A very good friend of mine recently came to visit me. Her visit had dual purpose and it was 11 days packed full of sight seeing activities, catching up and the search for a wedding dress.
Our adventure began with a trip to the exciting but sometimes painful Shenzhen, a Special Economic Zone in the south of China. From Hong Kong, Shenzhen is approximately an hour train trip north towards this expanding province. It is well known for its shopping, particularly fakes and tailor made goods.
I had briefed B during the train trip. Being her first 24 hours in China, it was going to be overwhelming enough, without the hidden surprises that awaited her on the other side of the border.
As expected, on arrival at the Lo Wu Commercial Centre, we were almost instantly assailed with Chinese locals offering us assistance on our shopping trip. Being a good student, B jumped at the chance to sternly remind the locals that we didn’t need their assistance.
The day followed with several other cultural novelties including the squatting toilets in bathrooms that do not provide toilet paper and where woman stall holders choose to wash their lunch utensils whilst bantering about god-knows-what.
We dined at the local’s Chinese restaurant and played menu roulette, ordering unknown morsels and delicacies, sharing our table with a local lady that was none too impressed with B’s interpretation of eating a bodily fluid looking custard dish.
“Hey Missy… you want DVD, Copy handbag, watch, Rolex, Prada, Chanel, Gucci…come come…” A day of being heckled and grabbed at with woman begging us to view their wares and name our price. The building full of cigarette smoke (China is a little behind regarding the smoking law advancements) and children wandering around the 5 floors as if it was their home. Its exhausting.
Upon joining the grueling 20 minute long taxi rank at the Hong Kong end of the train trip home, we were greeted with a queue jumper. Joy. I have been to Shenzhen several times now, and it doesn’t get easier. Each time I feel like I have worked a triple shift at the pub, I reek of cigarette smoke, my feet are swollen and my patients in minimal, so as you can imagine after an 11 hours day, I’m in no mood for an arrogant queue jumping toss-bag.
“Excuse me, that’s our taxi…we have been waiting in line.” As I gestured towards the 50 person long peak hour queue and proceed towards the taxi door, the Chinese local moves in to block me from doing so. His face inches from mine, looks insane and he begins to prove this train of thought right. “No! I have been waiting here. This MY taxi!”
I feel myself slowly losing it, “No…we have been waiting here for 20 minutes…look at the queue…get in line.”
The Chinese man proceeds to inform me that I should have intercourse with myself (in less charming language), several times over and as loud as possible. Holding his position and keeping the minimal space between his face and mine. He has lost it completely and typical to the nature of the Chinese (non-confrontational) the whole queue just stands there, motionless, speechless. “FOCK FOCK FOCK A-YOU”…over and over again.
I can safely say that if that happened to us in a Sydney cab rank, most by-standers would have stepped in to assist…but no, not here. We decided it was probably best to take the next taxi, as this psycho had the potential to get even nastier and the crazy eyes to prove it.
B and I got in the taxi, silent, turned to each other and burst out laughing. WHAT A FREAK.
The rest of our time together was far more preasant…sorry, pleasant. We visited the cheapest one Michelin star restaurant in the world with the most delectable dumplings, Tim Ho Wan in Mong Kok. This restaurant is so popular with locals and Westerners that there is a minimum 2 hour waiting list for a table. We grab a ticket and wander over to the Ladies Markets, watching the tarpaulin stalls set up for a day of hard bargaining.
A morning full of deep fried pork buns, shrimp vermicelli rolls and Har Gai (another common shrimp dumpling), we roll into the nearest cab and head across the water, back to the Island for a food coma nap.
Hong Kong is renowned for its nightlife, particularly Lan Kwai Fong, a popular strip of bars and restaurants in Central. During my time here, I have come to enjoy a bar on this strip known as Al’s Diner…famous for its jelly shots. A delicious Lebanese feast at another favorite restaurant of mine, Beirut, and a few bottles of Pinot later we arrive at Al’s Diner where we danced on the tables and hung from the ceiling, commanding the Juke Box and throwing back copius shots! Needless to say the next day was a write off.
The week followed with Massages, a Rugby game, Fro-Yo’s, Australia Day at Happy Valley Races, shopping, shopping and more shopping, constant competitions between J and B including bowling, chess, Sudoku and more, a change of hair hue for a girl that HAS NEVER DYED HER LOCKS, chiropractic adjustments, good food and wine, cooking, sleeping, movies and Skype convo’s…and of course the search for a wedding dress.
An adventure on the tram up to The Peak left us with a belly full of Bubba Gump Shrimp, towering views of Hong Kong and two Bitch ‘n Stitch ladies high on life and…margarita’s – nice to meet you Ann and Kerri!
After a wonderful mani-pedi in Causeway Bay, we decided to take a trip to Stanley Beach to check out the markets. We ended up having a rather romantic time with a sandwich at Lucy’s Café over looking the beautiful bay and Murrays House, whilst watching some extremely irritating, yet very well kept South African woman (no racism intended…just stating facts) give orders to the lovely Filipina woman running the place.
The last Friday involved High Tea at the Peninsula in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon side. Taking the 5 minute Star Ferry ride across the bay was enough to sicken the soft little guts of B…poor little soul. After dining on beautifully decorated cakes and savouries, admiring the jewels that Carier had to offer and taking a toilet break in the beautifully kept 1920’s hotel we ventured back across the water to my favorite ‘special’ bar in Hong Kong…Sevva. We shared a few pre-wedding dress fitting cocktails and enjoyed the amazing view from the 25th floor of the Princes Building in town.
After an afternoon of silk, pins and measuring tapes and a lengthy photo shoot, we hurried back home to change for another night out on the town.
Our last supper together, the three of us, was shared at the Temple St Night Markets, Hong Kong’s new major red light district.
We devoured plate after plate of garlic scallops, Coy Sum, beef hot pot and flat soy sauce noodles and wandered down the many aisles of the evening markets for one last shop before we said our goodbyes the next afternoon at the Airport Express in Admiralty.
100km covered, 2 wedding dress fittings, 50L of wine, 2 massages, 1 crazy local, 3 bowling games and a few hangovers alter…11 days sped past and with a blink of an eye, B’s visit came and went and just when we finally found your volume control and learnt how to turn off the fast forward button near your gob. xxx