Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Khartoum Market Visit

Last week I wrote about going to the fruit and vegetable market. This week we made a subsequent trip to the Arabic market, known as the souq.

We were looking for woodshavings. With Shadow being a house/apartment cat, he has a toilet indoors. (A pink plastic baby bath also bought at a street market) Originally we bought commercial cat litter at the supermarket. Imported a 5kg bag costs SDG25/US$10 and lasts about three weeks.  So Shadow's toilet requirements were threatening to break the Hedges bank! When we lived in West Africa we used woodshavings (available for free from our company woodwork shop) for our cat. 

Here in Khartoum the best option was to go to the souq where bespoke furniture is made  and  buy woodshavings. We found a carpenter who grudgingly let us have a garbage bagful of shavings for SDG8/US$3.20. A few days later Grant returned to the market and after a spot of bargaining he managed to buy a 20kg bag of shavings and sawdust for SDG18/US$7.20.

Now we have sufficient cat-litter (a la Khartoum) to last us quite a while! Shadow didn't bat an eyelid at the change of medium to his litter tray! Sweet adaptable little guy.
We also had another item on our list. A new backpack/rucksack
for Grant.

When we fly out to South Africa, we have to catch a connecting flight in Addis Ababa. We only have an hour in which to do it. Being Africa, often our departure from Khartoum is delayed and in the past we've left the plane, sprinted across the tarmac following an airport official, through  the departure hall, out and across the tarmac again to board our Johannesburg bound flight waiting patiently for us.

Our saving grace has always been that we only have handluggage when flying home. Only thing is, Grant's backpack stripped its zipper and he needed a new holdall. So where do you go when you don't want to pay a fortune for luggage? That's right. The souq!

Grant's technician, Marcell offered to take us as he speaks good Arabic. (Don't you just love these markets? So colourful and so MUCH of everything)  
We found a stall selling dozens of bags and other items. When Marcell asked the price, the vendor said twenty pounds (SDG20/US$8) Grant said "too expensive". Using my newly acquired, albeit halting Arabic, I offered the merchant fifteen pounds (SD15/US$6) and said we'd like two. The deal was clinched; I also have a backpack now, instead of my small overnight suitcase on wheels. 

Later that same day, Grant and I checked prices of the same backpacks in an upmarket departmental store:  SDG110/US$44.

Well worth the visit to the souq and a lot more fun.

The Arabic word for backpack/rucksack is chanta diharr

For more of other worlds click here.


  1. Always love going along on your trips to the markets! Marvelous photos as always! Love the new cat litter! Great to have an adaptable kitty! Have a lovely week, Jo!


  2. Hi Jo, You all did a great job at the market.... Glad you found your wood shavings for your kitty's litter box... That's MUCH cheaper than the other stuff...

    Also--you got great deals on the two backpacks. They are perfect for your trip HOME....

    Glad you had a great day!!!!

  3. shanta means bag and dhahr means back, shanTet dhahr is backpack, the t which appeared when relating to "bag" is called in Arabic "tied t" and its written in the word anyhow but only pronounsed when anything is related to it, like saying "my bag" shanteti or shantet el safar "the travel bag" and so on :)

  4. I always feel I've been on a journey when I see your shots. How much longer will you be in North Africa?

  5. You got a great deal on all your purchases. I love the souq too; so colourful.

  6. Good shopping day. I like when I can find what I need. And love to shop in those kinds of markets. Although language barrier could be a problem. But you're overcoming that.

  7. These souqs look all the same, in Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Tunesia and ... your place !
    Good idea for the litterbox !

  8. Dear Jo

    I am fascinated by your blog as I lived in Khartoum when I was a girl (circa 1968) and love to see your photos and stories. The souk does not seem to have changed at all since those days. I will be an avid reader of your blog as I have so many happy memories of my time in Khartoum and of all the lovely friends there.

  9. What a bargain! The market looks like a treasure trove.

  10. aloha,

    i love seeing your visit to the souq and story, thanks for sharing.

    my tuesday is a hike on my sari sari blog

  11. What a fun market, so much stuff!
    That's a great deal on your backpacks.
    ☼ Sunny

  12. Congrates!

    Thanks for the effort you took to expand upon this post so thoroughly.

    When it comes to adventure vacation deals, there actually are a number of different choices available to you. Find out more! Africa travel


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo