Sunday, January 20, 2008

HK/Aussie trip: From Hong Kong to Perth.

If Hong Kong was in all ways overwhelming, for sheer density of people and buildings and constant sensory stimulation, Perth was more like a ghost town. We showed up late on Friday night, and Saturday morning while running through the city to King's Park I saw fewer than ten other people in the city (there were some more in the park itself). Everything was so quiet that even in the middle of the city, I could hear my own footfall while running. What a weird constrast, to go from one of the busiest, densest cities in the world to the most sparsely populated and remote. That, more than any changes to do with language, made the Hong Kong part of the trip feel completely removed from the experiences that we were having in Perth. If I stop to consider the third week that we had in Sydney, it really feels as though we had three different weeklong trips to three totally different locations. I haven't traveled that way before so much -- either I've gone to one place and really spent time there, or I've gone to several places for just a couple of days each, so that in the end everything runs together in one big blur. This trip offered three strikingly different experiences, each for long enough that I was able to spend real time in every location.

I can't imagine what a week in Perth would have looked like if we hadn't been there for the wedding. Carlton and Sindy really put together an incredible range of activities for the week, so much so that our week in Perth actually feels like the most action-packed of the entire trip. I wish that we had had our acts together wrt hotel much sooner so that we could have found a nice place in Fremantle to stay near the beach, but even staying in the empty city, things worked out. With so many people having moved all over the world, this was really the first time in a very long while that all of this group of friends was in the same place at the same time; it's amazing how things didn't feel very different, even though we were in this corner of Western Australia rather than in Seattle, and even though Seattle isn't so big on Supa Golf or surfing or 100-degree heat. Or mosquitos! Man, the mosquitos in Perth were out of control.

I really liked Fremantle, and if I ever end up back in Perth -- which occasion is hard to imagine, but you never know -- that's where I'm going to stay. And not just because it was a pit stop on The Amazing Race and Jeff, Katherine, Chris, and I all bought sunhats there. It was just a really chill beach town with fun little cafes and bars and shops -- cafes and bars and shops that had actual people in them, in stark contrast to the city of Perth.

The running in Perth was fantastic. They take their public space pretty seriously there, and for a place where it gets so amazingly hot and dry in the summer, it's remarkable how green everything was. I saw tons of runners, walkers, and cyclists on the paths along the Swan River, and I found the overall vibe pretty enjoyable. As an area it was very pleasant and relaxing to spend time, and it almost feels like a place where I could live until I stop to think about how far away it is from everything. And I thought that moving from NYC-Philly to Seattle was moving to the middle of nowhere -- I had no idea.


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11:32 AM  

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