Saturday, January 8, 2005

Hong Kong #4

Day 4
Saturday 1/8/05

We woke up early again, grabbed breakfast, and headed into the office around 11. I was up working on the new game until the first meeting and then went off to discuss more things in preparation for heading to China on Sunday. I am a little sad that I won't be able to attend Sacrament service here in Hong Kong with the english speaking ward on Ku Shek street but I'll be far away by 11 tomorrow. Oh well. At lunch time we grabbed a bite to eat at the KFC near the office. The chicken was as good as in the states except they give you only one or two napkins but several thin plastic gloves and a moist towelette. I ate the chicken with a glove on and didn't really need the napkin since my hand never got greasy. I wonder if that would work in the states? I figure most Americans would be too lazy to even bother to put the glove on. Well, it works for us, we've got lots of napkins to wipe up the grease. Though the moist towelette would be a nice touch.

After lunch I went to a tailor and commissioned him to make me two suits and two nice 100% cotton shirts. He's not the cheapest tailor, but he has email and will keep my measurements on file. If I ever want something else, I am told to email him and he'll ship me the clothing item in the mail. I got two pinstripe two button conservative "classic" suits in a charcoal grey with pinstriping and two nice blue shirts with collar buttons and french cuffs for $1000 Hong Kong or $140 dollars. After the tailor we went back into the office for more projects and after it was all done Jim and I went out on the town with James. Ken went to go see his mother-in-law and fiance for pre-wedding planning.

So tonight, a Saturday night, I met "filthy gwailo" and discovered exactly why at times I am embarrassed by my fellow countrymen when I am overseas.

The first event was when we met up with a dozen or so american sellers and reps for the various toy companies in the Regal Kowloon hotel's smoking lounge. They were all getting drunk (one guy had several Vodka and Scotch on the rocks) and most of them were at least 3 beers into their cigars. The place smelled awful. Like most asian hotels, this room was waited on by two very lovely local girls in nice skirt suits and perfect makeup and hair. You can imagine the looks they got from these mostly married guys. They weren't, thankfully, touchy feely gwailo, I think the high dollar cost of the Regal Kowloon prevents the truly scum sorts from staying there. I don't want to be completely unfair to these gentlemen, I'm sure that when they're not together like a pack of hyenas they're nice guys. I am just going from firstimpressions and that's not always a good thing.

Anyway, I just sat there and listened. I am a representative of a manufacturer so I'm not fully part of the gang. I'm happy for that, let me tell you. One, business was bad all over the world it seems. There was a rep from Ireland, Australia, the US (of course), and Canada. They were all men. They were all complaining of how broke they were... sitting there in their tailored suits not made locally, one was in a Donna Karen NY suit with gold jewelry and high dollar watches... but it seems that sales where horrible compared to last year. Their primary gripe was that there were no major blockbusters with good licensing potential and no new fad toys. Their secondary gripe was of course the general downturn in the global economy. Every one of them asked me about Reaper and what we're doing next year, our new products and releases, and if we had any plans for collectible games. It was clear they were fishing to see if we would provide some flashbang for this year. They're hopeful, all indicators they talked about point to a better 2005 than 2004.

We then walked to Delaney's an Irish Pub near the Peninsula Hotel.This part of town is where all the tourists are. The street hawkers were thick as fleas. I moved my wallet and passport to my left front pocket and kept my hand in my pocket. I remembered reading in the airport that pickpockets were an issue. Apparently these pickpockets are from mainland China primarily. In the pub I ate one of the best Irish stews I've had in a long time. It was actually made with lamb from New Zealand and fresh bread with lots of potatoes and spices. The entire pub was full of British and American tourists and businessmen. The wait staff wasn't even Chinese, they were Filipino or American and spoke flawless English. We watched a rugby game on the wall from a projector. The entire place really felt like that it was the English-speaker's club. There was no hint to it being in Hong Kong at all except for the waitresses but once they spoke we could have been anywhere.

On the walk back we went to a music and video store. That took us deeper into the seedy part of town. We walked past a few dance and strip clubs. The worst part about those for me was the fact that the guys standing our front were just biggest slimeballs I've ever seen. Then even worse than them were the old grandmothers that would say "Hey, come in! Pretty girl! One trick before you go home" ... these were old ladies, I really mean Grandmothers. There were lots! Take your pick of seedy suit wearing slimeball or evil madame ... sheesh. As you can imagine, here in the seedy part of town were all the tourist faces. They didn't outnumber the chinese faces but they were about fifty-fifty. I'll be racially biased for a moment... they entire time I've been in Hong Kong there is one skin color I have not seen... black. Why is it that once I enter the seedy part of town, they're everywhere? They were Malay and Indians and a few Caribbean blacks, maybe Haiti or Jamaica. I didn't hear any British or American accents from them. Once we left that part of town, all I saw was asian and caucasian skin again. Is there some kind of political segregation going on? What's the deal?

As we came back after dropping James back off at his hotel we went past the Paris Club again, there I was actually propositioned by a hooker, referred to here as "Hello" girls. Prostitution is apparently legal or something in Hong Kong but solicitation is technically not (but it's only enforced when the cops want to enforce that). So the street hookers always begin conversations with "Hello" and allow the tourist or businessman to make the first questions about price, etc. etc. and that's how they avoid the whole "no solicitation" law... hence the name "Hello" girls. I have learned that most of the girls out on the streets are from mainland China. They come to Hong Kong to sell their bodies to tourists and businessmen because they can't in China (prostitution is illegal there and vehemently enforced) and because they want a shot at a more glamorous lifestyle in Hong Kong. I felt sorry for the hello girl that I saw, I could tell by her accent that she was not a Cantonese speaker. I wonder what kind of damage movies like Pretty Woman to do girls like her. I wish her luck and the opportunity to get out of that industry with her health and life intact and soon. In any case, we got back to the hotel room and I crashed. Tomorrow at 8:30 I get on a train for mainland China.
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