Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Adventures in Xenophobia: How to travel without seeing anyone from where you are visiting

After much fun at the night market- part of which included meeting a couple who live not one mile from me in Alexandria- I headed to Avenue of Stars, a walkway right along the waterfront. It was late, around 11pm, and starting to rain, so the waterfront was sparsely populated but still had a nice humming crowd to it. Young couples making out under umbrellas, high school age kids comparing fashion choices, merchants hocking photos in front of the harbor, the late night latte crowd at the Starbucks (naturally), and one slightly damp grad student from George Mason.

Once it began to rain in earnest my meandering gained alacrity, and I headed for the ‘night life’ district, Lan Kwai Fong, recommended by the Tourism Board site and echoed by the opinion of the Cathay Pacific flight attendant (who very graciously ignored the fact that I had my backpack in front of an exit window with my feet propped up on it. Thanks pal!) After a VERY steep walk up the hill from the MTR station, I learned an important lesson about ‘nightlife’ districts: drunken assholes are drunken assholes regardless of what country you are in. Although I am a non-drinker, I do enjoy going out with my friends to bars and bopping along to music, making (lame) jokes, and generally holding court with my friends. A night at Brickskellar (no, I will not call you by your new name, my darling friend), however, is very different than what I am talking about by ‘night life’ district. Lan Kwai Fong: Hong Kong::Hard Rock CafĂ©: DC. I can best sum up the experience thus: I had headed there for dinner, hoping to meet young Hong Kong folks out for a fun night and at least get to do some people watching, possibly even join a few more loquacious revelers for a drink.

Once up the hill (panting…and at this point any hope of ‘glowing’ rather than sweating was really past gone), I walked the block of bars and restaurants in search of Chinese food. After two loops around the block, I figured I would at least settle for Asian food. This was not about finding the ‘perfect’ dish; this was about not being the asshole that goes to Hong Kong and eats at Burger King (note the picture from breakfast. Ahem).

Seriously though, this is my point about ‘night life’ districts- they don’t represent anyone who actually has a life in the place you are visiting!! I saw many Australians, English, French, some Swedes…but the only people who appeared to be from Hong Kong in the area were the folks staffing the- yes, I’m serious- three Irish pubs, four Indian hookah joints, two burger joints, one American diner, and many, many overpriced bars. I did not find ONE restaurant serving local dishes. Not one! And here’s the real rub: It’s not like I was super hankering for a particular type of food (it’s all steamed fish & veggies to me, folks)…it’s that I joked with Will that I would have a burger in Hong Kong just to be an “Amaarican”. We both laughed about the people that go to another country just to do their best to avoid the locals (makes me think of a certain private island we cruised to earlier this year).

I’m traveling to challenge myself to experience new things and get out of my comfort zone just as much as I am to study with my professor. Hopefully in Bali it will be a bit, er, less challenging to challenge myself.

1 comment:

  1. Sawasdee ka!
    I come to visit you blog naka. ^-^