Nairobi or Nai-robbery?!

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Africa » Kenya » Nairobi Province » Nairobi
September 22nd 2011
Published: September 22nd 2011
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Africa time – no hurry in Africa. It is quite strange that people don’t care about time, no plans and living in the moment, and not tomorrow. If a Kenyan says to you that they will meet you in the afternoon then you can wait a period between 2-6pm. It is rarely a Kenyan will use the actual time and they use the terms like morning, afternoon, evening etc. But Kenyan business people know the strict time in the Western world and suddenly the Kenyan do follow the actually time. Actually, sometimes it is hard to understand how a business runs in Africa.. well we mean the business meetings, but how strange it sounds but it works really well. We experienced this a few times that few minutes can take hours. You can forget the strict time limits in Africa and how frustrating is it – you have to learn to wait patiently. A Kenyan will never apologize that she/he is late because it is normal to be late.

It seems that our hostel was in a rural area and our host was lost to find us. We really enjoyed being in a different and less crowded area. We had a short walk around and we felt safer than in Nairobi city center. It was nice to see a little wild life, village schools, different people etc. But the security in Nairobi is far away from good. We tried to avoid carrying our expensive things with us and a simple thing like to take a picture of the city is much more complicated than you can imagine. Even the locals were telling us not to take photos as snatch and run is very common, when they are using the mobile most will use their spare hand to cover the phone over the ear.

Surprisingly, there aren’t many tourists in Nairobi at all or many people are scared to go out to the city by themselves or in the groups aren’t always security either. There are so many tourists who are sitting at the hotel and don’t dare to go out to the city in the day time as well, and waiting for a safari bus will pick up them for the adventure. It was quite funny to see a few couples looking from the safety their hotel room window out into the streets with a look of fear in there eyes. We did experience that Nairobi isn’t a safe at a few times, a group of boys were beating up a guy, the ex presidents car was been smashed in front of our eyes (with him inside) and the behavior we have heard about in the public is coming true. Just one day before our arrival a tourist was kidnapped and killed in the Nairobi International Airport and the most strange fact that his bag with the most expensive stuff in it were still in the airport… just a credit card missing. We do get a lot attention since we’re “mzungu” (white) and you hear this word in the streets all the time. People trying to get money of you all the time and if they fail so you see angry eyes. This is Nairobi and we do now understand why this city is one of the dangerous cities in the world. Well you have to see by yourself to understand what we mean.

The traffic is hard and unpredictable in Nairobi. Well the best rule is to close the eyes, walk straight and hope for the best. It can be chaos and the traffic jam is horrible. People have to begin the day 2-3 hours earlier and finish later just to get through the traffic jam. It seems that no traffic rules in this country. This is a hectic, stressful and noisy experience for a tourist. You have to use to the traffic and the way how and when they drive.

The life is becoming simpler when you can few words in Swahili and it isn’t so easy for them to rip you off etc. As well it is always a Kenyan is pleased if you can say a nice word in they language. Strange but the main newspapers in Kenyan is in English language. It makes much easier for us to understand the situation here.

Baggers’ are also common and giving them some loose change is not encouraged at all. We were told that they actually make a good living compared to many people who actually work. A tourist will come along and give them some loose change whether it is Euro or Dollars and this adds up after a day and some earn more than if they were actually working. It is best to go to a restaurant where you will always nearly have left over food, pack it into a container (all restaurants seemed to do this) and then hand the food over on the way home.

What is surprising us all the time but maybe indeed isn’t so strange that Kenyans are trying to make business of Couchsurfing and you have to choose carefully with who you’re staying. Many CS:ers member in Kenya are working for a travel agency company and they want to get more customs. We were lucky enough to surf a couch at great people’s home and it feels that we found a family in Nairobi. However, we do get many emails from Kenyans who offer a travel agency service. The biggest income in Kenya is tourism and they try in all the ways to get more travelers to use the service. There are so many different travel agencies and the competition is really strong, and they try to entice people by special offers. This can be good for the tourist as you know around the corner you should be able to get a better price, it is better to book your safaris once in Kenya. It is much cheaper and you have a lot more control.

The food is great and cheap, within the first couple of days we had tried goat and camel and meat has been a safe option in the city. Maybe once we head out into the country we will be a little more wary. Masala tea has come from heaven!

Transport (usually a “matatu”) in and around the city and surprisingly efficient. We were staying on the outskirts of the CBD but always found it easy to get into the city and back home, although if peak traffic hit add on an hour to that time.

Well in this city nothing is impossible! We did get many new experiences and knowledge in Nairobi. It has changed us a lot in many different ways. Actually, we did appreciate our time in this eventful city and it is best to be explored (during daylight hours) rather than detoured on the way to a safari.

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22nd September 2011

Great blog!
Beauty blog guys, great pics too. I totally agree with you that seeing the people of different places gives you a much greater experience than seeing the sites. I love that pic of the traffic in Nairobi by the way, it reminds me of Dar. Anyways, great blog and enjoy your safari!
23rd September 2011

Keep them coming !!
Great story....Everyone loves to hear what you 2 are up to...take care and keep safe, Mum xx
23rd September 2011

It's interesting to hear that Kenyans take advantage of CS to promote their travel agencies, the same happened to me in Fiji. I guess you gotta be really wary and cautious who to stay with, and read the experiences thoroughly. Nairobi doesn't sound like an enticing place at all, but staying in the hotel and waiting to be picked up for safari seems a bit too paranoid to me. I guess if you use common sense when walking about town, you'd be fine.

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