The apple doesn't fall from the tree.
I'm sitting in a packed Apple store, a whopping 12 minutes after their opening, using their lightning quick internet, a spankin' new computer, and experiencing only a minor hiccup to this otherwise clever plan:
Now this is my real test of how well I know how to use this system.
My last few days have been in a wild little settlement called Hong Kong, which differs hardly at all from the simple life of Cambodia with their palm-thatched roofs, tuktuks, and dirt roads. The only real difference is nearly 300 skyscrapers, 8 million people, and of course the zombie-like detachment that comes with living in a city that boasts the most densely populated district on the planet (Mong Kok: 130,000 people/sq. km; Toronto: 945 people/sq. km).
After the sharp contrast between the places I've visited on this trip I can confidently say that our system provides us with an incomparable quantity of life.
Now this city has a neat recent history which I'll summarize and express with the following haiku:
till '97, but now
The feeling I get from most people I've talked to is that they don't really dig the way the tides have turned. If nothing else, there's a strong sense of wanting to distance themselves from China. Hong Kongers rock a pretty strong superiority complex.
(Observation No. 1 from sitting in this UFO of a store for too long: a really funny thing I notice is the banter that middle-aged men have with employees in the few moments before they hand over their credit cards for pillaging. They need to do something to feel like spending $2300 on a laptop is nothing but the colourful, summer-loving game that the Fruit Co. says it is.
Observation No 2: it's depressing to hear songs I like come on their PA system. I thought these were good songs that I knew. But anything piped into this hypermodern casino is lubrication for the gears of the mighty machine.)
This of course, is a city where technology reigns supreme. When the earth turns just the right way, some folks on a planet around Alpha Centauri probably see this city's skyline as a star in their own sky, brighter even than our own sun is. At 8:00 each evening hordes of tourists cross to the other side of the harbour to see lasers shooting off Hong Kong's squashed-in towers, synchronized to music in a quaint display you could only imagine in this part of the world.
Of course, just to manage a city this large requires some serious technological wizardry, which would make even the hardest-core North American IT guys tremble & weep like foolish children. My timing was only slightly off for the extravaganza you'll see below ... actually, this was a common theme on my trip - I missed a free Lil Jon show in Shenzhen by 3 days, I missed the Cambodian new year by the same amount, and unfortunately I was a week early for this spectacle, which I can only imagine to rival Woodstock '69 + '94 + '99 in its attendance, ferocity, and pure hedonism:
During my foray in Hong Kong I crossed paths with music on a few occasions, but nothing rivals the strangeness of the concert I went to yesterday evening. Tucked away in this strange recital hall on the 8th floor of City Hall's administrative building (the first floor being the marriage registry), I witnessed something I never thought possible: A harmonica orchestra.
¡Where does the madness end!
It was actually a pretty neat show, made up of the YMCA Harmonica Orchestra which I learned has been blown' the wind for 70 years. Some of these cats put Bob Dylan to shame with their prowess on their wild chromatic harmonicas. And no matter how you cut it, if a person tells you they play bass harmonica, you have to know you're in the presence of a force of nature.
Well that just about does it. My flight leaves in a few hours, and this is the longest I've spent inside this walk-in billboard since I collected a paycheque for being in one, so I've got to get going before my sanity starts to drain out onto the stainless steel walls.
As they say in Cambodia, akhun toomtoom for following me along this trip.
It's been a trip.