9 Comments

Kenya Day 5 – Bustling Nakuru

Bustling Nakuru

Bustling Nakuru

The city’s streets bustle. What seemed like utter chaos just two days ago is already familiar. I can’t understand a word anyone is saying but the city’s patterns are clearly visible. There’s now order to the chaos and the order is commerce.

Matatu station

Matatu station

The transport industry is buzzing. People cram into the hundreds of matatas bouncing through the city’s streets. With fixed fares this is cheap public transport. It costs just KSh20 to travel from Kaptembwo to Nakuru the battered little buses.

Tuk Tuk

Tuk Tuk

Tuk tuk drivers hang out of their vehicle windows at tuk tuk stands. They wave and call to potential passengers but are not obnoxious. We take one when we go to the school. Our tuk tuk has speakers with music playing and it clearly is affecting the battery’s power because we are unable to travel at much more than a slow limp.

Pikky pikky with passenger

Pikky pikky with passenger

Pikky pikky riders sit astride their 150cc motorbikes waiting for passengers. Most wear high visibility vests and have old-fashioned helmets balanced on the tanks. The purpose of the helmet seems to be the rider’s warmth, not anyone’s safety. Many helmets have no chin straps or are have deep cracks in them and none have visors. The bikes are small with knobbly tyres and bark buster hand guards. The riders zip around on them, pushing their way into traffic and cutting corners where possible.

Podi Podi

Podi Podi

Podi podi riders lean on their distinctive steel framed bicycles. I’ve never seen frames of this configuration in my life. I wonder about the purpose of the rounded bars that lead from stem to fork. Bodi bodi riders take passengers around the city on brightly coloured rear seats. The bikes have footrests and handlebars for the passengers to hold. Many of the podi podi bikes are brightly coloured, making them very attractive to look at.

The transport industry is being well-supported by the Kenyans who live here in Nakuru. Beautiful women in pretty dresses and heels ride on the back of podi podis, and perfectly groomed men in suits and ties cram into matatas. No one wears helmets or seat belts (other than the pikky pikky riders who are cold) and there’s not a zebra crossing or traffic light to be found. Instead, there’s a constant flow of people weaving between each other on their way around the city.

Business Nakuru style

Business Nakuru style

Business here is occurring everywhere. Street stalls sell shoes, second-hand clothes, watches, fruit, vegetables and text books. Mangoes, pineapples and tomatoes must be in season for they are everywhere. Small fronted shops sell internet airtime, mobile phones and motorbikes. Larger shops hold banks and grocery shops. It’s a cacophony of sound and colour.

Unlike some developing countries, trade does not seem to be conducted by merciless hawkers. Rather, it’s done rather willingly. The odd tout will ask whether you want to buy their wares or be a passenger of their transport but mostly “hapana” (no) will be enough to get rid of them. It’s nothing like I experienced in China where there was almost a mob-mentality.

Yes. Nakuru is a town of commerce and trade.

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9 comments on “Kenya Day 5 – Bustling Nakuru

  1. Fascinating. It’s amazing all the various ways people will find to make money and solve the problem of getting around.

    • I’m finding Nakuru to be a fascinating place alright. There’s areas of total poverty here but there’s also so much opportunity for building a future if you have the right chances. Most of the clothes sold here on the street come from the charitable organisations in the west. They are just bagged up and sent here. People get the bags, sell what they can and then leave the bags in the shops to be collected. The next day, the bags are dropped at the shops again and people start selling.

  2. Hapana, asante sounds even better…. Nice to see the colourful sites of Kenya again and to see how you experience it. I am surprised that you have not put yourself to use as a poda poda yet…..

  3. Hey,

    I think when you are back you should get your trip printe in a pretty book. Just copy your blog. It would look awesome!

    • So you’re going to help me work out how to do that? πŸ™‚ But who’s going to read it? I like that you are reading my stories πŸ™‚

      • i am sure heaps of people would love to see it.
        yes i can do it up with you – wouldn’t take long because you already have the words and images.

        • Awesome πŸ™‚ I even have the high resolution files on my computer (the ones in my blog are compressed). Maybe when I go off traveling we will have to make some books too so that my nephews and nieces can see where Uncle Andrew is when he’s not around

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