73 – Red Chilli for extra oomph!

Sun 7th Feb, Red Chilli Hideaway, Kampala, Uganda

Early morning at 6.30am, left for Kampala with the nice couple from yesterday’s white water rafting. I had asked them last night whether i could hitch a ride back to Kampala, saving me at least 3 vehicle transfers and a whole load of hassle.

In Kampala, i took a boda-boda down to one of the two backpacker places, located just out of the city centre: Red Chili Hideaway. This place was different from the hotel i stayed 3 nights ago in Kampala. This was a backpacker haven, fully attuned to the western tourist’s needs. Cheap dorm beds (12000 USH) as well as decent food at the bar/restaurant. There were many people to trade travel tips with, most having come from some safari or other. The decor is pretty quirky, with notices that make you feel right at home. There was also a huge amount of info about travel companies, packages that one could find here. It was a Sunday, they were having BBQ sundays. The free wireless Internet gets a bit dodgy though, apparently only 10 users could get connected at any one time.

Just after lunch, I went out to get tickets on the Jaguar Executive Coaches (25 000 USH) to Kigali, Rwanda. The office moved, LP’s location is wrong. It is up on Namirembe Road hitting east, just before the Total Petrol Station at the Y-junction. Buses depart from here as well. There were a few buses leaving each day, one at 1am, one at 3am, one at 9am plus a couple of others that went the longer route. Since i’ll be blitzing through the countries, i decided to take the day bus, thus i’d be able to see the mountainous terrain as get glances of the national parks and lakes.

I got hungry next and had a full meal at 4pm of a tilapia special dish on some restaurant’s menu (8500 USH). I had a conversation yesterday about how freshwater tilapia was really tasty and figured i had to have some. It was good, but i ended up being too full for tonight’s bbq.

Next was to take out some cash from the ATMs. Rwanda and then Burundi both do not have ATMs with VISA or Mastercard, so i’d have to draw some money now. However, i couldn’t find any with Mastercard, and I did not want to, if i could help it, to use my VISA card. The other thing is that my head is spinning from all the currency conversions. Sing Dollar, US Dollar, Kenyan Shilling, Ugandan Shilling, Rwandan Franc, Burundi Franc, Tanzanian Shilling. The rates for Ugandan Shillings to Rwandan franc at the forex companies looks atrocious. They buy at 2.2 USH and sell at 3.9 USH. I decided in the end to not withdraw anymore USH (i had to use VISA card and the conversion rate was bad). I’ll take the risk and spend less in the next couple places. Remember, in Uganda the banks only take VISA or VISA electron (Barclays and Standard Chartered included). One other bank i can’t recall is on the PLUS network as well.

In the end, i just went back to Red Chili. Take the taxi vans from the Old Taxi Park (the Bugolobi / Kintale vans) or hail then along the western end of Kampala Road (about 800 USH). Sat around and talked with the people in the dorm. The dorm was half full, but with 20 beds in the bungalow, so that was still many travelers in one place. Now typing this out, since i have a huge backlog, and too many people connecting online tonight is not allowing me to upload my entries.

Tomorrow, Rwanda. I’m just blitzing through East Africa aren’t i. =P

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