Brian Oh: {food, travel, photo}

Africa (i): Notes From Nairobi


I got back from a few weeks of travel this afternoon. Two weeks in Nairobi, with one weekend in Zanzibar, then a few days in Amsterdam and an evening in The Hague. Nairobi is different in basically every possible way from what I'm used to when traveling. The primary issue being security. I normally tend to enjoy the freedom to explore and navigate places totally on my own. Public transportation and safety are the key parts to that. In Nairobi, I was constantly being admonished not to walk on my own after dark. Not to go to certain places lest I be shot. For that reason I felt slightly hampered in my ability to explore. Nevertheless, Nairobi was an extremely interesting experience. And, as per usual, here are some random observations to kick off the series of Africa posts (and one or two of Amsterdam):

There are a lot more Asian people than I had realized, primarily because many of the construction companies are Asian (and there is a lot of construction in Nairobi). As a result, a lot of restaurants have random Chinese/Korean dishes. On that note, it was curious that there are no McDonald's, but many KFCs around Nairobi. I was very surprised that almost every bathroom I encountered was immaculate. Traffic is chaos and every drive was harrowing. Many people in Nairobi sell sofas and other furniture on the sides of the streets. It looks like a Marlo exploded onto the curb. Every commercial on the radio uses the typical gravely, movie trailer voice. The region is peppered by concrete skeletons of buildings that look at once like development and decay. Kenyan food overall was slightly underwhelming, but the coffee and beer were excellent. There isn't actually a whole lot to do in a city like Nairobi. Despite trying to find things, after visiting animal centers, a couple of markets, and nyama choma joints (traditional meat grilling) there are just malls with lackluster western food and random shops. Most of my eventful days were when I went outside of Nairobi. But I'll get to that.

I'm not as exceedingly tired as I was after returning from Japan, but I'm glad to have the weekend to recover. I'm going to pop in to work tomorrow during the day, but not for the whole day. I have so much internet/TV/comics to catch up on. I am a nerd. Stay tuned for crystal clear beaches, giraffe make out sessions, and lethal riots.