Not a Great Day in Hong Kong
Today has not, if I’m honest, been great—which feels rather ungrateful when staying in a luxury hotel in Hong Kong. I’ll tell you about it.
I had decided to go back to the markets I found yesterday, and explore a little more. I packed my bag with water, umbrella and map, and left the room. The first problem was when I arrived at the lift. The hotel is in a gigantic building, and the first few floors are used by different businesses. So, to enter the hotel, you go into the lobby and get a lift to floor 108, which is where reception is. You then take a different lift to the hotel floors (my room is on floor 111). I thought—because it has worked every other time—that while waiting for the lift, you press the ‘Reception‘ button, then when the lift arrives, you step inside, close the door, and it carries you to reception. So today, I did exactly that. I stood inside the closed lift and waited. I waited for quite a long time. Then, to my surprise, we went down one floor, the doors opened, a man got in, and pressed to go up to floor 118 (the gym is there—he looked the type). The lift went up—not down to reception—up. Not what I was expecting. Apparently, you have to actually touch the sign inside the lift that says: Reception.
Well, I finally, after my detour to a higher floor, made it to reception, and walked with confidence to the lift that would take me down to the lobby. This lift doesn’t have buttons, it simply has two signs, one which says lobby, one which says reception. I stood in the lift, doors closed, and stared at the signs. Was I supposed to touch these too? The lift jolted into action and I descended to the lobby. I think someone in the lobby had called the lift, because the ‘lobby’ sign was lit—and I didn’t do that. I realised that every time I have used the lift so far, someone else must have pressed the correct buttons, and it is not as automatic as I thought. Duh! Felt stupid and left. (Actually, to be honest, I had a fit of the giggles when I realised how stupid I’d been, and when the lift arrived at the lobby I was giggling away in an empty lift.)
Set off for the market. I had managed to coincide my time (Anne Time: 10:00) with the rest of Hong Kong’s lunch hour (HK Time: 13:00) so the shopping mall I walk through was jammed full of people trying to buy lunch. I made it, eventually, to the outside, to find it was pouring with rain. Put up my umbrella, and set off.
I planned to walk along the main road (Jordan Road) then turn left at the first major junction (Ferry Street) and then take the first street on the right (Saigon Street) as that road traversed all the little side roads with markets. I was fine for about 2 ½ minutes. Then there was a subway under the road. Subways in Hong Kong are like the moving staircases in Harry Potter’s Hogwarts—they change direction when you are in them. I walked in a straight line, I know I did, straight under the road and up the other side. But as I continued along Jordan Road, nothing was familiar. Then I came to major road-works with pedestrian lights which took forever to change, and then I came to a massive fly-over—which does not exist on Jordan Road. I started checking signs, and all the roads were called the wrong names, and none appeared on my map, and I was only about 10 minutes from the hotel and I was completely lost in the pouring rain with motorways thundering overhead and lots of yellow-clad workers staring at me.
I tried to retrace my steps, back through all those very slow pedestrian lights, and eventually came to a road which was marked on my map. I had somehow, when in the subway, managed to come up half way along Ferry Street, and had marched way past where I wanted to be. I didn’t bother to photograph the motorway for you, it was grey concrete and busy and loud—and not a great place for walking.
I found Saigon Street, and the markets, and wandered around. There were meat stalls, with chicken’s feet in heaps, and dried meats hanging on strings, and great fish-heads staring blankly, while shellfish slithered in overcrowded tubs of water. Many of the stalls sold fruits and vegetables, shining in the rain, pools of colour and textures, some smooth and shiny, others lumpy or with spikes. Many of the fruits were new to me. Some of the stalls had music playing, the stallholders whining along in unison. There was a flower stall, with tubs of lilies and roses—but it didn’t compare to the shops in flower market street yesterday. Mostly, the markets were wet, drops of rain falling from the awnings, people avoiding umbrellas, the ground slippery. Rusty carts and damp boxes had been discarded at one side, along with heaps of rubbish and slurry.
It was actually, a nice market, and on a different day, in different weather, I would have loved it. But I had walked too far along a motorway in the pouring rain, and the hotel room and a coffee seemed very attractive so I left.
I also keep almost being run over. Many of the crossing places have helpful writing painted on the road, telling you which way to look. But they also have an arrow, and something about an arrow on the road, makes my brain think that this is the direction the traffic will be moving in—as opposed to which direction to look. So at every crossing, I stare in completely the wrong direction. Not been hit so far.
Hotel room wonderfully comforting. I sat with my coffee and stared out the window. All I can see is clouds, wafting towards me and floating away while rain splatters the pane. It’s like being in a secret place, above the rest of the world, just me and the rain and a decent cup of coffee. Will stay here and read for a while.
I hope your day turns out well. Thanks for reading.
Love, Anne x