Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Nov 20 2010

Hong Kong, day 2

The backs of the buildings facing our room were bathed in a hazy yet unmistakable tinge of sunshine when I drew back the curtains this morning. Breakfast at a nearby place was an egg sandwich and almost undrinkably bitter milk tea from the steamy kitchen that faced the street.

We wandered through some alleys, to the still-closed shops downstairs at the Mirador Mansions where I used to stay. Nobody offered to sell me any suits or watches or anything else, which happened quite a lot the last I was in Hong Kong with Dean.

I grew quite familiar with Kowloon Park during my time in Hong Kong, and walking through it kept bringing back little memories of various corners of the park I used to haunt during the days I was off work in mainland China, and later as a stateless person. The empty pools, children in uniforms, old men sleeping on benches, a plethora of pigeons.

We walked across the bridge to the Royal Pacific, my home during my time at ES Originals. It had seemed to utterly luxurious when I first stayed there upon entering employment there, less so when I was recuperating (unsuccessfully) from knee surgery. We walked through the complex, stopping to take photos of workers throwing boxes at each other, and out onto the dock, where I took some shots of myself in the mirror. That is the tradition. Hopefully they’ll come out. It wasn’t difficult to trick myself into thinking it was 1993 again, that I was off for another weekend in Hong Kong after working the Kaiping factory for a month. The ferries bustled in and out of port below, and one of the Star cuiseliners lay at a nearby berth. Hong Kong island seemed further away in the mist. I have to say I don’t like the new tall building, whatever it is. It interrupts the classical skyline.

We took the MTR to Sham Shui Po, where we met Shawn and the others under the overhanging signs amid the cloth shops. Lunch was at a street-side noodle shop and would have been delicious if I hadn’t accidentally ordered the ammonia-flavored noodles. Sean made up for this however, with an extremely sweet and delicious French toast-like confectionery.

Walking around some more brought to an old apartment building whose headstone read 1932. We hung around the front door until an elderly resident approached, and we conned him into letting us in. The inside looked as if nothing had been replaced since 1932. We climbed the steep wooden steps, the original tile floors covered with dust, to the oddly slanted rooftop, where, inexplicably, various old action movie VCDs lay tossed around. I imagine there’s a story behind this phenomenon, but I can’t think of what it might be.

The old gentleman who let us in came up and was chatting quite happily with Sean’s girlfriend Lily until I stuck the Invincible Rabbit in his face and took a picture. That was the end of that interview. Oh, well.

We took the MTR to Tin Hou, as I wanted to see the old hostel I stayed there when I became stateless. I spent the days then in Victoria Park, exercising and eating under trees while reading old sci-fi books I’d gotten at the used bookstore. We then walked over to Times Square and passed the Sogo where I’d caught my first glimpse of a DVD, playing A League of Their Own clips over and over again on a large screen. I remember being quite impressed with the 720×480 quality.

None of this had really changed. Not much has changed in Hong Kong, it seems upon a cursory inspection. It does seem markedly less British and more Chinese, more like Kuala Lumpur than before. The wifi in the park was spotty.

It was around then that I concluded it was no good trying to walk around reminiscing with a gang of bored friends in tow, and gave up on the whole thing. We passed a selection of mid-level gods under the overpass, all ready to do battle with various annoying individuals people wanted “taken care of” for a small fee. Among them was a small Monkey King statue. Figures.

We caught one of the double-decker trams headed west. What a neat way to travel, or it would be if we weren’t stuck behind a smoke-belching truck. Apparently you can rent them out for parties.

Pacific Place was just where I’d left it, though looking a bit more careworn, especially in light of malls like the one in Taipei 101. We took the escalator up to Hong Kong park, where Chenbl found fountain of fortune and made everyone look like idiots as we sat in front of it, scooping imaginary money into our laps.

I went on ahead a bit and sat down on the edge of the stairs leading out of the park, stairs that, one evening many years ago, witnessed a handsome young Hong Kong man seated on them having his photo taken with a disposable camera.

We wanted to go to the peak, but the tram line seemed much too long, so we spent half an hour trying to find a bus, and another half hour waiting for it to come, and another half hour getting up the hill. Much to Chenbl’s dismay, I used his shirt to wipe the window clean enough to see out of. It was night by the time we made it there, and the peak was cold and crowded.

After taking the usual shots, I tried to photograph one of the “professional” photographers, one of the guys who lines tourists up against the railing and shoots them with his D200s, but he wasn’t having any of it.

I was cold by dinner, served in a nearby restaurant. We decided to line up for the peak tram back down the mountain, though it was standing-room only and at times seemed almost vertical. Then we boarded one of the tourist buses that wound through downtown, and then a ferry back across the harbor to Kowloon. There nothing about any of that I don’t love.

Tomorrow afternoon we are thinking of going out to Da Ao, but we’ll just have to see what happens.

posted by Poagao at 2:23 am  

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