I have learned this valuable lesson too many times. Agree the price before agreeing to buy and goods or services. In Zanzibar I agreed to buy a beef skewer from a food stall for 50 US cents. I then asked for chicken, ate it and was told I owed $7 ! Bastard. The tailor in Uganda who charged me $5 to hem some trousers only charges locals 30 US cents for the same work. You will probably always pay more, but agree first and never accept the first 2 prices. Once agreed – the deal is done. You cannot renegotiate. That applies to Taxi Drivers (thieving scum) who want to renegotiate when you get there. The price never goes in you favour.
A deal is a deal.
Have you already been 'stung'. Learn not to do it again. Always think before you buy. I hate the tailor in Uganda who charged me what I would pay in America. He loves me though.....
Learn to walk away. Sometimes running is good too. Walking away lowers the price. If you are faced with someone asking $30 for a small box of 4 tea bags and surrounded in a shop by 4 screaming men - run! Yes, this happened to me in Marrakesh. When they start at a ridiculous price they are criminals. Learn to be rude. There is a time and a place.
Across Africa you will encounter friendly children, often in groups. Always friendly and sometimes offering to help, sometimes begging. This tip was written to help you understand some of their motivations and the impact, potentially very negative, you may have on them.
I divide interaction with the kids on my travels into the following groups:
• Genuinely friendly & inquisitive
Congratulations. You are probably in an area not well developed by the Tourist
Trade yet. Many want to just practice the English they have learned in school.
Please stop and speak slowly and encourage their learning. Do not offer money.
If you have a digital camera ask (or motion) if it’s OK to take their picture. Then
show them the result! You have new friends.
• Children asking you to take their picture.
Often a scam. If they ask for money before, say no. They may walk away. Never pay money if they ask afterward. They need to learn the difference between scamming and business.
• Selling things/shinning shoes.
Selling tissues, chewing gum and shinning shoes is a business. They pay for materials and make a small profit. Please do purchase from them outside of school hours. Never overpay. It encourages bad habits.
NEVER GIVE THEM MONEY! If they see this is lucrative they will leave school and will be out there begging for the next 60 years. Do give them food. They cannot resell this and will eat. Even leftovers from your lunch are fine. Many large cities also offer meal tickets you can hand out.
• Children asking for pens
Sometimes this is helpful, unless there is a store nearby selling pens. Sometimes they resell the pens. Be cautious.
• Asking for clothes
If they really need it, take them to a shop. Kid’s clothes are cheap.
• Wanting to guide you somewhere
Tell them upfront you will not pay. They still tend to take you there. If they were generally helpful, only pay a few pennies. Maybe future Tour Guides. Give them to much and they hassle/plague future visitors. And stop going to school!
Made a mistake? We all have. Just be more cautious next time. Food is always OK. It helps. A ball if you have a group of kids doing nothing else will get them off the street. Ask them about school and encourage them to get a good education. They are the future of their country. Just remember you can have a life-lasting impact on these kids. Be careful what you do.
Make a quick assessment. Always be friendly, but if it veers towards any sort of encounter where they may want money from you. Think about it. Is it School time? Are you encouraging them to NOT get an education? Always refuse up front to pay. You can always change your mind. Never overpay. You dehumanise everyone involved and maybe encouraging criminal mentality rather than an inspiring a future Entrepreneur that will benefit their village or town.
And watch out for this character:
• A ‘Guide’ throws the small coins you gave him down or complains about being too small.
Pick up the coins or take them back out of their hand. They have shown you disrespect and see you as a stupid victim rather than a welcome visitor. There is no warmth in their heart. They need to respect money, a hard day’s work and you. Every time I have taken the money back they have persisted in asking for more money, once up to 5 days!
When you visit a restaurant or go shopping, always recount your bill.
I don't say they're all crooks and cheaters, but when they think you’re a tourist, the end result of your bill could be a few percentages higher.
I have beent here visrtually, thanks to visit by my parents in 1955, and i have flown over a few times, Swissair, East African Airlines
picked it up on BBC today --> "Butterfly farming proves worth a flutter"
Unique Suggestions: visit the official website of innovator ..." The butterfly idea was brought to the farmers by Theron Morgan-Brown, a young American biologist. "
i do approve, will like to hear from other VT members who are into eco-travel,
sustainable development etc
All that is, is the result of what we have thought. -- Buddha
Fun Alternatives: http://www.geocities.com/marysoderstrom/africa.html
One knows it, a trip to Madagascar is expensive.
As a solution, travellers are now tempted to pay for the expensive air ticket to the mythical, dream island and use dead-cheap transportation means. It is sthg I understand but bear in mind that taxi-brousses are not panacea, esp. if you travel there for 2 weeks and that you intend to go through many spots of the island. Roadtrips this way are dead cheap but not comfy all the time. Look at my picture, taxi-brousses are not all like this mini-van. On some portions of RN7 (Tana- Big Southern area), taxi-brousses are huge trucks, loaded with people... Yeah! trucks, not coaches.
Here and there, tourists who planned to travel by taxi-brousses *only*, eventually, ended up turning down half of their plan. They then travelled the first half by taxi-brousses but changed plan and hired 4WD with driver for the rest of the roadtrips. It is common that even backpacking hardliners end digging into that last minute change.
Unique Suggestions: - Choose a sedan as taxi- brousse, or a mini-van or a 4WD (private rental services). It is possible to arrange with other passengers the cost of a 4WD hiring.
Yet, if you are taking a taxi-brousse in a remote area and don't have any choice but the truck:
- Socialize in the truck. Will help you to "entertain" yourself. :)
- If possible, have some walk when there are halts on your itinerary because sitting in the back of a huge truck is not that comfy.
- Bear in mind that a taxi-brousse in remote areas has all power to unexpectedly drop you in the middle of nowhere (well, a dive in a small village). You looked for adventure, no? You have it! :) But just be prepared to that.
Fun Alternatives: Carefully consider transportation means combination according to your budget, your time. Also, never aim too big in Madagascar. IMHO, better travel to few places but you would come to know well, for hiring a guide for instance, instead of wasting your time (say, 8 hours in a truck-brousse) in transportation for only 1 day in a place. For sure, this is one of travels you have to carefully plan.
For instance, there are distances you can easily do with taxi-brousse because roads are well-kept (Tana-Toamasina, Tana-Antsirabe, Tana-Fianarantsoa). On other lines (like Toliara- Taolagnaro/ Fort Dauphin, Fianarantsoa-Ranomafana-Manakara), it's tiring within those trucks esp. in rainy season.
To explore the South, either take your time when roadtripping (taxi-brousse and train combination), either less time but hire a car with driver.
The train is more comfortable and cheaper than taxi-brousse sometimes. Plus, government undertook lately investments and rehabilitation works. It seems like a renewal has come, as for the national rail company (that would be now privatized, if I am not wrong).
Three rail lines from Tana in Madagascar:
- Tana-Toamasina (usually closed in rainy summer for fear of erosion...)
- Fianar-Manakara (off beat track and hugely rehabilitated in 2003)
If you are into a "truck-brousse only" mood when starting and that you have time, plan extra-money in case you shift plans. You may add days in hotels to relax/ recover or go for more comfortable transportation means. In both cases, it would cost more than the truck. Still, it's possible to avoid internal flights.
these arn't in any particular order
1. street touts who won't take no for an answer
2. the phrase 'hello my friend', at this rate after 2 weeks in africa i would have accumulated about a zillion more friends
3. NOOOOOOO - i don't want a taxi.............. at every street corner i'm asked if i want a taxi. Even infront of the place i am staying at. It gets so annoying i am running out of stories to say to them.
4. footpaths that make dirt roads look good. You need to see it to believe it but put simply the moon is probably smoother then some of the pavements here. (I'm sure some of you know what i mean)
5. the constant feeling of eyes upon me and safety/security concerns i need to be aware of.
Ok, don't get me wrong, i love what i've seen about Africa and there is little doubt there are some wonderful people here and scenery that even makes my jaw drop, but the street touts make it hard to see the nice people and as such i've madeup a fake identity to feed to the street touts to kinda keep them off knowing to much about me. You need to experience it to see what i mean but it does get annoying when the same person says hello to you every day atleast once and is constantly hassling you for a safari, tour, trip, taxi, etc.
In most occasions when you buy something at a local shop or in the street, you are supposed to bargain. The vendor will always tell you a higher price as a first, so you will have to start this interesting bargaining game. African traders are hard to convince, so here are some rules:
- Don't ask the price unless you're prepared to bargain.
- Don't point at something to show it to your friend...
- Relax... they are going to try very hard to get your attention.
- It's more polite to say "la prochaine fois" (next time) than "no."
- When bargaining, their first price is NEVER their last! Neither should yours be. Start much lower than what you want to pay, then get more reasonable.
- Try to ask someone who is experienced in shopping for moroccan souvenirs for what a good price is. (Don't ask someone who is selling them!)
- Walking away is a good technique to get a lower price.
- Don't be in a hurry... you'll end up paying more.
- "All that glitters is not gold,"... and all that is black is not ebony.
- BUY LOTS OF STUFF!! (it will probably be cheaper than at home) Remember your trip forever!
My tips/warnings to anyone visiting Zimbabwe would be:
1. Take US dollars in cash (sterling, euros and rand are also popular but the US dollar is king). Take 10 and 20 dollar notes. They do not like 100 dollar notes due to counterfeiting problems. Travellers cheques will be accepted at the bureau de change but you may not get such a good rate.
2. Never put anything on your credit card. You will be charged the official rate. This includes withdrawing cash from a cash point.
3. Do not charge anything to your hotel bill unless you can settle it in foreign currency. The currency will be converted at the official rate, therefore it is not a good idea anyway. You will not be able to obtain foreign currency from the hotel. We heard of people being unable to pay their hotel bills because of this. Pay all hotel expenses in Zimbabwe dollars.
4. Change money at a bureau de change and get a receipt from the bureau.
For all North African Countries:
If you are NOT interested to buy a souvenir don’t look for the ambulant sellers, if you look will have lots of sellers with all kind of objects around you in a few seconds. In some cases, the tourist was forced to stop his own walking some minutes as was not possible continue to walk with so many people at all sides!!! This extreme cases happens in summertime if are a few tourists in that local, and is more common in same places of Morocco and Egypt.
In all the countries of Muslim culture (that means at north of Sara Desert), a tourist who looks for the sellers or for something to sale is immediately considered as an easy prey.
Unique Suggestions: The best way to buy is, looking ONLY to your seller, all time, be firm with him and NEVER reply or look to the others.
Do not let the driver of your rented car take you to a hotel or restaurant. They take you to the most expensive one!! Our driver took us to the best hotel in Livingstone after a morning's ride from Lusaka. No doubt it was a 5 star resort, but we did not expect to be there for just freshening up!!! We asked him to take us directly to the Victoria Falls!! It was more refreshing there!!!
If you are going to South Africa and want to visit Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls, for instance) PLEASE remember to take a $20 US note with you for every traveller. Nobody actually tells you until you want to leave the country that you have to buy a stamp for your ticket that can only be paid for in US currency with a single $20 note. If you ain't got one - you won't get out ! Be warned.
There is a statue man who works in the same area as the above conmen; he expects you to pay for a photo you take of some-one with him. You walk away with-out paying and he will thump you!! He's dressed all in white, like an Arab, with a ghostly white face.
If you want to waste half a day of your holiday then fine, but if not avoid like the plague any body carryiny scratch cards who when your challenged say you've won a camera, a holiday or money it's a ploy to get you to go with them.These are timeshare operators and they work near to building sites or new developements, who've been warned!!
Don't be sucked in by the conmen who wait till late at night to trick the unwary after a drink or two!! They trick people out of about 80 pounds by playing find the lady. Or rather they switch the white disc for another black so the person playing looses!! They work with an audience so they can cheat people into believing some-one actually does win!!
Keep your eyes open almost everyone in this place is a crook. Snake-charmers create distraction while the children pick pocket the crowd. Do not buy knives because they will get them back from you before you get on the boat. If your on a tour bus notice that they do not let you see out the back by hanging blankets. If you do get to see like I did you will notice the Mercedes Benz with the 'POOR GUYS' following you to the next stop so they can try and sell you knives.
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