Author: Yellow Duckie
Situated along the equator, I was all prepared to embrace the humidity and the heat. However my adventure of Ghana begins right at the departure gate in Schipol Airport, Amsterdam. Perhaps it was a bigger jet jumbo which I will be on, the boarding time was an hour before the departure time. Taking for granted the usual 30-min before departure boarding time I had a rendezvous at the duty free shop before heading to the boarding gate. I was caught off guard at the traffic at the departure gate. There was a long line before the 4-fold snake-like formation to the security check point (just like the never ending queue at the Malaysian Immigration) and it was barely moving! I was in line for 40 minutes before I got through the hurdle.

Although the flying time towards Ghana was only 6 hrs plus, it seems like a never ending journey compare to the 8-hours flight to Uganda. Don’t ask me why. Tired and exhausted upon arrival, I had to go through another hurdle of getting my visa. According to the Government Website of Ghana, Malaysians don’t need a visa, however, I did prepare before hand on the letter of guarantee from the company and indeed, I do need visa. I was ridiculed for trusting the African Government website, I’ve learnt my lesson. I was glad I did not have much problem but it did take me half an hour before I got through and it was USD 100 per entry for business and USD 50 for Vacation. I thought Cambodia was ripping me off with USD 25 departure tax! Also, while in queue for the immigration, be alert as people from the next line will jump into your line if you are not ready when it’s your turn.

For the first time, the hotel is less than 5 minutes drive from the airport. I could practically see the tip of the air plane and the control tower from my room! It was a new hotel in operation only for a month and everything is brand new, including the skills of the staffs. Getting a reservation was a nightmare as I had to be persistent with my calls and they even got the rooms mixed up! The lady before me at the counter had someone in the room she was assigned to when she opened the door and the staff never seems to get thing right. It was indeed so frustrating dealing with them. Just to ask for a late check out, I had to show myself at the counter everyday getting empty promises of returning my request. Looks like Ghana got me on my wrong foot.

However, apart from the administration complication I had to deal with the immigration and the hotel, I must admit that Ghana is beautiful. It is by the coast so beach area is not far from the city and it is exceptionally clean! Although humidity is high here, I am surprised how they have managed to keep the town clean and you get an easy feeling looking at it. Apart from that, I feel a lot safer walking around in Ghana.

The landscape of Ghana is wide open without hills, thus you get an overview of your surroundings. It gives you a feeling of vastness. Apart from that, being a British Colony once, there are a lot of nice colonial bungalows around the area and English is widely spoken here. Calm and peaceful as it may seems, somehow it’s too quiet. Although I almost ended up in Ghana, I was quite glad that I did not simply because of the humidity that wears me down. Apart from that, I quiet like Ghana. It does somehow make me feel like I am home in Malaysia. If I may compare, it’s like a super clean Kuantan Town. Drivers here are extremely courteous, this came quite as a surprise to us as in the previous African countries I visited is usually a roller coaster ride with car coming for all directions.

We had a little tour of Ghana, driven and guided by Abraham, Lars’ lovely driver. He took us to the Makola Market where it is a huge market that overflows from the market building to the streets around it. You can find anything under the sun there, from fresh food, fruits (excellent mangoes, even better than those in the Philippines), household goods, clothes and etc. According to Abraham, don’t even think about driving here during Christmas. You would get on faster by walking. I did manage to snap some pictures and I realized that the people here do not liked to be photographed so either you ask before you take your shot or take your shot and get some angry faces scolding at you.

One thing we notice about Ghana is that, among the African countries, you have a lot more of carrying goods on your head that any where else in Africa. You could practically see the entire store being carried on the head. One lady had a baskets of bread and compliments such as butter, cheese, jam, peanut butter with a stool balancing on her head. Walking alongside her was her business partner (?) who was balancing a big plastic balloon that is filled with clutch-size packets of milk tea and ice to keep it cool, on her head. Apart from that you see fruits, food even clothes carried on their heads.

I found out that Ghana produce Cocoa and cashew nuts. Our company in Ghana actually rented a huge warehouse with a great ancient cashew nut in front of it, I’d say it’s a good rental deal we’ve got there. The hotel actually gives complimentary packets of Milo in their guest rooms (I was thrilled), perhaps it’s a sign of rich Cocoa production, for whatever reason, a cup of hot milo always brings comfort.

In Ghana, you could still find the normal African souvenirs (wood cravings of animals, etc), however, there is something distinct about the crafts in Ghana. Known me are these two: the Kente and the Ashanti Beads.
Kente are the colourful clothes that wrap around your body, basically a custom worn by the tribes usually the chief. Of course, different tribe carries different color shades and patterns, the ones that is quite stunning are the one from the Ashanti tribe, which usually comes in the golden yellow and other colorful pattern that make it hard to be missed. I couldn’t resist it and bought one for myself. The original size of these hand-woven clothes is at the width of about 3 inches wide and the length of a neck scarf. It is then hand sewn to join the pieces up to form a large cloth. The size of the joint cloth is measure by how many strips that was sewn together, usually 5, 7, 8, 10 and 12. These Kente are not cheap and make sure to get the hand-woven ones else you will be buying machine printed Kente produced in China. Price difference between the hand-woven and the machine printed is not huge.

According to the jewelry designer/seller, all the beads that we see in Kenya, Sierre Leone and etc originated from Ghana. These stunning Ashanti beads are indeed quite a sight to behold…and to own :)

In general, the people here are really warm and friendly. One does not feel threaten being among them. However, being an Asian lady in the midst of them, one can’t help but to be noticed. Without looking up on the fact book about Ghana, I would say that this is a Christian country. The encouraging and sometimes amusing wordings in public display gave way to this. You can find sign boards such as, ”God’s time is the best” on the Coca-cola board and some store signs reading “Blessed Motors”.

Abraham did take us to the Castle, where the government administration office is and to Ghana independence Square. Something common both Ghana and Malaysia has is that they both got their independence in 1957.

There you go, my encounter with Ghana, a love-hate relationship I would say.
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