Life is really only experienced beyond all boarders.
Could it be? Has the day really came? Finally, the winds are changing.
On the epic day of April 14, 2017, I embarked on my very first trip abroad on my very first airplane ride. I solemnly admit it’s my first time riding a plane after 22 years of my life despite deeming myself as a traveler. Yet, that’s life and there’s no shame in what I’ve gone through. My dad, the biggest hero in this picture, gifted me and my brother a trip to Hong Kong for 3 days and 3 nights (night of april 14 – morning of april 17), realizing our insane stress in Manila. We didn’t stay by ourselves however as he asked another heroine to join the fray who is my Tita (Aunt) Marc who not only booked everything throughout the trip but also stayed as our guardian. She booked Cebu Pacific Air flights coming from NAIA Terminal 3. I was absolutely unprepared on that day because the day prior to it was my last day of work. Nonetheless, I got up onto my feet and geared up for the trip! When we came to the airport I felt the most excited. The airport was huge and welcoming. “Finally, I’ll be flying away!” I couldn’t be more excited!
And so begins the journey! We were given a window seat and how glad I am! I’ve always wanted to see what’s up in the sky. When the plane started to lift-off, I felt the mixture of excitement and fear. Fear was there because I imagined the plane will go down like a roller coaster. And of course, excitement. I’ll be flying, seeing a new country, and stepping away from the land I used to walk on for the very first time. My dreams are coming true. Three amazing dreams for the price of one.
In the sky there was only blue and above the clouds the day was clear. Down below the cities shrank and everything else were. There I was suspended in the middle of hysteria and peace where I feel transcendent.
Night 1 – On Foreign Soil
And I thought I knew what a huge airport was. We arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport and the hugeness of it blew my mind. There was a train inside of it which was the means of getting around the other parts of the airport. It was so vast we were confused as to where we’ll go and what to do.
We figured we needed to get some octopus cards which costs HK$ 150 for each adult. HK$ 50 serves as the initial deposit and HK$ 100 as the consumable. It’s a must have accessory used for many amenities in Hong Kong – stores, fast food, convenient stores, buses, trains, and more available services, hence the name Octopus. It’s convenient, reloadable, and refundable. Hats of to that!
To get to Nathan Road, we had to ride the A21 bus from outside the airport. Seeing a double decker bus has once again engrossed me. Honestly, it’s like as if I came in from the mountains. I was too amazed by the new kinds of things that I’ve seen in Hong Kong. Yet, I didn’t know what else was in store for me. That’s why while on the bus ride I felt riveted once we reached Nathan Road. Everything was bright in that place. All the signs and the stores made me feel excited that I just wanted to get off the bus and run off like a little kid. It’s that excited feeling of traveling that makes you want to go everywhere just to simply witness especially this is a new country for me.
Once we alighted down Middle Road, we quickly looked for Loi Loi Guest House where we’ll be staying. It was inside the building Mirador Mansion building. Along the short walk, I was slowly falling in love with the city. The air was cold and it was bright everywhere. People were constantly on the go and had little care for strangers. There were many stores and banners hung up on the walls. the buildings all seem occupied and full. The place felt like it was alive.
Inside Mirador Mansion, I saw what a real Chinese tenement was really like. Most notably the courtyard where I saw many of the upper floors just like what I mostly see on TV shows and movies.
Also, the way the tenement was built somewhat reminded me of what I’ve seen from Resident Evil 6 (but without the virus outbreaks and the monsters of course). It’s nice to see the accuracy come to life.
Thanks to youtube uploader “jeuxvideo24” I found a clip of the game that actually depicts the Chinese style tenement correctly. Just a reminder, Resident Evil 6 is just a game that had parts of it based off on China and I am in no way saying that China itself is as gory as what is shown in the game. I’m just reminded of the accuracy of the game’s location and in real life.
Going back, the homes in Hong Kong are mostly called “micro-dwellings” due to the place being tiny and populated. Homes are tiny and clustered to accommodate resident and tourists alike. My aunt told me to expect a small room since it’s better to splurge on an adventure. Once we entered we were surprised to meet one more guest with us! Our Tita Kit surprisingly joined the party. No one else planned it but her which was a big surprise. We were glad about it of course.
We settled off in the tiny room where there was little to no area to move around. Still, it seemed it had everything we needed: 4 beds, the air conditioner, an electric fan, some plugs, and the bathroom. The bathroom was tiny. Inside, I was greeted by a small space with a tiny sink and a toilet bowl a meter to its right. There was a way to shower, still. Above the toilet bowl is a heater connected to a shower head. All we had to do was to close the toilet to do our business. That’s how people lived in Hong Kong, however, it never bothered me throughout my stay because there were so many things I have yet fall in love with in Hong Kong.
We had our first meal in Hong Kong at a nearby KFC. “Two-flavored Korean Crispy Chicken.” The name was easily forgettable (which was hard to remember and search) but I could make up for it with the taste. Served with an egg tart and mushroom rice, what made it stood out was the spicy skin and the cheese dip. That’s why it’s called two-flavored. Plus, the hot sauce they have in Hong Kong tasted amazing. Seriously, I took a lot of hot sauce packs cause they were damn good. What I also loved in Hong Kong is when you ask for tea, they will literally give you tea much like those in trendy milk tea places in Manila. All in all, the meal costs roughly HK$ 40 on average which is around ₱ 250-260. Honestly, the standard of living in Hong Kong is really quite expensive but the level of satisfaction I experienced will never topple any value of money.
Free wifi also made a big impression throughout my overall stay. For a public wifi, you can do so many things already with its speed so waiting in line wouldn’t waste time. In almost all shops, there’s free fast wifi that actually helped me upload backups quickly as needed. Though, I only used my phone mostly for photos and backing up files. I placed myself away from the world of “screens” for this wonderful vacation.
I also have to take note my first experience with the Hong Kong or Chinese people. When I came to Mirador Mansion, I looked around a souvenir shop and an old Chinese lady came near with a serious face and tone saying “May I help you?!” She looked like she was about to attack me from how she postured herself and I took a step back. I was caught off-guard but I couldn’t blame anyone. I was on foreign land and as I know, Chinese people are very straightforward. In KFC, I noticed how people really value their time so no one likes a delay. In the queue area, it’s a must to make a decision before reaching the counter for the staff are working fast.
Me: Two-flavored Korean Crispy Chicken
C: The 33 or the 40?
M: 33, please.
M: Iced tea
C: Okay. Anything Else?
C: Eat here?
C: Okay. 34.50.
That’s the kind of flow I often get in most of their stores. People there are not fluent in english but they understood what I had to say. They are very straightforward but as noticed from the flow of the conversation, they never cut me off in anyway. They still tend to listen and look at you directly and I’ve come to love that about Hong Kong people. They are fast workers who care a lot about time and the urgencies of others. They don’t have to make a big deal about other useless things.
“This is what a real nightlife is.” Each step into the bright Friday night in Hong Kong felt like a new discovery. Everywhere there’s something going on – the bars were open, places were packed with people, the vehicles were lined up, and the glow of lights draws attention. There was never a dull sight as my heart craves for something new. I never thought that a city life could be so lovable. A city so bright and rich. If only I could enjoy more out of it I would willingly.