eng lit coursework '09

Hong Kong – “The Pearl of The Orient”. China being its overly protective oyster. The governments ‘one country; two system’ rule restricts and prevents Hong Kong shining out of its confined communist shell but I don’t intend to drag on about politics when there is so far more to Hong Kong worth mentioning without China ruining it.

Travel guides describe this little yet significant part of China with unconvincing enthusiasm. If they think they’ve written out every possible detail that they could squeeze dry out of this deep and narrow harbour; they are pitifully mistaken. I can proudly and certainly say they lack in so much characteristics that they should be ashamed of themselves as respectable published travel guides. Yes, they may have succeeded in mentioning the city and parts of the countryside, aspects of Hong Kong they consider worth talking about. However from what I have seen and the things that I have had the chance to experience are far greater than any random travel guide to Hong Kong any bookshop could ever possibly dream to deliver. 

Destinations are vital but so are the people within it. In no other city could you ever end up leaving so confused. 

Dinner, dinner. Where does one go for dinner in this little yet significant part of China? We decided to take a tram with more than 100 years of history down three stops to take the MTR (like the ‘tube’ in London). On the tram, we passed one of many McDonald food chains and other western restaurants. Who ever said the Chinese only ate dog? A western dinner was definitely the last thing on our minds. We thought it would be best to taste something traditional that would symbolize Hong Kong in the pit of our stomach. Bustling through the hectic crowd underground, funny how I could see the top of most people’s heads, I felt like a giant. The only reason why I would feel out of place is because of my height. We got out of exit A, Mong Kong station. Strange how words are merely spelt out the way the locals pronounce it, yet we still seem to sound like complete morons when we attempt to do the exact same thing. Nevertheless, we do try. Taxi drivers appreciate our efforts to speak these strange characters with much joy and amusement. He drops us off at some peculiar corner restaurant with tables out on the pavements. Barely remembering my 6 months of Cantonese lessons, I manage to say “Ng goi sai”, which is thank you very much in Cantonese, to him as he places my change carefully into my hands. He smiles and drives off. I turn around to face my colleagues and I get my first look of where I was going to have my traditional, Hong Kong symbolizing dinner. There were groups of friends and family sitting on those plastic little stools without a backrest around more than 15 tables laid with a thin layer of plastic. Everyone was happily chirping away in Cantonese. Strange being in a country where I could no longer understand the conversation or eavesdrop on the nearest table. We were placed next to a table of Chinese teenagers, as we settled down on our plastic stools they hoisted up their coke filled glasses to cheer and start their meal. Not one bottle of alcohol could be seen on their table, was this their culture? It was a refreshing change to finally not see a bunch of 18 year olds drunk out of their minds in public. I admired in silence across the table, watching as they skillfully maneuvered their chopsticks to pick at the dishes in front of them. Occasionally, they would place the food between the end of their chopsticks to a friend next to them and into their bowls. Must be their act of politeness and respect even amongst friends. I sighed. British teenagers could learn so much from the Chinese. 

Fascinated by their culture, manner and behaviour. I was unaware that I had been staring at them for far too long. Feeling my stare, one looked up at me as he used one hand to lift his bowl, placing it right to his lips, as the other hand held his chopsticks to scoop the rice into his mouth. Realizing how uncomfortable I must have been making them feel, I smiled uneasily, hoping I had not offended them. He seemed to accept my ignorance and smiled politely back at me then continued with his dinner.  Relieved, I looked down. My own pair of chopsticks laid lifeless on the plastic sheet. I carefully picked them up as if they were fragile pieces of glass and studied them closely. How the hell do they work these things? I was completely confounded. I did not have a clue how to control them with my fingers without possibly spraining a muscle. Why did the bloody Chinese invent them? Surely a fork, a knife and a spoon were sufficient enough. In fact, I think it should be prioritized and globalized. Must they make eating utensils so complex and stressful for those outside their culture? Nevertheless, complaining does not fill an empty stomach. I looked from the dish opposite me back to the bowl near my chest. The distance between dish to bowl was a challenge and an embarrassing struggle. Noodles came in three strands or slipped out before I could catch it with my bowl and meat dropped through the lose grasp of my chopsticks. The battle was between, the chopsticks, the food and me. It took me a few moments to finally get the hang of them with the right amount of strength. I conquered my chopsticks. A smug grin crept across my face; I was more than thrilled of my tiny accomplishment. Until I looked up to see that my colleagues were grinning in amusement and jokingly mocking my success. To my disappointment, they did not care much about my joy. Collecting myself, I brought back the proud feeling I had previously and continued with my lemon chicken. Satisfied. 

Can't wait for dinner tomorrow.

- Present [A] -

: 「 Quite strange reading stuff which I wrote when I was 17/18? 
Please note that I was to write as a travel blogger who had never been to Hong Kong.
And I do sound like a man in my writing.
Maybe I was writing as if I were.
If it came off racist, I'm sorry.
Just think of me as a 50 year old British man who knows nothing of Asia. 
And to be honest,
I still don't. 」