The rain pours down, making brick lined streets slick; neon lights reflect from above – a hazy blurred symmetry takes form, obscured by every boot causing echoes of concussion through the tableau of that which is overhead.
From every angle I am assaulted by small metallic pins, stretching cheap fabric, taking shape – a personal barrier from the elements. I find my respite in an underground tunnel allowing safe passage beneath the heavily traffic street. Moments later I'm in the metro's underground, and then scuttling along to what has become home for the time being.
As I walk from the dry escape to the saturated world above the attack begins anew, some weapons being placed within long plastic bags provided at every MTR entrance, while others stay drawn too long, threatening partial blindness and the dashing of any hope that three dimensional technology will ever take hold of my life.
It would be almost painfully depressing if not for the mechanized female voice playing over the loud speaker, looking out for me – worried about my safety – and begging me to take caution. “The heavy rain has caused the floors to become wet. Please take caution; hold the handrail.”
Her words are taken to heart, and I am not afraid to touch the reflective cylindrical surface. The, 'the rail is disinfected every four hours' sticker proudly instills the same confidence that the shrink wrapped elevator buttons, and sanitized foot mats do.
I am entering the rain washed streets, but I am doing it clean.
Indian men offer to drag me to warmth, light, and comfort – a tailor sir, a tailor for you? - but I decline. I have no need of clothing. Five shirts, and a yellow Canada t-shirt, that's all I need to travel in. Anything else would be superfluous, extravagant.
More men shout as me, as I stride past the main entrance to the Chung King Mansion. Syllables repeated, meaning to them, completely lost to my ears – not trained for the reception of walk-by advertisements. The main doors fade, while I opt for the alley underneath a purple canopy. The aisle is lined with pornography. Magazines, old, new, and somewhat used. Women of all types, both real and imaginary. Some are drawn to life, some are modeled through computer technology, while others are simply photographed.
DVD and VCD sales are near the end, only 15USD each. I can not imagine who is buying them, and as I've only ever seen people use the alley for the quick access to the block D elevators, I can't imagine there are any customers.
Perhaps it's simply people together with their collections, spending a day surrounded by what they love, looking to make a profit if one happens to present itself.
As I board the elevator to the eighth floor, and walk down to the seventh – elevators stopping only at every other floor – I am drenched. My quick dry shirt, is once more being put to the test. My pack is dripping, though mostly dry inside, and my hat – well it has served its purpose well. Removed, my hair is still dry.
Dark circles hang beneath my eyes, and as I step through the threshold of 7D – Paris Hostel, haggard though I may be I feel honestly, and truly, alive.
For a day that started out pretty routine, it ended up being – well something worth experiencing. And that's the thing – it's hard for anything to really be routine around these parts. I'm hardly in one place long enough for me to fall into a routine. I have. I know I have. Bangkok – that was a place where each day became the same as the one before, the one after. And the thing is, I didn't even realize it. At the time I thought I liked it. Not until I was forced away, could I look back and realize that as the down point of my trip.
I don't know if it was that I was there too long, or just stopped putting in the effort. And it's so easy to stop putting in the effort. But – I'd rather not think about that just yet. I'll save that for when I'm closer to coming back home, or until I've played over the thoughts a bit more.
I woke up, I showered, and I headed out to meet up with a buddy of mine from High School.
God – that was a long time ago. For years he has been living over here, school and now work. And for years, I'd been doing what? Living in Toronto – working. Is it that much different? No. And does the fact that one person lives “over seas” make it any different? Again no. So what am I thinking about? To be honest, I'm not really sure. So let us keep pressing forward, shall we?
Nearly on a decade since that school ended, yet here I am, headed up to the twenty fifth floor of a building down near Fortress Hill station.
Their lunch time set offers, for 68HDK, fish – soup – coffee. And water. Warm water. This is the first time I've been poured glasses of warm water. And we're not talking room temperature here, we're talking – warm. Heated to be warmer than the world around you. This is a.) because this restaurant is strange, or b.) because it's so hot in Hong Kong that drinking warm water is easier on your body than cold. For the same reason people drink hot drinks in India.
Views of the clouded city scape were presented to me while conversation turned to – not what once was, but what is and what will be. The jobs to come, and things of interest now. There was no old gossip and little looking back. Even referencing our old home town felt strange to me. I feel that Toronto is my home now, though I've only spent a year of my life living there. And though I fear it may be some time from my return to Canada before I can get back out there.
Still – as he talked about his job (think real life Sim City) I was thinking of how I was looking forward to working again too – but I want to do it on my terms. Fun fact: I have no idea what those terms would be. I'll figure it out, I'm sure.
I was told about some places to hike, and areas to check out. Although as it was raining – drizzling – signs of things to come, it was suggested that I go and check out the mall over in Mong Kok. Langham Place.
Shopping is an important aspect of Hong Kong travel, and who was I to deny myself the experience.
I forgot that while shopping was a delight in Akiba, it was different in the real world. Clothes and Kicks. So many kicks. I'm sorry – shoes. I'll try to never use that world again – it just doesn't feel right anyway.
The closest to Akiba here is the 6F cafe, one street over, Dre@min' @kiba. I think it's best for all if everyone avoids that place. Yes, best for all.
I did come across a movie theatre though, and playing was Kick-Ass. When I saw that it had a level III rating (rated R) I thought that it might live up to what I thought it should. Sweet god, I was not prepared for it. A wee bit distressing, but mostly pretty fantastic. And the Hit Girl action scene at the end? That is was messed up little girl. Fantastic. Nominate her academy. 12 years old with that kind of talent? Never mind the subject matter.
After that, I saw the rain outside, and felt that I should head back on the subway. But in my mind was echoing a comment about what it meant to be a person who is 'alive.' After some contemplation, another Big Mac set (what do you want? It's cheaper than a soda at the theatre) I stepped out into the rain. And then my day took shape, long after the sun set and darkness fell.