Walking, Exploring, Perceiving

When I was attending a meditation class several nights ago, my new friend was surprised to find me walking for 1.5 hours to reach the meditation venue, from South Station to Cambridge. That was just 4 miles-ish, and for me that was a completely “normal” route. I do love walking when I have the time. For me, walking means a lot of things. It is my way to clear my head, to solve my problems and put things into perspective, to calm my self, to explore a city, to perceive the spirit of a society or neighborhood.

Sadly Kudus (my hometown), Yogyakarta (the city where I pursued my bachelor degree) and Jakarta (the capital city where I worked before) are not a place for walker. So does any other cities in Indonesia. I remember those many weekends in Tokyo where I walked aimlessly for hours. My favorite tracks are from Shibuya-Omotesando-Harajuku, from Otemachi-Ochanomizu-Nezu, from Horikirishobuen-Arakawa riverside-Senjuohashi, from Shirokanedai-Ebisu-Shibuya, from Azabujuban to Hiroo, and from Nippori to Ueno.

Walking is also my traveling style. During this past month, I’ve been traveling to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Utah + Arizona for the Canyons and Horseshoe Bend, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Acadia and Portland. To the exclusion of the last two cities where we rented a car, I’ve mainly taken time to explore several neighborhoods of a city on foot.

As I’ve mentioned before, that’s how I get the spirit or color of a city. Walking makes you able to point the difference between, say, The Strip and Old Strip in Vegas, or Hollywood, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills in LA, or to conclude that San Francisco has such a huge homeless problems–more intense even as compared to NY. I was so surprised to find many aggressive homeless people in SF, who oftentimes approached me (and many other passer-by) and asked for change money. Although I also met homeless people in LA and NY (and less homeless in Boston and Las Vegas), they didn’t approach me like how they did in SF. SF’s downtown (Financial District, South Market, Tenderloin, Ellis street area) is packed with homeless people. And because SF is relatively smaller, it seems like the city is really really packed with homeless people.

So yes, walking makes you notice the small little details that you most probably won’t notice if you’re on the car or trains or bike. And thus it also gets you to amazing places–the hidden gems of the city!

West Hollywood: up to date is my favorite neighborhood in all over US. I like how homy and friendly the neighborhood is. Most of the houses have small garden and only use low-fence, or no fence at all. For me, the “low or no fence style” is an enough hint that they feel comfortable to trust one another.

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