Forodhani Night Market

Stonetown, Zanzibar

Barely survived a round of finals and slowly trying to pick up pieces of my life again (I am dramatic).

One of the best motivators for bettering myself in anything is seeing the brilliant work of someone I admire, or just brilliant work in general. I stumbled across a friend’s photography portfolio today and was awed by the extent of his travels and the depth of his photos. It’s such a beautiful day outside today that I think I might just have to go for a walk…

I also realized that I still have an enormous amount of photos to go through from Tanzania. This is a shot from the Forodhani night market in Stonetown, which is possibly the most delicious night market I’ve been to. Zanzibar pizza is like a crêpe on steroids, absolutely necessary to try, and the many other tables sell freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, mishkaki, rambutan fruits, and snacks on snacks on snacks.

Spice Tour in Zanzibar

Cardamom, the princess of spices

While in Zanzibar this past weekend, I went on one of their famous spice tours. Spices were once the major export of Zanzibar, and they’re still intimately tied with the island, but intertwined with tourism. The tour consists of touching, smelling, and ultimately tasting the spices and fruits of Zanzibar. Throughout my one-on-one  guided tour, a local was making me various things made from banana leaf and adorned with hibiscus flowers — I ended up with a purse, a ring, a frog necklace, a hat, and a cone to hold samples of the spices. My guide told me about the origins and uses of various spices and fruits, and we ended the tour with a generous sampling of fruits, fresh coconut water, and a local lunch using the spices we saw.

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Kariakoo & Mzizima Fish Market

(Kariakoo market & Mzizima Fish Market. Photos taken with my point-and-shoot because I didn’t want to risk my SLR being stolen)

Last Thursday, A and I went to downtown to explore. I’d never been to a legit African fish market, so we decided to do it the right way and head straight for Mzizima Fish Market in Kivukoni instead of going for the “gentle introduction” that is in Msasani. We stepped off the bajaj and were greeted by throngs of people selling seafood in large platters complete with chile sauce and fried sardine (?) things in recycled paper cones. A suggested we find the actual fish market by following our noses — sound advice, because 2 steps later I was hit by the unmistakeable aroma of sea creatures.

It was unlike anything I’d ever seen. An expanse of platforms with piles upon piles of fish, people yelling in Swahili, the ground permanently caked with fish scales and questionable liquids. We walked, people stared and yelled out their usual greetings towards foreigners. I stepped over a stingray the size of a twin bed. After browsing for a bit, we decide we had to buy a fish and have it fried for us. While bargaining for the fish shown (fried) above, another seller approaches me and starts shoving a lobster in my face, insisting I buy it. I refused, but perhaps not firmly enough as I was still talking to the first man about the fish, and the second seller remains at my side, staring at me as the lobster tentacles poke into my clothes. After settling on a price, the fish seller leads us to the “kitchen”: an outdoors seating area encircling barrels of rice and ugali and buckets of water of varying cleanliness. The seller tells us to sit at a bench with just enough space for the two of us, and I plop down next to a man skillfully picking meat off of bones. A couple of minutes later, our seller brings us our fried fish that we demolished with our fingers. Freaking delicious.

After the fish market, we trekked to Kariakoo where I bought curries for 25 cents USD a bag, a quarter kilo of millets (“full of protein to make you strong!”), local eggplants, and another kanga. We ate coconuts and passionfruit from the street and ended at Chef’s Pride for dinner, where I had mutton stew and A a hotdog. An amazing day.

China revisited

The very first post I made on this blog was of my trip to China, 4.5 years ago. This winter I finally got to go back again, and I can only hope that my photography has since improved. However, as this trip was mainly about family, I didn’t take as many photos of food and other things, so the photos will be limited. I haven’t had a chance to sort and edit yet since I got back, but here’s a representative photo of my time there.