07 June 2005

honey do

I'm back now. Actually, I have been for almost a week. It doesn't really feel like I'm here yet, like my body is here, right in this chair, but my mind is still in transit. Lost baggage or something. Travel insurance should cover it, except that I never buy it. I'm the unprepared, unhippie backpacker who likes to gamble.

I wore this black pageboy hat and big sunglasses everywhere I went because I learned that it made people Stay Away. I found that by myself, at night, I was never approached by the panhandlers and rickshaw drivers.

Their eyes registered: female form, dark hair. Their brain registered: Chinese. Unless, of course, they took a second look.

We were surprised our first day on the subway to learn that yes, we are tall here, but not so tall as stereotypes would have you think. The boy said that the people in Hong Kong are much shorter. We could see over people's heads, but just barely. Probably no more than in the U.S., as we're both tall by American standards, and above-average by Dutch ones.

We met this girl, this girl, this girl. Nan-Jia. She said she was sixteen, but my teacher-y eyes register twelve, thirteen absolute tops. She sold me some shoes, some black market fake Pumas made of synthetic fibers that dry out quickly.

My feet had blistered and my old brown sneakers had finally fallen apart. They looked so sad in the trash basket outside our room door at the Conservatory of Music. So these shoes from this girl: they are hot pink and gray with hot pink laces. H-O-T pink.

She proposed marriage to Dirk another day. She was hot and sweaty and tired and we felt bad for her and wanted to smother her with money, with school, with air-conditioning. Her older sister said she's very good for business.

We toured Sun Yat-sen's house, had our feet and backs massages, the former by young girls, which felt perverse, but that's How It Is Done, and the latter by blind people, because that's also How It Is Done. We overate brunch at a western hotel, marveled at the acrobats, ferryed the river along the Bund at night, worried over the dogs in bird cages at the Bird, Cricket, and Fish Market, relaxed at the Jade Buddha Temple, and pretended that Beijing, with its pomp and circumstance, did not exist.

Eventually we caved and started taking taxis everywhere, as no journey (except those from illegals in Beijing) was ever over $3 American. A subway ride would have been 50 cents American for the two of us. The whole thing was ridiculous. Ridiculous.

And yes, now we're back. Scholarship applications await. More travel, much work before fall. Online phones.

betholindo at 10:43

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