This happened a while ago, but I have to write chronologically, or things that get lost in the ether become floating, flailing spectres and I can’t be responsible.
The new visa regulations instituted sometime in July have trickled down into the Chengdu Basin, resulting in my first ever 10 day visa. A penalty of sorts, incurred for a minor infraction: not telling the PSB that I had left my work unit, and instead waiting until the Z visa issued by said unit was close to expiring before applying for a new visa. Normally, this wouldn’t have been much of an issue, but these days the PSB has a computerized system that seems to actually work. They straight caught me. I was interviewed for a long time by a cutie named Doris, and I thought I had schmoozed and flattered my way into a skip-out-of-PSB-scot-free pass. But no, when the verdict came down, she was smiling and friendly as ever “why don’t you just take a vacation to the US for a while”
So I made the fabled Hong Kong Visa Run. This time, things went pretty well. I went to the new offices of the China Visa Issuing Authority, put in my app, and promptly skipped off for the islands. I spent 4 days on Cheung Chau, chilling.
I want to move to Cheung Chau and here are some reasons why:
The food was great and there is a lot of it. The fishing fleet reminded me a lot of Alaska, in that the fleet was always out there, and they always come back with something. I had scallops and shrimp, fish and lobster, clams and mussels. The prices are great – 10 bucks US and you are fed proper, and there are restaurants all over the tiny isle.
The people are friendly and unaffected. I played ball with high school kids, chatted with old women, drank with old men, shared polite nods with wandering couples and locals, and haggled for a phone charger. Sounds pretty normal for anywhere right? And it is, it is, I agree … but it just felt so comfortable compared with Mainland China, where many interactions sag with the question of How should I act with this Alien Creature. Hong Kong is civilized ya’ll, and it feels that way even on this tiny little island, a fishing hamlet of a few thousand people.
It’s beautiful, and still incredibly untrodden. Couples arrive en masse on the ferry from Hong Kong for a night or two, but they stay pretty much to the strip between the two chunks of the island, the northern and southern peaks of the mountain popping up through the sea. I found a very nice temple manned by an alligator skinned old man and his drop-lipped buddy. They waved me off as I got naked and jumped into the water off of the best beach on the island. I drank some tea and checked out the well-kept shrine and those two just sat staring at whatever it was out there on the horizon that wet-lipped dry skinned men stare at when they’re old and bored. Super chill. The homes up around the southern and northern peaks are painted garishly in the island style that makes garish nothing more than stiff-lipped defiance of conformity and drabbery. Some mansions up there, as well as skinny little homes of stone with cozy courtyards and a view of the rocks below. Three nunneries/retreats on the rocky hills as well, which contrasts so strongly with the pussy that is Mainland China. Felt great.
Its right by Hong Kong, one of the world’s Great Cities. Thirty minutes and you’re in Wanchai. Not sure what else needs to be said here. Island living beside dope city.
Peep the slideshow: