How Hairy is Lagos?

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How Hairy is Lagos?

Postby herodotus » Tue Apr 07, 2009 2:51 pm

I am still mulling over possible travel destinations in West Africa for a month this summer. RYP recommended Sierra Leone, which ranks high at the top of my list. The snag is that the price of the plane ticket to Freetown is a killer.

I've been giving some thought to Togo and/or Benin, but the tickets are exorbitnant. I priced a flight to Lagos on Egyptian Air (Beirut-Lagos via Cairo) for a reasonable $700. Lagos to Benin (Porto-Novo) doesn't seem too far.

Just how bad is Lagos? A friend of mine cagily referred to the cab ride from Muhammad Murtala Int'l to Ikoyi as "a truly overwhelming experience." He said it's frightfully expensive (that is, to stay at a place with even a modicum of security). He said it's pointless to use a credit card because of the amount of fraud even at upscale hotels (he used the corporate card and I gather the name got lifted).

I wouldn't want to pack in a lot of cash given the crime rate in Nigeria, but if using a credit card is dodgy too, how does one manage his funds? Is there any trustworthy bank or money exchange (like Thomas Cook) from which one someone back home can wire money in increments?

I would like to think I'm experience enough to handle Lagos, but I have heard a lot of bad press. Interestingly, my friend said that when asked for bribes by officials and police one should not cough up because it leads to more problems. I was under the impression that a lit bit of naira to grease the palms was the way to negotiate officialdom.

Lastly, what would be the best way to get from Lagos to Porto-Novo or Cotonou in Benin. Again, using mini-buses sounds really dodgey. I am not an oil exec, so a chauffeur-driven armored limousine ferrying me between West African capitals is not a possibility. How much would a private taxi cost?

If anyone can give me some pointers on this one, I'd be much obliged. A specific hotel recommendation or secure taxi company name would be great. It has occurred to me that if I stand such a risk of losing cash by flying into Lagos, I might as well just dip into the kitty and spend the extra money on a flight to Cotonou or Lome. The thrill-seeker/masochist/cheapskate in me is attracted to Lagos, though.
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Re: How Hairy is Lagos?

Postby buffybot_in_beirut » Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:40 pm

I hear it was very bad in the early/mid-1980s. Allegedly, Lagos and Kinshasa were the two towns in the world where a nighttime taxi ride from the airport could get you robbed and killed.

I was there a decade later; spent two months in Lagos. Sticky, overcrowded, noisy. Otherwise fine. The Nigerians were great people. Crooks but not criminals. Load, flamboyant, but friendly. I did not walk anywhere at night, but walked for miles through the city in daytime, including crowded inner-city market areas. Up-market residential east Lagos (Ikoyi, Awolowo) was actually nice for pleasant, green, quiet, almost colonial-era walks. I avoided slums. Took taxis everywhere (never buses) and had great fun negotiating fares and then driving to the most obscure destinations.

No idea about the price level nowadays. If Lagos is expensive it can only be because of some artificial measures like state-controlled exchange rates. I carried cash and travellers' cheques (though cashing them was a Kafkaesque half-day odyssey). Credit cards did exist back then, and I remember hearing cases of fraud, but I didn't own a card. I'm sure there are ATMs now!

I paid small bribes very occasionally, but only when police etc. clearly and repeatedly asked for them, and when I had really screwed up (taken photo of airport etc.). Even then I tried to use indirect phrases like "can I buy you guys a beer?" but mostly I wiggled, talked, smiled and bluffed my way out of it. Told them I was a poor student, which was true, well the student bit at least. As always, it helps if you look clueless and harmless, not like a rich CEO or tough Rambo.

There were shared taxis (Peugeots from Benin) that did the Lagos-Cotonou run. Took them repeatedly. Never a problem. Nasty Nigerian roadblocks near the border, but my fellow passengers and the driver often helped my through and basically told the officials to stop being silly and go away when they tried any of their tricks ("your visa is not valid" etc.).

As far as street crime was concerned, I was much more scared in Johannesburg, with good reason.
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Re: How Hairy is Lagos?

Postby jphripjah » Wed Apr 08, 2009 3:04 pm

About a month ago I took a nine day trip from the U.S. to West Africa. I flew into Accra, stayed there for 3 nights, then took a 4 hour bus ride to Lome a couple of nights ($5), a 3 hour taxi to Cotonou ($30 for the entire taxi if I recall), and a hellish 2-3 hour taxi ride from Cotonou to Lagos Airport ($40 for the front seat of a taxi with three guys in the back, and another $15 to be dropped at the airport instead of Mile 2, which, from the looks of Mile 2, was the best fifteen dollars I've ever spent). Then I flew back to Accra and then back to the U.S. It's a fun border crossing there between Benin and Nigeria. If you're American, bring some Obama photos/stickers to grease the wheels with the guards. Apparently, all Africans love Obama. By the end of the border guard obstacle course, I was just telling people "I'm from AmericaBarackObama."

So I didn't really get anything but a brief glimpse of the outskirts of Lagos. For what it's worth, I liked Lome. Cotonou is pretty charmless.
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Re: How Hairy is Lagos?

Postby rickshaw92 » Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:22 am

I have never been to Nigeria but I hear its full of Nigerans. That tells me all I need to know!
Im reallly fuclimg pissed but fespite that I can still hit a tarfet at 1000m plus. mayVRVe bnot tonight but it qint beyond the wit if man. Nowhammy.
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Re: How Hairy is Lagos?

Postby coldharvest » Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:24 am

How Hairy is Lagos?

....as hairy as a Vegan's legs?
come on people, let's hear'em.
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Re: How Hairy is Lagos?

Postby rickshaw92 » Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:29 am

How Hairy is Lagos?


As hairy as a fat womans lady garden.
Im reallly fuclimg pissed but fespite that I can still hit a tarfet at 1000m plus. mayVRVe bnot tonight but it qint beyond the wit if man. Nowhammy.
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Re: How Hairy is Lagos?

Postby ayoune » Sun May 10, 2009 11:03 pm

lagos was the hairiest place ive ever been. at that level, it was really fun.
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Re: How Hairy is Lagos?

Postby crotalus01 » Sat May 16, 2009 11:11 pm

I work with a guy from Nigeria, and when he flies home he pays an extra $200 to avoid flying into Lagos. He told me that if he flew into Lagos he was certain to be robbed, and then robbed again if he dared to report it to the police. He also told me he pays an average of $500 per trip just in bribes to get to his village outside of Kano.
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Re: How Hairy is Lagos?

Postby SigmaTramp » Sun Jun 21, 2009 4:16 am

Herodotus, have you looked at a cash passport? I don't know whether there's an American equivalent. It's a prepaid currency card which you can reload online. if they do things in US dollars over there, which wouldn't surprise me. get one of these cards and if you need to have it reloaded and don't trust the internet over there due to identity fraud, you can call someone back home and get them to do it. works as a visa or just a ATM withdrawal card. Have a look around!

Check out the Australian site here: http://www.cashpassport.com.au/
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Re: How Hairy is Lagos?

Postby Foulplay » Mon Jun 22, 2009 10:13 am

herodotus wrote:Is there any trustworthy bank or money exchange (like Thomas Cook) from which one someone back home can wire money in increments?


If you send it in excrements, it's far less likely to be tampered with.

Thank you. I'm here all week.
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Re: How Hairy is Lagos?

Postby deshellmon » Fri Nov 20, 2009 8:36 pm

I was there in 1988, while it wasn't the worst it was one of the top five at the time. Dress poor not dirty, act respectful, not stupid. The question I would ask you is what glorious adventure are you seeking, for there much better and safer places in Africa?
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Re: How Hairy is Lagos?

Postby Caliban » Sat Nov 21, 2009 5:02 am

Foulplay wrote:
herodotus wrote:Is there any trustworthy bank or money exchange (like Thomas Cook) from which one someone back home can wire money in increments?


If you send it in excrements, it's far less likely to be tampered with.

Thank you. I'm here all week.


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Re: How Hairy is Lagos?

Postby RSnyder » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:05 am

rickshaw92 wrote:I have never been to Nigeria but I hear its full of Nigerans. That tells me all I need to know!


Two words? How about "armoured" and "vehicle"?
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Re: How Hairy is Lagos?

Postby AztecDave » Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:49 am

my time there is dated - was in Lagos 3 times in the early 80s - visiting my folks who expats at the time. life then was good. Naira exchange rate was very good. very nice beaches. if they cleaned up the shit piles land mining the beach, they have a real tourist potential. fun can be had though. although i hear AIDS now is a pretty big threat.
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