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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Day 2 in Kampala, Uganda, and plans in East Africa

Went to the Rwanda Embassy today and after paying for an urgent fee, gotten the visa within the same day. Then I visited the Uganda Museum, which was only so-so.
I met Mei Kiew, who have been working in Uganda the past 3 years and still going strong. We walked around the centre of Kampala and Mei Siew treated me to Ugandan cuisine. After that, we headed for her bee farm office in the southeastern suburbs of Kampala. There we met her boss Lester and three SIngapore TV/film crew in Uganda to do a programme on her boss Lester, as a Singaporean living in Uganda. This is part of a series known as Ï¡ÓÎ¼Ç or Find Me A Singaporean! Among the TV/film crew was Belinda Lee (ÀîÐÄîÚ). Had quick small talk with them. They were very busy filming and soon I had to leave to go to the Rwandan Embassy to get my visa.
After I got the visa, I booked a number of flights:
18 April night - Uganda - Kigali, capital of Rwanda.
21 April afternoon - Kigali - Bujumbura, capital of Burundi
23 April afternoon - Bujumbura - Nairobi, capital of Kenya
On 25 April, I will fly to Dubai and then Tripoli, Libya to meet Gary and Kenneth.
I got in touch with Yuri, whom I met (and her husband Toshikazu) on the Bamako-Addis Ababa flight one month ago. This friendly Japanese couple are environmental consultants with the UN and a NGO in Rwanda. They have invited me to stay at their place in Kigali and had offerred to bring me around this country. I have accepted their generous offer.
I have met a number of interesting Japanese in Africa, and had long chats with many on my journey. Whereas Japanese travellers in Asia and Europe tend to congregate among themselves and speak poor English, the Japanese I meet in Africa are alot more international minded, friendly and open-minded. Maybe it's because Asia and Europe is beginners for Japanese travellers, like they are for travellers from elsewhere,
Kampala is a city with really crowded sidewalks. One can get intimated if this was one's first trip to Africa. However, unlike West Africans who tend to be loud and seem to enjoy boasting and exaggerated talk (ok, that's a generalisation), Ugandans are incredibly humble, polite and softspoken. In fact, they speak so softly that I could hardly hear them. I had to ask people to repeat again and again. I know I am a bit deaf but Mei Siew also concurred with my observation.
Tomorrow, I will be doing a day trip to Jinja, to see the source of the Nile, where the waters of Lake Victoria flows into the Nile on a long journey all the way down to the Mediterranean.

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