I’ve made it to Guangzhou after a comfortable hour-and-a-half train ride from Hong Kong. I’ll be spending a week at the capital of Guangdong province, reconnecting with long-lost relatives and visiting the building my father grew up in (if it’s still there). My cousin once removed, who was kind enough to pick me up from the train station, will be showing me around.
But as I sit here in my hotel room, which looks across to the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, I’m still digesting my week in Hong Kong. Here are some quick thoughts from the past week:
— Hong Kongers viewed me with a sense of amusement, curiosity, exasperation or pity, depending on the person and situation. People instantly recognized by my accent that I wasn’t a native speaker. At the bar, when I ordered wrong (I would say one thing of beer, instead of one bottle), it was cute and funny. It was most likely the booze, but people were complimenting me on my Cantonese. At the local 7-11, when I would struggle with my vocabulary, I was wasting the sales-woman’s time and testing her patience.
— I will never understand fashion, just ask any of my friends or look at my wardrobe. But fashion in Hong Kong is bewildering, especially the clothes worn by young hipsters. They’ve taken it to another level. They’re still wearing trucker hats, which became passé in the U.S. years ago (am I right?). And they wear T-shirts that mimic American slogans and culture but are nonsensical or are a little off. Like the “Nevada vs. Oregon” or “We Are The Champion” shirts I saw in one store. And don’t get be started on the ubiquity of Louis Vuitton bags, on women and men.
— I think there are more Starbucks per city block in Hong Kong than Seattle. There’s even one at the shopping village of the Tian Tan Buddha statue, which is out in Lantau. But I don’t think Sonics scourge Howard Shultz has to worry about closing any down, they’re packed every time I walk past one.
— Hong Kong is one clean city, cleaner than New York. It looks like they’ve taken extra steps to make the city nearly spotless after the SARS scare and the bird flu.
— There’s a trap that I think some expats and people who are traveling can fall into. It’s easy to feel a sense of arrogance and elitism when you’re in a foreign city, even if its a minute degree or not overt (though some times it is). I only say this because I’m not immune to these feelings. I’ve had to check myself several times: when I was enjoying the nightlife in Hong Kong, when I was walking around Macau, when I decided to catch the earlier ferry back to HK even though it was $100 HK more (all the coach seats were booked). If any elitism or conceit comes through this blog, please call me out on it and hit me in the head.
— I’ve been using my Canon point-and-shoot camera over my Canon 20D SLR. The main reason was the humidity, which fogged up my lens every time I pulled it out of my bag. It’s also been much easier to carry the smaller camera. But I think the quality of pictures have suffered. So I’ll be lugging around my SLR the next few days. Let me know what you think
That’s all for now. It’s midnight here in Guangzhou, but here was the view from my room this afternoon, looking out toward the city and the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.