Sunday, June 5, 2011

The View from Kings Cross

When my parents found out that my hotel was located in the notorious Sydney neighborhood of Kings Cross, they were practically horrified.

They've heard all of the stories before about Kings Cross being the red-light district of Sydney. The last thing they wanted was to see their daughter wandering alone in a neighborhood notorious for drugs, drunkenness, and all sorts of indecent behavior. They did not want me going around at night, on my own, knowing that some drunk Australian would mistake me for a Filipino prostitute.

Riiiight. As if Filipino prostitutes roam the streets at night in hoodies and jeans.

All of that changed, however, when I actually arrived in Kings Cross.

Here's the main hub at Kings Cross Road, taken during the sunset. At night this place can pretty much get lit up with lots of neon lights and sparkling billboards. There are fine restaurants and even finer clubs to visit here, so it can get pretty exciting.

Look! It's Darlinghurst Road, with takeout places on one side and XXX-rated entertainment on the other! Ironically, I barely even noticed the "wildlife," day or night, except for the occasional drag queen or two. The only tarts that I was interested in throughout these trip were of the pastry persuasion (mmm, neenish tarts), so it was a good thing for me to stay home and limit my night runs to the nearest Coles supermarket.

(Which reminds me: Dear Coles, could you please remind Curtis Stone that he actually looks much better when he's chubby? Your in-store displays are proof that I can no longer buy him as that hot ab-tastic cheffy-chef TV host who's all over American TV right now. Especially when I can see the sweet, clean-cut version of his face right next to the lamingtons.)

And here is Victoria Street, home to hippy-dippy backpacker hotels. (Disclosure: My hotel is actually on Victoria Street, but it's not even remotely close to backpacker-y.) Believe it or not, even with the low-rent trippiness, there are still signs of gentrification in this neighborhood: autumn foliage, wrought cast-iron balconies, and apartment dwellers walking yappy little dogs. This, I think, feels like what Sydney should be, in its own idiosyncratic way.

Ironically, I did run into a few backpackers from New York during one of the tours that I'd taken as part of this trip, and I casually mentioned that I was staying in a hotel at Kings Cross, which I compared to "the movie version of Times Square, with all the neon lights and the XXX clubs." Their response: "Sydney has a red light district?"

Now, that's what I call an answer.

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