Just check out the picture above, taken by myself from the central shopping mall at Ezulwini Market in the Malkerns Valley in Swaziland. What a gorgeous back drop and what a beautiful country Swaziland really is. It was an incredible wee place. My tour guide for this day (and for the four day stay in the region) was an Englishman, Shaun, who fell in love with Swaziland so much that he now lives there, owns a backpackers lodge (where I stayed) and runs tours taking in the essential aspects of Swazi life – a lifestyle so calm, relaxed and happy. In a magical kingdom known as Swaziland.
A nice gesture on the way in which added to my wonder on Swaziland. Amazing to see Swaziland and Taiwan together on this. Two countries which I thoroughly enjoyed and not just that, but I can actually see a similarity between the two countries! Despite their lifestyles being totally different, and perhaps worlds apart, the true charm of Swaziland is here for all to see at the quiet, homely, free spirited Ezulwini Market. Shopping Malls don’t need to be outdoors or in beautiful surroundings to make money. This one has the added bonus of the views around it, and relies on tourism (as well as some locals) to make ends meet. The best thing about it is there is no internet, no mobile phones and certainly none of this poncy technology factor that has anti-socialised cities like London, New York, Hong Kong and Sydney (yes I’ve lived in three of them). Leave your phones and laptops at home, bring some cash and let your eyes feast on the gifts for sale.
Before I even walked round the market, I was just in awe of the views. Sparse countryside, uninhabited and untouched by commercialism lean down to this low lying area where the locals have developed a roadside market. A clever idea this for them all to bunch together in one area to sell their goods (almost all produced in the Kingdom of Swaziland).
By the way, Swaziland looks a bit like this. It borders Mozambique and South Africa and doesn’t have a coastline, meaning it is made up of beautiful countryside. My routes in and out of the country were both overland, arriving in the country at the barren area of Lavumisa and later leaving via Ngwenya border control point. The journeys in and out were quite superb and will be covered in detail on future posts.
This is the start of Ezulwini Market. If you stayed in the small villages of Lobamba or Ezulwini you could probably walk there. Hitch hiking is also an option. But Shaun was our guide and took us there in his red van, public transport doesn’t appear to be an option in Swaziland. Well a country boasting a population under 1 million people doesn’t really need a sophisticated train or bus network (although, obviously there are local buses).
One of many stalls with the hand crafted gifts – mostly necklaces here – all made locally.
One of the shops – tea towels and linen.
When I saw the shirts with the Swaziland national flag on them and the amazing design, colour and uniqueness I knew I had to buy one. The first one I tired on, above was way too big. But we soon found a medium size and the lady selling them wanted her photo with me and to wear the same shirt as the one I bought! These shirts were funky and crazy, I had to have one, yet have worn it seldom since. Will have to put it on again sometime soon!
Posing with the lady selling these at one of the many shops. Even this medium was a bit big for me, but yet the small size was too tight. I didn’t get her name. The price began at 100 Emalangeni, which is about 10 UK pounds so I knew that was too dear, but at the same time I loved the shirt, knew the uniqueness of it and also knew these ladies didn’t make much money – it was fair trade. I bargained her down to 60 Emalangeni and a few photos with the Northern Ireland flag. I probably could have got it cheaper, but I was happy and these ladies are so caring and need the money for their families.
The same lady also posed with my Northern Ireland flag. Swaziland and Northern Ireland flags together then. She even had a Swazi style flag as her dress! By the way from the photo above you can tell that this is shop 110, I’m not sure if they start at 1 though, as to me there didn’t seem like over 100, but if I ever go back there, I’ll remember I bought my shirt at 110!
I must have spoke to her for about 10 – 15 minutes and to be honest once I had bought the shirt, I merely browsed in the other shops as I didn’t want to buy anything more. You could spend a lot on souvenirs in Swaziland!
Not sure if these were ash trays, mini surf boards or plates. But they were colourful, locally made and looked wonderful.
Necklaces and bracelets, Swazi style. A field day for the girls. I didn’t buy any.
A smaller size of my shirt plus the Royal flag of the King of Swaziland (the Orange and black one).
As you can see paintings, pictures, murals, mosaics and all kinds of art were also for sale.
Now my lady is at number 108. I think each lady must have to look after about 6-10 shops, all in a row. No need for CCTV, receipts or tills here. Anyone caught stealing or trying to use visa shouldn’t be allowed into the country, never mind the market. Cash only – No refunds – No returns. Examine your goods as you buy them!
The opposite side of the market from where we entered – it basically goes round in a rectangular pattern – all the shops are under cover in wooden huts, typical of buildings in Swaziland.
Enjoying my new purchase and the amazing Ezulwini Market!
A homage to the King of this Kingdom of Swaziland. These tea towels are everywhere too. King Mswati III, don’t forget. Thanks for the memories, Ezulwini Market…
What – Ezulwini Market
Where – Ezulwini, Malkerns Valley, Swaziland
What Can You Buy – Clothes, House Wares, Gifts, Jewellery, Art, Paintings, Ash Trays, Bowls, Ornaments, Linen, Bed clothes, Souvenirs (many nick nacks for around the house)
Shops/Stalls – I reckoned over 70, all in a rectangular pattern
What I Bought – A shirt with the Swaziland national flag all over it
Money Spent – 60 Emalangeni (6 UK pounds)
Transport Used – Swaziland red tour van
Key Song –
THE BEATLES – OB LA DI, OB LA DA:
My Videos –
AT EZULWINI MARKET, MALKERNS VALLEY, SWAZILAND:
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