The Catholics Made Me Late

posted by on 2009.10.19, under China

First full day with the group. We separated when they went up the side of a mountain in a gondola with a glass bottom. I took off for the park. We agreed to meet at the Man Mo Temple at 4:00 and see more of the Central District. I had a light lunch and took a nice, long walk towards the temple. I stopped in at the Tin Hau Temple (they had a cash bar – love those buddhists), and took a stroll over to Victoria Park.

The entire rim of the park was filled with groups of Indonesian women, some in muslim dress, others in western dress. There were little groups of them all over the park – usually 6-10 in a group. Eating and singing and talking. Later, Mr. Sam (I’ll get to him for tomorrow’s post) explained that they are nannies and maids for the upper class, and they receive Sunday off by law. It is the “special” day. But, back to the park. There were soccer games and music and someone dressed up in an inflated blue animal costume that drove the kids nuts. And again, I was just walking leisurely, taking photos, enjoying the day. I thought I had pleanty of time. I looked at my watch, and had 30 minutes to get to Hollywood Road and the temple. If I moved quickly, I would make it for sure.

Then, I ran into the catholics. There was a march or a parade along Hennesy Street of what seemed like thousands of catholics, holding signs and singing hymns. The police had the street marked off so that no one could cross through the parade, so all of the foot traffic was stuck on my side of the street. Before I realized what was happening, I was stuck in the crowd, moving oh,so, slowly down the street while the catholics sang and cheered. One block took more than 5 minutes, I think it took 10. I kept trying to read my consierge map (the tour book was useless) and I couldn’t make sense of the crazy streets around Hennesy. Maybe this was foolish, but I decided to stay on a street that had a name on the map. I’d get in front of one family only to find myself behind a very slow moving elderly couple. And the catholics went on and on and on…

Twenty minutes later I broke to the front and ran the next block. Only to have the sidewalk on my side of the street in front of a bank blocked off by police. Three of us crossed very serious traffic to get to the other side to run on. And that’s when I ran past the beauty contest, the indy club, some place with Hip-Hop blaring and a few monks walking down the street with incense. I was already late, so I didn’t get a record of any of this.

Finally, 20 minutes late, I was back in Central district on Queens Road. I could not figure out how to get to Hollywood Road where the temple was, so I asked a man if he spoke English. He did and I showed him my concierge map, and he shook his head and said, “You stay on big street like this, is ok. You go to little streets here, is crazy. Come, I show you the crazy streets.” He went on, and I followed him. Every once in a while he looked back and said, “See, streets are crazy here.” Finally he stopped and pointed up a steep hill, “You go there, then go….” and he gestured to the right. I thanked him and found the temple, about 25 minutes late. No one. I waited about another ten minutes and gave up, feeling awful. I feared they had waited and left. I figured the best would be to come back to the hotel and apologize.

When we all caught up, it was fine, because they were an hour late. They figured the same, that I was back at the hotel. But I feel I really saw Hong Kong, particularly the “special day”. ¬†Tomorrow, we begin the design tour.

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