The good news is that I can say I’ve finally been to Hong Kong. The bad news is that I can’t say that I’ve actually seen much of Hong Kong… here’s a peek into how my 4 days unfolded:
I arrived in the city bright eyed and bushy-tailed on Wednesday morning, ready to take on the New York of the East! Although the flight was uneventful, I began running into problems shortly thereafter. I am quite sure that Hong Kong would get high marks for having one of the cleanest, fastest transportation systems in the world but for some reason we just didn’t click. It took me a solid 2 hours to deplane and get to my hotel. Insane, I know! The 3 biggest factors that held me up were:
- The IMPOSSIBLE Chinese language – Every station stop sounded the same to me. I got off at the wrong one twice. JEEZ. Time lost: 30 minutes.
- The Octopus Card – All the guide books raved about this fabulous Octopus card that you can load money on and use for all transportation options (as well as grocery stores, McDonald’s, Pharmacies, etc). It did sound great. Too bad I had no Hong Kong dollars and they wouldn’t let me get one with a credit card. Time lost: 30 minutes to find an ATM and get the stupid card.
- My Carry-on – Nick has been pushing me towards trying to pack lighter and carry on. In my quest to become a savvy traveler, I decided to try his method and use his favorite bag and carry it on. The problem? It had no wheels! I was certain I could lug that sucker on my shoulder for the short distance to the hotel. And what I learned was that I most certainly could NOT (especially since it took close to 2 hours). Time lost: 30 minutes of setting the bag down at various points to rest my aching shoulder.
I have to admit, I was pretty crabby by the time I got to the Cityview Hotel in Kowloon. I perked myself up by eating (which always seems to do the trick). I was directed to a fabulous dim sum restaurant where I indulged in steamed pork balls, spring rolls and beef dumplings. All were sensational, although I made quite a mess attempting to work with the chopsticks. I found some highly creative ways to utilize the chopsticks to reach my end goal of getting the food in my mouth. Never mind the appalled looks when I tried to saw the meatball with the chopstick (it worked, by the way) and stabbed the steamed pork ball and ate it like a kebob (also very effective).
I still wasn’t feeling like much sight-seeing at this point, so I wandered around the hotel neighborhood and found a reflexology place. It felt very authentic – down in a dimly-lit basement, stained towels, no English and shabby, threadbare chairs. (Sidenote: I’d like to quickly insert here that I’ve attempted to get reflexology done 3 times now and always been sorely disappointed with the mediocre foot rub I got). Somehow the dinginess of this place gave it some real authenticity, making me want to take a chance on it. And let me tell you, I couldn’t have been more right! It was out of this world – I had no idea there were so many sensory points on my foot! My favorite part was following along on the foot chart (which had an English translation) and seeing if I could feel something shift in my stomach for example as he pressed on the part of the foot that correlated with that organ). Amazingly cool!!! I should have known that I’d have to go to China to get the real deal.
By that point I’d mustered up the energy to attack the city. I walked from my hotel in Kowloon to the harbor, taking in all the sights and smells along the way. I got some great photos in the Kowloon city park and then jumped the Star Ferry to cross to Hong Kong. I was starting to feel quite exhausted by that point, so I merely located my bus pick-up location for my conference the next day, grabbed some dinner and retired for the night.
Little did I know that when I woke up on Thursday I’d have a budding head cold to deal with. This unwelcome pest sapped me of all my energy, putting me out of commission for the rest of the trip. I was determined to attend my coaching classes though and I’m happy to say that I made it through. What got sacrificed though was the evening sightseeing I thought I’d do. Instead, I got to know my bed at the Cityview quite well. So alas, Hong Kong seemed to get the best of me. Maybe the second time will be the charm…