Adjusting Privilege in Hong Kong

‘I have an absolutely gigantic penis, and I want you to know it.’

The guy sitting opposite me in the cable car didn’t say as much, but the ostentatious manner in which he kept adjusting himself made the subtext of our conversation abundantly clear.

We were half way to the top of Hong Kong’s Lantau Island, its famously huge Buddha statue, already looming large in the windows, apparently nothing compared to the contents of my temporary companion’s pants.

He clearly enjoyed having a captive audience.

‘It’s great having money, but I got sick of the bullshit, y’know,’ he said in a broad American accent. ‘I just thought, screw this, I need to live, y’know? My dad was not happy.’

I decided not to point out that leaving everything behind to see the world was an easier decision to make when your family is rich. I was worried an argument would mean I was stuck with him for the duration of my visit.

The Buddha statue on Lantau Island

‘So what do you do?’ he said, staring out at the dense trees sloping below us.

Nothing, I told him. He turned to me sharply, nose wrinkling, like unemployment was a disease he could catch by association.

He adjusted his penis. ‘You just don’t work?’

That was the long and short of it, at the time.

‘I don’t see how you can appreciate, like, all this,’ he said, waving at the view, ‘if you haven’t earned it, y’know?’

I asked him, just to clarify, if he had always worked for his dad.

‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘And?’

We passed the remaining journey in silence. I spent the rest of the day painstakingly avoiding a giant penis.