The whole downtown of Addis Ababa is a real mess right now because of the LRT (Light Rail Transport) construction. A combination of tunneling and other infrastructure construction means that roads are closed and no real viable alternatives exist, resulting in gridlock.
This information is accurate at the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014.
Unfortunately men (and boys) have a very cavalier attitude towards public urination. The first couple of times I watched this somewhat alarming behaviour I thought it was only truly homeless men in Addis Ababa who did this. It’s not. A lot of men do it and they definitely do this in the countryside. They just turn their back on even the busiest roads and go for it. Many toilets in bars and restaurants enforce this odd behaviour. Sometimes they have a urinal just outside the ladies toilet cubicle so they may have to see this twice!
Any of you guys ever thought about going behind the tree/bush 2 meters away?
No. Obviously not.
Yes, Addis is generally a pretty safe place.
But, in the market, a guy grabbed one harm(quite hard) and tugged it toward him, all the while saying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." While distracted, another guy on the opposite side reached into my shirt pocket and got my 40 bihr.
It's a harmless well-known attack but my arm was pretty sore after that.
I was also pissed off.
I went back to the market carrying a very visible hand-sized stone and a knowing smile. Seemed everyone understood why I was being so oddly conspicuously. It illicited many smiles.
Funny, no one touched me that time.
Lesson; be prepared for such things. Carry cash in unusual places(pant cuffs) then make purchases swiftly and move on. Look like you know you're not to be messed with.
Yelling, "Heet!" at hangers-on usually stuns them enough to halt their being a nuisance. I believe it means, "leave me!" or "stop!"
This is know locally as "Fird Biet". You will be approached on the street by a nice looking gentleman or even a kid. They tell you that the local community are putting on a Cultural Show and they would like to invite you. There will be traditional dancing, including the snake dance, by dancers in authentic costumes. It sounds great doesn’t it? Well, it’s a scam. A complete fraud and criminal enterprise. I used to watch one man, who looked like a school teacher, work the streets near a tourist hotel everyday. There is a teenager who works outside the Sheraton who runs away now when he sees me. Why? Because I know and now – so do you. I learned this from someone who once worked this scam.
How does it work? They take you somewhere and a few dances are performed. You are offered drinks. You are then asked at the end for $100 per person or even more. Because they kept their end of the bargain you have to pay. Not paying could become violent.
Never, ever go to a ‘Cultural Show’. If you eat at a good Ethiopian restaurant you will get traditional dancing for free. If you are approached, just say “Fird Bet” and they disappear quickly.
By the way the term means something like an appearace in criminal court.
It can get very hot in Ethiopia, but don’t think for a minute that you can open a window on a bus or in a taxi to cool down. Ethiopians have a fear of disease being caught by air blowing in through open windows. Shared taxis are not too bad as the side door is often open. Large busses and small taxis can be a real problem though. Click on the picture. Its where a handle was so you could roll down the window. Mr. Taxi driver removed them so you can’t! A lot of taxis do this. If it is really warm look inside a taxi first. No handles = no ride.
These are available but not quite visible in most streets in Addis but mostly in under-developed roads. If you think you can have fun with them by giving them false promises or touching their bodies, you are absolutely mistaken. These girls can turn violent and wild. They scream and will attack you with whatever is in their hands, until you give them some money. If you pass by them and one of them says ‘Hello’ to you, simply say ‘Hello’ and walk away unless, of course you have decided to have a real fun.
Amazingly, Piazza Area together with Bole Road, are the cleanest areas in Addis. Nevertheless, it is more than other areas in Addis which are inflicted with beggars and crooks. It is in Piazza that most cheap hotels are located, starting with the National Hotel (not be confused with the National Hotel off Haile Bebre Silase St. ), Etege Taitu, Florida, Oslo and many more. These hotels are not worth a penny. If you want to enjoy Addis and have a comfortable stay there, you need to go for medium range or above hotels. All these cheap hotels lack the basic means of comfort and hygiene.
For the time being, it is advisable to avoid all hotels located on Debre Zeit and Meskel Flower roads, starting from Concorde, Hawi, Global and some more. There are massive road and sewage construction there which makes your life miserable. In the daytime, it is almost impossible to walk; there are rubbles, stones and pits which are absolutely horrible for passers-by. At night, there are no street lamps and the roads look dangerous. In other parts of Addis, another type of construction is under way: luxurious villas for middle-class Ethiopians, hotels and shopping centers. It seems that the global economic crisis has no effect on the development projects in Addis.
There are four sources of bother for tourists in Addis:
1-Beggars who are mostly seen in Piazza area and Bole Road.
2-Homeless kids who will follow you to brush your shoes
3-Unemployed youths who gather near cafes and crossroads
4-And finally the fake guides, these are the crooks and the most dangerous ones in Addis. Often they are will dressed and you will immediately know them when they say: ‘ remember me? I know your hotel.’ Beware of these crooks. Do not look into their eyes and smile to them. If you do, then you are glued down. It is difficult to get rid of these but luckily and thanks to the Ethiopian government, there are security guards every where in Addis. Moreover, there is a law, as one Ethiopian friend told me, by which any local who intends to harass, steal or attack tourists is imprisoned for six months.
Addis Ababa is a safe place to be for tourists. I had no problems walking around in the streets there. Even in the night. The locals say Mercato is dangerous, but I felt safe there. No attempt of pick pockets.
Generally the local people were polite against me. I had only one incident when some guys tried to fool me into a fake culture show. It happened in a backstreet close to Bole road.
You may have been warned against the police in Africa. Their low salary makes it easier to be corrupt and take advantage of the tourists.
BUT the Ethiopian police are different. They may look dangerous with their Kalashnikov guns, but they are polite and willing to help if you got problems. And they don't steel from tourists.
Ethiopia has been in war with Eritrea for more than 30 years. The reason is territory claim and independence for Eritrea. There are still some clashes between the countries, even if they have signed a peace treaty.
It's hard to say if the former war was the reason for the bomb blast in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 20, 2008 in Addis Ababa. Three people were killed and four wounded when a bomb exploded. The photo is the wreckage of the minibus hit by the bomb.
Ufortunately there are scams against tourists i Addis Ababa. Avoid strangers who want to show you other places. In some cases it could be an attempt to fool you into something.
The classic scam are strangers who want to take you to a "traditional show". You will follow the person into a place or a privat club. You will eat and drink, and maybe stand treat for drinks to your "new friends". They usually drink some kind of wine made by honey. I think they call it "Tej". Even if it is homemade, they will argue that it is imported and charge you 200 Birr a bottle. Imagine the bill you have to pay when you shall leave :-(
Ethiopia is full of guys who think they can wire up anything. My landlord was like that. He replaced and rewired my ‘hot’ shower over 10 times. Never worked. Wherever you are, do study the evacuation routes/exits – especially before you got to sleep. I have smelled burning and had electric showers go bust several times. In fact, be very careful about splashing water in showers. Hard to believe but all these pictures were taken in showers!
One of the toughest things about any trip to Africa, is the hundreds or poor people you will see each day.
The poorest people have no welfare state, so live on the streets. You will see all kinds of ailment, children in rags, babies crying for food.
Some of this is a ploy to get money, but most is genuine.
You can't help them all sadly.
Lonely Planet suggests a trip to Churchill Road to buy meal vouchers, but we could not find the place :(
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