Looking for tickets or info for the Get Happy Tour 2018 featuring Bowling for Soup, Army of Freshmen and The Aquabats?

This domain name was used for the Get Happy Tour back in its original run around 10 years ago, when I used to do work for BFS and AOF. However, for the past 5 years it has been used for my travel blog as I never thought we would have another Get Happy Tour and I didn't want it to go to waste.

But as a favour to two bands who have done a lot for me over the years, and so you don't miss out, ticket info is:
O2 Presale: 10am on 25 September
General Onsale: 10am on 27 September.

Tickets available from ticketmaster.co.uk and bowlingforsoup.com
 


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Posts Tagged ‘Jinja’

Back home from Uganda

March 8th, 2012 No comments

I’m now home after what has been an amazing week and a bit visiting the Ekisa Orphanage in Jinja, Uganda. The visit was definitely what I needed to get a break from things and I feel it has helped me grow as a person.

The journey back took quite a while, however. I left Ekisa at 6pm yesterday – thinking this would be more than enough time to get to Entebbe Airport in time for my flight. Unfortunately we got stuck in traffic going through Kampala which meant check-in for my flight had already opened by the time we arrived at the airport. Job, the driver, did really well at getting through the traffic in typical Ugandan style to make sure I got my flight on time.

While I was in the airport I was approached by somebody doing a travel survey, which is ironic as that’s my job in the UK at the moment. It was for on behalf of the tourism studies department at a Hong Kong University and they wanted to know about peoples travel experiences in Uganda and I was more than happy to oblige. It helped kill some time between arriving at the airport and getting on the plane.

The flight from Entebbe to Brussels went smoothly and, with the air of my priority ticket, I was able to skip past the security line and transfer straight over to the other terminal to connect with my flight to London. The flight back to London went really smoothly and I arrived back home on time.

This was probably one of the most worthwhile trips I have been on. I had a great time interacting with the kids – memories I have taken home with me and will keep with me for life. Emily and Emily do a great job helping these kids and I hope to be able to continue supporting them for some time to come – and I encourage you all to help out as well. I hope one day to return to Uganda – this trip has secured the country at the top of my favourite destinations list.

Ekisa Logo

I encourage you all to help the people at Ekisa - dig deep they're worth it!

CLICK HERE to visit the Ekisa website and read more about the great work they’re doing.

Ps: Thank you to Emily, Aaron, Simon, Bridget, Stacey, Kelsey, Caroline, all of the Mama’s, all of the kids, and anybody I forgot to list at Ekisa – I had a great time visiting and I miss you all already.

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A week at Ekisa

March 6th, 2012 No comments

I’m coming to the end of what has been a great week staying at Ekisa – the kids here are great and I really like this town. Much of the time has been spent interacting with the kids at the Ekisa compound but I’ve also spent quite a bit of time exploring the town and surrounding area.

On my first full day here some of the volunteers invited me on a trip they were doing to take supplies to a primary school on the peninsula a couple of miles across Lake Victoria opposite Jinja. We started our journey by catching Bodas down to the lake front where Aaron, one of the guards at Ekisa, organised a boat to take us across the lake. The journey gave us some really good views but we got bombarded by bugs that live on the lake – piece of advice if you take a boat across the lake keep your mouth closed and wear sunglasses and a hat.

After arriving on the peninsula we caught Bodas up to the school we were due to visit, at the top of a hill overlooking the lake. Most people got there without any problems although our Boda had problems getting up the hill and I ended up ripping my trousers in the process so we arrived a long time after the others. We were greeted by the head teacher who invited us to sign the visitors book before giving us a tour of the school. The school was very basic and reminded me of the one I visited in Kenya a few years ago – holes in the wall and lack of facilities. However the children were really happy to see us and after giving out the supplies to the children we were treated to a song and dance presentation in the school hall.

The shores of Lake Victoria

A small fishing enclave on the shores of Lake Victoria

On a boat going across Lake Victoria

On the boat travelling across Lake Victoria

Arriving on the other shore opposite Jinja

Me trying to be artistic with a photo after arriving on the other side of the bay

Inside a school in Uganda

One of the better school buildings - this one had a roof and most of a wall

Once the presentation finished we walked with some of the kids down to meet our boat back to Jinja – it was a steep hill and some of the group had problems walking but the kids just ran straight down with no problems. Eventually we all got to the bottom and walked hand in hand with some of the kids to the town where the boat was due to meet us. When we arrived at the town we were greeted by a large group of kids who interacted and played with us for ages until our boat arrived to take us back to Jinja.

Walking back to our boat

Walking back down to the shores of Lake Victoria

Kids saying hello to us

Some of the kids in the lakeside village saying hello to us

Most of my other trips out from Ekisa were to town but the one thing I wanted to do this time was visit the source of the River Nile as I was unable to get there when I was in town in 2009. We caught a boda there, and I’m glad we visited, although it was mainly a tourist trap with lots of souvenirs so we did what we needed to do before catching our boda to a nearby restaurant called Mezzanine. I highly recommend visiting Mezzanine if you’re in Jinja to see the great views of the River Nile and enjoy great food (I chose the Mr Potato Head Pizza with cream, roast potatoes, onion, mozzarella and rocket).

This week I was able to spend a lot more time exploring the town of Jinja which was great. I picked up a few souvenirs but was also able to check out some of the favourite local cafes and bars such at The Keep, a highly recommended place to chill with drinks and snacks while escaping the inevitable downpours that happen most days. There have been a few other places that we’ve visited including a coffee place called Flavours, a cafe called Ozzie’s and a restaurant called Skewers but The Keep was by far my favourite – in fact I bought a t-shirt to keep the memories going.

Jinja

Jinja town centre

The source of the River Nile

The rapids have been overwhelmed by water, but this marks the source of the River Nile

Gandhi was scattered at the source of the nile

A statue of Gandhi at the source of the River Nile

A Mr Potato Head Pizza at Mezzanine

A Mr Potato Head Pizza at Mezzanine, overloooking the River Nile

The highlight of the week, however, has been interacting with the kids at Ekisa. Despite having so little, and having so many bad things happen to them, they always have such smiles on their faces and I’ll miss them. I spent quite a lot of time playing with the kids but we also took them into town a few times. One of my favourite memories was taking a few of the kids into town on Bodas so they could have sodas at The Keep – I took Paul and he had such a great time it was a pleasure to help him have a great time. There are so many great memories I’ll take away with me that I won’t mention here, although I’ll really miss Jamil and his inquisitiveness, plus Mweru and his energy but I think I’ll miss every single kid here even though I’ve only been here a week. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Emily for letting me use her room while she’s been away and to Ekisa for showing me a great time.

At Ekisa

Hand painting with Zak and Bridget

Me and Jamil at Ekisa

Me and Jamil at Ekisa

Me, Paul and Zuena

Me with Paul and Zuena at The Keep

Jinja Airfield

Outside the Ekisa gate looking towards the airfield

Hand Painting at Ekisa

Hand painting to raise funds for Ekisa

Me and Mweru

Me and Mweru at Ekisa

Mweru had so much energy

Mweru latched on to me and loved playing with me during my time at Ekisa

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A morning in Entebbe

February 29th, 2012 No comments

As I arrived at 10pm yesterday rather than the 220am of my old flights I was able to get up early enough to be able to explore Entebbe for a while before my friend arrived to collect me for the journey to Jinja. After getting up, repacking my bags and discovering how bad the ants are in Uganda I checked out of the room and headed out towards the Uganda Wildlife Centre to see some African animals. It was to be quite a walk but a guy was waiting near the hostel with a boda motorbike taxi and took me to the zoo in only a few minutes.

Almost every guide book about the region recommends staying away from Bodas due to the risk of injury. The roads in Africa can be chaotic and the traffic laws tend to be used as guidelines more than rules so when combined with the quality of the roads and the lack of helmets there can be a lot of accidents. However when you’re in Africa without your own transport and on a budget they tend to be the only way to get from A to B within a town. TIA after all.

A Lion at the zoo in Entebbe

A Lion at the zoo in Entebbe (Uganda Wildlife Centre)

A Uganda Kob

A Uganda Kob

A Bird Cage at the zoo

The bird enclosure

A Zebra in Entebbe

A Zebra at the zoo

I enjoyed my time at the zoo as I was able to see and get close to so many animals that I missed out on last time I was in Uganda including Lion, Crocodile, Snakes and Monkeys – the latter of which were wild in the grounds and got VERY close on occasions. The grounds themselves were lovely and and extended all the way down to the shore of Lake Victoria and as I was one of the only visitors this morning I was able to walk around in peace and soak up the atmosphere.

While I was looking at the Lions I noticed a jeep pull up near me and a man in a suit got out and started watching me. Originally I thought I was standing somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be but after walking towards him he introduced himself as the manager and he wanted to chat to me just to see what my views were on the zoo. We chatted for a few minutes about his zoo and other zoos I had visited and he asked my opinion on a few things they had done recently – it seemed like they genuinely care about what people think rather than just presenting the animals for you to see like in some other zoos. I was also asked what I thought about the entry price of the zoo and whether I received a receipt but didn’t think anything more of the answers I gave until I got back to the entrance. As I walked out I heard somebody trying to get my attention from the side window of the ticket office – it was the ticket clerk who sold me the ticket wanting to give me my receipt. It seems the manager had a word with him to find out why I didn’t receive a receipt, I assume to stop him pocketing the money himself.

Lake Victoria

A view of Lake Victoria from the zoo

A nice tree-lined avenue at the zoo

Scenery at the zoo

An Ostrich

An Ostrich at the zoo

Wildlife at the zoo

Wildlife looking at me in Entebbe

A monkey having a drink at the zoo

A monkey having a drink in a pond

Monkeys at the zoo

Some of the many, many monkeys roaming free at the zoo in Entebbe

A monkey seeing his own reflection

A Monkey staring at his own reflection

A short, fast Boda ride later and I was back at the Entebbe Backpackers where I chilled with a magazine for a bit while waiting for my friend to arrive to take me to Jinja. I was chilling for maybe an hour before my friend arrived with Job, the Ekisa Orphanage driver of choice, and two kids from the orphanage (Paul and Zeke). The kids were really happy to see me, despite not being able to speak English, and we all sat around having some drinks and snacks in the shade for a while to give them a rest before heading off from Entebbe towards Jinja.

My room at the Entebbe Backpackers

The left part of the building was my room at the Entebbe Backpackers

Entebbe Backpackers

The main building at Entebbe Backpackers

Outside the Entebbe Backpackers

The road outside the Entebbe Backpackers

The journey progressed slower than we expected so we decided to stop in Kampala for lunch at a place near the American Embassy called Le Petit Village. It looked like a really expensive hotel, built in traditional African style, but we stopped for their deli which served a great selection of baguettes. I opted for a nice Salami baguette which definitely filled a gap. I caught up with my friend and interacted with the kids for a while but it was soon on to Jinja.

It was a great feeling when we finally arrived in Jinja and made our way up to Ekisa which is on the outskirts of town near the Adrift campsite I stayed at a few years ago. As soon as I got out of the minibus I was greeted by another one of the kids, Mweru, who came flying through the air and hugged me. I have a feeling this will be the start of a lot of attention from him, but all of the kids were so curious when I arrived and I spent most of the rest of the day relaxing at Ekisa and interacting with the kids. The building has a couple of rooms for volunteers, a few kids bedrooms, two bedrooms for the Emilys, a lounge, kitchen and is set in a great walled compound which allows the kids to run around and have fun in safety.

Driving from Entebbe to Jinja

Driving towards Kampala on the way to Jinja

I’m now relaxing in the room I’ll have for the week I’m here which usually belongs to one of the directors, but she’s in the USA on a fundraising trip, so it’s giving me a chance to get away from the constant chaos that seems to pour through the building.

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I’m off to Uganda again!

February 25th, 2012 No comments

When I heard that my friend was going to be spending a year volunteering at an orphanage in the town of Jinja, Uganda, I was very excited. I spent a few days in the town a few years ago and loved it just as I did the rest of Uganda. So when it was suggested that I flew out to visit as I would be allowed to stay at the orphanage for free I jumped at the idea.

I needed to get a break away from things so after a few days of searching I managed to find some flights for a very cheap £370 with Gulf Air via Bahrain – even my direct sale flights to Nairobi a few years ago cost more than this so I couldn’t believe my luck. The only downside is the flight arrives into Uganda at 230am but for the price I couldn’t say no. Plus it would fit a trip to my favourite country in the middle of a very busy few months of travelling – less than 2 weeks after getting back home from my Central America trip and a month before visiting Amsterdam to see my favourite band.

Luckily I’m the sort of person that when I travel I check everything twice. After arriving back from Central America I logged onto Expedia to print everything off and then since there was a Gulf Air confirmation code listed I decided to log onto the Gulf Air website to see if I was able to reserve my seat. However upon loading up the Gulf Air site the legs of my trip between Manama and Entebbe were missing – I called Gulf Air and found out that they had cancelled the route due to lack of sales and that I would need to go through Expedia to get a refund. Unfortunately they were unable to help as I called at the weekend and the department I needed to talk to were only open Monday – Friday so it was a tense couple of days waiting to get my refund. I passed the time by looking for new flights but couldn’t find anything for less than £500 although this was via a very interesting route. The route offered would take me to Ethiopia and Rwanda before arriving in Uganda – on the way back I would connect through Ethiopia and Rome and this sounded like a load of fun but I decided to wait for my refund before booking anything.

I’m glad I waited as I managed to find flights for £100 less in a last minute sale with Brussels Airlines that would have be transit in Belgium and Rwanda which I booked without hesitation. I’m all packed, am leaving in a few days, and am really excited!

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Africa videos

September 16th, 2009 No comments

I’ve finally been able to upload all of my videos from Africa. They’re all now on YouTube and can be viewed below, or in full by clicking on the videos themselves. If you have a user on YouTube feel free to comment on the videos if you want.


Baboon Family at Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya – August 24, 2009
 


View from Ngumo Primary School, Gilgil, Kenya – August 25th, 2009
 


Meeting local kids on the Tea Plantation walk near Fort Portal, Uganda – August 27th, 2009
 


Chimpanzees at the Kibale Forest National Park, Uganda – August 27th, 2009
 


The Amahoro Group of Mountain Gorillas during our trek, Rwanda [1/2] – August 31st, 2009
 


The Amahoro Group of Mountain Gorillas during our trek, Rwanda [2/2] – August 31st, 2009
 


Pygmy village dancing and singing for us near Ruhengeri, Rwanda – September 1st, 2009
 


Some of our group rafting on the River Nile at Jinja, Uganda – September 4th, 2009
 


Visiting Bujagali Falls near Jinja, Uganda – September 4th, 2009
 


Den, Amanda, Jono and Al go Bungee Jumping at Adrift near Jinja, Uganda – September 4th, 2009
 


Al number 2 goes Bungee Jumping at Adrift near Jinja, Uganda – September 4th, 2009
 


Having fun at the campsite near Eldoret, Kenya – September 5th, 2009
(This is the video with the 50 states, the rapping etc)
 


A Sparrow attacking itself in Oscar’s mirror at the campsite near Eldoret, Kenya – September 6th, 2009

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Africa Day 16 – Back to Kenya

September 5th, 2009 No comments

I got up before 6 to have an early shower before all of the hot water was used up and, after falling down the big hole in the campsite, found it to be a nice and very hot shower. There was then time for a quick breakfast and last minute photos before heading off at 7 – I managed to get the table for only the second time this trip as people kept moving my bag. Next time I do a Dragoman trip I’m going to have to be more forceful and get the table more often as I worked out I should have sat there at least once a week.

Staring Contest - Trip vs Tokoloshe - Trip lost

Staring Contest – Trip vs Tokoloshe – Trip lost

Me and my new friend Tokoloshe

Me and my new friend Tokoloshe

We got quite good at packing stuff away by now

We got quite good at packing stuff away by now

The Exodus Truck

The Exodus Truck

The trip to the border was fast, as was the border crossing which was a nice surprise. They had run out of forms so we didn’t have to fill any out and didn’t have to pay either which was good. I had a multiple entry visa just in case anyway but this also gives me an excuse to ask for my passport back when it is renewed this year. While at the border I bought some samosas from the local vendors and they were actually surprisingly tasty, hot, and haven’t played havoc with my stomach yet.

The journey to Eldoret was quick and we arrived before 3pm which gave us plenty of time for swimming. I decided to upgrade to a room tonight as it was the last night and I wanted to splash out – at $25 for a single it was fairly reasonably priced for its quality.

Camping at Eldoret

Camping at Eldoret

My room in Eldoret

My room in Eldoret

After settling into the room we went down to the pool to relax for a while. Some people were already in there and after a while I was persuaded to join them. The water was cold but nowhere near as cold as the pool at the Hardap Park in Namibia a few years ago. Trip had a swimming race against Amanda and lost by 2 laps which was embarrassing.

Walking to the pool at Eldoret

Walking to the pool at Eldoret

The Swimming Pool

The Swimming Pool

I relaxed for a bit before showering, changing and then relaxing with a drink before dinner. The meal was similar to when we stayed here on the way out in the form of an Indian buffet but was slightly different at our request. The potatoes and veg were different and they had a paneer cheese curry in addition to the other selection which was really nice and just what I needed.

Trip

Trip

Me and Den The Chef

Me and Den The Chef

A few of us talking while waiting for dinner

A few of us talking while waiting for dinner

We relaxed with drinks and toasted marshmallows before the dogs were let out again. We chatted for a bit and took photos before heading to bed where I’ve been catching up on writing this blog and repacking my bags ever since.

Dinner at Eldoret, again.

Dinner at Eldoret, again.

Dinner at Eldoret, again.

Dinner at Eldoret, again.

Chatting in the bar after dinner

Chatting in the bar after dinner

...and of course time for Marshmallows

…and of course time for Marshmallows

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Africa Day 15 – Day of rest in Jinja

September 4th, 2009 No comments

It was a nice easy morning today and after having pancakes for breakfast we relaxed while the others got ready for rafting. I decided not to take part in the rafting as I wanted a quiet day so took some photos and videoed them setting off instead. Not going rafting also had the benefit of saving me money and giving me a chance to explore Jinja itself although this is one of the best places in the region to raft so if it’s your sort of thing I highly recommend it.

The River Nile as seen from the bar at Adrift

The River Nile as seen from the bar at Adrift

Our tents set up at the Adrift centre in Jinja

Our tents set up at the Adrift centre in Jinja

The truck needed refuelling so a few of us went into town for a while. I looked around but didn’t find anything I wanted to buy but found the post office and sent a couple of postcards, unfortunately not all of them as I didn’t have many Ugandan shillings left and the two I sent used up every last shilling.

Some of the group getting ready for rafting

Some of the group getting ready for rafting

A blue-balled monkey of some description

A blue-balled monkey of some description

More of the Monkeys

More of the Monkeys

This was harder than it looked

This was harder than it looked

Jinja City Centre

Jinja City Centre

After sitting at a bar with Al and Pete with a Mountain Dew for a while we returned to the camp where Amanda had booked 3 bungee jumps and decided to donate one of them to Den so that he would be able to have his first ever jump. Al and Jono also jumped but managed to persuade the people to let them go for free so that they could use the experience to persuade later groups to jump while in Jinja. They all had a great time and all managed to touch the water except Al who got completely dunked. I managed to get a few good pics and vids of them all which I put onto Al’s laptop for them to keep.

Den looking worried before his Bungee

Den looking worried before his Bungee

Amanda touching the Nile

Amanda touching the Nile

Amanda got wet!!

Amanda got wet!!

Al got even wetter after being completely dunked

Al got even wetter after being completely dunked

We paid a quick visit to the Bujagali falls, some really big rapids, to take some pics before returning to the campsite where Al #2 was having his bungee with some people from the Exodus group who unfortunately backed out. It was funny seeing them there as I was seriously considering going with Exodus until I found out that it would cost a lot more due to the Gorilla permit not being included and these would have been the exact people that I would have travelled with. They seemed nice enough people and we talked to them all for a bit in the bar tonight before dinner. It was lovely sweet and sour chicken stir fry but unfortunately an evil spider managed to distract a lot of us.

Me at Bujagali falls

Me at Bujagali falls

An evil Spider kept distracting us

An evil Spider kept distracting us

Al kept asking for a time to leave so eventually I picked a time which was earlier than a lot of us would have liked but I want to get to Eldoret tomorrow with time to spare to go swimming in the campsite pool. I think I’ll have one quick drink before bed to round off what has been a really great day. Jinja is a lovely town which, although catered for visitors from what I’ve seen, has been my favourite place to stop so far and definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

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Africa Day 14 – Lake Mburo to Jinja

September 3rd, 2009 No comments

The alarm was set for 420 ready to leave at 5. Most of us were not best pleased so hoped the walk would be worth it. It was a dark drive down bad roads to Lake Mburo National Park but on the way we were told we could opt out of the walk if we wanted to and 7 of us took up the offer. I decided to opt out as it would be a good opportunity to relax, walk around for a bit on my own and get a head start on preparing food for everybody else. As we found out later it also gave us an extra $40 refund at the end of the trip.

Sunrise at Lake Mburo NP

Sunrise at Lake Mburo NP

Monkeys in the trees

Monkeys in the trees

This Zebra hissed at me then ran away

This Zebra hissed at me then ran away

We set up everything that was needed for lunch next to the entrance to the park and then went on a nice little free walk just outside the boundaries of the park ourselves. We saw Zebra, Warthog, Waterbuck, Cows, several species of birds, monkeys and Lida was also fortunate enough to see a Klipspringer. After finishing the walk we started setting up for breakfast.

Breakfast was ready very early as the others arrived back almost 90 minutes later than planned. By that time we had already had our breakfast, which turned into brunch, so that we could pack up ASAP when the others had eaten and had also had a long conversation about various topics with the guards from the entrance.

Apparently Bees both make AND like honey

Apparently Bees both make AND like honey

We had no time for lunch so stopped at the side of the road for kebabs – I’m not sure what meat they were but they were hot and fresh. Plus it was nice to try something from the side of the road as we had seen so many places like that throughout the trip. Earlier I recommended not buying things from the side of the road but these seemed hot and were fully cooked.

Buying lunch from the side of the road

Buying lunch from the side of the road

Eating weird meat kebab things

Eating weird meat kebab things

Our waiters trying to sell us food

Our waiters trying to sell us food

Later in the day we stopped at the equator to take some photos and stop for shopping. I stocked up on supplies, including a Mzungu t-shirt and Uganda sticker for the front of Oscar (Al wanted one from each of the three countries as Oscar was being retired to the Gorilla route after our trip and I wanted to leave my mark on the vehicle). There was also a nice coffee shop where we stopped for a few minutes. [Update 2013 – I’ve found out the sticker is still on Oscar even after 18 months of travelling around India and Nepal]

At the equator

At the equator

Me at the Equator

Me at the Equator

A Ugandan town on the way to Jinja

A Ugandan town on the way to Jinja

We didn’t have time to stop at Kampala due to the delays at the park and arrived late at Jinja which meant there wasn’t any time to make a proper dinner so we made tomato soup with bread  before sitting at the bar for a few drinks before heading to bed at around 11pm.

I had to take a photo of this

I had to take a photo of this

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