Monday, April 6: This morning, I’ve arranged to meet Peter, my best friend Jayne’s husband who recently moved to Hong Kong. We’re meeting for breakfast before I venture out for sightseeing my last day in Hong Kong. Jayne suggested before I left Nanning that I give Peter a call while in Hong Kong, since we’re both now living in this part of the world. I do as she asked, and the meeting is arranged.
Peter wants to take me to a Chinese restaurant, but I tell him this is my chance to have a Western breakfast, as I have Chinese food all the time in Nanning. So we settle in at a Chinese-run sort-of Western restaurant, where I’m able to get some eggs, bacon, toast and coffee. Peter proceeds to tell me I should stay in China because there are many opportunities. I tell him that for now I just want to return home to Virginia, to be with the family through the fall and over the holidays. I also tell him China isn’t really my cup of tea; I’m more drawn to the Arab cultures and as a matter of fact I just applied for jobs in Morocco and Egypt, knowing I wouldn’t get them, but thinking that if it were meant to be, it would be. He tells me I seem to always be drawn to those cultures and asks me if I’ve ever looked into past lives. “Maybe you were an Arab in one of your past lives,” he says. “You should read books by Brian Weiss about past lives.”
We talk for a long time about this subject. He says he’s met people who have told him they feel connected to him because of some connection they had in a past life. I tell him of someone I know who regularly calls a Japanese woman who helps her with her problems in light of her past lives.
Later, I look up this author and find books titled: Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, his Young Patient, and the Past Life Therapy that Changed Both Their Lives and Miracles Happen: The Transformational Healing Power of Past Life Memories, among others. Hmm. Interesting.
I don’t know about past lives but I do know a person sometimes feels an undeniable pull toward a particular culture or a particular place for reasons that can’t be explained.
Peter tells me he’s trying to get several ventures started and that he enjoys being able to spend time with his parents, who live in Hong Kong.
I tell Peter I must get a picture of him for Jayne, and he takes a selfie of us on the street after breakfast.
Peter originally hails from Hong Kong, but he and Jayne, who is British, met in Saudi Arabia, got married, had a long marriage and two sons, and are now separated but not divorced. I met Peter and Jayne in Oakton, where my home in Virginia is, about 10 years ago, but shortly after we met, she and Peter moved to Atlanta and then to California. Jayne now lives in Jersey, officially the Bailiwick of Jersey off the coast of Normandy; their sons live in California and Nevada, and Peter lives here in Hong Kong.
After breakfast, Peter walks with me to the Ladies Market on Tung Choi Street, but I’m disappointed to find they are early in the process of setting up. If I had read my Lonely Planet China book a little more thoroughly, I would have seen the market runs daily from noon to 10:30 p.m.
We leave the market as there’s nothing to see at this hour. I keep wanting to stop in at little shops along the way and I know Peter has somewhere to be, so I tell him he should feel free to leave me on my own to wander. We give hugs, and he takes off.
Since I have to kill time before the Ladies Market opens, I wander around aimlessly until I see a fancy shopping mall with a Gap in it. I go inside and try on a few clothes, buying a shirt and a skirt. Soon though, I feel my stomach starting to rumble.
This is when the stomach troubles start. Suddenly, I need to find a bathroom and fast. And then again. And again. My stomach is cramping and doing somersaults and generally causing me a great deal of discomfort. Though I’ve already checked out of my hotel, they are holding my suitcase so I figure I can just go sit in the lobby for a while. I stop at a pharmacy and get something like Imodium, and then I go back to the hotel and sit.
For a long while, I sit in the hotel, but though I don’t have any more urgent runs to the bathroom, my stomach is now totally cramped up and miserable. I don’t know what it was I ate, but I have to say I’m suspicious about the vegetables soaked in oil I ate for lunch yesterday at the monastery. I may never know what is causing all the stomach problems I have in China, but I do know I am wary now of eating anywhere.
I’m so upset to be stuck in the hotel. I would go out but I’m afraid to go out on the streets with my unpredictable stomach. I had so many more places I wanted to go today: the Mid-Level Escalators and Man Mo Temple in Central, for example. I wanted to wander around in Central and see if I could identify all the famous buildings and possibly take the Big Bus around Kowloon. A one hour boat cruise in the harbor was also included on my Big Bus ticket. Instead, I now have to be stuck in my hotel, sitting in the lobby where I can’t even lie down. I have to wait all day until I can take another bus to Shenzhen, stand in long lines to cross the border, and then take a bus back to airport.
After a long while of sitting with numerous no-result bathroom runs, I decide, out of pure boredom and frustration, that I’ll go ahead and walk back to the Ladies Market to see if they’re set up.
It suddenly has become very busy, but I don’t see anything I’m interested in buying.
After a while, I return to the hotel, grab my suitcase and hail a taxi to the bus station to Shenzhen.
There, I take the bus back to the mainland, seeing these odd raft-like pallets dotting the harbor.
I have to wait in line at the border for about 45 minutes, then I take the bus to the airport. Shenzhen Airport is a futuristic looking airport with an iridescent butterfly-like sculpture and honeycomb ceilings.
I make it back home late at night and I have to be ready to go back to work on Tuesday. My stomach still feels miserable, but this is it, my life in China.