The people in Somaliland are extremely friendly and accommodating.

Being somewhat of a novelty, you are greeted everywhere you go including just walking down the street. You find yourself shaking a lot of hands. They are also extremely honest. If you had an almost empty cigarette package returned to you 2 hours after after you also widely spoken. Everything is written in the Roman alphabet. In Somaliland, if it’s written with an ‘X’, it’s pronounced a throaty gh. Since many people have lived abroad during the troubles and have returned home now that it is safe, a variety of European languages are spoken.

There are a couple of banks in Hargeisa, none however are open to the public. ‘Money Changers’ are found in all the towns and villages. They can be found in exchange shops or just sitting on the street under umbrellas in front of chicken wire cages packed solid with shillings. Their rates are all identical. Traveler’s cheques are useless. US dollars are best but in Hargeisa many currencies can be changed including Euros and even Ethiopian Birr. It’s best to change a small amount at a time because, if you change US$100, you’ll end up with a backpack full of notes.

There maybe the possibilities of mines in certain areas. Check with locals before you go hiking. If you go hiking bring plenty of water, as even in the winter it can get really hot around midday. Las Anod in the south is off limits to foreign travelers.

Qureh means breakfast, Quado means lunch and Asho means dinner. Traditionally, breakfasts usually consist of fried liver, heart or kidney served in a gravy with bread or on its own with a few vegetables (tomato, raw onion) and bread. Another common local favorite is Laxoox which is like Iujera in Ethiopia (a soggy pancake), often with meat broth mixed with sugar poured over it. It tastes much better than it sounds. Lunch is often the largest meal of the day. Lunch and dinner are often more or less the same thing. Meat in the form of goat with or without a gravy which may or may not have some vegetables floating in it, accompanied by rice and/or spaghetti noodles and it may or may not come with a salad and/or soup. You can get this also with fish. Whatever you order it always comes with bread. Vegetarians will have a hard time in Somali land, as everything seems to have a meat base. Even noodles and rice seem to have an underlying meat broth taste.

You cannot get any alcoholic beverages in Somali land. Locals caught with it face severe prison terms. You can get your usual soft drinks but fresh squeezed juice is usually limited to papaya. Other fruit juices like orange and lemon are usually made from cordial concentrate and local water. Bottled water is widely available and in most cases the local water is perfectly fine as well. Nobody in local restaurants expect tips and, if you do leave one, they often assume that you’ve miscounted your massive pile of notes and it’s usually returned, unless it’s less than 500 shillings.