Tuesday 17 July 2007

Gambia President in attention-seeking video

Well he has my attention. You have to see this. You'll need a supermarket trolley for your jaw.

Thursday 5 July 2007

Designer hotels in Mali

There are several interesting new hotel ventures in Mali that visitors with a bit more disposable CFA will want to know about. One of the nicest, with great touches like homemade bread, real coffee and chilled millet beer, is the Djenné-Djenno, just outside Djenné (left), whose anglo-Swedish owner blogs about life in Djenné – and Mali in djeneral. Highly reocommended. In Mopti you've got La Maison Rouge and and in Timbuktu, or Tombouctou to use the local spelling, there's La Maison - both the work of a Parisian architect. Actually, I say these are likely to appeal to better-off travellers, but in fact the rooms at the Djenné-Djenno, for example,are incredibly good value in European/North American terms – as in £18 ($36) for a twin room [corrected by owner's comment as now £25 or $50 as they're all air-conditioned].
The "Maison" hotels are £35 for a double or twin ($70) which, considering they're good Hip Hotel candidates, is remarkably inexpensive. They make some of the other places that have been around for years look pretty poor value. And yet these new establishments are walking a tightrope with local authorities and vested interests. It's a wonderful sign of Mali's growing confidence and success that people want to put their money there – so long as that vote of trust is matched by sensitivity to the plight of local people at the bottom of the heap – for whom a £20 hotel room would represent a month's work, at least, if they had a job – and all the guides and wannabe guides who compete for enough cash to get by on. So far, however, it looks like the new hotels are having a very positive impact. Do leave feedback if you try them.