Hear Ye! Since 1998.
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Dec 02

The 25th: Christmas Day

Kicked off the morning by meeting Edmond in a dodgy Mong Kok alley at 10. After getting him to translate for us a bunch of yellow doorway signs and posters adorned with attractive women and prices ($350 for all day “service”!), we went for breakfast. The unusually hot chilli we added to the won ton meen was just a bit too fiery for that hour of the day, and my stomach went a bit queasy for the rest of the day. Luckily it didn’t develop into something more inconvenient.

Next on the agenda, we walked to Olympia City to catch a 11.40am screening of Hero, joined by Kay (who was late again). The movie is in Mandarin, but has English subtitles. Hero’s a very cool movie, better than that other well known flick, Crouching Tiger. If it has made it out elsewhere, do go and watch it. The special effects are Hollywood-class, the actors are big name (Zhang Zi Yi has no functional purpose in the movie, but makes for good eye candy), the cinematography exceptional, and the plot is decent. The movie centers around assassins and the unification of China into the Qin dynasty in 221bc, a popular theme for Chinese movies like this one. Perceptions about the unification of China in Hero and The Emperor and The Assassin are interesting. On one hand, there is the view of the Qin kingdom mercilessly conquering the six kingdoms, ruled by a manical tyrant emperor. However, curiously the view that seems to emerge more strongly in movies is one of appreciation for the acts of this tyrant – the formation of the unified “Great Motherland” of China which would otherwise have not arisen. If not appreciation, then at least a Machiavellian understanding of Qin’s motives. I wonder how many Chinese share this view. From my airchair view of world politics, it is perhaps this view that goes some of the way to explaining China’s persistence in regaining Taiwan. Even present day nations dream of gaining or regaining glory (such as Mussolini’s vision of rebuilding a Roman empire), and China is no different. It’s just that today’s borders are more or less policed by the US.

It’s surprising how many shops open on Christmas Day. It actually feels just like any other day. I reckon Aussies are bludgers and Asians work too hard :). We had a good lunch at one of those festy roadside places. This was followed by some steamed milk. Although we were full at this stage, we chased it up with a taro pearl milk tea at this really busy stall which makes like $5 every 10 seconds. We also came across this large sign, when translated, advertising “First Love Internet Cafe”. Turns out that it was probably a net cafe with, hmm… “added services”. Let’s just say, you can surf the web and get some tech support for your joystick at the same time. An illegal practice in HK, but nonetheless a sound business idea.

Three full days of walking takes its toll, and we tramped into a reflexology centre for a relaxing foot massage. With our feet revitalised, we took a break at the hotel, before heading back out to do more shopping. We ended up at Pacific Place, where Edmond left to meet with other friends. We had dinner in the area, and went to a really nice asian desert house called The Sweet Dynasty. That really hit the spot.

Kay left for home, and Gerald and I decided to resume his mission for this trip – to find a piece of memorabilia authentically signed by Andy Lau (for a friend). We had exhausted the knowledge of all the Hong Kong locals that we had gone out with over the last couple days. (Carol – see previous post -claimed to know someone who knew Andy Lau to an extent that an autograph was obtainable, but this avenue would take more time than we had in HK.) Thus, we turned to the next available resource: Hotel concierges. They are meant to know everything, aren’t they? The one at our hotel was fairly uninformative, so we decided to test out the reputation of two of Hong Kong’s best. Arriving at The Peninsula, Gerald donned a thick Aussie accent and a register consisting of enlongated vocabulary. The concierge immediately pointed us out to the Sino Centre in Mong Kok, which we had already visited. Inside that centre there are shops which exclusively sell pictures of celebrities which I swear are photos off the internet printed by inkjet printers. Throngs of giggling Honkie girls crowd around those stores gushing at whatever male singer happens to be in fashion at the time. Unfortunately, none of the photos were autographed. The confidence of the concierge hit a brick wall and he concocted an excuse saying that autographed merchandise is rare, and are only given out in concerts to true fans who would never sell their booty.

At the Sheraton, we were attended to by a concierge by the name of Wesley. Wesley was a woman. I’ve heard of wierd Honkie names (eg: Apple, Mango), but that one takes the cake. She was a bit more helpful in a request that was rapidly turning into something much more difficult than anticipated. She referred us to the Sino Centre, HMV, a few other music stores (all unlikely), and finding out for us what music companies Andy is affiliated with. However, still no dice. We were half hoping for extraordinary American-style hotel service, but I guess inhindsight it was fortunate that none of them said, “Unfortunately we do not have that information, sir, but we will do our utmost to find out for you and get back to you. And what is your room number?” (Although Gerald half-jokingly pointed out that if they said that, he’d go and book a room for the night. :)

Next post on another day. In the meantime, go amuse yourself with pictures of urinals from around the world.