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This blog is closed

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I have noticed that I’m still getting subscribers to this blog, even though I haven’t published anything here since 2010.

This blog is officially closed – I will no longer be publishing here.

My new site is


Written by BiancaZAR

May 27, 2014 at 3:52 pm

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Highveld Winter

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 The Highveld in winter is not on the list of South Africa’s most beautiful places to see. Hard brown grasslands, the faint smell of fire lingers in the dry air. However, growing up this became a place I was forced to love. Winter vacations spent visiting my Gran and other family in the south of Joburg, we didn’t a choice but to find things to like about this holiday destination.

This past weekend I finally had a chance to spend some time out of the city. On Saturday morning, a friend and I headed out to Klipriviersberg nature reserve. Not too far away from the endless highways and traffic, I was reminded of all the things I found beautiful about the Highveld as a child. Here are some photos from our walk:

Written by BiancaZAR

June 7, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Is South Africa a Safe Place to Raise Children?

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The divide between rich and poor in South Africa is one of the main reasons why we are still so segregated today. These socio-economic inequalities make it more difficult to address issues in our country.  

Situated only 15km just outside of Johannesburg, Alberton, is a suburb on the East Rand of Gauteng. Like most suburbs in South Africa there is an economic hierarchy with the township and boomed off enclosure being only five kilometers away from each other.

I’m working on a documentary project about if South Africa is a safe place to raise children or not in reference to the political economy issues of our country. Alberton will be the area in focus. Here are some photos from my pre-production research trip in the area.

Written by BiancaZAR

February 25, 2010 at 5:43 am

The Man in the Smiling Fan Bearer Mask

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Going through my photos after a shoot is a tedious job. Having to unwillingly delete the unusable images is depressing.

However, there is a small bit of pleasure in this activity when I come across little suprises that I didn’t notice while shooting.

 Emotive expressions of lurkers in the background, a backdrop of blue skies and bright puffy clouds and other bits and pieces make always me smile during this painstaking process.

Last night I was exhausted after spending the afternoon in the dry Highveld sun at the Chinese New Year celebration at Brightwater Commons in Randburg. I stayed up late going through the mountain of lion and dragon dancing images, agonizing over which ones to keep and which ones to remove forever.

The lion dance up close was really impressive. Their movements were unexpectedly life like and one of my favourite images of the day is the close up I got of the smiling fan bearer.

Smiling Mask Man

In all the frenzy of sequined lions and crashing cymbals I managed to get him to do a peace sign for my photo. A second later he was up again waving the red fan in provocation to the lions.

As I went through images of the next dance the performers were exposed, their masks had been discarded in favour of poles carrying a never ending pink dragon. I recognized the man in the fan bearing mask as we was still wearing the same bright yellow pants as in the previous dance.

This was my surprise of the day. Strong arms and a not too boyish face. Right here under my lens was a very good looking man.

I know I’ve only been in Johannesburg for two weeks but seriously, what a disappointment. Considering it calls itself “New York of Africa” I had pretty high expectations of seeing packs of attractive men dripping off the pavements.

Just so you know, I’m not the only one who is under this misconception as many of my friends have asked me if I’ve spotted any potential. Well, after Saturday I can finally tell them yes!

Not only attractive but I presume he must be a slightly alternative kind of guy. It’s not your average Joe who would run around a shopping centre lawn, waving fans at sparkly lions to entertain the masses who are there for the free entertainment.

I’ll leave it up to your imagination of how he really looks behind the mask, so as to protect his secretly good-looking identity. Let’s hope that the rest of the good-looking men in Jo’burg aren’t also hiding behind masks.

Written by BiancaZAR

February 22, 2010 at 6:04 am

The Story of a Style Outcast

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Style Outcast?

Last week I wore one of my many China T-shirts to university. The shirt says “Rent a cow. Kind, sweet and quiet.”

I bought this T-shirt from a department store one day and I remember being ecstatic because it actually fit me and didn’t look like your boyfriend’s t-shirt that you slept in the night before.

This was the main reason I bought it, and later it became part of my cute animal T-shirt collection, which happened by accident.

 One day I opened my cupboard and noticed that I had numerous T-shirts with animals on them.

Coming back home and these T-shirts are struggling to find a place to fit in South Africa’s trend conscious fashion style, which has been accurately explained by style-guru, Lauren on her blog Glossary. 

All day people gave me strange questioning looks. One man even remarked on what a terrible T-shirt it was. I guess wearing unusual T-shirts in SA means that you are making a statement. He thought I was calling myself a cow and wearing the shirt as some ironic desperate cry for a boyfriend.

Lauren asks: Do South Africans follow consciously follow trends? I say yes, to the point of it being insitutionalised. If you want try something different, it still needs to fit into a stereotype. Even Indie style has it’s own specific look, you’re not wearing it if you don’t have the retro swag shades.

If you wear Indian kurti shirts it means you are vegetarian and spend your holidays in eco-villages. If you wear shweshwe skirts you are trying to be black – seriously a Zulu girl in Durban once accused me of this. Try pairing these together and you are a style outcast.

Living in Asia as a foreigner, you are already different to everyone. Without even trying you already stand out. As much as it’s difficult to find clothes because of small sizes, you have a lot more freedom when it comes to style.

Asian women are very style-conscious, especially in Korea but there are many who still make their own trends. Cute is always in style so you get a chance to be 10-years old again, with matching clips and bows.

Now I face the dilemma of sometimes feeling like I first have to decide who I am before I choose my clothes.

This becomes complicated as I tend to have a sentimental relationship with my clothes. They all have stories.  Like my reject orange rose dress from the factory shop. The first time I laid eyes on it I thought the fabric was so lovely that she shouldn’t be a reject any longer. My Mom always disapproved when I wore it, being a former reject she had some flaws.

Unintentionally, I left the dress behind on one trip to Asia and she became a reject once again. As she was already flawed, the dress was a perfect candidate to become an overcoat the domestic worker wore when cleaning the house.

When I came home my heart bled for this lovely dress that had now become ugly/beautiful with bleach stains and ripped hems. Since moving to Jozi I reclaimed her again and she is no longer a reject. Now I have a new look to add to my wardrobe – homeless chic!

Written by BiancaZAR

February 20, 2010 at 4:19 pm

The cutest students in Korea

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Me and my crazy cute students

It’s official. I have the cutest students in Korea. These Elementary school students on Ulleungdo would win any competition hands down. They love games and songs and get crazy enthusiastic over chanting “Who stole the cookie from the jar?” Seriously, if I wanted to do this everyday I could, it never gets old.

Sometimes the enthusiasm gets a little out of hand. A few weeks ago I was playing a game with a 4th grader class, boys against girls because you know that’s always more fun.

Things got so heated that one boy stood up on his chair and started shouting “Puck you girls! Puck you!” (Konglish pronunciation replaces “f” with “p” hence the puck you and not….you what I mean.) The game, like many others ended in tears.

My time on Ulleungdo is coming to an end and even though there has been endless chaos I’m dreading saying goodbye to these kids who have made my time here so special. They will always be in my heart.

Written by BiancaZAR

December 13, 2009 at 3:35 am

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Swine Flu on Ulleungdo can’t be blamed on the foreigners

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Yes that’s the truth. Despite what many Koreans think, swine Flu on Ulleungdo can’t be blamed on the foreigners as there are only two of us and we don’t leave the island as often as the Koreans do. So if there is a major outbreak, it’s not our fault.

I’m grateful to have a somewhat easier life on Ulleungdo than most English teachers in Korea. At least I try and see it that way. With only two of us English teachers, the Koreans don’t really have anyone to compare me with. Nonetheless, this also means that I am sometimes assumed to be American and not recognized as South African.

With swine flu causing mass panic and chaos in Korea, we are definitely better off than the mainland. There have only been three rumoured cases here and these are just rumours. No one is confirming it.

This article on Road Junky details how swine flu in Korea has been blamed on foreigners. There is a lot of truth to this piece as even here I was quarantined after my summer trip to Cambodia. At one of the schools where I work I’m the only teacher who gets a temperature check along with all the students. I only realized this was strange after reading the article.

As much as I detest Arirang TV for all it’s fake, bubblegum, propaganda of how it’s important to accept foreigners for Korea to become a globalised society I can see the need for this kind of public social broadcast.

On the other hand it’s a little misplaced on Korea’s major English channel which is most likely watched mainly by foreigners anyway. Surely it would be more effective if it were in Korean on one of the Korean channels like KBS?

I think being on Ulleungdo can at least help Koreans here to realize that we aren’t all dirty, disease ridden bad influences on their children’s lives. We are fortunate to be able to get to know our students and some of their parents fairly well. I hope this will at least make a small difference.

Written by BiancaZAR

November 13, 2009 at 1:54 am