Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Worst Best Vacation Ever: Part II

Read Part I here.

The air is cool when we exit the airport, our taxicab driver speaks English, and our high-rise hotel has an IKEA in the basement. We are here because we can't be where we wanted to be, and this is where we could go. And we are so glad to have made it.

After a thirty-second conversation in the Nuernberg Lufthansa office, a team of benevolent airline employees magicked our tickets and re-booked us on an overnight flight eastward (after triple-checking the passport requirements, of course). Jeff would miss his meeting in Thailand, but there was work to do elsewhere as well. By the time our flight landed we had let go of the idea of one vacation and prepared for another.

Hong Kong at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon from a car window is a throng of women, walking and talking and sitting on the ground playing cards. We learn that most are Filipina maids, spending their day off in the city, together. They seem to inhabit every inch of free space in every public park, under every store awning, and in every crowded market and narrow alley between high rise buildings.

Jeff leads us out to find dinner. Since late last year he has traveled here for a week each month. We have missed him and tried to imagine what he is doing, where he is staying and what he sees. We've seen him on the webcam in the afternoon - nighttime for him, before he goes to bed - and he has looked tired. All three of us have been weary of being apart. And now, unexpectedly, we are finally here together.

We wander through the bright streets, where huge signs advertising Prada and Gucci hang above someone in a corncob costume standing in the middle of an enormous crosswalk, handing out restaurant fliers. We enter one of the malls - there seems to be a multi-story shopping arcade on every block - and meander, jet lagged and dazzled, past Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Kate Spade and Burberry. We see and hear faces and voices from Indonesia, Australia, mainland China, Britain. I try to remember where I've been that feels like this, without weather or clocks, daytime during nighttime, and hungry. Las Vegas, I think.

During the next few days we push Theo around the city in his orange stroller and he waves happily at every person on the subway, every street vendor, every designer shoe store employee. We eat room service hamburgers and slurp noodles from a bowl; we dine at California Pizza Kitchen and Outback Steakhouse; we buy deep-fried squid on the sidewalk and a man hands us waffles straight from the iron. We see a view of the city from above and imagine millions of people in sleek high-rise buildings, each over a hundred stories high. We see the lights of the city from the Kowloon ferry after a day of pounding the gritty pavement and being engulfed by throngs of commuters in hordes of traffic.

There is no swimming pool in our hotel, no cooking class, and no cheap tailor to stitch me up the dress of my dreams. But I hardly notice because I am exploring a new place with my two favorite people in the world, and it doesn't really matter where in the world we are.


distracted by genius said...

I loved Hong Kong and it sounds like you guys had a great time! It's not quite as exotic as Thailand... but still, pretty great vacation :-)

Meg said...

2 things:

1. I'm really glad you guys had a great time. Good travel buddies are so hard to find, and it sounds like you've got two. Plus, I have no idea where you found a man that didn't get so angry he couldn't get over it when you made a mistake. Does he have a single brother?

2. You're right, this does make me feel a little bit better about my car fiasco. Thank you.

Blythe said...

Erin - I am now stalking you.

Meg - I was already stalking you.

You know he spent his formative years in Missoula, right? That explains it.

Forgiveness is high on the list of criteria for a suitable spouse. Make a note of it.

Chantelle said...

Yeah, there's that happy ending!

Christina G said...

I'm glad you guys were able to have a great vacation! And if you're still unhappy about missing out on your Thai cooking lesson, I'm just an hour away. I'm sure Oliver and Theo could entertain each other as well ;-)

EuroTrippen said...

What was it John Lennon said? Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans? Sounds like the three of you managed to pull it out and have a good time anyway.

And hey... if you can't make your scheduled destination, Hong Kong's not at all a bad alternative.