The wifi in the marina is pretty unstable, and I have a lot of high bandwidth projects that need to get done.Â As such, my last chore on the shaky wifi was to find an Internet cafÃ© that I can walk to.Â The closest was in the Sydney neighborhood called Kings Cross, which is the red light district.Â This part of town is on a fairly large hill, so historically, wealthy settlers moved up the ridge away from the city slums and waterfront squalor.Â Kings Cross developed into a pretty snazzy neighborhood, but as always, slums spread and the rich migrate to the suburbs.Â By the 1920s, Kings Cross earned a bohemian reputation providing safe haven for artists, immigrants, and drifters.Â Pubs, clubs and cabarets started to spring up, and by the 1970s, Kings Cross was a seedy and crime-ridden combination of drug addicts, mob bosses, and prostitutes.Â
These days, Kings Cross has been cleaned up quite a bit, and appears to be trending upward.Â The iconic symbol of the neighborhood is the huge glowing Coca-Cola sign at the intersection of William and Victoria.Â While there are some sketchy pockets, I found the Cross to be very “seedy chic” and pretty much safe in a “just keep your wits about you” way.Â There are lots of shady bars, sex shops, massage parlors, and of course, strip clubs, and several are quite humorous … Two Hands Required, the Bada Bing, the Pleasure Chest, the Landing Strip.Â One displays a banner out front proclaiming “No NRL Players Allowed.”Â The NRL is rugby league, and many rugby league players are notoriously badly behaved while fans and management look the other way.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of street people just milling around.Â There’s no mistaking the drug-addicted prostitutes who hook to support their habit … they are very haggard, bruised and battered, and frequently heartbreakingly young.
There’s the occasional odd ray of hope in Kings Cross as well.Â There’s a former drug addict turned street-cleaning janitor who walks Darlinghurst Road everyday bidding “G’day” to everyone and tending to those in need.Â There’s the famous Russian hawker at one club who has been greeting customers at the door and protecting the strippers employed there for over 30 years.Â There’s the alcoholic who sits at the bus stop on the corner of Darlinghurst and Bayswater every single day screaming four-letter-word insults at passersby.Â Okay, that’s not the greatest example.Â Nevertheless, the Kings Cross neighborhood appears to be improving with the appearance of higher end establishments catering to a normal crowd (restaurants, grocery stores, etc.), rather than the street crowd (strip clubs, massage parlors, etc.).