埃塞俄比亞首都亞的斯亞貝巴 （Addis Ababa）的城市規劃極凌亂，像是一座活迷宮，首次到訪且沒有導遊的話根本無從入手。我們第一站先到 Merkato 巿集，一遊非洲大陸最大的露天巿集。
導遊帶我們坐藍色迷你巴士，約小型客貨車般大，運作像香港的紅 Van，車頂上寫有開往的方向（當然是 Amharic 文字），一名司機專注開車，另一名拍檔負責開門關門、叫客及收錢。不論車程長短，一律收費 1.5 Birr（港幣 0.43 元），一車至少坐 17 個乘客，客滿開車。在繁忙的街頭，不時出現一整條街長的人龍，週日則相反，等客的藍色迷李巴士滿佈每個角落。
我們在 Merkato 巿集的電器街下車，說是一個巿集，還倒不如說是一個購物「區」更貼切。這裡有超過 7,000 個攤檔，有地攤、店舖，還有流動小販，從吃到穿、手機到家電、金飾到宗教用品，甚至零售或批發也有，你想要的都可以在這區找到。
Injera and churches in Lalibela／Kimberlogic
After hiking and camping in the Danakil Depression for a few days, arriving in Lalibela felt like arriving at a resort. It was a 25-minute drive from the airport to the middle of the town, where our hotel was located. The town is set high in the mountains at 2,600 meters and almost every hotel is situated on a cliff that offers amazing views of the landscape. High mountains with very flat plateaus and deep valleys with small settlements dot the landscape with one major dirt road winding through.
This was the third place we visited in Ethiopia, and each time we took a small flight from Ethiopian Airlines. Ethiopian Airlines has made travel around the country easy and affordable for everyone. Taking flights in Ethiopia is very hassle-free, it is almost like just getting on a bus. Flights in many countries around the world can be expensive, but we found out that if you fly to Ethiopia with Ethiopian Airlines, you can receive discounted domestic flights with them, and they are the number one airline here.
The afternoon we arrived at our hotel, we decided to just relax and explore the town the following day. We ended up speaking to the hotel’s Food and Beverage manager about Ethiopian national food —— injera. Injera is made primarily from the grain, teff, which grows rampantly throughout Ethiopia and is high in protein and nutrients. The end-product looks like a large, thin, spongy pancake and is eaten at every meal.
The manager brought us into the hotel’s kitchen and let us try to make our own injera. Traditionally, only women make the injera, but we had a competition that night to see whose was the best —— an Ethiopian man and a Ethiopian woman and me and Ming Hay. The Ethiopian woman’s was perfect and the man’s wasn’t too good. I think mine was much better than Ming Hay’s, but overall, the Ethiopians both did better than us.
After a fun night of cooking, a bonfire and tasting Tej, which is a type of homemade honey wine. The next morning, we set out to explore what makes Lalibela so popular among tourists and locals —— the rock hewn churches from the 11th century. It is believed that in the 11th century, King Lalibela ordered these 11 churches to be carved out of the soft, pink volcanic rock. It is believed that these churches took 23 years to build, but archeologists have other theories as to how long and when they were constructed, but nothing has been proven.
Either way, these churches are magnificent. Bet Giyorgis, or St. George’s church, is the most visited and probably the most impressive because it was constructed from the top down. It is a free standing structure and the rock around it was dug deep and wide enough that it sits in its own hole.
Other churches are carved into the side of cliffs, but all have impressive windows and drainage systems. The really incredible thing about all of these churches is that they are still used for regular services every day, they are not just museums.
Our other travels throughout Ethiopia left me thinking that older people would have a lot of trouble to visit this country, but our stop in Lalibela proved my notion wrong. There were many older tourists here and with the elevated hospitality of the hotels and the ease of the small town, it makes travel for tourists of all ages accessible.