Saturday, December 5, 2015

Sweating in Shatin

By the time I made it to the top of my hill today, sweat was rolling down my face, along with any cold germs that might think they're settling in, I hoped. I had a bag filled with essentials: bananas, a bottle of laundry detergent, a book, and four rolls of toilet paper, so I blame the moisture on heavy-hands exercise. When I finally leave Ascension House, I will be in fabulous physical condition, or at least better than I was when I came. It's such a pretty walk that I always look forward to it, through glades, past ravines, often in the company of butterflies. And at the top is a house where I can collapse in peace, on a little sofa, staring at small, dramatic almost-mountains. Nice, very nice. In previous trips to Hong Kong, I kept away from where I was staying for as long as I possibly could. Chungking Mansions was interesting in those days but it sure as hell wasn't a place to relax. I'd walk and explore until I could go no further, hoping exhaustion would soften the rather depressing ugliness of my Kowloon home. I went back to that neighborhood today because I wanted noodles from a hole-in-the-wall on Lock Road. It is gone, replaced by a shop that sells suitcases, an item beloved by many mainland Chinese who find they make dandy shopping carts. To ease the pain of its departure, I went to another favorite spot nearby, Swindon's bookstore. It now sells coloring books for adults and all of the Fifty Shades of Grey because that's what people want, a young clerk told me. Goodbye, Tsim Sha Tsui. I may never go back.

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