Tag Archives: Nairobi

Kentucky Fried Chicken comes to Kenya

For all the niceties we have in Kenya (especially in Nairobi), we lack the presence of large Western chain stores and restaurant franchises. Honestly I couldn’t care less, but I remember it being a surprise when I first came to Kenya in 2007. In the United States at least, we’re used to being constantly bombarded with McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Walmart, etc; I was so sure that at least some of those familiar things would be here in Kenya.

As this USA Today article states, that has changed:

You can’t buy a Big Mac in Kenya. There are no Burger Kings. But there’s good news for chicken lovers…

To my knowledge, this is the first Western chain which has come to Kenya. The doors opened in August, 2011, and everyone’s been talking about it. I happened to be at the Junction mall the other day so I snapped a picture of the (in)famous Colonel Sanders logo.

I haven’t eaten there yet, and I probably never will (I hear it’s really expensive); I just think it’s funny to see that logo in Nairobi after all these years of seeing nothing but local brands…

Ice skating at Panari Sky Centre

Cassandra, Bill, and I went ice skating this past weekend at the Panari Sky Centre‘s “Solar Ice Rink” (whatever that means). Bill’s visiting ILRI from the UK to help with some embryo transfer stuff, and I figured it’d be fun for him to see something outside of the institute over the weekend.

I had my fancy shmancy phone with me so I just had to see how well I could skate backwards and take pictures…

… and video!

They only let you skate for one hour (after which they have to refreeze the ice… or something), but we must have gone around 400 times in that hour; a good workout, and very enjoyable!


I was so lucky to see this advertisement today as I was walking down Wayaki Way after work. At first it was the “Core i3″ that caught my eye, and then the words “FREE DOS” leapt out at me. Holy cow, each new Dell Inspiron comes with a complimentary copy of DOS! How Dell limited themselves to only using capital letters, I don’t know. If I had an opportunity like that I would pay some guy to stand on top of the billboard, shouting, “FREE DOS!!!” at the top of his lungs!

Just kidding… FreeDOS is a free, open-source clone of Microsoft’s Disk Operating System (DOS). Yes, DOS. You know, the black and white one from 1980 where you type commands. The one before the GUI became common. Ringing any bells?

The reason this is hilarious is because FreeDOS is not a FEATURE, you can’t do anything with it. It’s there to keep the price of the laptop down. If Windows ain’t pre-installed, then you’re not paying the “Microsoft Tax.” Why they don’t just install an equally-free (and more useful) operating system like Ubuntu, I have no idea. The fact that none of their target audience even knows what FreeDOS is is just an added bonus.

Good work, Dell. Way to push the envelope ;)

Why I like matatus

Matatus are the primary form of transportation in Kenya. A “matatu” can be anything from a 14-seater Nissan minivan shuttling people around town, to a full-size bus ferrying dozens of people across the country. For those of you who’ve never been to Kenya: if you’ve ever ridden BART in San Francisco, a dalla dalla in Dar es Salaam, or a tuk tuk in Mumbai, it’s more or less the same concept; you pay money and they take you places!

Unlike the tame, old buses in Malawi, or the polite motorcycle taxis in Rwanda which provide helmets for their passengers, though, Kenyan transportation is driven by greed and is full of attitude. It’s just the Kenyan (or at least Nairobian) way I guess, but matatus are loud, obnoxious, break all the rules, drive like they own the road, and piss off everyone around them… but I like them!

As a passenger it’s perfect, you just hop in and get straight to thinking about more-important things than the crazy Nairobi traffic! Let the matatu driver fight with all the other matatu drivers, pot holes, police men, etc. I use my daily twenty-minute matatu ride home from work to catch up on things like text messages, emails, thinking about groceries, planning the week, etc. In a strange way, I feel like it’s the only down time I have during the day.

From time to time you do get a bad one, though… matatu people are some of the most unpleasant people I’ve met in Kenya. In my experience they’re rude and unrefined, often yelling things like “Harakisha!” (faster) at women passengers carrying babies/groceries, increasing fares ridiculously when it starts raining (even just a drizzle!), pulling at your hand/shirt at the stage, etc.

Basically, matatus are a pain in the ass… unless you’re in one.