Let’s start with the travel tips:
A very favourable recent development for Blantyre-bound travellers is the fact that Ethiopian Airlines now flies to Malawi’s commercial centre from Addis. In fact, there are daily flights to and from Addis.
And Kenya Airways flies to Blantyre from Nairobi 3 times a week.
This is a great development. Some competition is good and I hope fare prices will fall.
My second tip is:
Visit Liwonde National Park if you’re into game viewing. We saw lots of animals. August is a good time to visit. It’s not too hot yet and very dry. The animals walk down to the river and graze in the plains of the Shire River. Liwonde and Machinga district are densely populated and it’s good to support national parks and conservation areas such as Liwonde.
One lasting memory I will try to cherish is the beautiful sunlight I saw on the day when I arrived in Blantyre at around 4 pm. It is so beautiful to arrive in Chileka and see the familiar outline of Michiru mountain.
While travelling from the airport on that first day, we encountered a funeral procession crossing the main road. As is the custom, all vehicles on the main road stopped. People got out and stood next to their vehicles. The first part of the procession was singing one song while the latter part sang another. There was loud crying. Quite a cultural difference to Europe.
Later on the same day, at the shopping mall in Chichiri, a man was lying on the ground bleeding from his mouth. A crowd of people had gathered. Maybe he had been caught stealing? In which case, he can only hope that the police is nearby or the mob may beat him to death. Street justice is widespread.
My stay in Blantyre was happily uneventful. No zigubu queues. Hardly any power cuts or water supply interruptions.
I am fascinated by the mobile phone culture. People walk around with 2 or 3 cell phones in their hand. You can buy airtime, units for prepaid SIM cards, every 50 meters. TNM and Airtel have achieved distribution networks comparable to that of Coca-cola. Both mobile phone companies are advertising their mobile payment options on a wide scale.