Travel

Travels

Traveling is enthralling. It sure was for William Hazlitt.  He is remembered for stating that he would have loved to spend the entirety of his life traveling only if he could borrow another life to spend with his family at home. Many people travel. Some to reach their destination while others to enjoy the journey itself. Regardless of the reason, everyone longs to see a new world and explore an unseen destination. For tourists, it doesn’t matter where the destination is, they would love to go there.

Airplanes are good, and they will take you to your destination faster than you can imagine. However, for tourists, this means missed adventures. They’d rather travel by train, or any other slower means that are available. Half the happiness, they say, is from the actual journey, and when they go down roads, tracks, or boulevards for the first time, they enjoy the journey inexpressibly. Planes make real travelers feel impersonal because of myriad things ranging from busy staff to heightened security measures that exist at airports. Trains and vehicles aren’t like that. There is no sense of urgency involved in a bus or train station. People working at either train or bus stations are friendly and are not overly busy with innumerable things. Trains and buses are comfortable and do not seem to possess all the tight measures associated with planes. They allow travelers to stop for snacks and short rests; there is nothing to cause worry. Travelers sit and enjoy endless terrains, or so they seem. Buses and trains give passengers something planes rob from travelers: the ability to sit and just think with nothing bugging their minds.

Destinations. They leave memories to travelers. Even those who do not have Sony Cyber-shot or Nixon Coolpix. They all get to remember that place. That place that proved hardest to get to or that took endless ages to reach. They always remember where they had their best laughs, tasted novel dishes, or met amazing people. When it comes to destinations, every place has its own magic. Travelers will always have something to remember a destination for, whether it is the most developed corner of England or the most impoverished desert of Africa. Making discoveries of foreign locations is simply invigorating. The first time travelers see certain monuments they regard them as breathtaking. They ride on wheels, row in boats, dance, jump, hug, shower in streams, and do all sorts of things that may be otherwise be crazy to non-travelers. Lights from cameras flicker as they record panoramas. It is simply unforgettable for travelers. Indeed, traveling brings about amazing and unforgettable experiences.

My life has been full of traveling. I have amassed great experience from both the journeys I have made and the destinations I have ended up in. Still, like Hazlitt, I wish I could have another lifetime to spend at home with friends and family. Travelers wish for that one thing: to spend as much time as home as they spend in foreign lands.

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Traveling North

timtrends

I work in Turkana. Everything about my job is great, except what I undergo to get there. The long trip normally daunts me especially after our inconsiderate but well-intentioned transport minister decided that night journeys are too dangerous. Travelers using private means, however, are still enjoying the quiet night travels that are traffic free and convenient. Talking on convenience, traveling north has become harder than it already was. Rarely will you be lucky to get there in the first 24-hour cycle from the time of starting the long and uncomfortable journey. So now you understand why the mere notion of going back to the northern parts of Kenya sends my happy nerves to a coma. Worse still, the means of traveling available are all in a deplorable state. I would have loved to use Fly 540, but every indicator points that I am not ready to live that large. The…

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The North Isn’t that Bad

The media houses in Kenya are known for delivering good, timely, and trustworthy news to us. However,  I have never understood why they never show the good side of Turkana, or any other part of Northern Kenya for that matter. They always highlight how hard hunger has brought the people to their knees. They ensure that they film kids with bare chests and evident ribs protruding on their emaciated skin. This isn’t good. It is not  good for investors or for people who have been called to work in this area. I do admit that the conditions in this place are deplorable. But hey, the county has  good houses. It has schools, hospitals, football fields, hotels, and even a state-of-the-art inter-county airport. I took photos recently of several places, and I keep on changing my wallpaper from one to the other as they woo me with the scenery looks and serene environment. Schools in Turkana are beautiful too. I visited one school, and I almost challenged the recent reports that rank the county as the leading region in illiteracy. Look at this…Image

This is a university right here. Have you ever seen that in the media? I bet never.

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Yep, you guessed right. Another  school. Better than some that you find in big cities.

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And yeah. Scenes as beautiful as this do exist.

Preparing for the North (part one)

Traveling North is not the same as going to other places, local or international. The deadening excursion from Nairobi, or any part of the world to Turkana requires thorough preparation. Usually, travelers flying to international destinations have to prepare physically and mentally before their journey begins. Otherwise, one would be so tired and stressed that he or she would need some days or even a week to recover from the consequences of unpreparedness. Jet lag and stiff muscles are common to those who travel by air. Instead, I am wrting to road travelers. I am doing this to enlighten you on how to gear up for the not-so smooth lengthy-some journey that will leave you craving to go back home.  However, if you follow my advice carefully, this will not have to be the case. You will be ready for work as soon as you have showered and changed the clothes that will have soiled due to the dusty road.

The road

Road 2 Turkana

Do not be in a rush. Traveling to any marginalized will need some good time on the road. Ensure you carry out extensive research before embarking on the trip. Traveling to Turkana calls for the same. Ensure you have a list of the vehicles that are available on that route and how much they cost. You are lucky because I will give you some of that information here. Well, four major bus companies ply from Kitale to Lokichogio. Although the bus will proceed further north after getting to Lodwar, the town stands as the biggest on this route. Most travelers prefer Dayah Express because of its reliability, but it is the most expensive. Eldoret Express, on the other hand, charges cheaper than its biggest competitor, Dayah Express does. Mvumilivu Safaris is an upcoming bus line and does not have extensive experience in the route. Sabre Star is the worst bus you can ever travel with on this route. However, because of its poor services, unpresentable appearance, and unreliable services, it is always available as an emergency bus when you are running late.

The buses

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Dress well. Turkana is hot, and so are the environs. While traveling, you will only need to be warm halfway through the journey. Throughout the rest of the journey, the general temperatures will dictate your dressing. Besides the temperature concerns, you need to dress comfortably. Do not dress white. The road is excessively dusty that JIK will not be able to whiten your clothes again. Consider clothes that will absorb your sweat because there will be too much of perspiring. Stretchy clothes are actually the best. They blend a practical approach with comfort. They will also not show that you slept in them. Open shoes might help you with swelling problems if you have any. Ensure that you have extra clothes for changing, in the event that stopping over at some hotel becomes a necessity, especially with the onset of night travel bans. Overall, be prepared to do a thorough cleaning once you get to the destination. There is plenty of water.

Traveling North

I work in Turkana. Everything about my job is great, except what I undergo to get there. The long trip normally daunts me especially after our inconsiderate but well-intentioned transport minister decided that night journeys are too dangerous. Travelers using private means, however, are still enjoying the quiet night travels that are traffic free and convenient. Talking on convenience, traveling north has become harder than it already was. Rarely will you be lucky to get there in the first 24-hour cycle from the time of starting the long and uncomfortable journey. So now you understand why the mere notion of going back to the northern parts of Kenya sends my happy nerves to a coma. Worse still, the means of traveling available are all in a deplorable state. I would have loved to use Fly 540, but every indicator points that I am not ready to live that large. The bus below is certainly not the ideal mode of transport for a journey that will take more than twelve hours. However much you do not want to imagine, this is one of the options you get when heading to the northern parts of Kenya. The last time I was coming this way, this was the only bus still standing at the bus stop.

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We, my roommate and I, paid KSH. 2,500 to travel by this bus from Kitale to Lodwar, instead of the usual KSH. 1,000 we were used to before the night travel ban was set. That is 35% what you would have to pay to travel by air from Eldoret to Lodwar. Why didn’t I take that option? I would have arrived in Lodwar within one hour. My friend, who was coming with another bus company, Dayah Express, paid slightly higher – KSH. 3,000. Most people who in one way or the other have to go through this horrendous excursion prefer using Dayah – it is stronger, faster, and more reliable. Over time, the bus company has turned to extorting money from desperate commuters. The situation got worse with the night travel ban. However I do not mind traveling with another so long it’s cheaper on my not-so-deep pockets. A keen look at the Sabre star should tell you the state of roads that lead to Turkana. Oh, there is no actual road. Just some tracks that provide the direction to the destination. The journey is anything but smooth. If you happen to sit at the back of the bus, you will need someone to literary jump on your back to straighten it. I remember the windows to our bus falling off as the uncaring driver sped off on the excessively rough terrain. When I passed at the bus stage a few days ago to see if the bus was repaired, I was shocked to find that it was still in the same deplorable condition it was when we arrived. Where does all the money the bus company makes go?

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Transportation has become a lucrative business for bus companies plying on the Kitale-Lokichogio route. However, like the rest of us Kenyans, these businessmen have been bundled with greed, and they plough very little back to the business. As a result, the buses deteriorate at a very fast rate and, at times, go for a long time without mechanical tune-up. My friend, who was waiting to hear how my journey would go before he started his, was unlucky to travel by a bus that had not been serviced well. The brakes were weak, and the driver did not even know. Considering that he was paying more than KSH. 2000 to travel by a 65-seater bus, lacking proper service was the last thing I would have expected to hear. They say speed kills, but I believe that greed destroys at a much faster rate compared to over-speeding.  The underserviced bus was not able to make it far on the rough terrain. No sooner had they passed the Kamatira hills than the brakes failed. Praise God we are currently writing this article with him, but here is a picture that shows how lucky he was.

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I am hoping that things will become better for the people of the northern Kenya and me. That I will get a job promotion that will enable me afford to travel by air. Until then, my prayer is that our drivers, and bus companies for that matter, will become more human and less greedy. Traveling has become expensive to all Kenyans, but those who are marginalized and forgotten, like us, are going through extremely hard times.