I am now at an internet cafe in Nhkata Bay so can tell you all about our journey to Malawi.
Livingstone to Lusaka
We set off from Livingstone on Saturday 1st June on a coach that was business class so was very comfortable with plenty of loo stops, free cake and drink and we arrived with no hitches at all! The only slightly annoying bit was the radio station that was playing as we arrived in Lusaka (the capital of Zambia) where the host was doing a phone in and just kept repeating "hello? hello? hello?" for about 10 mins!!
Lusaka was much different from Livingstone, it didn't feel as friendly, was very busy and crowded as we got off the bus; we were swamped by people trying to get us taxis or tickets for onwards journeys.
We got to our hostel which wasn't as nice as Jolleyboys, but fine for the little time we were spending there. Bit of an odd set up - we had to walk through the kitchen to get to the outdoor showers, and the bar seemed full of locals. We were all in one dorm, sharing with an American guy. We went into the big shopping mall for food and had an early night because our bus the next day was leaving early.
Lusaka to Lilongwe
We were up at 3:45 on the Sunday and lucky we booked the taxi for an earlier time as it was late - there's a common saying over here: 'Africa time' which means they turn up when they like :-)
We got on a bus to go to Chipata to cross the boarder to Malawi. This one was a little more cramped and there was nearly an issue with our luggage not fitting on/needing to pay more to put it on but luckily we have Jen with us and she takes no rubbish off people! :-)
This journey was smooth-ish but a little more eventful. The drivers just beep their horn at bikes/people/cars in the road and overtake wherever they like. There was a argument between some women cos one was sat in the others seat and the majority of the bus got involved! Religious songs with music videos that looked like they were from the 90's were played on repeat which got slightly irritating around 6hrs into the journey. And there were very few loo stops! However, we arrived at the boarder and managed to cross with no problems. The 5 of us and our big bags crammed into a taxi to get us to a mini bus to Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi.
Lilongwe was crazy - even more busy with people lining the streets selling flip flops, fruit, trousers. There were people everywhere and you could tell it is a poorer country. Malawi is much more green tho. Proper green grass and loads of leafy trees! Once again we piled into a taxi and went to a lodge we had read about in the travel books (mufasa Lodge). We were shown around what seemed like a derelict lodge - the electricity wasn't on, rooms were unfurnished, there were no other guests, the showers didn't turn on... Needless to say we told the guy we would leave it and look else where. This was more ticky than envisaged though as the places we tried were full. It began getting dark and we'd also had trouble finding somewhere to withdraw cash so we settled on a hotel called Korea Gardens. But again this wasn't straight forward. The lady tried sending us to 3 different levels of rooms (bronze, silver and gold) but it turned out there was enough beds in the en suite silver and gold rooms, so we didn't use the very basic bronze on in the end! We did have a lovely meal, cold shower and another early night in a comfy bed though :-) Oh and breakfast was included!
The next morning was spent sorting our onward travel as we didn't like Lilongwe and didn't want to spend another night there. We walked to the coach depot that had moved so a very lovely lady offered to drive us to the new place. And we managed to draw out plenty of cash. Turned out though that the coaches didn't go to where we wanted so we had to go back into town and find another way. There was a mini bubs leaving at 11am and we had little time so Charl, Dave and I went to buy sim cards, top ups and food and water whilst Jen and Mouche went back to the hotel for our luggage. Buying food was difficult though, we ended up with crisps, oranges and biscuits but it would turn out that wouldn't matter... This is when the real traveling experience started!
Lilongwe to Monkey Bay
We all got into the mini bus, the back of which was already pretty full of massive packages that were going to be transported so it was a bit touch and go if our luggage was going to fit! A bit (roughly an hour) of shoving and everything was in. More African people then began to pile into the bus! Mouche was sent to the back row where a family and another lady was sitting and I took her seat between a lady and Dave. Jen gets travel sick so was in the front row next to the window with Charlotte. A guy then crammed next to me in our row and another climbed through the window to sit next to Mouche! Jen had a chicken in a box at her feet which she told herself was fine, 'it's just a dead chicken in a box'! It then began to squawk so the guy organizing the journey got the chicken out and was walking to each window trying to shove it in! It ended up in the front seat! So in a 12 seater mini bus there were 22 people (with a lot of luggage). And a chicken! The bloke next me was reading a paper at the start so I had his elbow in my rib cage. Then each time the bus stopped he would buy whatever was being sold - potatoes, tomatoes, onions, cauliflower. At one point in the journey his bag of potatoes was in my lap! Not has bad as Mouche though, I'm pretty sure she had someones child on hers for part of the journey!! And I have never known a guy to fidget so much!! Oh and becuase he kept moving I was sat on the edge of the chair between mine and Daves causing me to get pins and needles in my leg pretty early on! Despite all this, and not eating or drinking much, the 4 hr journey went pretty quickly.
The next problem came when the minibus decided it was going to a different village rather than Monkey Bay where we wanted to go. He asked us to get on the back of a trailer which was already very full. Needless to say we refused! We then waited for another minibus which was a bit more spacious. It did have about 8 African people on the front row though with 3 guys hanging out the window!
Once we arrived in Monkey Bay (roughly 3:30pm) we had a 15-20min walk to our accommodation. This was tough with our bags in the heat having not eaten or drank much! We walked through a village to get there too so at one point I did wonder where we were going! It was well worth it when we got there though!
(See next blog about Monkey Bay)!!