Before I relay all the details of my adventures in Hong Kong - the sights, the places, and the food - I need to tell you about my quest to reach my hotel. Because when you suffer from topographical disorientation, every mundane journey becomes a riveting experience.
|Arriving in Hong Kong: So Far So Good...|
As mentioned in a previous post, I am slightly apprehensive at the prospect of trusting a random stranger with my life, and therefore prefer to walk or take the metro whenever I arrive in a new city.
Before reaching Hong Kong, I had carefully planned out my route: I would take the metro from Mong Kok to Yau Ma Tei station and onward to Central station, where after I would walk the 3 km to my hotel on Hong Kong Island.
|Hong Kong Metro Map|
But upon arriving in Hong Kong, I made 3 fatal errors, in alarmingly quick succession:
1. Deviating from The Plan
After a late afternoon meeting in Mong Kok, I allowed myself to be talked into taking a taxi to Hong Kong Island. In peak hour traffic.
It was mentioned, as an after-thought, that the taxis might not be going from Kowloon (where I was) to Hong Kong Island (where I needed to be, preferably before dark), but that I would quite likely find my way since I was resourceful, wasn't I? (Wait... what?!)
|Hong Kong Taxis|
And so, viciously angry at myself for deviating from The Plan, I headed to the Mong Kok station. By then my heavy suitcase and I were in the midst of full-on Hong Kong Friday afternoon peak-hour traffic. It felt like all 7 million locals were out on the sweltering streets of Mong Kong, with the single aim of trying to run me over.
They mostly succeeded too.
|Mong Kok Madness|
2. Underestimating the Distance
By the time I had made it to Central station, night had fallen. I was tired from walking, shoving and dragging my suitcase. And I still had 3 km to go. Even so, thought I would easily walk (or perhaps even skip) the last 3 km. I had, after all, run distances of 3 km x 7 numerous times before. No sweat.
Jogging 3 km in the cool of the day with shorts and state-of-the-art Asics, is something completely different to walking 3km, in 30 degree C heat, in a skirt and high heels, while dragging a by-then enormous, humongous suitcase.
It. Was. Torture.
It did not help that my suitcase and I had to cross numerous streets bursting with foreigners in the Lan Kwai Fon area, all smartly dressed for after-work drinks and a night out on the town.
3. Outsmarting Googlemaps
Through all the shoving and dragging, I had noticed that Googlemaps was directing me along a certain, longer path up the hill but I kept to (very steep) side streets in the hope of reaching my hotel sooner.
No such luck.
Eventually, halfway up a dangerously steep path, I stopped and threw my hands up in despair.
And that was when I saw it: The world's longest, covered outdoor escalator system, beckoning from right above my head.
|Before: Struggling Up Steep Streets|
|After: Escalating with Ease|
If a first-time visitor were to ask me what to do in Hong Kong, I would say: "Look up!"
This seemingly inconspicuous act would make your introduction to Hong Kong much more pleasant than, although definitely not as memorable as, mine.
|Above Board: Hong Kong Walkways Throughout the City|