Thursday, April 07, 2005

Hong Kong.... all wrong

Ladies and Gentlemen,

So yes I arrived in Hong Kong on Sunday March 20th at about 11pm and made my way over to the Island on the train and then to my hotel for the night. Hotel was dead, no food to offer to I was forced to leave it when really I just wanted some nosh and some shut eye. I jumped in a cab and asked the delightful man if he could take me somewhere nearby for some food... "AH, you go Lan Kwai Fong sir!" fair enough Drives, you're the boss and I quite simply don't know my arse from my elbow here so hit the gas pal..

So, I get to Lan Kwai Fong.. which is basically an L-shaped pedestrian way that is HK Island's chief party district, the bars are all very similar and there's not a great choice in the way of restaurants. So thanks Drives... The interesting thing was that the World Cup Sevens had just ended that evening so everyone was rat-faced, singing, falling about etc... I grabbed a bite to eat, toyed with the idea of joining in the fun and decided that I was way too sober and tired so bed it was.

Monday morning bright and early I headed over to Sheung Wan to find my apartment at WStudios. I had reserved a mid range apartment, in the 'able to swing half a cat' category and would be meeting Eric at reception. True as life Eric was there in all his glory and I told him who I was, that I had a reservation etc etc, and he looked at me like I was talking swahili.. "Eric that's not a look I like to see mate", I said to him. His reply was naturally along the lines of the fact that he didn't have a f***ing clue who I was and what I was doing there, odd considering we'd exchanged about 20 emails and spoken twice on the phone. I politely asked him that intricacies aside were there any rooms available, yes there were but in the 'able to swing a cat and a half category' which was outta my price range... So I had to settle for that for my first two weeks and then I could downgrade to my 'action man size' accommodation.

So great, a roof over my head.. what more could you ask for, well I could ask for seeking out the South East Asian Wing Chun Association, the point of my visit here after all. So off I went... I found the SEAWCA, and there was rod all going down there. I called all the numbers I had, out of service.... Now I thought to myself, this is gonna be real fun. So, after finding something remotely resembling food I decided to head over to Kowloon to seek out the Ip Man athletic Association to see what the crack was there. There I met a man called Sam Lau. I will resist saying anything derogatory as he is a very accomplished man in the world of kung fu but his business like attitude immediately made me feel very uncomfortable, and he was pretty rude to me to tell you the truth. Being able to feel comfortable is crucial when seeking out a martial arts instructor. He did recommend that I checked out his hostel over the road, so I though what the hell, why not. Well I think you may have seen the photo... nuff said on that.

Next stop the Ving Tsun Athletic Association on Nullah Road, Kowloon. Base of one Ip Chun, Son of the late Ip Man (sifu of Bruce Lee). I finally found the place and their friendliness and positivity was a total contrast to my previous experiences that day. They helped me find an appropriate Sifu in the shape of Leung Ting Kwok (Patrick) a very nice man and the longest serving student of Ip Chun. I am now training with him about 4-5 times a week, in a class and private type environment and learning quite a bit.

BUT, yes there are always buts... buts, not butts. Here I will explain the predicament that I have found myself in here in Hong Kong. Basically, the place is insanely expensive, mainly the living costs. The kung fu us great but not so significantly cheaper than back home that it could justify the living costs. hong Kong is also not a place for 'travellers', people stop by here for a few days en route to China/Thailand etc but not for any significant length of time, therefore meeting people is very hard indeed, and if you do you have to rely on going to bars to get drunk, which in itself is a very expensive pasttime...

And all of this coupled with a very unfortunate incident on Monday has made me believe that the most positive thing for me to do would be to leave. The incident is as follows.. I bumped into a mate from school's brother, and we had a few drinks, then decided to head to Wan Chai (party area) had a few drinks there. Then decided to leave, I was basically given a drink that was drugged, started hallucinating/feeling sick/staggering insanely.... I woke up in a doorway minus my phone and about $2000HK. This was an extremely unpleasant experience that I truly hope that I am never the victim of again. It does seem however that this is rather commonplace here in Hong Kong (see here) . So all in all, I now have a lot of negativity surrounding my experience here and this has obviously fuelled the feelings that I was already having.

So....... my mate Rik Craig from school is coming tomorrow to visit for 2 weeks, where we will get a lot of tourist stuff done.. See the islands, head to Macau etc and then I have decided that I will head back to the UK for a short while before heading off to explore Canada and the US.

So there we have it folks, Hong Kong, kinda gone wrong. A shame to be honest but I should have understood that it wasn't going to be too straightforward when everyone I told that I was going to be here for 3 months basically laughed in my face. That said, at least I discovered that there are some genuinely evil people in this world, and I will be more vigilant, as kung fu doesn't work when you're drugged and out cold on the pavement.

Ciao

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