So I’m lying across a massive double bed, typing on my laptop in the semi darkness of a subtly lit room at the Hilton hotel, in Sydney’s CBD. The music channel on the widescreen LCD tv in the corner fills in the silence that would otherwise deafen me.
It’s 10 o’clock at night, and I’m in town for a Citrix conference about Xen. It’s the first time I’ve spent a night in Sydney’s CBD, despite residing in this city for nearly all my life. It’s the first time I’ve gone away with just one backpack to store all my clothes and gadgets. And it’s the first time I’ve just spent half an hour wandering around this city that never sleeps, looking for a place to eat, before walking into a nearly empty sushi bar.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve eaten sushi before. But I’ve never had the nerve to sit down at a sushi bar, selecting various example of Japanese cuisine almost entirely at random, and enjoying the delicious newness to be found therein. I’m not entirely sure what I ate tonight, although I did recognise the calamari rings, and the salmon nigiri. What I do know is that the randomness, and the bursts of virgin flavour in my mouth, were received with joy and surprise.
I have discovered that Sydney is transformed into an entirely different place after dark. The view out the two narrow, tall windows of my room encompasses centrepoint tower, as well as various high rise office buildings lit in varying colours. The people on the street are similarly different from those I’m used to. Gone are the business professionals in their dark coloured power suits, scurrying to the next important meeting, the scores of people surrounding nearly every coffee shop, seeking the next burst of energy-inducing caffeine.
Instead, the street level is the domain of the young, the energetic, the adventurous. Instead of coffee ships, people linger outside cinemas, bars, and video game arcades. Crowds of friends laugh and chatter excitedly as they migrate from place to place. Uni students doing the week’s shopping at the local Asian grocery store, filled with multitudes of items, incomprehensibly labelled in various non-English languages. Couples stroll hand in hand, or perhaps enjoy a romantic dinner for two at a small cafe.
All in all, life is quite different at night here in Sydney. It remains to be seen whether this is merely an artefact of the weekend, or normal for this time of night.