Following on from my previous post, I thought I’d extend my musings on the theme of water and the city, and accompany these with photography on the subject.
Having grown up in an island city that is also one of the biggest port cities in the world, I have always been in close proximity to the sea and to water in general. As such, when I travel, I find myself gravitating to cities that are similar in profile: major port cities of the past and present that lie on the sea or on the banks of a major river.
When I grow up, I think I could only live in a city that was not only on the water, but had an on-going relationship, nay, love affair with the water. I’ve thought carefully about this.
London, for example, would be a potential home, because of how the Thames continues to feature so strongly in the city’s consciousness and how it just inevitably winds its idyllic and unaffected way through the fabric of the city as it changes rapidly and dramatically.
New York, may not score very highly because of how its rivers, the East and the Hudson seem like such an afterthought. Living in New York, with its extensive subway system and its seven (?) bridges connecting the outer boroughs to Manhattan, one tends to forget that the rivers are even there.
Port cities like Shanghai or Hamburg would be fair game largely because of their still operating ports. Each time I’m in these cities, huddled up with a cocktail on the Bund or by the Pier, I get such a big thrill seeing the large and small container ships making their inexorable way across the majestic rivers – the Huangpu River （黄浦江）, and the Elbe River [Oh, the Elbe!].
Canal cities are hit and miss. Amsterdam – with its well-maintained canals that are still important transport arteries; and with its hundreds of houseboats bobbing on the water – I would love to spend some part of my life in. In fact, I want one of those houseboats!
Venice, with its evocative Grand Canal and shady lesser canals I could revisit again and again and again. But to live in…nah. Maybe in another time, long past.
Bangkok, which has in the last century, shifted the centre of its city away from the mighty Chao Praya and its half-forgotten canals, I would not consider. It is now paying the price for neglecting to sufficiently respect the water.
饮水思源– when you drink water, think of its source, so the old Chinese idiom goes. It means to respect one’s roots and never forget them. I’d like to think it also means take care of your water, and it will take care of you.