It’s 11:45 PM on a Sunday night in Hong Kong. I think I’ve slept 1.5 hours out of the past 28. I’ve been crammed into an airborne cattle car, denied access to expected pleasures, fed two airline meals on a 16-hour flight … and God help me, I’d do it all again to get back to this city.

There are some temptations you should know not to return to. Hong Kong is one of mine. The minute we could see the low mountains rising out of evening mist, swathed in a lusher green than any northern climate can grow; the minute the blast of sweet and welcome humidity plastered itself against my face like the touch of a long-lost lover; the minute I hopped into a red cab for Kowloon with a man behind the wheel to equal all the other maniacs in this spinning, burning city, I was grinning like a madman waiting for the straitjacket.

Night is more … night here than anywhere else I’ve been. It’s close, and sweet, and heavy. It makes your eyelids droop and your tongue instinctively lick at your lips. It’s bright as day is back home from the neon and headlights and gaudy, tawdry invitations. It’s miles high, either in high-rise buildings covered with bamboo scaffolding or mountain peaks too fierce and wild to be graded, paved and built upon. It’s stories deep, beneath subways and subterranean restaurants. It’s the highest of divisions between the immacultely coiffed Chinese ladies in rabbit jackets and leather boots swing by the myrmidions of watch-sellers, massage artists and veiled beggars seeking alms. It’s culture and noise, chaos and structure.

It’s the tricky bastard stepchild of Monkey, Jack o’ Tales and Coyote. It’s a dream given weird shape that’s lurched to life all around its dreamers and outgrew them, outpaced them, outgreened them, outlived them.

I knew I’d missed Hong Kong. I didn’t know how much.