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Published: June 20th 2009
Though there are buses that go straight through from Nairobi to Kampala in barely more than half a day, I don't feel like spending that long in a bus of unknown comfort levels so decide to break up the journey half-way in Eldoret in western Kenya. Though the company I choose don't do international trips, their bus turns out to be surprisingly good with decent legroom and a mere 6 other passengers. The security check when we board is a nice touch, though having to undergo another one after the toilet stop in Nakuru is a little tedious.
I've already done half of the journey before, on my Masai Mara/Lake Nakuru safari, and doze for much of this repeat viewing. The road certainly gets worse beyond Nakuru, and one stretch has been tarmaced but for some reason strange folds have developed in the surface. The driver is a little cavalier, at one point forcing some oncoming cars off the road due to misjudging an overtaking manoeuvre.
Eldoret is a large town but fortunately most of it seems to be clustered around the main road, so walking from the Easycoach office to the Kampala Coach office, then on to a
brief hotel search, and finally a visit to a supermarket, is all done in essentially a straight line. I have to kill time in a cafe because my chosen (a process of elimination based on price and availability) hotel won't allow me to check in before 4PM. This less-than-generous policy is matched by their check-out time of 10AM. When I return at 4PM, I'm told that I can't actually check in before 4:30PM. I say that I have nowhere to go so they tell me I can wait in the corridor outside my future room. I meet the cleaning lady, who tells me I can have my room once she has cleaned it. 30 seconds later, she lets me in. I wonder what strange activities take place in these rooms that necessitate a 6.5 hour gap between one guest checking out and another checking in, because a comprehensive cleaning doesn't appear to be one of them.
Eldoret certainly doesn't make me regret my choice to leave Kenya. My brief wanderings are characterised by the same staring, neither curious nor friendly, that disappointed me in Nairobi, and having "mzungu" and "white man" shouted at me doesn't make me feel any
more welcome. I don't expect people to take any particular interest in me - after all, I don't give two hoots about tourists I see wandering around London - but why bother taking any interest at all if it's neither to be friendly nor to try to sell me something? Dull but possibly useful info
i. The bus from Nairobi to Eldoret left at 8:30AM, took a shade under 6 hours, and cost KSh950. There was a 15 minute stop in Nakuru. I used the Easycoach company, whose office is close to Nairobi railway station.
ii. A taxi from downtown to the Easycoach office should cost KSh300.
iii. I stayed at the Mahindi Hotel in Eldoret, paying KSh600 for a room with double bed and en suite bathroom. They had a bizarre check-in time of 4:30PM and check-out of 10AM. The hot tap did not deliver on the promise of its red dot. There was also a resident flock of small cockroaches.
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