Hong Kong the City That Broke My Traveler Heart
Trying to Fit In
I arrived in Hong Kong yesterday, after a month in Japan. It was my first time East and my travel hunger was at an all time high. I arrived, as I always do in a new country, with my wide-eyed curiosity and obsession to immediately get in touch with the culture, start scoping out the vibe, figuring out where I belong and making sure I frequent that location. Of course, I also had to fulfill my need to find a watering-hole. They say water is good for you anyway, right?
The “fitting-in” part was easy to do so in Japan. It happened almost naturally. I had learned enough Japanese to get by and dammit, I was going to speak Japanese to every Tom, Dick, and Harry, or in this case “Yoshi, Yusuke and Matsumoto-San. The Japanese people did the rest of the work, with their kindness, smiles, and compliments of “you speak VERY good Japanese!" I don't want to be the person that lumps all Eastern countries into one bundle of stereotypes and illusions, but it was my first visit East and after my amazing month and the generosity I felt in Japan, I guess I foolishly assumed the cultural, kum-bah-ya, drum-circle would continue. Not so. Not here. It's a different story altogether written on a page of dirty, half-torn paper that's been kept in a polluted, humid environment for too long.
Hong Kong broke my heart.The first day started off as a positive day. Full of all the wonder and hope my almost child-like heart was hoping to experience. It didn't happen for me like I had hoped it would. I arrived downtown and took the Star Ferry across to Central Hong Kong and signed up for a Big Bus tour. You know one of those double decker monstrosities that I normally wouldn't be caught dead on.
The UnderBridge Crab Saga
I had my heart set on some seafood at the famous "Under Bridge Crab Restaurant". I had seen it on all the travel videos and articles. Anthony Bourdain had spoken of this place highly, and as he is my spirit animal, I thought I'd give it a try. It didn't disappoint. I didn't get the whole big crab because I was there alone and there is nothing sadder than a black woman, sitting in a Chinese restaurant eating a whole giant crab with all the fixins by herself, while wiping both sweat and tears onto a wet napkin. It's not a good look.
So I got the shrimp, which was prepared like the crab, but without the loneliness and the need for a suicide hotline. I finished my meal and prepared myself to meet my friend/bandmate at the Four Seasons for some good ole fashioned fancy drinking. The only problem was that it was pouring and I had no umbrella. I was equipped with only my hood, a shitty google maps signal and my semi-photographic memory. I needed to make it back to either the big double-douche bus or the pier to catch the Star Ferry.
No Cabs for Me…WTF?
After giving up on walking, I figured I'd catch a cab back to the pier where I'd find my friend drinking over-priced booze. The only problem with that was the color of my skin. Or my lack of ability to speak Cantonese. Or what I was wearing. Who knows? Although, all sources seem to point to the former. First cab with its "available" light on, not only ignored me but added a "go away" gesture to it.
I'm tough, and a New Yorker, so I thought nothing of it. Maybe he was in a bad mood or maybe his wife had left him today. I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I'm not prone to rash and irrational judgements or shouts of racism. However, after the 4th cabbie who's light was on and back seat was empty give me the "not you, screw off" wave my heart sank. I was drenched from the rain and couldn't even get a taxi driver to take me a half mile.
There was no sympathy to be found. What had to done to them? After a while, it became obvious that I was not wanted. Not only was I not wanted, I was flat out pushed and shoved by people. I asked for directions only to be met with a serious stinky tofu stank face. My Google Craps signal was bad and I was lost. Wet and black and lost and my stomach was full of mystery seasonings that were either going to give me superpowers, or diarrhea.