30.11.2014 - 30.11.2014
The dolefully cheerful Mr. Bing is the first face I see, a perfectly yellow expression of dumb cheer gazing out from a greasy liner atop my trash. The fragrance of duck lingers subtly, piquant in the air of an aborted evening and promising morning. I decide it is time for some culture, and mark the location of a slick history museum on my map, thoughtfully located within walking distance of H&M, my other main target in a hunt for a perfectly cropped evening pant. I opt this time to take advantage of the many bus stops that lay just outside the building frontage, climbing on the 101 within minutes of bringing shut the rusty grill to my retreat. Octopus only mildly dinged, I move to the top of the mostly empty double decker taking point by a window. We pass numerous other multi-level carriages, a charming sight weaving through distinct districts each offering a healthy dose of clarity to visual and olfactory senses.
Shek O, Sweet Chariot
We cruise into the harbour tunnel, my first time being acutely aware of descending under the bay, coming up in Tsim Sha Tsui before diverting east. At some stage I get the vaguest sense that I am leaving the probability of my destination behind but am unmoved, confident both in the posted final station and my ability to navigate below ground in a crunch. Sure enough, the sprawl becomes decidedly residential, population density falling off in a surprising quickness as we begin to peek on the vistas of the New Territories that stretch to the Chinese land border. Last call is at an interchange with no distinguishing features beyond a lot of young guys in oversized tank tops milling around undersized apartments. I slip off, the picture of calm in the face of a failure to launch, blood made thick with Clonazepam and durian whipped cream. Shuttling down a few alleys I finger fake watches that aspire no higher, before circling around to an MRT station. No time at all and the light-rail marvel has me back sea-side, in close range of the shopping sprawl.
Moving away from the harbour I am an undercurrent cutting in and around the cliche mainland tourist hordes. Beginning to wonder if there is a booming trade in knock off shopping bags, I take paper corners from all the usual top end brand names, held awkwardly on elbows for maximal effect. Fearing I might be sick at the sight of another garish Dior window display pushing suffocatingly high necklines in Hollywood regency prints, I take my usual escape by slipping into the tasteful airiness of a small Muji on the top floor. Deep breaths of supima cotton Ts and simple Japanese housewares brings me the strength to emerge again into the smell of new money and old silhouettes, darting across to the huge H&M which promises nothing and delivers accordingly. Stymied, I pace a few blocks before drawing back to the water, my new plan an excursion to one of the lesser islands that dot the waters around Hong Kong proper. I find no such option, and with a freshly bought carton of pear flavoured milk threatening to turn in my purse I decide it is time to make the central crossing. I enjoy a top deck view this time, sunny skies gifting a healthy dose of Vitamin D I beat off with sticky layers of Japanese sun armour, reapplied furiously in one of many anxiety/vanity hybrid rituals. Docking on the second floor means I am that much closer to Kee Wah, this time settling on an ominous black slice of roll cake, promising charcoal flavour. Sliding the dark magic into a sleeve I am back at dried fish mews in no time, happily munching on the sweet afternoon quencher.
Turning to the prospect of online procurement I begin a bevy of inquiries into options for delivery of hot Chinese rations to my settlement. Multiple awkward phone calls later and I find no takers amongst Hong Kong's many food delivery companies, the lack of a local phone number a deal breaker. Ready to pay any cost to secure some crispy prawns in egg yolk I plead to be allowed an exception for my Canadian number, ready to pickup long distance tabs on both ends. The strategy is fruitless, the idea of a single person in a rented apartment without a local landline or cell almost appalling to some, leaving me gastronomically frustrated. Turning my eye to shopping for company instead I peruse a few local dating apps, some hopelessly rigged with fees, others bereft of members. Feeling that Johnny is far from a sure thing for our Ritz meet-up, I keep my homing beacon lit, hoping that even on the ever fragrant fish street I can bait a line on short notice. Hungering now only for sleep, I am sated in thirty minutes or less.