Pay Attention While Walking……Your Facebook Status Update Can Wait
According to the 2011 Census, the population of Sydney is approximately 4.6 million souls, about 20% of the total Australian population, making it the largest city in Australia and Oceania. Of these 4.6 million, some 6.5% or three hundred thousand, are of Chinese origin. Compare this with the Chinese population of London which is just sixty thousand…..but growing rapidly.
Indeed, it is nearly ten years since my first visit to this fabulous city and the increase in Asians on the street over those years is quite evident. I believe that they are making a significant and positive contribution to a vibrant and thriving city. Sydney’s Chinatown is not dissimilar to the other great Chinatown’s in London, New York, Cape Town and elsewhere, being a plethora of restaurants, laundries, bakeries, and medical centres. I have spent a couple of nice mornings watching Chinese teaching Tai Chi and dancing with fans up towards Paddy’s market.
As with most Chinatown’s, however, Sydney’s is more commercial that residential. And so, as a consequence of this and the fact that Sydney is a tourist mecca for the Chinese, Sydney’s streets are thronged with Chinese people. And they seem to have developed a very, very tiny sense of personal space. And, they have little respect for anyone else’s.
It is a miracle that I have not been trampled to death. Like Juggernaut of X-Men fame, once they gather a little momentum they are unstoppable. They are direct and do not get diverted, even if you are in their way. This is particularly difficult if there is a group of girls because they walk side-by-side. And so, if you get more than four or five in a line you are forced to swerve into a doorway or to step into the road to avoid being mown down. They do not care. They are oblivious – especially because the tourists walk while viewing the world through the lens of a camera, and the residents are looking down and texting on their mobile phones as they yomp.
Although I am looking forward to the fireworks and the dragons, it is probably a good thing that I am currently due to fly out of Sydney on Chinese New Year (31st January) – I’m not sure that those mean streets would be safe for me……