The Soul of Asia’s biggest Cities

Posted: April 16, 2012 in English, Wanderlust
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Forget everything you thought you knew about cities.  London, New York, Rome; that are all cities of the past, dwarfed by the new rising Mega cities of East Asia. No matter if you take the busy streets of Bangkok, the flashy lights of Macau, the hive like apartments of Seoul, the fast lane lifestyle of Hong Kong, the always-open-for-business shops of Taiwan or simply the monstrous size of Tokyo; nothing can really compare to it. Just spending one day in one of these metropolises make one realise that “Western” cultures and in particular the infrastructure of “Western” cities are falling years and sometimes even decades behind. It seems that East Asia justifiably deserves the label “developing region”, since here is actually still development happening, while Europe has fallen into a deep deep sleep of stagnation and status-quo.  In order to understand my point of view I want to share my experience and my pictures, which I have gained especially during a one month East-Asian trip, where I visited Bangkok, Taipei, Seoul, Macau and Hong Kong. If you want to have a deeper insight into Tokyo please check out some of my older articles in particular the one about its Skyline.

Bangkok

It’s an chaotic city. With motorbikes, mopeds, scooters, cars and rickshaws driving like crazy down the street, you better run for your life if you want to cross the street.  Beside of beautiful golden Temples (see more in my next article) the city architecture is mainly dominated by flat, fragile buildings. The few Skyscraper that exist are mainly luxury apartments or luxury hotel next to the river, which is another of the main transportation routes. Often are shady neighbourhoods right next to such high, modern buildings, which gives the city an interesting heterogeneous charm.  Because of the lack of neon signs the city is not as shiny as its East Asian neighbours at night, however Bangkok is the best place to see some of the most stunning Sunsets.

Taipei

I have to admit: from all the places in East Asia I have been so far, I fall in love the most with Taipei. The whole infrastructure is very similar to Tokyo. Similar buildings, a similar Metro-system (but much smaller) and even similar shops and shopping centres. What impressed me the most however where the people (see more in my article about East-Asian people) and the price. Compared to Tokyo I get the same standard of living, sometimes even better for a much smaller price.  Transportation, food and social activities are often more than half the price of Tokyo and furthermore you can find a perfect mix of Japanese and Chinese Culture here.  Especially worth mentioning are the notorious long open night markets and the impressive Taipei 101 (it has apparently 101 floors) both symbols of the city.

Seoul

Seoul is not really a pretty city. As I mentioned it before, it reminds me more of a massive hive with gigantic apartment buildings rather than a real city. Its population density is actually 5 times higher than the one of Berlin which reflects the picture of “many people squeezed into a tiny place”. One can get a remarkable view on this concrete jungle from the Seoul-Tower, probably the most beautiful construction here. On the other side Seoul has some of the finest, most interesting and interactive museums I have seen so far.  Many dusty history museums in Europe could learn a lot from Korea and what is most impressive: Every museum is for free.

Macau

This place was a complete mind-blow for me. The “Las Vegas” of Asia is a place full of contrast and contradiction. On the one hand one can admire massive, flashy casinos that attract every day hundred-thousands of people and create completely artificial environments. On the other hand there are century old Portuguese colonial houses and churches that produces sometimes an image of being actually in little Europe right now. And in between this world of history and modernity are people actually living and arranging their daily lives.

Hong Kong

There is no place in the world that could be busier than Hong Kong. One person I met in this non-stop city told me “What Hong Kong can do in one day, other cities in Europe need two or three for!” The life here is so quick and so much in hurry that I never really felt like relaxed or could rest for a bit. Restaurants, trains, shops; everywhere are queues; everywhere is someone waiting for you to finish so he could get your place.  However compared to Bangkok, Hong Kong seems much more regulated and ordered. The daily chaos is structured and the people have found away to navigate through it.  Most importantly: No other city has such a beautiful and impressive Skyline like Hong Kong.

I hope this article could give a little insight of my impression of some of the biggest cities in East Asia.  My next article will be about  Temples and Churches.  If you want to read more about Tokyo check out my other articles and photos. 

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Comments
  1. robd2 says:

    Did you take the photos of Bangkok and Hong Kong?

  2. yes all the photos in this article were taken by me. Do you like them?

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