Friday, August 15, 2008

To the Gizzard of Oz via Chinese New York

Hong Kong: the city so good that naming it twice would just cheapen the whole affair.

So maybe in we did Viet Nam a little fast. It's what happens, you're on the road for a number of weeks and you stay too long in the first place you visit (Thailand in our case) and you find out the clock, as has become it's habit, kept ticking. So we gave ourselves an extra week which meant we stopped in Saigon, Na Thrang, Hoi An then flew to Hanoi only to catch another flight to Hong Kong which was, before we arrived just a hub to get to where we are right now (Cairns, Austrailia), and is in fact the most fun city in South East Asia. It's so developed that it's almost unfair to consider it as a contender amongst the rest and so expensive that it's probably immoral to recommend a trip there to backpackers who actually look at the bill for things before they pay but whatever.

It's weird I suppose that from Bangkok to Hong Kong, the first leg or our trip, it seems the further east you go the more west things get. And HK is definitely the clincher. We stayed, after some cursory research in a swanky hotel in an area that was allegedly (and after real-life experience confirmed to be) kicking.

Lan Kwai Fong. It's near Soho and close to the financial district and is made of skyscrapers, taxis and streets called Gloucester and Aberdeen and is positioned against a cloudy tipped mountain overlooking one of the largest ports in the world. I can't tell you (and am under too much pressure for time to indulge in the poetic hunt for the sort of metaphors and synonyms that look good together) how nice it was to drive around those streets in a clean taxi with a driver who spoke fluent english and agreed to, and subsequently (this is the important bit) actually succeeded in, taking us to our hotel with no fuss. And then we get there and have our bags brought to a lovely and quaint (read: miniscule) but well appointed and ultimately luxurious hotel room on the 27th Floor. (See below for the view from the room.)

The twin beds were close together (almost in such a proximity that one might mistake them at a certain angle for one large king size) which would have made for interesting dissection of how we both entered them: (seperately I would like to make clear) with groans of rapacious pleasure. You see, the sheets were clean, the blankets had that lank heaviness that good ones do, the air was conditioned enough to make them necessary and the shower, Oh the shower, I have never been so gently and pleasurably beaten into awareness of how wonderful western civilisation can be as I was during the oppulent pummeling I was given under that shower head.

Note: I am aware of the giggling misinterpretation that is wide open within the above but was so moved by the experience that it's a price I'm happy to pay.

Anyway not to descend into a Keatsian lament just take my many words for it, amazing experience and all as it was in South East Asia, realised in the first couple of hours: I am a westerner to the core.

Even in Viet Nam you can't really get a drink late, though we made a good attempt after a dingy little club in Hanoi left us down, in a place called Hair of the Dog. Herein at 2am we were ushered beyond a shuttered shopfront only at 3am to be reversely compelled by a band of Vietnamese police (whose uniforms I made a point of complimenting as I drunkenly and brazenly shook their hands) who departed not ten minutes later as we transparently waited on the streets outside only to repeat our previous clandestine entrance. That notwithstanding, you usually can't stay out late in any of the countries we visited except Thailand, and certainly not in places that are pumping. But Hong Kong does not sleep. Really, anytime day or night, forget it, it's awake. The first of our two nights saw us scramble back to the hotel in broad daylight. The second was not much different. Too much happened to delve into specifics but there were and are plenty to savour over the coming days. There were some excellent restaurants (one that professed on it's menu to have been considered as one of the best in the world) and some really nice clubs but to be honest some of the things I enjoyed the most about the place were things you could enjoy at home. The same could be said of Adam who, to his credit, did submit to my reply to his (only half joking) suggestion that we eat in McDonalds since there were plenty: "With only two nights in Hong Kong? Fuck that," and savoured all the more our last day's pilgrimage to the long lost Big Mac before our flight to the land down under.

The above promised and here delivered view (there is a video but it would take longer to upload on this connection that it would to raise a couple of children) from our Lan Kwai Fong Hotel's glorious window. (Un-openable it was too: Lest the tourist find this city too beautiful to endure and the business traveller find himself too endurable to see the beauty and both be impelled to leap into it's breast.)

The man himself locked in a lover's embrace with his long lost sweetheart.

1 comment:

aidan said...

Gorgeous. Wording, that is, of the moment when man meets bun.
Must confess to not knowing much about Keats at all, though I'm now a Wikipedia-certified expert, and most importantly (and you'll get a kick out of this), if you search the words "Keatsian lament", yours is the first result.