South Africa Part 9: Jo’burg and Trip Recap

In some sense, Johannesburg — our final stop on our South Africa adventure — lived up to the excitement of the safari.

We felt safe throughout Cape Town and the Garden Route, but that disappeared once we stepped into Jo’burg.

While many travel forums often dismiss concerns about safety in various cities, the general consensus seemed to be, “Well…” This is a city where car insurance posters cheerfully proclaim that “we even protect you from hijackers!”

Nevertheless we decided to spend two nights here, holing ourselves up in the Radisson Gautrain in the business district of Sandton. It contains mostly shopping centers, but granted, Alan and I were a little tired by this time and decided to laze in bed all day for two days. The Apartheid Museum is apparently really meaningful, though!

20140112-IMG_9250And so we window-shopped, ate all sorts of tea and pastries, and watched the uncensored Wolf of Wall Street in a cinema that rivals Singapore’s. There were plenty of bookstores to hang out in too, and one day I shall be photographed in a tableau similar to the one below. What an intellectual girl, casually imbibing on the words of Alain de Botton or Rousseau!, passers-by will think, not knowing that I’m actually playing Candy Crush.

20140112-IMG_9254Anyway, the real point of this short post is to recount our dinner experience at The Bull Run Restaurant. Or rather, our experience walking to this joint 700 metres from our hotel.

700. Metres.

Just imagine the scariest haunted house you can. Now add in the possibility of getting mugged and murdered, and that describes our journey.

Narrow alleys, barely lit streets, plenty of trees and banks, which did not do my pacing heart any good since banks look like great targets for crime, if you ask me. And for a city that apparently brings in 10% of sub-saharan Africa’s GDP, you’d think they channel some of that money into street lights, right?

NO.

Instead: DARKNESS. AND FEAR.

Alan picked the restaurant because it was near, but holy moley, that 700 metres felt like 10 kilometres. Every corner we made I clutched onto Alan’s arm, my forehead folded with worry and stress. My anxiety got Alan really jumpy too, even though he had dismissed my earlier pleas to take a taxi because, “Are you crazy, it’s 700 metres away!!!!”

The long and short of it is, at the time of this post: don’t take chances, even in Sandton. Just spend a bit on a cab (and you can call on the restaurants — some of them offer free shuttle service).

If you still decide to walk around the city at night anyway, wear a GoPro on your head. Alan said we should have done that. We would have a good laugh about it later, if we survived the walk.

And there you have it! That’s our South African adventure in nine lengthy posts.

Part 1: Cape Town
Part 2: Stellenbosch
Part 3: Robben Island & Kirstenbosch Gardens
Part 4: Cape Peninsula
Part 5: Table Mountain
Part 6: Garden Route (Part 1)
Part 7: Garden Route (Part 2)
Part 8: Safari in the Kruger

 

 

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