January 27, 2014

Around Lilongwe

Filed under: Trips — pearsey @ 8:36 pm
Tags: , , ,
Goats hitching a ride on a bike!

Goats hitching a ride on a bike!

The next couple of days we spent looking around Lilongwe (22-23/5/13), and honestly, there’s not much to see there in terms of tourist type attractions. We’d heard of an “international village” and supposedly the best time to go and visit was Wednesday afternoon’s. We found somebody willing to take us there, one of the ladies from our accommodation who said it was on her way home and she knew where it was. We agreed on a price – good thing to do in those places when you’re going somewhere (and later on this lady came back and wanted more from us). Took us ages to get there and it turns out she didn’t know where it was… On the plus side we got a good tour of the more upper class part of Lilongwe! When we finally did find it, it was all suspiciously very devoid of people actually moving around. They were all gathered in one place, at a feast. The village itself was closed for a private function. Oops! Oh well. Turns out it was not an international village so much as an aid organisation that did occasionally host cultural nights and events at this place called Kumbali Village. That presented us with a new challenge though – how to actually get back into town – there were no taxis out this way. Thankfully the guy in charge was great and spoke really good english – not sure whether he was an Australian or not, I can’t remember now. Anyway, he offered the services of one his workers, who would be happy to take us to the place where the taxis leave as long as we gave him a tip. That sounded like a plan to us, so we spent some time looking round while we were there. They had a nice gift shop with some varied souvenirs in it and it was good to know that all the proceeds went to a good cause.

Bridge near Kumbali Village

Bridge near Kumbali Village

Our day actually took a turn for the better then. There were some young girls (18-20) who were over in Malawi volunteering here who had been staying at and working with the organisation at Kumbali and they were about to head into town. We joined in with them, and got to see some of the work that they’d been doing while they were here: Some teaching in the schools, establishing some permaculture gardens and teaching the ladies about it, raising pigs and working with the school and very young children. It was good to see the ladies being willing to learn so that eventually they can create an income for themselves and have a way of supporting them and their families.

Local lady planting seedling

Local lady planting seedling

Then, finished the afternoon off with a nice ice cream! It turned out to be a good afternoon, after it looked like all may have been lost earlier on. For something different we ate at the peacock place just around the corner from the Korea Garden Lodge where we were staying. The food and service was ordinary, so the next night we were back at our favourite haunt – Korea Garden Lodge!

Ahh, ice cream

Ahh, ice cream

The last day in Lilongwe was just going to be an easy day heading down to the new town area to have a look there. First plan was to catch a mini bus taxi. Unfortunately just as we were trying to find the taxi, some guys started hassling us, trying to get us to buy things. We jumped on the first mini bus taxi, which we thought was the right one. Turned out it wasn’t and instead we had a tour of the poorer area of town. It looked a lot like Uganda and the back streets of Kampala there, although a lot less dusty! The taxi does a loop and on the way back they decided to drop us off at another taxi rank so we could catch a taxi to our original destination. Only problem with that was an official taxi rank – not the mini bus taxi rank and the prices they wanted were a little absurd for what we knew was a short trip. So we opted to walk, of course, getting lost!

Cavalcade, Lilongwe

Cavalcade, Lilongwe

At one point on the busy main road, it suddenly went very quiet. The absence of traffic in both directions caught our attention and we wondered what was going on. Next thing a cavalcade comes tearing through, obviously with somebody important on board. We stopped quite a few times and asked for directions, finally wandering past the Parliament building, the gardens near the building and eventually making it to the university area where we found a place to eat. The little cafe loved having us there and service was excellent. There’s not that much to see around the new town area – it’s more the business area, so we caught a mini bus taxi back to the old town area (much much quicker to get home), stocked up on a few last minute souvenirs and supplies at the old town supermarkets, met up with our old “friends” from earlier that day who had tried to sell as things as we were boarding the taxi and finally headed back to the Korea Garden Lodge.

Washing hands for lunch

Washing hands for lunch

I was taken by the cakes available in the supermarkets and purchased a swiss roll to take to Uganda with me. Not very practical, but if it tasted as good as it looked, it was going to be worth it! (And for the record, it did taste as good it looked!) Another of the interesting things we found in the supermarket was Baobab juice, being juice from the baobab tree. It looked interesting and being brave, we decided to get some and try it. Of course we weren’t going to do it alone and when we caught up with Andy and Malee end enjoyed a lovely final meal together, it was accompanied by the baoba juice. It was extremely thick, didn’t have us all running back for seconds, but was bearable enough to get down.

Shamwari Juice, Baobab Juice...

Shamwari Juice, Baobab Juice…

Our flight to Uganda was the next day – and our taxi driver had us booked in so that we could “beat the traffic”. We sure did beat the traffic and wound up spending about 3-4 hours hanging around the airport. Good thing we had more security checks than normal to keep us occupied. Our taxi driver had told us that there was somebody important travelling today – possibly the president, so all the staff were dressed in their best and were being very official about all their duties. And on that note, the Malawian part of my adventure ended. A lovely country, one that I would definitely like to return to, I loved the weather, the people were mostly fairly friendly, mostly left you alone and didn’t hassle you like they do in other African countries (esp Uganda) and it was a fairly safe place to be.

Flying over Malawi - So dry

Flying over Malawi – So dry


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