by Work the World

The majority of our students use public transport to get into town or to travel to their placement. In fact joining the hoards on a busy bus can sometimes be the best way to integrate yourself into local life. Trips to work can also provide some of the funniest travel experiences of your time away. We asked our students “ what is the public transport like in your area” in the hope we might hear about some of these funny and typical travel experiences. We had some fantastic responses from each of our destinations, with real insight into each country.

Starting in Africa

"There is nothing that will immerse you into the Tanzanian culture more than the daladala.  Although they are jam packed and you have to squeeze to get on during busy periods, they come very regularly. Drivers also quickly learn where you need to get off which is handy." says Jennifer. Georgia said that "Daladalas can be hit and miss. There are no timetables but they do seem to come all the time & they are cheap and easy to use - a good sense of humour is required!"

"The daladala’s are always a funny experience! First of all don’t worry about squeezing on, they may have a capacity of 20 but it isn’t unusual for up to 30 people to be crammed inside. Remember you are in Africa! They run extremely frequently and are pretty easy to catch, but you must pay attention to the colours on the side of the vehicle as each route has a set colour combination - don’t pay attention you will get lost. When travelling from our WTW house in Arusha or back, take the daladala with a black stripe on the side!"

"The best thing about the public transport over taxi is the price. A journey costs only 300Tsh to town while taxi is 8000Tsh (4.46USD) "- Fredrick Chakyi the Arusha Programme Manager

In Ghana our students have become well accustomed to the "rules of the road". By the sound of it they are practically locals!

We’ve been in Ghana for just under a week now and despite the need of a fair lashing of factor 30, we consider ourselves pretty local! The transport around Ghana is something to be experienced; traffic is like the lovechild of the m25 and Top Gear- very busy, revving engines and lots of men getting angry and beeping horns".

"After being beautifully escorted around Takoradi by Joe and Prince, we ventured off on our first solo outing - to experience some Ghanaian pool culture at the Africa beach. We had been told to expect to pay no more than 5 cedis for the trip but ended up paying 6 cedis. Two taxi rides later we decided enough was enough and we began to demonstrate our knowledge of the Fante language, which basically consisted of "my friend" and "thank you", to whittle the driver down to the princely sum of 4 cedis! We were on a roll and from then on nothing was stopping us - particularly not a drop taxi driver who refused to barter. We even jumped on a tro-tro - basically the smallest van you will see but somehow carrying half the population of Takoradi!  As per Joe and Prince we made sure we agreed the price first - a massive 45 pesewas (about 20p), then hopped in and situated ourselves among the locals. It was a bit of a sardine can on wheels, but Jenson button was at the wheel and that provided a stream of cool air through the windows! The locals loved us practicing Fante on them.

Of course when we arrived at our destination the tro tro driver asked us to pay 2 cedis for our transport - bit of a shock - but we regained our composure and began to barter in Fante which amused him greatly! We got our way in the end and paid the original price.

1. get the price beforehand

2. Don’t accept the first offer

3. Know how much it should cost and what a good price is"

Emma and Camilla - Student Nurses

Back to Tanzania and in Dar es Salaam & Arusha the students seem to be fans of the bajaji, the dala dala and some gold old fashioned walking.

“A Bajaji is great to get around on for short trips, or you can use taxis or dala dalas - the most practical options when travelling to and from the hospital as it is further away. Dala dalas are fun and joining the locals has given me a better insight into how life is in Tanzania, which benefits me when am in the hospital.” says Ben, a Medical student in the Emergency department.

Lisa, also a medical student on placement in Dar es Salaam, says “ the public transport is very different to home but is fun and it is fairly easy to use. Just make sure you double check the name on the front so you don’t go in the wrong direction. I have felt safe most of the time but the roads are a crazy place. I really enjoy the bus (Daladala), for both people watching and seeing the local scenery.”

In Mwanza, Carlee and Joshua say they generally walk everywhere, but have taken a daladala a few times when they've joined caterer Diana to go into town or to the church. "A typical trip costs TSH 300. They are very crowded and you can't always sit down, but it is part of the experience".

Over in South America, Daniel and Christine had plenty of comments about transport in Mendoza, Argentina.

Public transport in Mendoza is great - there are buses all around the city and although they can be pretty busy, they're the best way to get to the hospital. They're also really cheap, only $1.40 which is about 25p. For going further afield, there are longer distance intercity buses and coaches which are actually very comfortable. You can even go to Chile from Mendoza by bus, which only costs about £35 and takes you through the amazing scenery of the Andes." said Daniel.

Christine, a professional dentist from Germany, says "I have only caught the bus twice while in Mendoza as the WTW house is on my supervisor’s way to the hospital. He picks me up every morning! I also walk everywhere or take taxis - they’re so cheap that in Germany I’d pay the same for a one way subway or bus ticket."

In Asia our Nepal Assistant Programme Manager had a discussion with the students in the house about how they get about and how easy it is to travel.

“I find the transportation (micro buses, taxis) in Pokhara fairly easy to use. At first you are daunted by the fact that you don't speak the language and you fear getting lost because of it, but you find that all drivers understand where you are going and get you there. All you really need to know to board public transport is the name of where you are going and how much. Once on the micro bus, many a local will stare at you as a foreigner, but it is only out of curiosity and you rapidly get used to it. Many will try to speak to you and it is a great chance to practice you Nepali. Another great thing about the public transport is that it can be found anywhere and is always at a fairly reasonable price.”- Natasha

It’s easy to get to hospital and only costs Rs.12 (10 pence!!!) It is generally easy to get anywhere but the buses are quite small for a large Canadian.” says Benjamin. Height: 6f4!

“Public transport in Pokhara is a worthwhile experience for anyone wishing to work or venture out the city. Buses cost approximately Rs. 12 and taxis are Rs. 150-200. The micro bus service is fairly reasonable. Most of the conductors speak enough English to tell you where the buses go. Public transport here is excellent and sometimes a good opportunity to practice some Nepali.” - Matt

“Pokhara has three main forms of Public transport. City buses, Micro bus or Taxis. The micro buses (van) are reliable and cheap for local transportation to and from hospital placement. They are also reasonable priced (Rs.18 to the hospital) I enjoy the walk home in afternoon as I like the hustle and bustle of B.P chowk. The city buses are also reasonably priced and will take you further afield. Taxis can be reasonable and are useful if you want to get somewhere fast or it's late at night. With all forms of transport I would highly recommend finding out how much fairs cost first - bus conductors and taxi drivers will often try and overcharge anyone who doesn't look local. Be prepared to haggle!” - Phillip Kelly

So there you have it, an array of stories from each of our destinations, giving you plenty of inside information!

Next week’s weekly question is ‘How did you raise funds for your overseas placement?’’. Watch this space for the answers!

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