On The Road – Day 9, 10 and 11 (Hong Kong + Shek ‘O, China)

Monsoon.

Like tiny drops from heaven …only different. The rain falls here the size of boulders. All consuming. Seven days straight of torrent. Walking the city, you are humble at the feet of nature. The citizens smile at the sheer velocity. The volumes that pour down upon the streets of Central are highly unusual to me. Hailing from the southwest of the US, where rain is a luxury, this was fascinating.

Back on the South China Sea, the boulders that line the bay here in Shek ‘O (pronounced Say-O) are an unusual color of deep purple as they have not had the opportunity to dry out in weeks. The June averages for HK rainfall are 15.7 inches per month, with the average temperature of 83 degrees F. The temperature this week is slightly north of normal, with the water levels above the mean.

With humidity soaking the air, keeping it dense and full of moisture, the land is a thriving jungle, green and leafy, washed clean and sparkling as new waterfalls fall down towards the sea from the Headlands every day.

Nearly 12 inches fell Saturday (fifth highest total on record), breathing new life into the various sewer systems that transport the H2O back to the ocean, to start the cycle over. It ceases to amaze me that this incredibly hilly countryside has little to no flooding, no pools of water collecting in the city center. Even the beaches out at Stanley are free of debris and the usual pollutants that should mare the waterways after leaching the land of every piece of waste.

Sunday was spent scrambling over borders that dotted the coastline on a hike that left us parched and ready for more alleyway dim sum. Dinner that night in the village was followed by a quick tour to Back Beach to watch the falling sun paint the distant islands in ochre, deep greens and purples. The ocean turned an emerald shade of lime green before the sun vanished at the sight of fishing boats leaving the docks to ply the water for squid in the dark.

Despite the weather, this jungle of a city, this highly evolved building scape is alive. People dotting the markets of Mong Kok on Monday (we headed to those thriving back alleys to look for an outdoor shop to buy some climbing equipment) added to the elixir of this vibrant cosmopolitan.

After touring the amazingly crowded streets of Prince Edward and then heading to Wan Chai for some shopping (I decided to buy a quad band phone with a local HK number), retiring to the hillside of Hollywood Road for a quick drink or two was in order. That eve, in Soho, the time was spent talking to various new friends about the Euro cup, China’s foreign direct investment, US proxy wars in Iraq and the other related topics that peppered our convo based on our proximity, our nationality and our interest levels.

Tuesday, waking to more rain and an even thicker cloud cover, the discussions turned to the complex – where to buy a new umbrella! After spending the day indoors, catching up on international events, sports scores, music, tech developments in the US, etc, the decision was made to attend a basketball game in Sheung Wan. The french community in the village were playing a basketball game against another opponent that required a large cheering squad. This was the final game of the season…pride was on the line.

The lone, non-french speaker, I yelled and cheered at the top of my lungs. While Bernard Cerquiglini recognized 75 languages that would qualify for recognition in present day France, I spoke non of them. I hooted and hollar’d in present day American slang, adding to the cacophony in the local gym. Our side lost…but not a problem to our noble francophile force. We retired to Geckos, the team sponsored pub located at the crossroads of Soho and Lan Kwai Fong.

Off to bed..this weary american somewhere in Asia was tired, wet, sweaty but smiling!

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