Made a similar trip before, and this time I decided to quantify the trip in terms of the expenses. People upcountry ask why I visit so little and I try and explain that the distance and the cost are a burden.
5,200 shillings ($72) for car fuel on the 950-kilometre journey
13,200 Car repair
10,000 (Pre-trip) car service
4,000 Cash handouts
1,800 Fuel (diesel and kerosene for others)
1,000 Food shopping (for others)
900 Food (mine)
Total spent 41,250 shillings ($573)
– Avoid driving own car unless absolutely necessary. It’s better to take a bus and remove the pain (really bad roads) and cost of car travel out. (68% of this trip costs were car-related including 13,000 shillings for a pair of new shock absorbers after I hit a pothole)
– Keep your movements as mysterious as possible, just show up and leave before people discover you’re around and try not to be expected.
– Eating costs are not much, because food is served in households and it is so much that you can get by on one (lunch) meal a day.
– Radio and TV are still the primary way that people get information up-country. Newspapers are not widely circuited – I had to make 3 phone calls to arrange to get the Friday newspapers and reliable cyber café to browse the Internet or check mail are rare things – cybers are not seen as a viable business and have very short hours. E.g. at the post office
– All our roads should be built by Chinese engineers and companies as the roads they built have stood the test of time over many years. We should also beware of roads put up before an election, as they often collapse within less than a year. It is shocking to find two stretches of a road, done by two different companies, where one is in great shape and the adjacent stretch had as little gravel as a school tennis court. Actually, our roads collapse because load limits are not observed, and lorries on the roads are too heavy.