On this particular journey the bus chose me. I had earlier planned to travel to Nairobi using this bus ‘Big Nation’ but under the captaincy of Senior Mzeiya Dan Poa. I have never seen him handle a rungu before or have himself limited to 6 forward gears and 310 ageing horses.
I started reserving my seat as from 10am using the online system and each time I got to making payment, I would get knocked off. I got frustrated and just forgot about it. Strangely at around 4pm I saw the Bungoma branded ex-golden Gemilang* pass and I reckoned there was a change of schedule for the buses.I decided to try again. Not much luck on the online system yet again so I decided to call this guy I know who has no trouble helping people. Fredrick Ayodo, he works for Modern Coast. He is one gentle soul. I called him lakini akasahau I guess because he is very tall, don’t ask me how height is related to memory because I can’t explain. All I know is that he is tall and he forgot about my call. He managed to secure me a seat.
Bus arrived at 10pm. It actually looked good but appeared awkwardly placed on the chasis. I could smell the brakes and I suspected Ojolla descent. I wonder why the driver decided to ride on the brakes, lower gears and exhaust brake should have sufficed unless he was doing rapid acceleration and equally rapid deceleration.
As we set off, I realised why it had been ditched for Mombasa in favour of the Gemilang. The bus seemed to strain on making certain turns before joining the road. I will just say gari ni dereva. I saw the climax Man christened ‘No Excuse’ somewhere in town and remembered Lu Vai. Pole bro, they had no excuse for doing that to you. The bus did well for its age. It did the hills after Awasi pretty decently. The driver didn’t opt to kick down so it appeared like we were doing about 50kph. If you have ever ridden on a P series Scania then this was very very slow.
It was pretty dark inside and I cant say much about the interior except for the rattling and other noises. It comes goes comes then refuses to go. The other big issue. Actually the only thing that Modern are yet to get right is the Legroom. Seat 24 and I had to push my legs under the front seat since it was reclined. I had to recline mine to get some reprieve albeit momentary. Legroom, legroom. Other tiny problems include vibration from what sounds as a diff especially at speeds bordering the legal road limit.
The seats are comfortable and the swiii was audible and the sockets do work. There were attempts to use the exhaust brake, the gear changes are jerky, even those at the back could feel it. The soft lighting is on point though. Legroom still needs attention. There was the debate about the position of the door and legroom. The door is at the front and the positioning/legroom is wanting.
12:00am and we entered Kericho. The way the Kanyari* sounds as it accelerates at Gears 4 and 5 and the steady swiii. It was enough entertainment. The delayed growl that gradually builds up as the bus picks speed. Very nice. I hooked up my phone on charge, reclined my seat and tried to catch some sleep. I did but was woken up by the irritating noise, the rattling things.
12:53am and we are at Mau Summit junction. We seem to have picked good pace after Salgaa and the 310 horses or the ones left seemed to be doing enough justice to that mild incline. Nakuru was in the horizon. That permanently reclined position can cause some back pain. I initially thought tackling roundabouts at certain speeds was a preserve of the mighty P410, I was wrong, Big Nation does it as well too.
Its 1:40am and we are at Falcon to pick drop parcels. We left a few minutes later and headed for the real pit stop. I needed tea. I got coffee and a doughnut. ‘Tafadhali tujisaidie hapa, dakika ni kumi. Msiache simu ama laptop bila ulinzi’ that was the announcement from the Flight Manager. He seemed edgy as I went round the bus taking photos
This is where the lesser buses meet. By lesser I mean those at the bottom of the food chain. I could see Crown KBN 681N, there is the Alien from Kapenguria, Nairobi Bus, Postliner, a couple of Translines, several shuttles. Next to me was the high table for the Crown Bus crew. I couldn’t help but notice a lieskin* munching some fries and chicken. Sijui kama aliangukia dereva wa Crown ama dereva wa crown ndio alimuangukia. On the far side was our crew. Trays full of food and tea everywhere. Now you see it, now you don’t, and the complimentary bottles of water and airtime, a reward for bring so many customers.
We left 35 minutes later. The bus broke into a steady sprint. I could hear the crew conversing at the front. We passed Gilgil at exactly 3:10am in an F310, LQTM. I slept through the other minor stops. We were at the wall from around 4:20am hurtling down towards the City Centre.
Waiyaki Way is the testing ground for interiors and suspension. Big Nation refused to score any points on both. The rattling keeps on and on and on past Kinoo, Uthiru, Kangemi, Sodom, Waroko down to ABC place from where the road surface seems to even out. I felt almost every hole, crack and bump. Khaleed aka Mandef keeps saying that sleep is for the weak, with this bus sleep is for the weak in hearing. My seat mate slept through it all. I couldn’t largely because of that and also because of the fact that I was doing this report and saving snippets of it. That height vs memory thing again at play.
Climax’s ‘No Excuse’ was already fuelling at ABC place. I am now convinced that many other buses must have left us somewhere on the way. At 4:51am we were downtown at the Modern offices. The time keeping is commendable even though we seemed to be going very slow. The Conductor apologised ‘Poleni kwa kuchoka, hapa ndio mwisho wa safari’. He knew.
I alighted feeling like a drink about to be served to James Bond 007. Shaken not stirred 😉 ;-).
I opted not to rate this bus.