Day 141: Hong Kong

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April 17th 2010
Published: April 17th 2010
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Day 141: Saturday, April 17th, 2010.
Hong Kong.

Per Intrepid Notes, "Days 23-24 Hong Kong
After a mid-morning arrival in Shenzhen, we cross the border and catch the metro into the heart of Hong Kong. There are so many things to do in dramatic Hong Kong, from wandering around Stanley Market and shopping on Nathan Road, to taking in stunning views from Victoria Peak or cruising the harbour on the famous Star Ferry - take your pick! Hong Kong's many fine restaurants and food markets provide the perfect setting for a final group dinner.

Our hotel in Hong Kong is clean, twin-share with private bathroom and in a great location, just a short walk from the markets. We will take a short orientation walk of the area surrounding our hotel, your leader will explain where and how to use the subway, some local eateries and possibly even where to grab a bargain.'

Around 7:30 am I got tired of trying to sleep and woke up. Rita was already up and was sitting in the hallway watching the world go by. I grabbed my toothbrush/paste and a bottle of water and stood at one of the 3 sinks around the corner. Folks here aren't used to us Whitey's, so I'm getting used to the stares. It was odd to be the center of attention with foamy toothpaste on my face though. Up next- the toilet. And it was a squatter. Dear lord. Luckily they provide a handlebar to help you balance. I plan on burning my hands later after touching said bar but it helped with the job. Headed back to our room and sat with Rita for a bit, tried to read more of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (2 months and I'm only halfway thru this book- it's boring the hell out of me), then decided to go back to "bed".

About 10 minutes later, my stomach informed me that lying down was no longer a good option and that the food I had eaten about 12 hours ago would like to give notice and leave. Dear God, please, not with a squatter toilet being my only option. As I put on my shoes to walk to the bathroom, the train started to slow and I had a new problem. You're not allowed to use the bathrooms while the train is at a station. This is because whatever you do (the doo doo that you do so well) drops right on the track. So, within 5 miles of a train station, you're supposed to hold it. To further instill this rule, I guess there are people at the station that keep an eye out and you'll get in trouble (I'm assuming a fine on top of humiliation.) Plus, there is a giant window so if someone is walking right by the train, they can look in and see you in all your squatting glory. Moral of the story- no bathroom for Amanda. I went into my bag, grabbed my special "find your happy place" pills and focused on breathing. It worked, I didn't have to return to the land of the squatter toilets and I was unconscious in about 15 minutes. I know you are all thrilled with my bathroom heroics in each country- it is my pleasure to bring my greatest fear to light.

We get to Hong Kong, get off the train, and proceed to stand in a couple of different lines for the next hour and a half as we get Visa's. My backpack is killing me. Not just normal Monstro weight, but I now have that Mahjong set (made of wood and bone) and my laptop is crammed in there as well. It's friggin heavy- had a hell of a time swinging it up onto my back. Get thru all the lines, I'm sweating like crazy- worried they would think I was running a fever and would quarantine me, and it's then time for a 45 minute metro ride and then a 10 minute taxi ride to our hotel, West Hotel. It's a nice hotel, I'm happy.

Rita takes off to find a travel agency. She didn't get a Chinese Visa with a double entry so she's gonna be stuck in Hong Kong unless she gets one. (Upon seeing her later, sounds like she'll be able to get it all taken care of on Monday and then leave with her new tour group Tuesday). Ling and I head off to lunch and I enjoy some pan fried pork dumplings and some leak dumplings. Very yummy, and washed down with Passion Fruit Green Tea. We do a quick walk about afterwards so I can get the lay of the land and I head up to the room. Rita's taking a shower, so I hop on the net (big surprise, right?) Ends up I need to sign up at the front desk so I head down there and sign up. While I'm waiting for the lady to hand over the codes, my stomach informs me that I was too adventurous with lunch. Exit stage left.

We hang at the hotel for a couple of hours and then we meet Ling for dinner. We go to a very pompous restaurant with horrid waiters who add in a Service Fee so that you have to tip their sorry asses whether you want to or not. If you're in Hong Kong, I highly suggest going there (can't even remember the name to truly bad mouth it.) We wander thru the street markets for a while and I consider buying a couple of things but decide to wait and think about it. Ling warns me not to do this next part, but I did it anyway. I saw someone was selling the Mahjong set that I had bought in Yangshuo and I decide to ask what they're charging. Keep in mind, the Yangshuo lady started at 650 Yuan and I brought her down, but not by much. The asking price here was 280 Hong Kong dollars which is pretty damn close to Yuan. Holy crap did I overpay. Ling said it was like comparing your test answers to the correct answers when the test was over. Nothing you can do, don't dwell on it. I'm not dwelling- I had a nice chuckle and moved on. I really like the set, so I'm happy I bought it. Maybe that means the ladies kids get to have new clothes or food for that month, I'm fine with that trade.


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