Thursday, 23 June 2011

Out of Africa

It was a remote possibility that we would plan a trip to an African country , given our stereotype of a 'phoren' holiday being Europe or now Thailand,Malaysia,Singapore. So when an opportunity came our way we were delighted to be a part of a group going to Uganda.Uganda is associated in our minds with Idi Amin and more delightfully with the Madhwani family one of whom married our very sexy Mumtaz .
The trip to Kampala was via Dubai and I must say Dubai is not the place for me .Buildings each higher than the next,malls each bigger than the one its not up my street. So we had half a day in this unique city but I was glad to get out of it and board Emirates for Kampala. As one looks down from the plane,huge Lake Victoria and green is what sooths the eyes. We disembarked at the Entebbe airport on the banks of Victoria and went to a delightful resort ,the Speke resort , in Munyono on the outskirts of Kampala .A half hour drive from Entebbe to Kampala gave us a taste of the traffic in the city ,heavy and apparently jams are quite commonplace there .
The Speke resort built during the CHOGM meet of 2007 is a wonderful place to stay. Absolutely divine landscaping greeted us with lush green trees and an almost bewildering variety of trees and flowers. I felt like a child wanting to run and see all the vegetation and went clickety click with my camera. Hats off to the horticulture team for an absolutely lovely place and great maintenance. The place is on the shore of the Lake Victoria and predictably an early morning ,next day led me to take a walk around the place. The sun rose brightly and its rays fell playfully but powerfully on the waters.A lone boatman rowed his boat towards this ray of light and I was delighted when I captured him beautifully. The amazing diversity of plants and flowers kept me enthralled that morning from the Lantanas to huge hibiscus to flowers I did not know  about.
Uganda has  a very large Indian population so the food served was good old home food. The breakfast buffet had poori sabzi alongwith the usual cornflakes ,hashbrown potatoes, etc that one is served in such places.
We were moving out to the Murchison falls the next day so had a time crunch in Kampala. A look at the city's more poular places could not be arranged but we did vist a handicraft centre on the lines of Delhi's own Dilli Haat. Small stalls gave us a lovely experience of shopping and bargaining for typical Ugandan handicrafts mostly made of ebony . Figurines,hats,stools,.it was an absolute treasure trove . It was rather difficult for us to count in thousands of Ugandan shillings because 1 dollar would give about 2300 ushillings.and stuff would be for nothing less than 10000 ush and multiples thereof. The crafts village lay in the National Theatre compound just across the road from Parliament where the swearing in of ministers was taking place that day .Funnily our bus parked on the side of the street was locked for wrong parking and I saw a couple of more cars whose wheel was locked by a right angled iron brace.

The next day was the Nile,Masindi and the Savannah grasslands.

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