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Long Train (not) Runnin': Tiwi Beach, Mombasa, Kenya - 7th November 2010

It's the final leg of the honeymoon and we're taking the overnight sleeper train from Nairobi to Mombasa. The journey is interesting in itself as the train, which last saw its glory days in the 60s or 70s, is fairly lively and busy. Dinner is served by the bell shortly after we depart and is itself a fairly crazy event. After that, people retire to their cabins (two bunk beds per room) and try to get some sleep as the train slowly rumbles through the dark African countryside. The next day after dawn, we see some of the scenery and watch the small children from every tiny village run up to the train to see what's going on or to try and score some sweets or pencils or whatever the passengers are handing out. The train is on time (according to the +/- 1 hour definition of such things) and rocks up in Mombasa 16 hours after it left Nairobi. We then get a lift from one of Will's chums over to Tiwi beach and spend three lovely days doing pretty-much nothing whatsoever, apart from defending our fruit stash from marauding monkeys - unsuccessfully on two occasions. At the beach, fishermen and the Mango Man come up to the cottage to sell fresh produce, and the dudes on the beach are selling souvenirs and providing snorkelling trips, which we do too. Hakuna Matata, indeed. On the way back to Nairobi the train stops at Mazeras, 15 kilometers and barely one hour outside Mombasa, and we're informed of a "derailment up ahead". 15 hours later, the train has not moved, and so an American dude leads us in a splinter group through a nearby village - an experience in itself - down to a random bus driven by some Somali dudes which is heading to Nairobi. Half way, at the town of Voi, there's a five-mile stationary tailback of HGVs, which bothers the driver not one bit. If, whilst overtaking stationary traffic, something comes the other way, this dude simply piles his bus with 25 people on board completely off the wrong side of the road and carries on driving along the dirt until the oncoming traffic has passed. In Voi, we see the remains of burning tyres and the Kenyan police helicopter, and it turns out that the demonstration had included ripping up the railway lines, so our train was probably still where we left it. Even so, total journey time from the beach to the hotel in Nairobi ends up being around 30 hours. When we're finally dropped off the bus, it's in the dodgiest part of Nairobi - River Road - and the place is heaving and crazy. William eventually rescues us, and takes us to the hotel for our final night in Kenya.

next album: Apple Pressing, Amandine's Jazz and a Christmas Fair, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk - 28th November 2010
previous album: Narok to Naivasha and Hell's Gate National Park, Kenya, Africa - 5th November 2010

2010 On the road back to Nairobi from Narok

On the road back to Nairobi from Narok

2010 The Cool Base Selections Store, Narok

The Cool Base Selections Store, Narok

2010 The platform at Nairobi Railway Station

The platform at Nairobi Railway Station

2010 Isobel talks to a Belgian girl

Isobel talks to a Belgian girl

2010 Tusker beer is duly consumed

Tusker beer is duly consumed

2010 Dinner time on the sleeper train

Dinner time on the sleeper train

2010 Nosher and Isobel in the crazy restaurant car

Nosher and Isobel in the crazy restaurant car

2010 Kids run alongside the train

Kids run alongside the train

2010 More children by the tracks

More children by the tracks

2010 Isobel surveys the scenery

Isobel surveys the scenery

2010 Breakfast on a train: it looks like we haven't moved

Breakfast on a train: it looks like we haven't moved

2010 Isobel in our sleeper cabin

Isobel in our sleeper cabin

2010 A view of our little train room

A view of our little train room

2010 The ramshackle train rumbles through the countryside

The ramshackle train rumbles through the countryside

2010 The Kenya Railway is using semaphore signals

The Kenya Railway is using semaphore signals

2010 A small boy desperately runs after the train

A small boy desperately runs after the train

2010 Maji Ya Chumvi halt/station

Maji Ya Chumvi halt/station

2010 Another small boy chases the train

Another small boy chases the train

2010 The train corridor

The train corridor

2010 Rumbling through the Kenyan countryside

Rumbling through the Kenyan countryside

2010 People wait at Mariakani halt

People wait at Mariakani halt

2010 A woman with a bundle on her head

A woman with a bundle on her head

2010 Rail-side kiosk

Rail-side kiosk

2010 Some dude walks along the tracks

Some dude walks along the tracks

2010 A signal box at Changamwe

A signal box at Changamwe

2010 A shanty-town just outside Mombasa

A shanty-town just outside Mombasa

2010 on the outskirts of Mombasa, people are living on a huge landfill dump

on the outskirts of Mombasa, people are living on a huge landfill dump

2010 Old railway building in Mombasa

Old railway building in Mombasa

2010 The lump of iron that hauled our train from Nairobi

The lump of iron that hauled our train from Nairobi

2010 Portable ghetto-blasters haven't reached Mombasa yet

Portable ghetto-blasters haven't reached Mombasa yet

2010 A giant Coca-Cola bottle in the street

A giant Coca-Cola bottle in the street

2010 A shop in Likoni sells metal pots

A shop in Likoni sells metal pots

2010 Our stunning private beach

Our stunning private beach

2010 Resident cat Patchy looks out

Resident cat Patchy looks out

2010 Patchy Cat peers through a hole in the wall

Patchy Cat peers through a hole in the wall

2010 A small boat on the Indian Ocean

A small boat on the Indian Ocean

2010 Isobel eats a mango for breakfast

Isobel eats a mango for breakfast

2010 Breakfast fruit and juice

Breakfast fruit and juice

2010 Patchy Cat sprawls out on our bed

Patchy Cat sprawls out on our bed

2010 Prickly Pear cacti

Prickly Pear cacti

2010 Our Tiwi Beach cottage

Our Tiwi Beach cottage

2010 Palm trees on the beach

Palm trees on the beach

2010 Steps through the garden

Steps through the garden

2010 Women pick small shells to make necklaces

Women pick small shells to make necklaces

2010 Bright cloths wave in the sun

Bright cloths wave in the sun

2010 A thatched beach hut

A thatched beach hut

2010 Isobel and a beer at the nearby Twiga resort bar

Isobel and a beer at the nearby Twiga resort bar

2010 An anti-mosquito coil has burnt away leaving a nice pattern of ash

An anti-mosquito coil has burnt away leaving a nice pattern of ash

2010 Another breakfast on the verandah

Another breakfast on the verandah

2010 Our cottage's lounge

Our cottage's lounge

2010 The bedroom

The bedroom

2010 Isobel gets a pedicure

Isobel gets a pedicure

2010 Life on the beach

Life on the beach

2010 A fresh coconut, straight from the tree

A fresh coconut, straight from the tree

2010 A monkey perches on a pole

A monkey perches on a pole

2010 One of the resident baby monkeys

One of the resident baby monkeys

2010 Another baby monkey plots how to steal our food

Another baby monkey plots how to steal our food

2010 A monkey flakes out

A monkey flakes out

2010 Another view of the beach

Another view of the beach

2010 Nice purple flowers on the beach

Nice purple flowers on the beach

2010 A final look at the beach

A final look at the beach

2010 Hanging silks

Hanging silks

2010 Our little garden area

Our little garden area

2010 A wooden construction in Likoni

A wooden construction in Likoni

2010 Random shops and shacks, Likoni

Random shops and shacks, Likoni

2010 A shack is 'The Municipal Council of Mombasa Revenue Office'

A shack is 'The Municipal Council of Mombasa Revenue Office'

2010 A dude with a large stack of eggs on his bike

A dude with a large stack of eggs on his bike

2010 Interesting street life

Interesting street life

2010 Down by the docks in Mombasa

Down by the docks in Mombasa

2010 Chicken heads poke up from the back of a van

Chicken heads poke up from the back of a van

2010 The train awaits for our return trip to Nairobi

The train awaits for our return trip to Nairobi

2010 Isobel heads off to the shop

Isobel heads off to the shop

2010 The almost-empty platform

The almost-empty platform

2010 Derelict railway tracks

Derelict railway tracks

2010 Mombasa: altitude 18 metres.

Mombasa: altitude 18 metres.

2010 Mombasa station

Mombasa station

2010 The Railway Shop

The Railway Shop

2010 Nosher peers out of the train

Nosher peers out of the train

2010 Isobel looks up from the platform

Isobel looks up from the platform

2010 Some old rolling stock

Some old rolling stock

2010 Adverts on corrugated iron

Adverts on corrugated iron

2010 Mazeras, where the train stops

Mazeras, where the train stops

2010 The train sits around doing nothing much

The train sits around doing nothing much

2010 The next morning, there's quite a crowd of people milling around

The next morning, there's quite a crowd of people milling around

2010 We escape through Mazeras village

We escape through Mazeras village

2010 Isobel in the middle of our 'splinter group'

Isobel in the middle of our 'splinter group'

2010 The view from Nosher's bus seat

The view from Nosher's bus seat

2010 On the coach

On the coach

2010 Trolleys by the Baghdad Guest House

Trolleys by the Baghdad Guest House

2010 A mosque

A mosque

2010 The Café Ruzanna

The Café Ruzanna

2010 The 'Oasis Hotel'

The 'Oasis Hotel'

2010 In places, the countryside is a lot like the Australian outback

In places, the countryside is a lot like the Australian outback

2010 The queue of traffic outside Voi

The queue of traffic outside Voi

2010 The crazy bus

The crazy bus

2010 The bustling town of Voi

The bustling town of Voi

2010 Another scene from Voi

Another scene from Voi

2010 Outside Voi, the Kenyan Police helicopter is waiting

Outside Voi, the Kenyan Police helicopter is waiting

2010 Baobob trees

Baobob trees

2010 There are one or two signs around

There are one or two signs around

2010 A massive tree

A massive tree

2010 Back on the plane to the UK

Back on the plane to the UK

2010 The Sudanese desert from the air

The Sudanese desert from the air

2010 Sand dunes in the desert

Sand dunes in the desert

2010 In Libya, central-pivot irrigation has left its mark

In Libya, central-pivot irrigation has left its mark

2010 Elvis pops up from time-to-time on the SkyTrack system

Elvis pops up from time-to-time on the SkyTrack system

2010 More desert formations

More desert formations

2010 A Libyan oilfield.

A Libyan oilfield.

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On the road back to Nairobi from Narok