Saturday, October 31, 2015

Day 1 Meeting A Friend

After flying for such a long time, I found myself restless this first night. Excited as I was for the next day I was still terrified, every possible thing that might go wrong went through my head. My phone did not work outside of WiFi. The only friends I had in the city were people I had never met. Eventually I fell asleep only to wake up hungry drenched in sweat. The shear heat and humidity of the city was like nothing I had ever experienced.  The Hostel I stayed in had sort of a balcony where all the bathrooms and showers laid. I wish i had better pictures but I found myself going out onto the balcony on my sleepless nights and just laying in the hammock hanging there.

 I would just look up staring up at the endless skyline. I would say to myself I am in Asia, Hong Kong... I finally did it. I would smile laugh and wonder what my friends would say if i told them where I was.

This is the entrance
to my hostel it was on the 
third floor. 
The next morning I had plans to meet with my first pen pal, he was to meet me outside my hostel. I got dressed showered and prepared myself to meet him. I stood outside the hostel with only my camel back and my phone. Even at this early hour the heat of the day had begun to take its toll sweat rolling down my back. Questions rolled through my head with worry “I hope he speaks English well” “I hope my mandarin is good enough” “what if I loose him in the crowded streets”

I waited then to my left I saw a man about my height especially tan skin waving a fan to keep himself cool. Wearing nothing but a light T-shirt, shorts and worn flip flops. Uncertain I waved, smiled “Eric?” It was him and he spoke English with amazing. Flourish. With great relief I smiled yes It is so nice to meet you.

The city was so alive everywhere you look people were working tiny garages machine shops cutting pipes , fixing cars frying noodles everything you could imagine right on the street. Buildings towered above us but the sun still found a way to beat its rays on the back of our necks.  

Buildings are stacked quite high in Hong Kong People live
70 stories up

My friend took me this way and that our destination a very famous Din Sum restaurant, I couldn’t wait I was starving. However when we arrived the line was out the door people waiting for hours just to eat here. So we decided to go else where.  In Hong Kong because there are so many people they will sit you with anyone so don’t expect a private table.

Before we ate we were given chopsticks and a bowl along with some hot water. My friend  instructed me in Hong Kong it is customary to wash your chopsticks in hot water before eating even though the restaurant washes them. The food was absolutely mouth watering. The dim sum and other Hong Kong style cuisine i have tried in any American restaurant did not do it justice. I regret that I did not try as much food as I would like to.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A World Away From Home, Arriving In Hong Kong

Landing in Hong Kong was both nerve racking and an uncontrollable excitement. Six months of planning six months of excitement built up excitement and after a 20 hour journey I was here. As moving through immigration was an easy process with only a little over a weeks worth of clothes, a tablet computer and nothing to declare, it was a simple stamp and I was through.

Before leaving the Airport I would highly suggest Obtaining an Octopus Card

This card is essential to your time in Hong Kong it is accepted everywhere not just public transportation. Museums and convince stores such as 7-11 or Circle K accept them as payment as well; it’s almost like carrying cash. When you leave Hong Kong you can get a refund on the card!

Before I go any further I think it’s important to know about the geography of Hong Kong. Hong Kong although small and compact compared to say Beijing or Tokyo.

The Territory of Hong Kong is not just an Island, yes there is an island called “Hong Kong Island”. Hong Kong to put it in simple terms is full of Islands and rolling mountains. If you arrive in Hong Kong by air you will arrive on Lantau Island (大嶼山).
From what the locals and from my own observation this is the most underpopulated of the islands. However it is home to Hong Kong Disney, and is home to the worlds largest Buddha. Regrettably I did not have the opportunity to see it.

Left: From the moment I stepped off the Airplane the immense population and overcrowding became apparent.

From the airport it takes about an hour via bus or train to reach the city. From the bus you can see the sleepless city and the massive shipping yards stacking hundreds of shipping containers day and night. The area which I stayed in was located in Kowloon near Prince Edward station; this area is famous for its Gold Fish Market.

Left: Here you can see the Gold Fish Market. All the fish are sold in plastic bags.

When I arrived I was surprised to find how many people how lively the city still was even at 11pm at night. After a 16 hour plane ride I was certainly hungry so my friend and I stopped at a local noodle shop.  I had found most restaurants and businesses in Hong Kong will open up anywhere any place no matter how small the space. Even in this late hour this noodle shop was filled so I had to sit on a stool outside the shop to eat.

My first Street View of Hong Kong 

My first meal in Hong Kong my guess it is some kind of beef ball soup. I was so hungry I didn’t care what I ate.

For my stay in Hong Kong and my entire trip though Asia I stayed in what is called a Hostel. This is the cheapest way to travel and the best way to meet new people. You are given only the bare essentials, a bed to sleep on. Since it was located in an older part of Kowloon it was also a nice way to really feel like I was living like one of the locals. Rarely did I find anyone in this area who could speak English.

Right: Even the menus
of many small restaurants
along the street is it
rare to find an English menu displayed