These couple free days in Hong Kong have been a great opportunity for us to explore more of the city, as well as to return to places we wanted to see more of. While wandering the city, I marvelled at how smoothly everything seems to run. While it may seem a mess of bamboo scaffolding and noisy roads where pedestrians cross regardless of the crosswalk signal, there is a remarkable order to it all. Everyone seems to know where they are going and what they are doing at all times.
I took the opportunity to travel to Victoria's Peak last night, and the view was absolutely stunning. We managed to find a bus to the top and ate dinner there before wandering along the paved trail that offers a view of the city without having to pay for some fancy viewing lounge. Seeing the city spread out below like that, I lowered my camera to enjoy the moment without the distraction of a shutter and lens. I know that when I look back on this trip, that view will be one of the first things to come to mind. The kaleidoscope of colors spread before me was like nothing I have ever seen before, or will likely see again. I know that behind that color show there are millions of people not so different from myself, and this is their home; this beautiful, crowded, noisy city is their home, and it is a wonderful experience being a guest in it.
Traveling for a little more than two weeks now has opened not only myself, but also our entire group to an entirety of new experiences and challenges. Language, transportation, and the almighty favorite, food have been the top three for myself.
Having gone abroad previously, I am somewhat accustomed to what it is like to be in a foreign land, but just when you think you have a grasp of what it is like abroad, it changes on you without notice or hesitation. Asia has proved to be the toughest when it comes to all three of these.
Since England controlled Hong Kong for so long most people in Hong Kong know English to varying degrees, which has proved to be extremely helpful when trying to communicate. There is definitely still a barrier as I have yet to come across someone who’s English is perfect. But what can you expect traveling to a foreign country.
Now I have to admit, transportation- public transportation that is- in the US is terrible. I love you America, but the truth hurts. Both Europe and Asia seem to know what’s going on and have really mastered this art form making our transition from American soil to foreign soil quite easy. So I lied, learning the in’s and out’s of both Hong Kong and Shanghai’s metro has been some of the easiest things I’ve learned and feel rather confident in my abilities. I love that it only takes one card to ride the train, bus, trolley and even taxi! You just load it up with money and off you go. Hong Kong has been by far one of the easiest and most accessible public transits that I’ve ever experienced.
Before coming to Asia, one of the biggest things I was looking forward to was the food. Asian food has been some of my favorite ever since I was introduced to it back when I was a freshman in high school. Starting off with the Americanized Sweet and Sour Chicken, I knew I was hooked. Now I feel like I’ve really immersed myself into the culture of their food with eating exotic foods such as octopus and pigeon. Never before would I have thought of eating pigeon, but boy was it good.
After a while of eating this great food, many of us had been longing for the tastes of home. Rocky’s pizza or a big burger would hit the spot at some points. Last night, in our search for cheap food, a few of us found such a place that could provide us American travelers with such a craving. The restaurant was called Big Joes, and just walking in was bringing me back to home. Their demographic was “American food”, from huge greasy burgers to the classic grilled cheese. So with a huge bacon cheeseburger in one hand and an A&W Root beer in the other I was in heaven. So many feelings of home came rushing back that I just had to stop and savor the moment that I was in. The group was giving me some strange looks, but boy was I happy. Needless to say that burger was exactly what I needed.
With the various pictures of American things, such as Route 66, and the Hollywood sign we quickly learned that is restaurant has a chain. So if you are ever in Santa Monica, go to Big Jo’s for one of the best bacon cheeseburgers that I have ever had.