Sunday, September 14, 2008

I can't imagine that there are many places in the world that are worse for running than Hong Kong. It's perpetually hot, humid, polluted, crowded and everything is covered in concrete. I'm staying two blocks from Victoria Park, which from the map seemed to be a smaller version of Central Park. When I got there, I was shocked to see that it was really all concrete: it's like calling Nathan Phillips Square or Trafalgar Square or any other large paved public space a park. Sure, there are lots of trees, some grass, and a swimming pool, tennis court and a quasi-rubberized track, but that doesn't make it a park.

Still, being the idiot that I am, I've run 36 km in the last 18 hours in this hellhole. I'm certainly going to be faster as a result, but I don't know if I'm going to be healthier. I probably would've been better off eating deep fried chicken and smoking a pack of cigarettes every hour. Today I took my life in my hands by leaving for a 2-hour run at 9 am. I ran one hour in the shade of Victoria Park before stopping for some Gatorade and dutifully trudging up and down a mountain (really a steep, neverending hill) for the second hour. Ironically, as a result of all the people that live here, there are lots of tall buildings that shade almost all the streets, and my life was spared.

In Victoria Park, which seems like a larger version of Queen's Park when you account for all the old people doing tai chi, I saw more Indonesians than I've ever seen in my life before coming here (three). At least I think they're Indonesians. If you know what to call Chinese-looking women who don't speak Chinese and look very distinctive, let me know. Given that one out of roughly every 30 people in the world is Indonesian, I don't think I'm off-base. I was certainly off-base when I thought that the women who camped on the concrete on sheets were either beggars or prostitutes. I later realized that there was no grass to sit on and have a picnic, so they had to sit like street vendors.

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