Bus in Africa
Credit: Pixabay

I had the opportunity to travel to 11 countries from August 2011-July 2012 with a program called the World Race. We traveled to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, China, Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, and Transnistria (not a recognized country, but functioning as its own independent country in the south-western corner of Moldova). 

Having visited 26 countries, you could say that I love to travel. In all my travels, I have learned a lot of lessons the hard way, but they have all been compounding and making me a better traveler. I want to share 1 lesson I learned from each country I visited so that you can learn how to travel better and make your overseas experience much more enjoyable. I will write more articles on things to experience in each country, but for now, I will just focus on lessons.

1. Kenya

Lesson: Allow the locals to work out their problems.

Experience: We were staying in Kapenguria, Kenya (north-east corner of the country), far from any major cities. Every few days we would travel 10 miles into the local town to buy some supplies. On one of our visits, we were trying to get a taxi van in the towns taxi yard. We told a driver what we were willing to pay and all piled into the bus and our driver got in and turned on the van. All of a sudden, a large African man came to the driver side window, reached over the steering wheel and yanked the keys out from the ignition. Our driver stepped out and a large argument ensued over who would drive us to the home we were staying at. A couple of us tried to get involved so we could solve the problem, but it only made things worse. Come to find out, most taxi parks in Kenya have a boss man that controls the flow of business to the taxi drivers. He essentially takes a tax from them and runs the park. Apparently our driver was cutting in line and refused to pay the tax. 

2. Uganda

Lesson: Always keep your electronics charged (especially your cell phone).

Experience: We were staying in a small border town called Bugiri. Three days into our stay, a major car accident 10 miles away knocking out the town's electric grid for a whole week. I don't think I have ever felt so disconnected from the world while being completely surrounded by people. It was definitely an awesome experience, but I wish I had fully charged our international phone the night before so that we could actually communicate with someone if anything went wrong.

Elephants in AfricaCredit: Pixabay

3. Rwanda

Lesson: Be prepared for all the movies you've watched regarding history and different cultures to be totally wrong.

Experience: Having seen the movie Hotel Rwanda, I was very excited about going to see the hotel while I was staying just outside Rwanda's capital, Kigali. To my utter surprise, the hotel is located right in the middle of the city. The movie portrays a hotel outside the city, or at least on the outskirts. The story was actually made more remarkable by the fact that the hotel was right in the heart of the city. 

Each of these countries offer some amazing and spectacular experiences to go alongside the lessons learned. I will be posting a article in the near future about things you don't want to miss out on when visiting these countries. Stay tuned!

Part 2: Lessons learned in South Asia to follow. 

Hotel Rwanda
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