After sipping coffee on a mountain top, I ventured to Asni Gallery, an art gallery in Addis. This was listed in the guide book as having some interesting art. I thought not much of it, just as something to kill time and to see something different. The entrance fee for the gallery was 1 birr (5 cents), but to take photos, it’s 20 birr ($1). I am not sure how they’d know whether I take photos once I enter, but I paid the $1 anyway.
By my second week in Addis, I had visited all of the notable museums listed in the Lonely Planet. I wanted something a bit more authentic. So, I hired Million, the taxi drive who is buying a goat for his sister, to drive me up Entoto Mountain – the mountain range just outside of Addis, and supposedly has a great view of the city. As we drove up the mountain, … Read more
Everyone knows that you don’t get a true sense of a country by simply visiting its capital city. And for that, I ventured on a 13-hour bus ride up north, to see the ancient capital of Gondar, Ethiopia. It was an incredibly nostalgic ride as I had spent many hours of my Peace Corps service on similar journeys.
Our Gondar adventures continued the next morning with a sunrise breakfast on our hotel’s terrace. We stayed at Lodge du Chateau. It’s centrally located with superb service. The lodge is just that, a lodge, hence pretty basic. Very Lonely Planet. The Peace Corps Volunteer nearby works closely with this hotel, and it sells products from local charity, farm cooperative, and the like. We ventured to the old Gondar Castle from … Read more
We journeyed into Gondar on a Friday night, and the next morning, we caught the weekly market in town. I love market days! It’s the time of the week when the town comes alive. Anything you could possibly need, you can find on Market Day. The key word here is need, not want. I love the sensory overload – the smell, the color, the noise, the people. Naturally, being an … Read more
One of the top attractions in Northern Ethiopia is Simien Mountain. Given that we were traveling in a group, we organized a private tour. Bus departed from Gondar. Two hours later, we arrive at the bottom of the mountain. Apparently, we needed not only a guide, but also a guard who came with a rifle. Supposedly there used to be quite a few bandits in the mountain, but that situation has been rectified, and now, the practice of having a guard is still in place to provide local employment. I must say, I felt safer with him around. You never know what animal, or er, bandits, are roaming around.
We set off on a short trek. Compare to my hike in Sichuan, China a few months ago, this was a breeze walk in the park. The view was nevertheless stunning. As we were on top of the mountain, we ran into a group of few girls. Turns out one of them was the Peace Corps Volunteer who had given us restaurant suggestions in Gondar from the previous night. Ah, the life of Peace Corps!
When Jenn asked whether I wanted to visit another ancient city or SPA resort on a crater lake, the answer was an easy one. They did call me Posh Corps back in the days after all. I enjoy rugged travel into the developing world, but I also enjoy the finer things in life that the developing world has to offer.
Since I left Cameroon at the end of my Peace Corps service in 2010, I return to the continent for the first time. At the end of 2010, I did take a trip to Tunisia, which is technically in Africa. Though this time, nearly 4 years later, I feel like I’ve returned home. I took Qatar Airways & Emirates from Shanghai via Doha, Dubai, and finally to Addis Ababa, Ethiopian’s … Read more
A great friend of mine from my Peace Corps days took advantage of my business trip and visited me in the Bay Area. I was glad she came out, because I’ve been thinking of visiting Napa Valley, but that is so the last place I’d want to travel alone. After asking around for tips, a friend suggested that we hire a driver on TaskRabbit. This way, we can drink to … Read more
A few weeks ago, I hopped on a plane to Manila for a long weekend. Why Manila? Well, for no other reason than it was the cheapest flight out of Shanghai on that particular weekend, as listed on Vayama. So often, the best memories are created out of experiences that you never intended to have. It had been years since I truly traveled alone. In the past few years, I’ve … Read more