Blast from the past: my first week in Hong Kong 28 years ago.
Here I am 22 years ago at the old Tiger Balm Gardens in Hong Kong. It was Christmas Day and I was with my mother, who was visiting me for a couple weeks that month. My dad had arrived earlier that month so they could spread their time out with me. I was married to the first husband then, but he was in China for a 3.5 months that fall and winter, so I guess my parents felt bad I was alone. It was actually all right to be alone then, but I always welcomed their company.
My mom and I thought this pig was funny. I hadn’t eaten pork in years at that time, so we were amazed by the girth of this swine. I miss the Tiger Balm Gardens. I’m sure some nondescript, luxe condo building stands in this space now. Why give the general public a park everyone can enjoy when you can make a killing from real estate?
I posted this photo on Instagram today, where I’ve been posting old travel photos for the last month or so. This is one I’ve had a love/hate relationship with. Hate because I always thought I was closing my eyes and that my posture could have been better. But I love it for so many more reasons: Hong Kong’s early 90s skyline, the different types of boats, the widened harbor (it’s much narrower now), and the view. I would take the train down to the harborfront in college and just stare across at the skyline and marvel that I was actually there, on the underbelly of China and in front of the most stunning scene I’d ever seen.
Shortly after reading Lauren Hilgers’ book, Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown (Penguin Random House, 2018), I visited Flushing, where the book mainly takes place. I hadn’t been to Flushing in over 30 years, when my dad took my brother and me to a Mets game at the old Shea Stadium back when my mom worked for United and we could fly for free on stand-by.
Flushing has changed a ton since then. Like the protagonists in Hilgers’ book, people in Flushing don’t have to know any English because Chinese businesses are everywhere.
It’s even seems to have changed since one of my favorite movies came out 25 years ago.
At a time when the US is in hot water over separating immigrant children from their families, Hilgers’ book couldn’t be more timely.