Day 4: The Peak

My trip to Hong Kong was easy. Two hours doesn’t seem nearly as bad after you’ve survived a fourteen-hour flight. Needless to say, this was another great experience. Food was included in the ticket and the staff were incredibly friendly.

Upon arrival, I made it safely through immigrations, found my luggage, and got picked for random screening while walking through the “nothing to claim” line for customs. I guess I shouldn’t have made eye contact…

After having a nice chat with the man there, getting my pocket wifi (NEVER rent from Visondata), and purchasing my Octopus card (an essential when traveling through Hong Kong – this reloadable card works at subways, busses, and even local convenience stores), I hopped on the train that connected me to the subway, then off to my Airbnb I went!

The pocket wifi was, well, it sucked. It barely worked. Very cheap technology and it cost me about $20/day to rent, meaning I paid $60 to not really have wifi. However, it did work some of the time so I guess that’s ok.

img_5219I arrived at the Tin Hau station and exited towards the street. I attempted finding the address given to me but Google maps was having some trouble. I decided to wait for correspondence from my host at a Starbucks nearby. Knowing he had been scheduled some last minute meetings, I ordered a chia putting and some hot tea (which gave me a code for 30 minutes of free wifi) and waited patiently.

Gordon arrived and spotted me right away. Either my paleness stuck out in the crowd or my neon green luggage caught his eye. But who’s to say…

He enthusiastically greeted me and proceeded to guide me to my room. A short walk away I found myself at this tiny hallway leading up. I thought the stairways in NYC were narrow, GEESH!

Being the gentleman that he is, Gordon carried my luggage up the two narrow, steep flights of stairs and showed me to my room. His apartment was GORGEOUS and has a fantastic view of the city. My room was clean, comfortable, and quiet. Just what I needed after sleeping on a very cold floor for 2 nights. Gordon gave me a quick run-through of rules of the house, wifi password, how to use the shower, etc., and then rushed off to more business meetings.

img_5226I got settled in and was ready to see the city. I was losing daylight fast and wanted to make it to Victoria Peak before sunset! It would either be an hour train ride or 30 minute Uber. After realizing that an Uber would cost about $64 HKD (about $8 USD), I had a #treatyoself moment and called myself a ride.

The views of the city were spectacular. Zipping in and out of traffic, we were close to my final destination. The road leading to the top was very windy and narrow, which scared the snot out of me! Especially since they drive on the opposite side of the street. The driver dropped me off at the very top of the mountain.

I found myself to be the only one there, aside from the lady working at the snack station. I ran to the viewpoint and was disappointed. The sun had set and I only saw a little of the view. The trees were tall and it was that weird part of day where the sun was too low to be too clear but it also was too light to have all of the lights on yet. I ran around trying to find different lookouts that worked for my great stature, but sadly I found none. When I went back to the parking area, I tried to use my pocket wifi, but it didn’t work. There was only one car left and it belonged to the lady from the snack station. I ran over and asked if she could drop me off at the shopping area (15-minute drive, 45-minute walk) down the road (where I hoped to get some free wifi and call another Uber) but she said no. I don’t blame her though, I don’t know if I’d let a stranger in my car who didn’t speak my language.

It was now 7:15pm and dark. There are few lights in this area and I knew this was going to be an interesting experience.

The trek down to the mall began and I didn’t know what to do. Luckily it wasn’t too cold so I didn’t have to worry about that. But what animals lived out there? Hong Kong is a beautiful mix of city and jungle, so anything could really happen. It was a quiet walk when I saw there were two people in front of me. We walked near each other for about 10 minutes without saying anything. We eventually stopped at the same lookout on the way down the hill and we started talking.

I found out one was from Sweden and the other Germany, however both are currently living in Taiwan for work. I was just in Taiwan!! As we carried on conversation, we realized that they are only two stops away from Nick’s place. Small world.

We continued our trek down the mountain and found the shopping center. We went to the top and saw the view from there. MUCH BETTER. Plus I could actually see, so that makes a difference. The city lights were on full-blast and they created such a beautiful sight. We walked around the shopping center for a bit then decided we should get dinner. I guess this means we’re friends now?

We settled on dim sum and one of them let me use their hotspot for wifi (basically a live-saver for that wifi!). We went to Social Place where we ordered a bunch of different dishes, each of us trying dim sum for the first time. Here are the different types of dim sum we ordered: sticky rice, charcoal and custard, shrimp, red bean and rose, taro, sesame chicken, and spicy chicken. That sounds like a lot, but it was so delicious that we could have ordered much more! We also got to try some Hong Kong beer, I got the Dragon’s Back. ‘Twas good.

We exchanged information and parted ways. During my ride back to my room, I thought about the events of the day. How lucky I was to have such a nice host and a great place to stay, how these two people saved my life through wifi, and how I just made new friends in such a short amount of time. And it was all so easy!

I feel like at home, I don’t want to talk to anyone I don’t know. I always have a preconceived notion that they’re weird or are going to inconvenience me in some way. Looking back, I’m wondering how many missed opportunities I’ve had to meet some amazing people, all because of my silly prejudgments.

I arrived at my Airbnb exhausted, but when I walked through the door, my host Gordon and his girlfriend Melissa wanted to take me on a tour around the neighborhood. Sweet!

We walked around and fed the strays in the area. I learned that in Hong Kong, they have a catch, “fix,” and release program. While they aren’t kept in a pound and don’t have owners, I thought it was sweet that the locals take care of the strays. During this tour, Gordon and Melissa showed me around the neighborhood, gave me recommendations for different restaurants, told me which things were worth seeing during my short stay, and Gordon went very in-depth about the history. This was the first time that I’d honestly been interested in history! It’s bad to say, but I’ve never been excited about U.S. history, it’s always been boring to me. But this? THIS?! This was so real to me. The way he described it and showed pictures of how things used to be, it really brought it to life and gave me a stronger connection to the area.

We arrived back at the house and I was ready for bed. It was a little past midnight and I had already had a long day. Did I mention that I’d only been in Hong Kong for 7 hours at this point?

I’d done a lot with my first day and felt very accomplished. I headed off to bed, excited about what the next day held.

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