Saturday, August 19, 2006

Where's Waldo?

Posted by Picasa I used to fly in and out of Hong Kong quite a bit. For those of you who haven't been there, the landing is an interesting experience. Rows upon rows of high rise apartments line the approach path, the laundry of their residents flapping in the breezes you imagine are stirred up by the passing planes. You feel like an interloper and a bit of a voyeur as you peek into the lives of ordinary Hong Kongians (there should be an ape in there, somewhere) until you realize that they are sitting on their eighteenth floor verandah, sipping beer and WATCHING YOU!

Now you want to pull down your window shade but the ground is coming up at you so fast you'd like to keep an eye on it...

Easy does it ground...

Like other big, noisy, and crowded cities, it takes awhile to get all of your senses turned down and you feel a bit on overload for the first few hours you are there. At least I do.

I still have a pair of hand-made shoes I bought in Hong Kong that are twenty years old. They are well made but not THAT well made. I only seem to wear them at weddings and funerals, both of which have been in scarce numbers in my life, which is good, I think, if you aren't a fan of either.

Moths got my custom made silk-lined wool slacks and my custom-tailored silk-lined wool overcoat that I marched around in like a detective without a crime or a Parisian without an Eiffel Tower, looking pretty cool and feeling pretty useless in it.

I'm sure this picture was developed in Hong Kong, since I obviously didn't take it, so I'll call it my authentic Hong Kong souvenir.

Back alleys are my bread and butter must sees when in a foreign city. Walking with tourists on touristy streets in touristy places loses its appeal after about nine minutes. Longer if there are pretty girls in summer shorts, of course.

I saw a Chinese man in a sidestreet in Hong Kong shove a skinny snake up his nose and pull it out of his mouth. I don't know how you train a snake to not take the wrong turn at the throat and head down the esophagus, but this guy apparently had. "Perhaps by burping?" I thought at the time. You could burp and scare the snake to the right orifice. I mean, given the choice between belching stomach gases full of gastrointestinal pulchritudes and an open mouth to fresh Hong Kong air, which would you choose?

The man was doing this simply for tips and so I gave him one.

I watched two smallish Chinese teen-aged boys bring a slaughtered steer into the back of a restaurant on a bloody wooden cart that was conjoined with a bicycle. They could not get the heavily ladened cart to the door so had to grab the steer by the horns, literally, and pull it off the cart in a heap of exposed meaty mess and DRAG it across some pretty horrifically dirty ground and into the back door to the kitchen. The steer had been eviscerated and skinned, but the head was all black and hairy and the eyes open and glassy sad. The two boys were not doing such a good job moving the carcass so I grabbed the bull by a horn and helped out.

Sometimes a wiped sweaty brow and a smile are ample reward for lending a hand to perfect strangers. I was handed a coke with a straw as well, and many many thanks later I was back walking the alleys, enjoying touristy things from underneath.

I also made a mental note which restaurant that was. If I decided to eat there, I would opt for the prawns...

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