Monday, February 06, 2006

Life on the water

In Sydney, where the Opera House is strangely small, and the weather is mercurial. When the sun comes out, the carapace of the Opera House shines with a creamier colour than expected and a porous texture like an eggshell.

Opposite where I'm staying there's a backpackers hostel, and looking across to their windows at 9.45 pm (now), there is a vast open plan area filled with bright orange sofas, and some of them are sitting talking as if they're in the Big Brother house. I realised that there's something missing in Hong Kong: backpackers. It must just be too expensive to sustain: and why go to HK when you could hang out at Bondi Beach?

Yesterday we had dinner on the deck of our friends' house in Coogee, looking out over the water, and I could see myself living this laid-back, easy-going lifestyle, where the most important thing in life is the size of your stainless steel barbeque. You can't live in Sydney without a car, though, and public transport seems to be pretty unreliable. And everything closes down at 11pm. A bit like Edinburgh, really. But the graciousness and infinite possibilities of waterside life are so well explored here: in Hong Kong, a complete failure of imagination requires you to build a concrete monstrosity between you and the water.

All of that aside, my most bourgeois observation yet must be this about Sydney: it's so nice to be able to get a decent cup of coffee.

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