Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Sep 23 2001

I don’t know why, but typhoons seem to be pouring …

I don’t know why, but typhoons seem to be pouring out of the pacific ocean like those chocolate candies on the conveyer belt in that I Love Lucy episode. We got back to Taipei last night, and today the wind and rain are beating at my window once again due to another typhoon churning between us and the Philippines. They say the weather is only going to get worse. Work could feasibly be cancelled again tomorrow and/or the next day. I haven’t been to work in a whole week now. Garbage is still piled in the muddy streets from the last typhoon.

But back to my vacation in Hong Kong. I met my former co-worker Will in Wanchai later on after the last entry. Will is from Scotland and now works as an editor for an interior design magazine. He lives in a tiny little room in Causeway Bay. We went to a restaurant called “The World of Suzie Wong” or something similarly insipid, where we chatted about living in Hong Kong as I fished portions of insect anatomy out of my ginger ale. Later on we went to a loud sports bar that had a floor composed of mounds of peanut shells, as the typhoon gusted outside. Will seems a little frustrated with his job, as he isn’t terribly interested in interior design, and the pay isn’t that spectacular. I can definitely sympathize.

The weather on Friday was kind of windy and rainy due to the last typhoon sweeping through on its way to mainland China. I took the waved-tossed ferry over to Hong Kong island and wandered around Pacific Place for a while, bought some lunch and took it up to Hong Kong park to eat. I had no idea what else to do, so I took the tram up to Victoria Peak and walked around the nature path up there. The storm clouds were at eye level up there, blowing right by with surprising speed, and hardly anyone was about due to the wind and rain. The path itself was deserted, but I was amused by a sign about dangerous pedestrians. On my way around I passed a deserted mansion with an incredible view. That area is full of an absurd amount of absurdly rich people, seemingly all heavy-set middle-aged white women with small dogs. Their estates were walled off, and even the water meters were wrapped in barbed wire.

When I got back to the tram station I called my friend Dave, who used to work with me at the newspaper. He’s at the Asian Wall Street Journal now. He said to come over, so I took the tram back down the mountain and then one of those double decker trams over to Kennedy Town where he has a nice apartment with a view. He had a few drinks before heading out on a long quest for Peel Street in Central, where, according to myth, there was a Spanish restaurant where Dave’s friend and co-worker Miguel, a large, friendly guy from New York, was waiting for us. Eventually we found the place, which oozed trendiness to such a degree we required napkins. After we finished eating Miguel got a phone call from a slightly asthmatic woman who needed her inhaler, which for some reason was in Miguel’s posession. We walked over hill and down dale to the Fringe Club, which I kept mishearing as the French Club, where we found the remnants of a crowd enjoying the cool night on the roof. Among these were the asthmatic woman and Michael, a co-worker of Dave’s and Miguel’s who reminds me vaguely of Jack from Will and Grace.

We decided to go out to Sheung Wan to the Rice Bar, a small but nice place, with trendy stools and actual rice under the glass bartop. We had several rounds of drinks and talked amid the steadily growing crowd while Michael played eye-tag with various guys across the room. Then Dave, Michael and I went to Works, at the site of the old Propaganda was. More drinks ensued, but it was crushingly crowded. There wasn’t even room to move, much less dance, so Dave and I went to the new Propaganda. Still more drinks, and by this time I was quite drunk. We hung around the dance floor until they started playing decent music, but they never did so we just got so drunk we would dance to anything. I haven’t danced in ages. It was a lot of fun, but I was pretty tired and woozy by around 3 a.m., so I left Dave on the dance floor and made my way out to the street after forgetting my bag and having to go back for it.

My head was buzzing and my knees were achy from all of the dancing. The reason for this is that when I dance I don’t do much more than jump up and down while doing Tai-chi exercises with my hands. I stumbled down the stone steps through narrow, winding streets to the nearest ATM to get money for a cab back to my hotel. The first one I found couldn’t make a connection with my bank back in Taiwan. Neither could the next one. Neither could any of the ATMs in Central, or in Hong Kong, apparently. I am definitely going to have some words with my bank tomorrow, if they’re open.

In the end I flagged down a taxi and said “Take me as far towards Tsim Sha Tsui as you can for HK$72.” That got me through the tunnel across the harbor but not much further, so I walked the remaining distance to my hotel. I tried not to appear drunk as I picked up my key from the front desk, but I’m sure they’re used to drunk guests. A strong hot shower, air conditioning, fresh sheets and towels all laid out…seldom have these things felt so wonderful.

We had to check out by noon, so I forced myself out of bed at around 11:45 to find a beautiful sunny day outside. I stuck all of my stuff into my backpack and headed out to the harbor front to enjoy the weather. Once there I called up a guy I’ve been chatting with on ICQ recently. Communication instantly became a problem, however, since he doesn’t speak much Mandarin and I don’t know much Cantonese. When we were chatting it didn’t matter, since we both know Chinese characters, but when on the phone we found that we couldn’t actually communicate verbally. A few minutes after hanging up in frustration, his friend, who knows a bit of Mandarin, called up and arranged for us to meet in Causeway Bay at 3 p.m.

Being short on money due to my card’s inability to negotiate with ATMs in Hong Kong, I took the ferry to Wanchai and walked over to the Mitsukoshi across the road from Sogo, where I waited for Kevin, my ICQ friend. He turned up about 15 minutes late, and handed me a tiny bag with his picture and a new leather wallet inside. I tried to tell him he shouldn’t be giving me things like that, but he wouldn’t take it back. We went downstairs for a drink and tried to communicate by writing characters on a piece of paper, but it didn’t go so well, so we went to meet Kevin’s friend, the one who could speak Mandarin, at a nearby mall.

Kevin’s friend’s name is Lawrence. He is about my height and is in dire need of braces for his teeth. He acted as an interpreter between Kevin and I, but in all honesty I have to say I like Lawrence better than Kevin. Not that I could have any kind of relationship with either one of them, or anyone else in Hong Kong, for that matter, but Kevin seemed to think we were involved in some sort of relationship already, which I find a bit disconcerting.

I bought an Attar action figure at one of the toy stores in the mall, since I think Attar rocks, even if Planet of the Apes wasn’t exactly the best movie I’ve ever seen. Kevin paid for it, even through I could have used my credit card, but he wouldn’t have any of my protests. We took a tram back to Wanchai and then took the ferry back to Tsim Sha Tsui, where I took some more pictures of the Hong Kong skyline across the harbor before returning to my hotel, where the bus to the airport was waiting. I felt bad saying good-bye to Kevin and Lawrence, who stood by the bus waving at me until we drove off. The flight back was packed with old businessmen. There was a bit of turbulence and a bad meal on the way, but thankfully nothing more eventful than that.

Every time I go to Hong Kong I wonder about actually moving there and living there full time. It seems so much more intense than Taipei, so much more international and three-dimensional in so many ways. After all, I’ve lived in Taiwan for so long, maybe a change of venue would do me good. If I could get a job similar to Dave’s, ensuring that I would have enough money to live fairly comfortably, I think I would give it a shot. Of course I would like to get my book finished first, and preferably get my next film project done as well, but I could get that done no matter where I lived. I have more resources and am more familiar with things here in Taiwan, but in Hong Kong I could buy a decent-sized motorcycle. Hmmm….

posted by Poagao at 8:49 am  

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