Here begins a new feature at Jadeluxe – a weekly look at the shops and places in my town. Mainly because Sai Kung and Sunday both start with S, and Sunday between 7pm and 11pm is really the only chance I get to blog. So thanks for that, people who named Sai Kung and also whoever it was who invented the Gregorian calendar.
This shop wasn’t originally my plan for the inaugural Sai Kung Sunday post, but I had to go in there tonight and I was reminded of its outstanding yet unorthodox pharmacy techniques. It is our local chemist, the Wing Ling Dispensary.
It’s a trove of medicines, both traditional and Chinese, first-aid supplies, baby products, hair and beauty lotions and potions, things for the toilet and the toilette. The shop is about as big as the goal square in footy, but don’t let that fool you into thinking their stock range is limited. Boxes are packed into the joint in that merchandising approach unique to Hong Kong; that is, shove everything in Tetris-style, regarding only optimal space:product density ratio, and aesthetics not at all.
The proprietors are, although they don’t know it, in a battle with the guy from the servo on Clearwater Bay Road as to who has the most mothertongue-like English. I mean, these guys are fantastic. You can go in there mumbling into your scarf, speaking entirely in idioms, or having lost your voice altogether, and they will understand you.
One time I had cause to be in there with a prescription for 100 highly potent steroid tablets (for legitimate medical purposes, not because I harbour a secret dream of entering the World Beard and Moustache Championships.) Wing Ling had just taken a delivery of steroids and at that point, the shop being filled with idiomatic, speechless gweilos, along with the regular clutch of coughing locals, my friendly proprietor couldn’t see a window of time to count out the required dosage. Knowing I was a regular customer, and having looked at my Hong Kong ID card, he offered me an enormous wholesale barrel of 500 pills, for a knock-down price of around $AU13. I didn’t view this as irresponsible but as some think-outside-the-box good service, and there should be more of it. Despite the devastating side-effects of having access to so many steroids. Sure I can bench-press our car, but I look like this while doing so:
A recent selfie.
Tonight when I was at Wing Ling, the old guy getting served in front of me was smoking a cigar while he picked up his box of pills. No-one said anything and why would they?
My company recently asked if I’d like to move to Singapore, since the balance of work is shifting in that direction. I said no way. There’s nothing crazy in Singapore. They have nice colonial horticulture but you can’t even chew gum without getting thrown in the slammer, right? I want to live in a country where unexpected craziness pops up every day, where old dudes can freely smoke in the chemist without fear of incarceration. Now that’s a society.
Wing Ling: Dispensary of Distinction.
Next Sunday: Starbucks(??), or the place where you can buy roasted chicken testicles and beef lung for lunch…