Bahar Dar

Trip Start May 30, 2005
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Trip End Sep 30, 2006


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Flag of Ethiopia  ,
Wednesday, September 6, 2006

We had to get up early and back to the bus the next morning. I'd set my alarm to go off about 10 minutes before the bus was due to leave.However my new friendly friends were banging on my door half an hour early, "Mr Ron, time to get up".

Thankfully the journey in the morning was over with really quickly, only about 2 hours on the bus and we arrived in Bahar Dar! I'd barely managed to reach my medative state.

The search for accomodation was interesting. I'd decided on a couple of places to look at and headed to the first one. As I was approaching to first one, a tout headed towards me from the front door, "You looking for a room?, Do you want to look here?"
"Err, yes, that's why I'm heading towards the hostel"
"OK, come with me, I'll show you it".
"No, hold on, I'm coming to look at it anyway"
He was basically looking for commission for his troubles, even though he'd done nothing... I couldn't stomach this, and since I wasn't in the best state of mind from the journey I just said that I'm off to look elsewhere. A little up the road I started to think about cutting my nose off to spite my face so I headed back again. This time I just ignored the guy. When I entered the hostel it turned out to be restaurant. You can imagine the scene. I'm asking the restaurant staff where the hostel is, meanwhile a tout is telling me exactly where it is, and I'm shouting at the touts, "AYE" (Which is Amharic for NO). The next thing I know I'm getting a tap on the shoulder, "Having a little trouble here?". It was Kris!! He'd flown up to Bahar Dar the previous day and knew his way about.

This was brilliant. Immediately it was time to grab some food, feeling so much better. Kris took me to the slightly expensive (10 US Dollars) place he was staying, to be honest I really didn't care how much it cost, I was happy for a bit of comfort. It was so nice to bump into him like this as it meant that I wouldn't just be hanging around on my own.

One of the main attractions of Bahar Dar are the monestaries that are dottied on the islands of Lake Tana, adjacent to the town. So, we organised a trip with a local hostel and left the next day. I'd asked lots of questions regarding the trip, and been given favourable answers to all my queries. When we left on the actual trip one of my questions came back to me, I looked underneath the seat but didn't find any life vests, "Errmmmm, where are the life jackets?"
"Don't worry" I was assured, "We won't sink".
Sounds like Titanic accident prevention tactics to me.

In truth Lake Tana isn't very deep, it's just BIG. We just had to go with the flow and visit the monestaries. These were all pretty cool. The art in each monestary is excellent. There is a certain Ethiopian style which prevales in these buildings. The figures all have large eyes, hard to describe, you'll need to look at the pictures instead.

Everything was going well until we got to the thrid monestary. Out boat driver turned to Claire the only girl in our group and said, "You'll have to stay on the boat, you're not allowed to visit this one".
Well, have you ever seen a human volcanoe? I have now. Just like my life jackets, she'd asked this very question the day before, "She'd been assured and placated, in the same way as I'd been". This particular monestary turned out to be very interesting, and the priest took lots of time to explain everything to us. On returning to the boat we all said to Claire, things like "Nahhh, it was a bit rubbish", "Nothing there really".....

I'd arranged to head out to the Blue Nile waterfall the next morning with Kris, but he wasn't feeling very welll when I knocked on his door in the morning, so I had to go it alone.

It must have been abundantly clear to the touts where I was heading as they were onto me as soon as I got to the bus station. I just had to pretend I knew where I was going and walk away from them. I had to find a friendly bus company worker and ask where to get the correct bus. When I found it, it was a real old rust bucket of a banger. I was only going 1 hour down the road though so it'd do.

While I was waiting for the bus to leave several vendors came on board, selling anything and everything, from snacks to nic naks. The a priest came on the bus and started selling blessings. I've never seen anything like it. There was a very particular set of actions to follow which started with the priest using a small wooden cross to touch the forehead, then other parts of the head, and finally the receiver would kiss the cross. I just hoped that it wasn't an indication of what the bus journey would be like!

When I finally got to the small town next to the waterfall I had to avoid more touts, all of whom were being helpful. These guys must see a load of tourists and were pretty persistant. Even once I'd got to the waterfalls without any help some of them would still follow me around like a shadow. I just wanted to sit and watch the waterfalls for a while in peace and quiet, but it was fairly difficuilt to achieve.

I was actually very lucky with what  I saw. Since the construction of a hydro dam next to the waterfall hardly any water tumbles over the edge, it's all chanelled through the dam. This has seriously affected the micro climate here which had developed thanks to a constant mist in the air generated by the falls. However, due to the excessive rains that Ethiopia experianced before I arrived there was too much water for the hydro plant and the waterfall was temporarilly restored to something approaching it's natural state. Quite amazing.

My next destination is Gondor, and my plan was to head out there the next day. It just didn't happen though. I've become very lethargic with my travels and I'm finding it very hard to find the motivation to get up early and travel on the bus. This meant that I ended up staying an extra day in Bahar Dar. It's not as if I did anything special with the extra day, it really was just wasted. I'm not too upset to be finishing my travels soon.

After feeling guilty about my lost day, I did actually get up the next morning, get myself to the bus station and find a bus to Gondor.
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