Miscellaneous Ramblings by Tony Clegg Butt of Travel News – May 2013

Posted on April 29th, 2013
Categories: News


I’ve just got my Canadian passport back, as allowed under the new Kenyan Constitution. I am now a registered dual citizen of this country, which makes life so much easier from a  visa perspective in particular, as they are now a thing of the past.

I expected to fill in the usual four-page passport application, then supply birth certificate, photo with certification on the back, and all the other documents you need to supply government with when applying for a passport. There has been chat for a long time now on social media and around the dinner table, about the necessity for all this paperwork. The government, after all, already has records from previous applications, and surely they issued the required documents in the first place.

Well, a pleasant surprise awaited me at the Canadian High Commission: a one-page form, no back-up documents required, only a couple of photographs without certification. Someone’s been listening – well done, Canada.

Over the Easter weekend I went with my family to Lake Baringo. I’d heard that the lake had risen dramatically, and twenty-one and a half feet is dramatic, let me tell you. The lake had also changed colour, from a muddy brown to a clear bottle green.

No one really knows why the lake has risen to such an extent, the colour change is explained away by the sudden (and in lake terms 2-3 years is sudden), inflow of new water which has sent the previously muddy brown to the bottom of the lake by sheer weight. A friend from Arusha had another theory on the colour change: magnetic forces changing, and instead of pushing the suspended particles apart it now draws them together, which sees them sinking to the bottom and, voila, clear green water.

Lake Baringo Club is under water, closed – probably forever. Samatian Island looks like an atoll from afar – evidently, waves regularly swamp the swimming pool and both it and Island Camp have lost accommodation and other buildings, although both continue to operate unhindered. Island Camp is upgrading with new bandas, new larger tents and the remaining classic tents are having a major makeover. An article obviously will follow next month with the new improved Island Camp re-opening on 1st July, just in time for the cooler weather up-country.

I’ve just stepped off the plane from Bahrain – oh, the poet! Sand and oil, that’s about it, but it’s a likeable place with all mod cons, rather like Dubai in the 1970s. Laid back and no traffic issues. The trip was mostly about visiting friends and, of course, the Bahrain Grand Prix, which was bit of a procession.

We’ll be putting together a group to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix the first weekend of November – email [email protected]  if interested.

They are having their ‘troubles’ in Bahrain, not dissimilar to what happened in Northern Ireland and for the very same reasons. But life goes on without much of a worry. The plume of black smoke from the odd burning tyre, plus the occasional whiff of tear gas, is about all you are really aware of, if at all.

Talking of whiffs of tear gas, well not really, the Bahrain Rugby Club is an oasis for expats and a buzzing social hub – great chat, cold beers and the occasional whiff…. Strangely, they also play rugby here, right now topping the Gulf rugby table. I had the best steak ever at its restaurant called Manos, run by a Greek-Zimbabwean. Magic, marinated in his secret formula, and served with monkey gland sauce followed by a Dom Pedro and lots of good wine.

Monkey gland sauce has nothing whatsoever to do with monkey’s glands; a theory of why this name was used is that when it was first invented, there was lots of talk about monkeys’ glands being the key to eternal youth.

Researching the origins of Monkey Gland Sauce, I do have a tough job, you’ll agree; I came up with this story. When the Carlton Hotel opened in Johannesburg in the late 50s, they brought in French chefs to introduce South Africans to fine dining. These chefs were so appalled, some say disgusted, at the eating habits of some South African guests that they mixed chutney with tomato sauce, sugar and garlic, and served the concoction with steak. Very much tongue in cheek!

The rest of the story is predictable. The diners loved it, and the legend was born. There is also another story about a French gastronome in the 1860s, but it’s a bit of a stretch; and what’s more they don’t have monkeys in France, so go figure…

Changing tact for the more sensible of you dear readers, construction of the new Terminal Four and multi-storey car park at Jomo Kenyatta Int’l Airport looks like it’s moving – if that is the right word – at a snail’s pace. I counted on one hand the number of workers on site, and it wasn’t even tea time.

Other than that, our beloved JKIA seems in good fettle, the aircon works in most places and the buses that ferry you to your aircraft are all back in service and fully operational.

But anything that starts with an airport…

Talking of which, it’s Bali – without a visa – this week; more about that trip next month. This job keeps getting tougher and tougher…

Click on the magazine to read May’s issue. TNmay