Thursday, January 17, 2008

Asia Journal, Part 3

DAY 4 - Sunday - Hong Kong

Theme Song – “Action,” Sweet
Because everybody wants a piece of it.

Today is forced fun day, in which I am expected to engage in tourism with people with whom I would never vacation. We have Joe, a VP; Chris, an SB; Tom, a buyer; Kay, a PM; and Skippy, Kay’s boss, an SPM. These acronyms are irrelevant, except for the fact that every one containing an S or a V can pull rank.

I am crabby and fairly queasy, given my lack of sleep, congestion, and certain indiscretions with sake last night. We get in the rented van and go to Repulse Bay. The switchbacks on the way don’t help; worse still, Skippy blathers inanely about himself the entire way. I’ve always heard that Skippy is reviled by his reports and now I understand why. I never understand how people can be in a stunning, exotic place and ignore it completely because they can’t shut the f*ck up. It is a beautiful day, spoiled by the company. When we arrive at the bay, I make a beeline for the water. Chris says “Julie’s walking home,” and I wave bye bye, stepping into the Pacific. Skippy continues yapping. We go to the nearby temple and I pray to Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, for him to shut up.

After the bay, we go to Stanley Market, so the group can load up on tchotchkes. Stanley Market is a warren of stalls on the edge of the bay. Most of the stalls sell souvenirs, Chinese handicrafts, knock-off handbags, overruns – tourist junk, but it’s diverting.
I’ve been there/done that, so all I buy is t-shirts for Eric and a packet of postcards for everybody back in the States.

Fortunately, since we are at Stanley and it’s noon, we can stop at Smuggler’s Inn, a hole-in-the-wall expat pub my crew has enjoyed many times before, prior to being saddled with all the suits. I love Smuggler’s, and the photo gives some sense why: it’s rowdy and raw, and honestly hosted some piracy in the past. If you didn’t know better, you'd assume they sell grog instead of Guinness. We happened upon it four trips ago when we got stuck in a June downpour during a trip to the market. We ducked into the pub for cover, and fell in love with it...probably in no small part to the fact that somebody bought us a round of drinks. Thanks, whoever you were.

Our party sits down outside in the sun, and immediately most everybody proceeds to brownnose Joe; this is weird and disappointing because Smuggler's has always been a place we’ve dropped our business mien on these trips. My great realization of the day is that I will probably never make VP because there will always be someone willing to be a much greater sycophant than I. There is not a micron’s clearance between Skippy’s lips and Joe’s bum.

Smuggler’s is mostly patronized by Brits and Aussies, so the jukebox isn’t bad. Screwing around with the jukebox takes me away from the table for a blessed moment. I cue up “Action”, the Fall’s “Mr. Pharmacist,” the Undertones’ “Teenage Kicks”, and the Who, “Can’t Explain.” Clearly, I have an attitude today, which I am trying desperately hard to suppress in the presence of the suits. It scrabbles its way out in my musical selections. I flash Kay the heavy metal devil horns and say "Everybody wants a piece of the action!"

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