As we stepped outside from the frigid air conditioning of the airport to the 34 degree humid weather, we were immediately led to the line for taxis. The lines were organized by colour and region depending on where you were going, which made it quite easy for us to navigate our way to our hotel in Kowloon. We had a really nice cab ride and introduction to the city as our cab driver was super talkative and wanted to tell us the best places to go and local restaurants to visit and what to order. After a thirty-five minute ride we arrived at our hotel, which we should just start referring to as our home. We were told that rooms would be small, but it still came as a surprise to us just how compact they really are. We checked in to our home, put our bags down and went back out to find something to eat for dinner. A few steps out the door and we found ourselves going into a super local restaurant, a place serving soups and meats of all kinds. Nothing was in english and we were both way to tired to translate anything on our phones. We pointed to something on the Chinese menu and our waiter gave a thumbs up. Dinner came and it was a huge bowl of pork soup, with vegetables and potatoes. We were so happy, mostly because the food was delicious and we were super excited for the next day.
Theres something to say about people willing to help others when they’re not obligated to do so. We woke up and I had already planned where to go for breakfast, it’s mostly known only by locals and was about thirty minutes away. To get there we had to walk to the MRT, get an Octopus Card (pretty much a bank card that you can use to access the subway, pay for food at grocery stores and use at 7/11) which was a challenge on the first day but we figured it out pretty quickly. After the MRT ride our maps led us the entirely wrong way, circling around the restaurant for fifteen minutes.
Finally after what seemed like forever, we recognized the sign we saw online and walked into the busy restaurant. We were immediately greeted by two women and told to sit at a table where three other people were sitting. Sharing tables is totally normal in Hong Kong and most of Asia for that matter. Without needing to look at the menu I knew what to get, the only problem was getting my message across to the woman staring blankly at me ready with a pen and paper. Here is where our trip takes a surprising turn for the better. A young man interrupts our game of cherades and explains to the woman that Lorne and I both want the local specialty, a fried egg sandwich with sausage and a cup of cold milk tea. I immediately thank him for helping us communicate and he replied with “Of course, not a problem. I’m Arthur, a local Hong Konger and I’m showing my friend Ploy around for three days, she’s from Thailand.” My eyes were wide as I thought about the possible opportunity of friendship and a potential way to understand Hong Kong from a perspective of a young adult rather than a tour guide who practically memorizes their speech about a place. We enjoyed our breakfast and between outrconversations we decided to all go on the journey of exploring Hong Kong together.
That day, Arthur took us on a walking tour of Kowloon and a huge part of the downtown core. He showed and explained the different housing options people have or don’t have due to money.
No wonder the rooms and living accommodations in Hong Kong are unfathomably small, there are over 7.5 million people living there.
He explained why certain buildings were constructed differently then they are now. He took us to a historic post office and explained that many years ago, before everybody had an education, several people would receive mail and go there to have their letters read to them.
It really is something we as millennials will never understand because of modern technology and the education system now. As we took in all this information we found a perfect place to eat, somewhere with air conditioning and hot tea, kind of funny but the hot weather and hot tea work so well together. We’re not picky eaters and I would pretty much eat anything in sight the moment my hunger reaches a certain level, so Arthur ordered a bunch of food right away. We laughed and ate and sipped tea and had such a perfect day with our new friends.
Later that night we hiked up what seemed like 600 stairs to see the view of the city. It was quiet and I smiled at the thought of how peaceful it was to sit on this huge rock overlooking yet another new destination.
We met up the next day with plans to go to the beach, as we made our way there we noticed Arthurs’ passion for his home, Hong Kong. His excitement was evident as he began pointing out landmarks and telling their stories.
He led us to an old building and up a set of stairs to a bustling restaurant. Communal tables and old ladies wheeling push carts loaded with bamboo steamer baskets.
Arthur taught us to watch for ones coming out of the kitchen and to get to them first so they wouldn’t be empty by the time they got around to us. The old ladies stamp your piece of paper and send you back to your table with armfuls of food. Tea is always hot and being refilled the general chatter of the place is light hearted and old fashioned.
After we had sufficiently filled our bellies, we took a subway and a bus to get to shecko beach. We spent the day there swimming, relaxing and taking some nice pictures on the famous bridge. We all fell asleep on the bus ride home and grabbed some coconut milk with red bean drinks from the street vendor before going our separate ways.
On our last day in Hong Kong, we went to see the giant Buddha with Arthur and Ploy. We took a cable car ride up the mountain and walked around the monument in the 35 degree weather.
We feasted on some delicious tofu and brown sugar dishes and then we made our way back to the city to catch sunset at The Peak.
We took the tram up the mountain, ate a beautiful dinner and clinked glasses over our newfound friendship.
As we were eating, I pointed to a table in the corner and said what a great spot that would be to get engaged. Less than ten minutes later we heard applause and cheers and the couple that were sitting there got engaged, we laughed and drank to them and their new engagement.
We have been so lucky to have made so many great friends during our travels, we are so happy that we can now include Arthur and Ploy in that circle. We look forward to seeing them both again and staying in touch as our lives continue to move forward, learn new things and meet even more great people that we will be able to call friends.