TRAVEL PROOF TO “NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER”
I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying “never judge a book by its cover”…
I knew the strong, powerful meaning behind this metaphorical phrase, but never have I experienced a physical place that put it so deeply into play.
When planning my trip to Nairobi, Kenya, I’m going to admit that my ideas on this city were a little affected by the media’s negative portrayal. The question, “is Nairobi safe?” frequently played on my mind and the minds of those around me; people were constantly questioning my decision to travel to a place with such a negative wrap.
Of course, I wasn’t going to let the negativity stop me, and boy oh boy am I glad that I didn’t!
As I’m sure you’ve gathered by my other Kenya posts, I fell in love with this country more than ever before. Nairobi was a place so unlike what I had imagined, leaving all of my prior perceptions simply washed down the drain.
Firstly, I’m very conscious of the fact that Nairobi is deemed as unsafe due to having one of the largest slums in Africa, as well as the backlash of some nasty terror attacks that occurred many years ago. I was completely aware of these reasons of concern, but as always, I never let fear have control of my life.
To say that I was fearful is a massive overstatement. I wasn’t fearful at all, but the constant questioning of my decision did make me a little concerned. Not to mention that the only online coverage I had ever seen of Nairobi was always adverse. There’s no doubt that that’s going to have an impact on your thoughts – no matter the destination!
So with all that aside, I didn’t let the negativity affect my decision and I visited Kenya with total excitement.
As soon as I arrived, the first thing I noticed was that the city was relatively clean. The people were incredibly friendly and the biggest shock of all was that the driving was very civilized.
Driving down these roads was better than driving in Australia, in more ways than one! Even when there were Zebra in the middle of the freeway, there was no tooting of horns, no swerving into lanes and absolutely no chaos.
I was expecting to see devastating things; lots of crime, unwelcoming people and dirty, chaotic streets. This still occurs, there’s absolutely no doubt – but the images I had in my head were very far astray.
As for the terror concern… I still stand by my word that fear should never consume you. This city (what I encountered at least) had unbelievable security measures in place; hotels had strict security, as did the airport and major attractions.
At no point throughout my entire trip did I feel the slightest bit unsafe. Despite what the media has portrayed, every person I encountered was kind, open-hearted and willing to help in every way possible. Those on the streets would smile, and those that didn’t were simply confused by our presence.
It’s known that there are political issues here – riots, protests and uproars can get a little out of hand, and the slums are not a place that tourists should necessarily go. On first arrival it’s quite obvious that poverty is a major problem; there are far too many people living in terrible conditions throughout this city and the country as a whole is far below the poverty line.
But if you have the right intentions, there is absolutely no reason to be hesitant towards visiting. There are a lot of fun things to do in Nairobi… No, you’re probably not going to see pristine parks, spectacular modern high rises or perfect cafes and restaurants… This is Africa after all!
What you will encounter however, is poor people with very kind hearts. They’ll welcome you with open arms and embrace you with a beautiful smile. What more can you ask for?
We chatted with many locals during our visit, each saying that the media’s perception is completely falsified; crime is drastically decreasing and tourists are hardly ever targetted.
They want us to come to their city! Tourism boosts the economy which is exactly what this area of Eastern Africa needs.
Every place has issues, but the fact that this particular city unknowingly inflicts such a devastating fear upon those that have never even visited, speaks miles about the media’s influence.
I had an incredible experience; of course, I was not here for a long period of time, nor do I know what it’s really like to live in this city as a local. But all I’m trying to express is that my experience was a beautiful one – and in no way should you ever feel afraid to visit somewhere because of what you’ve seen on the web.
I can’t possibly promise that your experience in Nairobi will be as positive as mine, but you have to remember that bad things could occur no matter where you are in the world. There’s beauty in experiencing good and bad times, and that would simply not be possible if we always let fear control our freedom.
For those that are interested in visiting this beautiful part of the world, take a look at this Kenya travel guide – it’s full of all the tips and tricks for visiting Nairobi and the Maasai Mara too!
But in this particular instance, my thoughts were totally irrational – as were those of the majority of people that seemed to question my intentions. I feel ashamed to have let these ideas even slightly enter my mind before experiencing this city for myself.
After my very first day in Nairobi, I couldn’t get the quote out of my head… “you should never judge a book by its cover”. This city really did shove all of my expectations right back into my face.
Nairobi isn’t perfect, but the pages of its book are far better than what’s displayed on the cover!
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Disclaimer – This is only based on my personal experience. Every experience is different and in no way am I claiming that they will be as positive as my own. I simply want you to find the pages in your book before drowning them with the unknown XX
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