Travel diaries

Karen, Nairobi

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn’t.

2 mins read

Karen, Nairobi

My first trip to Nairobi was interesting. I had heard a great deal about Africa and imagined a hotel room with wide open space and lush green background. The trip was work related so it wasn’t too much of a disappointment when I had to settle for a heated pool, a gym, a view of the CBD district and stealing a brilliant morning safari.

A few months later when the time came to do something in Karen, I was sure I didn’t want to go back to my main street Nairobi hotel. This time it was work, a partners meeting and a writing holiday sandwiched in a weekend between two client meetings with a last minute long weekend declared by the government of Kenya to celebrate their 50th independance day.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

So the search was on for something with a bit more space than a hotel room, a bit more character than a hospitality chain and a lush green landscape to disappear within. When in doubt trust in tripadvisor and out came Karen County Lodges, the number one alternate place to stay outside of Nairobi if you are looking for an alternative experience.

 

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

The lodges are a collection of 6 studio styled cottages laid out in a villa setting. Part of a much bigger cheese farm run by Rob and Georgina, it has all the warmth and hospitality of a British bed and breakfast and the class and style of a world class five star chain. When you add the soft spoken accent of your Kenyan hosts, the tradition of local hospitality and the natural enclosure of the lodges, you would understand why as a writer, the lodges make such a great choice for a writing holiday.

Nothing that you would read on trip advisor, on this blog, or on the Karen County Lodges own website will prepare you for the experience, so I will just have to show you.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

I arrived on a dark and cloudy night just after the Nairobi sky had finished a long and extended watering trip. While I loved everything I saw about my place for residence for the next one week, the real pick me up was an unexpected surprise.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

A fully stocked, lit and warm fire place. Not those fake, cheesy, feel good plastic imitations but a real honest to God one with a chimney, pokers, screen, mat and the works.

What I didn’t know but found not the next morning that there was a complimentary firewood service that ran during daylight hours. All you had to do was to call in for a delivery and someone would drop right by and fill in your firewood bin. Light it too, if the fire had gone out while you were not looking.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

The lodges are laid out in front of a small lake and are part of an enclosed compound with 24 hour security (that you wouldn’t notice). Each villa is laid out as a large studio, comes with a small kitchen and pantry and a humoungous bathroom. They are very comfortable and functional.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

Enough of words, let just do the pictures.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn't.

RayongMaePhem

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach – Thailand.

2 mins read

For those of you who know me well, I am a sucker for beaches and old friends.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.

When I get an opportunity to combine both, which now increasingly tends to happen in and around the Asia Pacific ICT Awards, I jump at it. Somkiat at Wealth Managment is a friend that Fawzia, Jehan and I made post the APICTA Awards in Thailand in February 2006. Over the years as we have shared visits, dreams and opportunities our friendship has grown to a point where no visit to the Far east is complete without a stopover at Wealth Management’s Bangkok office and a taste of local food and desserts in Somkiat’s company.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.

Two years ago as we wrapped up the awards in Pattaya, Somkiat offered to drive me down to his beach front holiday villa in the sleepy town of Rayong to grab a bit of some exotic freshly caught sea food at Mae Phim beach. Just after Princess beach, Somkiat’s villa was part of a beach front community that shared it beach with miles of pristine waterfront at Mae phim. There are hardly any foreigners here since the spot is more of a local secret, despite being only two hours away from Bangkok airport.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.

This year as I headed to Hong Kong via a stop over in Bangkok, it was only natural to let Somkiat know about my plans. We quickly put together a partners meeting in Bangkok followed by a plan to spend two days on Maephim beach.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.

It was a long drive from Bangkok to the beach house with intermittent breaks to sample local cuisine. When we finally crashed for the night, the bedside view of the moon, through the floor to ceiling full length window, made it completely worthwhile.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.

The next morning itineary was full. The day started with an attempt to shoot the sunrise (we missed it by a few minutes), shoot the beach (we failed miserably in capturing the beauty through our lenses) and biking down from the villa to Princess beach (a 30 minute cycle ride) to grab breakfast.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.

Despite initial reservations on my state of fitness expressed by my 54 year old, 6 hours of professional badminton a week, friend we made it to the beach and the street food cart in one piece.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.

We lazed around the beach waiting for our freshly prepared breakfast to be cooked and then headed back to the villa for a round of leisurely breakfast, followed by an even more liesurely nap.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.

Thank Somkiat for a two great days and absolutely generous hospitality. Where would I be without old friends and sunrises on exotic beachs.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.

Enjoy the remaining part of the shoot out at Mae phim beach.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.

Rayong Laem Mae Phim Beach - Thailand.