Streets are in my opinion always a good reflection of the identity of a city. Is it a busy city? Does it have a lot of expats? Is it commercial? Stuff like that. Some streets represent their city in an instant. A few examples of Asian cities where I found these ‘Identifying streets’:

Hong Kong

Street scene in Hong Kong

The street in this picture is a good reflection of the identity of Hong Kong. There are multiple things that identify it:

  • You see it’s a busy city; lot’s of people, lot’s of traffic
  • And of people get moved around by public transportation
  • It’s a mix of Chinese and English by the looks of the commercial signs
  • And by the looks of the signs themselves, also a very commercial city
  • The pedestrians show it’s a multicultural city
  • It’s also a quite organized city, if you look at all the yellow street marks
  • And last but not least, the double decker bus reveals this city has a British past

Easy, right? If you look closer you discover a lot of attributes that identify a city. It makes you look at city streets in different ways.

Next to Hong Kong I did two other Asian cities.


China town, Bangkok

At first hand this city might look like a Chinese city, but by watching twice it’s clearly not. It’s clearly Thai:

  • Yes, it looks Chinese, but that’s one of the characteristics of Bangkok. It has a lot of Chinese influence, and ofcourse it’s because this is in Bangkok’s China town
  • Seeing a Tuk-Tuk is clearly saying ‘You’re in Bangkok’
  • The Thai letters give away this is Thailand. However, if you don’t know Thai it’s hard to see, I guess
  • The people on the photo here are not really recognizable, but trust me they looked Thai
  • The traffic looks quite organized. Ok, there is some chaos in the city traffic, but it’s controlled chaos. And this picture resembles it perfectly, I think
  • Commerciallity. Bangkok has a lot these sign boards. Khao San Road is a street like that and als China town is full of signs

Now I think twice this photo could also maybe be of a Chinese city with a ‘Thai town’

Phnom Penh

Kandal Market, Phnom Penh

Street scene in Phnom Penh – capital of Camodia – near Kandal market. It’s a city still in rebuild after the disastrous policies of Pol Pot that made it a ghost town in the 70’s. Nowadays there’s hustle and bustle again and a lot of construction work being done, but the city still trying to find back it’s soul. And this picture says it all:

  • Buildings that look as if they survived a war
  • New buildings rising
  • Market hustle and bustle
  • Dirty unorganized mess. Things are thrown on the street, it doesn’t look very clean
  • Powerlines that don’t seem very safe
  • Commercialism, but not very professional
  • Scooters!
  • Improvisation. Look at the market stalls, the parasols, the carts, canvases covering the market. I think improvisation is key in these countries though

Now you do it!

There are probably lot’s more things to discover the identity of a city with. Try it out yourself!

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