Sunday, July 13, 2008

Back in L.A.

Mrs. Octopus and I are back in town after a thirteen-hour flight back from Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific.

I liked Hong Kong -- sort of. It was an interesting place to walk around, to ride the escalator up and down, to ride the subway, the ferry, the peak tram, the taxis, etc. If there had been a Ferris Wheel we would've ridden that, too. After a couple days in the city, though, the question that kept popping up in my head was how much shit could the people in Hong Kong buy? Every place in the city we saw was a market of one sort or another, indoor or outdoor, high-end brand name stuff or knock-off bootlegs, live or cooked food, goldfish or birds, etc. It really did seem like the most authentic Hong Kong experience we could have was to ride the escalators up and down in the Sogo department store in Causeway Bay.

Hong Kong is visually quite impressive: it's sort of like New York and Tokyo shuffled and then scattered across a set of very steep, winding stairs, set on two sides of a bay, with towering green hills as a backdrop. But even the skyline, as viewed from Victoria Peak, was marred for me by the rampant, unabashed, commercial spirit of the place. Looking down on the city, I found my eye kept on getting dragged to the massive, animated AIG logo at the top of their building by the water. The dancing AIG letters on the brilliant neon blue background cut straight through the dense fog that rolled in as I watched from an observation deck.

The food we had was pretty great, but, sadly, I didn't have anything that blew me away. Perhaps if I had had a few more days to explore. Someone will have to explain Hong Kong to me: it seems like a fantastic place to eat and shop, but that's about it. It felt like New York without the Met, or MoMA, or any sports teams, or history. That's surely not an accurate or fair assessment of Hong Kong -- but it's the one I formed during our all too brief visit there.

Perhaps my opinion would have been different if I had found myself in the middle of a gunfight in a bird market.


Toddy said...

I love the pulp film infested perspective from which we have learned to view the world.
I get that myself.
Everything is romanticized in the oddest ways, and far from total experience.


kelly Wallace said...

very entertaining comments about Hong Kong! I worked on the design of AIG building in Hong Kong - and that sign was a total add on! It wasn't in the original design, but the client wanted it added later to compete with the other buildings! sounds like a great trip!