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The International Writers Magazine: Tab's World Tour 2007/2008

Hong Kong Dash
Tabytha Towe in Hong Kong

I just laughed to myself hysterically reading a chinese sign that was translated to English spelling for a street called Chum Hung Kok, ha ha!!!! Where was my camera damnit!? This would be my second e mail of course, knowing my luck the internet shut down with a bad connection suddenly as soon as I was about to press send. It bloody died on me the second before it sent out. I got Tab'd agin, never fails with computers.
16 hour time difference between China and Canada with a 15 hour flight without a wink of sleep, all the while inhaling stale air of moth ball pungents, I arrived in Hong Kong bloody knackered and pretty messed up. Jet lag is such a bitch. 
This city is very similar to other major cities, like New York and London, just in Chinese. All have a Times Square, upper class areas and poverty neighborhoods melting into eachother, a frantic array of taxi cabs honking in the street, everyone on the go...Except there is way too many people here and everything seems fast paced yet in slow motion at the same time, it's quite surreal. I used to call London the army of ants, but now I beg to differ. If you feel like developing clausterphobia, sudden aggresive impulses and having some starngers' armpit thrusted beside your face, then ride the subway here. People don't grasp the concept of patience or courtesy, it's all push and shove. We are all in a hurry to get out, but seriously, you need to let people get off the tube before you let more enter, how frustrating it can be! I waited in line 4 stops before there was enough room for me to squeeze into a can, and I was at the front of the line. We are like jam, in a jam, squished like berry sauce. De ja vu moment when the recorded voice said in a British accent, mind the gap.
Traffic is the worst I have ever seen, not only cars but pedestrian traffic. That is the slow motion part, people walk too casually (do they have glue stuck on their shoes?!) In a hustle and bustle kind of place you must pick up the pace yo! I tend to walk briskly and actually reach my destination, but by the time I fight past a million people and make it one block I lose it and also my way. It's easy to get lost here, every street looks the same and there are at least a 7-11 or a Mcdonalds on every corner.

You get overwhelmed by your senses, the sounds, the crowds, blinding you with all of the bright neon signs. Oh and the smells of fresh baked buns one instant and then the next a vomit-consulting stench of sewage. Barcelona had that as well, but not as prominent or often. I feel nauseous whenever the sudden whiffs occur, like raw, decaying, chicken carcasses. Barf! It's as if the sewers are stewing through the underground vents and condensing into the air on a tight schedule. It's one of those things that is undenaibly disturbing, however I am the ony person who skews a face by this horrid discrepency; so I guess people just get used to it. I have a weak stomach for smells, anything else I can handle.
Yesterday was beautiful and extremly hot. My cousin took me to a mountain peak and I got a glimpse of the view over looking the city. It would have been amazing to have seen it more clearly, but much to my dismay that isn't really fog disguising the sky, it is indeed pollution. My eyeballs feel smoky and I have coughed a lot upon landing, my nostrils are stained black, but at least there is a breeze here that allieviates the environmental distress in a refreshing whisper, unlike the sweltering humidity of NY.
Smoking is prohibited. You will not find one cigarette butt on the pavement, nowhere. I have yet to encounter someone making a mistake. I thought the Chinese were famous for the habit, whereas most bars still allow indoor lighting up, but to be restricted outside is astonishing, I don't know how theyv'e managed to control this.  There are ashtrays all around but still, people walk around with butts in their hand till they can throw them away. It's incredible! I suppose they are making a change in cleanliness. The streets get hosed often, and I am happy to witness recycling practices here also. There is a strong promotion of BYOB (bring your own bag) which is a brilliant start, and people are catching on. Plus they are getting the idea of bio-degradable plastic, at last! Coffee cups are from re-used paper products at least, I mean with all of the consumption catering to the mass population in China, the little things do count.
Next, about that pollution..... 
Asking my relatives what there is for a tourist to do around here: eat and shop. That's what locals do. Tempt me not or I'll acquiesce to my fate. The fashion is funky and elegant, haven't seen a poorly matched outfit today. I may not shop, however, I can eat....mmmm, the brilliant varietys of Chinese food.
Maybe I can swallow a skirt?
I saw two pandas casually feasting, not in the wild however, though they appeared quite content with being fed an abudance of bamboo. They are actually quite lazy animals, despite how cute and palyful they seem. Went to an amusement park/zoo/aquarium for a fun filled day. Didn't make the balloon ride, but milked the rickety rollercoasters and other gravity defying ventures. Took a gondola up the mountain to a hidden world. Watched the jelly fish dance on the walls in a flourescent symphony, saw a turtle beat a sting ray in a one meter swim, saw people ooh and ahhh at the creatures of the sea. The Chinese, my my, the only people to entertain themselves watching the fish and appreciating them for half an hour, even teaching their kids about them, only to exit the aquarium and order seafood.
I even heard a man say "ho sec" which translates to "tasty", meanwhile his child is pointing to the fish trying to make friends with it. There was a squid hut 6 feet away from the doors. Unbelivable! However, one thing that made me a little less disconcerted was that there was an educational video on the repercussions of eating shark fin soup. Thank fuck, it's about time they recognised this. Out of respect for me and hopefully a new understanding through my preaching, my uncle did not order the ghastly dish when we dined.
*Tell every Asian you know to stop ordering these magnificant beings life away into a cruel extinction.
At first the money thing really jolted my brain. They use dollars here, Hong Kong dollars yes, but they use the same symbol. So when I ordered a cup of coffee my first day my jaw dropped in terror. No way a coffee could cost 23 bucks?! Then I realized it was average and the exchange rate is rather good. Still weirds me out though, $50 for a beer sounds scary but it's reasonable.
I will hopefully head to the Buddhist temple tomorrow and then head to Macau, the new Vegas they say. I don't gamble but I sure can drink! 
 Gie Jien!
© Tabytha Towe December 2007
tabythat at

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