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Are there any cities outside of southeast Asia that are like Bangkok, Manila, etc?
What I mean by that is cities that... :
* Have lots of interesting, ordinary life on display on the streets almost everywhere you go
* Have a vibe that makes you feel like anything can happen
* Are a bit unorganized
Barcelona, Rome, and other european cities are very nice, but most of the niceness is in the physical city itself. The people are nice too but the vibe is too sleepy. Bangkok and Manila are not particularly pretty places, but it's the people and their everyday actions, and the abundance of it, that makes them interesting. That's what I'm talking about.
It doesn't have to be a crazy place, just somewhere where there's something interesting going on wherever you go. Ordinary life. People fixing their bikes outside their houses, kids running about, old people chatting, people selling stuff here and there, cats on car roofs yawning, people walking in the middle of the road until a car or bike comes, all the little things that make you feel like you're in a human environment rather than a museum or theme park.
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There's quite a bit of street life in Belgrade. I first pulled into town after midnight on a Monday. The buses had lots of people. The parks and downtown were full of people. On a late Monday night. It was sort of unbelievable. And kind of random, as you describe. Not a carefully scripted tourist experience
I'd imagine that in most cities where most people don't have much money they try to amuse themselves by creating a rich public life. Unlike westerners, who hook themselves up to machines in their private spaces.
I've been to Bangkok. Too much human clutter on the streets there for me. Too much ugliness. In Belgrade you've got a fair amount of that vibrancy, with a fair number of truly beautiful women comprising part of the clutter.
Also: Despite the best efforts of management to sanitize and turn into a theme park, NYC still inexorably has that sort of street vibrancy, though you'd probably have to get out of Manhattan to find something besides upmarket activity. And all kinds of places in Latin America, at least in Mexico. I can leave right now and drive for an hour to the border town of Nogales, Mexico, and find exactly what you describe, though I'd hardly call it appealing.
For a city with some upmarket features, yet that sort of vibrancy, I've heard that Buenos Aires might fill the bill. Haven't been there.
But if you want it at super-discounted prices -- maybe even lower than southeast Asia -- and without serious crime: Belgrade.
I have never been to SE Asia but I have been watching videos about the Philippines on Youtube and it reminds me a lot of Peru. The markets, the "moto-taxis" (not sure what they are called in Asia), the chaotic traffic. Even the people look somewhat similar: short, olive to tan skin, black hair (although Filipinos seem skinnier in general than Peruvians and they have those typical Filipino/Asian "flat" noses).
I haven't considered Belgrade. I'll have to go there via Google Earth Airlines and Youtube Airlines and check it out. It looks a bit small though. The former Yugoslavian states are very beautiful, very mediterranean, which I like, and also when I was at school I had a go at learning serbo-croat (or whatever they call it now). But Beograd is inland which is a bit of a shame as I love beaches, but I guess I could be flexible on that. But I always thought Belgrade was really dangerous, although I can't remember where I got that idea.
From what (little) I've seen, Bangkok doesn't strike me as a dirty place. Why do you say that?
Have a quick scroll through this video, you'll see that it's alright there : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Hses2nG2gc
New York is out of the question. I vow to never live in a western country. NY is expensive anyway. I wouldn't consider it. It is a nice city though, in some ways.
Here's a theory. Do you think it makes any difference how dense a city is? I can't help but think that if people are sharing less space, they're more likely to live part of their lives outside, in the way that I described. But then again Paris is extremely dense, but it doesn't have that raw, down to earth vibe.
Last edited by Johnny1975 on Mon Aug 24, 2015 9:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Every time I think of Peru I think of the recent thing in the news about sexual harassment. That kind of put me off.
If that is the only thing putting you off then I don't think you have much to worry about. There is no way that sexual harrassment law is going to be enforced there. Peruvians catcall every attractive girl that walks by so I doubt they will be arresting the entire male population Peru is still very far from being a feminist country, the culture and society are very "machista" .
Some of the nicer parts of Lima, Peru
Belgrade hasn't been dangerous since NATO was dropping bombs on it in 1999. Crime is not a major concern, as it is in much of Latin America.
Belgrade is not in one of the more attractive areas of the former Yugoslavia, though there are some low mountains nearby and two rivers meet at the city. But it is about 60 miles from some impressive mountains in Bosnia, and about 150 miles from a really spectacular Croatian and Macedonian coastline on the Adriatic. Going south and east not too much further, you've got the Aegean and Black Sea beaches.
I said Bangkok was cluttered and ugly, not dirty, though in my mind I just see it as a generally squalid place. By cluttered, I do mean dense, with people and their various activities. But for me it doesn't work. Traffic, for example, is absolutely insane. It's extremely stressful to be in it, even in a taxi. The cabbies don't speak English (despite Bangkok receiving probably more English-speaking visitors than any other city in the world), and some of them are truly crazy.
Low incomes = high population density. It's basically the same factor, and yes, I do think it is the main factor contributing to a rich street life.
Last edited by Ghost on Sun Oct 23, 2016 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Yes latin America strikes me as the closest equivalent. I'm hoping to find somewhere in Europe with something similar. The closest I've come across so far is Istanbul.
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