Background info: Back in December 2008 , the family and I decided to visit relations in Kenya, as it had been a while since our last trip, back in 1998. The problem was coordinating everyone's schedule with work and school. My younger brother goes to University and acts as a counselor and had to be back by the 23 of august. We decided against going in April/May ( the cheapest time to travel to Kenya) as it is the rainy season down there. We decided that mid July to mid August would be the best time to fit with everyone's schedule. We could not return return to the motherland country without bringing back gifts for everyone, and I mean EVRYONE ( aunts , uncles, grandparent, cousins) . In my extended family , my mom is the youngest of 8 siblings and my dad is the 6th of 9 siblings. My mom bought Toronto t-shirts for EVERYBODY, and lord knowns how much ( $$ ) that set her back.
on July 22, it came done to the day of the trip. We had 18 pieces of luggage to check in at the airport. In order to save time,I printed our boarding passes at work and checked in on line 24 hours prior. What I wanted to do was get good seats for the AMS
route and I paid the on line seat preference charges that KLM offers. And it was worth it
this is not all the luggage, just part of it
stuffing the luggage in the minivan. We had to remove the back seat to fit in the suitcases , but it was not enough and had to get a cousin of ours and use her car as well to transport the suitcases which could not fit into the van.
driving to the airport.
we arrived at Toronto's Pearson airport at 1:15 pm and our flight would depart at 5:45pm. The reason for the early arrival was to check in our luggage and not to be rushed at the same time. But at YYZ
, the KLM check in desk does not open until 1:30pm and because I had already checked all of us on line and printed the boarding passes, we proceeded to the drop off baggage desk that KLM shares with Air France. A kindly AF
agent logged off her AF
system and logged in to the KLM system to check us in. It took us 45 minutes to check in all our pieces of luggage and to make sure that neither the luggage nor our hand luggage was overweight. At times some pieces were overweight, and we had to shuffle things already packed with other bags to balance the allowance and limit out.
check in agent helping us check in and verifying the weight.
All in all, it went smoothly. A young man had joined the line behind us and waited the whole 45 minutes with patience just to drop of his luggage. I apologized to him several times to taking up some much time but he did not seem to mind. I believe some people would been upset at waiting 45 minutes just to drop off their baggage while waiting behind a group of passengers with their 18 pieces. Hence the reason to get to the airport as early as possible. Can you imagine, with a larger group of passengers lined up at the drop off desk, if this had occurred 1 to 2 hours prior to departure?
the supervisor for KLM YYZ
, offered us $25 coupon for access to the skyteam lounge in the terminal. Since this would be my first time accessing the lounge, I decided to purchase one. My family had decided to stay back in the terminal as they were waiting for friends who had decided to to come and say goodbye but were stuck in traffic ( on the 401 on a Wednesday afternoon? Who would have thought?)
on my way to the lounge
views from the skyteam lounge at t3
enjoying a light snack
being an airport buff, I could not sit still lounging about in the lounge and I am always fascinated at seeing planes , land , depart , board. So I left the lounge to explore T3
and take some pics and did not return to the lounge. I decided that , for me obviously, next time if given the chance , I prefer to explore the terminal rather than hang out in the lounge( BUT is would depend what airport I am at, YYZ
is not one of them where lounge access would be a must)
the gate c34 where the klm plane will arrive shortly
kl691 has just landed
arrival at the gate
got a short glimpse of EK
a380 from Dubai
Flight # 1
July 22 2009
Route: Toronto (yyz)- Amsterdam (ams)
flight number: kl 692
aircraft type: Boeing 747-400
scheduled departure time: 17:45
scheduled arrival time: 7:15 +1
scheduled flight time : 6h30min
seat assignment: 54k
lining up to board
boarding begin swiftly at 5pm, without any hectic pace. I then noticed that the plane is PH
-BFA which has no IFE system in it. This was disappointing as I would never go on a transatlantic flight without IFE as a personal rule. In fact when purchasing the tickets back in February, the travel agency gave us the cheapest option which was Air Canada / Virgin Atlantic through LHR
, but dad, through his travels , had developed 2 travel pet peeves: Air Canada and Heathrow airport. They were to be avoided at all costs. As an Aeroplan card holder and not a member of Flying Blue, I would have gotten a lot of aeroplan miles with this trip. So there we have it, I had to sacrifice the potential of AC
's 77w and VS
a340 IFE to appease him. So no IFE to AMS
. It was going to be a loong trip.
departing on runway 06r , I think
blurred view of downtown Toronto
dinner served, I chose chicken with rice. I do not know what that is under the tomatoes and cucumbers, but it tasted awful.
the chicken, rice and broccoli were edible, but the dessert (brownie and that other thing ) tasted awful. Hence my not so good experience with KLM desert
I have trouble sleeping on any red eye flight, especially the trans Atlantic ones . So I tried to close my eyes underneath a blanket, but on a plane it is not possible
my attempt to sleep on a plane. Taken from by brother's camera. If you see someone traveling transatlantic from Toronto trying to sleep like this, it is probably me
pics from in flight
dessert prior to landing, consisting of coffee yogurt, cake ( forgot the type, I do not eat ANY cake/dessert that is not chocolate-flavored)
preparing for our descent into Amsterdam
landing at Amsterdam's schiphol airport. Apologies for the blurry photos as the morning was misty
video of the landing in AMS
I do not remember what runway we landed but I presume I was the polderbaan as we did a loong taxi to the gate. Anyone who has watched the video can confirm or correct this. Sorry for this not very clear pic as it was foggy that morning in AMS
pic of the plane at gate f9. I noticed on our ticket that the our flight to Nairobi would leave a gate D06 which was odd as I pulled the inflight magazine from the plane and noticed that the gate does not exist exist. So I proceeded to check in terminal screens and the flight to Nairobi would then depart form gate f9. Which then hit me : I would be the same plane that brought us from YYZ
which would take us to nbo. Again no IFE on the plane again (urggh)
city of Atlanta which brought us from Toronto and now getting ready to take to us to Nairobi.
It had been some 10 years since I last transited at AMS
and I thoroughly enjoyed at the atmosphere. I particularly loved the announcement : Mr/Mrs xxx traveling to xxx, you are delaying the flight. Immediate boarding please at gate xxx or we will proceed to offload your luggage.
On the flight to AMS
, I remember that I forgot to pack my travel pack toiletries so I had to go to the shops and buy these things. I went all the way to zone E to find the shop, picked up my stuff and went to the cashier, she asked for my boarding pass which I had left with my brother back at zone F so I had to dash back to F to get and return to the shop with it.
Flight # 2
July 23 2009
Route: Amsterdam (AMS
) – Nairobi ( nbo)
flight number: kl 565
aircraft type: Boeing 747-400
scheduled departure time: 10:15
scheduled arrival time: 19:05
scheduled flight time : 7h30min
seat assignment: 64b
passengers lining up for security inspection at gate f9
another view of the plane post security inspection
klm pilots arriving
past security, there were not enough seats for all passengers therefore some had to be left standing while others sitting on the floor
passengers lining up to board the plane. Strangely, there no announcements by seats assignments, business class passengers, passengers with young kids, etc. everyone just lined up en masse
view from my seat while crew was still in the process of boarding passengers
parked next to a china airlines aircraft . It was at this moment that the pilot came on the intercom to announce that we were to be delayed as the flight was waiting for 2 passengers who had not shown up at gate to board and they were making announcement in terminal asking for their presence.
passenger XXX and passenger XXX, traveling to Nairobi. You are delaying the flight . Immediate boarding please at gate F9
or we will proceed to offload your luggage.
It wasn't until 11:00am that we begun to towed form that gate for departure as that the passengers had failed to show up and pilot announced that they would remove their luggage , meaning they had to be retrieved .
it was while we were in the air that I started to feel sleepy, and with no IFE to entertain me, I proceeded to doze on and off.
I still managed to take some photos from my seat
view form the rear of the aircraft
map of the route on the overhead screen
the European landscape
leaving the European coast
first meal service . I again chose the chicken and as with the inflight meal on the yyz-ams sector I thought the dessert was not edible. I do not what that egg yolk- ish dessert is. It did not taste very well
arriving on the African coast. Egypt I think. I did not follow the map on the overhead screen.
the endless and endless Sahara desert.
we were then given documents for Kenya immigration earl in the flight . We would be applying for visas directly at the airport upon arrival
again the Sahara desert. Sudan I think.
now approaching the more fertile Africa. Think is probably Ethiopia
near the end of our flight , we were served a dessert bag. Only the fruit salad was worth eating
the sunset over Africa
the overhead screen showing our current position
I had captured a 10 minute video of the landing at NBO
, but barring a few city lights, was in complete darkness. Hence no photos of the landing and arrival. We landed at nbo at 7:50pm local time and the purser informed us that taking photos/videos in the terminal was forbidden. I did not want to risk it by being caught and that this moment that I closed my camera
we have arrived at the gate at nbo and passengers were eager to disembark. Unfortunately the jetway malfunctioned as it could not reach the the second door of the port side of plane and had to use the first door on the post side.
while waiting for the jetway to function, I snapped an EK
plane parked next to us at NBO
We finally disembarked and from my last visit to NBO
in 1998, I noticed that the terminal had changed drastically. Obviously, there were more shops and plasma screens announcing flight information. But still has a 70s -ish dark mood to it.
Here is the pain that came with purchasing visas upon arrival. We waited in line for more than an hour as it seems that some travelers with young children were allowed to skip the line ( which I did not mind). But the process , barring taking digital photographs of applicants, was done manually by the agents and it took an average of 5 to 7minutes to do each applicant and the line for those who were purchasing visas was loong. And again it took another 45 minutes until we retrieved our piles of luggage. The security officer wondered why we we were entering the country with so many bags. I presumed that he wanted them all inspected ( oh lord I thought not another delay) but dad was able to to tell him that they we harmless goods that we had brought from Canada. I was just eager to get out of the airport ASAP. We exited the airport well after 10pm an proceeded to my cousin's place at Hurlingham for a good meal.
enjoying the first decent meal since leaving Canada
pictures of our time in Kenya
I will post some pics of our 3 weeks in Kenya. Most of the pictures I took in Nairobi while being driven in a car as most places in Kenya expressively forbid the taking of photos ( such as upscale shopping malls, government buildings, military barracks, embassies, even some schools) . I guess the authorities are still sensitive to the threats of terrorism and violence hence the insecurity with photography
our first week in Nairobi
view from our base while in Nairobi
pic of the street walking to a shopping center
the open market on a Sunday at a shopping center selling souvenirs at outrageous prices. The key is to be a good negotiator and convince them to lower the price.
is she trying to convince them to lower the price?
inside the shopping center. I managed to get a pic without getting caught.
street scene in Nairobi
Nairobi's main cathedral. My sister was baptized here in the 80s b/f we immigrated to Canada
Kenyatta international conference center
Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's first president, is buried here
view from a restaurant in downtown Nairobi
fast food in Kenya, and cheap too.
very interesting ad in the financial district of town., it is for a telephone company.
traffic jam during rush hour
traffic jam during rush hour
street vendors, they are everywhere disturbing drivers to sell them things. this one selling watches and sunglasses .
a well manicured roundabout
maneuvering our way through the chaotic traffic that characterizes Nairobi.
Mombasa road, one of the main boulevards of the city
visit to Nairobi national park
we decided to visit Nairobi national park on a Wednesday morning. They say the best time to visit animals in their natural habitat is in the early morning when they are wake up to search for food. However , the matatu ( minibus taxi) driver that my cousin had hired had decided to use the car to solicit road business during morning rush hour and instead and we missed the morning game park. The car even got towed when he abandoned it for minute to run a short errand on an unauthorized parking zone and we had to postpone the visit till the afternoon. We decided to first visit the Bomas of Kenya site. The driver lost his job with rental company.
tried to get a pic of a Masai but he turned his back.
entry prices to the Bomas of Kenya near Nairobi national park. They categorize prices for Kenyans and non Kenyans ( if any one is curious about the prices $1 Canadian= 70 Kenyan shillings / $ 1 USD= 80 Kenyan shillings
visiting settings of huts at representing the various tribes of the country
souvenirs stand at Bomas of Kenya. Instead of paying the price they offer, negotiate with them to reduce it.
stopping for gas before going to the park. Even the gas stations, like the one below located in Karen, have security guards armed with AK
entry into Nairobi national park
we waited for about 5 minutes for the zebras to get out of the way. Honking and yelling is discouraged.
about time. Our patience was waring thin
what are you looking at??
come on, look up!!
Nairobi skyline in the background
trying to locate the lions
perhaps an impala?
got to the lions dens. unfortunately and rather disappointingly none were to be found so everyone drives off.
these tourists were got lost trying to find their way out of the park and started following us. Our driver had to stop to assist them with directions ( hint: hire a guide when in a national park)
and it better be obeyed while in the park!!
while making our way back home , we passed through Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa . I tried taking pics but unfortunately my battery started dying out and could not recharge the previous night as Kenya is under power rationing (caused by a drought due to a lack for rain) meaning that no electricity is available 2 days of the week for 12 hours. Apologies for the blurry pictures
more interesting pics of Nairobi
Homer Simpson with a blue beard
police directing traffic. A lot traffic lights are non-functioning
VIEW POINT, RIFT VALLEY
driving to view point at rift valley
nuclear is misspelled or is that their attempt at being hip?
driving through coffee country. The land is very fertile here. ( only 10% of Kenya is good for agriculture) I am told this part belongs to a select few of Kenya's elite and land, as in many African countries is a very controversial issue.
view point at rift valley .stunning view
Below are pictures taken from View Point with a view of the famous Rift Valley
that wood balcony doesn't look very safe
group photo taken at view point
Driving back to Nairobi by crossing the town of Limuru, where Kenya's coffee and Tea industry are based.
plantations. Again restricted to Kenya's ruling elite
obviously the roads are very good in this part of the country.
lord knows what this guy is trying to do with that contraption above his car
village market in Nairobi. This shopping centre serves the well-heeled and the expatriate community. Again photography is prohibited here it being a a potential target for attack, but managed to get some pics without being caught.
Hindu or Sikh temple? Nairobi has a large south Asian community
another road billboard. This time aviation related . Again not attractive on the road.
Sarit Centre where surprisingly photography is not discouraged.
hideous ads on the road. They just make the tree-line streets less appealing
We also spent a week in the coastal region of Kenya in Mombasa at the Indian ocean below are some selected pics
driving from Nairobi to Mombasa on an unpaved part of the Nairobi-Mombasa road
the land is less fertile in this part of Kenya
the road between Nairobi and Mombasa is one-lane and quite busy at times. overtaking slow moving cars and trucks can be frustrating. A lot of patience is needed.