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

It's the final leg of the honeymoon and we're taking the overnight sleeper train from Nairobi to Mobasa. 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 Mobasa 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, however, the train stops barely 1 hour outside Mobasa 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 posse 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 5-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. That train was probably still where we left it. Even so, total journey time from the beach to the hotel in Nairobi: 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.

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These are cropped thumbnails. Click on an image to view the full photograph.

Dinner time on the Mobasa sleeper train. Isobel talks to a Belgian girl
Tusker beer is duly consumed
Nosher and Isobel in the crazy restaurant car
Kids run alongside the train
Isobel surveys the scenery
Breakfast on a train: it looks like we haven't moved
Our sleeper cabin
The ramshackle train rumbles through the countryside
A small boy desperately runs after the train
Maji Ya Chumvi halt/station
A woman with a bundle on her head
Rail-side kiosk
A shanty-town just outside Mobasa
on the outskirts of Mobasa, people are living on a huge landfill dump
Old railway building in Mobasa
The lump of iron that hauled our train from Nairobi
Portable ghetto-blasters haven't reached Mombasa yet
A shop in Likoni sells metal pots
Our stunning private beach
The cottages have resident cats: this is Patchy Cat
Patchy Cat sprawls out on our bed
In the inter-tidal region between the beach and the reef, women pick small shells to make necklaces
Bright cloths wave in the sun
Isobel and a beer at the nearby Twiga resort bar
An anti-mosquito coil has burnt away leaving a nice pattern of ash
Our cottage's lounge
Isobel gets a pedicure
Beach huts
One of the resident baby monkeys
Another baby monkey plots how to steal our food
Nice purple flowers on the beach
A final look at the beach
A small shack is grandly named "The Municipal Council of Mobasa Revenue Office"
A dude with a large stack of eggs on his bike
Interesting street life
The train awaits for our return trip to Nairobi
Derelict railway tracks
Mobasa: altitude 18 metres.
Nosher peers out of the train
Isobel looks up from the platform
The random station where the train spends the night
The train sits around doing nothing much
The next morning, there's quite a crowd of people milling around
Our "splinter group" makes its way through a random village. Isobel's in the middle
The view from Nosher's bus seat
A mosque
The "Oasis Hotel"
In places, the countryside is a lot like the Australian outback
The crazy bus
The bustling town of Voi
Outside Voi, the Kenyan Police helicopter is waiting
There are one or two signs around
The Sudanese desert from the air
In Libya, central-pivot irrigation has left its mark
For some reason, Elvis pops up from time-to-time on the in-flight SkyTrack system
A Libyan oilfield.

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