Our man Response aka Primo aka ssbikeman has been knocking about Hong Kong of late. And, yes, he’s sending in reports.
Here is the first of many I hope to post over the coming days.
Subject: Everything for sale nothing to buy
When I arrived in Hong Kong, I brought with me some good advice “pack light, whatever you need, they sell it there”. Mostly true.
I checked one bag containing come clothes and toiletries and carried on my messenger bag with 3 books and a rain jacket.
I figured I had enough “stuff” to last me two months. Not true. I read two of my books in two days and the last book is blank, made for sketching and doodling.
I now remember that it’s easier to use a word processor to write and I haven’t sketched anything (good) in 10 years. I figured I would do some cooking and bike riding here instead. Granted there is food for sale on every corner, however one cannot obtain a bean burrito or a cheap plate of Italian food (without ketchup in the sauce) or even a good healthy salad without a lot of effort. Also, there is a fierce anti bicycle culture in HK that goes without saying like the fact that the condoms are smaller here than in the US. (any relationship?)
With some time to kill, I made a short list of things that I would need.
1. a cheap single speed bicycle
2. a cast iron skillet
3. a good cheap chef’s knife
4. some marijuana
5. a Jui Jitsu School
Well, I found a bicycle, a fixed gear “Giant Bowery” no less, $500 (full retail), but the frame is a medium, I need a large. They can order one but it will take a few weeks and I will pay full retail. No thanks. What the bikes shops here lack in originality the make up for with a lack of personality. Alas, I feel good and sleep well at night knowing, should I want last years $5000 racing bike, I can probably get one for $5000. Also, I was trying to find a Hong Kong Bicycle T-shirt for my bro, but that ain’t gonna happen. The “Flying Ball” bike shop showed some semi-decent tee’s on their web site, but all they had in stock was lame ass team jerseys. I imagine that there will be some black market 2008 Olympic bicycle shwag for sale on the streets (as if I associated with anyone lame enough to sport anything featuring the Olympic rings.) but in my opinion, all that crap is Goodwill fodder.
The cast iron skillet is a novelty in HK. You can find imported French pans with super cool (but unnecessary) enamel coating on the bottom for about a $100 a pop, but a good old $14, all iron, skull smashing, (shicken frying) pan is not available as far as I can tell.
The cheap chef’s knife is the same as the skillet. You can buy a clunky Chinese meat cleaver on every corner. You want a Euro-Trasheque knife, you are going to blow close to $100.00 more like $200 for one blade. After a search I settled of a $10 knife that holds an edge almost long enough to get through one prep without a wet stone touch up. It’s not like I am cutting Goodyear retreads or bricks and aluminum cans…After I made my $10 score, of course I then found some $25 Kai Japan knives. Cheaply made, sharp as hell, and very thin yet they are the right shape. I’ll score one of those should my “Super Chef Good Doll” knife explode into shrapnel while cutting chicken breasts.
Marijuana, still working on it. There is definitely “pot culture” here. You will often see leaf stickers on cars, t-shirts promoting the stuff as well as government posters and commercials denouncing drugs in general. However, I have yet to catch a whiff of anything green.
I found a couple of Jui Jitsu Schools. The 1st was far from where I am staying and was being taught by a kindly kick boxer. The second school was closer to home, was next door to an English style pub (with reserved booths for the Jiu Jistu school!) and is run by a couple of laid back Japanese guys that have no aspirations in life other than fighting and partying. I attended my 1st class and before my sweat had dried, I attended my 1st pub crawl. Good draft beer and fresh sea food served with a traditional HK flair (lack of interest). “Hell knows no apathy deeper than that of an HK waitress”. There were 20 of us in the pub; I began to fear for the general public. A bunch of surly boys (who know how to fight), pumped up on endorphins, cheap draft beer and testosterone! Once the boys understood that I can fight AND drink, I was promptly invited to a boat trip scheduled for the next morning (Sunday). The school chartered a 45 foot boat complete with a small speed boat tethered to the back, water toys, a chef making hot Chinese foods and of course a decent stock of beer, wine and Saki. There were even a few cute girls in bikinis there to make sure that all of the boys kept their guts sucked in and their mouths somewhat civil. The trip was a blast, complete with someone drowning on a nearby boat. The search party was an amazing effort, by the HK water police. But to no avail. Of course, we all joked morbidly on our boat, hoping to find the drown body for some photo opportunities.
I am going to my 2nd class tonight. Things are looking up. Maybe I can network and find things I cant buy and want but don’t need.