And the (earlier than planned) end of our holiday :-(
01.01.2008 - 01.01.2008 35 °C
Happy 2008 to all from Kampala.
Yesterday 31st was spent visiting sites and craft markets around Kampala and enjoying the comparative luxury of the international standard hotels here. Lunch at the Sheraton followed by a New Year spectacular at the Emin Pasha Hotel (the boutique hotel we are staying out, which is where Charles & Camilla stayed last month when they were out here).
We bought a number of things, including some rugs, some african drums (including a monster sized one), and many little nic-naks. Unfortunately the cost of shipping them back to the UK was over twice the price of buying them in the first place.
Kampala is a lovely city, much more developed than it was when Ian was out here 13 years ago and far, far more civilised than Angela had expected. The roads are far better (possibly as a result of the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government summit which occured, and which the Queen and around 50 heads of state attended), but still the improvement is really marked. However the heat here compared to Southern and Western Uganda is incredible, it feels at least 10 degrees hotter - well in the mid to high 30s. We are melting and drinking gallons of bottled water.
We spent the afternoon chilling and splashing about in the pool. However the tropical beauty and relaxing time was slightly tarnished as also sitting by the pool was a group of EU election monitors who had flown out of Kenya, and they spent the entire time on the phone to Brussels and the BBC and other media groups giving their account of the (alledgedly rigged) presidential elections.
The dinner last night at the Emin Pasha for New Year was a truly spectacular affair, with a leading Ugandan band playing live, fireworks, magnums of champagne in buckets made from ice and fruit, and a six course meal (very much our usual scene :-).
We then woke up this mornign to a glorious champagne New Year's breakfast.
However today is now likely to be the last full day of our holiday, as we have decided not to go on the second leg of our holiday, which was in Kenya, following both common sense and Foreign Office Advice. This is due to the widespread riots and killings following the seemingly rigged presidential elections - luckily all we will lose is our deposit, unlike the hundreds of unfortunate Kenyans who are losing their lives.
We picked up the sister and niece of our Ugandan Driver today from Entebbe Airport who had fled Nairobi following an attack on all the houses in her street, which saw the looting of all their possessions and the burning of both their cars - this being Africa people don't have insurance - the photos she showed us of the damage to her house was unbelievable. All she was left with was her handbag and she had travelled to Nariobi Airport and then flew to Uganda in her nightdress as that was what she fled her house in when the attack happened. From what she was saying the violence is far worse, and far more widespread than is being reported in the International Media.
However apart from packing for the return flight, we had a nice lunch at the Serena Hotel in Kampala, which is where the Queen stayed when she was out here. The meal was nice, and the hotel resturant full of Ugandans and Ex-Pats enjoying a New Year's Day Feast in the sun, however we both felt that the big size and the bog standard international feel of the hotel (you could have been in a good hotel anywhere in the world) meant that the Emin Pasha where we are staying gets our vote as the best place in Kampala.
Anyway, we are off to pack now, and this is likely to be the last entry in the blog, unless for some reason we cannot get on an earlier flight (there are only three flights a week back to London), given all the fleeing rich Kenyans and holiday makers heading back to the UK via Uganda. If that happens we will probably spend some more time visiting the national parks (Murchison Falls or QE II parks) which we didn't have time to visit on this trip.