We had been told to be waiting outside for our ride by 5:30 am, as this is the earliest the car might show up. I hoped it would come early just to save us some stress. The scheduled pick up time was 6:00 am, we were an hour from the airport, and our flight left at 7:30 am. We were told to look for a black car.
At 5:40 a very official looking black car pulled up, and I breathed a sigh of relief, it had come early after all, “That must be it.” I said to Nate. The car slowed to a stop in front of Uni-mart, and the driver went inside.
“He must be getting breakfast,” Nate suggested.
“Well there’s no way he could miss us, he must know we’re here.”
At 5:45 the driver was still inside. “I hope he’s not waiting until 6:00 am to come get us.”
At 5:48 the driver walked out of Uni-mart, looked straight at us, got back in his car, drove slowly towards, us, and kept driving… Not the right car after all.
At 5:50 a shuttle type van pulled up and stopped in front of us. Not a black car, but it wouldn’t be the first time details such as this got mixed up in China. “Airplane?” Nate asked, “Varrooom” he added spreading his arms out beside him like an child playing pilot. The man just looked confused, and after a moment of awkwardness slowly edged passed us into the parking lot.
Right on the dot at 6:00 am a bus pulled up next to us and opened the doors. Nate did his airplane impression again for the new guy, who shook his head as well. Then Nate showed him a tablet translation to which the man responded “Yeah yeah!” but when we grabbed out bags thinking we were in luck, he shook his head and said “No, no.”
I texted Lainy, who called our driver. He was having car trouble. He showed up at 6:20 am. We made it, but barely, and with a LOT of unneeded stress.
We were excited to see two other foreigners on our flight! One of which we knew! We talked to him for the very short amount of time we had before we boarded the airplane. Nate and I lucked out on seating because we had an empty seat beside us! We were able to take turns napping until breakfast arrived. It consisted of some pickled stuff, an egg, and bread. It was ok, but what was really good was the mini baozi that had a sweet yellow filling!
For some reason I had be lead to believe that it would only take an hour to get from the airport to our hostel. It took three: bus to metro, metro to boarder, metro to hostel, with three changes along the way. Our hostel was located in an area of Hong Kong that was full of Indian men trying to sell everything imaginable. We ended up crowding into the elevator with a bunch of Indian men who cracked jokes the whole way up.
Entering Hong Kong we were hit almost immediately with culture shock. The subways had lines! No one shoved! No one tried to plow through your backpack! It was amazing. And the cleanliness really stood out as well, there was no garbage along the sides of the street, and Hefty fines for littering.
Instead of rushing out to go explore the city as soon as we got in, we ended up taking a much needed 30 min power nap in very small beds.
The beds were bad, but at least there was one where Nate could let his feet hang over the edge. The bathroom was worse, it was built with no leg room! We had to sit sideways on the toilet! I’m surprised Nate didn’t get stuck.
Drawn to the delicious smells of Indian food Nate and I bought samosas on our way out to explore. We went to the history museum first, which was pretty close to where we were staying.
Even during that short walk we were drenched with sweat. The air was thick with humidity and the heat made you feel about to melt. There was AC in every indoor building, and it felt AMAZING!
After getting over our joy of the AC in the museum we started looking around for the ticket desk. For some reason it was not easy to find and we ended up following the pointed finger of one museum employee after another. Finding the ticket counter involved going upstairs, outside and then back inside another door! At least the exhibits were easy to follow. They started with the history of the rock formations in the area and working forwards in time.
What I found most interesting was the exhibits depicting life and traditions of different cultural groups and tribes during the early dynasties. With weddings on the brain I was particularly drawn towards exhibits that showed wedding traditions.
Back outside, once again dripping in the heat, we followed the signs to the promenade, while singing the “Luny Tunes” version of “Hillbilly Hair” (Promenade across the floor, sashay right on out the door…).
We went to the night market, looking for cheep souvenirs to bring back for our boss and colleagues. The quality was cheep, but the prices were high. We found Harry Potter wands, and wanted to bring one back for Katrina, who is probably the biggest Harry Potter fan I know. They were knock off wands of cheep quality, and the man selling them wouldn’t budge on his price, so unfortunately we turned them down in the end.
After giving up on the market we returned to the area of our hostel, and were immediately surrounded by Indian men waving pamphlets at us and all shouting at once to try and get us to come to their restaurant. One guy kept telling us “I have free water, I have free water!”
“Who has butter chicken, and what’s the price.” Nate asked. About ten discount cards/ pamphlets were shoved in his hand. Nate was just standing there, baffled, a glazed look over his face as more pamphlets were waved in our face.
“I don’t know,” I said, “This is completely overwhelming, just pick one!”
“Ok, you!” he said pointing to one of the recruiters, “which one is your card?”
The man showed Nate his card, and Nate shoved the rest of the pamphlets at another recruiter saying “I don’t know who’s is whos,” as we followed the lucky winner away.
The restaurant was small and hot, but it smelled delicious “We should have asked which one had AC,” I muttered as we waited for our food. The butter chicken was the best I’d ever tasted, but it was a pain to get our promised discount. The recruiter that had brought us there disappeared before it came time to pay, and apparently the promised price had not been discussed with the boss. We got our discount in the end, but not our free water. It was a good enough deal to live with.
We returned to our room to freshen up, planning to go check out the bars. Instead we passed out.