Tanzania: A Trip To Pangani Part III – Staying in Tanga

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Pangani Beach © Jessica Gatfield

After two wonderful days spent at the Beach Crab Resort, we headed back to Tanga on the Sunday afternoon. As the return journey wasn’t to be made in complete darkness, the Resort booked a taxi on our behalf to take us across the river and into the center of Tanga. The driver charged 100,000 TSH (£40 split between three of us) for the near 5 hour journey in addition to a pizza stop at Capricorn Beach Cottages. We tipped our driver with a fizzy beverage whilst we ate our pizza and continued onward.

Our chaperone, Rasta Ali, had very kindly booked our return RATCO Express tickets for the Monday morning along with a night stay at a hotel. As our money was slowing running out, we chose to stay in a budget hotel charging a mere 20,000 TSH (£7) per room. Ali had suggested a place in which he would highly recommend, The Ocean Breeze Hotel which had acquired a 3 out of 5 star rating on Trip Advisor.

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The Ocean Breeze Hotel © Kandi Kwok

After our long and thankfully air conditioned 5 hour car journey, we were eager to find the hotel and freshen up for the evening. We were meeting a Tanzanian friend for dinner and to watch the football in Jamhuri Gardens over looking the coast. We were greeted by Rasta Ali’s friends who, ever so kindly, checked us in to the hotel on Ali’s behalf. We got our room key and began to search for our room. As we climbed each flight of stairs, every floor appeared derelict and decayed. We rushed back to the check-in area and asked the woman for directions. We were led back up the stairs to where we had just been and up to the top floor, a not so derelict but nevertheless abandoned level. We were torn between deciding whether the hotel was being refurbished or was in a state of decay. A British Health and Safety consultant would have a field day listing all of the faults and dangers and undoubtedly close the hotel and suggest rebuilding a new one.

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Room number 38 was ours for the night. On paper, the hotel could have have been a 5* luxurious resort. A balcony with a sea view, a king size bed with a mosquito net, a functioning TV and of course an en suite bathroom. In reality, we had all of these amenities but not even to the standards of a homeless shelter. A chance of a shower or a functioning tap for that matter was out of the question. A seatless toilet sat amongst mould and rotting tiles was situated below a holey ceiling allowed tarantulas to scurry in and out whilst peeing! Once again baby wipes came to the rescue and made our morning salt shower extremely desirable.

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Drying the Bed Sheets © Jessica Gatfield

The kingsize bed was the perfect size for three of us to curl up upon as we peeled off the dirty blanket and slept on top of the sheets. Earlier in the evening we explored the hotel floors and top balcony to find our sheets having been dried amongst decaying debris. To our knowledge we were the only western travellers staying at the hotel and as three females we felt extremely vulnerable. That night, considering the bolt didn’t work on the door, we barricaded ourselves in with the help of some not-so sturdy furniture and planned our escape routes if somebody chose to break in. The balcony door appeared to be a sheet of wood, offering no protection from the outside noise or any visitors that may decide to creep in. Thankfully we were four floors up putting our minds at ease for a short while.

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Throughout the night we didn’t sleep much and inevitably slept in shifts. We were curled up like animals on the corners of the bed, the humidity getting the best of us with the fan taking the edge off the discomfort. We were thankful for the 5am wake up and soon packed our things and left for the coach back to Moshi. We were soon reminded of the language barrier and a misinterpretation of a simple nod as we climbed aboard a coach to Dar Es Saleem, the opposite direction from our home town of Moshi. Ticket checking became a blessing on that coach as we luckily were advised to hop off the bus as we pulled into a bus station, instructed to wait for the right coach. An eager wait of 45 minutes passed and we hopped on the correct coach home, air con and Bollywood movies warmly welcomed!

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The Second Bus Station © Kandi Kwok

Staying at the Ocean Breeze Hotel put a lot of my thoughts and opinions into perspective. This review comes across as ungrateful, pessimistic and rather negative. I believe that I went to the hotel expecting to be faced with a shabby Travel Lodge that is outdated and a little unclean. When in fact, by Tanzanian standards, this hotel was perfectly adequate if not of a good standard in comparison to many others we could have stayed in. The hotel held the shock factor rather than the inhabitable and undoubtedly resides as a memorable experience and learning endeavour. It served its purpose as a stop over hotel and the price speaks for itself. We arrived with high expectations and a sense of adventure and left with our belongings and pride in tact.

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