2/11/2017

2/09/2017

Jenever

Comes in dry, which is kind of like whiskey, and sweet, which is infused with an astonishing number of flavours.

That there is speculaas. Like the windmill cookies.

Foreign chips

Always hilarious.

Amsterdam red light district rules

Amsterdam Park rules

2/06/2017

Lunatic Express

A train journey.

4:11 pm: Arrive at the station and receive a card that looks more like a ticket than my ticket. (It later turns out that the non-ticket-looking ticket is in fact the actual ticket. The card is more like a boarding pass.) There is no formal boarding process. I eventually make my way to coach 1223, Compartment B.

5:07 pm: We depart practically on time. Let's see what happens.

5:25 pm: First unexplained stop (approx. 3 min.).

5:31 pm: Second unexplained stop. (I think I will have to stop keeping track. Kind of like elephants.)

5:40 pm: There is some yelling. (There was another stop in between the yelling and now.) (The yelling has stopped, but so have we: 5:44.)

6:04 pm: Evans the train manager responds, in answer to a question about whether or not we can get beer, "The bartender will get on board the train at a later village."

8:04 pm: Dinner is served. This means tablecloths and full place settings. Chicken soup with bread. Rice and potatoes and chicken and beef stew, with fruit for dessert. Also, the bartender has arrived.

9:37 pm: There is a knock at the door of the party car. The party car belongs to an Aussie-Kenyan newlywed couple that have taken me and another couple under their wing. We are advised that a freight train has derailed 4 stops ahead of us. We have been asked about our connections, if any, as it appears we may be immobile until tomorrow morning.

A bus has been arranged for those with close connections. Not sure if it is only for them.

The bar car closes at midnight, but I have met the right people. Between us we have scotch and gin and red wine and the aforementioned beer. There is much promiscuous smoking. To put the ashtrays to good use.

Around 11 pm: We are stopped near Mackinnon Road, just outside of Tsavo (where the man-eating lions killed at least 130 as the line was being built). Someone floats a theory that we have stopped early, near a "truck stop" on the highway to avoid being stopped in Tsavo where, as you can imagine, supplies are scarce (but lions are not). This may become important, as Evans advised us that we will remain here until 8 am, at which point breakfast will be served and the bus will pick up those needing a lift.

But.

We are still 12 hours from Nairobi. 

This means instead of arriving at 11 am we are due to arrive around 9 pm, for a 28-hour train ride (rather than an 18-hour one) (or a 6-hour drive).

I have it on good authority that a number of Kenyans travelling 3rd class hightailed it through the bush to catch a bus. I will not be following their lead.

1:56 pm: I am booted from the party car. The honeymooners need their beauty rest. Time for bed.

4:42 am: We're rolling?

7:28 am: Groggy... the bell sounds for breakfast.

7:49 am: Breakfast is served, we are in Tsavo, our new ETA is 7 to 8 pm. One good thing about travelling Mom-Nai rather than the other way around: this trip just gets cooler and more comfortable as we climb. (Also means we are unlikely to run out of water.)

9:54 am: Leaving Tsavo.

Late morning to mid-afternoon: Much napping and snacking. I polish off my Tanzanian cashews, find a forgotten packet of cookies left over from safari, and wolf down the cliff bar I have been dragging around this whole trip ("in case of an emergency" as I told Max when I refused to give it to him).

2:17: The lunch bell is sounding?!?! I was under the impression that we were going to be left to starve, but that appears very much not to be the case. Lunch is a repeat of last night's dinner, minus the tablecloth and potatoes, plus corn in the rice. There is still plenty of cold beer.

3:22: I have just been given an ETA of 6. Or 6:30. Or 7. (From staff, so an informed opinion, but not from Evans, so hardly official.) (Operating on the premise that intel from Evans is official.)

3:29 pm: One unmistakable middle finger from a young man walking down the tracks. There may have been 2 others yesterday. The rest have been smiles and waves. (Mostly.)

4:14 pm: Ostrich sighting!

4:31 pm: Giraffe sighting!

4:32 pm: Another non-official report confirms a 6 pm arrival!

5:14 pm: Somehow, for some reason, a man just walked past my compartment carrying a live chicken.

7:01 pm: We have arrived! Just about 26 hours to the minute.

(In the possibly too much information department: the train has both "up" and "down" style toilets, both of which empty directly onto the tracks below. While this poses its own issues, what it means is that the train is not unbearable in the morning. (I'm looking at you, Chiang Mai-Bangkok.))

All times approximate.

Sometimes when you look out the window

You see the hideous and improbable new train stations.

Whenever you look out the window

The new high-gauge line is there, taunting you.

Some train visuals

NB: There is no drinking water, despite signage to the contrary.

There are no (functional) fans, despite what the wall and ceiling mounts may
suggest.

Trains


All over the world, people wave at trains as they go by.

2/05/2017

Excellent Punjabi and more

At Singh restaurant.

I ate there twice.

I hear the upstairs is air conditioned, but you know how I feel about that.

Protection

Walking down the tourist strip (pretty sure you can call it that) in Old Town yesterday, I was warned of its dangers by a man who, I think, was just looking to make a buck as a guide.

Today, when I paused in a laneway to snap these cat pics, a veiled woman stopped, gesticulating at me and speaking Swahili. She grabbed her daughter to translate, "There are some thieves here," warning me to put my camera away.

Legit protection.

I think the Mombasa description

Should have read "seedy" rather than "sleazy". For the record.

Unlocking Mombasa

I'm not sure that I did, was less sure yesterday, but I definitely like it. It's rough around the edges, shabby and rundown, gritty and battered and worn. There are heritage buildings you can't tear down but that no one has the money to restore. There are unmapped laneways and tucked away behind those are semi-private paths that connect residential buildings that may or may not close down at night.

It's like a low rent, unselfconscious  version of Stonetown. 

I didn't quite crack it, but I'm pretty sure that I could. And I'd like to.