HoKo Oh no!

Trip Start Aug 24, 2007
Trip End Jul 04, 2008

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Flag of China  ,
Sunday, January 27, 2008

    After not showering for a couple of days, Max and I made it back into Hong Kong city proper.  Hong Kong the city was the most bizarre and surreal experience for me.  It was clean, everything was well-marked (it's virtually impossible to get incredibly lost and confused in the city above ground), everyone spoke English, and there was such a mix of different ethnicities that it was really hard to believe that I was in a city that is "connected" to the same country as Kaifeng.  

    I didn't really pay much attention to all of the Gucci, Dior, and H & Ms we passed on our way to Lingnan University, where Celeste (and Kyle and Erin and Kerensa all at some point) is studying.  After finding her, we headed out to an international student orientation barbeque event because it was her first week on her program.  As Max and I boarded a bus full of 40-some native speakers, fresh off the plane and new to Asia, it was then that I realized just how scrappy China has made me.  We still hadn't showered at this point and Max and I were lugging around our sleeping bags and mats because we weren't quite sure where we were going to sleep that night since Lingnan has a strict no-visitor policy. We were surrounded by twenty or so girls from big American state schools who were dressed like they were going to the club and discussing their shock and disgust with squatty potties.  Max and I just looked at each other sheepishly with our clothes all ripped and baggy from our exploits in China.  It looked like Celeste had two homeless people tagging around with her.  I felt really badly that she was meeting people with the two of us, all smelly and dirty and scrappy.
    We finally did clean up and after we found our CS host's place in the city, I spent the next couple of days in a daze.  Hong Kong felt like this really surreal place to me.  Most of the time I felt like I was walking down New York City's Canal Street in the summertime with all of the city's high rises, massive crowds on the sidewalk (cramming seven million people onto a tiny, rocky island creates both the high rises and the near impenetrable wall of pedestrians), and the vendors hawking fake goods like Louis Vuitton and Coach purses on the street.  I was so weirded out and going through such an unexpected bout of culture shock that I couldn't really enjoy the city as much as I probably would have if it was my first stop in Asia.  My brain was really full from hearing so much English all the time that I walked around with headaches because I couldn't filter out the side conversations that were happening around me and were completely irrelevant which made me feel crazy.  Also, my students are just wrong saying that Hong Kong has been a part of China since "time immemorial" and it is now a part of China proper again.  Hong Kong is a completely different country than China.  It's so developed and so Westernized and has its own sense of culture (a very bizarre Asian capitalistic and materialistic culture), that I'm not really sure how the Chinese government will be able to assimilate this mountainous island into its full control.  I'm going to be really interested to see how things develop in the next fifty years.
    But along with my unexpected culture shock, came unexpected rain and ridiculous fog! It rained and rained and rained and rained and didn't stop.  And as I found out after I left Hong Kong, it wouldn't stop.
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chaskemp on

good one
I enjoyed your photos and words. Sounds like you got it - overwhelming. My wife and I have been a number of times. If you google chaskemp you'll quickly get to travelogues and photos of HK. CK

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