June 04, 2011

Giant Buddha, Train Assaults and Shampoo Detergent

We have SIX suitcases packed completely full...each of them weigh 49.5 or 50 pounds exactly! Lady Hiva becoming the next professional of juggling items to be the correct weight in all six bags. Yesterday we noticed we have a problem. We have almost a weeks worth of dirty clothes and to balance the weight would mean mixing the dirty, sweaty, foul smelling clothes with the nice fresh clothes--they may be overly wrinkled from being forcefully shoved into a cramped space, but they are still clean--and THAT was not acceptable. We got done exploring late last night so all of the market styled stores were closed. The drug stores did not sell laundry detergent--ones similar to Western pharmacies that sell shampoo and facial products, not the traditional drug stores that sell ground deer  antlers and dried everything from an animal for aphrodisiacs (both types of stores can be found on every corner--haha next to a McD's or 7-11 of course--one has great A/C and the other assaults the nose with exotic aromas). After several failed attempts to find some detergent, we decided to just use shampoo. I filled the bathtub and washed the clothes with the peach smelling shampoo in a vibrant blue bottle--could pass for Tide, right? Conveniently, the bathroom was equipped with a clothes line so the clothes could dry! Who says we could not rough it with out modern technology! HAHA

Today we rode the MTR (public train system) to Lantau Island. Lantau is where Hong Kong Disney and the airport are --both on reclaimed land of course--it also has the least amount of people and the most places to see some greenery and beach. We feel like pros down in the underground tunnels now. Wide brightly lit hallways are tiled with white and grey tiles that add to the sterile look, people are rushing every way so it is a bit disorienting at first. If you do not know your destination and go towards it with vigor, you either get washed away the direction of the tide of people towards some unknown 'great and spacious building' or stop completely and test your linebacker skills because you will be pummeled by continuous barrage of bodies. But as I said, we feel like pros and navigated the labyrinth with ease.

We stepped onto the first train--along with hundreds of other people who were waiting with impatience when the glass doors opened to welcome us in. We had to push our way because the train was already near bursting when it arrived! Just as the doors shut some woman, standing three people over from us, let out an earsplitting scream! The sound paralyzed everyone in the cramped train car with sheer surprise. She began yelling and pointing in Cantonese at a guys standing next to her. Everyone on the train stood and watched with impassive faces. The girl was screaming for help, but it seemed everyone was waiting for someone else to act. I was not sure what she was even screaming about--maybe a domestic dispute? Then I heard the two elderly ladies sitting in the seats next to me and one made rubbling motions over her chest and pointing to the guy said something to the other and I caught the words, ...sexual harrassment..." Someone pulled the emergency lever and at the next station, several policemen stormed into the train and whisked the screaming girl and the man out, followed by three maintenance men in yellow polos who reset the lever and the train was off again as if nothing happened. Interesting...I guess he won't be doing that ever again.Out of protectiveness, I asked Lady if she would scream if that happened to her and she said, "No. I would punch the guy!" Now that MY LADY!

We were planning on taking the 360 degree cable car up to the Giant Buddha. The cable car is suspended in mid-air similar to the one in Jackson Hole,WY to the top of the Tetons. But it was broken. SAD. We ended up on another bus, which turned out to be just as beautiful of a journey. The Tian Tan Buddha is 112 feet tall (I just looked it up on Wika-pedia) and as if that is not high enough it is on top of a mountain peak. Such a beautiful place. I can see why they decided to build a peaceful monastery there. We hiked up all of the stairs and were sweating by the time we got to the top and decided we wanted to visit someone else's ancestors in the temple (better air conditioning)! It was interesting to see the way people approached the top of the stairs. Some reverently stopped to pray at every landing, sometimes stopping so abruptly that if you were right behind them you would knock them over and out of their reverie. We saw Asian women mad that their husbands/boyfriends were making them hike in the bright sun and get tan and sweaty, we saw people exhausted and willing to quit halfway up, and of course the tourists that just want to take pictures and be loud with no respect to what others are doing. A microcosm of life's journey.

Lady Hiva's goal was to get a picture of a "real monk" but every time she had a chance they would turn away. We now have plenty of photos of monk's backs. She finally succeeded with the extra long lens and took the picture from way across the garden square. The Monastery was beautiful with freshly grown and manicured plants and flowers, and of course several furnaces to burn items to your ancestors. A beautiful place to be after seeing all the concrete and chaos of the city far below.

 After our bus trip back, we rod a ferry to Hong Kong island. Just outside the Ferry station on Lantau island were thousands of bikes--we guessed they were people that commute from the far villages of Lantau to the Hong Kong for work via the ferry!

At night we walked the streets of Kowloon exploring all of the little shops. Lady Hiva bought, much to the baker's delight, six different types of bread from the baker because she could not decide which to get. We veered off onto the side roads and found the street markets that sell cheap clothing, art, and I guess anything else you would like. What an experience. If you stop to look at their product they get so happy and hover right next to you--something Hiva and I are NOT a fan of--and if you try to leave they will grab your arm and try to keep you there until you buy! So we learned to get really picky about where and when we actually stopped. Browsing was NOT an option!

Tomorrow we are off to Manila! When we got home we repacked and balanced our clothes, including the fresh-peach smelling clothes mixed with the stench of Hiva's old-lady smelling perfume that burst open on one of the flights. It was a gift to her and she never wears it because neither of us find the smell attractive, yet for nostalgic reasons she did not want to throw it away despite my urging when we packed, so on the plane it was the one bottle that busted open and now all the clothes in that bag smell like it, the whole room was suffocatingly full of the smell and if we ever forgot which room was ours we just had to sniff for the old-lady and we found it! I will take my peach shampoo detergent any day!

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