before I forget, the photos from the Asia trip have been uploaded.
so, I never did get around to posting on the last half of the Asia trip I took over a month ago. The sad reasoning behind that is, Hong Kong & Macau brought such filled days that I didn’t even have a chance to sit back and type for a bit. Since then, I’ve been trying my best to be a studious worker, and that’s actually turned out very well– more on that in a bit. But, I’ll say a few things on the Asia trip first.
Hong Kong is a dirty, dirty place. Not that I don’t like it– I described it to my family as New York City set in a jungle. Not just Manhattan mind you, but the whole bit. HK Island was a lot like Manhattan, but Kowloon had a little bit of a Brooklyn/Bronx feel to it, with the population density of Manhattan. A warm tropical climate made this part of the trip amenable to t-shirts and shorts, and made days of walking a little bit more bearable than in South Korea. In short, though the people were just not as nice in general.
The party scene also wasn’t as good, at least what our group saw of it. The most poignant image to me was when we were chilling in Lan Kwai Fong after eating at a roast goose place up the street (all on HK Island), and all we could see were drunken foreigners (mostly American expats and business folks it appeared) totally trashed-dancing and throwing bottles, glass bottles on the ground. It was not my kind of party.
When we went to Macau, we basically slept all day and partied/ate at night. Being in the first real hotel of the trip and coming from the jail cell that was our first hostel in Kowloon (Geo-Home, not strongly recommended unfortunately), this seemed utterly appropriate. I will specifically draw attention to the unique architecture in Macau, which was strongly reminiscent of my time in Spain. The parts of the city we visited were impressively attractive, but while we were there I experienced a pervasive sense that we had more to worry about in terms of safety than any of the other places we had visited. From pickpockets to organized crime, Macau is apparently replete with underworld activity. I’m actually quite certain we brushed up against some of this at D2, one of the clubs we visited–I’ve been told some “bros” were eying me when I was dancing with some woman who may have been affiliated with one of the dudes in their gang–but we all made it out alive.
A quick note on that: never drink cocktails that are ordered by people who don’t speak your language and come served in test tubes.
My trip impressed on me basic principles of diversity I have never previously faced. I’ve always thought I understood at least in theory that everyone is very different, and that due to cultural, religious, ethnic, and other factors I cannot ever hope to fully understand the experiences and behaviors of others. Visiting Asia underscored that I really don’t know jack shit when it comes to understanding other cultures. From the Korean store clerks in department stores that would bow when a customer approached to the Chinese huddled into outrageously tiny dwellings in the Chungking Mansions, facing hawkers and violent crime every day in their own apartment building, my life is not driven by the same forces as others’. Basic interactions of eating at a restaurant and getting on a subway were just similar enough to be familiar but were nevertheless lost in a cloud of cultural dissonance to me.
Every time I think back on these things, I’m fascinated by the realization that human life can be so different across cultures. Not surprised, just intrigued– it makes me want to learn more about how we’re different, probably in some vain hope that I’ll get closer to understanding what it’s like to come from a different culture than my own.