HK – take two

Even according to Wikipedia, Hong Kong is a disambiguation.

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Across the hilly streets in Central we lost the count of stairs and slopes. And it’s like a highway of things to watch and document about. American style bars, street markets, little sushi, international restaurant. And then tall, ruined buildings, that make your heart skip a beat when they let you peek through them: the sky white as a wall made of salt, a rare ray of light, another irresistible weird building hanging one after the other. We walked all along like a landslide, rushing our restless hearts to the next thing to see, to a discovery.

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We got stuck by the heat in a public garden along the fancy Hollywood Road, looking at the ladies and at this peculiar couple, two complete strangers who shared a bench without changing expression or interacting for more than 15 minutes. Fascinating scene.

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What strikes most maybe are the temples in the middle of the city. They are silent, almost surreal. Red and gold dominate the place. The smell on the air and the slow pace of prayers – repeat x3, I learnt- made me felt every time a humble piece of the jigsaw someone else was trying to do. There I remembered when child I was at church, and I had this naturally imposed silence during the Gospel.

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A change of plans is always on its way: call it fate, call it rain, call it HK. Walking ups and downs, the harbour is a precious shelter to sit down, look at the buildings switching their lights, putting up the show. Sunset, then Darkness came so early that we had just got used to breath and say “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” that with the big question spinning in my head ‘why do they use so so much diesel fuel everywhere? Maybe it’s the cure for my asthma’ it’s time to celebrate ourselves in a panorama bar.

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In the background Edith Piaf singing “La vie en rose”, I drink my cocktail and think that life can be beautiful, but sometimes is just beyond it. I surrender to HK and its power. Cheers.

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HK – take one

We will be landing soon, look out it’s very steamy outside.” So the captain said.

Steam. I instantaneously think of the industrial revolution, of dirty workers steering some steel bars, working on wool machine: steam clouds and Dickens’s miserable children are populating my imagination. I think I know what steam is, I have experienced it, it’s like humid, but more.

I was so wrong. Outside the airport the steamy weather, that incredible creature, punched me right there, a full fist of inexplicable, warm, wet ‘compactness’, something never felt before. It was like hitting an invisible wall every step taken. The steam was the imminent impact of the arrival, of this area. A significant entrance to another gravity.

Welcome to Hong Kong.

I like contrasts, I like looking for harmony in what it seems not appearing like that. This is why I was sure I would have loved HK.

My first chat with a local, our taxi driver, dismantled two pillars I had built the weeks before: my five sure sentences in Cantonese – shut with a ‘we locals don’t speak with those words, it’s more in Singapore maybe’ (I adored the polite maybe)- and the fact that everything you want to eat, especially crazy stuff, you’ll find it here, when the driver told me that the best food he could suggest to try was McDonalds. Doh. Or as in Germany we might say ‘komisch’.

Light rain, outside the taxi, not freshening up our tired bodies. We are guide-wised ready to find the smallest room ever built by humans, on the contrary the desolation of the buildings along our street, tall, a bit crusted –dirty? hard to say in the darkness-, weird but incredibly poignant monsters leads to a lovely big big twin room. Again, I bless my urge of travelling, to constantly tear off every cliches everywhere I go. Hong Kong’s building are like meant to give misery the best luxury state of mind.

Now, that rain brings to a tropical storm all around our first day: the sound of the thunders, right in the middle of Hong Kong Island are phenomenal. People stop during storm, often wait silently. Groups of students grabs a soda and watch the deluge. It’s still warm, actually heating up, we can feel it on our sticky skin. A remedy is to visit the financial area in Central from the inside, putting your confidence in those crazy clouds.

Well, hello finger!

Rain’s gone, but my eyes are still wet. Of wonder, of excitement. And of jet-lag, but whatever. Light now is very bright, my camera settings go bananas. Jewels of architecture around mangroves and exotic flowers, one of the best way to explain why humans should always try to improve and build and progress themselves, with a bit more respect of the nature. The payback of years of colony, invasion, economy and finance is explained in these skyscrapers. Breathtaking.

 

Another good point of stamina comes while taking the train to Victoria Peak. Around us, the childish joy of every tourists, and the click-click-click of cameras in every language comes to our first bench, first line of the train. See, HK is crazy in every possible way, and I like the fact it does not hide, instead enhances it: it may be my European point of view, but that helluva slope was impossible for humans and machines, too pendent and slippery. But we made it, and we found a great view. There, one of the most graceful thing I have seen: not the city view, yeah incredible, yeah let’s take one billion pictures and bla bla tourist stuff, but the contrast between the area around the harbour, the crazy diamond in the rough, and the green wild forest on the other side of the hill.

Right in the middle, I felt in peace.