Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Testosterone Tale: A Day in Hong Kong

My short rendezvous with Hong Kong is almost over. I sit at HKG eating dimsum, sipping jasmine tea, waiting for Air Asia to update which gate I'll be boarding for my flight to Bangkok.

I came to Hong Kong with no expectations. To be honest, of all the places I was going to visit on this trip, Hong Kong was the one I was least stoked about. Coming here though, I will say I am impressed. Not pleasantly or massively, just impressed. It has the functionality and efficiency that I wasn't expecting to find. The subway and rail systems, along with its streets, are easily navigable it's almost unnecessary to rely on another human being for help with directions. Which is great because not very many people I have encountered speak English. Not that I expect them to. (But okay, it would have been nice). Despite the thick throng of people everywhere, the chaos was contained. Everyone knew their place. No one disrupts the pace. On the subway, nobody hardly ever talked as if there's some unwritten rule not to, well, disturb the peace and quiet. I was being extra careful not to trip over myself or my bags because if I do, especially in one of the gazillion escalators, I cannot promise you I will not be annihilated. There's no PDA, and although you are physically in close proximity to people a lot, your internal personal space is never intruded. They aren't a loud bunch. Walking to the subways, only one can audibly hear is the sound of expensive shoes marching in syncopy. It was too orchestrated.

The city was clean. Despite the incessant activity, the streets were clear of garbage, litter and homelessness. People were dressed fashionably, which is expected of one of the fashion hubs of Asia. I do have concerns though about how they can stand wool, layers, scarves and tall boots in 70 degree weather and 80% humidity. I had a light jacket on not because I needed to but because when in Rome, you have to do as the Romans do. But half an hour into it after walking and catching subways, I was sweltering. The jacket must go. F Romans.

The other silent rule was you do not sneeze in public, especially NOT the subway. I have written before that in NYC, when you sneeze in the subway, nobody looks at you nor says "bless you". In Hong Kong, when you sneeze in the subway, they reach for the mask in their purse and move away from you.

I don't think it's quite the language barrier that is the culprit for people's aloofness. They exhibit a distance, some kind of coldness (well, except for the sales ladies at the Ladies' Market, but then they want something from you). They are polite, yes. They will try to give you directions and tell you which way to swipe your MTR card, but don't expect them to look you in the eye and punctuate that with a smile. People don't stare here. Because of this, I felt safer, invisible I didn't even have to carry the pepper spray the Colonel advised me to pack. People, for the most part, just care about their own business.

And walking around the corporate district of Hong Kong Island and I understood why. These people have shit to do. They have important lives and careers. They don't have time or energy to waste on obsessing about where you are from, how much money you make compared to how much they make, and how you arrived at your fashion choices that day. I wonder if this is the collective Buddhist in them activating here - things just are, get on with it.

An afterthought. Is it coincidence that they wear heavy clothing in the "wintertime" because they are "cold"?

The business district was none like I have ever seen. The skyscrapers were gleaming and enormous - and they were endless. It smelled so much of testosterone - power, strength, dominance, ruthlessness, and some kind of invulnerability. Back in the US, there is endless talk about the economic slump, but you look around here and it is astounding that they it seems like they are exempt from that crisis (I'm not an economist - just an observer). They were still building and erecting sksyscrapers (how many do you need?). Life is pulsating in the shops which pepper the entire city.

Last night, I took the ferry from Hong Kong Island to the Kowloon Peninsula. The skyline, especially at night, was breathtaking. I try not to think about how much energy is expended to light up the harbor because if I do, I will not stand a chance of enjoying it at all. So I hush that voice and and just take it in. On my stroll on the Promenade that afternoon, they were playing salsa music. On my way back that night, a live orchestra was playing Christmas carols. Finally. Something nice to remember Hong Kong by. That, Yoga with the Master Yogananth Andiappan, and a nice little red cheongsam.

I finish this blog post on the plane to Bangkok. I forced msyelf to because once I get to Bangkok, I intend to be away from the computer, and I'm afraid that Bangkok will completely overshadow Hong Kong into oblivion. Not that it was a terrible experience. Not at all. Hong Kong is like that good looking, successful man in a three-piece suit with an, extremely dry sense of humor. He's stiff and a little too cold for my taste. Some like their noodles cold. I like mine hot. He's the kind you would talk to if you sat next to him on the plane due to sheer boredom, the kind you would allow to buy you drinks, but the kind you will never sleep with.


P.S. Pictures to follow.

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