Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

End of Days

Saturday and the tour was finished. I had to move from the room as both Daniel and I had booked an extra night's accommodation and one involving our own rooms. Chin Chin, however, had a tour starting on Sunday, but could not get a room in the hotel due to a mix-up involving an electronics fair that was on. Both of Daniel and I being the gentlemen we are offered our extra beds (we each had a twin bed room). And so it was I had a guest in my room.

We went off shopping, primarily for electronics. There is a market area just off the top of Nathan Road with street stalls and streets devoted to electronics. We headed there. Although the stalls were great for souvenirs, the shops were poor for electronics or at least seemed to be. Each of us was straining at the leash to get away for personal shopping or, in Chin Chin's case, other reasons (she was to meet a former boyfriend). After lunch that is what we did and I got some heavy duty souvenir buying accomplished. I was still disappointed with the electronics though and went back to the hotel bewildered at Hong Kong's reputation. It was at the hotel I met Pat who told me of a computer centre where we had been and bursting with bargains; the Mongkok Computer Centre. I hopped right back on the subway and after some confused searching eventually found the place. He was right, there were bargains, especially MP3 players and external hard drives. I was to meet Daniel and Chin Chin for dinner, so wiping my drool, I headed back to the hotel.

No one wanted to eat, but Daniel wanted an MP3 player, so leaving Chin Chin to her own devices, we went in search of ours.

I showed Daniel the player I was interested in and he jumped at it. Unfortunately it was the last one in the shop. Disheartened I went next door to find the same player there. One thing made me pause, however. On the way to the centre I had tried to get money out with my credit card and had been rejected. I had little currency left and what I had was for the taxi in the morning. Would my credit card work? The shopkeeper insisted on going into every trivial detail of the player; I would be pretty embarassed if after 15 minutes explanation by him I couldn't actually buy the thing. I couldn't see Daniel either in case I needed help. I felt I looked twitchy and suspicious and was thankful he was so engrossed in his spiel. Finally though I handed over my card. I hoped he didn't notice the sweat on my brow. He swiped, I keyed and hooray, it worked! My credit card worked. Now I could get that De Lacie external hard drive I wanted. But where was Daniel?

Daniel was propped against a wall feeling sick. He wanted to go, he wanted to go now. Could he wait a moment while I went to the shop next door and get that hard drive. I knew exactly which one. No. He was sick and didn't think he could get back alone. We left. I got him some water and a place to sit. In the fresh air (or relatively fresh air) of the street I thought maybe he might let me run back. I didn't want to have to go to the hotel and come back again. Grudgingly he said okay. I ran back, pointed out the hard drive, gave over my credit card, rejected. Three times tried, three times rejected. I looked longingly at the drive, but knew it would not be mine (as it happened there were 100 dollars I never knew I had in my money belt). Despondently I made my way back to Daniel and we got the subway home. At least I had my video playing, 4 Gb MP3 player (it said MP4 but wasn't).

When I got back, Chin Chin was watching a programme on Amazon anacondas and their questioned ability to eat people. She had gotten me a packet of chocolate biscuits for breakfast. It was a lovely thought. I was up at 4 for my taxi, and food would be hard to come by. Anacondas ended and the news began. Plumby British presenters gave the latest rundown on Hong Kong and the world, at least as much as the authorities allow. Chin Chin kept the noise down, but I still heard the heartening news item that Kasparov, the former chess champion, was now a vocal opponent of Putin. Unfortunately he had just been arrested. There was a courageous man. Knowing he had some celebrity, he was now using it to protest against the worst thing to hit Russia in ten years. I wished him safety and good luck, though in all honesty, when the world lets that criminal run Russia unchallenged, despite ample warnings, there is unlikely to be any help for Kasparov. Ironically, those arch opponents of human rights, the Chinese, seemed to be on Kasparov's side.

As it was I wasn't too sleepy, which is just as well as at 12.30 there was a knock on the door. The other group leaders were having a party and could Chin Chin come out to play. I gave my blessing and off she went. I still couldn't sleep though and didn't. The taxi came as ordered at 4 and off to the airport I went.


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