Schrattenkalk in Kairo

Port Sudan is an extremely relaxed town. The city was build by the British in the early 20th century, because Port Sudan was able to serve as a deep sea harbour. Suakin, which had been the most important harbour town until then, is not. Interestingly Suaking is up to today important as a ferry harbour for boats to Saudi Arabia, for migrant workers as well as for Haj. The city centre of Port Sudan  is developed by a grid scheme and in the middle is a beautiful market area. Most of the pictures below show the market.

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As part of my research on regional parties I spent the last week in Kassala and Port Sudan, where I tried to meet old parliamentarians and party members who would be able to tell me about the 60s.

Kassala is supposed to be one of Sudan’s most beautiful towns. And it is true, the setting of the town under the Taka mountains is dramatic. Amid a never ending plain, suddenly the mountains shoot up out of nowhere. The town itself is green and pleasent, people are nice –but not as relaxed as in Port Sudan– and the city is dominated by one large market area. The market is fun to explore and covered and open markets are mixed in between each other. However due to the continuing high “security” status of Kassala –the town is close to the Eritrean border and was attacked (by SPLM / NDA forces) at least once in 2000– it is still not advisable to take pictures all around town –especially if you are a PhD student. Below you can see the Taka mountains as back drop to the town as seen from the roof of the hotel I stayed in.

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Khartoum has a pretty good bus network. It’s actually great if you want to travel long distance and if you travel outside the city centre. If you are in the city centre however, it actually sucks. The reason for this is basically that all busses travel via one central bus station which is on one end of the city centre. So if you are at any place in down town, you can either walk across the centre to jump on a specific bus line –or you can grab any bus back to the central station, then jumble through the masses of other travellers to eventually find the bus line you aim for. I usually pick the first option.

Since I am currently staying at a friend’s house for a couple of days while he is in Finland, the easiest way home is to walk towards Khartoum 2 and then grab any bus at the first roundabout going down towards airport road. Most busses going that direction cost 400 (old pounds, i.e. 10 British pence), but that’s not true for all busses. As I learned today, the bus to “Maju, Sinia” costs between 500 and 700 depending on where you want to get off. But the ticket guys never say anything, they just click their fingers and assume you know the price. So I gave him 400. He looked at me and asked where I want to get off. After I told him, he shrugged, looked at me again and shook his head as if he was trying to say; what a greedy Khawaja, not only is he too cheap to use private transport, he doesn’t even want to pay the normal bus fare. Then he turned around and let me be.