Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears,
Happy New Year! It is the year of the snake, which is very auspicious for those of us born in 1989, or every 12 years before or after that. Now off to the real blog post…
Sitting on a bench listening to a mix of Bob Dylan and Mumford and Sons looking out over Victoria Harbour to Kowloon, it is easy to capture the magnitude and chaotic order that is Hong Kong. Historic Star Ferries come and go carrying people to and from Kowloon and the surrounding islands amidst cruise ships and freighters.
Hong Kong has a very interesting mix of its colonial history and its booming present as the center of East Asian finance. One can slip from streets filled with New Years celebrants to the quiet solitude of Hong Kong park in a matter of seconds to look at a surprising large collection of birds in their aviary. Sitting on the steps of one of the many Gucci or Rolex stores on the weekends are dozens of Filipino women who are enjoying their day off from house cleaning because they live in their employers homes. Sitting behind a Chinese-theme village and on top of a souvenir shop is the Big Buddha on Lantao Island. It is a city that seems to be at odds, but works. The one thing that I noticed was that there was very little Asian or Chinese about it, other than the mass of people.
I am not terribly religious person at this juncture in my life, but visiting the Big Buddha and having the sensory overload of massive amounts of incense burning both eyes and nose, the monks chanting their sutras was a very spiritual experience. Having all of your sense bombarded really allows you to empty your head and be present in the moment and contemplate your place in the world.
Overall, it was a very good but tiring due the jet lag. One of the interesting was a very early morning walk and subsequent losing of myself at 4:30 in the morning of my first night there. I could not sleep and so I decided to get out and see how the city starts up in the morning and see the sunrise on Mt. Victoria. I got lost and could not find the mountain, but I did get to see a very unique Hong Kong that was mostly absent of people.
Travelling, and consequently walking everywhere, has made me realize two major things. First, I am sorely out of shape. This will be remedied by having a training partner for a half marathon the Great Wall in May. Second, wearing new shoes for the first time while walking around 10-15 miles a day leads to many blisters. Don’t do it.
To quote the ever-quotable Darjeeling Limited, “I want us to be completely open and say yes to everything, even if its shocking and painful. Can we agree to that?”
Peace, Love, and the American Way,
The Little Bear