Saigon’s Other River

[youtube][/youtube] Saigon owes its existence to the Saigon River, but its languid current and fetid waters aren’t quite as impressive as one might expect. The city’s real river can be found in its streets, where a roaring current of motorcycles, buses, trucks and cars rushes unceasingly for all but a few hours of the day. […]

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Asking for Advice on West Kowloon

[youtube width=”400″ height=”324″][/youtube] I never thought there could be another major newspaper that would make the Montreal Gazette seem hip and with-it — but then I started reading the South China Morning Post. Whereas the Gazette at least tries to overcome its fuddy-duddy image as the newspaper of record for grey-haired West Islanders (sometimes quite […]

Concrete Steps

Cheung Chau, Hong Kong Wan Chai, Hong Kong Latin Quarter, Montreal

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Montreal’s Lost Rivers

In Montreal, “river” usually means one of two things: the all-important St. Lawrence River, godlike in its power and presence, and the Rivière des Prairies, whose lazy nature is perhaps better reflected in its informal English name, the Back River. Before it was urbanized, however, Montreal Island was covered with creeks and rivers. Some have […]

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Refugees in Hong Kong

In the 1940s, 50s and 60s, hundreds of thousands of people fled war, famine and social upheaval in mainland China, ending up in ramshackle settlements on the hillsides of Hong Kong. Some photos from a 1962 issue of LIFE magazine—now available online thanks to Google—capture the experience of those migrants. Looking at these images, it’s […]

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Saigon Streetlife (I)

“Nobody walks in Los Angeles,” people often say, which is of course completely untrue. There are plenty of places to stroll around, even if LA is a vast, sprawling, auto-oriented city. But in Saigon? Really, nobody walks. You’ll come across tourists wandering around the city’s historic centre, or some people ambling from one shop to […]

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Hobbit Houses

I’ve always been curious about the flat-roofed one-storey houses that are sprinkled throughout many of Montreal’s neighbourhoods. Rather than traditional bungalows, they look more like growth-stunted plexes that are missing their upper floors. Last Friday’s Montreal Gazette featured a nice feature by Susan Semenak on the houses, looking both at their history and their current […]

Posted in: Architecture, Canada, Heritage and Preservation, History, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Hobbit Houses , ,

Riding the Light Rail

Compared to Hong Kong or Kowloon, the northwest part of the New Territories feels like a city apart, an earthier, more workaday place. Much of that has to do with its geography and urban development, a low-rise sprawl of villages, farms and subdivisions that runs the length of a wide, flat valley, with two highrise […]

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Hong Kong Doorways: Domestic Life

These doors on the island of Cheung Chau lead to village house apartments. They’re pretty unremarkable at first glance, but if you look at them a second time you begin to realize that they are perfect representations of residential doorways in Hong Kong. Shoes are clustered around the door, a testament to the cramped conditions […]

Don’t Hate

I first passed by this paste-up late at night in Taipei’s Ximending district. When I happened to be nearby a couple of days later, I was doubly impressed: whoever made it knew that by placing it here, it would illuminated each afternoon by a thin sliver of light, a ready-made art space in an otherwise […]

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Opening Up the Oratory

It’s the thrill of discovering a new perspective on what you see everyday: that’s why I have such a thirst for finding new vantage points from which to overlook the city. If you ask me, a great night out usually involves some beer and a spot on some apartment building’s rooftop. (That’s no secret to […]

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The Dimensional Door

Imagine if you could walk through the doorway in one place and arrive elsewhere on the other side. Could we create a practical and easily replicable device that would allow for safe and simple instantaneous travel from one place to another regardless of the distance? How could the two doorways be connected? Once connected, what […]

Prince Edward Road

Looking east down Prince Edward Road

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