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January 31, 2013


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My moment of first love came in the aircraft, when the night harbor appeared suddenly as we descended on Kai Tak in the rain, out of thick clouds, and when the doors opened and I took in that unique scent for the first time: raw sewage and incense in the humidity.
And it has always irritated me when people express confusion about how I could possibly name such a place as my favorite city in the world.

Hi Denske,

Thank you so much for your comment. And, it seems like you and I might share a few more interests than just Hong Kong 笑。Translation, Taklamakam mummies and Heidegger-- what are the chances, really? I started writing a series of posts on the NHK series if you are interested, the category is above. I am still only half way through. That photograph of the Loulan Beauty is startling. Where did you find it? Her eyelashes.... Isn't that amazing?

I've been in and out of HK about a dozen times but my very first flight was into the new airport. The airport was not even completed but it is the only place I have ever landed into HK.

I must tell you that I have always deeply regretted not getting there a bit earlier so I could fly into Kai Tak

Here's another one

The descent into that airport was one of the real great landings, I have heard this again and again. In TST there was this cafe/restaurant with all kinds of Kai Tak memorabilia with photos on the walls of planes passing between apartment buildings.. I wonder if its still there-- but that airport had quite a fan base, didn't it? And I bet you, that if I had landed there instead of at the new airport on Lantau my reaction to the place would have been even stronger-- if that is even possible.

Hope to chat again.

"Isn't true love not always like this, though? "


"Why Hong Kong?"

Because it's a magic city.

I'm not sure I could live there without going thoroughly insane, but HK has a magic about it that I have yet to experience anywhere else. My first trip there, I took the train from Chek Lap Kok airport (like you, I can't help but thinking that had I had the chance to fly in to Kai Tak, my love for HK would be even stronger) in to Central, and I have never yet managed to shake the sense that I'd walked right into a sci-fi film. And then there's the intensity of Kowloon and the north shore of HK Island contrasted so starkly, beautifully (starkily beautifully?) with the expanse of Victoria Peak and the outer islands.

Were I to live there, I'd definitely live somewhere Mui Wo-like and take one of the old, slow ferries into work each morning and back home in the evening. What could be more civilised than starting the day on the sea in the open air?

there's port on a western bay, and it serves a hundred ships a day

Adonis' papa commuted like that for about 6 months from Mui Wo into Central on the Fast Ferry and that view when the boat turns into Victoria Harbour: Magic.

Like you, though, Adonis and I liked taking the slow boat out to Cheungchau and sometimes over to Lamma for his little piggy fix of dim sum and soup.

Mui Wo was the true Good Life I thought.

For science-- that has to be Shinjuku or Shibuya in Tokyo.

You know, so hard did I fall for Hong Kong, I cannot think of anything I didn't like about the place. We were there about a year and a half and really I did feel like: this is It.


I was just looking for my "Red Hot Chili Peppers Chris theme song" (Brandy) and realized that I didn't put it in the music category above-- but I did have the light my Fire one. Did you buy a proper pair of leather pants yet? :)

Ah, Cheungchau. I spent a beautiful day out there, mostly just sitting outside a restaurant by the harbour eating fresh seafood and drinking (utterly essential, given the weather) ice-cold beer.

No leather pants, yet, sorry.

A pity, here in north capital, all youtube links have no yield.

Wonder why the tantric reference in the 'adamantine' poem.

How do crowds in Jpn differ from those in HK -- taxonomy?

Entirety: HK manifests this. Howso: prhaps thru conjoining of perfervid streets and readily available silence -- look to the water, look to the mountain.

Perhaps unlike local spots in the Global Ekonomee, HK is more 'world'. Howso: mebbe thru indigenous + empire + memory.

To explore: how is it that HK makes one come 'alive' vis a vis this world.

No mention of bauhinia?!

Salamanca-- what delight your words bring! Thank you so much for reading; responding...

"The Adamantine perfection of desire," am having a beer and cannot find the poem; can only smile wondering about the Tantric connection. You know, I love yixing ceramics. I said once that a yixing water container I own is adamantine perfection like love or desire, and told a friend that if my house was on fire, I would flee with my son't little hand in one of my hands and that water container in the other. (Interestingly, it was not what I ended up grabbing when I fled).

And speaking of the "clever flower" (香港蘭), in the middle of Hong Kong Park in Central there is the famous teaware museum, which has the really extraordinary collection of yixing ware. Have you been? Yes, you are right, how could I fail to mention the bauhinia?

Of all the interesting things to ponder in your comment, I think it was your question about crowds which most intrigued me. When we think of the ontologies of cities, to me it is not by a city's pornography that we can best understand what a city is about (as that fool Paul Theroux says) but in its crowds and maybe even as part of this in its public transportation (or lack thereof). In particular, I have always felt that Tokyo's crowds represent so much of the culture and values of that city. They are so intensely orderly and quiet. QUIET crowds. Don't you think? I used to commute 2 hours one way to Nihonbashi when I worked at Hitachi before the recent advent of "ladies cars" and I was always amazed how people could be in such intensely close proximity-- really people are so pressed up against each other in the morning trains that you really couldn't get too much closer-- but still, no eye contact and people somehow retained great reserve. For the most part. And the crowds in Shibuya, Shinjuku. Orderly, quiet. It reminds me of those boat races where everyone is rowing as hard as they can, sitting very close, but they try to keep out of the other's way...quietly rowing in two directions...

I think the crowds in TST are more unpredictable. Lively. Noisy.

How about in the northern capital? How do they differ?

Both the eastern capital 東京 and the northern caital 北京 are capital cities-- centers of the world. Hong Kong, is-- and has always been a trade city on the edge of empires. Don't you think? And this affects everything....

Your question regarding self and world would inevitably brings me back to Heidegger. If you reject a perfectly self-encapsulated self that can ever be removed and understood outside its environment, then the answer to to your final comment is just that. One can *only* ever come alive vis-a-vis the world. And anyone who lives between cultures and languages perhaps feels this even stronger. (I suspect monoglots basically are like fish in water when it comes to their culture and so familiar is their culture that it becomes almost invisible. They would be less likely to perceive the way it informs most of their thoughts and reactions to things).

Salamanca, thanks again for stopping by. I hope we can chat again! And as to the various fruits of youtube, by mid-summer don't you think they will be available once again? I hope so!

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