South Sudan is the youngest country in the world (independence in 2011) and came out of one of the longest civil wars in history.
From Chad, my flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was late, so that meant I had to wait until the next morning, but I actually wasn’t upset by this. 1-I was going to arrive at midnight in Juba, but now I’d arrive at 9:30am. I wasn’t losing any sightseeing time. 2-Ethiopian Airlines gives you a hotel room for this, which meant a night I didn’t have to pay for in Juba. 3-The hotel will give free dinner and free breakfast, so those were also great.
There were a bunch of people in the van, and I spent some time talking to a nurse from Argentina who was en route to Cameroon to volunteer with Doctors Without Borders. We ate our free dinner and next morning’s free breakfast together and got dropped off at the airport at the same time, and she thought I was seriously strange for going to all of these places as a tourist.
Also, our airport van had a tape player.
Juba, South Sudan – you REALLY can’t take pictures here. Stories about of tourists being beaten by police for taking pictures. After their long history of civil war and spies, they don’t trust people with cameras. To take pictures, you have to get a permit, and even then the process of proving that you have it and that it’s not fake, etc. is more hassle than it’s worth from everything I’ve read online. Instead, I took clandestine photos from my mini camera and then straightened them out later.
Health screening for ebola on arrival.
Interesting instructions on the room safe at Crown Hotel.
I exchanged some money at a nearby liquor shop after a tip from the hotel’s front desk, and the lady there clearly didn’t want other customers seeing us exchanging money, so I had to pretend to be buying/browsing around to make it happen. I totally have a future as an international spy.
I caught a super cheap ride on the back of a moto to the Rainbow Hotel to eat lunch. It was SO WEIRD eating there. It’s right near a bunch of embassies, and they had tons of TVs showing news from BBC, CNN, and international sports. It was definitely an expat crowd.
A ride to this church was the starting path for my walking tour.
I passed the stadium and heard some noise, so I asked what was going on. There was a game, and after verifying that it wasn’t just a school team practicing or something, I paid less than 50 cents to go watch a game from the South Sudan Premier League. I know nothing other than the fact it was red vs blue, the field and stadium were in pretty rough shape, and a plaque outside told me that it’s being refurbished as part of the Fifa Forward charity. Knowing that it’s South Sudan and Fifa, I wonder how much of that money actually showed up for the project…
I can honestly say that walking into the stadium was one of those moments in life where you just KNOW everyone is looking at you. From entering the gate to walking along the track over to the stands, then going up a few steps and finding a seat, everyone had that “What is this guy doing here?” look and was watching me with the most confused expressions. I debated waving. Anyway, I had a great time.
Next, I passed the cathedral, the main market and main mosque (didn’t feel daring enough to attempt pictures here in giant crowds) and then went down to the hotel where 2 of the guys from my Somalia tour happened to have arrived and be staying for the night. I had dinner there and sat along the Nile for a while chatting with them.
The next morning, I got a moto ride down to the Independence Square + memorial to the first president. These are my clandestine pictures while walking and avoiding the attention of numerous soldiers. The area obviously needs some upkeep. It looks like the flags were put up in 2011 and not maintained since then.
A moto ride to lunch and then off to the airport. I had intentionally not planned to stay long in South Sudan for a few reasons. 1-being told there’s not much to see/do in Juba (confirmed as true). 2-to get out of the city, you need tons of permits/tour guides/etc. that all adds up quickly, and I just wasn’t looking to fork out that kind of money for a solo trip at the time. I’d love to go see the Dinka tribes at some point, but that day wasn’t today.
Ethiopian Airlines to transit Addis Ababa again, and goodbye for now to South Sudan. It was actually pretty good—better than I’d expected.This entry was posted in Africa, Juba, South Sudan