Hong Kong

I never imagined I'd like Hong Kong. I had always had a kind of snobbish view of it and its people, encouraged by my years of studying Mandarin, and so having only friends from Taiwan and the Mainland, and they always take a contemptuous view of Hong Kong. This North/South divide is as old as Chinese culture, and can be witnessed in the biography of the Sixth Patriarch of the Zen school, a Southerner who had to flee for his life once elevated above his Northern co-religionists. But over the years I've developed a taste for Hong Kong cinema, and when I finally visited Hong Kong last year I absolutely fell in love with it. The insane business of Mongkok, its perfectly operating public transport system, its crowded temples full of bewildered urbanites and its sheer kookiness - Hong Kong is full of surprising little subcultures, and really must be one of the most livable cities on earth. It has energy, charm and great food. And Honkies (i.e. people from Hong Kong) are downright beautiful - stylish and shy and inclined to offer up a helpless smile when things go wrong. And I even found myself falling in love with Cantonese, that abrupt, loud and really quite difficult language that so many sneer at. On the lips of the right people it is enchanting.
So today I am at home sick, coping with a fever I doubtlessly picked up on the streets of Hong Kong. And I am missing Kowloon and its teeming streets.
Here is a photo taken from our hotel room - we were staying at the Langham Place in Mongkok, and it really must rate as one of the most beautiful hotels in the world.

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