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by SS at 4:13 pm on Saturday 17th April

It was a short and pleasant day into Lusaka, 104km and there wasn't a huge amount of pressure to race with most riders taking it easy. I took quite a few photos, enjoyed the cooler temperatures and generally chilled out.

Lusaka was much revered before we arrived for its two shopping malls which include a multiplex cinema, a Subway fast food restaurant and a huge Walmart-esque supermarket, a SuperSpar. With the thought of ice cream and Subway sandwiches on our minds, soon after we set up camp at the Chainama Hotel where we were staying, a group of riders journeyed to the Arcades Mall. My findings - well it was the Subway I know from home, in some form. There was no choice of bread (it was white or brown) and I was bemused to see a sticker on the counter 'Introducing Our Newest Vegetable: CUCUMBER!', besides the newly discovered elongate green vegetable they only had onions, tomatos and peppers. A pretty sparse sandwich but still pleasing to the palate.

After our sandwiches, we went for ice cream next door at a restaurant called Food Fayre, an astonishingly warm place - in fact, so warms that some of their stock was melting. Luckily the soft ice cream we had from the machine was still cold and dipped in caramel sauce, still delicious. After this, we milled about online for some time and then went to see Clash of the Titans (others also went to see Blindside). Some hilariously Hollywood moments but it was relaxing to sit in a comfortable chair and let my brain switch off.

That evening we went for drinks at a South African chain bar called Rhapsodys and I found one of my favourite cocktails - a chocolate martini! While alcohol or cocktail afficionados may denounce the purity of a martini with chocolate in it, I would heartily recommend it to anyone who is a fan of chocolate, milkshakes or even chocolate milkshakes. After that we took a ride to the other mall and had dinner at a Zambian Irish Pub - also part of a chain.

The next morning we did a repeat of the buffet breakfast trick and visited the Lusaka Golfview Hotel, a fancier business class hotel neighbouring ours. It cost nearly as much and perhaps was about 70% of the breakfast at the Sheraton in Addis - not a bad effort and I certainly filled up, eating four courses consisting of:
- Plate of fruit, yoghurt.
- 3 egg omelette, 2 boiled eggs, baked beans, potatos.
- Plate of pastries
- Bowl of cereal
Plus lots of juice and hot chocolate.

After some bike maintenance (my grand plan to swap my chains every two weeks so they would wear evenly failed because my spare chain rusted in my bag!), I travelled into town alone on a mission. It was refreshing to leave the false luxury of the malls and experience the genuine Lusaka city centre. Full of office buildings and lots of small shops, there are also two large markets - the town centre market and the Lusaka city market.

On a mission to find an item, details of which I can't divulge now into order to maintain the surprise, I visited both markets and spent a good couple of hours walking around and haggling. The final result was that of success - a relatively rare item which I didn't think most Africans would have need for. The markets were great fun - if you're milling around Lusaka, go visit them.

Running some other errands around town, I noticed that all the pharmacies smelt absolutely terrible in addition to being extremely busy. Medicine is a hot commodity in Zambia it seems and it was interesting to notice that the few pharmacies I visited were run by Indians. Asking for directions was also mildly confusing because they refer to traffic lights here (and I'm told in South Africa too) as 'robots'. I despair for the future where the best form factor for robots we can come up with resembles a stacked set of coloured light bulbs.

I stumbled across the ultimate in modern convenience (at least for the rugged adventurer-traveller), an internet cafe-barbershop. After getting my rest day shave, I made my way down the staircase to the internet cafe and plugged in my laptop with no time wasted. After stocking up on toilet paper and snacks for the next week, I walked up to the main road to take a bus back to the hotel. Having managed my time poorly, it was now 5:30pm and right in the middle of rush hour.

Luckily I found a seat on a fairly large minibus. The seats inside were arranged such that there were five seats across and an aisle running down where the fourth seat in each row would sit. In order to reach any of the rows, the person in that seat would have to stand up, fold up the seat and disembark. At first I started off in the frontmost of these folding seats and as people disembarked, had to move to the back of the bus to fill those seats. Eventually, while we were close to my stop, I had to fill a seat at the back. All was well until the man of average build next to me got off and was replaced by a woman of a much larger build. Only one word is apt to describe this - squished. Aside from the lack of space and the stagnant smell of body odour, the ride was fairly pleasant and I was happy that I disembarked at the correct spot to make it back to camp.

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