Be Water, My Friend

It’s already here, our last night together in Shenzhen, and then everybody will be on their own again. After having dinner at a nearby restaurant, we decided to stay close – the extreme thunderstorm that even flooded the nearest subway station basically pinned us down to the hotel. All gathered in the smallest room we could find, we spent our last night playing very simple drinking games, since any attempt to explain rules for more than 30 seconds ended in chaos.

By now I’ve gotten used to the constant security checking and luggage X-raying every time you enter a train or subway station. When you buy a train ticket or board a train, they even need to check your passport every single time. I know my passport number by heart by now.

After crossing the border to Hong Kong – which has so many passport checks, security checks, escalators, waiting areas, queues, and footpaths that it feels more like an airport minus the planes – I spent the rest of the day exploring Hong Kong a bit more.

The seaside Stanley Market was a pleasant surprise, since it wasn’t just about cheap plastic crap and knockoff apparel, but had some genuinely beautiful handmade stuff. It was hard to refrain from buying anything, but carrying any more things around the world just isn’t an option. And I still had to pick up the stuff I had left at the hotel in Hong Kong four weeks ago.

The only thing I bought in Hong Kong were some new super light Sneakers I can easily squeeze into my backpack. My other (not too old but a bit tight) other shoes fell victim to them. I had already tried to buy this pair of shoes a week ago in Xiamen, but the official Nike store did not sell them in sizes larger than 44. 😂

Number one priority after checking in at the hotel in the center of Hong Kong? Doing laundry! I had to get rid of the smoked bacon smell of my (freshly washed!) clothes. I‘m glad the smell did come out easily. Next quest: Getting everything dry again by the next morning for my flight to Japan. So I used every trick in the book: Aircon, iron, hairdryer, towels… I even used the blankets of my king size bed to suck as much moisture as possible out of my clothes. Everything is all Ying and Yang, as Yao has often explained: Good and Bad, Day and Night, Accepting Wet Bedsheets for Dry Shirts. You can’t have one without the other. Learning that you can nearly dry a T-shirt entirely by wrapping it in a dry blanket and then bouncing up and down on it was probably my most significant achievement of the day.

Hong Kong is a city I can imagine living in. It has beautiful areas, it’s on the sea, but it’s also more expensive than the most expensive city in China, Shenzhen. It‘s not really China: They have their own government, currency, and telephone companies. (My Chinese SIM card does not work in Hong Kong.) They drive on the left side of the road. The people look different, they’re more diverse, they’re taller and hipper. And most of them speak at least a little bit of English. After all this time in “mainland China,” I had to get used to not speaking in short English word bursts anymore.


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