And on the other hand...

Click here for The Yin Side where the other half of me holds forth!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hong Kong, Gateway to China

Well, not any more really, it IS China.  Moved through Narita and HK International with a tsunami of people--sloppy-looking westerners, Hasidic Jews, women in burqas and saris, Buddhist monks--to efficiently turn up at this hotel where I am wide awake at  3:30 a.m.  I could be reading: from HNL to Narita,  I studied my  little volume of 77 easy Chinese characters (wait, I saw them all at the airport, and some calligraphy too) and moved on to a novel I picked up in HNL. What possessed me to buy a $25, 975-page book about gothic cathedrals to carry on this trip?  For the past year I have been pretty much immersed in Chinese fiction and Taoist classics...I come to the Middle Kingdom to read about Gothic cathedrals?  It's an Oprah book, The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Folett, that I think was recommended to me by a friend.  Didn't see the Oprah stamp of approval until after I bought it.  

The only other Oprah book I've read (that I know of because of that seal of approval) was Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth which kept me occupied, also at 3 a.m., during Hurricane Jeanne in Florida a few years ago.  I was staying in a decrepit roadside inn that I liked to call the Motel Viet Nam, a revived Florida classic motel run by Vietnamese immigrants. My father made the reservation for me: "You'll like them, they're Chinese," he said, " you can speak Chinese with them."  "They're Vietnamese, Dad,  and I don't speak Chinese."   I read the Chinese story, The  Good Earth,  with a mini mag lite while the wind was ripping the roof off the not too-well-restored Vin Mar Motel.  Next  morning, Miss Saigon made green tea for us all --including the 24/7 drunk who looked exactly like the aged Robert Mitchum and bunch of Cuban construction workers--in a big Mr. Coffee pot with a portable generator in the parking lot because the power was gone...for four days.  

Even though I never will have need to stay at the Motel Viet Nam again, I still send the proprietors a card at the Lunar New Year.

I don't expect to spend much time with the Gothic cathedrals (having other temples as destinations) and will probably just lug this tome around and finish it at home.  Today's in to Kowloon on the train, buy some toothpaste (you always forget something) and pay homage to the Bruce Lee statue that has been erected at the harbor.  

I sure hope there is no da feng/typhoon (that's big wind, and I know the Chinese characters now) on the way.  There was one that passed through just a week or so ago, giving Hong Kongers much excuse to stay inside and drink.  But if there is a storm brewing  I am prepared...with an Oprah book and plenty of batteries for my mag lite.

Sybil--I hope to post some photos (dependent on internet access and the time to upload and process them)...perhaps the first will be one of the bronze Bruce will have to do because I didn't get a chance to get a picture of the ultra attractive and attentive Japanese flight attendant on the HNL-Narita run.  Ah, business class.

And speaking of da feng, I see on BBC that Mr. Bush is rushing to New Orleans with the troops. Good excuse to miss the convention.  Kind  of like how the earthquake sent me to Wudang instead of Qingshenshan.  

Half an hour left on my internet access charge--need to send some emails. 

Next stop, Xi'an.  That  means Western  Peace.  I know the characters!


sybil law said...

I find it intensely interesting that you bought the book. I have no idea why. I like it. Maybe because the trip is so spiritual to you -or it seemed that way to me before you left. Don't get caught up in the small things, and remember why you're there. That's the (probable) heavy weight of it (the book).
(Oh my god.)
I've had Far too much too drink tonight to be commenting on blogs!
I am really enjoying your updates, though.

sybil law said...

Ken Folett is pretty good, too.

holly said...

i haven't read these books, but one book i remember enjoying was one you recommended (why oh why can't i remember the title?) about some chick who picks mushrooms and becomes famous for a religious something-or-other. our lady of the something? i blame my current memory on the children.

i can't WAIT to see the bronze bruce lee!