This Sunday was the four-year mark of the launch of JAZZ TOILET so I thought I’d write a TUESDAY TOILET TALK for old times’ sake. I’m currently living in Seoul to study the Korean traditional 12-string gayageum. Since it’s relatively close by, I hopped over to Hong Kong on Wednesday to meet up with my friends Molly and Jerry and we checked out Ned Kelly’s Last Stand, an Australian-themed pub known for their nightly live jazz.
The restrooms are located in the back of the venue, past the stage and through the door marked TOILETS in English and Cantonese. The women’s room has two stalls and one sink. As for the men’s room, Jerry told me there’s a trough-like urinal and probably a toilet though he wasn’t sure. The back area with the restrooms had miscellaneous items including aprons and gas tanks.
I kept forgetting what city I was in during my brief stay in Hong Kong. It felt like I was in a generic metropolitan city walking among towers and high-rise buildings, save for the bamboo scaffolding. We shopped at Muji and Uniqlo, had tea at Mandarin Oriental and stayed at the Sheraton—this could have been our itinerary in a number of other cities on earth. Of course, we went to local shops too but sometimes I felt as though I was just in Chinatown.
The way up to Victoria Peak was distinct with bits of tropical-looking foliage juxtaposed against urban concrete and steel. I had been reading about the recent night market protest and the missing booksellers but that part was invisible to me as an American tourist.
In the same way I’m given chopsticks to have salmon salad in Seoul, I’m sure there were local subtleties affecting even the most Western of things, but I was too preoccupied to notice. After milk tea and Ned Kelly’s Last Stand I spent the night in the bathroom with abdominal bloating like I’d never seen before until flatulence and diarrhea relieved me of my fear that I would explode. Molly tried to assure me that people don’t spontaneously explode but my mind started running through the lyrics of a song I learned in high school vocal jazz ensemble titled Spontaneous Human Combustion describing instances of people doing just that.
Hong Kong is truly a global city. After I ran out of barf bags, my Korean expat vomit went into a chocolate boutique bag from Bangkok provided by the hostess at a Japanese tapas place. Also, I heard jazz in many places, not just Starbucks; jazz music seems to be the auditory signal that a place is deliberately sophisticated and international.
The live jazz at Ned Kelly’s Last Stand was nice, a throwback to the music of Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five. Guitarist Aki who doubled on piano and banjo told me he has been in the Ned Kelly’s band for 18 years since coming to Hong Kong from the Philippines and others have been there longer, like 30 years. That is a long time. He tells us how to say “Where’s the restroom here?” in Tagalog —