I was able to visit Akwa Ibom sometime in March, crossing the state off my travel bucket list for the year 2023. The journey from Owerri was all shades of horrible, and I shared the beginning of the story in a previous post, which you can read here.
In this second part, I have shared my struggles in Aba trying to find a direct bus to Eket. And my experience traveling from Uyo to Eket. I hope my journey helps you make better and smarter decisions when traveling to Akwa Ibom from Owerri, or anywhere.
The Journey From Aba to Uyo
After we got to Aba from Owerri, we headed to AKTC Park to find buses to Eket. We saw a bus about to leave and went ahead to pay, but the price was way over what we had in cash, and they wouldn’t accept transfers. One of the cashiers offered to give us N5000 cash on the condition that we would pay N2,000, which was ridiculous coming from a non-POS agent! Someone else directed us to a nearby POS that charged the same N2000 for N5000.
This didn’t come as a surprise, but we wanted to explore our options, so we headed to another park. On the way, we saw a loading bus with a placard listing three destinations in Akwa Ibom, Eket inclusive, at a much lower price. We met the driver and learned he was accepting transfers.
Later, he revealed that his last stop was Uyo, and we would have to continue our journey to Eket on another bus at the park where he would make his final stop. The prices of the two trips equaled what AKTC charged for a direct trip to Eket. But we decided to travel on this bus because the driver was accepting transfers.
When the transfer process was over, we entered the bus and waited for it to get filled up, and that didn’t happen for the next two hours! While we waited, the snacks I had in the morning started upsetting my stomach so much that I needed to use the toilet. I tried convincing myself that I could hold it in until we got to Uyo, but goosebumps surged all over my body in no time, and I couldn’t fake it anymore. I had to ask around for a restroom, and fortunately, there was one in the park, and I paid to use it.
Shortly after I returned to my seat on the bus, my brother called to tell me he was already in Aba and was at AKTC Park waiting for his friend so they could travel together. I told him that if his friend showed up early, they should join our bus so we could leave, but our bus got filled up anyway before his friend showed up.
It was a long and dramatic journey, and our bus was singled out at every roadside checkpoint. We arrived at AKTC Park in Uyo around 4 p.m. and used the restroom again before boarding a taxi to Eket. We paid by transfer and spent about 40 minutes waiting for the last passenger to join.
During this wait, my brother called to inform me he had gotten to his home in Eket. What?! It happened that there was a shorter route to Eket from Aba that didn’t require passing through Uyo, making their journey more straightforward. But it didn’t make sense because he was still waiting when we left Aba. At this point, it was me and my tears.
Traveling From Uyo to Eket, and to Our Hotel
The journey wasn’t as short as I thought. It was, in fact, as far as traveling from Owerri to Aba. When we got to Eket, it was 6:30 p.m., and the driver was kind enough to take us to the junction, where we could find a taxi to our hotel. All the taxis were empty, which meant a long waiting time, but we wouldn’t have any more of that.
We opted for a bike ride instead, but none of the bikes knew the road to our hotel. Luckily for us, one of the drivers, who had already packed his car for the day, offered us a ride at the regular price with no extra charges.
It took about 6 minutes to get to our hotel, which was way above my expectations; I will write a hotel review post later. The hotel was quite secluded from town, and we did not grab dinner before lodging.
At the reception, we asked the receptionist for restaurant recommendations, and he said he wouldn’t recommend anyone close by and that we might have to go all the way to town to be able to find something reasonable. Also, there were no food delivery services around.
We needed to get out to find something to eat, and it wasn’t until we asked that he told us the hotel had a restaurant too. We decided we were going to eat there after we dropped our bags.
The food at the restaurant was quite pricey, and it didn’t make sense that we would have to wait for them to prepare it.
We decided to step out and grab fast food outside and the other things we needed for the night, like drinking water.
Outside, there was no sign of life. Private cars and loaded bikes would occasionally pass, and that was it.
I was beginning to regret lodging in this hotel when a tricycle truck pulled up, and two guys who were waiting for a ride not too far from us hopped in. When the truck got to where we stood, we asked if we could join in, and the driver agreed. And that was how your girl hitchhiked a truck. It was one of the scariest things I’ve done in a while.
We decided to stop at Marina Junction since it was closer to the hotel, and we could see restaurants everywhere. We explored some of the restaurants, and none had rice anymore; it was only soups, and they were not accepting transfers either
In the end, it seemed like soup was the only thing we could get around there, so we decided to settle for it when the last restaurant we visited offered us “melon” soup. The name “melon” instead of “egusi” didn’t quite sit right with me, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt and agreed to have a plate.
It was indeed melon soup. I cried eating it because I was so hungry. I tried as much as possible to avoid the melon side of the soup, focusing only on the water side just for swallowing sake.
We ate in silence and struggled to hold back the puke. After eating, we went POS hunting because we had used up all our cash. We found one across the road, and they were charging N2000 for N5000. We had no choice at this point, so we withdrew from them.
We bought a few things we might need before returning to our hotel. We also found many bikes here, and it was easier to get one from here to the hotel than from the hotel to this place.
Back at the hotel, I had a long, warm bath before retiring for the day. It was long, and I was relieved it had finally ended. I stayed hopeful for what the next day would bring, even when it meant extending our stay by one day.
In the next series of posts, I will review the hotel we stayed in, talk about why I may be bringing my own food the next time I visit Akwa Ibom, share the places we visited, and give a breakdown of our trip expenses.
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If you have any questions about traveling to Akwa Ibom or a part of my trip you would like me to talk about, please feel free to leave a comment below, and I will do my best to get to them as soon as I can.