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On the street besides the Sudanese Central bank (not the street where the entrance is, but the side street), you’ll find a row of shops for meat and fruit & vegetables and several small super-markets. One of the super-markets has written “Welcome” in English above the door and the owner, a Christian Sudanese, speaks quite good English and is very helpful. He has an amazing choice of goods in his small shops a lot of them imported. He also has a lot of frozen goods in his freezers. But don’t expect the chain of cold to be respected in this hot country. Some of the frozen food might have been unfrozen and refrozen several times. But if you cook it well, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Opposite these supermarkets, you’ll find a bakery that has not only bread but a large choice of pastries. The owner is Egyptian and speaks English.
I wouldn’t trust the pastries and cakes made with cream, but the oriental pastries and dry cookies are quite good. Look at N13 11.052 E30 13.072 on Google Earth.
There are also a number of well stocked supermarkets in the Ryiad Area (close the the Ryiad Holliday Hotel, after the railway in the direction of Kordofan University) that cater for the foreigners who seem to live in this area
Updated Aug 23, 2009
Outside of the city of El Obeid are countless small villages, becoming increasingly isolated and basic as they stretch far into the desert.
Quite near to the village of Kortaggat is a very small hamlet that seems to have a disproportionate number of fields and farmlands for its size. Apparently its inhabitants are descendents of an African tribe of witchdoctors and they practice black magic on anyone who dares offend them.
Many locals are terrified of them and children are warned from a very young age to stay off their land... or else!
Written Aug 31, 2004
Compared to Khartoum and the North, the good people of El Obeid have rather fewer scruples about taking your money off you. Whereas in many parts of Khartoum you can offer a shopkeeper a random bundle of notes and he'll return with the correct change, in El Obeid most won't have any qualms about taking it all.
If arriving by bus, don't get a lift off the people hanging around at the station - they'll offer a ride and then later demand a ridiculous fortune for it. That sounds like a no-brainer for most reasonably experienced travellers but in Khartoum such offers would probably be genuinely for free.
That said, there are still plenty of wonderfully friendly people who will genuinely help you. It's only in comparison to other parts of Sudan that I'm complaining - compared to most countries El Obeid is still a very honest place.
Just to point out... some things (bottles of pepsi, water etc) really are more expensive here than Khartoum (say 750 pounds instead of 500) because of the transportation costs - so don't think everyone is ripping you off!
Updated Aug 30, 2004
The main souk is interesting to wander around for a bit but there's little to distinguish it from the souks of other cities. More interesting is a camel market that is held occasionally, a fair walk from the city centre.
I was never able to work out exactly when it's on as it seems to change constantly. I think it's supposed to be weekly but it seems more of an occasional word-of-mouth thing. It's also quite difficult to find if you don't know the way. But it is worth it if you've got the time to ask around and persevere. Wander up past the football stadium (walk out of town past Victory Park and you'll see it on your left) and keep walking along that road - you'll need to ask directions from here. There's a good chance one of the locals will walk you to it. Once you're there expect to see dozens of camels and traders from all over Western Sudan and the Libyan desert.
Sorry I can't be more specific about the details, but at least now you know it exists!
Updated Aug 30, 2004