Antananarivo, Madagascar – Ain’t like the movie. (i).

My first impression towards this country – where’s the zebra? I assumed everyone heard of the cartoon movie before, lions, zebra and giraffe escape to the land of mighty Africa. I was so looking forward towards the trip as I never been to Africa before, nonetheless Madagascar. Thank god for the business trip, else I wouldn’t have the chance to visit to this country. It might not be your usual destination, but I enjoyed it so much (despite of work).

I have to say, the movie is a major misleading. We arrived the weekend before work starts in order to explore the city and we were so looking forward to some exotic animals. Due to the time constrain, we can only stay in the city – Antananarivo or you may called it Tana as how the locals call it. I have to say, it’s our fault for not researching before we reach to the destination. We heard about the political situation and safety issues about Africa as some of my colleagues been there before.

“We could not calculate directions between Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Antananarivo, Madagascar.”

I still remember, it wasn’t easy to get there, and it was one of my worst flight in my life. KL – Bangkok – Reunion Island – Antananarivo. 20 hours at least, in a tiny plane, stuck with some creepy guy who keeps harassing me but the air stewardess can’t do anything to help you as they don’t really speak English and it was a full flight. I got so stressed along the way, and very tired when I got to the airport. Then the immigration officer refused my entry because I don’t look like my photo in my passport. Of course, I look horrible after 20 hours flight with constant harassment. But the matter got settled by my boss with some cash. This is the time I realized, money is everything in this country.

Despite of the tiredness and jet lag, we decided to explore the city without further due. The map above is the one and only map available from the hotel, it’s so simplified and we weren’t sure if it helps our exploration. However, we decided to walk because it doesn’t seems too far to the local attractions. We were trying to take the route where Amazing Race been before, again, we were so wrong about it, as it took us almost 5 hours to reach to the top.

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We basically live right opposite Lake Anosy, which we can view it right from our window. There’s a “black angel” located right in the middle of the lake – the tall war monument which commemorates the Madagascan soldiers who died in the First World War. There was a lot of people staring at us as we were the only tourists walking on the street that time. Not to mention, there’s a lot of people living by the lake as well. They seems harmless, but curious about us. We were bit frightened by the amount of people gathered around the lake on a Sunday afternoon actually but we had a pleasant time walking around the lake as the weather is very comfortable. Look at the sky, clear blue with cotton candy clouds.

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After that, we decided to wander around and forget about the map. We passed by a market and realized that there are Sunday markets everywhere in the city. We assumed we were somewhere around Avenue de i’Independance as that’s where most locals recommended us to go. It was mid afternoon, although the weather is pleasant but the sun is glaring hot. The market is huge. As long as there’s a road, there will be someone setting up the stalls there and selling home-grown vegetables and fruit. It ain’t like any vegetables we saw in the grocery stores. The locals are really warm with smile on their face all the time, and not camera shy at all. We keep walking in the market but it seems never ending.

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We left the market after walked through 10 streets at least probably. Then only we realized, we wasn’t really cautious when we were in the market. Yes we heard a lot about the robbery in African markets, but I have no idea why we wasn’t on our constant alert. There’s also market behind Mahamasina Stadium, lots of locals hanging out there and we were followed by them when we tried to enter the street. Hence we didn’t stay there for long and divert to other places instead. Clothes and shoes piled up on the floor by the roadside, stalls selling few oranges and tomatoes are everywhere. There’s even stalls by the staircase. But we were wondering, who’s going to buy all the stuff?

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And we keep walking, and walking as we weren’t really sure where’s our final destination.

But the whole journey, is a constant surprise.

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To be continued.

Love,

Jo. xx

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