Last weekend, I convinced my partner to roam the streets of Kowloon with me. Unlike expat-friendly central Hong Kong, Kowloon is a sea of chaos. Not everyone speaks English, not everyone is on an expat package and not everyone is there to kiss your ass. It’s real. And I love it.

My partner’s idea of a perfect weekend is to spend Sunday afternoon drinking at our favorite pub in Stanley. Tucked away inside Smuggler’s Inn, The Eagles on the jukebox, beer in hand, a game of Gin Rummy on the table–what’s not to love? But that’s the ideal. Usually, the place is packed with expat rugrats, Aussie drunkards and the occasional dog.

“I don’t want to go to Stanley.” I whined. “We always go to Stanley. Besides, it’s me who has to come back to the apartment to cook.”

I talked him into having brunch at the Olive inside the Elements shopping center in Kowloon. You see, my secret plan was to use brunch as a ruse. I figure I’d lure him out to Kowloon and then say, “Since we’re already here…”

Turns out Olive closed down and reopened as Prime Steakhouse. Who doesn’t want a big slab of bloody meat for breakfast!? Not this vegetarian. We ended up at Wooloomooloo, an Australian steakhouse, but only because they had salad on the menu, and every other place was either busy or bullshit.

“Isn’t this fun!?” I said after I insulted his first choice of wine. It said Pinot Grigio, but believe me, the damn thing tasted like a fruity, fluffy full-on chardonnay. I hate chardonnay.

After brunch we walked toward Nathan Road, Kowloon’s heart and soul. Everything you want to do or see in Kowloon radiates from this central street. On our way there, we stopped by Kowloon Park, sat down and watched the beginning of a kung fu presentation. Nearby, young men practiced their Chinese dragon dance routine. Behind us, a group of Filipina helpers on their only day off were loudly fellating bananas. I shit you not, this odd “game” was followed by the ring leader awarding a prize to the woman who was able to swallow her banana the fastest. It was time to go.

We then made our way to Nathan Road and started walking north, away from Hong Kong Island. Indian men, Arab women, Chinese babies and several groups of wandering, excited tourists joined us on our meandering march to no where in particular.

After nearly getting hit by an elderly lady shoving a cart full of God knows what, I looked at my partner and said, “I love living in Hong Kong. You know this, this, is what I love to do. You like to make fun of me for not liking to go camping or hiking, but this is my urban hike and we don’t have to sleep outside with bears, bugs and Jason Voorhees when it’s over.”

He smiled and nodded.

An hour later, I could tell Senor Cranky Bitches was in need of a beer. It’s odd, but even when he’s walking behind me, I can sense his, “I want to sit the fuck down and drink a beer dammit” aura jabbing me in the back.

The breeze stopped, the humidity grew and the crowd thickened. At this point, those jabs had turned into karate chops. And just when we had given up hope in finding a suitable place to plop, we saw the sign for a Japanese bar/restaurant on the 12th floor of some nondescript, commercial building. After riding several escalators and an elevator, we finally made it to our destination–the tackiest, tasteless homage to Japanese pop culture you ever saw. We sat down and ordered a beer.

There, among the chatter, the music, the laughter, the every two minute birthday shout-outs, I slouched back in my purple pleather chair, smiled and said, “We really do live in a different country.”

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