Morocco: China Town

There is no real China town in Morocco as the Asian community is small in the country. At Casablanca there is an area comparable to China town in the sense that there are low cost made in China items sold in shops and by the street at a small neighborhood. The vendors and shop owners are mostly Moroccans not like the real China town wherein most of the shop owners are Chinese immigrants.

Shops and street best buys:

  • kitchenware – casserole, pan, utensils, plates, glasses
  • bedding – duvet, bet cover, pillow
  • toilet equipment – shower curtain
  • organizers – portable cabinet, indoor clothes dryer
  • decorations – mirrors, painting
  • fabric

Chinese Grocery

At the same area there is a Chinese grocery that serves Asian condiments and food that are hard to find. It is also the only place I found that sells pork meat.

Some of the best finds at the Chinese grocery:

  • Pork
  • Maggi seasoning
  • Hot pot / Shabu Shabu balls
  • Sio mai / dimsum (beef)
  • Dried vegetable snacks
  • Noodles for stir fry and soup

Chinese Grocery map:

*Map may not be accurate. Landmark is Yammy restaurant along boulevard Rahal El Meskini 

Derb Omar 

Derb Omar is like the China town of Casablanca. This is best place to go to if  you are looking for cheap buys and do not want to go to the tourist-y medina and haggle.

Derb Omar map: 

Morocco: Top Shopping in Casablanca

Alpha 55

Alpha 55 mall is like a mini department store for home, personal, school and office supplies. I personally like the decorations and stationery area. There are imported items with average prices.

Best to shop for:

  • Home supplies such as kitchenware, dining ware, bath and garden supplies
  • Decorations such as candles, table top and wall decorations
  • Small furniture such as coffee tables, chairs, portable closet
  • Cheap accessories such as necklace, bracelet, earring
  • Personal hygiene products such as facial and body creams, soaps, shampoos, hair dye, even nail products
  • School and office supplies, such as papers, pens folders, books, stationary.

Pricing:  Low to Mid-range

Alpha 55 Mall address: *Near the French consulate

Morocco Mall

Morocco mall is the largest shopping mall in Casablanca with wide range to choose from. Shops range from cheap to luxury brands. The top floor is mainly for the the luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Fendi, and others.  At the ground floor there is a shop called Marjane which is a grocery-department store that offers lower priced items. Mid-priced brands include H&M, Zara, Pull&Bear, Marwa, LC Waikiki and others.

Main attraction at Morroco mall is the large cylindrical indoor aquarium at the center of the ground floor. Different sea animals can be seen such as shark, manta ray, eels, and various fishes.

Restaurants are lined outside the Morocco mall facing the sea. The outside area can be windy and chilly especially at night.

At one end of the top floor, opposite the luxury shops is a fast food area, with popular franchises such as  McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC. There are shops for ice cream, asian food, sandwich, tacos, pizza, and moroccan food.

In front of Morocco mall, at the right side, before the entrance you can find the only IMAX cinema in Casablanca. English movies (with original English audio) are shown every Tuesdays and Thursdays. Imax Casablanca Schedule

FNAC

FNAC is a good shop for branded electronics such as phones, laptops, speakers, headsets. Most of electronic accessories can be found here. Second floor of FNAC is for books (mostly French and Arabic), there is a small section for classic English books. Stationery, notebooks, and writing supplies are also at the second floor of FNAC.

Yan&One

Yan&One is like a Sephora of Morocco, though I have only seen one shop in Casablanca. It is at the center of the ground floor of Morocco mall. Yan&One offers large selection of cosmetics and bath products. It has Yan&One products and imported brands from France, US, Korea, and UK.

Marjane

There is a Marjane grocery.department store at Morocco mall. Marjane is a one stop shop for:

  • Grocery, fresh food, bread, pastries, alcohol
  • Home supplies, kitchenware and equipment
  • Electronics – tv, laptop, mouse, speakers, cellphone
  • Repair tools –  super glue, screw drivers
  • Stationery – papers, folders, pens, books, pins, stablers, rulers, glue
  • Clothe – underwear, pyjamas, shirts, shorts, shoes, slippers, socks,

In general Morocco mall is best to shop for:

  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Bags
  • Accessories
  • Jewelries
  • Home Supplies
  • Electronics
  • Grocery
  • Telecommunication
  • Cinema
  • Restaurants

View Morocco mall shops and restaurants here.

Pricing: low to high-range

Morocco mall address:

Anfaplace Mall

Anfaplace mall is smaller than Morocco mall, with mid-range priced shops.

The advantage of Anfa mall is that it has a better sea view with direct access to the beach. It is 5 minutes walking distance to the corniche which is a long walkway by the sea with several restaurants with sea view.

There is a fastfood area at the top floor of Anfaplacce mall with a sea view.

Anfaplace is best to shop for:

  • Virgin – It has more choices of electronics brands than FNAC (Morocco mall)
  • Clothes, shoes, bags, accessories
  • Carrefour – grocery

View Anfaplace mall shops and restaurants here.

Pricing: Mid-range

Anfaplace mall address:

Boulevard Al Massira / Maarif

Branded

Near twin center along boulevard Al Massira is a row of branded mid-high priced shops such as LC Waikiki, Addidas, Zara, Stradivarius, Pull&Bear, Aldo, and Parfois. There is Massimo Dutti which is more pricey. More shops can be found at the small streets adjacent to boulevard Al Massira.

Boulevard Al Massira Khadra – Branded shops location:

Non-Branded

If you take the Maarif exit from inside the Twin Center there is an area of more local shops with low-priced (non–branded) items. Walking around the area you can find shops for shoes, clothes, accessories and jewelry.

Maarif local shopping location:

Bookstore – Maarif

At the back of Mcdonalds, Maarif there is a bookstore with large selection. Mostly in French and Arabic and few English books.

 Maarif Bookstore location:

Morocco: Electronics Repair, Buy and Sell

CASABLANCA: Where to go for a one stop place for electronics such phones, television, laptop, computers, camera, and supplies.

Phone / Sim Unlock. Moving to a new country may require to unlock your mobile phone sim card for a local one. If you want to keep your cellphone from home and unlock your phone / sim, this is the best place to go. I personally did this and it worked well. Cost: 600 Dirham.

Repair. Backpacking, enjoying the countryside means roughening your equipment as well. Accidents cannot be avoided such as dropping electronics that result to screen cracks that need replacement. Or having your phone fall down in water and need some new parts. This is the place to to go for the most common and uncommon electronic gadget repairs.  

Trade-ins. There will be some men who will offer a deal to buy your phone/laptop/camera in exchange for another model. Be careful with this as the authenticity of the trade-in device may not be guaranteed.

Television Cable Box / Satellite / Connection. If you are an English speaker and do not know Darija, Arabic or French, finding your favorite English shows at the local television connection is close to impossible. Unless you discover where to buy the cable box connections that almost has all the languages.

I tried the Dreamsat, all you need is a stable internet connection, HDMI cable (included) for television connection. And you can follow most of your favorite English shows. You will need to ask the vendor to connect you to English channels and a code will be downloaded. Connection is good for a year, ask the number of the vendor for the annual renewal of code. Cost: 700 dirham.

Mobile phones, Televisions, Laptops. Can be bought at a lower price than in shopping malls and commercial shops such as FNAC and Virgin.

Electronics Supplies. Parts, chargers, cables, screws, special batteries. You can be lucky to see difficult to find parts and supplies here.

Electronic Repair Tools. If you want a DIY repair, you can also find screws, screwdrivers, repair and and cleaning equipment.

Software and Applications.  Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, Photoshop, Adobe. Educational, professional and personal applications and software can be found here a a very low cost.

So where is this place in Casablanca? 

Derb Ghallef. 

How to go there: Just tell the taxi driver – Derb Ghalef electronic (electronique)

Tip: Download the app Jumia and compare prices if the vendor is giving you a good offer.

 

 

 

Ethiopia: Networking

Useful Expat Online Networking in Addis Ababa Ethiopia

Internations

  • Useful for networking with fellow expats seeking and sharing advice
  • Good to find accommodation for rent
  • Job section is mostly used for freelancers seeking job or for families seeking house help
  • Network can be specific for Addis Ababa

Expat.com

  • Useful for networking with fellow expats seeking and sharing advice
  • Good to find accommodation for rent
  • Job section is mostly used for freelancers seeking job or for families seeking house help
  • Network is for the whole country of Ethiopia and cannot be specified by city

Facebook Groups

Ethiopia: Visa Extension

How to extend tourist visa from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

REQUIREMENTS

  • Original passport
  • Photocopy of latest visa
  • Photocopy of first entry visa
  • Photocopy of ID
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Visa extension form

PROCESS

  1. Go to immigration
  2. Visa extension office is in the right area upon entrance
  3. Get visa extension form from photocopier for ETB 20 fee
  4. Fill-out form
  5. Photocopy required documents
  6. Go to the queue for the document check and endorsement. Normally visa extension is only up to 30 days. Depending on the mood of the officer in charge you can appeal for up to 90 days. Note that visa extension is not extended from the latest visa. The count of days will begin from the date you file your visa extension. I also suggest going to the counter to the right when you enter the room. The more senior officers are usually there
  7. After your documents have been approved. Go inside to queue to take your photo.
  8. After the photo. Proceed to pay at the table at the center of the room.
  9. Then they will tell you to go to a room to give your passport and documents
  10. They will tell you to go back the next day to pick up your passport with visa. Remember to ask at what time you should go back.
  11. Passport pick-up is at the window outside across the photocopier

FEES

  1. The first visa is USD 100 for 30 days
  2. Second visa extension is USD 150 for another 30 days

I tried to ask up to – how many times it is allowed to extend the tourist visa, however, the immigration officer only said “No” and the next time I asked immigration officer only shook her head. 

PHONE NUMBER

+251 (0) 116-650-297

Be patient when calling. It usually takes long before they answer the phone.

ADDRESS

Tell taxi driver “Immigration Addis” and they will know where it is.