Blessed to be a witness

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Friday, February 11

No, I don't want a copy-watch

These words were allegedly sold in Chinese on a T-shirt in past years for locals who had to negotiate the tourist trap of Tsim Sha Tsui where we're staying. I would add to this "No I don't want a good tailored suit; no I don't want to come into your shop to look, even though, as you say, I could do with one; no I don't want to buy hash, I don't care if it's extra-special good, and even if I did I certainly wouldn't buy it off you, who would probably get me busted in a police sting, you ratty little bastard".

What I do want, however, is a laundrette, because I refuse to pay exorbitant hotel prices. And I want a haircut, and not one that involves "executive hand relief" at the end of it. Neither laundrette nor barber shop is in evidence here. I swear nobody actually lives in TST - or at least nobody runs a business here that doesn't involve fleecing people.

The streets are today thronged with slow-moving, diagonally walking day-trippers, mostly tourists from mainland China, judging by their strange clothing styles, and their hair, that looks like someone's styled it using a rock and a blunt knife. This must be an innovation since the handover, and there are lots of coaches with PRC license plates in evidence.

Strangely, there's almost no litter anywhere to be seen. I've never seen the place looking so clean. Everyone's actually using the litter bins, and I haven't yet seen a single person spit. I don't know if one of the patronising government information campaigns (e.g. "Don't throw televisions out of tall buildings!") has actually worked, or whether the new government has reintroduced the death penalty for transgression, but whichever, it makes a nice change.

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