“This country is so vast, with a spectrum from game parks to beaches and everything in between. There’s so much to do outdoors, and nature is all around you. You can go walking up Table Mountain, go swimming, mountain-biking, picnicking, wine-tasting. You’re not governed by the weather, as more than half the year is warm to hot. There’s no excuse not to make the most of what is around you.”
|Gordon Shin Guy|
Gordon Shin Guy finds joy in his Cape Town life. He enthuses over his visits to Kirstenbosch, its extensive gardens and sunset concerts. He plans his outings to mountains, rivers and capes, where he is eager to identify unusual birds and native plants. Going to the V. and A. Waterfront, a city showpiece, an exciting mall of upbeat shops and restaurants and entertainment areas, is, he says, a treat. At the same time, he says that he misses Japan and England and his family very much. “But think of the crowds in Japan and the U.K.,” he said. “Here it takes me 10 minutes to drive to work. The quality of my life is vastly improved.”
Gordon was born in Tokyo in 1968, the first of three boys in his family. His English father and his Japanese mother had met in Spain. His father, Stan, became a banker in Tokyo and then in England, and eventually a full-time novelist. His mother, Kayoko, became a specialist in fine arts.
Gordon spent his boyhood between his two countries until, at 12, he entered boarding school in England. He continued to visit Japan, and spent his gap year here to perfect his Japanese language and bicultural awareness. In England again at Keele University, he studied international relations, “a subject that appealed to me, something I could enjoy,” he said. He was keen on military history, and in the U.K. joined the army reserves “and went pot-holing and jumping off bridges and things like that,” he said. For his career he wanted “some kind of international banking, but I didn’t know how to get there. It’s quite uncanny how I followed my father’s footsteps and joined a major bank in London. And that’s where I met my wife.”
His wife, Marlene, South African by birth and upbringing, is an interior design consultant who came with Gordon on her first visit to Japan three years ago. They traveled widely around Japan, and Gordon attended a reunion of old students of St. Mary’s International School. He said: “I bumped into teachers and guys I hadn’t seen for 18-20 years. They recognized me. It was just spooky. But Marlene and I had to choose our country. Marlene was very homesick for South Africa, its color and openness, so we decided to give it a go.”
On arrival in his third country, Gordon drove with Marlene from Johannesburg to Cape Town. The journey of 1,500 km took two days. “We came with a suitcase each, and had to start from scratch,” Gordon said. “For two years we had a long, hard struggle.” He found employment in a national bank, and is still “hoping to be an international banker.” They took an apartment that was “a shell when we came here. We’ve put so much time and money into it, and really appreciate it now.”
When family and friends visit him, Gordon delights in driving to show them around. He takes them to the farm near Knysma to meet the elephants Sally and Harry, orphaned in a Kruger National Park cull, and the younger and smaller Duma, rescued from being left alone and pining in a game farm. Ostrich farms always enthrall Gordon’s visitors from England and Japan. He recommends the coastal Garden Route for its spectacular seascapes, and Boulders for its colony of Cape penguins. He suggests Cape Agulhas, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet, and the Cape of Good Hope for its rugged, extravagant beauty and its prolific wildlife and native plants. Wherever he goes, he watches for zebras and baboons, and always hopes to see a leopard. Many visitors want to go to Stellenbosch, the country’s second-oldest town, and follow the region’s Wine Route of 29 cellars. Many want to go to Bloukrans River Bridge for the world’s highest bungee jumping site — if not to dive down 216 meters themselves, at least to watch others doing it.
Later this year for his vacation with Marlene, Gordon is planning to drive even farther afield. They are going across the national border to Namibia, another country and another adventure for them.