Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Minority Report

Imagine if you will...You wake up in a beautiful hotel room with all of the modern amenities a person could want along with a spectacular view of a harbour filled with ships of trade and busy ferry traffic. You make yourself a cup of coffee or tea, take a shower, get dressed, and head down to the lobby. An eerily cheerful man at the concierge desk greets you in English and quickly supplies you with a map and two tickets for the airport shuttle in to downtown. Upon arriving at a shopping mall flaunting shops like Gucci, Prada, and Tiffany's you walk down to the subway terminus and buy your tickets from another English speaking attendant. The maps are easy to read and the trip to your destination is smooth. You exit the subway car, walk up the stairs to street level and SLAP!!!!!!!!!!! Asia hits you in the face. A car almost runs you over because it is mistakingly driving on the wrong side of the road, people are speaking in a language that sounds strangely fictional, and you are the only westerner in sight.

Welcome to Hong Kong.

There is nothing like a simple trip to the local market to remind you that you are not in Kansas anymore. Numerous vendors line a maze of streets and alleyways slanging all sorts of delicious treats for their loyal customers. Vast varieties of unidentifiable marine life flap around in shallow pools of water, fresh carcasses hang outside ready for made-to-order butchering, and a seemingly endless supply of exotic produce sit in cardboard boxes awaiting purchase. The conversations between the vendors and the patrons are so animated that you wonder if they are arguing with one another, simply doing business, or both. These sites and sounds are so distracting that you don't realize that people are staring at you with wonder and curiousity. Simply put..."What are you doing here?"

Mariana and I of course knew nothing of how to purchase any of these items, so we exited stage left and sought out a much less intimidating city park. The parks are incredible in Hong Kong, as they provide beautiful garden landscapes, world class sporting facilities, and traditional activities like Tai Chi and "pebble walking" to its many citizens. We opted to participate in a "pebble walk", which simply put, entails walking barefoot along a path of pointed rocks. The path naturally applies pressure to various points along the bottom of your foot providing a greatly appreciated foot massage and momentary meditation. After exploring the park, we scarfed down some wonton soup and headed to the Hong Kong Museum of Art. The museum hosts an exhaustive collection of incredible Chinese art and boasts a breath-taking view of Victoria Harbour.

A long subway ride later, I scarfed down some shrimp flavoured chips from the local 7-11, two Tsing Tao beers, and drifted off to sleep fully content with our first day.

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