Nicole and I got up at 6:00 AM to have peanut butter and jam on toast for breakfast. She had a cup of coffee and I had coconut milk while he cat played a game of pounce with us and a hair-tie on the floor. Nicole was singing the whole morning- I admired her energy. I was not a morning person- even with the jet lag.
Nicole walked me to the hotel where I was catching the bus to Hong Kong. We hugged goodbye and she hopped in a cab to go to school. I sat in the lobby and Skyped my mum. Two more people joined me in the lobby to catch the bus. One was a very tall foreigner in a bright green t-shirt. I figured he’d be easy to spot after the transfer at customs to find my bus.
I boarded the bus and sat in the wrong seat. Fortunately the other foreigner explained to be in English that I had a seat number an showed it where it was on the ticket. We had to get off the bus at customs and get in a long line up. Fortunately the line moved quickly, but there was some drama with a shouting match between a woman and a customs officer.
When it came to my turn, the customs officer looked up and down between me and my passport picture about four times. Then he asked for my arrival card, which I wasn’t quite sure what that was. Then he showed me a little chit of yellow card that I remembered I got at the airport. Fortunately for me, I kept all my papers in a folio with me so was able to find it and give it to him.
There was a cluster of people outside of Chinese customs. I wasn’t sure where to go, but saw the foreigner in the green shirt and went over to him. He didn’t know where to go either! Looking around like lost lambs, someone came up to us saying we were on her bus and for us to follow her. Once at the bus, she said “You must remember your bus number!” pointing at the Chinese character on the nose of the bus.
I got all comfy on the bus, only for us to stop 5 minutes later at Hong Kong customs! We all got off with our baggage and lined up again. I had to fill out a new arrival card, but fortunately my bus was much easier to find this time as all the coaches were lined up together.
The bus was suppose to make stops at 3 hotels and I was suppose to get off at the last stop. However, once in Hong Kong, the bus made a couple stops on the street with no hotel in sight, and then stopped at a corner where everyone got out. I presumed this was the last stop, but in hindsight I think this was just a courtesy stop at a Currency Exchange outpost as everyone was huddled around one when I got my bags and left the bus. I could not find the subway entrance I was suppose to take to my hotel. So decided to take a cab as the bus stop that I thought I was at was not far from the hotel on the map I had.
The cab driver had no idea where my hotel was. After he looked it up in a book, he took me to a taxi station where I was transferred to another taxi. This taxi then took me through a $50 HKD toll road and to my hotel. I was shocked, watching the meter go from 20 to 50, to a grand total of $100 HKD, but fortunately that just turned out to be $14 CDN.
The staff at the hotel were very welcoming. My room was nothing out of the ordinary, but still nice and looked out on a set of thin, high rise apartment buildings. I arrived just as smiling staff were doing what looked to me a bed bug check of the mattress I was to sleep on that night (I checked the seams after they left and thankfully didn’t see any).
Once I dropped off my bags, I decided to go explore my neighbourhood a bit and try to find the subway. The area my hotel was in reminded me a lot of the New York fashion district. There were little coffee shops, wholesalers, people pushing carts overlaid with boxes… but also dried fish and reptiles everywhere.
I was hungry so went in search of a bakery. I was hoping to find a café with ginger honey milk tea (which is my favorite Chinese drink now) and some sort of Chinese pastry. However, I couldn’t find any café or bakery that appealed to me enough to sit down in and eventually I settled for a walk-in bakery where I got a croissant and three fried red bean patties. I gobbled them down- all tasted delicious. However I was unable to find ginger milk tea anywhere. Perhaps its a mainland China thing.
I went home and worked on my Dongguan blog post, eventually falling asleep in the hotel bed. I woke up a couple hours later when housekeeping knocked on my door. I was so sleepy, but forced myself to get up as I had so few hours to see Hong Kong.
I contemplated whether to go to the Natural History Museum or the Ngong Ping Village. I decided to go to the Village as I was told there was a temple there where you could enjoy a vegetarian meal prepared by monks. I could do some sight seeing, take some photographs, and have a healthy meal all in one place, which sounded lovely to me! There was a cable car to the island too, which was only 15 minutes away by foot according to Google Maps.
What was suppose to be a short walk or a 17 minute ride by bus turned into a two and a half hour ordeal. As I had my phone on airport mode, my GPS was not updating with my current location and the streets of Hong Kong were windy, scattered, and layered. At one point, I walked back to the hotel to take the public bus that stopped out front, but I think I must have gotten off at the wrong stop. Then I tried to get in a taxi, but his shift was done for the day, and the second taxi refused to take me to the entrance to the cable car.
Everyone I asked gave me different directions. When I found myself on Upper Abbey when I thought I was on Caine Rd., I gave up on trying to find the cable car and opted to follow a sign to the zoo and botanical gardens. It was a terraced garden with trees growing out of a concrete wall. The walkway eventually led up to a zoo with reptiles and monkeys in large cages I was more interested in the palm trees and bamboo however and took photos of them silhouetted against the white sky.
Photos taken, I began my meander back home, eventually finding the number 12 bus that would take me back to my hotel. It was dark by then and the city was a rainbow of lights, making for an alluring ride.
I thought it would be smooth sailing home once I got on the bus. However the bus took me all around town. When it got to the end of the line, everyone got off. I too got off, thinking that there would be a transfer. When I realized that I didn’t need to get off, I went back on the bus, but the driver did not recognize me so I had to pay again.
Once back at the hotel, I booked my bus to the airport for the next day. I went up to the pool with the hope that I could relax in a sauna or hot tub before going to bed. Unfortunately, the pool and gym were closed for the evening.
Now I lay in bed. I feel defeated by Hong Kong. I had imagined wandering the night market and walking along the water tonight, going camera lens and bag shopping during the day in addition to visiting the museum and having a meal on Ngong Ping Island- but none of this happened. I really should have done more research and printed out maps before coming here (and the funny thing is – the hotel has a free shuttle to the cable car I could have taken).
I am now going to curl up and get some sleep. I’m hungry, but am too tired and I don’t want to get lost trying to find food again. Le sigh…
- Photos taken on an iPhone 4S.
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