Thursday, January 16, 2014

Without a Camera

Some days you just cannot win. I was so happy to find that I could recharge my camera's battery without setting it on fire in a Kowloon outlet (no way is that going to happen in Thailand), only to discover when I was far from home that my little Nikon had devoured its memory card.

So I can't show you the winding staircase lined with gold-painted Buddhas that I climbed today. Ten thousand of them lead to a temple/monastery complex, which I'm sure is true because the compound is called the Ten Thousand Buddha Monastery. It is on a hill overlooking Sha Tin, not as high up as the place I visited yesterday but lofty enough at its apex that I felt more than a touch of vertigo as I neared the end of the trail. The miniaturized view of Sha Tin's highrises and highways was rather spectacular, but I wished I had been there back in the days when the hilltop had an unobstructed view of the mountains across the way.

After descending, I went to the river, and walked through the park that runs along its banks, wondering why I was persistently pulled back to this small city. Its pleasures are quiet ones, and after a week of Nathan Road, that may well be why. The pace is slow and people there seem to enjoy the park, the town plaza, the singers  who were putting on a concert there. Old men played cards by the river, some of them sharing a large beer poured into small plastic cups. Arching bridges cross the river, connecting the divided sides of Sha Tin. In spite of the forest of highrise buildings and the malls that rival any that I've seen anywhere, this place has a lovely small town feel to it and I really like it a lot.

I'll go back with a camera next time, so I can try to show you just how nice it is.

In Tsim Sha Tsui, at a supermarket whose prices make me gasp, there are people who treat it like a Costco. Tonight I saw a girl with a bungie-corded trolley full of giant packs of Huggies pack a supermarket cart full of luxury items like mammoth packages of fresh grapes and super-sized packs of imported chocolates into an already well laden suitcase. It was a humbling sight, as I clutched my bag of ground coffee, a bottle of water, a small chocolate bar, a package of tissues, and a minute bottle of red wine.

It's sights like these that make me feel as though I'm visiting from the Third World with devalued currency. To me, Hong Kong is very expensive and I watch every cent I spend here. To others, it's a supply station where purchasing of high-end goods is done in bulk.

Bangkok in nine more days, where my room will be much larger than a postage stamp and I won't pay six US dollars for a bowl of noodle soup. I'm looking forward to relinquishing the persona of the Little Match Girl.

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