24 Hours in a Sea of People

I landed in Hong Kong, ready for a respite of warmth and sun after a harsh cold winter in northern China. The flight touched down in the early evening. I grabbed my only bag for three weeks, a medium carry-on sized backpack, and head out into the comfortable February air. Navigating a new city is always interesting, and today it began in the airport, discovering the subway that takes me from the one island to the mainland, and then on to Hong Kong Island. After living in mainland China for 5 months Hong Kong feels like the future. I wander, and wander, and wander, taking in the busiest and most diverse streets I’ve ever seen.

It’s getting late, but I’m in an international city with a major craving to slay: Mexican food. Using my phone as my guide, it leads me to overpriced enchilladas that I gladly pay for. Seconds please?

After filling the tank, I hop in a cab and head to my room for the night. Tonight that room happens to be on a boat in Aberdeen. The English speaking cab driver knows exactly where to take me. On the dock I yell, “Sampan, sampan!” It’s 1am, but eventually an old lady comes chugging along in her little boat. For a few dollars she takes me to the yacht I’ll be sleeping on for the night. Surprisingly comfortable, I quickly pass out dreaming about the morning.

I wake up amazed at the heaven I’ve landed in. Taking my time, I relax a bit on the boat in it’s peaceful setting before heading back into the sea of people named Hong Kong. I could explore for days, but I only have a few hours. With little of the precious resource we call time, I prioritize my afternoon. I take a trolley to the top of Victoria Peak. The views from here are absolutely incredible, but the overcommercialization comes as a surprise. A little mall? Really? I enjoy lookin in the other direction, over Hong Kong Island and into the mainland. As boredom approaches I make quick remedy and head back down to sea level. Navigating the maze of walkways and subways, I make it to Mong Kok. The concentration of people and lights begging for attention is unfathomable. I explore and walk, and ignore my aching feet.

A simple meal of ground pork, rice, and a salty hardboiled egg tops me off again. As I hunt the hawker stalls, row after row of mass produced junk leaves me disenfranchised. I tell myself I don’t want to carry this stuff for the next 6 months and move on.

A glance at my watch tells me it is time to find the nearest subway. I go back the way I came, hop a subway, and then another, and then another, to arrive at the airport. I will meet you again Hong Kong. You were the most amazing city I’ve been to. Here’s to the first 24 hours together.

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