My Initial Experiences in Kampala Uganda *Guest post by Jaunt Monkey
After working in two other African countries, I had some predominant assumptions about Kampala, and of course Uganda. My initial experiences in Kampala proved the city to be uniquely different from the rest of Africa except the transportation system and a few more.
We were very new to the city. A breakfast with our neighbors, who had been working in the same organization where me and my wife got absorbed, began my initial experiences in Kampala. After the initial ice breaking session, our colleague and his family offered a guided trip to one of the shopping malls in Kampala. We happily accepted the offer and pooled a taxi to ‘Garden City’ on Yusuf Lule Road. Then it was the largest complex offering almost everything for a customer. Hotels, restaurants, banks, super market, foreign exchange, gift shop, health clubs, food court, costumes, butchers. That beautiful shopping mall on the rim of Kampala Golf Course became our favorite destination for the next few weeks, at least until we started exploring outside Kampala. Garden City has added colors to my initial experiences in Kampala.
My Assumptions Were Wrong
My assumptions of Kampala that was built on my experiences in Eritrea and Somalia were washed away in the very sight of Garden City, the Golf course, and the roads around. I had an endless need for exploring the shopping mall at least through window shopping, but respecting the feelings of our hosts, I followed the experienced couple. We were directed to Uchumi, a well arranged super market within the mall. I grabbed a few items that could help us a for couple of days while our companions shopped for a whole month. Though we spend a good amount of time in the mall, our hearts were not filled with the exploration. That night in bed, we decided to explore the city on our own.
A walk through the city while it was still in the grip of sleep, added colors to our initial experiences in Kampala. Being a Sunday we were free from our normal routines. . 5:30 am was not too early for at least a few vendors of William Street to showcase their products. While the Sun was struggling to crack the clouds and reach that side of the planet, we were on the roads of Kampala.
We headed towards the east, looking at the sun rays that escaped the grip of clouds. As we reached the usually crowded Kampala Road, a few large scavenger birds were busy cleaning the city. Though Marabou Storks are common in Kampala and the entire Uganda, they were not so common to us. On a vintage camera, my husband picked a snap or two of those long legged storks. Crossing the road we followed our instinct to explore.
My Initial Experiences in Kampala Included a Prayer Service
We were not sure about our direction, but kept pushing the dust beneath and hiked our way ahead. After picking a wider road and diverting to the right, we walked below the tall trees. Suddenly a mass of well-dressed men, women, kids and elders appeared in front of us. We were just outside of the Christ the king church, and the crowd was after the completion of Sunday Prayer Service. Yet there was a huge crowd waiting outside the church, and we joined them to attend our first Prayer Service in Kampala.
After spiritually boosting our thoughts, we walked out from the church and continued our stroll. On our way, we came across the Parliament of Uganda and the Uganda National Theater. They seemed unguarded to me, but we were tired and hungry to stop and explore the interiors. A little more walk and we were invited by the aroma of Indian cuisine through the open doors of Govinda’s (a small yet popular Indian Restaurant in Kampala). Dhokla for me and Masala Dosa for my wife were served hot with some interesting information about the National Theater. We were thrilled to know that the Uganda National Theater which was established in 1959 to encourage and develop cultural and artistic activities in Uganda was still active after almost 50 years. That day we decided to enjoy an event there during the next weekend.
About E Jey
E Jey is a passionate traveler and story teller. In 2000, when he packed up my dreams into a backpack and moved to Kathmandu, he was learning to be a traveler. Jaunt Monkey (his blog) is a lifestyle that he has developed over years. He has helped a friend to elope while he was in Somalia, lived in a cubicle for over 7 months in Eritrea, trekked Tossa Mountain in Ethiopia with his 3 months old baby, and walked with African Elephants in the Murchison Falls National Park of Uganda. You can follow E Jey on Facebook and Instagram
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