10 things about life Hong Kong taught me in 24 hours, from Kathy

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According to Kathy, my sister:

10 things about life Hong Kong taught me in 24 hours.

1. It pays to be a girl.

People are just so much nicer and more patient.

2. Chat up the cab drivers

They’ll tell you more about a place then a guidebook and might even knock off a few dollars from the meter rate if they feel like they took a longer route. My cab driver took a couple wrong turns and insisted I pay HK$ 10 less than what was required.

3. Pack light and wear thick socks.

You never know when you’ll have to walk all over the place luggage in tow.

4. McDonalds: A gift for beleaguered travellers.

When you’re too tired to play multiple guess with a chinese menu and don’t have the stamina to get yourself understood. Surrender and crawl to McDonalds. You might be considered a philistine for doing so but at least you’ll get what you expected.

5. Never overestimate the kindness of your countryfolk

“Ay Pinay!” Okay, so I let my guard down a bit and consequently got ripped off twice. Once by a Filipino (who convinced me I needed another call card) and the other time by a Filipino store. The place I got checked into was on top of a Filipino crafts store, I thought it couldn’t be THAT bad… it was… worse. See item #8)

6. Anything that’s too cheap to be good is probably too good to be true.

Case point: I missed the backpacking lifestyle so I gave the HK youth hostels a try. Booking a bed at the Mt. Davis Jockey Club YH, I learned that for only HK$95 per night you get a bed with linen in a dormitory. Located in a place with historical military significance, on a deserted mountain hideaway surrounded by two major cemeteries. Plus an obligatory cleaning chore before you leave each morning. Getting to the hostel though is a walk in a park… a fairly large park (it takes half an hour to hike down). Good thing there’s a shuttle which runs 4 times a day, because most taxi drivers will try to avoid going through the hairpin turns which riddle the steep road to the hostel. :) For a truly haunting experience, give this a go.

7. Just when you think you’ve hit rock bottom, you’ll find it’s possible to dig even deeper.

So I thought my first choice was bad. Called up a friend quickly and asked him to find me an inexpensive (I meant budget, not cheap) room nearer to Central. Given the previous choice and the next one, sleeping on the streets didn’t seem entirely unappealing.

8. If your accomodations are listed under tourist attractions… You’re either at the Ritz or the Red Light District.

I can’t afford the Ritz and I thought it would be like Kingscross in Australia. It wasn’t.

9. Keep in touch with old friends.

I’m staying in a nice, safe, familiar place tonight. My friend Elaine lives in New Territories, and though it’s closer to China than Hong Kong Central, after last night’s escapade, I’m glad the only thing I’ll have to brave is the distance.

10. Tomorrow’s a new day.

So I made a few errors in judgement. I survived and now have a story to tell. I’m a bit wiser now and so the next day will be different. Today was actually a really productive day for me. :) Wish me luck though, I still have a couple more days in Hong Kong.

Disclaimer: As of the moment, I love being in Hong Kong. Its a city that never seems to have a still moment (unless you’re marooned on Mt. Davis).To experience Hong Kong is to lay siege on your senses. Nothing here is average. The juxtaposition of extremes blend into something that is uniquely Hong Kong.

In 24 hours I’ve seen places and things that are truly old or ultra-modern, dirt cheap or outrageously expensive. Even the people reflect this diversity, in the way they live and dress. Though you see the extremes, you don’t quite feel the polarity. Its inexplicable, its Hong Kong….

Though every muscle in my body craves for rest, my spirit isn’t weary. The first 24 hours weren’t the greatest, but Hong Kong doesn’t stop for anyone, so life goes on.

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