Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saturday, 5:34 am: I look up cheek by jowl. It means what I thought it did.

5:40 am: I go for a 20-minute run. It's actually cool, at least relatively speaking, and I'm a little sick, so I wear a long-sleeved shirt and stagger out the door like a malarial Westerner.

8:00 - 10:00 am: I spend time at Incheon International Airport, reputedly one of the best two or three airports in the world. The washroom floor is cleaner than most people's dining tables.

12:45 pm: I am in Hong Kong and look over to the woman next to me. I see Korea on her passport, but then I see that it says People's Republic of Korea. Wait, the People's Republic of Korea? The passport is marked "public affairs". I stare at her like she's a ghost and worry if this is going to get me killed.

2:45 pm: I realize after an hour on the bus that cars in Hong Kong drive on the left side of the road.

3 pm: I get off the bus, walk two blocks, through a gate, back out the gate thinking it's the wrong place, through the gate again, through another gate into a narrow back alley that comes to an end with four men guarding either their laundry or counterfeit clothing. At the end of the alley are a set of stairs going up, and the fourth door is the one I want. I punch in the code at the door, walk past the security guard and take the elevator to the 5th floor. I walk past three doors, turn a corner and go to door 5. This is my hostel, though for the longest time I thought it was an ambush or a hideaway.

This is not what I expected. There are more people, buildings and commmotion here than anywhere else I've ever seen. This makes Times Square look serene. Still, I feel at home:

4:16 pm: I order beef with black bean sauce on rice and an iced tea. This is the first meal I've had in two months that tastes like home.

4:28: I'm done eating and two blocks away.

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