by Jan 17, 20030 comments

And now, the Hong Kong journey resumes.

So after Bob came out and told us the room number, me and Dan waited outside for a few minutes then followed him up. He met us in the hall and said, “It’s bad.”

No lie.

Apparently, somebody at Ramada Kowloon thought it would be a funny joke to stuff a bed and a TV into a closet and call it a single room. There was barely room for three of us and in a few days Mark would be joining us as well. Ready for the punch-line? Bob was sick and Dan was getting that way quick. And now I was sleeping in close quarters with both of them for the next 5 days. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Fortunately for Bob, his girlfriend, Wendy, had lived in Hong Kong for a while and was visiting her family at the same time. So not only did he get to see her, depending on her schedule, we had our own personal interpreter and guide. Sweeeeet. We were all invited to join her family for Dim Sum the following morning and since Dim Sum just about rocks the world we all quickly said, “Yeah, man. Dat’s coo.’ “

Now allow me to offer an observation and pose a question to someone that might know what the deal is. During many meals in Hong Kong, I came across chicken with bones in it. I know what you’re thinking, “Bite off the meat, throw away the bone and quit yer bitchin’, sissy-boy,” right? The thing is, this isn’t like bones at Kentucky Fried or anything, these are like huge, mammoth chunks of like, wing-assembly and joint bones and shit, where the meat is over it, in cracks and generally just not possible to get off the bone without ruining your dining experience (at least mine anyway).

The worst part is, is that they just look like nice, clean chunks of meat that invite you to sink your teeth into, and then you wonder why you’re screaming in agony and embarrassing all your friends in front of the nice Chinese people. I just don’t get it. Anyone else more hip on the China scene care to fill me in on the Chicken-bone thing?

So for those that don’t know, there’s more or less two parts to Hong Kong; The island side, which has all the tall buildings and what you usually see pictures of when you see pictures of Hong Kong, and the mainland side which is called Kowloon and is where we started our stay. The Kowloon landscape struck me as very… Chinese, I guess. I mean, it seemed like the kind of place where lots of images of urban China (or Hong Kong anyway) come from. You’ve got the crowded streets, neon signs at every level hanging everywhere, old buildings, street vendors, a thin layer of grime over everything.

You know, just like any movie in Hong Kong that you’ve ever seen.

Speaking of, the topless bar that James Bond went to in The Man With the Golden Gun, Bottoms Up was only a few minute walk from our hotel. Sadly, everything we heard about it was bad, so we never actually went. Which is fine since I left my PPK in Fukuma anyway.

(As an aside, I heard that the film Ghost in the Shell was supposed to be set in a futuristic Hong Kong and now that I’ve seen it first hand, I can back that up. If you want to get a good feeling of what Kowloon looks like, you might want to take a look at this movie.)

The really odd thing, that I never really got used to seeing was the scaffolding. You know how when there’s repair or construction on a building, there will be, what is usually, metal pipe scaffolds, put up around the structure. Well, in Hong Kong 98% of the scaffolds I saw were, are you ready for this, bamboo. Like even 40+ story buildings would just have a network of bamboo poles tied together at the joints with rubber rope, covering them. That just seems like someone is asking for trouble, but it apparently works considering how many buildings were cocooned in the stuff. Wild.

That evening, we were again invited to dine with Wendy’s family for dinner, this time for Korean-style barbecue (which is basically the same thing as yakiniku in Japan). Yummy! We met on the island at Times Square where this genius bit of photography took place. Please take note of the sign that’s between me and Dan. Nice one, mate. Nice one.

By this point in the day, Bob was feeling about 98.76% ass, so he greeted everyone then went home. Wendy’s family is cool though and they still wanted at least me and Dan to come along and since I was hungry enough to the point that I was ready to eat one of Dan’s hands, I wasn’t going to be turning anyone talking about food down.

Wendy’s family is pretty cool. They all grew up in South Africa, so everyone spoke English thankfully for me and Dan. It was fun watching a Chinese family in action, it’s so contrary to what I see in Japan on a daily basis. I mean, I’m sitting at the table all stressing about all the customs I probably don’t know about, such as the chopstick issue.

There’s lots of chopstick etiquette in Japan that I always make sure to pay attention to, especially when I’m out with strangers who are treating me to dinner. One rule of thumb in Japan is that you generally don’t use your own chopsticks to take food from communal plates. You either use the thick end of the chopsticks, (the end that you don’t put in your mouth) or there will be a special set that goes with each plate expressly for dishing stuff out.

So Wendy’s sister looks at me and asks what I’m waiting for and I tell her I just wanted to make sure about any etiquette I may not be aware of, such as taking food from communal plates with my chopsticks. Their Uncle chimed in and said, “In Chinese families, everyone knows each other and is familiar. Only strangers don’t use their own. So don’t worry about it and stop being a stranger.” How fucking cool, eh?

And man, these chicks were loud and opinionated. They’re all fighting back and forth in loud voices, not pulling any punches, even taking shots at the older sister’s boyfriend who was there with us, all the while having a great time doing it. Not that I resent Japan and it’s politeness and respect, but just being around this kind of really honest atmosphere where everyone says exactly what they think and no one gets upset by it, was really refreshing.

Unfortunately I dropped my digital camera that evening (for the third time on this trip, I might add) and that was that. It stopped working as of that evening. Pissed off, was I.

We got back to the hotel and entered the lilliputian room(Look! Look! I’m being literary!!) just as Bob filled an entire tissue with yellow snot, which he then holds up to me and Dan and says, “You see this, Ebeneezer? This is your fucking future.”

Best line by anyone on the entire trip.

I got one more entry in me and this whole thing should be wrapped up. Check back tomorrow for:

The Stunning Conclusion, in which, do I really need to say it?

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