Friday, April 11, 2008

Bahar Dir, Ethiopia - kinichiwa or is it ni hao?


The monks of Kibran Gebriel don't know what they're missing or do they? Sign reads: "NO ENTRANCE FOR LADY".

This is Kibran Gebriel, the closest monastery to Bahar Dir. The church was built in the 17th century.

Nice priest-like guy showing us tapestries and stuff in Kibran Gebriel...

I'm fascinated by interesting murals like this. I never new religion could be so violent. Hmmm...

I don't get the story behind this tapestry, yet I'm drawn towards it... I know why. I like the fish.

The Kibran Gebriel library boasts a collection of 200 manuscripts (called Ge'ez). Each page of this book is made from goat skin.

Debre Maryam monastery...

Priest at Debre Maryam showing off the goods...

Look...real Chinese folks from the PRC! No, I was not drawn into a debate over Tibet...

The Captain.

This is the Blue Nile outlet just north of Bahar Dar. The Blue Nile, winding it's way through Western Ethiopia and into the Sudan, will eventually join with the White Nile in Khartoum.

Grabbed a quick easy minibus ride to Bahar Dir this morning. Don't ask me why I'm heading away from the intended destination of the Simiens... Nothing wrong with Werota. Hotel was really comfy. People were nice. In fact, a fellow bought me breakfast at a cafe today.

The road connecting Bahar Dir and Gonder was immaculate, smooth as a baby's bottom, perhaps the best road in Africa outside of South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. 10 Birr later, I arrived in BD. The ESP boys had raved about the Ghion Hotel by Lake Tana. Turned out to be way overpriced. But stupid me decided to book a room despite checking out a couple of low rental places. No hot water!!! Way too many farangi's.

Positive news though. In the afternoon, I was lucky enough to latch onto a small group of tourists for a short excursion to nearby Lake Tana island monasteries and churches. I was introduced to them by the receptionist. I was surprised. They were Chinese folks: Frank from Beijing, his girlfriend, Louise from Shanghai, Betty from Kunming, and Daisy from Urumqi (Daisy was kind of cute, eh). Hell, it was like Chinatown in the boat. They all spoke flawless English to boot. I could put away my poorer than rudimentary mandarin Chinese vocabulary. Hanging around Chinese, to my other surprise, felt really relaxing. It might have been a brother and sisterhood thing. Only we can understand our pain: the constant harassment of being called Japanese or spoken to in Japanese. These folks weren't exactly fair weather travelers. They came to Ethiopia via Kenya overland (the same road from hell I took). That was pretty impressive. Usually you never catch the brothers/sisters putting up with that crap. However, at the end of the day, they were just on holidays. It would have been interesting to travel with them.

When it comes down to it, traveling with others is about quality time spent together not quantity of time because I thought I was going to die with my Chinese friends. The wind had picked up over lunch. As we climbed on board the tour boat, I cringed at the sight of some pretty serious white caps on the tumultuous lake. Soon enough, our little boat was on a rollercoaster ride of 4 to 5 foot waves. The captain yelled out "FEAR NOT MY FRIENDS". Not batting an eyelash, he pointed the boat right into the waves. Everyone was soaked by the time we reached the first island. I was just happy to be alive after bobbing around like a cork for a half hour.

Lake Tana eventually calmed down and we managed to visit 3 monasteries. They were OK. Kibran Gabriel, a men only monastery/church, was notable with it's impressive collection of tapestries.

I hung out with the Chinese after getting back. We walked along the lake front to find perhaps the most surreal moment in Ethiopia so far: a huge audience (fifty or more) of drunk, beer-swilling Russians watching a equally huge flock of offshore pelicans. How delightful...

Out of Canuckistan: A travel blog, Apr 11/07
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2 comments:

Steve H. said...

The Russians got drunk on beer? That's gotta be a first.

bubba said...

No, i swear i saw them getting drunk on beer. just beer. not vodka. just beer.