Hong Kong Disney Part 2 – I’m now(t) a Pro(tester)

Early December and it’s Alice’s birthday. Since she arrived in China, she has wanted to go to Hong Kong for her birthday. We all signed up for it, and as the weekend drew closer, we all got a little concerned. The protests in Hong Kong, where we would be staying for the whole weekend, had been getting more violent and more violently responded to. We heard that the MTR would be closed at weekends and that taxis were therefore astronomically high. Alice had invited some Chinese teachers along, but they declined because they were worried about the protests. In the week before I left my mother told me she wouldn’t tell my father until after I’d been so he wouldn’t worry. Hannah, the head of English worried for us and repeatedly told us to be safe.

Nothing happened.

We arrived on Friday night, having split immediately after work, and even having got permission to leave work early for once. Our train to Hong Kong was booked for an incredibly tight margin to get to it on time. I might have thrown my suitcase in front of me to make sure I got on the metro. It might have lightly collided with someone. I did apologise, but desperate times called for desperate measures and I really don’t like running. We had to run anyway but I wasn’t to know that at the time.

And we made it to the train on time. Sweating and out of breath, but on time. It would not be a repeat of the weekend we didn’t go to Hong Kong.

Once in Hong Kong, Anya and I (who had a different Airbnb to the others) got lost because Google Maps might now be allowed but it got confused by WeChat. We had an all you can eat Korean, but because the others had arrived forty minutes before us, they’d already eaten all they could eat and were impatient for us to finish so they could go and look at some neon lights. I told them that the neon lights were all around, (because I’ve been to Hong Kong before and therefore, I am a pro) but they wanted to wander. I called off, because I have a hurty knee that hurted more after running and standing and it was nearly midnight already. I got lost trying to get back to the Airbnb because all the roads looked the same, and had a lot of neon.

The next day we were up bright and early for Disney. So bright and early that we arrived before the gates were opened. This was the opposite of when Lucy and I came. We did many things that were different to my trip and I saw a different side of Disneyland. I met Olaf (this was just after Frozen II came out so everything was Frozen in eighteen-degree-heat), and Iron Man, and we saw a show after hanging out with one of the cast members for a few hours. She was illegally pretty, and super talented to boot. She couldn’t go on any of the fast rides, because then she would scream and wanted to make sure her voice was in tip-top condition for the show, but I was happy to sit with her occasionally as I’d been on all the rides before. I got myself a new t-shirt and hoodie because the hoodie was on mega sale and I like having clothing of the place I have been to. I know I am going to use/wear it and so it can’t be a waste of money. I also got new Anna and Elsa keyrings to replace the Mulan one I lost when my flat key went walkabout. And I had a lovely time. It was a different time but that’s because I was with different people and that made it more interesting.

It was quite late in the day when we called it quits at Disney and headed back to the Airbnbs to change and pre-drink for the big night out. Anya and I stopped at Mark’s and Spencer for the most important pit stop of the whole weekend.

The pre-drinking was important. I didn’t realise quite how much until we arrived at the bar, and adorable place called the Iron Fairy and we found out that it was at least a tenner a drink. That’s in English money. We were being charged at least 100HKD for a drink. It was insane and I didn’t buy anything. I had one drink bought for me, and I stole a hat, but that’s a different story, and I had a good night out while sober. I had not pre-ed hard enough. This meant that by two am I was flagging, and decided to leave at two-thirty. Sean decided to join me, because despite his cheeky TC outside the Iron Fairy, he didn’t want to buy another drink just to get into the dance floor of this new place, and water didn’t count. So we got an expensive taxi back to my Airbnb and then Sean apparently drunkenly yelled at Kieren for the five minutes it took them to walk back to theirs from mine for not getting the taxi to their door after dropping me off.

Anya slept at the other Airbnb, and got a little lost making her way back the next morning. Folks were feeling rough. I was laughing. I enjoy getting drunk as much as the next person, but due to the prohibitive costs of the drinks and not being drunk enough to say “sod it” on arrival to buy the drinks anyway, I felt chipper if tired the next morning. And I took great delight in it.

Once anya was back, we left our baggage there, since we could, and went exploring in the local area shops, before our lunch at the Hard Rock Café. And I found more Tubi-grip since I actually have two hurty knees, and I just have to apply the one Tubi-grip I have to whichever knee hurty the most, so now I can apply to both hurty knees.

The food at the Hard Rock Café was delicious and not too expensive and they were very understanding of our need to take all of the leftovers home with us.

On the way back to the train station, we passed a lot of native Hong Kongians, and a high proportion of them were wearing dark clothing, but we thought nothing of it. We were tired and wanted to get home. I wanted to get into bed with my cheese puffs and eat them until I fell into a cheese-puff-induced-coma.

It was only the next day when we saw the news about the protests that weekend that I thought we might have passed the protesters on the way to the protest, but that was literally as close as we got to any protests, and honestly? Despite all the fears, it was kind of what I expected. The bonus is that those fears are keeping tourists away from Disneyland, which is all the better for us! It was a wonderful weekend, so thank you Alice for suggesting it and for inviting me along!

Hong Koming – Only a Minor Sidetrip

A mere two days after we’d returned from Guangzhou, with just enough time for me to procrastinate packing, and for Lucy to retrieve her passport from TeachTEFLInChina, we set off for her final adventure; three days in Hong Kong. After the success of arriving in Guangzhou late at night, we were doing the same for Hong Kong, and it worked well. Arriving in the middle of the day had caused us to take an hour at least to get through immigrations; this time it was hardly longer than twenty minutes.

Our first day, we headed to Ocean Park, which was an aquarium, theme park, and safari park all rolled into one. I somehow managed to get zero pictures of the rides (including upside-down ones – something that was lacking at Disneyland Hong Kong) I did get many of the animals, so here’s a dump of them.

The park was split in two, on either side of a mountain, connected by a train that went through the mountain, or a cable car that went over. We obviously opted for the cable car, and I realised that I was no longer as saccharine about floating over a hill as I once was, although I did fairly quickly manage to relax, my heart rate didn’t come to its resting rate until I was on an awesome rollercoaster.

Because it was a Friday, Ocean Park was actually pretty quiet, compared to everywhere else we’ve been and we thought it was because it was a Friday, but it was a pretty common theme for the whole weekend. Its possible that due to the weeks of protests beforehand, there were fewer tourists in general, or we were just lucky in the places we went.

Ocean Park took up the entirety of that first day, and, like Chimelong in Guangzhou, we didn’t get to see it all. At least we didn’t get rained on this time, except for on the water ride when we both got pretty drenched.

Once again I was limping, however as my blister had migrated from the heel of my foot to the side of the heel and was developing into a blood blister. Because of my fun feet fatalities (at least, that’s what it felt like), we headed back to Mongkok, the shopping capital of Hong Kong, and quite by coincidence, our home for the week. We wanted to go to a Chinese food place, since Lucy would only have sup-par takeaways when she got home, but we managed to find a Japanese food place instead, and it was actually one of the best meals we’d had in a while, despite our successful foraging at Mark’s and Spencer for lunch.

Day Two we started out by going to the Sky Tower, which you can only access by tram, which while currently undergoing upgrades, looks very old fashioned, and I managed to only get some pictures on my phone, which at the time of publishing was not cooperating, so sorry about that. But the pictures from the tower are across the commercial sector of Hong Kong and the shopping district as well.

Next up we wandered around a church like wot you see in Europe before making a late-in-the-day decision to head to Ngong Ping, aka, Giant Buddha, accessible only by cable car. Lucy and I thought, as the ride drew to a close, that we were supposed to have just taken our seats and any photos should have been taken from those seats, but because we were the only two in the Gondola, we wandered around as we saw fit to take the pictures we wanted, including far off photos of the giant Buddha.

Although we managed to sneak our way up to the Buddha after it had officially closed, we were not so lucky at the next-door temple, and so we got a closed-door photo of it. But otherwise, it was also an interesting trip.

Because we had tiny appetites and had shared a pizza to the point that we both felt like we were about to burst, we weren’t particularly hungry for dinner so we just at raspberries and called it a day, although I did find my favourite foreign cider in the world (Somersby) and then had an adventure trying to open the bottle without a bottle opener. After a fateful failure in India, I did not use my teeth, but instead spent ten minutes with my flat keys prying it open. It was as good as I remembered, and just what I needed.

Our third day in Hong Kong dawned slowly for us, the same as the previous days, and for once, this was not the ideal, as the fish market that we had wanted to see in Aberdeen only ran in the morning, so by the time we got there, it had already finished for the day. However, a nice old lady coerced us into a boat ride on her son’s boat, and then proceeded to tell me in great detail about every single one of her three hundred (or thereabouts as it felt) children. Her son, during the tour was fascinated with telling us the prices of everything that we could see from the boat, including flat prices per month, how much the fancy yachts cost, and the price of a plot of land at an overcrowded cemetery. However, without any tutelage, he was able to work my camera better than I can.

After yet another supposed-to-be-Chinese-but-ended-up-Japanese meal we ended up at the Avenue of Stars, which I’m sure is fascinating for Chinese and Hong Kong-ian people, due to them all being stars of the Chinese silver-screen, but held little interest for me, as I barely knew any of them.

However, seeing the Sky Tower from the other side, so to speak was interesting and I was happy enough to sit there and watch the sunset, seeing how the colours of the river/water change, and the lights come on, on the “traditional” boats (the sails were for decoration and tourists; they were actually powered by motors).

And then Lucy was leaving and I had twenty-four hours left in Hong Kong during which I did nothing before I came home for my European leg of this crazy year of adventure.

For those who are concerned, despite the fact that this was the first weekend that the protests in Hong Kong expanded to the airport and started to become violent, we saw literally nothing save one sticker about it, and one MTR line had a live news feed. But at no time were we near any of it, and we saw nothing in regards to it, which in my opinion, was the best thing we could have hoped for.