Day 284: One last little ode to Hong Kong

I know I wrote quite a bit about Hong Kong lately, but I feel compelled to say just a few more things before my memory of the city fades beyond decent recollection. Thus far, I’ve written about:

There are still three things I’d like to say:

I want/need to go back

This city has so much to offer, and I barely scratched the surface. The Hong Kong Heritage Museum, The Peak, Kowloon, the night markets, trying street food (I was too afraid last time) — I did none of these things last time.

I also had some socio-anthropological questions to ask while I was there:

  • Why were there countless Filipina and Indonesian women sitting around in cardboard boxes on a Sunday afternoon? They didn’t appear homeless — mostly lounging by choice, though confined in their recreation. I did see more hanging out on the beach and could identify them by the languages they spoke.
    I spoke with my wife Sharon, my go-to expert on migration in Southeast Asia, and she informed me that I encountered Southeast Asian domestic workers on their weekly day of rest. They were confined to those “invisible” spaces instead of public areas such as parks because their presence was “an eyesore” for the Hong Kong local community.
    My anthropological senses tingled. I want to know more.
  • Why do the trains shut down so “early”? The Hong Kong transit system is quite marvelous: easy to comprehend for a foreigner, cleaner than most American counterparts, and relatively inexpensive.
    Unless you’re looking to use it after 11pm.
    Afterwards, my options were either calling an Uber (which I disabled because “I made a choice, damn it”) or hailing a cab. Speaking of which…
  • Why don’t cab drivers understand English in Hong Kong? I apologize for sounding reductive, but … I had some expectations going into a former British colony and major cosmopolitan city.
    After getting turned down repeatedly by drivers, I started to make preliminary plans to crash in Lan Kwai Fong. I was fortunately bailed out by a few lucky souls, but I’m definitely coming back with some basic Cantonese under my belt, damn it.

I want you to come with me

I don’t like traveling alone. Generally, when I’m doing something exciting or scary, I don’t want to be alone (ENFP style, I guess). Usually, this means traveling with my wife, but she’s busy and can’t stand me sometimes.

The trip really picked up for me when I ran into a familiar face from my college days and his close friend, both of whom are Oregonians. They joined me in my weird quests, and we found a way to enjoy the city … together.

This is an open invitation, but you’ve gotta keep up with me … and know when to slow down as well. I have a particular tempo to how I do things.

Not quite this… but not NOT this.

A big thank you to Keane

The image for today is a tribute to one of Keane’s favorite films in college, Infernal Affairs, famously adapted for the U.S. into Martin Scorsese’s The Departed (and yes, Infernal Affairs is the better film — neater, grounded, and handsomer faces).

In our dorm room, we’d dress up in cool clothes and re-enact scenes, but he’d insist that he play the Tony Leung “gangster with a heart of gold” character, leaving me with the Andy Lau “perfect cop with a terrible secret” role.

I objected to this for two reasons:

(A) I look WAY more like Tony Leung than he does, and

(B) How come I always have to be the bad guy, like, by default? Like, there’s no discussion at all. “I’m Tony Leung.” That was it.

I never really articulated these objections because … Keane’s the good guy. He’s the better guy. He’s the best guy. While I was in Hong Kong, he kept sending me information to make sure I was well-accommodated and even kept trying to pay for me because “I made it all the way out here.”

An open message to Keane:

Flying out to Hong Kong for your wedding wasn’t a burden.

It wasn’t even out of a sense of duty to our friendship of 17 years.

It was an absolute privilege.

I’d wish nothing but happiness for you and your new partner-in-life Renee, but I have this feeling that it’s going to work out fine, given your relentless sense of kindness, generosity, and joy for life.

You got this.

“I’ll see you around, Keane.”

— Lee

PS: Now you say — “Meet me in Bangkok.”

Write with intention. Think with compassion.