Not quite China 

A long time ago, in a country that is now far away, I made the decision to take a short trip to Hong Kong before going to Beijing, China for the semester. Having completed my first full day here, my only regret is not planning a longer trip. I’m going to express myself in the form of a list because I feel like that’s what I have been doing all day: making mental notes on why Hong Kong is awesome.

1.  Arrival- I arrived at my hotel in Wan Chai after a 16 hour plane ride, and a near 3 hour bus trip from the airport (due to heavy traffic). Needless to say, I was not in the greatest mindset when I arrived. But then I was greeted by the friendly staff. And escorted to my room (number 2525 on the 25th floor- how cool is that?). And so began my journey.

2. Exploring- It was already evening when I had deposited everything in my room.  My first stroll out of the lobby was not promising at all. I turned left, I turned right, and I couldn’t find anything but highway. It was frustrating, and the hotel had a restaurant that was calling to me. It was tempting to turn back into the hotel haven- but going abroad isn’t staying in a hotel. I decided to follow the crowds, and eventually I made it. It took some creepy tunnels (different kind of subway), remembering to look left when crossing the street (cars drive on the other side here), and getting lost, but I finally found the street of shops. And it was so worth it.

3. Dinner1- Decided on a Japanese Sushi bar. They had sushi, dumplings, and waiters that don’t speak English or Mandarin. I discovered this after the waiter lectured me in Cantonese when I said ‘thank you’ in Mandarin. It was a friendly lecture.  Downloading of Cantonese language apps onto the iTouch to commence when I get back to the hotel.

4. Cantonese-

Phrases that the Lingopal iTouch app does not have: check; food; how much?; delicious; hotel; good;  you’re welcome.

Phrases that the Lingopal iTouch app does have: I’m a dolphin trainer; I’d be willing to learn Cantonese to get to know you; I like puppies, long walks on the beach, and reading French poetry in the moonlight.

…Okay then.

5. Hotel at night- My room overlooks an enormous cemetery. Less creepy at night.

Hotel View at night

Hotel View during the day

6. Morning- Waking up at 8am thanks to time change means a very long day- a good thing on a short trip. I find the authentic market where locals buy fruits, veggies, and so much fresh fish and meat. It’s beautiful. No one is speaking English. I see produce and fish that I have only seen on the Travel Channel before. The fish are so fresh they are still wiggling around on the counter.

Fruit at the market

7. Afternoon- I take the shuttle from my hotel to Times Square. Over 8,000 miles away from home, and it’s weird to be in a place that actually is kind of like the Manhattan Times Square. I find Red Pepper after wondering around aimlessly- the best way to find things. It was a casual looking restaurant. Of course, it’s the quiet ones that sneak up on you- The food was delicious (dried sauteed string beans and pork, thanks for asking), but the tea was fantastic. Lychee tea. My favorite. As I expressed my gratitude to my waiter, he asked where I was from. When I said New York, he told me that he had worked on Broadway and 31st for years. Thanks for the amazing meal Ricky.

8. Dinner2- Not as exciting as lunch. Wandered around Wan Chai for three hours in 95 degree heat, finally lowering standards to any place with air conditioning. They had individual televisions in front of the seats for single eaters- the future of fast food dining?

9. Tomorrow- Today, I walked around with the locals. Tomorrow, I am booked on a sight seeing tour. I am so excited to be one of those tourists taking pictures of everything.

10. Home- Slightly worried about New York in a hurricane/tropical storm, and looking at the sunny skies all day is guilt inducing. My high school has been turned into a shelter, and parts of my town are being evacuated. Hopefully members of my Beijing program will be able to fly out soon, as the airports are still shut down.

Thanks for hanging on for this very long post. It’s been a long day, but a fun one.

-Hannah