Hostels & Afrikaans – Baku, Azerbaijan

I realize that this post probably has the most unusual title, but I promise it will make sense. A few weeks ago, I wrote about some places I wanted to visit in 2019. Baku, Azerbaijan was on that list. I managed to squeeze in a short trip & I am so grateful that I did. Azerbaijan has an incredibly interesting history that would take too long to explain, but has ultimately resulted in an interesting culture &, from what I saw, a beautiful country.

For anyone interested in visiting the country, they have implemented an e-visa system which is extremely user friendly & the visa gets approved within 3 working days – mine was approved after around 24 hours.

Let’s fast forward a bit. I stayed at a hostel right in the middle of Baku which was great because there is nothing worse than having a long commute every time you want to go to your accommodation or want to leave it. I wanted to pay for my stay the night before I checked out, but the owner didn’t have change so he said I could pay at a later stage. Great.20190510_113809

In the morning, I wanted to check out & start my day early, but the owner was still asleep. I still only had larger denominations of local currency so I couldn’t leave cash for him. I wanted to go buy breakfast & some other things in order to get change & then bring it to him, but I wasn’t sure if I should wake him or not. I thought of someone waking me up just to explain something & I would really hate that so I decided not to wake him up – also kind of hoping I would make it back before he woke up. I got slightly carried away for a few minutes with so many options for breakfast & when I made my decision, I got a call from the hostel owner. Usually people who run hostels are very laid back, but he wasn’t. I had to listen to a very long rant about how he needed the money.

I quickly made my way back & gave over the money. Under his breath, he said “This is the first time this has happened with a South Korean.” I was very confused because he definitely had a copy of my passport & I have never been mistaken for Korean. I thought maybe he confused me with someone else, but I just kept quiet.20190510_115645

Now for an interesting twist. Later on in the day, I took a taxi. The driver asked me where I was from & I told him South Africa – all normal so far. He got excited & told me he had a South African passenger the day before. I was surprised & told him that I didn’t think many South Africans would be in that part of the world. He then got out his phone & called this guy. Now, I love speaking to South Africans, but this experience truly was awkward. Awkward even for me. So the South African guy answers the call & the taxi driver gives me the phone… because speaking to strangers over the phone is so much fun. I could hear that he was English so I started the conversation in English only to be loudly interrupted by the driver saying we must speak our African language. So I switched to Afrikaans.

For my readers who don’t know, Afrikaans is a language spoken in southern Africa. It is an official language of South Africa & a national language of Namibia. It is derived from Dutch & is spoken by an estimated 15 – 22 million people either as a first or secondary language.

Anyway, I awkwardly make my way through the conversation while the taxi driver stares & nods in approval – not really paying attention to the road. When the conversation seemed to end, the driver would say “Talk more”. This continued for about 15 painfully slow minutes.

I can’t explained how relieved I was when the call ended & I got out of the taxi. Such a bizarre experience.


Hou aan reis, bly veilig.

(Keep traveling, keep safe.)


DanVenture Travels


34 thoughts on “Hostels & Afrikaans – Baku, Azerbaijan

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  1. Well handled, not sure if I would have been so accommodating if I got into a cab, told the driver I was from Norway, and he pulled his phone out and insisted that I speak Norwegian to his passenger from the previous day! XD

    Liked by 1 person

  2. in the moment it probably was OMG but after a while it becomes a great story (the taxi)… reminds me of a travel story of mine, I had to fly into Atlanta about 15 years ago (I know, not exactly a posh destination!) but I had to go to Peachtree City, GA for tech training, I left after work so I arrived about 10pm, the taxis are given out in order (a line), so I hop in my appointed taxi thinking “no prob”, the driver pulls away and asks where I am going, “Peachtree City”, “I have not heard of this, do you know how to get there?”… to short the story it all worked out (this is before GPS/Iphones mind you), but looking back it is funny as I was totally panicked (and trapped) lol I guess the lesson is (and of your post) … go with it, it probably isn’t as bad as it seems.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had to chuckle about your forced conversation with a total stranger. I’ve found that when visiting foreign countries, some of the locals are so fascinated by my English/South African accent that they keep me talking and don’t want to let me go. 😀

    Liked by 4 people

  4. That’s funny! I’m Romanian and sometimes when I travel I hear people saying all kind of weird stuff, like “oh, so you’re from Rome”, or “there aren’t a lot of Arabs around here”, and so on.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hilarious! Reminds me of my mom who used to say things like, “Oh! You’re going on vacation to (insert city)? My college roommate (whom you’ve never met) lives there. Why don’t I give you her phone number and you can give her a call?!?! Uh, no mom. I don’t want to make chit-chat with a total stranger just because you lived with her for 9 months 60 years ago. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Perhaps a slip of the tongue because I can’t imagine South Africans and South Koreans get confused too often? Bizarre. Amusing stories nonetheless.

    The stroppy hostel person sucks though, particularly on the basis you’d happily have paid earlier and it was as much an inconvenience for you later on.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. lol what a story, =i’m Dutch (Flemish) speaking so I could also understand some Afrikaans I think, but maybe not enough to have a 15 minut conversation over the phone with a stranger. Good that you have also been to Baku. I was there in october 2017 and really liked the city, they are doing a lot of construction, I think when I go again over a few years it will be totally different with new modern buildings joining those that are already there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You will get further than fifteen minutes on Flemish around Cape Town, if you are in the right sector. We have the Afrikaans North and English South. But Afrikaans is so much more than Dutch Lite. It has influences also of German (Deutsch), French, Arabic, Malaysian, etc. Een leuke taaltje as someone once said to me. An indigenous language spawned in the colourful Bo-Kaap, by colourful people. I just love it. I haven’t been called Korean before but an American insisted I had to be Chinese. He was wrong. I don’t get cloned, then mass-produced and marked down. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. 😂😂 That’s just weird. My Afrikaans is so weak even although my mom was Afrikaans speaking and I went to a duel medium school…. I had not realized that you were South African too. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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