Friday, August 10, 2007

Hong Kong, How Ready Are You?

Typhoon signal no. 8 was hoisted today at around 1:30pm in HK, as the strong winds of Tropical Storm Pabuk's speed exceeded 62 kph.

After receiving the announcement that our afternoon shows were already cancelled and that we were to leave work pronto, Dan and I decided to go on an impromptu shopping in Mongkok. In took us less than a minute after getting out of the train station to realize that even business establishments closed down and that everybody (probably except us) was rushing home. We headed towards the ladies' market anyway, which looks like this on a regular day:

This is what we found instead:

Ghost town. Well, not really. There were a few people on the street --- half-naked, hunky chinese and middle-eastern men running back and forth, trying to save their merchandise from getting wet. Quite a sight, I should say!

We decided to head to Langham Place. It's a mall, for crying out loud! It's made of concrete and the engineering is quite advanced. We were sure it wasn't threatened by the scare of a typhoon. In Manila, in our younger years, and even until now, as soon as the teacher announced suspension of classes, everybody heads to the mall. We were wrong. That's not the case in HK.

It seemed like there was no other option but to go home and just spend the afternoon sleeping. We got in at around 6pm and started to make sotanghon for dinner. A few minutes later, I got an sms from Joseph, the manager of Volume which read:

Typhoon party tonight at Volume! 2-4-1 drinks extended until 12!

Ok, I must admit, that was quite enticing. But because of what I had witnessed earlier on, I was just scared to go out. So I didn't. And I was thankful I didn't go, despite Chris's eager invitation to go with him. A few minutes later, we got news that the train service has stopped because of the inclement weather. Lawrence, a friend of mine, was in Central station and took this video:

It's a bit of a bore how HK welcomes tropical disturbances. I grew up in Manila where typhoons flooding were nothing extraordinary. I grew up seeing roofs flying in the air with the strong wind and trees just collapsing in the streets. I remember watching the news one stormy afternoon when I was a kid, where the field correspondent had herself tied to a post while reporting on-cam so as not to be blown away by the wind. The university I went to was on the street that flooded after just an hour of continuous downpour. I have walked more than 2 kilometers going home from the university, half of my body submerged in dirty, murky, smelly flood --- along with a host of other people: fellow students, faculty, robbers, snatchers, employees, etc. (and along with other elements as well. i.e., a dead rat, a swimming dog, and a drowning cat). It was gross! But it was fun.

My french ex-boyfriend witnessed this once and he said nothing but: "It's like Disneyland!"