There is a possibility that I have become jaded in my last ten years (OH, YES...TEN YEARS THIS MONTH! more on that to come), because it takes more than palm trees to thrill me now. It is possible that at one point in Hong Kong that I rolled my eyes at them, because they have now become a sign that I am TOO FREAKIN' HOT, because we sure as hell don't have any in Mongolia (at least, I don't think so...I suppose there could be some hiding out in the Gobi - I'll let you know next spring). However, for the record, I did do things in Hong Kong beyond drink frappuccinos and bitch about how hot it is. On my first full day there, for example, I got up relatively early and headed up to Victoria Peak.
Unfortunately, there is something you need to know about my sense of direction, in case you ever have to go anywhere with me. I brag about it a lot, for good reason: if I've been a place once, I will find it again. Even if I haven't ever been there, I have an innate feel for the cardinal directions and read a map pretty well, but sometimes I don't go directly where I intend to. I like to think this is my subconscious' way of being open to new experiences, but the honest truth is that I don't always read my map as carefully as I should, and that is how I ended up in the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens rather than at the Peak Tram. I got there in the end, and it was a useful detour, since one of my students expressed an interest in the zoo if we do end up having to go to Hong Kong, but it involved me going further uphill than I would have liked under the circumstances.
I don't know if it's another sign that I am becoming a jaded traveler, or just the fact that Hong Kong really isn't my speed, but I wasn't blown away by Man Mo Temple. It was a nice change from the skyscrapers and shopping centers, but...well, I've been to some amazing temples and monasteries. The 108 stupas around Erdene Zuu Khiid in Kharkhorin were stunning. The quietness of the countryside around Chimi Lhakhang in Bhutan was an interesting contrast to the cult of the Divine Madman who founded it. Don't even get me started on Tibet. And I'm only comparing to Buddhist temples here - if I start thinking about other traditions, Man Mo temple can't hold a candle...or a butter lamp.
This is not to say I didn't like it. I did. The incense drifting on the air - in this case, from really cool spiral sticks calms me, and I loved standing in front of the huge fans that were working their hearts out to keep visitors cool. But I didn't feel like it deserved a place on the Hong Kong Top Ten list. Maybe my expectations were just too high.
How do you finish a day like that? With another frappuccino and watching Guardians of the Galaxy (fun movie with a great soundtrack - I couldn't wait to buy it on iTunes and it has now hijacked my brain) at the cinema across from Chungking Mansions. Life doesn't get much better than that.