Kowloon

Posted: May 2, 2011 in Photography
Tags: , , ,

Victoria Harbour: from shore to shining shore.

Buh-bye, HK…

…hello, Kowloon!

Hong Kong Island and Kowloon are the most densely populated areas of HK as a whole, and face each across Victoria Harbour. Due to the proximity of the old Kai Tak International Airport in southeastern Kowloon, there are height restrictions for buildings there which make for a much lower skyline than that of northern Hong Kong Island. Our Lonely Planet guide described the relationship as one where “Central’s busy but scruffier neighbour is forever gazing enviously across that water at it.”

Kowloon (九龙) literally means “nine dragons”, a name that’s thought to have originated when the last emperor of the Song dynasty passed through the area during his flight from the Mongols in the late 13th century. He counted eight peaks on the peninsula and concluded that there must therefore be eight dragons there, but was reminded that with himself present, there were actually nine.

On disembarking, we immediately found ourselves in the tourist ghetto of Tsim Sha Tsui. The guide insisted that no day on Kowloon would be complete without high tea at this lovely hotel I can’t remember the name of.

Oh, that’s right.

This plan went awry for two reasons: first, that seemingly everyone had read the same thing we did meaning that we had to wait in line for about an hour; and second, that we were stuck behind two of the most vapid, ear-bleedingly garrulous, just-walked-off-the-set-of-The-Hills, please-for-the-love-of-god-shut.the.fuck.up. whores that entire time.

And then – true to the old Carrie Bradshaw-ism that the universe may not always play fair, but at least it’s got a hell of a sense of humour – when we finally were called to be seated, they put as at the table right next to theirs. By this point, I already knew every ohmygodSOOOOexclusive club they’d hit in China and all the details on blondie’s brutal break-up with her college sweetheart.

We tried so very hard to tune them out and enjoy our high tea, but realising that this was impossible, we settled for making fun of everything they said instead. And – just to prove that I’m an equal opportunities hater – “And I was like: right, daddy, just because I had one drink means that I’m doing drugs and having promiscuous sex, god, you are so ridiculous” might have been American, but “Oh my gawd, MY uncle owns a scuba diving school!” was very much British.

The point where they got up to leave was one of the happiest moments of my life.

The Forbidden Legend: Sex and Chopsticks II. Didn’t the original win an Oscar?

John’s reaction to this picture: “Why is she bald?” Because clearly that’s the pressing issue here.

The Kowloon Ladies’ Market. No, I’m serious: that’s actually what it’s called.

Vendors here were pretty hard-assed and did not take kindly to haggling.

“$20.”
“I’ll give you 10.”
[cursing at us in Chinese]

Needless to say that Lindsay never did get that Comme des Garçons knock-off.

Tsim Sha Tsui was described as a “a riot of commerce and tourism set against a backdrop of crumbling tenement blocks.” We soon discovered why.

I feel like this is exactly what China looked like in my mind before I went?

Now join me for another foray into Chinese cuisine – or, as I like to call it: “Why Mark was vegetarian for 2 months after returning to the UK.”

I’d describe myself as an “incidental vegetarian” at the best of times (which is to say that there are just a lot of foods I prefer to meat) but if Japan almost pushed me over the edge to true vegetarianism with, e.g., horse sashimi and deshelled-but-still-living prawns (which I still find unconscionable), then China kicked me over that edge kicking and screaming.

Urban decay.

It’s the heads. I could honestly deal with these if they’d only do something about the heads.

Creepy old fat guy watching young boys play basketball: another glimpse into Joylene’s future Hallmark moment.

And then I unwittingly did the same thing?

503 Nathan Rd. 503 503 503 503 503 503 503 503 503 503 503 503

♥♥♥!!! If I could have somehow rushed his paperwork, this cat would be Alf’s new brother.

This was a pet shop, by the way, not a restaurant. I almost can’t believe I had to clarify that.

Twi hours? Um, bargain.

Eat your greens.

(Tragically, these actually were on the menu.)

Not pictured: the frogs (toads? I really want to say frogs) being thrown onto a hot plate and hacked up with a cleaver. I only later learned that this is the preferred cooking method, otherwise Alf might also have some new amphibian amis.

But let’s not forget…there’s a lot to love about Asia, too. As an example of how unhealthy Lindsay’s and my friendship had become by this point, she was able to pick my favourite without so much as a hint. And speaking of the fact that Lindsay’s a giant fag magnet (fagnet?): some love for her harem of ‘mos across the globe. Actually, Kowloon proved to be a veritable treasure trove of homages to colleagues-past.

OoooOOOOooOoo000ffffff! This impression is sooooOOOOOooOOO0000OOooooo uncanny! bahahahhahaha ♥ ;( ;( ;( 😛 😛 *eight-thousand emojis*

Sequel to this.

BUT ALSO: in this mall, Lindsay and I – in a city of 7,000,000 people – ran into the exact same Scottish couple who were staying at our hotel in Shanghai. When I say “what are the odds?” I don’t mean it facetiously. Truly: what are the odds?!

After arriving back on HK, we paid our first visit to Lan Kwai Fong: drinking/clubbing/entertainment locale of choice among Hong Kong’s expats. For some reason, my most residing memory is of asking some police officers if it was legal for us to be drinking on the streets…while we were drinking on the street. Smooth. This lovely photo was taken by the guy who hawked us his restaurant, though he did a slightly crappier job of the two-shot. As a happy accident, however, he did manage to focus on the lesbian couple behind us, a.k.a. the old white lush who’d rented a bulldyke Chinese woman for the evening. As it turns out, prostitution and electro-dance beats make for a surprisingly pleasant backdrop to an evening meal. Also: the site of Linds demanding they sell her a more expensive bottle of wine at the price of the one she’d actually ordered. Between this and the “incident” at the Shanghai Expo, girl was craycray by the end of this holiday.

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