I recently decided that it would be better for me personally to be poor and unemployed in Hong Kong than to be poor and unhappily employed in New York. Very fond though I was of the company I worked for and the people I worked with I felt ready to move on to different things. As for life in New York in general of late, I felt there was none. I lived in a part of Brooklyn comparable to isle of Elba, where Napoleon spent his final days. Not because my neighbors spoke French. They didn't. More the exile part. I rarely saw my rommmate, never saw my friends, and I hadn't written anything worth the ink it was printed with in nearly a year. I needed a change. Perhaps moving 8,000 miles across the earth is a bit drastic for such a change, but I already had the ticket.
My girlfriend, Renee, moved here in May for work and my initial plan for a 2 week visit, easily converted into a three month extended stay, complete with plans to travel around the Eastern world. When I looked at my reasons for coming back and reasons for not coming back, it was fairly easy. And now, I'm here... (fade to white)
It was a long flight. Sixteen hours and the sun never set. We flew over the North Pole, which I didn't think you could do. There were many Chinese people on the flight. Way more than the British Airways flight that left from the gate next to ours.jj
Economy class is tight. Less room than a Greyhound bus really. But you can drink, though I only had a glass or two of wine to help me sleep. I had sprained my wrist somehow a day or two before and used the complimentary socks to wrap the injured limb. Boy Scout mentality to make due with what you have.
Renee was waiting for me at the gate, maybe 4 exits away from the plane area, as close as non-passengers are allowed to get. It is a strange and intricate process to re-establish a relationship that has essentially been put on hold, dramatically changed, for the last thre months. A long separation of brief phone calls, and occassional long phone calls, it's more a process of retraining your own mind and actions/reactions to a person. It's something that takes some time, and I'm sure it will take a little while to completely re-establish those parameters.
After some re-establishing, we went to Wan Chai Shek (I think), the big nightlife area, to meet some of Renee's friends, holding going away drinks for one of their coworkers. This girl was hammered when I got there, but everyone was very nice. We met them on the 30th floor of some building, in a resstaurant. The Hong Kong skyline is incredible and this was my first glimpse, seen from the middle of it. You see it from everywhere, whether you are in the midst of it or somewhere a few miles away. I've been assured that while it is stunning, seeing it everyday, it loses it's impact.
The next day was Saturday. I slept until 3 PM, got up showered and then napped until 5. I guess that's jetlag. We got up again and walked to the zoo next to her apartment. Free of charge and it was awesome. Animals and such. We walked around the city a bit, saw the markets, stores, and restaurants. Then it was time for the junk boat trip. They pick you up at a pier and take you out to the river beween Hong Kong Island and Kowloon at about 7:45 PM. Then something magical happens.
Putting itself on display for all the world to see, every night- every single night of the year- the buildings of the Hong Kong skyline put on a synchronized light show. Music blasting from the ship's speakers, the announcer introduces each building like a band leader introducing the members. Each building stepping forward, lighting up and flashing right on cue, doing a solo, then falling back in line for the next building to have it's shining moment.
The boat trip is a particularly good idea because the show is comprised of buildings on both sides of the river, a veritible battle of lights. On the water, there is no "You've got the land, but we've got the view" type problems. After the introductions, they just go at it like a carnival lighting up neon and irridescent bulbs 100 stories in the air. Flaring and dilating pupils enough to give any unexpecting bystander seizures.
Flashing lights are par for the course, but each side of the river has it's trump cards. Hong Kong Island has a few buildings that busts out lazer beams shooting here and there. Only the sound effects need to be added by the viewer for a real War of the Worlds/Death Star type fantasy experience. The Kowloon side goes the more traditional route, launching fireworks from boats in the harbor. It is a serious battle and I think everyone wines. Every single night.
This was followed by a fabulous dinner on the 28th floor of a riverview restaurant, overlooking the city. We had pigeon, served with the head still on. Take that New York's flying rats. After dinner we walked around a few shady bootleg markets and went home.
**I am only halfway through what I have written and I feel this is already longer than most attention spans can deal with. Perhaps I'm wrong but I'm going to make this volume 1 so as not to overwhelm people. Coming soon... Volume 2...