Sam Floy

Interesting posts about start ups, East Africa and fried chicken

Category: Travels (page 1 of 12)

Cycle trip arranged via social media 🚲 πŸ΄σ §σ ’σ ³σ £σ ΄σ ΏπŸ“±

Last week I undertook a two-day bike ride in northern Scotland to travel up to my friend’s wedding. 

The whole process of getting it sorted was pretty fun, and the ride itself was incredibly enjoyable, passing a variety of terrain and affording some lovely interactions with very generous Scottish dwellers.

This is a bit of a longer read than normal.

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Relying on people vs “the system”

I’ve hosted a few visitors from Europe here in Kenya recently which has exposed a bit of a cultural difference: how people make bookings.

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2018 in review

As this is the last newsletter of the year it feels like I should at least make some attempt to write something thoughtful.

Rather than a chronological run through of what’s been happening, I’ll instead share some things I’ve been thinking about, which you might find interesting to read.

Article I’ve shared the most
The Tail End. Essentially how things which we may take for granted because we can “always” do them later actually have a very real finite number attached to them.

E.g. books you’ll read, elections you’ll vote in, times you’ll visit your parents.

“You’re not thinking; you’re just being logical”
I recently came across this quote through the Thought Cages radio programme. They’re great little 15 minute episodes which each look at one aspect of how the world is (largely) constructed on the premise of people acting logically. And how that’s not always the best thing to do.

For someone who has a bias for being logical, this “don’t be logical” mindset is something I’m trying to adopt more.

How to make time for the important things?
I’ve been having a recurring sense that I’m missing out on doing the important things, and instead getting caught up in the busyness of life.

Getting perspective on what I’m spending time doing has been playing on my mind a bit, and I’m conscious that I’ll need to think about this more come May 2019 when I finish a contract with a company I’ve been working with full time for the past year.

This means I’ll “lose the crutch” of going to the office every day and feeling productive about my life, and instead have more of a blank canvas about what I want to be doing.

The best advice I’ve read on getting into good habits is the concept of Goals vs Systems, which says focusing on a good practice (i.e. system) has a much greater pay off than trying to achieve a “goal”. Another take is captured here.

Is this prime time to make money?
I know there are endless advice articles saying that it’s important to “do what you love” and “live in the moment” but I’m also conscious that late 20s into 30s is the time when you’re most likely to have the energy and (somewhat) skill to make a decent chunk of cash that could set you up for the rest of your life.

Whilst there is short term benefit in reading lots of books, taking long walks every day and pursuing some niche hobby, it may not be the best course of action when I theoretically would be best placed to get out and set up something.

Anyway, I don’t have an answer for this one, but it’s a conversation I’ve had with a few people recently. 

A date to move back from East Africa
Most likely November 2020. 

Work permits in Kenya come in multiples of two, and my girlfriend recently received a new permit which means two years is a natural end point.

I’ll be thinking about this more throughout the year once I have more time to properly commit the headspace but either way, I’m confident I’ll want to continue having involvement in the region, despite not living there. 

Quote I’m thinking on
“In any situation, the person who can most accurately describe reality without laying blame will emerge as the leader, whether designated or not.” Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations.

Enjoyable GIF
Aren’t animals great

Thank you
To everyone who takes the time to read these posts each week, or on occasion. It’s always nice to hear how people are getting on, and any of the links which you found particularly interesting (and why).

I also know that each email can be a bit random, but I appreciate you sticking with it! 

Hiking Mount Kenya

Last weekend I climbed Mount Kenya.

It was 4 days and 3 nights in the National Park on the equator and offered up some pretty phenomenal views. See here

Support the local economy
This is the mindset I try to take when travelling to places where tourism is a significant function of livelihoods in the surrounding area.

It also means that paying for two porters and a chef to accompany us on our trip can be somewhat more guilt-free. 

We (my gf Camilla and I) had Christopher (56), Gabriel (37) and Stanley (37) guide us up the mountain. All lived in villages nearby, looked young for their age and had perplexing amounts of energy.

Fuelled by tea
Each morning the C, G and S would brew up a pot of milky, sugary tea and knock back a couple of pints.

And that was it until dinner.

Camilla and I were snacking at any opportunity, drinking from the fresh rivers and relapsing after a meal of veg stew with rice/spaghetti in the evening. 

The guides’ abstinence seemed to be partly out of service “we need to make sure you’re OK first” (which we did our best to absolve them from) and partly that they didn’t seem to be that hungry.

Perhaps they were just being polite/ a lot fitter than us both, but I’ve never seen such power of putting the kettle on.

Tent with a view
On the second night we were in the shadows of the peaks.

Mount Kenya is the second highest peak on the continent (5,200m) behind Kilimanjaro (5,800m).

To get to the Kenya peak requires “technical skills” (i.e. the ability to use a pick axe) which none in our group were in possession of.

As such we climbed to “Lenana Point”, the third highest in the range, designed for the more casual mountaineer.

Bloody cold
To get to the top we left the campsite at 3am, and trudged up for the final ascent.

Soon we were in snow, though with deep cloud, it was unclear quite how far we were going beyond the dim glare of our head torches.

It was about 7am, with the rays straining through the dense cloud when we got to the summit.

In total we were up on the top for about 15 minutes, taking some proof-bearing snaps, and enjoying the unusual vantage point of looking down and out onto the world below.

The clouds parted ways momentarily and a pallet of blues appeared before us.

Stunning vistas
Descending from the peak we walked past various fresh lakes, streams and beautiful vantage points.

The route we took was called “Chogoria” and afforded many moments to just stop and look around at the scenery.

We arrived at our final campsite 14 hours after setting off that morning, and after setting up our tent, a hot drink and some food duly collapsed to sleep.

Back to reality
The final morning was spent walking like puppets to a nearby waterfall and cave, and then finally through some more changing landscapes back to the gate.

The guides swiftly changed into their Sunday best, and we did a debrief saying what was good about the experience together. Camilla and I also gave them all a tip.

It was then an hour’s drive in a beaten up Land Rover and a quick transition to a shuttle bus back to Nairobi. Christopher, polite as ever, still found time to suggest we break for “perhaps a cup of tea?”.

Doing the hike
If you have any inclination for good “raw nature” views, then I’d highly recommend the Mount Kenya National Park. At times, it felt like we were walking through a High School geography syllabus.

The summit itself required some sure footing, but was rewarding, when at the top.

The guy who organised it for us was called Peterson, if you’re interested in making a trip too, his WhatsApp number is +254722579818.

Any other questions on the trip – very happy to answer!

Hypothesis on sugary tobacco vs sports betting in Kenya

There’s a concept in economics of substitute goods. Basically if the demand one for one product goes, demand for another goes down.

If pasta becomes super popular then you might see sales in couscous go down (substitute good). Other products though, such as tomato sauce, may instead go up in demand (complementary goods).

Anyway, two conversations last week made me think there might be such a relationship going on between two slightly contentious products in East Africa, which could have some interesting implications…

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What is your normal?

A friend has just quit his job and started travelling. This week he told me a story of an Italian guy he met living on the Kenyan coast who is currently building a boat.

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For the most part, I dress incredibly boring.

I’d say 280/365 days a year I wear the same (type of) blue chino trousers, and will rotate a few basic T-shirts/ jumpers depending on the season. Which in Kenya, ranges from bit chilly – quite hot – pretty hot.

When it comes to shoes, I was very much the same, basically something comfortable (yet undistinctive).

This changed when I met Julius.

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Mini Mango Adventure

A series of events led to me being able to take a day off work yesterday.

I decided to spend it going to a mango farm about an hour out of Nairobi to scope out its commercial potential.

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Lunch with my cleaning lady

On Saturday I went for lunch with the lady who cleans my apartment and her sister at their home in Kibera: one of the big informal settlements in Nairobi.

The conversations and anecdotes that came from our afternoon were rich with the colour of the lives they’ve both lived, and the families they’re raising. On their permission, I’ve written the below.

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The Edges of Society in Kenya (in a weekend)

Over the Easter weekend a good friend (Ben) and I spent a couple of nights an hour out of Nairobi. Despite the primary goal of “getting a way from it all”, the short excursion ended up showing several aspects of Kenyan culture not always visible from the day to day:

The Chinese influence, a hangover from the colonial era, and the emerging Kenyan middle class.

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