The Six Days Between Dawn And Dusk


This blog entry about the events of Monday, September 13, 2004 was originally posted on September 22, 2004.

DAY 331:  Travel has a weird effect on the perception of time.  When you’re doing so many new things out of a daily routine, everything becomes a blur; every experience is in one ear and out the other.  Seconds feel like minutes, minutes feel like hours, hours like days.  In the eleven months I’ve traveled thus far, it feels like I’ve been away for at least three lifetimes already.  Days seem especially long when you pack activities in right from the crack of dawn.

WHEN I WAS STAYING at the Beijing Gongti Hostel in the Workers Stadium inside a big sports and leisure park, fellow traveler Toni was excited because he had heard that in the mornings we could see big groups of people practicing Tai Chi just by looking out the window.  However, the groups of Tai Chi always were out at the crack of dawn and finished before any of us could get up from the going out the night out before.  Tai Chi, the peaceful simplified exercise taken from the Tai Ji Quan boxing fighting style, is often performed in groups by old people in attempt to rejuvenate their old bodies.  No wonder Tai Chi was done so early; old people, from my experience, go to bed so damn early right after going out to dinner at Denny’s at 4 p.m.

Despite Hong Kong being Denny’s-free, old people (along with younger folk) were up at daybreak anyway for the meditative exercise.  One of the more populous areas of early morning Tai Chi’ers was at Victoria Park in the Causeway Bay area of town.  Aviva and I were willing to do as the old folk and wake up at 5:30 to go there via taxi to see the Tai Chi “show.”

Tai Chi’ers of all types flocked to the city park, some solo, some in bigger groups, each with the similar goal of relaxing the mind and body.  There were groups in uniform, groups using swords and groups that were obviously new to the Tai Chi scene because they kept on looking to the leader to see what the next move was supposed to be.  One guy took the meditative exercise a step further and performed with a fighting stick, while another really skinny old guy just gracefully moved around on a big grass field.  The guy’s skin-and-bone physique was actually a bit repulsive and we didn’t stay long after seeing him.  We left and went back to the apartment, all before an early morning false fire alarm that sent us and Moe outside for a couple of minutes.

THE GOAL OF THE DAY (other than to be out of the house again when the maid came) was to see the other side of Hong Kong Island (HKI), both figuratively and literally — the southern coast was a different scene from the northern coast of big buildings and skyscrapers.  Aviva and I left the apartment by lunchtime, walked passed the fresh fish displays and roasted ducks hanging in the windows of Peel Street and went to the central bus station.  We hopped on a double-decker public bus that took us to the smaller town of Aberdeen on the other side of Victoria Peak.  On the way we were “infotained” by flat TV screens running advertising promotions in the guise of TV shows — one was a Top Five countdown of the most popular mobile phone ring tones in Hong Kong.

Some of Aberdeen’s 60,000 residents still lived the way before the arrival of the British, residing in sampans, old wooden house boats used for fishing and living.  Several of these sampans still exist today, many of which are available for short tours so that foreigners may have the authentic experience of riding in a sampan for the purpose of seeing other sampans just like it.

It was still lunchtime when we arrived at the Aberdeen harbor, with its little docks and salted fish hanging out to dry.  The official sampan tour company was out to lunch.  “Let’s just wander around while looking at a map,” I suggested.  “That usually works.”

Immediately we were approached by a tout like the guidebooks said we would, just like magic. 

“Sampan Tour?”

She gave Aviva and I a 20-minute ride around the harbor for a reasonable price and showed us the other sampans just like hers.  We circled around the Jumbo Restaurant, the famous floating restaurant and then went to see more similar sampans — some stationary houseboats, others zipping along to get somewhere.  The boat we were in seemed simple enough to drive and I asked if I could steer for a while and take a photo.  The woman turned me down and said that if I took the controls, we’d go “boom.”

ANOTHER PUBLIC DOUBLE-DECKER BUS TOOK US to our next stop on our tour of the southern shore of HKI:  Repulse Bay, home of some of the richest families of Hong Kong, named not for the the big wavy hi-rise with a square hole in the middle (for better feng shui) which Lonely Planet thinks is repulsive, but because the bay was once a battleground where the British Navy constantly repulsed harboring pirates disrupting their trade with China.  After a lunch of dim sum at a beachfront restaurant, we went looking for the one main reason why visitors came to the otherwise sleepy town: the Tin Hau Temple, which wasn’t your regular run-of-the-mill Chinese temple.  This one had sections that were pure kitsch and reminded Aviva of Rye Playland.  The kitschy comment isn’t a knock to ancient Chinese culture; most of the shrines (picture above) and statues were commissioned by the British who probably didn’t know anything about Chinese deities at the time. 

But the statues weren’t the big draw for the tourists that come here; that honor belonged to the Longevity Bridge, which linked two pieces of ground that weren’t really separated by anything at all.  It was said that each time you cross the bridge, three extra days would be added to your life.  Although I could have just walked around the bridge on a sidewalk, I walked back and forth, resulting in six extra days added to my life.

As we continued our southern shore tour from Repulse Bay to the village of Stanley — home of a covered, air-conditioned outdoor market and the colonial Murray House, which had been moved piece by piece from central Hong Kong to make way for the Bank of China (five pieces were mysteriously left over) — I thought about how I’d spend those extra six days.  Sure there are things I’d want to do that eventually I’d get to with one of my regular life days, but there are certain things that I’d only probably do if I really had the extra time added to my life:

  • 1.  Watch the additional content on all my DVDs.  Seriously, who has time to watch all this stuff?  Sometimes the additional content is ten times longer than the actual movie!  Do we really need to know what was going on in the director’s head during that first day of filming when he was taking a dump in the morning?  The answer is yes; which is why I’d spend a whole day watching my extra DVD content.

  • 2.  Floss.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not exactly a saint when it comes to flossing.  Sure I brush everyday, but flossing?  C’mon, really.  When did dentists start becoming obsessed with flossing?  “You don’t have to floss all your teeth,” they say, “Just the ones you want to keep.”  Not that I have anything wrong with flossing; it’s just really time-consuming — that time in the bathroom could be spent doing something more constructive, like reading a newsmagazine while taking a dump.  I’m sure on my extra day I could floss for a full 24-hours and make up for all the days I haven’t.  Then maybe my dentist would be happy enough to tell me the real reason why he runs away whenever he pushes that button to x-ray my mouth.

  • 3.  Follow a squirrel.  That’s not even a joke; I’ve always wanted to follow a squirrel.  Seriously!  And I don’t mean follow him from this lawn to that lawn and then stop when he climbs a tree, I mean really follow him and see what he does all day.  Does he hang out on the electrical cables with his friends and practice gymnastics?  Does he hold meetings to discuss traffic patterns so that he and his fellow squirrels can avoid get run over?  And does he climb the tree and hide in the leaves so he can play with his nuts?

  • 4.  Find out how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.  If not for me and my extra day, the world may never know.

  • 5.  Watch Top Gun.  I am going to admit something that may shock some of you.  I am a child of the 80’s and I’ve never seen Top Gun.  There I’ve said it.  I’m up to the point where I think I might just go for the title of “Guy From 80s That Never Saw Top Gun.”  I’ve seen bits and pieces when it comes on TNT’s The New Classics, but never really sat down for the whole thing to know what it’s about.  I think it has something to do about guys wearing pants. 

  • 6.  Spend an entire day at an All-You-Can-Eat buffet.  You’ve all had the same idea.  Why not get the most of your money by staying all day at an all-you-can-eat place?  Get there at opening and just hang out all day for all three meals — all at one low price!  I’ll make sure to bring something to occupy my time in between meals — perhaps a small TV or a Game Boy to play Tetris — and some Tupperware to bring home leftovers (or hold the vomit from overeating).

AVIVA AND I RODE ANOTHER PUBLIC DOUBLE-DECKER BUS at dusk and made it out to the mainland at the flashy Tsim Shan Tsui district in time to catch the lighting of the Hong Kong Island skyline at a different vantage point, the mainland waterfront promenade near the Old Clock Tower.  Afterwards we headed back home to meet Moe for dinner and tell him about our long day that seemed like a week — this time at a Manchurian place a couple of blocks away.  I’m sure particles of food got in between my teeth, but I had a whole extra day allotted to take care of that already.

Next entry: The Big Bang / Getting Money

Previous entry: The Greens Under The Glass

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Comments for “The Six Days Between Dawn And Dusk”

  • Speaking of 80’s movies… that clock tower is so Back to the Future ... hey maybe that guy with the shocking white hair really was Dr. Emmett Brown.

    So, we’re in the process of downloading the last episode of AR5… don’t post who won yet!

    Posted by Liz  on  09/21  at  05:15 PM

  • 1.21 Gigawatts!  Anyone notice that LIZ is first?  How’s that for time zone advantage?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/21  at  05:21 PM

  • Hey Erik, that wouldn’t have been the 1st time things go Boom! on the Trinidad Show ..

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/21  at  05:25 PM

  • 6 more days!!!! woo hoo!!!

    or maybe squirrels bang all day like my AIM buddy icon?  if you wanna see it gotta IM me…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/21  at  06:41 PM

  • MARKYT:  She bangs, she bangs…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/21  at  06:42 PM

  • Erik…..keep an eye on Liz…if she starts giving stuff away and the suitcase comes out, you might have a tag a long! LOL You are great inspiration and we all are extremely jealous!  Enjoy Nikko

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/21  at  06:57 PM

  • What happens in 6 days?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/21  at  07:12 PM

  • That wavy building looks a lot like the Microsoft Windows logo to me…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/21  at  07:15 PM

  • TDOT - did you just look at the pics and not read???

    “Although I could have just walked around the bridge on a sidewalk, I walked back and forth, resulting in six extra days added to my life.”

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/21  at  07:16 PM

  • JAMES IN TO:  Ha ha ha… good observation!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/21  at  07:24 PM

  • Did y’all hear that they are retiring the double decker buses in Lodon? I’m so depressed!!

    Did you see anything about something called Falun Dong while in China or HK? I can’t figure out what it is all about, but while in NYC, I saw a ton of people protesting the Chinese treatment of people who practice it. Just curious… not that the Chinese gov’t has anything against general mistreatment, but…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/22  at  01:59 AM

  • Oh, and the Hong Kong skyline lighting picture is a bit on the sensory overload side… yikes!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/22  at  02:00 AM

  • Wow - as it’s you hit all the places I spent most of my 3 years in HK - my house was in Aberdeen, my jr high school was in Repulse Bay and my family used to go to Jumbos once a month! Did you see the ruined castle along the western wall of Repulse Bay? That was my favorite place in all of Hong Kong - they filmed some of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom there!
    In the basement of the clock tower building is a Mc Donalds and a HUGE video game arcade - I guess that’s what the 1.21 Gigawatts is for.
    Never saw Top Gun? You’re not missing much. But dude, I never saw TITANIC.

    Posted by dunlavey  on  09/22  at  09:17 AM

  • All you need to know about Top Gun is Meg Ryan pleading with Anthony Edwards “take me to bed, or lose me forever!” The rest is just the first of many typically Tom Cruise movies—this one with fast planes.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/30  at  02:24 AM

  • More importantly, I think if you combined your day flossing and the day watching Top Gun you could squeeze in something else. If working in a cube farm has taught you anything, it’s to multi-task!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/30  at  02:26 AM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today,, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.

Next entry:
The Big Bang / Getting Money

Previous entry:
The Greens Under The Glass


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