Friday, June 24, 2005
There's an Ark Being Built on Canton Rd.
This is the view out our window today. Look at the "stripes" over the trees in the bottom of the picture - that's not mist, or fuzz, or haze- that's the rain.
Posted by Zeus
We met a man named Noah today, and animals have been seen wandering two by two down Reclamation St. It may sound extreme, but if you were here you'd believe it!
Today's agenda: the Jade Market, the Big Buddah on Lantau Island, and the Po Lin Monestary (conveiniently located next to the Big Buddah). What actually occurred: the Jade Market, a spin around the mall, and a loooong nap.
Here's what happened: We woke up to the sound of booming, rolling thunder and bright flashes of lightening. We sat fixated in front of our window watching the clouds get darker and darker and lower and lower. The rain was coming down in sheets, and when the wind changed it would splatter the window and obscure the view for a few moments. And speaking of an obscured view, as said clouds rolled in, we watched the buildings dissappear one by one until we could barely make out the tower of the Peninsula and the bay had completely vanished. This went on and on, punctuated by the thunder that shook the windows and the bright flashes of lightening that felt as if you were looking directly into a camera flash. Apparently, it was not going to let up. We sighed- there was no point in going to the Buddha: he sits on top of a mountain on top of 286 steps and is 118 ft tall. With today's cloud cover, Buddha would have his head in the clouds- literally. Not to mention that it would involve 2 subways and a 45 minute bus ride up a winding mountain road in the driving rain to get to the "headless" Buddha. Not our idea of a good time. Especially not Jeff's: he's sick. Red sore throat, sinuses on overdrive, and starting to feel like he was hit by a truck. I am unwilling to compromise his health, as we will be receiving a baby in 2 days that I maintain will want only Daddy, and I can't have Daddy getting the Little Empress sick too. So, we weighed our options, and judged our swimming ability sound enough to attempt a trip to the jade market.
As we headed to the front doors, a nice hotel security man informed us that it was a "Red Rain" alert. At first we wondered if Donald Rumsefeld had immigrated. However no, it's the just the Chinese color coded weather alert system: Red Rain indicates a certain level of water an hour, a percentage of runoff, and advises that persons only go out on necessary business and do so with extreme caution. We deemed the Jade Market necessary. One step outside the front doors, and we deemed a taxi necessiary. Once again, our taxi driver spoke not a word of English and had no idea where we wanted to go. But this time we whipped out our handy dandy tourist map and pointed to the Jade Market, and we were rewarded with an "Ohhh! Yoichoichoi!!" and off we sped!
The Jade Market is near the Temple Street Night Market and the guide books merely describe it as "covered". We did not have much hope for this, and given the weather conditions, we had visions of becoming drenched as we made our way through rows of easy ups and patio umbrellas with tarps draped over them. Luckily, the Jade Market is in an actual building- it looks like an old packing house with a metal roof, so we were well covered and quite comfortable. We arrived about 10:30, and many vendors were still setting up their wares. Going early is a good thing, because the vendors are willing to deal, and all want you to be their first sale. I think it also helped that it was a weekday and the weather was so bad that not many people were there. The sales people are pushy, but happily willing to haggle, and even when you don't haggle the prices are good. We managed to drop $1,000HK in one hour, and were sorry we hadn't brought more money.
When we had used our last disposable dollar, we headed out into the rain and wandered around several streets looking for the taxi stand we had used the night before. I enjoyed the walk: it wasn't raining too hard, and we were walking through streets that are what I expected "old" Hong Kong to look like: Narrow streets with rusty neon signs written in Chinese, 3-5 floor walk ups - the kind of thing we would deem abject poverty and would only see in sections of LA where you wouldn't get out of your car, the apartments are above small store fronts that sell all manner of goods and little side walk restaurants with huge pots of rice and congee and things in tanks you can select for lunch. You pass alleys filled with junk and gaggles of men smoking, and occasionally someone has set up shop selling anything from food to fortune telling under a tarp in one. The streets don't drain adequately, and when you look up, there is laundry hanging on poles from peoples windows. I finally realized that the whole HK experience has reminded me of a scene from Blade Runner.
We eventually found a taxi, and headed back to the hotel to get Jeff some cough drops and a nap. Tomorrow morning we'll be off to the train station and will arrive in Guangzhou around 12:45 (9:45pm PDT). Then the USAA China Team will take us to the China Hotel where we'll get settled in and start setting up to receive Tenley on Monday.