Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What's Your Story?

Two weeks ago I was escorted by a vehicle with 3 guys in uniform carrying automatic weapons, just to get into Lagos airport.

Last Friday I led 10 cars to Fossil Rock, and for some it was their first experience desert driving for real.

Sunday morning I took another Emirates flight from Dubai airport.

Reached Vienna, moved to the Schengen side.

Took small airplane to reach Budapest. Thank God, it still really works.

Met and got envious by so many couples in this amazing place.

And watched the time pass by from Danube bank.

What's your story?

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Sunday, October 02, 2011

Lagos, First Trip

First trip to Lagos, Nigeria. First trip to Africa.

Before I left I received a document from the corporate security team regarding a list of dos and don'ts for my trip. Some of them may not be really necessary, but the team don't want to take risk and put them all as precautions. I would like to share my own experience here that may be useful for fellow travelers who are planning to visit the place someday.

Please note I have no intention to offend anyone from Nigeria with this post. You guys are locals and know the real situation better. The following is just based on what I have seen and been through during my short trip.

1. Take yellow fever injection and the certificate

I was suggested to take 6 injections by the security team as well as the doctor that I have to consult before flying. So I did. The truth: we just need only the Yellow Fever injection with the certificate to prove it. And it has to be done at least 10 days before the trip. I was stopped at the airport because I took the injection only 2 days before. Luckily I was using point no. 2 below :)

2. Use fast track at the airport

The immigration queue can be very long. After that there is still another checkpoint to verify the yellow fever certificate. As highly recommended by the security team, I was using the fast track service so someone picked me up before the immigration counter, took me to pass the counter quickly, and even with my issues with yellow fever injection that I took only 2 days before the trip she was able to make me through all the way until I got into the SUV with bodyguard to take me to the hotel.

3. Malaria mosquito in general bite at night

Don't go out at night if it's not required. If necessary to go, use mosquito repellant and long sleeve shirt to cover. The doctor told me to take malaria pills but I think the best way is to avoid getting bitten in the first place. The hotel set the AC to very cold to keep the mosquito away. I saw many people had their breakfast and lunch in the terrace outside the hotel restaurant. So I think we just need to be careful during the night.

4. Don't drink tap water

Well, the doctor told me to use bottled water even to brush my teeth. She had a patient who got sick after the trip, suspected due to the bacteria in the water. He didn't drink the tap water but used it to brush his teeth. I don't want to take risk so I did as what she advised. And the hotel provides lots of bottled water for free anyway.

5. Use armed escort vehicle in the evening

As part of the security protocol from many companies, we have to use armed escort vehicle to travel between the hotel and the airport in the evening (after 4 pm). I can't judge how dangerous the street is after dark, but what I can tell:
- traffic is very heavy during that time so the escort can get through it faster
- just outside the airport the road is not that smooth and many people drive recklessly
- the escort company is very professional they make sure the car is at the best condition, fuel is always full, to ensure we don't have to stop at all during the trip and can reach the airport as soon as possible

On my way to the airport I was in SUV no. 2. I had a vehicle in front of me with the siren and 3 guys carrying automatic weapons. Behind me there is another SUV for another guests, and the last car is another car with siren and 3 guys with weapons.

6. Always carry small change, either in Neira or USD

I didn't want to write it down first, but please allow me to share my experience at the airport: even when I have all my documents ready, there were few people trying to ask money from me in order to let me go quickly without many questions. I didn't have change at that time, and I felt it was not necessary to give them since I have nothing they can use against me. But if you are stopped because you carry let's say a liquid which is a little bit beyond the limit, and you want them to let you go with it, this may be the way out :)

In summary, I really enjoy my first trip to Lagos. The place is beautiful, people are nice, view is stunning, and the food are delicious.

Thank you, Lagos. Until next time.