London  Host  Hiromi

畫中人是宏美,我們是大學同學,她現居倫敦,我在倫敦待了兩晚,都在她家。

宏美很注重生活細節,畫中的茶具組件、西式椅子都是她的最愛,畫中的她衣著端莊嫻靜,臉上卻無笑容,我是以「一位有錢有品味,卻有點憂鬱的貴婦」的形象來畫她。

 

 

宏美是日本人,在日本出生成長,我們是在美國同一間大學(WVU)當交換生而遇上,宏美很愛喝茶,我們常聚在一起泡茶喝,她是個大情大性的人,有次茶興正濃,她忽然手腳並用地爬上牆壁並哇哇大叫,見她爬得那麼高興,我也嘗試爬牆,但不成功,才跨上一步就跌下來,年輕就真的喝茶如喝酒,飲乜都醉……

 

在美國時,我與宏美住同一座宿舍,但不同樓層,有次宏美拉着我說:「我覺得那白人樓長好靚仔呀!他做我男朋友就好啦~」

我慫恿她:「那你給他寫信吧,或者說自己不會開乾衣機,故意找他求救吧~」

宏美又耍手擰頭,說自己害羞,不肯主動與他搭話。我與宏美每次見面,都會重複一遍以上對話,我覺得她那十月芥菜的樣子真的好搞笑,也很欣賞她對感情的直接坦白。不過到我們的交換生學期結束了,宏美與白人樓長都無甚進展,仍停留在目及仔撘糖的階段,之後宏美離開美國,這青青戀慕芽,就隨風而逝了。

 

在美國WVU復活節假期時,我與宏美一齊去了墨西哥玩,當我向電影研究科的老師請假時,老師竟然很高興的鼓勵我去墨西哥遊玩,絲毫無責怪我「掛住玩」,並認為旅行也是學習,美國自由開放的學風真的與香港高壓箝制的學風完全不同!

那時我在WVU選讀藝術歷史,教科書上剛好印着墨西哥金字塔,孤陋寡聞的我好吃驚,原來墨西哥也有金字塔!?我一直以為只有埃及才有金字塔!

要去墨西哥,由美國出發點都比由香港出發近得多,有假有錢有伴,就出發了~!現在回想起,也覺青春就是無敵啊……

在我來到WVU時,宏美已在WVU待了半年,並認識了一位要好的墨西哥同學Yazmin,所以此行也去看望Yazmin。有當地朋友帶路的旅行真的不一樣,不怕迷路,不怕被騙,不怕被車撞(笑),Yazmin還找來了她的當地朋友一起作陪,那位當地朋友又拉上她家的兄弟姐妹來,大概是我與宏美的亞裔臉孔在當地罕見,我們去到邊都如眾星拱月般出巡,場面墟撼。

墨西哥之行最開心是食物好好食,WVU的dorm food真的超難食,房間有廚房但大雪封路,根本不能外出採購食材,日日食dorm food真係人都顛,墨西哥有捲餅、燉豆、米飯等各式美食,便宜又好吃,真係好感動!

也終於見到了墨西哥金字塔,場地很大,維修不錯,也可登頂,惜無說明,只是當地人入場免費,旅客收費,哼哼……

不過我與宏美在墨西哥之行的最後一日爆大鑊,吵架了。之前的行程玩得很開心,買了很多紀念品,當時因為行李很多,我想坐的士回旅館,但宏美不夠現金,分擔不了的士費,我說宏美你不用俾錢,直接跳上車便是,但不知何解,她堅決不從,還說寧願獨自坐巴士回旅館,後來宏美終被說服,我們一起坐的士,但又不知何故,之後她整天嬲爆爆不睬人,最後一天還各自分手遊玩,氣氛好僵。

返回美國WVU後,我們又冷戰了幾個月,過了幾個月無茶喝的日子後,我終於按捺不住,主動拿了茶包去找宏美,宏美開門歡迎,不計前嫌,我們又恢復了烹茶傾偈的好日子;)

 

 

半年後,我們的交換生學期結束,各自返回日本與香港。分隔兩地的我們,很復古地做筆友,真的用紙用筆去寫信,每次寫十幾頁,好似鬥寫長信咁,還樂此不疲。

 

 

大學畢業後,宏美在日本做了老師,趁着假期,她來香港探望我,並住在我家數天。

我到機場接宏美,宏美步出離境大堂時,竟然淚流滿臉,行得巍巍峩峩,並要由一位好心婦人攙扶着,她說:「初次來香港,我好緊張,在飛機又看了套悲劇,眼淚就止不住了……」

不過大性大情的宏美很快就收拾心情,雀躍地展開香港之旅,興奮地嚐遍香港美食,原來宏美最喜歡豆腐花,日本有久遠的「冷奴」(「豆腐」的日文)傳統,相信與此有關吧。

不過我們在香港又吵架了,事緣宏美抵港後,才告訴我原來她早已約了人食飯,約了其他在香港的WVU同學,我心裏有點不是味兒,我事前替宏美編排了在香港的行程,現在行程要改變,也縮短了我們相聚的時間。不過事後回想,當日的我確實有點不知變通,我單方面為宏美編排的行程未必對她是最好的,畢竟那是她的香港旅行,我應該尊重她的意思,她也很友好的邀請我與其他WVU同學一齊食飯,就當認識多幾個朋友也是好的。

 

 

宏美回日本後,我們仍繼續通信,又過了幾年,我申請到日本工作假期簽證,我去拜訪宏美在名古屋的老家,住了一個月,那時剛好是新年,我與宏美家人一齊打年糕,真的很有趣。不過現在回想起來,一個月實在是一段太長的時間了,當時少不更事的我問宏美:「我申請到日本工作假期簽證了!可以來住嗎?」

宏美天真地回應:「好呀,來住吧~」

我又傻更更地說:「那我來住一個月~」

宏美又傻傻的說:「好呀,來住吧~」

然後我真的厚着臉皮地去住宏美家,多虧了宏美母親惠美子寬宏大量,對常常沖撞了日本禁忌而不自知的我非常照顧。

日本是一個規矩序多多,禁忌文化盛行的國家,例如入門即要脫鞋,睡覺時雙腳不能朝著神龕,要先洗澡才能浸浴……等等,宏美的父親和人就時常對犯了以上禁忌的我非常生氣,夾在中間的宏美左右做人難,非常無奈。

其實當察覺到打擾了別人的日常生活時,就應該自動搬出來,不應賴死不走,但年少無知的我無此警覺,還傻更更的住了一個月,回想起來,真的非常感謝宏美一家的百般忍耐與遷就,在此真的要說聲:「抱歉,打擾了。」

 

我到宏美家後,才發覺宏美是個天生購物狂,潮流時裝、瓷器茶具、姆明產品等等都是她的心頭好,最驚喜是宏美把她不要的二手衣服全給我了,也教曉了我欣賞陶瓷之美,日本人對美感的執着真厲害,我被潛而默化了啦~

在日本時,宏美又與我說起她的戀愛小八卦,今次她的對象是日本仔,但對象一號她嫌太矮,對象二號她又嫌太宅,跟着又迷上了她的老闆,說老闆「高大英俊、温柔迷人」,但又僅止於「遠望而觀之」,全部戀情都無疾而終。

 

 

日本工作假期結束後,我回到了香港,我與宏美仍有保持書信往來,但次數漸疏,反而是fb上的互動較多。

 

 

又過了幾年,在日本的宏美辭了老師的工作,隻身飛到了意大利,並待了幾個月,學習意大利文,她十分喜歡意大利的時裝、美食、語言,最喜愛的,當然是意大利美男子,不過又僅止於觀望態度,整天透過skype向我呱呱大叫:「意大利仔好靚呀~」相信她光是流口水地欣賞各式意大利美男已經心滿意足了。

 

及後宏美返回日本,申請了英國工作假期簽證,就往倫敦去了,她在倫敦一間日資公司上班,又迷上了「高大英俊、温柔迷人」的老闆,同時又積極參加各種speed dating活動,頻頻出擊。

 

 

不久後,我的歐洲遊也開始了,我問:「宏美,我來倫敦玩了,能否住你家?」

這次宏美學精了,她說:「可以,但最多只能住三夜。」

相隔幾年的再會,宏美給我的感覺成熟了,處事圓滑了,說話保留了,不過骨子裏仍是那隻坦率直接,卻又極端緊張的野猴子—宏美原本來接我機,但最後我要自行前往宏美家,因為她發燒了,原因是倫敦多雨,她有點感冒,又惦記我的來訪,結果神經崩緊至發燒。

我在倫敦無太多觀光活動,有空便聽聽宏美的戀愛小八卦,這回宏美看上了一個法國仔,但法國仔最近失業,忙着揾工,無時間陪宏美,宏美不滿,就分手了,我快人快語:「宏美你根本不愛他嘛,他有難你走人,你的心根本不在他身上。」

對於我的直白真言,也虧宏美不生氣,總之這次倫敦再會,雙方都很克制,都以「不再吵架」為潛規矩,加上見面時間短,倫敦之行倒是在無風無浪、卻又有點想念以往大吵大鬧的惆悵心情下完結了。

 

 

我旅遊完畢返港後,得知宏美與一位意大利人訂婚了!在此恭喜宏美終於覓得真命天子,希望佢地幸福美滿:))

 

 

 

This is Hiromi in the picture. We are university schoolmates. She lives in London and I stay 2 nights at her home in London.

Hiromi pay a great attention on little details in life. She loves her tea set and western style old chair in the picture. She dressed in a dignified style but no smile on her face. I draw her as a ‘Lady who is wealthy with taste but a little bit sad’ in the picture.

 

 

Hiromi is a Japanese. She was born and grown up in Japan. We met in WVU, a university in USA as an exchange student. Hiromi loves drinking tea and we always have a cup of tea together. Hiromi is a big emotion person. She once climbs the wall with both her hands and legs suddenly and scream happily when we are drinking tea together. I try to climb the wall because she looks so happy and it seems so fun but I fail the challenge. I fell down at once on the first step. Well, young is the best alcohol, we just drunk WITHOUT drinking anything…

 

Hiromi and I live in the same student dorm but on different floors in WVU, USA. She once said to me, ‘Hey, I think that white floor captain guy is SO handsome! It would be great if he could be my boyfriend~’

I encourage her, ‘ You can write him a love letter, or claiming that you don’t know how to use the drying machine and ask him to help you~' 

Hiromi shakes her head, saying she is too shy to speak to him. We would repeat the above conversation EVERYTIME when we meet. I think her ‘spring-love’ look is so funny and I admire her honesty on her own feeling. There isn’t much progress between Hiromi and the white floor captain guy in the end of our semester. Hiromi still stops at ‘look at him and feel good is enough’ stage. This love story gone with the wind when Hiromi leave America.

 

 

Hiromi and I travel together in Mexico during the Easter break in WVU. My film studies teacher approve my vocation apply with encouragement when she knows the vocation is for travelling in Mexico. She believes travelling is the best way to learn. The schooling style is so different between the free and open in USA and the high pressure and heavy control in Hong Kong!

I was studying Art History in WVU and there are Mexico Pyramids printed in the textbook. I was so surprised to know there ARE pyramids in MEXICO!? I only know there are pyramids in EGYPT!

 

It is much closer for me to travel from USA than from Hong Kong to Mexico. There are holidays, money and companies, let’s GO~! It was such an invincible youth time when I think back now.

 

Hiromi has already stayed in WVU for 6 months when I arrive in WVU. She met Yazmin who came from Mexico in the last semester. So we are going to visit Yazmin in Mexico. It is so different to travel with a local friend. No getting lost nor being cheated nor be hit by cars (laugh). Yazmin has her local friend to accompany us and that local friend has her young brothers and sisters coming with us too. We are like stars patrolling the streets and there are people asking for photo-taking with us everywhere we go due to our rarely-seen Asian faces in Mexico.

 

The best part of the Mexico trip is the FOOD. The dorm food in WVU is super unpalatable. There is a small kitchen in my room but the heavy snow blocks the road and it’s impossible to go out for grocery. The Mexican taco, beans, rice are super delicious and cheap. It is just great!

 

And we visit the pyramids in Mexico. It is nice to set foot on the top of the pyramid but it is a shame that there are NO information boards about the pyramid history on site. It’s free for the local Mexicans to visit the pyramids but admission fees was being charged on foreign visitors...

 

Hiromi and I have a big fight on the last day of the Mexico trip. We have many fun in the previous days and bought lots of souvenirs. I want to take a taxi to the hostel because there are lots of luggage but Hiromi hasn’t got enough cash for the taxi fees. I told Hiromi she doesn’t has to pay and just get in the taxi but she refused and even said she would take a bus back to hostel alone. I have no idea why she was so stubborn. Hiromi finally be convince and gets into the taxi but she doesn’t speak to me for the whole day and spend the day alone on the last day in a tense mood.

 

 

We are in cold war for a couple of months when we get back to WVU in USA. I finally give up and bring some tea bags to find Hiromi after months of no-tea-days. Hiromi opens the door when a big smile and we are good again and back to the tea-drinking-tea-talk good old days;)

 

 

Our semester end and we get back to Japan and Hong Kong. We are old-fashion buddy and become pen friends across the ocean with REAL pens and papers. Every time we write a couple of pages like a competition to see who write a longer letter and it was fun.

 

 

Hiromi becomes a teacher in Japan after graduation. She visits Hong Kong and stay at my home for a few days once.

 

I go to the airport and pick up Hiromi. Tears are running on her face and she walks lame and was holding by a kind heart lady when she steps out of the departure hall.

She said, ‘ I was so nervous for my first visit in Hong Kong and saw a sad movie on the flight and tears are

just running off…’

 

Hiromi gets a happy mood again soon after our Hong Kong trip begins and we try out all the good food in Hong Kong. I found out Hiromi’s favourite food is ‘To Fu Fa’. Japan has a long tradition in ToFu and maybe that’s the reason why she likes ToFu so much.

 

But we fight in Hong Kong again. Hiromi told me she already dated other WVU schoolmates for dinners AFTER she arrives in Hong Kong. I am a bit pissed off because I have a Hong Kong trip schedule planned for her and I have to change the schedule and shorten the time we can spend together.

 

I was too stubborn when I look back now. What I have planned for Hiromi may not be the best for her. It is HER Hong Kong trip and I should respect her. She is nice enough to invite me to join the dinner with other WVU schoolmates and it is always good for me to know new friends.

 

 

We keep writing letters to each other after Hiromi back to Japan. I get a Japan working holiday visa after a few years. I stay with Hiromi and her family in Nagoya for a month. It is so fun to make the traditional mochi with Hiromi and her family in the New Year day.

 

But one month is a time too long for staying in a friend’s home.

I was so young and asked Hiromi naively, ‘ I get the Japan working holiday visa! Can I stay with you?’

Hiromi naively replied, ‘OK, come and stay with us~’

I accept too honestly, ‘So I come and stay with you for a month~’

Hiromi honestly said, ‘OK, come and stay with us~’

So I just go to Japan and cheeky stay with Hiromi and her family. I always collides Japanese taboo without any notice and I own a great thank you to Hiromi’s mum Emiko who always looking after me.

Japanese culture has a LOT of taboo such as shoes off before get into the house, the foot can’t point to the home shrine when sleeping, shower first then bathing… Hiromi’s dad Kazuto always mad at me because I collide at least one taboo EVERYDAY. Hiromi is very helpless between a careless me and her angry dad.

 

Actually I should move out at once when I disturbed their daily life. But I was so naïve and stay with them for a month. I really own a big thank you to Hiromi and her family’s endure and accommodate and I would really want to say to them, ‘Sorry and thank you.’

 

I find out Hiromi is actually a shopaholic when I arrive at her home. Beautiful clothes, elegant ceramics, tea sets, Moomin stuffs…are all her favourite. I am so surprise Hiromi gives me all her un-wanted clothes to me and I accept them with gratitude. Hiromi teaches me how to appreciate the beauty of ceramics. Japanese has a great emphasis on beauty and I was being affected!

 

Hiromi shares her love story with me again in Japan. This time her target is Japanese boys. But she thinks target number 1 is too short and target number 2 is too passive. Then she has a crush with her boss and saying her boss is ‘handsome as a prince and gentle as a dove’ but she is again too shy to confess to her boss so all her love story die a natural death.

 

 

I get back to Hong Kong after the Japan working holiday visa ends. Hiromi and I still write to each other with a less frequency but our interactive increase on fb. 

 

 

A few years pass, Hiromi resigns her teacher job in Japan and fly to Italy and stay there to learn Italian for a few months alone. She likes Italian fashion, food and language but of course she loves the beautiful Italian boys the most. She always shouts at me through skype, ‘Italian boys are so HANDSOME~’ I believe she is very satisfy just by appreciating all the handsome Italian boys walking by on the street with a cup of cappuccino on her hand.

 

 

Hiromi goes back to Japan after the Italy trip and apply for a UK working holiday visa and fly to London alone. She works in a Japanese-fund company in London and has a crush with her ‘handsome as a prince, gentle as a dove’ boss again. Meanwhile she enrols in lots of speed dating activities and playing an active role in her love journey.

 

 

My EU trip begin later and I ask Hiromi, ‘ Hey, I will come to London, can I stay with you?’

Hiromi is smarter this time by answering, ‘You may stay with my for 3 NIGHTS at most,’

 

Hiromi is more mature, more sophistic on handling things and more prudence in speaking after a few years. But she is still the straight-forward, super honest with an extreme nervous heart Hiromi the wild monkey.

Hiromi planned to pick me up in the airport but I have to get to her home by myself in the last minute because she got a fever. The reason is London rains every day and she gets a cold and my arrival makes her too happy and nervous and she is down.

 

I don’t have much sightseeing activities in London so there are some free time for hearing Hiromi’s love story. This time Hiromi target is a French boy. But the French boy got unemployed lately and he is busy with the job hunting so no time for Hiromi. Hiromi doesn’t like that and break up with him. I respond too-honest, ‘ You don’t love him at all. You walk away when he is in trouble and your heart is not on him,’

 

Hiromi is mature enough not to get mad on me with my too-honest respond. We are both very restraint in this London reunion and ‘No Fight’ is our unspoken rule. My short London trip ends in a claim mood but I am sort of miss the direct and honest fights we have had before…

 

 

I got the message that Hiromi got engaged with her Italian boyfriend when I finish my travel and get back to Hong Kong. I sincerely congratulate Hiromi has found her prince finally and wish them a happy life ever after :))

爬牆宏美Hiromi climbs wall
爬牆宏美Hiromi climbs wall
Show More
宏美在廚房伸頭出來
Hiromi pop her head out of the kitchen.
這就是宏美的夢想牆壁(摘自她的fb)
This is Hiromi’s ideal dream wall. (from her fb)
宏美帶我去看倫敦的二手店,好靚又好貴的茶具呀~
Hiromi took me to a second hand store, so pretty and so expensive tea set~
又靚又貴的裙
so pretty and so expensive dress
又靚又貴的裙
so pretty and so expensive dress
倫敦地鐵的透明垃圾袋,一目了然,唔怕有炸彈,英國設計就是強
A transparent rubbish bag in a metro station in London. No panic if bomb mix with rubbish. English design, STRONG.
英國電訊,好貴呀~England data, so expensive~
毛孩在倫敦地鐵Hairy kid in London metro
公共空間的免費鋼琴!香港幾時先有!?
A free-to-play Piano in a public space! When do we have that in HK!?
Show More
宏美與圖Hiromi and my picture
來Tate Modern朝聖,可惜局部維修中,嗚~
Tate Modern! It’s a shame that it is being partly renewal…
Keep clam and乜乜乜…Keep clam and so so so …
Show More

在倫敦見到救世軍!我的小學(在香港)正是救世軍辦的,小學校徽與圖中的救世軍徽一模一樣,在異國見到熟悉校徽很高興,我向守門伯伯說起,他也很高興,還叫來了亞洲支部負責人,說要帶我參觀,我真的很想去,但要趕飛機,無辦法,下次一定要再來!

 

Saw The Salvation Army (SA) building in London! My primary school (in Hong Kong) was run by the Salvation Army and my school badge is exactly the same as the SA badge in this photo. I was so happy to see a familiar school badge in a foreign country. I talk about it to the old gentleman in the front counter and he is very happy too. He then calls the responsible of the Asian branch of SA and offers me a tour in the SA building. I really want to join the tour but I have a flight to catch… I will sure be back here for the tour!

我在網上用信用咭,在easyJet訂了由倫敦去哥本哈根的機票,但航空公司超賣,於是地勤要(好辛苦地)向每位旅客親自解說:可以選擇原定時間出發,無賠償;也可以選擇延遲幾小時,並在別的機場出發,航空公司會額外賠償200歐元給每位旅客,也會負責去另外一個機場之的士費(見上圖)。

為了200歐元,我決定自願延遲,結果拖至凌晨才到達哥本哈根(見下圖),幸好哥城的公共交通系列簡單,一小時內已到達哥城CS host家,而那200歐元也在個多月後,變成信用額,打到了我的信用咭內,變成歐洲行全程唯一金錢收入。

 

I buy a flight ticket from London to Copenhagen from easyJet on internet with my credit card. The flight staff has to explain the situation to EVERY traveller because EasyJet oversold. Traveller can depart at the original time WITHOUT any compensation OR traveller can delay a few hours voluntary and catch a flight in another airport to Copenhagen with a compensation of EU$200 (the taxi fee to another airport would be paid by EasyJet, please see the photo).
For that EU$200, I voluntary delay and arrive in Copenhagen at midnight. ( please see the photo) I am so lucky that Copenhagen has a simple public transport system and I arrive in Copenhagen CS host home in an hour. And that EU$200 was transferred into my credit card account in 1.5 months and it’s the only money income throughout my EU trip.

又靚又貴的裙 so pretty and so expensive dress