Romancing the Royal Enfield 350 Bullet.

This post has taken me longer to write than i expected. This was something i never ever thought would happen and even have not heard it happen here in Kenya. If you know any other motorcycle company or dealer that gives out their brand new bikes from the showroom for not just a few hours test rides but a couple of days, with no strings attached, we need to celebrate them too. For now the cup goes to Halifax Motors Ltd. The official Royal Enfield dealers in Kenya.

MY RELATIONSHIP WITH ROYAL ENFIELD.

My relationship with Royal Enfield did not start with romancing this bike, no, i would be cheating if i said so. My relationship with Royal Enfield begun more than a year ago when i was looking for my upgrade bike.  While my first choice was KTM Duke 390, Royal Enfield 350 bullet was my second choice.  I visited their showroom, loved the bike so much but was out of my budget. Sadly, I left without one.

Then came the planning for our 3 years world tour  and we went all out looking for the bikes to use for the trip.  We visited showrooms and researched online heavily. We are 5,3″ and 5,4″ and weigh 64 kgs and 69 kgs respectively.  So the bikes we ride are almost the same weight and height.  We settled for the Royal Enfield Himalayan 400cc adventure bike. We had never seen this bike but everything about it fit our needs almost perfectly. The biggest issue was that this bike was not in the African market let alone Kenya. This marked my second interaction with Royal Enfield official dealer in Kenya Halifax Motors Ltd. Unfortunately we will not be using it for our world tour but it’s really a good bike.

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WHY IS IT ROMANCE WITH THIS BIKE?

First let me tell you how i even came to have the bike for 8 days. I was at home working on my backlog after my 10 days riding in Tanzania.  I received a call from the Manager (Mr. Edwin Teya) Halifax Motors Ltd (The official dealer of Royal Enfield in Kenya). A calm voice on the other end of the phone begun by congratulating me on my trip to Tanzania and finding out how the experience was and how i was doing. I was more than eager to tell all about the trip to him and he listened patiently.  I had not had the opportunity to narrate the experience to many people and it was still very fresh. It was a pleasure and he never interrupted. I may have talked for about 10 minutes after which i was sure, this call would come to an end. Instead of him saying “I just wanted to congratulate you and it was nice talking to you”, he said, i have registered a brand new 350 cc bullet and would love to let you ride it for some days. When can you pick it?

I froze, yes i did. I don’t know how many times i asked him if he was serious but he kept answering me, come pick it tomorrow from our showroom at 10:00 a.m. If i were to write about my emotions at the time, that would be an entire post on its own.  I pinched myself a couple of times to make sure i was awake and not dreaming.

This felt exactly like 1 universe, 9 planets, 204 countries, 809 islands, 7 seas and i finally had the chance to ride you 😉 and the reason why its totally romantic.

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RECEIVED LIKE A QUEEN. 

For 8 days i was going to have this brand new bike from the show room to ride. When i arrived at the show room, i was received very well and allowed to test ride the bike so that i can let them know if i needed anything adjusted.  They are safety conscious and that was impressive.  Their offices are on Bandari road off Dunga road in Industrial area and so I rode to South B shopping center and back. That was my first “Classic feel”. We made some adjustments on the clutch and rear brakes.  They even offered to have the bike cleaned while i had a chat with Edwin and the rest of the staff.  The bike was clean according to me and I requested that they don’t clean it but they would not hear anything of that. Another BIG plus on their professionalism and customer care.

While at their showroom, i had an opportunity to seat on my other love “The Himalayan” which had arrived only two day before and had already been sold. I also sat on a 500 cc classic. If you love cruisers, go for either the classic or the bullet.  Ooh, i almost forgot to mention the deep sound of the exhaust for both the bullet and the classic. To make it clear to you, it equals to a Harley Davidson’s sound.  I would love to ride the 500 classic as well. Their bikes come in really nice colours. They had a red and white one in the show room that is so cute you can stare at it all day. In addition their bikes come in blue, army green, black and white.

You feel so at home at their show room. It is very clean, beautiful display, warm friendly staff and awesome deco on the walls.  Hope i can make it to that walls. Another big plus is their impeccably clean bathroom. Small things that make a huge impact. About an hour and a half later i left with a clean bike. Oooooohhuuuuuu…..

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RIDING THE ROYAL ENFIELD 350 cc BULLET

This bike is a real classic and the vintage look is amazing. I would say it is a status bike….. or at least it felt like that to me. It is pure solid metal. Very compact and you can feel it. Though solid and compact, it is not as heavy as i would have imagined given the solid metal on it. The height is perfect for short people like me. The seating position was good – (upright). The seat felt a bit wide for me but overtime it became comfortable. The torque is not high but where will you be rushing to on such a beauty? There was plenty of vibration up to 3rd gear but after that, it calms down. I ride like a cool grandma and so my max speed is 100 kph and i did not go past that. It was however very steady at 100 kph that i kept checking the speedometer to confirm if i was truly doing a 100 kph. It felt like i was doing lower than that.

This is a bike i would love to have and is in my plan when we return from our 3 years world tour. If you are looking for a “cool cruiser”, this is your bike.

We had a cool 8 days of romance.  We rode, we related and we connected well. We even had a day out on a photo date.  The pictures on this blog are from our date. When i took her back, she asked… so?, i said, “I would love to see you again”. We are damn straight ;).

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Photo credits go to: Buz Studio.

Across Tanzania on my bike

Wamuyu

I owe my trip to Tanzania to Anja Blue and Carsten Weisner .When Anja and Carsten started planning their riding tour from Kenya to South Africa, we agreed on riding together in Kenya from Naivasha to Lake Baringo.  My plans changed and i was not able to meet them for this ride.  They left Kenya while i was in Nyeri and i was so indebted.  I proposed to meet them in Kigoma- Tanzania and did not give this proposal much thought.  I just wanted to be with our friends and say a nobble good bye.

20170710_103203 Carsten, Anja our new friend in Kigoma and myself.

PREPARING FOR THE RIDE.

The first preparation i had to do was psychological. I needed to be sure am psychologically fit to do the trip. I had never ridden that long (distance and days) on my own.  There were going to be many “new” experiences for…

View original post 1,765 more words

King Bird KB 400 cc

When the up-grade bug bites, it bites hard and one can not ignore it.  “Up-grade” means raise (something) to a higher standard, in particular improve (equipment or machinery) by adding or replacing components. In the biking terms, the meaning is more the same. It means getting a bigger bike in terms of engine capacity and performance than the one currently owned.

Before i begun riding , i wanted to ride a sports bike and i would even brag how i can not ride anything below 600 cc.  I was very shocked when i went for my riding lessons and the instructor presented to me a 160 cc bike as my bike for training.  More shock was to come when i sat on it and actually rode it. It felt heavy, the torque was high and surely not a toy.  It needed precaution to handle.  There was my first experience on a bike and the end of my 600 cc sports bike dream.  However, i still bought a sports bike “look alike”. A 223 cc Hero ZMR Karizma which i rode for nine months before my “up-grade bug” attack.

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CHOOSING MY “UP-GRADE”

After 9 months of riding, i had learned what worked for me and what did not work for me.  I knew that i would not ride a bike above 400 cc with the experience i had.  I also knew i did not want a laying low seating position.  It never worked for my back.  I wanted to be able to travel with my bike and so i needed a bike that is dual – meaning can comfortably ride on tarmac and dirt road.  I had fallen in love with a KTM Duke 390 and that was the bike i just wanted. My other option was a Royal Enfield classic 350 cc. I liked these two bikes because of various reasons, the seating position, the height (I am 5,3″ with an inseam of 29″ and weigh 64 kgs) and the weight.  They fitted perfectly well but on inquiring the price, they were above my budget at the time by quite some money.  I had to go back and start shopping for a bike that fits the above spec and affordable.

I had first seen the RX3 250 cc in the King Bird show room and tested it.  It was pretty high for me and at the time i saw it, my confidence was still not good enough.  I later learned that they had a lower bike that was bigger engine and would fit me well.  Their show room had closed in Nairobi and they were now selling their bikes from Kisumu, Eldoret and Nakuru. I could not view or try the bike and only discussed the spec, size and everything on phone, exchanging images on email and whatsapp.

I was highly drawn to the bike by its look and size. The price was also affordable and that helped in making the decision.  I settled for the bike and ordered it from Kisumu.

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ONE YEAR LATER

I remember my first day to ride it, i was so worried how i would ride from Westlands through traffic to my office in Industrial area.  I was surprised when i hit the road and felt ok other than for a higher torque.  I was able to put my feet down, lift the bike from side stand and lane split in traffic.   What i thought would be a tough ride ended up being so much fun that i could not wait to ride it back home in the evening.  I ride basically everyday not unless there are reasons why i can’t ride like weather, traveling with other people or not well enough to ride.

Besides riding to the office, i have ridden this bike to so many places.  I have been to Magadi, Nyeri, Nyahuru, Nakuru, Naivasha, Machakos round coming back through Thika, Baringo among others and finally took a big ride to Tanzania.

It is the big trip to Tanzania that has made me write this article.  This trip was a total of 3,100 kilimoters from Nairobi to Tanzania through Namanga, Arusha, Babati, Singida, Tabora, Kigoma, Kibondo, Nyakanazi, Kahama, Mwanza  back into Kenya through Isebania. From Isebania i went to Kisumu and later to Nairobi.  All these in 10 days.

During this trip, i rode on pure “heaven” tarmac, sand, dirt road, off road, deep fine soil and loose gravel on down and up hills.

BIKE PERFORMANCE

This was actually many new experiences for both of us (Bike and myself).  It was like being in class and you all are learning new things for the first time but there will be no. 1, 2,3 and so on. My longest ride on a dirt road has been 2 kilometers which is from the main road to my mom’s home and there is none of the above (sand, deep soil, loose gravel).  I have also just done it a couple of times.  I have been purely a tarmac girl till this trip.

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I was not aware of the bad roads when i picked the route.  I also did not have the options of changing the route because i was meeting friends at Kigoma.  I did what i call “pure heaven of tarmac” from Nairobi to Tabora.  Thereafter i had 120 kilometers of sand and dirt roads to Kigoma town and another 350 kilometers from Kigoma to Nyakanazi.

The rider and the bike are equally important in a ride, in-fact, we say the bike is always ok, it’s the rider we are concerned about.  Bikes mostly don’t fail, the rider does, but on this one i will tell you that, the bike did very well.  The rider (me) an amateur did not fail it and did not do it any much good either.  We were a good team at the end.

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The roads between Tabora and Kigoma

TYRES:  I rode this bike with its original tyres.  I have never changed the tyres.  They performed very well on the sand, dirt, gravel and tarmac.

 

HEATING: The bike never overheated.  It is air-cooled with what looks like twin cylinder and two exhaust pipes.  The shortest distance i did in the 10 days was 260 kilometers a day but always did 350 kilometers and above in a day.  Although i had stops for pictures and flexing my butt, the engine never felt too hot to ride.

FUEL: – The tank is 10 liters. From my calculation and performance, the bike gives you about 33 to 35 kilometers per liter. Tanzania has few petrol stations or may be just the route i used.  I never let myself go totally dry and never carried fuel on the bike, i however knew i can do 300 to 350 comfortably on one tank.

TORQUE: – I am a slow rider and therefore my highest speed is 100 KPH.  Even on tarmac, i maintained mostly 90 to 100 kph.  The roads in Tanzania have no traffic and you will enjoy riding in the middle of the road if you want.  Its the perfect place to ride if you love doing higher speeds than 100 KPH.  However, they have lots of animal crossing points and small towns with human crossing points and the speed limits on those places is 50 KPH.

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OVERALL REVIEW OF THE BIKE.

The most important things about a bike is torque, performance, fuel consumption, durability, reliability, parts availability and cost of buying and maintaining.

I would say this bike has met my expectations on all the above.  The bike is manufactured in China and sold by KING BIRD who have their showrooms in Nakuru, Eldoret and Kisumu.  They are soon setting up one in Nairobi.  The staff are very efficient and reliable that i have never felt like i wish they had a shop in Nairobi.

Parts are available and the bike is not complicated. Some parts are interchangeable with other bikes and so can be bought from any shop.

Given that this is a 400 cc bike, its is affordable selling at 4300 USD and a normal service costs about 30 to 40 USD.

When i was in Tanzania, my instructor said i chose the right bike for my trip and after the trip, i can tell you he was very right on that judgement.

This bike is perfect for short and light weight persons. Tall people would have an issue riding it. Its such a cute caferacer you will always have heads turn and random conversations at the parking lot.  I have made many friends that way.

I am thinking of keeping it till i come back from our three years trip.  We have had a lovely time together it is hard to say goodbye.

I have received alot of inquiries about the bike and hope this will help to answer everyone’s questions.

DISCLAIMER: Am not getting paid for this article.

 

Across Tanzania on my bike

I owe my trip to Tanzania to Anja Blue and Carsten Weisner .When Anja and Carsten started planning their riding tour from Kenya to South Africa, we agreed on riding together in Kenya from Naivasha to Lake Baringo.  My plans changed and i was not able to meet them for this ride.  They left Kenya while i was in Nyeri and i was so indebted.  I proposed to meet them in Kigoma- Tanzania and did not give this proposal much thought.  I just wanted to be with our friends and say a nobble good bye.

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Carsten, Anja our new friend in Kigoma and myself.

PREPARING FOR THE RIDE.

The first preparation i had to do was psychological. I needed to be sure am psychologically fit to do the trip. I had never ridden that long (distance and days) on my own.  There were going to be many “new” experiences for me in this trip.

ROUTE PLAN

I picked the route to Kigoma entering Tanzania through Namanga and exiting through Isebania. I downloaded the App Here drive  and was able to download an offline map on my phone which was really easy to follow.

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My Tanzania trip route map

CROSSING THE BORDER.

I was traveling by road using my motorbike and ride it through Tanzania.  There are legal requirements for doing this.

  1. As a person: You will need a passport or the East African pass and a yellow fever jab which must be taken at least 10 days before travel.  The yellow fever card must be presented at the immigration with your passport as evidence for the jab.
  2. The Bike:
    • You require a permit to enter the country with the bike.  This permit also referred to as “Authority letter” or “Temporary exportation/importation of road vehicle” permit is issued from Kenya Revenue Authority.  You are required to write a letter to Kenya Revenue Authority – Customs department stating the following: –Type of motorcycle or vehicle (its same process for the cars too). Country you are traveling to. Date of departure and return. Border of entry and exit. Attach original log book. They retain the original log book until you return to the country and can collect it with proof of having returned the vehicle to the country. 
    • You will require copies of your log book and passport at the customs office at the border so make enough copies and carry them with you.
    • COMESA INSURANCE to be able to ride/drive through the country.  COMESA insurance covers the following countries and you can apply one for all of them. Burundi, DRC Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zambia as indicated on the insurance Yellow card. The minimum duration you can pay for is a month and it cost me Kshs 3,666 which includes Kshs 400 for medical cover.  This amount is for motorcycle, i don’t know how much it is for bigger motor vehicles. For countries not mentioned in the COMESA insurance, you will need to buy the insurance at the border.
    • Don’t forget to carry your driving license and ensure its valid.  I was able to ride through with my Kenyan one.

PACKING

I was only travelling for 10 to 14 days max but ended up just doing 10 days. A lot of people asked me how i managed to pack everything in my bag which was not even full. See the blue bag on the bike. Below is my packing list.

  1. Clothes: – 5 t-shirts mostly dark colours, toilet bag,  my intimates, 5 pairs of socks, 1 pair light pants, 1 pair leggings for sleeping, 1 pair slippers, 1 pair canvas shoes, 1 hoodie that i layered with everyday and also used it in the evenings, my riding gear that i wore everyday (helmet, balaclava, jacket, reflector jacket, boots).
  2. Equipment:- I had a back up phone in case i lost, broke or anything happened to mine. My phone served as a camera too. A selfie stick – yes, when travelling alone you need it.  GoPro camera, a torch, tool kit for the bike, pen knife (comes in handy), pain killers, insect repellent and something for a running stomach just in case.
  3. Food and biting – I got some dates which were perfect for energy when riding.  I avoided heavy meals during the day. I packed water and a soda too every morning. I had a good breakfast and dinner and just water, dates and sips of a soda during the day.

ACCOMMODATION

I used guest houses during this trip. However if one is going to be on the road for longer than a few days, guest houses can be expensive and one would need to look for cheaper accommodation.

I never made any prior bookings.  I planned my trip to be in the next town in good time to be able to find a place to sleep.  May sound risky but worked perfectly well.  Tanzania has nice guest houses with en-suit rooms, WiFi, hot shower and a comfortable beds for Tshs 30,000 to 35,000 (which is Kshs 1,500 to 1,750). In all the places i stayed at, there was secure parking for my bike.  In Kigoma, i stayed at a very nice camp site with my friends for Tshs 20,000 a night (Kshs 1,000).

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Rafiki Inn – Arusha
PHB HOTEL
PBH Hotel – Singida – This has a beach too.
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The PBH Hotel – Singida Beach.
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Orion Hotel – Tabora
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Jacobsen Camp – Kigoma
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Kahama

OTHER ACTIVITIES IN TANZANIA.

Between Arusha and Kigoma, there are many national parks that one can visit. The Tangire, Serengeti, NgoroNgoro etc. I practically rode everyday other than one day – Sunday which was meant to be my rest day.  Though i really needed that rest after four days of riding, the best rest is doing something different.  As the saying goes “a change is as good as a rest”.  On this day we went to the nearest National Park – Gombe National Park. Gombe is the smallest national park in Tanzania, with only 20 square miles (52 km2) of forest running along the hills of the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. The terrain is distinguished by steep valleys, and the forest vegetation ranges from grassland to alpine bamboo to tropical rain forest.  The park is most famous as the location where Jane Goodall pioneered her behavioral research conducted on the chimpanzee populations. The Kasakela chimpanzee community, featured in several books and documentaries, lives in Gombe Stream National Park. It’s a nice hike up there watching the Chimpanzees, the lake from the peak and then as you come down, you pass by a waterfall and its amazing.

This park is only accessible by boat.  We took a 2.5 hours boat ride on Lake Tanganyika from our camp (Jacobsen Camp). To get to the park in good time to register, pay and get assigned a group and guide, we had to depart the camp at 5:30 a.m. It was chilly, beautiful, fresh and we met lots of fishermen.

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The view as you do the boat ride – Lake Tanganyika
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The Lake Tanganyika from Gombe mountain Peak
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Chimpanzees at the Gombe NP
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The water fall – Gombe Np

THE RIDE

It took me four days from Nairobi to Kigoma.  A total of 1,365 kilometers.  From Nairobi to Tabora is all very good tarmac road.   The roads are well marked with animal crossing, zebra crossing, speed bumps, locations, directions and even kilometers to your next town. This was impressive.  I never needed to look at my map. There is almost zero traffic on the road and i got to enjoy riding like a “President”.  All the  way it’s a spectacular view of mountains, plains, valleys and very beautiful. Be sure to stop for many pictures.

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This is the Tarangire NP area and watching this Buffaloes from the highway was amazing.

The adventure begins after Tabora. On asking about the road to Kigoma, everyone told me the road is “very bad”.  The images formed in my head by this statement was one very terrible road.  Something that i only watch on you tube.  Here i was with a 400 cc caferacer bike and roads meant for big adventure bikes ridden by pros. This combination was one that kept me praying most of the night. I had no prior experience on off road or dirt road exceeding 2 kilometers from the main road to my mom’s house in the village.  And these 2 kilometers has no sand, deep fine soil or loose gravel. The truth is, the road is bad, but not as bad as i had imagined.  Between Tabora and Kigoma, there are three sections of bad road. First section has lots of sand and that was very scary for i had lots of near falls. Second section is a very clean dirt road with no soil or sand and was fun ridding through. Third section had lots of loose gravel and that was my last before Kigoma.  Slowed me down alot. A total of about 120 kilometers of dirt roads.

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Heading to Kigoma
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The roads between Tabora and Kigoma

The roads were to get worse from Kigoma to Nyakanazi.  On this section i did 350 kilometers of now what i would say very bad roads, but still better than the images created in my head by the descriptions i would receive of the roads.  Very fine deep soil, loose gravel and rocks is what i had to ride through. Besides the bad roads, this region is so beautiful. I got to a place called Kasulu that was hard to leave. Beautiful mountains.

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Deep fine soil
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More dirt roads
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Kasulu region and its beautiful hills/mountains stole my heart.

From Nyakanazi its all tarmac to Isebania.  However, from Kahama there is a shorter route to Mwanza which is dirt road, but i was too tired to try it.  I chose the longer tarmac route. Tanzania has spectacular rocks all over which are said to be as a result of a huge earthquake 25,000 years ago. They are so many and so beautiful i could fill this blog with the pictures.  They even serve as Bill boards in some places with huge adverts.

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Riding through the Mara and crossing River Mara was the best part of this section.

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Crossing River Mara was emotional.  Felt so much like a big achievement.

After The Mara, i was now heading home through the Isebania boarder where i was received by Musyoki, Warush and Job. They rode all the way from Nairobi for me and i will never be able to thank them enough.  God bless you guys.

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Musyoki, Job, Me-self and Warush

From Isebania we rode to Kisumu where we were well taken care of by Jason, Diana, Joel and Ngiri David.  Waking up in Kisumu and not being able to go to the lake was hard but i am sure coming back.

 

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Kisumu in the morning, not wanting to leave.

We rode to Nairobi the following day riding through the beautiful Muhoroni. I am definitely riding to Western Kenya again.

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Beautiful Muhoroni road. Very scenic.
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The team.  Love you guys to bits.

This place is so beautiful.  At the end of my trip, i did 3,100 kilometers and learned many lessons.

Am I ready for the 3 years motorcycle adventure? — the answer is YES!!!! This ride helped in a big way to prepare me for the BIG RIDE.

Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes.

#theadventuresofwamuyu

 

Riding with Rashmi in Kenya

I met Rashmi on Facebook.  We were in a common group and both bikers.  She is the founder of Global Women Who Ride . She asked to interview me and i later asked her to visit Kenya.  We ended up fulfilling each others request.  She arrived in Kenya on June 1st. That’s Madaraka day (Madaraka means Freedom – 1 June, commemorates the day that Kenya attained internal self-rule in 1963. ).  On 31st May we had received Carsten and on 1st June Anja (Carsten girlfriend) arrived during the day. We were hosting everyone in our home just in the outskirts of Nairobi.  We made a good team of 5 bikers under one roof.

This was Rashmi’s first time in Kenya and Africa.  She was going to be in Africa for 20 days.  She was very excited. The first few days Rashmi toured Nairobi on her own.  She visited the Museum, Art Galleries and even took a 3 day trip to the Maasai Mara.  I admired her travel planning skills.  My best take away from her for our world tour.  She had her itinerary in place.  Researched very well and knew exactly what she wanted to see and places she needed to visit.  At some point, she sounded more knowledgeable about Kenya than me. Kenya was her 40th country to visit and therefore she is equipped with plenty of experience on travel planning.

We had planned to ride together before she traveled to Ethiopia.  We mapped out a route which would take us to my former primary school, spend a night at my mom’s place and leave the following day to ride through Nyeri, Nyahururu, Gilgil for another night in Naivasha before heading back home in Nairobi.

The 3 days 2 nights ride with Rashmi, Tayaini, Carol, Roy and Derrick

First day we rode to my former primary school for a CSR i support.

Students at my former primary school. We were there as Alumnis to donate text books.

Then we stopped at my mom’s place for the night.  My mom was very happy to see other girls who ride motorcycles.

My mom’s place. It was lovely having the girls there. Rashmi experienced the Kenyan country side.

We met up with Carol, Roy and Derrick.  It was really nice being welcomed to Nyeri and having more people to ride with.

Our second night was spent at Camp Carnelleys in Naivasha.  Such a beautiful place to be.  This was really amazing. They have dormitories, single rooms with shared bathrooms and Bandas that sleep two and three people. We viewed the single rooms with two beds and the size was really good and the shared bathrooms clean.  We settled for a Banda with a bathroom and toilet inside (en-suite).  The beds were very comfortable, the duvets warm and the best part was the veranda and a small garden space with table and bench and a fire place.  I am definitely going back to this place. Its amazing.

The Banda and the very comfy veranda.
Rashmi enjoying

We left Naivasha on Monday afternoon after a really relaxing night, good breakfast and a tour of the Camp Carnelleys.  We made a stop at the Escarpment and the smallest Church.

At the entrance of the smallest church built by the Italian Prisoners of war
The magnificent view of the escarpment.
The graffiti opposite the place we stopped at the Escarpment. I loved this.

We had a wonderful ride and when we got home, all we wanted was to ride again but she had to head out to Ethiopia.

Finally home and happy

Traveling through beautiful souls.

I haven’t traveled much.  I can count the places I have been to and not exhaust my fingers.  I love travelling though but this confession does not support my love for travel.  I have been around for four decades, I should have done much better than that. Travelling is not cheap.  Its costs time, emotions, separations from your comfort and loved ones as well as money. I applaud all those who are able to travel a lot and cope well especially with the first four (time, emotions, separations from your comfort and loved ones).  Am not trying to justify why i have not traveled much although to some extent, the above has contributed.

I was 21, when I took my first solo trip to Mombasa from Nairobi.  At the time, there was no Facebook, Instagram, Google and mobile phones.  This was in the year 1997.  The year Safaricom was formed but we did not have affordable mobile phones and network until 2000.  So safe to say, there was no mobile phones in Kenya. Facebook was founded in the year 2004 and Instagram in the year 2010.  Gee, makes me feel quite old and like i lived in the prehistoric age.

Unlike today, when you can get support groups for travel on social media and research more on travel from how to travel, where to travel, lovely destination, costs, how to save and all on Google, those days, there was little of that.  You had a dream and fulfilled it. Period!

I took a shuttle to Mombasa on December, 23rd, 1997.  I was the only single lady in the shuttle.  The rest were families traveling for the Christmas holidays.  I knew no one or nowhere in Mombasa.  My trip plan was very simple. A bus ticket, some money and a place to call home for a few days. I booked a place through searching on yellow pages.  If you belong to my age group, you know the yellow Directory and it came with a tagline “Let your fingers do the walking” and sure the fingers would walk on those pages and find everyone and everything.  It was pretty well organized and user friendly I must say.  I wonder if they print this anymore.

Directory
Picture credit – Google

Following this trip, I have traveled to Turkey, Dubai, Uganda and Rwanda – all solo trips.  I got into business and Dubai became my frequent destination.  I have been there more than 15 times and i feel confident to blame it for not travelling to as many other countries.

I then opened my home to guests and started a different kind of travel.  I started travelling from my living room in to beautiful souls.  I started hosting in 2012 when I discovered Airbnb. I opened my home to visitors and have never looked back.  I have met lovely, amazing people.  I have learned about their countries, their foods, culture, tradition right from my living room.  I have made friends throughout the world.

Living room 2

My first guest was a girl from Italy, Vittoria.  She was going to be in Kenya for three months.  When she traveled home for Easter holidays in the middle of her stay in Kenya, her mom sent her back with a gift for me.  That touched my heart and I knew I was doing the right thing and could not wait to meet many more sweet souls. Sade showed my son how to make Mac & Cheese pasta.  He has never forgotten.   Sally and Muya, we were the perfect housemates.  We still have our whatsapp group for chats and still meet up . Anna learned to ride a motorbike after living with us.  Dr. Tom from U.S.A always made really nice food and taught me to make chicken kiev but the best was getting out for a drink and our trip to Mara.  Jessica from Canada gave me a name Mama J.  Boi and Mariana so sweet and caring. Waseem, the brother from another mother. Taught me how to make Ghanian food and has been a brother. David, Daniel, Barbara, Amal, Marilyn.  Esi, she has the most amazing mom.  Spending time with her mom is something i will never forget. We did house moving and shopping.  I love her. I have traveled to visit my mom with Anna, Jacob and Natallie. They all learned to greet my mom in the traditional greetings and she was ecstatic. Irene from U.S.A, her huge undying love for elephants is unforgettable.  Jeannie (Wacera her given Kikuyu name) and Austine, such a lovely couple. I wish i could list everyone here.  I have hosted over 100 people and have fond memories of each and everyone of them. We have shared a home, meals, traveled together, parties, brunches and barbecues.

Through my guests, i have met many more from their social networks here in Kenya.  I remember Dani from Canada, this girl loved my little ones. Sindy from China, Milena from Colombia, so sweet and caring. Venla, she will keep your smile on. Alexandra from Germany became my best friend. Hannan, Rodgers, Varun, Pieter, Tim, Charlote, Elizabeth and many many more wonderful people i have met.

I have been blessed to meet such beautiful souls who have touched my life and that of my loved ones in very special ways.  I keep in touch with majority as much as i can. As a result, i have friends from Italy, France, UK, U.S.A, Germany, Sweden, Greece, South Africa, Rwanda, Botswana, Zambia, Ghana, Gambia, Republic of Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, Holland, Australia, Canada, China, India, Philippines, Kenya, Brazil, Colombia, Finland, Turkey, Cameroon, Denmark, Ethiopia, Sudan, Nigeria, Liberia.  I could have forgotten some countries.  This is how far i have traveled through these beautiful souls.

I am in the process of planning a world tour with my fiance’ from 2018.  We will visit all the seven continents and I can’t wait to link up with my friends. Am so excited knowing that i know someone in many countries of the world.

I would love to say thank you to all those who have shared my home and those i have met through my housemates for making my life so beautiful.  I have fond memories of each one of you and even though i have not listed all the names here, your names are all warmly printed in my heart.  I love you and hope to see you soon as i do the world tour.

I love you.

A travel destination called Home.

We are born at a place called home, we grow up there, get natured, trained, educated, loved and belong. This place is all we know, the most traveled, the most explored, the most loved, the place with the most friends, the only friends we have may be. If we travel away, we go for hours or a few days and come back .

As we grow older, we start traveling away more, away to school (to some of us, it starts with boarding school) and you are in the boarding school for 3 months before you can visit home.  And then, you start to realize that school is more “home” and home is your new travel destination.  You look forward to taking that bus home at the end of school term and if you are lucky, for mid-term holidays which comes in the middle of the 3 school months.

Moving on to college/university, you now get a new home, its your hostel, shared apartment or with a host family. You no longer take 3 months to go home, that has increased to about 6 months. You now talk of “when you will be traveling home”. At this times, traveling home requires planning, buying tickets, parking, giving notice that you will be coming, getting emotional and excited at the same time. You post on your Instagram and Facebook page. Its a big deal.

nyeri
The beautiful road home

 

You graduate from college/University and get a job and your own home. Now you work far away from home. May be even out of your country which makes it more difficult to visit home. Career demands, you have enrolled for your masters degree, time is scarce and so is money  and going home requires more planning including savings.  Traveling home becomes a holiday trip, its the place that you have the most peace at the least expenses.  Its a place that comes with all the love. Its the place you no longer want to leave. You enjoy meeting your old friends like new friends, you enjoy doing what you did when you were young like new adventures. You know its your new Miami, your best travel destination for life.

Perfect bed
My best room and bed in the whole wide world. Moma’s home.

My home is in the countryside.  About 120 kilometers from Nairobi. It’s about 1.5 hrs by car or bike. I sometimes go with friends for a relaxing weekend. I have also taken some of my guests.  Natalie, a girls who was staying with on Airbnb spent a weekend shelling maize with my mom and in her review she said “She even invited me to her mother’s house near Nyeri, a highlight of my stay in Nairobi! Great host”. I took two other of my guests from Germany and they asked to learn how to greet my mom in my language.  Its a respectful traditional greetings for mothers (Greetings “Wakia maitu” and she will respond to a lady “Wakia iiyu” and to a guy (Wakia awa).  These are greetings from anyone young enough to call my mom, mother. My two guests had learned these greetings a night before and even mastered the pronunciation so well. My mom was so delighted she still asks how they are doing.

Let me take you through what is it like to have your weekend getaway here.

Kitchen
Cooking in the traditional 3 stone stove. Guest chef in the picture
Moon in the night
In the evenings/night, we get to watch the moon when its out.
Goats
The goats that keep mom busy.
Cows
And the cows that give my mom milk
Catwalk
Farm produce and the chef doing a catwalk

Home everyone’s best holiday destination.