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Inside the famous Brandy School Bus in Karen

MARCELLA AKINYI    

“On the magic school bus, navigate a nostril…Climb on the magic school bus…” This is the melody that rings in my ear as I arrive at Karen, where the famous Brandy School Bus is situated. I desired a different experience from checking in and out of hotel rooms hence after browsing through the reviews on Airbnb and ensuring that my booking was confirmed, I set off to this magical place that made me go down childhood memory lane. One thing you must note about Airbnb houses is that you can’t just show up without prior booking via the website. Rhoda, one of the staff, who shows the guests round, welcomed me into this unique place and took me through the dos and don’ts of the place. The bus, which used to operate in Mombasa for the government, was owned by her friend’s granddad and was in his garden for 30 years before being transformed into a unique Airbnb home that sits inside her parent’s home

Karen, a psychology student then, was a passionate viewer of George Clark’s, Amazing Space show, and saw how small spaces were transformed into functional places where people could live and suddenly an idea dawned on her to transform her grandfather’s school bus into a place where adventurous, nature lover travellers can have a home away from home experience.

It was scary at first to enter, fearing that the bus might roll away, but its tires grounded and it’s balanced on an axle with rocks to make it stable. On the lower deck is a living-cum-kitchen area, which comprises all the amenities that make you feel at home like a fridge, a stereo, books, a two ringed gas burner and everything you need.

There are two double beds upstairs and two small single beds downstairs that also serve as sofas. To the right of the main entrance on the lower deck there is a full size bathroom, which has a hot shower. An open window has a magnificent view of the garden and I was amazed by the cool view of the sunrise.

There is an outdoor seating area, a fireplace and a tennis court for the sporty types. On top is a mabati sheet, which reflects the sunrays bringing a cooling effect inside the bus. A perfectionist by nature, Karen has eschewed having the usual Masaai blankets for the design and instead she employs a mix of fabrics from all over the world. African proverbs spread across its walls with plenty of clues indicating that it was once a functional bus.

Being a self-catering service, I had done my shopping prior coming to the place. However, there are bars and hotels close by if you are one of those people who doesn’t fancy self-catering. As part of being mindful of the neighbours, don’t play loud music past 10pm as there are other tenants living close by. Couples or even a group of friends   can light a fire outside and just spend time bonding, but since I was travelling solo, a book in bed while listening to some cool soft rock made my night. The Wi-Fi is not strong making you disconnect with world and have a me time moment. Booking is done one guest at a time and a maximum of six guests can stay in the bus.

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