will schmoke one just for you on monday, enjoy the sun. and lets think about posting up some piccies as internet connection allows...
enjoy your birthday
get the train to mombasa and a bus up to lamu if you want to do the coast thing
you could be there in 2-3 days
Hello again... right, never made it to Zanzibar, and had a better time for it. The coach isn't running (its low season at the mo), we didn't fancy the stopover in Nairobi (although we've now found a friend with a hotel there, damn), and the flight was beyond our budget....
So instead, we went to the Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria - just a few hours south of Kampala, but frankly a completely different world*. After a few nights at a hotel where we were the only guests (low season again), and a few The Shining type moments, aided by Patrick the nightwatchman sorting us out some doobage, we ended up on an even smaller island, inhabited by its Muzungu** owner and some odd bloke with a beard as the only guest.
Mr Mzungu welcomed us off our fishing boat with a cup of coffee fortified with 80% proof banana schnapps. And then the next ten days continued in that vein; our own banda hut, our own private beach, a small pack of dogs, dinner every night accompanied by the banana schnapps and a very, very, very, very big plastic bag of smoking things.
Both Gwyn and I managed to have a whitey in the first two days. Then we managed to lose track of time a bit, and forgot to get on a few fishing boats back to the mainland. My Kampalan friend's departure back to the UK is pretty much the only thing that brought us back to civilization before we went fully native. That and Gwyn wants to wear her Man Utd shirt this week. No idea why.
So back in the city again, planning on where to go next... Murchison Falls and Lake Mbara i think, before working on a tan and getting back to a new boss in London . Oh the joy. Anyway, if you ever find yourself needing a remote island, just 9 hours from London, I know just the place.
** "white man"
Thank you for the birthday greetings and all that. Andrew, I'll try and get a phone hooked up soon, but internet connections are frankly rubbish in most places, and they don't often let you connect an external drive to anything that could get infected.
Been meaning to update this, as I've finally sorted some photos out, and the reality of being back in London and working already has been pushing the good memories of the holiday to the back of my mind lately.
So, Ugandan bicycles... Chinese obviously, but there are bike shops / huts everywhere in major towns and minor villages. They seem to get cleaned and polished every day, and you see people doing major mechanics with true African style at the side of the road all the time. Its amazing how many things you can fix with a hammer. They really are the workhorse of the poor, well those at least who can afford one:
Which was one of the local island taxi bicycles come delivery man, with natty customisation. Mudguards added cos it was further south in the tropics where it rained every day. SS sit up and beg, with rod brakes and amazing cottered crank / chain sets spelling out the brand name (Hero etc.)
Masindi had really aggressive bike taxi drivers who got narked when we asked to take their photo - a bit like 80s punks in picadilly I guess - they wanted cash to let me take a snap. But the owner of this thing was more than happy: he'd just delivered the daily beer order to the restaurant - two x24 beer bottle crates tied to the rear pannier with an old inner tube.
The extra stays are welded on in your local LBS to increase the strength and allow them to take more passengers. The biggest thing I think we saw being carried on one, was a full size double bed, being wheeled through rush hour city traffic, so I guess a couple of sacks of tea an your daily charcoal isn't going to trouble them too much.
Seeing them being used as the easiest way to carry your 24 litres of water each day from one village to another was an eye opener.
Ignore the sideboob if you can, but here they are drumming up business (ie gossiping, bitching and czeching out the laydees, a bit like South Beers basically:
The best sight were the Kampalan ones, who are riding the same bikes, but pimped up much more; padded vinyl saddles on the rear rack, embossed with either their favourite football team, or with Scripture.
So on really really busy, potholed, mental road systems, you scoot by on a boda boda motorcycle taxi, to find someone racing up alongside you, wearing hipster shades and some random Sean Yates TdF cycling top, grinning like a loon whilst their passenger sits side saddle on the back calming chatting away on their mobile phone...
I'm kind off keen to try the 'riding a bike that's way too big for me' technique of popping your leg through the frame and leaning it over at an angle. Not sure that'd work fixed though...
ah, bright times.
Looks like a amazing adventure
wow chris you and gwyn seem to have had an amazing time! Glad you are back, even if it's just borring ol london. Hopefully see you soon.
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