I love Hong Kong.

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Hong Kong: the land of international EVERYTHING, queues, lifts, escalators, and British traffic laws.  This place is awesome. It’s been a good day of “culture shock,” in all the positive respects. And it’s been quite the day. The first day of any journey always deserves some sort of run-down, so here we go…

6:00am
This was the scheduled departure time from my HOME. But it somehow ended up being the time I got out of bed. (This might have had something to do with the fact that I had gone to bed at almost 3 in the morning.) It was a terrible feeling. There was no shower – only a mad rush of changing clothes and gathering personal items. My flight was scheduled to leave at 8:25. My original plan was to take the High Speed Rail (HSR) from Taipei Main Station to Taoyuan, since it would be way faster than the bus. I thought this would still work. It didn’t.

Note to self: ALWAYS check the HSR schedule beforehand. It’s not like a train that leaves every 7 minutes. I ended up buying a ticket for a train that departed at 7am (the earliest time – I had to wait for 30 minutes!) and got to the Cathay Pacific check out line at 7:45. By the time I got the attention of the lady, I was informed that boarding had already been closed. Cathay Pacific was AWESOME and stuck me on the next flight to Hong Kong.

Stuck in the twilight zone, aka traveler’s trap
I had never flown with Cathay Pacific before, so this part of the airport was new to me. And after walking down a very long hallway of very expensive stores selling perfumes and designer bags and cafes sporting tiny wafers imported from Morocco (OK, so that second part is an embellishment), I realized my last chance to get breakfast at 7-11 was on the other side of security. So I bought a blueberry cheese tart (essentially a blueberry cheesecake) and a croissant at this rather snobbish cafe that felt overpriced but was way better than the place trying to shove a menu in my face. I was stuck in the traveler’s trap of spending more than 2USD for my coffee. It was terrible. So I didn’t buy coffee since I knew that was coming on the plane.

11:05am

My shady (and super cheap) hostel

After a nap and a half complimentary breakfast (I supplemented the compliment with my own purchase of a blueberry cheese tart from the traveler’s trap I described earlier), I found myself in Hong Kong. After successfully migrating through the airport and immigrating into the country, I hopped on a train into the city began my adventure. Looking for the Ashoka Hostel (a totally shady place run by Indian guys on the 13th floor of the Chunking Mansion that gives me a clean bed and free wifi) ended up being mini exploration time, as I went to multiple wrong places and asked many strangers for help. It was great though, because the place I’m staying is smack dab in the middle of this international mecca. It’s a refreshing break from the comparatively homogenous streets of Taipei. As soon as I was sitting on my bed (one of four in a mixed hostel dorm), I sorted through my belongings, got organized, and took a nap.

5:30pm
One of the reasons I decided to travel to Hong Kong is because of my friend Bomi who lives and works here. She has been to Taipei a couple times, so now it was my turn to visit her in her city. I met her at Central Station. We caught up with each other and connected over pedicures and dinner. Bomi showed me one of her favorite places in the city before we parted ways. It was an awesome time with an awesome person, and I will be seeing more of her during my time here.

My beautiful friend Bomi

Posing with babies
While I waited for Bomi at the MTR exit (the subway in HK is called the MTR), I ended up wandering around and doing some exploring since I got there so early. I saw a fancy looking building called “Pedder Building” and decided to go inside. I couldn’t believe what happened next. In one simultaneous breath it hit me as I read the words ABERCROMBIE & FITCH and found myself walking by two doormen greeting me with the words “Hey, how’s it going?” Inside the store, the music was loud and the lights were dim and people were lining up to get their picture taken with the shirtless model posing infront of the gargantuous picture of his abs.

Then I saw it. Someone had handed a child to the model. I was flabbergasted. I needed to take a picture of the madness that was happening inside the Pedder Building. Right after I took it, an employee informed me that wasn’t allowed. Timing is EVERYTHING. (Does this happen in American? Maybe I just haven’t been to an Abercrombie & Fitch for such a long time…)

The picture I snapped right before I was told it wasn’t allowed

When I got back to the area I’m staying, I still wanted to explore. So I walked around and literally stumbled upon the Temple Street Market. It was awesome. I took a bunch of pictures, made the obligatory I HEART HK t-shirt purchase and found a fresh coconut juice stand before making my way back to the nearest MTR station.

I love Hong Kong.

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