We took the Star Ferry across the bay.

Upstairs in the Peninsula Hotel, there’s a series of panels delineating the history of Hong Kong. They reinforced how little I knew. There was a water shortage in the fifties and sixties? I mean I remember giving Hong Kong back to the Chinese, but I wasn’t aware of the area being occupied in the Second World War… Feels like a living history lesson. Like the rest of the world had a parallel upbringing and we’ve met here, as a result of modern communications. I can get e-mail on my BlackBerry halfway around the world, but I’m clueless as to what happened here before the world got smaller.

We had lunch at the InterContinental with an ex-pat, a friend of Felice’s mother. She’s lived here for thirteen years, but is still shy on Cantonese. You don’t need to speak the language, English still dominates. Colonial days are gone, but the vestiges still remain. Hell, the Chinese dollar is tied to that of the U.S., it’s not like going to London or Paris, there’s still a level of affordability.

Maybe because there’s still an aspect of the third world in Kowloon. We saw scaffolding made of bamboo. Hell, the whole shopping district was like a movie set. Endless signs, advertising shops at a density unknown in the U.S. And every few feet there’s a barker, imploring you to come shop at his store, for watches and handbags.

Actually, Felice purchased a wallet. At an establishment her brother-in-law recommended. You went behind the Sheraton, walked into a building, up the stairs, around the corner…and there was no more than a stall, purveying knock-offs. The Indian woman working there had no idea the sun had come out, she hadn’t seen daylight for hours. The concept that an establishment could be so far from the street seemed almost unfathomable. Furthermore, this was not even a main shopping street. You had to know the store was there!

And unlike on this side of the water, a lot of the buildings were worse for wear. With endless air conditioning units puncturing their sides. And patches of plaster missing. You wondered… If there was an earthquake, would these buildings survive?

I still can’t get over the plethora of towers. What’s going on inside? Sure, some are residences, but what exactly is the commerce taking place up there on the seventy fifth floor? Makes me feel like I’m clueless when it comes to economics, the big picture, how the world really works. I understand there are skyscrapers in New York, that on Manhattan there’s a financial empire. But how many of these money-driven metropolises can there be? And with the aforementioned modern communications, do these far-flung outposts really need to exist?

Meanwhile, this is shvitz central. I’m used to the east coast, but Felice is wilting. It’s 88 degrees and seemingly two hundred percent humidity. You have to duck into the a/c every now and again just to survive.

And speaking of the a/c… Condensation is dripping on you constantly as you stride down the sidewalk. At first you feel it’s raining, then you realize it’s the a/c units shedding above you. And as you’re walking, you occasionally get blasted with cold air. Ultimately realizing that the a/c inside the open shops has been turned on to the max, and is escaping into the atmosphere. I couldn’t stop thinking of my father…who would freak if you left the fridge door open for more than an instant, and if the a/c was on and a window was left open, he’d go berserk!

We’re powerless against global warming until everybody closes his windows, until everybody keeps his front door shut when the a/c is on. But that’s easy for me to say, I live in L.A., where there is no humidity. The third world isn’t worried about snow melting on Kilimanjaro, they just want relief, from the relentless elements. Fuck rock stars jetting in to do Al Gore’s show, we need to reach the people not paying attention, and tell them to keep their doors shut when the a/c is on!

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