Flying Through

November 2, 2012

in Other Travel


Ramen, Hong Kong Style

Hong Kong is always hazy. The amalgam of smog and cloud never seems to depart, at least during the times of year that I fly through. Its thickness varies, but the haze is ever-present. Today, the airports geometric walls of glass face mountains barely outlined in the muddled sky, and the sea rolls in between.

I decompress from last-minute packing and a 12-hour flight with ramen soup therapy: a huge steaming bowl of noodles, bean sprouts, scallions, spices, meat sliced paper thin, an amazingly rich and hearty broth, and a ladle for a spoon. Toss out the memories of two-minute-just-add-water packets you ate in college. This is ramen to nourish the soul.

Stepping into the bathroom, I find five Indonesian women gathered at the sinks, pressing the soap dispensers repeatedly, watching the soap drip onto the back of the sink, and looking perplexed. A moment later, one girl is pressing and holding in the soap dispenser while washing her other hand. Then it dawns on me: the problem isn’t soap. It’s the motion sensor sinks. For people who reside in a less techy and germophobic world, a faucet with no handles or buttons is an enigma. The barely visible hands stamped on the silver faucet are intended to mean, “Move your hands underneath,” but it just as easily means, “Wash your hands here.” How do you turn the water on??? I offer a quick demo, and you can see how weirdly modern it all is by the continuing confusion on their faces even as they get the faucets to work.

36 hours after I stepped into San Francisco airport, I step out into the friendly cacophony that is Kathmandu.


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