October 31st, November 1st – 2nd 2010
Got on a shuttle bus from Arusha and traveled 7 hours to Nairobi. It’s crowded with people and vehicles (especially old junky buses and ‘matatus’, the Kenyan sardine-vans), and full of smog. There were plenty of large buildings, hotels, banks, pharmacies, restaurants, cafes, small fast food eateries, electronics and clothing stalls, and internet cafes, often filled with people. But it felt more developed. I am not sure if there was an Obama-effect involved somewhere.
Of course, there are parts of Nairobi which still look very much ‘African’; run down ghetto looking areas, full of pollution and filth and poor people. These parts are mainly on the outskirts of the city.
I ate a lot of African foods at a place next to my hotel. But one evening, I decided to venture out and find what guidebooks claim to be ‘the best Chinese restaurant in Nairobi’. It was very nice looking; Chinese décor, Chinese owners, Chinese music, Chinese chef but wait-staff were Kenyans. Throughout my travels, I’ve often wondered things like ‘How does a Chinese couple end up opening a Chinese restaurant in NAIROBI?’ It’s so random. But Nairobi is the capital of the country with the largest economy in East Africa and apparently China is working with Kenya on some business dealings so there are Chinese people in Nairobi, so I guess I can see the logic there. It would be quite bizarre if I found the same restaurant in a small unknown town in the boonies of a poor African country though.