Lost for choice in HK

Trip Start Oct 08, 2007
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92
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Trip End Dec 16, 2008


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Flag of China  ,
Monday, June 30, 2008

I have two books and two of The Economist. I don't know which one to start reading. I don't read at all. I wander aimlessly in Hong Kong. That is the problem with the big cities - too many options, and the easiest one is to go shopping. In my case (in which I have to carry everything I buy in my backpack) I stick to buying food - eggs benedict, croissants, chocolate cakes, popcorn, and coffee, coffee, coffee... Actually, let me take this back - it is not the options that bother me. It is the too many temptations that you have to resist - buy this, eat that, drink, smoke, be young, be sexy, live luxuriously...and every each one of them comes with a promise of eternal happiness. That is, only after the magic ritual of swiping of plastic has been performed. In matter of hours, I feel like my enlightened state of being has been emptied of content and the empty space (because the Nature doesn't like empty spaces) has been filled in with neon lights and advertising.
 
First day in HK - Starbucks and chocolate cake, new lens for my camera, movie and popcorn. The movie is "Sex and the City". While I'm munching on my sickening sweet caramel popcorn, a strange thought emerges in the back of my infected brain - maybe I don't miss New York that much anymore. This is most troublesome. My very self has been tested in this trip. The where I'm from, the what I do, even the name I answer to. The last thing I really know for sure is that New York is my favorite place on Earth. Or is it? I comfort myself that I don't need to worry about this now, as I shall soon find out.
 
I've been in Hong Kong before. One year ago to be precise. I had room with a view in the Four Seasons then. On the eight floor. Jetlagged, I'd stand by the window in 3 am and watch the postcard quality view of Victoria Harbor and the twinkling lights Kowloon beyond that. Expats call Kowloon the "dark side", because it is more Chinese than Western. For a dark side it is pretty well illuminated, or at least it looks that way from my window on the eight floor. All I can think about in this ungodly hour is do I really want to move here.
 
Fast forward a year, for it went really fast. I am staying in Kowloon, in a room that is the size of my bed, and the view from the tiny window is towards the back alley. It is a real bonus that I have a window actually, because the AC aint working and it is 300C and humid. Ironically, the hostel is called Fore Seasons and it sprawls over the eight floor of one of those illuminated buildings in Kowloon that looks much less glamorous from up close. So do the occupants. I feel like in a refugee camp. In a way I probably am. There are people of all shades of black and brown, wearing ethnic outfits and heavy looks. There is also a restaurant on the 8th floor, just by the entrance of my guest house. It offers "halal" middle eastern cuisine, but it is for members only, so I have to find my food somewhere else. Every time I go in and out of the building someone offers me a knock-off bag or a tailor-made suit. I actually start liking Hong Kong. It seems a lot less shopping-mall happy-hour Disneyland and a lot more human. Even the tackiness of all the neon lights does not bother me. But am I sorry for not spending this past year in an AC'ed office in HK instead of traveling the world. Ha!

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