Travel Report Aboard Simba KCJ 388L P360 OptiCruise Christened ‘DRUM YOUR OWN BEAT’ – Travel Date 23rd February, 2017

I had sneaked into the city did what I came to do and now my temp Visa had expired. It was time to go. I don’t like daytime travel as I consider it a waste, so yesterday I spoke to Robert Nyale The Simba Manager and wanted to confirm whether it was the P360 that was doing Kigali on that particular Thursday. He confirmed that indeed it was and my safari was set.

Early morning errands in Ruiru and I got held up. Panic quickly set in as I tried to find my way back to the CBD. I thank God it wasn’t Idaywa road because the bus would have left without me. If you saw a black dude sprinting from Odeon headed downtown, then that was me.

Bus left at exactly 11am and from the way the journey started, its clear Kigali was on the driver’s (Moha) mind. I must admit the driver was a little aggressive but I understand with the Matatus on the prowl. Plus this is SIMBA and he is the King of the Jungle.

This bus, Drum Your Own Beat. Simba and Banbros did a superb job. The Interior is compact, simple, comfortable and very sturdy. The socket levels are just where they should be. The fabric is soft and well done. Legroom is super even for a semi-tall person like me. Still on the interior, there is no clutter no shiny fancy gadgets and lights that look cool but don’t work. The bus is quite roomy and the white blends well with the maroon seats and the almost yellow curtains. The seats looked familiar then I remembered seeing the same design aboard Dreamline KCK 266C but with a different colour. The curtains are not as annoying as I have come to experience inside other buses, always getting into your face. Banbros interiors, no rattling between Chiromo and Limuru. The road surface there is horrible, thumbs up. The Charging system and wi-fi too was operational. Almost forgot about the Mega SONY screen. Its so huge that even the people at the rear end of the bus had no trouble watching movies on it.

The crew members I can’t separate them since this is a team. The way they talk and relate. Topics ranged from politics, which driver was where and how cops are a nuisance. Moha was on shift one from Nairobi while the reliever driver Hamisi is on VIP 3 following on the conversation albeit in a laid back manner.

Back to the journey, bus picks like a road car and you could feel the hydraulics with every gear change thss thss thssss. I lost count after the 8th thssss. We had to slow down to avoid a speed trap at Kabete.

Light rains and cool weather as we approached Kinale forest. As expected with local fabs, the wipers were just not there. In this case only a single wiper was functional but it served its purpose. I had already shifted to VIP5. 1221HRS and we are going down Kinungi. The exhaust brake is very powerful and effective, the sound is audible from the front, I still wish they had a retarder. It was noticeable that traffic was moving slowly. There must have been speed guns in the vicinity. The turbo swiii too, very audible and very sweet.

Seeing Moha do his thing made it all look so easy. I wish I was the one swii swiiiings and thss thsssing all over the highway. We passed Naivasha to Gilgil just bouncing along. Its impressive to know that drivers have taken an interest in the mechanics of their buses, the trends and new technologies coming out. Moha knew about the new chasis in town. The F360 with the 12speed transmission. I listened in awe, he was anxious to try it out. I told him that Modern Coast already had several units built on the F360 platform and he was surprised and impressed too. One thing I have noted with the P360 is that the manual shifts are not as smooth and as fluid as that on the P410. I noticed it on Silver Face too.

Fast forward to Nakuru at the pit stop. Was a bit taken aback by their choice of restaurant. By now I am tight with the crew. We are dealing a first name basis. I decided to do justice to this bus by taking exceptional photos. A couple of groundies, several sideys, more frontys, backys and middies, Marvin lugha zenu hizo mkiwa na Firelord na Francaissery. Everybody is just looking at the bus in admiration. So I am told to eat what I can and not bother with the bill. Niko TeamKubwa. So I order as they have and shock on me. A tray of food arrives and think it’s for two of us. It has rice, a helping of pilau, meat, veggies, potatoes, chicken and she goes back for a round of tea for our table. Now I know why bus crew are mega built and those vitambis. We start off eating slowly and then they pick pace. Its like they are the P360* and I am an MKB210*. Meanwhile they are cracking jokes laughing and I am there wondering how they do it, damn. I tried to eat faster, until I realised that it was all almost coming back out, so I stopped and drank the soup and stood up. A pinch of salt to prevent disaster. How the hell do they do it?

We resumed our journey at 1420HRS and its fair game. We met Modern from Kigali as it entered Nakuru. The crew were polite, friendly and very cheerful towards the other passengers. That hill climb from Salgaa towards Shanchangwan was chicken feed for this bus. The bus just did it with a swiii another swiii, a couple of more swiiis. After Londiani it was just corners, bends, stretches more bends and those tricky bumps. The bus made minced meat out of it all. Pax looked relaxed as they enjoyed some swahili comedy from The Mega Screen. Moha makes it look so easy. He is so relaxed, jokes flying around the VIP area. Journey through to Muhoroni is uneventful, just P360 awesomeness between recurring thssss and thssss and swiiiii and the vruuucha! If stares got stuck on the bus, I cant tell what colour the bus would be by the time it gets to Kigali.

As we approached Awasi, we encountered Greenline ‘Special One’. A bit of teasing here and there then as our Omata* kicked in, it just passed us and disappeared into the horizon. I didn’t feel like I was on such a long journey. This bus is comfortable with confident ride, its heavy though and that is felt as the driver tries to get back to the left lane after overtaking. It’s a long journey and pax are allowed to titrate again at The Shell just before Nyamasaria. That was an opportunity to take a few more shots of this magnificent machine.

1743HRS and we are outside Kisumu Airport after encountering an inspector. I could feel the fresh village air already. On my left was the lake, now covered in hyacinth, then there is Molasses and then home.

1755HRS and the bus is parked by the roadside next to my home. After a few pleasantries with the crew, the bus left and proceeded on its way to Kigali.

My Ratings:

Exterior: 9/10

Interior: 8/10 a few touch ups by Banbros

Legroom: 8/10

Speed: 9/10 given its Headmaster Compliant.

Entertainment: 9/10

Crew: 9/10

Time Keeping: 10/10 these guys are good

Ride Comfort: 9/10

Overall Bus Rating 8/10

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