The density of experience in my 5 minute commute from the apartment to campus is astonishing. The intense use of space, the selling of everything from great fruit to food to bicycle repair to food to Chinese welfare office to herbal healing to food to hair salon to clothes store to market to seamstress ... is dense and varied.
I have walked or ridden my bike down this alley maybe 10 or 15 times and each time it is new and nearly impossible to take it all in. People playing cards, eating, and just moving through. Bikes, scooters, an audi or new chinese car or Land Rover and lots of walkers all merge seamlessly making way for everyone else.
3 or 4 story apartments, next to 35 story (like mine) , new old and in-between. Not one thing but many, not one type of anything, both and all co-exist. The scale is low, intimate, humane. Tall buildings are accents at edges, not continuous at all. Interestingly, given the dense tree cover, many of the taller buildings disappear in the canopy. And given the heat, any shade they provide is most welcome. One of my students said they just discovered a 30 story building on his walk after 2 weeks that he never even knew was there! It is in fact a very livable and social space. And extremely walkable. A car is too big, too fast, too disconnected form the life of the street. It is the dance of life writ full.