Chapter 17: Time for a second adventure
THREE YEARS LATER…
In Hong Kong, Steven was contemplating the view from his tiny apartment by the water in Kowloon. From the 32nd floor, the view of the harbour and the green mountains behind was breathtaking. He knew he would miss it terribly. From his small balcony, that is if you could call a ledge a balcony, he could see the long bridges connecting the island from Hong Kong to Kowloon. He could also see the container-loading cranes in the port far away. The waterways were busy with mega ships and small Chinese junks trying to keep out of the way of each other. His furniture would be soon given to friends. The rest would be stored in Hong Kong as he would travel light to Europe. After three years in Asia, he felt that it was time to continue his journey and see the rest of the world.
He still had a good portion of the money that he had withdrawn from his Toronto accounts, as he had deposited it in various banks and safety deposit boxes in Asia. This was in accordance with his initial plan.
He was now almost fluent in Cantonese and could manage Mandarin rather well. He could read a little of traditional Chinese and a bit of the simplified mainland characters. Although the former version was more complex, but a horse in traditional looked just like a horse. Hence, it was somehow easier to read. Writing it? It was another beast that he was sure he would never be able to tame. He had long discovered that if you had not started at birth, your brain would never be able to understand how
to draw these characters. Using that excuse, he had given up long ago.
Also, he had been single for a while. He had had his share of dates and girlfriends for a lifetime, thanks to being white in a sea of yellow. He had also felt that it was time to go before he became an egg. That’s what his British friends called a Caucasian who behaved like Chinese; white on the outside and yellow on the inside.
At least all his troubles with the police back in Canada were over. He had spent hours on the phone over the years with the Fraud Department of the Federal Police, exchsanging techniques and methods and got cleared of all charges. He had also received from the RCMP the promised reward, which was a meager two thousand dollars. After deducting all the long distance calls and time spent, it had culminated into a few cents more than the minimum wage his friends had made while working at the local McDonald’s during their high school years. At least the stress of being a criminal on the run had vanished and Steven had not committed any crimes in Asia. To make it easier for him, pirating software and movies had also lost its charm, primarily because there were no copyright laws in China. Therefore, it was not illegal anymore.
He had travelled to all the countries that he wanted to see in Asia, as well as all the important Pacific Islands including the Maldives. He had spent nearly a month there the year before, and learned to scuba dive, too. He had also felt privileged to see the islands, especially after his dive instructor, a native, had told the class that because of global warming, the Maldives would disappear under the sea in the next thirty years.
Now, he was ready to jet out of Hong Kong and go to Greece, then Paris to see if it was as nice as the brochures promoted. After France, the plan was to travel to Italy through the Mont-Blanc Tunnel, visit Milan first and then head south to Rome. The month of May and his birthday seemed to be a time of change for him, a spring cleanup for the soul.