Monday, October 14

Hong Kong, Part 3

Part 1 here.
Part 2 here.

We spent all of Wednesday and Thursday meeting with manufacturers (and when I say all day, I mean all day. We woke up at 5 AM on Thursday and didn’t get back to our hotel until midnight). It was very interesting. Mainland China is a completely different world. I’m pretty sure they must never see white people, because people stared everywhere we went and some guy kept taking pictures of me on the subway. We ate chickens with their heads still attached, entire fish, lotus bulbs, lots of vegetables I’ve never heard of before, and tofu (not my favorite).
This chicken definitely reminded me of A Christmas Story. I was tempted to start singing farararararararara.
We also got to learn about the customs in China. For example, tea is very important. One of our manufacturers wouldn’t even show us their factory before we drank tea together. Luckily it’s herbal, so we could join in. Although I’m not sure "luckily" is the best word to describe it . . . I’m not a big tea person (don’t like the taste) and I had to drink a lot of it.
Another weird custom we found was that when the manufacturers we were meeting with took us out to eat, they washed all the chopsticks and dishes that were brought out in tea that they poured in a bowl in the middle of the table. Apparently restaurants are dirty (that made me nervous) so you always wash before you use anything. And since the tea was boiling only a couple minutes before, that’s what you use.

The driving in China is insane. I thought Rome was bad, but China is way worse. People swerve in and out and everyone’s always honking, which can mean A) I’m coming over so get out of my way, B) I’m turning the corner so get out of my way unless you want me to hit you, C) I’m in this lane and you’re about to hit me, D) Get out of my way, stupid bicycle/person, and E) Let me in RIGHT NOW. This is a video my dad took of driving through some of the back alleys. It doesn’t really capture how the experience felt, but at least you can see the way people just walk in the middle of the road and cars are inches away from hitting them (it was nuts). I got rid of the sound because I’m talking in the video and I hate hearing myself talk. I sound like a weirdo.
We were also able to visit a fabric and accessories market in Guangzhou. It was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. It looked like six giant malls, but every floor and shop were filled with buttons or fabric or accessories of some kind (which translates to hundreds and hundreds of shops devoted to just buttons or just fabrics).
The bathrooms in China were definitely not my favorite. I wish I had a picture (my dad does and I’ll add it in later), but they’re basically holes in the ground. It was a little awkward trying to figure out how to use it. I love toilet seats so much.

On Friday, we finally had one free day to do whatever we wanted. My dad and I chose to go sightseeing. We went up to Victoria’s Peak, which is basically a big mall on a really steep hill (you have to take a tram up there). You can go to the roof and get a great view of the city. We were told to go on a clear day, but there weren’t any clear days while we were in Hong Kong -- it was always smoggy.
After spending time looking at that amazing view and listening to an audio guide about Hong Kong, we decided to take the hour-long walk around Victoria’s Peak. I’m glad we did because even though it was hot and muggy, it was also beautiful. It felt like exploring a jungle with an occasional streetlamp -- it reminded me of Narnia, with the random streetlamp in the middle of the forest.
We left for the airport really early Saturday morning and made it back to the US about 24 hours later. I’m still jetlagged (as in barely functioning), but it was a really interesting trip and I’m glad I got the chance to go to China. This makes 11 countries visited for me, not including the USA (obviously) or my layovers in Austria and Japan. I have the travel bug bad.

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