This month’s travel writing competition was another close one to call. But then again we didn’t expect anything else. Since we launched My World First back in November we’ve been wowed by the writing you’ve sent us. There’s no shortage of material either, which touches every base from fiercely descriptive accounts of your favourite destinations to hilarious anecdotes of travelling troubles and holiday horrors.
Last month, Amy Waring tied our stomachs in knots with a turbulent account of her first flight (in a thunderstorm), before Louise Morrish battled seasickness with the rest of her family on their first visit to France. Meanwhile, David Ross was on top of the world when he cruised around the summit of Everest in a light aircraft, while Lauren Armstrong fell from the heavens in New Zealand on her first skydive.
Love was in the air too. Well, sort of. Jennifer Guertin offered a hilarious account of her Las Vegas wedding and Barnaby Davies got friendly – very friendly – with one of the local ladies during his first trip to Brazil. We were also given a hefty sprinkling of culture as Susan Johnson met an explosion of colour when she visited Beijing for the time during the Chinese New Year celebrations, while Mandy Huggins fell in love with the timeless city of Istanbul.
Thank you to everyone who entered. It’s testament to the standard of writing that the judges had no unanimous favourite. But the votes have been counted and we have a winner! And bagging herself a Kindle this month is Julia Hammond from Rayleigh in Essex. You can read Julia’s entry below. We’ll publish the runner-up next week.
Previously in Ghana, I’d stuck to the main tourist triangle between Accra, Kumasi and Cape Coast, travelling in luxury STC buses. Obuasi was just a bit off the beaten track...
Shit, shit, shit. The first swear words I'd heard out of a Ghanaian mouth. He trailed off into a whisper, remembering he had company. Our driver was right to be a little worried. Reversing the orange MMT bus out of Obuasi lorry station in the dark, he'd scraped the side of the bus against the heavy metal gate. We pulled forward and he tried again. This time we missed the gate. Backing onto the roundabout, another crunch and, this time, a loud bang. Even in the dark it was hard not to miss, standing half a metre high, constructed from yellow-painted concrete, topped with a large statue of a miner. Shit, shit, shit. The conductress rolled her eyes. It was clear this wasn't the first time she'd partnered him.
We lurched forward, narrowly missing a taxi. Horns screeched. The taxi driver and those behind him were not happy. The road clear, our hapless driver saw his opportunity to make an exit. We hurtled off up the road, driving on the left. (Ghana drives on the right, except on heavily potholed roads, in which case anything goes.) More horns. We swung across the street into a side road, where we stopped. The driver got out to survey the damage with a small torch. More rolling of eyes from the conductress. Tyres mercifully undamaged, our esteemed driver jumped back into his seat with a broad grin and we set off for Accra.
At the edge of town, we began to gather speed. Patched tarmac periodically gave way to gravel. Potholes were deep and in plentiful supply. Alternately, the driver accelerated and slammed on the brakes; all his concentration was focused on missing the next hole like a video game. The few pedestrians on the road at this early hour had to dive to safety as we unwittingly ran them off the road. We missed the 'overspeeding kills' sign by about an inch.
The sun rose. This effected a change in our driver's tactics, waving at oncoming buses and flashing his headlights. His skills seemed slightly improved, or, perhaps, our tolerance. Finally, six hours after setting off, we reached Accra. Parking in the middle lane of the road (avoiding those pesky kerbs!) we alighted. Now it was my turn to survey the damage. To be honest, there were that many scratches, dents and knocks that the driver's job looked pretty safe for now.
Think you can do better? Tell us YOUR world first for your chance to win a Kindle. Find out how to enter February’s competition now.