10 June 2010

Travel Thursday: Kenya {Nairobi}

Kenyan Parliament Building

Nairobi is Kenya's capital & one of Africa's major cities. People in Nairobi are not very comfortable with technology, except for cell phones. You can top up your mobile minutes from pretty much everywhere! We even saw some mobile top up stalls from the train in the middle of nowhere. I guess that's a good way of providing phones to people, since it's much more complicated to set up landlines all over. So, because technology is a bit foreign in the city, I didn't take many pictures. It just felt weird.

But most of the city just looked like this:

Syano took Jonty & me to the site of the 1998 American embassy bombing. The event is a huge one in the lives of Kenyans, & Syano said he new of schoolmates or schoolmates' family members that had been injured or killed in the bombing. Since then, the embassy has moved outside of the city in a walled building to protect Nairobi's inhabitants, and on the site there is a lovely memorial park.

Mostly, we just wandered around in the city. It's relatively big, but you can walk from one end to the other if you want to. I think its suburbs are quite expansive; we stayed in Karen, which is about half an hour's drive away. The city itself was, well, a city. It sort of reminded me of the less picturesque parts of San Francisco. There were lots of business, banks, & mobile phone stores. Not all that much shopping, really, expect for some indoor shopping areas that mostly had independent clothing stores. And Nakumatt, which is basically the African Wal-Mart (and is quite possibly owned by Wal-Mart).

It was pretty darn difficult to find some sunscreen, & actually impossible to find cheap sunglasses. (Yes, somehow Jonty & I managed to leave our sunglasses at home when we went to AFRICA.) As a result, my skin got very burnt (in a square neckline shape too, ugh), & my eyes were not too happy. That equatorial sun is damn strong. Oh, & it was 25 degrees C (77 degrees F), & everyone was wearing suits with jackets & closed-toed shoes. I was sweating in jeans, a tank top, & sandals!

I didn't get a chance to go into any of the slum areas because Syano pressed that it is a bad idea, especially for an American, since two of the Islamic fundamentalists that carried out the 1998 bombing were found in that area. But I do have some pictures I took when I went through on the train, which I'll show when I talk about our train ride to Mombasa.

 Next Thursday, I'll say a bit about transportation (& the massive culture surrounding it) in Nairobi. With lots of pictures!



  1. I've never been there before. It looks like a pretty modern city.


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