Saturday, March 19, 2011

Around the World in a Day - Uganda

The mosque's call to prayer has been my time keeper for many years.
I still hear it, a quieter version, here in Kampala. I'm glad for that. There is something calming and reassuring about hearing the imam, where as the loud and passionate pastor from the many nearby churches often sounds quite frightening.

Welcome to Uganda!
So, this is where I am for now, Uganda. Thank you for visiting-I hope you get to go Around the World in  Day. What a cool concept. For more expat posts from around the world, click on Happy Homemaker UK's link My post today is a bit about ex-pat life in Uganda. Sorry if it jumps around a bit, I hope that you still enjoy the party!

It's All About Me!

I have spent over half my life abroad. The Scottish accent, that was never really clear to begin with, is now hardly detectable, like for many ex-pats, it has now become 'international'. There are many expats in Kampala. Many people that come with a few belongs and buy a few more, to sell when they move in a few years. Not many that call Kampala their home. Kampala also attracts many short-timers; those that come for 6 months, or maybe even a year, with their 30kg of luggage. It is hard to make friends with people in that category; you can't even plan a tennis game with them as they might leave any day.
It only takes you three months to become a regular at yoga classes. It will only take one month to be forgotten; the way it is when so many people come and go.

Pearls in Africa
It is easy to live in Uganda. Everyone can afford to have staff to shop for you, cook your food, clean the house and guard you when when you sleep. You can always get someone to help, with a smile, a "Wabali" and a coin or two. You can go to work, play tennis, have a swim and still have time to go out for dinner with friends, in one of the many restaurants (never short of choices on that front!).

Yet, it can be frustrating as hell, living here, sometimes. But it can be anywhere, when you've had 'one of those days'.

When the pot holes seem bigger, the queue is even slower, the teaching assistant is asleep in the library, the boda-boda swerved a little too close in front of you, there is no water and the power is off...again. Nobody has the responsibility and power to solve your problem, everyone is late because of the rain, everyone is late because of the heat or the traffic police are 'directing' traffic. Yes, it can be frustrating at times, but these are just reminders that Africa is just outside the door. Red roads, dust and dirt.

The man by my road that makes bricks.

In Kampala you go by the rule of 'one job per day' (that is, if you have to do any yourself!); a visit to the bank or going to the post office,taking books to the exchange, going to the Surgery etc. Keep it simple and you will stay sane.

Kampala is a means to Uganda; for quiet safari and wide open spaces. There is no denying why Uganda is the Pearl of Africa

Kisses at Kidepo National Park

A safari truck is a buying essential near the start of your stay. I have travelled to places that are so beautiful and remote that really you shouldn't drive there...but it is so worth it if you do (just make sure you have good insurance!) Uganda, has so much to offer on that front. Outside Kampala, especially, you are treated like a favourite returning guest and no matter where you stay or what you do, you will not want to leave (unless their happens to also be three overland trucks parked...then you want to get out of their quick smart!).

A Developing Nation
Kampala is changing at such a rate that so much of the country; like the infrastructure, can't cope. New roads are being built, but not fast enough to cope with the rising number of cars on the road. New bars and restaurants are being opened for the rising young middle-class Ugandans to spend their money in and more art work is being bought by oil rich ex-pats. Even I have seen it change; the bi-pass opened, turning a quiet dusty road that I used to run on, into a busy main road. Nobody is sure how the oil money will effect Uganda's development, everyone waits with baited breath.

Love them or hate them, the boda-boda is
a sure way of avoiding jams.


You learn a new language when you live in Kampala, this is not Lugandan, but a type of Uganglish. You start saying things like "slope down", "now now", "thisaone", "ju-is" and "bis-quit". It makes things easier, but you must remember to stop using this Uganglish once you step on an airplane!

Tips and Tricks
Everyone will have their own experiences and advice about living in any country. Bring high heels, don't bring high heels, bring a hat (yes, do this for the Goat Races, the event of the year!), take antimalarials, take vitamin B, bring a tent, bring bedlinen and duvets, don't bring winter clothes... etc etc. I'm not going to give lists of advice, if you would like to ask a question though, please do. What I will say is...hand washing will ruin your clothes, even though it is VERY expensive to buy a machine here, do it...or forever hold your moans!
Anyhow, finding all the best restaurants,the short cuts in town, the most popular hairdresser, is part of the fun and adventure of being an ex-pat. You meet people in your new host home, you ask them, then you meet up again. Wouldn't it be boring if you were handed a book full of do's and don'ts. A little advice is enough. Too much is scary and overwhelming.

Good advice!


 I rely on the odd care package from friends and family; Marks and Spencer's underwear, creamy chocolate and shortbread. The post has always arrived, it may just be a few months late. Funnily enough, my Runner's World and Self magazines (American editions) ALWAYS arrive on time.

I get so spoilt! These packages arrived with
Christmas gifts in March!
 I brought enough shampoo to last me a year and only recently bought a face wash here! The choice is minimal, (I have had a few moans about this in the past, read here) but you can buy most things (at a cost) here, but have lots of fun doing it!

Road side shopping in Uganda

I get a bit excited in shops when I find unusual
items...and Irn bru!
 But if you can't find what you want (which is more than likely!), it is easy enough to go to Nairobi and have a spree. (By the way, my next job is not actually to work for the Kenyan Tourist Board ...although it might seem so!!)

The Social Side of Life
One question I have been asked is; whether you make friends with local Ugandans. My answer to this is; Ugandans are very friendly people. If you have things in common then you will easily become friends. Many Ugandans go to church, so this is where you may meet some new friends. If you don't have anything in common with a person, usually you don't become good friends, whether they are ex-pats or locals. If you met people before in the last place you lived, you will meet people again here. There are lots of organised events; like this morning I ran a 10km fun run with Alliance Francais, a passport in my hand, getting stamps at the different! Oui - je parle Francais en Ougandan!! There are book clubs, balls, a strong Hash House Harriers, yoga classes, country clubs, sailing clubs and if all else fails...the Irish pub.

I'm leaving Kampala at the end of June and moving to Nairobi. I will be sad to say goodbye but excited to move on. I could easily stay longer in this country, but it is nice knowing I'll only be across the border. I already have my first weekend visit (back) booked!


  1. Wow, you really do live quite the life. Thank you for the beautiful tour of Uganda. And you make my 'expat' experience look pretty tame :) I would love to see some goat races! haha.
    Stopped over from the 'Around the World in a Day Hop'. Have a great weekend!

  2. How fascinating and adventurous!
    Just stopped by from Around the World in a Day from Happy Homemaker UK :)

  3. Calling by from the Expat Linky Party, I am an English woman now living in Italy. It is great to meet you virtually and I found your post very informative thankyou. Believe it not one should not expect to tackle too much in one day either here in Italy :)

  4. I am an ex- expat, also visiting from around the world in a day. I like your template (I have the same :P).

    Uganda sounds more like a place I would like to visit now. I've only spent a little time in Tanzania and will now add Uganda to the list.

  5. Calling by from the Expat Linky Party. Love the expression on your face at the Irn Bru. I'm English, but lived in Scotland for 6 yrs. Never understood the attraction of Irn Bru!

  6. What a wonderful glimpse into your life and adventures in Uganda. You are so blessed. XO

  7. Love, love your post! It really gave me a good feel as to your life there. Even in England I live by the one job a day here! And I'm so interested as to what your international accent sounds like. I love how the lions are draped in that itty bitty tree.

    Uganda sounds like a wonderful place to be - what an adventure. I'm excited to follow you through the rest of your time in Uganda and then over in Kenya.

    Thank you for joining my Linky Party - it wouldn't have been the same without you :) XOL

  8. Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment on my blog! Stop by another time! Or see you next party!x

  9. Ps - Iota- Irn Bru is the most amazing hangover drink !

  10. Some amazing photos and great insights! The irn Bru one's the best though! haha!


  11. REALLY enjoyed your post!! Your life is so amazingly adventurous! I'm excited to visit back often to see what you're up to down south! :) Stopped by from HHUK's Expat Blog! Such a fun way to meet new people from all around the world! Hope you stop by! :) Good luck with your move in June by the way! Have safe!

  12. Thanks Robyn! I will be moving to Uganda in three weeks for a year and I find reading your blog inspiring. It's so nice to know that you can have a great life in Kampala. Good luck with your new move to Kenya.

  13. Looks like you are having some great adventures! Stopping by from FTLOB - I hope you'll visit my blog and say hello!

  14. Visiting from for the love of blogs fun post. I adore your safari pictures. And the embassy fun run sounds just like it's advertised - fun!

  15. You had to go to Kenya to find some of the stuff you wanted?!! Why do I find it hard to believe it couldn't be found in Kampala? Unless of course it was some kind of special equipment or medical procedure. Any examples please?

  16. really funfablife-you find it hard to believe. Hmmm-lets think-good chocolate (not stuff made in Kenya or SA), cereal that is not stale, or good muslie...the list goes on. But in fairness-I was in Kampala recently and the shopping has got a little better.

  17. Wow, someone clearly knows my country, my home.


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