Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Morning in Hong Kong

            During the sixteen-hour flight to Hong Kong, I for slept three, watched movies for six, knitted a scarf, and read my Vanity Fair magazine.  I insisted on carrying on Jonathan Franzen’s new novel in hardback, but didn’t crack it (which could have been predicted given my lack of success, ever, in reading anything serious on a plane).  The boys also slept for about three hours, the rest of the time they played many of the 104 games offered on the individual television sets.  Pat managed to sleep quite a few hours, which is not surprising.  He sleeps so soundly, he’d miss the apocalypse if it came in the middle of the night.
            By the time we got to Hong Kong, we were coming down from a television buzz and completely ragged. But we were determined to see something of the city in our fifteen-hour layover.  My style in these situations is to ask the information desk lady for the easiest way to the biggest site in the shortest amount of time.  Then I simply write down what she says and follow her directions. If I get lost, I simply take the directions over to a kindly looking indigenous couple and ask them to set me straight. If they don’t understand English, I point to the directions and madly gesticulate and/or cry until they understand or get frustrated and guide me over to someone else who does. This is an infallible system that has gotten me through all of Europe and the Middle East.  This is not, however, a system that works for Pat. He does not trust the information lady’s information and must consult many maps.  He must jot down lists of possibilities and mull the transportation options until I’m senseless – let’s get on the goddamn bus already. 
By the time we walked out of the Hong Kong airport this morning, I was sure I didn’t love him anymore.
            When we finally hit the harbor, I had decided to stay with him for the sake of the children, and we actually started to enjoy ourselves by simply communicating with the boys and not each other. It was a drizzly day, but we all felt flush with the accomplishment of actually having made it half the way around the world.  I have to say the boys were total troupers, trying the local food (which admittedly one can get in Los Angeles, but they wouldn’t have eaten there because it was too spicy/weird/smelly).  At a restaurant we picked at random, they clacked the chopsticks around, tried everything, and even decided that some of it was good.  I’m not sure if this was genuine.  They may have simply been trying to save the marriage. Earlier, when we boarded the bus into town, Spencer had impugned, “Can you please stop arguing?”
            We then explored the walk along the harbor.  The opposite shore was lined with many skyscrapers and Pat and I had a fairly polite conversation about how much the city reminded us most of New York.  We hit a stretch of boardwalk that appeared to be the Chinese walk of fame, featuring stars in the sidewalk and several statues with Hollywood themes.  It occurred to me about our trip, lives, and marriage – wherever you go, you end up home.  I’m sure that I’m stealing the sentiment, but I can’t remember the source.  The central large bronze on the boardwalk, was of a towering Bruce Lee.  The children didn’t know who he was and Pat and I had a bonding moment while giving the children a brief overview of Lee.
            Pat had located a prominent park with his fifty maps and guided us there surprisingly easily.  We saw some unusually colored ducks and a passel (flock? Herd?) of flamingos.  Spencer spied a couple of downy brown birds that he had never seen before.  He keeps a bird journal from time to time.
In the same park, we also found the Hong Kong Orchid trees.  We surmised that this orchid might be the same one emblazoned on the flag of Hong Kong.  But because I let research languish, we may never know.
The main event, however, was a maze made out of shoulder-high bushes.  We broke up into two teams to see who could make it through the fastest.  Pat and Spencer won. But for obvious reasons (Pat’s height and Murphy’s lack of height), I think they had the stacked deck.  Pat was actually darling, darting in and out of the bushes. It’s possible that I might recover some of my former feeling for him.
            As I write this, all of my men are sacked out on benches back at the airport.  I awoke from my own nap minutes ago. We’re only a few hours into a trip that will get far more adventurous in the coming days.  But I am encouraged that Spencer and Murphy seem to be accepting the discomfort of traveling and embracing the adventure. 
            Perhaps they’ve been simply too weak to protest.   
Happy Family at Hong Kong harbor
Valiant Effort
Family in a maze


  1. I love it! We've missed you. Thank you for cranking up the computer in the airport lounge, for taking the pictures, for taking us with you (for giving Pat a second chance - he's just SUCH good material..) Can't wait for the next instalment.

  2. "I was sure I didn't love him anymore"--I completely understand this sentiment. I really enjoy your blog. Keep on keeping on and happy trails to all of you!

  3. I'm so glad to hear you guys went into the city! It looks amazing! Can't wait to hear what happens next...

  4. This is soooooo cool! Yogi and I are excited to be following your trip.

    From Yogi, for Spencer and Murphy: How's it going? Did you have to get shots? We have a friend who had to get shots for India.

  5. What an amazing trip. So impressed your kids tried all the different kinds of foods. American kids are such picky eaters. Really enjoying reading the blog Brett.

  6. I very much enjoy Ms. Paesel's account of this remarkable family's trip. India is coming alive for me. The love within this family pervades her writing, and I look forward to much more from Ms. Paesel, Patrick, Spencer and Murphy.