If I had come straight from Monkey Mountain, as I had planned, my stay in the Royal Park Hotel would have been quite a different experience. I would have been reduced to a gibbering, groveling, grateful woman and the bland anonymity would have been complete bliss. ("What! A bathroom that is all mine? A walk without wildlife to get to the MTR?")
But the massive monkey on the trail, immovable and inscrutable, sent me off to the best neighborhood in Hong Kong, where I had five days of therapy before I came back to Shatin. I can't and won't say that I haven't appreciated this space that is almost as large as my Seattle apartment. However travel is a learning process and this weekend taught me a lot.
Wherever I go, I try to immerse myself in my surroundings and I have given myself up to luxury for the past two days, hot baths, Cinemax movies, sitting on the window seat staring at the view of trees, river, and buildings, trying to impersonate Scarlet Johansson. When I went out beyond the mall that serves as the hotel's neighborhood streets, the contrast jolted my teeth. This comfortable capsule is isolated to the point of being alienating.
Travel for me is other people and in the past weekend, two people have spoken to me—a doorman who said good evening and the waiter who brought my room service breakfast. I think of the receptionist at the Lander Hotel who engaged me in a long conversation about skin color aesthetics and the wonderful conversation I had with Michael Tam, the owner of Cafe Sausalito, and the laundryman who knew my name after my first visit. Then I think of the Christmas Eve twenty years ago when I went to the Oriental Hotel's Bamboo Room and watched bored, affluent faces sipping their cocktails. Now I know why they were poster children for ennui. Not my bag--