20 – Dongola to Kerima
16th Dec, 2345hrs, Al Nasser Hotel, Kerima
When we say hotel here in Sudan (so far), I mean lokandas, which are cheap basic hotels. The one in Dongola was one room, 4 beds, shared toilet, a tap to wash up (no showers) and no power socket anywhere in the room (10 SDP). This particular one where I am typing this from in Kerima has a power socket, and fortunately a power point for me to plug the lappy. Amazingly I also had Internet for 2 SDP, a very slow connection so I did not get anything uploaded.
Started the day in Dongola. First order of the day is to go to the security office and get permission to stay in the hotel we are in. Took a tuktuk (yes they call them that here). Took our passports and got ourselves a slip giving us permission to stay at the hotel (slip was free). Next we went to the Alien Registration Office, which was luckily just next door and filled up more paperwork, attached 2 photos, photocopies of passports, visa, and got questioned on why we vist Sudan. The fee we paid was 100 SDP per person and we got a sticker in the passport for that. Overall, it was a fairly straightforward, if not tedious, process. Throughout, the Sudanese were friendly, which is a trait seen throughout the past couple days I’m here.
Everywhere we go, it was smiles, Marhabas, and people shaking our hands. Really friendly lot, I must say. Lunch was back at the unamed place beside the hotel, fish (5 SDP, huge enough portion that we skipped dinner). We checked out and looked at the map. There is a Temple of Kawa ruins on the other side of the Nile river but most of the locals cannot tell us where it was. In the end, due to lack of time, we decided to just make our way to the next town with sights, Karima. It was a 15 SDP 2 hour journey through desert landscape, this time thankfully an uneventful ride, with no funny stops along the way, a la last nights ride.
On reaching Karima, made our way to the only cheap lokanda listed in LP, Al Nasser Hotel. Which is similar to the one in Dongola, except it’s more cosy. Dropped our gear and off we went hunting for the security office so that we can register to stay at the hotel. This was to be a common thing everywhere we go. Walked around town a bit, this was really a world away from Egypt. Low-rise buildings, sand everywhere. Even in the hotel grounds, outside our room, it opens out into the sandy corridors with no ceilings.
Tomorrow morning I leave for Khartoum at 7am. While Ben and Kang will stay another day to catch the sights near the town.