One For The Road – Hong Kong February 2019

It’s tempting to post all the photos I took and all the comments I sent and received on social media while I was in Hong Kong. After all, I did a LOT. If there was a recommendation on a web site to go somewhere or sample something, I could be guaranteed to pretty much pitch up and try it. That was why I found myself in downtown bars at 2am just sampling a ‘must have’ cocktail. I posted my whole journey online, getting dozens of comments back. The whole of what I’d now come to see as some sort of pilgrimage to Hong Kong had taken on a kind of quasi-religious feel…. even if it did have alcohol in it occasionally.

The fact is though, this isn’t a travel blog and tempted though I am to share the whole experience, I’m aware the grief aspect would probably only reside in my head rather than on the page.

So here’s my thoughts on that aspect. Firstly, even though I’m not religious or even spiritual, I do believe you can gain a certain amount of succour and comfort from doing things that might – in some eyes – prove exactly the opposite to what I believe. You see, some people asked “How did you feel being so far away on your own?” and I could honestly answer “I wasn’t on my own”. Through WhatsApp and Facebook, it felt as if I was taking a few dozen people with me throughout the day. At any time I could just open my phone and chat to someone as if they were next to me. That was wonderfully reassuring.

Nevertheless though, having Gail with me in her new form and knowing what I was doing was for her, and further knowing I wouldn’t be doing what I was doing without her having been in my life and leaving it, meant there wasn’t a moment she wasn’t in my thoughts. I looked at things for her, saw things for her, felt, drunk and eat things for her. I felt she was with me all the time (And, No, I didn’t carry her box everywhere – only on that first day). This is good as it works both ways. Someone with religious or spiritual beliefs could say she was with me certainly, but if someone like me with no beliefs can say she was with me then it opens up everything.

It meant I didn’t have to get involved in things that I often asked myself. ‘Could she see me?’ ‘Did she know how I felt’. After all, I talked to her all the time anyway; sometimes in my head, often out loud. What would be the point of doing this if I didn’t see some possible end to it? In Hong Kong I kind of got an answer to that. It doesn’t matter if there is a God or not sometimes. You can find a Superior Being inside anyway.

You see, going to Hong Kong was one of the best things I’ve ever done and one of the most rewarding. But within that is a dichotomy. Because I really wish I’d never had to go – at least, on my own – really wish I’d never had that experience because that would mean that Gail was still here and I’d rather have spent a wet February just siting in my lounge with her instead of a really wonderful holiday in Hong Kong without her. And that’s Life. Or Death. Or something.

One last thing – and it’s a funny one.

Having discovered the wonder and simplicity of the HK subway system (cheap and with light up tube maps showing next station and interchange directions – get on it LUT!), I decided to go to Sha Tin; part of the New Territories and Gail’s birthplace according to her (incorrect) passport. Her birth certificate has the full address of her parents home there, but a Google search confirmed that, unsurprisingly, the whole town has since been pulled down and rebuilt as it’s essentially a social housing area.

Sha Tin looks like Milton Keynes with sunshine. It could be any city suburb in the world except the high rise buildings here dwarf anything, anywhere else. Significantly, there’s a racecourse here – Gail is supposed to have got her love of racing from her Dad – and, of course, there are malls. Otherwise this is like every city in the world, all the shops are the same; this could be Bluewater or Westfield. But there was one, HomeSquare store, that had a lot of local things in and I thought I might be able to find something suitable to take home.

I walked into the door and was faced with rows of black / blue bottles so I picked one up – literally the first thing I touched – and it was this. I laughed and 100 HK $ later and we’re on our way back downtown. I think this is Gail telling me our work here is done.

Home today; her ashes can RIP in her spot and I’ll place this next to them and spray her occasionally.

As for Hong Kong, it’s been great and hugely rewarding.

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