You get what you pay for. We were on a budget and we decided to take the bus to save some money. We could have asked the taxi driver to drive us there but it would cost us 4x more than if we took the bus…
After our rafting stint in Kampala, we headed west. We took the wrong bus and ended up in a small town called Kamwenge with no inns to accommodate us. It was our first taste of the local Ugandan life. We should have been alarmed when we entered the bus and saw zero foreigners.
Credits: Frame (for all photos) by Sweet Shop – Cycle Carnival Frame
The trip was supposed to have taken 4 hours. 5 hours later, we realized we were nowhere near our destination.
Along the way, I was scouting for places to sleep and can’t seem to spot any and as the town gets smaller and more remote, my fear gets bigger and more foreboding.
When we finally reached the end of the road, we got out, got our bags and tried to muster an act of normalcy, probably to no avail. The people were staring, probably wondering what brought these 2 Asians to their town (if they’ve even seen an Asian upclose and personal before). On the bus, dear boyfriend befriended a young local residing in the city, who was going to visit family. Dear boyfriend’s thought balloon – “I’ll force this young guy to take us home with him for the night!” 😯 He probably sensed it because he waited with us for a matatu (their version of our FX) and was I relieved when we were finally on our way to where we were supposed to be 6 hours ago. The driver even helped us find a good hostel, stayed with us until we were guaranteed a room. We were warned by friends to be careful in Africa and so far all we had experienced was kind accommodation from everyone.
OK, that was our scary moment, we also had our fair share of funny moments and one such moment was when we had to take a matatu in Fort Portal to Lake Nkuruba (near Kibale Forest, where the Chimpanzee tracking is). We were the first passengers and had to wait till the car got filled up.
The matatu, a Corolla, finally left with all 10 of us – 5 passengers at the back and 5 in front including the driver – but not without a flat tire.
Don’t ask me how we fit in that poor Corolla. It was hilarious! It didn’t help that dear boyfriend is a big guy and I refused to sit on anyone’s lap nor have any one sit on mine so one guy was practically standing (squatting was more like it!) all the way. Poor guy but I wasn’t budging.
The misadventures did not stop there. In Lake Nkuruba, we booked for the lakeside cabin. It wasn’t what we (or rather I) envisioned it to be and the lake was practically the only thing that was going for us, at this point.
First of all, the bath is an outhouse on a hill. Secondly, there was no electricity, good thing we had headlamps. But the worst thing was when we were about to call it a day, (headlamp) lights out and all, as I lay down, head resting on my pillow, I felt something moved! MOVED! I was sharing a pillow with a bush rat! Let’s just say that the pillow (and the rat) got thrown out of the cabin, and I shared a pillow and a bed that night! The next day, we checked out and moved to a $45 room in Fort Portal.
So did we save? Learn from our lessons, my friends. If unsure, take a cab and be wary of super budget prices. As I said, you get what you pay for, as simple as that. Not their fault.
Despite the mishaps, this trip was exceptionally memorable (and on hindsight, quite enjoyable) precisely because of the risks we took. The experience was all worth it. No regrets. It’s all good!