Blessed to be a witness

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Wednesday, February 09

Back in Hong Kong

Nearly ten years ago I left Hong Kong after two and a half years, and now I'm back again. Whenever I come here, I get shivers up my spine, and when I got my first glimpse of the skyline from the airport express train, I nearly got tears in my eyes.

Ever since I left England in 1992, I haven't really felt totally at home anywhere, but, but for some reason this is the place in which I feel most at ease. It's also the place I love the most in the world.

I suspect it is this lack of feeling rooted is what has led me to want to travel, though M's desire to see the world has obviously been a major catalysing factor.

To further compound the strange relationship I have with this place, my memory acts strange where it comes to the period of my life I spent here. Stuff that happened in Ireland nine years ago feels like it's lost in ancient history, but I can recall stuff that happened twelve years ago in Hong Kong with absolute clarity. Another strange thing I've noticed is that, usually when one returns somewhere after a long absence, it seems to have shrunk. The opposite has always happened to me here every time I return. Probably because of the unbelievable height of the buildings - the shrimpy little Mandarin Oriental Hotel looks pathetic next to its neighbours, yet it is twice the height of the tallest building in Ireland.

We're in the allegedly 4-star Kowloon Hotel for a week - the last bit of luxury before we start slumming it in China. "Good job we didn't bring the cat," said M as we entered our box-room. Feline swinging would be totally out. The lobby is ostentatious, though. That's all there is to it, alas - it's a long flat lobby with marble everywhere and lifts at one end. There's a computer in our room with a disastrous operating system that can't really do much, but hopefully this will work.

M suffering from jetlag way more than I am; I want to head off to the back streets and sip a cold tsingtao at a dai pai dong (food stall), but I guess I should force myself to sleep. It's midnight though my body tells me otherwise, and I feel like a kid in a sweetshop. I almost feel like I've come home.

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To comment on this, or just to say hello, mail me at jim@crowaptok.com.