Monday, October 17, 2005


Hey y'all, I'm back. Spent the week aboard a ship with mostly southerners, and now I have a nasty drawl that I just can't seem to shake. As you may have figured out, I wasn't able to post on the departure morning due to internet difficulties, nor was I in the right frame of mind to post in Cozumel (ok, I was drunk). Now, I am facing the rewards of my stupidity - that is, arriving home Sunday night and having to work Monday morning. Luckily for me, I can get out of any real writing (I wrote nothing on the cruise save for a nasty note to the cruise director for offensive gay comment - more on this later) since I can just post:

The road to Montreal part 2 (scroll down to Oct 1st for part 1)

I got little sleep that first night, wondering if my expired passport would ruin this opportunity. Still the F&B director wanted me out of there while the sexual harassment investigation was proceding, and so I hoped that there would be a solution. The next morning, I phoned the passport office and after some minutes of navigating the call system, I discovered that an emergency renewal could be had if I had plane tickets and a note from the company I worked for. That I got the passport two hours before the departure of the plane should be enough to inform you of my frazzled state as I stepped onto Cathay Pacific's daily non-stop to Hong Kong. Let's just say it was 48 hours of hell.

The flight was 13 and a half hours. My seat was in one of the few spots where you couldn't see any movie screen. My feet swelled. I craved cigarettes. I questioned whether I had done the right thing. I did not sleep. Upon arrival, we were the last flight allowed to land in Hong Kong that night due to a typhoon bearing down on the city. Since then, Hong Kong has opened a new airport, but the old one was smack in the middle of town. Imagine JFK airport in Central Park NY. The plane was making jagged movements as we barely missed the tops of skyscrapers, lightning crashing all around and all of the passengers terrified and silent. Due to the winds, the plane was not allowed to taxi up to the terminal. We were given big yellow slickers for the long walk to the terminal, the rain rushing horizontally , the slickers slapping in the wind. The city had announced a level 8 typhoon warning which meant that only essential travel was permitted. There were few taxis. I waited for a couple hours in a long taxi line and finally caught a ride to the business district. The streets were deserted and there was a lot of debris flying around. The taxi driver didn't know about the hotel since it was doing a soft opening (unannounced opening to work the bugs out on invited guests) but I had been told that the hotel next door was the Furama. The taxi driver knew this place. We arrived and I wandered around trying to find the Ritz. It was very difficult and raining and windy, I think I sobbed a little when I finally noticed what looked like an apartment building was really the Ritz. A very understated entrance led to an elevator. The lobby was on the third floor.

I checked in and went to my room, and fell promptly asleep. I woke up about 3 hours later, it was dark outside, but the storm seemed to have waned. I didn't know what my rights were yet, there was a note in the room to meet with someone at 10am for orientation, so I ordered room service breakfast at 5:00 when they opened. At the meeting, I learned that I would be training the waiters in the dining room, while also helping when it was busy. I would be working six days a week, lunch and dinner. Essentially this was 10 to midnight with a two hour break in the afternoon. As I came to find out, this was a standard work schedule in Hong Kong. Everyone works six days. I would have a day a week to explore the city on my own, plus that break in the afternoons. Best of all, I was given 2 more days for adjusting to the time before I would have to start working. I went back to my room and slept all afternoon.

When I awoke, I set out with my map to the English part of town for a bite to eat and to look for Propaganda, the one gay club in Hong Kong, homosexuality having only recently been decriminalized. A couple of hours later I found myself in a very empty neighborhood full of wharehouses and industrial looking enterprises. I didn't understand, according to the map, that club should be right around here. Most everything was written in Cantonese. I was just about to head back to the hotel when I locked on to a rhythmic beat sound, coming from somewhere...where?...and felt my way into a back alley where there was a small passage leading to some stairs. I went in and climbed the stairs two flights and found myself facing a plain grey door. Clearly the music was coming from behind it, but I was alone on a kind of fire escape staircase in what looked like a factory. Having nothing to lose, I tried the door and sure enough, it was a club with a cover charge at the entrance. Above the check in person was a banner: Propaganda. I had found it.


_Psycho said...

Oh interesting stories coming up !

They are really nice to read, I think it's they way you write. (Not like my very broken english and my half good french :)

r said...

Glad you're back; we missed you.

epicurist said...

Wow, I'm not sure how you could pick up and make a decision like that. It's kinda cool that you do things on the spur.

Joel said...

Just started reading these and will continue after I get the kids off to school. I am totally mesmerized by your story.