Written Postcard from Jo in London

The water in the harbour runs blood red under the neon lights.

Ferries dart back and forth like giant fire flies over the water.

The 'fragrant harbour' (hong kong means fragrant harbour in chinese)
assaults me with its aromas. The scent of the ocean surrounds me.

I woke this morning and visited an old temple in the heart of kowloon.
Giant spirals of red and gold incense hung suspended over the offerings to
the gods. A mother stood with her head bowed, teaching her tiny daughter
the words to the prayers for her ancestors.

Offerings of fruit, pearls and make-up lay on plates before the giant
alters, to appease the spirits of the departed. Because they're worth it.

An elderly woman broke the silence by banging on a gong, followed by the
fierce ringing of a bell.

I appease my own spirit with dim sum, steaming parcels filled with
vegetables and sweet jasmine tea.

Pocari sweat fills the vending machines along the roadside as real sweat
pours down the faces of the vendors in the market place.

I step back in time in the Hong Kong Museum of History, where I admire the
ingenuity of the Chinese, who were traversing the oceans long before their
western counterparts in beautiful seagoing vessels complete with sails and

I marvel at the ancient artefacts, including coins that were drawn up from
the ocean floor, complete with coral. The craftsmanship of seashells
intricately carved to depict maidens sitting under trees, tea chests
embellished with mother of pearl and tiny chinese characters. A fan opens
to reveal a golden inlay of the most breathtaking design.

I wander further through time, eventually arriving in the streets of Hong
Kong in the early 1900s. I wander through an original Chinese herbal
shop, complete with scales and tiny drawers depicting the wares within.

Rickshaws and sedan chairs line the footpaths, lying in wait for thier
human cargo. A fishing boat sits in the harbour, its fishing nets and
baskets sitting lazily on the deck.

A temple's doors open to reveal a wedding procession within, complete with
the bride hidden within her sedan chair as she is taken to her new home.

Rice paddies and salt fields dot the landscape, as eventually I reach a
festival procession. An opera stage, complete with performers delights
the croads of school children who greet me with cries of 'good morning'
sung in unison.

So hard to believe that the Japanese walked in one day and conquered the
island and its inhabitants over three years. I wonder which was worse,
the capitulation to the Japanese or the way in which the people of Hong
Kong surrendered to the seductived power of opium bestowed upon them by
the English?

I depart on the tiny walkway which towers over the rapacious, bustling
street markets as the gibbous moon stares at his reflection in the harbour

Thinking of you,
from Hong Kong,
with love,

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