MARK'S (NOT SO) DAILY BLOG

Mark Pilgrim Kia

Travelogue: Angola, the home of the Chinese

A few times a year I go up Africa on TV shoots. Two weeks ago it was the Democratic Republic of Congo and this week it was Angola.

I had heard that it was an expensive country, but nothing prepared me for how much things really cost there! They are not supported by NGO's or seen as a "charity country" in any way. This country is all about oil, and they have a lot of it. And to cater for the oil companies and other international visitors who are there to work, the prices are hiked up beyond what is logically possible.

A bag of potatoes - R500! You want to send your child to nursery school? R15000 per month. The evening buffet at our hotel was R1200 per head (and the food was bad). I'm not complaining. I'm just stating what it is.

In addition to Portuguese I think the next most spoken language there is not English, but Mandarin. The Chinese have built everything, from roads to shops to housing complexes. Here are some workers in a residential complex called the "City of Kelamba". It consists of 750 apartment buildings which accommodates 500 000 people. it stretched for kilometres and to see it in reality is mind blowing.

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The Angolan government paid the Chinese to build it with oil.

The boardwalk has been upgraded at a cost of $ billions and is looking really great. I'm not sure though I would spend $250 million for a top floor beachfront apartment.

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It's either rich or poor in Angola. There's no in-between. One block away from the promenade that had Brazilian palm trees imported at a  cost of $2billion, garbage is scattered everywhere.

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Their road system doesn't allow you to easily cross over the incoming lane to go down a side road, and you generally travel 3 or 4km in one direction, only to do a u-turn and travel 2km back in the opposite direction. Having said that though, they are improving their roads quite substantially. They need to. In a city built for only half a million people, they have over 5 million navigating the roads and traffic is gridlocked at 5am!

My lasting impression though are the people. They are hard working and like to party just as hard. They love music and dance. It's by no means a tourist destination, but if you're going there for work it's well worth then experience...just make sure your travel allowance is big enough.






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