December 25, 2019 – Hong Kong Follow-up

It has taken me a while to finish up my travel journal for China. There are several reasons. First, by the time I got to Hong Kong, the last stop on my tour, I was tired and grumpy and didn’t want to write any more. Second, I forgot to finish: I reviewed my entries a few weeks after getting back and noticed I’d left things hanging. Some excuses: I was pretty jet-laggy when I got home, and then I was sick. It took me a while to feel back to normal, and then I was enmeshed in my regular routine. Unfortunately, my regular routine doesn’t include writing, apparently.

Anyway! Hong Kong.

Hong Kong: November 7-9, 2019.

There was a long day of travel heading to Hong Kong from Yangshuo. There were two trains involved, and once were were settled on those everything was fine, but there was a lot of waiting before and in between. The station where we transferred was huge (I don’t remember the city) and we had time to walk around and find a snack while our guide watched our bags. (He did that a lot for us. So nice to be able to wander without having to lug around my suitcase).

According to my ticket, we transferred trains in Shenzhenbei!

We found McDonalds and a few of us ordered Happy Meals by accident and got toys promoting the movie Frozen 2, but also got a wee cup of corn as the side dish.

The last train, thankfully, was only about half an hour. Then things got bewildering.

First off, we got off underground, so that is disorienting anyway. Then we had to go through border control, which was located right there at the station. That was just like passport checking and customs like at the airport (or any other land border crossing, just part of the underground station), and I’m good at that and I was the first of our group through. Then we walked underground a while longer, and the station turned out to be a transportation hub for the city’s subway as well. When we got outside again we were at the end of the street where our hotel was located.

I found that all baffling at the time, but now that I think about it, it was all pretty straightforward, and our guide was with us the whole time to help us through customs, and through the underground station. It was, however, a long day of travel, after almost three weeks of the tour. I was tired in lots of ways.

That night was the last official day of the tour, and TV group had a farewell dinner. It wasn’t much different from all the other dinners on the trip, because we mostly always all ate together. But, our group leader ate with us, which he didn’t usually do, and we had a bit of a debrief about the tour after we ate. There were positive reviews all around, and of course a few suggestions for improvement (mostly just wanting to spend more time in some of the locations… and to not use the guesthouse on Emei Shan where we’d ended up in our backup plan). We had many compliments for our group leader, and he gave us gifts of wooden bookmarks he designed himself. So beautiful.

Gift from my tour leader. That’s Confucius at the top, then one of his sayings: “Isn’t it a great pleasure having friends coming from afar.” The two wee symbols are my name in Chinese characters. The circle at the bottom is a character that is a blessing for happiness.

That was my last night sharing a room with my roommate. We didn’t talk about it at all, except to mention that I might leave my bag there in the morning if my room wasn’t ready. I was staying one night after the tour, she was staying 2 or 3 days longer than that.

There were a lot of us staying at least of the Friday to explore Hong Kong before flying out at various times on Saturday. Most everyone staying planned a day of seeing the major sites of the city. That seemed a little much for me, (being tired, grumpy, and fed up with touristing around in a group) and opted to wander alone not too far from the hotel. I found a Marks and Spencer foods, which had a very similar selection of quick foods as found in England, and that cheered me up. I also went through the Museum of Hong Kong until it was overrun with really loud school children. Holy cow! There were so many! I had to get out of there.

It was really warm in Hong Kong- around 25 or 26 degrees in the day, and just a little cooler at night. So nice. It made me dread getting home to whatever weather was going on there.

I rested in my hotel room for a lot of the afternoon, napping and packing.

I joined up with the group again in the evening. We were meant to go for dinner at some point. First we went to the nightly light show at the waterfront at 8pm. The buildings across the water were lit up and flashed along with music. It was about a 10 minute display.

While we were watching, or as we were waiting for the show to start, we started to hear chanting somewhere behind us. We got a little nervous because we were on alert for protests. The group had caught the tail end of a skirmish between protesters and police earlier in the day near a government building. They chanting continued a bit during the show, and we went to check it out when it was done.

We were on a walkway just above a park area, where there were protesters moving. They were dressed all in black, and some had masks on – many didn’t. We gathered information from member of the crowd observing with us: it was a memorial, and I found out the next day that is was one of several that took place around the city. A protester had died as the result of allegedly being chased off a parkade by police. Protesters/mourners were laying flowers and lighting candles at the base of a clock tower. They sang for a bit, and chanted.

A few of the older members of our group got nervous and headed back towards the hotel, three of us stayed to watch for a bit longer. We didn’t see any police, but it was a memorial, and also, it was a very touristy area. But there was a large block of protesting individuals standing at attention – like they might react harshly if anyone messed with them. We stayed only 10 or 15 minutes longer.

After that we still hadn’t had dinner so we walked and looked for a place, but nothing suited so we ended up at a McDonalds. McNuggets, fries, and a chat.

It felt weird that night sleeping in a room on my own!

My flights the next day we’re uneventful, and I spent most of my travel time just maintaining my sanity after having travelled so much. The only good part was the private transfer I booked to get me to the airport. It was a super fancy car and a driver who was right on time. I had time to hug my travel buddies goodbye and that was the actual end of my tour.

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