Kind of a bust….

….not really.  It was pretty good.  Saw friends.  Visited.  But the flu-from-hell had me by the throat and other organs for the first six days and Sal succumbed halfway through that.  We are only here 8 days.  So, you can see that HK was not much of an adventure this time.  There is, thankfully, a pharmacy in the building and so, with that and the restaurant, we didn’t travel far for a few days.  In fact, as I wrote this, I tallied up our ‘area walked’ and it was less than a square mile.  Kinda silly, really.

Speaking of silly…I asked Sal to include some photos on this post.  “Pictures of us sick?”

No.  Just some pics.  People seem to like ’em no matter what they are and we have some so why not just add some random photos?

“OK.  But that’s weird.”

So, interspersed with the random thoughts expressed in this entry are random photos.  The purpose?  To illustrate that we were NOT well during this time.  Couldn’t even get the photos right!

An unidentified flying object had pierced the outer pane of the aircraft window next to us

This is not the kind of thing to write about but, well, it is what happened and this is a travelogue….so…..?

New Year’s Eve celebrations seen from our hotel window the night we arrived

Some knowledge was gleaned.  The incredible energy that is the Chinese economy, the basic support-for-government expressed by even the democracy-oriented, the pace of modernity, the incredible cost of living, the incredibly restricted lifestyle……..

David and M. pose (ironically) in front of a giant mixmaster

Restricted lifestyle, however, is much more a function of geography and culture than much else.  These people live in a small, expensive, busy world but they can leave, they can travel and they can ‘have a life’ if they so choose (some have, and live in the States or Canada for that very reason).  But most stay.  Most stay living at home in one of the busiest, densest cities on earth mostly because of family and because there is a place for them here.  A comfortable-to-them place.

One of many stationery shops

Politically: the Chinese government is seen as an autocratic, omnipotent, despotic and authoritarian entity but, ‘so what, they do a good job!‘  The general take on that is that there is NO HEAVY HAND shown on a daily basis, the police state is virtually invisible, the economic system works and works well and it is very INCLUSIVE.  They have a few marginalized people, somewhere, but they are not very visible and HK, itself, is awash in wealth.  “So, what’s not to like?”

Dinner with (ex) students

 

The hospitality we receive is over-the-top.  We can’t even think to reciprocate at this level.  If I turn on my charm (very rarely experienced by anyone) to the highest setting and jump through hoops to be nice until my teeth hurt, I can’t be as nice and considerate as are these people to Sally and me.  They set the bar too high for being gracious, considerate and generous and it would be beyond me even if I had the inclination.  And I don’t.  I am a dog by comparison.  A pig-dog.  Or, as the Chinese might say, a barbarian.

A temporary canteen for street hawkers

It is not that I do not feel the same or even more affection for them as they do for us.  It is just that gweilo ways are so much less effusive by nature.  I think I am being a great host by giving people space, offering free access and use to anything I have and making sure they are well fed, safe and comfortable while near me. The more of ‘me’ I add (after a point), the less they actually get.  So, I limit ‘me’ to the length of time that I think they can tolerate.  When in doubt, shorten the exposure.

It’s all about gold in Hong Kong

For many of my friends (Doug, in particular), 15-minute bursts are about the limit.

Support for the Chinese Banyan trees on Nathan Road

The Chinese see hosting a guest differently.  Firstly, everyone always meets to eat and eat well.  And a lot.  And frequently. With attendant photographs.  Plus gifts are given til we are laden with tea, paper products trimmed with gold, pots, cups, and all manner of small-boxed items.

They must have run out of the good names for lingerie shops

Random stone lion

But the biggest gift they lavish on us is time.  These folks work ten to twelve hour days.  They commute, on average, one hour twice a day.  Some have started families.  They live with parents and extended families.  They do not have hobbies, activities or much in the way of entertainment except cell phones.  And yet they find time to visit us for three or so hours whenever our schedule is open!  They wouldn’t miss it!  Tea with an old guy who they can only half understand and who currently has the flu took five hours out of Dong’s day yesterday and he would have stayed longer if I had allowed it.

I wouldn’t visit with Cindy Crawford for that long.  Even if she could cook and brought wine!

Bottom line: Like most people I have met in life, throughout the world, we seem to have much in common, value the same things and are good to each other.  But cultures make that kind of common-ness show up differently and theirs is so much more generous of spirit and consideration than ours (or the one I am used to, anyway).  Theirs is an evolved, highly respectful culture that, once made a part of, is a wonderful and warm and welcoming experience.  Very kind.  Very nice.

 

6 thoughts on “Kind of a bust….

  1. Lovely story! Always look on the bright side (I think there’s a song there…) you seem to have lost weight – is it ALL muscle mass?
    Regarding the cultural difference, it would seem they HAVE to get along to get along. You, on the other hand, living on an island, are in no such way, constrained. Other than with Sal, who perhaps is of the same disposition. Anyway, vive la difference. Glad to hear you’re recovering. Thailand should be somewhat less demanding of your resources.

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    • The mass is centrally located and tends to juggle a bit. But, yes, all muscle (specially evolved over 70 years for digestive purposes).
      Confucius was a big cultural influence. So were the ’emperors’. Order, hierarchy, respect and harmony are the major drivers in their cultural outlook and attitude. Add pragmatism and they don’t care who rules so long as peace and prosperity results. The People’s Party is delivering. They are in and in solid.
      We are now in Thailand and the details and colour of an emerging nation are evident in contrast. All sidewalks broken and twisted, piles of debris, garbage and junk sprinkled liberally. Crazy driving, poverty juxtaposed by wealth, generous sprinkling of backpackers. Smells and noises of humanity….all the usual characters from stray dogs to addicts, police to pretty girls, tourists, businessmen, labourers and a gazillion shopkeepers. All seen at 32 C. It’s hot!

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  2. The People’s Republic is rebuilding its brand, its international image. They continue to get propaganda attacks. They have a very trouble passed which justifies the propaganda. But there is currently a forward looking nation.

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    • holy smokes cox, has anonymous turned into a bot or something, at one point your secondary handle was anonymous, are you under duress right now, is the fever getting worse?

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      • No, no….sometimes I comment from a phone, Kobo, wife’s computer. I ALWAYS use my name but often the system uses ‘anonymous’. Some of my friends are content to let anonymous take the credit/blame for their unintelligible contributions so anonymous could be any of about five or six others (usually, Sid). Then there are the truly anonymous. Don’t know them. Bottom line: anonymous could be anybody.

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  3. Not a bot. Dave is correct. China is ascendant. And will spend over a trillion dollars world wide. China’s gamble is that under developed countries value economic development above all.

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