A week ago Google SA invited a couple of us on a guided tour of Hillbrow and also as an opportunity to experience Google Photos, which was launched in 2015. Google Photos basically gives you unlimited backup of your photos and videos, and one of the features is that it also arranges the pics by place, date, even by things. Once your photos are backed up you can also search by say, “food” and it will bring up all the pictures of food in your library, it’s actually amazing. I wonder how they do this though because it happens without you even tagging the pics with any sort of description. Technology neh!
Free unlimited storage space for my high quality pics and videos, Yay, I don’t even care what Google is getting in exchange. Probably more of my data but they already know everything there is to know about me at this point, I’m just happy that I don’t have to pay for more icloud space, plus my dropbox space is also full and now they want me to buy.. huuu shem. This is important when you’re a hoarder like me, I currently have over 10 000 pictures on my phone. Most are backed up on a hard drive but I still can’t bring myself to delete them but perhaps having them on this Google Photos app will get me there, we’ll see….
Back to the amazing Hillbrow tour.
The tour started at the Google offices in Bryanston and yhooo the offices are everything you’ve heard about “Google offices”, I actually feel like I need to got back for a tour *hint hint* so I can show you guys what it looks like. So, we had breakfast then it was time to head out to Hillbrow where we were met by our guide Franck from Dlala Nje at Ponte.
Dlala Nje‘s inner city adventures are all about getting the visitor to experience the inner city first hand, dispel whatever myths preconceived thoughts you have about Hillbrow, Berea and surrounds. This tour was definitely an eye opener for us.
It was quite a thing to be up close and personal with the famous Ponte City building and an even bigger thrill to be inside and see how people live in there. The security is crazy. You leave your ID copy at the security and no visitors are allowed before 9am and after 9pm. If tenants break this rule, there is a fine to pay.
What I wasn’t ready for, however, is how amazing the apartments are!!
This particular apartment we went into is not “furnished” because no one lives there, Dlala Nje uses it to show their visitors what they look like. I took the following pic while looking out from that window…
Pretty cool huh! Would you not like to have this view when you have your morning coffee?? Oh man! It is really breathtaking and he kept telling us where sandton/rosebank/etc was but I couldn’t see anything further than than Telkom tower heheh.
Depending on the size of the apartment, there are rules regarding how many people are allowed to live in there, and access is controlled by biometrics.
Beautiful right? The building was refurbished recently by the owners, Kempston Group, and this was completed in 2012. According to our guide, the rental for a 2 bedroom apartment is around R4,500 per month, and that’s a bargain, by JHB standards.
What also fascinated was being able to actually get to down to the core of ponte with all 450 apartments towering over us..
To be able to stand at the core of Ponte where rubbish used to pile up back when it was a filthy place with drug lords and prostitutes, and see it looking so clean now..
The former “suicide central” has truly transformed.
The building is 173m tall and there are 8 floors of parking, so there is secure parking for residents, you don’t have to worry about parking on the streets if you are considering staying there.
I took this pic as we left Ponte to start our walk…
And then we came across this community board (also referred to as Post Office), which left me a little depressed and you’ll see why in the next pics. The board is used for people looking for accommodation and those who want to advertise available accommodation. Job seekers and community employers also use this board to recruit or find work.
Living space is so sought after in this area it’s heartbreaking. “Sitting room for a couple at R2 000” and this lady in the middle posting is looking for a lady who will pay to share a bed with her… this is real! in 2016!
A Balcony is available for rent here at these flats. Imagine guys, people are renting a balcony so if you drive around Hillbrow and see a mattress on a balcony, there is someone who sleeps there.
I’m not sure what window space is, but I saw that people also rent out corridors as sleeping places and any type of indoor space is sought after because it beats sleeping under a bridge. That’s reality for so many of our people, yhuuuu. Even worse are the hijacked buildings (which were highlighted in the local movie Jerusalema) and the conditions in which our people live.
The story of HIllbrow is so rich and interesting, it is also continually changing as the community tries to make it a safe place to live in. They live as a community, they look out for one another and what that means of course, is that street justice is also high so if you hear someone shout ” vimba”, you know it’s on!
The area is still very much crowded so the most common type of crime at this point is pickpocketing therefore if you do decide to go and take a walk around keep your belongings out of sight and stay alert.
We had a long, interesting and informative day and what better way to end it than with a late lunch at one of the local spots! Sonnyboy’s tavern was the place of choice.
I don’t know if it’s because I was super hungry by the time we got there but that was the yummiest “plate” I’d had in a long time. And as you can see, some were “washing” it down with iNgud heheh. Fun times! Really glad I got to experience this.
If you’d like to take one of these tours, you can contact Dlala Nje HERE. They offer different types of tours, you can even do a night one where you get to experience the Hillbrow night life. Next time you have out of town visitors and you’re stuck for ideas on what to do, this is pretty cool.
Thanks to Google for the invitation, this was refreshing and I love the animations Google Photos creates 🙂