Maseru is a lot better than I thought:
- I expected something tiny and poor, but got pleasantly surprised. It it pretty, and there were hardly any potholes. Sure there were untarred roads as you move away from the center, but there were hardly any shacks.
- I was especially impressed by the parliament building... so majestic, made better by them overlooking the city down below. I feel it's a bit of overkill though... imagine what it cost.
- Something I noticed is the overly smooth tile surfaces, which is a
health hazard. I saw it in 3 separate places:
- A rather large mall, which is the only one I we saw
- A fast food shop (where the food was very unimpressive; I've never in my life been served a burger whose bread was so dry it was hard)
- A supermarket
The quality of service was rather horrible, and worse than any place I've been to in South Africa. Worst of this was the place we stayed at:
- On the gate, there was some guy who looked very unexcited about his life. He was just sitting there, his face looking down, and he didn't even give us a look. I guessed he was the security because he had a two-way radio.
- The reception room was very stuffy... I wonder if the two ladies noticed. I didn't check if the windows were open. It must have been a result of some serious cost-saving. At least our room had that modern convenience.
- While waiting to check if a room is available, the lady openly asked some other worker to check if the room is clean. I asked what happens if it isn't, and she said she'd just send us away. Weird. Not even "I'd get it cleaned right away for you, sir" or something like that.
- We went away to do a city tour and came back late, so it was quite dark. There was no lighting on the path the the room, so one had to tread carefully.
- It's normal practice for the light switch to be near the door, but not in this case. And it was so dark that we had to ask for assistance, and the light switch was near the bed.
- They guy that helped us with the light switch seriously needed a bath. He didn't look friendly either. I felt like we were a bother.
- What wasn't near the bed, though, was a power socket (to keep my laptop charged), so I went out to ask for an extension cord, only to find there isn't any spare... it was used for the washing machine. Yep.
- I was curious what was on TV, and found horrible reception... no digital channels. There was no remote control either. When I asked, it was simply missing. Also, the price sticker for the TV was still affixed on it... 4,999 (Lesotho currency is valued the same as South African rands).
- Maybe there wasn't much they could do about this, but there wasn't water in the morning so we could bath and get the fuck out. The receptionist said the issue was in the area.
- Now, this is maybe the best on: before we could leave, they didn't open the gate for us before first checking the room. My guess is they ensured we didn't steal anything. The receptionist did earlier claim they wanted to check if we didn't leave anything. Maybe that's true :)
Maybe that explains the price... the room cost M290 for the night, for both of us. Ridiculous cheap. We thought the price was per person. I wanna check out some other super-cheap places elsewhere to ensure this is the kind of service one should expect.
Anyways, we went on to drive towards Hlotse, a town to the West of Maseru. The road was quite good, and the view wonderful (Lesotho is a beautiful country). Still, I didn't see much evidence of ridiculous poverty for the whole 100km drive. It was interesting to see that the traffic cops didn't have cars around. Serious cost-saving there.
One last thing, the Lesotho side of the border stamped our passports when leaving, but didn't when we entered. Interesting.