Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Unique cities

It seems I wrote in my previous post the phrase 'very unique' which may in fact be grammatically incorrect. Never the less, in the space of a week I have re-realised uniqueness.

The thing is, in China, most cities are pretty similar -some have a more developed modern bit than others, and some have more remaining old bits than the others, but barring beijing and shanghai most others are similar (note this is about cities, and NOT about the rural areas of China which are the opposite). London, is and I expect (as long as I do not forget what it is like) will always be my favourite city.

It may be extortionately expensive (and even more so when turning up from China!) but it has an atmosphere that I beleive is unparalleled (though I have not lived in every city in the World). Just walking along the river seeing St Paul's, the gherkin, parliament, the Tate and knowing that around the corner is the Globe, London Dungeon, Museums, Embassies and so much more. Seeing people from all around the world -feeling like a tourist in my own home is a wonderful feeling. I have realied that Beijing is an interesting city in an interesting country and that London is an exciting city in a sedate country. London rocks!

Then onto Belgium via a short 2 and a half hour train journey to see the European Parliament (the afternoon tour is not on fridays presumably so we cannot see how few MEPs bother to turn up at that time for work) and typically grand European Churches, Cathedrals, Palaces, Cafes, Restaurants and squares. aaah, what fond reminders of my 10 country/5 week dash in Summer 2000. Brugges was another matter altogether -a truly stunning and enjoyable town with the entire centre untouched for hundreds of years; beautiful chocolate shops and picturesque water-building features. I have so rarely seen a city lit up so well as to really bring out its features (I sound like a morning TV fashion stylist now, yikes). I much prefer it to Venice (supposed to be the venice of the north) and even more than Zhouzhuang (venice of the east, over near Shanghai).

Finally I am writing this by a fountain at night in 'Charter Park' which sits at the foot of the Bank of China building (the most noticable in Hong Kong) and adjacent to the Legislative Council (Hong Kong's 'parliament' that seems very small, presumably since its never had much power before '97 or after) -earlier there were old people doing theiir Tai Qi as always. Down the road/across the bay are thousands of 25 story-plus buildings and hundreds of 40-storey plus buildings lit up (some with xmas decorations of 30m high) and sandwiched between them going up the hill sits little chinese restaurants, stupidly steep stairs/alleyways and neon signs everywhere. I remember why I love this city so much as well.

In a few minutes (10.30pm) I'll be off to stay with the AIESEC guys here for a few days to work and renew my visa before heading back to cheap China. but first, back to the running water, quietness of a deserted park and the sweet music of Katie Melua on my new ipod (with video :)) that will keep me company for many a future journey I am sure (since i cannot log onto the wireless networks that are all secured in the park!).


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