Sunday, 28 August 2016

Mooching around Chinatown

On my walk today I as usual went down the hill at the entrance to the Pyrmont Bridge and then turned right underneath the structure, heading down alongside the tourist restaurants and Cockle Bay, passing under the motorway overpasses, and alongside the shiny new office buildings to Liverpool Street, where I crossed Harbour Street on the pedestrian bridge. I entered Chinatown at the north end of Dixon Street and headed to the Taiwanese noodle shop in one of the arcades on the other side of Goulburn Street.

They found a table for me and I ordered some seafood mix noodles then pulled out my mobile and started to look at Facebook while I waited for the meal to arrive. The waitress came back with my change in a rectangular blue plastic tray and I put it away in my wallet. A middle-aged, slight and slim, Chinese woman sat down in the seat next to mine but after about five minutes she moved away or left the restaurant. She probably thought a big, ungainly foreigner would make a mess of his soup. But a young Chinese woman soon sat down in the seat the other woman had vacated, and she ordered. Strangely, her food came before mine but I didn't say anything; it wasn't worth remarking on since it was a nice Sunday and I didn't want to make a fuss.

I finished my noodles after they arrived and then got up and left the restaurant, walking left down the rest of Dixon Street to where the tram passes. I crossed with the green light and waited on the central island for the tram to go past on its way toward Dulwich Hill. Then I walked across and around the corner into Thomas Street, then took a right at the entrance to Paddy's Markets into Ultimo Road, I went all the way down past the UTS buildings to Harris Street and waited at the lights for the signal to turn green, then turned right and north into the main thoroughfare.

Harris Street is a busy, ugly road but with gentrification there are a lot more cafes and offices along its length, despite the busyness of the main connections to the Western Distributor. So there are always pedestrians on it even though it's hardly the most salubrious of thoroughfares in the city. Frankly it could do with a bit of cleaning up. The big overpass where the approaches to Anzac Bridge lie above the street at Fig Street, where traffic comes heavily from all directions, including off the WD, is a dark and terrible place where you can imagine people getting into trouble. All sorts of satanic things. Dropped lollies. Spilled Cokes. Scattered fragments of pizza. A heel caught in a grate.

But seriously, the whole business of the Anzac Bridge is a bit of an eyesore when you get up close to it. It's alright when you're underneath it in a car moving along past the Fish Market and you can see the concrete expanses fretted away into the distance across the arm of the harbour where the bridge sits. And it's ok from Pyrmont up near John Street - close to the casino - where you can look down the street and see the towers of the bridge sitting like beacons on the horizon through the jumble of highrise apartment buildings standing there. But at Fig Street you're only a few steps away from death. I was up there a couple of days ago coming home and a little group of suburbanites navigating their way toward the attractions of Darling Harbour were crossing the street dutifully. "Who's our button pusher," chimed the elderly woman, and immediately a young girl with Down syndrome rushed up and pressed the signal button. But when we got to the next set of lights, at Fig Street, the elderly woman was holding onto the girl fiercely with both hands, evidently worried about the streams of roaring traffic and all the pressing sounds of the overpass.

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