Sunday, May 2, 2010

It's cold in PEK

It's cold in Beijing airport. So cold. So very – very – cold.

So cold that me, ME, I... could barely stand it. Oh sure it was fine while I sat on the ground watching Venture Brothers. But when you're trying to sleep? Laying out on three chairs closed together? It's cold. Other people had blankets. They thought ahead. Who knew they wouldn't heat an airport? Who knew that an airport would be all glass walled, thus ensuring that there was no way any warmth would ever stick around? I mean who are these cruel people?! You'd almost think they were Japanese. But nope, Chinese. I'm on to you!

But enough of that. Eventually I slept – for two hours – and then boarded a plane. Well I must have, because I was in the air at some point. I remember that, because there was food. But then nothing. And I know I must have been in Hong Kong airport, because I was on a bus with my luggage headed towards the Chung King Mansion (read: ghetto place with lots of hostels – and I do not use the term loosely, or incorrectly.)

And then I know I must have somehow navigated my way to the hostel, because I was on the bed, four in a room with no standing space, with my gear beside me.

I know these things must have happened. I just don't have memory of them. Exhaustion – it can play funny tricks with your mind.

The only upsetting thing? I'm told Hong Kong airport is a fantastic place of wonders and magic – and I have zero memory of it. Zero. I try to think back, and I catch glimpses of buying a bus ticket, but they're fleeting and unconnected – perhaps complete forgeries manufactured for simplicity and peace of mind.

There was also an important bridge the bus passed but I know nothing of that. Only that it claimed we were at a station we were not at, and getting off I had to navigate my way to the hostel. Welcome to Hong Kong!

I wasn't prepared to let this day pass me by, either. I wasn't willing to simply sleep it off and be better for the morning. No, there was time left and I was going to explore. Sure, maybe I'd stick close to home – but the reason these terrible hostels are so sought after is because of their location (and their quickly-fading legacy as a backpackers haven.) I walked down to the bay and picked my way along the Walk of Fame, checking out stars that belongs to people I'd never heard of, and looking at reminders of films and songs that meant nothing to me.

The statue of Bruce Lee? That was pretty peachy though. Hard to believe that in this day and age there would be anyone who doesn't know who he is – still, one wonders if the youth culture of North America is being properly educated.

When I start teaching again? Pop quiz on pop culture.

The skyline was beautiful across the water, and I vowed to come back to see it at night. But first? To the mall. Look, it's Hong Kong. You come here to shop. Leave me alo... OH MY GAWD! Big Mac combo 20HKD? That's like 2.50 in real money! Om nom nom nom.

Alright, Toys R Us. I may have played through some FFXIII on the demo machine – oh look at the time, it's getting late. Sun must be setting, back to the walk of fame, looking for a place to set my mini-tripod so as I could take proper pictures.

I watched, slightly in pain, as people took snaps with their flash on wondering why the images just weren't turning out. Mini-tripod. Two or three bucks. Please, just go buy one. It doesn't matter if you ever shoot photos, think of it like a lighter – have it on hand to lend to people in need. Maybe I should do that, actually. Huh. Thoughts.

Eight o'clock and the light show started. Every night at eight some music plays, and things look just a bit more pretty. The fact that it was a fairly clear night? Not to shabby. Spotlights searched, and lasers fired with green intensity. All in all, I give it a six. That's a solid score a six.

And then – only then – after I'd seen some of what this city had to offer me, I headed back, found my bed, and crashed out. It was a well deserved sleep, I'm sure. If only I could remember it.

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