On Your Marks, Get Set......

Trip Start May 30, 2005
Trip End Sep 30, 2006

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Flag of Kenya  ,
Thursday, August 31, 2006

I got the boat back to the mainland and I became a man on a mission to get up to Nairobi in time for my flight to Ethiopia. On arrival in Dar I headed straight to the Scandanavia bus company (The good company) to get my ticket, but rather unfortunately all the tickets for the next day were sold out so instead I had to get a ticket for the day after, which was also the day before my flight, not that I was getting worried or anything!

The biggest disadvantage of this arrangement was that I'd need to spend a whole day in Dar, which while it isn't a bad thing, it certainally isn't a great thing either. It passed without problem and the next thing I knew I was getting up before 6am in order to get over to the bus station.

When I bought my ticket I'd asked how long it takes, 12 hours they said. I then met someone that'd done the journey in the opposite direction with the same company, 15 hours he said. Therefore I'd be arriving in Nairobi in the dark, probably tired, with slightly over 1000 US Dollars stuffed into my money belt (for Ethiopia), worried? you're damn right I was.

Sure enough the journey took ages, we had a few stops along the way and then 1.5 hours at the border before everyone was finished. I really don't see how they could have done the bus journey much faster, and it took us 16 hours. Why do bus companies lie like that?

So, I arrived at 10:30pm. I'd got talking to a couple from England on the bus and when we arrived I asked them to share a taxi to a hostel. He charged us way too much (three quid), but to be honest he had the upperhand. He then literally drove round the corner, honestly it took about 20 seconds. However that hostel was full, and then there was no reply at the next one (which was a further 5 seconds down the road). After my experiences in Lima there was no way I was letting this taxi driver go!

The couple then suggested trying the place that they'd stayed before. It was about 25 dollars but to be honest it was just for one night and I'd feel much happier in a hostel. Of course we needed to renegotiate the cost of the taxi, suddenly doubling, probably because he had to drive for about 3 minutes. I think that the taxi drivers do a roaring trade from scared tourists as most of them (me especially) are afriad of good ole 'Nairobbery'.

I was straight to bed and in the morning I had enough time to find some breakfast before having to check-out! however it was another 6 hours until I had to arrive at the airport. What's the best thing to do in this situation? The internet of course, it beats walking around Nairobi with your bags and a big sign saying 'Muggings R Us'.

After a while I got myself out to the airport, following my mother's advice I asked a policeman where the toilets were. He was very happy to show me, and quite amazingly he didn't ask for a little tip. However he was curious about where I was travelling to..
"Where are you going?"
"Is it far?"
"No, only about 2 hours"
"Are you from there?"
"Emmm, no, I'm just going to visit".

The European equivalent would be a German asking a tourist, "So, where's this France place then?"

With that it was time to check in and get processed, cue more hours of sitting around doing nothing, I'm getting good at that.
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irax on

Re: Was it worth it?
That's a very interesting set of questions. It's very true to say that there were large parts of the trip when I was bored and lonely. However I realised that travelling alone, it was going to happen. There is always the possibility that you'll end up somewhere that you don't meet someone, and you just have to get used to it.

You're right about the choice of destinations as well. Some places that I visited, I wish I hadn't. However it's a completely personal thing, you can't always be sure you'll enjoy a place just because someone you met 2 weeks ago had a ball there, much of it is down to the complete chance that good things happen to you there. I made informed decisions, went for it, and came up empty sometimes. Other times I absolutely loved it and found it hard to leave!

Regrets? Nope. Not a single one.
Would I do it again differently? With the benefits of 20/20 hindsight of course, however you can't really say that. My experiences (and the people that I met) at the start of my trip effected where I went and approached things at the end. Changing the start would have led to a different end point in my opinion, therefore, nope, it'd keep it the same.

You also mention that I don't appear to be having a lot of fun sometimes. As I said above, that's true. But, what I wanted to do with my blog was to give a very honest idea what it's like to travel for 15 months, pretty much solo. The boredom, muggings, bus rides from hell, annoying locals. It's all there warts and all. However, I really hope that I get across the feeling of sheer joy of some places that I visited (try the Sydney, Australia entry). When I loved a place I really didn't hold back.

So on balance, the good times far outweighed the bad times. And the bad times just made the good ones even sweeter!

I hope I've answered your question, drop me a line if you have any more.


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