My visa will be expired in five days, but it is very far to the border, around 900 km (562 mi). I have to hitchhike to the border. But it is too beautiful to take a car that I want to try cycling a little bit every day. I am worried that I can be at the border before expiring my Ethiopian visa.
14th Oct 2013
It is time to leave Addis Ababa and the people I loved living with. My heart is broken. Saying farewell is very hard for me sometimes. My bicycle is now perfect that it seems like I’ve gotten a new bike. But my feelings are complicated.
The capital of Ethiopia is busy from the morning.
When I am cycling out of city, I see that one truck stops. What is happened? Is that the person who is lying down? NO WAY! I think a car accident was happened in a minute, but already many people run to the accident. It is uphill that I cycle slowly. I can’t see the injured person, because many people try to carry the injured person by themselves. They didn’t wait the ambulance. Yeah, here is Africa that to wait ambulance could be not worth.
While I pass next to the accident, I see.. I see… I see.. Something… Blood is flowing on the road, because the road is steep. I can’t understand it, because the car accident happened in minutes. HOW COME much blood could be flowing in minutes???? Will that person be okay?………….
A washbasin is wider in Ethiopia that it is very easy to do laundry. When I arrived in Ethiopia at the first day, I asked to get water for a laundry in a hotel. The owner gave me that washbasin and water together.
Addis Ababa is located at an elevation of 2300 m (7545 ft) that the weather is enough good to live. From Addis Ababa 15 km (9 mi) is going up to an elevation of 2900 m (9514 mi). I think it is the highest place I’ve cycled in Africa.
On the top, I can see whole of Addis Ababa. I am gonna miss that place where I’ve enjoyed time so much with one family.
I can’t remove the picture of blood flowing from my min which I’ve seen on the car accident while my heart is broken with farewell. Oh.. My mind is too complicated now that I can’t stop holding my tear.
I stop at the restaurant for the lunch. It is easy to see a traditional coffee maker.
It is an Ethiopian culture for the coffee.
She pours coffee for me. It is only 5 Birr (300 cents). The tasty is really good. Maybe because there is much sugar. People usually puts sugar amount of half of the cup.
One Ethiopian told me that he usually drinks coffee only with a typical way, because the smell is much better than using a machine.
It is a typical Ethiopian food. How beautiful! I expected to eat beef. But it is a goat. Usually if I order meet, then it is a goat. I think I must say “COW!” or “OX”, if I want to eat beef. There is some strange and strong smell from a goat. The price is only 40 Birr ($2.5)
Ethiopian loves spicy food so that sauce is very spicy. Waitress gives me more Injela and sauce for free!
I drink over tree cups of coffee. I think I drink too much that I have a bit headache.
My plan was to cycle in the morning and to hitchhike in the afternoon. But it is too beautiful to take car, so I cycle more and more.
The scenery is really lovely. I wish I had more time to see beautiful scenery.
There is a canyon.
Although it is hilly, the landscape is fantastic. I love green so much.
It is very sad to see this amazing scenery alone.
The sun is going down. I set up my tent at some local people’s yard. It is so lonely in my tent when there is nobody to say to me “good night”. It has been a really tough and hard day for me who am sometimes too emotional.
15th Oct 2013
At the next day, when I put back my tent, children are watching me. I ask them where a toilet is. They guide me and point the nature. There is no any room. Even no tree! To live in nature!
The morning is very quiet. I think northern part is quitter than southern part.
The house is at the middle of nature.
It is really green.
My picture is not good. It is much better to see with the naked eye. I heard that Stephane’s family, my host in Addis, will travel to the northern Ethiopia on the Christmas vacation. I am so excited for them. It would be so nice to see this nature.
When I cycle on uphill, I can see an amazing canyon which I can’t take with my camera.
While cycling on the downhill, I see people selling local things.
After that, I have to cycle on a uphill again. I go to a restaurant for the lunch. Ethiopia is the only one country in Africa, which has a menu at the ‘local’ restaurant. It means their food culture is much developed than others. Unfortunately it is written by their language that I can’t read it. But it is better to have menu, because I can point and know the price.
I say to her “COW! OX” to have a normal meat.
She brings food with a typical way. When she opens, I get too shocked ever. It is raw meat chunk, not even a dish of minced raw beef. I ask her “COOK”, but she doesn’t understand my English. So I say “FIRE! FIRE!”
At the second time she brings still uncooked meat. I ask one more time for cooking.
Coffee is 4 Birr (20 cents). Service is perfect!!!
She puts some piece of wood on the charcoal that I can smell good thing.
Four days and 800 km (500 mi) is left for my visa and to the border. I have to hurry to hitchhike now. While I get out of the town, children throw stones at me. It is really annoying. I felt so good just after having lunch. Now I feel bad with those crazy children. Ethiopia is so lovely, but the thing is it is crazy annoying country to cycle.
A nice 4*4 Toyota car stops at me. It is funny that while a driver goes other side to help me to put a bike, a local man comes at me and whisper to me “MONEY, MONEY, MONEY”. What funny is I wear worn out clothes and shoes that I look poor, but a driver wears a luxury clothe, and he has a nice big expensive car. A local guy must ask money to him, not me. But he keeps whispers to me secretly “MONEY”. It is another challenge thing that poor local people treat me ATM, not a human being. Foreigner = Money or ATM. Sometimes I want to cry out “I am not money, but human being!!!!”
A driver is going to the next city for a business. He says there is a place which is called “Desert”. Actually it is not a desert, but a very steep mount. But they call it Desert. He says it is the best choice not to cycle between desert, because it is too steep and dangerous.
There is amazing canyon.
If I cycle here, I could have taken better picture. To take car is too fast to see properly. That’s why I am cycling with a bike, not a car.
Frankly speaking, it looks too dangerous and hard to cycle here.
This is Nile River which is going to Egypt. A driver says he never wants to live outside of his country. Yeah it seems he is right, because he is already very rich although he is very young.
He says if Ethiopian blocks a river, Egyptian will die.
‘Why you think that way? Anybody must not block flowing river.’
He says his country was really stronger that his country helped lots of country before.
‘Do you know that too many countries help your country right now?’
He says his country sent armies for Korean War.
‘Thank you so much. But do you know that Korean government has sent lots of money every year to your country. Even we have NGO office which is run by government here for your country.’
A driver is too proud of his country that he keeps saying how his country ‘was’ strong. What he is saying is just about past fact. It seems he doesn’t realize his country is the poorest country right now.
I don’t want to be rude that I bite my tongue not to tell the true thing.
30 minutes is a steep downhill and another 30 minutes is a steep uphill. I think if I cycle on uphill, it will take one day. Children are very rough here that they hit a car to sell a corn. If I cycle here, I am sure that I must be angry with local people’s harass.
According to my host word in Addis, to drive a car here is as if to play a video game that there are too many obstacles. It is true that all the time there are donkeys, horses, cows, lambs, sheep, lambs, wagon and people walking on the highway. I’ve heard that there are animals everywhere in India. I am wondering where more is. India vs Ethiopia?
We arrive in the town after dark. He drops me at some place. While I look for a room, I find that I left my helmet at his car. Although a buckle of helmet is broken and it is not much strong, I do need it. I cycle over two years with this helmet that I don’t want to lose it. I try to find his hotel almost for an hour. Lucky, I find his car at some hotel’s parking place, and I get my helmet! Yeah.
After that I am looking for hotels, but every hotel is the same that it is too rusty. I stay at some hotel for 160 Birr ($9). A receptionist says there is hot water. But NEVER HOT WATER! I did know that he was lying. To take shower with hot water in a cold night is like to visit to the heaven. Anyway I take shower quickly not to catch cold.
There is a restaurant at the downstairs. I have a dinner for 35 Birr ($2). I am really having fun to order Ethiopian food every time, because it is different every time. This is jerked meat food!
Ethiopian beer is cheap that it is only 12 Birr (70 cents). The next country, Sudan, is Muslim country that there is no beer. I should drink enough beer before going there.
I set up tent on the bed, because there are too many fleas in Ethiopia.
Something is stuck on my tent. I think it is a flea. I am not sure it is died while waiting me at the outside of my tent. Ethiopia has most fleas everywhere. I guess because many poor people live with a domestic animal.
16th Oct 2013
There is some monument in the town.
I have to hear “Fuck you” from a stranger from the morning without reason. Another stranger pretends kicking my bike while I am moving that I am too scared at that moment. There is no reason why those people are crazy. Ethiopian people are very rough, but actually it is not only their problem. I’ve been harassed too much on the African street. To face too many ‘African street people’ is totally tough and hard that many people are too rude and impolite.
But if somebody lives in Africa WITH A CAR, it would be much better, and they could have a good experience with African people, I am sure.
I don’t feel good, because I am insulted from the morning. I try to have better feeling as to see a beautiful Ethiopian nature. Oh, the nature is so pretty that I want to cycle more and more although I don’t have much time.
(Video of Southern Ethiopia)
It was taken in Southern Ethiopia. The video is only the tip of an iceberg. The reality is much worse.
Actually maybe I can guess why Ethiopian children are too rough. Their life is too hard ever. Ethiopian children look the poorest where I’ve been in Africa. They have to carry water and do hard thing since two or three years. I still remember that heavy raining day. It was too much raining, but three or four years boy carried big water bottle at that hard condition weather.
There are people coming.
There are poop on the road, but many people don’t have shoes and carry heavy thing on the back.
Some people carry their baby on the back.
When I pass small village, many students are walking to one way. I am too scary them, because all of them can shout at me. It could be worse. Fortunately they don’t shout at me. Oh.. Thank you! This village is quitter than other one, I think
Also their clothes look different that I think their tribe is different from other one. In Africa there are many tribes even in one country. For example, in Korea there is only one tribe that we use the same language and has same culture.
But here in one country there are over 100 tribes living together. One of reasons is England. They drew border line without respecting tribes while colonial times. That’s why there are many civil wars here, because they have to live with many different tribes. I guess England did it on the purpose that many countries have had problem with living together and it makes their country weaker.
According to some way, African people are very smart, because they can speak three languages, mother language, national language and English. I’ve seen that many people speak these three languages in Africa.
I don’t have much time to cycle, but I keep cycling in a day time. There are two big reasons.
The first thing is the nature is so beautiful in Ethiopia that I want to see it slowly.
The second thing is to eat lunch. It is so fun to order Ethiopian food that every time I can have different meal. Even it looks so unique and pretty. So far many African countries I’ve been don’t have unique culture food unlike Ethiopia. Maybe I was hungry for unique culture food.
It is surprising that in this small village’s restaurant has a menu. On the Wednesday and Friday it is fasting day that there is no meat, because they are Orthodox. She gives me vegetable with a injela. .
This is only 14 Birr (80 cents). Even she keeps giving more food, which I didn’t ask. Two sodas are only 14 Birr (80 cents).
Raining season is not finished yet that it rains a little bit. I park my bicycle under the roof.
The kitchen is at the inside. Although it is very small village they have a coffee machine. On the floor there are grasses that it is the Ethiopian culture way to decorate for a guest.
She is a daughter of an owner. She speaks a little bit English that she tries to be friend to me. I have some pen, and on there it is writing “Korean Ethiopia, we are friend” in a local language. I give her it as a gift. It is good to see she is happy to have it.
It is 2 pm when I finish lunch. It is time to hurry again. I must do hitchhike now. But, there are too many people passing that I have to be out of here at first. I heard from a girl in the restaurant that there is a market on Wednesday and Saturday. That’s why there is a line on the road.
According to traffic accident rates, Ethiopian has high rate of traffic accident. I’ve seen many cars were up and down as well. I am wondering that person whom I saw in Addis after a car accident will be okay.
After uphill, there is a small village. People are heading there. I think they come and go for selling and buying things every week with a barefoot.
After a small village, there is a downhill. Soon the sky darkens and a few drops of rain fall. There is no car for hitchhiking. I think because country is too poor that not many people have a car.
While I am wet, I see so sad thing. The lady I saw at the uphill is running with carrying heavy thing on the hair with a heavy rain. She looks too poor that I can’t keep seeing her anymore. If I keep seeing her, I will cry soon, because it looks too poor.
I can’t hate Africa. I can’t love Africa. I can’t help Africa. I can’t change Africa. It is tragic. The only thing I can do is to turn away my head like a coward.
After minutes, rain stops, and I get a ride. Actually I really don’t like to get a ride. Each time my bicycle gets injured. Right now my new handle bar is worn out!! Because my bike is too heavy, and there is not enough space in a car that we have to squeeze my bicycle.
I arrive in Bahir Dar around 7 pm, because I got a ride at the late afternoon. I find a nice tourist hotel that it is 200 Birr (11$). There is a WiFi, which is a surprising gift. Also hot water!! Yeah! It is the best hotel I’ve been in Ethiopia. It is clean as well.
I would like to stay here for a few days more and have some tour, because there is a famous falls and lake. But unfortunately I don’t have time to do enjoy it.
The beer is 15 Birr (80cents). It is expensive a bit more than other place, but it is okay!
Oh, it is only 50 Birr ($2.8), but very delicious!!! I usually drink one or two beers. But at that night I drink four beers! Because the next country, Sudan, doesn’t have beer!!!! But it is 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit.) in Sudan!!! What the heck…
This is Ethiopian money. Their monetary unit is too low that 1 Birr is 50 cents, and the maximum is 100 Birr ($5)
They have coin as well, but it is not used often.
17th Oct 2013
There is ruins in Gondar, the next city. I don’t have really time that I don’t cycle in the morning. But there are not many cars I can see that it takes more time to get a ride.
I take two cars. The last car is a truck, but it is too slow on the hilly mount. I do want to see ruins in Gondar, but I don’t know I will be on time.
The land scape is stunning. Ethiopia is the most beautiful country I’ve been in Africa. Right now it is raining season that it looks much pretty.
Around 4 pm, I arrive in Gondar. It is lucky that the car just stop in front of Ruins. Entrance fee is 100 Birr ($5). I want to hire a guide to know better about ruins. A guide says it is 100 Birr ($5). What? How come it could be the same as entrance fee?
There is no choice that I just hire him. From 1511 to 1543 there was a conflict between Muslim and Christian. At that time Portugal came to Ethiopia. This ruins was affected by Portugal.
The right castle was built by Fasiladas who was the king from 1632 to 1667. The left is his grandson’s castle.
There is not much to see at the inside of the castle.
It was the water tank for saving rain. Actually there was a roof. But it was destroyed by England while England helped Ethiopia against Italia.
Many people said Ethiopia is the only one country in Africa, which was not conquered by European. But actually it is not the true. They were colonized by Italian from 1936 to 1941. During that time, Italian used this castle as a military base. That’s why it was bombed.
Ethiopia is the only country in Africa included South Africa which helped Korean War. Ethiopia was really stronger country long time ago. But it got weaker and weaker because from 1974 Mengistu took a government, and it was turned as communist country for 17 years.
Ethiopia keeps their culture and language very well for a long time unlike other African country, but unfortunately they are too poor now.
This is the castle of Fasiladas’ son. It was rebuilt by Italy while they used it as an army base.
It is European way.
It is another Fasiladas’s great grandson’s castle.
The center is Fasiladas’ castle. The right is his son’s castle. The left one is his grandson’s castle.
They had a lion cage. In Ethiopia a lion means power, that still I can see many lion sculptures on the road easily.
There is my guide on the center of the picture.
The king had a skin illness. One French doctor recommended him to have a sauna. This is a hanger for clothe.
This is a sauna for the king.
One of kings was too young to control the country by himself so that his mom took a power and governed together with his son. This castle is for them.
It is a barn.
The castle is not much big that one and half hour is enough to look around. I try to find a nice hotel like yesterday, but it is not possible. There are only too rusty hotel or too expensive hotel. I think I was lucky to stay there yesterday. My last night in Ethiopia is in a rusty old hotel.
The hotel is too rusty that I don’t want to stay there. I come out for dinner. It is my mistake that I didn’t say “COW” or “OX” that I have a goat for a dinner. It is a local restaurant. Although it is interesting to see live singing, speaker is too loud.
It is too loud that I move to quiet coffee shop. I am gonna miss so much Ethiopian coffee.
I am too afraid that I set up my tent on a bed. A flea is really scary thing! Ethiopia is really amazing country with some way, but it is really hard country for traveling.
18th Oct 2013
Godnar’s morning is very quiet. The city is like Cusco which is in Peru that I can see the present and the past in one time.
It is built with very unique way.
Every African country or tribe has different greeting way. Here they bend themselves and contact with each other cheek over three or four times.
To leave Ethiopia means no more fun meals. I go to a local restaurant to have my last Ethiopian meal. It is breakfast. Oh how amazing! It looks totally different and unique from any other food. It is spicy but okay!
I take a picture of a bird which is sitting other side on the tree with my new lens, 55-250.
I thought it is a garbage bin. But it is not. It is water that people can wash hands before eating food.
Although they are too poor, they have a kettle to boil coffee.
It is 200 km (125 mi) to the border from Gondar. The border will be closed at 6 pm that I must arrive before that time. But it is too beautiful to take a car that I cycle in the morning.
Around 12 pm I tried to hitchhike, but it is a problem that there is no car! I see only four cars for a hour.
On 1:30 pm I get a ride from a big truck. But a driver says he doesn’t go up to the border.
It is very mountainous that a truck can’t go faster. There is a heavy raining for an hour. Around 5 pm I arrive at some town, which is 30 km (18.75 mi) far to the border. It is emergency that there is no time to hitchhike anymore. So, I take a small local bus.
I arrive at the border on 5:30 pm. When I am hurry to the border, one local guy comes to me and whispers for exchanging Sudanese money. At the first, he starts 4.6 for one dollar. I got some information that it must be higher than that. Later he whispers 6 Sudanese pounds for one dollar. I exchange amount of $100.
Later when I cross the Sudanese border, one exchanger comes to me and starts 6.4. What? One dollar is 6.4 pound? I just keep watching him. Later he calls 7 Sudanese pounds for one dollar.
Oh! He was cheater in Ethiopian border!!!!!!!!!!! Anyway I didn’t exchange the money, because I can’t trust people anymore here.
Usually if one doesn’t know exchange rate, it is easy to be cheated. There is no any trusty person on the poor country’s border.
It is my first time since I started traveling, which I lost too much money while exchanging money. I lost almost $ 15. … Man…
When I get an Ethiopian stamp for departure, I ask immigration what it will happen if I arrive at the next day after expiring my visa.
He says he will take my passport, and I must go back to Addis Ababa capital. Then I have to pay $40 to get back my passport. And then I must go out of country in five days. What a scary. Come and Go again? I must be bitten by lots of flea at that time.
I feel so lucky that I am not late.
Anyway Ethiopia was really unique country. It was so rough and hard to cycle and travel. But it was enough worth to know here. ===================================================================
Days in Ethiopia=24 Days
Distance of cycling in Ethiopia= 494.97 km // 309.36 mi
Cities I stayed in Ethiopia= 11Cities
Ethiopia Border, Melbena, Bule Hora, Galcha, Deilla, Hawassa, Addis Ababa, Some village, Debre Markos, Bahir Dar, Gondar
Expenditure in Ethiopia = $ 750.31 (Visa $20, Bike parts $317, camera lens$200) ($1 = Birr 18)
Another great post, made me nostalgic. Safe travels
I will be out of Africa in two months. I am sure that I am gonna miss Africa as you. Take care!
Great to share real journey! You take me all over the world!!
Thank you for traveling with me 🙂 Are you ready to tour Sudan?
Can I ask something. I luckly knowing Ethiopia . one of my idea is involving Africa. soon or later. and Ethiopia have great potential.
but how about morality?
They work hard ? Are they hard worker? It’s too sudden. I just pop up this questions..
a lot of water.. why they suffered by hunger…
Thank you for reading.
Thank you for sharing with us your experience,yes it is very true that ethiopia is good,bad,crazy ,not crazy beautiful,not beautiful,just hard to explain,stay safe and take care…am living near ethiopia moyale kenya if you know