Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tasting Menu

The moment I saw a McDonald's on Nathan Road in Hong Kong I knew that I'd arrived. It's not that I was craving a Big Mac (Happy B'day Mac!) - I haven't eaten at a McDonald's in years - it was that it had been two months since I'd seen the Golden Arches. The last time I'd set eyes on the familiar red and yellow logo was in Northern Thailand, in Chiang Mai, somewhere near the night market. All through Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, I lived a McDonald's-free existence, a life without virtually every Western logo and brand name in the catalog of my brain.

Part of the allure of travel is getting away from the familiar. After a time, though, enough is enough. I was thrilled to be back in a city where McDonald's is part of the landscape. In Hong Kong, in fact, everything you can get in the West is part of the landscape. The stores are filled with consumer goods, the choices mind-boggling after a few months surrounding by the crumbling infrastructures and limited choices of Southeast Asia. I may have arrived in a city called Hong Kong, but in a way I'd come home. At the bottom of everything, I'm a first-world, developed nation kind of guy. I assume this could qualify as one of those eye-opening discoveries of "self" gleaned from the open road.

Now for the bad news. I'd arrived in Hong Kong feeling worse then I'd felt in years. Other than a minor cold in Bali, I'd managed to travel for close to seven months free of bugs, viruses or infection (hangovers don't count). I don't know what I picked up, or where, but the last few weeks have been a struggle. I thought it was a sinus infection, and took a course of antibiotics, but that didn't help. I now suspect it was a combination of sinus infection, cold, exhaustion and depression.

I spent the first few days in Hong Kong impersonating a tourist, visiting sights and taking a few photos, but my heart wasn't in it. I would find myself in a drippy-nosed daze, wandering unfamiliar streets and unaware of the people around me. I've spent the last few days doing absolutely nothing other than reading, watching DVDs, sleeping, drinking lots of juice and eating noodle soups (fat noodles, skinny noodles, Chinese noodles, Japanese noodles - it's a good thing I like noodles).

I'm feeling better today, enough to post some images to Flickr and present you with a short photo essay on Hong Kong. It's a magnificent city, a photographer's dream. I hope to get out again once I'm back to health and really document my visit. For now, enjoy these snaps.

Hong Kong Skyline

Hong Kong Cultural Center

Spitting Spreads Germs


IFC Mall

Chinese Flag at Jardine House

Something Abstract to Match My Mind

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Blogger Dan said...

Sorry to hear you've been through a bad spell Matt. (Hope you can read this!) It's pretty inevitable with long trips in foreign spots. But you persevered and kudos to that.

9:20 PM  
Blogger K Collins said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:47 PM  
Blogger K Collins said...

Try some Chinese herbs for your ailment. When in Rome...

11:49 PM  
Blogger giodb said...

Hi Matt,

really liked the HK cultural Center pic!

5:00 AM  

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