Last Tastes of Civilization

< travels >

July 29th, noon or so, Ampelon Pub & Cafe, Tsim Tsa Tsui, Hong Kong

A hot day in Hong Kong. The pub is empty and way too cold.

I'm freezing my butt off waiting for my steak lunch. I'm hungry from not having eaten dinner 3 days in a row.

Now my steak has arrived and already I regret my choice.

same day noon on the Star Ferry from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island

So pleased was I with the meal, I abandoned the pub (after eating the rice, the vegetable from a can and the bits of steak that were cooked and not full of gristle) and looked around for things that I didn't have time to buy while I was in Taiwan.

My bloody steak was perhaps a little less appetizing partly because I'd seen the leftovers of something else bloody: Two bored copes were watching over a small cordoned off area in TsimTsaTsui while a police photographer took a picture of a name card on the ground.

The cordon was done with chairs from a shop, the shop owners standing around with the cops. So intent was I on the people, that it took me a moment to see the pooled blood in the gutter and the bloody hand prints on the curbside.

Somebody had bled a lot into that gutter, probably his life.

Same day, my friends' apartment in Central Hong Kong

The rest of the day has been more mundane- getting my visa for Mainland China, and paying off the rest of my Trans-Siberean ticket (to be leaving Oct. 7 from Beijing), doing my usual walkabout, wandering through the city. Despite the city sometimes seeming just one great big shopping mall, it is a great place for people watching. There are people from everywhere here: Asia, American, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia & New Zealand. All buying and selling to each other. But watching is about as far as it goes, everybody is pretty cold here, at least on the surface. Too dangerous to trust people probably. Afraid of ending up bleeding one's life out in some dirty gutter somewhere.

It doesn't quite feel that I've left Taiwan yet, at least not for good. This was where I always came to get my visa renewed for Taiwan. A day and a night here and then I would be back in Taiwan and at work. It still doesn't strike me as reality that for the next 3-4 months I'll be on the road.

I remember leaving for Taiwan and it was a lot harder and a lot more nervy. But then I guess I'm now leaving for something that I know, rather than a completely foreign place which I'd no idea as what to expect really.

Or that leaving Taiwan I was too busy, way too busy. didn't even get a chance to say good-bye to all those I wanted to, or buy all the things I needed to. Working that last week was the worst. Everyday investing more and more time, trying to give my boss as much info as possible. Kind of annoying how she waited until after my stated day of resignation.

And me having so much other stuff to do. It was crazy, spending the mornings sending off packages (5 in total, 3 on the day I left with the help of my a friend and a taxi), meeting people to say good-bye (or not in the case of one friend), running to school to check email (no time to write back), going to work then trying to spend the nights socializing (the pub one night, out to see Judge Dredd with Shorman, followed by a visit to Dragon, another pub where I'd hoped to have dinner. Only to find that the cook had vanished) and then the last night having the gang and the dragon boaters (link to page about dragon boating if you are curious) for a final party on my roof.

Nice cool evening it was (cool as in not too hot and muggy). Jack, Tony, Rebecca and Marvin showed up first, right on time (well almost, I was late 15 minutes from work, no time to eat or buy anything). When people started arriving in numbers we moved upstairs onto the roof. Some people didn't show up, forgot to ask others, forgot totally to say good-bye to others or call them. no time or just plain forgot.

Oh well, at least for once leaving didn't seem anti-climatic. I did get to say good-bye to a lot of people. All my previous leave taking, from high school from college, grade school even, just fizzled away and I found myself in another place. Probably for once I really just knew where I was going, where as before I still wanted to keep on with what I had, and didn't really know what the future would bring (I still don't but damn if I'm just going to sit back and LET it happen to me).

The few of us that stuck the party out into the night ended up on one last trip to a pub, the Source. got to say good-bye to a few last people there. A few hours later and a good deal last sober I was back at home to sleep a few hours before rising to finish my over packing.

A friend came over to help, we carted the boxes over to the Post office via taxi. One box was too heavy and we had to redistribute 0.165kg! Bastards.

He and his girlfriend went with me to the airport. Traffic was awful, we crawled for an hour and I just got progressively more nervous, until the bus finally broke free and I was there.

We said farewell over OJ and coffee at an overpriced airport restaurant and I was gone, off of Taiwan and out to the Wild Blue Yonder.

The flight was packed and I spoke a little to one of my seatmates, an Indian selling granite to Taiwanese construction firms. By the time we got to Hong Kong's Kaitek airport he had 5 minutes to catch his connecting flight. I wished him luck.

All the customs lines and transfer lines were killer. Way too many people, as always. Once in I bused over to somewhere near the office of the Canadian friends I would be staying with. He gave me there key and directions to the flat.

I got there and crashed, slept right through dinner and the whole night. It was brilliant! Except for the fact that I was starved the next morning.

Had cereal and a lovely cup of tea, toast and jam for breakfast which did me good. My friends had already left for work by the time I'd finished and left the apartment.

The China visa trip was amazingly short, the only person in the office I was. I filled out a form gave him a picture, passport and was done. to be ready one Monday.

Nothing like the Taiwan office zoo, half packed out with Pakistanis and Indians getting harassed by the officials for not having all the correct paperwork, the other half people like me coming in for their two month visa fix (the Taiwanese would only issue 2 month tourist visas, unless you were a student, or were lucky and worked for a larger corporation who would go through the hassle of getting you a work permit. I was a student for 2 of my 3 years there).

< previous >
< next >
< previous >
< next >
< travels >