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Kenya - Nairobi
27.01.98 - Our First Day in NairobiWe met up with our new tour guide, Mike, the next day in our lobby and we headed out straight away to check out the various tour operators. It turns out there is no tourism office in Nairobi, strange considering how much money must come out of the various tours that run out of here, but there are a LOT of tour operators. We visited three different operators and they all seemed pretty much the same but we didn't want to be rushed into booking into any of them since it was a lot of money we were going to be spending. We told Mike we wanted to go to the Massai markets, so off we headed.
The Massai Markets was our first exposure to the bargaining tactics of Africa, so of course we got ripped off. Fortunately we knew we were hopeless at that stage so we didn't buy anything big - it was all good practice for later in our journeys. It was pretty intimidating, we all got split up and people would grab your arm and pull you over to their stalls to try and sell you their stuff. If you even asked the price of something, it was considered initiating the selling process and they wouldn't let you leave until you bought something. I ended up buying a couple of cheap necklace things (Joe got some exactly the same, his were meant to be 'good luck' while mine were anti-malarial, apparently).
Mike then took us to a local eating place (we were the only white people in the whole place) and we ate some of the local food. The food turned out as a combination of a tasteless potato bulk with some meat from dubious origins. We didn't die though, and it was actually quite tasty.
We picked a tour group to go with - we chose the biggest one. We still hadn't paid for our tours yet, and there was a small issue of 'how the hell do we carry money around "Nairobbery" without getting it stolen' *. We went to the bank and ended up with a combination of travellers cheques and cash in our hands and we (very cautiously) headed the 100m from the bank to the tour office. We each handed over the equivalent of US$1100 for two weeks on Safari. Africa is not cheap.
* Nairobi has a very bad reputation - it is renowned as a very dangerous place, especially for tourists. There are many thieves and they are meant to not be opposed to the use of violence to get what they want. As a result, we were extremely paranoid for our time in Nairobi, I only took one photo the whole time I was there and left my camera and all my valuables back at the hotel the whole time. We were understandably tense with a whole heap of cash on us.
After that stressful episode we headed back to the hotel for the night to get ready to leave the next day.
NEXT: (28.01.98 - 03.02.98) 7-day Safari
NEXT: (04.02.98 - 11.04.98) Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro