Posted by: facetothewind | December 4, 2014

An Old Friend in a New Place

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Remember that face? If you’ve been following my blog for a few years, you know this guy well. Yep, it’s a bespectacled Sebastian with a touch less hair. But he’s still the smart, goofy guy who used to make me cry but now makes me laugh. He’s living in Hong Kong teaching German. I decided to give him a little visit and experience a little bit of China. Hong Kong is China. Sort of. It’s a city state with semi-autonomy.

Hong Kong David Gilmore

It’s a pretty spectacular city, but coming from another Asian metropolis, I found myself not really up for the tourist challenge. So I just kind of walked slowly about the city with no agenda at all. It was extremely gloomy as if the clouds were settling on the whole city like a cool gray blanket, taking out all the color.

Hong Kong Victoria Harbour David Gilmore

It was also cool quite cool and in spite of the darkness of the sky, the chill was cheering my soul. I sat along the wharf and had tea by myself while Sebastian was at work. At night the colors come out in the city’s skyline…

Hong Kong skyline David Gilmore photography

…and in the cute little alleys where you can find steamy restaurants, fruit and flower vendors.

Hong Kong David Gilmore photography

The concrete jungle creates a cozy feel down these little side streets where I thought I might slip into a time warp and run into Charlie Chan.

Macau David Gilmore

Hong Kong is known for its food. But being from Malaysia where it’s next to impossible to find a decent pizza, I found myself just wanting to eat pizza at Paisano’s. It was authentic New York style, generous dough, melt-in-your-mouth cheese and a host of toppings…

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But I did eat at other places. The thing about good cuisine in Hong Kong is that you pay for it. This delicious pasta dish and a bottle of mineral water was 220 Hong Kong dollars which is just about $30 USD. Coming from KL where I’m starved for good cuisine, I’d say it was worth it. With the crusty yet chewy bread and view, there’s no question I got my money’s worth…

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One day while Sebby was teaching, I went to check out the Umbrella Revolution – Occupy Hong Kong…

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It had a familiar feel to it being from San Francisco. Yet, it seemed more like Unoccupy to me. Most of the people were gone and their tents zipped up. It was very peaceful and quiet since they managed to block off the traffic.

David Gilmore Occupy Hong Kong

The participants (who I think are mostly students) who were in residence, sat around texting, making art, having chats with friends. Hard to believe it was, and will be, the site of violent clashes with the police — who seemed to be nearly invisible when I was there.

Occupy Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution

The occupants weren’t particularly friendly to tourists walking around with cameras. They didn’t want their faces captured — probably for good reason. The morning after my visit, the occupants clashed with police and there’s talk of them conceding and packing it all up. There was a big board where you could write your words of support (or not, I suppose) on a Post-it note and stick it up on the board and then do the requisite selfie.

Hong Kong Occupy Umbrella Revolution

Although I felt a certain solidarity with them, I decided to move on and went to Macau (another city state) on the ferry.

Macau

Macau was a Portuguese colony until 1999 and so there’s an odd mix of signage in Portuguese and Chinese…

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It’s a bit like the Vegas of China with a bunch of casinos which usually don’t draw the classiest crowds. So I wandered around the European/Asian streets for a couple of hours and then took the boat back. The jet foil ride was quite rough and people were vomiting. Lovely.

On his days off, Sebby and I went exploring a bit. We took a ferry ride to an island called Lamma and walked around and had ourselves a nice little picnic at a secluded beach. It was so nice to lie in the sand and take a nap with the sound of the waves. This is the first I’ve been to a beach since Slovenia in July.

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After a few hours of just lounging in the sand we discovered a large plume of some sort of pink chemical moving toward the shore. Eventually it would probably just coat all the trash that washes up on the shore like Pepto Bismol. Hmmm. I guess the part of the beach where we were was somehow spared the tidal drift of garbage.

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The garbage situation in Asia is really something. People still seem to think nature is just where you dispose of your crap. I don’t know why people don’t have a sense of respect for their land. I’ve certainly seen trashed areas of the States, but nothing quite like this. If this was the beach in front of MY house, I’d be out there every day filling the recycling bin (and grumbling about it). On the trail through the woods to the beach if you look to the side of the trail, you can find old gas tanks, styrofoam, and even a unicycle just thrown into the jungle…

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The next day we visited the oldest cemetery in Hong Kong. Most of the graves have images of the dead. Some tell a story by what’s been done to their gravestones. Here I’m imagining there was a spurned lover involved…

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See the image gallery below for more grave photos.  AND…you can watch the video encapsulation of the trip here:

I liked Hong Kong — it’s quite a lot like New York: dense, noisy, expensive, and populated by hurried people who don’t make eye contact with you. But it comes with good food, sophistication, some hints of the old Asia and cheap alcohol. (Alcohol is expensive in Malaysia because of the taxes imposed on it by the Muslim government.) But I came here to see Sebastian. He’s celebrating his 30th birthday in a couple weeks and I wanted to wish him well and celebrate this milestone with him.

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I met Sebastian when he was a tender and shy 23 year old grad student at the University of Arizona. I’ve had the privilege of watching (and helping) him become a man and find his place in the world. The romantic flame has gone out as we both have new relationships, but my respect and admiration for him as a friend continues. He has become a gracious, earnest, charming man. Well, he was always gracious, earnest, and charming…the man part is new.

People who hold traditional views of relationship may wonder why I continue to stay close to my ex-boyfriend. For me the answer is simple — I don’t fall in love with people to just discard them when something shifts in our romantic interests. I fall in love with people whose minds, hearts, and spirits inspire me. I fall in love with smart, creative, goofy people I can play with, sing with, fly with. I fall in love with people who can show me something I’ve never known.

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And though the vicissitudes of life can peel off parts of the romance, the core love nested in my heart, never diminishes. It only becomes more seasoned with time.

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And so I returned to Kuala Lumpur with the poignance (but not the pain this time) of saying goodbye to someone I was once so deeply connected to. But we are each now someone else’s. How grateful I am for the endurance of old love and the emergence of new love. We go on.

Happy birthday, Sebastian.

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 “There are still more days to travel in this life. And he knows that the man who makes the journey has been shaped by every day and every person along the way. Scars are just another kind of memory. Soon enough the days will close over their lives, the grass will grow over their graves, until their story is just an unvisited headstone. He watches the ocean surrender to the night, knowing that the light will reappear.”

— ML Stedman

Here’s a gallery of images from the trip. You can click on an image to enlarge it and then use the arrows to move forward or back…

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Responses

  1. Love this blog posting, David. It’s wistful, poignant, and wise. Terrific photos as always. Hope you are well, Paula

  2. This quote rings in my heart, David: “I don’t fall in love with people to just discard them when something shifts in our romantic interests. I fall in love with people whose minds, hearts, and spirits inspire me. I fall in love with smart, creative, goofy people I can play with, sing with, fly with. I fall in love with people who can show me something I’ve never known.” As beautiful as your photographs. I find the cemetery astounding, (love stories) the trash and tall buildings makes me sad. I love that you are sharing your life adventures with us!

  3. Wonderful post, David. There’s also something lovely happening with the blog — I guess it’s Blogger doing this? — or I don’t know, but little white bits like snowflakes are slowly falling across the screen. Did you do this? Is there a button one can click to create this effect?

  4. Thanks, Lisa for your comment. Every year, WordPress automatically adds snowflakes to the blog. There is a way to turn it off – and being that I’m in a tropical country it would make sense to turn it off, but I like the whimsical notion of snowfall especially since I’m in shorts with the air conditioning on. Here’s more about the snowfall from a coding stanpoint: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/its-getting-cold-in-here/

  5. Oh, no, please don’t turn it off. It’s lovely. I thought you were using WordPress; don’t know why I typed “Blogger.” Anyway, it’s wonderful. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t even like snow anymore!

    P.S. Please say hi to Sebastian for me. He looks so handsome and grown up and, most important, content. Good for him.

  6. I like the snowflakes too. So nice to see your pics of my old home again. Glad you had a good time and great to see Sebastian again….Great that you made it to Macau too, I love the mosaic and the tiling! “And though the vicissitudes of life can peel off parts of the romance, the core love nested in my heart, never diminishes. It only becomes more seasoned with time.” You have a wonderful way with words – totally agree, and rings true for my old relationship too – from lovers to brothers 🙂

  7. It was great having you, David, visit me in Hong Kong. It’s always good to see a city that one has lived in for a while through the eyes of another person. Wonderful pics!

    I’m also glad that we’re still part of each other’s lives. I especially like that we share the same kind of humor and can just be goofy and silly around one another. And with you living in KL now, we’re not even that far apart.

    ~~ Hi Lisa! I not only look content but I am content in Hong Kong. I really like living and working in this city. 🙂


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