Despite spending every waking hour these days working on my final project, a soul-consuming quantitative analysis of comedy in Hong Kong, I was able to take the morning off yesterday to go out for the first leg of the Olympic torch relay over Chinese soil here in Hong Kong.
Up at 7, I joined a group from the Mainland Students Society here on campus, which had organized six buses and reserved what was marketed as prime viewing grounds for the running of the torch as it made it’s way up Nathan Road, north through the Kowloon peninsula. Previously requiring online registration, their system was swamped by so many registrants that the event turned into a first-come-first-serve basis: that’s how I came in.
Leaving my place at 7:15 or so, my roommate David and I soon ran into Tim from the building across from ours, and the three of us headed down to school. They informed me of the organized group with buses and secured viewing area, as well as the newly changed allocation system for participants, and quickly weened me from my head-downtown-on-my-own plans. I ran downstairs to LG5, procuring some breakfast, and then joined the waiting throngs of torch enthusiasts. Our buses arrived late, and along the route downtown ours got lost amidst the closed roads and traffic jams. Eventually we alighted a few blocks from the vaguely noted viewing area, and wandered through the gathered crowds to Nathan.
It was about 10:00am when we got down to our viewing spot, which was not so much a designated area, as simply an area, and the other five buses of people that the Mainland Students Society organized were no where to be seen. Lacking any decent vantage point at this spot, and with much excitement all around, I reverted to my original plan and trekked off on my own.
In the days leading up to the protests, there were news stories of people being denied entry into Hong Kong and even deported from the S.A.R. The night before, however, I came across a number of Falun Gong supporters doing their thing around the Star Ferry Pier in Tsim Sha Tsui, signaling a good chance of finding some portesters here for the day. And they were certainly there to be found; but, that’s saved for another entry all together.
I did happen to run into some other classmates who had found a slightly better spot to view the torch run. Time grew near and I stuck with them. The crowd grew anxious as series of motorcycle cops and advertisements drove by on the street, shouting chants of “China: Add Oil!” in Mandarin and Cantonese – the equivalent of cheering “Go China!”
Below is the video captured of the torch running past us, with an ample supply of crowd cheering, samsung advertising, and Hong Kong spirit. In case you miss seeing the torch the first few viewings, it’s spotted between 46 and 48 seconds on the video: enjoy!