Friday, November 6, 2015

So What NOW - Part 2 Hong Kong

Now if an Air Asia flight isn't delayed, there's something wrong!  So of course I waited an extra hour and half to jump on the plane to Hong Kong.

The landing at the new Airport in Hong Kong is nothing compared to the hair raising squeak in by the breadth of a cat's whisker landing at Kai Tak,  leaving nail imprints in your armrest as you wish you hadn't seen that guy in undies winking at you from his balcony on the decent that brushed by apartments left and right.

I had an evening flight so all the lights were blazing as we landed. It was breath taking to see Hong Kong in all her glory at night, my heart was pounding and my eyes were tearing up, it has been a good 18 years since I'd been home.  The funny thing was, instead of that pungent sulphuric smell that makes you want to breathe through your mouth and then realise that wasn't helping and only a gas mask would, was not present.  I sniffed the air as we disembarked, ok a bit "beach at low tide" smelling but that was it.  Hail to  the efficiency of the air port staff, I was gob smacked, the immigration officers speaking really good English (no longer Enggerrish)  and being pleasant!!!!  Double check.. this is Hong Kong right?  yup, wowsa a lot has changed.

I was told to get an octopus card by friends still living there ( though they call it the octopussy.. go figure), as their public transport is still really good, the card allows you to travel by train, bus, ferry and pay for stuff.. loving it already and also a local sim card, no worries there, the telcos took my second phone, inserted the card , booted it up, and sent me off with a little smile, am I really in Hong Kong???  Hopped on a bus and tried to recognise the landscape...

As soon as my hosts arrived to get me from the bus station I grumbled I was hungry, knowing me so well, I was hustled to a 'dai pai dong' right quick for some won ton noodles.   Ahhh this was what I was waiting for!  Sleeping that night with a belly full of noodles and dumplings didn't dampen the excitement of what was to come tomorrow.

The next morning we were off to Stanley market.   Stanley  was a popular beach destination for us whilst in school and also for most residents of Hong Kong, it also had lanes of shops with "discounted" items ranging from handbags to table linen.  Annie my school chum and bestie from school had been in communication with me from the get go,  so we decided to take the bus up for old times sake , plus it was a good scenic way to go and both Annie and I could see where we lived on the way, nostalgia was hitting hard.

Annie and I on the Bus
Den, Annie's man had never been to Hong Kong before, heh heh I almost felt sorry for him, he had no idea what the bus ride would be like.  You see the road up is a windey, narrow strip that is bordered by trees, shrubs and a sloping hillside on one side, that would tap and flick it's branches at the bus's windows upstairs and a panoramic view on the other, with lets say a full on view of the landscape below (I will not say drop, it's a safe ride.. really).  As we kept going higher and the bus swung more violently around the corners, little hysterical giggles escaped from me as I watched Annie's man  white knuckle grip the handles of the seat.  Annie and I both grinned at each other, by the time we hit Repulse Bay, we were shouting out all the names of students and friends who had lived there and around the corner forgetting the other passengers in our glee.

The View of Turtle Bay/Stanley from the fancy Scmancy Shops
When we got off at the Stanley stop, we were a bit confused , what was this place?  This didn't seem like Stanley, it had an escalator going down and loads of fancy scmancy shops, where was the market, the beach.. Smugglers Inn ?  We decided to head down the escalators and hopefully would find our way to what we recognised.  After being told to turn left and keep going by a resident who figured out we weren't escapees of a loony bin but former residents ourselves, we hit the strip of where one of the oldest restaurants in Stanley used to be, the Boathouse!  And there was the smugglers Inn right next to it and a few more that we were not familiar with.  We decided to have lunch at the Boathouse and then walked around.

The Boathouse
The market was not the same anymore, you can't bargain like you used to, it's all 'fixed price",   suddenly Annie squealed "this is where I bought my purple Reebok's from!"  as we passed the sports shop, "and where I bought my cashmere jumpers".  I looked further down the lane and there was the linen shop that my mother used to buy all her table cloths from including the special Christmas ones, which I still have till today.  I kept my hands firmly in my pockets, I was NOT gong to shop! Ok I did a little bit, but nothing to break the bank with!

Going Bonkers in Honkers
We spent about an hour going in and out of the shops, trying to bargain just to see if we could get away with it using our rusty Cantonese, and then realised, we had to leave fast as we were all meeting up for drinks in Lan Kwai Fong.  This was the first night of the whole week of plans for our School Reunion get together.   We hopped on another bus to go back down to Central, skidded to a stop in causeway bay, Annie and Den grabbed the MTR as they were staying on the Kowloon side and I did a brisk walk back to Mark and Sylvie's apartment, with their four incredibly fat cats , I'll probably get shot for saying that but honestly 'Spice Girl' their ginger cat looked like a tug boat on paws!

After a quick debriefing from my hosts and specific instructions from Sylvie to which train or bus to take, I sauntered out into the balmy night to go meet the rest of my classmates, some of whom I've not seen since I left school, lets put it this way, it was many decades ago!  Gulping down my nervousness and excitement I was whizzed away into the night .  Lan Kwai Fong here I come!

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