About two years ago, I participated in a game of Trivial Pursuit with 10 other actors. We’d all just been cast in a show together, and the initial rehearsal consisted of getting-to-know-you board games. One of the questions posed to my team was, ‘What’s the capital of China?’ We quickly answered Beijing, but then there was some second guessing and nervous debate (yes, over the capital of China), and I actually said, ‘Well, it’s not Hong Kong, is it?’ At which point one of the other women, who was larger and older and thus had some gravitas, crowed, ‘Hong Kong is in Japan, honey!’ And we all laughed and laughed.
Now, while I was stupid enough to think that Hong Kong might perhaps be the capital of China, I was nevertheless pretty sure it was not a city in Japan, but I figured that 10 out of 11 college-educated actors couldn’t be wrong. Which just goes to show how much I overestimated the intelligence of actors – we had all just voluntarily signed on to spend a gorgeous summer in an un-air-conditioned theatre, slaving sans pay to put up what turned out to be a truly excruciating production of one of Shakespeare’s more overdone comedies. But I didn’t contradict her, because I figured she must be right.
This Wednesday, I will fly to Hong Kong, and when I touch down Thursday morning, I’ll find out first-hand whether I am in China or Japan. And from there, I will go to a lot of other places and see a lot of other things. One exciting result I anticipate from this adventure is the automatic authority it will grant me on every topic. For example, if the above scene were to play out a year from now, this is how it might go:
Me: ‘Hong Kong is a large city in China, although certainly not the capital, because any idiot knows that Beijing is the capital of China.’
Larger, older woman: ‘Hong Kong is in Japan, honey!’
Me: ‘Well, I have been there, so I know first-hand that it is in China. First-hand.’
LOW: ‘Wow. I bow to your unquestionable authority.’
Me: ‘Also, in Hong Kong people are terrified of puffins. If you so much as say the word ‘puffin,’ they run screaming from the room.’
Eavesdropping third party: ‘I don’t think that’s true, actually.’
Me: ‘Well, perhaps you didn’t hear before, but I have been there, so.’
ETP: ‘Well, I lived there for a year, actually. Studying Cantonese. And Chinese culture. And puffins.’
I’ve gotten off topic. At any rate, travel is broadening, and I’m going to China in less than a week! From Hong Kong, I’m making my way across the Southern part of China toward Tibet, and then I will either head to Laos overland, or fly to Thailand, or something, and then I’ll be traveling all across Southeast Asia, and from there, who knows? I will be blogging about my travels here, so that family and friends can keep up with me.
Right now, what I know about Hong Kong is that it is on an island, much like Manhattan, and that all the cool kids stay in Kowloon, where the rooms are dirt cheap and highly flammable. I also know that dim sum consists of dumplings sent around on little carts, and that the big Buddha on Lantau is touristy and probably skippable. And that when you take an overnight train in China, you should go for the hard sleeper, as the soft sleeper isn’t worth the extra money, and you should also try and get the middle berth, because the top berth is probably next to a screaming loudspeaker, but everyone sits all over the bottom berth all day long. Everything else, I plan to figure out as I go along.