Sunday, August 06, 2006

Halcyon Days?

That's what I didn't get in Hong Kong. Instead, I got Typhoon Prapiroon. At least that also meant cooler weather.

When I got to Chiang Kai Shek Airport on Monday, 7/31, I noticed a rather large amount of young people there, some sitting on the floor in the entry hallway, up against the wall. I thought perhaps it was some sort of tour group, but it turned out there was a Japanese star leaving Taiwan about the same time I was, and the fans had come to see him/her off. I still don't know who it was, but I heard the screaming start as I was going in to the security checkpoint area. Didn't recognize anyone, though.

I arrived at Terry & Cheryl's place late in the evening, around 10:00 p.m. We spent some time chatting before I whipped out my Rocky Horror Picture Show DVD, introducing Terry to the wonders of The Time Warp and Sweet Transvestite. His eyes were appropriately bugged out the entire time we watched, and I'm sure he was firmly convinced that his girlfriend and her friend were completely insane for liking such a bizarre movie. This was my revenge for having to watch multiple episodes of Little Britain, a British TV show, the last time I was there (it has since grown on me, and I happily watched even more episodes this time).

Poor Terry had to work all week, but Cheryl is still on summer break from her teaching job, so we piddled around, mostly doing nothing. On Tuesday we wandered over the The Wishing Tree to have lunch at a little local restaurant where the workers convene for their noontime munchies. The menu was entirely in Chinese, which was OK, since I could read it, but the waitress had a panic attack when two foreigners walked up to her to ask if they could please order now. Despite the fact that I spoke Chinese to her, she just maintained the deer-in-the-headlights looks for a few seconds before running out back to ask three lunching police officers for help dealing with the gwai lo who had invaded her space. They asked in English if they could assist, I answered in Chinese, pointing to what we wanted, and the waitress exclaimed, "You speak Chinese!" Yes....that's what I was speaking a minute ago. She was all smiles after that, and after a few minutes of discussing our order (I hadn't quite picked up on the fact that we could choose three of the main courses for one meal), she toddled off to the kitchen. Cheryl and I were each served a massive mound of rice covered with barbecued pork and kong xin cai (a green, leafy vegetable), and, in my case, a pork chop, along with overly sweetened iced tea. Had we known how large the portions were, we'd have shared a plate!

We went to the cinema and saw Dragon Tiger Gate, the new movie with Donnie Yen, Nicholas Tse, and Shawn Yu. It's based on a comic book, and it has a very surrealistic feel in parts. I can't say it was an excellent film, but I did enjoy it, largely in part because I was watching some pretty fine looking guys running around kicking ass. Donnie Yen has never appealed much to me, but in this movie he was looking especially yummy, and he's always a joy to watch in action. Nic always looks good, and he must have been doing some body building over the last few years, because his arms have bulked up a bit. Shawn

I'd also brought my DVD of A Christmas Story with me, since Cheryl said she'd never seen it. To my surprise, she didn't like it much, but Terry was fascinated to the point that he just had to make a copy and then watch it again the next evening. Who would have thought? It remains one of my favorite films, no matter how many times I watch it.

Spent quite a bit of time just kicking back at Cheryl's place, checking out fun stuff on the Internet (like the End of Ze World video: and watching Sex and the City, which I had never seen before. I liked it much more than I ever expected, and now I understand why it's so popular here in Taiwan. I was also treated to some of the funniest moments in Bollywood film, and I can't wait to get the DVD Terry is going to make for me, putting all of those in one place.

So....we heard a typhoon was coming, but Hong Kong was only hoisting signal 3, and 8 is the highest, so how bad could it be, huh? Apparently, Hong Kong Observatory follows certain conventions (namely, the average windspeed as measured inside Victoria Harbor) that have to be studiously followed. Thus, most of the population had no clue that venturing out on Thursday could be detrimental to their health (check out funny short video here: Cheryl and I had plans to go shopping in Mongkok, but by the time we were ready to leave, the rain was sheeting down, and the wind was tossing stuff all over. Rain actually began spurting through the cracks in the closed windows, driven in by the wind. We wisely decided to wait and see if it calmed down. Each time we checked, the weather was worse, but the HK Observatory website still maintained it was nothing much, just a little blow, over soon, hahaha. We had no choice but to leave late in the afternoon, as we were meeting friends for dinner in Kwun Tong. We managed to avoid the Mary Poppins impersonation and got to the bus stop only slightly wet. Dead and dying umbrellas were everywhere outside the KCR station. We got on the KCR, which went only one stop before we were all ushered off the train onto the platform, forced to wait for the next train on the opposite track. No clue why our train was unable to continue, but as news reports state that 559 airline flights were delayed or canceled, 672 trees fell down, and two ships ran aground due to Typhoon Prapiroon, I'm guessing one of those trees might have been the cause of our delay.

No matter, we made it safe and sound to Festival Walk Mall, where I bought a few DVDs and wisely decided against paying the outrageous price of $10US for four pieces of See's Candies, hooked up with Terry, and went on to our dinner with Doris, Twiggy, and Joel in Kwun Tong. Those three had ordered up a marvelous meal which included an appetizer of goose, pork, and lotus root; fried oyster/egg pancake; mushrooms with silky tofu; cabbage; sweet and sour something or other; seafood soup; and the crowning glory, lobster (a whole one, in the shell, but chopped up for easy eating) with noodles. We also had beer and bamboo drink, and it only cost around $14US per person! Dessert was Haagen Dazs ice cream back at Terry & Cheryl's place (it was on sale, only $5.77US per pint - yes, that is the sale price, can you believe it?? Ouch. But, cheaper than the regular price, which is more like $7US per pint.).

Terry and Cheryl dropped me off at the airport bus stop Friday evening at 7:45 so I could catch the 8:00 bus. As soon as they drove off, the sky split open and a million gallons of water poured down for five minutes, soaking me and my suitcase, despite being under the useless bus shelter. Gee, thanks. Eh, no matter, I was dry by the time I got to the airport an hour later.

Checked in at EVA about two hours before my plane was due to take off, and then had to struggle through the crowds at immigration and security. Since so many flights had been canceled the day before, the airport was jammed with travelers trying to get out of Hong Kong. Whatever line I stood in at immigration immediately came to a halt because of some sort of problem with a person's passport. I finally gave up trying to switch to a faster line. It took almost 45 minutes to get from where the bus dropped me to where I was finally in the departure area. My plane was due to board at 10:30 p.m., and I wanted to grab something to eat at the lounge, so I hot-footed it to that part of the airport. Upon arrival, I asked the gal at the lounge desk if a departure gate had been assigned yet, and she gave me the news that my 11:00 flight probably wouldn't be taking off until midnight. What?! Crap. Sent my friend who was picking me up a message telling him I was delayed, and then he called to say he'd checked the website, which said probable departure time was 12:40 a.m. So, I just hung around the lounge being bored. Ate a couple "finger sandwiches" but decided not to order off the menu, because I expected I'd be eating on the plane. I hadn't had dinner, either, just a late lunch with Cheryl in Mongkok. When I went back to ask about boarding time and gate number, I was told now it looked likely they'd begin boarding at 12:10, so I went to the gate to wait. To my delight, I was once more upgraded to business class! I'm thinking that arriving so early at the airport for check-in is a good thing :)

Anyway, it was after 1:00 a.m. when we finally took off, but I got a nice meal and some champagne, so it wasn't all bad. My buddy picked me up, and by the time I got to my house, it was 4:00 a.m. I still wasn't sleepy, which was kinda weird, so I futzed around for an hour unpacking some stuff and playing with DZ, then at 5:00 a.m. I went to bed. Couldn't sleep well, even with the air conditioner, so got up at 11:00 a.m. Spent a spacey day at home yesterday, reading and baking a cake, took a nap in the afternoon, watched a movie last night.

Got up at 6:45 a.m. today because I still hadn't finished preparing for my English class this afternoon. Forgot we'd moved the time from noon to 3:00, shit! I could have slept longer. Grrrrr.

Anyway, that was my week, enjoyed my visit with my friends, but glad to be home again.

1 comment:

aetherwellen said...

Little Britain is awesome! Which season/s did you watch?

My band does "The Time Warp," I think it's our best cover song yet.