“Excuse me?” I reply, all I was asking for was a cigarette not the ingredients to happiness, she repeats her question, “fortune or hope”. Now I start panicking, maybe this is a test, the first part of a trial and if I get the answer right it would be the start of an adventure straight out of a fantasy novel. The lady sighs and pulls out two different brand of cigarettes, one called hope the other caller fortune, breaking my illusion at the same time. I grab fortune and sit by the beach thinking about the whole trip, in two days I’ll be back in Hong Kong, in two days reality will hit me in the stomach with a closed fist. The second I step out of that plane, Britain would have voted to leave the EU dividing the usefulness of my British passport by around half, I would have to worry about petty events such as exam results coming out, I would go back to being a clog in a huge machine that churns out numbers. Pretty depressing? Don’t get me wrong I love myself, I mean why wouldn’t you, it doesn’t make sense not to, after all you are literally why you breath. It’s just nice to be somewhere unfamiliar and pretend to be someone else, to be free of all the responsibilities that life put onto you up until this point. I guess contrast is the best way to describe the experience.
Siting on that beach I have to admit that the thought of staying in Guimaras occurred once or twice. Life here Is fueled on hope, on the belief that tomorrow will be a better day, that there is nothing that a bottle of beer by the beach can’t cure. Hong Kong lives on probabilities, every risk is calculated, everyone is a number, be it exam results, previous relationships or salary. One is tangible, the other one isn’t, it’s hard to say which one is better. Well I say that but one has to remember that Hong Kong was basically a fishing village around a hundred years ago, now it is a financial capital, while Guimaras is just a island off the coast of some relatively unknown city in the Philippines. We, the Hong Kong people, have raised building that threaten to touch the sky, and through that process made many of our citizens rich beyond understanding. Because a place is really about the people, they are the deciding factor on whether a place is great or Syria. Truthfully it is only a handful of locals that have the chance to really shape your view of a area. In that aspect we had a lot of luck, I am glad I met Lala and her family, and I don’t just mean on Guimaras, I mean in my life. This luck extended to our group mates as well
I guess the biggest difference between Hong Kong and Guimaras is that life gives you the time to understand people here, while in Hong Kong it’s so fast passed that you need to quickly judge people in order to succeed. Hong Kong has acquired fortune and efficiency at the expense of humility and hope.
Sitting on that beach I take another drag, my cigarette extinguishes leaving the taste of ash and disappointment in my mouth, maybe I should quit smoking, well maybe after I give hope a try.