I want but I need

 

What I want is….

to see you

to talk to you

to laugh with you

to dream about you

But I need…

to forget all about you.

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What to Prepare Before You Fly to Senegal

Get a pen and list those things for your first African trip!

Ever wonder where Senegal is located in the world map? I honestly do not know where in Africa this country is situated until I got an invitation to go.

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Senegal is situated in the west coast of Africa which capital city is Dakar. The population in Dakar is approximately 1 Million. Locals can speak both Wolof and French. This country has a very rich history and culture also. So, is it a good idea to explore this country next? Definitely, yes!

I had an opportunity to travel in Senegal for a business trip. Imagining the distance of my destination from my origin somehow made me nervous. Even the requirements going to Africa gave butterflies in my stomach. The requirements and procedures are not that easy for a first time traveler in the said continent.

To those residing in Asia, expect long flights and layovers going to Dakar. It was a long flight that took us 25 hours to finally land to the city including layovers.

If you wish to visit the beautiful country of Senegal, you need to prepare weeks before your scheduled trip.

Vaccine and Malaria Tablets

One of the requirements for most African countries is a yellow fever vaccine. Keep the yellow fever certificate to present in the immigration. I am residing in Manila so I went to the Bureau of Quarantine and request for the vaccine. Fill out the form and pay for it. In few minutes you’ll get the vaccine. Honestly, I am not sure what makes it painful but it made my arm numb.

The assigned doctor will hand over the yellow fever certificate after payment. It is good as well to request for Malaria tablet prescription. The doctor instructed to take one tablet every week—for 7 weeks.

Visa

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As per the consulate of Dakar in Manila, Philippine passport holders are not required to get a tourist visa for 30 days. However, I need to be sure, I still applied. Here are the requirements:

  • Accomplished Application Form (call the Embassy to send it thru your e-mail)
  • Passport (6 months validity) and has blank page for the visa
  • Copy of Confirmed ticket
  • Invitation (for business purpose)
  • 2 Passport size picture
  • No fees

Senegalese Honorary Consulate in Manila, Philippines

Edward Sy Go, Honorary Consul

Unit 16 A South Tower, Pacific Plaza Tower

Bonifacio, Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila, 1634

Philippines

Telephone: (+63) 2 818-6220, (+63) 2 572-3556

There’s also a Consulate office in Malaysia and in Singapore in case you’re nearer.

Before going to the Embassy, don’t forget to call first and make an appointment. I regret to do this when I got to the office because the consul was out of the country during that time. So I need to email him and ask for his returned date. I still have 4 days to process my visa but the return of the consul is 2 days after my flight. He sent an authorized representative to process mine that’s why I was able to fly with a visa. Learn from my mistake. Give at least 3 working days to claim your passport but set at least 2 weeks buffer in applying for the visa. On my experience, the consul can give you the visa immediately as long as you have the complete requirements.

If you have additional questions, please call the consulate office.

You should Bring

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I bought a mosquito repellant but a friend told me that it is better to buy where you’ll be heading. My Senegalese friends shared that Malaria is very rampant there and one of the top cause of death among the locals. This is not to scare you. If you took Malaria tablets 2 weeks before your departure, nothing to worry about. Bringing a mosquito repellant is to save you not only from Malaria but also from mosquito bites and other diseases mosquitoes may bring.

Bring also over the counter medicines such as anti-histamine, anti-acid, paracetamol, etc. Always secure these things because not all corners of the street has Pharmacy and besides it will not cost you much if you buy them from your country. Put this always on your hand-carry bag.

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A chemical engineer friend of mine suggested to buy a special alcohol. I am not endorsing this; just giving everyone an idea. There’s an element in this alcohol that will save you from viruses which cannot be found from ordinary alcohol we see in stores. It has 5 benefits as the label indicates.

Roaming and Local Contacts

It is very important for someone travelling far to have a roaming or local number. I am not a fan of checking-ins so others could locate me. However, I learned that it is important for your safety. Not only your family needs to know where you are but you need to have the capacity to call the hotel, office or a friend living in the city. In my case, I failed to get a roaming or local number, so I relied on my co-workers’ data. That is very inconvenient and unsafe. Always roam your phone number for emergencies and get local numbers of your hotel, nearest police station, and restaurants you wish to dine. Having a data is also a good idea especially if you are a non-French speaking tourist, your phone can be a handy-dandy translator to communicate with the locals. Not all locals can speak in English.

Map

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Even if street signs are readable in every corner, you may still consider having a copy of the city’s map or a GPS. One of our experience, since most of the people are non-English speakers, misunderstanding with the place is a challenge. Once, we told the taxi driver to drop us off in a restaurant, and we thought he understood our terrible French accent. He then led us to the road going to the airport. At first I was afraid and negative thoughts rule in my mind. Good thing my friend had a picture of the Liberty Monument so he easily divert our route going there. But the restaurant which we initially requested is too far from our location. We took that opportunity to takes pictures with the enormous sculpture and conquer the steps going up.

Know How to Greet in French

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Senegalese are fun-loving and sweet people. They enjoy talking with each other. If you are a foreigner there, you’ll see how close people are with their family and friends. So when you see a local in the street, on your hotel or any place you go, always greet them Bonjour! One of my Senegalese friend shared that they find it disrespectful if foreigners do not greet them. Because locals even greet unknown person in the street. I like that tradition. If a Senegalese greet you Bonjour turn and say Comment Ca va (how are you?).  They are satisfied with a simple greeting it was like acknowledging their presence.

I hope some of these suggestions and little reminders help you on your next travel in Senegal or any place in Africa. Till next time!

Note from a Failed First Time Traveler

Learning new things about travel might came from a newbie, too.

Traveling is a new thing for most hermits like me. My first travel years back was a combination of failure and laughter. So if you are a first time explorer, these tips can help you on your way to awesome adventures.

Research, research, and research

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As a first time traveler, you don’t know what awaits you on your first travel destination. Most of us are usually accompanied by experienced people. Even though, you need to research as well. Research about the places or sites you want to see and what you should try. Know the local’s way of life, customs, culture, food, history and arts. Try to research not only for the famous sites, but also for the interesting places where you can hang out. I failed to do this before. I relied wholly on my friends so I don’t have any idea of what makes me excited about the trip.

Pack what is necessary

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Packing for the first time is like solving a calculus problem—so difficult! Packing is a foreign thing to me. On my first trip, I placed all my clothes in the luggage without considering what is important and not and I ended up having a bulky and heavy one. Don’t do that! The clothes you bring should depend on the number of days you’ll be on a trip. Consider the places you’ll go to and the weather. Know the culture; if you’re visiting conservative places, consider wearing modest but comfortable clothing. Know the seasons as well; if it is summer there, forget your winter collection. It also helps to put extra clothes in your hand carry bag for emergency purposes. Release your “scout” feels when traveling; be prepared. Be wary of your luggage capacity to avoid excess baggage which would mean additional charges.

Sleep and Relax

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Days into my first out of the country trip, I wasn’t able to sleep for nights. I was so nervous because it was my first time to ride an airplane and my first time to travel abroad. I thought of plane crash, being lost and missing my mom. There is this feeling of oddness due to lack of sleep combined with long hours of travel. It will affect your appreciation of the place. So relax and just be excited about your trip and forget the negative thoughts running in your mind.

Wear appropriate clothes

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When I met with my companions at the airport, guess what I was wearing? I was in a purple formal blouse with a big ribbon on it. My friends were in comfortable casual clothes while I was wearing clothes suited for a job interview. I forgot that I will travel for a vacation and not for a business meeting. In my embarrassment I hurriedly opened my luggage and pulled a shirt out of it and changed. Wear appropriate and comfortable clothing but not so comfortable like being in pajamas.

Don’t be a flight freak

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My first plane ride is ok. I must admit that it was scary especially during the take off. Don’t overthink. Try to sleep during the flight. It will help you gain more strength particularly if you will do a lot of walking during your trip, so charge up always.

Bring enough money

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Thank God because on my first trip I was able to buy what I wanted. Bring extra dollars or the country’s local currency always. Buy only what you need. I spent most of my money on food. One way of enjoying the place is with such good food in your mouth. As much as possible, try the local foods. Don’t be afraid of trying but be mindful of what you are eating. Does salmonella ring a bell?

Be kind and help others

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Help when needed and be kind as always. When my friends and I traveled to Korea, we are anxious of where can we have our transport back to the city because we had a failed decision in riding a taxi that cost us 18,000 KRW (the reason you need to do #1).  As we huddle, a Filipino started giving suggestions to us. He was very helpful. Same with other travelers you’ll encounter, they might be lost too and if you know the way, don’t hesitate to help. That is one way of making new friends. Be kind to all and mind your manners at all times.

Capture what is memorable and share

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Bring a camera with you when you travel. Pictures are proof of your travel especially on your first. Travel has many benefits too. One is being able to share your realizations and experiences. Sharing to others what you’ve learned is like sharing your blessings.

Save for your next travel

Start saving for your next travel. Saving is a discipline so do it as early as now. Don’t be stuck in being a first timer. Make another step and move to your next travel destination.

Don’t be afraid to explore. Remember that the now frequent travelers were once first timers, too.  Just go, discover and travel more.

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Happy travels!