The train we took was quite an old one. It was not fast, and the trip was about one hour. Hong Kong was very close to Guangzhou. On the way, we crossed Shenzhen, the global center of technology and electronics. The train was almost empty. It was quiet inside with some distant sounds of talk at the beginning of the coach. Most of the travelers were busy reading newspapers, books, or checking their emails. Together with Professor Silicon we joined them – Professor with his book, and I with the industry news.
Several Japanese semiconductor companies were planning to build new factories in Japan, and also in the USA. The report said that the investment was coming from an unknown source, and all the factories were supported by this unknown company or person. All factories were promised to be commissioned in a year, which was surprisingly fast. This was a matter of billions of US dollars. Lextor Anderson was sure that the investor was SilSic Corp. or some of the company related to it. And this news only proved that we are at the right time, and at the right place.
We were approaching Kowloon, one of the peninsula districts of Hong Kong. Hong Kong was established as a colony of the British Empire after the Qing Empire ceded Hong Kong Island from Xin’an County at the end of the First Opium War in 1841 then again in 1842. The colony expanded to the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 after the Second Opium War and was further extended when Britain obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898. The whole territory was transferred to China in 1997. Originally a sparsely populated area of farming and fishing villages, the territory has become one of the world’s most significant financial centers and commercial ports.
Once we were at the station, we saw the numerous skyscrapers growing like trees. They were different in shapes, sizes, colors, height, and all this composition looked like a forest, or like a huge Lego city built with various pieces by a big child. The density of the buildings was amazing. Sometimes the two buildings were separated by just ten centimeters of air. Even though the landscape was made of stone, it was still very charming.
We headed to our hotel booked for us by Ming. I was surprised to see that unlike mainland China Hong Kong was a left-hand traffic country. Professor said that around the world the number of left-hand traffic countries is much bigger than we think, and Hong Kong and its neighbor Macau were among them. So, we took an old taxi to get to the hotel. And it was not some luxurious one. Here in Hong Kong, everyone was fighting for every square centimeter of space.
The hotel building looked abandoned, very shabby, and scary. However, inside it was a bit better. At the reception, Professor Silicon was notified that he received a parcel and it was delivered straight to his room. And Professor did not expect any parcel. So, we got to the twenty-first floor of the thirty-two-story building. Our rooms were next to each other. We decided to check Professor’s room first to see what was the parcel. The room was the size of a bed it had inside, so, when Lextor Anderson opened the door, we could barely get inside.
The parcel was on the bed. It looked like a small box of chocolates. There were no signs, no letters, no words on it. It was a small thin paper box. Professor took out Ming’s flashlight we found in the cloakroom back in Wuhan. As it turned out, it was a telescoping multifunctional tool including various flashlight modes. Professor Silicon asked me to stay where we were and he began to unfold this flashlight until it reached the parcel. Then he just clicked the button and through the beam of light, we could see the content of the parcel. There was some kind of a note inside. At least, now we knew it was safe.
Professor Silicon opened the box and read the letter. There were just a few words there:
TEMPLE STREET 11:11 PM.
I was wondering what was this Temple Street and why we need to be there so late. What if this was a trap, and at that late hour no one would be around? And who was behind all of this?
Professor could not tell as well. But he said that we should not worry about being alone. Temple Street was famous for its night markets. It is a street located in the areas of Jordan and Yau Ma Tei in Kowloon. It is known as one of the busiest flea markets at night in the territory. The night market lies in the Yau Ma Tei, Jordan part of the street. Popular with tourists and locals alike in the evening, it is also common to see the place crowded at dusk. It sells cheap merchandise and food items. The road was built during the Qing dynasty and was named after the Tin Hau temple which was built on the site.
Since we had a long night ahead, Professor suggested getting some rest before we go. Temple street was only twenty minutes’ walk from our hotel, so we had some time to kill. And after all the adventures we already had my mind seemed to agree. I thought that I could spend a couple of hours searching the internet for more information about those new semiconductor factories, so I got my phone and opened the search engine. I spent what felt like half an hour but nothing new. All sources used one and the same release I read on the train. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to discover the truth.
I reached for the lamp switch to turn it on but I was not fast enough to do it before the lamp was on by itself. And this moment I felt something in my palm. Though could not tell whether it was a good or a bad feeling. But I was sure that it was me who switched the light. So, I concentrated to try to switch it off and tried to reach for the switch again. And it worked. The lamp was off. I could control the lamp. And this time I did not even feel a thing.
I did not notice how I fell asleep, and only Professor’s voice and his knocking on my room’s door brought me back to reality. The light was off. And my phone was fully charged, though I spent some time searching for the news, and even at that time it was halfway to zero percent. I opened the door and saw Professor Silicon smiling. He was happy I took his advice to get some sleep but he did not realize that it could be so difficult to wake me up. He was knocking on my door for fifteen minutes before I woke up. We needed to hurry to get to the market on time.
It was night outside, and only a few people walking in the streets. It was very humid and very warm. There were no street lights, and the only light was coming from the skyscrapers around. At exactly 11:11 we reached the Temple Street Archway. It was an incredible view after all. All streets around were dark and empty, but Temple Street was full of stalls with everything you can possibly imagine – clothes, consumer electronics, shoes, laptops, food, fireworks, drinks, jewelry, just everything you could think of. And the street was so bright that it was difficult to look at it with your fully opened eyes. This was a fair of LEDs of all kinds, and every stall was as bright as a big Christmas Tree.
We had no idea what or whom to expect, so we were slowly walking down the street, enjoying this night market experience. Even if we wanted to speed up, we would not succeed much. There were hundreds or maybe thousands of people walking like us, all of them trying to find some souvenir for their friends or some unique item for their home. The market was full of Bruce Lee items – from various T-shirts and training suits to pictures, movies, action figures, etc. The reason for that was obvious.
Even though he was born in San Francisco, he was raised in Hong Kong. Bruce Lee is considered to be the most influential martial artist of all time and a pop culture icon of the twentieth century, who bridged the gap between East and West. He is credited with promoting Hong Kong action cinema and helping to change the way Asians were presented in American films. Bruce Lee is a part of Hong Kong and will always be.
According to the sign, after twenty minutes of walking with the crowd, we were just in the middle of the market street. That is where we started to see more food stalls, and since we had nothing to eat since our train, Professor suggested taking a bite at one of them. You can not tell by the look of the food what it was. And for the most part, when you asked the sellers about it, they never told you the truth. They wanted it to be a surprise.
So, we took what looked like some kind of meat but felt like some vegetables. But most importantly it was very tasty.It was almost midnight and the shopping crowd was getting bigger, and it was a real challenge to walk at least ten meters without being punched or kicked. With all its glow and lights, we looked like the flow of electrons moving forward in slow motion. And very soon we reached the stall with the dragons. There was no one there. So we decided to stop for a while a take a closer look.