Sunday, May 2, 2010

Wandering the Centre

The day started with me taking care of the only thing I needed to actually get done – buying a train ticket to Beijing. This took me down to the east station, where I took a fifty cent ride to the main train station. While there I noticed yet another McDonald's. Another Big Mac? Well, at these prices... But there, in the value menu, a double pork burger. The Chinese were not going to let the Japanese get away with being awesome – no, they doubled it up. But they forgot to add sauce of any sort, so the win still goes to Japan.

Once that had been solved, I bought my ticket, and then headed out to the city centre to start exploring.

Coming above ground on Hong Kong island I started to wander the streets, and find whatever small shops were available to me there. Rows and streets full of small stalls, and organic goods were open to the throngs of people who knew just what to buy and just what to use it for.

Medicine here is still quite holistic, and plants and dried – other things – are used to make the sick well. To them, they were much needed items. To me? Mysteries in burlap sacks that would have seemed more at home in a medieval video game than in a real modern city.

This was not what I expected Hong Kong to be like – China, yes, but not Hong Kong.

When the allure of shops which were both strange and confusing to me wore off I headed into the business district, to walk around the buildings I had seen from afar just the night before.

In my back pocket, replacing my Tokyo guide, was a guide of Hong Kong walks which I picked up from the airport. Once more with something acting as travel security blanket I could wander where I would, with the presence of a welcomed guide should one ever be required.

The buildings here are beautiful, and unique as they are, I'm told they also represent a long of what makes this city this city. Each building is designed by a foreigner, and each building is a near copy of others elsewhere in the world.

It is this beauty, yet failure to innovate that makes Hong Kong what it has become today. A power to be sure, but one which I'm told is on the decline, with little hope of it lasting through the next three decades.

With the city wandered, and myself still not fully recovered from the exhaustion I had faced only a day before, I headed back for an early night. Podcasts may have been listened to – y first thought was “it's beginning,” but then I realized I was listening to them during the time I'd just have been chatting with people before. And here, in this room where four people nearly touch each night as they sleep, we each have our own computers – and thus there is no conversation.

I recognize I'm part of the problem, but that doesn't make it any most upsetting. I wonder if Europe is still a bumping place to meet fellow backpackers or if the past months have been cruel to it as well? Cure you iPhone and net books! Curse you!

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