Friday, November 15, 2013

Nothing's Wrong in Hong Kong!

"Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself?" - Byron Katie




On our journeys, I'm realizing whenever something "goes wrong," something "right" awaits in the wings.

Of course the most profound example for me is the brain tumor and surgery. This has led me to develop a greater appreciation for life's moments, for love and friendships, and for my incredible self-healing spacesuit called the body.

Even in less dramatic cases, choosing not to freak out when life veers in unexpected directions is the way to go. We'd planned to stay in Hong Kong with my friend Kathy and her husband. But after we'd made our flight reservations, they were suddenly transferred to Canada. Instead of worrying and scrambling around trying to figure out what we'd do (definitely my modus operandi in the past!), we sat with the news for a while.

Then, before we could begin investigating alternatives, Kathy's husband offered to set us up in a five-star hotel at his firm's discount rate. Our mantra these days is: "And now for something completely different!" This certainly fit the bill. Even though five-star hotels aren't the norm for us, we figured it would be a unique opportunity.

View from our room.

The W in Kowloon has the highest pool in Hong Kong. Spread out over the 76th floor roof, the infinity pool and Jacuzzi seem to spill into the spectacular skyline. One evening as Typhoon Haiyan whipped its tail through the area, we were pelted by both rain water and warm Jacuzzi water lifted by the winds.

Feeling like we were on the edge of the world, I thought about my surgeon busting into my skull, about all those elevators and jets and trains hoisting our bodies around at break-neck speed, about the faith it takes in tumultuous times to wait for the mud to settle.

We held out our arms like wings and yelled into the howling winds: "To infinity and beyond!"

We never would have had that experience if things hadn't "gone wrong." While I'm sure it would have been fabulous to stay with Kathy and her family, I'm not into dwelling on what could have been. Instead, I prefer fully experiencing whatever the bend in the road reveals. 

Nothing is wasted. There is no wrong path. 

Nothing is the end of the world but the end of the world. (And whenever that happens--as it will to us all--I guess it's time to move onto the next thing anyway.)

Another example of wrong-going-right occurred our last day in Hong Kong. We were on the small island of Lamma--a half hour ferry ride from Central Hong Kong--enjoying the tranquil scene at an outdoor waterfront restaurant. 



The sun sat low in the sky. Little fish jumped, creating pretty ripples that spread out to the fishing boats docked nearby. Dave sipped fresh young coconut water, and we ate yummy spring rolls. We soaked up every moment until it was time to catch the ferry. But the ferry was full and not taking on anymore passengers! One irate woman cursed the captain in Cantonese. A dock worker sheepishly untied the ropes and shook his head.

We had a plane to catch. The next ferry wasn't scheduled to depart for an an hour and a half. That would be cutting it close. But a calm descended. What could we do but trust it would all work out? 

So we returned to that sweet waterfront spot. We realized we now had the chance to experience the beginnings of sunset in the company of the genial woman who ran the place and her two dogs that lazed by our feet. There was something about her that felt so comfortable and familiar. Like she was a Californian. But no, she assured us in very good English, she was a Lamma native. 

In the moment, we knew that the missed ferry created this bonus island time. As though to punctuate our certainty that it was all working out, our bill came to exactly $111 in Hong Kong dollars. We consider the number one, especially in succession, a good sign in our lives.

The next ferry came early. But it wasn't just a regular ferry, it was a hydrofoil that flew us back to Hong Kong in record time. It felt more like a fun high-speed train ride than a slow boat in China. We made our flight no problem. But if we hadn't, after the mud settled, I'm sure something quite interesting would have emerged.

Here are a few of our other Hong Kong highlights:

1. We loved the Chi Lin Nunnery and adjacent Nan Lian gardens. The nunnery is an awesome display of fanciful, powerful statues of god. But you'll have to see for yourself since no photos are allowed.


Nan Lian Gardens, a juxtaposition of ancient and modern.


2. While Lamma Island was sweet, even better was Cheung Chai island. It's an authentic Chinese fishing village with a bustling market and winding streets with no cars but a throng of bicycles. We saw innumerable tiny homes and shops. Very charming with a beachy vibe. At a waterfront restaurant called Hong Kee, we ate the most delicious crunchy fried noodles. This was actually our favorite day--punctuated by the fact that we did this trip on 11/11 and boarded the ferry at 11:11!




3. I adore that Hong Kong has an outdoor escalator that takes you up the side of a mountain. You can see into the windows of all kinds of businesses and homes as you go--reminiscent of the aesthetic of Hitchcock's Rear Window!

Hong Kong has miles and miles of maze-like air-conditioned malls that serve their purpose, but for us the most memorable experiences took place outdoors.

We are now in Chennai, India. I write this from the beautiful home of our friends Karen and Widi. I can feel that a million possibilities await us here. It's nice to know that no matter what, nothing can go wrong.

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