19 – Introducing: Sudan
15th Dec, xxxhrs, Lord Hotel, Dongola
It was 6am when local Egyptian sleep buddy nudged me awake and started feeding me with bread and cheese. “Sabad Al-khayr” and a full stomache later, i wandered around the ship somemore. Nothing much till we reached around 1pm, other than getting a view of Abu Simbel from the boat.
On reaching Wadi Halfa, we the foreign tourists were herded into the dining room to fill up more papers. These were needed to get around Sudan. We keep a copy, got our passport stamped “Registration needed within 3 days” and onto Sudanese soil we stepped. Actually it was a lot more haphazard then how I described it, but yeah, let’s talk about Wadi Halfa.
Ah. Wadi Halfa. It just felt like stepping into Africa proper. A small frontier town with a laid back feel. The Sudanese were darker skinned than their northern neighbours, and that contrasted with their white full robes. It didn’t take long to walk around the place. The guys from the boat with cars took up a room in the Nile Hotel (dorms 7 SDP) since they had to wait a day. I went along with Kang from China and Ben the Belgian to Dongola. But before that we had fried freshwater fish (5 SDP) and lamb (5 SDP). The bus to Dongola left at 6 pm or so (40 SDP). Since the last LP was published in 2007, the roads are much better, taking maybe half the time needed previously, and hence more bokasi, or minivan were available to travel from town to town. From Wadi Halfa to Khartoum it is 75 SDP, 12 hours. And from Wadi Halfa to the next nearest town Abri, is around 20 SDP.
One unusual thing is that no more than 5 people should be in the minivan. The one before us had 7 and they had to turn back at the police checkpoint and drop two! We traveled in the dark, the mini-van was doing maybe 60km/hr. We stopped, u-turned, stopped and uturned again at one point, trying to find someone or something on the road. No idea what it was. There was also a rest stop at 1130 where we had more Nile fish (8 SDP shared between the 3 of us).
Reached Dongola at 2am. The minivan dropped us outside Haifa Hotel, which declared themselves full…It was dark, very cold and we were trying to get our bearings. Walked down to Lord Hotel next door and the owner says “You need to register with the security and pass me your papers.” Which is fine except it was 2am. So we handed over our passports for the night and planned to do it first thing next morning.