Saturday, June 7, 2008

More HK Diary

June 4th

Today we got up and went to Kowloon. First we walked around the local market. There were so many cultural differences; it was surreal. I love how all the women are the same size. They're small-boned and thus tiny, with straight black hair. Everyone here always seems composed.

For some reason, Western clothing is widely worn: cheap graphic t-shirts, depressing neutral-colored polos, mesh shorts with white stripes running down the sides. Yet the posture of these people is so much better, and they carry themselves so well, that the American garments appear almost charming.

Even the older women seem quaint and elegant. There is a kind of organized chaos about the whole place, a different kind of aura. That's definitely what it is: a peaceful, mutual hurry, and fast-paced serenity, with everything and everyone in their place. The feeling is like when, in a movie, the character stands frozen in time while he watches life continue on at light speed all around him.

I'm sorry, I just got so relaxed I couldn't think to write.

At the open Kowloon food market, young girls, old women, and middle-aged men sell their wares at different stands. I like it so much more than Stanley, which I have recently decided I hate. There are bunches of grapes, huge and triangular, like when you doodle a bunch of grapes. There is durian, the worst smelling fruit in the world, which is banned from being brought onto the subway in Singapore for its smell. There are huge oranges, tiny rambutan and lychees, fruits that look like something you could never imagine, like a cross between an artichoke and a pear. The butchers ruthlessly cut up meat with giant knives six inches high, slicing so fast you're convinced they'll chop off their own hands. Huge sides of beef hang amiably side by side with long, chunky pigs' legs (I never realized pigs were so tall).

Then we walked to the Jade Market, a vaguely indoor setup of so many jeweler's stands selling the exact same things: "jade" bracelets, a glass circles on a string, little glass Buddhas, woven friendship bracelets with charms on them. Everyone claimed what they sold was real jade and tried to prove it by lighting a lighter to it. I guess that works for those dumber tourists who know nothing about jade or stone, because all that trick shows is that it's not plastic. The sellers all tried ripping us off insanely. People look at me as something of a token. I like this alienation, though. It's not lonely. It feels kind of good.

In the end, I bargained (well, Annie did the bargaining, I stood there nodding) a thread drawstring neckalce with a purple glass flower from HK$120 to HK$35.

Then we got lunch at this huge local place where we were the only Westerners, which was great. There was fried rice, different kinds of rolls (from sweet with barbecued pork to spring to rice), greens, everlasting noodles in soup, and Hanna tried chickens' feet. I tried to try it too, but I only had the guts to get some of the coating. I dislike cartilage.

We went home and slept forever, then ate really good chicken and biscuit stuff. I dropped to sleep--after two movies and some reading.

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