It's the Final Countdown...

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
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Trip End Ongoing


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Monday, June 5, 2006

As I pen this entry, I'm overwhelmed by a decent wave of bittersweet. I can't believe I'm leaving China. In some senses, I feel like I've been here forever. It's incredible how quickly you adapt to a place and how familiar you become with a certain way of living in such a short space of time. Don't get me wrong - the excitement of the World Cup is all pervasive at the moment, as is the craving for some decent red wine and beer that grows day by day. But the incredible excitement of travelling in China (or perhaps just travelling) has this splendid ability to make everything amazing; to be happy and inspired despite weariness, an absence of money and friends, broken hearts and without a bed to rest. China isn't really what I thought it would be at all. THe reasons for this I can't articulate, but suffice to say that it is so much more than I hoped and expected. Hong Kong has been the rich icing on the multi-layered, diverse and ever-fascinating cake.

In my last few days in China, I've done all those friendly weather things that I undertook to do last entry, albeit in not so fantastic weather. On reflection, they act as a perfect summary of a trip just concluding. Firstly, out on Lantau Island, there's this thing commonly called the Big Buddha, an appropriate name if a little lacking in innovation. It's a fucking big bronze seated Buddha. In fact, might I add, it's the biggest fucking outdoor big bronze seated Buddha in the entire world, although one wonders how many outdoor big bronze seated Buddhas there are in the world anyway. What more can I say? It's not bad. Actually, it's pretty cool. I can tell you that, as I climbed through the mist and reached the top of the large staircase to the Buddha, my reaction was "Wow - It's a really big seated bronze Buddha". The mystical romance of the Big Fat Seated Outdoor Bronze Buddha was enhanced significantly by the amazing thick mist enveloping the whole of the peak upon which the biggest outdoor bronze seated Buddha in the world sits. At times, you could only see the faint silhouette of the Big Buddha, presenting a hand gesture that, in the western world at least, means "up yours". I've seen no shortage of Buddhas on this trip. Mini ones. Big ones. Ones with heads. Ones without heads. Fat ones. Skinny ones. Mildly overweight ones. Ones that you can tell are big boned but do a lot of work to keep their slender appearance. Seated ones. Standing ones. Let me tell you that this is the first really damn big outdoor seated bronze Buddha. Reasonably impressive. Buddha has been ever present during my time in China - appropriate then that the trip conclude with a silly big Buddha sighting.

I've been waiting all week for the mist above Hong Kong to clear. It hasn't. It never did and I doubt that it ever will. I actually suspect that it could be painted on. Despite the fog, I decided to climb the famous Victoria Peak. Victoria Peak towers over the skyscrapers in Central Hong Kong - y'know that peak that you can see dramatically rising behind the Hong Kong skyline in all the photos? Anyway, apparently, from the top, the peak provides a spectacular elevated view over the skyline and the harbour. Apparently I say because, on this day, you could see fuck all. Nothing. Mist as thick as a rugby player's neck stretching as far as can be seen everywhere. And thus, no spectacular photos. A major disappointment indeed. However, this disappointment was quelled somewhat by a visit to the newly opened Madame Tussaud's wax museum on top of the peak. Fun. The details can be spared but suffice to say that I look fucking sensational in a Marilyn Monroe dress and wig.

My last few days in Hong Kong were epitomised by long nights and rendezvouss' with my much missed friends - chasiu bao, siomai, hagau, chi chong fun. How I will miss them in the fair land of sausages and beer. Hopefully, Cathay Pacific will briefly reunite us. A trip to Stanley to complete the remembrance tour, Famke Janssen in X-Men 3, the refreshingly breezy afternoon by the Hong Kong Convention and exhibition Centre and a chance encounter with a digital piano at the Hong Kong Central Library complete the highlights of my final days in Hong Kong. I will note that, after other parts of China, I have expressed my hope that I will return. In relation to Hong Kong, there is no doubt - I shall be back.

And so, to the final Top 5 of China. Well, at the beginning of this trip, I recall talking some bullshit about trying to find my roots etc wank wank. I thought that I should at least to those issues at some point, having had the time to reflect. So, for the final Top 5 in CHina, I present the Top 5 self-revelations during my time in China.

5. I have genetic programming to blame (and this probably applies to Irene too) for some of my more questionable musical tastes.

4. Fuck I'm good looking...

3. 1 in 5 Chinese think I'm Japanese; 2 in 3 Japanese think I'm Chinese; 4 in 5 Koreans think I'm Korean; 1 in 10000 Chinese think I'm Thai; 0 in 1.4 billion CHinese think I'm Australian; 0 in 1.4 billion Chinese understand when I say I am from Australia (but... you look Chinese?)

2. No matter how Chinese I may look; no matter how long I spend in CHina; no matter how much I come to understand CHina, I know I'll never quite be Chinese.

1. I love China even more than I thought I would.

Having reflected on this entry, I note - indeed - quite an introspective entry - Germany will not be the same, I promise).

Germany awaits. C'mon the Socceroos.
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