Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pictures - 3

Rapids for riding.

Went down these.



Pictures - 2



Nice clouds.

Start of the Nile.


Pictures - 1

View from house.


Street electioneering

Dan at bar.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Okay so today is sadly my last day in Uganda, and I'm finding it hard to say goodbye. The Naidoo family have been extremely generous in letting me crash at their place and eat their food for about a month. Packing took little time, but the one thing I'm always paranoid is forgetting about stuff, luckily I kept checking again and again.
But the crazynest of Uganda wasn't finished with me yet! While driving to Entebbe airport we were intrigued by the large number of heavily armed commando types lining the main highway. That only meant one thing; the President is coming back to town! So I definitly had the fun of going through a massive amount of AK wielding security personel at the airport! Yay!
Flying to Dubai was pretty straightforward after that, I met some other Canadians on the flight. Small world, they too went on the whitewater rafting trip and had the same crazy Rhodesian intrustor guy !

Now before I left the house, I remember being drilled by Keshy's mom about this secret lounge at the Dubai airport. This "meditation chamber" was open to all, and this wonderfull place was supposed located right beside the business lounge. Now I understandibly went searching for this small oasis. Now I kept walking towards the business lounge, but I could not find the place, so I was a bit confused... I kept walking forward and forward. Then I realized: hey wait a minute, I am in the business lounge right now and nobody has stopped me.... sweet! Immeadiatly my mind told me to chill out and act cool, theres no reason to leave the place if nobody is kicking you out.

So right now I am chilling out in the lap of luxury, but keeping a low profile. Ha people pay a 10 grand ticket for this type of service! This clueless tall guy just walked in without a fuss! Not my fault, I didnt know ! ha
So now I just have to deal with occasional paranoia whenever a security guard or emirates official walks by, but no biggie ha !
So I'm back in TO at 3:45, its been a great trip

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 31: African Lion Safari

So today was a big day, it was time to see some iconic African game on the open planes! So we had to get up before dawn and start to drive back to the park. What was real funny is that the silly park didn't open its gates until 7:00am, its probably some scam to keep the suckers in the expensive park hotel. But we made a deal with the park guard; we gave him a little token of our appreciation for some “efficiency enhancement” and he let us in no problem. So we got where we wanted no problem, and we caught the ferry to the other side of the river to start the game drive. We then got a guide to ride with his trusty AK-47, I don't think the gun will do much to stop a charging elephant, but whatevs. The guy told us a crazy story about a previous group of tourists that got to close to a lone bull elephant, the car got trampled pretty bad, but fortunately nobody died.
What was real magical was that we saw a big herd of giraffes right in front of the rising sun. That was a real impressive sight! Those animals are real tall and they move so gracefully across the savanna. There was a ton of buck running around in the park, they came in all shapes and sizes, which was good because they attract the most famous of predators, lions! Yep we saw a couple of lions lazily lying down under some shade, all females, probably getting ready for the hunt. It was pretty impossible to get a good picture with that little camera that I had, but I got a pretty good view of the predators with my binoculars. So we parked right in front of the lionesses, we stared at them, they stared at us, then they disappeared in the bush.
We got a little bit of a scare when we drove unexpectedly right in the middle of a whole lot of grazing water buffaloes. Those animals are real killers, you dont want to mess with. So we were pretty on edge, we kept moving very slowly, ready to floor it if need be. We were so close to the buffalo, that was pretty cool. At the end of the ride, we were lucky to see a huge bull elephant walking around alone, at the exit. Kinda saying goodbye, ha.

This time on the way back we saw another equally memorable sight, it was the remnants of the vast array of refugee camps for displaced people in the north. It was a pretty sobering sight, there were little huts as far as the eye could see. It was sad, but their was solace in knowing that the situation wasn't as bad as it once was. The northern rebels are less active as they once were, but we were still in dangerous country.

We arrived at the compound in the afternoon. The good thing is that my sunburn is wearing off, I will be grateful for that when I'm squeezed in economy class on the flight home on Thursday.

Day 30: River Adventure!

We had to wake up villainously early at 4:45am this morning to start our long drive to the Merchantson Falls National park, because today were gonna see some wildlife yay! We had an insanely bumpy drive on the way up there, now I really understand why everybody drives big 4by4s in this country ha. At one point there was a big section of the road under construction, so the workers put an endless amount of speed bumps in sequence in an effort to slow down the cars I guess. Ughhh every time I tried to fall asleep a big bump would send my head into the window. Well we got into Masindi town right outside the park to check in our hotel. It's a great little German mission that rents a couple of beds at a real cheap rate, a nice place. So we dropped off our stuff and headed towards the game park, a bit more of a drive through the rain forest. While driving to the park we kept seeing a familiar sight, Baboons!!! Those lazy monkeys were everywhere, laying on the roads lazily walking away from the car. And its not like we can knock them off the road, those monkeys can hold a grudge for a very long time.
So once we got to our destination we realized it was too late in the day for a game drive, animals don't walk around in the scorching mid day sun, so we had to book that for tomorrow morning. What we could do that day was take a boat ride to the waterfalls, and see all the animals by the water.

So we took a very scenic boat cruise on the Nile, and I saw some pretty amazing animals running around. A lot of Hippos were lying around, periodically popping in and out of the water to check us out, those are pretty dangerous things, and you don't want to get too close. There was also a lot of water buffalo and other buck walking around in the water doing their thing. Then I saw a big giant lumbering around in the distance, it was a big bull elephant. The size of those things are simply amazing, the elephants are pretty much walking bulldozers. I saw one knock over a big tree like if it was a flower. At one point we were very lucky and saw a whole herd of elephants, about 10 of them I think. You couldn't see them at first, but you could make out movement in the bush, trees were being tossed side to side, you knew something big was coming. The group of elephants walked along side of the boat and I managed to get some nice photos. It was a pretty memorable sight. There were dozens of other animals long the river side, we saw crocodiles and birds just going about their business.

The boat stopped at the waterfall, and steamed right back, the whole ride took about 3 hours. We were extremely tired on the way back and Joseph Keshy and I had to drive back to our hotel in the dark on a very untrustworthy road. All I can say is that we were very very careful. When we got back we had some chow and hit the hay soon after, to catch the game tomorrow, we would have to be out of there by 5:00am.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Day 28: ITs a great thing they have over here

Damn, I sure felt the pain this morning, these sunburns are starting to kill. Luckily the family gave me some lotion to treat it for a while. “Nah, but no amount of pain can't stop me I am a tough guy” so I thought. In the morning one of the family friends Anita took me to great little market to pick up some nice souvenirs and gifts for the family. To get there we had to take a local bus or a “Matatoo” as they say here, so that was interesting. The bus is pretty much an over-sized minivan with a “recommended carrying capacity of 14 people” yeah there was definitely more than 14 people when I got on. So that was fun, I swear there was some chickens flying around in the back ha! So when I got out of the matatoo, I realized the damage of being squeezed like that had done to my already sunburned legs, ouch. So after the bus ride it was only a short walk to the market place, and with the help of my great guide we managed to pick out some great gifts at the best price :).
That night the family hosted a big get together with the karate pupils, who are really the extended family and we all had a great time. Its amazing how the Naidoo family has really touched the lives of the people that came over today. I mean the Dad has been training the students for like 15 years now, so there is a real sense of family between everybody that came over.
We were also celebrated the 50 birthday of Mme Naruka, so there was a big cake and much jubilation. What was really touching was that the family made sure to package extra food and cake to the less fortunate pupils and their families. At one point we all sat in a circle and each person talked about about the importance of this little community in their lives, it was all very touching.
Its really remarkable how generous this family can be, and I really hope that I can make a positive impact of the lives of others, like the Naidoo family.
And PS: I remembered to take a lot of pictures :)