I close the door of my room and walk down Broadway, a mythical name. I turn on the left and carry on the pavement of the 5th, then Madison Avenue, mythical as well. A few steps further, that's a kaleidoscope of colours which livens Times Square. I start again walking, squeeze between the New Yorkers in a hurry to reach the financial district located at the south of Manhattan island. I tread alongside Wall Street before heading north towards the barren area where the twin towers of the World Trade Center rised 8 years ago. Because of the world economic crisis, the winter sales exceptionally began before Christmas in order to boost the household consumption. One of the stores displays a « Recession Special » sign and sells suits for 60$. New York, it's a state within the state. Extremes cross at each other in the total ignorance. The golden boy who handles big money and the homeless who fights against the cold of the winter. My feet are next to the yellow taxis and my eyes slip onto the endless lines of the skyscrapers. New York is also a symbol of heterogeneous communities who live together. No less than 80 languages are spoken here and by crossing the street I pass from Little Italy to Chinatown.
To announce the Christmas holidays and suddenly cut my 6-month life with a swim suit and a pair of flip flops, the snow invited itself. Some light snowflakes fall down by the thousands and cover Central Park. During this trip, there are cities I gladly fled just after a few hours and there are others, like this one, where I didn't stay enough. I have the impression of having flown over the streets and dashed off my experience. But that's probably the quintessence of the big cities which attract so many people and we would like to discover for a longer time. My round-the-world trip ends in the impersonality of a megalopolis. I become again “the man in the street” with this little twinge of sadness because I lived a hell of a wonderful adventure.
Keyword - urban walking -
Saturday 20 December 2008
Saturday 20 September 2008
Bye Bye welcoming and intoxicating Asia, I set foot in Australia for a short 2-night stop in the city of Sydney. I put down my bag at the youth hostel and go for a stroll to Darling Harbour which brings together restaurants, bars et tourist attractions such as the Sydney aquarium or the maritime museum. But my look and my steps flee northwards. I'm in a hurry to walk alongside the bank to contemplate two Sydney-symbolizing monuments. On my left, I look up and the metallic frame of the Harbour Brigde overlooks me with all its loftiness. I turn the head on the right and the blowing-up-by-the-wind sail- or shell-shaped domes of the Opera House marvelously marks the end of the bank. I sit down on the steps of the music-dedicated building and chill out, observing the boats that move up and down and distribute their flood of passengers all over the town.
I take my ticket for the other shore. From this side, the view is different. The Opera House harmoniously finishes the disjointed skyline drawn by the skyscrapers of the city. In this hushed-atmosphere district, in the north of Sydney, large residences stretch over. A taste of tranquility, five minutes from the heart of the city. As incredible as it can be, I step on a desert beach in the middle of Sydney. I worm my way in the alleyways of the detached houses towards the Harbour Bridge. The dusk is brewing, the first artificial lights switch on up to cover the town with a sparkling halo. The panorama is still more attractive, the geometric lines fade away into the night to only stand out these luminous impressions. That's lovely a city by night.
I couldn't leave Sydney without seeing some specimens of the weird and endemic animals which populate the Australian ground and waters. I get to the vivarium where a number of animals are unfortunately shut in. Even if it remains the easiest way to familiarize oneself with those living beings. Koala, platypus, kangaroo, wombat, collared iguana, everything is there. Without forgetting that Australia shelters the most dangerous spider and snake in the world.
Friday 5 September 2008
I land on the malaysian capital without really knowing what can happen here. I'm going to discover a city made of contrasts, between traditions and modernity, between men dressed in three-piece suit rushing in the streets and deep Muslim dominance which gives rhythm to the majority of the people. My stroll starts in the Petaling street, backbone of the Chinatown district where the counterfeited tee-shirts meet the fake perfumes and the handbag copies. Smoke-filled food-packed stands, where we come and eat at anytime, fill in the gaps of the street. A few steps away, I cross the pavement and immerse myself in another culture walking through the little India district, a colourful market where we can buy every kind of flowers or saris. It's not unusual to hear speaking in Chinese, Hindi or English into these bustling streets because the Malaysian society is a melting pot of different waves of immigrations which little by little integrate with the local people. These horizontal-expanding districts stand out against the neo-skyscrapers which popped out of the ground here and there and where long national flags proudly hang on the walls. Breathtaking verticality, synonymous of a fast-thriving country. A lot of people talk about Malaysia 2020, a project started at the beginning of the 70s which plans to deeply change the country within 50 years. The objective is that Malaysia becomes a developed country by the year 2020. But this project, which is an economic and social expansion before all, doesn't develop to the detriment of its roots, religious in particular. Numerous mosques dot throughout the city. And the fervour at the prayer time is really astounding.
One of highlights of my visit is located at the foot of the Petronas towers of the eponymous oil-company. The symbol of a city and of the whole country. A lot of elements in its building and architecture are linked to Islam, with a pentagonal structure at some places in reference to the 5 pillars of the religion. This monument reaches 452m, a staggering height which kept the title of highest skyscraper in the world for several years before being dethroned by the Taipei tower 101 in Taiwan. It however keeps the world title of highest double structure. A concrete- and iron-made colossal giant which arrays itself in phosphorescent shades when the night comes.
Half an hour from the capital, I finish my visit of Kuala Lumpur and its surroundings by climbing the 273 steps open onto the Batu caves. A huge cavity that shelters a Hindu temple and attract tourists as well as faithful people.
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