Published: October 15th 2011October 15th 2011
Hello everyone, so after a long break, I finally have time to write another blog. So last time I got lost in Macau, fell in love in Macau and won big in the casino only to lose it all (I actually was winning at one point – should have walked away). But anywhozles, lets get this over with.
So I went through the Hong Kong customs at the Ferry and then went back to the hostel to pack. Because once again, I had to switch hostels in the same country – this time in the same city. God dang it, this is annoying.
Ok, so I woke up, finished packing up, went to check out – only for the guy not to be at the front desk. After waiting, looking for him, calling to the back room, other people coming to check out and going through the same process, he finally came down and I checked out and ran to the shuttle bus just in the nick of time. From there, I got to play “Lug my 60 lb. luggage + full backpack around China” again (my favorite game ever! Actually, as obnoxious as it is, I’m pretty sure it’s what’s keeping me in reasonable shape and some definition in my arms. And if anyone was curious, 60 lb. is more or less 1/3 of my bodyweight). So after dragging all of that through the Hong Kong metro system (again), I got to the Tsim Sha Tsui stop, and after getting turned around and circling the block once, I got myself oriented and went to my hostel. Now the hostel I was in is kind of interesting because the building it was in – Chungking Mansions – was this rather large building with a few shops on the bottom floor, and then at least 17 floors of different hostels. The hostels are all super cheap, a huge contrast to the rest of the area the hostels are located in. Oh, and the bottom floor is littered with different people trying to get you to go to their hostel. After plowing through, I got to the elevator and went up to check in. AND THE WOMAN SPOKE MANDARIN!!!!! Oh man, I don’t know why that was so relieving, but after not speaking Chinese for 10 days in what is sudo-China, it was really nice to talk to someone in the language again. Furthermore, she was very nice by not switching to English for me, which was rather appreciated. I was lead to the dorm room – which at 2 o’clock already had 2 people napping, quietly put my stuff away, and asked where I could get a haircut. They told me to go out and cross the street and I’d find a few places. So I did just that.
I ended up finding some salon, which seemed to be the cheapest in the area that understood English (remember that Canto doesn’t equal Mandarin) and got it cut. Admittedly the guy did a good job, though I kept chuckling to myself because he seemed to be frustrated by the density/thickness of my hair. He would take what I assumed where the thinning scissors, work at my hair for five minutes, work on trimming the sides for a bit, stand back, and then grab the thinning scissors again and just kept hacking at my hair. I don’t think most Asians have hair this thick (and masculine/sexy), but again – I was happy with the finished product.
Afterwards, I went down the street back to the harbor. There I started at the museum of art – where despite my previously mentioned apathy towards western art – I went in and got to see some rather impressive calligraphy works as well as some well preserved artifacts. Very nice. I then went east to the Avenue of the Stars, which is Hong’s Hollywood blvd. They had a bunch of famous Hong Kong actors/actresses with their handprints and what not, including Jet Lee, Jackie Chan, etc. While I’ve never been to Hollywood Blvd, I would like to think that this one was nicer, mainly because it’s right on the bay – and by on the bay, I mean the Avenue is literally a bridge over part of the bay – which is pretty cool I have to admit. So after walking down, I decided to walk back, only to find an interesting treasure: buddy bears. Now I’m guessing 99% of y’all have no clue what I’m talking about so let me explain. In 2001, some artists in Berlin (Germany) had this idea to create a bunch of fiberglass bears (about 6 feet tall) paint them as all sorts of exotic things – from leopards to one covered with hearts. At first they were public, and then they were auctioned off for charity. If you go to Berlin, you can still find them everywhere, as Ben Nelson and I did when we had our tour of Europe. It just so happens that Jackie Chan was doing some filming in Berlin and happened to see the bears and really like them, and got two to bring back to Hong Kong and put them on the Avenue. It was kind of an out of place thing to see, but was rather cool and brought back some good memories of my adventures with Ben (also, it is still disputed whether or not it is bad luck to hug the bears ← inside joke with Ben). I then walked down the other way to see some of the other stuff like the cultural center, but it was closed for some special show that had already started or something. But there was a nice looking pier, so I went up and chilled for a bit, looking at the Hong Kong sky-line and chillax. It was getting towards dusk, so I went down to start finding a place to eat, only to be stopped by a group of students (I think) with the same colored shirt, who asked me what time it was. I was lazy so instead of telling them, I showed them my phone. They then asked me to say it out loud, which I did. They thanked me and then ran off to ask more people. It was weird, and I kind of wanted to ask them what it was for, but their English was struggling, and they seemed pretty determined, so I didn’t want to interfere. About fifty steps later, I really wanted to run back and see if I could get a different group of them to ask me for the time so I could say “Hammer Time! ~dun, dundundun, dundun, dundun, Can’t touch this!” and Hammer shuffle away. I still regret it to this day that I didn’t go back and do that.
But regrets aside, I went back to the hostel, only to find some French girls took my bottom bunk, so I was sleeping up top (and more importantly right next to the air conditioner when I wasn’t given a blanket). But with some classic Robby Hanckel boss level thinking, I hung my towel up on the bed railing so I wasn’t blocking the AC, but it wasn’t turning my hairy man-legs into hairy man-leg popsicles. Last I checked, man-leg popsicles aren’t attractive. I then went to go get something to eat, came back and skyped my parents, who I’m sure were happy to know I was not yet dead. While skyping, I saw a huge group of people come in looking for rooms. When there weren’t any available on the third floor, they simply said “alright, next floor.” And left. While I do not suggest such a strategy for a big group of people, you could very easily do this at Chungking Mansion.
Then I decided that I wanted to go out (as it was a Friday night) to an Irish pub nearby to grab a drink and chill. I sat down at the bar, ordered some fries and an Irish cream beer called Kilkenny’s. Now I have never had a cream beer before, but it was really good, and had a texture as if someone had added some Baileys to the beer. I’m now a big fan, even though I have yet to find it again. As I sat there, I was also watching a rugby match, which while interesting – had a huge flaw. Whenever someone got tackled, the game would briefly stop, the defense would back up and the guy who was tackled would just throw it to a guy behind him and gameplay would resume. While this took about 2 seconds to do (as opposed to the 35 seconds it takes in American football), I realized if this could happen an unlimited number of times, why not just keep bull rushing forward if you couldn’t ever really lose the ball? I turned to the man next to me to ask this, and he said, “I don’t know, don’t normally watch this rugby league, but I see your dilemma.” A) Since when does England have 2 rugby leagues? America can barely have 1 basketball league. B) I should obviously coach for this rugby league, as I just found a strategy to go undefeated. The last quirky thing I saw at the pub was a man who wanted coca-cola in his beer, as they did in Germany sometimes. This confused the bartenders and me, but the bartender did it for him anyway. So weird – I certainly don’t remember doing that in Germany. And on that, a basket of fries (that was meant for 3 people to split) and a Kilkenny, I went to bed on my inch thick Styrofoam mattress.
What a great nights sleep! Between my freezing legs, uncomfortable bed, and lack of covers, I slept like an angel! Oh well, I get what I paid for, and the location is pretty sweet. I woke up, and desided to get a quick breakfast at 7-11. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, and I can’t be bothered to look up if I’ve said this, so I might be repeating myself. 7-11’s are everywhere in Hong Kong, and here is the proof. I walked out of Chungking, and said to myself “I don’t know where a 7-11 is, but I’m going to turn right and I’ll bet I find one in 30 seconds.” And I was absolutely right. 7-11’s are more common that Starbucks and McDonalds combined in America. Think about that for a second, it’s rather scary. I got my food, and took the metro back across the bay to go see the zoo park. It was small but quaint, with a large selection of monkeys, who were feeling rather playful that day. And dad would have been able to stand the reptile section, as it was only turtles and tortoises. After that, I went back to Sheung Wan to see a park which turned out to be underwhelming. I then started to wander a little bit, and ended up passing an antique shop going out of business. I decided to walk in, just cause and looked around a bit. It was a really small shop, and there wasn’t much left, but a small vase caught my eye. I asked the shop owner (in Mandarin, which I think helped with the bargaining – as they were impressed with my Chinese – also very rare for Hong Kong for someone to be impressed with Mandarin abilities) how old the vase was, and he told me 300 years. Judging by the condition and style, this seemed reasonable, but I’m no expert, so I picked up another, smaller item and asked how old it was. He told me 40 years, which was good, cause then I knew he wasn’t trying to screw me, because if he was trying to jip me, he would never said a date under 100 years old for anything. Happy that I was dealing with someone I felt I could trust, I went back to the vase and asked how much. The price had already been slashed from $1400 HK to about $950. I am a cheap scape so I told him it was too much, and when asked I gave him a price of $400. Admittedly I probably lowballed a little much, and he wasn’t happy. What was great was that when he wasn’t happy with my offers, he would say “Nope, take your money,” and then look out the window with his chin up, ignoring me and pretending someone else was coming. I found this to be hysterical, and the guys wife was rather amused by the whole banter we had. I would have used my walk away strategy, but I don’t think the man could run after me if he changed his mind, nor did I think he would if I walked away. After a lot of back and forth (and a rather amused wife), I eventually got the vase, a tea platter with 3 small tea cups, and a fan stand for $850 HK dollars – not great but I feel like that was fair for both parties, so no regrets. Happy with my purchase, I went back to my hostel, packed up my stuff, and spent the rest of my time at the pier looking at the scenery. I had bim-bap for dinner (oh Korean food, always there for me when I need you the most) and went to bed happy.
And then I woke up cold. But after another quick 7-11 breakfast, I checked out and went straight for the airport, once again lugging my 60+ lb. luggage behind me. But I made it with a bunch of time left, which shocked the people at check in, because they weren’t expecting anyone so early, but I refused to take any chances flying to Taiwan, especially after all the visa hassle. Plus that meant no line at check in, an I wasn’t holding anyone up while they dealt with the heavy luggage fees and what not. I eventually boarded the plane (btw EVA is a great airline if you want to pay a little extra – I actually got lucky with my tickets, as they were cheaper than normal EVA prices [and yes Mom and Dad, they were the cheapest tickets period]). And now on to the next chapter of my journey.
Next time, I do the responsible thing, and recount every event that has happened in Taiwan. Yeah, right – seriously I know I’ve been slacking, but with 22 credit hours, I haven’t had the time. So the next blog will be a catch up to the present and then I’ll keep the blogs like I have before. Promise. But until then:
Kilkenny’s is really good, please try it if given the chance.
I still feel bad for that barber – he seriously spent 20 min just thinning out my hair
Bartering for the vase was probably the most fun I’ve had bartering, and got a really nice artifact. Between that and my embroidery piece – I have quite the starter collection going here.