There are vacations spent in nice warm beaches or driving up the twisting curves of the Himalayas in cold evenings but there is an energy, a madness to spend it in a metropolis. One of the things people always say is how all global metropolis’ kind of resemble each other. Maybe it’s true- the same high rises, the footpaths, an efficient MRT system, expats at bars. And still you find the small quirks, something different because every metropolitan also tells it’s own story. I love being the tourist in a metropolis. Be the one who walks slowly as the world rushes by, try a new hole in wall cafe because it seems crowded, search out the subway to have the veggie delite, walk walk walk the city from tip to toe.
Hong Kong seemed like Singapore’s soul sister. At least the Singapore I remembered. A port. City-state (almost). Immaculately dressed office workers and an easy to figure out MRT connecting everything.
We did the touristy things. Watched the skyline that beat Manhattan to win the best city skyline award. Stood in queue for more than hour to view it actually from the Peak. Sat on the Star Ferry and watched the sun go down and the lights and sound show come on at the Avenue of Stars. And sat at the promenade and wondered how different our life would be if we lived here. This is an old game of ifs and buts we ask ourselves in every new place we visit and then conclude by convincing ourselves how we would rather be home.
We try staying out late when travelling provided the city is safe enough. Places change their personality once the sun goes down. Visited the Ladies night market. Saw the electronics- funky USBs, Dr Dre beat knockoffs, phone covers-nothing we hadn’t seen a year ago in Thailand or Malaysia. The things that was different-very street in HK is lined with beauty stores. Not the “fancy ladies” styled mom n pop types back here but chains of Sasa, Bonjour, Colormix, Mannings, Watsons- sometimes two shops of the same chain on the same road which made us wonder if we were simply going in circles. Had read somewhere Chinese and Koreans being the most beauty conscious in the world and it appeared alarmingly true. I hauled like no tomorrow-Korean brands like Étude house, samples on sale (legal?) from Clinique and Lancôme, sheet masks. Avoided the strange snail essence(!!) and placenta masks (what?).
The next night was spent gambling away some hard earned money at casinos in Macau. But more of the Las Vegas of East later.
2 nights later we were on our way looking for Soho- the global cuisine and entertainment centre of the town. Or so we heard. And on foot we discovered a city wide awake at 12 AM on a work night. It was Halloween. There were enough Batmen and slutty kittens around at Lan Kwai Fong. With the expats. So many expats, at bars advertising 10 shots for cheap rates. Coming from a city where shutters down at 11 to protect out culture and our women, it reminded me of Mumbai except this was at a different scale. The music , the street artists, made you want for this night to not end. Even in the foreign we settled on the familiar. Ordered our usual drinks, the usual starters and listened to the in house band croon to the early morning. The expats and glambots came, drank, made out and went.
We took a taxi back to our hotel. There is something soothing about not having to negotiate double the meter at midnight.