October 3, 2017 → October 7, 2017
I had a window seat on my flight from Seoul. I sat next to a Korean art teacher. She was so sweet. She pulled out her sketch pad and offered to draw me anything. My first request was a shark, which she couldn’t draw without a picture. Then I requested Batman, but she could only draw the Batman symbol. Finally I requested a plane, which she did draw for me. She even signed it to me. Her name was Yumin.
After going through customs, I realized that they didn’t stamp my passport, which was really disappointing, as I love filling my passport with stamps.
Yumin asked me if I had an Octopus card. I was so confused. I had never heard of that before. Apparently it’s like a metro card, but in Hong Kong you can also use it like a credit / debit card in many different stores and restaurants. So before leaving the airport and parting ways, she helped me find the desk where you purchase your Octopus card. I put $150 HKD on it.
I took a bus to my hostel and checked in. One of the guys staying on my floor was an American who lived in Daegu, South Korea for five years, which is where I currently live. I was also told that I wasn’t the only guy from Louisiana staying at that hostel. Small world.
I took the MTR from Wan Chai Station to Central Station. I was going to eat at this dim sum restaurant that had one Michelin Star, but the line was about a hundred people long, so I went to another restaurant and was sat immediately. The food was cheap and amazing.
I exited the station in search of transportation to Lantau Island. I found a line of people and asked the woman in uniform how to get there. She said I could take the cable car for $200 HKD or the bus for $20 HKD. I immediately asked for directions to the bus.
I found the bus with the help of two US Navy officers from New York and Hawaii. The New Yorker had a NOLA keychain on his backpack. I got so excited. I told him I’m from Slidell, about 45 minutes from New Orleans. He said he went there, too. Small world.
After arriving, the Navy guys and I walked to the Po Lin Monastery, which was beautiful. Then we walked up about 250 steps to the Big Buddha statue. When we reached the top it was cloudy, raining, and windy.
Next, we hit up the souvenir shops, and I bought a cloth Hong Kong metro map for $40 HKD. On our way back to the bus stop, the guys wanted to stop for lunch, which happened to be at a restaurant across from a stage where a public performance was about to begin. Since it was free, I wasn’t expecting much, but it was an amazing show. Everybody was kung fu fighting.
That night was the Mid-Autumn Festival. My hostel provided a free walking tour, which started as soon as I returned to my room. Our guide took us to ride a tram (some places refer to this form of transportation as a cable car or a street car). He said they are 150 years old and have never been updated in any way.
We got off at our stop and walked to what would be a disappointing parade. There was dragon with burning incense sticks all over it, which I could barely see over all the people. That was about it. Oh, yeah, and there were bagpipes for some reason.
From there we walked to Victoria Park, which was swarming with people marveling at what I would describe as Christmas lights minus the Christmas part. I got separated from my group and ended up walking back to the hostel.
Today I visited the Hong Kong Science Museum and the Hong Kong History Museum, which are located next to each other. The science museum was mostly for children, but the ancient Egypt exhibition was really cool. They have mummies and The Book of the Dead. The history of Hong Kong was also very interesting.
I attempted to visit the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, but that did not go as planned. There were a total of two signs, neither of which were helpful. Every time I asked someone for directions, they either didn’t know where it was or they gave me very confusing directions. It took me nearly an hour to find it. I found it at 6:20 PM; it had closed at 6:00 PM. It was dark enough that I didn’t see the curb, tripped, and sprained my right wrist. It took two weeks for the pain to leave and for normal mobility to return.
A guy at my hostel had given me directions to take the tram up to Victoria Peak, the #1 tourist destination in Hong Kong. I followed the instructions until they listed a metro exit that didn’t appear to exist. It was my last night and I couldn’t risk missing this sight, so I got into a cab. I said “Victoria Peak” to the driver and he replied with “Causeway Bay,” which confused me. I was expecting “Okay” or “No.” After a minute of saying “Victoria Peak” and “Causeway Bay” at each other, he said “Victoria Peak” and I said “Yes!”
He drove me for about 30 minutes and pulled over on the side of some random street and gave me a look that said: “Well… what are you waiting for? We’re here!” Confused, I paid him and got out.
I told some guy on the street that I was trying to get to Victoria Peak and he hailed a cab for me. That driver took me the rest of the way to Victoria Peak. I still have no idea what the first cab driver was thinking.
I was exhausted and hungry, but I’ll admit the view was worth it. After taking my fill of pictures, I left. When you leave, there are two lines on the ground floor: a taxi line and a tram line. Both were about a mile long. I decided that the taxi line was better because I could skip ahead by sharing a ride with someone, and that’s exactly what I did. The first couple I asked turned me down because they weren’t going in the same direction. The second couple I asked let me share a ride with them because they were going to Central Station, only two stops from my hostel.
“Traveling–it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a story-teller.” – Ibn Battuta