Wan Chai, Hong Kong, Hong Kong, SAR China
10:47 am Hong Kong Time; 21st Jan 2018
9:47 pm East Coast USA; 20 Jan 2018
Today is the second day of being 13 hours ahead of my home timezone. A bizarre experience it has been to say the least. It is the second straight morning I have woken up at 3am and not gone back to sleep. Joy.
The journey began with a short flight to Miami, immediately followed by a 3 hour flight to Dallas and a stay overnight.
After a 16 hour 30 minute flight that left Dallas Wednesday morning, we scraped the wheels into Hong Kong around sunset on the following day.
For whatever reason, I only managed to sleep for 40 minutes on the very long flight, despite the very comfortable seating arrangements.
Oh shit. Immigration and customs time. My biggest irrational fear in regards to travel.
Are they going to ask me a bunch of questions that I won’t remember the answers to after all this flying? Will I be able to understand their accents? Will I fall into a coma while waiting in the horrendous line?
Where is the line?
After about 7 seconds, I had cleared immigration and customs. No questions were asked, just a simple scan of the passport. Amazing. Welcome to Hong Kong.
Navigate Mass Transit
Now it was time to force my bloodshot eyes to navigate me from the airport to the city. It was remarkably easy to find the Airport Express Train and get on board. The train had comfortable padded chairs and was so quiet and smooth that you could hardly recognize you were moving at 40 mph.
After arriving at the Central Station, it became alarmingly obvious that I had placed myself into an incredibly crowded Asian city. Everywhere I attempted to walk, there were masses of people practically walking on top of each other.
After wading through the endless crowds, I finally found the train that would take me to my hotel.
Of course, this led me into an even larger crowd at the boarding platform. When the train arrived, I didn’t think anyone would be able to board. Proven wrong, everyone shoved their way onto the train, and I joined them.
There was someone pressed up against me in all conceivable directions for the entire train ride.
As I approached Wan Chai station, I noticed that between myself and the doorway were about 20 people.
Spending most of my life in small midwestern towns surrounded by corn, the idea of crowded trains is quite foreign to me. Nevertheless, I followed the lead of the Hong Kongers by nudging and shoving through everyone.
It sure felt wrong at first, but the only alternative was to ride the train back and forth until I was eaten by rats.
Exposed to the City
I finally walked out into the open air of the city around 6:50 pm local time. An aroma of soy sauce and noodles filled the air. Or perhaps Dim Sum, noodles, and fish sauce.
I’m not sure what exactly, but I’m deadly serious. The odor was unavoidably strong, especially for a first time visitor. As a matter of fact, my laptop case now smells of this aroma.
There are people and lights everywhere. So many people wandering around that you wonder where they came from and where they could possibly be going.
Flashing lights and blinding signs and people in every direction. There was nowhere to hide.
After a 16 hour flight, a 13 hour time change, and being awake for nearly 24 hours, my mind was warped and body quite disgusting. The only thing I could think about was getting into a bed in a room alone.
After maneuvering down the narrow sidewalks and seemingly reproducing crowds, I finally found the staircase into the hotel.
Elevators – Known as Lifts
The lobby to the hotel is on the 6th floor of this building. This requires an elevator ride. Continuing the theme about crowds…
The elevator arrived and was no larger than four by four feet. I wish I was being dramatic. Somehow, there was already six people on board. Much to my shock, seven more people shoved themselves on, the way you would violently punch a sleeping bag back into it’s carrying pouch.
I did not get to board this elevator, and ended up waiting around six more minutes before another finally arrived.
After finally reaching the 6th floor and obtaining my room key, I needed to now reach the 9th floor for my room.
Finally! I’m going to get into a bed! I hit the elevator button and it soon arrived.
When I hit the “12”, it did not light up. I hit it again, and the elevator immediately started going down. Are you serious?
4th floor. People are boarding before the doors are even fully open. I try to walk out, but the doors decide to rapidly close. Apparently they don’t have the advanced ‘don’t smash people’s faces’ technology on elevators here. I got conked on both sides while shoving my way out.
I hit the UP button on attempt number two. Soon, the elevator came back empty. Finally.
I hit the 12 button again. The elevator immediately started going down. Jesus, please intervene.
3rd floor. The doors open and one small child runs on. He hits 2. I hit 18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.
2nd floor. Child runs off joyfully. I’m alone again. I slam my head into the wall.
Ground floor. I get off and get right back on. I hit 12.12.12!!!! It lights up.
1st floor. Stop. Doors open, no people. 2nd floor, people board. 3rd floor, people off.
4th. Stop. On. 5th. Stop. Off. Need more be said?
12th Floor. I made it! This entire elevator ordeal took, I shit you not, 20 minutes.
No matter. I was in a nice room with a king bed all to myself. For one night at least.
To be continued….
Night in Kowloon, Hong Kong
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations….you can watch my video of Hong Kong’s streets…
More to follow…