Today, Tuesday the 12th of November is my last full day in Hong Kong. I’ve just two things planned. Sometime after 9:35 AM, but definitely before 10:20 AM I would head down from the Mid-Levels towards Hong Kong Station. There I would be able to check in for my 9:35 Cathay Pacific flight to New York on Wednesday, get a boarding pass, and hand over my 30 inch, red, and wheeled Kipling duffel bag.
The time frame had to be just so because I could not use the in-town check-in until less than 24 hours before my flight, and I had to leave before the Down Only Mid-Level Escalator became the Up Only Mid-Level Escalator.
It worked like a charm. By the time I was done with the down escalator, and the covered walkways above the city streets, I’d then be entering the IFC Mall. From there it was all indoors.
I presented myself and my passport and my duffel at the Cathay Pacific counter. The young lady checked her watch, then proceeded to get me all checked in and set. Shortly after, I had a boarding pass in hand and had some time to kill. I found a Delifrance shop and had myself a ham and scrambled egg on baguette and a coffee. I had time to kill because I had to wait for the escalators to change directions.
The only other plan was to meet Jeannette and Yu Ling for dinner that night. Jeannette had mentioned that she would be in in Mongkok, and that is where Yu Ling worked. I had only been to Mongkok once before and that was with Jeannette who gave me a brief tour of the street markets. But that was years ago.
Now Mongkok still has the street markets, but it also has the up-market Langham Place, a towering structure which you can enter directly from the MTR. There are shops, a hotel, and above all that is an office tower.
The architecture is new and modern. Like nothing you’ve ever seen before, at least on the interior. It is easy to lose track of what floor you are on because one of the escalators is 83 meters long – that’s 272 feet or nearly the lengthy of a football field. Basically, the central core is an atrium, and the escalators seem to stretch toward the sky, only we are in doors.
I ultimately met Jeannette at the Starbucks whch turned out to be on the 4th level rather than the third. Or maybe it was the other way around. But she found me.
Yu Ling worked upstairs so we knew she would find us.
Eventually we decided that dinner was in order. Yu Ling not only worked in Langham Place, but she had also stayed in the Langham Place Hotel for a month when she first arrived in Hong Kong. Her firm had put her up at the hotel calling it ‘temporary housing’. So she was the local expert.
We decided on Thai food, and the place was called Thai Orchids Cafe & Bar. A few of the dishes like the spring rolls and the red curry with chicken, were superb as was the Thai fried rice. A pork dish was tasty, but the prawns, were a bit dry, and overall I felt that the food wasn’t spicy enough.
But I was impressed with the building. Jeannette on the other hand wasn’t. She is an architect, so she has a professional way of looking at the building.
“The feng shui is all wrong”, she said. “The angles are too acute, the shops too small, and the atrium itself consumes too much space, at the expense of the commercial side of things.”
Okay, she should know. That’s her business.
We said our goodbyes. Both Jeannette, in Diamond Hill, and Yu Ling, in To Kwa Wan, live Kowloon side, and I was staying Hong-Kong Side. I headed down to the MTR for the train to Central, after which I retraced my steps back to the up escalator for my trip up to Staunton Street.
All in all, except for the 15 feet from my apartment building to the escalator, and ditto on the return to the apartment, for the entire trip up to Mongkok, and back, I was always in a place that had a roof or cover from the rain.
That’s not possible in Sarasota, Fl, where I live.
By the way, I successfully re-united with my luggage at JFK in NY. And there were two other bonuses – the flight arrived 50 minutes early (thank you tail-wind gods) and I had just a two minute wait to pass through immigration.
My previous visit to Hong Kong in 2011 also included a side trip into China. So this is the first time I had spent more than three straight days in Hong Kong. It was worth it. Even on a day without plans, I found the city vibrant, thrilling, exciting, noisy, and sometimes even chaotic.
But the transportation system: the boats, trams, trains, taxis, and buses are all excellent, and all are relatively inexpensive. The mobile phones are omni-present as are the people. Coming from Sarasota, Florida I wasn’t used to pedestrians (other than in our local mall parking lots), trains, boats, buses, or taxis.
In Sarasota, all of those things are present (okay – not the trams, but there are free trolleys on nearby Anna Maria Island) – but the US, when you are not in a big urban center, is the land of automobiles – so mostly – you just don’t see all of those things that make Hong Kong, a city of at least 8 million work so well.
Hong Kong, until next time – joi gin – see you again.