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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

48hours of Downs & Ups - In Addis Ababa (Ethiopia); Airline lost my luggage & Found Again

qNow in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, staying at Wutma Hotel in the downtown Piazza area. Arrived here on Tuesday nigqht. It’s a surprisingly modern city with skyscrapers, wide streets and huge shopping malls â€" mostly new ones plus some under construction, plus lots of English signboards. The streets appeared very clean last night. Many people here even speak English and appear to be polite. All a bit surprising considering I grew up with image of an Ethiopia with starving people in rags.
Tuesday was a bad day. I had to pay a bribe at Bamako Airport and when I arrived at Addis Ababa Airport, my luggage couldn’t be found.
On Wednesday, however, not only has the airline found my luggage, I also managed to get 2 visas in one day â€" that of Somaliland and Djibouti, but also arranged a 4WD tour to the South Omo region of Ethiopia over the next 7 days, booked 6 air tickets for Addis-Djibouti, Somaliland-Addis, and various Ethiopian domestic destinations.
Other good things: Ethiopians are friendly and speak English. Many supermarkets here. Things are cheap here. Prices are like that of Thailand. A meal cost only US$1 to 3 in a restaurant, compared to USD 10 in West Africa.
I will then fly to Uganda on 16th April instead of 14th April. I will write more, but let me warned about communications problems over the next one month:
- Foreigners are not allowed to buy mobile SIM card in Ethiopia. Have to rent at US$25 not including call charges. I will not bother with renting it then. Also heard SMS is not possible here.
- The next 7 days, I will be in the most primitive part of Ethiopia where people still live in Stone Age conditions. I will not expect to find internet here. So you may not receive any news from me in next 7 days.
OK, more later.

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