Do you hear that? The soothing sounds of the fish-filled fountain raining water down upon the stones in rock-crusted basin, the palm trees rustling with the languid ease of a dog kicking in his sleep, the muted sounds of waves and air gently swirling around the knoll ... this is Hong Kong, my friends, this is Maryknoll, an oasis of peace and warmth away from the frigid emptiness of Jilin.
Man, is it nice to be back in the south.
Hong Kong is a huge city, a bustling, expensive, gaudy, brilliant city, and I love it in so many ways, but to me, Hong Kong will always be the Maryknoll house, it will be Stanly, it will be this quiet old house on the top of a monstrous hill, a place with good feng shui and a glorious view of the bright blue sea, a place that makes you forget the towering skyline and eye-gouging pricetags and furious pace of the city just a few miles away.
I am in Maryknoll now, after a taxing bit of travel: a long, tedious car ride from Jilin to Changchun, finally taking off four hours late from Changchun to Dalian, re-boarding the plane for the five-hour flight to Shenzhen, border hopping from Shenzhen into Hong Kong, and then a frantic race between Hong Kong's subways and buses before finally arriving at the Maryknoll door at one in the morning. And then a lazy day of good food and strolling around a city that I've known and enjoyed like no city before. It's great to be back in Hong Kong, to enjoy warmth and familiar faces after what at times seemed like an exile in Jilin.
But it won't last long. Monday morning, I head to Singapore, for a seven-week tour of southeast Asia, a colossal trip unlike anything I've done before.