10 October 2009

Hong Kong, Vol. I: A Race Against Time

I’m back from Hong Kong, safe and sound. I’m not sure that I want to be, though - my trip was incredible! I’ll start at the very beginning, a very good place to start:

Last Thursday morning, I hurriedly completed my final paper assignment for Zhang Laoshi’s class while simultaneously watching the National Day celebration in Beijing on TV as an assignment for my internship (I then wrote a reaction that has probably been published by now, but I truthfully have yet to check) in the midst of last-minute packing and goodbyes to everyone. Phew!

We left only about 15 minutes late, which I would later learn was astounding for us. We went via taxi to the bus station, then rode the bus directly to the airport. Obviously, we then took a train...just kidding. We flew to Shenzhen, which is a city in China on the border with Hong Kong, and then followed some other white people onto a bus that (thankfully) took us to HONG KONG! We made our way to Kowloon, the district in which we were staying, and ended up at an upscale bus terminus/shopping center called Elements. After lugging our things around for a few blocks, we finally arrived at Cosmic Guest House in Mirador Mansions around midnight.

The four of us stayed in a room with four twin beds that are some of the smallest beds I have ever seen - thank goodness I’m short! The room itself was pretty small, too - no two people could pass in the aisle between the beds - but apparently not as small as even some of the nicer places in London, for instance. (I wouldn’t know.) Anyway, because we had to pay more to get the nicer room, which was the only quad available when we booked, we had clean-looking tiled walls and flooring, sconces on the walls, and some sort of gold throw on each bed. My favorite part of the room, though, was the ensuite bathroom area: a shower with thirteen nozzles (I kid you not!) (not that we could ever figure out how to work more than a few of them) was in the same approximately four square feet of space as the sink and was separated both from the toilet and the rest of the room via sliding doors. The toilet area was so small that your knees barely fit when you sat - again, thank goodness I am short.

We finally made it to bed - on top, not under, the sheets - and took our time getting up the next morning before wandering around the area. We decided that we wanted Indian food for lunch, so we headed to the arcade of Chungking Mansions, another building just down the road that is also full of slightly sketchy guest houses, where we had heard that good Indian food abounded. After being harassed by one too many hawkers, we decided to just sit down and order somewhere, as it was already past 2:00 and we were HUNGRY. The food was a bit pricey, but the bhindi masala and nan that I got ended up being DELICIOUS. Satiated, we headed out and were soon transfixed by Heritage 1881, a complex that we later found used to be the headquarters of some city/government offices (Marine Police, for example, if I remember correctly) and is now home to upscale shops and is apparently the place to be for either wedding photos or a bridal shop’s photoshoot. (Yes, there were that many wedding parties - we really couldn’t tell whether they were all getting married or they were models.) We looked around for a while before finally making it to the Star Ferry Pier, home of the Tourist Information building.

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