I walked down a wet side street in Hong Kong, led by Mrs. Au. The street lights were on and I was pushing a baby’s stroller. Tammy held the baby, and my travellers backpack ripping at the seams with the weight of a few cameras sat inside the padded seat. Space was tight in Hong Kong, so we decided to take the carriage off Tammy’s hands for the night and meet up again with it tomorrow. Tonight I was sleeping in Mrs. Au’s flat, she had a bed at a friend’s place and it was settled. I could have stayed at a backpackers and I had been planning on it but Tammy, Junie, and Mrs. Au shuffled around. I couldn’t have been more grateful.
I never imagined I would end up here.
Ms. Au, the baby stroller and I turned at the metro, and together we made the short trek due to the modern subway system across the city and home.
Home in Hong Kong.
What is it about the city? Mrs. Au had lived across the world, Canada, England, and still every few years ended back up in Hong Kong. She smiled as she talked about it, the old and the new, the ferries, and the nature just outside the city centre. She talked about the crossing of cultures, british colonization, the intense mentality of business there. I asked questions, a lot of them, and that night on the street, I remember so clearly Mrs. Au unlocking the front steel gate to her flat and saying,
“You know on a good day Taylor, Hong Kong is where the east meets the west and on other days, its neither here or nor there.”
I wrote it in my journal that night, and have since thought about it, about Hong Kong, about the mountains, the skyline, the men on the street with newspapers flying loosely around their feet, and clenched in their hands a ticket for the horse races. I think about the foreign nannies, their day off spent together in a park on our side of town. I think about that cupcake Tammy and I missioned for, walking across the narrow sidewalks with Junie sleeping away reminiscing about what had been three years before on another continent foreign to both of us. We had met in Uganda in September 2008, and now visiting in the most densely populated metropolis in the world Africa feels like a lifetime away. We are joking about the crazy Matatu drivers and the Thanksgiving meal we made with chickens we’d killed the morning before the feast, it feels so long ago and I’ve been pretty much a vegetarian since.
Hong Kong is a night city, a skyline worthy of thousands of photos every night, it had fashion and highways taken on a motorcycle at monster speeds, a city block devoted to flowers. It is a city of public politeness, and cemetery squatters, where the best transit system in the world pumps millions through the city like the artery of a fit man in his prime.
It was a city of gracious hosts that showed me an incredibly romantic, surreal place of duplicities.
Where the east meets the west but neither here nor there.