just before school started (about 3 weeks ago) I moved to Yau Ma Tei on Kowloon Side (AKA the dark side).
kowloon is much more local and a bit more like mainland china than HK Island is. I don’t know Kowloon very well, only the MTR stops, because before now, i have always lived on the Island and when I travelled I went all the way up to New Territories to hike or go to deserted beaches.
HK Island is very international and most of the white foreigners live there. I never thought about standing out like a sore thumb because there were so many ‘gwailos’ (foreigners) that it wasn’t an issue.
Then I move to Yau Ma Tei, a very very very local area. and i realise that i do stand out like a sore thumb in the ‘hood full of Indians and HK locals. and the only reason I am realising now how different i am is because the ‘hood-meisters haven’t gotten the fact yet that i live here yet, and they give me funny looks when i walk past, like i have two heads or something.
(although i think they are finally getting used to me because today i got a smile from a couple of old men sitting in front of their junky shop and another old woman smiled at me. WHY DON’T I SPEAK MORE CANTO!!!! [endrant])
so here is a ghetto map i made to show you my homes.
who knew there was such a huge difference just on the other side of the harbour.
but on the bright side, i never have to switch MTR lines, and the red line is quite growing on me. AND it only takes me about 25 minutes from door-to-door between home and school rather than 45ish minutes from Tin Hau.
my area is junky in some places (did i use junky twice in one post? sorry, but no synonym in either case) – okay, a lot of places. my roommate and I DEFINITELY take our shoes off at the door before walking inside, and even then we wear slippers (HK style). there are loads of mechanic shops and other stores where the workers are all ‘blue-collar’ (if i can use that in HK). i’ve been pretty homesick recently and the thought hit me as i was walking past one of these places today and the smell of oil hit me like a ton of bricks – that helps me feel more at home. i’ve noticed it’s the people who own the junky (three times) closet-sized stores and the guys with the welding equipment and the ones with oil under their fingernails and the ones unloading heavy boxes out of moving trucks who acknowledge me, rather than the people who are on their way to work in offices. those are the ones who see me and know i’m a commoner around here, the ones who make an effort to nod their head in my direction (just like they do in the South) as i walk past with my messenger bag and tie-dye bandana. (it’s starting to sink in more and more that i don’t fit in appearance-wise..this post is opening my eyes!)
the smell of oil and the sight of wrenches and power tools and hardware and car parts is comforting to me in my state of homesickness (this happened about 2 months after arrival last year as well, it’ll get better soon). i still don’t want to step in the mysterious puddles on the street, but i don’t mind the junkiness (four) of the ‘hood. we’re only house sitting at this place till the end of may, but my roommate and I really ended up liking how local this place is. it’s a great central location and we like the rustic-ness of it. please be praying that we find a flat very soon someplace around here. we’re scouring the internet and searching by word of mouth as well. i’ll keep you updated if we find anything.
farther down broad st back home in eufaula is the hardware store. this is a superold picture, sorry.
can you relate to this at all?