A Week in Kyoto is a Second in Hong Kong

It's been an unforgivable amount of time since I've posted. A month! A month, when you've just moved abroad feels like an eternity. We've officially lived here for three. A full third of all my experiences living in Hong Kong thus far have continued on undocumented on this blog. And, man, what a month it has been.

 From Kyoto station.

From Kyoto station.

Exactly 30 days ago I literally cried of happiness in Kyoto. These tears were spurred on, no doubt, by exhaustion mixed with the sight of the sakura buds hanging low over the sprawling Kamo River, and the taste of okonomiyaki off a fresh teppanyaki grill in a tiny neighbourhood restaurant. We landed at 1 AM at Kansai International Airport and entered the city on the first train, had a coffee, and walked. We walked to a nearby temple, as we waited to be checked into our hostel, and found a garden nook where a tree was blooming ahead of schedule - the wind blew slightly and showered blossoms all over me, and in that moment I felt my soul soar in ecstasy, beyond my body and my tiredness. 

 A coffee shop by Rengeo-In Temple, run by people who are as delightful as the shop looks. 

A coffee shop by Rengeo-In Temple, run by people who are as delightful as the shop looks. 

We walked to a department store and amused ourselves with the quaint Japanese appliances, like a toaster oven for one single slice of toast and tiny kitchen grills. We kept walking, checked in, took a nap, had dinner, walked some more, slept, and then got up the next morning to go to Arashiyama, home to the bamboo forest. We walked for five days, marveling at all the different and wonderful sights and tastes of Kyoto, stopping on occasion to send a prayer of thanks to the spirits inhabiting the beauty that surrounded us.

There was so much to love on our walks: quiet residential streets stacked with Japanese houses, trees lining the sidewalks, tiny shrines on street corners; ramen shops and Kyoto cookies, onigiri and matcha lattes; stationary stores and fashion boutiques with clean, sleek lines and delicate textures. One night, we found ourselves at the Stardust Club, chosen for its name -- our song -- and sat with a demi-bottle of wine, in the smoke and chatter of three older gentlemen and the bartender. They discussed Chet Baker and Hank Williams, while we nodded, grinning from ear to ear. 

I left Adam at the train station in Kyoto, he was going onto Tokyo for the next two weeks. Immediately after landing in Hong Kong, Hong Kong hit me: the towering, decaying buildings and bamboo scaffolding of Sham Shui Po, garbage and wooden skewers strewn across the closing market street, rows of roasting ducks staring lifelessly out from their rotisserie windows, electric neon signs and unceasing traffic din, crowds of oblivious people seemingly surgically attached to their mobiles as they amble around each other. 

 Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

I slept poorly that night, kept awake by the sounds of the street. And the next morning, I reported for duty as a staff writer at HK Magazine. 

I won't say much about my work, except that I'm happy with it. I'm learning a lot and meeting interesting people, and have had lots opportunities to check out the food and culture scene in Hong Kong. My life is slowly being sorted out here, much quicker than I thought it would. There's a sign in our office that says, "A New York Minute is a Hong Kong Second", and it hasn't been proven wrong. But in the meantime, I'll be eking out some calm moments on my own by dreaming of Kyoto. 

-----------

Updates: 
- For some more peaceful photos of Japan, check out Adam's photo blog at m-u-m-u.tumblr.com
- I'll occasionally post some of my HK Mag articles, reviews and interviews on this blog. Here's a recent review of the movie "Life", starring Dane DeHaan and Robert Pattinson.