Monthly Archives: January 2011

The joys of informal public transportation

Nearly all the needs of ‘public’ transportation in Kenya is met through private individuals/companies rather than state-owned or franchises.

You can take boda-bodas (bike taxis), where you’re just sitting on a comfy seat on the rear rack, a piki-piki (motorbike taxi), a tuk-tuk, a taxi, a Matatu (private 11-14 seater mini-buses plying often a set route) or long-haul buses and coaches.

The trouble with this is that its all informal, theres no schedules, you’re responsible for negotiating the fare each time and theres no guarantee of service.

Recently we’ve had:

  • An issue where all the tuk-tuk drivers wanted double the normal fare resulting in a long-tiring walk home as we had no extra cash.
  • A Matatu just turning around mid-route as there weren’t enough people to make it worth completing the trip and another long tiring walk home for Beth.
  • A tuk-tuk that just ran out of juice and a mad scramble to find another one to complete the journey with our new piece of furniture.

But other times, the sun is shinning and the world looks great from the back of a boda-boda, especially one thats taking you into town for a cold beer.

Settling in Kisumu

We now have a small bungalow in the posh quiet area of Millimandi (home to most of the NGOs and the UN). Its really nice to be cooking for ourselves again and so far we’ve made some pretty decent attempts at Uji and Dengu (two local dishes).

Now real life happens, although when we step outside our compound each morning we see this:

Not bad.

Ever since getting settled we’ve stopped exploring as much, but we also quickly exhausted the supply of decent places to eat and so its great to be cooking for ourselves.

We have found a new gems during our explorations, which is pretty nice (and a small consolation for the Mon Ami beer moving from Mega Plaza in town, to a somewhat souless spot at the Mega City Mall).

The first is, Raj Sappy (aka Indian Spicy Foods) a small 100% veggie lunch place just off the Oginga Odinga road. They do an excellent full Thalia everyday for 300Khs and each day its different; plus they have awesome and seemingly unlimited pickles. Our friend Andrew literally comes here almost everyday for dinner (and he’s lived in Kisumu for years).

The second is the Duke of Breeze hotel bar (opposite the Jomo Kenyatta sports ground). Five floors up this rooftop bar has amazing views over Kisumu and Wimam Gulf. Its really relaxed chilled and a great guilty pleasure after doing the shopping in the bustling central market.

Finally, 7-11 in the Mega Plaza (the two main shopping centres here are called Mega Plaza and Mega City for some odd reason) does a decent pizza for Kisumu but you’d be very disappointed if you’ve not been in Kenya for a while. They do also show a lot of the English premier league.

Still Kisumu is very quiet in the evenings; one small cinema, about four bars you want to drink in, a couple of iffy nightclubs, about six decent places to eat in the evening, if you’re veggie like us, and not much else. It doesn’t help that Kenya recently reformed its alcohol laws preventing bars from selling booze outside of 5-11pm and most supermarkets selling after 8.15pm so its hard to get into trouble

So most nights we’re just home bodies, which is nice for now.