I think that the main problem with Kumasi is that if you’re coming from Accra (probably most common) or from Cape Coast (probably less common, but I did it), you will simply not be prepared for the town. While it’s a great deal smaller than Accra, it actually feels much bigger as there is a very defined center that is bustling with people all day long. Toss in to this the fact that if you arrive on either of the two state-owned bus lines, you get tossed right in to the middle of all this; although maybe a bit less with STC. You just hop off the bus and there you are, in the thick of a continual market trying to weed your way to wherever you might be staying. Oh yeah, make reservations. I didn’t and ended up having to stay at one of the pricier places which was about $26 USD a night (the Sanbra), although it is quite a proper place with good beds, tile floors, AC, and onsite, albeit molasses slow internet (go up the street to one of the very good internet cafes like Bee Busy.) Admittedly the Lonely Expat Hearts Club lounge/discotheque on the second floor can be a bit loud and crappy as it butts up to many rooms, mine included. I haven’t heard Gloria Estefan songs since my last trip to Tijuana something like a decade ago. I find it disconcerting to have memories of buckets of beer bottles and fish tacos while in the interior of Ghana.
But I digress as it’s really the whole market atmosphere which is overwhelming. Apparently Ketejia is the biggest market in West Africa and you feel it along with how it spreads out in all directions on the side streets leading up to it. But it’s not as great as I was expecting. Probably some 90% of the place is flooded with the most absolute cheap Chinese-made junk you can find. Tucked in between all of that are some quite nice stalls with proper Ghanaian cloths, although they are hard to find.
At some point, some smart tech junkie whether they be local or international needs to come along with a GPS and grid out that market so that you can have some idea of where all the sections are located. Say I just want to go to the rope quarter (yeah, there’s a rope quarter) without having to wade through the womens’ lingerie quarter. That would be useful. Or gridding off the open air meat quarter so that I avoid the onslaught of that altogether just to enjoy the more interesting spices section.
If you’re looking for kente cloths, don’t go to the market. You can find them much easier along the side streets which are more relaxing and have what I felt to be better quality wares. Even the mobile market near my hotel on Prepeh II had some more decent looking handsets than the central market. You know you’re close to this area if the cologne index in the ambient air raises by a factor of 120% or more.
So, in case you didn’t catch it from my rundown, it’s a pretty dizzying thing to be thrust in to the middle of Kumasi. You can take it on, but it requires patient and a good map. This last point is something I will get in to in a later article as the map I had sucked, the one from the tourist office was non-existent, and getting lost was something that happened to me every time I turned a corner. While not an enormous center, it is a twisty one.
Kumasi might just blow your mind