Sudan

Three Buses and a Desert(ed) Petrol Station

Three Buses and a Desert(ed) Petrol Station

About 30 minutes North of Shendi, the bus pulled over at a very indistinct patch of sand, and we realised that we really were in the middle of nowhere, at least it very much felt like that in the dark.  The only feature of note was a sad looking petrol station, which one of our fellow passengers pointed at and indicated we should sleep there for the night, and with that the bus drive off into the starry night, leaving us to our own devices in the middle of the Sudanese desert…

Time Travel by Train

Time Travel by Train

If the scenario was frenzied before, then at this request it became absolute pandemonium!  The crowd clearly hadn’t thought about this possible development, and the excitement about what I was trying to achieve was palpable!  Shouts went out to find a bicycle, and within seconds one of the older guys from the workshop had produced a sturdy two-wheeled beast, not unlike the one which my Great Grandfather was leaning on in the photograph…

Matching Photographs Part II: Arrested Development

Matching Photographs Part II: Arrested Development

Without really having time to process what was happening, the angry man marched me around the corner, and into the yard of a police station where eight other very serious looking men in police uniforms were sat around a boiling kettle making tea.  The atmosphere wasn’t welcoming in the slightest, and I began to feel very, very uncomfortable.

Matching Photographs Part I: Wrinkled Wedding Proposals

Matching Photographs Part I: Wrinkled Wedding Proposals

As I started to learn more about this man, I discovered a stash of photographs and postcards depicting his life in Khartoum in the 1930s.  With this window into the past, an idea began to form in my head, an idea which, as well as matching up the past with the present, would also see me receive a wedding proposal from an old woman, and a brief period of detention at the hands of the Sudanese authorities.

Top 5 Things to do in Khartoum

Top 5 Things to do in Khartoum

Khartoum is a fascinating city which sadly doesn’t often get a look in as a potential travel destination.  Fortunately, this is beginning to change, and in the last few years Sudan has witnessed a significant increase in tourism. With more and more people heading to its capital city to explore and discover it’s hidden delights, here’s my top 5 list of things to do in this off the beat travel destination.

Geographical Geekery on the River Nile

Geographical Geekery on the River Nile

Just downstream from the bridge was a slightly tired looking amusement park, normally this wouldn’t have been somewhere we would have visited, however after spying the ancient Ferris wheel slowly turning towards the sky an idea started to form in our heads, so we paid our entrance fees to the sleepy man behind the gate and made a beeline for the rusty attraction…

The Great Sudanese Administrative Scavenger Hunt

The Great Sudanese Administrative Scavenger Hunt

Pockets full of cash, we headed deeper into the airport complex towards the alien registration department which was counter-intuitively located in the departure hall.  Thanks to a helpful chap who had followed us from the money changing office, we were able to swan through the various security checkpoints with a combination of smiles and elaborate handshakes until we came to the correct office, where we were introduced to a stern looking soldier with a chest full of medals and impressing looking epaulettes…

Saint Aziz: The Kindness of Strangers

Saint Aziz: The Kindness of Strangers

Our luck had seemingly run out, and it looked like we would be spending our first night in Sudan sleeping on the streets of Khartoum.  If I was more of a religious person this might have been the time to send up a quiet prayer for guidance; instead I decided to employ the tried and tested combination of chronic optimism and the genuine belief that the universe has a way of ensuring that everything will work out in the end…

Adventures in No Man's Land

Adventures in No Man's Land

We knew that today’s journey was going to be a lengthy one; not only did we need to cross a potentially tricky international border, but we also knew that in order to get our visas fully validated we would need to get to Khartoum which was over 750km away from where we currently were, we weren’t even sure if it was going to be possible, but if nothing is ventured, then nothing is gained, so with bleary eyes we headed out into the dark streets to look for the first of many of today’s transport types...

Following in Family Footsteps

Following in Family Footsteps

They say a picture paints a thousand words, well not this one; after looking at the familiar picture on my grandparents sitting room wall, I was struggling to get into double figures; I had ‘man’ and ‘moustache’ which I had quickly followed up with ‘bicycle’, ‘train’, and ‘silly hat’ (which I was definitely counting as two) but beyond that I was finding it hard to find any words to describe this unremarkable sepia image of a man in a hat – that was until I was told that the silly hatted man in question, was in fact my great grandfather.