Thursday, January 10, 2008
The Truth About Hong Kong
The picture above was not taken by me, but this is the HK version of the Sunset Strip, Vegas Strip, 4th Ave, Mardi Gras, whatever.
There are some people who think my Hong Kong existence is not nearly exciting enough. No, I haven't had a kung-fu battle on bamboo scaffolding. No, I haven't had any encounters with Triads at seedy tattoo parlors. And no, I have yet to eat anything that looks like birds nest or shark fin. But give it time.
I work in an office with one other person and stare at excel spreadsheets all day. I eat Subway for dinner several times a week because that's all I can afford, and if it worked for Jared it can work for me too. I'm also trying to avoid McDonalds as much as possible but sweet fatty america, they serve egg mcmuffins all day. Yes, I shop at Ikea cause I can't afford the gorgeous antiques on Hollywood Road, and don't want to come home with a cheap shelf from Mon Kok that could give me tetanus. Yes, I pick up Starbucks every morning on the way to work because I don't have a coffee maker at home or at work yet, and that's the only coffee shop in the area. And I kinda like that they already know my name.
Alexis said Hong Kong is Asia Lite, which is the truth.
It's a big city with people from all over the world and you don't need to take the time to learn the language. There are some seedy parts but everywhere is pretty sanitary because of SARS and Bird Flu. I've seen one homeless person.
So if you wanna know what it's really like, keep reading or click here for the original article.
YOU KNOW YOU'RE IN SOUTHEAST ASIA WHEN:
You get off the plane and a man holding a sign which reads: "Lee Trevino" looks you in the eye and nods in your direction with the assurance of a samurai that you are indeed Mr. Trevino. You laugh at the misidentification but quickly realize that you are the only Caucasian person in the vicinity and understand that we must all look the same to him.
- You sit to take a shit in the public restroom at the airport and your testicles dangle above the water level at the same altitude Tom Cruise hovered above the floor in Mission Impossible. Any aquatic disturbance whatsoever will surely increase the moisture content on your scrotum. So a free falling trans-Pacific-brewing turd definitely soaks the pendulum sack and undercarriage with a wave of poo water.
- Your English speaking tour guide is on her first day of work. She can't speak discernable English. You spend most of the day squinting as you try to understand her.
- You get mugged by Asian school girls thinking you're a movie star simply because you don't look Asian. Still, this does wonders for the ego.
- While you're not getting mugged by Asian school girls, you are constantly being gawked and pointed at by everyone else because you tower over their entire population and just flat out look weird to them. You are average looking and only six feet tall but they make you feel like you were Chunk from The Goonies. Like Barry Bonds in a "Smallest Head Contest", no matter what you do, you stick out like a sore thumb.
- Your nostrils want to quit. Imagine a scent made of exhaust, shit, piss, sweat, incense, rotting food, and various cooked/uncooked/dried sealife being sold for consumption. Imagine that stench as a smelling salt. Now visualize that miasma being shoved up your nose. Your nostrils plead for you to not inhale again.
- Yes, there are Chinatowns. Even here.
- You ate ferret at a meal and didn't realize it.
- Your insanely delicious lunch cost you $1.
- Every intersection looks like a 50-car pile up is about to breakout at any time.
- You see a family of 5 on one moped like they were performing a tightrope walking routine. And helmets must have been outlawed in the city or something.
- Each new driving maneuver you witness subsequently becomes 'the craziest shit you've ever seen.'
- Pulling out a map in a crowded place turns out to be the dumbest thing you could ever do. Like lions on a wounded buffalo, everyone swarms you. They will point out suggestions of where you should go next and what you should do with your life in the subsequent hour like they were part of your team on a treasure hunt and a group decision needed to be made. If you don't go where they suggest you should go, you will get yelled at like you've insulted them in some way.
- Yes, everyone else is laughing at you in their mother tongue.
- You think that Los Angeles' air quality is like a biologic clean room in comparison to whatever city you are in.
- You realize that pedestrians don't have the right of way, ever. The faded crosswalk is there as a suggestion to where you should play "Frogger". It's also the same place where the police will find your body.
- The super new cool cell phone you bought for $500 a month ago is most definitely NOT the most advanced phone out there. We are at least a year behind in technology. In comparison, your phone looks like the big white behemoth cell phones mobsters used in the back of limousines in any movie made in the 80's.
- It's 95 degrees in the shade and yet everyone around you is in jeans looking surprisingly comfortable. You seem to be the only person wearing shorts and sunglasses and sweating profusely. It's so hot that you feel like Clark W. Griswold in Vacation as he stumbles out of the desert and utters, "Water! Water!" You wonder what genetic advantages the white man has when it comes to heat or adverse climates in general, but can't think of any.
- Someone just tried to sell you a squirrel on a leash.
- People own elephants and monkeys like you would own a dog or say, a cat.
- You're sure that PETA most definitely does not have offices in South East Asia.
- While on a public train you fall asleep but are woken up by a man playing with your arm hair. He does not stop playing with it.
- Personal space is not part of the common understanding of daily life. Asia excels at 'persons in a space' not personal space.
- You are asked by 98% of the female population if you would like a massage.
- Yes, she is shooting ping pong balls out of her vagina.
- You are asked by one distinct Thai male on the side of the street if you would like - in this progression mind you - "Thai Massage?...Oil Massage?...Dick Massage?"
- Every English speaking person you meet is either from England or Australia.
- Every Asian person who is not in a suit is trying to rip off English speakers one way or another.
- You think to yourself that anyone selling anything in South East Asia would be thrown in jail for harassment or assault in the U.S. You withstand such strategies such as, "You buy!" as you pass a vendor. Then there's the old trick of them putting a watch on your wrist without your consent and then demanding payment for said watch. By "demanding" I mean that they basically try to rob you.
- You buy 2 shirts for $3 and think you got the deal of the century. "I just got 2 shirts for $3!!!" You find out that your friend got 2 shirts for $2 and you quickly feel like you've been had. "2 shirts for $3?!?! That BASTARD!!" Price is all relative at that moment. No one, and I mean NO ONE, likes to feel bamboozled by some street merchant especially when your friend paid 33% less than you did for the same goods. You break into a cold sweat and lose sleep that night as you think of a way to find the robber baron that took you for a ride and somehow get your dollar back.
- You get in a tuk tuk (rickshaw) and there is no meter. You have to guess how much your journey should cost, low ball the driver, have him laugh at you and double the price. You threaten to get out of the tuk tuk, and he tells you to go ahead. You get out of the tuk tuk and he agrees to your original price. You get back in the tuk tuk. This is pretty much standard operations.
- Every tuk tuk driver tells you that the place you want to go to is closed and that they will take you to special places and temples that are open. They are of course lying and they take you to textile shops in the middle of Timbuktu where they get a commission off anything you buy. It's like East Germany in the 80's. Everyone's in on it. It's fucking lawless.
- The real cab drivers don't know the city anymore than a blind tourist does. You get in a cab at the Bangkok Airport. It is a city sponsored proper cab with a meter! You tell the driver to take you to the intersection of the 2 busiest roads in Bangkok (i.e. Times Square if you were in NYC). He proceeds to take you in the complete wrong direction for 20 miles before you recognize that the population density should be increasing per every minute of the drive instead of rapidly decreasing. He still truly believes he is going the right way. He speaks less English than a Chimpanzee.
- You keep thinking you've seen the biggest Buddha statue you've ever seen until you walk down the street a little further and see a bigger one.
- You realize that people take their Buddha more seriously than whatever God you think you believe in. They just seem surer than you do.
- From what you've witnessed, you're quite certain that slavery still exists in the world.
- You are somehow able to buy DVD's for $1 of movies that haven't even been filmed yet.
- You are on a puddle hopping flight in Thailand. There pretty much is no security in the airport. You'd feel safer walking drunk through Deadwood with money hanging out of every pocket than you do getting on this plane.
- You get on the puddle hopping flight and sit down in seat 13F. 'F' must stand for fetal because that is the position you find yourself in. The seat in front of you is so close that your thighs and chest become best buds. When the person in front of you decides to recline, you get the wind knocked out of you. Being shipped across the sea in a row boat wearing a straight jacket while lying in a hidden compartment of some magicians prop would be first class travel in comparison.
- You order 'nachos' at a restaurant and what you receive is actually quite different. It's a plate of stale bread chips covered with ONE partially melted Kraft square cheese on top. i.e. the entire piece of cheese travels with one particular bread chip leaving you with a whole lot of cheese and not a lot of chips for one bite...and a whole lot of chips and no cheese for the rest of the meal.
- You order something with mild spice. You feel like you are eating burning embers.
- You think to yourself, "Wow! Is that a swarm of bats over there? Or maybe they are mini helicopters!" Nope. Those are mosquitoes.
- Everytime it rains, it floods...biblically speaking
- You see a reticulated python on the side of the road on your jungle trek. It looks peaceful. Your tour guide tells you that it is safe to touch it since it is shedding it's skin. You lean in. He backs away. You do not attempt to touch it. You don't see the humor in the joke, at all.
- You have to wear leech socks on the jungle trek. You get covered in leeches regardless. This is of course nowhere in the brochure.
- You are lying on the beach sleeping but every 12 seconds you are woken up by a different person each time trying to sell you some jewelry. You wonder if the involuntary eye twitch of REM sleep was Morse code for, "I like."
- A fellow passenger on the bus you're on has a dispute with the bus driver and his crew. It escalates quickly and one of the crew members removes a machete and holds it to the guy's face. Argument over. I wish I was joking.
- Your friend points out a particular Rolex in the store magazine to the owner knowing damn well that what he's probably going to get is a 'Folex'. The watch isn't in the store. His associate has it. You have to follow his associate to get it. You're not sure why you two follow but you do. 10 minutes later you are sitting at the kitchen table in the apartment of some unknown person who resides at the end of a shady-ass back alley. As he goes and gets the watch out of his drawer, his roommate sits with you at the table. When he sees the watch, your friend silently tells you that he doesn't like the watch. You tell your friend that he can't NOT want the watch at this point because you value your life.
- The Rolex your friend just bought dies 5 days later but he keeps it on his wrist so people at least THINK he has an actual Rolex.
- One night, a transvestite with a kung-fu death grip steals his Rolex. You choose not to fight with someone who has tits that nice and an Adam's apple so prominent.