I don’t recall ever talking about Hong Kong that much, which is weird because I can’t stop saying yes to going there. I just never really know where to begin, or if there’s anything to talk about because almost everyone I know has been there. I’ve heard people talk about HK as if it’s just a big ass shopping mall, totally disregarding the fact that the place has history, and that they were invaded too.
My family goes to HK at least once a year and that was before Disneyland was even there. I remember only going to Ocean Park and getting scared out of my wits. Having that token family picture at the Avenue of Stars (which only became relevant to me bc of Wong Kar Wai and Tony Leung, HALLO) and having them print it on a plate. Getting lost while shopping at the craziness that is Mong Kok. Cursing my parents because they made me go up the stairs to see the big Buddha at Ngong Ping, and the cable car ride that ensues. Eating so much food that I actually puked outside of Nathan Road. Shopping at that huge ass Toys R Us at Tsim Sha Tsui for stuff I know we can’t get back home. Getting seasick because I couldn’t handle eating at the Jumbo floating restaurant. The dizziness that follows the uphill ride on the peak tram. So many things that people forget.
I guess shopping is becoming the first reason that people go there, Disneyland second. I wish people would remember that they’re going to a foreign land that has so many things to show.
The reason I’m writing this is because Hong Kong made me tough, and I’m thankful. It’s the first place where I got lost and found interesting places that I would not have seen if I didn’t let go of my father’s hand. It’s where I first fell in love with a stranger on a train and understood the concept of only loving a person in a certain space.
I learned how to commute alone, because I also learned that my parents can’t accompany me everywhere and I have to go to places by myself. Bit by bit, I learned how to be independent. Looking for places I want to see alone, getting lost in the process and seeing new places that I marked for future visits. I realized that traveling alone is probably equal to falling in love, or eating bacon (HAH).
I know for a fact that HK started my love for getting lost. When I was 9, I recall telling my mother how much I love being on an airplane. She just smiled at me, but later on I found out she booked us a flight to Damascus, Syria. I thought I wasn’t going to like it because it was not Hong Kong, but I was wrong. The same feelings I had when I was going around Times Square and Central were alive and kicking when we went around Latakia and Palmyra.
I went there earlier this year, but not to go around or anything. I tried to live there like a local. Yeah, I took my grandmother to Disneyland and Ocean park, but that was 2 days. We stayed for more than a week, and I found it enlightening. I went to the grocery, watched a movie, walked around the park, went to the neighborhoods, tried haggling at the seafood market, checked out books at the local library, memorized the train routes and more. There was a day that I just got off the bus at random stops so I could get to know the secluded places. I grabbed a few beers at the local pub at Lantau Island (yes, I ventured that far) and found it unsettling that even though they are very Chinese, the people of Hong Kong still have a lot of British in them. I guess I can’t complain, seeing as I’m writing this in English and I’m used to counting in Spanish.
After all of that, I came back home with a different perspective on how being invaded and being multicultural creates a new persona for a place. Do we have that here? Or Have we actually lost our original persona, and just hung on the invaders’ culture? I have no idea why we can’t just turn it around and make it work for us. Everyone’s done it. Macau, HK, Singapore, Malaysia (a little, hah). Why can’t we?
These are the things I see while getting lost in a place I know by heart.
What’s my point? Oh yeah, Get lost in Hong Kong, everyone.