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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Djibouti--The Hotel Kempinski

I am currently living in a hotel (which will go nameless) in Djibouti and am quite comfortable. Although it's not the nicest hotel in the city, it has everything I need including cable tv and wireless internet. The other day, a colleague of mine invited me over to The Hotel Kempinski (the nicest hotel) for one of their 'theme' buffets. These are quite popular in this part of the world. Some nights, you have Arabic food, other nights you have Asian, and there is even a Tex-Mex night at this hotel. That was the night I chose hoping the food would remind me of all my friends in San Antonio. Anyway, the food was good but not great especially considering the price. Although it was 'all you can eat,' the price of DJF 10,000 (roughly $56 American) shocked me! There was no way I could get my money's worth if I wanted to stay on my diet. This reminded me of a phenomonen that I've encountered in developing countries before. It's as if there are two economies. One economy sells only the items that the locals want and the prices are therefore, lower. The other economy sells food, clothes, etc. that only expats would desire and the prices reflect this sometimes being higher than in one's home country. Thailand is probably the most extreme example of this. If you want to see a temple, you pay nothing as a Thai but the equivalent of five dollars as a tourist. They call it dual pricing!!

Anyway, if this is all I have to complain about then I am very fortunate indeed.

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