Mizu had been in Hong Kong only for three days and Kowloon City had already begun to feel like that painting in a posh household that was passed down through generations.
Its crooked frame hung in the halls of Hong Kong in an enigmatic and familiar air and Mizu spent hours gazing at the city, not knowing what it meant, it’s characters, its signs, its places and especially its lights, which seemed too bright, as though they would burn out by midnight.
Mizu had only gone out in the evenings when Kowloon City went from quite historic city to lavish elite discotheque. The pink and blue neon signs worked like floodlights and woke the entire neighbourhoods that scrambled outside to get on with their nightly routine. Mizu heard many of them speak in Cantonese and saw them shop at malls that were larger than airports.
Every evening of her stay in Kowloon City, Mizu walked up to the Sham Shui Po district only to have the smooth bean curd at Kung Wo Tofu Factory. They made all sorts of tofu – fried, plain and soaked, but Mizu only asked for the one that was silky and sweetened by warm soy bean milk – the Tofu Pudding. When its first spoonful slid into her tummy as if it was water, she knew she would come by the next evening.
Some said that the Kung Wo Tofu Factory was a 100years old, but nobody knew for sure. It however had the aura of being in Hong Kong for a long long time, you could taste the decades in its soy milk – ancient and dense.
After having the tofu pudding, Mizu got on the Kowloon city bus to casually tour the city. Not knowing where to go, she booked a ticket to the same place that the woman in front of her had. She had bought a 15$ ticket to Tsim Sha Tsui to watch a laser show, and so did Mizu.
Mizu took a seat by the window from where she could swoon over the colours of Kowloon City. It was the most Chinese city in Hong Kong, the store signs were written in Chinese with dragon heads looming over them and numerous Chinese products were sold in clustered markets. In comparison, the other cities of Hong Kong seemed fairly British.
At the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, Mizu got off the bus and got on the Star Ferry, still following the woman on the bus. The white ferry whirred its way into the black Hong Kong waters towards Kowloon City and then for a few minutes lay motionless under the dark night sky. Mizu’s heart started to tremble as she realised that despite the Chinese locals on the boat, she was standing alone in that vast dark ocean, anticipating, waiting…
Then the ferry began to move closer to the buildings opposite the waterfront and at 8 pm, a million lights lit up Kawloon City, some reached straight for the sky and disappeared. Mizu felt like fireworks had gone off within her, she had never seen so many lights move to a melancholic rhythm, it was called A Symphony of Lights – the largest daily laser show in the whole world and it lasted for a good 14 minutes.
Mizu had been here on two consecutive evenings, to hear the same sound and witness the same immaculate city light up at 8pm. But on the second day, something unusual happened on the ferry.
She was lost looking at the tallest skyscraper along the city’s skyline, when a woman whispered in her ear. “That’s Ritz Carlton…as in the luxury hotel, it has 118 floors”
Mizu turned to see the same Chinese woman whom she had followed from the bus to the ferry. She was dressed sluggishly, with a big blue stone on her ring finger.
“That’s a sapphire”, said Zelda, tracing Mizu’s gaze.
Mizu turned anxious, which was quite evident on her pale face.
“You think I don’t look the part?”, Zelda let out a warm laugh. “I’m heading to the Ritz itself…you seem new, to say the least… Why don’t you join me, I’m meeting a few Japanese friends there too.”
In any other circumstance, Mizu would politely decline when she sensed danger. But maybe it was the lights or the music, or the lit up luxurious Ritz Carlton that shimmered as if it was embellished with sapphires, that made Mizu accept Zelda’s invitation.
When the ferry stopped at the Kowloon City waterfront, they got off and Zelda signaled Mizu to follow her. They got into Zelda’s fancy car and drove to the Ritz. At that time, Mizu sure was terrified. Here she was in a city with a stranger (who could very well ambush her) who she had met a few minutes ago on a boat and they were driving into Ritz Carlton!
What will happen next in Kowloon, Hong Kong, the city of skyscrapers and bottom feeders?
Find out next week by getting an update through my Instagram: