It takes 11 hours 15 minutes from Guangzhou, China to Nairobi, Kenya. Luckily my flight was a direct and overnight flight. I am so used to being on a long distance flight, I would def have no problem sleeping on the plane, even that was economy class.
I looked around in the cabin, there were only three Chinese people around me, and we were all surrounded by Africans. I had never been with so many Africans before. How interesting! Ok, after meals were serviced, the cabin was dimly lighted, it was time to sleep. I got my earplugs and eye-mask ready. Normally I do not hear much after I put on my earplugs, but I heard people talking and laughing out loud constantly. It was so noisy and annoying that I could not sleep. I looked up, there was a big African guy speaking French loudly with his neighbors, as if they were in a bar. They seemed to be getting drunk. I thought they would shut up later. They had been talking and laughing for more than 2 hours. I reckoned most people on that plane were awake because of them. I could not stand it anymore, I looked at the guy and put my finger on my lips softly. That guy got mad immediately, shouting even louder, “What!? I can not talk?…(keep yelling)” I got really scared, I was so afraid this big black dude would come up to me and beat the shit out of me. I put my eye-mask back immediately, pretending I was asleep.
After 40 minutes those drunks finally passed out and the plane became quite and peaceful eventually. And I was asleep the whole time until the plane landed in Nairobi.
The cabin attendants did not seem to do a good job there. They just let those people get drunk and affect other passengers on the flight. Probably this was how they roll in Africa. For the first time I felt so intimidated on a flight 😦 Maybe I should have just stayed out of others’ business. It was not very easy for me, a little Asian girl, travel solo to a rough place. Safety should always comes first.
Getting through the immigration:
I was guided to a counter. It was a male officer sitting in front of me. I gave him my passport. He started asking questions. He asked me so many questions, and the last time like that was when I got through the US immigration in San Francisco.
– “So what is your purpose of this trip in Kenya?”
– “I came here to visit the country and some national parks.”
– “How long are you gonna stay here?”
– “One month.”
– “Where is your return ticket?”
– “I did not print it out, it is Electronic Ticket.”
– “Mmmmm, it is not convincing.”
– “Ok, it is on my phone.” Then I pulled out my phone and show him the e-ticket on the screen.
Few more questions…
– “Were you studying in US?”
– “No, but I visited there few times.” (And the Chinese guy who did not speak much English was released at the next counter.)
“Did you bring anything XXXX to Kenya?” I did not understand what he said with his accent, I thought he was asking if I brought anything illegal to Kenya, so I answered, “NO!”
I guess he had nothing to ask but he still did not let me go, kept flipping through my passport. I had no idea what he was up to. I waited patiently. I did not get it why the other Chinese was let go but not me. I apparently had an excellent travel record on my passport. I had zero intention staying in Kenya for the rest of my life.
Finally this officer made things clear, “Give me a hundred US dollars.”
-“No, I do not have any US dollars.” In fact, I had few hundred with me.
-“How are you gonna travel?”
-“I have my debit and credit cards. I will withdraw money later.”
-“So give me your Chinese money.”
-“No, I do not have.” I was hesitating if I should just give him some changes, but I was staying calm when I answered his questions. 😉
-“Fine, go!” At last I got through the immigration, and I was the last one from the flight.
I heard a lot about this kinda blackmail thing happen in South East Asia, this was the first time happened to me, in Africa. Probably because I spoke too much English while other Chinese did not speak more than 10 words of English, they found me, the one who would understand what they want. However, as long as I have all the documents and visa ready, they have no right to stop me entering the country. Maybe sometimes playing dump is kind of a way to protect myself. 😀
After I came back from my 3 months trip in US & Europe, I thought I would not travel anymore this year. However, I had the chance to come to Africa before 2013 ends. I am sure lots of people wonder how I end up being in Kenya. In brief, I am having my working holiday here.
In Oct 2013, I was hired by an Kenyan born Indian businessman as an interpreter at Canton Fair, in Guangzhou, China. I guess I have done an excellent job and being very helpful to him, later on he gave me an offer that I work in Nairobi to help out some Chinese engineers, to be their interpreter. Free tickets, a small amount of salary, free accommodation, an opportunity to see Africa, what do I need more? I work for 15 days and I can decide when to leave, so I make it one month here.
Africa, a continent that I barely know about. Before this trip started, I, as an outsider, was excited and scared. I actually did not really read much about this country as I want to learn about this place with my own perception, not others. I have years of experience of travelling, I am sure I will be fine. I will learn something new, get to know different culture and people. Let the adventure begin!