The opposite of a heatwave

Well, I am back in Hong Kong. Not only am I back in Hong Kong, seemingly my Asian home away from home, I am back blogging. And I will be doing so for much of this year, after landing possibly the best job in the world, a tour guide.

I am in cold Hong Kong, where we are in a middle of a cold snap. I’m not complaining, as the so-called cold snap is a mild Melbourne winter and I’m only too aware of what’s to come on the mainland in the coming weeks. Hong Kong, according to a local who liked to talk about the weather (read: everyone) has perhaps four or five days of winter; days under 15 degrees. We’ve arrived in the week that gets all of them, lucky us. People who live in Hong Kong tend to fall into one of two groups; either they are in denial about the weather and continue to use the air conditioner in inappropriate places or they forget that they live only a few kilometres above the equator and insist on wearing North Face jackets which are instead designed for the depth of the Norwegian winter.

I say we as for the next two weeks I’m travelling with a cohort – I’m accompained by the rest of the O’Dowd clan – even the Beast is happy, travelling with Amy’s suitcase affectionately coined the Monster. We all have jobs on the trip – I oversee transport and the map, Dad has ‘kitty’, Amy is welfare officer and Mum does… we’re all not too sure. We do know that she’s making a list of creative fake name brands such as Gelvin Kaven (Calvin Klein) and Polo Santo Roberto (Polo Ralph Lauren).

The Beast is already obese. When you’re currently stationed in a city-state that is famed as having the best shopping in the world, this is not a good thing. Nevertheless, we’ve done our fair share of shopping already. The Temple Street Night Market, Citygate Outlets and Tsim Sha Tsui are already under our belts and I’m sporting a DKNY dress ($40) and Coach purse ($100) for my efforts. They’re small and don’t take up much room, I promise.

But whilst Hong Kongers (I have no idea of their collective term, it seems superfluous to call them simply Hong Kong residents) are quite meek and mild on the surface, they come into their own when shopping. At one point today I was holding a shoe in the air, pondering its volume in relation to the Beast, when a stranger plucked it out of my hand, calculated its price and handed it back with a quiet ‘thank you’. I believed him to be a shop assistant until I saw him, two shops later, knocking fellow shoppers over with a large amount of overstuffed shopping bags.

If we’re not shopping, we’re eating. We’ve continued my lifetime crusade to find the world’s best dumpling, eaten our body weight in spring rolls and dined on high tea at the Peninsula Hotel, accompained by their signature in-house Peninsula champagne. But I didn’t forget my roots and the fact that I carry a backpack when I travel, as four hours later we were dining on the street at a place where a toilet roll was placed on our table as like it was a centrepiece. Here we enjoyed ‘fried chicken with garlic’ which was possibly the spiciest dish in Asia, not that any warning was given in the menu or anything. All that I can say is that not many people have feasted on macaroons at the Peninsula then had toilet paper on the table in the same day. I’m holding my head high.

I love Hong Kong, I really do. I feel like I know it pretty well by now, but tonight gave me something new. We headed off to the races at Happy Valley, where I managed to find a winner through Darren Beadman in the Victorian Racing Club Cup whilst an Australian commentator played up to the crowd. Yep, apparently I’m overseas, but tonight it was only according to the density of the stands and the prices of beer!

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