I did make it clear that last time when I said, “Check back tomorrow”, “tomorrow,” in fact means “Tuesday,” right? I did mention that and we’re all on the same page, yeah? Okay, thought so. Good. Sadly, I had my first data loss with Freeway since I started using it and lost all the work on this update about 10 minutes before I was about to post it. So lame. Still, only having one problem (which was probably user-prompted anyway)

The next day was New Year’s which Dan was really sick for all day. It was too bad because he didn’t even feel up to coming out during the evening either, but what can you do? If death’s knockin’ on your door, it’s knocin’ on your door.

Recently Heard in Hong Kong

“Damn, even I want to kick our asses out of this place!”
-Dan, upon entering a restaurant far too nice for how any of us were dressed.

I already briefly summed up the rest of the New Year festivities the other day so I won’t go into those again here. While me, Bob and Wendy were ringing in the New Year at a crosswalk, the last member of our party, Mark, was arriving in Hong Kong airport. Mark is cool because we know him from Way Back™ and because he works for Apple, which kind of makes him like a little mini-god as far as we’re all concerned.

Anyway, we met up with him and some of Wendy’s friends and went to the big bar district, Lan Kwai Fong. Because there were so many people in the streets, the police had cordoned off certain intersections and rerouted foot traffic. What’s sucked was that we needed to go down one stinking block to get where we wanted to go but there was a six block detour around it. How incredibly inconvenient to be able to throw a rock and hit your destination but to have to walk for 15 minutes to get there.

Recently Heard in Hong Kong

“You know, for such a short people these are really high urnials.”
-Bob, on the restrooms of a Kowloon internet cafe.

As we were following the masses of fellow Bar District refugees I pondered what the point could possibly be in roping off one mere block of road. Mark suggested out loud, “They’re slowly turning us into communists.” I laughed for about half a second before remembering where I was and quickly looked around for cops that may not approve. Fortunately for Mark there weren’t any, because had there been I would have jumped him and started beating him in the name of the Motherland just to be on the safe side. (Sorry, Mark. Love your work on the Finder, but I don’t want my family getting any bills for bullets that have executed me, I’m sure you understand.)

As I recall, we just slept for most of the next day but that evening we went to see a women’s tennis match and got to see, among others, Monica Seles. I guess it doesn’t come through on TV as much, but I really noticed how much more professional Monica is than some of the other younger players while playing. Not that it’s unexpected, being that she’s a seasoned player (read: grandma) but it was interesting to see how much more control of herself she kept during matchplay, both during and in-between points.

Also important to note: Make no mistake about it, Anastasia Myskina is H-O-T-T, Hott!!

By the next day both Dan and Bob were sick as hell from their colds and just wanted to stay in so Mark and I went around by ourselves in the hope that the guys would feel better later on so we could go get some dinner and have a drink or ten. They didn’t feel better so Mark and I popped a middle finger and decided to go to dinner at Victoria Peak, the highest point on the island, without ’em. If you ever go to Hong Kong, it’s almost like a requirement that you go to the Peak, as it’s called.

I mean, at Immigration the guy was like, “Your trip is business or sightseeing?”

I replied, “Sightseeing.”

“It says here you live in Japan?”

“Yes, I’m a teacher.”

“When are you going to the Peak?”

“Well, I’ve yet to talk to my frie…”

“You are planning on going to the Peak, yes?”

“Well, yeah. I mean, I really want to go in any cas…”

“ARE YOU FUCKING LYING TO ME!?!?”

“No! I want to go to the peak!! I will go to the peak!!!”

“See that you do. Here’s your passport back, non-commie.”

So it’s’ not like you really have a choice in the matter, but I do strongly recommend you get to Victoria Peak if you ever find yourself in Hong Kong. It’s well worth it, I mean, look at it for cryin’ out loud, it’s beautiful!!

And if you look really hard you can even see Anakin and Obi-Wan chasing Zam Wessel past that building there. See it? Right there!! Ah, forget it.

After a succulent dinner at a restaurant overlooking downtown HK, me and Mark decided to go to Lan Kwai Fong again for a few drinks. We ran into some crazy cat that just kept meowing at us, like really loudly. Mark apparently loves cats and tried to feed it some little bean-cakes that he had bought earlier but it wasn’t having it so we took off. After a brief map-check, we finally found our destination. Don’t believe me? What do I have to do to prove myself to you? Let me guess, nothing short of a photo of us drinking will satisfy you, will it? Fine, here. Happy?

The next day we finally switched hotels and got out of that damnable Ramada. Seriously, that room smelled so bad after harboring 4 people, 2 1/2 of whom were sick, that I doubt they’ll be renting out again any time soon. We relocated about a five-minute walk away in the Hyatt Grand and man, was this place sweet. Even the sleeping on the carpet was a joy. Rocks don’t sleep as well as I did that night and I think the severity of my bed-head will attest to it, thank you very much.

Dan was feeling a little better the next day so he came with me and Mark to one of the more bustling shopping districts, Mong Kok. Dan loves Mong Kok, a lot. I think it’s safe to say that he’s all about the Kok. He just can’t get enough. (heh heh, I’m such a child.)

We were pretty hungry by the time we got there so we went to hunt down a restaurant and eventually Mark found a little noodle shop with righteously delicious noodles and coconut milk at dirt cheap prices. Those plates that Dan and Mark are digging into are like $1(US) each.

What was interesting was that the place was totally run by middle aged women. Well, I guess that’s not that interesting, but Dan had a theory (again with the theories) that all these women were disgruntled housewives, sick of being pigeonholed into the patriarchal stereotypes forced on them by their husbands and deserted them to set out together and start this business, Thelma & Louise style.

If you’re speechless, don’t worry. That’s the standard reaction for having just heard one of Dan’s theories. In the Dan School o’ Theorizing, Occam’s Razor is shunned as though it were a leperous beggar coughing all over you while asking you to spare some change and to keep your hypotheses as consise and unextraneous as possible.

After that, we checked out the street markets and I picked up some fake Swiss Army and CK watches as well as a pirate DVD of The Transporter since I don’t think it’s going to come to Japan any time soon. Undoubtedly the coolest thing I saw in Hong Kong was while we were looking over the DVD stall of a pirate booth.

So, there’s two guys on either side of the table doing their spiel alternatively in Cantonese and English depending on who was standing around. I noticed that one of them had a earpiece from his cel phone in his ear. So this guy is trying to convince us that we really want to buy the new Harry Potter movie and The Two Towers(which hadn’t even been released in HK yet) when he stops in mid-sentence and looks up to the other guy standing on the other end of the table.

Instantly and in near-perfect unison, they fold the two tables up into two large suitcase-type boxes, complete with handles and carry them off in different directions. I didn’t see where one of the guys went, but the guy with the earpiece went across to another nearby stall selling backpacks and slid the folded case behind a wall-display of backpacks and then kept walking and disappeared into the crowd. Within about 15 seconds the stall we were standing in that had just been selling DVDs of every movie you could see in a theater, was completely empty, except for us standing there wondering what the fuck just happened. Soooo cool.

On the way home, we picked up an order of noodles to go for Bob who was still sick back in the hotel room. I guess they don’t get many take out orders though because when I told them I wanted to take them with me, they dumped them unceremoniously into a plastic bag. Bob was grateful for the noodles but was having trouble coming to terms with the fact that he was actually eating noodles directly out of a plastic bag.

For the last day, we kind of split up and went our separate ways to get done all the loose ends that each of us had left. I took the opportunity to take one last jaunt around the island and get a few shots of what is one of the most amazing urban landscapes I’ve ever been in. Two things really strike me about HK; the unbelievable height as well as sheer number of the buildings (anything shorter that 35-40 stories seems downright rare) and the dichotomy of old and new. It’s so odd to see a decaying wooden building with rust streaks dripping from occasional metal trim, directly in front of a pristine 50 story glass skyscraper that looks more like a gigantic piece of jewelry than a place that people work or live. Absolutely breathtaking.

I also came across a food market which was cool since it’s not like the tourist-trap street markets in Mong Kok and Temple Street. It’s just normal people doing what they normally do and it was neat to see. Neat to see, by the way, not neat to smell.

That night we were planning to go out for one last night of drinking on the town…. which meant that we ended up staying in the hotel room and drinking there instead. I have to admit, it was quite a bit more fun than I expected. Especially the part when Dan fell down and got trapped in-between the beds and couldn’t get out.

That about wraps up the Hong Kong adventure. Mark left early the next morning while we were all still half-asleep then me, Dan and Bob went to the Airport and chilled out for a bit at the same internet cafe where we met ten days before. When the time came, we went to our separate planes and that was that.

As an interesting (or maybe not) little coda, by the time I got back to Tokyo Station to catch my train back home (can you guess what’s going to happen?) I found that the last train for the day had already left and was faced with the prospect of spending another night in the freezing cold in front of Tokyo Station. That might have worked when I was full of energy at the beginning of the journey, but after 10 days of constant hiking/sightseeing, sleeping 4 or 5 hours a night and a few nights of drinking, I was going to be damned if I was stuffing heat packs in my pockets and doing the Pee-Pee Dance again. I caught a local train to Shibuya and stayed in a capsule hotel.

Never a dull moment.

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