Tuesday, 9 July 2013

A Hong Kong Story

I was recently in Hong Kong, exploring far off lands as usual.
Chris couldn't come, he was working. Yuck.
But that's besides the point.
Hong Kong is an eclectic place in my eyes.
I feel like it's a mix between NYC and Singapore, but it feels dirtier than either, and yet all its own.
I knew nothing about Hong Kong before landing on the island (I didn't even know it was an island!).
At first glance there are a lot of very similar looking high rise buildings, overshadowed by mountains (I also didn't know there was a mountain here..).
As you get deeper you learn it's a place full of different cultures, similar to other big cities, but somehow having blended in their own special way.
Chinese culture is very prevalent here (HK is a Chinese territory), however Cantonese is probably more widely spoken than English and Mandarin (something rare in the world today).
I was told it's quite difficult to get around here, but with a street map in hand it's really no different than any other place.
Plus, buses, trains and cabs here cost pennies and are always around.

I was here for 3 days, but only 1 do I really have pictures from.
The first day I was adjusting being away from Chris for the first time in a year (this isn't the day I have pictures from).
I tried to go exploring. But that ended up being a disaster/learning experience.
Want to hear what happened? Okay, I'll tell you.

I got hungry, as one does, and decided I'd like some dim sum.
Everyone said dim sum in Hong Kong is amazing.
I asked the hotel concierge where I can get some and he pointed me across the street. Great, it's so close! I thought.
I walk in and it looks like a convenience shop with people queuing for the elevator, so I hopped in line too.
Luckily the elevator was to take you up to the dim sum restaurant.
I walk up to the woman and she hands me a little piece of paper with a number on it to wait for a table.
I then realize she doesn't speak English, not even to understand me asking her to please tell me when it's my turn because I don't speak Chinese.
At this point I was very strongly going back and forth between I want to leave this place and go to the pub around the corner and No, stick it out, it'll make you stronger and you'll learn something.
An older Chinese man then told me how far along she was in the counting numbers and said to just count along anytime the lady said something.
Just as I thought it was my turn another older Chinese man says to me (please keep in mind that the English words I'm putting in for the Chinese people are very loose translations of what I could understand) let's go sit together, I'll explain how this works to you.
My response was I don't care who I sit with as long as you can tell me what the menu says.
The number calling woman now handed me an English menu that she magically produced from I don't know where as everything, including the numbers were in Chinese at this restaurant (yes, the Chinese language also has their own way of writing numbers that isn't 1,2,3,4).
A waitress leads us to a back room in the restaurant with a few tables set up and we get sat at a table with two older Chinese woman.
To summarize what happened was that the Chinese man I was sitting with started explaining what the items on the English menu were, in Chinese, talking very animatedly in Mandarin-English (the words I understood were: director, famous, Jackie Chan, flower pot, diamonds, red diamonds, green diamonds, blue diamonds, a lot, flower pot, I'll pick you up from the airport next time you're in HK, you want to work in HK, I give you) and asking me questions, again in his version of English which included when do you leave, where are you from and the like.
One of the woman sitting across from us finally said something to me relating to an item on the menu, in almost perfect English because she saw I wasn't understanding the man. I asked her what he was saying to me and she said he wants to give you some jewelry and 200 year old vase that he owns.
What...? Why...? ....What...?
I asked her to please tell him no, thank you. He shrugged his shoulders, poured some of the soup he ordered into a little bowl for me.
I just really wanted to leave at this point, what with Chris being in another country, old Chinese men offering me work and vases, and not being able to understand a word I was just a little tired.
I politely asked to pay for my meal and the man said he'll pay, so I said thank you and that I needed to get going to meet friends.
He frantically finished whatever he was eating in seconds and stood up ready to leave as well.
He went and paid (everything we ordered came out to be a whole USD $5 so I didn't feel so bad) and started to walk me out.
I told him thanks and goodbye and ducked into the nearest pub.

I got back to the hotel room and went straight to the gym.
I needed to workout my feeling of, best described as, ugh.
That night I met up with some cool people from CouchSurfing who I saw were going to be watching rugby as a bar next door to my hotel.
For those that follow rugby the Lions won. (YAY!!!)
And that was Day 1, or δΈ€ (Chinese for 1). 
Exhausted from the day I went straight to bed awaiting adventures to come the next day.

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