People and more people, never ending streams of swarming masses, coming and going, in and out of buildings, stores, subway, alleyways, stairwells, all dressed in black, like ants marching, left right left, left right left. I couldn’t believe what I stepped into when I exited the Hang Seng Bank. I had heard about the congestion in Hong Kong, but nothing in my imagination could come close to what I was experiencing. Somehow the mass chaos seemed so organized with everyone moving at the same speed. I saw no collisions, there we no accidents. Everyone had a destination, with no loitering, nor hanging about.
There were cell phones ringing, people shouting, cars engines rumbling, bus brakes squealing, with street vendors shouting from all directions. The reek from the vehicle exhaust, the stench from food stalls, mixed with the stink of the overly perfumed people felt like an assault on my nose.
The sweltering heat and heavy humidity made my movements feel like I was struggling to swim through the air. My skin was wet and clammy, my clothes were stuck to my body and the heat from the pavement was beginning to burn the soles of my feet, right through my shoes.
I was feeling nervous, almost to the point of panic, when I noticed a clearing in the crowd. People were stepping aside to make way for a Buddhist monk who was walking slowing in my direction. Amongst all the chaos, the monk, in his orange robes, looked so bright and peaceful, as if he was strolling in the sunshine. I tossed a few coins into his donation bowl as I marvelled at Hong Kong, the city of contrasts.