Have I been to Kenya? Yes, I have a Kenyan visa stamped on my passport! It was in December 2007. I slept in Nairobi. I drank a beer there with my friends Pascal, Darell and Pierre-Alain, on my way to Tanzania from Switzerland, via Doha (Qatar). I took the bus from Nairobi through the Rift Valley Province down south to the border with Tanzania. But have I visited Kenya? Not really. Just been there. On my way to… Many places are “on our way to…” – we have been there but not really with the feeling to have visited the place, as it was on our way to the goal and not the goal itself. It is still part of the experience of a traveller. Big part of it. Long are the travel days to destination.
It was shorter, though, on the way back, early January 2008, much shorter, as we were in the aftermath of the Kenyan presidential elections and the results were contested, with violence. We flew from Zanzibar to Nairobi, then took our return flight home via Doha. We stayed inside the airport. No more Nairobi experience. As in Doha. Thus I do not consider having been in Qatar, even if my feet were technically on Qatari ground. But I did not go through the customs. I was not formally in Qatar. I was not formally in Poland either, on my way back from Russia to Switzerland. Just at Warsaw airport jumping from plane to plane.
On the other hand, I do count Malaysia as a place I have been to, as I entered formally in the country in December 2000 with a duly stamped visa, on my way to Australia from Zurich, Switzerland. But all I remember was a bus ride to a day hotel, a copious Malaysian buffet and a long siesta! No doubt Malaysia has much more to offer!
Do not hesitate to share your stopover memories below, as a comment…