first stop off, under the professional advise of my professional private eye, was at a char siew shop. there, he insisted, we would be able to update ourselves on the hottest gossips in town, right off the bo luo bao stove. he must have been really a shu ke over there, for the moment we stepped in, we were almost bowled over by the warm greetings of the char siew family (as they call themselves). a very nice uncle, who made us address him as cha shao bing, immediately offered us a bag of delicious char siew free of charge.
just as we had settled ourselves down comfortably, an old lady with an uppity air breezed into the shop. behind her trailed a young woman, dressed in fine clothes, a toddler in her arms. i noticed the welcome they received from the char siew family was a tad cooler than the one we had received only moments ago. we could not be properly introduced to the two newcomers as the old lady, after throwing us a disdainful glance, refused to further acknowledge our presence, and the young woman with the toddler was too busy grousing about the dirt and grime in the shop, in a yakkity chihuahua voice. the private eye, let's call him detective mo, warned me under his breath, not to cross these two, no matter what. although i had met neither before, i took that for wise advice.
it wasn't until when hao yi (auntie runhao, who's uncle cha shao bing's sister-in-law) casually mentioned that i was from singapore, that the old lady allowed herself to spare us another glance, this time a slightly friendlier one. when we were finally formally introduced, they were decidedly much, much friendlier and more amiable than i had initially judged them to be. upon learning that we (both detective mo and i) were, in their words, multilingual, auntie shang deng qing jia was so elated that she proposed we talk over dim sum. so, off for dim sum we headed.
on the short walk to the restaurant, she kept on praising my fantastic grasp of the cantonese language, to which i repeatedly replied, "mm hai lah, mm hai lah, or mo yong ga lah..." (the chinese are big on humility, and trust me on this, the only politically correct answer to a praise of any sort is to deny it. this is, thankfully, also one of the only few cantonese phrases i have successfully mastered.)
man, was i relieved when we arrived at the dim sum place and shang deng auntie proceeded to order a generous spread.
detective mo very professionally launched a major gossip session and of course, very subtly drew our conversation to nick. hao yi mentioned that only last week, she had overheard her son's wife's brother's friend, who was nick's ex-colleague say that nick was heading to shenzhen that very day. meimei (the young lady with the toddler, whom we had come to know as dandan) then quipped in that he must have been heading there for some womanising. either that or for some illegal abortion, she claimed. that got me so worried that i could stomach the food no longer. detective mo decided to put me out of my misery by excusing us from the table.
the moment we were out of their earshot, i grabbed him by the arm and wailed, "we have to get to shenzhen this very day!" to which, of course, he obliged. so, off we flew to shenzhen that very day on the kcr. within the time it takes from bedok to clementi via the mrt, we arrived at shenzhen and cleared the customs.
we searched the whole of the little shenzhen town, even the narrow alleys in the streets, where we would hear an occasional scream from (i presumed) an illegal abortion, and where moustached men, full of lust, would jump out of nowhere and attempt to sell us fake viagras (or jing ge, as they call it). but we uncovered no trace of nick.
we had eventually to head back to hongkong. it wasn't until then that we suddenly realised that we had no rooms for the night! in our haste to come to hongkong, and again, in our haste to go to shenzhen, we had totally forgotten to secure our accommodations. again, the resourceful zuo dong (as i had come to address him during our time in shenzhen) suggested that we call on the helpful char siew family. i grudgingly agreed.
and true enough, shan yi (auntie runshan, who's uncle bing's wife), the matriach, offered us a room in their tiny flat for as long as we were staying in hongkong. she was even apologetic that zuo dong and i had to share a room, but for that, i was secretly relieved, as her youngest son, xiao an, kept making eyes at me. so, there, we rested for the night.
our next few days, zuo dong came up with ingenious suggestion after ingenious suggestion of how we ought to go about on nick's trail. for a couple of days, we visited and hung around some of the police stations where nick had once worked, but to no avail.
on day three, however, we had a breakthrough. zuo dong, also being part of the hongkong police force, bumped into zhang-sir, nick's best friend during their law-enforcing days, and struck up a conversation with him outside the mongkok police station. guofeng (as he insisted we call him) revealed that nick had been really busy those days, even to the point of discussing business late into the night. he provided us with directions to an office building somewhere in the kowloon area.
that very night, zuo dong set to work, diligently snapping away at nick and his secretary in their meeting room. it was only later on that i found out that zuo dong had early dispatched his subordinates to trail nick's secretary for the past three days. he produced pictures of her shopping with nick, chatting on the phone with nick, waiting for nick downstairs of their office after work, and finally, one of them smooching away in nick's silver car on the road, and yet another of them making out in nick's rented condo.
i was so, so heartbroken, i knew nowhere else to drown my sorrows, but in... zuo dong's arms. after all, he was the one who had provided the evidence which had so cruelly shattered my fragile heart. perhaps not knowing what else to do, now that our mission was complete--a brilliant success (on zuo dong's part), yet a miserable failure (on my part), we went dessert store crawling.
it was such fun, all that dessert, that i instantly forgot all my grief. as i looked up, over a forkful of durian pancake, into zuo dong's eyes, it struck me that, perhaps i had fallen in love with him!
he returned my misty gaze, and spoke in the softest whisper i had ever heard from him, "i want you to know that my real name is dayo. i think i have found my true love in you, and i am even willing to dump my best friend, xiao qiang, back into the smelly longkang, if only you will agree to settle down with me here in hongkong." *flutter fluter* (those were my eyelids, not my heart) *bip bop bip bop* (now, that was my heart) i said, "err, mm goi lei, ho mm ho yi, bei ngor yat di di si gan to consider your proposal?" to which, he replied, "nei fong sum lah, i'll give you all the time you want."
with that, followed the three happiest days of my life. dayo brought me all over hongkong. it being a zhi ye bing, he couldn't stop photographing the sights of the streets.
he explained that he had missed his homeland a whole lot, after all the years of studying for his masters of philosophy in alberta, that now he just couldn't get enough of it all. he, being as intellectual as russell, brought me to see the architecture and design of several beautiful round stained-glass thingamies, which he said, represented our love for each other--yong yong yuan yuan, no beginning, no end.
he brought me to kowloon park to show me proof that, "hey, look, actually hongkong is no different from singapore".
and lastly, as we were walking down the avenue of stars on my final day there, looking out for his handprints on the ground, i gazed out, to the sea, and it was stunning.
"isn't hongkong beautiful? can you really bear to leave all this, and me?" he said. perhaps in a final bid of desperation, he added, "and i promise you this view, from the window of our future house, if you would only stay..."
now, that was really cheesy. which explains why i'm back here in singapore today. nah, that was a joke. but, i had fallen in love with him. it was only that i still have a degree to complete (if only so that i don't feel inferior to his intellect) that i returned. which is why i've been spurred on to study hard! upon graduation, i shall work towards a degree in education, serve out my bond over here first, then apply to move over as an esl teacher. then, at long last, dayo and i shall be reunited! isn't that absolutely fantastic?
and thus, concludes the account of my hongkong trip 2005.
apologies, for everything going downhill and utterly corny after the first day. i realised too late that i'd been carried away and gone into way too much detail over the first day, and had considerably tired out after that.
as for the happy char siew family, i promised i'd write them, and visit whenever possible. and, can you believe this, i even found out that meimei's actually the only daughter of some indonesian datuk!