Monday, October 13, 2008

Asia Adventure - Post 3 (Hong Kong)

On Monday, we rode the subway to Lantau Island (aka the very end of the line) to visit the big ass Buddha. Well the proper name is “Tien Tan Buddha Statue”, but the thing is enormous and could possibly be seen from space. The island is a variable wilderness, so we took the “Ngong Ping” cable car to get a very scenic trip. Granted the cable car was suspended 700+ feet in the air and held aloft by tiny cables and the wind would swing our car and make the most disturbing creaking noises…..and I’m having a panic attack. My fear of heights kicked in again and I had to spend a good portion of the ride curled up in the fetal position on the cable car floor.

On a sweltering hot and humid day (oh wait that is EVERYDAY in Hong Kong) we thought it would be a great idea to climb the bazillion steps up to the giant Buddha. 30 minutes later, we reached the top and lost about half our body weight in sweat. Now if only they would install a giant slip-n-slide to get back down to the base.

Next to the big Buddha is the Po Lin Monastery where we had a huge vegetarian lunch. Well Chinese vegetarian meals are just like regular Chinese meals (smells like fish and something rank), just without the fish. At the monastery, I had my first encounter with massive amounts of overpowering incense. I mean every once in a while during college, you would walk into the “stoner’s” room and be overwhelmed with some burning incenses, so in comparison, the monastery was going for the high times hall of fame status. All the worshipers would carry three or more giant burning sticks (think Roman candle size) of incense that they would wave around and pray with. Personally, I think it was just a clever way for the monastery to cover up that awful fishy food smell.

A quick digress….we decided to drink some and just chill at Evan’s apartment before hitting the town the previous two nights. While sending status update emails to the family, we used his internet to watch various You-Tube videos. The highlights were the “what what in the butt” music video and Jim Gaffigan’s “hot pockets” standup routine. They were such hits, they became running inside jokes for the entire SE Asia trip. All we would have to do is whisper “caliente pocket” or “what what” before the group would bust up in juvenile giggle fits. Another favorite was a Mad TV sketch that we couldn’t find online but I described to them. Basically a guy is acting in front of a green screen and the director is yelling at him “now someone is attacking you over your shoulder….so you are stabbing him….stabbing him ferociously….now the other shoulder….now they are bleeding and you want to drink the magical dragon blood…”. Basically it looked like the guy was giving dual handjobs while drinking jiz. Graphic, I know.

Back to the story. The cable car has a “snapshot moment” at the end of the run where you can crowd to the front and get a group shot in the cable car. Think the kind of tourist trap picture that roller coasters have. The funny thing is that they Photoshop in the landscape since they take the picture in a warehouse. Well we were in the mood to create a different kind of picture just to fuck with the staff. We posed like rock star strippers slapping our asses or grunting like monkeys (and in my case….drinking magic dragon blood). I almost peed my pants looking at the resulting picture and therefore had to get a copy for Christmas cards.

That night we headed to the island of Kowloon for Indian food and shopping. The restaurant (and that is a stretch) was in the dodgiest building in SE Asia. As soon as we stopped in front, we were assaulted by a dozen Indian men shoving their menus in our face (insert dirty comment here). We followed the hawker through a back door, around a storage room, and up a service staircase full of more garbage and questionable looking puddles (50-50 shot it was urine). At one point, Dana clung to my arm and said “I bet this is where they deal drugs”. Surprisingly, the food was good and did not taste like it was cooked in used syringes.

After dinner we stopped first at the night market to haggle for cheap crap. I browsed through the requisite faux silk traditional Chinese dresses, faux silk slutty Chinese dresses, faux silk slutty he-she dresses, etc. They had everything from tea pots, embroidered slippers, knock off purses and art, painted fans….you know, the crap you would normally never buy. The next stop was the Ladies market which was full of the same crap but with new people to haggle prices with. Our cab driver was most definitely drunk (and possibly high) and molested Evan’s thigh. Talk about the most uncomfortable five minutes of your life. At least he didn’t ask Evan to drink his dragon blood.


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