Travel blogging on behalf of my brother, a young Singaporean scientist, from Asia to Africa
It’s been more than a week since my little brother left for Africa, where he will be living and working for the next 2 months. I finally heard from him since he called last night… He’s alive!
Things are good, he says. He is in a really remote place, so obscure that I would not even be able to imagine what it looks like. “Even more remote than the kampong Mom and Dad used to live in back in the old days.” The electricity is powered by generators, and these generators are usually something that only the rich can afford. So in order for the office (that I report to) to have electricity, someone has to have the money to afford the generator, and someone else has to most importantly – turn it on. They only turn the power on in the evenings on some days – I hope they turn it on tomorrow so I can charge my phone. The battery is running out and I can probably only talk to you for 30 minutes more.”
I cradle the phone beside my ear listening to him and slouch back on the couch I am on, looking around my room. I pick up my iPhone, it is at 5% power, and I plug it into the electric outlet in front of me and turn on my ceiling fan. Almost as lazy as the whirr of my fan, I mumble back to my brother, “Yeah, totally can’t imagine”. We are so lucky in Singapore to have everything we could ever need at our fingertips.
“You sound tired,” I was a bit worried. “Everything alright?” He admits he is tired, he is sleeping in the game reserve and walks 20KM almost every day to set camera traps and collect data. He and some other local Africans are doing this together and the huge plus point is that he gets to see many animals roaming around. “I saw a wild giraffe the other day. It was unbelievable. It was just chilling out.”
They can only cook their food when they set up a fire, which they do at night. Most days he doesn’t get to have any lunch, breakfast is if anything is left over and dinner is made out of wild vegetables and anything else he and the Africans can gather along the way. “I don’t think anyone we know will ever eat what I am eating here everyday.”
The weather is very nice in the day, and gets a bit cold at night. “I’m looking forward to fishing in Zanzibar, before going to Uganda. Then it’s back to London for Uni.”
My brother interrupts our phone conversation as an African man wants to talk to him. I hear him speak some Swahili – very cool! I heard some basic things like habari (hello), samahani (sorry), la asante my friend (no thanks). “What was that about?” I was curious. “Dude, I hope I’m not making them angry. Water is so precious to them and apparently when I do my laundry, I use too much (water). I think they want to help me wash my clothes.”
My brother hates going into the local town, where he sticks out like a sore thumb – All the locals stop to stare at him and he feels like a complete outsider. “I am positive they have never, ever, seen an Asian in their life”. He is much more comfortable when he is in the bush, far away from people, among the animals.
I told him I always knew he was born to be wild.
If you’d like to see more stuff about my wonderful little brother you can check out some of my other blog posts about him –
My brother the braveheart in Man VS Fish, Australia.
From Asia to the Amazon