Sunday, September 22, 2013

Why I love leisure travels to business — Mwichuli



Ms Sylvia Mwichuli, is a Kenyan national and the Director of Communications and Public Affairs with Alliance for
Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a body that brings together governments, private sector, civil society and farmers to develop stable, sustainable growth for Africa’s smallholder farmers.
Before joining AGRA in 2010 from the United Nations Millennium Campaign, she worked as the Chief Corporate Communications Officer for Kenya Pipeline Company among other NGOs. In the course of working in the media and in senior management positions in international NGOs in Africa, she has travelled far and wide for both work and leisure. In this chat with JIMOH BABATUNDE, she shares her travelling experience. Here is an excerpt.




ON first holiday memory
My earliest holiday memory was of me and my five siblings and parents travelling on a train to Mombasa here in Kenya. The trip took a solid 12 hours and by the time we got to Mombasa we were so tired that all we wanted to do was sleep.
When we hit the beach the next day, we discovered the scintillating joy of swimming in the ocean and running around the beautiful white beaches of Mombasa and suddenly the 12 hour journey did not look too bad. All was forgiven!
On favourite place in the world
My favourite city in the world is Sydney in Australia for three reasons. First, it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, particularly in spring when the trees and flowers are in bloom. Secondly, there is a very close-knit African community in Sydney which helps one to feel at home no matter where you come from.
Infrastructure in the world
And finally, the city has some of the best infrastructure in the world. It is well designed with broad highways and well-lit streets as well as some of the most gorgeous looking houses and parks. Further, the city is squeaky clean and best of all everyone obeys traffic rules. I love Sydney .
On her take between business or leisure travel
I love leisure travel because it does not involve preparations for meetings and quick turn-around times. One can choose to stay at a particular place for a few days if you like it, sleep long hours if you so wish to and wile away the days without worrying about deadlines.
What I love most about leisure travel is the possibility to thoroughly explore the cities that you are visiting, something I hardly ever do when on business travel. I often arrive the day before a meeting and get on the first plane out once my meetings are done.
On her hest holiday
My best holiday was in Sydney when I went to attend my brother’s graduation. I visited several Australian cities and got a chance to experience the unique Australian culture. It was like being in Africa yet enjoying first class services and some of the most efficient systems in the world.
On what she has learnt from her travels
There are several tips that guide me when travelling. One always check the weather before you travel to avoid packing the wrong clothes. I remember almost freezing to death upon arrival in Johannesburg during winter a few years ago.
Secondly, always book flights early to save on airfares and finally if you are a shopaholic like me, be careful to pack only a few clothes and carry an empty suitcase to give you room to bring back plenty of new stuff from your trip.
On her ideal travelling companion
My five year old daughter. I love travelling with her because she is always fascinated by new places and is always bubbly and enthusiastic throughout the trip. My daughter can never get enough of a holiday!
On her holiday reading
I always carry a couple of autobiographies as well as some romance novels. During my last holiday I read Bill Clinton’s soul-searching autobiography “My Life”.
I also carry some inspirational Christian books from my favorite authors who include Joel Osteen and T.D Jakes.
on where has seduced her
My favourite city is Bangkok for three reasons. First, Thailand has a great cultural history and there are thousands of interesting places to see. Secondly, the food is really amazing.
The Thais cook really healthy but delicious foods with loads of vegetables and white meats on the menu. And finally, the shopping experience is out of this world! Bangkok is one of the few places in the world where 100 dollars can buy you a full suitcase of “designer” clothes.
In addition, they have some of the most efficient tailors in the world. Their tailors can turn-around a formal suit within 6 hours from start to finish! It is a shopaholic’s paradise!
Better to travel or to arrive
I prefer arriving. Given that my job includes extensive travel across the continent, I am constantly jumping in and out of planes. I basically do not enjoy the travel experience and always thankful to God when I arrive.
However, when I get there I always get a new wind, happy to be in a new city savouring new cultures and meeting new people.
On her worst travel experience
My worst travel experience was in 2002 to Japan. I spent 13 straight hours on a plane from a plane from Amsterdam to Tokyo and right in the middle of the flight I started freaking out because I was feeling claustrophobic.
For some reason, I could not breath and was sweating profusely. It was like I had been placed inside a pressure cooker! I had to be assisted by a doctor who was a fellow passenger on the flight. These days when I travel such long distances I take a sleeping pill to avoid panic attacks.
On her best hotel
The best hotel I have ever stayed in was the Michelangelo Hotel in South Africa. The hotel architecture is amazing and the internal décor and design is absolutely fabulous.
Though the hotel was built recently, the architect managed to take us back in time with a very interesting design. The rooms are huge and very well furnished. In addition, the food is really out of this world and the service amazing!
On her favourite drive
My favourite drive was in Dallas Texas when I visited my cousin last year. I enjoyed the drive because the roads are incredibly smooth therefore one can drive quite fast.
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