Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Overnight (mis)adventures

So, I got a good night’s sleep in the hostel right? Um. Yeah, about that. The aforementioned ‘lost in translation, in a cab’ reference? So. After David left me in the good hands of the Kowloon station concierge, I assumed it would be a snap to get directions to the hostel. Come to find out that the hostel was in Kowloon City, not near Kowloon Station. No worries! It’s only a fifteen minute cab ride. Hooray!! As the rain begins to really pick up, I climb into a cab, looking forward to a shower of a different nature and a nice bed. The cabbie insists that he knows where the address of the “hostel? Yes, hostel ma’am!” is.

Twenty minutes later, I am growing concerned. The rain is really coming down, and we are in a super residential area. I am scanning for anything resembling a hostel, not really sure what I am looking for given that I have never stayed in one and the only pictures online were of the interior rooms. We round a corner and the cabbie pulls to a stop. Looking satisfied, he points to the sign to our right: “General Admittance”. Shit. “Here ma’am. Hosptal.” Oh double shit. It’s now 2:30am, and I am not interested in sleeping at the Kowloon City ER. And I’m down to my last $60HK (about $6.50US). And the meter is at $58.

After a rather tense discussion in very, very broken English (his) and very, very apologetic yet pleading English (mine), as well as what definitely sounded very much like the Hong Kong equivalent of “fuck you lady” (him again), I convinced the cabbie that we should NOT attempt to find the address driving around, that I did not have a cell phone to call them to get directions, and that I really, really did want to go the airport, we agreed that he would accept US dollars and would take me back to Hong Kong International. Thus, that’s how Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Harry Potter and I spent the night- along with about 50 other sleepy travelers- tucked into a surprisingly comfortable padded bench in Hong Kong International (seriously, go buy a sleep sack. They are super handy).

My plans this morning were to head to the Ngong Ping 360, a suspended cable car that passes the Giant Buddha and goes to the top of a peak where you can see the entire city and harbor below. However, at 7am, as I stared out the vast windows of the airport and considered if I really wanted to dash out for the planned adventure despite the heavy rain, I swear to you, at that very moment a large crack of lightening emblazoned the sky directly in front of me. That, coupled with looking at the MTR map and coming to grips with the fact that I would have exactly 13 minutes to get to the top of the cable line and back- a feat which in all likelihood is probably not possible- I made the decision to hang in the airport for the morning (more Coach, Tiffany’s, Tumi, Hermes, etc. Don’t worry Will, nothing spent here but time).

I wavered in my conviction once, deciding I was being ridiculous and should just go explore! I marched to the Travelex counter to exchange a bit more US$, and as I pulled out my purse, the memories of 3am outside the ‘hosptal’, sweating and swearing, came back to me and I decided that my morning was better spent with a juuust a bit less adventure, given that my true destination is still a plane ride and a tight connection away. Having zero time for unexpected- and highly probable- screw ups on the MTR just did not sit well with a $1,850.00 non-refundable ticket. I handed over my remaining HK$ to the agent, got my $4US back (Wheee!) and turned to the train ticket counter. I still had one leg of an $18US ticket from the airport to the MTR, and it wasn’t going to do any good in my purse for the next who-knows-how-long till I return to Hong Kong. I bustled over to the train counter just in time to see a woman about my age reach up to begin to purchase her ticket from the automated machine. “Hey, are you buying a ticket?” I touched her sweater and she spun around. I handed her mine. “You’re like the nicest person!” she said as she thanked me.

Not really lady. The only reason I didn’t have to sleep in an MTR station last night is because someone went out of their way to hand me a bit of assistance. I’m just paying it forward.

Hong Kong day two: not so much

Next stop: BALI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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