Sunday, 5 February 2017

On a Dragon's Back (or In FORCED EXILE in Hong Kong. LOL)

Where was I?  Or more importantly: Where AM I ? LOL. 
It's a Friday night. I'm in Hong Kong. 
Less than half an hour ago, I said Good Bye to Zulema at the transfer gate, through which I was not allowed to go without a boarding pass.  The only thing left to do for me was to pass immigration to leave the airport.

During my first cigarette in front of the magnificent airy Hong Kong airport hall, I'm still confused

But the realization that the place that I'm 'stuck' in is MUCH nicer than the place I was travelling to
"I'm going to fly like a bird through the night ..."
It's only been a 2.5 hour flight from Phnom Penh but it is something like 11 pm Hong Kong time.  The no-boarding-pass stress probably contributed to my state of tiredness and exhaustion.  The thought of taking the Airport Express to HK Island is unpleasant.  So I book an expensive room right at the airport. This extravagant decision was facilitated by the name of the place. Regal Airport Hotel.
For those who don't know what regal means:  'befitting a king', LOL
Note:  If you still can walk, DO give the Regal Hotel a miss and stumble to the Airport Express, where you can have a 24 minute nap !

E-mailing Zulema from the hotel and getting a reply while she is still waiting for her flight INSIDE the airport is just WEIRD !

It was pitch-dark last night when I arrived so I'm happy to see that the skies are brightening.

Saturday. Early.  Zulema is stuck in a tin can somewhere over the Pacific.

My expensive room came with an included breakfast served on the 11th Executive Floor !  I've had smoked salmon and capers for breakfast in hotels before, but this is the first time that it's INCLUDED, LOL.

The view is magnificent.  The company is less desirable.  It's the people who pay to fly first class.  How anyone can retain a peaceful conscience when they spend and amount EXTRA for a 10 hour flight that is equivalent to what a welfare recipient receives in a year is beyond me.

When I get to Hong Kong Station, I have to pee.  That's fine, there should be a washroom in IFC mall somewhere.  The first one is being cleaned and an especially posted person with a sign sends me to the next washroom one floor higher.  Quite a walk!   After the washroom business is done, I feel more at ease to take pictures of things I saw rushing TO the washroom
The iCrap store from the inside
Despite the urgency when rushing to the washroom, I had noticed a watch in one of the store windows along the way.  Every time I'm in an airport, I check out watch displays to see whether any of the major companies can still (again) make watches that are as gorgeous as the watches of the '60s of the last century.  And every time I'm disappointed.  That's why I noticed THIS baby:  It is simple, gorgeous, and I want it ;-)
It is from a well-known Swiss maker and it doesn't carry a price tag.  Ah well, how much could it be.  I actually enter the store and one of the clerks then proceeds to tell me that this is a hand-winding watch.  The automatic version looks different and I don't like it.  Ah well, I tried.
Now here is the bizarre thing.  Taking the Ding Ding and my feet East across Hong Kong Island I run into quite a few MORE stores proudly displaying their Vacheron watches.  And that gorgeous watch is always present.  One of these stores even displays prices next to the watch.  150,000 HK$. A quick back-of-the-brain calculation leaves me mentally mumbling "That can't be: CAN$ 25,000?"  With a price like that, these watch stores could NOT be spaced more closely than 7/11s in Vancouver !  You simply can't have a Rolex store or Porsche dealership on every block

When I've made it to my new hotel I let Google do the math.  25,333 Canadian Dollars.  I've just come from Cambodia, where the number of new landmine victims in the year 2016 for the first time fell below 100,000.  The money for just FOUR of these watches would give a Dollar to every one of those unfortunate late victims of various aggressors on Cambodian soil.  But what hits me even harder is this:  

 If I wore a watch like that, beautiful as it may be, I would no longer be able to look those victims in the eye.   And don't forget, it is CRUCIAL to treat those in need as fellow human beings (I know, it's not exactly en vogue these days).  But if I wore that watch, I would have voluntarily surrender my own humanity and soul (Remember Faust?). Now I understand WHY all those Porsche drivers have to stare at the red light instead of looking at the homeless.

Temptation is everywhere.  

The top line is much more tempting than the lower one

So cars can walk on water .....

This is the Hong Kong I LOVE

Since I've committed the error of checking my backpack as luggage under Zu's boarding pass all the way from Phnom Penh to Vancouver, I have NO clothes except the ones I'm wearing and not even a toothbrush.  
After a bit of walking around, I have secured spare undies and socks as well as some T-shirts
At least I always refused to buy one of these in Brittany !

Still 24 hours to wait until I can visit the Canadian Consulate to get a visa to get me out of here.  Might as well use this time to do something I have been curious about for a long time.  There is a famous hiking trail in Hong Kong, by the name of The Dragon's Back, which is supposed to grant fabulous views.  I've read about it a few times, so this day is the perfect opportunity to check it out !
I'm not the only one heading for a hike
Google Maps is an amazing assistant in trying to figure out how to get somewhere using public transport. And it doesn't fail this time either ;-)
Fellow hikers in their hiking outfits with their provisions
After witnessing the above, I am slightly worried that my regular street clothes and the small bottle of water might be insufficient equipment to master the Dragon ....

But just think of all those people riding their bicycles in special bike shoes, bike pants, bike t-shirts, bike-gloves, and whatever else.   Those people mistake a bicycle as a piece of exercise equipment, while it really is no more than a means of transport. So you don't have to pay big bucks to Nike, Adidas, etc, to ride it.

The 'hike' starts innocently enough.  But soon enough, I encounter steep sections and rapidly I am rewarded by views

As is the case on the bicycle, this not properly equipped hiker (NO brand names on my back), soon passes all the 'pros' on the never-ending incline.

But the drudgery is very much worth it.   At first I think that this is the destination.

Then I realize that this is actually NOT the destination but that I've only reached the LOWEST point of the Dragon's Back.  The 'back' obviously is extending and wiggling to higher elevations, as evident in the picture below:
Me being Me, I take a quick breather (i.e. have a cigarette) and according to the motto "while I'm here, might as well", keep heading up-hill.
Funny thing. If you keep walking uphill, at some point all you can see is down-hill.

You can tell by the body language of these hikers that THIS is the peak !

 On the last bit of downhill stretch I realize how lucky (or foresighted ;-) I had been to come here early on a Sunday.   The crowds have arrived and in some tighter sections of the trail I have to stop quite frequently because instead of leaping over boulders, the people in front of me are actually "Yielding to opposing traffic"
By the time I get back to the bus stop, my T-shirt is dalmationed by sweat spots.  But it was well worth it ;-)

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