A dry smile on a wet Hong Kong day


If we had done a lit­tle more re­search about the typhoon sea­son, we prob­a­bly wouldn’t have trav­elled to Hong Kong in July. It was hot and very, very wet. Lo­cal news sto­ries were all about land­slides and floods on the main­land, and Kowloon was awash.

We spent a great deal of time in shops and restau­rants, try­ing to avoid get­ting soaked. A cou­ple of days’ re­prieve from the rain saw us on the water, tak­ing boat trips to Ma­cau and Lamma Is­land in a des­per­ate at­tempt to find re­lief from the now-crip­pling hu­mid­ity.

The re­prieve was short-lived, and the rain re­turned with a vengeance. My hus­band de­cided that an in-room pic­nic was in or­der, and we set off separately to find pro­vi­sions. I headed to Stan­ley Mar­ket by bus, hop­ing the um­brella pro­vided by the ho­tel would keep me rea­son­ably dry. I re­turned to Wan Chai only a lit­tle damp, and happy with my pur­chases.

The walk from the bus stop to our ho­tel was mer­ci­fully short and took me through the mar­ket where, half­way down a lane filled with meat stalls, the shower be­came a tor­rent, and a wind blew up, turn­ing the um­brella in­side out.

I dodged un­der an awning to wait out the down­pour. Di­rectly across the street, an elderly Chi­nese gen­tle­man was do­ing the same. I smiled and shrugged, but his face re­mained im­pas­sive, no doubt won­der­ing what this for­eign idiot was do­ing in his lo­cal mar­ket.

The rain showed no signs of slow­ing. I was con­sid­er­ing mak­ing a run for it when I heard a rip­ping sound above my head. The weight of the water had proved too much. As I looked up, the can­vas shel­ter col­lapsed and a wa­ter­fall came tum­bling down. I couldn’t have been any wet­ter if I’d jumped in a swim­ming pool. The be­gin­nings of a smile tugged at the cor­ners of the man’s lips.

Then within sec­onds, the rain stopped. I looked across at my com­pan­ion in dis­be­lief. I caught his eye and grinned rue­fully. He looked me up and down, tak­ing in my drenched cloth­ing, sod­den san­dals and sop­ping hair. The half-smile be­came full blown, and we were both soon shak­ing with laugh­ter.

As I squelched back to the ho­tel I won­dered if my new friend had been laugh­ing at me or with me. Both, I de­cided. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to Fol­low the Reader: travel@theaus­tralian.com.au. Colum­nists will re­ceive a light­weight lap­top com­pendium from Cather­ine Manuell Design with mul­ti­ple pock­ets, pen holder and an A4 notepad in­cluded; avail­able in a range of vi­brant prints in­clud­ing red viper, $89.95. More: cather­ine­manuellde­sign.com.

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