76 – Oh man…where am I again?!

Wed 10th Feb, Hotel L’amite, Bujumbura, Burundi

Ok, so i am now in the capital of Burundi, very french, very developed, thus very weird. Where is this place and how come no info online or in guidebooks talks about this place. As it is, hardly anyone comes to this country, there is nothing spectacular to see, yet it is so fascinating how like Kigali or Kampala, it has boulevards, locals in weekend white tennis/golf garb as well as the nicest hotel i’ve been to since Somaliland.

Started the day earlier in Kigali by making my way down to the Nyabugogo station. The bus sets off at 9am, except i was more than an hour early. It was only 730am, and i have been living in the wrong time zone for the past 3 days. Rwanda is GMT+2, and no one (even my guidebook), bothered to tell me that.

The trip. Kampala Coach here decides to pull a fast one on me. While the first trip with them from Nairobi to Kampala was smooth, for this trip they decide to make major stops everywhere. Which meant that my 6 hour bus ride took 8 hours. Events on the trip can be broken down into discrete sections, since they are not chronological.

First, the border proceedings. Unlike elsewhere over the past couple weeks, i need a visa to get into Burundi. It was painless, a transit visa for 3 days cost US20. You get a stamp on your passport, as well as some sort of receipt, which i read online i need to keep for when i leave the country. There was a long stopover once we cross the Burundian border, lunch and something. There were a lot of stops for “something”.

Next, there was the Kenyan man sitting in front of me. He travels from Eldoret in Kenya to Bujumbura to find business opportunities. He has a small plastic crushing machine and heard that in Buj, there is no proper plastic industry. He asks me about extruders and injection moulding machines and whether he can get those in Singapore. I suggest he try the Japanese made machines and tell him there are probably little ones that small businesses like his can get to start up. I promise to send him some info i’ll dig up online. He tells me there are good investment opportunities here. I tell him i don’t have money to invest. He tells me you don’t need money, you just need persistence and balls (well not his exact words) and what you want you will get. Like him, he doesn’t speak French, does not know anyone, yet he makes his way to Burundi, tells his wife he is going somewhere. These kind of people will be successful. Food for thought.

Then there’s the Rwandan lady in the next seat who’s pretty hot and who i chatted up. She’s going to Buj to do business with some supplier. If she gets it done, she goes back to Kigali tomorrow. Otherwise, she’ll stay another day.

Reached Bujumbura before dusk, and unlike previous places, this time i’ve no idea where the bus dropped me off. LP guide isn’t useful at all. Tomorrow morning i shall have to orientate myself properly. In the meantime, i took a cab down to the hotel (Les Petit Bandits hang around after dark, so its a good idea to take a cab and stay safe) but the Hotel Le Doyen was apparently closed. Instead, i ended up at the Hotel L’amite, cheapest rooms at 20 USD (25000 BF) with free wifi. =) I think it is a shared room, it has three beds, but since no one comes here, i got the whole room with attached bathroom to myself.

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