Monday, July 7, 2008
Caught an afternoon ferry from Macua to Kowloon...walked the wide streets to Chungking mansion where I got a room for $150 (ten pounds), on the fifth floor. The single lift serviced the seperately owned hotels on each floor and therefore was incredibly slow. Queues of people, sometimes thirty or more, waited on the ground. People from every continent searched the markets stalls. Taylors, Indian take-aways, porn movie stands. Many just stood around, time on their hands, living in this conglomerate of opportunities.
After easing my backpack off my shoulders and lying for some moments on the bed, wishing I had air-conditioning and a view, I got up and wandered the avenue of stars. Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee were among the heroes remembered in statue. Other legends of Hong Kong cinema I didn't recognize. I caught the tail end of the nightly light show over and above the skyscrapers on Victoria Island. Classical music blarred from speakers along the promenade, enhancing the visual display. I remembered a budding photo journalist I'd met in Longsheng saying to me that the view from Kowloon across the harbour was one of the wonders of the world. It was serene. The people here were predominantly tourists, like myself, and we took in the beauty in mostly hushed voices, dampened anyway by the water sounds and the chug of old boats. Couples canoodled on benches.
While in Hong Kong I visited victoria peak, on victoria island, which over-looks the man-made erections. I had a few drinks in Kong Kwai, a touristy bar district. The trip across the harbour which I did many times was enjoyable. The breeze blowing into my face. Wetness from the machine made surf. The people in happy mood. Heat eased as we rode the constantly stirred waters.
One night I went for some drinks on kowloon. After twenty minutes three middle aged western men walked in. They introduced themselves to me. Guys on an english teaching holiday. One told me he came every year. We played darts together and got quickly inebriated, mixing our drinking of pints with a glass of whisky and green tea, the passion of the canadian. Soon I was left with the englishman and he said he'd take me to a karaoke bar. I scoughed the free mixed raisin and nuts and sang away.
We went on to some other bars. A live band was playing. I danced away and my one night friend left. At one moment the lead singer saw me singing along and pushed the mic into my face. I blasted it fully with the air from my lungs and the spit of my mouth. Later, slave to the moment, I pulled the mic close again, a look of surprise on the singers face. The idea of karaoke fixed in my drunken mind.
Stanley, on Victoria island was a nice seaside town, with a street market and a beach. Along the promenade at night, jazz played and fat toursists ate western burger and chips and swigged beer. On the bus there I sat next to a philipino middle aged woman who told me where to get off. Her friendliness and smile cheered me.