One time on Sunday afternoon early March, we had a chat on what we wanted to do.
It was around 2 o’clock and I did say from the beginning:”Anything about best food or sort, I trust you.”.
I didn’t do any research on things to do, not even must-visit spots or something like that (coffee shops excluded of course). I only had one clear purpose of the trip: nothing less than to enjoy every single moment.
I flew on May 5th. A flight from Cape Town with two hours transit in Dubai was smooth yet exhausting. I didn’t make time to sleep on the plane yet I couldn’t blame myself cause those questions why Hong Kong anxiously came out twice. I had a very good seat and entertainment on board with choices of good movies. I did watch some movies yet I knew, I lied to myself if I wasn’t bored. It was only a hot coffee I requested just before landing time which made me felt better.
I should have felt excited because a pleasant week from South Africa would continue in Asia. But there was a reason why Hong Kong was a bit peculiar: I never thought I would fly all the way for such a busy crowded city for a vacation. I did think Hong Kong was never on my top list.
I never landed but I could feel the heat. I was still on my window seat witnessing a typical iconic Hong Kong skyscrapers tucked with thick clouds. The sun was bright as I was gathering my excitement and pushing one by one questions of why Hong Kong in 2018.
I was inside an airport train to immigration when I finally felt the Asia vibe again. “Damn, I’m close enough to home. Should I pay a visit on my last three days here?”, I never even started my trip but a thought of going home was echoed inside my mind. I knew I was exhausted but somehow, I loved the sensation being on a very tight train among strangers.
I remember, I hugged Andreas twice to ensure he was real. Lé pardon if the sentence before this was too much. I did hug him twice to reassure it wasn’t a dream. When he stood there with my name handwritten on a piece of paper, my mind excitingly remembered to this magical note, “We both do not know where that will be, but we know it will happen.” As much as I remind myself to strongly believe that every dream will find its way to be real, someday, with some shiny glittering magic in between, a beautiful moment at that airport had proved it right. My peculiar feeling of why Hong Kong was evaporated in the air and suddenly showering different kind of excitements.
We took a fast train to the central. The day was sunny as I could see from the window. Andreas sat where my will-always-be-my-spot a.k.a window seat while I asked him twice, “Isn’t this strange? Don’t you think so?.” He answered it was. I felt it was strange in a very good way that hours we spent on Skype for the past two and half years brought us to real a life again. As we were on the train passing some typical Hong Kong residences, my heart was ready for some new surprises. I sat with memories when we had a chat twice in Tokyo which weren’t long. In the morning I repacked my things from Kyoto and a to-midnight short conversation at the lobby that has a wide clear glass somewhere in Akihabara.
Here how our travel time through four memorable days was documented.
On a sunny afternoon, I finally felt glücklich to be in Hong Kong and let Andreas showed the best Hong Kong has to offer.
Off from the airport, we went straight to my hostel (yes with S, you didn’t read wrong). I didn’t rent a portable pocket Wi-Fi since I found it was expensive, so on the first day Andreas was my live-Google-Map. Well, I had some screenshots on my iPhone to where I should have headed but I trusted him to lead the way. I remember we were off from the train and stopped at one train station heading to where we stood for a bus. When we realized the bus was heading to the opposite destination, we changed to the right one by burning calories under the sun until we finally arrived at Shek Pai Wan Road, Aberdeen.
I was managing myself to sort everything out rapidly while Andreas was waiting. I even forgot to enjoy my bath under the shower (best part: there are two with clear glass to enjoy the view outside, oh ofc not from floor to ceiling). I felt better and fresher after changing that faded green Zara tee with more comfortable one in black.
When I stepped out of the hostel, I looked up. It was after 5 pm and the sky turned to grey.
I was a little worried if it started raining. In front of where we stood for a bus, Andreas was checking the route on the information board. I thought that time, he wanted to reassure we won’t just get in to a wrong bus again. I was admiring the environment around us, the Cantonese in the air, and typical Hong Kong tight crowded flats with ACs placed outside the building. The first thing Andreas did and I loved it so much: he took me to the upper deck of the bus that has a wide clear glass (and it was empty!) where we could actually see different scenes on the road. The time we sat, I started believing that evening would be a great start of a wonderful travel experience.
Off from the bus, he brought me to another simply exciting experience: we took a Hong Kong open tram and we again sat on the upper deck. “Azis, come with me, I’ll show the best spot to be on this tram. You’ll love it.”
And for God-sake, it was beautiful. I sat with a California Dream in the air. By writing this, I still remember the sensation sitting behind him gazing out to the people on busy roads, different shops with neon signage lights, the breeze, the rush. My travel bugs were flying high and dancing gleefully until I didn’t think it was necessary to capture the moment with my camera but my own brain. And keeping it somewhere safe.
Andreas brought me to a place where we had dinner. It was such a food court kind of that was crowded and sonorous but somehow, it was epic. The sensation was distinct where I could feel the strong Hong Kong vibe surrounded. I had delicious Vietnamese Pho while Andreas had curry noodle. That evening was a bit cloudy but warm. We took a walk for a ferry ride to peninsula afterwards.
It was a great experience on the ferry but more than that, I did enjoy all the simple things that evening. It was a kind of travel style I love the most: no plans, just surprises. Going to places with no expectations but ended with some memorable memories. I remember crystal clear, a young lady was singing a Cantonese song with guitar behind us, I joked I could take her mic and sang better. I crossed my legs on the hard cement floor when we had a slow time for friendship talk.
He got a cold canned beer which I opened and had a ship. My first beer in my life at the Hong Kong harbor I said, proudly. It tasted so weird but the view in front of my eyes was picturesque. I captured and remembered it.
I sat on the second floor at Kowloon mosque, it was around 4 pm-ish.
I never sent a text asking if Andreas had time to accompany me again on the second day until I later got one; “I just finished my research at uni. Any idea of what we should do?.” I had waited for a while for something stated in my reply; “Something to eat.” He later answered with an idea of where to go.
I remember the mosque was near the Tsim Sha Tsui station. Andreas was standing near exit C and I came to him with an empty tummy. I had no idea what he had in mind but I trusted every decision he made. We later found ourselves at Tim Ho Wan Olympian City 2 in West Kowloon. As we entered, I only had one request to him: a seat by the window for good lighting, what else?
The best part of our lunch was the restaurant wasn’t crowded then so it gave us a good time to talk in between pleasantly. The meal was great, not to mention he was the only one who had schweinefleisch in warm buns. He joked I should have tried a little taste of heaven.
We spent an hour plus then we were heading to Ladies Market, a bet of eating durian (which he didn’t try! he should have tried it when in Asia even though I can’t eat raw durian too), passing some interesting stalls with Cantonese everywhere.
Everything was really enthralling.
Andreas used to spend eight months in Hong Kong years ago as an exchange student so trusting him to show all best sites was the best decision (if I shouldn’t mention it was such an excuse for being lackadaisical). When the day got dark, we sat at one of the famous traditional Hong Kong restaurants in Jordan called Australia Diary Company. He told me to taste the popular meal: scrambled egg served on toast and I must say the scrambled egg tasted so good but sadly I couldn’t finish eating it. I was full from Tim Ho Wan but the best part was the milk tea.
Oh God, it was heaven. The best I ever tasted.
As a milk tea lover, he was blithe having a full glass with generous ice. I remember he was laughing when looking on how I looked after he told me not to expect a polite service and eating slowly because the waiter could forcibly get you to stand out from your chair. It was a typical Hong Kong restaurant service when they could roughly drop a food you order on the table. But that wasn’t a big deal for me because the way I enjoyed the most that evening apart of the milk tea was the vibe, the strangers chats, and some unique details my mind had captured: pen scribble on a waiter’s pocket that clearly showed on his white shirt, six vertical stacks of white coffee cups behind where Andreas sat, the grumpy face of the man behind the bar brewing Vietnamese coffee, and of course, the yellow menu card.
We ended the day by sitting near TST promenade for a random friendship talk with a view of Hong Kong skylines. Andreas told me we could get in The Peak Tram if the weather was friendly. Thought I won’t mind to experience the famous view of Hong Kong with her skyscrapers, there was no necessary apologetic “why” from the nature.
Staring to the clouds up there, deep down in my heart, I sent my gratitude to the universe for giving me a privilege such travel.
~ to be continued to part ii ~