Thursday, June 29, 2006

police box

Yesterday at about 1 in the morning I went out for a walk. (Something Ive been doing a lot recently.) I came upto a koban. This is hard to translate, its often translated into the odd English "police box" and its basically a mini police station. Mostly the cops in koban give directions to crazy old people and stupid foreigners. I think they can process small time villains too, but nothing major. Anyway, as I came upto the koban I realized no one was inside. The door was half open with a sign on the inside table that said (in Japanese ofcourse) "currently out on patrol" I stepped inside and took the picture that should be included with this post. I felt kind of like a vegetarian at a Meat Lovers BBQ so I didnt stay inside. I continued my walk. (Incidentally I've seen alot of late night "on patrol" koban, and even this one was still empty an hour later on my way home. I wonder if its really a patrol issue or a desire not to say "nobody's home right now.")

Monday, June 26, 2006

geeky glimpse

My computer is still in Korea. My friend is suppose to send it to me, but he still hasnt. And even though its broken, I miss it. Apparently I miss it so much that my mind has produced several grief reduction dreams. Each dream is roughly the same: mailman comes with a computer box shaped package. Hmm who is this for? he wonders aloud. Its mine! I declare ripping open the box and plugging in the computer, and it works! Watch out world, PC power is once again mine! {evil mad scientist laugh} OK yeah I know this is so pathetic that its almost scary.. .

Monday, June 19, 2006

airport incident

My real last day in Hong Kong was an early morning trip to the airport. And if I was keen to believe in luck, I'd say what a seemingly unlucky trip it was.
I woke up early and decided to take the bus. Both because it is cheaper and offers a better view than the airport express train. It was 5 in the morning and I put a HK$100 bill into the bus money slot. Then I remember HK isnt like Korea, no change. From a HK$23 trip up to the same price as the train. Oops. I went up to the top deck on this double decker bus, and watch Hong Kong slip past. I'm still glad I took the bus instead. Some of the views almost defy words. We were on a highway just as the sun was almost awake, but not yet in the sky. The sun was still below the horizon but its impending arrival had turned the black sky to a deep vivid blue. At about that moment we took a long lazy curve onto a massive bridge over hong kong bay. The thousands of cargo boats glittered below, coming and going. And then we were gone, tropical trees rushed passed the window.
I got to the airport and the staff were helping people use the self-check-in machine. (Yes I thought it was weird to have help doing something I was supposed to do myself to save time.) The lady scans my passport and asks me her routine questions. She seems to get worried when I say no to "Do you have an onward ticket for after your arrival in Japan?" She points to the main desk and tells me to talk to her manager. Her manager curtly tells me they cant let me on the airplane with a oneway ticket. I tell her that if thats true they should have told me before they let me come to Hong Kong. She tells me to buy another ticket, I tell her I didnt bring enough money with me. She says that if I dont have an onward ticket she wont let me on the airplane. (If you're lost, she means even though I bought a roundtrip ticket from Japan, if I dont have another ticket to exit Japan at a later date after I get there, then she wont let me on the plane.) She tells me if I wont buy another ticket she cant help me and I will have to go home. I point out I dont have a home in Hong Kong and dont even have enough money in my pocket to stay in Hong Kong so she is dooming me to being homeless in Hong Kong. She says "I'm sorry sir, I cant help you." and walks off. Ouch. I decide to wait in the normal line. Its slow. I get to the counter and the lady prints out my ticket and is just about to hand it to me when something beeps on her computer. She asks me the question. I suddenly remember the round trip boat ticket I bought in Korea to Japan. She says it doesnt count if I dont have a ticket with me. She writes "void" on my ticket. I only have 30 minutes until boarding. I get noisy. They ignore me. I get very noisy. (For those of you wondering what "very noisy" means, I refused to leave the line. I stood infront of other customers, telling them "I'm sorry, I need to talk to her." and then repeated "I must have a ticket. I am the customer. I bought a ticket you must give it to me." to which I was told many times "I cant help you sir" to which I repeated my mantra over and over again. I know thats not nice, but being homeless in Hong Kong wasnt a good option.) Anyway, to make a long story short, I sign something, let them call some of my friends in Japan, and they let me get in a special staff door and run to my plane as the final call rings. Almost a big problem, with a happy end. (Incidently, the electricity was bad in the airplane I got on to, all the lights flickered and went off several times during the flight. I remember thinking I would be the most unlucky person in the world if I had forced me way onto a flight that crashed.)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

last day in hong kong

neon signs are what hong kong is all about, tsim sha tsui, click for bigger version.I love this city. Hong Kong is vibrant, and alive, crushed with so many people it quite literally astounds the mind. I think what I like most is the dirtiness of this city. New buildings and shopping centers can be found almost everywhere you turn, but they are matched with more than the same amount of quite simply shabby, dirt crusted old buildings. And I dont say that in a negative way. This gives a kind of history to the place, it makes one aware of older times, of times before the current day, it seems to help stretch Hong Kong into a deserving continuum of past with present. The dirtiness is hard to explain unless it is seen, so for those who are only floating on my words, let me try to explain that it isnt an 'unclean' kind of dirty, it is an old faded paint with a history kind of dirty, and thats one of the things I really love about this city. But its more than that, something about this city really pulls me. I think I'll live here someday even though its so small.
Today, I didn't do much, I woke up early and met my college friend Polly to eat lunch with her during her lunchbrake. It was awkward. If somehow me and her were exlovers it would have been about the same sort of awkwardness, but oddly we are simply college friends. However for some unknown reason she has grown so cold recently. We met, sat down, and ate lunch. She exchanged hardly any words with me, beyond "I gotta go now" before leaving. Its not like I didnt try to talk to her, but anything I said was only followed by head nodding. I remember once talking to Polly about how hating someone was really showing a lot of love towards someone (the intensity of the emotion and all), and she had agreed. I had said that it would be truly evil to just not have any emotion towards them, she had also agreed. So I guess thats what shes doing, just being cold and cool for whatever personal reasons I am not aware of. She misunderstood me though, I didnt mean I would find it evil, I think I ment it would be evil for the heart of the person doing it. I dont feel upset or angry at her, just a bit confused and sorry for her. I hope whatever she is going through isnt too bad. Yesterday after hanging out with Tom for hours, I actually met Candace (American friend from college, I thought I wouldnt be able to get a hold of her but finally did yesterday), and that is how friends should meet. It was warm, friendly, and although quite brief, for sure the highlight of this trip. Too bad we didnt have time to do a bit of exploring Hong Kong together.

I wish I could put my thoughts and impressions in a bottle and cast them out to my readers. I guess that sort of thing will be closer when I get a high-res video camera or some sort of thing, but it wont be ever quite possible I guess. In any case, Hong Kong is alive at this moment, the noise, the smells, the thick hot humid summer air mixed in with the spirit of the city.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

quick stop in Hong Kong

old man with washington apple box on his bike, hong kong. click for big versionI have flown to Hong Kong... again! I just left a few months ago, but I need to refresh my Japanese tourist visa so here I am again, just for a few days.

The first thing I noticed was the heat and the super fast escalators. True to form, I was back in Hong Kong again. I hadnt had time to check for a place to stay before I came to Hong Kong so I went to the information booth at the airport. I got a general idea about where to go, and headed downtown (tsim sha tsui) at about 11 at night. The area is crouded with the sort of people who have 8 "special" rolex watches on their arm, and they try to sell one to you. That kind of area. I walked around for a few hours, but couldnt find anything that seemed cheap enough. Finally around 1, I decided to try a random "guest house" that had a slightly English sign. The lady who greets me speaks broken English, and I end up with a HK$150 (15EURO or US$19) room that is litterally the same size as the bed. No joke. You pull the door open to the hallway, and step up onto the bed. Cars thunder past the window endlessly all night. The only perk was the tiny private shower room that was attached to the side of the room. About a third the size of a normal broom closet, it was small but nice to have a shower (since the heat even at 1 in the morning makes anyone sweat very bad). So then it was off to bed (after jumping up and down naked on the bed, of course) but I didnt get much sleep. Even with my head sandwhiched between two pillows I couldnt cut out the noise of the city.

Today I met my HK friend Tom, and I'll meet my other HK friend Polly tomorrow for lunch. My American friend Candace is in town visiting, but I cant get ahold of her so I guess I wont get a chance to meet her. I'm also leaving the day after tomorrow just 5 hours before my other American friend (priscilla) comes to Hong Kong. I'm so unlucky, if only I had a different ticket! Anyway, tonight I moved to a nicer room in a new place at Mong Kok station. A few more dollers (although about the same price) but it seems like it will be a little more quiet... I hope!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

couple of moments

A couple of moments from the last couple of days.
Watching TV with Yuka. I see the Japanese minister of foreign affairs and find out that he has a name that sounds like a profane English word. I proceed to pretend I am meeting him and laugh about it with Yuka. Yuka's mom hears us and asks us whats funny. I explain that the Minster of Foreign Affairs has a name that sounds like a "bad word" in English. She nods and then goes back to the kitchen. A few seconds later she begins repeating the word over and over again as if she has some sort of horribly focused turrets syndrome. Me and Yuka laugh sheepishly and tell her that she doesnt really need to memorize that word.
The other day, I went somewhere for a job interview. I'm early, so I go for a walk. About 20 minutes before my interview, I decide that its best to not have a full bladder when having an interview so I go to a convience store. I ask to use the toilet, go in and do my business. After I finish, I turn around and grasp the door handle to go out and it falls off into my hand. I try to put it back on but for some reason thats hopeless. Even if I hold the broken door knob up to the stub on the door, turning it does not open the door. I bang on the door but they are playing music in the store and upfront they cant hear me back here. I swear in Japanese. I imagine missing my interview stuck next to a stinky old toilet. I pound harder on the door. Still nobody comes. I yell at the top of my lungs "please help me!!" Finally a young woman from the front counter comes and says nervously through the door "What is the problem, sir?" Its at this moment that I'm very happy I can communicate in this country's language because I know she wouldnt let me out unless I explain my situation. I tell her that the door is broken and I cant get out. She lets me out and I get to my interview just in time.
All original content CC 2002-2012 BY NC SA - first design from dilarangmelarang altered by neonvirus and thunderbunny.