such a thing.

According to Henry, he was actually “working” on the go. He is actually a full-time binary options trader. Although he doesn’t have a regular job, he is able to earn thousands of dollars a month just by spending a few minutes every few hours doing binary options trading. Apparently, it’s actually very easy to get started on binary options trading. To do binary options trading, people just have to create an account on the website of a brokerage (e.g. http://www.bankdebinary.fr/) and then start buying options. To trade on options, people just have to guess whether the assets they are for are going to lose or gain value by the time the options expire. A correct guess always leads to one earning a fixed amount of money.

According to Henry, just by doing binary options trading regularly with Bank de Binary, he was able to retire early. Just through this method of earning, Henry has been able to visit so many amazing places from all over the world. I guess one could consider him a jetsetter already. In addition to gaining enough money to travel frequently, Henry has been able to purchase a house of his own. It’s really amazing. According to Henry, people just have to make sure that they really know what they’re doing in order to profit from binary options trading. Luckily, learning resources are actually easily accessible to those who have an internet connection, according to him.

Henry is definitely one of the most memorable guests we have had in our B&B. He made me think about my lifestyle. Being carefree doesn’t really have to go hand-in-hand with being financially unsuccessful. It really is just a matter of finding out ways of getting the best of both worlds. In a way, I guess I am very much like him. Running a B&B lets me afford to be more carefree than most other people. Of course, I could never have the same freedom as him: I need to stay at the B&B on most days after all. Still, Henry made me realize that I am very lucky to have a more carefree lifestyle than most people whilst remaining financially secure.

Remembering our Most Super Guest

One of our most memorable guests to ever stay with us at our B&B arrived in January 2012. Leeanne was a charming woman and arrived with her family to enjoy the sights and sounds that South Africa had to offer. When she arrived my husband Pete and I were having one of those days, I greeted her and the family rather abruptly and Pete completely forgot about carrying their luggage to their room – talk about a great start! She took it all in her stride and complemented us on our accommodation and lovely views. It wouldn’t be until after she left our B&B that I realised that she was the CEO of one of the largest financial institutions in Australia.

After the auspicious start
I met up with Leeanne later that evening after the check-in debacle and I apologised for the lack of a warm greeting that we are famous for. She told me not to worry and, as I was on my way to perform my evening chores around the property, asked if there was anything she could do to help (this is not unusual and some guest really enjoy getting into the feel of the B&B). She followed me around and was such a help that I completed all of the things I needed to do in half of the time! I also learned more about Leeanne and discovered that she was from Australia and worked in the finance sector. She also wanted to learn more about me and how my husband and I came to run a B&B. We really hit it off and I decided to take her and her family to a safari park the next day and let Pete run the place for a day.

On Safari
We left early the next morning for the local safari park and it was such a nice feeling to get out and do something different for a day. Running a B&B can be draining and it was so nice to get away from the stress for just a day. Leeanne and the family really enjoyed the day as well and we saw so many animals that they wouldn’t be able to see at home. The family was so excited and they told me that a safari was the first thing they wanted to do in South Africa! We finished the day off with a picnic together in the safari park. I played guide most of the day, but I had a really enjoyable time!

Our super visitor leaves
The next day Leeanne and her family were off to visit a different part of our great country (Pete remembered to carry their luggage for them this time). I wished her and the family the best and Leeanne promised that she would return with the family next time she visits South Africa. She handed me a business card as she left and told me to keep in contact. After we waved goodbye we went about our day as usual. It was only later that I took a look at the business card and discovered that Leeanne was the CEO of MTAA Super, click here for a company profile, one of the largest financial retirement funds in Australia. I was in shock and was amazed at the humble nature and genuine person that she presented, even though we weren’t overly friendly to her or the family when they arrived. I never once knew that I was dealing with one of the most important people to ever stay at our humble establishment!

True Rainbow Nation

southafricaflagHaving different guests is a very exciting perk to owning a quaint bed & breakfast. New experiences are shared, facts are learned and the love of culture and languages discovered. It has always been a proud fact that South Africa recognizes 11 languages officially in its constitution. This means that there is mutual respect between the various cultures. Most South Africans can speak two or more languages; some are learned in school while others are learned through informal social networks.

Language in South Africa are interrelated, even English is sprinkled with words from Afrikaans, Zulu and others. Most of the time, when a South African talks they would use 2-3 major languages at a time.

Afrikaans is one of the known languages in South Africa but it is only the third most commonly used in the country. Most of the language origin is from the Dutch and it was formerly known as Cape Dutch as those living in the Cape spoke it. Now, Afrikaans is mostly spoken in those living in the Northern Cape.

English is the language of government, business and trade but it is only the fourth most commonly used. Schools also use English as the medium of instruction along with another language used in that province. English used in South Africa, though, have its own accent with influences from the British, Afrikaans and Dutch.

The second largest spoken language is isiXhosa, spoken by approximately 8 million people or 16% of the country’s population. It is a tonal language, which means that the way they speak or the tone of their speech affects the meaning of the words or the whole sentence. It belongs to the Nguni language of South Africa. Other languages that belong to this group are the isiNdebele, isiZulu and siSwati.

Aside from these languages, South Africa also speaks Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Setswana, Sesotho and Sesotho sa Leboa. Different regions and provinces would also have various accents and pidgins. Though this would create confusion for a first-time visitor, South Africa is a very friendly place and there is no shortage of people that would try to accommodate or answer your questions. Truly, South Africa deserves to be called the Rainbow Nation.

South Africa: Heaven for Archeologists

southafricaSouth Africa is truly a heaven for many enthusiasts, it boasts of being a multilingual, multi-ethnical country as evidenced by its recognition of 11 languages. Thought it belongs to continent that mostly has third world countries, South Africa is considered to be upper-middle income economy and is a newly industrialized country. Aside from this, it is also known for its biodiversity in animals, plants and fungi.  And for archeologists out there, some of the most noteworthy and oldest archeological sites in the world are found in South Africa.

Gauteng province, located northwest of its capital, has the Sterkfontein, roughly translates to Strong Spring. It was declared a World Heritage Site and branded as the “cradle of human life”. It was in this site that the students of the University of the Witwatersrand found the first adult Australopithecine. In 1997, another significant excavation was done when they found another specie of Australopithecus with almost a complete skeleton. This site is the richest site for early hominids, counting 500 hominids found in the area.

Another site rich in hominid remains is the Swartkrans. This site is only 20 miles outside of Johannesburg and also near to Sterkfontein. Found here are extremely old deposits that are measured to be about 1.8 million years old. Evidence of the usage of fire by humans was also found here and paleontologist Robert Broom found that they were not hunters rather they were the ones hunted by large cats.

A paleocave system is found near Gauteng province, another sight to see for archeologists. However, this site is a privately owned area and was a part of a mining industry thus it was vastly disturbed and only one active cave remains. Despite these, excavators and scientists were able to identify more than 95,000 individual specimens. Through this they were able to provide an analysis of the South African Pleistocene assemblage as well as the more fragile and valuable neonatal remains.

There are more sites in South Africa that would satisfy your archeological palate. These sites serve not only as evidence to humankind’s history but also remind us of how fragile a community is and how easy it can be destroyed by predators may it be natural or man-made.

Charm of South Africa

southafricaskylineOf all the countries, one country still amazes and keeps me rooted and that is South Africa. It amazes me how modern the place is but I still can see some of the customs handed down either from their African origins or European descent. South Africa can offer adventures and a plethora of activities whether you want to rough it up with nature or go on a luxury trip

The world’s most luxurious train can be found in South Africa. With USD 1500, a person can now embark on a short journey with this beauty. However, a reservation would have to be done at least 2 months before the journey because of the number of passengers who want to be on this train. Minimum requirement for men and women during dinner is jacket with tie and cocktail dress. It also does not have activities for children so it is not recommended for those travelling with children for a long time. Interestingly, the train does not have radios or television sets inside as it is consistent with its theme of the bygone era. Mobile phones are only to be used inside the private suites as not to disturb other passengers.

South Africa also boasts of the R62 wine route, the longest wine route in the world. A wine connoisseur would surely enjoy this route with various kinds of wineries along the route. It also appeals to those who know a little about wine simple with its breath taking beauty.

Being in South Africa also requires a person to know its quirks and native slangs. So here are some that I have learned through the years. If you want to say the food is very good, you can say “shop-shop” while gesturing two thumbs up, surely the chef would be ecstatic to see that. Traffic lights also have another name; they call it “robots” pronounced as “ro-boats”. It’s also a way of measuring their distance so do not be surprised if someone says “the next ATM will be on the right of the next robot”. And for people who are photography enthusiasts, you will not have a shortage of subjects in here as people would shout “Shoot me! Shoot me!” once they see you armed with a camera.

Visiting South Africa is a once in a lifetime experience, unless you come here twice or thrice, but it is assured that every visit will leave you with a different and lasting experience.