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Encounter with a Hong Konger at a Hostel in Taiwan

by C. J. Anderson-Wu

On the rooftop terrace, we talked about traveling, like finding stylish and affordable accommodations through online searches, riding bicycles around small towns usually missed by annoying crowds of tourists, and avoiding expensive metropolises with barren cultural lives.

We gossiped about other people but revealed nothing about ourselves. Each trip is an escape from one's identity.

We complained about real estate speculation in our cities despite the economic recession, which is actually a long and sophisticated process of cross-border money laundering by people fleeing their homelands. We discussed immigration and shifts of citizenship during regime handovers, outbreaks of pandemics and wars far away or impending.

Having witnessed the same cruelty of history respectively, are we sharing the same fate after all?

"Did you hear about the big movement in Hong Kong in 2019?"

"Yes, I did."

Two hundred meters away, a train clanked by, drowning out our words. The hostel's fish flags fluttered in the whispering wind. A bird leaped from a broken beam of an abandoned house, flying away from the commotion. In forty minutes, the sun would set where the train had gone. Tomorrow we would depart with the same train to where the sun was setting.

It was the moment closest to a tabooed topic, an unnamed incident from several years ago, in our conversation during each of our journeys from the silenced past to an uncertain destiny.

Author’s Note:

In 2019, two million Hong Kong people took the streets to protest the extradition bill promulgated by the Chinese government. The movement was suppressed by brutal police enforcement and numerous arrests. As of the time of writing, there are still hundreds of protestors incarcerated.


C. J. Anderson-Wu (吳介禎) is a Taiwanese writer who has published two collections about Taiwan's military dictatorship (1949–1987), known as the White Terror: “Impossible to Swallow” (2017) and “The Surveillance” (2020). Currently she is working on her third book “Endangered Youth—to Hong Kong.” Her fiction and poetry appear in literature journals in the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Nigeria, South Africa, India, and Iceland, among others. C. J. Anderson-Wu's works have been shortlisted for a number of international literary awards, including the Mastermind Review and the Art of Unity Creative Award by the International Human Rights Art Festival. She also won the Strands Lit International Flash Fiction Competition, and the Invisible City Blurred Genre Literature Competition by San Francisco University.


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