In his ‘Vertical Horizon’ project, 26-year-old French graphic artist and photographer Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze captures Hong Kong’s soaring heights. The project, now a book, comprises 80 photos taken in 2012. A dozen of Mr. Jacquet-Lagrèze’s photos are currently on display in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui district as part of Le French May cultural festival.
After our flight landed, took the bus to our hotel in Sha Tin, got informed that our room was not ready, left our luggage with the concierge and finally got to explore Hong Kong (in proper) at around 3pm.
Mong Kok was FANTASTIC. It was the Hong Kong that I wanted to see. Big neon signboards fighting for attention, unkempt sidewalks with street stalls, compact stained concrete buildings and a pedestrianised road jostled with commuters, shoppers, salesmen, tourists and etc. Ladies’ Market on the other hand was different. I enjoyed its variety and character, however, it was ridiculously expensive by street market standards. 2 magnets cost us sgd$7.60 even after bargaining! (or maybe we were unskilled in this certain talent -___-)
The Star Ferry had to be the transportation highlight of our trip (yes, even beating the peak tram imho). There was just something about it, whether it is the nostalgic wooden seats, the open concept-ness of the ferry, the cold winter air, the old school ferry terminal or the transition towards the towering skyscrapers of Central.
Views from The Peak was stunning, breathtaking, beautiful, pretty, gorgeous, charming and whatever other pleasant words from the dictionary. It wasn’t a clear night due to the fogginess during the winter season, however it was still a “WOW” experience. Visiting the peak is a must!
What caught my attention was the colorful menu of matcha flavored desserts they had on display outside their store window. Apparently, i Cremeria is a shop from Japan. G and I each ordered their affogatos - the traditional espresso affogato for him and the matcha affogato for me. Both ice creams were rich and thick, and not too sweet (which was perfect). Also, both the warm espresso and matcha provided a bittersweet contrast to the cool ice cream.
A good ole 9.20am screening of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows followed by a mad dash to Wan Chai for lunch is certainly an interesting way to start a morning. Surprisingly the theatre was half full, but given that it’s Hong Kong and apparently people don’t have jobs to go to, that’s quite normal.
Tsuen Wan Adventist Hospital for some touristy sight-seeing of the partner’s birthplace was followed by delayed bus trip back in Central.
Indulgence has taken me in Hong Kong and left an engorged clone in my place. Dinner tonight consisted of a pork chop curry, my uncle’s beef curry, vegetarian dumplings and a pomelo lime juice. Desert was a corned beef and egg submarine with hot chips. Yes, that’s right, desert.
The post-meal walk around Tsim Sha Tsui was a struggle against the increasing burden that was my poor stomach. The boat ride across the bay didn’t help, neither did walking around in Hong Kong winter with just a t-shirt, and probably neither did the Lucozade I slammed in front of the Toy Story exhibit.
Also, I’m not so sure placing my hands upon the ground on the Avenue of Stars was the healthiest thing to do. But knowing that my hands are as big as Jet Li’s definitely makes me sure that I’m at least somewhat safe, in case I get jumped at some dingy back alley. “Be careful, my hands are the same size as Jet Li’s - if you know what I mean…” – sure does sound pretty intimidating.
In other news, I am engrossed by the Wan Chai Computer centre. Not only does it have my lovely lovely Ducky and Filco mechanical keyboards, but they also have Canon 600D’s for $5500HK! Sign me up for a booth so I can live out the rest of my days from that mall, please! You’ll know which one to deliver the food to. It’ll be the one that overflowing with cream soda cans and mochi ice cream wrappings.
Well, I’m writing this about three weeks after it happened, so I hope that I can accurately express my thoughts and feelings from that day. It was the day before my 22nd birthday and there was a party with an open bar at a club called LaKage in Central for exchange students. I had been short on cash (it’s been a constant stress, as some financial aid paperwork has taken longer than anticipated to be processed) but a good friend had wanted to go and wanted me to go, so she offered to pay for my cover charge for my birthday. I should explain before I go any further that up to this point I did not yet have a cell phone due to a shortage of money and complications with my plan from back home. Anyway, the party had been going very well; I met some new friends, talked with some friends I had known before, and had a few drinks (but not so many that I would become sloppy, because that had gotten me into trouble here already). When they closed the open bar, chaos ensued, and I am still not certain as to why. There was a student I recognized who at first I’d seen fighting with an employee and then I saw him he was holding his forehead and his face was bleeding. I found out later that he’d been hit over the head with a glass bottle and taken to the hospital for treatment. People were starting to be kicked out but I could not find my handbag or the friend who said he would watch it for me. I did find another friend and told her that I couldn’t find my bag and she explained that the bar tenders who had been keeping her coat behind the bar now claimed they couldn’t find it. She said she was giving them her email address and advised me to do the same. A bar tender offered to help me look for my bag in the last place I’d had it but when we didn’t find it he and another employee grabbed my arms and took me to the elevator to take me outside. When I got outside all of my friends and everyone I knew was gone. A Swedish man who claimed to be a student at another university offered to help me and walked with me to the MTR station but started saying that I should go back to his dorm and that he could help me in the morning. He had said that it was ok, that he had a girlfriend and wouldn’t try anything on me, but I didn’t trust him and instead got away from him when I could. I ended up at a 7Eleven with some people who spoke English and ranted to them about the night I’d been having. They talked with me and helped me calm down. In the next moment I saw a fellow student and could not contain my joy at recognizing someone who could help me get home. He had friends with him and a stranger bought him two cans of beer, of which he gave me one. He insisted that we go to a club and dance, and since I was in no position to do my own thing, I graciously agreed. We danced for a little while and then took a cab back to the student halls. A friend of his who I had only just met said to me as we approached the entrance to the halls, “Now we can do this one of two ways. Either you can explain to the guard that you lost your ID card tonight, or you can pretend you’re drunk and just stumble through.” I told him that I’d just stumble through and I was able to do so with no trouble, as by this time it was late and the elevators were already waiting for us. I’d insisted that we check on a friend of mine on the 10th floor, but when we got there the door was open but he wasn’t there. So I was walked down to my room, my roommate let me in, and I went to sleep, relieved but incredibly bothered.
The following morning, my roommate woke me and I told her about the night I’d had. She asked if I still wanted to go to Dim Sum as we’d planned previously with a group of students and if I still wanted to go out that night, but I’d told her I didn’t feel like doing anything. I had felt abandoned and almost betrayed. To make matters worse, the electricity on our side of the building had been turned off due to testing, so there was no way for me to get online and ask my friends whether they still had my bag or tell my boyfriend back home about anything that had happened or tell him that I was alright. But my roommate was not about to let me stay in bed by myself when I was in such an emotional state and instead insisted that I go with her to Dim Sum as planned and said that she would pay for my MTR passes and my lunch. I somewhat reluctantly agreed and while she went to tell some friends that we’d be joining them a little late, I went to take a shower, but as the electricity was turned off, so was the water heater. As I stood there, still shaken from the night before and trembling only partially from the frigidity of the water raining on me, I cried and cried over feeling so hurt and so very alone. I finally told myself that it would be rude of me to make my roommate wait any longer for me, so I got myself as ready as I could and we went to Dim Sum. I was stopped on the way out of the building and had to complete paperwork explaining that I had lost my ID card, and I had a terrible time of containing my annoyed attitude with the office worker. The trip there took about a half hour and we’d had to stop and ask for directions a couple of times. When we arrived at Dim Sum I was still being very quiet but I grew to become a little more talkative after eating a little. I told everyone at our table about the night I’d had (some of the people there I’d only just met) and a little later that it was my birthday. They were all very sweet, as I have found most students here tend to be. Afterwards, everyone talked about wanting to get dessert somewhere, and the group broke off into two or three smaller groups with different people leaving to find different desserts. We came across a place which sold a jelly drink with fresh fruits. One of my roommates friends asked if she could buy me one for my birthday and I agreed. Up to this point I was still having some trouble relaxing, let alone enjoying, my birthday, despite the fact that everything was going smoothly and being taken care of by people around me who cared. Having the knowledge that there would be no point in returning to the halls before the water and electricity were turned back on, we took the MTR to Central. While we were waiting in the station, one of the girls said she had to ask about my arm. I hadn’t even noticed; I had a vivid hand-sized bruise on my left arm, presumably from where someone had grabbed my arm to make me leave the bar. Over the next several hours as we walked around stores on the street, I noticed several other smaller bruises all over my arms and legs, most of which I couldn’t explain. One of my roommates friends noticed that a store we were in had free wifi and gave me her phone to get on facebook and check to see if my friends still had my bag. They did, and said I could pick it up from their room. We walked to ifc mall and into the big Apple store. At first I couldn’t think of any reason why I shouldn’t just sit while they looked around, as I have never purchased Apple products, but I realized that from there I would be able to get online, and I promptly got on facebook to coordinate a plan to get my bag back and to let my boyfriend know that I was alright. I felt terrible when I saw my wall; while many friends had posted comments wishing me happy birthday, several of them also left comments about how they hoped I’d “survived last night” which my boyfriend had seen and which had terrified him. Not only had he messaged me, but he had also messaged both my roommate and the friend who had payed my cover charge the night before, the latter of whom had gone to my room to see if I was in but had told him that I wasn’t and that she didn’t know where I was or what exactly had happened the night before. When I was finally able to message him it was early in the morning where he was and hadn’t been able to sleep for all of his worries about me. I assured him that I was alright, that I was being taken care of, and that I would be able to tell him all about it when I returned later. When the four of us had finished there, we walked across a bridge just as the nightly light show was beginning and stayed for a few moments to watch it. We then headed to the MTR station to return home. We were in a hurry because we were trying to get back to the halls before the friend who had my bag left to go out, but we managed to arrive early enough and my bag was returned to me safe and sound with all of the contents I’d missed all day. I had spent just a little time in my room (even telling a friend that I’d be staying in) when my roommate came in to ask if I wanted to go out for my birthday dinner. I told her I’d be alright with doing something more low-key, so we walked to an Irish pub called McLovin’s in Tsim Sha Tsui and were serenaded by live entertainment. The service and the meal there were fantastic and my friends did their best to make sure I had a good time, telling the waiter there that it was my birthday. After the meal, my friends bought me a Ginger Creme Brulee, because they’d remembered that I loved creme brulee, and the chef decorated the plate in chocolate drizzle so that it said “Happy Birthday Sally”. It was delicious.
It’s strange how the events leading up to my birthday and the events of my birthday were all so very positive but were so heavily tainted by a situation which lasted only a few hours. Feeling alone, feeling abandoned, regretting choices made-all of it lasted longer than I wanted it to. All of it clung to me like a cancer which I could treat but not cure. Only with time could I hope to put those events into perspective and realize them for what they were; preventable situations which probably went very differently in an infinite number of universes which I will never see or feel or know.