Wednesday, May 20, 2009

ugandlisht 1 - what to do in gulu

A new feature! Each Wednesday I'll be adding a list to this blog, related to all the Uganda PR I tend to naturally do. Ugandlisht (a combo of the peculiar dialect of English spoken here + list) will pull together all things strange, interesting and useful about living and working in Uganda.

View of Owino Market from the balcony of Jojo's Palace

Ugandlisht 1: For some reason, you find yourself in Gulu. What to do?
  1. Stay at Jojo's Palace. Book with Denis at +256 (0) 782925004, single self-contained at ush 35,000, breakfast of hard-boiled egg, pineapple, banana, bread, jam, coffee and tea included.
  2. Bring mosquito repellant, take your anti-malarials, and sleep under the net. Gulu is not Kampala. They are vicious little suckers up there. A little Deet goes a long way.
  3. Say "acho maber" (good morning in Acholi) to Mama Lucy at One Mango Tree - enter Owino Market right across from Jojo's Palace, and you'll find One Mango Tree about a 30-second walk down, on the left. The tailors make lots of One Mango Tree designs to sell at a discount to locals, so stock up!
  4. Check out the rest of Owino, particularly the food section. You'll find stalls with some traditional products too - like metal ankle bells used for Acholi dance, and carved out gourds used for carrying water and food, as well the local clay bowls, which are a pretty shade of deep red.
  5. Get yourself some African shirts or dresses from the tailors in Owino. Pick out crazy African fabric (roller skates? chickens?) and play fashion designer. Eat lunch while you're there. A delicious plate of rice and beans is only ush 1,500, or try some malakwang, bo, cassava, or odii.
  6. Eat some paneer (the tikka masala is delicious) and naan at Obama Inn (ask any boda driver to find the place, right in town)
  7. Treat yourself to a massage at Bomah - ask for Judy (a delightful Kenyan therapist) and enjoy the rubdown and, even better, the after-massage scrub with a hot wash cloth - only ush 20,000. If you're feeling really adventurous, join the big men of Gulu for a steam bath and talk shop. And afterwards...
  8. Have a feast in their restaurant. Introduce yourself to Jacob, the manager, and bring your own avocado for the chef to slice and add to your greek salad. If cheese is there, the macaroni au gratin will satisfy your garlic craving and fill an empty belly. Steak with pepper sauce is pretty good too.
  9. Pick up some handicrafts at Wawoto Kacel - a little craft shop across from Pearl Afrique Hotel in town. Gorgeous natural jewelry, banana leaf cards, tie-and-dye and creative bark cloth products made by Comboni Samaritans - a coop supporting HIV+, widows, orphans and the disabled. Schedule a visit to Comboni with Godfrey, who works at Wawoto Kacel. It's about a 10-minute boda ride outside of town, but their operations are truly worth a visit.
  10. Stop by any of the many bicycle vendors in town. Talk them into letting you rent a bike for the day and take a ride around the outskirts of Gulu - head for the Cathedral to check out Gulu's architectural marvel and a nice big statue of Jesus.
  11. Take a late afternoon beer at Havana or Da Pub, or head there after hours to get a taste of the Gulu night scene.
  12. Have dessert. At Bomah, bring your own mango to add to the pancake and drizzle it with honey. Perfect washed down with spiced African tea. At Bambu, it's the Sweet Temptation. Indulgent; if you're lucky and they have all the ingredients in stock.
  13. Before you head out of town, stop by Country Bakery for provisions - chicken and veg samosas are excellent, as is the banana bread; and pick up a bag of vanilla yogurt (bite the corner, insert straw - instant smoothie) is great for a hot day in Gulu.
  14. If you're taking the bus back to K'la, try for the first Northern Tours bus (leaves around 6:45). It takes only 4 hours to reach the outskirts of K'la from there. Keep your luggage on the bus with you and when you get to Kawempe, tell the conductor to let you off and hop a boda. It will save you up to two hours of sitting in traffic and the hassle of the bus park.
Apwoyo (pronounced ah-pho-yo) means thanks, use it liberally, and in response to pretty much anything anyone says to you in Acholi. Have a great time!

1 comment:

hmb said...

Gulu is always changing - also check out the following:

Cafe Larem - near Jojo's (for awesome coffee, ice cream, snacks, happiness)

Abyssinia - across from Cafe Larem - excellent Ethiopian fare run by an Eritrean woman - an extension of Bukem, which is a restaurant in Kabalagala