Saturday, May 22, 2010

Take Lift to Exit Country

That's what the sign said when I got off the train in Shenzhen. A ten-minute walk and a stop at customs and then I was in Hong Kong.

Today I drank tap water, saw the new Nightmare on Elm Street in a theater, walked by a public anti-Communist/pro Falun Dafa exhibit and now I'm blogging in a guesthouse walk-in closet room without my special internets. I didn't go out of my way to do those things, but in retrospect that's quite a list of things I wouldn't and couldn't do in Shanghai.

I'm here in Hong Kong for the first time in 11.5 years. My parents and I came here the week preceding Billy's adoption. I spent the last days of my life as an only child here, and now I'm back on my own. Being a kid from Alaska - nothing seemed more glamorous than living in a high rise. I remember staring up at them, wondering who lived inside, and hoping someday I'd live in a place like that. And now I do. But, alas, Shanghai can't beat Hong Kong for glamour points.

The way this city smells, walking through the crowded streets on the Kowloon side - both of those things jogged my memory. Isn't it amazing how your body can remember a smell from more than ten years ago?

One thing I didn't remember is how jaw-drop amazing the Hong-Kong skyline is. My first stop today was Avenue of the Stars to stick my hand in Jackie Chan's print and look at the cityscape. Wow. This city is something else. Now if only I'd brought my camera cable I could upload photos as I write too. UGH!

I made today my Kowloon day - I walked through the bird market, looked at all the pretty cages, pretty birds and icky grasshoppers. Then on to the flower market, and after that the fish market. By the time I got halfway through the rows and rows of colorful fish swimming in plastic bags, my hundred-kuai fake Clarks were killing me. But I pressed on through the ladies fashion market where an old Cantonese lady almost pulled some Bruce Lee moves on me for photographing a male thong made to look like a parrot she was selling. Be ye warned: They're serious about no pictures of the tasteless underwear in the ladies fashion market.

This is also my first time taking a trip alone where I wasn't part of some sort of organized group. The day time was fine. And I've found it's true that you do meet more people and experience different things when you travel alone. All the same, dinner time rolled around and I got lonely. Being in Hong Kong makes me think about my family. And being in this shoebox-turned-guesthouse makes me think about James. The only other time I've stayed in places this rinky-dink was with him. The hose attached to a water heater in the bathroom kind of reminds me of the shower in the place we stayed in Ulan Bator...

So I took myself to the movies to pass the time. The 11-year-old me would be horrified to learn I went to a movie by myself. The ultimate admission of loserdom, I used to think. But old Freddy was pretty good company. And now I'm ready to go to sleep and wake up for another big day out in the best Chinese city, bar none.

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